‘How I Work’ Episode 5 with Amber Christian

We’re back with episode five of How I Work! Hear from Amber Christian of Wonderly Software about how she went from consulting to founding a SaaS company and where the inspiration of her first product Bella Scena came from. Hear about the insights she’s drawing from marketing experiments she’s been running as well as advice for those looking to start their own SaaS company.

Check out more 100% free, curated content from leaders in the SaaS marketing community at https://augurian.com/saas-scoop/

Learn more about Amber, Wonderly Software and Bella Scena at:

https://wonderlysoftwaresolutions.com/

https://www.meetbellascena.com/

 

Transcript

Josh Becerra: Hi, everybody. This is Josh Becerra from Augurian. I have the pleasure to be interviewing Amber Christian today. Amber and I, we’ve known each other for a long time. I think we’ve met probably eight years ago. At the time, you were doing SAP consulting. Amber’s had 20-plus years in tech doing those SAP consultations and implementations internationally, right?

Amber Christian: Yes.

Josh: You got to go really cool places all over the world. Now, you’ve moved in a different direction. You are a founder of software as a service company called Wonderly Software and your first product, it’s meetings as a process software, helping people create unmissable meetings. I love that. It’s called Bella Scena. Cool. Thanks for being here, Amber. I really appreciate your time.

Amber: Thank you so much for having me. Looking forward to talking about all kinds of fun like where we met, which is a fun story. I even remember all the details. [laughs]

Josh: All right.

Amber: As well as what I’ve been up to.

Josh: Well, let’s start there. What do you remember about those details? Because I probably made a fool of myself.

Amber: No, you’re right. It was about eight years ago, I think. It was at Leadpages’ unveiling of their new headquarters.

Josh: That’s right.

Amber: Which was a massive mob of people down the street to get into it, where they did a fireside chat with Seth Levine and Clay.

Josh: Clay Collins.

Amber: I remember eating tacos. I remember we had scored one of the few little tables that was available. It was myself and my husband and we were talking with you. We were talking about both of your startups because we were also talking about the toilet startup as well. The other thing that you do. I’m like, “Oh, it’s so interesting.” [laughs]

Josh: I’ve got crazy stuff going on, right?

Amber: Yes, you do.

Josh: That startup of mine has since gone into the background. I’m fully dedicated to the digital marketing scene these days. You have experienced changes too since then. Why don’t we start out with this experience doing SAP consulting and implementations. I want to hear about some of the coolest places you got to visit when you were doing that.

Amber: I spent many years in the SAP world. I even still do some part-time consulting because sometimes people call me up. They’re like, “Pretty please, would you do this project?” “Sure.” Nothing huge hours or anything, but yes, I still do that as well. It’s like riding a bike. Once you’ve done some of that stuff, even though it changes some, a lot of the concepts are still the same.

Josh: Is it all over the board or is it treasury– I remember treasury.

Amber: Oh, it’s treasury. Good memory.

Josh: It was where you’re at.

Amber: Yes, treasury was my niche. I was a payments nerd for many, many years. What I would tell people I do is I would work inside of a corporate in their SAP systems with some of the largest banks in the world. I would be working with folks from Wells Fargo, Citi Group, JP Morgan, US Bank, et cetera, actually helping make sure that our suppliers could get paid, payroll was getting paid. It was really all around payments technology. I did that both in the US and then internationally. I actually had done implementations for 65 countries. I hadn’t been on the ground in all of them, but I got six continents. I’ve actually visited six continents. I’m still missing Antarctica. If any of your listeners ever here is about implementation in Antarctica, I’m in. [laughs]

Josh: Okay. Sounds good. The penguins need SAP for sure.

Amber: Absolutely. Now, coolest places I’ve been. I had the opportunity to go to Milan, Italy for a work trip and spend a couple of weeks there. I was taught the finer points of drinking espresso, as well as teaching them how SAP finance systems worked. [chuckles] Probably the coolest experience is when I got to go to South Africa though. I was a keynote speaker at a finance conference in South Africa. That was a pretty incredible experience. That was actually my first trip to Africa. That one was also memorable.

