April 28, 2023

Episode 257: Jacob Jolibois, Co-founder & CPO of Check

Jacob Jolibois is the co-founder and Chief of Product at Check, helping home service operators streamline and automate their business.

Over 15,000 operators across the US and Canada use Check to automate the tedious administrative tasks that come with running a home service business, helping them become more efficient and professional, grow their bottom line and find peace of mind.

Jacob brings together the business, technical, and customer objectives to build a product that operators love to use, improving the quality of life for them and their users.

He has spoken on stages around the world from TEDx to Web Summit and writes a weekly newsletter for thousands of founders and product leaders called Making Product Sense that dissects world-class products and companies.

Julian: Hey everyone, this isJulian from Behind Company Lines. Today we're interviewing Jacob Jolibois,co-founder and CPO of Check. Check is helping home service operators streamlineand automate their businesses. Jacob is so exciting to chat with you and not onlybecause of your background and your career and how you got really intoentrepreneurship, but also thinking about this really interesting industry thatyou know, we're all kind of familiar with as we're growing up in terms of likehome service.

And I think we all. Kind of had some,ongoing business, I think for most entre entrepreneurs. But really it's, it's,it, you kind of as, as you see kind of the landscape, no pun intended, of a lotof the, of kind of the, the mass amount of service that a lot of people need intheir homes and kind of how it's, it's completely different in terms of theshifted in terms of workers and, and individuals in that nature and how a lotof these.

Single operators become businesses andlooking to kind of maintain a consistent client base versus continue toacquire. So I'm, I'm curious and I'm sure our audiences and, kind of timelinesand, and cycles for these people to, really keep these clients on board and howthey can really scale their business.

And before we get into all that, ofcourse, what got you, what were you doing before you started the company?  

Jacob: Yeah, man, this isit's been a long journey to get where I am today, but it started with wantingto be a professional photographer. That was kinda my lifelong dream. I shotcommercially for eight years.

Really loved that world. Yeah. That ledme into the marketing world where I found design and fell in love with that.Haven't fully left photography, but enough that I wanted to make the switchcareer wise to a design focus. Yeah. And I started with designing the, thetypical ad stuff you've got your, your brochures, your billboards, businesscards, that sort of thing.

And somewhere along the way, one of mymanagers gave me a shot at designing a website. And man, after that firstwebsite, I was hooked on anything. UI design. Yeah. I wanted to, I wanted todesign user experiences to make them beautiful, to make them fun and engagingand functional. And I, I left graphic design in the dust as fast as I could, andwent full throttle on digital.

Fast forward about four years and me andmy co-founder met and decided to start a company together. And I knew from thenon I wanted to devote my time to product because I could really, rather thanjumping from client to client in the marketing world, I could focus in onsomething and make it the best it can be.

Julian: It's so fascinatingthinking about, your design background and a lot of people, in terms ofbuilding applications and building user experiences. I think we all kind of innature think we have some intuition around what that would be, but I think in,in, in practice it's a lot different and it's a lot more sophisticated than Ithink we all kind of give it credit for.

And I, I'm curious, just as somebody who,you know, who, who has a product and, and wants to. Offer a great experiencefor my customers. Where do I start? Where do we start in terms of thinkingabout the user experience and not doing the traditional thing. It was like, allright, act like I'm the user and see how my journey would be.

But really consider the different kindof profiles of people who are coming to, actually interact with technology. Howdo you think about incorporating all those different individuals?  

Jacob: Yeah. Yeah. This is areally tough question and it really depends on the audience that you're goingafter.

First of all, let me just say that it isjust like any other skill, something that has to be worked on. Yeah. The bestway to know if to know that the user experience design is complicated is to goback and look at your old stuff and be like, wow, how much have I grown overthe last year in understanding?

How an experience should be designed. Ifyou can see that shift, then, okay. There's still a lot left to learn, but Ithink some of the best ways are, number one emulate what's already out there.Yeah. A lot of people have already gone before you. They've, they've inventedthe wheel. You don't have to reinvent it.

If it's a, a login screen, for example.Something simple like that. Yeah. Use best practices based on the, the appsthat have in, Billion dollar user research teams, they've already gone beforeand blazed the trail. You can, you can ride on their coattails. As far ascreating a great experience within the product that is unique to you, this issomething that has to go has to be in the hands of your users and you gottawatch 'em play with it.

This is the toughest thing because I, atleast for me Interacting with users is always scary, especially since I was theone working on the product because yeah, it was a chance for me to bevulnerable and for them to shoot me down and say, your design sucks. I don'tlike this at all. What are you doing?

Right? So that's always tough. But onceyou can see how they play with the product, how they interact with it, you'llbegin to pick up on the more intuitive aspects of experience, design and UIdesign. So to me that's the best, the best method to get from zero to 100. Andthen of course, Within the, the gaps of time.

