The interviews below are part of a series of conversations that took place between myself and Charlie and Paul, the founders of DummyGoat.com. These interviews were conducted to get a sense of their personal goals, where they see their product coming in, and where they want to take it in the future.
Charlie, like many people who get inspired by YouTube videos, saw the need to create a tool to help him become a more effective speaker. He saw a niche in a market that didn’t yet have a great solution, and decided to fill it. To begin with, he created a form where he could collect speaker’s notes, and started using them to help him practice his presenting skills. After around six or seven months of hard work, he released his first version of the product, which was named DummyGoat because it was made with no other goal than to help speakers like him.
In terms of the direction that he sees the platform taking, he wants to create a one-stop-shop for all of a speaker’s needs, particularly giving him the confidence to present in front of large groups. He imagines that the tool will eventually replace his need to write an entire presentation manuscript, which is currently around 70 pages long.
Paul, like Charlie, found himself frustrated when trying to organize his thoughts before speaking. So, like many founders before him, he set out to build a tool to help him out. However, unlike Charlie, his goal was to create a tool that could be used by anyone, and for any purpose. As a result, he named his product Whisper, and designed it to be a completely open platform.
This feature was probably his biggest differentiator from the rest of the competition, and it is what truly put Whisper ahead of the competition. Essentially, Whisper is a tool for creating collections of links and other content, that can be shared with others via email or social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
With a background in journalism, and having worked with some of the biggest names in media, his original idea was to build a one-stop-shop for reporters, where they can find the news stories that they need, curated from all over the world.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
When asked about their vision for the future of their platform, Charlie and Paul both talked about the importance of focusing on the experience of the user, and the fact that they don’t yet have a good sense of what their product will look like or how it will function in five years time.
“I think about this all the time,” said Charlie. “I don’t know what we’ll have, but I imagine that there will be a version of this that is much more sophisticated than what we have now. We have this basic product that helps people practice, and I think that in the next few years we’ll have more tools that will make practicing much easier.”
“We’re definitely not finished innovating,” said Paul. “I feel like we’re just scratching the surface. I think about this all the time too, and I don’t know what we’ll have in five years. I want to make sure that we haven’t hit a dead end in terms of creating new products. We’ve done a lot, but there’s still more that we can do, and more that the community can do.”
What have you learned from building and growing your business to date?
Charlie and Paul both cited the importance of staying focused on the long-term, and learning from the experiences of others. While they hadn’t set out to build a business, they soon found themselves doing so, and learned a lot in the process.
“I think that it’s really important to have a long-term vision and be able to look back on what you’ve done and know that it all makes sense,” said Charlie. “It’s easy to get lost in the process of building your own business, but you have to keep your eyes on the prize.”
“I think that being able to look back and see all of the successes that you’ve had is essential,” said Paul. “It’s easy to get lost in the process of building a business, but once you’ve done that you have to be able to look back and say, ‘I had a good run there’.”
What are the major challenges you face as a business owner, leader, or manager?
The two brothers both talked about the mental and physical challenges that they faced as they built and grew their business. While they had both done some research into the subject, neither of them had really dealt with these issues directly, until now.
“It was really challenging to find our place in the world,” said Paul. “We didn’t really have any experience in this area, so it was quite the learning curve. The biggest challenge, and this is quite a general one, is just finding enough time to do everything. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.”
“It’s finding the right people to help you on this crazy journey,” said Charlie. “You’re the owner of a business, and sometimes you feel like you’re doing everything yourself, and no one around you has the skills that you need. You can get so involved in this that you start to ignore or forget about the real world, which is quite a dangerous place to be.”
How has being an owner of a business changed your life?
Charlie and Paul each talked about the different ways that being an owner of a business had changed their lives. For Charlie, it was about creating the space and time to pursue his passions, which include spending time with his family and playing music. While he still loves to give talks and has done so throughout the years, it’s not something that he does on a full-time basis. He also runs his own record label, which releases music by himself and other independent artists.
For Paul, being an owner of a business gave him the opportunity to do the things that he loves most, like traveling and working with brands that he admires. He talks a lot about how much he enjoys helping others find their place in the world, and how fulfillment that brings him. He also talked a lot about how much he enjoys being a part of brands that he feels strongly about, and helping them to create change, which also brings him great satisfaction.
What is one piece of advice you would give to entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Both Charlie and Paul have some very valuable advice for entrepreneurs who are just starting out. First, they both agreed that it’s essential to have a clear goal in mind, and to work hard to achieve it. They also both talked about the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are smarter and more experienced than you are. Finally, they both said that it’s important to build a network, both within your company and outside of it, so that you can access resources when you need them, and people who can help you bring your vision to life.