Josh: Did you spend some time outside of the conference then, going on safari and things?

Amber: Oh, you better believe it. [laughs] My husband did not complain about that trip because he came along. He was just a tourist the whole time. We added on vacation. It was a very lovely experience. I got to go to a lot of fun places. Brazil and Argentina as well, China and India. It was a great way to travel the world on someone else’s dime.

[laughter]

Josh: Got it. That’s awesome. Working with all these big banks and institutions, did you have any general learnings that you took from that about these companies? Did you see any trends or similarities or things besides, “Wow, these people need to know how to do meetings better.” I’m sure that was one. What what else did you–

Amber: I think one of the keys for me, I always go back to foundational items. Do you have your foundation in order? I would do this in a lot of companies. We would really, really look at what their foundation is. Sometimes we would re-engineer that. The way I would describe it is a lot of the work that I had to do was akin to driving a freight train that is fully loaded on the tracks down–

Josh: With gold bars.

Amber: Yes. We’re going all out. My job was to figure how to swap out train cars and keep the train on the rails. That’s really what we did, because we would have to swap out their technology and add new payments technology and things and not disrupt business. I had to get really good at looking at and thinking about what we were doing in terms of integrated processes and then thinking about do we have foundational building blocks and do our processes integrate? I used to say, “Do they hang together?” Is what I would say to people.

That was a key in company after company, is we always had to go back to, “Is your foundation right to do what you’re trying to accomplish?” Then, “Can we actually integrate?” It’s sort of that “can we get there from here” idea, or do we have to add some things in order to allow us to get there from here?

Josh: I like the metaphor. Because even with railroads, they spend a lot of time making sure that the tracks are well-maintained because you can’t have that foundation being rickety or having problems where it can affect the whole train. Anyway, quite the metaphor.

Amber: Exactly. You have to replace the tracks where things are not quite working so well or the sections where they’re not quite working so well. Sometimes you might have to route around it and take some detours around it that are a little more manual or cross a little more distance while you fix that section of track that isn’t quite the way you wanted it to be.

Josh: We can just go down a big metaphor ride the whole bit.

[laughter]

You did that for many years very successfully, why the shift to software as a service? What intrigued you about that?

Amber: Who goes from this to this, right? Who goes from corporate Fortune 500 to say, “I’m going to go build software.” [laughs]

Josh: I do crazy things like you, so don’t worry. I get the shifting.

[laughter]

I’d be curious, what intrigued you about software?

Amber: In my SAP career, people would always ask me. They said, “Gosh, you keep adding more and more countries.” They’re like, “Wow, look at how many places you’ve been, how much you’ve done.” They say, “When is it enough, Amber?” I would stare at them blankly because I would have no idea what enough was. I don’t know. I didn’t have a milestone I was trying to accomplish. I just didn’t. Literally, I woke up one morning and I had this stray thought that was– Basically, it was, “Well, get ready. Something else is coming. You might not be doing this SAP thing forever.” I thought at the time it was a very disturbing, Josh. [laughs] I was like, “What? No. I’m at the top of my game. Whatever that was, go away. No.” [laughs]

Josh: Your subconscious was talking to you.

Amber: Exactly. I had no idea what that was going to look like, what that was going to mean, what that was going to be, I had no idea. Until several months later, I just had this awakening about the challenges around meetings. Really, if our meetings are not functional, how much money does it actually cost us? That actually, to make them functional, there’s a few things we need to do that some of us do, but most of us don’t. That what if we actually put that in software to help us run meetings better?

