Episode Description: This episode explores forming habits, being dedicated to something you believe in and learning when to let it go. The stories range from starting businesses and losing clients to mental escapes and mental tools for obtaining goals.
Today I’m talking with Tyler Long, founder of Startup OPX, a supply chain consultancy. Tyler holds a degree and 4 supply chain certificates, offering over 8 years of expertise. Tyler has consulted for some very reputable clients, like Louis Vuitton. In 2015 Tyler took a break to learn coding and start a tech company, Ekology where his claim to fame was host of San Francisco’s SantaCon. Sooooo looking forward to this conversation, welcome to the show Tyler!
- Winter Blues – 1:22
- Path to Entrepreneurship – 4:06
- Dwelling and Overthinking – 15:32
- Never Planning On Tragedies – 18:44
- Motivations and Creativity – 20:45
- First Company – 25:48
- Finding Hope in a Rouse – 29:55
- Surviving In San Francisco with Lyft – 33:11
- Moving into The Negav – 34:46
- Exhibiting at TechCrunch Disrupt – 36:14
- Hosting SantaCon Event in San Francisco – 37:45
- The Potential Rise and Fall of Ekology – 40:32
- Creating Common Habits for Progress – 42:37
- Current Partnerships and Fashion – 49:45
- Food and Places – 52:54
- Having a Potential Mind Set – 56:11
- Motivational Speaker and Affirmations – 1:00:25
- Visualization and Super Powers – 1:04:51
- Courage and Stupidity Close Off – 1:06:30
Tiffany: I’m Tiffany Lopez and you’re listening to “Posh Incredible” podcast where I interview ordinary people who are making extraordinary transformations in their lives and for others. I believe we’re all here to transcend and assist the ones around us to grow into the people they were born to be. The pathway of awakening is the noble life pursuit and it starts now. Today, I’m talking with Tyler Long, founder of Startup OPX, a supply chain consultancy. Tyler holds a degree and for supply chain certificates, offering over eight years of expertise. Tyler has consulted for some very reputable clients like Louis Vuitton. In 2015, Tyler took a break to learn coding and start a tech company, Ekology, where his claim to fame was host of San Francisco’s SantaCon. So looking forward to this conversation. Welcome to the show, Tyler.
Tyler: Good. Thanks for having me, Tiffany.
Tiffany: Yeah, of course. So, why don’t you introduce yourself?
Tyler: Sure. So, my name’s Tyler Long. I’m the founder and principal supply chain consultant of Startup OPX, which is a small supply chain consultancy for young companies.
Tiffany: Tyler was just telling…I hope you don’t mind, we can take it out if you want. Tyler was just telling me, you were just telling me about, like, having a bad day. So, Tyler just moved to New York in December, and for everybody who lives in New York, like this is a pretty standard day. My first like few months I felt like every single day was like this. So, anyways, to describe it, it’s one of those days where you just, like, don’t want to get out of bed. You can’t work. You’re just feeling like a little blah. Also, we’re both from California, and the winter tends to do that to people, and so it could just be the winter blues.
Tyler: Yeah, it’s been one of those days where the last thing I wanted to do was kind of like get creative and get working. But, I mean, those are the days that happens for a New Yorker. I mean, moving to New York is tough and a lot of people say it’s like the loneliest city, loneliest, busiest city in the world. And I think that that’s true. It’s a proving grounds, I guess. I think the hump will be over and then I’ll sort of integrate here, but it’s been tough nonetheless. But yeah, I think also the weather is very difficult coming from… I just got off the phone with my parents yesterday and they were telling me it’s 80 degrees in California right now. So, I miss that a little bit.
Tiffany: Yeah. I didn’t understand how much weather affected my mood until I moved to New York, and I did it kind of like…which I think it’s kind of funny and I could like laugh at it now, but I moved in the winter, and it was my first winter.
Tyler: Very difficult.
Tiffany: And then like, you know, three months went by and I was just like, what happened? Why was I so sad?
Tyler: You were, like, sun, I remember now.
Tiffany: Yeah. But it’s good. Like I think one thing about…also, one thing about New York is it kind of tends to bring out extremes. So, you have like extreme highs, extreme lows, and you get to really learn a lot about yourself. Like I was super hard on it. Like you…I mean, like we have a little bit of a similar spirit.
Tyler: The warrior spirit.
Tiffany: Yeah. And New York actually taught me with those like first three to six months, like, just to be okay. Like things are going to be okay. You don’t have to like be so hard on yourself. So…
Tyler: On that topic, on the path of entrepreneurship so far, so, one of the things that I’ve done since I’ve been in New York is I formed a partnership with a local co-working space that focuses on technology companies that are building hardware. So, that could be anything from connected devices to robotics, to any wide variety of things. So, I formed this partnership, went in with them, and I was sort of like working with their portfolio companies, doing consulting, and they recently kicked me out of there. So, that’s been like my first trial of New York City.
Tiffany: Okay. So, I haven’t… So, that’s the high and the low, like, right there.
Tyler: That was the fist low right there.
Tiffany: Oh, yeah. So, I didn’t hear it. Do you want to talk? Can ask you about it? Like what happened? I know like the pre-story, but then I talked to you a week after and, you know, you told me you’d been kicked out. So, what happened?
Tyler: Sure. So, we were working with this client, a luxury manufacturing brand, and they were having a quality/throughput problem at a plant in Italy. And so the way that the relationship came about is that the founder of my co-working space had a relationship with the CEO of this company that was manufacturing these luxury goods. Well, they sort of got together and he said, “Hey, we should work together.” And so then they got a contract for doing this consulting gig. They didn’t have anyone with manufacturing/supply chain experience on their teams. So, they hired me and I came in and I was kind of the supply chain manufacturing expert in house. So, we went out to the plant in Italy, spent 4 days, like 16-hour days, just really brutal, on top of the jet lag and on top of everything else, and ended up coming to a fork in the road where I thought that the right solution for the problem was one thing and the other three members of the team thought it was something different.
