April 25, 2023

Episode 253: Erik Kostelnik, Founder & CEO of Postal

Erik Kostelnik, is the Founder and CEO of Postal, the leading all-in-one Offline Engagement Platform. Erik is an award-winning entrepreneur and sales leader that has founded and scaled multiple technology companies that have led to hyper-revenue growth, major capital investments, and 3 favorable exits.

Julian: Hi everyone. Thank youso much for joining Dee Behind Company Lines podcast. Today we have ErikKostelnik, founder and CEO of Postal. Postal, is an offline marketingautomation platform and marketplace that helps personalize, automate and scale,direct mail, internal and external events, branded companies, swag andpersonalized gifts to drive better engagement with prospects, customers,partners, and employees.

Erik, I'm so excited to chat with youespecially. Your story experience is particularly interesting, seeing kind of,tech in, in its kind of heyday, but also what it is now and really, what'sinteresting and, and personally, when I kind of was brought into to my careerin tech, the different kind of ways people were looking to change the way we engagewith.

With customers and partners and kind ofexpand the amount of things that we do versus just email campaigns and phonecalls. But how much value and how high touch can we kind of create processesaround engagement with customers and people affiliated with our business. AndI'm so excited to see what you're doing at Postal and how you're able to kindof expand that offering.

But before we get into that, what wereyou doing before you started the company?

Erik: Yeah, thanks Julian.Thanks for having me on. I was an individual contributor when I started and,and got in into work after I graduated from school. And, and then I got myselfinto technology and became a leader very quickly in technology, working for acouple startups that ended up being big companies and then ended up.

Decided to start my own businesses. Andso this would be my, my second business that I founded. But ultimately alwaysbeen inquisitive, curious around how to solve problems with technology andultimately I've been spending a lot of my career in HR tech and now in salesand marketing technology.

Julian: Yeah. And what haveyou seen in terms of how, the contributor role has changed or, or has itchanged a lot in terms of ways we engage with people, ways we kind of build ourbrand and outreach and things along that. How have you seen thatevolution?  

Erik: Yeah. I mean, I, Ithink fundamentally the, the individual sales and marketing role hasn't changedthat much.

Yeah. The access to resources to helpscale what we do has changed. Yeah. So when you look at just the things that Idid as an individual contributor very early on in my career. It's not likewe're doing anything much different than what I originally did. It's justyou're using solutions that allow those things to be much more scalable.

So, when you, when you think about it, Iwas, I was originally selling from spreadsheets, and those spreadsheets turnedinto Salesforce. I had a, a rotary phone at the time that I was making phonecalls from. There was an email address, but no one was really using email forauto for, for sales prospecting.

And that has now kind of advanced into,and I was writing handwritten notes and I was sending, college t-shirts orsweatshirts along to, potential sales prospects, all of the, that, thosechannels and, and how you activate and and, and run a sales process. Thosehaven't changed. You just are now doing it through different systems, right?

You now have your marketing automationsoftware that helps marketing engage with, with prospects from an email anddigital marketing perspective. Then you have, solutions like Outreach andSalesLoft and Groove that are helping automate. The, the function of emails andsequences, ZoomInfo and LinkedIn navigator that help you really consolidateprospect information and make your job easier with finding people to call soyou don't have to get through gatekeepers.

Yeah. And then ultimately, as you lookat Postal and what we're doing, we're just helping automate that channel forsales reps to be able to send and create opportunities with with theirprospects and, and all those things together ultimately help you create. Ascalable process. So I think now what you have is just a, a better tool setthan what I did in the past.

But ultimately, the, the fundamentals ofsales and marketing haven't changed much.

Julian: Yeah. And, and I,outside of, I guess, phone, obviously email is now kind of a, one of, one ofmany preferred ways of, communicating and reaching out to somebody. But isthere anything in addition to those kind of main, I would say phone.

Email and mail are kind of the bucketsthat you can get, and, and engage with somebody. But you know, what aboutsocial channels? Are those social channels?

Erik: Oh yeah. I was justgonna say that. No, absolutely not. I mean, LinkedIn, LinkedIn has been provento to be a massive channel for communication and especially for professionals.

It's created a network. To, to allow youto reach out and see the content and the information that people generally careabout. And I would say that LinkedIn very much is, is kind of the new Twitter.If you see how they've, they've structured that, that that feed and you knowhow people are leveraging it to create opportunities and, and, and a voice of,of the customer or voice of a prospect or even the voice of yourself.

All of those things can lead intocreating value propositions for whatever item you're selling to. Yeah,whatever. Person you're trying to target. So yeah, I mean there's, there's thisomnichannel approach of using all these different things. Then you have events,right? You have virtual events, you have offline events and and those, thoseevents obviously draw opportunities too to, to, to have conversations.

