Welcome to the Join Up Dots Business Coaching Podcast with Growlr Founder Geoff Cook
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Introducing The Growlr Founder Geoff Cook
Today’s guest joining us on the Join Up Dots business coaching is a serial entrepreneur and public company CEO.
He started his first company from a Harvard dorm and sold it for millions of dollars at age 24.
He sold his second company for $100 million.
Of all the guests that have appeared on Join Up Dots he is one of the hardest to research.
Most have a fixed talent base that they spin their ventures around.
However our guest seems more than most to be an “idea” man who has an idea, finds an audience and then BOOM business time.
He is currently the CEO and co-founder of The Meet Group (NASDAQ: MEET), a social dating and live-streaming company with a $400+ million market cap.
He has also spent $200 million in the last 3 years buying 4 companies, including most recently, Growlr, a dating app for gay bears.
How The Dots Joined UP For Geoff Cook
If you have no idea what a Gay Bear is (I do as I Googled it) this will of course become clear in today’s show.
Geoff also runs the leading podcast player, Podcoin, which is an app that pays a digital currency called Podcoin to listen to podcasts.
Geoff is the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner for the Philadelphia Region.
He is also a children’s book author of “Veronica And The Volcano” and a mentor at Princeton University’s Keller Center.
So as you can see this interview can literally go in any direction, with any question fitting perfectly.
I suppose a great one to start with is what is his definition of an entrepreneur, and is this a title that is earnt or actually born with?
And do the ideas come more and more easily once the first shoots of success occur in a business?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Geoff Cook.
During the show we discussed such weight subjects with Geoff Cook such as:
Geoff revealed how he never claimed the badge of an entrepreneur when he first started earning his own cash. It was just something that he did.
Geoff talked about his early stages in business and how he knew that he would need to scale as soon as possible
We discuss about Product Market fit, and why it is so important to try you best to fit three key strategies – entertainment, status and utility.
Why Geoff feels that the Live Streaming is still in its infancy and is ready to explode in all our lives. Watch out NBC and CBS!
Books By Geoff Cook
How To Connect With Chief Growlr Geoff Cook
Of course if you want to listen to all our episodes then jump across to the Podcast Archive simply by clicking here
Audio Transcription With Growlr Founder Geoff Cook’s Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling join up dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK David Ralph
David Ralph [0:21]
Yes, good morning to Well, good morning to everywhere whoever’s tuning in. To join up dots thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for all the communication we’re getting and the people that are quite simply telling us that the content is changing their lives. Well. Today’s content will certainly inspire because he is a guest that’s joining us on the show, because he’s a serial entrepreneur and a public company CE o now he started his first company for my Harvard dorm and sold it for millions of dollars at age 24. He sold his second company for 100 million. Now of all the guests ever join up dots he is one of the hardest to research. Most, I think have a fixed talent base that I spin their ventures around. However, our guest seems more than most to be an idea man who has an idea finds an audience and then boom, it’s business time. He’s currently the CEO and the co founder of the meetup group as social dating and live streaming company with a 400 plus million market cap. He’s also spent 200 million the last three years buying for companies, including most recently Growler, a dating app for gay bears. And yes, I had to Google what that was. If you have no idea what a gay bear is, it’s going to come out in today’s show. Now Jeff also runs the leading podcast player pod coin, which is an app that pays a digital currency called pod coin to listens to podcast. Easy Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award is also a children’s book offer for Veronica and the volcano and a mentor at Princeton University’s Keller center. So as you can see, this is an interview that can literally go in any direction we have any question fitting perfectly. Now, I suppose I suppose a great one to start with, is what is his definition of an entrepreneur? And is this a title that is earned or actually born? And do the ideas come more and more easily once the first shoots of success occur in a business? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start join up dots with the one and only Mr. Geoff Cook.
Morning, Geoff, how are you sir?
Growlr Geoff Cook [2:26]
Very good. Very good. Thanks for having me.
David Ralph [2:29]
It’s great to have you here. It sounds like New York City is live baffling you. We can hear ambulances, we can hear the city that never sleeps going on? Is it busy there today?
Growlr Geoff Cook [2:42]
Yes, very busy traffic was quite a bit thick just to come in here. So it’s raining a little bit as well. We’ve got one over you. And because it’s a glorious
David Ralph [2:52]
day here outside my window, but I callsign trapped doing what I do. Now I’m going to jump straight to it. Now the obvious question is I’m going to lead to later, which is what is a gay bear? And I’m sure that most people ask you that question. And I did actually have to Google it, which is the first time I’ve ever done anything like that. But I’m going to go with the first leading one, which is, What is your definition of an entrepreneur? Because we hear the word so many people save a Barrett, but when I look at your background, I would say is quite obviously you are it. So what do you think of an entrepreneur?