I didn’t have the thought of building it though. I went looking for it on the market. Then I did the traditional “[scoffs] We stink, technology. How come nobody’s built this?” [laughs] I’m like, “Why can’t we find this?” That was the next thought, which for me was a huge epiphany. I didn’t have aspirations of being an entrepreneur to go build software. No, no, no. I don’t do that. When people would ask me, “Well, how come you haven’t?” “I don’t do that.” [laughs]

Josh: I know my thing. I know it really well and it’s working for me.

Amber: Exactly. I’m doing well, it’s all good. I’m good here. The practicality was this problem– Boy, it just stuck in my craw. I was like, “I need to go do something about this.” That was the genesis around making that enormous switch.

Josh: That is now Wonderly Software. You talked about being Wonderly and human-centered software. I wanted to unpack those things a little bit. What do you mean when you say we should be Wonderly?

Amber: This idea of being Wonderly and human-centered design. One of the big things I learned in consulting was that, as a consultant, one of the first things I had to do when I went into an organization is actually understand their pain points and what was important to them, and really what they were trying to accomplish.

It can be really easy when we have a certain skill set within a certain technology and a background to say, “Well, yes. You just do it this way.” We apply that same pattern to people without taking a breath to understand what is that nuance to their organization. Maybe it’s that their organizational structure is a little different, their reporting structures are a little different, how the work is split up is different. Therefore, it’s a theme and variation of the solutions. When I was able to go into organizations and recognize that, we had much better odds of success because we were really addressing the pain points, which helped give us better buy-in to making the types of changes we needed to make.

When it came time to build software, I said, “Well, what if I built software taking those same ideas of talking with people, having conversations with them along the way in the journey so that we make sure we build the right product?” For a lot of founders, they say, “Okay. Well, I’m going to go build my thing in my basement,” or, “I’m going to go build it quietly because I’m afraid someone’s going to steal it.” I build it all the way and then go, “Hey, Josh. Here, use this. Isn’t this great?” You’re like, “What? Oh. Well, that’s not the problems I have with meetings. Huh? What? No.” [laughs]

Josh: You need that customer development. You need to have that conversation with the customer before you get to build these stuff.

Amber: Right. You spend the time learning it and you’re like, “Well, it’s missing all these things I need.” Then they have to go back and rebuild it, and then they have to come back to you. It just creates this iteration and this disruption, because now you’ve spent all the time to learn the one way. Human-centered design is really about taking that journey with your customers, embedding feedback into your processes as you are building so that you make sure you’re solving the right problems. Doesn’t mean you can solve every problem, but you make sure you’re solving the most important problems.

Josh: I really like that.

Amber: What’s been nice about it is people say, “Well, yes. That’s all nice. That’s all well and good. Well, it takes extra time. I’m in a hurry.” The effect we’ve noticed since we’ve come to market is the customer support side and the user experience side of it, we tend to get feedback when we show the product– It’s almost anticlimactic because people will say, “Oh, that makes sense.” They kind of pause with a confused look on their face. [laughs]

Josh: Like, “That makes perfect sense. That’s how I should do it every time.”

Amber: They’re like, “Oh, okay.” They’re like, “I thought it would be harder.” We talked to a lot of people along the way. We collected feedback from over 150 people in this two-year journey between surveys, focus groups, interviews, et cetera. Over half were women as well because it was super important for us to have a variety of perspectives included in what we were doing. The other side of it is less support, less questions. People look at it and say, “Wow, it’s pleasant. It makes sense.” It’s kind of weird. The other side would be like, “Yes, I built a pleasant product.” Hey, if it gets the job done, that’s what matters, right? [chuckles]

Josh: Yes, for sure. This concept of unmissable meetings, I think is also an interesting one. I know that I can be sitting in a meeting feeling like, “This isn’t going well,” or “Why am I sitting here? What’s the objective?” I imagine that that is what you would characterize as a missable meeting. [chuckles]

Amber: That’s correct.

Josh: Like, I really don’t need to be here, I don’t think. I’m not adding any value. It’s not adding any value to my work.” What characterizes then an unmissable meeting? The one that I have to be at.

