Sander's Newsletter, Issue 2
The payoff of building, Bad Bunny, parenting
Hi there, and welcome to my newsletter — about all things future of work, company-building, and operating.
I’ve been building companies for 15 years, starting with Thumbtack (local services) and now Scaled (startup recruiting) and GroomBuggy (dog grooming). I’m motivated to get jobs for people as tech accelerates. This newsletter chronicles my birds-eye view on the workforce and my journey in creating jobs for the future.
🏔 Building is easy
All good things come from a shared Google doc.
Want to start something new?
Draft some ideas in a Google doc.
Share the doc with one or ten friends, ask for feedback.
Call them and talk to them about the feedback.
Pick one idea to test.
Choose a name. Don’t overthink it, you can always change it later.
Go to godaddy.com and purchase a domain. Don’t overthink it, you can always change it later.
Go to squarespace.com, connect your domain, draft some copy and put up a website. Don’t overthink it, you can always change it later.
Go to workspace.google.com and set up Gmail and Google Docs for your domain.
Fund this by building in off hours while holding a normal job.
Find your first customers through friends and acquaintances.
Talk to more and more people about your idea.
Put one foot in front of the other and solve each problem as it comes and don’t overthink it and trust that you will manage obstacles with your resourcefulness and in the worst case you have to end the business and at least you tried.
We need more builders.
There are too few good builders out there relative to the number of problems and opportunities there are to go after.
Some of the people I most admire these days are those building temples for builders. Katherine Boyle at a16z. Erik Torenberg at On Deck. Trish Higgins at Chenmark. Mario Gabriele at The Generalist. Miles Lasater at Purpose Built.
(I just did a podcast with Miles)
At Scaled we help founders recruit great talent so they can build faster.
At Thumbtack we help small businesses market themselves so they can do more of what brings them pride and income.
Too many people psyche themselves out from building by overthinking it.
Don’t overthink it. Just build. It’s not that hard.
🧗🏾 Building is hard
I’m not sure we would’ve started Thumbtack had we known how hard it would be.
So many things need to go right for a business to work.
You need to recruit good people to work with you.
You need to find money to finance the business.
You need to build your product.
You need to find customers.
You need to build the systems, processes and operations to deliver consistently.
You need to keep everyone inspired.
You need to hope your idea is one the world wants.
And all of this needs to be rebuilt once every 18 or 36 months. Because the money has run low, the market has changed, the first hires are gone.
A failure in any of these can end the business.
At Thumbtack every time the team doubled in size we were a new company.
With each version of the company there were moments of pain, uncertainty, existential risk, disappointment. Some of those moments felt like they might be too much to bear.
🌈 The payoff
But we carried on.
There is no greater reward than building something from nothing and seeing that something touch lives.
It seems like Lana and Ricky Arthur at Patio Diner in Blanding, Utah might agree. Here is a photo my brother took while eating a burger there:
All hail Ricky and Lana Arthur. 🙌
We need more Rickys and Lanas.
Come join the builders!
But gosh is it hard.
🎨 Business updates
At Scaled we help startups recruit great leaders. Hiring great people at Thumbtack was the most important thing I did. I want to pass this on to the next generation of founders.
During the company’s first year we supported any startup hiring any type of role. We had more demand than we could handle. But our product was inconsistent. On some engagements we did great but on some we failed.
To standardize excellence we narrowed our focus to only helping startups hire senior Finance, People, and Legal leaders. We are now delivering an excellent product and have placed many great leaders with many great startups.
But since we’ve narrowed our focus, we now need to get the word out and generate demand. In the world’s most competitive market for talent I have recruiters with spare capacity. 😅
Let me know if you (or a startup you advise or know) could use help recruiting.
Thumbtack just hit 1,000 employees. 😯
GroomBuggy just hit 3 vans. 🚛
The current bottleneck in the business is acquiring and converting mobile dog groomer vans.
We have another two on order so should have five on the road by the end of May.
We are looking for our next customer service hire. Our first two hires are great. One is a nurse who does this on the days she’s not in the hospital, the other is a mom returning to the workforce. This is a work from home role with a flexible schedule, let me know if anyone comes to mind.
🎒 Grab bag
🎤 Concert of the month. Bianca and I love music. In particular we love attending concerts. Big concerts. We have a rule that we do not listen to music unless more than 50 million people also listen to it. This month we saw Bad Bunny. If you do not know who Bad Bunny is, consider whether this is the right newsletter for you. We had front row seats at an 18,000 person arena.
📖 Book of the month. Bianca and I have a particular parenting style. Instead of centering our four children in our world, we push them a bit to the periphery. We seek to communicate to them that the universe does not care about their every wish, that they are not independent operators or special snowflakes but rather part of a web of community and responsibility. Ignoring them, sending them outside, letting them speak for themselves when an adult asks them a question — these are some of our more prized parenting tactics. I recently finished a parenting book — Hunt, Gather, Parent — that articulates this philosophy well. If you have little ones in your life, grab a copy.
🦸🏿♂️ Hero of the month. Once there was a man born in a village in the Congo. Against extraordinary odds he grew up to become a surgeon. He chose to specialize in gynecology, and in particular in injuries suffered due to sexual violence. He then founded a hospital dedicated to helping such victims. He has helped tens of thousands of women (and men), is perhaps the world’s leading expert on repairing injuries of sexual violence, has suffered death threats and assassination attempts, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. This person’s name is Denis Mukwege. He published a memoir last year. It was hard to read and a bit dry but it is always good to be reminded that heroes exist. 🙏
See you next month!