Simon Yu // Episode 102 // Season 2 // Changing the World With Crypto Through StormX
Welcome to Episode 102 // Season 2 of the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! We are very excited to have Simon Yu on this week's episode.
We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
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Simon Yu is the CEO & Co-Founder of StormX. StormX allows users to earn cashback in crypto when they shop from stores like eBay, Nike, and 1,000+ stores. At the age of 19, Simon was forced to drop out of college when his parents declared bankruptcy and sold Korean tacos to students around his college campus to start his first business. StormX has raised $45M+ with users across 187+ countries and is also the first blockchain company to be a jersey patch in the NBA with a partnership with the Portland Trailblazers. Simon has also been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Nasdaq, and has spoken at numerous conferences.
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Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, My name is Bryan.
And my name is Maggie
And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals.
We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
Maggie: (00:00:23) Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian hustle network podcast. Today, we have a very special guest with us. His name is Simon. Simon is the CEO and co-founder of storm storm X allows users to earn cash back and crypto when they shot some stores like eBay, Nike, and 1000 plus stores at the age of 19, Simon was forced to drop out of college, but his parents declared bankruptcy and sold Korean tacos to students around his college campus to start his first. Storm access raised 45, a million plus dollars to users across 187 plus countries. And it’s also the first blockchain company to be a Jersey patch in the NBA with a partnership with the Portland trailblazers. Simon has also been featured in Forbes business, insider NASDAQ, and has spoken at numerous conferences. So I’m in welcome to the show.
Simon: (00:01:16) Hey, thanks for having me, Maggie.
Bryan: (00:01:18) And of course I’m in. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. I mean, we’ve been following along your journey and we read your Forbes article, your deep wire article and great. The story itself is a over inspiration. I know, you know, so you really want to dive deep into that and, and really hear about how your, how your childhood was like, like, how did your parents raise you? Where did you, where did you grow up? And how’d you learn your entrepreneurship?
Simon: (00:01:41) Yeah. Um, so I grew up in, so I was born in Korea, but I moved to the states when I was five. And then we moved in, we moved to Portland for the first, you know, better half of my life. Uh, my parents always ran a small business, you know, typical immigrant kind of family. And they had a Korean restaurant at one point. And, uh, lastly they had a frozen yogurt shop, uh, yeah. Which is what they didn’t do too well. And, you know, sort of forced me down to this entrepreneurial attorney path and, uh, It’s been interesting because I’ve seen, you know, my parents always working really hard. But then it also made me question oftentimes, because I would see them working like 12, 16 hour days, like every day, you know, non-stop ball like 365 days maybe except like Christmas and new year’s or something. And like, we still don’t have a lot of money. Like how are all these guys that are across our street able to go to like Disneyland and just go to like Florida for like vacation. And like, my parents are working every day and then. I, I thought there was, there has to be more or there’s something that we’re missing. And, uh, yeah, I just started asking a lot of questions and sort of when my parents declared bankruptcy, that’s when, uh, sort of like, I didn’t have any money. So I had to, like, I had a minimum wage job and I had to try. Yup. Earn more money to try to survive and start my business and then just failed and kept doing better and asked, you know, just kept improving as, um, more experienced started happening. So yeah,
Bryan: (00:03:06) I mean that’s strongly uses were taken upon yourself to make the best of a bad situation. And the, honestly, I follow your story a lot because it’s very similar to mine. My parents also went bankrupt when I was 19 and that’s the first time I ever seen my mom and dad really depressed and then cry because they, this is her lifelong business. Seeing them fail that hard. And it seemed to start over again, was like, Holy moly like, or is my lifeline, where’s my parents’ life going. I ruined the homeless scene and stuff like that. Right. And, you know, I really appreciate the hustle and I want to dive deep into when you dropped out, what was your mindset like at that point? And I know money, money, money was always on probably both of our minds, but like how did you materialize all that emotion into action and really made the right next slide?