I'm, I'm constantly studying, designingfun side projects, anything I can do just to, to up level.  

Julian: Yeah. And, andthinking about, I think a lot of different ways. At least, founders thinkingabout how people interact with their product is, kind of going through this,this big tutorial kind of, workflow when you enter a product and kind of showsyou all these different things that you could be incorporated with.

And, and, but there's interesting, ifyou talk to enough founders, there. The distinct line and philosophies of justgetting people in there to crash corset, and they figure out, they break somestuff and they ask, and go to the FAQs and go through that experience, orthey're kind of catered through this journey.

Where do you stand and what do youthink, is it dependent on the product or do you have like a distinct line thatyou've drawn?  

Jacob: I. Yeah, it definitelyis, depending on the product. For example, if you're serving more enterpriseclients, you've got to really craft the, the details of that. You don't wannaput a half baked product in front of a company that's paying you, $10,000 ayear or something like that.

But if you're more user focused or, orconsumer focused, then yeah, get something out there as soon as possible andthen iterate from there. I will say it is there's like three distinct phases ofa company's growth mm-hmm. That you need to pay attention to when it comes tothis sort of thing.

The first phase is get something outthere and, and I kind of hate this phrase, but break things like it's okay tofail a little bit. Yeah. People are gonna be more forgiving when your product'sin beta or, or early release. And you can learn a lot. The, the second phase iswhen you begin to move up market, you want something a little more stable.

You're not okay with breaking thingswith every release. You don't want, you don't want every other release to bejust a big chunk of bug fixes, right? Ideally, you're releasing something solideach time, and then finally, whenever you get out of that phase you're in,you're. Are probably working on something more enterprise or more polished for,tens of thousands of users.

At that point, you're definitely gonnawant to have, QA teams, testing, unit testing, all that kind of stuff to makesure that the, the final release is gonna be as polished as possible. But,until then, like it's okay to be a little rougher around the edges just to getfeedback quickly.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. Well, howdo you view testing in terms of like different feature sets between, differentcustomers and, how do you do that in, in a way that you're not necessarilychanging the experience too much to where your customers say, have, have adifficulty returning to your product?

And, and, and this is in the cases wheremaybe you're not necessarily listening to customer feedback or maybe you have,and yeah. Maybe a, a really distinct hypothesis. Do you wanna test? How do youtest it properly so that you don't have any, any drop off? Because I think thatthat is somewhat of a hesitation that a lot of, founders have.

If it's broke, don't fix it kind ofmentality. But I think in this, in this industry, you really have to alwayscon, continue to progress your product and, and kind of, Kind of be the leaderin the innovative space. How do you test? Well type, in, in, in creating theright testing environment for different features.

Jacob: From productstandpoint, I'm gonna be totally honest, this isn't something that I thinkwe're great at yet. Testing is probably the part of, of product developmentthat I'm the weakest at. And, and that our team is the weakest at only becausewe've been moving so fast for the last three years that we, we haven't had theluxury of time to pay attention to it.

Yeah. That being said, it is somethingwe're working to get better at. So we've put together a pretty comprehensive.Testing Checklist aside from the automated tests that our, our team alwaysChecks, the, the main function of the app with each release just start tofinish, make sure that it, it's nice and clean.

We, we don't have a ton of differentuser personas, so it's not like we're trying to test among, a subset of usersand then another subset. We don't have to worry about that, thankfully. So I'mnot super informed on how other teams might, might handle that. Sure. In orderto break up the, the testing groups.

Mm-hmm. But yeah, as far as we, as faras we go yeah, we try to get in there and actually use the product every dayand, and, Make sure it works.  

Julian: So, yeah. Yeah. Tellus a little bit about, Check and, and what in, in particular inspired you to goin this direction? What was the, the catalyst for not only starting thecompany, but you know, tackling this problem, which, as I think, lesser known,but I, once you dive into it and you kind of really see the amount of.

Volume of individuals who are operatingand the amount of people who need services, you really see the scale of, of themarket. Describe, yeah. What inspired you and, and what's particularly excitedabout the traction that you've seen, since the conception of the company?  

Jacob: Yeah, yeah. Let mestart off by saying, I understand home services is not sexy. It's not FinTechor, crypto or any of this sort of thing. But the reason why it's so exciting isbecause this industry, Doesn't get a lot of people focused on the experience.Yeah. If you think about any sort of home service, whether it's lawn care,plumbing, pressure, washing, like these, these types of jobs are very physical,very physically demanding as well.

You're going from from house to house.You're performing physical services and you're trying to put food, food on yourtable. So it's, it's one of those where, People aren't gonna, aren't gonna paya ton of attention to how the, the experience works. They just want it to work.Yeah. And because of that, the resulting competitors in this space have craftedvery functional.

