April 6, 2023

Episode 227: Bryan Sapot, CEO of Mingo Smart Factory

Bryan Sapot is an entrepreneur, renowned speaker, and CEO with over 24 years of experience in manufacturing technology. He is the founder of Mingo, a smart factory platform that leverages technology to solve complex problems in the manufacturing industry. Bryan's deep insights into the manufacturing sector have made him a sought-after expert in the industry, and he is dedicated to building software that simplifies the lives of manufacturers.

Julian: Hey everyone. Thankyou so much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast. Today we have BryanSapot, CEO of Mingo Smart Factory, a smart factory platform that leveragestechnology to solve complex problems in the manufacturing industry. Bryan, I'mso excited to chat with you, not only because. You have such a wealth ofknowledge in building companies, being that some of them have been successfulexits, some of them not so much.

So I know you've learned so much in yourcareer and would love to, get your insights and what works, what doesn't work,but also manufacturing this whole kind of ecosystem, I think it's becoming. Alittle bit more present and, and popular at least media and news as, ascountries and things change around manufacturing, but also as technologycontinues to advance on what that means for, workforce and, and doing thingsefficiently and effectively in our modern day today.

But before we get into all that goodstuff, what were you doing before you started Mingo Smart Factory?  

Bryan: I'm one of thoseafflicted entrepreneurs. Like I started my first, I started many companies whenI was younger, but my first real company that was enduring, I started when Iwas 23. So it was a, a custom software company that built e r P systems, so likeback office systems to run manufacturing companies.

Actually, my first customer was a, was achocolate manufacturer. So I kind of just, Stepped into it. Yeah.  

Julian: What was it? Is itmanufacturing just out of happenstance because that was your customer or wereyou around the industry for, was your family in there or your friends or didyou get an introduction or was it just because your first client was amanufacturer?

Bryan: It was. So my nowex-wife worked at a chocolate manufacturer and she would come home and explainand complain about their software systems and say how screwed up they were andthey didn't work right in the crash, all the. I'm a 23 year old, tech guyworking at a residential real estate company.

And I'm like, I can fix that. Right? Ican fix that, I can rewrite a whole system. Right? No problem. So she got me ameeting with the owner and I won that deal. I beat out SAP and Oracle. I foundout why a couple years later we were order of magnitude cheaper and he's like,I'll just try it. If it works, great.

If it doesn't, I, whatever. It wasn'tthat expensive. And so just her working there and me getting that, Launched nowa 20 like six year career in manufacturing software.  

Julian: It's incredible tothink about and a lot of founders have that kind of first customer story wherewhether it's a pricing thing or someone wants to take a chance and, they, they,they wanna kind of, initiate that relationship.

That's one piece of the puzzle. Butexecuting on that and actually completing. Objectives, those goals, those,those agreements that you set up with clients is, is probably the, the hardestpart of that challenge after getting into the door. And how are you able to, inyoung, in your career, kind of not only conceptualize their business goals andoutcomes, but also complete the tasks in the amount of time?

Because that's, that's a challenge,right? Especially if, if you're first starting off on something, it's almostlike an mvp. You don't necessarily know how it's gonna work out, but you have astrong hypothe. What, what did work out? What, what did you kind of learn inthat experience?  

Bryan: Yeah, so I, a lot ofthings worked out, so I, I think I just kind of knew it.

I don't know, my, my whole family ownedtheir own businesses like my dad did, my uncles, my grandparents, like you werethe odd person out if you were working for somebody else. So I understood whatit took to really run and build a, a business and how hard you had to work, andI think it just intuitively.

Like he, the owner was like, I needed todo all of these different things. And I was like, great, I can, I just kind ofunderstood. And I think I also, I don't give up, which is a very, it's a strongpoint for me, but maybe it's a weak point too. Or maybe I should move on toother things.

But I pushed through all kinds ofdifferent stuff. We grew that company. I owned it for 18 years. Wow. Uh, When Isold it, I think we were 30, 35 employees seven years ago. And, it just kind ofworked out. We got lucky, hired some really good people along the way. Yeah.And, and developed something pretty cool.

Yeah, because we focused primarily onmid-size manufacturing companies and doing E R p CRM websites, all that stuff,and really helping them optimize, their, their businesses and improve. Reallyeverything, efficiency, profit, et cetera. Sales.  

Julian: Yeah, yeah. Andthinking about, just that company and, and, and also running lingo and, and Iknow you were involved in other projects as well, how did you kind of managenot only running one company, but having other things on the side?

Were they at the same time or were thereother ventures that you had kind of accomplished beforehand? What was that kindof relationship with those other companies that you were working?  

