Ryan is the Head of Global Operations for Uber Technologies Inc. He helped build the company from 1 to 280+ employees by driving operations, strategy, and international expansion.
→ Uber is a tech company that provides on-demand car services
→ He is the Head of Global Operations for Uber Technologies Inc.
→ He helped build the company from 1 to 280+ employees by driving operations, strategy, and international expansion
→ Users can hail a ride via the Uber app on their smartphones
→ The service was first launched in June 2010
→ Currently operates in 33 cities around the world
→ Has a team of 250 people
→ 20 cities in the US, 10 in Europe and a few in Asia-Pacific
→ Uber is a platform that enables on-demand car service experience
→ Growth mainly driven by word-of-mouth and partnerships with events
→ Intentional behavior to create opportunities for people to learn about Uber
→ Viral referral program and small marketing budget, with focus on mobile channels
→ And a whole lot more
Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Brian Taylor. And today I have Ryan Graves with us. Ryan, thank you so much for coming on the program.
Ryan: Yeah, good to chat with you.
Bronson: Absolutely. Now, Ryan, you are the head of operations and the board director at Uber, which is probably one of the most watched and most celebrated startups in San Francisco right now. Is that right?
Ryan: The role is right. Whether or not we’re celebrating, I don’t know. Maybe so. There seems to be a lot of interest in the press. But Brian.
Bronson: Yeah, no, that’s good. So tell our audience, since all of us are not blessed enough to be in a city with Uber, tell us what is Uber in case you’re watching from some other places?
Ryan: Yeah, so Uber is a tech company. We have a platform that enables on demand car service experience. And so you hit a button on your iPhone or Android or BlackBerry or mobile web or whatever platform you have. And we can achieve with really quality, convenience and a classy ride in only a few minutes. And then you take your trip, you know, get from point A to point B and at the end, it’s built to a credit card. You never have to worry about any kind of payment or negotiation or tip or anything. It’s very seamless. And ah, it, it follows our motto, which is everyone’s private driver. And so you have that kind of private driver experience.
Bronson: Yeah. And what year did you guys launch Uber?
Ryan: So we did our first ride in 2010. In June.
Bronson: All right. And so since June of 2010, how much have you guys grown maybe in terms of drivers, riders, employees, how many cities you’re in? Give us some insight. So we have an idea how big you are.
Ryan: For sure. For sure. We’re pretty pretty tight lipped about, you know, revenue in these things. But we actually operate in 33 cities around the world. We’re doing that with about 250 people. And so, yeah, you can you can hit a button and and get over a round the clock at this point. So we have about 20 cities in the US with about ten cities in Europe. We have a few cities in Asia-Pacific.
Bronson: Mm hmm. That’s great. How do you guys acquire most of your users? You know, people come to growth activity TV trying to learn how to acquire users. Where do you also come from? Is it just word of mouth because it’s such a special kind of service or is it something more than that?
Ryan: It’s a lot of word of mouth. I mean, we try to put out, you know, the guidelines that are the guide I try to give to the teams who are doing marketing is we want to just create conversations about Uber. So it’s not just just product and let’s hope people sign up. There’s a lot of intentional behavior around how we create opportunities for people to learn about over. We do a lot of partnerships with events both high end and small, right? So we think a birthday party is an event just like a 20 person, you know, charity gala in New York City would be, you know, all of these things have a value and we Uber’s in a very easy thing to share. It’s like you don’t know someone at a party. And there’s two things you talk about. It’s the weather and how you got there. And so we think that we can be a part of those conversations just by delivering an amazing service and then really encouraging discussions. And so we have a share feature where you invite a friend, you give them $10 off their first ride, and if they if they sign up and ride, you receive $10 for your next ride. So we encourage that virality, lots of really interesting event partnerships and corporations and then, you know, we are doing some testing on on marketing, but that budget is, is so small at this point relative to what we’re kind of how we’re growing and where else we spend time that it’s it’s almost not worth discussing. But there are some interesting channels out there that are developing for mobile.