But very poor experienced products.Yeah. Specifically the ones that are in the enterprise space that are servingbigger home service providers with bunches of crews across state lines. All thecomplexities that go along with that. It is, it, it's like the sales force of,of home service products, and it's just really clunky, really hard to navigate.

But what you find out as you startlooking into this industry is that. Enterprise companies are not the majorityof the industry, the majority of the industry are what they call like jack anda truck. It's the guy with, his lawnmower in the back of his pickup or pressurewashing rig or whatever it is.

And, and they're running, maybe a singlecrew with two or three guys, maybe a couple crews. And they're servicing fouror five neighborhoods, right? That is like the, the norm in this industry. Andso there are hundreds of thousands of these people. Across the, in the UnitedStates or really across the world, and they are, are tired of enterpriseproducts being the only thing on the market to serve their, their needs.

Yeah. They're paying, three to 500 bucksa month for something that's so bloated and, and has so many features thatthey, they don't use 90% of them. Yeah. They want, they want it to be simple.They want it to be beautiful. Right. So when we originally got into it, weactually. Went from my, my co-founder approached me with the idea to do like ondemand lawn care services.

Mm-hmm. And the idea was that it's, it'svery difficult to find incredible vetted lawn care companies to come serviceyour property. Yeah. Who are gonna treat you professionally as a homeowner withprofessional invoicing, easy payments, that sort of thing. So we, we took avery unique approach with that, but we quickly found out.

Despite the technology being fantastic,the experience for the lawn care folks was not that good because they end upgetting a smaller cut of the profits and you're still trying to be competitivewith pricing for homeowners. And so at the end of the day, they're the onesthat get left out in the cold, and we need to reverse that script.

Yeah, they need to be our priority andas an extension of that, they're gonna treat their customers as a priority.Right. So we actually ended up pivoting about a year in, and we started servingthe home service operators themselves and saying, what can we do to make theirjob easier? Yeah. And as. An extension, they're gonna make their customerslives easier.

So that's when we kind of switched focusand now our entire goal is to make, when you leave your house in the morningand you go serve your clients and you come home in the evening, everything workrelated is left in the field. You don't have to come home and skip dinner cuzyou're sending out invoices.

Yeah. Or collecting payments. Or you,you do not have to even open your laptop. Yeah. That's the, the vision forthis. We, we wanna serve these people well and, and automate as much as we canand just make it a beautiful experience. Yeah. So that was a little bit of along answer, but I had to paint the picture.

Julian: No, no, no. It wasfantastic and, and you kind of realized the, amount of like labor outside ofthe physical labor that they end up doing. And I don't know if you have anynumbers, but. What, what kind of delay from, job to payment is actually seen inthis industry and how does you know the product, kind of decrease that latencybetween, when the job is completed to payment, to really kind of also keepingthis client engaged.

Being that, a lot of these things arecyclical. Whether you, you come every bimonthly or biweekly and, and you, it'shard to keep track of those schedules of every other, client that you have.How, how are you able to do that?  

Jacob: Yeah, it's incrediblycomplicated. A lot of these guys run run their business on a notebook that'ssitting in the passenger seat of their truck.

Truly, 50% of the industry runs it froma notebook. Yeah. Which is mind boggling. Yeah. And the reason isn't it becausethey don't have, a calendar app on their phone or contacts in their phone. Thereason is because it's so much simpler to move quicker when you can just jotsomething down in the margin of a notebook.

And so they need something that's gonnawork fast and, and always be reliable. And when it comes to the, the extra workbeyond the, the physical work of providing the services they're spendingapproximately 10 plus hours a week just on invoicing, payment collections,route generation, all of this stuff that just takes time, but it's gotta bedone.

And so what you end up doing is, isknocking out a day out of your week that you're not out in the field Mowing.Yeah. That's approximately eight to 10 clients that you're not making money offof just because you're trying to, collect money from your, your other clientsthat you've already served.

So if you can automate that, then you'llautomatically get that extra 20% higher margin in your business to be able toserve more customers. The next thing you mentioned was around turnaround timesand, and, and payment cycles. Let's be honest, most of these people run cash.Yeah. Because cash under the doormat is so much easier than having to set upsome complex payment system or, or what have you.

So yeah. The problem with that is peoplewill often forget to leave cash under the doormat, and so you end up havingthis. This wait time of maybe one to two months. And that is cash in, in thefield, not in your hands. Mm-hmm. Which means you can't pay for gas for yourtruck or your, or your mowers.

