March 6, 2023

Episode 193: DeVaris Brown, Founder & CEO of Meroxa

DeVaris Brown is the CEO and co-founder of Meroxa, a VC-backed company enabling teams of any size and level of expertise to build real-time data pipelines in minutes not months. Prior to founding Meroxa, DeVaris was a product leader at Twitter, Heroku, VSCO, and Zendesk. When he’s not sitting in front of a computer, you can find DeVaris behind a camera capturing moments in time, at the stove whipping up the finest delicacies, or behind a set of turntables, moving a sea of people through music.

Julian: Hey everyone. Thank you so much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast. Today we have DeVaris Brown, founder and CEO of Meroxa, a VC back company, enabling teams of any size and level of expertise to build real-time data pipelines in minutes. Not months. Devar. I'm so excited to chat with you and, and learn about, your founder journey and, and where you've gone and the companies you've been with.

As, as really, you've worked at some, some household names and I'd love to talk to, founders who come from that background and, and how it may impact or influence their current company. But also, I was looking over your background. You're very much an advocate for skill building and development and, and being, a leader in a lot of different spaces around education within certain industries.

Obviously a wealth of things we can get into. But before we do that, what were you doing before you started the company?  

DeVaris: Uh, What was I doing before I started the company? Meroxa. Oh man. I was working at Twitter. Yeah. As product leader in their, their platform organization. And, and funny enough they asked me , to build basically a, a data platform.

Yeah. And I was just like, yo, Again, somebody's asked me to do this, so let me just go start a company to go to go do this man and scratch my own itch.  

Julian: Yeah. Was what was the incumbent beforehand? Were they asking their internal team to start building these, these platforms for them and, and there was no kind of, what was the incumbent before Meroxa?

DeVaris: Yeah. I mean, it was just all over the place. They had, they had all, every vendor that you can think of deployed inside of their, their environment. Yeah. Really, my job was to understand how to make some sense of that. To give people a platform Yeah. That they can interact with reliably. And so for me, basically every job I've been at has kind of been that same thing, whether it's data or, or, or developer tools.

Like yeah. Just trying to figure out how we can, we can build platforms that allow people to innovate faster Yeah. And more reliably. So that's kind of, kind of everywhere I've been at, man. That's been like the, the, the singular theme. , yo, let's figure out how we can do this. And, it's been, it's been a good, good so far.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. And I noticed like a lot of the background experience you've had was also with, with educating people and getting people kind of up to speed and whether it's certain technologies or, or resources where has that influenced or impacted how you, how you run Meroxa today as well as having have the foundational understanding of, say, larger companies and how, how they're running their organizations.

DeVaris: Yeah. I mean, , I think for me, if you can, I always say like, like true genius is, is not necessarily if you can build something, but if you can teach somebody how to use the thing that you built. Yeah. And for me, I always see that as a part of my ethos and my release because if you can teach somebody to do something, yeah.

You help build these emotive relationships back and fort yeah. That, they'll, they'll be more and more likely to, to, to use your product in good times or bad times Yeah. And all that type of stuff. Right. Because you've, you've, that teaching aspect is helping them reach a happy path that they want.

Yeah. And so for me, I think that that's something like, that's just been part of my ethos is, always, always account for the least informed in the room. Yeah. To make sure that if, if you can make sure that they are success. , then the person that's the genius or the person that's the power user, they're gonna be successful as well.

Yeah. So that's , the reason why everything I've done has always been a platform or, or, helping people get to their happy place. Faster, more reliable way. Like that's literally from day one when I, when I got into tech, that's all I've been doing.  

Julian: Yeah. And I was noticing your background being that you're, you have a product mindset.

One thing I always like to ask, people who come from a product background is, what are some of the best practices to communicate product vision to an engineering team? Cuz I think we all get, accustomed to, like, I want certain things here in this place, but they may not functionally work , in the background.

Right. Or on the back end if we're getting more. So what is your philosophy or, or what are some ways that you can accurately communicate what you want in your product vision and and to help your engineering team build?  

DeVaris: Yeah, I think the, even, even how you frame the question is it, it differs slightly from, from how I communicate product vision to an engineering team.