Growlr Geoff Cook [3:28]
Yeah, you know, I think I think an entrepreneur is someone who pushes forward an idea. So you know, I never really fashion to myself and entrepreneur, when I was just starting a lot of my ideas that then become onto other people then describe as entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial ideas kind of just start out from a desire to stubbornly pursue something. And, you know, if you think about if I think about, like the best entrepreneurs, I tend to think about people who just feel like they have a mission to make something that probably most people think it’s silly, a reality, despite, you know, often despite whatever facts on the ground might be, and so, and then the successful ones pull it off, and the unsuccessful ones, maybe try again. And so I think, I think it’s like a stubbornness, ability to see the world in kind of a very narrow way to achieve a mission, while at the same time, you know, being able to roll with the punches, based on kind of what, what the world’s
David Ralph [4:37]
doing to you. And do you get to a point, Jeff, where you can catch the punches? Or do you still get a whack in the mouth every now and again?
Growlr Geoff Cook [4:45]
Oh, yeah, I would say, you know, we’re mostly getting whacked the mouth. You know, it’s, that’s just the nature of it, you know, there’s always, there’s so much competition, there’s so much when you’re an entrepreneur is generally at the edge. So, you know, there may be not even regulations or laws that really are dealing with a particular scenario. You know, if you’re, if you’re somewhere around the edge, or in the gray, like, that’s probably the only places where there’s opportunity. And so, you know,
that’s, that’s basically saying, you’re often dealing with, you know, an uncertain future.
David Ralph [5:27]
Because I always say to people, they say to me, Oh, you’ve done very well. And I got,
Unknown Speaker [5:31]
well, I have
David Ralph [5:32]
in many regards, but I’ve only done what I saw other people doing already. So for me, the logic, the concept, and the realization that it was doable was already there. Now with yourself, you go off into directions, but haven’t got that sort of backstory of trust attached to it? Does that excite you? Because I would never say I was an entrepreneur, for that reason of, I’ve just done what somebody else has already done.
Growlr Geoff Cook [6:03]
Yeah, you know, I and like I said, like, I I tend to get into different entrepreneurial adventures, just like one step at a time, like something is just taking all of my mental capacity. And I feel like I just have to scratch the edge. And, you know, it might not start, it really never starts is I want to do something entrepreneurial. It just starts as there’s some vision that I have to bring into the world that I think will succeed. And, you know,
David Ralph [6:35]
I want to find out. But But when you wait, you get the ideas. And because, you know, there’s so many ideas popping out of you. And as I said in the introduction, the backstory, you look literally go in any direction. How did the ideas come to you? Is it a conversation? Do you see on TV is it as you say that, that grumble that just gets bigger and bigger until you have to deal with it? You know,
Growlr Geoff Cook [7:00]
I think it comes from a different, a few different places, and there’s no one place. So going back to the first entrepreneurial thing I did was back in back in college, that came out of a need for money. You know, I was a college student, I needed a side job, I didn’t want to clean the bathrooms of my fellow Harvard thing was saying, Well, what can I do? Well, and I thought, well, gee, I can write, I can edit. And so I and I needed money in any of it. Um, so you know, in that particular case, it was like a constraint, I needed money. And, you know, this question of what what can I do? And, you know, I, it was also luck, a lot of luck involved. It was 1997. And, you know, e commerce was kind of just getting going. And, you know, I said, Well, you know, what, I could throw up a website, you know, I even took it advance against my credit card, like I zero money, took $600, just to get a merchant account. Then suddenly, people started paying me money to edit their resumes, and admissions, essays and personal statements and other documents. And, you know, that was a side job, I didn’t think well, gee, now I’m an entrepreneur. How did you?
David Ralph [8:19]
How did you scout about jumping into that, Jeff, because that seems to me like one of those ideas, which is great, until you’re suddenly inundated with CBS and resumes that you’ve got to edit. And then you think to yourself, oh, my God, you know, I thought this was going to be fun. I’m never going to get out of this room for the next six months.