You can't pay for weed eater strain. Youcan't pay for oil. Like all of these things that need cash flow coming in, itkind of handicaps you. Yeah. So what we try to do is shorten that with. Securepayment links included on every single invoice. Invoices get sent automaticallyas soon as you mark a job is complete.

So that cash is typically gonna hit yourbank account within a couple days instead of waiting that two months. So we tryto shorten that time for 'em. And then the next thing is when. When you'redealing in cash, you're dealing in Check, whatever, that money doesn't get intoyour bank account without you going to the bank and depositing in that, right?

So that's more time that you're takingout of time. You could be serving clients, right? And it just makes thingsinfinitely more complex. So what we try to do is shorten and eliminate thattime as well.  

Julian: Yeah, and it'sfascinating thinking about, one thing that comes to mind is, is how thisindustry was impacted by the gig economy.

Being that, TaskRabbit was huge and allthese other services, we're really trying to get people to, have side hustlesand kind of do this on a less professional basis. But it seems like things areshifting maybe back towards kind of that intimate relationship, theconsistency, the, I don't care to pay a little bit more for.

Something that I can expect the, thequality to be consistent every time. How has, how has the gig economy affectedthis industry in particular, home services? And also has it changed at allfrom, kind of after covid and when people are kind of realizing that you haveto have like 20 different hustles to, to really kind of validate, putting all thateffort and time into doing something kind of auxiliary outside of your regularprofession.

But yeah, respond to that.  

Jacob: Yeah, so the gigeconomy. The gig economy is a tough one. It's a really good idea, but it kindof falls apart in practice. Here's why. Let's say you have a company similar towhat we started out as, which was kind of a Uber for lawn care, right? Yeah. Ahomeowner reaches out to you and they say, Hey, we want you to come cut ouryard.

You accept the job. You go, you cut it.The company that facilitates that transaction takes, however much percent, 1020% of that transaction. Yeah. So you have, you have gotten business, butyou've taken a huge hit in your margin. Margins are already slim whenever itcomes to, to time, so, What you want to do is you want to steal that customeraway from the platform, and you want to hold that customer for yourself, and,and do a deal without that intermediary.

Yeah. So what ends up happening is yourplatforms always are churning operators and homeowners because the operatorsare going to the homeowner knocking on their door after they finish the job andthey're saying, Hey, tell you what, if we don't go through this platformanymore, I'll give you a. Five, 10 bucks off and you get a deal.

I get a deal. Everybody's happy. Yeah.And they take it offline. So the gig economy doesn't work out super well forthese guys. And they want to own that client relationship. Which brings me tothe next step, which is how do you have a consistent client relationship thatretains over time? Yeah, that's one of the biggest issues if you, scalp a yardor, or break a window, those client relationships are, are very fragile as itis.

They can go down the street, get anotherlawn care guy to come cut their grass and, and drop you super quick. So youneed to look professional, you need to treat them very well. But when you'rerunning and gunning, it's hard to, to keep that customer service mentality inyour mind. Yeah. Communication falls apart.

You end up forgetting to follow up on aparticular customer complaint or whatever. Yeah. Which is another piece of thepuzzle that we're trying to solve. We wanna make it really easy for you to beprofessional with your clients without having to do anything really other thanshow up and, and serve.

Serve the client well. So pre,pre-written notifications to the client for the best communication possible,professional looking invoices that get sent on time, every time. Things likethat, that, that really go a long way toward retaining that client, eventhrough the off season where you're at risk of losing them.

So yeah, it's a, it's tough. And thenCOVID was a big one because we got hit with Covid right after we pivoted. Yeah.So I will say I don't know fully what the, the impact of Covid was because wewere kind of always in Covid Yeah. Whenever we started this company. Yeah. So Idon't have a before and after to compare honestly, but because a lot of thesehome services are outdoors whether it's pressure washing Yeah.

Pool cleaning, lawn care, roofing. Thereisn't a ton of. Face-to-face interaction. So I don't think that they actuallygot hit too much as far as losing clients. But yeah. Yeah, that was adefinitely an interesting time.  

Julian: Yeah. What do youthink in terms of, one thing that that comes to mind is the ability for, onceyou know these, these home service operators have the ability to kind of usethis machine and this engine to kind of automate, almost.

Almost like half of their business andtheir processes. What, what's the opportunity to actually scale? And what Imean by scale is like, raise money and all this stuff, but really, attack,your, your customer base and maybe even expand to different neighborhoods andoffer more services.

And, maybe that allows you to purchasemore equipment once you can really kind of, not only do your service better,your current service offer to more clients, but even add other services on topof that to really another teams, the groups like. Once you automate that, howmuch ability do you have?

I don't know if you've seen it thus farwith the client or, or a customer. But with that ability to scale fromoperating and automating, excuse me, this huge kind of workflow or timeconsuming workflow, I would say rather, yes.