Amber: Unmissable meetings have a certain set of things about them. It isn’t even that it’s the most fabulous conversation on the planet, it’s that we’ve covered the basics. We have a goal. We know why we’re there. If you’re walking into a meeting and you can’t say what are we actually accomplishing with this meeting, that’s a problem. Because your time is very valuable. You only have so much time and energy. The first thing is having goals. Unmissable meetings also communicate expectations to you. Are you supposed to prepare something? Do you have a speaking role? You have materials you’re supposed to prepare? Agendas are extremely helpful. Doesn’t mean you have to be draconian. They can be very, very simple. We actually use design to nudge you to create agendas in our product.

The second piece is, “I’ve got an agenda so I’ve managed expectations with people.” I’ve shown the people that are going to be in my meeting respect by actually saying, “Hey, here’s what I’m expecting of you as well.” The third piece is those meetings actually– You’re actually doing what you said you were going to do in the meeting. There isn’t sidecar, we’re going off the road. You said the meeting was supposed to be one thing and then we do something completely different. That drives people crazy. What we do is we have this live meeting tracking that has your agenda on it and the items that you’re going to follow up with, and a heartbeat monitor that helps you stay on time so those runaways, those wordy folks, [laughs] they can self-regulate.

Josh: You can rein them in.

Amber: You don’t even have to. Do you know what the beauty of it is? Is when you go into our live meeting tracking, people self-regulate, because they go into Bella and they see the timeline, and they naturally just wrap it up when their time is up. Nobody has to be the bad guy. You don’t have to say to that wordy guy that just won’t be quiet. He sees it the same way you do too, so he’s like, “Okay, let me just wrap it up. We move on.”

Josh: It’s like having a person– Whenever you’re on a panel or speaking, there’s that person in the front row who’s like, “One minute left.” You just have somebody like that in the meeting with you at all times. [chuckles]

Amber: Exactly, and you take the pressure off the participants to have to be the bad guy. That takes care of a lot of other dynamics and challenges that people experience. What also makes a meeting unmissable is having notes with it and who’s going to do the followups. Actually having that called out. Those are the main components to what makes a meeting unmissable because you know what’s expected upfront, it’s actually tracked and runs on time, and the outcome of it. That makes them unmissable.

Josh: That seems so simple, yet not very easy to accomplish at times.

Amber: Exactly. We built in– Bella is basically your little assistant that’s helping you along on that process. She’s helping you structure it, she’s helping you track it, she’s helping you manage it.

Josh: Meetings have changed, if you haven’t noticed in the last couple of months, with COVID-19 and social distancing. How are you seeing meetings shifting in this new context? Is there a better role then for Bella in this new context? How is COVID affecting this?

Amber: In the long run COVID, will be very helpful for what I’m doing as a business. What a lot of people did is they took their meetings online but they didn’t really go through a digital transformation of their meetings. What that means is, “Well, I took those same old meetings that I didn’t plan and I just stuck them on Zoom calls and I gave you some fatigue.” Or, “I put them on Hangouts or Microsoft Teams or whatever. I didn’t actually go back and address should we have them in the first place and the expectations with them.” I think over time, what people are going to realize is those are just the rails, so to speak, but we actually have to address what it means to be successful in a meeting.

That’s actually the next generation. That’s how we stay productive as companies, is we actually have to take it to the next level. Because now, we can’t yell over the wall to someone about a meeting or whatever. Now, because we’re all physically separated like that, we have to have better means of managing it. I think that’s the transformation that’s still coming for people.

Josh: I think like the followup piece of it gets a lot harder, too. Because like you said, if we’re sitting a cube away from one another, we can say, “Hey, you were going to take care of doing that,” but now, I’m sitting in my basement, you are in your home. It’s not like we can easily coordinate post-meeting about certain things, right?

Amber: Absolutely. Yes.

Josh: How are things going in general with the products? Where are you at in your growth and life cycle?