Simon: (00:03:54) Yeah. And it’s sort of like, what you said is, you know, with your parents as well, like, you know, I think when you fail in your twenties or thirties, it’s fine. Cause you can get back up on your feet, but you know, my parents they’re in their late fifties and it’s just, you know, how many more opportunities do you have? So they’re really sad and it was a hard time for them. And I, at that time I was going to university of Washington. So I was out of. And the tuition bill is pretty high. So I just told my dad like, Hey, you know, I know there’s a lot of pressure, so I’m just going to drop out. I’m going to try and save money and try to work my way. So I can go back to college. You know, I made that bold statement and then I got. You know, bank teller, bank of America, kind of Baylor, barely paid above minimum wage. So like I realized I can’t pay for rent. I can’t pay food. I can’t pay for my college loans just started activating. Cause I stopped going to school and it was like $600 a month. I’m like, holy crap, I can’t do this. So, you know, I had to either find a second job or I had to try to start my own business, which. You know, I say, Hey dad, like, you know, Seattle, it rains a lot. People study pretty late here and it’s kind of sketchy. So I think there’s a need for people to like, have like some sort of delivery service for people in libraries and like frats and all that stuff. And I’m like, can you let me borrow a hundred dollars? And it was kind of a big ask right now because you know, things are tough and, you know, given that he just failed his business as well. Being a very traditional Asian parent. And I was trying to get an accounting degree and he’s like, no, just go to school and focus on it. Like, don’t start a business like this, get it safe job and, you know, do that. So he was really against it. And I eventually let him convince him to let me borrow that a hundred dollars. Uh, and then first two weeks, uh, you know, I had no marketing budget cause like that’s all I had. So. I just posted, like, I can’t draw, like, that’s the one thing. So I just drew this really sort of shitty looking penguin and then did a little bit of Photoshop and I put it on Facebook and, uh, I just made a Facebook page. And then I just posted every day from 9:00 PM to 12:00 AM saying that, you know, this Korean taco polowy taco is available for delivery. It’s like $3 per one taco, and you can order any time you want. And. I ran out of money cause like no one ordered it and I just kept to keep making, you know, ingredients and stuff. And so I got to the point where I can’t even eat food. So I just had to eat peanut butter, jelly sandwiches, almost every meal. And like, you know, during like lunchtime, like our coworkers would go out to eat at a restaurant or something like that. It’s like tall bugs. So. Make an excuse and be like, oh, I’m just, I can’t like I have to do, you know, homework or something like that. Cause I was taking online classes, but it was, it was really tough. But then eventually like several months later, like there came this one, one moment where two people that I. Never talked to before they both ordered on the same day, like one guy ordered two tacos. So I got $6 total and another guy ordered one taco and I got $3, but one of the guys texted back and he was like, dude, this is the best taco I’ve ever had in my life. Yeah. It’s like, wow, this is really awesome. And so can you post that on Facebook? And this is like around 2011. So Facebook had no algorithms that, you know, it’s just like, once you posted something, every single one of your friends could see it. And so there was no filtering, you know, there was no advertising or anything like that between Facebook. So like he posted that on my Facebook page and all of a sudden, all of his friends. I started seeing like, yo, what the hell is a Korean taco? Like this seems pretty awesome. And then started getting a ton of likes. Are you getting kind of followers? And then I started seeing that happening. So I texted the other guy immediately. I’m like, Hey, can you post, you know, if this experience was good and he does the same thing and all of his friends started liking it as well. And then the business started really picking up. And yeah, I think the first day, you know, I had like $9 of revenue and then the second day it was like $27. And then I was like Friday or Thursday. And then the week after, like Monday, it was like 80 or a hundred dollars. And then it just kept growing. And I was thinking like all the driving, all the cleaning, all the like cooking everything by myself. Like accurate to a point where like, okay, I could drop out of school. This is a real business. Or try to go to school and graduate with a degree. I thought going back to school and finishing up my degree in finance would be more helpful. So I decided to put that business on pause for. Went to Amazon for an internship. Uh, you got to work at some banks. And then when I graduated, got a couple of my Amazon buddies and my former manager at Amazon to also invest in a taco truck. And so we bought a truck and then while I got a job in banking as an underwriter, I was also running the truck on the side as well. Uh, when I graduated.
Bryan: (00:08:31) So. But there’s an amazing muscle, you know, just making something happen out of nothing. And your mom was really proud of, right. Because you ended up using her creamy recipe of all your tacos. She’s smiling right now for sure. Yeah.
Simon: (00:08:45) Yeah. They’re against it. But then I think, you know, the a hundred dollars. My dad like $500 back. And that’s when he realized he was like, okay, that’s a pretty good return. And it’s like, there’s something there.