Growlr Geoff Cook [8:39]
Yeah, that was, you know, there’s some reality. So, you know,
I found quickly when I was doing it, that it was a matter of a number of different scaling points. So in the very beginning, I didn’t scale it was me doing all of the work, and all of the work on the website and all of the customer service. And I only scaled it when I got so much business, that it was impossible to do it all. Yeah. And so then it was, I’m going to hire my classmates. And, and then it just became, okay, if I’m going to hire my classmates, how do I make sure they’re good? And then how do I make sure they stay good, you know, and don’t just try to cheat the system. So putting together you know, good training materials, a good evaluation capability. And then I would do that until the point where, you know, it became impossible for me to focus on my time on that. So then I would hire someone to be the managing editor and grow into hundreds of, of editors and millions of dollars in revenue. I did as much work as I could, until I couldn’t do it anymore. And so then it, then it was time to hire someone.
David Ralph [9:54]
But a lot of people I see by so engrossed in the business, by a say to me, yeah, but I can’t afford to hire somebody else. And so they do everything. Was that a mindset? Did you have to overcome? Or did the money come so quickly to you, you thought, wow, I do that. And I’ve still got thousands and thousands.
Growlr Geoff Cook [10:15]
Yeah, that was a fortunate business where it was the ladder. So money was just coming in. And I had no expenses being a just Harvard student and from a dorm. And so you know, my senior year, I was making, you know, an excess of 300 grand, just from the side business. And so I plenty of money at the time to start parsing out some functions.
David Ralph [10:39]
dg become very attractive to other people at Harvard, I imagine you did, did you
Growlr Geoff Cook [10:45]
know, it probably became invisible? Simply because I was working on this so much,
David Ralph [10:51]
I would have slept with you, I would have slept with you with amount of money coming in? I’ll tell you, Jeff, I’ve been been old over here. So that that first success, does that really foster belief? Because you’ve already seen that it works. If you had failed that first one? Do you think we could have been talking to a totally different Jeff now?
Growlr Geoff Cook [11:14]
Absolutely. You know, I, I think I went to Harvard thinking I was going to be a physicist, and then that didn’t work out. And I thought, well, maybe I’ll be a banker or, or consultant like everyone else at the time. And, you know, I just happened to kind of start this side job that blew up and, and then I think that that kind of created this, this mode for me that I knew that I could, could achieve that. And you know that there’s something about entrepreneurship, that’s fun. I think what I like about it is how varied The challenges are, you know, you don’t have too many days that are identical. But
David Ralph [11:50]
once again, a lot of people fight against the routine of life by then start working for themselves. And then that routine becomes something almost entirely educating they realize, but actually, the nine to five is something that they’re better suited for. So you could never go back to it.
Growlr Geoff Cook [12:11]
I think I would have difficult I would say never say never. But I would have some difficulty, because I think there’s a bit of, you know, I think throughout my history, a bit of just having a chip on your shoulder and having a boss would would be a little difficult. The I’ve never had one. It’s not to say it couldn’t happen. But, you know, I I’m not, you know, I tend to have interest that they go in many different directions. And you know, that that tends to be how it works. And so if I had to put it all into one particular direction, it might not work as well.
David Ralph [12:49]
I’m not a gambling man. But I would bet you a billion dollars, but you could not work for somebody else. You just couldn’t do it. Even though you say never say never.
Growlr Geoff Cook [13:02]
I’m not sure you never know you never quite so
David Ralph [13:05]
let’s get straight to this gay bear business. Because when I first saw it, I thought gay bears. I didn’t know they existed. Now I do know. So I’m going to leave it up to the audience to go googling. But how did this idea come to you?
Growlr Geoff Cook [13:22]
Yeah. So right now what I I run a company that I started called the meetup group. And I started a mobile app called meet me. And then we started acquiring other mobile apps. And so the most recent mobile app that we acquired it was Growler, which is the number one dating app for gay bears and went to a bear is essentially a more rugged, gay male. And so who might not find themselves, you know, well served by Grindr or other or other gay dating apps. And interestingly, on Saturday, live two weeks ago, Growler was Growler was actually in the episode where they they put up the growlers logo and Disney’s logo, and said this particular skit about Beauty and the Beast was brought to you by Growler. And Disney is pretty fun.
David Ralph [14:20]
Because Growler means something different over in the United Kingdom. Does it mean the same in America? Is this like a play on words?
Growlr Geoff Cook [14:28]
Growler is probably a play on grinder. grinder, of course, is a well known gay dating app. Growler is a play on the gay their brow. And so I think that’s that’s the Genesis
David Ralph [14:42]
in the United Kingdom, it basically means lady parts, right? That’s right. Yeah, that’s basically what I did. I did. Well, you bless me. Now, if you don’t learn anything else, that’s the kind of thing that you can bring up at the dinner table tonight and say, I learned that I learned that. So you, you move along. And whereas we were your struggles in life, because we get so many people that come on the show, and they kind of present a world fact, there’s no issues. And in business, there’s always issues. But how do you juggle being a parent and being a father, a husband, with the actual creative side of running businesses that does that restrict you? Or does that actually, fuel you? gives you the energy to go back into it?