So, really it's, it's, it's all about.Taking all that technology and now understanding what is your true valueproposition for your business product that you're selling. And then what whatis your target icp? And that ideal customer profile is super important, who youdo, who's gonna receive that message?

And then it's, it's really just abouthow do you scale that. And how are you able to build that and get as, get it infront of as many people as possible, especially in today's day and age whereyou see, your overall top of the funnel decreasing in technology. We talked alittle bit before we started.

About how technology has changeddramatically over the last call it 12, 15 years. Yeah. To where we are today,where, it's, it is very tough times to be in technology. Yeah. And it continuesto get tougher and I think we're gonna see a, a lot of a lot of poor sales orproduct solutions go to the way, go to the wayside here.

Yeah. Over the next, 12, 12 months. Soultimately we're in a very interesting time and, and I'm trying to, trying totell the story as much as I can to, to folks like yourself and to youraudience.  

Julian: Yeah, no, and, and,and I'm thinking, and I agree with the big boom of, Silicon Valley, all thesetech companies getting massive amounts of checks and.

Really? Yep. Really on evaluations basedon revenue, not actual profits. So, it seems like a lot of companies areshifting towards having either very, very mature kind of organizations in termsof operational structure and are decreasing other outlets, like whether it'ssales function or marketing or hr.

But obviously sales cannot decrease in,in its ability to, gain brand recognition, be valuable in terms of word ofmouth, create connections, have that warm lead kind of. Trickle down through,through a pipeline in a, in a funnel that, you know, kind of confers. But wheredo you see a lot of companies failing in their sales motion?

Is it, is it their icp? Do they notunderstand who they're reaching out to? Is it the, the strategy? Is it tacticsthat they're using to convey their value? Or is it the closing? Where have youseen kind of the, the, the, I guess where companies kind of fall short?  

Erik: Yeah, good question.So there's, there's three things that, that we that at my past companies and,and the past businesses I've worked out that we focus on, and it's people,process and technology.

Mm-hmm. If you kind of bucket each oneof those individually and say, Hey, You're operating, you're, you have a g ago-to-market motion that you're executing on. If you're seeing a failure of, ofthis of, of your product being adopted in the market, you have one of of threeproblems. You either have a people problem.

Right. The person that is deliveringthat message is, not gonna be the right person to, for that position or to takeyour message and, and move forward with, or the activity that's necessary orthe, the, the targets that you're looking for. All those things go into why aperson might not be a good fit for your, for your company.

Mm-hmm. The process. You might have abroken process, you might ultimately have something in your process to wherethings are not. Moving through your sales and marketing funnel correctly, andit could be due to the fact that you have a process problem. Or three, you havea technology problem, meaning that either the technology you have that you'reusing to execute this strategy or the actual product that you're, that you'retrying to sell in the market is not being adopted or doesn't have enough valueproposition to go.

You really can look at those threethings as being the, the core reason why something doesn't happen. Now, Intoday's day and age, you also have market conditions that have to be taken intoaccount. This is, this is very interesting and I'm not gonna use the wordunprecedented cuz it is not unprecedented.

This has happened before recessionshappen. Companies go under, all those things happen. Those, the, what we'recurrently in is a, is a bit of a transition period, and you can see it with howcompanies are even positioning themselves now. Mm-hmm. There has to be atremendous value in, not a nice to have, but a need to have.

And so how can you, how can you convincehow can you convince your, your ideal customer profile that this is a musthave? In this new world that you're selling into when budgets are decreased,when marketing and sales teams are being, asked to do more with less or equalwith less. You really have kind of this, this period of, all right, what can I,what can I do to ensure that this customer is seeing value in what we're doingand that it's something that they're gonna use during a time, which is a downperiod.

So I think that I, I think that that isvery much where companies are trying to figure out if it's a nice to have or amust have, and. You go one step further on that. There's, there's kind of twodifferent types of technology. You have a system of record and you have asystem of action. Yeah. And you really can bucket every single technologythat's out there into one of the two.

So systems of record generally cannot beripped out, and that's your crm, that's your marketing automation, that's yourapplicant tracking system. That's your financial service, your financialsystem. Those pieces, since they hold the data really hard to pull those out.Yeah, the systems of action.

Absolutely can be ripped out andgenerally are nice to haves and everything that is alignment around that. Ifyou look at all the, the big businesses out there, like a gong or an outreachor a, or a vid yard or a hop in or even a Postal, you look at these systems ofaction and at the end of the day, do you really need all those things to goback to selling and creating a sales process, which is sending an email, makinga phone call, sending a direct mail piece, and, and, and maybe sending, sendingsomeone.

Something on social, you don't need allthose things. You really don't. So, but it makes things a lot easier and a lotmore scalable when things are tough. Sometimes you get in a position whereyou're going, you know what? I can pull back on these things until it comesback again. So really opposed to what we're trying to figure out is, what arethose ideal customer profiles that can adopt a software like Postal and helpthem save money or make more money in, in whatever they're doing?