Bronson: Yeah. And now, you know, you being the head of operations there, I’m sure that whenever you guys go to launch in a new city that falls squarely within your jurisdiction, like how to get it up and going operationally, how to get it off the ground. So walk me through that process, what you can, because you go into a new city, you have no drivers, you have no riders, you have no brand name. Maybe if they haven’t heard about you, what do you do to get that? How do you get the flywheel going? How do you start that? Kind of because it’s almost like you’re launching a startup in every new city again.
Ryan: Exactly. Exactly. And so we become launch experts and we have a team that’s focused on it. We have about 13 people on that team now that is in charge of nothing else but getting Uber everywhere in the world. And you’re right, we launch with no brand, and that’s one of the largest challenges. We launch in a market with no drivers, no supply, oftentimes no concept of what this on demand transportation importation thing can be. Sometimes, though, there is the concept and we have a competitor who’s who has frankly cloned us in some capacity that we’re saying, oh, we did this first. We know you brought the idea to the market. We’re going to show you why we do it better. So whatever the situation may be, we have somebody who is focused and we have a we have a saying internally that we celebrate cities and that really means respect the differences city to city and ensure that ensure that we are delivering a solution that feels very local and that the local folks, the residents of the city, understand why this solution is good for them. It’s not a San Francisco product plugged in to New York that would never fly. We have to understand the dynamics of New York City. We have to understand the dynamics of Paris. We have to understand the dynamics of Sydney or Singapore and say, look, this is how it works. This is why people use limousine services, price drivers, taxis and understand what problem solving. And that’s very different city to city. And then the brand is very different to the city. So, you know, in Chicago, you might see, you know, a very kind of party vibe and you’re seeing tank tops in our marketing, like neon tank tops and a lot of happy hour stuff where the vibe in D.C. is just very different. It’s a little bit more, you know, buttoned up and the people kind of want a different tone of voice from that brand. And so we try to we try to tweak that brand, obviously, with the number consistency around the world. But but there is some localization that happens that’s pretty core to why why we grow and why we become part of communities.
Bronson: Yeah. Did you learn that the hard way? Did you try to go into a city early on and bring San Francisco with you and get backlash? Or is it just something you kind of brought to the table knowing that was the right way to go about it?
Ryan: I think it was just a little bit of intuition saying, look, like this is more authentic and and, you know, we’re we’re a team from early on. I kind of understand some of the changes that are happening on the Internet and, you know, the a lot of social media experts today. But the reality is, you know, everyone’s nice, but you just have to be authentic and you have to be, you know, bring personality. And so we did a lot. We decided that we just want to be very local and we’re going to need to be operationally because in order to deliver the quality of experience that we’re used to today, that people are used to it from Uber today, you actually do need people on the ground. You can’t you can’t call up a number of limo companies from 3000 miles away and try to explain the service and just mail on a phone and have it work. That’s not how it works. Like you actually show them the service, why there’s value for their business, and then over time you get that tipping point and they start telling their friends and there’s a virality on the supply side too, but you got to start somewhere. And we kind of realize that being local is going to be important, both from a brand perspective and operationally.
Bronson: Yeah. Given that you’ve launched in so many places and had to do it over and over and over, now you know there’s a tipping point. Does that help you not get bummed out for that first little stretch when things aren’t awesome? Does that kind of give you the wherewithal to know that, you know what? There’s always a tipping point. We just got to keep going.
Ryan: Yeah, I think, you know, my job at this point is to be the eternal optimist, because I think we can get over all of those humps. Different cities will present different challenges. And my job kind of meeting the teams that are out there executing is to really show the light at the end of the tunnel and say, you know, what you’re facing is not unique. You know, other cities have accomplished or overcome these things before. And then even when it is unique, which there’s plenty of those situations to really showing. All right. Let’s get into the details. Let’s understand why and how we might be able to overcome this. And ultimately trying to evangelize that optimism is something that I think most entrepreneurs will point to as an important piece of building a company, because you’re facing all kinds of challenges every day that you know are pushing towards your failure and you have to fight through it.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. And that kind of leads me to where I want to go next in the talk, because, you know, we’ve had a lot of people in show that talk about growth from a technology point of view. They talk about viral loops and that’s the whole conversation. And those are great. Like, we need those. You know, we talk about how to add bodies. We talk about the the nitty gritty tech details. But I like you on the show because you bring kind of a philosophy of growth that’s more of a higher level. This is what needs to be in place for those viral loops to even matter for, you know, this ad to even matter. One of the things you talk about a lot is hustle. So you mentioned already, you know, you’re the eternal optimist. You kind of hustle through all these different situations. How much is hustle been important to your personal kind of growth as an entrepreneur?