Growlr Geoff Cook [15:30]
Yeah, yeah, I, I’m not great at, at
having different silos to my life, like saying, here’s my family self, here’s my business self. And so like, I like to think that it’s all one. And you know, being a father is obviously very important to me. And I find being an entrepreneur actually helps. Like I coach my kids, teams, I can make sure my daughter’s softball team and I can make sure that I attend all the games because I control my own schedule, for the most part. And so like that, that’s something that, you know, it’s helpful sometimes to do to be the entrepreneur is you might work a lot, but, you know, I 4pm on Wednesdays, I gotta be at the field. Are you
David Ralph [16:20]
always at the field? Or when you’re at the field? Are you on your mobile? Are you thinking about other stuff?
Growlr Geoff Cook [16:26]
No, when I’m at the field, I’m at the field. I mean, I think, you know, there’s priorities. And you know, you want your kids to, to not know you as the guy who’s just building a business, but as their father. And so when I’m at the field, I’m at the field, and I’m in general, I try to keep them away from devices as long as I can.
David Ralph [16:47]
Well, let’s play some words now. And then we’re gonna come back to Jeff straight after these,
Jim Carrey [16:52]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got to safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [17:19]
What were your pay parents like Geoff. Where they very entrepreneurial or are you the sort of the black sheep in the family quite unexpected.
Growlr Geoff Cook [17:28]
Yeah, my parents weren’t really entrepreneurial. They were electrical engineers. My mother basically designed lighting systems for shop. Right. My father was kind of in like a regulatory telecommunications job. So yeah, not not particularly entrepreneurial, grew up in kind of middle class neighborhood went to the public schools there. It never really had a lemonade stand. You know, there’s not this entrepreneurship then starts in high school. It really started for me in college.
David Ralph [17:59]
I don’t get that level nightstand. And I’ve been saying that a lot. For two reasons. One, we don’t do that over the United Kingdom. And if I drove past and somebody had just made some weird mixture, there’s no way that I’m going to stop my car and just drink. God knows what it’s been in there. But um, it’s a where where does this come from? Is it just a sort of myth? Or do we see kids in America actually doing that?
Growlr Geoff Cook [18:22]
Oh, lemonade stands are very popular. Well, first of all, I’ve been to the UK a few times. And I think lemonade means something different. Like in the US. lemonade is a very lemony kind of sweet and sugary drink. Sometimes in the UK, I’ve had it be, you know, kind of carbonated. Yeah, but yeah, lemonade stands are actually a thing we actually did one I did one along with my daughters. Last year, that raised 1500. dollars, for there’s actually a Childhood Cancer Foundation called Alex’s Lemonade Stand, that, that encourages anyone to create their own lemonade stand, and instead of giving paying the money, send it all in to the charity, and they’ve done, they’ve done many 10s of millions of dollars of, of childhood cancer research, because of lemonade stand. So lemonade stands are actually quite popular.
David Ralph [19:14]
So so if you don’t like doing that with her dad, do you think that sends out a vibe of actually you can create your own money? Did you think that you’re actually fostering that entrepreneurial belief in her?
Growlr Geoff Cook [19:27]
I hope so, you know, I think she sees in my I think I’ve two daughters and a son that he 1284 I think they see that, you know, you can come up with an idea and pursue it. And you know, maybe have someone pay for it. I don’t necessarily encourage them to be entrepreneurs. But I do encourage them to be creative. And I hope I hope they take that away. Now,
David Ralph [19:54]
of course, we’ve been talking about success and unbridled success for your life, but it’s not going to be success. So if you got if you got one means that you look back, and you think I thought that that was gonna be a home run, but really, it was just a dead duck.
Growlr Geoff Cook [20:10]
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. So, you know, we’ve I built the essay editing business was great, that same resume editing business, like the first thing I did, all that all I did was then scale it, it was the idea was more or less fully, fully had at the beginning and then just improved upon. But I’ve launched multiple standalone apps, mobile apps that have just died kind of a very early death, because they just didn’t find product market fit. I was running an art business for a while, that never really broke out. It was kind of interesting, but but never really broke out. I’ve really had the two breakouts the first business. And then the second business was the social network, you know, and a lot of it comes down to timing, you know, 97 was a good time to start an e commerce business of any stripe, 2004 2005 was a pretty good time to start a social network. That had to be a social network that wasn’t necessarily based on friends, because that was going to be owned by by Facebook, of course. But it was building social network for meeting new people. And that tended to that that was actually a good time, we were able to just generate a lot of new users over.