Jacob: So this is one of thebiggest opportunities out there right now for these guys.

If we look at how they typically getclients, it's They'll go knock on the doors of the neighbors of the folksthey're serving. Yeah. Or it'll be word of mouth. A neighbor will tell theirbuddy and, and that person calls. Right. And, and then the, the second optionis seo. Somebody says, lawn care in my area and you need to pop up at the top.

So those are two big ones. Seo, word ofmouth. Right now this problem is not being solved super well. The only other,the only real options are, are kind of finding people through your, your angelslist or home advisors or Yeah, kind of those listical type. Websites. Yeah. Asfar as online discovery or for word of mouth stuff, dropping flyers, givingpeople something they can pass along, right?

Yeah. So what we're trying to do, we're,we're, we're tackling this in a few ways now and we have plans for the futurethat I, I can't quite disclose just yet. But some of the ways we're tacklingthat now is we're giving all operators. A free, professionally designed mobile,mobile optimized, SEO friendly website.

That is like step number one. You gottabe able to show up at the top for your area. So we include that in thesubscription fee. No extra charge. It, it just gets you out there that has abid request form on it that sends all bid requests directly to you. Yeah. Theoperator. So we don't take a cut of that.

We don't take any sort of fee forsending bids your way or, or leads your way. It is just built into Check as,as. A, a product. The second thing that we're doing or, or planning to do isallowing folks to quickly text those links. To mm-hmm. Folks who, who give 'ema call or text them and say, Hey, I have a question.

Rather than taking all that informationby phone, which is hard, complicated. Yeah. You're, you're like holding thephone in your ear. You're like jotting stuff down on your notebook. Yeah. Oryou're like putting 'em on speaker phone and trying to jot it all down. Whatwould be the easier version of that?

The easier version is you send them alink, they fill out that bid request form that goes directly into Check andeverything is already prepopulated. Yeah. And it's written by the homeowner, soyou know it's gonna be accurate. Right. Yeah. You didn't misspell anything or,or, or whatever. So trying to make that flow a little easier and thenimmediately translating that bid into a job, into an invoice and, and just,it's from, from lead to payment.

How do we automate that flow as much aspossible?  

Julian: Yeah, yeah. What, whatgoes into doing that? Is it, having a really sophisticated kind of API systemon the back end to be able to integrate all these what's been kind of the, thechallenging part of the build being that you're, you're integrating.

So many different aspects. IntegratingSMS into any platform or technology obviously is a headache, but can be donewith certain platforms and sophistication. But, what's been the biggestchallenging part of that build? Integrating so many different pieces oftechnology, creating such a seamless experience for individuals who reallydon't have the time to, troubleshoot or test or submit tickets and doing allthese things they need that.

What's been, what's been the biggestchallenge there?  

Jacob: Yeah. So you mentionedsms, and that is tough because you do have service providers like at and t orT-Mobile or or Verizon, that will lock out numbers that they think are spam.Yeah. And so you're constantly avoiding spam filters. If people, get blockedout from, from text messages, you gotta default to email.

So you have to have an email address onfile. But what if you don't have an email address on file? So, Honestly, thebiggest headache is, or, or not headache, but challenge is trying to, to lookat all the different branches of the experience and say, well, if this fails,what's the contingency? Sure. How do we, how do we still follow through withour promise of getting the lead in your hands and, and winning that lead?

That's been real tough. But we're, we'rereally excited for what we're building, and I think the future's gonna bebright for these guys, for sure.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. What's,what's some of the biggest risks that Check faces today?

Jacob: I think, I think thebiggest risk is gonna be, yeah, not moving fast enough. We're shipping stuffevery other week. Yeah. I mean, we're moving as fast as we possibly can, butjust like any startup, the risk is always, are you going to be able to surviveyour burn rate? Right, right. That's like the, that's always the, thechallenge.

Even if you're, you're doing really wellon cashflow. You're still trying to grow as a company so that you can get inmore people's hands quicker. And that means you gotta spend money and thatmeans you gotta raise money or, some, some version of that. So I think that'sprobably the biggest risk.

But as far as product goes, I'mconfident, man. We've got a gorgeous product. It's fast, it's stable, it worksbeautifully. Yeah. People love it. I get, I get compliments in our, in oursupport channel all the time of people just saying, Thank God y'all built this.Like I've been waiting for it. So that, that gets me excited and that makes mewanna keep building.

Julian: Yeah. If everythinggoes, what's the long-term vision?  

Jacob: Oh man. Okay. We'regonna paint some pictures here. Long-term, long-term vision. We want to createthe best product out there for homeowners and home service operators to be ableto manage their, their work and their needs on the house. So what does thatlook like in practicality?