Ryan: It’s been a lot. I mean, I think, you know, I’m not going to be the smartest guy in the room. I think Will Smith, funny enough, quoting Will Smith, he had a quote and I’m not going I’m going to butcher it. But it’s essentially like I’m not the best looking guy and I’m not the smartest guy in the room. But if you put me on a treadmill, I will beat any. I don’t know what the cursing. Policy is here, but he’s like, Put me on a treadmill next to anybody and I’m going to run anybody. And it’s like, I will work harder than you every single time. And I kind of like I like that mentality because, you know, I’m not the smartest guy in the room. There’s been a lot of freaking smart people in the tech world and and that’s awesome. We need those people. And now I think I can just work really hard and obviously I have to back that up with working smarter and a sound strategy. But if you’re running in the right direction, ultimately the person who runs the longest and hardest will get there. And, you know, it’s pretty hard to beat someone that never stops. And so that’s kind of a approach that I take and then I try to kind of instill with within Uber as much as possible.
Bronson: Yeah, I love that mentality. And as a quick side, though, because it’s such an interesting story. Tell me about Foursquare. You wanted a job at Foursquare. What did you do to get involved there?
Ryan: Yeah. So at Foursquare, it’s because I told a story a few times. It’s I went out in Chicago to bars and restaurants, essentially telling them I worked at Foursquare well before I did, lining up Megadeals. And I knew that that was how in the early days of Foursquare I was the mayor deal. That was going to be the kind of the draw. And so I lined up about 40 deals in Chicago and I had three or four different people, friends and investors of Dennis introduced me to Dennis, the founder of Foursquare, at the same on the same day. And he basically could not ignore that we had a chat and I said, Look, this is what I’ve done in Chicago. He said, That’s awesome. I appreciate the hustle. You know, why don’t you fly to New York and we can chat about what that would look like? So I did and and I did an internship essentially with Foursquare for about two and a half, almost three months. And I was working with Chris Walker, kind of doing a mix of, you know, biz dev community because I was just another kind of evangelist type folks basically going out and doing the same thing, line up mayor does in your city and you know, cities from San Francisco to Minneapolis to to Dublin, Ireland. So we were just doing that as broadly as we could, and it was a really good learning experience for me. And I was full time at G.E. and I really had to tell a better story about myself and what I was trying to get into, and that opportunity to really start to brand myself as a startup guy and ultimately led to the opportunity once I met Travis, to come help run over.
Bronson: Yeah. And how’d you meet Travis? Because that’s also kind of a story of just, you know, hustle and being able to put yourself out there.
Ryan: Yeah, I figured, you know, there’s no better person to follow to find an opportunity to start than an investor. They see a lot. It’s their it’s their job to see as many companies as possible. So I followed a ton of investors and I lined up tons of conversations with guys like Chris Dixon and Bijan and Austin and, you know, just a bunch of guys. And actually, Travis tweeted about the opportunity and I said, you know, I could be your guy. He said, looking for a busy dev product, bad ass, big equity, big peeps, any tips? And I said, you know, here’s a tip and my email address and he’s like, you emailed me and said, you know, something like bold response, what’s your story? And we ended up chatting and it worked out.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s such a good story. You know, one of things I’ve heard you say before as well is that, you know, kind of at a high level, if you want to build something that’s going to grow, then solve a real problem. And you guys felt like Uber was really solving a real problem, not a solution in search of a problem. What did you guys find out that made you really know that? Okay, Uber solving something real here. I know you’ve given some stats before about some of the unfulfilled cab rides.