Bryan: They were always kindof under the same umbrella, like one I'd be focusing on more than the other.Like I, I built a company called Datas Real Estate Solutions that happened whenmanufacturing was slow.

Mm-hmm. And actually the company hadshrunk down to just me. And I used kind of that residential real estatebackground to build, like w or whatever you want to call it for, for realestate agents and one of the first like mapping tools and stuff like that. Soit was never multiple at the same time.

It was always either, Hey, we'refocusing on. Going hard in manufacturing or that went soft so, hey, let's gohard on real estate and then came back to manufacturing. Manufacturing stuffwas always interesting cuz it's, it's the marrying of the physical and thevirtual. Yeah. You're building software which is virtual to help people buildphysi, physical things.

And it's also pretty complex aswell.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. In termsof what you need to do. Yeah. And, and one thing I talk to a lot of founderswho, who do have that, that environment where they, they're building software,but for physical machinery. And that relationship is a challenge in, at leastin my mind, thinking about the traditional methods that, well, not traditional,but the methods that people are more popularized in, in terms of how they'rebuilding companies with just software.

Everything's on a platform, everything'sin the cloud. But the, the, the, the relationship between digital and physical,how do you overcome that in, in the sense of making it such a seamlessexperience and not being so, di disjointed or disconnected, which a lot ofsoftwares are that, that you kind of have that relationship with the digitaland physical.

What are, what are some ways that you'vebuilt and, and seeing is there a strategy around building that leads to thesuccess of. What, what would you attribute that to?  

Bryan: Yeah, we, we built alot of technology that's behind the scenes to help make that really seamless.Yeah. Like we, we had to, we have these little gateways, which are small PCsthat go in every single plant that run all this code.

They run Linux and then they run a bunchof code that we wrote on top of it to handle talking to all these differentmachines. Cuz there's like, when you walk into a factory, it's not all brand. Imean, it's stuffed from the 1920s all the way up to stuff that they bought lastyear. And you gotta figure out how to light all this up.

And they all talk all kinds of differentprotocols. And so we had to write just tons of code to be able to do that. Andthen how do you manage the devices? How do you configure 'em remotely? How doyou make sure that they're secure? How do you, how do you monitor? Somethingfrom, the 1920s were a little ridiculous, but the sixties is legit.

Like there's a lot of stuff out therefrom the sixties. So, we found some off the shelf technology and combined itwith some special sauce from us to make it seamless. So like somebody can setup a machine now in, 15 minutes, like it's pretty. And depending on what kindit is, we focus on certain industries, so we know them really well.

We have very detailed instructions onhow to set those things up to make that process, like you said, easier and, andsmoother. Because it's not just logging into a website and using a CRM system.Like you gotta, you gotta get the machine online. A lot of times you have tohave an iPad, you have to train an operator, like the person that's running themachine on how to use the software, make sure that data's correct, that theyput into it.

If we're not getting it automatically,like it's a. Damn work to be honest with.

Julian: Yeah. Well thinkthinking about, do you, do you find yourself in, in the position where you,there's a lot of old machines that have, no software that you can incorporateinto it. Have you had to build kind of hardware around that to, to help notonly, analyze and track and, and essentially accept all these inputs to then beable to communicate with the machine?

Is that ever the case?  

Bryan: Yeah, we never builtany hardware. We always tried to stay away from that because Yeah. Of, of theexpense. But we used these like little off the shelf hockey pucks that thissensor company makes in Minnesota. And you put some, wire on here and then youcan wire it in the machine.

Doesn't use wifi. It uses like someother technology, but it makes it really, really easy. And it's from a companythat all the maintenance people in these manufacturing plants understand. Sowhen you say, Hey, I'm using this banner engineering thing to connect to yourmachine, they're like, oh yeah, we like Banner.

It's great. And so it made it reallyseamless versus like, Who's the startup? What are they making? How do I knowthis isn't gonna blow my machine up? So, but that was a big thing to overcomecuz it's like there's a zillion different ways that you could solve this. Yeah.And what's the simplest way to do it?

And like, our, our thing was, What's theminimum amount of data we could pull from a machine? Yeah. And then buildsoftware around it to make it really meaningful. So that's what we did. Yeah.Sometimes people are like, oh, it's really simple. Sometimes you guys only pullone data point off of a machine, but we can get this ocean of information andrun it through an AI and get Sure, insights.

But it turns out most of that wasbullshit. Yeah. And the single data point thing works really. Yeah. Sometimessimple is better, right, right. And that's, you that's how we've, we've donethat.  