It's not just the what, it's the why, right? Mm-hmm. . And so, it is funny, I, I. A student of, Jocko wiling the Extreme Ownership book. And it really, I mean, I read it, when it first came out. And for me, it blew my mind because it's so simple to get buy-in if you tell people the why, but the other part of that, in, in addition to the what, so it's like, all right, well we need to, refactor the login screen.

Okay, that's fine. But and then you're gonna spend a whole bunch of cycles getting there. But, but if you say like, look, we noticed that signups we're going down and we see people dropping off because of, we don't have the little, make the password visible icon inside of the password button on signup, right?

Like, yeah. Yeah. , then they can reorient. Oh, that, that's easier than just, oh, we need to refactor log in. Yeah. Right. Like, like that's the, that's the difference. The other part of that too is it helps build a, a, a dialogue to a dialogue to understand well, what is possible, right? Yeah. So if you start off with the why, in addition to the what, you'll get a more pointed, nuanced conversation versus, you just throwing something over the fence and trying to let the engineering leader, tech lead kind of figure it out.

Right. , the whole point of this is, is a product manager. You're not, you don't have direct reports unless you're a manager of product managers, but you don't have a dedicated engineering team that you're like, you're, you're responsible for their success. Mm-hmm. , yeah. Like, I, I'm not, I'm not managing them on the day-to-day basis, like personally.

Mm-hmm. . But together we are supposed to like build this thing and get metrics and understand what success is together. giving them more context as to the decisions that you make and, and, and why you're thinking about certain things. Whether that's metrics, whether that's anecdotal information, user interviews, customer feedback, like all of that type of stuff.

That's the information that they need in order to be more pointed as to how they go off and solve things. Yeah, and I think, I think a lot of PMs lose that because, we've been told, ah, you're the CEO of a, of a organization, but even, I mean, of a, of a particular feature, but. . Even thinking about when CEOs are, are part of an organization, you have to think about all of these things in general anyway.

Right? And to get buy-in is not necessarily you dictating do this, it's okay, well this person, their motivations are here, so I need to frame what I'm saying to match what their motivations are. And. On down the line and vice versa, right? Like that's the, that's the thing.  

Julian: Yeah. I, before I, I'm very fascinated about platform and, and kind of the ecosystem around platform, especially around like customer retention.

But before we go into your questions around that, describe Mien and what it allows your customers to do.  

DeVaris: Yeah. Meroxa is a code funny code first. Platform that allows engineers to solve problems of realtime data. And what I mean by that is we, you, you can use regular code to ingest data from any source transform it or process it however it is that you want to, and then orchestrate that out to many different destinations as you need it.

Yeah. All from just regular, regular coat. Yeah. And so, It, it's a, it's different from the rest of the industry where it's like, okay, my engineer has to go off and build this one-off thing, or I'm using a combination of eight to 10 different, like UIs or, SaaS platforms to get this, this one result.

Right? And so for us it's just kinda like, yeah, let's simplify all of that because, you shouldn't have to build the world that you wanna live in, in order to operate in that world every single time. Yeah. Our whole thing is, is like, look, we'll make your infrastructure. We're, well basically, you download the Meroxa platform and you download the Meroxa, we turn your infrastructure into this like, repeatable environment that you can, bring in realtime data to solve problems with.

Yeah. And like that's really the, the biggest difference between us and. , everybody else is out there in the market code first really, really reduces the amount of complexity that you have. Mm-hmm. . And it really, and, and the, the, the need for specific data specific expertise. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And I think that that's something that is, is really I think it's something that's really.

Useful and novel to, to this part of the industry.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I hear time and time again from founders and, and data is just king in, in regards to what it allow, what we're able to track, but also what we're allowed and how we're allowed to interpret it. And then the conclusions, we can come off that.

But in creating a platform at, I, I run a two-sided marketplace, so I'm not the most familiar. I use platforms, but I've never built one. It seems like, there's a lot of platforms out there and there, there's a lot of value around retaining customers and, and keeping them engaged and using the platform versus going in another direction.

How do you go about thinking about building it and what are the complexities around keeping people engaged onto the platform? What are you implementing for other founders out there who are building platforms, whether it's similar or, or. What, how, how do you go through that process and, and keeping people engaged with it and building around your customers and, and getting all the feedback, but having them return.

