Transcribe your podcast

I'm Brian Scordato, and this is the idea to start up podcast brought to you by Tacklebox. We accelerate ideas into real companies through the tacklebox membership, and we think through startup strategy every Wednesday on the idea to start up podcast. You're here because you're thinking about an idea, or you're ready to launch something, or you already launched something and you're running full steam ahead. We're here to help with the counterint, too, of stuff. Onto it. If you aren't early, you're late. Today, we're kicking off a series where we'll start a startup live on the pod. Actually, we're going to start two ideas simultaneously, super early ideas. Neither one with much validation, both pretty interesting. The reason we're starting two simultaneously is a bit of an internal test. We get tons of people who apply to tackle box with two or three ideas and ask us how much harder it is to test them out simultaneously to pit them against each other a bit, and then when one pulls ahead to drop the others and focus on it. Let's see. I love these mini-series where we test out an idea for two reasons. First, they kick you in the ass a bit.


I'm going to show you the things that I'm doing. You're going to realize I'm not all that special, and then you're going to do them too. I mentioned last week that I think of startup ideas like giant boulders sitting dead still in front of potential founders. They're overwhelming. How do you go about moving something that big? And usually, you just don't. You spend weeks or months or years talking about all the reasons you can't move it, but you never actually try. Then eventually, the boulder is gone. Someone else moved it. The fear the idea boulder and flicks has killed way more startups than lack of funding or team or product market fit ever has. The goal with these episodes is to show you that there are levers to use, things to wedge under the boulder to get it rolling. That, in the immortal words of Syinvestre Stalone and Rocky 4, The boulder ain't so bad. The second reason I like these episodes is to remind you that if you're not early, you're late. People ask me how I get ideas for the podcast each week, and my answer is I don't. I don't just sit around and scratch my chin and think, What's a great idea for a podcast episode?


Or, What's a punny name for a Fish and chips place? The answer would obviously be The Codfather. I used to do that early on, and it was a freaking disaster. Then around episode 40, I read an interview with Stephen King where when asked about how he gets so many unique book ideas, he's published 65 novels, he said something to the effect of, Oh, I never have an idea when I start. I write for a while, days, weeks, months, and then at some point, I realize what it is I'm actually writing about. Then I start over and write about that. I find the one or two things that matter and I combine them. I've written the pod that way ever since. I sit down and I write. I have a running log with thousands of things I've seen or heard or read that are interesting, and I keep that open and I just write about something. This sometimes takes hours. It's frustrating and I hate it. I wouldn't even call it type two fun. It's type zero fun. But then maybe 1,500 words in, it'll hit me. I'll yell out, Holy shit, that's what I'm talking about.


Ruby will scoot over and lick my hand because she's sensitive and thinks whenever I curse, I'm mad at her. I'll tell her she did nothing wrong, but she'll curl up behind my chair and keep tabs on me just in case, and I will write the pod. Once I figure out what the heck it is I'm saying, the pod goes lightning-fast. The first 1,500 words might take two days. The final version might take two hours. Like Stephen King, the best stuff is always a combination of two disparate things people maybe haven't put together before. I don't write because I have an idea for a podcast. I write so that I can get one. The more I work with people with startup ideas, the more I realize this is the exact process for getting to a great business. To throw another visualization at you, think about a successful startup as a cross country drive from New York to Los Angeles. Your secret, the thing that matters, the thing that you know that everyone else doesn't that will support your business, it isn't in New York. It's in, like Kansas. The magic, the combination of things, the problem worth solving, the underserved customer, you'll gather them driving west and then it'll all click and come together in Kansas.


But most founders we work with think they need to know the secret that's in Kansas before they leave New York in order to leave New York. So they wait around. You wait around. You wait for a theoretical co-founder or a theoretical funding or for YC to let you in with just a half-baked idea or for things to, quote, calm down at work, or for someone to jump out of a taxi on the corner of 63rd and third and grab you by the cheeks and shout, AI for carbon removal. Here's the go-to-market and give you a folder with instructions. The thinking that you start working on a startup idea not because you have a great idea, but because you want one, is counterint, it's uncomfortable to start before you know where you're ending, and every person will do anything they can to avoid being uncomfortable, which is all the more reason to start before you're comfortable. Every time you can do something uncomfortable, you're separating yourself from the 99 % of the population who will never do it. If you want to end up somewhere most people don't, you've got to do things most people won't.