Julian: Yeah. And how much of,of manufacturing do you have to be just aware of or know and be knowledgeableof to be able to, I feel like a lot of it is marrying the, the workflowprocesses.

Of course, it's getting the technologyto communicate with one another, but if you think about user experience, youmust know or have to know a certain degree of manufacturing processes to beable. Make that even a more of a seamless process. Do you kind of consider thatin terms of manufacturing workflows and marrying that with software and, and,and what are challenges around that as, as they're not traditionally, theydon't work in tandem all the time.


Bryan: I think you hit it onthe head there. The thing that you have to know is that people are the hardestpart of this whole process, right? Because the there people work inmanufacturing, right? So like if you, if you, read the Wall Street Journal orthe New York Times or something, you might think that robots are taking overand everything is automated and stuff like that.

But that's not really the case and. In alot of places there are a lot of robotics, but there's still people runningthose. And so you know, they're making whatever they're making right? Likeremotes or something. Sure. Or plastic pieces. And there's a person that isinteracting with that process. So you can't take them away from the value addedactivities they're doing to put data into your system.

So how do I make that just so simple?Limited amount of things like. One data point, right? I just pushed this to beable to, to make this work. And I think that's where the manufacturingknowledge comes from. So like that 20 something years of helping develop thesecustom systems for manufacturers and watching what they deal with and how hardit is to run these machines and keep up the way you need to.

Yeah. Gave us a lot of insight on how tosimplify those. I. Yeah, to get good data from them and not really disruptanything. Cause if you don't get good data from the people on the floor, therest of it doesn't matter. Right? Yeah. It's garbage, garbage.  

Julian: Yeah, and thinkingabout just, I talked to another, or just founders in general, it's interestingto think about how your go-to-market strategy is in regards to the stakeholdersyou're gonna communicate with.

Did you already have an idea, being thatyou've had all this manufacturing insight and JQ you would be speaking with whohas the biggest pain problems and how they can then, because it's incorporatedin such a large team, communicate the value or the operations or, or, or thesystems behind what you're implementing.

Who are the stakeholders? Was it hard tokind of identify them? And what approach do you, do you take? Do you take abottom up approach or go to the operators in, in terms of who kind of overseeseverything was how mu Yeah. Did you know that initially? And how was that kindof discovery process and who would affect most and, and be able to be a bestchampion?

I think that's like, the buzzword we allkind of look for.  

Bryan: Yeah, it was a bit ofa journey. Like originally I thought CEOs would be the way to go. And in smallercompanies, that makes sense. But the reality is when you get, like a lot ofmanufacturing companies are part of a larger conglomerate, like there's 10companies rolled up into a holding company.

They're all a little bit different. Ifyou go to the CEO of the holding company, That person doesn't care about whathappens on the factory floor. Not really. I mean, they do, they care about theoutcomes, but they don't care about the day-to-day. So it took us a coupleyears to realize that really who we're going after is the coo, VP ofmanufacturing, VP of operations, plant manager, like that group of people.

And then the other, the other hard partof this because manufacturing's really broad, right? It encompasses everythingfrom oil refining to making, food and dog food and stuff like that. And there'sa lot of similar. Similarities in all the different types of manufacturing, butthen the differences are what make the difference, if that makes any sense.

It's what kills you from a productperspective. So like for us, honing in on where, where do we fit really well?So that took us a little bit longer than even the title. So I'd say about,Three or four years ago, we figured out that, food, auto parts and plastics.Yeah. So like kind of these higher volume things were really where we fit well.

Yeah. Where there's other companies thatlike custom manufacturing, aerospace, like smaller production runs, they fitbetter there.  

Julian: Yeah. Um, Yeah. Yeah.And it's so fascinating thinking about just the, the, the relationship orsorry, the, the, the change of manufacturing, especially in the last few years.

Obviously larger companies are, arebeing more constrained to have things kind of in the US or more kind of,shortsighted. Have you seen a huge dramatic shift in manufacturing in, inregards to not only the amount of resources allocated to it, but also theworkforce? And how has that changed in terms of is, is it improving in, in youreyes in terms of becoming more operationally efficient?

Or are we seeing a decrease in activity?What are the changes you're seeing for us that. Are ordering our products onAmazon, receiving them, and don't really know the mechanics of what's being builtbehind. Everything.  

Bryan: Yeah. So, Onshoringthat, that one's an interesting discussion too, that we can talk about.

But I'll talk about what we've seen inthe workforce with our customer base. During, even before Covid, people werehard to hire in manufacturing. They, the, the pay wasn't that great. Peopleviewed it as a low skill, job that didn't have a lot of opportunity. Covid madethat worse, right? So less people wanted to do that.