And, and we've found that, that, thatexists. It's just, not where it existed. 12 months ago. Yeah. And so we're,we're iterating and moving forward on, on our own strategy, but ultimately,yeah. It's, it's a different time right now.

Julian: Yeah. It, it'sinteresting that you said, it's maybe some ch some challenge around there.

I guess as, as a founder, I'm thinkingabout, I rely so much on tools to keep such a bootstrap team. Yeah. And, and sothings like Postal things, things like, that, I guess illicit action and or inthat category, I feel as though, or even becoming a little bit more crucial interms of the time it saves on productivity, but also the automation that youcan kind of have integrated in it so you can kind of Yes.

Leave it running in the background. Onething that you mentioned, you mentioned three things to, really consider peopleprocessing technology. What are the metrics that you really kind of use assignals to identify which part of that process isn't working or needs, an areaof improvement or needs technology or, Need something to, to, realign.

I almost think of like, like a pipeline,right? Yeah. If, if there's, there's a crack in it, how can we mend that andmove forward to, to keep streamlining things?

Erik: Yeah. I mean, yourquestion is, is how, where do you know where the problem is? Yeah. And that isa thing that you get with systems of action. So that's the really difficultpiece of taking, taking systems of action out of your playbook.

Yeah. Because once you do that, then youdon't have a lot of visibility into what's, what's going on. So, really that'sthat. When you look at the, the KPIs and, and, and how you can, how you canbuild a true go-to-market motion and a scalable go-to-market motion. You haveto be looking at all of the signals that you're getting from this technologythat the stack that you have, right?

So if you're, if you're going through anoutreach tool or a tool like Chorus or something that allows you, or, or other,other VOY providers that are allowing you to. To track calls and see activityfrom a phone phone perspective, you have your lead generation, prospecting toolslike ZoomInfo and LinkedIn.

You can always see how much prospectsyou've actually put into your sales force. Then you actually take a look atyour, your marketing automation system. Okay. How much, what's your websitevisitors? What's all the. The content you're providing out there, what, who isvisiting your website at what scale? And then you're moving down the funnel of,of, of how many emails are being sent, how many meetings are being sent, howmuch opportunity, and then how much close.

And then, how long it takes you to closethose settings, your costs, or acquire a customer. I mean, all of thosefinancial metrics and activity metric can be, can be gathered from any VC site,right? I mean, people always tell about what the new metrics are, what, whatyou should be focused on.

Ultimately, we all have to be focused onone thing, and that is the customer. So a lot of these things you, you have,you have these, you can tell if it's a people problem, obviously from anactivity standpoint or a close rate. It's like if, if, if they aren't doingthe, the actions that it takes in order to create opportunity and then theirclose rates are low, then you know it's a person problem and you might need tocoach that person up or get a new person.

From a process standpoint, you might beseeing that things are falling like in through. Or not, not falling through in,in a specific part of the funnel. If you are seeing things not convert, thenyou have a process problem. Yeah. You, you're trying to figure out, hey, whereat what point is, is this falling through?

It's a technology problem or a productproblem. If you have have companies coming in trying the product or ultimatelyseeing the value of the product and, and they're not renewing or they're notseeing value using the product, so. There are obviously all those indicatorsthat you have a, a failed people process or, or, or technology problem.

And candidly, there's, there's atremendous amount of data that, that you have to gather in order to really knowthat. And those are some of the, the struggles I think startups have. Yeah. Ofreally understanding, Hey, we got a problem, but where is that problem trulycoming in? And And for, for us internally in our own Go market motion, we'vereally been able to figure that out and hone in where our value is and whatthose, those numbers should be in order to convert and, and, and ultimatelyachieve our revenue goals.

So, yeah. And then achieve our revenuegoals and then help our customers achieve their revenue goals. Cuz byleveraging our system, they're able to see everything they weren't able to seebefore. And that is, yeah, all the offline engagement that they're making.Campaign-based engagement, having salespeople see that actually sending someonesomething in person.

Converts at a higher rate. Yeah. Likethat wasn't really available before. Again, as a system of action in thisdirect mail component. It really is important to understand what the value isthere, but it's, it's just another channel, man. It's just the channels thatyou have. And what is the success, success of those challenge channels andthen, Also when you look at an omnichannel approach, like all those differentchannels together, what is your, what's your overall outcome?

So yeah, it's, it's, it sounds morecomplicated than it is. I've been doing it for a long time. It's been 15 years.But now that I know how it should look, A lot of it is muscle memory too, whereyou go, you know what? I know this isn't right. I gotta figure out why it's notright. And my leaders always expect that from me, is that if I, one of mysayings is inspect what you expect.