DeVaris: Yeah, I mean that's, that's a, that's a science man. , it, it is really that's the hard part, right? Yeah. Right. Like, I wish I can give you some cookie cutter thing, but, but what works for. , it doesn't necessarily work for everybody else. Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think, if I were to, to try to generalize what, what to do, just always listen to folks Yeah.

And give 'em, give 'em what they want. Yeah. Right. Give 'em what they need. Give 'em what they want. Yeah. And try to build that relationship so that you can try to derive more value. Yeah. I mean, there's all these books that tell you like different frameworks to get there. at the end of the day, it's just like Julian, we, we, we rapping right now.

Yeah. You can, I can listen to you and hear things that you want, listen to, listen to you and hear things that you need. Yeah. And like the product should reflect that. Right. And, and if it doesn't today, you have enough confidence in me that we'll get there at some point. Yeah. Yeah. For me, that's the, that's really the, the simplest way that I can think of it is, , have a hypothesis about who's feeling the pain the most talk to them, figure out what the, how big of a pain that is.

Try to figure out like what, what the impact of, of that problem is to them today. And if you solved it for them, what would that look like? What would that impact look like? Yeah. If you can do that, that, I mean, that's, that's everybody , like everybody got problems, man. Yeah. Yeah. So, but you can, and just trying to make.

That your product fits their needs as far as, resourcing. Mm-hmm. as far as budget, as far as time, like that's the, the, the, the variables, right. But if you can get, step one is to understand identifying that, hey, my product could potentially help you solve these things and get you to your happy place. That's most of the battle.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. Thinking about, having a kind of a, a co-founder relationship and, there's, there's so many founders out there that are not just solo founders anymore. Team up with someone else who, whether it compliments them or picks up, kind of the slack in terms of skillsets that, that they're better at in, in having this whole relationship.

And I'm curious to you and any advice that you'd give other founders kind of going through this cohesive relationship with the co-founder and what are some ways that you two kind of set expectations for each other and also, relay that to the team? I think it's not spoken enough about how much that is, is influential , in actual building good product and a good customer base is the, those relationships. How do you navigate that?  

DeVaris: I think for me, I've been blessed this time around my co-founder Ali media is just absolutely amazing. We had very transparent talks around expectations of the company, his own personal ambitions like all types of stuff.

And that came from, me being him in other previous startups and not feeling like I had these conversations earlier and weren't supported enough. Yeah. And so for me, I mean, I'll just give you a simple. One of the conversations that we had was around, well, what type of CTO do you want to be?

Do you want to be the IC architect, cto, or do you want to be the, like, people manager, cto? Not a lot people just kind of understand what the difference is. Yeah. But to me, because I've been in that scenario where it's like, yo, I signed up to be the IC architect, but now you want me to, to manage the careers of the, like, yo, that's not, that's not what I signed up for.

So for me, it, it is really about, again, just, just, just having a, a, a real direct and transparent conversation with somebody based off of those experiences. I, I feel like a lot of times, especially CEO founders, I always say I have a saying that's like, everybody wants to be a founder, but nobody wants to be a ceo.

And what I mean by that is, is everybody wants to start. So, Right, but you to continue it, you gotta be a ceo. Make the hard decisions. Yeah. Ask the hard questions, pay attention, repeat yourself a million times. Like the same thing. just like, sure. You have to do all of these things all the time.

And the kicker is the thing that you might be the world best in the world at. You probably only doing that 10 to 15% of your time, .  

Julian: Right, right, right. Yeah. Like  

DeVaris: I'm probably one of the world's best technical product manager. But I don't really get to do that because I'm doing all types of other stuff. So, for, for, for me, is, is, is is really one of those things where you have to be real with yourself.

Mm-hmm. be real with your, with your co-founder and then just like have these, these great conversations back and forth even before, you putting submitting code into a repo and like all this other stuff it. Let's, let's, let's pre-mortem and plot out what our, journey is gonna look like, couple years down the line, five years down the line.

Like, how do we want this thing to grow and evolve? And as I'm talking, I'm realizing that sometimes you need experience to, to understand that. Sure. But at the same time, it is one of those things where it's kind of like you have to, to be humble enough to understand there's things that, there's things that you don't.

and, and to go out and seek people that have done it before to help give you that, that guidance. Yeah. And I think that's something that, that's super important as a founder is just humility and even in founder relationships. Yeah. When I have a co-founder, it's just humility.