This series is about showing you how to start before you're ready because I am in no way ready to start either of these ideas. I'm not an expert in either space, though I'm interested in each. I can feel the pushback through the screen. If I'm not an expert in this space already, if I don't have a different perspective already, what the heck gives me the right to try and start something? How does it guarantee that it'll happen? I agree, there's no guarantee, and that is why you start. If you spend seven hours a week for a year speaking with people in an industry and researching and running tests and doing all the things we're about to do, you're going to become an expert and you'll probably end up with a great idea. Last thought before some jazz, the ideas, and the first week of work. The goal of starting all of this before you're ready is to knock out what I call the 90 % of discomfort. Think about anything new. Let's say you just signed up for a gym membership because you want to start swimming. Going that first time is going to be really hard.


You've got to find the locker room, change, figure out if you're supposed to shower before you swim or not. You might forget your sandals or your goggles. You might need to figure out the protocol: which lane is the slow lane? Where are the towels? Each of those things are daunting the first time. Now, think about the second time you go. It's 90 % easier. You know the drill and you can just focus on swimming. That is why we do this. Startups are that example, but 10X because you have all your own pressure and doubt and insecurity layered on. Customer interviews and expert interviews and landing pages and pricing and on and on, dozens of things you've never done before seem daunting. They make up that boulder. But just like the swim club, the second time you do each of those things, they're 90% easier and you get good at them. You might even enjoy them. This series is about helping you knock out those first reps. The idea is the excuse to execute. And again, the idea doesn't even really matter. The thing that matters is in Kansas, so the job is to get there, and that is what we'll do.


If you aren't early, you're late. Let's get to the ideas after a little smooth jazz. Tacklebox is an accelerator for people with ideas and full-time jobs. If you aren't sure what to do next, we've got a step-by-step process that's helped people build tons of businesses worth lots of money. It's got 25 hours of content, examples, and templates organized into a tight seven-block path. If you get stuck and need feedback, I meet with founders every other week to organize sprints and help with tactics and approach. If you get lonely, we've got a bunch of other founders building alongside you. They're talented and driven in all and absolute delight. If that's interesting, apply at gettacklebox. Com and to sweeten it, code holiday gets you 50 % off your first month for the next couple of weeks. Back to it. The ideas and why I like them. We've got two ideas we're going to tug on a bit, and I like them each for different reasons. Actually, I hate the second, but I hear the type of idea a lot, so I figured what the heck? Let's try. Idea number one, nurse assistants, the one I like. The problem I'll kick things off with is medical coordination.


I've hinted at this problem before on the pod, and it's gotten a strong reaction. Mostly, I get emails like this one, quote, Brian, you mentioned a nurse shortage, and I wanted to tell you our experience. My mom was diagnosed with two types of cancer, and logistics have been the hardest part: finding doctors, keeping track of treatments, syncing up the medicines. A few weeks ago, a doctor prescribed us a medicine for one type of cancer. We were on our way out the door to fill the prescription when I thought I might as well be sure and said, You're aware we're taking a different medication for the other cancer, right? To which the doctor replied, What other cancer? I've gotten a number of emails like that, and I've had people in our lives who dealt with something similar. Basically, the problem is that there are supposed to be nurses who coordinate care between specialists and hospitals, but there aren't enough nurses. There are 3 million nurses in the US, and depending on your source, in order to keep up with demand there would need to be 50,000 new nurses added per year. But things are moving in the other direction.


Around 100,000 nurses left in 2020, citing understaffing as a motive. This is a killer cycle. There's too much work because there aren't enough nurses, so nurses get overworked and leave. The average age of a nurse is 52, higher than the average age of an American worker, which is 40. And nursing schools have faced such a labor shortage that they've had to decline over 91,000 qualified applicants due to lack of staff. Couple this with the baby boomer thing, people are aging and will need specialized care, and you end up with doctors not knowing what cancers their patient has, and you can't even begin to blame them. So the idea is something around that. Maybe it's helping nursing schools leverage tech to handle demand. Maybe it's a tool for nurses to streamline their endless tasks. Maybe it's on the patient's side, something patients use to organize the process. There's a secret in Kansas, and my job is to go and find it. Now, here are the firm reasons I like the idea. I've got a whole slew of idea criteria that are burned into my brain and are also in my idea Notion template for backup from businesses that have worked.