Bryan: (00:08:56) What your feature IPO would be like five 30 X. We had someone’s name of Bomba fusion for the.
Simon: (00:09:07) Yeah, it was, um, it’s a Bomba means like on, in Spanish. And then the fusion part is like Korean and Mexican. So decided bomb. Fusion is pretty good name. And also we’re coming up with names is like, is a domain name available? Cause you always want the.com. And that was one of the ones that stuck and also the trademark and everything. And it’s for me, like. You know, a business’s name isn’t as important as like the core structure. Cause you can name it like Amazon or Zillow or whatever. And like there, there’s no word about it, but like Google, there’s no word before. It’s just, you may come. It is the important part, but the most important part is that you own the.com domain. So.
Maggie: (00:09:48) That’s such a crazy story then. Yeah. I love the hustle and sack that you leverage, like Facebook’s algorithm or as a matter of fact, not the algorithm, because I remember when Facebook just did like the most recent posts on top and like everyone saw it. And then you, you know, use that strategy to punish the talk, which of delivery to virality and turned like your a hundred dollars or whatever. $10,000 I read. Right. And then you learned how to trade stock options and turn that $10,000 into $30,000 monster. You’re your creative food truck. And you were doing that while you were being an underwriter. Can you talk about how, like you were managing your time about that time? Like, was it difficult? Like how were you feeling at that time?
Simon: (00:10:31) The job was pretty boring. You know, just the XL monkey, you know, it just was finance jobs uses it. It doesn’t take much brain parents. So it’s just like, you know, you get the job done. And then most people at night, like you work 40 hours or 60 hours a week. And then after that, like what you do with your time, like most people will go out and drink beer with their friends, or like do some extracurricular activity or something like that. I was so heavily in debt. No 40 K coming from student loans. And then that turned into 60 K with interest. So, you know, the monthly payments were pretty high at some, like, I just gotta get paid off as soon as possible. And so I just kept working as hard as I could spend daytime, you know, I eventually convinced my parents to manage the truck day to day operation. And I sort of managed to, I imagine everything from behind the scenes. Um, but like we had to find like you sponsored in the beginning, like, do I had no idea what I was doing? This is all like trial and error, trying to figure out like, okay, how do we make operations better, more smoother. And like, uh, the first two years, like we were profitable because like the strategy that I thought was like, okay, we’re trying to focus on lunchtime crowd. Like, let’s make the pricing as low as possible. And then that’ll attract people to come. And like, they’re like good value, good food. And like, it’ll be. Like it’ll start getting viral and people start coming to Australia. And then that’s where the wrong approach, because our cashflow is really low. We always also had a lot of issues with the truck because the truck caught on fire twice. Like we, we, we didn’t have that much capital to begin with. So we brought a really shitty truck, caught on fire, like maxed out all my credit cards. And it’s just like, there’s so many times where you just kind of it’s like company is always like trying to figure out how to solve problems and. That’s definitely a unique thing. It’s just like, when an employee calls me while I’m at work and like at my bank job, and then they’re like, Hey, the truck caught on fire. I’m like, okay then. But yeah, this is just like, there’s a couple, like I re really use data to my advantage. And so like square does a pretty good job in terms of data analytics. And so like originally, you know, so there’s the two things. So one pricing and then two sort of the menu options. So when your first launch, we had very traditional. Mexican style like tacos and burritos with cheese Latroe and all that stuff like lettuce. And we also had like a BB and pop style, which was like, you know, we had two different things and it took more time to prep. All the different vegetables required, all the different, you know, rice and all that stuff. And oftentimes the orders would take a really long time because there was so much ingredients that the line cooks would have to. Go all the way here and go all the way here. And you know, it’s just like grab, and this is very tight space. So the turnaround time, especially for lunches, how many orders can you get out? It’s like a very long time. And then when we looked at the data is like more than 80% of our sales were Putin bot, which is, you know, the Korean rice dish. So, okay. The data is telling us, like we should just get rid of the other, you know, the Korean taco, I mean just the traditional taco Mexico burrito style. And then we got rid of that. All of a sudden, our. Prep time, like even for the kitchen, it was much faster. And then in that, within the track too, uh, we were able to pump out orders from like five minutes to less than a minute for each order. And then it just became like much, much faster. And then from a pricing perspective as well, too, because we had honored price ourselves so much, like we didn’t have much profit leftover to cover, you know, machinery and all that stuff too. And it was breaking down, but also. It was like, there’s a psychological thing where people thought he was too cheap and that the ingredients must be bad. Even though we were sourcing really high ingredients like food quality, it was like our number one focus. And then we were capped out at a certain amount of orders. I think it was like, you know, 60 to 80 or something. But then when we increased the price about 30%. We started getting more orders was like a hundred to 140. And then we also have more profit margin because people thought like, okay, wow, this is actually really good. The quality is really good. And so there’s a weird psychology around food. Like, like people think, you know, expensive is better, even though we were using the same ingredients. And, um, so that helped too. So yeah, I mean, dad then eventually. I started reading a lot about Bitcoin and blockchain because I was in banking and I thought this is going to disrupt, you know, banks that’s my thoughts is because like transaction fees are so low to send money halfway across, like anywhere you want to in the world. And then like, just like that’s. Yeah. And then it just started getting into the crypto world and started that journey and quit my banking job. And. Yeah. I ended up driving for like Uber and Lyft to try and pay off my student loans, faster guys, more stories.