Amber: Right now, what we actually have figured out in probably the last four or five months, is we’re starting to spend more time focusing on the Office 365 market. We have had an interesting set of companies starting to pop up. We’re noticing strong interest from companies. Typically, they’re in the Office 365 space, using Teams and Outlook, of course. There are also a lot of cases of self-implemented EOS shops. That’s been a very interesting pattern. Trying to figure out how to find self-implemented EOS firms has really been interesting. It’s just something in common that we are noticing. I think a lot of EOS folks are meeting nerds. I say that proudly. I am a proud meeting nerd.

Josh: For those watching the entrepreneurial operating system–

Amber: I see your traction book. [laughs]

Josh: Right there. We shouldn’t be plugging Gino, but we are an EOS company and it’s really been transformational for us. We are not self-implementing, however. We did try it once and it didn’t work out as well.

Amber: Interesting.

Josh: Get an implementor or maybe get Bella to help you, I don’t know.

Amber: I think what it is, why we’re seeing the interest is that typically when people adopt any management methodology, in a lot of cases, there’s corresponding software with it that has you go all the way. You’re doing all of these different things and tracking all these different things. What we’re learning from some of these folks that are self-implemented or that are trying to put some structure in place without a full-blown structure is that they like the fact that Bella helps them put a certain amount of structure in there without making it so difficult to do that they can’t manage it.

It’s a gentle way into putting more structure in their ?organization. It can apply for multiple methodologies. Sometimes folks in the lean space are also interested in it as well. They’re like, “How do we strip out waste?” That this is also of interest because they’re trying to strip waste out of meetings as well.

Josh: I’ve been in a lot of wasted-time meeting, that’s for sure. I really love how you think and your brain. Just the fact that you’ve come out of SAP, it’s pretty extraordinary. You’ve founded this SaaS company, you’ve got customers now. A lot of people who watch these types of how-I-work videos that we’re doing here are marketers. Can you tell us a little bit about how you’re thinking about lead gen, customer acquisition? Obviously, you’re starting to identify maybe a trend here with the EOS shops. What is working for you? What have you tried from a marketing perspective?

Amber: I’ve tried all kinds of stuff because we’re supposed to run experiments. Everybody keeps telling me we’re supposed to run experiments and measure them and learn, right? [laughs]

Josh: Yes, that’s right.

Amber: Last year, we did a series of experiments that is still bearing fruit in an unexpected way. It was a marketing experiment that’s contributed to something much bigger, interestingly enough. Last year, I started– People tell me that I’m somewhat expressive. [laughs] I had some folks say, “You need to do more videos, Amber.” I was like, “Oh, boy. Okay.” I did a series of little– They were productivity quick tips. I probably did, I don’t know, eight or nine of them. You can go find most of them on YouTube now if you go look for Bella Scena as well if you want to see them. I did them to see what were people watching out of the tips and see what I could glean out of them.

I noticed something very interesting. There were a couple of patterns out of the tips that people really liked and really responded to. One of them was when I called it, Do You Like It When Your Manager Sets Up a “Quick Meeting”? I put in air quotes, which freaks everyone out because they think they’re getting fired. That had some of my highest engagement. I can’t really figure out how to take that into anything else. One of my really viewed ones as well though was Do You Even Need a To-Do List? I thought, “Okay, now this surprised me.” [laughs]

Josh: I would be off the rails if I didn’t have a to-do list.

Amber: Right. So why are so many people going, “Do I need one? Interesting.” One of the things that has popped up, and this actually goes back to even some of the software research that we learned, is for folks that are early-stage career or just getting started in their career, still in college, the concept of a to-do list is a little different. Some are like, “Why would I need one? Why can’t you just keep it all in my head?” This actually eventually led to the genesis of some ideas, this and some of our other research. As we started talking about meetings and we started seeing what people were watching, we actually also were asking questions about who teaches you how to run a good meeting. Who taught you, Josh? Who taught you how to run a meeting?