And I was sort of…it was a manufacturing methodology, like, difference of opinion that we were having. And so, I recommended that we sort of focus on their manual processes whereas the rest of the team wanted to automate a lot of their manufacturing, which I didn’t agree with. So, we ended up coming back to New York. We ended up giving the… Let me back up. We ended up giving the pitch to the client that we would propose some automation solution, came back to New York, and had a postmortem meeting like a week after the pitch to the client. And that’s when they told me that it was difficult to work with me and it wasn’t working out for them so that they were going to have to terminate my membership to the co-working space. I mean, I was hired as a manufacturing, what my contract stated was leadership on all things manufacturing methodology. And so, I was doing my job in sort of resisting their solution and I ended up getting fired over it. So…
Tiffany: That doesn’t seem right.
Tyler: It’s not. But everyone’s nameless, so I guess, yeah.
Tiffany: Yeah. They didn’t give you…when you signed on with them or developed this partnership, did they tell you like, “Oh, you have to be supportive of our…”
Tyler: No. So, they had told me at the beginning of the project that their agenda was to go to the client and sell them robots because we have robotics companies in the co-working space, that would’ve been one thing. I would have totally supported that agenda. But the way it was framed to me is that we were going to be analyzing their manufacturing processes and we were supposed to take the best course forward. So, the best course forward was not what was proposed. And that’s just like any manufacturing expert would tell you that. So, I would have been remiss in my responsibilities to not bring these things to their attention. So, I resisted the rest of the team. The team went back, basically went to the CEO, said I was difficult to work with and wasn’t supporting their agenda. So, they fired me and pulled my co-working membership, and therefore all of my partnerships, which were planned with them.
Tiffany: Oh, wow. It’s interesting when people don’t communicate and then there’s like a punishment, like, punishment or repercussions for their lack of communication, when it could have been just so easy to be like, “Hey, we’re bringing you on board because you’re our expert, but this is, like, what we’re really trying to do.” And they would have gotten you on board and then you had been like, “All right, fine. I’m going to Italy.”
Tyler: Yeah. Exactly.
Tiffany: That sounds great.
Tyler: And I’m getting paid, like, whatever. I’m getting paid a decent amount of money to do it, which was nice. So, it was very difficult. That said, I will say that I did make a major mistake on the trip there.
Tiffany: Oh, I love this about you.
Tyler: This would not be the first time, but I will say I’m very embarrassed to say that I overslept my alarm. And so, I woke up one morning, the second morning that we were there to the entire team banging on my door to get me out of bed to get to the plant. So, I sort of jeopardized our position at that point. So, that’s kind of when our relationship went south. So, then from there on, they weren’t really hearing me. I mean, I accept responsibility for oversleeping my alarm clock and it was just really embarrassing, but I think it happens to everyone. We were coming off of 25 hours of travel. Then we did a 12-hour workday and then we finished that work day and had like 6 hours to sleep on top of the jet lag and we were supposed to wake up and get to the plant the next day and my body just wasn’t having it.
Tiffany: That’s fair. Yeah. One of the things I really appreciate about you is your like ability to like step back and reflect and be like, “Ah, yeah. Like, I kinda messed up there. Like maybe things could’ve gone wrong, but like now I’m on this other path.” I think if that was where the meeting went wrong, then it was all supposed to end the way that it went, anyways. You know, like, it wasn’t maybe a good fit.
Tyler: And, I mean, we’re in the car on the way to the plant that morning and I’m like, “Look, guys, I’m sorry. I realized that I really messed up this morning and I have put the team in a bad position and it’s just…there’s nothing I can do about it now. I’m sorry. All I can do is sincerely apologize for putting everyone in this position.” And my apology was never accepted or, so, you know, what else can I do right at that point? Water under the bridge.
Tiffany: This is what I really, really, really love about you. Because I saw you after you got back from that trip and you told me about like sleeping late. And I was like, so, you know, like, “What lessons did you learn?” And you’re like, “I mean, nothing really. Like you just got to keep moving.” And I feel like that’s a valuable…like to not dwell is like a really valuable skill set to have. I don’t know if you’ve always been like that, have you?
Tyler: I have. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse, though, because then you don’t always give the like circumstances that happen to you the justice. So, like the time, you don’t give them the respect that they deserve because you’re all like onto the next thing, right? Because you can’t, you feel like you can’t dwell on it when like that’s your mentality and then you don’t give it the reflection that it deserves. So, I think it’s kind of a blessing and a curse in that way.
Tiffany: In what ways has it been a curse?
Tyler: Oh, man. Here’s the story. Wow. I don’t even want to tell that story.
Tiffany: Okay. While you’re thinking of that, another question is, is it that you don’t dwell on it and you don’t reflect or is it that you keep an eye on the positives?
Tyler: It’s both. I keep an eye on the positives and I also think that it can be a curse if you… I think by not giving it the respect that it deserves or like the reflection that it deserves, you have a tendency to possibly get yourself in those situations again. Because I’ve sort of always been, from a work standpoint, I’ve been sort of combative and not combative in the sense that like I want to argue with everyone, but like I’m passionate and I’m somewhat confrontational. So I like to, you know, have a good back and forth with people. And I think a lot of people receive that as me being difficult to work with or stubborn or whatever it may be. So, I’ve made this mistake in the past and I’m in this position again. So, that’s how it can be a curse. On the topic of moving onto the next thing, though, I will say that I already have started doing that. I went to dinner with a couple of people who worked for a venture capital firm here last week that I met through this co-working space. And this venture capital firm focuses on technology companies that are in seed or pre-seed stage. And in that dinner, there was two people who have product development consultancies, which basically means that they, if you have an idea, they’ll engineer and manufacture it. So, my ideal next step is to partner with people who have product development consultancies and then they’ll do the engineering manufacturing. I’ll do the supply chain management after. So, it’s sort of like a hand-off from there. So, I’m already working on those partnerships next. So, onto the next thing.
Tiffany: Yeah. So, I don’t really think that like not dwelling is a negative. And I also think you could you…so I actually did not sleep at all last night and my brain is just like malfunctioning right now. But I can’t think of the word, but I don’t think your… I can see how you could be difficult to work with or get along with, but I wouldn’t define it that way. And maybe if you could like find a way to make that a positive thing, I think it could really work for you. Be like, “Yo, I’m really difficult to work with.” If that’s how you want to put it and be like, “I stand up for what’s right or I’m like, really passionate about what I do.”