What we saw with our customers were theydramatically increased wages dramatically. Some of them tripled what they werepaying entry level people. And what they found was, interestingly, they gotbetter people. By paying that much turnover went down. Right. And, and inreality, they're, they're paying more for labor, but they have better people.

So they get better productivity,turnover goes down so they don't have to train them as much, they don't have totrain new people all the time. And it's been a lot better. Those, the folks whodid not increase salaries like that, didn't see those benefits. Yeah. The otherinteresting thing is every single company is talking about, Right.

So kind of like robots taking overeverything, but just like incremental things. Like how do we, any kind ofhighly repetitive task that a human is doing, it's not really using what it,what people do best, right? Like problem solving skills, being able to fitmaybe things that don't perfectly fit together.

We're good at that. Robots are not, theyhave to be, perfectly aligned. Stuff like that. Yeah. But those, those thingsare highly repetitive. How do we automate those? We're seeing more and morepeople. Try to do that, and it's becoming a bigger and bigger priority forthem.  

Julian: Yeah, yeah. And then,then in terms of on sharing, I know you touched, you touched on it a littlebit, but just thinking about that whole shift, are we seeing a lot moreincrease in activity and productivity?

And also when you, this is actually justa curious question. Does one manufacturer make multiple items for multipledifferent kind of distributors in that, or do you see a lot of factors arespecialized?  

Bryan: They're specialized,but they always have different customers. So let's, we can talk about Onshoringreal quick.

So what we saw with Covid, right, withall the supply chain issues is a lot of people left, basically Asia and theystarted bringing stuff back to Mexico in the United States. Yeah. And lookingfor other things in the Western, in our hemisphere. Other places that they coulddo similar manufacturing.

Mexico was a big one. We had a lot ofcustomers who bought plants, built plants grew capacity in Mexico. But thenwe're also seeing a lot of folks do it in the US as well, depending ondifferent factors, right? Like labor cost, raw materials, all that, all thatkind of stuff. So it is growing yeah, really, really quickly.

Yeah. Most manufacturers, they have, alot of times they have multiple customers. Sometimes they don't, we workedwith, we work with a decent amount of contract, packaging companies and food.So they'll have like 10 different customers that they package, different foodproducts for automotive.

Sometimes, yes, many customers.Sometimes 90% of their product is, is sold to a single manufacturer. Yeah. It'skind of all over the place.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah, I canimagine It's such a, such a diverse kind of customer pool to have to, to, tocater to and, and build unique solutions for, even within I'm sure a structuredsolution that, that you're building.

Now I know we talked a lot aboutmanufacturing, but shifting toward Mingo, what essentially was the was theinspiration behind? I know you had been working building software formanufacturing companies, but why? Focus and, and really focus on creating, moreof complex solutions for this industry.

And, and diving deeper into this sector,which is, I think you, you mentioned mid, mid, kind of mid-market manufacturingcompanies. What kind of inspired you to solve these problems around efficiencyand processes? More so than just setting up systems as you were before, likeERPs and CRMs, which are obviously great for data collection and, and, andkeeping things kind.

On track, but the intelligence piece, Ifeel like, from what I've learned about Mingo, is really where the, the nextlevel is and improving processes and, and really knowing about data in anintricate way. What made you double down on that direction and, and what's beenkind of exciting for you to be, further deep into, to offer these solutions?

Bryan: The, so this willsound a little bit weird, but what I, the reason why I started it was fingerpointing. So if you, if you walk into a, a, most manufacturing plants, right?Yeah. It's, it's a. Almost every day is kind of a firefight. Like there'sdifferent problems that happen that have to be solved, and there's always a lotof finger pointing.

So the person that runs in the machinewill say, the maintenance guy didn't do his job. My machine keeps breakingdown, right? And then the maintenance guy goes, no, the guy running the machinedoesn't know what the hell he's doing. He keeps breaking the machine and I haveto fix it. And then some engineer comes over and says, no, neither one of youknow what you're talking about.

It's actually this problem. So it's alllike finger. And it's all gut feel, right? Yeah. And the loudest voice in theroom wins always. And they may not be right. So I, I was like, and I saw thisall the time when, I mean, we, we implemented e r P systems at like hundreds ofdifferent manufacturing companies. I saw it constantly and I got sick of it.

It's like you guys, there's data thatcan tell you what the problem is, right? And we actually built some customsystems that did that. So how do we give them inform? And data to say, okay,actually this is where the problem's coming from. Now we can all focus on thisparticular issue and fix it, and then it's gonna go away rather than all thisfinger point between everybody.