Bryan: (00:15:13) That’s incredible about a hustling, you know, so shout out to you, shout out to your team as well. And I also saw an article that your courtesy chill was your former food truck manager. Is that. Yeah.
Simon: (00:15:26) Yeah. So the interesting story about him too. So we both went to the same school. He was a computer science major. Um, never met him in school because like usually it business and see his failures in our school. Didn’t really, there was no chance of meeting because it’s so far away, but then he was building, you know, just a very simple Bitcoin. Where you can earn like two tenths of a penny for watching a short video. And like, he was interested in Bitcoin. I was like just 2014. Like there were very few of us geek out about it. Um, but he was building that like nighttime and he just needed some like income to, to support his rent and stuff. So he applied to be my manager and it’s. And then that’s when we first met and then I eventually joined and then yeah, we really started making it an official company and started scaling and had really hard times trying to fundraise because back in the early days of crypto, every investor thought it was some sort of like money laundering or drug smuggling kind of thing, because was. Mt. And so grilled. And like, that was the only thing that was on the news. And like, that’s so sad to put money from the food truck that I earned and drove for Lyft and Uber and put that all into this startup, trying to bootstrap and survive. And. Yeah, I saw, I had one point, I think I had like four chops or something. It’s pretty crazy.
Bryan: (00:16:45) That is, that is insane, you know, to manage that much, but that’s common among your story is your level of ambition. It’s like, you want to do a lot of things. You want to create a lot of things in the office, a lot of values to the world, you know, and that’s, that’s a huge commonality that we see a lot of people on our podcast have is that hunger and desire to learn more. Yeah. So, you know, the first two years you guys are bootstrapping Scalian, you guys manage to like hit 500 chain, like two years, which is pretty insane, you know, but the one that I wanted to learn more about was when the market hit sort of bearish back in 2018, 2019, How old are you guys able to like, whether that’s the warm and they continue convincing people that this is the product feature, because you know, when everything’s great. And when those would be like, Hey, Simon and great job, how’d you do it? You’re a genius, those bad. It’s like, that’s when your true expertise in nature comes up. Right. How were you able to weather that storm back to during the down period?