Tyler: That’s a good way to put it. I really, I mean, at the end of the day with this client that I…this relationship that I just told you about, I fell on the sword of doing what was right by the client. My problem was I didn’t realize that my client was the co-working space and not the co-working spaces client. So, I was doing what was right. And I think that that’s kind of what I really end up doing all the time. I really stand by my work and I can’t stand by my work if I think that it’s wrong. So, that sort of is what got me into that situation. What’s been your experience with moving onto the next thing constantly?
Tiffany: So, I used to be a dweller. I used to be the kind of person who would like overthink things and roll them over in my head, go back and forth, dig really deep holes, deep holes, wide holes, look at the situation. And I don’t think it’s…what I’ve learned now is to look at everything positively, even when things seem to be going like totally wrong and know that like something positive will come out of it or something better is waiting for me or that I’m learning a lesson that will help me in the next thing. So, if we could go back to the beginning of this conversation, like the lethargicness, the depression that I felt like after moving to New York in the winter and all of that, it really taught me that stillness is okay and like non-movement…it taught me to be still and to not be anxious about not doing anything.
Because like we don’t really have to always be doing something. And even if we’re not doing something, we are still doing something, like we’re getting something done or we’re giving our bodies and our minds time to rest or maybe we’re like becoming okay with this situation, things like that. But at the time I was like super hard on myself, and now I see like a super huge value in what I learned during those months. Even though, and if I had that mentality while I was going through it, it wouldn’t have felt the way that it did when I was going through it. It would have felt lighter or easier or happier or I would have like, you know, got out of bed at noon and went to a museum or, you know, on a day like this where you wake up and like the ground’s covered in snow and you just like, you know, like, “Oh, I could have gone up to Central Park or something.” You know, like just gone on an adventure when you’re not really feeling work.
So, that was like a huge, just, tangent. But I used to be like a total dweller. And now I’m just like, okay, I know I’m going to offend people. I’m not trying to, I know I’m going to like really mess up. Like I super pissed off my business partner today. And I was just like, “Oh, well, like, you know, like, whoops, I didn’t mean to.” So, I guess it’s just knowing that like I’m coming from like a good place and I know that in my heart. And so, just like keep moving, look at the positives. Those are like all things that have really helped. Some tragedies, like you never really know what great doors will open afterwards or like what great lessons lie behind them. So, I always try to look for those.
Tyler: You never plan the tragedies, right? Like everyone always sees their life going forward and they never see any of these like big black spots that are going to be on like on your path. I think that that’s a really common thing. You never know. You never know what’s going to happen. Like I could be walking home and get hit by a car and be in the hospital for six months or something.
Tiffany: I hope not.
Tyler: I’m not going to, but, you know, like that can happen and it’s never in your plan. I think one thing that people don’t talk enough about is the emotional tax of entrepreneurship in general because it’s a constant, right? Like battling, I mean, not really… It depends on what type of entrepreneur you are, but in a lot of cases you’re working either solo or with one person or with five people. And in those cases, that’s your whole life, that’s your family, that’s your…like you spend all of your time with them. You think about all the things that you do together. And if you’re working by yourself like I am, it’s very like just lonely, right? And in my particular position, I’m coming in as a subject matter expert in anyone’s given business and I’m recommending this or that based on my analysis of the situation. And that’s even lonelier because then you don’t have anyone to like collaborate with. They’re bringing you in as a loner basically. So, it’s a difficult situation. I think that entrepreneurs, in general, like everything you read about entrepreneurship is about motivation this and, you know, grind this and look at the positives and all of this. But there’s all this stuff that happens internally that no one ever talks about.
Tiffany: So, besides well being alone, like what are some other things that have come up with entrepreneurship in you?
Tyler: Creativity. I mean, I’ve been really drawn to art actually since becoming an entrepreneur. And my first company was an app company, and my co-founder was a graphic designer. My co-founder quit and there was no one to do any graphic design, but there was a dev team. So, I just taught myself graphic design and then I felt really satisfied. Like the process of going from something on your screen on your phone and actually working is really, really satisfying. So, that was kind of my first professional exposure to art. And ever since I’ve been like wanting to do music and paint murals and paint on a canvas or whatever. And I just…I haven’t done enough of it, but I find myself being really drawn to art and I look around and see art everywhere, especially in Williamsburg. Art is everywhere.
Tiffany: I can totally see you being like super creative. What’s really cool about… I think you will like get more into art. I’ve also been getting more into art because I think it just open…it’s like play, it like opens the brain in different ways. Like, you work on art, but then you also see how things will link different in business. So, almost like everything’s connected. But like what kind of art have you been getting into or do you like use any types of like artists for inspiration, either in business or do you listen to certain like music while you’re working, or how does that…?
Tyler: Both of those things, actually. So one of the things that I love about Brooklyn and Williamsburg, like just Brooklyn, in general, is the murals everywhere, it’s unbelievable. Like you walk around and just like…I sometimes stop and I’ll stand there for like three minutes just staring at a mural because it’s incredible piece of art and it’s all over Williamsburg. But I recently went to the Bushwick Collective, which is just a whole street that’s lined with murals, like an unbelievable art. And I walk around like taking pictures of art. So, I’ve been really wanting to start an Instagram feed that is just like all just street art. So, that’s probably my favorite form of art right now. I’m not practicing it yet, but I’ve been inspired by Jim Carrey who basically stopped acting to pursue art because he talks about going through life and basically by the time he was 25, he’d accomplished everything he’d ever wanted.
And he’s like, “Okay, so now what?” And now he’s, I don’t know, 50 something and he’s like an incredible artist. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of his work, but he’s an incredible artist, like top-notch, does a lot of abstract stuff. So, I’ve been inspired by him because it’s crazy to see someone go from one industry just to something completely different. And then musically, I actually recently started listening to piano. What I’m trying to focus, I just listen to this Spotify playlist. It’s called “Peaceful Piano.”
Tiffany: Oh, I love that one.
Tyler: Yes. I just throw it on and just zone in.
