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SeeSnap - the diary of a serial tech entrepreneur

This time, we’ll be talking with Mr. Mark Russell Filaroski, the CEO and Founder of SeeSnap – the visual smart photo app improving the work of deskless workers. Get to know him better 👇

Ep 11: SeeSnap – the diary of a serial tech entrepreneur - graphic1

SeeSnap – the diary of a serial tech entrepreneur – with Mr. Mark Russell Filaroski

During our conversation, Mark told us about his journey of becoming the CEO and Founder of SeeSnap – the visual smart photo app improving the work of deskless workers. We also discussed different aspects of being an entrepreneur and investor over the years, what kind of improvements and innovations we can expect at SeeSnap, and much more! Meet Mark!

Points covered:

  • Mark’s professional journey
  • The difference in running a company now vs. 20 years ago 
  • SeeSnap – ‘Jira for manual workers’ – what problems do they solve?
  • SeeSnap – what’s in their timeline?
  • The MVP process and challenges in design
  • SeeSnap vs. competitors
  • How the global landscape has changed in terms of funding
  • Criteria to look at when investing in a company

About Mark

Mark is the CEO and Founder of SeeSnap – a smart photo app & cloud platform enabling deskless workers to manage and visually document their work through the task management tool they built.

At SeeSnap, together with his team, he works on creating a new AI platform solution aimed at visual-first, mobile-first workflow improvement. Thanks to SeeSnap, both employer and employee have visual proof of work that is recorded at every step of the project. This technology helps them improve the communication between the desktop and the deskless workers and manages time more efficiently.

Before SeeSnap, his work experience revolved for a number of years around entrepreneurship, investment, and compliance.

Intro 0:01
Welcome to the ‘How We Innovate’ podcast presented by Applandeo, hosted by me, Wiola and my co-host, Bryan. On this podcast, we talk with leading innovators, pull back the curtain on their industry, and get to know how they use technology to achieve success, as well as share the stories behind them and their businesses.

Host – Bryan 0:24
Welcome to the ‘How We Innovate’ podcast, episode number 11 with Mr. Mark Russell Filaroski, he is the CEO and Founder of SeeSnap. Mark, how’re you doing today?

Guest – Mark 0:36
I’m great. Bryan, thank you very much for having me.

Host – Bryan 0:40
Great. So, so Mark, why don’t you? Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself your background, and we could get into it?

Guest – Mark 0:50
Sure, so. So I’ve been in entrepreneurship for over 25 years now. I mean, it’s actually hard to say that, and believe it because that means I’m getting old. So I, you know, my first, you know, say, opportunity with entrepreneurship came at a very young age. And, and, you know, in my teenage years, you know, in high school, I had an opportunity to start to start mowing lawns and make money. So my first opportunity with entrepreneurship was that I started with a few lawns. And then before you know it, I had a couple 100 lawns. And I actually sold that company at 15 for a little over 16,000 US dollars. And, you know, I said, Wow, this is great. This is so easy, you know, what’s next? And so, you know, that helped pave the way. And, and really get me got me started. And, you know, I’m thankful I came from a very, you know, tech, my father was in technology, my father worked for Bob Noyce, the guy who actually invented the semiconductor. You know, the reason Silicon Valley is called Silicon Valley is Bob Noyce. So that originally started at a company called Fairchild, but then Bob founded Intel, computers, and, you know, went from transistors to silicon chips, but really, you know, gave me the opportunity to see something firsthand and not be afraid of it. Right. So, so, again, the more access you have, you know, into those things, the less fear you have. And so and so I was really indoctrinated into that kind of work culture, you know, in and around tech, and just always had a passion for it. And so, you know, eight startups later, a couple 100 tech startups, you know, mentored a few good and bad investments, here I am today and excited to talk about, you know, innovation, on, you know, technology, and anything that we’re here to talk about.

Host – Bryan 3:03
Cool. And, you know, in terms of entrepreneurship, like, what characteristics did you see, like in yourself at such a young age where you’re like, ‘Okay, this is something where, you know, I have the personality, or I have the work ethic to, you know, do certain things that other people can’t?’