Simon: (00:17:45) Yeah. I mean, if you want to start a company, you have to sort of deal with all this. Yeah, right. When I first started the food or just the delivery part back in college too, the hardest part, it was like, you know, I’m Korean American and went to church. And then like a lot of the church kids are talking behind the back and they’re like, I heard this one kid call me, you know, And the Korean translation, like for peasant and like, she didn’t think I would hear, but I heard it. And like that just completely turned me off from church. And like, this is sort of, you know, especially Asian culture is a lot of gossiping going on. Right. So you have to withstand that. So like now, you know, it doesn’t really phase me. You know, when I’m in early college days, like I could barely eat. Like I am in that situation. My mental situation is pretty weak, but then I was able to thrive from sort of the challenges and make that into strengthen sort of like when 20 18, 19 happened for crypto. Yeah. I started shitting on crypto again, right? Like, because prices went down, like a lot of the companies were folding. Like it’s a lot of regulation on certainties and stuff too. And for us, like we had raised a lot of money towards the end of 2017. We didn’t really have good product market fit, but then we hired a ton of people from Seattle and it’s a very expensive burn rate. So we got to the point to where we had to. Layoff, like most like 80% of our staff. And it was like, we had a skeleton crew left and, you know, we had other problems as well, too on top of that. And you know, like, I think most people would’ve given up at that point, cause you’d be running out of money fast. Like, you know, the products doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere. Like pretty much like everyone talking shit about you again. Got my heads down and just kept focusing. And you know, another part, I think that helped us survive too, is Kevin and I have good chemistry in terms of like, I think a lot of founders typically fight and have breakup issues and that, that, that makes it really hard to run a company, but even through thick and thin, You know, he’s like, you know, I believe in you, like, I, you know, I think we’ll get through this and then we’ll be able to survive. And yeah, we just kept grinding. Honestly, just eventually we got to a point where we started doing really well again, and then, you know, all the investors wanted to invest and we recently raised like $50 million. But outside of that, we didn’t have to invest because. Our company was also doing very well. And you know, it’s just like now everyone’s, you know, it’s just, it’s a cycle. Right. But people say like, Hey, like, you know, they really well, like you said, like, oh, you guys are awesome and then they’ll ignore you. And shit goes bad to eat dumb ass, you know, like be on your back. And then when things are good, they’ll start reaching out to you again and be like, Hey, you know, we’re best friends at one point, blah, blah. But like, you just have to ignore all the noise.
Bryan: (00:20:29) No worries. I mean, we’ll always be your best friend. I mean also congratulations on me able to sponsor the Portland trailblazers as well. And then that’s our hometown team. What was that feeling like when you’re like, oh my God. Like, I was able to sponsor this team that I grew up watching, you know, and that’s crazy.
Maggie: (00:20:50) And it was, it was the first, I think their first time sporting a crypto at patch. Right. And then it’s the first partnership with a support organization. So it’s, it’s a really, really special partnership. It’s a really big deal.
Simon: (00:21:04) Thank you. Yeah, I still, I mean, the season hasn’t started yet, so it still doesn’t feel like it’s happening this summer league just started. So just got to finally see the patch in real time and action, but yeah, it’s pretty awesome to be able to see, you know, my favorite players were hanging our logo and stuff like that. It’s just like sometimes I have to take a step back and. I remind myself, like, okay, I came from like a hundred dollars to like where we’re at right now, you know? But I it’s, it’s hard to sort of grasp it cause I’m always just working and just trying to think of like, okay, what can we do next to, you know, continually making this bigger and like, to, you know, continually growing. Sometimes harder grasp in like, okay, we actually did this kind of thing. Yeah,
Bryan: (00:21:51) yeah. Definitely starts to smell the roses. And this is the perfect opportunity to stop this little as roses. They take a giant step back. I think we skipped this, this, we accidentally skipped this part already, but to our listeners, what is storm X? I still am.
Simon: (00:22:03) Ex is the easiest way you can earn crypto by just the cashback you can shop from stores like Nike or eBay or. Banana Republic or we have about a thousand school we’re building overall at the company is trying to create the marketplace where people can just come and find different ways to earn money online. And that’s, that’s our, that’s our goal. So we started with, we actually started with micro tasks. You can answer like survey questions, like tried different games. You know, services and stuff like that and earn some money through crypto and then recently launched the shopping cashback platform. And then few years down the line, we’re trying to create sort of like a task rabbit, fiber upward kind of service on top of it. And the reason, yeah. Yeah. The reason we’re using blockchain is because like you mentioned that we had scaled a lot of users in the first few years is because like to send a hundred dollars to someone in China or India, Cost to like almost the transaction fee itself because there’s foreign wire transfers, foreign transaction spreads, and it’s just so expensive to send money abroad, but we develop the patent to technology that allows you to send it for like a couple cents. So like our user base is entire world. So it just allows us to scale a lot faster. And so, yeah, it’s, it’s really exciting and what we’re trying to build and why we’re trying to build this product is because it really does come from like main Calvin’s like sort of college days we had to, we were always trying to hustle, trying to find ways to earn money online, but there’s no like. Platform right now where you can just come and find ways to do so. We’re trying to, but all of the different ways into like one marketplace where you can just come and find the different jobs and stuff. So that’s our ultimate goal and
Bryan: (00:23:50) it falls into why I feel the belief to its fully decentralized system in the world. And I feel blue. I fully believe that blockchain is taking on that task really well because you know, we’re moving away from institutional. Companies and people controlling everything to the everyday person. Sorry. Really appreciate.