David Ralph [21:20]
As we build a lot of businesses through join up dots we do a lot of coaching. And one of the things I have to really ram into people is that they don’t have to create the new idea. And it’s almost impossible to come up with that new idea that it’s been like, struck by lightning. But there are enough crumbs out there to make a very good living, if everyone’s doing the same thing. In that regard, why do a business fail? Why does your that your app fail, but the other one goes, right? If you’re looking at it, and you’re seeing that there’s a potential for it to succeed, why wouldn’t it?
Growlr Geoff Cook [22:00]
Yeah, so it depends, of course, in the nature of the app, you’re you’re starting, all of my apps tend to be kind of consumer, consumer social apps of one kind or another. And they’ve, you know, they fail, frankly, because they don’t find product market fit. But then the question is, well, why? Why don’t people want them back? Like, what is it about it? And that’s always very individual. And so like, we tend to look at things like, well, what percentage of users use it on day two? What percentage of users use it on day 30? Like, do you have a leaky bucket? Or will it continue? When I try to judge a new idea today? I tend to look for novelty, right? Like, yeah, to your point, it doesn’t have to be like a wholly new industry totally distinct. But is it connecting an idea that might be working somewhere with kind of another idea that’s connecting somewhere else. And I like to say, if you find a parade, jump in front of it, but then also combine two parades, right, so if you see two things that have some natural momentum behind them, and like, for example, social networking, in 2004, clearly had a lot of momentum that would carry it, and you kind of need that you need that momentum. So you look for a couple different things that you connect, that might seem disparate, that maybe no one else is connected. So it has to be novel. And that’s, that’s kind of a recipe, it doesn’t always lead to something. But you know, if you don’t have novelty, and the consumer social app, and you don’t have this momentum behind you, in the industry, it’s going to be very, very difficult to break out.
David Ralph [23:35]
And some ideas, you know, I go back many, many years. I’m a lot older than you I’m sure I am. But I remember like the pet pebble and stupid things like that. Do you remember those?
Growlr Geoff Cook [23:47]
What was that? The pebble?
David Ralph [23:48]
Yeah, the pebble?
Unknown Speaker [23:50]
David Ralph [23:51]
little stone that people would put in their pockets. And just you know, it’s a ridiculous idea. But that guy became a millionaire. It’s is a sort of no system, as far as you’re concerned for everything you couldn’t go right? Do this do that is it still got a huge amount of luck, what actually takes on?
Growlr Geoff Cook [24:12]
Well, like something like a pep that that would be something this is like taste, and there’s no accounting for taste? And what’s going to be a hit? Like I’m not in that business, I tend to look at things as in the consumer social space, there’s a you can pick a landscape that consists of utility, like does doesn’t, whatever you offer, actually provide some value to the user, right? And so so you want to have as much utility, of course as you can. But does it also offer entertainment, right. And utility and entertainment sometimes go hand in hand, especially when you’re talking about consumer social. And then kind of the third axis is it doesn’t talk does, it doesn’t offer status. So people, people tend to use social networks because it improves their status, in some form. And so, you know, I tend, I tend to think, when I’m developing products in those three axes, and you know, that that framework was actually suggested by somebody named Eugene way, who at least put to paper, something a lot of people I think already talked about, but with with kind of just those three axes, and almost a three dimensional space. And so I think, you know, if you can deliver utility, entertainment and status for people with your idea, you know, it’s working and so that often, the way it comes about is you have a different idea that’s like, oh, gee, it would be really great if this existed in universe. And then it’s like, well, how do I impose that idea onto these three axes? How do I make sure you get some status out of it? How can I improve the utility for it? How can I add some, some enter? And so you know, that’s, that’s one way to go about it. Another way is we are also just paying attention. So we built
our team here built an $82 million