Guest – Mark 3:18
Yeah, you know, I think the, I think the thing that that people assume, and you know, what, that’s something, you know, assuming does, right, the old expression, so what people assume is that it’s baked in you or born in you, and I don’t agree with that. I think I think what, what we need is we need to be, we need access, you know, you need access to things to experience them to then remove the fear that we all have, you know, it’s natural, you know, especially early on in your career to say, ‘Wow, that’s too much. There’s no way I could handle that I couldn’t do this, or I can’t do that.’ And, you know, fear is what what a lot of times how we’re making decisions, I would say, I would say what an entrepreneur has that’s a little bit different. It’s almost a little bit of some might say, recklessness, you know, in the sense, they’re willing to take a little bit more of a gamble or a risk. But I see that as actually advantageous. Because, you know, the more you’re in business, and the more you build companies, the more you realize that failure is one of the drivers in success, right? So the faster you can get that flywheel, right, the faster you fail, the faster you’ll have success on the other side, the more you have that flywheel taking effect that the more success you’re going to have, ultimately, so I, I just think entrepreneurs, you know, tend to be say a bit more risky. And then I would say, you know, very serial entrepreneurs tend to have the ability to mitigate that risk. So they’re aware of it going in, they can decouple it, and then they can process better than, say, the average entrepreneurs. I think it’s a cognitive decision that we make at some point in our life, like with public speaking, are we going to get on stage and do it? Or is it going to be a fear that controls us for a long period of time, right? You know, entrepreneur entrepreneurship is a lot like that. It’s either you’re gonna jump in struggle to stay afloat. But But entrepreneurs, you know, really embrace tend to embrace that and you know, embrace the suck is what I say. Because you have to do you know, it, there’s no easy, there’s no, there’s no guaranteed path.

Host – Bryan 5:40
That sounds like a great tattoo, or a t-shirt: ‘Embrace the suck’.

Guest – Mark 5:46
If you do that, is that I want and 5%. [laugh]

Host – Bryan 5:50
You got it.

Host – Wiola 5:52
Yeah, so it’s like, the more you fail, the more you learn, the more you learn, yeah, the higher chances you get successful.

Guest – Mark 6:00
Yeah, that’s great. That’s a good way of saying, I would tell all younger entrepreneurs, you know, you’re gonna have to get good at legal, you’re gonna have to get good at operations. You know, you’re gonna you know, in today’s world, you have to understand code coding, code management, write all those things, and hopefully partner with companies like Applandeo to make your job easier. You know, you go through that, and there’s no way to know it all on day one. So you’re gonna have failures in different parts, and it’s your responsibility, right to get up to speed. So there is a time quotient for each of those. Yeah, you know, it’s gonna take you a while to say legal, you know, start with your local laws, your local, you know, what’s governing, say, an LLC, or a C Corp, you know, either your bylaws or your operating agreement, you know, start with those things get to know him in and now, and you’ll have less failures.

Host – Wiola 7:00
Having all this knowledge and the experience and, you know, knowing ups and downs and being invested right now, what are the main criteria? And maybe the main qualities you look at when deciding whether to invest into a company or a business idea or not?

Guest – Mark 7:18
Yeah, I mean, that’s a great question. I can tell you what the what the left standard recipe is, right? It’s, you know, X revenue, you know, the X milestones, you know, and that’s, that’s the generic playbook, I would say, what makes a great VC, a great VC is being able to spot talent before it’s known, being able to spot the opportunity. Before it’s known, you know, in these things, and we can go back, you know, history, history is the best, say, evidence of, you know, do people make great decisions, you know, and a lot of people passed on Airbnb, right. So, in hindsight, you know, you can look back and go, Well, why, you know, if you’re a great investor, why would you have passed on Airbnb, but it’s not so easy. So, so I would say, you know, you know, besides that standard formulaic investment thesis, which is, you know, what’s your MRR/ARR? Who’s the team? What’s the market? What’s the TAM? Besides that, you want to be able to spot talent early, and there’s definitely indicators, you know, in a in a very, like, deep tech, high tech, you know, startup, if you’re investing in those, you know, you’re gonna you’re gonna have some sort of savant level engineer behind that company. And, you know, you just, you just have to look at their history, right, the graduated high school and 15, Georgia Tech at 17. You know, their first like, their story will tell you, their path.

Host – Bryan 8:54
Sounds like you’re describing my life right there, Mark, it sounds like graduating 15 Joy, like, that’s me, man. How did you know?