Simon: (00:24:11) Yeah. Yeah. I don’t want other cool things we’re doing too is governance. So we have a lot of very passionate users. If you look at our Twitter feeds and stuff are like, sort of like called like behaviors is all too, right? Yeah. We’re letting our users make certain product decisions, which is something that we’re focusing on doing more of. Yeah, it looks like who knows the product better than the users, not all of that decision making, but it’s just certain things that that’s like having that decentralized aspect, like more traditional companies haven’t done. So, you know, you don’t see Amazon or Twitter or Facebook asking for like, Hey, what should we build next kind of thing. But I think that’s like one of the best foodies of blockchain is, um, yes.
Maggie: (00:24:55) That’s amazing. I read online that the platform will also support field work like coding, writing, blog posts, adding video, QA testing, translating content, um, and then the users will get paid instantly via the app by these plans currently in or.
Simon: (00:25:14) This is probably still a few years down the line in terms of like usability, blockchain, crypto products are still pretty difficult. Like I still think we’re too early. I guess, like trying to explain like email back in like 1991, you know, there’s only a select group of people that can actually do this. And you know, like, there’s like, there’s a famous interview of like, I think it was like 1995 of like a talk show. And I was just like, what is this like ad symbol? It looks like a squiggly line. It’s. No one’s going to use this kind of thing. Like we’re still in that phase. And onboarding offboarding for Fiat to crypto is still pretty tough. And yeah, I mean, so, I mean, even today, I mean, we still only had about 3 million people that downloaded our product. So we’re still like once we reach tens of millions to hundreds of millions, and then we have enough of our own users, they can create their own tasks and then there’ll be enough of a market place where people can find each other through that sort of like a dating service. Right. But our two places are. The toughest to build, because you need two sides of the market, but if you don’t have one side and the other side, it’s going to be really tough. So that’s why we’re waiting just a few years because the user experience for a Fiat on Rambo, Fram is still pretty bad, but there’s a lot of really great companies that are working on stuff. So yeah, we expect in a few years that’ll be a lot better and then we can roll that out. And then you got people. Like do not get charged 60% of the fees and have to pay that they get to keep most of it.
Bryan: (00:26:44) That’s awesome. I mean, I love your sense of awareness too, and that’s a huge part at once from their ships, understanding your market and your needs really well to determine which product goes on first, because if you release a feature too early for its time that won’t do well, you know, and unfortunately, The adoption rate, although from blockchain is very rapid compared to any other started technology before you guys just, I mean, just in general, we’re still very early, has become mainstream yet, but I think you’re right. Any, a couple of years is definitely be something that we’re just like, oh yeah, this is everyday terminology. Like, did you see send me money? Okay. But the Bitcoin or something bad or Ethereum, I do see a future like that, for sure. Especially watching like the NMT stuff right now. Go bananas for like, I think that’s all like Trey song with somebody saw his like, or 58 seconds or a million dollars. I was like, that’s freaking crazy. You know? So out of curiosity, I mean, I know, I know you do a lot of things and you hustle a lot, but the one thing that we like to focus on our podcast too, is how do you take care of your mental health? What do you do? The attached the stress and sorta clear yourself to make better business decisions, because I’m sure, like, as you mentioned before, you’re out. Oh, my God, my taco truck burned down. I’m pretty sure things even worse now because you raised over $40 million, right. A lot more fires are heading your way. So how do you manage like separate work from personal life to taking care of your mental health?