Tiffany: I have a classical playlist I’ll share with you on Spotify. I also listen to not so “Peaceful Piano” usually before bed. Sometimes classical music could be a little startling, especially when you get into like orchestras and stuff like that. All of a sudden it can be very soft and then it goes like, you know, it feels like thunder and lightning. You’re like, “Ah, I’m trying to sleep.” But yeah, “Peaceful Piano,” I usually do for bed, but there’s some really great tracks that sometimes like if I’m in the like doing something and I’m like getting into work flow, it’ll spark all of the…like it all just like flowers blooming at really high speeds. That’s how it happens in my mind. Like sometimes…
Tyler: Those time lapse videos, right? Like when the sunrise is coming up over the desert and all of the flowers are blooming.
Tiffany: Exactly. That’s what happens when I listen to classical music before I work. So, that’s really cool. You’re this second or third person who’s mentioned Jim Carey to me recently. And so I just had to google it. Mostly so it’s all my computers so I could check it out later because otherwise, I forget. And you just reminded me of the other time, somebody told me about Jim Carrey, but that’s really cool.
Tyler: If you have Netflix, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” it’s a show.
Tiffany: Love it.
Tyler: Jim Carrey has an episode on there and they go to his art studio.
Tiffany: Oh, cool. I will definitely watch it. That’s a great show.
Tyler: Yeah. It’s so funny.
Tiffany: Love Jerry Seinfeld. Do you want to talk about your first company?
Tiffany: Okay. Go for it.
Tyler: Okay. So man, where do I begin? 2015, it’s currently 2018, January, and 2015 I decided that I wanted to start a business. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be, but I was going to start a business. So at the time, I was working for a branch of Caterpillar and I was determined to start this business no matter what. The first version of it, a couple of friends and I got together and we were talking about making cases for these little like tinkerer computers, they’re called raspberry pies. I’m sure some of your audience knows them. So we’re going to make some cases for them. So, we had like two mechanical engineers, me, the supply chain guy, and then a computer scientist. It was basically just four friends sitting around a room like banging out ideas of how we were going to start some sort of business.
So, that went on for…we met on a schedule like a Tuesday, Thursday kind of schedule, where Tuesday was the first catch-up, Thursday was like, what did you do and then what’s the plan for the next week? And that was cool. We ended up doing that for like a few months. Didn’t end up going anywhere. But the first couple sessions we were just shooting around ideas of different businesses that we would start and we came up with like 20 different business ideas. We were giving them point scales and all kinds of different stuff. That group ended up fizzling out for one reason or another. I mean, no reason in particular, but it just didn’t end up going anywhere. And then there was a little bit of a break in time. Then I decided I was still going to start a business. So, I started going to this co-working space in San Diego and I would go there at 5:00 a.m. initially. I would go there at 5:00 a.m. every single day and I spent from 5:00 a.m. until like 8:00 a.m. working there.
Then I’d go to my regular job and then I would go home. But in the time that I was spending there, I was just reading news about technology and about different types of businesses and trying to get inspiration reading. Like it was more so about the habit than it was about like actually working on something. Then in this whole quest for figuring out what was kind of the right thing for me to do, I decided that I’m really passionate about events. Like I think that events are a great way for people to connect with their cities, right? Like you never feel more at home with your city than when you’re like out at some street fair or, you know, like farmer’s market or like some annual event that’s going on. So, I started looking at the event space and I found out that there’s not really a good way to discover what’s going on in your city at a given time that like meets your interest.
So, started banging away on that idea and then my passion just like caught on fire and I started losing sleep over it and I would wake up in the middle of the night. I get, no exaggeration, at 1:00 a.m. and I would just be like, I can’t sleep. So, I’d leave and go to my co-working space and then work from like 1:30 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. on the business and then work from, I don’t know, 8:00 to 5:00 or whatever on at my regular job. So, that went on for a while, like a year. And then I found this co-founder that I had just mentioned who didn’t end up staying with me, but she was also working in the app space, generally, doing graphic design and branding and things like that. So, she was a good co-founder for me. I was doing more analytics. We outsourced the development.
Ended up getting the first version of the app built. And that time I was sort of looking to raise money because in 2015 like people weren’t doing that, you came up with an app idea and then raised money on the idea.
Tiffany: Yeah. What was the app called?
Tyler: It was called Ekology with a K.
Tyler: And it has cool little monkey logo that no longer exists. It’s all in dust now. So, at that time I met someone who was trying to connect me with some investors, and I went through probably a hundred different times where I was planned to meet up with these investors and then it got canceled. They were investors from big investment firms in Silicon Valley, like big venture capital firms.
Tiffany: And were you still in San Diego or had you already moved to SF?
Tyler: I was still in San Diego. So, after about 6 months, no exaggeration, probably 100 canceled meetings, I ended up finding out that the person who was setting me up with all of these meetings was completely lying to me the whole time. Never had any of the connections that like were advertised. It was all just a total ruse. So, it was like…
Tiffany: How did you find that out?
Tyler: Oh man, that’s a story in and of itself. Basically, I was being texted by this number who said that they were a somewhat famous Silicon Valley CEO. And then I ended up catching the person texting me from that number on their phone at a dinner. So, you can imagine just like the soul-crushing, just anger that comes out about that. And at this time I’d already quit my job to pursue the business because I was reasonably certain that we were going to raise money.
Tiffany: How long did that go on?
Tyler: For like six months.
Tiffany: Maybe they were just giving you hope and that’s all you needed.
Tyler: I mean, I kept after it no matter what. So…
Tiffany: That’s wild.
Tyler: After quitting my job on the presumption that I was going to raise money, I was kind of stuck and I’m in San Diego, which is not the place to be building a technology company. So, at the time that I caught, like did I found out that none of that was true, I had already planned to get out of my place in San Diego. And so, I was planning on living with that person in San Francisco. So, all of that came crumbling down. And at the time I think I had…
Tiffany: The fraud? You were going to live with the fraud?
Tyler: Yeah. Not, like pre-fraud era. Pre-fraud knowledge.
Tiffany: But, I mean, how did they think that that was going to last?
Tyler: You can’t really explain the behavior of a psychopath.
Tiffany: Right? Wow.