Yeah, that was one of the biggestdriving factors of it. Yeah. The other one was nobody had automated datacollection on the factory floor and even today. Almost all of our customers,like 98% of our customers go from nothing meaning like paper and excel tosomething us or a competitor. It's like the final frontier for technology,right?

Like automated data collection. Yeah,and it's, it's truly unbelievable. Like you go it, it's like you're blind andyou put glasses on and you're like, holy shit, I can see, you know what? Yeah.And every day the data's used and they, and they can go and say, okay,yesterday was not a good day. Here's the reasons why yesterday was not a goodday.

These are our top three priorities thatwe're gonna work on to fix those problems. They go off and do it, and then youjust constantly see this increase inefficiency. Yeah. Right. Eventually it'lltop out. There's only so much you can do before you have to throw heavy moneyat it. But it was really those two things, like how do we provide visibilityinto what's happening every.

How do we stop the firefighting? How dowe stop the finger pointing? And it's really what gets me excited cuz it, itworks. Like I went all over the Midwest West Week speaking with customers andto see like their graphs and to see, we do this metric called oe, which measureseffectiveness of a, of a manufacturing process.

Yeah, yeah. And we go, Hey, have youguys seen any improvements? And they pull up a chart inside of our software andit goes like this. Yeah. Up to the right. Yeah. And it's like, how'd you dothat? Well, we just look at it every day in our production meetings and stufflike that. It just gets me fired up.


Julian: Yeah. Yeah. Why is itso underserved? What, why, why has the technology not been implemented? Itseems like such a crucial, and, and also such a large company that you needsophisticated instruments. At least maybe that's a newer philosophy, but Idon't care. Why is it so underserved? And why are why are so, so many companiesbehind in, in auto having automatic data collection?.

Bryan: I think it's becauseit's, it's hard to do, right? Mm-hmm. Right. Yeah. So there have been systemsthat have existed for a really long time to do this stuff for certainindustries, like if you walk into a plant like Proctor and Gamble, where theymake. Bleach or detergent of some kind. They have one.

It's instrumented. It's crazy, but it'swildly complex and you have to have an army of folks maintaining that thing.Yeah. But that doesn't work for a hundred million, widget manufacturer. So howdo you simplify something that does something really complicated down to, Ionly need to put these little inputs into this and then I get this wealth,wealth of information out of it.

Yeah. And I think that was the hardestthing to solve. Yeah. And like before tablets, before, cell phones blew up.Like the technology to do that cheaply, effectively didn't exist. Yeah. And Ithink now, now it does. Yeah. The other part of it is people, and they stillsay this, I haven't had it for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years.

Right. Why do I need it? I, I've run aprofitable company. Everything is great. Right. Right. The competitor has itand they're gonna crush you. So I mean, that's the reason why, but there'sstill that real old school mentality, plus you have to prove it to them. Imean, manufacturers are, are very practical people.

They're like, I, I gotta know that I'mgonna see the ROI on this re investment. Like how do I, how do you, how do youprove that to me? Yeah. And we're still, we can do that, but people are stillvery skeptical.  

Julian: Sure . I think onething I love about talking to founders and you in particular, it's like theperfect marriage between you.

You happen to work at this company, soyou or this industry, with this industry intimately. So you have thisknowledge, but you're a little bit of an auxiliary figure in in regards to whatare your incentives. But you see all these problems and then as technology kindof grows and expand, it becomes more sophisticated, cheaper, more easy to use.

It's like this really, like big bangkind of statistical anomaly for founders, but you see this in, in, in commonexperiences, so it's amazing to see that it was just such a. A unique set ofvariables that that allowed, Mingo to not only become a company, but also youto, to really intimately know the challenges that they face.

And I'm curious, just thinking aboutexternal and thinking about internally, what are some of the biggest challengesthat you face today?  

Bryan: The biggest challengewe face today is still, I think it's, Sales growth. It's probably the same asevery other startup cuz we all want to grow right? As fast as possible.

How do we reach all of these people? Andthen how do we get them to understand the value that exists here and whatthey're really missing out on. Yeah. The market's massive, but you break itdown into little niches, right? And it's not that big as you go after each one.That's kind of what we do.

We kind of want to dominate a couple ofmarkets and then move on to another, another. And that's, that's one of our biggestchallenges cuz the people that have it, they love it. You couldn't pry it fromtheir cold, dead hands.  

Julian: Yeah. Right. Yeah,yeah, yeah. And thinking about going kind of the way you're going about it,dominating a market and transitioning, is that because every market has itsunique problem set and then.