This one hits a bunch of them. We've already discussed the market dynamics: growing, evolving, broken. We don't have to touch on that, but it's a good one to be involved in. A market that's growing and evolving will carry you like a wave carries a surfer. A stagnant or declining market will slow you like reptide. Let's hit the rest. First, word of mouth. Everything is downstream of word of mouth. If your customers talk to other customers about the problem you're solving, you have a business. If they don't, you're going to struggle. In this scenario, if you help patients manage the care of their loved ones, they're going to tell people about it. A leading indicator of a great business is what I call mini experts, people who build smaller businesses around the expertise in that specific area. Lots of times, these lead to much bigger businesses. For example, Emily Oster became an expert in infant sleep, which spiraled her into a massive brand with books and podcasts and products. If you search online, there are many experts in the care space as well: blogs and threads and newsletters on how to manage different types of care.


If a problem has this type of infrastructure, it's likely it's got the word of mouth to support a business. Another way to think of word of mouth businesses is the other side of the coin. Does the problem create complainers? Lots of time, the complaining is justified, but if people complain about your problem a lot, that is a great thing. Complaining means people talk, which means you can grow. This brings us to the second criteria I like: objectively, difficult. What was your first reaction when you heard my idea? Was it, glad he's trying because I sure ain't? If so, good. I don't think there's a better organizing principle in life than to run towards things everyone else has an instinctual reaction to run away from. Not like fires or tornadoes, obviously. The mental or emotional things people shy away from. Most of the time, that instinctual reaction is protecting ourselves from discomfort, and a lot of the time, that discomfort is overblown. If everyone runs away from a thing and you're the only one running towards it, you'll have a lot more time to operate and figure things out before competition catches up. Buffalo run towards the storm.


Onto the next related criteria, stakes. If a problem or space pushes most people away instinctively because it seems hard, but if solved has a huge impact, then you're really cooking. The stakes here are unfathomably high, the care of our loved ones. When you're starting a business, you'd ideally like your first customers to say this about the problem. I don't care what it costs, just solve it for me. That implies massive stakes, and that is the feeling I got from the emails from people with this care coordination problem and what we felt when loved ones went through it. The goal here isn't to take advantage of people, but to ensure the first product will have healthy margins. The margin is the representation of the jump you help your customer make, mistakes. Margin gives you time to keep figuring out what you're doing. Every startup is going to be difficult. If you choose one that'll make a dent, if it works, it'll be easier to hire for, to raise money for, and to get people excited about. Talented people want to work on and be associated with things that matter. Next, AI. I hate having a solution as part of my reasoning for going after a problem because the solution needs to be a direct response to the problem you solve.


I'm not totally sure which problem we've picked yet, so I can't be sure of a solution. But I am. When I think of AI, I don't think of robots that'll kill us all, though who knows that might happen. I think of persistence. So many problems we have could be solved by persistence. Want to get customer interviews? If you send 10 thoughtful emails, you might get two responses. Send 100, you get 10. Send 1,000, you get 100. Most humans can't send 1,000 thoughtful emails, but AI can because AI doesn't get bored. Want to schedule appointments? Wait for doctor openings? Organize information? Ping people for copies of your X-rays? Collect and manage data? Yeah, that's a dream application for AI. I think the solution will be persistence-related, and AI answers the why now question. Why can this wickedly tough problem be solved now? Free persistence. And the last one, the local newspaper. A successful startup friend of mine, Alex White, says when he's thinking of startup ideas, he always thinks about his local newspaper. Would he be proud if the first page of the newspaper in his hometown said, Local man builds this business. Would his parents put it on the fridge?


Helping people get care, taking pressure off overworked nurses, letting doctors do their jobs? Yeah, I'd be proud of that. In the opening words of one of my favorite businessy books of the year, 4,000 weeks, the average human lifespan is absurdly, terrifyingly, insultingly short. Might as well do something that, if it works, makes a dent. Idea number two, my credit card bills are too high. We'll spend 30 seconds on this one. It's a very different type of idea, a solution-first idea, an idea I normally hate and I'm skeptical of. But since so many people have this type of idea, maybe we can figure out a more tackle box-y way of approaching it. Here it is. My credit card bills are too high. They're actually all that high and I can pay them, but I'd certainly prefer to pay less, particularly for my business. The idea is use AI to get my payments down. Here is how. I mentioned before that I see AI's superpower as persistence. Well, look at your credit card bill. I'll look at mine. My personal card has charges like Netflix, Amazon, Cable and Internet, Heatwater, Mortgage, Spotify. The tackle box card has charges like Notion, Stripe, Polymail, Airtable, Zapier, Clavio, Simplecast, Zancaster, Zoom.