Tyler: So, at this time, I have 20 days left in my apartment. Stuff’s already being moved out. I have nowhere to live because the plan was to live in San Francisco with the fraud. So, I got out of my place, moved most of my stuff into storage and slept on the floor of my friend of a friend’s house for like 10 days because I didn’t know what I was going to do. After the 10 days came up, I was just like, screw it. I need to be in San Francisco. That’s where technology is happening. So, I moved to San Francisco. I packed three bags and I left. In that time, I bought a car. Because I had a little bit of cash, I bought a Honda Civic Hybrid, packed my bags and went to San Francisco, and then was planning on using the car to drive Uber or Lyft while I was there, and figure it out when I get there. So, I get to San Francisco and I have a month in this like absolute trap house. It’s just like so bad, so dirty. Oh, God. The people that lived there or like were crashing there were just awful. All the rooms were split into like twos. We’re on these like 1950s mattresses. It was just like I felt…but I felt some sort of like pride about it because it was like, “Yeah, I’m doing this, I’m doing this, I’m doing this.”
So, that went on for a month, and in that month I was driving Uber or Lyft because I’m a supporter of Lyft. I mean, the weird thing about San Francisco is, people judge you, whether you ride Uber or Lyft, they’re like, “So, what do you ride?” And you say one or the other. And they go, “Hmm, interesting.”
Tiffany: So, I’m more partial to Lyft. What would be the reaction?
Tyler: They’d be like, “Oh, you’re a good person.”
Tiffany: Oh, okay. Yeah.
Tyler: If you rode Uber, because that’s when like a lot of the attention was happening. This is 2016 now. So, in that month, I picked up this girl driving Lyft who was like…we just got to talking and I was like, “Yeah, I just moved.” I told her my, like, quick story. I was like, “Yeah, I just moved here. I founded a technology company,” this and that. And she’s like, “Have you ever heard of the Negev?” And I was like, “What’s the Negev?” And she was like, “It’s a co-living space in San Francisco, in Soma. And basically, everyone who lives there is working on technology.” And I was like, “I’ve never heard of it, but this sounds like heaven. I’m going to have to check it out.” So, I checked it out. Took a tour. It’s on 6th and Howard, which if you know anything about San Francisco, that is literally the worst intersection, like, so trashy. There’s human poop everywhere, like needles, just the worst. So, I’m like, screw it. And I go check it out. The people seem cool, so I decided I’m going to, like, be okay with the neighborhood.
Tiffany: You’re like, it can’t be worse than where I’m at.
Tyler: Exactly. And that was sort of outside of the city at the time. So, after one month of living in that Airbnb, I moved into the Negev, which was like one of the best things I’ve ever done. I met so many cool people there. Just so many really brilliant people working on all kinds of different things like language processing, cryptocurrency, hardware, like you name it, everything was happening there. So, in my year of living there, it was just like a really good community to connect with, which is kind of the opposite of what I have here, which is kind of like the position I’m in now. But I spent a year living there and I moved into that place on September 1st, and on September 12th, I was going to the world series of conferences for technology companies, which is called Tech Crunch Disrupt. Well, I mean, if you don’t know anything about technology conferences, you think that’s the world series. So, go to Tech Crunch Disrupt, and I’m like pitching my face off, like, just…
Tiffany: How’d you do that?
Tyler: I paid $2,500 to go to this conference with the hope that I would be like connected with investors. Because at this point all of my investor potential has dried up and I’m getting into… I’m new to San Francisco and I need to like find investors because I only have so much money and I’m running out.
Tiffany: But do you just go and then you meet a bunch of people and you pitch to them or is there something set up?
Tyler: You have a “booth” which is a 36-inch round table.
Tiffany: Oh, got it. Okay.
Tyler: And like three feet on your side.
Tiffany: So, you like exhibited at the conference?
Tiffany: Got. Okay.
Tyler: Yeah. So, I’m exhibiting at this conference, which is like, I don’t know, I’d been like a big tech junkie for a while. So, I’m like following Tech Crunch news, I’m like listening to their podcasts, all that. And so, I’m feeling like pretty good at this point. Like I’m at the world series here. So I’m pitching, pitching, pitching, make like 50 good connections and followed up with all of them. None of them went anywhere. So, that was in September. Around that time, I had also gotten sort of official word that I was going to be allowed to sort of host on Facebook the SantaCon event in San Francisco for 2016, which was exciting because part of my user acquisition strategy was to host events. And then when the brand becomes recognizable, people will associate the app with a good time, etc., etc. And on top of that, you’re making money and not just spending money to acquire users.
Tiffany: I think I asked you this, but just for the audience, how’d you get to host SantaCon?
Tyler: So in September also, or August, I think I reached out to, there’s some website called like santacon.net something. And I reached out to the guy who ran the website and I was like, “Hey, what’s up with the people who host SantaCon in San Francisco?” I want to be involved because this was my user acquisition strategy and SantaCon, I know, is like one of the biggest events ever. So, he was like, “Let me reach out to them.” Reaches out to them, they don’t get back to him. He tells me that and he’s like, “Yeah, so if you want to host it, go ahead. It’s all you.” So, I just created the Facebook event. Facebook event went viral. I had 1500 responses in the first like 6 hours. It was insane, all for just like…and I’m just some guy creating this Facebook event.
Tiffany: And this was it…what date was this?
Tyler: This was also September, September 20th.
Tiffany: Okay. So, eight days after your world series.
Tyler: So, I get like 1600 responses in the first, you know, a couple of hours. And then next day someone creates another event and it’s the weekend before mine. And I’m like, “Oh God, who is this guy?” Ended up finding out who the guy is. And he and I meet up and I was like, “Let’s just combine our efforts, like this is stupid.” And he’s like, “Okay.” So, we ended up combining our efforts and sort of, like, he wanted to acquire users to his app as well. So, that’s sort of how it ended up working out. But that conversation happened in a bar in like North Beach and we were just trying to figure it out as entrepreneurs, both of us.
Tiffany: Are you friends with him? No?