You can kind of expand and grow to thenext problem sector. I can imagine if you go too wide, then it's hard toidentify maybe a really structured and efficient system for, one of the, the sectorsis, is that kind of on on point or,  

Bryan: yeah, you nailed it.Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because, and it's kind of our philosophy about thesoftware.

It's 80% out of the box, and then wegive you the tools to customize to what makes you unique, the remaining 20%.Right, right. Well, if you focus. Let's say brewing, right? That remaining 20%now shrinks to probably about five. Yeah. Because we know like what brewingneeds, we know what, contract packaging needs.

We know what stamping needs, and so itreally shrinks. And so your time to value is a lot shorter in those marketsthat you really, really understand than it is if you were to jump over tosomething like. I don't know, construction adhesives or something. Sure. Like,which we can do that too.

But the gap just gets a little bitbigger and, it's a, it's a pretty tight network of people within theseindustries, right? Mm-hmm. So they have trade associations, they have, they,they go to the same places, talk to the same people, use the same vendors. Andso you can use that as social proof to.

More of that belief in the roi. Well,like my buddy Bob's got it, so it must be good. So I'm gonna Right,  

Julian: right. Yeah, yeah.Time of value that, that's something that hasn't been spoken about a lot, but Ican see if you decrease the amount of, of I guess customization per eachproblem set it, it does increase that.

That's, that's pretty cool to thinkabout a company that, can expand and can be so widely used, but you know, to doit well, you gotta do it kind of incrementally. Thinking about, lingo and longterm, if everything goes well, what's the long term vision for thecompany?  

Bryan: Just grow it as big asI can.

Yeah. And then one day, one day sell it.Yeah. Yeah. I, I like this. It's fun. I, I love walking into manufacturingplants. Like, it just, it fires me up. I like to see how stuff is made. I liketo help people improve those processes. I like to understand, what theirproblems are and then how do we improve that stuff with.

Right. And, and I think there, there'skind of limitless growth here. Yeah. And there's room for multiple players inthis market and yeah, I just, I want to do it for as long as it's interestingor somebody walks. Comes along with a really big check.  

Julian: Yeah, yeah, yeah,totally. Yeah. I love this next section.

I call it my Founder faq. So I'm gonna askyou some rapid fire questions and, and we'll see where we go. So, firstquestion I always like to open it up is, what's particularly hard about yourjob?  

Bryan: Well, I, the hardestthing that I find. And it'd be interesting to know what your other guests havesaid is how do you prioritize your time as a CEO of the company, right?

Yeah. How do you make sure you're nottoo down, down in the weeds? How do you make sure you're not too head in theclouds? Like, where's the right place to be and support the team? That's mybiggest challenge.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. You,you've echoed probably the majority of founders is, is the prioritizationpiece.

And it's interesting then asking whatare some ways that you prioritize, or what are some strategies that you'veused, even just day to day time blocking or, allocating certain days forcertain tasks. What's been helpful for you to identify what to prioritize oneven day to day in, in your workflow?

Bryan: Yeah, I try, everyMonday I block off two hours. Like I don't un until 10 o'clock. Like I don'ttalk to anybody. I don't return emails or anything like that unless it'surgent. Yeah. And I plan out what's gonna happen during the week, and I, I moretime block than anything else. But I do create a to-do list and I try toprioritize it in terms of what's gonna drive revenue.

Mm-hmm. And what's gonna make sure thatwe d we don't have churn. Right. Yeah. How do we, how do we keep customers?Yeah. And that's really, I prioritize my time, but there's a lot of stuff underthat, right? So like, sure. Growth and revenue is okay. What's the roadmap forthe future? Churn is making sure we go visit customers and, and hearing whatthey need, prioritizing their future requests, make sure we don't have bugs.

Mm-hmm. Like all of these differentnitty gritty, but that's, if it doesn't fall within those two things, I trynot. Do it and get somebody else to, sure,

Julian: sure. Yeah. Yeah. Andthinking about just, your industry in particular, one thing that's interesting tome, we talked about, robots are taking over jobs and kinda that wholephilosophy, but I think more so what we've seen, at least with AI and, and thepop, the popularity gaining because of chatGPT and Mid Journey and all theseother tools is that it's, it's, it's not necessarily that it'll take over.

A certain job function, but I thinkit'll take over the monotonous parts of a job and also kind of mm-hmm. Help bewor useful in tandem with someone's actual natural skillset. And just kind ofease into whether it's like, rider thought and decreasing that kind of functionof the job or, or just, being able to do things more efficiently, moreeffectively.