And if you can expect, if you expectgreatness and you're inspecting to see if that, if that overall motion thatyou, that you have is, is producing greatness or falling short of greatness,then Then you have to adjust and make sure that you're, you're coaching them towhere we need to change and, and what we need to do.

So, yeah, that's a little bit on how Ithink about it.  

Julian: No, I appreciate theinsight and, and one thing I was just outta curiosity, being that you, you takesuch an omnichannel approach to, get ICPs interested in your product or Yeah.At least educate them. What have you seen, maybe as a surprise that was, hadbeen kind of undervalued, but overperformed in the type of approaches that youare taking, being Postal mail being all these other services that you provide?

Yeah. What's been surprising and, andeven outperforming?  

Erik: Yeah. Well, I, I thinkthat the craziest number that I, I've seen and, and I don't want this to be anadvertisement of Postal, but when you look at the, the actual numbers that wehave, which we don't share a lot, which we should The, the number that standsout to me is that 50% of the things that are sent through the platform areaccepted, meaning that of all of the millions of things that, that ourcustomers, over 500 customers have sent that hundred, a hundred thousand plususers have sent.

50% of those items are accepted, meaningthat the item that they sent got to that person's house. And it was just, andto me, I'm just like, that is just the craziest stack cuz what. Even in a coldoutreach, we have a a 70% open rate of that, of that email when it's an emailor a click-through rate. And on that, on that actual landing page, there's anincredible amount of transactions that happen just.

And people are giving, their address andtheir information and booking meetings with the providers. So I think thatlike, when you actually look at our channel and what Postal's doing it is oneof the best engagement softwares out there. It just happens to be leveraging,sending something right and something of value or incentivizing someone to takeaction on something, whether it be a meeting or attending an event or, doingsomething.

So I just think that, that, that's areally interesting stat and you, you look across. The, the, the channels, andyou just go, how, what is another channel that I can kind of compare this, thisresult to? And the way I look at it is, is if you have Google ads mm-hmm. Yousay, okay, I'm gonna go ahead and, and spend a thousand dollars on.

Google ads and I'm gonna spend $15 costper click, meaning that I'm gonna spend $15 to get someone to hit my websiteand, and take in information. And then at that point there's another conversionevent that happens of them beating, booking a meeting or then Yeah. Convertinginto an opportunity.

So a thousand dollars there. And to saythat you had a thousand dollars that you sent t-shirts, you said a $15 t-shirt.Yeah. So, Those, that, those two actions we did to test on this to see muchopportunity was created just from the, the the thousand dollars spent on keywordsversus a thousand dollars that was spent in t-shirts.

And it was like a 30 x return really ont-shirts than advertising. Mm-hmm. So the, the way that I think we're lookingat this fundamentally is, and I wrote a blog post on, you can take a look on,on on LinkedIn. The way that we're fundamentally looking at this, this world Ithink is incorrectly. Yeah, we, we know the customers that we want to go sell.

We know the, the, the individualcustomer profiles or the, the use case that we want to sell to, meaning we'reselling to marketing, hr, customer success finance, whatever you're sellinginto, and you know who those people are. You are gonna have a exponentialreturn if you send them a T-shirt versus an advertisement.

Yeah. And that that is just notfundamentally how businesses think. They think that I have to do cost per, costper click. I have to spend Yeah. X amount to get them into the funnel to, to.To get content when at the end of the day you might actually just need to sendsomeone a t-shirt Yeah. To, to get them to take an action or a meeting.

So like I really, I really think that,that we're in very early and we've been able to prove that through Postalbecause we have that. System of action data to, to see how it's converting andhow it's integrated in, into Salesforce and some of the marketing automationsystems that we use. So that being said, I mean like the, there's, we have along road to hold cuz we need to be able to tell that story more effectively.

But I do think that there's gonna be achange over the next, five, 10 years as we think about. How does, how docustomers and companies try to create value and create actions that actuallycreate opportunities for their business and value for their customers? And.There's a transition happening right now, and I think that, that more companiesare being a little bit more thoughtful around where they're putting theirmarketing dollars.

Yeah. And my hope is, is that they're,they're tracking the same data that we are and, and leveraging Pulse toultimately see the benefit of, of, of offline engagement, which is extremelypowerful.  

Julian: How, how often do youthink companies are investing in, in the wrong outreach strategy? Like they'rejust thinking about it?

If you're doing Instagram ads, you'reprobably a direct to consumer product because of transaction volume. You wanthigh, you want a lot of eyes, you want a broad audience. But if you are, say,selling software to, a law firm or something like that, they're less engaged onthose platforms.

So it necessarily doesn't make sense tobe on LinkedIn ads and all this other stuff, but, Or creating like a tightreferral network based on the experience Because I think first of all, I thinkreferral word of mouth is never gonna go away. So building those relationshipsis just gonna be, that's gonna be every bread and butter for all companies.