live streaming video business in the last 18 months from scratch. And, you know, the way we did that, or the initial concept that we had, was looking at China. So I was actually in Beijing in 2016. And if you were in Beijing in 2016, which I guess was lucky, you couldn’t miss livestreaming. It was everywhere. Why? Why is one of the biggest ones. But then there was this dating app called Momo, which was at which was adding it and just making enormous amounts of money off live streaming. And, you know, I think a lot of people looked at live streaming in the West and said, Oh, I don’t understand it must be some Chinese thing. And we said, No, I don’t think it’s some Chinese thing. I think it’s just an interesting way to connect people. And so we added it to our apps. In 2017, and blue, you know, it just became this enormous business that had very similar metrics to what was being seen in China. So in that particular case, we were just, you know, at the right place at the right time, and kind of, in, we kind of, didn’t look at this dynamic, which to Western eyes actually looks very strange, especially with, of course, all the characters are in Chinese. And there’s actually been a very good documentary about kind of live streaming in China called the People’s Republic of desire, which is a worthy watch. And, you know, a lot of the reviews on that documentary kind of suggest what I’m saying that if people look at the live streaming industry in China is something unique to China. And it isn’t, it’s, it’s unique to basically humans, humans like to connect with people, especially people are lonelier than they’ve ever been. And livestreaming provides this, this opportunity for them to, to really get a sense for who the who the audiences and for the audience to connect to the streamer in ways, you know, you can’t do in any other any other format. So, you know, I think in that particular case, with live streaming, it was all about kind of having our eyes open around the world, and then applying that to our business,
David Ralph [28:13]
I find that interesting. And I didn’t want to butt in there. Because I would say a couple of years ago, there was live streaming everywhere, I couldn’t, I couldn’t look in any direction without somebody coming out of the gym looking all sweaty, and then giving us a little speech about how you have to go for the berm and why they get up at five o’clock in the morning and all that I don’t see live streaming as much anymore, am I looking in the wrong places it or am I looking in the right places and not seeing the sweaty people?
Growlr Geoff Cook [28:41]
I actually think live streaming is, is growing fast. And so like in the US, at least we have Twitch, which is you know, people live streaming their video games. And then Twitch is also developing a community around livestreaming other forms of content. You know, obviously, you have Facebook Live Facebook Live, there’s never really a huge hit. But still, it’s quite a bit used extensively as Facebook is so much scale. You know, I tend to think about the livestreaming industry as still in its infancy. And that, you know, what we’re going to see is different channels of live streaming content. So there might be, you know, a gay entertainment channel, there might be a dating and flirting oriented channel, there might be a channel for African American issues. There might be a channel for, you know, I would say HQ familiar with the HQ app, that was kind of a nightly trivia game. You know, there might be kind of that sort of show. So
David Ralph [29:44]
are people going to be able to take the power away from, like CBS, and places where they can actually create their own instant? You know, are we getting back to Wayne’s World, basically, to think?
Growlr Geoff Cook [29:56]
Yeah, I do, I think I think the production values on the live streams will get better and better. So you know, it’s not going to necessarily be just some guy with the phone, I think the setups will get much more interesting, the content will get good will get more interactive, something we’re working on right now is kind of a nightly dating game for live streaming. Right? So like, how do you take there’s been more than 50 different dating games on TV? How do you take one of these concepts or a combination of them and apply it to a live streaming audience. And when livestreaming offers that TV does not is it makes you part of it, you’re up someone, you become the star or you get to interact with the stars, you know, TV doesn’t do that. And as a result, it’s much more powerful.
David Ralph [30:47]
Now, everything that you’re talking about, in many ways, seems genius. But in many ways, you think well, how the bloody hell to get that off the ground? You know, being an ideas, man, it’s always K, but where to find the people that can actually develop these things, with the urgency to get it to market at the right time?
Growlr Geoff Cook [31:09]
Yeah, I mean, its execution is, is, you know, anyone can have ideas, and it really comes down to do you have a team around you who are good executed. And so, especially for something like this, you need a top notch engineering team. And we’ve built one up here, you know, over the course of Ralph I’ve been doing this about 15 years. A lot of the people with me have been with me for more than 10 years. So you can you find people who are just the best at what they do. And in AI machine learning, you know, moderation, you can imagine the moderation challenges at scale for live streaming video. You know, like, that’s, that’s it, you need that? And then can you partner with the right companies, like we, some, some, some people have, like, need to, like build everything themselves, I found some companies that we look to acquire, we don’t have that. So I tend to look for if if a problem is solved, I don’t want to solve it again. You know, there’s, there’s somebody I can pay to solve a problem that’s been solved, rather than to put a team of trying to solve a soft problem, that’s much better, because that team needs to be working at something new. It’s it’s the
David Ralph [32:26]
logic that Steve Jobs has, in many ways, right? He was willing to partner with people that gave him the the insight to develop his own visions.