What will you be seeing, or what will,will you be experiencing in manufacturing are seeing that there's better paidworkers, there's they're, they're more qualified. Is it just gonna create,this, this tandem experience even more so of intimacy between, person who'soperating machines and, and technology, and is the technology gonna get moresophisticated?

What would we be seeing? What, we seeingrobots everywhere. We be seeing people everywhere. What, what we be seeing whenwe look into what's building and making the things that we use every day.  

Bryan: I, I think you'regonna see more and more automation and robots. It may not be the robots, thatyou, you think about, you see pictures of, they could just be more automatedmachinery and stuff like that.

More flexible machinery. Yeah. And moreand more people are, are driving to, like you said, repetitive tasks. Let'sremove the repetitive tasks. What are the things robots do really? And then,what are things people do really well, they solve problems, right? We're veryadaptable machines, if you will.

Yeah, yeah. We'll see more and more ofthat on the, on the AI side of things. There's a ton of different areas thatthat's gonna come into play. Like from a product design, manufacturer abilityscheduling, routing, optimization within the plant. Even with our. We're allabout like, how do you get, how do you create efficiencies inside of the plant?

Like where are all the problems comingfrom? What's really slowing you down? So having tools that highlight thosethings automatically so you don't have to have engineers coming up with ahypothesis, digging through the data to try to figure it out. Mingo just goeshere. This is why you lost so much capacity y.

And, and just points you to what itthinks is the root cause, and then you can go off and take action on that. Weeven, we even think in the future you could feed the, the corrective actions,like, what did you do to fix this problem back into the system? And then westart recommending solutions based on yeah, what you're doing.

Julian: Yeah, it's incredibleto think about then the proactive part cuz then that, that increase, it'salmost like the Airbnb experience as it was described in the past, where it's,how can we get someone throughout the whole journey with, with as little inputas possible to get to that, to, to get that goal or, or that experience.

But it sounds like that's kind of the,the evolution of Mingo and in the direction it's heading. Thinking about, justlike, founders who are in that stealing phase, they have, they found productmarket fit. They're, they've gone zero to one. They're looking go from one to10.

I know you've done it quite, over andover again with a few companies and even with Mingle now, what's some adviceyou would give to founders who are trying to build a mature company? What arethe key components it needs to have to then be able to tackle the scalingbecause, Along the way to, to building an mvp, there are some short, not, Idon't wanna say shortcuts, but there's some compromises you make in terms of,operational efficiency or structure of your team and things like that.

But seeing that you, you've seen successand, and continue to scale and grow, what are some things that founders shouldfocus on? As earlier on in their company, now that you have all this experienceand, and, and knowledge that, that you've gained over  

Bryan: time. I, I think ifyou have a strong vision for where you want to go and you listen to yourcustomers, that's the most important thing.

Like, happy customers are the number onemost important thing, right? Yeah. Yeah. And if you can, if you can figure outa cohort of those people, like, so our industry, niches and make them happyand. You'll crush it. I mean that the customers, what matters to me, at the endof the day, they bring all the revenue in the door.

They tell their friends, they go todifferent companies, they buy your product. I mean, it's pretty. Pretty simplebut straightforward. I, that's what I would focus on. And if you're stillgetting customers and they're happy and they're signing multi-year agreements,but you don't feel like you're growing fast enough cuz your investors sayYou're not growing fast enough, fuck that.

Just keep going. You have happycustomers. It will work itself out. They will lead you down the path. You gottahave a good vision and understand where, where you're going, but they will leadyou down the path to success as long as the market's big.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah, that,that's well said. I think, founders talked about a lot of the, the investorpressures and, and expectations, but the, those who, who have the, the mindsetof thinking about their customers, I think have a better, at least a reflectionof the success of their business.

More customers, more contracts, and thegrowth kind of continues. The size of it's gonna change. The, the timing ofit's always gonna change, but the, the seeing the, the, the key things andbeing aware of them is extremely important. I'd love to ask this question causeI love oh, go ahead, please.

Bryan: Last little bit. Ijust, I fell into the trap a little bit of, we're not growing fast enough. Lookat this company and this other industry, but it's, yeah, we're not them, right?Yeah. Like we're. I, I forgot, you know what, what my example was like HubSpotor something like that, that saw a pretty good growth and then boom, they went,through the roof.

Yeah. I don't think that'll ever be us.Our market's not that big. You have hardware component, it's a little bit morecomplicated than what they're doing, it's just, you are who you are and yougotta judge your growth and what you're doing based on your industry and, andyour business. Not somebody else's.

Not everybody's gonna be Stripe andAirbnb.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah, it's agreat point. This, this next question I was really excited to, I, I always loveto ask founders just cuz they, I think founders have a unique way to extractknowledge out of, out of anything that they ingest, whether it's early in yourcareer or now, what books or people have been highly influential to you?