But how often would you say companiesare investing in the wrong strategies and. Are, are, it is a challenge for themto shift that mentality being that they're supposed, they're supposed to bedoing What's popular? Air quotes there for the audience who didn't see.  

Erik: You would, if youwould've asked me this question 12 months ago, I probably would've had adifferent answer.

But I think that every single company isdoing something wrong right now. I don't think there's anybody that's figuredit out. Everybody's cost to acquire our customers increasing right now. Mm-hmm.And we're drastically trying to figure out. How do you decrease that overallcost? Acquire a customer because either our target market has changed, meaningthat before I went to SMBs and mid-market, and now I'm going up market intoenterprise and to go get enterprise customers, it's more expensive.

So I'm gonna take the same strategy thatI do with SMBs and gonna put it in Enterprise. That doesn't work. That's a fla.That's a. That's a flawed strategy. Right? So I think that all or companiessaying I was in the enterprise and now I'm going smb, or I'm turning my SMB intoa consumer product. Right?

Like there's so much transition that'shappening in boardrooms right now. Yeah. That everyone is just trying to figureout how to get to a place that can, that they have scalability again. Yeah.And. In technology software specific, I'm just talking about software rightnow. In software specifically, there's a lot of of conversations going around,Hey, what can we do in order to take these businesses that were money, eatingmachine eating machines to profitable businesses.

And I'm just like, it's very difficultto take a business that would grow through venture capital. And ultimatelygrowing through, just, getting ourselves to a point to where the revenue is, iscovering the cost. But until that point in time, it's gonna cost a lot of moneyto build these businesses to, Hey, I'm gonna become profitable.

That, that's a very difficult thing todo. And a business that is built for a series A, B, and C, and then, andexpecting it's gonna get profitable. So I think we're gonna see a lot oftombstones. Candidly, over the next six to 12 months of companies that justcouldn't get there. And Yeah. And that don't have financial models.

That make sense? Hence why you're seeingall the layoffs and everything that's happening. Companies are just likestruggling to get to profitability, which some companies just can't. Yeah. Theyjust can't get there. Yeah. Because of their size. So anyway, that, that's abit of a roundabout way of, of answering that question, but I truly think thatthat everybody and the consumer side too is that, the, the, the costs acquireour customer On consumer side, we see all this, all this traction throughsocial media and, and, and influencers.

I think that that continues, I thinkthere's gonna be a tremendous opportunity there. But ultimately, cost, there'sso many applications out there now that there's so much competition foreyeballs. Yeah. That the cost to actually acquire a customer for a consumer appis, is extremely hot. Yeah. Way higher than it's been in the past.

So, You have a considerable amount ofproblems around that. And to go one step further, cause I always do, you lookat AI and you just look at what these, what this actually does to the amount ofcontent, the amount of applications, the amount of, things that are out therethat create noise. You just never know what it's gonna do.

And I, my guess is it just is gonnaincrease the cost, acquire customer at the end of the day. Yeah. Even morebecause of how much competition is gonna be out there. And not just competitionin your industry, but actually competition for eyeballs. Like Yeah. Everybodyis a fruit fly. Everybody's just kind of buzzing around and just trying to seewhat's sweet and if they, and they leave right away, it's like, oh, that's notsweet anymore.

I'm gonna go. So you have to figure out.How to market and sell to fruit flies. And I think that that is a, a verydifficult thing to do. And, and ultimately I think, I think we're in a positionwhere there's gonna be a lot of change that happens in the next, year to fiveyears.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. I envisionalmost like an old operator and it's almost like a bunch of lights flashing ona switchboard and, one marketing campaign might work really well, but then,another campaign might work, or this cold outreach strategy or this referralpartner is great.

It's like, All these different things.It's create such a, you have to be so agile and I agree. I mean, I think a lotof companies haven't figured out how to necessarily acquire customers efficientlyto, yep. Take on the operating costs and actually be profitable. Whichobviously with venture dollars decreasing, you're seeing a lot of companieskind of go belly up because.

They weren't operating in a profitablemodel and you know,

Erik: well, nobody was.Nobody was nobody. Yeah. I mean, it's, I mean, it's like, yeah, I, it was, itwas, I mean, we, we, yeah. The change and, and you're, you're a very astute in,in this world. You can't change overnight. I mean, when, when Q3 of, of 2022came around, we had been giving.

We had been given guidance by venturecapital in Q2 that, hey, it's gonna change. And we're just like, okay, doesthat means that we're never gonna raise capital again? Or what's gonna happen?Like what happens to those multi-billion dollar funds? I mean, I think lastthing I read, there was like 75 million or 75 billion of venture capitalsitting on the sidelines right now.