Growlr Geoff Cook [32:36]
Yeah, yeah. And I think one of the things that, at least I found is that it’s often difficult to tell if the idea is big, until you build it and seemed like, it’s unfortunately inexpensive way to kind of figure it out. And and you can get some sense of survey data, you can you can bolster your case. But you know, people look at Instagram, and Instagram was in not obvious when, right like, a filter, adding a filter to a photo sounds like a feature. You know, there was no reason that had to win and become a monster business. Snapchat disappearing photos like, yeah, at first, you know, that that could have just seemed like a gimmick. But it turned out to be an absolutely critical gimmick. I don’t get it.
David Ralph [33:27]
So do you, I don’t understand. As a content provider, I believe that content should be there forever. So I don’t understand this 24 hour thing with Snapchat, why anybody would waste their time on it?
Growlr Geoff Cook [33:39]
I get it. It’s because people want to be especially teens. And you gotta remember who’s on Snapchat. It’s mostly 13 to 24. And what some, what are they doing on it? They’re socializing, right, they’re socializing with each other, they’re connecting with each other, and don’t want their content to be seen by their parents for the, for the most part by others, by the future employers, you know, they just want to, like, be free and be able to communicate, you know, and express themselves. And I think snapchats probably closer to what people would do in real life before there was an internet, right? Like, you know, we used to hang out with your friends and call them on the phone. And that phone call was not recorded and then posted for your parents and your employers to go go watch and or listen to. And so, you know, Snapchat, the ephemerality of it is, is kind of an of our time sort of moment, like people don’t want their content out there forever. Not Not, not not especially their social content. Some content may be, but not that sort of content. And live streaming fits that same rubric. Like, we actually added a feature to allow people to record streams if they wanted to. And it turned out that that caused an uproar. Because people were like, Look, why do you This is why we don’t want this to last year.
David Ralph [35:04]
Now, my kids say to me a lot, you know, dad, we don’t see any photos of you. And I say to them, no one carried a camera around, you know, oh, man, don’t mind my fashion crimes of the 80s and the late 70s. There’s not a hint of them. Nowadays, you only have to step out your doorway, and you’re on Twitter, you on Facebook, and whatever. So with yourself and your kids. And you mentioned earlier that you try to keep them off their devices, are you a lot more aware of the potential pitfalls that they’re going to be navigating as I grow more and more into this type of world?
Growlr Geoff Cook [35:41]
Absolutely, I worry about things like that. I mean, I think, you know, if you look at suicide, teen suicide rates, I think this is just a US stat. I don’t think it’s global. But you know, ever since 2006, or so there’s just been a clear upward trend for both males and females. And this is may well, you know, causes are always hard to ascertain, and these sorts of measures. But you know, this is also the time where social has grown right. And, you know, kids live on these social devices, I mean, frankly, so to adults. But you know, when you’re a kid, you’re going through this formative years, and, you know, a way that I’ve heard this put is, adults tend to get if you think of everyone is seeking status, in one form or another, adults sometimes find it in the house, they buy the car, they drive, the job they have, they’ve got it got these titles that they got, and they don’t need to, to necessarily constantly be looking for more status, they, you know, they went to some degree University, and they got their status as a kid, you know, they’re mostly on the same level, right? And so they tend to look for status among each other. You know, basically, Snapchat, Instagram, these things just throw up wildfire on status seeking kids, tick tock, you know, where these kids go into these platforms. And they happen to be really efficient ways of getting status. So if you happen to be an attractive girl, who’s young, you know, and you go and tick tock and start dancing, well, suddenly, you’ve got to follow. And that becomes, you know, humans like status and you see your follower count go up. And that’s not necessarily good for you, you know, people are spending less times with real with human beings in person, then then they used to have more time with their devices, and there’s no way that can be good.
David Ralph [37:42]
Absolutely, I agree with you, I agree with you, as well as playing the words of the late Steve Jobs. We mentioned him already in the show. But he created the whole format of this, Steve Jobs,
Steve Jobs [37:52]
of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years ago. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future, you have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever, because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [38:26]
Of course, very wise words there. But where do you find your competence and faith moving forward? Jeff?