Tyler: Softly. There’s kind of a rivalry between us. It was never really like warm and fuzzy. But yeah, so we finished Disrupt, the SantaCon is coming up, and by the time we reached SantaCon, that event had, I want to say, 1.9 million impressions and I want to say like 100,000 responses one way or the other. So, at this time we’re looking good for investors, right? Like we’re on this trajectory. SantaCon happens, we acquire like 1500 new users that day. It was insane. Like our growth graph was literally flat to 1500. Not really, but like there was like a few hundred thousand and like just blew up right there. So, that was a good sign. So, this is like the moment I have to capitalize on, right? Because now I have a graph, it’s up into the right. I just need to like pitches to investors. I’m like busting my ass trying to get this stuff done. Put together a one-pager for investors, set up a couple of meetings. I ended up finding out that I have a family friend who’s a venture capitalist in San Francisco. Meet with him and he invested in Draft Kings, like so he’s like made his name. And he’s just like, “Yeah, it’s just…no, it’s just not going to happen.”
So, I went through, I don’t know, not very many meetings by Silicon Valley standards of people telling me no, and I was kind of okay with it and then I think a lot of… I stopped believing that it could work and it was just because I had been working on that for like two and a half years or like more or less. So, I just stopped believing that it could work. And there’s a lot of reasons why I stopped believing that I could work because there’s a lot of competition in that market and a lot of people have done exactly that same thing and it didn’t work out for them. And, you know, so, I sort of surrendered, which I’m not proud of, but sometimes you got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. And it was time to fold them for me because putting any more time and money…like I wasn’t financially ruined and putting any more time and money into that would have led me down the path of financial ruin, and I wasn’t really willing to put that on the line. So, that’s sort of the story. The rise and the fall of Ekology, I’m not sure. It’s quite the saga.
Tiffany: I feel like there’s so many questions to ask just about one thing that also one of the companies that I started, we started with like weekly…a group of us like started with weekly meetings and assigning tasks and like following up with each other and that went on for a few months. And then some people dropped off. And so that’s like a commonality that I see. And then the other one was, you said you were going to the co-working space and working, but like researching and like getting into the industry knowledge and that kind of stuff just to develop the power of habit. And I’m a huge fan of just doing things to make a habit of it, especially if they break other like old habits. But that’s a super interesting perspective. I think that not a whole lot of people have. So, I’m wondering where it came from in you.
Tyler: So, that’s a good question. I would say I started working out religiously when I was like 15 years old and I still work out to this day, and that really sets you on a regiment. Like it sets you, like you make really conscious choices on your food. At the time I was kind of like going to work and then I’d go to the gym and then I’d go home. Like that was my routine. So, it was like, is there more time in this routine to squeeze something else in? And the answer was yes, just not in the middle of the day. So, I found that that was okay because my best brain time was early in the morning and like, no one’s awake anyway. Like I’m not getting any text messages, I’m not talking to anyone else. It’s fine. I’m like completely alone in my zone. And on the topic of this emotional like journey that you go on as an entrepreneur, I can remember I would wake up every single day and I would turn on a motivational clip from YouTube and I was listening to…what’s that guy’s name? I can’t remember. Anyway, there’s this motivational speaker. I was listening to him every single day and I can remember times going on my drive to the co-working space becoming so overwhelmed with emotion. Just being so proud that I’m working on something that I’m really passionate about and finally like chasing my dreams, that I like was moved to tears, and it was extremely powerful and overwhelming and just like something that is burned into my mind, like the benchmark of me really pursuing something.
Tiffany: Yeah. I think like it feels good to work and it feels good to work on something that you like working on.
Tyler: I think that the latter is more important than the former.
Tiffany: I’ve been toying with the idea that the enjoyment doesn’t necessarily come from doing something that you already like, but enjoying some…finding the joy in things that aren’t as likable, and not something that I’ve been really practicing or been trying to practice lately because… And that’s actually sort of what has added to my lack of alcohol this year is because it’s like really easy to be yourself. Really easy to have fun on drugs and alcohol and easy to open up to people or, you know, like when you get a couple drinks in, I know when I was dating, like I pretty much make out with anybody after a couple of drinks, right? But to me, it’s like finding enjoyment in the things that are more difficult to enjoy. And I think that’s probably what our age, like people our age are really having like a lot of trouble with, don’t you? I don’t know about you, but a lot of my friends are like dissatisfied with work and their jobs because maybe they’re not doing what they think that they’re best at doing or maybe they’re not working toward something that they’re passionate about.
Tyler: I think that’s the key right there. Working towards something you’re passionate about is important. Feeling like a cog in the wheel is not really like satisfying. And on top of that, there’s a really important part of satisfaction is making progress and whether or not you know something going in doesn’t really matter. But if you’re constantly making progress and getting more knowledgeable on that topic, it’s very satisfying. And that was my experience because I didn’t know anything about apps before I started my company, which plenty of people in San Francisco were quick to tell me. You know, that’s fine.
Tiffany: Yeah, that’s awesome.
Tyler: But the satisfaction, like I was saying earlier, the satisfaction of teaching myself how to design then seeing it on a computer screen, then seeing it on my phone working after someone had written the code to make it work the way I told them to, unbelievable. I’ve never felt anything more satisfying in my life. Like there was this post that I made on Facebook when I was at Disrupt SF and it was a picture of me at my booth and it said, “Never been so proud of anything in my life.” And that is the summit of progress towards a goal.
Tiffany: I totally agree with you. It just feels good to work towards something. I’ve felt more of that this year, no, 2018, but over the past year than I have, I think, in my life, too.
Tyler: Yeah. I also think it comes and goes, right? Because lately, I’m not…I’m working less on…towards a goal and more on like a stable platform, which is a deviation from the prior, right? Like it’s not like the goal is not to like build this company that is huge. Like the goal is to make an impact with clients and have a recurring client base that has that support me and, you know, my business and are very satisfied with the service that I give them. And it’s completely different than trying to like take on the world of technology or take on the world in general.
Tiffany: It is. But I think it’s a little bit related because you keep…it’s like that routine and you could always change your goals, too. Like your goals may change in two years. So, super cool. I’m always fascinated by your stories. You have some really cool ones.
Tyler: Yeah. I’ve been told that my life has a lot of drama, which I agree with. It’s been quite a bit of drama.
Tiffany: Is there anything…? Oh wait, like what are you…so you’re working on a couple of partnerships right now. Is there anything else you’re working on or is there anything else, I don’t know, you’d like to share?