Ryan: Yeah, San Francisco is just in a dire state. You know, 2009, before it was it was a city where you literally couldn’t get around taxis. And the stat that I think you’re talking about, I’ve thrown out there a few times on a Friday or Saturday night, 72% of all taxi and taxi calls or requests into a dispatcher went completely unanswered. So they might tell you, oh, we’ll be there in five, we’ll be there in 20, and then just no show. And so going out in San Francisco was in a really rough spot. It’s got a decent public transport system with the busses in the muni, but it doesn’t go everywhere because of the hills. And you can’t really walk a lot of places again because of the hills. And so you kind of need a good vehicle transportation service. And it became the perfect storm of a city to launch in because you have, you know, this terrible problem that you need to solve. You have a lot of wealth. And then a lot of that wealth is in the tech world that absolutely loves any new gadget place to launch something that solves a problem. That’s a. Bit more higher end where it started and. And it worked out very well.
Bronson: Yeah. Do you think enough startups go after real problems? I mean, what’s your take on that? Are you optimistic about the things people are trying to solve, or do you think everyone’s just going after the low hanging fruit?
Ryan: Yeah. I mean, I think look, there’s there’s a lot of value in being the idea guy. It’s hard to come up with an idea that actually has a model behind it that actually solve the problem and then be able to design and deliver the solution. So to actually wedge between those two and I think, you know, the brilliance in in Uber, even from the get go was just was two things. It was a map and a green button. It was really simple from a tech from a product perspective. But the overall how that fed the overall solution of Uber was pretty, pretty creative and something pretty special. Yeah, it was very simple and it solves the problem, like I said. So I think that whether or not there’s enough companies, you know, probably not. It seems like there’s a lot of companies out there that are. I just don’t understand. That’s fine. I really like the fact that, you know, I’m in a business that’s very real world now. I think being in the tech space is probably the most interesting space in the world. Maybe finance is pretty interesting, too, but I think that tech is probably where the smartest entrepreneurs are. And and because of that, that’s why I find it interesting. But I’m happy that there’s a physical, real world component to the business that I ended up in. Just because I think that finding that cross is where the value of technology is most felt versus staying, quote unquote, in the cloud or in the bits. I think that there’s a lot of great companies with awesome products, but for me, I just get a little bit less excited by a new place to store a fire versus, you know, really changing something physical.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s a great quote right there. I don’t get excited about new places, the storage file. That’s awesome. You’ve also learned a good bit about hiring and, you know, hiring, we think, okay, that’s that’s management advise. That’s not exciting. That’s not, you know, growth hacker TV stuff. But here’s the thing. You found out some really key things about how hiring the wrong people really hurt growth in a couple of cities. Tell us about what you figured out there.
Ryan: Yeah, I think you know what I have had the opportunity to see I feel pretty good about that is like some really intense scale. We have a model that really works to help the business and we want to bring it literally around the world. And so now I get to work with really smart people to do that. And part of that process is building teams. Arguably, the most important part of that process is building the right teams. And, and so, yeah, we’ve done a lot of thinking around the philosophy of how we will build that team quickly without losing, without losing control of it and without ever lowering the quality bar. So we take the approach that we really want to see someone do an activity or an exercise that’s very similar to the job they would do in the hiring process. And so so, you know, I guess apply apply it to Uber if you want to see that process intimately. But for the sake of the conversation here, you know, it’s very exercise based versus, you know, theoretical behavioral conversation. It’s more to say, okay, prove it, here’s an exercise and dig in. And then we will have conversations that would be similar to ones we would have on the job. How do you solve this problem? And we should be able to feel within a very short period of time or an efficient use of time whether or not that person can cut it in this environment.
Bronson: Yeah. And tell me if I’m wrong, but you actually put out a couple of graphs where it showed the growth of a couple of cities and then you kind of circle on the graph the moment you got rid of the person that wasn’t working and then the graph just spikes up into the right. I mean, it looks fake almost. It looks like it’s not real. Is that right?