If I were so inclined, I could threaten to leave each of these services, and they'd almost certainly give me a discount to stay. Every time I try and leave a service, this happens. It might take two hours on a chat with a customer rep, but AI has got the time. It's got nothing else going on. That is the idea, a solution to a problem, fully baked, an AI that threatens to leave every single one of your services until they give you a discount. Again, not the type of thing I would usually pursue, but I hear it a lot, so we'll give it some time and we'll see what happens. Now, let's talk about week one. Process. We'll keep it simple and focus on three things this week: making space, kickstarting the feedback loop, and a feedback and reflection tool. First, space. Charlie Munger died last week. This is a huge loss. An enormous amount of inspiration for tacklebox and the pod came from him, and the first step for testing an idea will do the same. Instead of trying to be brilliant, I'll try to be less stupid. This means recognizing reality. We're all goldfish.


We grow to the size of our bowl. Your life is full and you have zero time to start a startup. The first step of adding a startup to your life is removing something else. If you spend 7-10 hours a week on a startup idea for 25 weeks, you will go seriously far, especially if they're the right 7-10 hours. But you've got to remove something that took 7-10 hours for that to happen. For me, I'll remove one episode of the podcast each month. Instead of four new episodes, we're going to have three new and one old. The old ones are evergreen, and I busted my on them and I'll pick the ones with the highest engagement and I'll probably still do custom intros and it'll still kill me a little bit inside. But it'll free up roughly 10 to 12 hours a month. Also, I'm going to swap out researching episodes of the pod with running tests. That's another five hours a week. On your end, Marie Kando yourself a little bit. What are you removing? As always, my favorite tool here is the sell the position exercise. Make a list of everything you spent time on last week.


Assume that you stopped doing all of it. Then add back in the 20% you couldn't live without. Think about what your life would look like if you ditch the rest. Make sure you end up ditching enough to free up those 7-10 hours. Next, kickstarting the feedback loop. Early startup work is tough because everything is 100 % proactive, something we aren't used to. It's exhausting and it is not sustainable. We need to kickstart this feedback loop and start creating inbound. Step one is cold emails, but the warm type. Start by thinking of everyone you know who's close to the space you're exploring. For me, I've got friends who are doctors and nurses, and I'll start there. I'll send an email without anchoring, asking if I can chat with them for 20 minutes. I'll then ask if they have any close friends in the space that I can speak with too. I attach a form message they can pass along for an intro. Next, I'll look on LinkedIn for anyone I'm connected to and message them the same. Finally, I send an email to 50 or so close-ish friends and family, BCCing them saying, I'm working on an idea and I'd love to speak with anyone they know who's in the nursing or doctor space or who's caring for a loved one going through some complex procedure.


The goal is to getsure the conversation is going. We'll talk more about those conversations in another episode, but this step is critical. You have to attack the boulder. If you reach out to 100 contacts, you will get some responses. For logistics, set up a Calendly account and let them schedule 15 or 20-minute calls with you. This is how we start to learn. The other tough part about the early feedback loop is now that you've sent those emails, you've got nothing to do while you wait for people to respond. This means it's time to learn. Here is where I love ChatGPT. If you are new to a space like I am, ask chat GPT to make you a curriculum and a reading list. If, for example, you're getting into vertical farming, write something like this, quote, Pretend you're an expert in vertical farming and you're helping me understand the basics. What's a curriculum you could create that'd take me an hour or two to read through? What videos or Ted Talks should I watch? What experts should I follow? What MOOCs are available? Now you start to learn. Finally, a feedback and reflection tool. We've talked about the startup journal in the past, and now is your time for it.


Each day, write a letter to yourself or a friend or a fake mentor or an editor or whoever. Tell them what happened and why. Try to reflect on your process. Prompt yourself with questions to help you rise above the work. Things like, if I hired an assertive CEO to move fast on this idea, what would they do first? Humans are terrible at reflection, but incredible at judging other people's work. Which brings us to the other side, feedback. See if you can find a group of people also working on ideas. Obviously, if tackle box is interesting to you, that's one option. But a group of three people who meet weekly for an hour spending 20 minutes on each person's business, giving feedback and process help is an incredible way to help and learn about your own business. You'll always give the feedback you most need to take. End. For the next few weeks, we'll be cranking away on these ideas. If you're an expert in either, interested in either, no experts in either, or just want to help, reach out to team@gettacklebox. Com. If you're doing an idea alongside us, reach out and tell me about it.


And if all this seems like it'd be a bit uncomfortable, good. Discomfort is a sign of growth. It means you're going in the right direction. Let's see where it'll take you. This was the idea to start a podcast brought to you by Tacklebox. If you have a startup idea in the full-time job, head to gettacklebox. Com and apply. We'll get back to you in 72 hours and get me working on your idea by the weekend. Have a great week.