Simon: (00:28:10) Yeah, no, I, I think mental health is something that’s not talked about as much and it really should. It’s a great thing that you brought this up because like, yeah. Back in like 20 18, 19, and sort of. All hell was going, you know, it’s just, it was really tough. Luckily for us, we had really good advisors that, you know, are really successful, you know, founders of companies. And we were able to talk to those guys cause like, even internally within our team, like we had, executives are a lot older and I was in there like, you know, we should give up kind of thing. And like, everyone is telling you to give up, but these guys are like, you know, The company founders are like, you know, this is normal. It happens to everyone. Like if you survive this Fest, you know, when you know you’re going to make it. And instead of like, like you’re, you should stop doing whatever you’re doing. Like you should talk to this person, that person do this. And like, I should giving like very helpful advice. And I also just have a lot of friends at this point that, you know, run their own companies and it’s, so we talk about all the bad stuff and all the good stuff that happened and like just need a place to vent. I think that’s really helpful, you know, I think, you know, like a lot of people use psychiatrists or whatever, too, but for me, like what I’ve found definitely the most helpful was finding like-minded people and being able to talk through, you know, like what you’re stressed about or what kind of problems you’re having. And. Being able to vent out and then, yeah, I mean, it was always good because you get helpful advice or a different opinion that you weren’t also thinking about as well. And yes, I wrote where investors now are also very good at that as well, too. Like it was just feeling, Hey, you know, I need help finding this resource. Or like, can you help me connect to whoever? And they’re like, well, I don’t know anyone yet, but let me do something around and help you find someone that might be a good.
Bryan: (00:30:02) Yeah. I mean, definitely advisors are the good ones offering you the best and go ones. But also I want to point out one thing to note is that as a founder to, yeah, a lot of advice in all different directions, how do you filter out which advice you want to listen to? Because sometimes you entered into a new industry. And you assume this person knows what they’re talking about because they have apparently 25, 30 years of experience, right? Yeah. How do you, how do you filter that out? Because that’s a challenge that most entrepreneurs face.
Simon: (00:30:34) Yeah. Actually I had a meeting on this just a little bit earlier today. It’s just, yeah, it just comes with experience. You have to just deal with as many people as possible and then you start smelling. More and more, especially in Seattle. I mean, you would think Seattle is like a great startup city, actually. It’s terrible. Like, you know, bay area is like, you have to go to Barry, if you want to do a startup kind of thing, I guess like, if you want to be a banker. Do you go to Texas? Now you go to wall street. Right? But Seattle, a lot of people will claim they’re experts in like startups or whatever. But a lot of those guys that go flaunt around and, you know, trying to offer people advice are usually guys that have never built anything. They just like to have the spotlight attention to them. And. They don’t have money to invest or they call themselves investors, or they’re just like mid-level managers on like Amazon and Microsoft and, you know, they’re smart, but they’ve never built a company. So it’s a very different kind of thing, but offer really bad advice. And so like, it took us like a few years to learn that, okay, we should not spend time trying to meet people in Seattle. Like we started meeting more people from like, you know, barrier, like w w like our first investment round, it took us like three years because. Like we were trying to pitch investors in Seattle and there was just not that many. And there’s just a lot of really bad investors. And so eventually, like we got to a point where we spent like our last summer remaining funds to pitch and like a conference in Vegas. And then all these people are like, wait, how are we never heard of you before? And then it was very easy to raise around. Yeah. I mean, honestly, it’s just, I think it’s just experience, it’s just talking to as many people as possible in this skinny or BS radar, just sharpen more from that.
Bryan: (00:32:16) I was like, you face a lot of these in battle.
Maggie: (00:32:21) When you start a company. Everyone has a say in how you should operate or manage or run your business, but you’re the only person and your co-founders are the only people who are in it every single day and know how it works the best. So. The main point is, you know, listen to people, but don’t be overly influenced by them. And so I know in April you disclosed that store. Max had a new strategic investors. What do you typically look for when you’re bringing on investors to storm mix?
Simon: (00:32:55) Yeah. So luckily for us, we raised on the last few rounds this year, we had a lot more leverage because we didn’t have to raise not every day where you’re in that situation. So like, you know, the first, I mean today, understand what we’re actually trying to do from a vision perspective and everything. You know, like our model makes sense or are they trying to hassle you too much or make it look like they’re trying to control your business or have really bad terms? Like, so yeah, we would, yeah. I mean, we were very lucky in terms of like, we’ve found really good investors just because we didn’t have to raise and. Yeah. I mean, honestly, you want to assign it. It’s like, I think first time founders make the mistake of like, okay, as long as we have money, we’ll be fine, but investors can really screw you badly because they can take over. They can force you to sell. They can force you to go a certain path that, you know, they don’t want. So make sure when you do your paperwork, you don’t have like crazy clauses on there that only benefit investors and certain investors. Uh, even if you have a good. The liquidity will only go to the VCs and the founders will get nothing then like, oh, Hey, you just got recognition for selling your company for 50 million, but you ended up like getting $0 of that. And then I had friends that ran to those similar situations as well, too, but yeah, it’s tough. But luckily right now it’s definitely a founder’s market. It’s definitely a lot easier to raise than in the past. So if you there’s more investors. Yeah. I mean just before, for sure. So as, as you keep looking, I think, and if you have the right idea and some traction that you continue building, it was definitely there.
