Joseph Rueter is the founder and CEO of Vivront, a cutlery sharpening service by mail that simultaneously supports school nutrition challenges. He’s a dedicated entrepreneur, having founded multiple companies leveraging software innovation, product development, and his “do it yourself” attitude.
How I Work, Episode 18 with Joseph Rueter (Vivront)
Joseph joins Josh Becerra in episode 18 of How I Work to explain how chasing curiosity has contributed to his success in entrepreneurialism – and the importance of data, including what it looks like when utilized effectively. Plus:
- Expanding your market: Actively seeking additional revenue
- The keys to more effective and efficient decision making
- 3 strengths that add value to a company: Nimbleness, Flexibility, and Forward-Thinking
Learn more about Joseph Rueter and Vivront: https://vivront.com
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Transcription: How I Work, Episode 18 (Joseph Rueter, Vivront)
Josh: Hi everybody. This is Josh Becerra from Augurian. I’m here with Joseph Rueter, man. I don’t even know what title to give you CEO of Vivront, at this point, founder and CEO of Vivront, but you have been going from thing to thing, and I’m just super excited to have you here.
Joseph: Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure. Good to come in and chat.
Josh: I was kind of kidding about the whole title thing, but really you have the most unique, I think entrepreneurial story. Our audience is about, you know, SaaS founders, entrepreneurs, and marketers. And so why don’t you tell us a little bit about that story? Like how you got started.
Joseph: Well, thanks for being interested. I just live my life and chase curiosity and I find that interesting. I grew up in Minnesota, in St. Cloud and it was always. It was like a do it yourself family.
Joseph: I was young. Like I was in grade school and we built a house and I didn’t really know any other way. And when the car would break we’d, we’d fix the brakes and we’d change the alternator and we’d fix it up. And I remember getting married and having the car torn apart one afternoon. And my wife came in and she’s like, what are you doing? And I go, I’m fixing the car. And she goes, why? Because it needs to be fixed. And so that kind of approach, if somebody put it together, then somebody can figure out how it was put together and put it back together. Um, it was built into how I thought about the world before I knew that programming was happening, that programming was happening and I went to school for theology. And that would be like how thoughts are put together specifically about God. And it was in my master’s program in philosophy where those are thoughts about thoughts, like how do you construct ideas just period. Somebody gave me a book called “Rich dad, poor dad.” And if you’re familiar with this, it’s like cashflow quadrants, um, totally changed my perspective about how money moves and how you could make money. For a philosophy major, wondering about what to do with their life. Yeah. You gotta go like, wait a second. There are systems out there, right? I don’t need to be a business major, but understanding business would be helpful or I don’t need to be an art major, but understanding art would be helpful.
Joseph: And design and across time I’ve just chased curiosity. So it was 3D printers at one point. And now my son is like, “dad, can we get a 3d printer?” I’m like, “yeah, let’s for sure. Let’s go do that.” So it’s, you know, I, I hope similar kinds of levels of success for him, but I’m just chasing curiosity. And that. That started into agency worlds after school, as a strategist, the philosophers can, can say things about, “Hey, we think motivations are a certain way. Here is the research we put together.” Yeah. And then, uh, out of curiosity, it was building all kinds of little projects, um, with friends and developers.
And some of them turned into little businesses. And one of ’em kinda sorta did okay. And one of them did a lot better than that when you’ve got a couple going at a time and one goes, you just have to kind of shut down the other ones and focus. So, that one was Kipsu.
Josh: Right. So tell us about Kipsu. I mean, you were there from the ground floor, I think for this audience it would be really interesting to kind of hear how it is that you really felt like or got to that like product market fit, right? Yeah. At a certain point, man, we’re getting traction, man. There’s like inertia here. Yeah, we got shut down or kind of put to bed some of these other things we’re working on and really focus on this. So how did you get there? What was, what was it that told you like this is it?
Joseph: Yeah, well it plays out over time, at least in all the exterior exchanges or experiences that I’ve had working on businesses, consulting businesses, um, that kind of like, wait a second – this has the potential, this has got legs – plays out over time. And for us, you know, what we did was, was just find an initial curiosity. “Wait a second. Like, why can’t you text a business?” is where it started. Right? Fast forward, 10 years, 15 years. Why are all the businesses texting me? Right. It’s the inverse now.
Josh: So it’s your fault that we all get spam tasks? Is that what you’re saying?
Joseph: I don’t know if that’s the case. I think the trailing edge, completely unsexy technology of text messaging of 10 and 12 years ago. A lot of people have seen the potential for that. Whether it’s like your dermatologist, who’s just part of their EMR says “we’re going to text these people” a reminder. And I asked her, I asked her what I was in there. It was appointment reminders. I asked when I was in there, whether or not they got my, cause I was there for the first time, like an initial intake, whatever I said, did you get my permission to text me? And she was like, she blushed and like, uh, I don’t know. And so now the systems just do it. And that was the exact opposite when we first started, um, why can’t you text a business, where can we find other groups that were curious about that. And initially it was, again, I, as I was saying, just like my own curiosity and then a group of us decided to put some structure around it.
Well, our initial customer base would need an interface on the web that could manage texts coming inbound. Could we hack together five different things to make it work. And then let’s get it working, and what became an initial curiosity became initial like prototype customers. And out of that, we started to go, “I think we’ve got – we know we have something, but we’re in the wrong industry.”
And then we found our initial kind of fit to that industry so that, that customer base, or that market that you’re going to go look for has their own dynamics. And for us, we found that the hospitality industry has a connection to revenue. So it wasn’t just to make people happy. Cause that’s not motivating enough to adjust your P&L for, well, it is for some businesses when your core values are aligned with that. And if you’re leadership team decides to divert resources to it. Then you’ll be able to sell into those groups and partner with those groups. But there’s not a lot of those groups to build a market around. So, um, after we knew we had something after we knew we had it in one market, we started looking for a market that had a connection to really the cash flow of the business and, and man, you got to work that you just keep working at and over time the market penetration will grow.