Yeah. Some things that, that he's great at that I would just like, yo, let's bro, show me the way and vice versa. Right. And. that that's how it should be, yeah. We should really have a good self-assessment as to where your strengths are and weaknesses are, and try to find that in the person that's gonna be sitting next to you alongside of this journey.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. One thing I was extremely impressed about is, when I was looking at your website and, and about the team you've built at at the current company. It is the diversity, and I hate the word diversity, and I think, I think the better word is like representation of the real world.

How are you able to hire people that, that represent what we see in the real world and, and go through? It's funny that we talk about it so often. It's talked about, and especially in tech, right? Diversity. Nobody really knows, the mechanics behind hiring people that, that represent either your.

Somebody else or actual people in the world, what have you been able to do to not only attract the right talent, but also to bring them in , and align people within the right culture and hire a team that's representative of the real world?

DeVaris: I mean, it's not hard man, it's just intentionality, , right?

Like I just, we said earlier on, yo, we want our company to look like the rest of America. Yeah. We put in hard numbers as to what we want it to look like. Yeah. And we just went out and. Yeah, I would love to say oh man, it was this secret thing or this that, but, at the end of the day, I think people make it harder than , what it can be.

Yeah. Cause look, man, if I got, my OKRs and goals around sales, and I miss a quarter. What's gonna happen? Sure. Here's the role, this, that, and the third. None of that has ever really been in place , for diversity and inclusion and all of that. Yeah. Right. And so for me it's let's figure out how to do that.

Yeah. Let's just be intentional about it. Let's, my success is the ceo. Our success as a company is dependent on this thing. So, so let's put hard numbers behind it. Yeah. I think like if more people did, , and realize that yo, you're not gonna sacrifice quality. You're not going, lower the bar.

There's , all this stuff. Mm-hmm. , yeah, man, I mean, it is, it, to me it's just, it just makes a lot of sense. Yeah. And there, there's things that we, I could talk about that we did, but it's like, look man, I'm a, I'm a black ceo, right? Yeah. Black male ceo. I've been at, you talked about a lot of the.

Companies I've been at, like we've all shared this like death by a thousand cuts for the organization. So I can speak to that when I'm talking to any candidate. Yeah. Like, yo, I know you getting underappreciated. I know this. How do I know this? Because I've been through it. Right.

Don't let the CEO title fool you. But because I know this, this is how we've designed the organization. Yeah. I've had so many people cry on the interview cuz they just feel like they got seen. Yeah. Right. , people just want to be acknowledged that they're like, yo, we aren't colorblind.

Like there's, if, if I'm a, a woman, there's certain things that that, that you need to take account, account for. If I'm Latinx, there's certain things that you need to take account of. Yeah. If I'm black, you certain things that need to take account of, right? Yeah. Like understanding that because I come from, from that makes it easier for me , to pitch the type of culture that, that we built and bringing people into.

And that's the other thing, right. If you think about all these d I initiatives and all that, it's always focused on recruiting, but nothing on like retention and advancement. Yeah. So yeah, I get you in the door. . Yeah. But if that door, if I get you and I'm bringing you into a swamp already, , like, you going a trip out, right?

Yeah. Like, you're not gonna be retained very long. Yeah. Or if you are retained very long, are you still a Rankin file, just regular engineer? Or have you graduated, every couple years to senior and staff and mm-hmm. , like all that type of stuff. Right? Like those are the things that, that you need to, to be on the lookout for.

Yeah. But. Because I've been on that side, like I'm already attuned to that problem. So when I go out to recruit folks, I'm already like miles ahead of the game for other people. Sure. Because I just know what their experience is gonna be like. Yeah. Yeah. So you marry that with the intentionality, you get very diverse population.

Julian: Yeah. You get a very direct workforce. Yeah. I I love the sentiment you said about being seen and, and also one thing you mentioned. It's almost like when you evaluate your employees and how you kind of really take into account the amount of work that they do. And, it's one thing to be really good, strong culture fit, but it's also that accountability and responsibility.

And then the recognition, which , it's underdone I think in a lot of ways is, is recognizing employees consistently and, and creating that, that cultural system that allows them to see progress. And I think that kind of influences a lot of that retention in the scene pieces, a hundred percent.