Yeah. And so, and that's not even, like,that's not even. The, the IPO market that hasn't, been released yet. If oncethis IPO market starts coming again, there's gonna be more funds to have todeploy there. So you just wonder what's gonna happen. And I think the. Theimpact candidly, to venture capital during this time is pretty dramatic.

Yeah. I mean, like growth equity is, is,has the potential of being forever changed? Yeah. And if they're not investingin companies that are in their B and C round and they're just looking at seedinvestments, but seed investments are, are being valued at a, significant less,why would you ever, as a founder who's starting a business today, build anon-profitable company?

Yeah. Yeah, you wouldn't do it. Youhave, you, you wouldn't do it. You would just build a profitable company andand figure out how to, how to do it yourself. And I think that that is very,that's a very kind of interesting part right now cuz you have all thesebusinesses that have been funded, all these businesses over the last five yearsthat have grown to a rate but are dependent upon venture capital.

And now that, that money's gone, it'slike what's gonna happen there? And you can't flip it into profitabilitywithout completely pivoting. But if you completely pivot, then that's gonnacost time and money as well. So it's a, it's a very interesting position thatwe're in and, and I'm, I'm obviously very close to it and interested to see howit, how it shapes up.

Julian: Yeah. I feel like alot of venture capital companies will turn into private equity in, in terms ofonly investing in companies possibly, that are profitable, right? Rather thanusers or rather than, growth and x amount of quarter. It, it all is, isfrivolous unless you're able to offer value. And really monetize on theexchange that you're having, right?

Whether it's a services or product. Soit'll be interesting to see where the landscape goes and, and, and see whatcompanies come from this era. As it was so interesting to think about after therecession and, and the.com boom. It's kind of almost like that other cycle. I'malmost excited That's the next optimistic, In, in terms of that regard.

Erik: Yeah. I, I, I agree.I, I mean, I've, I've always said I think the best businesses are, are theyhappen during recessions. Yeah. And you can, you can look back in history andsome of the best businesses in the world started during recessions. Yeah. Yeah.So if that's the case, then. We really gotta just fall off the cliff.

I mean, this, we gotta be in a recessionfor that to happen. And I think that, that, that's the biggest issue that I seeright now is that it just feels like a slow burn right now. Yeah. And it, andthat slow burn is just gonna be very difficult to get away from if this isgonna be the next, remember it's already been about eight months.

Yeah. So now if we're looking at another12 months or another year, if we're not in a recession yet, then when is it?And when can we expect that cliff? Mm-hmm. And we just, we just don't know. AndI think that's the worst, worst position for our, for all of us to be in asentrepreneurs. Cuz we just don't know when it's gonna come back.

Yeah. And in 2008 and 2009, 2010, thosethree years, those that very much was, was kind of a period of time that itwas, it was, everyone knew it we're in a recession, we're, we're in kind of a,a mode where we're just. Not, not spending, we're getting to, to unit economicsthat are positive and then you were able to kind of get out of it.

Mm-hmm. But the whole entire countrysaid no. We are in a recession right now. Yeah. We can't say that right nowbecause it's really just a tech recession. Yeah. I mean, we're just in a techrecession right now. Financial services, healthcare manufacturing, everythingis going in the right direction outside of technology, so that's a weird placefor innovators to be in.

Yeah. And It's something that, that Ilose sleep a lot about because I can't control it. Yeah. I can't control what'shappening out there, but it'll be interesting to see what happens. And I thinkthat this will be a, a case study at some point in time that, all the businessschools will be teaching about just like 2000 and and eight and, and 2001.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. I agreewith that. And so, obviously you talked a little bit about the traction. Youtalked about some risks. If everything goes well, what's some long, what's thelong-term vision for the company?  

Erik: For Postal. I mean,this, this business is very unique in the sense that we, we actually launchedduring covid, so we launched in May of 2020.

Yeah. And and this business reallyhasn't seen the light today yet. Yeah. Which I think is extremely interestingbecause, when you see how much progress we've made in such a short time, we'veonly been in market for 36 months, but during this 36 months, it's been reallyrough. Yeah. So I just, I look at what this business does outside of, of arecession or a pandemic.

And I, and I'm, I'm extremely I'm stokedfor it. I think that there's gonna be a lot of opportunity for Postal in thefuture. Yeah. And, we're continuing to build, and I think if we're right, we'reattacking a multi-billion dollar industry. And the, the company could. Could bea very big company someday, and I think we've got all the markings for that.

It's just, just a matter of time. Yeah.So we'll we'll see what happens.  

Julian: Yeah. I love this nextsection I called my founder faq. So I'm gonna hit you with some rapid firequestions and we'll see what we get. Okay. First thing I always like to open itup is what's particularly hard about your job day-to-day?

Erik: Managing people.  

Julian: Yeah. How are you ableto do it? Is it re rein? Reinvesting in culture, talking about strategy being,hyper communicative, be having people.  