Ryan: I created the graph in PowerPoint. It’s not backed up by data. The one you’re talking about I used on a talk last year. But the reality is there are two markets specifically and now since I’ve seen others where, you know, the business starts to flatline a little bit and, you know, bringing in the right person can really change it almost overnight. So when you have someone with the right mentality towards building the business and you have somebody who is very, very focused on on their humble about what they don’t know, but they’re confident about, you know, kind of how Uber has done in the past. They’re able to run full speed at that and focus on executing. You know, things happen and, you know, getting the right person can change the game overnight. That’s been seen over and over.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s great advice. Then you also have some interesting views on endurance. You know, in startup circles, endurance is just how much can you get done in any given day? You know, they don’t really talk about endurance, you know, the long haul. You have a quote that I love, which is Sleep is cool. Explain that to us.
Ryan: Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, before I used to be in a world where I could get away with 5 hours of sleep and thought that was awesome because I had, you know, an extra three or 4 hours in a day or two or 3 hours in a day, whatever it might be. And I at this point, like, I sleep a good 7 hours almost every every night. I travel almost 50% of my time right now. And, you know, there’s there’s three weapons to fighting jetlag. I think it’s exercise, sleep and alcohol. And you have to use them all wisely. And but but I think that, yeah, the notion of running the tank empty every day is probably not best for the long haul. And I think that there’s a lot of value to coming to work fresh and being ready to kind of tackle whatever comes versus always being worn down. Now, look, there’s sprints where you got to get a product out or you are traveling. And the reality is, a lot of times when I am traveling, I do a full European day and then I stay up until three or four in the morning because I’m basically doing a full US day and then I sleep for 5 hours or six and get up and do it again. But it’s, it’s. But those are sprints. And I think to do a company that is building for the long term which which we are. You’ve got to be able to dedicate to five, ten years, 20 years, who knows? But trying to trying to draw out, you know, run the tank empty every single day, you will burn out. So I think you’ve got to have something that kind of refreshes you. Keeping hobbies is good. Losing everything but work is is not the best. I surf this morning and get in the ocean before I come to work. Like is a game changer. Like, my approach to whole day is different. Yeah. I’m a believer in. I think.
Bronson: It’s great. You know, one of the other things about kind of the growth of Uber is that as much as it’s grown, it feels so human. You know, just little touches that happen here and there. Do you guys is that just accident or is that by design that those little bits of humanity kind of make its way into, you know, the rides, the product, the people, all those things?
Ryan: Yeah. I mean, I think there’s there’s too many pieces to that too that are interesting are goes back to the people who are and literally on day one, what we call uber versity when someone comes in and is kind of integrated into the team within their first week or so. You know, I talk about that, you know, be human. And, you know, I think it’s important to to approach business like a business is a collection of people working towards something to deliver a service for other people. And Uber have an interesting marketplace dynamic where we’re just connecting to people. And so the driver is a client just like the rider is for us. And if we treat those guys well, they’re going to make great money and their lives are going to be changed. And the same way that riders live, it’s going to be changed, literally using Uber as a now I’ve heard stories of people using Uber like a panic button right there in a neighborhood they don’t like, or they had to get to the hospital because they broke their ankle or whatever it might be. You know, it’s just connecting to people. And I think there is there’s the human element that I think makes it really, really motivating the impact that we can have. But and also from a brand perspective, it’s let’s let’s do stuff that’s fun to talk about and let’s, let’s, you know, pour ourselves as a team out into the product and the brand. And yes, it’s fortunately, we’ve been able to do that and figure out a system that’s able to repeat that city by city, starting with early in San Francisco. And the and the earliest thing like the tone of the voice on Twitter. And, you know, don’t apologize for a mistake. Just say sorry. Right. I think, you know, I don’t know. Where do they read that as a. Yeah, some business book at some point, but it’s like orations say we apologize and people say, I’m sorry. And their distinction is this. It’s a world of difference. Right? And so there’s a number of examples there that we just try to be people and say sorry when we make a mistake and work pretty hard to not let up again, of course. But that’s a, it’s an important piece of of building a brand I think.
Bronson: Yeah. And there’s a couple little touches that you guys have done, you know, special moments that really make uber memorable. All of us list off a few here. On one year, you gave a red rose to all the women who took an Uber cab. Is that right?
Ryan: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a we’ve done that almost every Valentine’s Day and it’s operational nightmare. But it has it’s really fun to see the impacts on social media and with writers and you know, those things stick around.