DeVaris: Yeah. I, I mean, even one of the things that we do on onboarding is like we send out a survey beyond the, t-shirt size, shoe size, those types of things. We ask questions, how do you like to be praised? Mm-hmm. , when you're in conflict, what's the way that the, the communication medium that you want to have Most email, slack, text, phone, whatever, video call, whatever it is, right.

we ask very, very pointed questions. Cause not everybody's the same. Yeah. Excuse me. You shouldn't be the same. Right? Yeah. I mean, if you got kids or you're part of a team, like, I play sports. Some people respond to yelling, some people respond to like, you need a hand on their shoulder.

Yeah. And at the end of the day, it's me as a leader. It's, it is, it's, it is nuanced between leadership and management. Management is more like, I'm just trying to get you through to this task. Leaders is, they see you, they want to get the best outta you. Yeah. And you know that, that's really what we try to breed as far as the culture, so that way we can see everybody and we try to make sure that, I always say like, your Miocic stay is enjoyable, your miocic journey is enjoyable, but like that's really what it is.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. It breeds so much success out out of pretty much all the founders. I've, I've chatted with the way your team feels and, and how they're motivated. Directly, it has a direct relationship to the success of your company and, and the product and the vision and the relationships with customers.

It's so impactful and, and as you said before, you spend a lot of time doing that kind of stuff versus the things that, that you feel like you're naturally just better, good at or, or more equipped to do. And it's a huge part of the learning curve, but back to Meroxa, we'd love to learn, and, and share with the audience a little bit more about the traction you've seen, what's been exciting about the, the recent traction you've had and, and what are you excited about in the near future?

As, as the, year starts to roll out.  

DeVaris: I, I think for me I think the traction that we've had in the government space has been really, surprising. Yeah. Because when we got into this, people have told us like, yo, it's just super hard to sell to the government and, don't waste your time.

But honestly, they've been our easiest and best customer. Right. . Why's that? And, and I think because, , our message of, save time, save resource, save money, has really resonated and that's what we should be doing. As a democratic government anyway. Right. As reli, relies on taxable revenue.

Yeah. A good taxable base to to, to run. And so we just, it's easy to get started and we help eliminate a lot of waste. Yeah. And I think that's really been what's pretty cool. And I think the other part of it is too, is just seeing the impact, the immediate impact as to like, yo, what our platform does to help.

Mm-hmm. save lives and preserve democracy and things like that. Man, I mean, it's. Super enriching, it is. If we can get something down from 24 hours to, to 20 minutes, like you're literally saving lives. Yeah. Yeah. And like that's the thing that, that people just don't understand about some of the work that, that these folks do.

And it's like, they're unheralded and, and get unseen, but it's like, man, that's been the most rewarding and enriching part so far that we've had. Yeah, and the crazy part was, is like, I wasn't super patriotic and all, like all that type of thing, but as you get involved in this stuff and you see the people that are behind all of this and, and really, risking their lives and their livelihood, Their families to, even their mental stability, to go out and preserve this thing that we hold true to be democracy like, man, you just can't get help but get riled up and like, yo, I'm gonna do the best that I can every day.

Yeah. Make sure that these folks have what they need , to help, help save us. Right. Yeah. And like that's been the thing that's been the coolest and most enriching and rewarding part so far.  

Julian: Yeah. How many people do you have using the platform and, and what are you expected for the outcomes of this year?

DeVaris: Yeah. I mean, we got a, a bunch of people using it. We usually don't give out real numbers like that. I mean, I think, like, our thing is making sure that more enterprises can use us mm-hmm. . Because the streaming data streaming aspect of this is, is starting to. Yeah. Become more commonplace in inside of just the general tech lexicon, right?

Yeah. Like people are starting to realize like, yo, realtime data is something that we need to differentiate Yeah. Ourselves from our competitors. And so you'll see us taking more and more, uh uh, Yeah. More and more positions in that space.  

Julian: Yeah. That's exciting to hear about the relationships you're building, what the technology is impacting in, in terms of who it's impacting and how it's decreased the amount of time and, and giving people and allowing them to have their tools, I think is extremely important.