Erik: I, we are a hundredpercent open door, transparent company. I mean, we try to u we try to make surethat everybody understands exactly what's going on in this business.

And every single point in time we, welove. Building culture even in a remote culture, being able to do fun thingsand, and create career paths for people, whether it be inside of Postal or evenoutside of Postal. We give back to our community. That's a very important pieceof what we're doing.

And ultimately, our guiding light is, isalways the customer and servicing the customer. So, Yeah. I mean that, thoseare all the things that we do that keep people motivated and, and we alsoprovide equity for everybody that works here. We think everybody, should get apiece of the pie.

Yeah. That, that works on thisthing.  

Julian: So, yeah.Transparency's an interesting topic because, I think everybody knows, it's kindof a word that people use kinda like scaling and, nobody really knows that themechanics behind what. Doing it successfully is. And how have you been able tokeep a transparent kind of communication line of communication with otheremployees without either raising the alarm or having people get into too muchinformation or, it's a balance.

But I think the best organizations justdo it wholeheartedly. But I'm curious to see how you work.

Erik: It's either if it'sgood or it's bad. It doesn't matter. Yeah, it doesn't matter if it's good orbad, it's just, it's it. You have, you have to provide the line ofcommunication to help, either if it's people, if it's good or bad.

And thing is, is our Slack community is,is so open. I mean, we, everybody engages on Slack any, any given time and I.Try to take it on myself to engage with at least one person that is anindividual contributor day. Yeah. So I, I will be, whether it's justinquisitive, like, Hey, let me hear about what you're doing today.

Like, tell me about how I can help and,or Hey, what are some of the problems that we can work and, and solve together?And one of the big, big methodologies we use here is that, Bring solutions, notproblems. Yeah. I mean, everybody's got problems. The whole entire world hasproblems, but let's bring solutions to Postal instead of pro instead ofproblems.

And I think everybody really lives bythat. And I think that that's why we've been, been able to build such a greatculture. And, you can see that on Glassdoor and, and some of the other thingsthat we've won due to our culture, but, It's also being, it's great being in asmall town. Yeah. We, we love St.

Louis Obispo. We've been able to be, abig, give, give her back to this community community. And I think that peoplerecognize that and appreciate that. Yeah. So that's that's why, that's why wedo it.  

Julian: But I love that. I lovethat. What's something that you're, you're, good at now as the founder, but youwish you were better at earlier on in your career?

Erik: Ooh, man, that's agreat question. You know what? I think it's just, it is the roller coasterappreciating the highs and appreciating the lows. Some insight I got very earlyon my career as a leader was that, It's never as good, it's never as bad, andyou have to be able to show everybody that, listen, this, this might be anamazing thing that happened, or this might be the worst thing on earth that'shappened, but ultimately you have to really show the, the company that this isokay.

It's, it's okay if this happens. It'sokay to fail or it's okay to be great. All those things, the expectations andhow you set up your, your compensation plans and how you recognize your people.All those things will, will, it'll play to your strengths. You just can't showemotion overly or under mm-hmm.

To make sure you, you're not gettingpeople off, off off the line. Earlier in my career, I was very hot. Very hotall the time. I just, I ran very hot and I try not to do that anymore. My folksprobably tell you that, that I, I get pretty spirited at times and I try not tobe that way, but, passionate people, it's gonna show, right.

It's just like I got, I got Viking bloodand, and that's that's hard to get rid of, but at the end of the day, Ourpeople, they need to see that, that, Erik is got the helm and, and that we'regonna be okay no matter what happens. And I think, I think we do that. Okay.Yeah, do that. Okay.  

Julian: Yeah. How do youbalance out the times and, and recharge?

What are some things that you do outsideof work to really kind of give yourself the capacity to take on, everythingthat you go in and day in, day out? Anything in anything other founders canimplement, in their lives that can help.

Erik: Yeah, I mean I, I, Ireally have instituted like the three buckets and the three buckets are work,family, and health.

And so I really, you only have a hundredper people that save, give 110%. It makes me laugh cuz you really only have ahundred percent of your energy. Oh yeah. You can't give more than a hundredpercent. So where, where do you believe that your energy should be spent? Isit, is it work? Is it your, your friends and your family, or is it your health?

And a lot of entrepreneurs get in asituation where, they put, they put, instead of doing thirds, maybe they'llput, 70% in the work bucket and then their health decreases and theirrelationship with their family decreases. Or, some people say, Hey, I'm notgonna work as much.

25, I'm gonna focus on my, my healthand, and my family. But maybe family is challenged because you're not. Makingthe capital that you need in order to support your family. So it's this ba orlike when you look at health, it's, it's very difficult because the healthpiece, you really need to take care of yourself mentally and physically.