Growlr Geoff Cook [38:35]
Yeah, I think I, I tend to find it in. I mean, certainly my confidence probably comes in kind of reason, right? So like, I tend to just look for rationality, and he find a lot of consolation in family. But you know, if I took to that, quote, you know, go back into my high school self. And, yeah, I was, in a good student, obviously, went to Harvard, as valedictorian of my public high school. And, you know, I remember, I don’t know if I’ve told the story before, but I was at an award ceremony. And, you know, at this award, and I clashed with the administration, for various things, I was censoring the school newspaper, various things like this, I was kind of always at odds with the administration at my high school. And at this event, and my high school probably had gotten one kid into Harvard, maybe any Ivy League school in like 20 years. And so I was at this, at this kind of assembly, where they handed out and the parents were there, and all this, they handed out the awards, and I basically didn’t receive anything that had any monetary value, and like, what I’m talking about monetary value, probably $250, it is we’re not there, we’re not going to change anything. But it was it was kind of like the good one. But I did have a certificate of or I did have a handful plaques, that that I was given in certificates. And, you know, at the end of the event, I threw them all in the garbage. And, you know, I think that, you know, I went so far as to not shake hands with with the principal at the graduation. And my valedictorian was kind of a call call against school. So so you know, I think if you go back to my high school self, you would see, and I didn’t see this at the time, of course, I didn’t see that as well. Now, I’m going to be an entrepreneur, I actually probably more likely to be a Marxist and an entrepreneur back then. But I certainly was someone who probably wasn’t going like in retrospect, getting a job and being corporate was probably not in my probably not in what I was going to do. And for whatever reason, I have some set of inner confidence that lets me pursue ideas that some people think are silly. Sometimes the right, sometimes the idea
David Ralph [41:03]
is good, which takes me back to the fact that you couldn’t work for a boss. Well, we proved it, we proved it. You don’t like authority. You don’t like people telling you to do stupid ideas, and you like to run with stuff that up as people may not think has any legs on it.
Growlr Geoff Cook [41:22]
I think the only caveat to that would be if I were working on something that I truly believed in. And I thought that that was the like that mission was so big. That then I could imagine it. But yeah, like certainly I wouldn’t do it just for the paycheck.
David Ralph [41:37]
I don’t know Are we might billion I’ve ever won a Jeff?
Growlr Geoff Cook [41:41]
David Ralph [41:41]
Can I retire? Well, this is the bit of the show that we’ve been leading up to this is the bit that we called a sermon on the mic, when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Jeff, what age would you choose? And what advice would you give him? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the music and winning pager up this is about sermon on the mic. So
Growlr Geoff Cook [42:28]
I would say I would pick probably my high school self, because I think that was before I got into any entrepreneurial endeavor. And I would probably say to lighten up a little, you know, I think that, you know, some of the difficulties you faced as an entrepreneur Are you get so, so some down a particular path, you can obsess over something. And a lot of times that that’s something, you know, isn’t isn’t that important. So I’d probably say, you know, don’t don’t lighten up about about certain things. And you know, just have faith in kind of the future that you’re going to build. Because I think that, you know, transitions can be difficult, where, you know, if you sell one company, you tend to go through this almost grieving process after you sell it, where you’re like, Oh, did I do the right thing? Why did I sell my baby? Obviously, there’s money involved. But you know, it’s kind of this lighten up, you know, there’s going to be the next thing. And you know, just just don’t don’t necessarily obsess over those types of things. I’d probably give that.
David Ralph [43:49]
Right advice and great advice for everyone. So Jeff, for the audience and who have been listening, what’s the number one best way that they can connect with you?
Growlr Geoff Cook [43:58]
You can reach out to me on Twitter. It’s g o FF cook, Jeff cook at Jeff cook, g o FF cook.
David Ralph [44:06]
That would be fun. And we will have all the links on the show notes. And is Veronica and the volcano. Is that going to become a movie? Is that got spilled all over it? I wish
Growlr Geoff Cook [44:17]
I wish. But yeah, it I haven’t done too much since then. I guess I put that on 2017. Yeah, no, I love to find a book to in me at some point. I certainly have one. I just haven’t haven’t had the time to write it down.
David Ralph [44:31]
Brilliant stuff. Well, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. Please come back again when you got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up those dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Jeff, thank you so much.
Growlr Geoff Cook [44:47]
David Ralph [44:52]
Yes, and that was Mr. Geoff Cook all the way from NYC. Yes, New York City. So yeah, ideas popping out all over the place. But the key learnings of that is you come up with the ideas and the vein you get them out to market but you’ve got to be pretty sure that it’s the right time because timing is all important. But remember the three strategies status, entertainment and utility if a fit both free then it’s a head start to what other people are doing. Go out go out and create your dream. And if you’re struggling to think of an idea of course you can come over to join up dots that’s what we do for a living now. We teach people how to start their own business even if I haven’t got an idea up their sleeve and believe me, within a very short period of time you will have so many ideas you will have to wear very long sleeves until next time I will see you and that was David Ralph and Mr Growlr Geoff Cook join up dots See you later. Bye bye
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the bridge self you are wants to become so he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to join up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on join up dots.