And it's, I think it's just, it's in the right direction. But in, in regards to kind of taking a step back, what are some of the biggest challenges that Meroxa faces today?  

DeVaris: I mean, really there, there's no shortage of, of people inside of this data space. Man. Everybody got the same marketing messages.

Everybody got the same graph where it's like a whole bunch of, sources their logo in between it and a whole bunch of destinations, right? Like everybody says the same thing. And it's kind of like when you walk into a bank, it's like, yo, with a real vp, please stand up. It's like everybody's the vice president.

Real vice president shows up. . And so it is a lot of noise. Right. It's a lot of, of, and another thing too about being a platform is that engineers themselves are, they got ego. And so everybody knows that they need a, a platform as a service, but they just want to be the ones to build it.

Crazy thing about that is it's like, yeah, you can build it, but you also gotta maintain and operate this thing . And that cost is, is a lot more , than what you Yeah. Than what you think, yeah. And that's really the hardest part where people just don't understand switching costs.

They don't understand operating, like total cost of ownership, that type of thing. Mm-hmm. . And we fight , the, and then being an end to end platform right where we can, I. Do transformations and then data orchestration. There's a whole bunch of just like single task startups , that are within that space, right?

Yeah. And so they might be better at us at one thing, but like end to end, they're not really the best. Mm-hmm. . So we have to, go into organization and say man, , we're, you got this for your data. You're, you are also spending this on stream processing or data transformation.

You're also spending this money on data orchestration and data quality, and it's like, oh, yeah, we can do all of that for you. And they're like, well, switching costs. And it's like, eh, not really. That's not really how our platform is. Yeah. Design. Like we can do better, better on that. So , it is just like, for us a competitive landscape is so vast because we are end-to-end.

That, that sometimes we get lost in the weeds, but yeah, that's really what messaging and positioning is for us and us continuing to show people like, yo, this is how you can leverage us to, to get to your happy path sooner and more reliably and cheaper.  

Julian: Yeah. Is a lot of the way you differentiate, is that through education?

Is it through conversations? Is it doing, doing good work? All the above what? All above? Yeah. Yeah.  

DeVaris: Yeah. Man, you gotta turn the people that you do the work into your evangelist, right? Yeah. Like they're selling on your behalf and, and helping others build these emotive relationships with your, your company and your platform. That's really what it is.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. If everything goes well, what's the long-term vision for Meroxa?  

DeVaris: I mean, look, man, there's never been a, I don't think yet to this day, it's been a, a public enterprise company that's been that's had two technical black founders, right? There's been. Later on, there's been people around the Sure.

The enterprise software space, but like nobody that started something that, that, that took it to, to that. Yeah. So really that's what our, when we started the company, that's really what our goal was.  

Julian: Yeah, I love that. I always like this next portion, I call it my founder faq. So I'm gonna ask you some rapid fire questions and yeah, we'll love to hear your answers.

So, first question is, I, I always love to ask this. What's the hardest part about your job?  

DeVaris: Oh man, . Hardest part about my job is balancing, balancing everything. Yeah. Infinite number of things that you can do in a given day. , there's, smaller subset of things that you should do. And then even a smaller set of set, set of things that you need to do.

Yeah. Just balancing all of that man is super hard.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. If you were to wave magic wand, what's one thing that you wish your company could have today? Versus wait for it or not have it? What's one thing that you'd wish for?  

DeVaris: Oh man. I want to be big in Japan. Yeah. Just like everybody, right?

I dunno. But, but no seriously, man. You know, Everybody is this point in time. It's more customers. Right. Like, there's more people going through the door. Yeah. But, look man, at the end of the day, like that's the thing that we have to create. So, right. That demand and that, that hunger and that, that, that, That's what we need to do.

Julian: Yeah. Knowing that you, you've gone through a round of fundraising, I think maybe a couple rounds of fundraising what advice would you give another founder, maybe of a similar background or experience or working on a similar technology? What advice would you give them to having those conversations?

Pitching their product and, and actually securing the right investors? Because you can partner up with, the, with, I don't wanna say the wrong people, but those who don't share maybe the. Vision and, and expectation and timeline for your product that, that you feel would, would lead to its success?