We're talking about a fully automatedexperience start to finish. Let's just take the home, the the home serviceoperator as an example. You wake up in the morning, you walk out the door, yourphone knows that it's a normal work day, and it starts tracking time as you go.It's looking at your route.

It's determining when you stop at aparticular point and for how long. It translates the time that you've spent ata particular spot into the time tracked for that job. You don't have to touchany sort of time tracking tools you get there. It gives you an alert, it tellsyou exactly what services are required at this particular property.

You carry out those services. It givesyou alert right as you're about to leave and it says, Hey you should go knockon this neighbor's door. So you can get that extra client. You go do that. It.Whenever you get back in your truck, you mark your job as complete invoices.Get sent out the card on file, gets charged.

Payment goes right into your bankaccount. At the end of the day, you get home, you have zero work on your plate.It knows your home. It stops your time. All of your time is tracked beautifullyto your jobs. You know exactly what your effective hourly rate is for those,for those jobs. You know exactly how much was charged.

You know exactly what your productionrate is, you know how fast you move, how many, how many square feet per hour,that sort of thing. All of that is Checked beautifully within the app. You getreal-time notifications let's call it at the end of the day, that gives you a,a summary report of all of your insights.

Did you lose any money on a particularjob? Or, or, or did your time go over that sort of thing? Did you find a, amore optimal route that you can use? So the next time you're not wasting timein traffic? How much did you earn? How many much money did you spend onexpenses? Where can you optimize that?

At the end of the month, you're gettinga nice overview and it's setting you up for the next month. This is what your,your monthly yeah. Income should be assuming that all the jobs are, arecompleted on time and, and don't get bumped due to weather or whatever. Ifweather does happen, it automatically sends a notification out to your yourclient base for that day and says, Hey, we're gonna bump you to tomorrow.

And it reschedules everythingautomatically for the homeowner side. You get an invoice and you can pay thatimmediately as a guest without creating an account or anything. It just allowsyou to Check out, no hassle, no, download this app and, and yeah, create anaccount and manage none of that.

If you have multiple folks using Checkmultiple different home service providers using Check. It allows you to see allof your home service or all of your providers in a web portal using just yourphone number. Is that simple? You don't have to go create an account oranything, you just see exactly what your bills are, exactly what youroutstanding balance is so you can pay that quickly and easily, card on file,that sort of thing.

If you have a need. All the otherproviders that you're using have recommendations. They say, oh, I'm your longcare guy. I also know a pressure washing guy. If you need that they're trusted,they're vetted by by somebody you already trust. It's easy to hire 'em. It goesstraight into their schedule so there's no downtime.

And, and just, clean start to finish.That, that is the ultimate goal, man.  

Julian: Yeah. And sofascinating thinking about how it integrates into teams and how, what are yourplans in terms of, if, if you, you are, say the leader of, multiple crews, howdoes that kind of, how does technology, incorporate the team in, in thoseenvironments, track that kind of information?

Being that you're not necessarilypresent on the job, how do you, how are you able to connect everyone on thecrew into kind of building this overall global report of your operation?  

Jacob: Yeah, that's a greatquestion. So there's really three parts to cruise and we actually just releasedthis last month.

You have to be able to track all of yourteam's. Mm-hmm. Information for tax and, and reporting purposes. That's numberone. You wanna be a a, you wanna be a good business owner. Yeah. Number two,you wanna be able to assign those. Team members to cruise and move them betweencrews as needed. Let's say they need an extra guy so they pick one up from, oneof the other crews, that sort of thing.

Mm-hmm. Gotta be able to make thatseamless. And number three, you have to have permission sets that allow you togive the exact information you need to the right people. You don't, you don'twant the wrong information getting into the wrong hands, or you don't want toomuch information, overwhelming your, your folks on the ground, and you wanna beable to maintain that high level view of the work that's getting done in the field.

Yeah. So, one of the biggest hurdles isthat most of our competitors require that you're, sitting at your laptop andmanaging your cruise Yeah. From a desktop enterprise app. And what we did istook complete opposite approach. We said, what can we do to a, have thisavailable on your mobile phone where you can manage everything within a coupleclicks, super easy.

And number two, how can we make thisfun? Like, let's, let's goof off a little bit and infuse some personality inthere. So, we've got like, the ability to assign emojis to cruise. Just, justto kick up the fun a little bit. You can, make the names whatever you want.We've already seen a bunch of people being kind of goofy with it and, andhaving fun with it.

I love that assign. Yeah, assigning jobsto cruise is as, as simple as, one, tap it. It's, it's so simple. You can movestuff around really easily if a, if a guy is moving to a different crew for aday. Super simple to swap them over, and suddenly now they get to seeeverything for that new crew as opposed to the, the original crew they were on.