Bryan: (00:34:29) Yeah. That’s definitely a really good advice. And you know, you have a lot of money that you raised as a clear cut example of doing that. So I appreciate that. So out of curiosity, what’s what is next? What is your, your company goals and what are your personal goals for the rest of the year? I know we’re pretty much halfway or almost done with 2021 already. Um, just want to understand where your mindsets, what, where, where your mindset is at right now. Not only for yourself, but for Starbucks.
Simon: (00:34:58) Yeah. So from a company perspective or our next product that we’re launching is a debit card. So crypto card, I was, yeah, one of the things I mentioned is like onboarding off boarding with Fiat, such a terrible experience that that should help a lot. And we’re not just launching it. Democrats are like, everyone else ties into our token and our token economics and stuff like that. Uh, our loyal users will be able to get like much, much higher cash back than anything that’s in the market. If you like Sapphire reserve or like American express or some of those cards. So it’s, it’s going to be really competitive. And so it should be pretty interesting. And yeah, we’re starting to get more into FinTech, but then from like a personal goal, like we’re finally sort of. Heading positive momentum again. So for me to keep this momentum going strong and just like we, I think we have a pretty good advantage right now. It’s sort of the blazers announcement and like the NBA season coming along and to really take the users from like 3 million to 10 million users pretty soon. And then how do we take that timeline to like a hundred million soon? Yeah. Usually it’s just where it calls for me.
Bryan: (00:36:02) There’s nothing wrong with that. You’re always combining work and fun and it just depends on person. Right. How they, how they operate and I, and you appreciate that.
Maggie: (00:36:11) Awesome. So Simon, we have one last question for you, and that is if you could give one advice to an aspiring entrepreneur, what would that advice be?
Simon: (00:36:21) Yeah. And I think because it’s sort of the Asian market too, right? I think especially with like Korean cultures or like other Asian cultures that have very strong hierarchy, ageism is a very bad handicap for boundaries to try and start stuff. Just because if someone’s one year older, they’ll try to talk you out of it and say like, I know much more than you because I’m older than you. Ignore all the noise, you know, like, I think Brian, you said earlier too, like you, you got a lot of bad advice, but just focus on like, why you want to do this and is this something that you want to give up everything on and like, is this something that you’re okay with? You know, not having a good lifestyle for awhile because you’re gonna be poor for a while, but you know, if this is then just do it, ignore all the haters and just, yeah, just, you just got to do it and learn from failures and just keep improving because. Those guys that give you bad advice for ultimately, you know, try to suck up to you when you’re doing well. And then if you start doing badly again, they’ll talk badly about you too. So just ignore it. Ignore noise is my number one advice.
Bryan: (00:37:25) Yeah, that’s really good advice too. And I think. What do you guys say earlier too? It’s this, you’re the expert in your industry. You see a day in the hour and you know, for a fact that sometimes you just have to trust yourself and your gut, you know, and the only time you seek advice is when you actually don’t know something that’s highly technical and highly repeatable. You know, that’s not, I feel like it’s the only time, but everything else is like, that’s the best part. Being with boundaries, beams dictate your vision. Only you can see what you see and you tell me, like over of course, a year, I still don’t understand what you want. You know, so that’s a cool car being a founder Simon. So how can our listeners find out more about you and, and look up more about store.
Simon: (00:38:06) Yeah, you can go to the store max.io, or you could download the app store max on apple or iOS, Android, or Chrome extension. I’m pretty vocal on Twitter. So follow me there. But yeah, I mean, it’s just, you know, we’re trying to. You know, work with all these companies to offer you better cash back. So there’s really no downside of using our product because it’s just free cash or crypto coming your way. And then, so I hope you use it
Bryan: (00:38:36) excited and then we’ll definitely check out store mess after this podcast while I was included on the show notes as well. So Simon, thank you so much. You mean the podcast today? We definitely had a lot, a lot of fun today.
Simon: (00:38:47) Yeah, Brian, Maggie, thanks so much for having me.
Maggie: (00:38:49) Thank you, Simon.
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