DeVaris: Yeah, what I think, yeah, I would, I would say number one, especially at, at, pre CCC stage founder market fit is, is 100% the way that you're gonna raise the, the, the money that you need. So what I mean by that is do you have a history of expertise and excellence and. and the thing that you're trying to start mm-hmm.

like, I've been at developer tool company since 2003. Yeah. Right? Yeah. So me doing another developer tools company, it's kind of a foregone conclusion. Right? Right. So, so at the end of the day, you want to make sure that if it's not you mm-hmm. , you have somebody on your staff that can help de-risk that investment via founder market fit.

Right? Yeah. It's not just great enough to have a, a talented engineer as a cto. , are they the engineer inside of that, that vertical or niche that you're trying to build the company in? Yeah, , that's a good signal. The other thing too is I would say is, is investor market fit?

Like we always try to go after the, the big brand names, but the earliest of stages. You want people that have invested in your particular industry or. , but also you want to find out if they, what's their follow on rate, right? Mm-hmm. , like for additional capital, how many of their, their existing investments go on to raise, subsequent rounds of funding.

Yeah. And so , you want to be smarter , as a founder and going out and raising, and I think for me, that's always worked, right? Like, I don't think I've ever had to wait more. , brazen appreciator c probably like three, four weeks. Yeah. To get the amount that I want based off of that formula.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. It's brilliant. I love that. If you weren't working on Meroxa, what would you be doing?

DeVaris: If I wasn't working on Meroxa, what would I be doing? Probably. something in music or travel. Yeah. You can't see it, but like, I make music, like to travel, that type of thing. Other thing too, man, I, I think a lot of it , is I would probably either have my own fund and more in like a private equity sense and like, or even like a venture studio where a lot of the ideas or opportunities that come our way.

Putting capital in them, building them up, and then, being able to, to exit to something else, right? Like, yeah, I think that that's something I would probably do as well.  

Julian: Yeah, I love that. I always like to ask this next question, one for selfish research purposes, but also for my audience. What's whether it's early in your career or now, what books or people have influenced you the most?

DeVaris: Ah, The Art of War, the Peter Principle. What Got You Here Won't Get You There. Think and grow Rich obviously I said Extreme Ownership before. Yeah. Man, I'm trying to think what else. I know I'm missing something else, but, but like those are the ones that just off the top of my Oh, the first 90 days.

Yeah. like, yeah, man, it's just off the top of my head. Those are the ones that, that stick. I know I'm missing some, but . But yeah, for me it is really about like how to be successful in large bureaucratic organizations. Yeah. Also two venture deals as well, because like, as being in venture, getting VC capital, it's like a whole new language, right?

Yeah. And like just understanding how to, how to do that. . Yeah, I think those are the books.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. And I know we're, we're close to the end of the episode, DeVaris, and, and I'm, I've been such a pleasure learning about your background, your experience and, and where you're taking the company and, and what you're focused on.

It's, it's always exciting and impressive to, to listen to new founders and get different gems of knowledge. I, I've learned to quite a few things during this call, especially when you know that that founder market fit thing was exceptional. I think that's easy and simple. And also about, diverse and, and exceptional talent and, and doing so in a way that is very, not only honest, but also focuses on retention and, how you're focusing on that.

But last little bit, is there anything I didn't ask you that you would've liked for me to ask or that you would've liked to answer? Oh man.  

DeVaris: My SoundCloud link down .  

Julian: I'll get that from you offline. I'm gonna get that from you offline.  

DeVaris: Nah, man, I'm complain. Yeah. Nah man. I mean, I think it was a good conversation.

I mean, things I would ask is just more like a commercial. Like where can we find you?  

Julian: That was the last question. That was the last question. That's, that's yeah. Where can we find you? Where can we get your plugs? What's your website? What's your LinkedIn? Where can we not only support you and your mission as a founder, but also the company?

And, and if we're a customer, start to use with, use the platform.  

DeVaris: Yeah. Customers That's the easiest way. I'm on LinkedIn, DeVaris P. Brown is my, my LinkedIn user. Twitter, DeVaris p Brown, , keep it pretty, pretty standard there. So, yeah.  

Julian: Love that. DeVaris, such a pleasure chatting with you.

I hope you enjoyed yourself and thank you again for being on the show today.  

DeVaris: I appreciate it, man. Thank you very much.  

Julian: Of course.

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