So it's really easy to manipulate thosepermission sets and like I said, give people exactly what they need. And thenof course a lot of these folks have admin staff, whether it's office staff orsome of 'em have their wife helping 'em out with the books and stuff. Yeah. Sowe gave a special admin role that allows them, special privileges to, to alsomanage the team or, or look at some of the financial stuff.

So we, we wanna make that as seamless aspossible and like honestly just make it fun.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. I likethis next section I called my founder faq. So I'm gonna hit you with some rapidfire questions and we'll see where we're gonna go. What's particularlychallenging in terms of just like, working with a, a customer set that is, kindof more, I don't wanna say mom and pop, I think that's the wrong word.

It's like, it's a small to medium sizedbusiness almost. It's kind of in this, non-traditional gray area in terms oflike the classical, categorization. But, there's a lot of say emotion and tiedinto, their outcomes being that a lot of their businesses is really tied to,their their familial success and things like that.

What's kind of challenging as a founder.Dealing or I guess managing the, the relationship with individuals like that,with a customer bike like this and, and honestly just like not letting it kindof affect you so, so drastically here and there.  

Jacob: Yeah. So the, thebiggest challenge originally was that They're not as tech savvy, as fair, thefolks that I interact with on Twitter or whatever.

Sure. Which means that you can't skimpon clarity. Yeah. Clarity must be number one in the product. So if you, I, Istarted off with the, like this really slick design that I thought was so cooland it was, it was taking advantage of all the type of stuff you'd see in likea Snapchat or TikTok type type tool.

Yeah. Lots of swipe gestures and, andstuff that I thought was interesting, but that's not clear enough. You need abutton that says exactly what that button's gonna do and it needs to do it.Yeah. So the. Step one is designing something that is clear over clever. Thatis, that is the biggest, the biggest thing to keep in mind.

The next thing was how do you reachthese people? You can't run your you can't build your Twitter audience. Andlike you can if you're serving like a developer audience or something likethat. Yeah. You can't really do like. A TikTok thing, although we have had someTikTok success, but it, we're not targeting the right kind of people.

The mm-hmm. The folks running five, sixdifferent crews, they're probably not gonna be on TikTok, so you're not gonnabe able to find 'em there. So getting in front of these people really doeslimit, limit your options for a marketing and, and sales sort of, approach. Andthen the third thing is these are some of the most.

These folks are some of the people withthe highest bull crap meters in the world. Sure. Like they're, they're the,like, salt of the earth people who, who know when you're screwing 'em over.Yeah. And so you, you have to be as genuine and authentic as possible. Mm-hmm.And honestly, that's where we've shined.

We don't do anything scummy or, orpromotey like Yeah. That just doesn't fly, man. Yeah. You've gotta, you've gotto be real. And so, We, when we're on the phone with these people, it is a hundredpercent real. Like, Hey man, you're talking to the founder on his personal cellphone. This is as real as it gets we're we don't have sales people, in betweenyou and the people who started this company, there's no, weird like marketinglanguage, trying to schmooze it up.

Sure. We're just real. And, and when itcomes to customer support request, I, I wish I could show you my phone rightnow. I tag every person that I text that's a customer of ours with like a greenCheck emoji. Mm-hmm. And like ha over half of my text messages. Our customerswho have a direct line to me, and they're, they're texting me, if they run intoissues or if they have questions, or just any way I can help 'em.

Yeah. That is like the way we're gonnawin is stellar customer support. We're on their team 100%. But that was tough.It took a while to learn. Yeah. You can't really set up these like, reallynice, like intercom style chatbots or Yeah. Anything like that, like, Yeah.The, the way you're going to get, the way you're gonna be in good graces withthese people is if you're on the phone talking with them, telling 'emeverything's gonna be okay and solving their problems.

Julian: Yeah. What'sparticularly hard about your job as a founder?

Jacob: I think the hardestthing is that there is no playbook. Yeah. People like to say there's a playbookfor being a founder. There's like all these articles and blog posts and YouTubevideos, but yeah. There isn't, ma'am. Yeah. And, and you're a founder.

You know this, there is no playbook.You're one day you're gonna be, designing something. The next day you're gonnabe running Facebook ad campaigns the next day, you, you're out thereinterviewing customers. It changes. And you have to be not only willing, butexcited to do the work no matter what comes your way.

And I've had to do some stuff that Ihate, man, but like that's part of company building, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah.So, Yeah. Yeah. It's tough. But one thing I will say is I have the best team inthe world. These are, I'm, I'm stoked every Monday morning to wake up and workalongside these people.

So yeah, surround yourself with goodfolks and being a founder is gonna be a lot easier.  

Julian: Yeah. What's somethingyou're good at now as a founder that you wish you were better at earlier on?