Bronson: Yeah. And you mentioned social media. I mean, that’s that’s the thing people don’t get is by being human. People want to talk about you. They’re going to go to Twitter and speak about the moment, the thing that happened, whatever. That is another time you guys did an Uber arcade, kind of like a motorcade, but it was like for normal people, but they got treated like the president. Is that right?
Ryan: Exactly. It was a Presidents Day promo. So we try to find we take these holidays and we try to find a relevant way to make what we’re doing very interesting. And there’s been a ton of examples of this. You know, we decided to use the platform, you know, back when we were only eight or nine cities and and we did on demand ice cream. And so you could hit a button and instead of saying just, you know, a town car or taxi or an SUV, you literally saw an ice cream truck and four or 5 minutes away, you hit a button and you got your Haagen-Dazs or whatever, and it went nuts. I mean, the press coverage for that was was enormous. Everything from I guess, food blog all the way to the USA Today was like Uber delivers ice cream and we really didn’t expect the coverage that we saw. But it’s just another way that’s like, that would be fun. That would be I want, I would want to tell my friends about that. Let’s make sure we get ice cream via Uber today. And and that was that was the outcome. So the head of.
Bronson: Operations, I can ask you this, have you ever considered keeping that around? It sounds like such a great thing.
Ryan: Maybe, you know, maybe we’ll consider it right now. You know, I think, you know, back to startup advice, I think staying focused is pretty important and things that we could do saying no. But the vast majority of them as a has given us the opportunity to stay focused on, you know, on demand kind of transportation experiences and be best at that.
Bronson: Yeah. Not go to don’t listen to me don’t do ice cream but but if you ever do decide to cool now also one of that you talk about is how important celebrations are while you’re growing. And, you know, a lot of people, they think about companies, their own company, maybe they look at Uber and they think, okay, when we launch in ten cities, that’s when we pop the champagne and celebrate. But you’re actually in favor of, you know, celebrating smaller wins, much smaller wins. Tell us about some of the early celebrations at Uber and what kind of thresholds you guys crossed to make those happen.
Ryan: Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, you look at one of the first weekends that we had lunch and we started seeing names of riders that we didn’t know like.
Bronson: That’s right.
Ryan: It you didn’t do anything. And there’s more people on your survey bus paying for the experience that that that’s a huge win. Like there’s four concurrent rides going on. We didn’t know the technology could withstand one, you know, up and bottles. Why not? And I think that you get in an attitude of celebrating victories and the team feels like, you know, winners and they they’re delivering wins over and over. And that gets in the attitude, that gets in the the vibe around the office. And that’s what kind of propagates this optimism that then breeds solutions to get over harder challenges down the road. So I think encouraging people to be honest about what they’re doing, even when the winds are small, will actually be it into helping you overcome. And then she much larger down the road. Yeah. If you’re always pushing out the goal and saying, you know, we’re not we’re not there yet. We’re not there yet. We’re not there yet. You know, there are strategies that that that doing that can actually motivate. But there’s also, you know, an argument for somebody who’s really, you know, just discouraged because they’re never feeling like they achieved. And, you know, the other the other side of that coin, to be very fair, is you’ve got to stay hungry, because if you felt like you you made it already, then you’re definitely not going to be hustling and you’re definitely not going to feel like your backs up against a wall. And I think there’s a lot of there’s a lot of value in feeling super hungry, but you’ve got to beat the other guys in saying not really competitive. There’s just a lot of value there too. So there’s two sides to both clients, but I definitely believe in making sure people feel like the work they’re doing day in and day out is leading to wins versus just, you know, just always the blocking and tackling and feeling like nothing has ever been achieved.
Bronson: Yeah, so celebrate, but stay hungry. Now, Uber is also unique in that, like you said before, it utilizes real infrastructure, there’s real cars, there’s real drivers, there’s real roads. You’re not just dealing with bits and bytes and software and those kind of things. You’re not just making new places to store files again. You know, there’s people watching this that they’re also trying to build a startup that has to deal in the real world more than just the software world. What are some of the unique growth challenges? You know, that you had experience kind of going off, being in the real world and what have you guys done to overcome those? Do you have anything that comes to mind when you think about that?