Tyler: Sure. So, yeah. I’m working on these couple of partnerships and they do product development, but I would really like to transition into fashion because now that I’m in New York, I think that there’s so many companies that are based here or at least have offices here. There’s a major opportunity in consulting in fashion because a lot of these companies invest a lot of money in inventory that doesn’t really move at the rate that they would like it to. And that’s where I come in. So, the ideal is to basically improve cash flow by essentially making inventory move faster or making it come in slower or whatever it is, like keeping cadence with the market and then making adjustments. So, I’m sort of exploring some partnerships there. I reached out to this other consulting company that focuses specifically on fashion last week. I haven’t heard back yet, but hoping for a call with them.
I would like to become like a partner of theirs or something, but fashion is probably my next sort of venture, I think. And I think that that’s another important thing entrepreneurship has taught me is like you can’t be stuck, first of all, you can’t be tied to your identity. Like you can have no emotions towards your identity because your identity is going to change even if you don’t want it to. And even if you do the same things your whole life, your identity is going to change because like at the time where I was working on my app company, my identity was completely tied up in my app company. That was like my passion. It was just everything to me. And now that I’ve sort of chopped off that piece of my identity, after regrow like a new piece of it, which is that I still am doing manufacturing, which is something that I love and I’m still trying to stay in the technology space at some level, but I’m also really interested in fashion just because on one side the margins are so good that you can’t really like ignore it.
And on the other side, it’s just a kind of a cool industry. And I’m really into like…at some level, I’m into what it represents. I don’t love the vanity aspect of it, but I like that it’s just like ever-changing and kind of innovative.
Tiffany: I like it too. I like that it’s self…it’s art. It’s like self-expression.
Tyler: Exactly. Yeah. And how people dress is also their own like form of art, self-expression.
Tiffany: Yeah. And you can be with fashion. And it doesn’t necessarily have to mean like what’s in fashion, but just means like your style. And probably other people maybe in fashion would disagree with me, but it’s like you can be somebody new every day.
Tyler: Fashion is putting a person off the street in a suit and making them look like a polished professional. Like that’s the simplest example.
Tiffany: You’re in Williamsburg. Do you have any favorite neighborhood spots?
Tyler: Yeah, there’s this place called Devoción. It’s a coffee shop I just discovered last week and it’s pretty incredible, but I should probably keep that quiet. Otherwise, all your listeners are going to go there and then I’m not going to be able to get my coffee.
Tiffany: Where’s it located?
Tyler: In Williamsburg.
Tiffany: I know, but like what are the streets?
Tyler: I can’t recall.
Tiffany: Is it like…is it by you, like South Williamsburg?
Tyler: No, it’s in this area somewhere. I want to say it’s on like North 5th and [inaudible 00:53:29].
Tiffany: Okay. So, it’s close.
Tiffany: Oh, okay, cool. It’s like towards a water a little bit.
Tiffany: Yeah. Nice.
Tyler: Oh, another place I love is La Esquina in Manhattan. It’s like this speakeasy Mexican restaurant where you walk into like a taco stand and then you go down into the basement and there’s like this bumping club-slash…I don’t know, super rustic looking Mexican restaurant going on and they have amazing food and it’s always just kind of going off, super low lights. Very, like, very cool. Very New York.
Tiffany: I love Mexican food. Well, we’re from California, but Mexican food here is really great, too.
Tyler: And I hate to break it to everyone, but LA Mexican food is the best Mexican food. San Diego is no good. San Francisco is good. It’s a close second to LA.
Tiffany: I haven’t had a whole lot of Mexican food in San Francisco, but LA…
Tyler: Have you been to the Mission?
Tiffany: Oh, I’ve been to the mission. I just haven’t like had a whole lot of Mexican food there. LA, definitely like delicious. New York has pretty good Mexican food, too. If you’re ever craving tacos, call me up. I will go eat tacos with you any day.
Tyler: We have tacos at that place at one time.
Tiffany: Probably if you were…I always want tacos.
Tyler: I don’t remember what it was called, but it was good.
Tiffany: There’s two spots in Chelsea market that are really great. There’s a Spot By Me called Chilo’s.
Tyler: I should be asking you, you’ve been here longer than me. You know the spots.
Tiffany: Oh no, I mean, like those…I love tacos. Michael Burges is one of my favorite neighborhood spots. It’s a market and a restaurant and they have like a bunch of local beers. They’re open till like 4:00 a.m. and they do a sandwich special at nighttime, like a late night menu. It’s delicious. It’s $5. And it’s like probably the best chicken sandwich you’ll ever have. Chilo’s, this is another favorite spot. Clementine is like one of my favorite coffee shops. But yeah, I’m in Clinton Hill.
Tyler: I will say, if you like a green bowl, the place to go is called Loco Coco. And I know there’s one on mid in Midtown East or upper East side on like 62nd. I’m not sure if there’s any others, but unbelievable green bowls. I’ll say eat those, all of that.
Tiffany: Oh, nice. Yeah.
Tyler: Keep that one in your back pocket.
Tiffany: Thanks, Tyler. Yeah, man. I feel like I could ask you questions for days. Like, I’m really curious about how, like, I admire your mindset a lot.
Tyler: Thanks. What do you mean by that?
Tiffany: Well, a couple things that I had already asked you about were like the habit, your like ability to just like kind of let things go. I like your moral compass, like totally respect that. I like that you reflect on things. I like that you, I don’t know, you always seem to land on your feet. I feel like that like some people may say that’s luck or like a blessing, but I have this strange feeling that it’s linked to your mindset somehow.
Tyler: I think, on this topic, I think one of the things about entrepreneurship, in general, is you always build up the potential downside to much worse than it is. And maybe this is my mindset on it. I don’t know. But for someone who’s working at a job and they want to quit that job to start a business and you think the worst possible scenario of how that could go, it’s not going to be that bad. Like life goes on. So, that’s something that I’ve learned in the last few years. Just about this in general. Just kind of, like, it’s never as bad as you think.
Tiffany: Yeah, sometimes I ask myself, actually this might be an interesting question for you. Is that how you make decisions on making like big leaps of faith or jumps? Because sometimes I get stuck on…not to make this like a therapy session for Tiff over here, but sometimes I get stuck on indecision or being unable to decide when in reality so I can logically say just make a decision and move ahead. And you can always either go backwards or you could step sideways or you could step forward and it leads you on a completely different path. But sometimes I still feel stuck in making a decision. So, is that like a tool you use is just looking at the potential downside and just being like, all right, that’s not that bad?