Josh: Oh, man. First, I would defer to the team to see whether I actually run a good meeting or not. Generally speaking, we follow that that L10 structure out of EOS.

Amber: Because EOS. I bet you didn’t do that at the beginning of your career.

Josh: No, not at the beginning of my career. I don’t know who actually taught me.

Amber: I bet the answer is no one. 

Josh: That was a long time ago.

Amber: What we’ve learned when we start asking a lot of these questions, that’s what our marketing efforts have been helping us with, is we’re figuring out that, in a lot of cases, you weren’t really taught a whole lot about meetings. You just start showing up at them when you get your first job and you figure out what’s going on based on what happens in that room, but it doesn’t really get explained to you, nor do you really get told how to do it. At some point, you just have to start doing it. You might move to a different department and you pick up what you like from that other manager, but nobody really explains these mystifying things called meetings. That has actually led to our second revenue stream that’s going to be coming in a couple of months, online training courses.

Josh: Interesting.

Amber: Go back to the beginning and explain meetings. Some of these core concepts for folks that might not have a background where they’re used to that, or they might want to say, “Oh, maybe we should be thinking about setting up different types of meetings in different ways.” That is actually where marketing has been super helpful, is all the experiments we’ve been running on content, and seeing what’s getting engagement, and seeing what we’re hearing or what feedback we got, allowed us from a products perspective to start drawing some conclusions about things we needed to add so that it’s not going to be purely a software play, there’s also going to be a training play that’s about skills, not our product.

Josh: All of this came out of some of those insights that you started deriving from just early experimentation with video, with topics and things like that. That’s really cool. There was an analogy running through my head while you were talking about, like, “Nobody teaches you how to do meetings.” That’s like parenting. Nobody teaches how to be a parent. A lot of times, you rely on how you were brought up, or in the case of meetings, the meetings that you’ve participated in. That’s your only frame for how meetings need to be run. You’re just like, “Hey, I had a cool boss at that other job. I’m going to run the meetings like that person did.” It’s not always best practice.

Amber: Right. Or we set people up for failure. We hire someone in and we just go, “Here, go do this thing,” but we don’t really tell them what that thing is. It’s very definitional. It’s only been in the last month or so that we’ve really been honing in on it. What we’re going to start talking about, you’ll hear us tell you about invisible expectations that we have for people. We hire them into our organization, and they show up at that meeting, and then you’re like, “Where’s the agenda?” They’re like, “What? I was supposed to have an agenda?” Well, did anyone tell them? [laughs] They’re like, “Oh.” Now, you’ve made the person feel bad and there’s all the other things that go along with that.

Saying, “Well, what if we could just do some basic trainings that–” This became part of my interim program, my new-hire program. Just going to run through these basics because who knows what people do and don’t know based on their background and experiences, and say, “All right, let’s level playing field a little bit. Let’s remove some of these invisible expectations from people. Be kind here,” and then we can get them started off on the right foot.

Josh: I think that’s great. Running your first meeting as always is a little bit nerve-racking to say the least.

Amber: Absolutely.

Josh: It was a long time ago for me. I don’t get nervous very much about running meetings anymore, but I do remember some meetings where I’ve had to be the person who’s really keeping everything together and it can get a little bit nerve-racking.

Amber: Absolutely.

Josh: Cool. Founder of a SaaS company, one of the things that I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you about because you’re a female founder– PitchBook tracks the amount of capital raised by female founders. In 2019, it was less than 3% of the total capital. I’m just curious about what your experience has been as a female founder. I don’t know if you’ve raised money, if you’re self-funding your project, but just in general, how’s your experience been as a female founder?

Amber: When I originally came up with the idea for building Bella, I was actually on some long-term SAP contracts. The ones that I knew were going like a couple of years. What I did is I took the revenue from my consulting business and used it to pay for the developers, and the branding, and pricing research, and everything I would need. Anyone will tell you SaaS software is kind of a black hole of money. Anyway.