Bryan: The books, these are relativelyrecent, but one that I, I absolutely loved and I use what I learned in it a lotis Never Spilt The Difference. Yeah. Do you know that one?  

Julian: Yeah. It's a book.I've read a majority of it, but I haven't finished the, the book. It's McConnell.  

Bryan: It's good. And theother one that I really liked was Ray Dalio's first book, which I'm blanking onthe name.

Yeah, yeah. Old thick one.  

Julian: Yeah, yeah, yeah,yeah. I know what you're talking about. Yeah.

Bryan: But he, just, the waythat he talked about using data, And also judging advice that you get, like,and this, this is good for startup founder advice too. When somebody gives youadvice about what you should do, you really need to understand if they'requalified to be telling you what to do, like what's, what's their background ina similar situation.

Yeah. That would lead them to be anexpert that could really help you. And a lot of. It's way outside. Maybe theywere a VP at some Fortune 500 company that does not apply to a 20 personstartup for the most part. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So you kind of have to weigh thatfeedback. So there's a lot of that in principles.

That's the name of the book. Yeah. ThatI really, yeah. I really liked the, influential people in my life. I therenobody. Anybody would know. But my very first boss and his boss at my firstlike real job were huge and instrumental in kind of shaping my career. And, andwhere I got today, my first customer, the guy that ran that one same thing.

I learned a lot about business from him.Cause I'm 23 at that point. Yeah. But yeah, I mean there's been tons of peoplealong the way that I've, I've learned from. Those three early in my careerreally shaped kind of the way I, I do things and, and think about the world ofbusiness.  

Julian: Yeah. I love the pieceyou mention, I just had a conversation with, with a bro, with one of mybrothers about the, the qualifications.

Like make sure whoever you're gettingadvice that's either has done something similar or more impressive than whatyou've accomplished and that they would have done it in somewhat of a similarroute, or at least have an anecdote that you can compare it to cuz you're soright. They have been in a different position than, or in a differentcompletely incentive based role.

The advice isn't the same. And you gottatake it with a grain of salt, and especially if they're telling you what to dofrom a business standpoint, it's not it's not, your customers and you shouldknow more about it than, than most in my philosophy.  

Bryan: Yeah. Yeah. But thenit's also hard to like, how. Like a lot of times, take on a new investor,they'll kind of give us a bunch of I ideas like, have you done this? Have youdone this? And it's like, we're, we're seven years old. Right. So we kind ofdone it all at this point. Yeah. It doesn't mean the market hasn't shifted andwe should try again, but it's like, how do you, how do you balance with, okay,I'm getting, somebody's telling me maybe we should do channel partnerships.

Well, we've tried that twice. It doesn'twork so far. Yeah. Yeah. You Should we do it again? Is it the right way to doit? It, it's always hard to judge that advice and feedback. Yeah, I strugglewith that. Ray's framework in there I thought was a good one.  

Julian: Yeah, yeah, it is agood one. Always like to ask this question before.

I know we're coming to the close of theepisode and I want to give you a chance to give us your plugs and let us knowwhere we can find the support. Not only you as a founder, but Mingo. Is thereany question I didn't ask you that I should have or that you would've liked toanswer? Anything that we missed and anything that we left on the.

Bryan: No, I don't think so.I think we covered a lot of good ground here.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. Well,Bryan, it's been such an incredible time. Not only learning about yourbackground, your experience, what, what, what successes you've had at differentchallenges you faced, but also mingle, and also the transition and, and the,the evolution of manufacturing the needs that have faced faces and, and waysthat really it could.

Interjected with a lot of technologythat's already available that they just aren't using currently to, to buildmore efficient processes and, and create, stronger not only productivity, butalso stronger, I'm sure experiences for their customers and things like that.So it's been such a pleasure learning all that from you, especially gettingsome advice.

Last little bit. Where can we find you?Where can we find mingo? Give us your LinkedIns, your websites, your Twitters.Where can we be a supporter of you in, in the product?  

Bryan: Yeah, so LinkedIn,Bryan Sapot. I'm the only Bryan Sapot, so feel free to connect with me andgomingo.io. So Mingo Smart Factory, anybody knows anybody who runs amanufacturing plant needs better data, better visibility into what's happeningday-to-day.

We can help with that.  

Julian: Amazing. Bryan, it'sbeen such a pleasure chatting with you. I hope you enjoyed yourself and thankyou so much for being on the show today.

Bryan: That was great. Thankyou, Julian.  

Julian: Of course.

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