And I've always had challenges aroundthis cuz the amount of effort that I put forward on the work and the familyside. So I, I try to make sure that I'm focusing on my health and stayinghealthy. And I think that founders, have to look at those three things andjust, Just assess themselves like, Hey, am I, am I giving back to my company?

Am I giving back to my family or am I,am I giving back to my health and, and prioritize those things at any giventime? Yeah, you, you have the opportunity to increase and decrease thosethings. If you're a founder or a CEO of a successful business or any business,we know that you can work. We know that you can, you can do it and figure itout, but sometimes it's better to be like, Hey, I need to spend time with myfamily, or I need to spend time on my health.

And, and those things become more of apriority, and I think as long as you have really good people around you at yourcompany, then you can do those things and you can adjust over time. But that'sat least how I look at it.  

Julian: How do you find theright people to bring on board? What do you look at?  

Erik: Yeah, I mean, it's,it, it, this, the network thing we talked about earlier of just making surethat, that you keep your network and that you're trying to give back and giveback to your community, give back to, mm-hmm. And that might be an onlinecommunity or a physical community or even your, your, where you live.

That network will work for you. I mean,it, it, you can find amazing people that have the same core values that you doand your business does. And I think that if those things align and you do itright, then you'll attract really good people. And I think that, that, that'swhat we've been able to do at Post.

I mean, a lot of the folks that are inexecutive function, I've known. And worked with before. And so I've been ableto pull them over to say, Hey, let's do this together. And there's, there tendsto be, a lot of positives and some negatives around that. Sometimes the peoplethat you bring over, they just don't work out for whatever reason.

And that's always difficult when you seepeople that are in your network that don't work, work out, but. I think that,that that finding good people, good people are everywhere. It's just a matterof, of finding finding your network and, and really targeting those peoplethat, that share those, those core values with you.

Julian: Yeah, I love that. Ialways like to ask this next question cause I love how founders extract, informationout of anything, they ingest whether it's early in your career or not, whatbooks or people have influenced you the most?

Erik: Yeah, I mean, Lincolnon Leadership was one of the first leadership books I read.

And that was just a, a foundational how,how Lincoln learned by walking around and en engaging the ground trips andreally understanding how how the individual contributors kind of gave back andwhat they cared about. And that's why people loved fighting for 'em and, andultimately the country, I think that for, from on the business side of thingsright now I'm reading Zero to One.

Blitzscaling was a great book for me. I,I'm, I'm reading let's see, what else have I read lately? I'm kind of gettinginto Einstein's book right now. Just trying to, trying to run through thosebusiness books that are, that are out there, that, that are on the list, Elon'sbooks or, or bill Gates' books.

But, I, I try to read every single day.It might not be a, a book, it might be just, just getting. My RSS feed and, andcombing through what's going on in, in, in current events. I listen to a lot ofnews cuz I think the macro financial environment right now is reallyinteresting. Yeah.

There's so many things that are going onthat you really need to understand as a, as a founder and I think I always leanon my network to. To help teach me. And so I have a very close-knit group offounders and executives that I'm able to engage with at any time to helpeducate me on the things that I, I wanna learn about.

And, I'm, I'm very, very interested inhow AI is gonna impact this. And, I took a course at m i t around it and it, itgot me into a really good head space of how I can take advantage of some ofthese things that are, that are out there in the future. So there's theinformation and education has never been more accessible.

Yeah, and I encourage everybody to, takea look at Coursera or even just, you can get free courses online and podcastsand, and and format on your, on your on on, on Spotify or, or whatever else.And so, there's a lot out there that, that you have that's available, so Yeah.

Yeah. Edu educate yourself in the thingsthat you love. I love  

Julian: that. And I know we'reat the end of the show here, so I'd like to make sure we didn't leave anythingon the table. Is there any question I didn't ask you that I should have oranything that we didn't talk about that you wanted to touch on right beforeanything left on the table here, Erik?

Erik: No, this has beengreat, man. I really, I really appreciate the time and I hope to all thelisteners out there, this was valuable and you guys can reach me at on LinkedInor Erik@Postal.com. And yeah, anything I can do to help anybody, I, I alwaystry to answer all the messages that, that are set my way.

Julian: Amazing. Erik, you,you beat me to it. You gave us your plugs and so I'm so excited for my audienceto learn more about your journey, learn about what Postal doing, how they canreally. Identify the pieces in their funnel. If you're, if you're a founder outthere on, on, where to kind of investigate if things aren't, transacting atthe, the volume that you need to, or you're not getting in front of the rightpeople and how Postal can really enrich that experience for their customers,either new or existing.

So excited to see where Postal goes and,and the expansion as you continue to grow. So, thank you so much for being onthe show. I hope you enjoyed yourself and again, hope to see you soon onBehind, Company Lines, maybe for a second round.  

Erik: That sounds good.Thanks Julian.  

Julian: Of course.

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