Tyler: Yeah. I mean, that’s part of it. I think the other thing is you never…you think you’re stepping backwards but you’re not, you’re never stepping backwards. Because like the lessons you’re learning along the way are invaluable and you’ll never learn those lessons if you don’t take the step. So, I think that that’s a place that people get caught up in. Because when I was in my corporate career I was very, like, I was doing very well. And like in a lot of ways you would think I have taken a step backwards. But I think in sort of taking this step backwards, you get to look at what’s ahead and figure out which path you actually want to take given what you have like on your back or whatever. So, I would say that I’m more, I don’t know, more prone to taking risks than others, but same time, I view this period of my life as that time, which is, you know, I’m in my late 20s now and I don’t really have that much to lose.
Even though the perception is that you have a lot to lose, you don’t really have that much to lose. And that’s a luxury. Like that’s not always going to be the case. I don’t have mouths to feed other than my own. I don’t have a mortgage. Like I don’t have any of that. And that’s on purpose. Like I’ve made it a point up, up to the last seven years since I got out of school to not have like mouths to feed and a mortgage because that gives me the freedom to kind of do this, which is definitely an exploratory period in my life. So, I would say for you, same thing. You don’t have anything to lose, right? You just need to change your view on it.
Tiffany: Oh, totally. Yeah. That’s good advice. Do you visualize? Oh, this is what I was going to ask you. We’ll come back to visualization. But how… Okay. When you started listening to that, the speaker on your way to like every morning, how did that come about? Because that’s another mindset thing, a mindset tool that I use all the time. And what’s interesting about both of our knowledges is you and I know a lot of the same stuff, but we have had completely different avenues of getting there. And so, what fascinates me about where you’ve gotten your knowledge is that exactly where you’ve gotten it from. So, how did you get into listening to this like motivational speaker every single morning when you woke up? And did you know that that’s an actual thing to like prime your brain?
Tyler: I think I intuitively knew it. But it came about when I started working out in the mornings because it’s tough, right? It gets tough to wake up.
Tiffany: Oh, it’s so hard to wake out in the morning.
Tyler: And go to the gym. But when you spend 10 minutes, let’s say, listening to this person tell you you’re amazing and to tell you that all of your dreams are in front of you and that you’re going to make today a great day, like it’s a very passive way to have a very positive impact on your life and on your day. And if you do that every single day, it just…your day is made, you know, 5% better every day. I just found that to be really useful for me and I never stopped doing it. So, I mean, I have stopped. I will say that on the topic of habits and this one, in particular, I think that part of the reason why I gave up on Ekology is because my habits weren’t good, but my habits weren’t good because of where I lived, because it was a very difficult situation. So, I think habits are everything, personally. I mean, everything you read from a lot of successful people is just like worship your habits and everything else will come. So, that’s how I got started on it.
Tiffany: So, for anybody listening who has not tried this, do it every single morning.
Tyler: I even recommend the same video. Like I listened to the same video hundreds of times.
Tiffany: I also…I don’t do video. I do only audio. I just got this, last time I was in Australia, a yoga teacher introduced me to an app called Insight Timer. And one of the great things about Insight Timer is it has guided meditation. It has affirmation. It has basically everything that you need, has just music. And I listened to a lot of affirmations, which would be like that motivational speaker saying like, “You are awesome. All of your dreams are coming true. I am walking into like the situation of my dreams,” and, you know, like over and over and over and over again. And I listened to several of those every single morning. And it’s really important to get it done in the morning because that’s when you prime your brain for your entire day. So, you set yourself up to be in that mode for the rest of the day. So, give it a try.
Tyler: Yeah. And my method is I would just go to YouTube, search motivation, and then click randomly. Sometimes I would click the same one. Then after a while I created a little playlist of my favorite ones, and I’ll go back to those ones. There’s some that are even focused on waking up. There’s like if you type wake up motivation, there’s like these incredible videos that will just make you feel like you’re a savage going into the day and you’re just gonna like absolutely be the savage and you’re going to tear it apart. So, that is something that I highly recommend as well.
Tiffany: I love it. Yeah. Great.
Tyler: I will say even those nights that I woke up at 1:00 a.m. and I couldn’t sleep and I would go in to work on my company, I was getting in the car and listening to those videos. It was the first thing I needed to do.
Tiffany: That’s funny you say that because I didn’t sleep at all last night. I just couldn’t, I don’t know why. And I just…like, at some point, I just started listening to the recordings. It’s like, all right. I guess my day is starting now. Cool. I guess last-ish question is, well, I have two actually because I have two, do you visualize? Do you use visualization as a tool consciously?
Tyler: I haven’t to date, and that’s probably to my demise. I should. I mean, I tried to, but I’m too selective when I do. I always try to when I’m going into like an important meeting. I always think positively about like sitting across from the other person and having them smile and we’re sharing a laugh. Like that’s obviously the sign of any good meeting. And I try to visualize that a lot when it’s like a meeting or an interview or a dinner or something like that. But I don’t do it as much as I should, which is at a much bigger scale than that. I should be visualizing everything.
Tiffany: And do you have any superpowers that you know of?
Tyler: I would say courage is probably my superpower. I’m overflowing with courage as an entrepreneur in general. It’s like I don’t have any… I’m always on the positive side. I’m always saying like… Because the thing about courage is if you don’t muster up the courage to make the decision that you really want in your heart, you’re going to think about that forever. Like in 10 years you’re going to say you should have done it, and in 10 years you’re going to be saying that other person who started that business that was super successful, that I totally had that idea. Don’t be that person. Like just get the courage and do it yourself. So, courage is my superpower. Like I had the courage to start a technology company with zero technology experience. Stupid. I don’t know. But courage is…
Tiffany: Sometimes when we do things they could look really stupid or it could look really courageous, right?
Tyler: I mean, I was convinced so it didn’t really matter.
Tiffany: Yeah. It doesn’t matter.
Tyler: It doesn’t matter if I’m right or wrong, I’m convinced.
Tiffany: Oh, it doesn’t matter at all.
Tyler: So, yeah, with courage comes conviction, which is another important trait.