Ryan: Yeah, I mean, there’s a million things that being physical changes, right? There’s just you’re traveling nonstop. We’re a distributed team. And so you don’t get the opportunity to just like, you know, sit right down shoulder to shoulder with somebody. Frankly, you get used to services like this where you’re talking over Skype. And at this point, like, I don’t I don’t of course, I travel and I think there is face to face value. But I also am very adamant about not pushing any decisions or discussion up until we see you in person. Like No, that will slow down execution like crazy. Just jump on Skype, have a conversation, hash it out, you know, keep good notes on like a Google doc or whatever. But you can get anything done virtually like and if you believe that you can, your business and your operation will slow down. And so I again, there is value to having face time and fostering those relationships. But once those relationships have kicked off, you should be able to accomplish anything over this kind of communication that you would in person. That’s a huge challenge. And I’m constantly kind of driving the the importance of using this kind of technology to, to, to keep things moving forward. Um, what else is physical? I mean, we have offices in 30 plus cities and it’s a nightmare, right? Like you start to think like, should we have a facilities person and all this other crap that, you know, tech companies may not have to worry about. They can stay under one roof. They can just walk across the room and chat with somebody. But we’re constantly having to deal with a team going from three to 6 to 9 to 15 to 40 or whatever. There’s just physical challenges with that kind of scale. But we’ve done a good job of pushing out the responsibility to the city managers to deal with that and gives them an opportunity to really be entrepreneurs and build a business in their market. So I think there’s there’s value to it. You just have to find the positive in the challenge.
Bronson: Yeah. Well, Ryan, this has been an awesome interview. I have a couple final questions here for you. First, I noticed online that you were an avid reader. Tell us, what are maybe the two or three books that you highly recommend for someone trying to grow a startup or an entrepreneur, someone in that kind of camp?
Ryan: So one of my favorites is The Checklist Manifesto.
Bronson: I’ve got it right here. That’s a good one.
Ryan: Yeah. And a rule a Atul Gawande. They wrote that it’s a cardiac surgeon. The idea is that humans can execute a very complicated process. There you go. It’s a good one. Humans can execute complicated process, but not without, you know, a list and essentially a system to follow. What’s another good book? I’m reading a book right now called Repeatability, and it’s essentially it’s all about scale and repeating. But basically, finally, the businesses, core drivers and what is unique and what’s the value that that business brings to the table. And if you’re going to try to step outside of that business at all, I’ll tell you your core business. You need to make sure that you’re doing it with a consistent core. Are they also talking about a quote that stuck with me is now complexity is the silent enemy. And so this idea that, you know, things don’t become complex overnight, you start adding features, you do this and you do that and all this stuff that seems like, you know, saying yes won’t hurt you. At the end of the day, you’ve got this jumbled mess and you know, you’re having to untangle so many different things where if you just said, no, stay focused, the business can actually operate and be much more healthy and probably scale up further. So I think that’s an interesting book. Repeatability.
Bronson: It sounds good.
Bronson: That’s great. Well, last question. Based on your experience with Uber, what’s the best advice you give to anyone that’s trying to grow a startup? You know, you’ve been there, you’ve seen it, you’ve done it. What advice you have or.
Ryan: Advice to hard to get it generally. You know, I talked to a number of different startups and it’s it’s for me, I think it’s important to, you know, get into the details before you start doling out advice. So I guess if I go back to one layer above that is the details matter. That’s the advice. Yeah.
Bronson: That’s good advice. Yeah.
Ryan: Getting getting into understanding, you know, how the model works, what the industry does today, you know, understand the economics of what you’re trying to change, you know, get to understand, you know, what are drivers, the drivers making today and where is their business coming from and where the margins on that business and you need to understand this kind of details before you’re going to go change an industry. So so I guess the very highest level is the details matter. And and I think that as an entrepreneur, if you’re really focused on those details, open up opportunities for you to to innovate and really hopefully change the game and find a model that might work for your business.
Bronson: So yeah. Well, Ryan, this has been an awesome interview. Thank you again for taking time out of your very busy schedule. Traveling half the year to come on Growth Agro TV.
Ryan: Yeah. Thanks, Bronson. I appreciate it. Bye.
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