[laughter]

Josh: It can be. That’s for sure.

Amber: It really can be. It really can be. What I knew in all reality is, not just because I was female, but I noticed that the market, and because I’m also an angel investor, I knew that the market had really changed in the last number of years because it had moved away from– Probably, seven, eight years ago, you could raise money on a concept deck. That’s a lot harder now. People typically, and especially here, expect you to be further along.

Especially in the software space. They’re like, “Get some kind of MVP, get something out there to prove this is actually viable.” I knew that walking right out with an idea, that was unfundable, if we’re just totally honest. We’re in Minnesota. [laughs] It has pre-revenue on a concept female founder. We’re just going to smile and go, “Not going to happen.” It’s not being jaded or anything, it just is the reality of the statistics, just like what you mentioned.

I would say on the go-forward basis, the really interesting decision, and I’m in the middle of it right now, is do I fundraise or not? Competitors are starting to show up on the landscape. They are starting to figure out what I have figured out. So the question is do I fundraise because I need to beat them to the market and go faster? Do I fundraise in order to go faster? I’m on the fence right now. I’m literally working through that decision right now. I’m trying to figure out, “What are you going to do, Amber?” [laughs]

Josh: That is a tough decision, I will say. In the the water projects that I was involved in, we also grappled with that. Ended up having competitors that raised tens of millions of dollars and were able to accelerate beyond us. I don’t know if that’s applicable in your case or not.

Amber: It is. It really is.

Josh: Speed does matter a lot of the time.

Amber: That’s the tough decision. The moment you actually decide. If you decide to fundraise and you decide to take outside capital, the decisions change. You have different people and different stakeholders involved in things. You just need to be ready for it. I want to make sure I just make an educated decision before I go that route. It doesn’t mean you actually have to go the VC route. You can go the angel route. There’s new alternate financing type things that are available. There are different ways to finance it. That’s actually what I’m trying to figure out, what makes the most sense for me right now on the go-forward. Everyone will have to stay tuned, like, “What did she do? What did she do?” [chuckles]

Josh: I’ll be excited to hear more about that. Good luck. Those are tough decisions to make. As a founder, there’s I’m sure plenty of people out there who have an idea about a software as a service, or maybe it’s just an idea, or maybe they’re actually moving down the road and executing on their idea. Do you have any advice at all that you could share with people like that?

Amber: One of the first things I would do, if you have this concept, this idea that you think needs to exist in the market, I would actually interview people in that target market to better understand the pain points they’re experiencing so that you can understand and start to figure out are they going to be willing to pay for your thing. That’s really a big thing. Those interviews that you go back to may help you refine the idea, or slightly, it may help you identify markets, or what the really most important problems are. Because if you’re actually going to start building something, one of the big problems I think all of us have is we try to build too much.

Josh: Feature creep.

Amber: We throw it all in, but then we can only deliver a third of it and then it doesn’t really quite meet its fruition. The interviews and those conversations that you go back to, we ask a lot of open-ended questions in them. They help you go back to the most important problems so that as you’re going to go forward, you make sure you’re really solving the critical problems. I would say engaging some of those early folks that you can gather feedback from is probably the most important thing you can do at an early stage.

Josh: That’s great advice. I totally ascribe to that 80/20 rule, that is 80% of the value that somebody sees in your software and is willing to pay for is going to come from that 20% of that core feature set. The rest, you can build a little bit later. [chuckles]

Amber: Absolutely.

Josh: The hardest part is figuring out what’s that nugget. What’s the golden nugget? What is that core feature sets that will deliver that 80% of the value? Anyway, I think that’s great advice. Cool. Well, this has been really fun. I always love talking with you. We could probably go on for hours. I’m really excited for what you’re doing moving in as a founder in the software as a service space. We’ll definitely continue to track your progress and see what you do with some of these decisions on your horizon. I really appreciate the time.

Amber: Thank you so much for having me.

Josh: This has been a lot of fun. Thanks, Amber.