Jacob: Talking withcustomers. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Yeah. I, I was definitely, I was definitelyscared of picking up the phone and calling users. Yeah. I, I mean, to behonest, I still am a little bit, but at least now I can do it without like,having to mentally prep every time. Right. Like you.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It'salmost like the, the, the expectation that things won't go well and, and almostlike, yes, how much of that can impact my productivity today? It's not necessarilylike the emotions behind it, but it's like, man, what, what kind of level ofeffort is gonna be added to, to that, but but you learn so much from thoseconversations, which a lot of founders try to talk about.

Yeah. Yep. Whether it was early in yourcareer or now, what books or people have really impacted you the most kind ofin this journey?  

Jacob: Ooh, great question.Okay. First book kind of hearkening back to my College Days, Tim Ferris's FourHour Work Week. Yeah. Was kind of the first book that. That showed me creatinga company and and, and building the life that you want is possible. So that wasmore of an inspiration than anything. It's a little less of an actual playbookbecause being a founder and building the sort of automated company yeah, thatTim talks about is very different.

But the second book would be zero toone. Blake Masters and, and Peter Thiel. That was a huge impact on me. The Lingstartup was a good one as far as like iterating product. How do you do that?Well, yeah, probably those three were the, were the big ones. Yeah. Yeah. Oh,actually one more founding sales.

So my, my co-founder is Reddit. I'mworking to it right now. That is like the most brass tax book on how do youactually drive revenue through sales. Yeah. And, and build, build that salesengine. Really, really good stuff. Yeah. And I don't even do sales, but it'sgood for me to know.  

Julian: You're a founder, youdo sales all the time.

Jacob: This is Oh, yeah,yeah, yeah. Totally right. No, that's,  

Julian: I always like to makesure, I know we're at the end of the episode here. I always like to make surethat we didn't leave anything on the table. Is there any question I didn't askyou that I should have or anything that you didn't chat about that you wantedto bring up right before we, we sign off here?

Anything you left on the table?  

Jacob: Never stop learning,man. There's so much out there. If you're a founder, your job is never, neverlocked in. You're never done figuring out what's next or, or filling a hole. Sonever stop learning. We're in, we're in the age of ai. I'm so excited about ai.I, I think there's so many opportunities here.

I've already started, hacking aroundwith some, some chat bots and stuff for the fun of it just to see what'spossible. I think if you're, if you're not looking it, What the possibilitiesare. You're, you're missing the biggest wave since the advent of the internet,so, yeah. Yeah. Never stop learning.

That's it.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. I lovethat Jacob. And last little bit is where can we support you? Where can wesupport, Check, give us all your plugs. What are your LinkedIns, your Twitters,where can we get in touch with you, but also support the company? And, and, andwhat you're working on.  

Jacob: Appreciate that, man.Yeah. So Check's website is hellocheck.co. You can also find us in the appstore just by searching Check. We're gonna be in the top two or three apps inthere. It's a, a white icon with a, a black mark in there. Looks like a houseon a hill. Yeah. And then as far as personal stuff goes don't even worry aboutfollowing me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The number one thing you could do is goto my newsletter. It's called Making Product Sense making product sense.com. Iwrite every week on the, the coolest products out there. Try to do a deep diveand dissect it and extract some of my favorite learnings from it. Give it asub. I think you're gonna be excited.

About what I write about it. It gets mejacked every time cuz I get to do, research into some of the coolest companiesout there. And I try to bring it back down to brass tacks for the readers andmake sure they can walk away with something actionable. So yeah, go hit methere. make.com.

Julian: Yeah, amazing. Isigned up for the newsletter, so I'm excited to see what products are outthere. I think a lot of founders can really, one, one of the things, my keytakeaways from this is, is really, the learning about products that are alreadydoing it well and really embodying their practices and seeing how it's going toimpact your business and not reinventing the wheel like you mentioned earlier,and really being only innovative in the space that, makes you your businessspecial and unique.

But let everybody else do all the otherwork.  

Jacob: Yeah. What Focus onyour core competency and yeah. Don't read 'em at the wheel.  

Julian: Yeah, exactly. Jacob,it's been such a pleasure to not only learn about your experience, but also howthe product has evolved at Check and how you kind of re reassess how to reallyimpact your customer base and seeing.

The ability for you to automate a lot ofthe processes that you know are, are impacting these businesses and not a, nota positive way. Shifting that, automating that so they can focus on what youknow they do best, which is grow deliver amazing services and amazing productsto clients as only exciting, not only where your traction is now, but whereyou're gonna be in the future, and how much more you can impact thesebusinesses and add to value to, to what they're doing.

So Jacob, It's been such a pleasurehaving you on the show. I hope you enjoyed yourself.

Jacob: I did. Thanks so much,Julian.

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