Guest – Mark 9:01
Sure. I’m proof positive that’s the case. You know, somewhere in there, you you gotta you know, modeling, you know, contract with GQ.

Host – Bryan 9:13
Yeah, exactly! [laugh]

Guest – Mark 9:16
So, um, but yeah, I mean, I would look for early indicators, you know, I think early signs of success. You know, a lot of people don’t do due diligence. You know, I would highly you know, if you if you’re looking at a startup you want to invest in the startup call a customer I mean, at the end of the day, that is your one thing that you can do right you know, ask the startup who’s their customer call the customer you know, what pains the solving how big of a pain it is, and that will give you you know, all the all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Host – Bryan 9:52
Cool, and so, you know, I think also Mark so, you know, you’ve been also not only your investor, your CEO, like you’re a CEO right now, so and Have you been a CEO of previously in the early 2000s? As well, right? So, from your perspective, like, how has the role of a CEO changed maybe from the early 2000s to now? Do you feel like CEOs now need to be more involved with every aspect of the company? Or what do you think has shipped? What are some of the positives and negatives that you think have changed since over the past 20 years?

Guest – Mark 10:21
From a macro? You know, it’s the jobs pretty much the same, right? I mean, I think, you know, you’re looking at, you know, you have the same, you know, the same things to contend with, right. It’s about the team, the quality of team, it’s about the idea of the market, it’s about the execution, you know, those things don’t change. You know, if you were to, you know, if you were to ask me, what’s changed generationally, I would say that, you know, over the last 20 years, you know, there were a lot fewer people aware of technology, right, so the, you know, you know, millennials get a lot of, you know, crap for being lazy. And I just say they’re more efficient, you know, they can do 40 things that took you three days to do, right. And you know, that back then, and so, you know, there is this kind of, you know, the way I say it is, is that everyone is, uh, everyone understands technology, because they’re a tech user. Right? Today, we didn’t have that 20 years ago. And that’s the biggest change just in general, that’s what’s changing the most is that, you know, users are very tech savvy, they know what they like, their, their tolerance for poor technology is way less, right? It’s instant. You know, if they’re not getting if they’re not getting from your product, what they’re getting from Facebook, Instagram, tik tok, Snapchat, all of this other stuff, your your, your, you know, you’re not going to survive, and so that, you know, the bar, the quality bar is higher. And I would say the speed to market is, you know, maybe two 3x. You know, that’s something else that’s changed. And that’s not just my age. I know, I know, some some of the audience might say, well, Mark’s just old, we are moving faster. You know, in some ways, we’re moving slower. But technology as a whole is moving much faster.

Host – Wiola 12:17
Yeah, yeah. So I’m getting back to SeeSnap, which is your product and your project, the way we understand SeeSnap is, is this smart photo app, or a cloud platform that enables workers to assign track complete and approve work in a field? Mostly? So it’s like, it’s basically a task management tool, but using a total totally different way? Is like a JIRA for manual workers. Is that right?

Guest – Mark 12:52
Yeah, that’s a great, that’s a great, that’s a great first guess, you know, our product, our product was built for the deskless workforce. And, you know, surprisingly, you know, surprisingly, you know, 99% of venture capital goes to desktop software, right. So it’s very predominantly desk, office based, software, large, ERPs, etc. And we looked at this deathless workspace, you know, 2.7 billion workers globally. And we looked at the technology, and there really wasn’t a mobile first solution for what they’re doing in the field. And communication between the desktop and the deskless worker was really kind of broken. And we wanted to bring visual acuity to workflow, right, so quality of work, proof of work, you know, prevent fraud prevention, you know, if you’re going to, if you’re going to make a payment around this type of work, you know, wouldn’t you want to see it? Like, I don’t, I don’t order something online blindly. Like, I don’t go to a blank page, and go, yep, 1000 bucks, you know, I’m gonna buy purely on a description. And so we just felt like this. Tesla’s workspace workforce, you know, was really kind of looked at as maybe not tech savvy, or, you know, had a lot of negative connotations associated with it. And we just felt like, you know, my comment earlier, I just feel like every market is getting tech savvy. Right. And they really wanted this kind of in a tap in a snap solution. So it works like the products they’re used to using, right for social media, Instagram, you name all the top, you know, something that worked similarly, and provided them real value in the field. And then we felt like the underpinning, you know, to take it past just say photos was, you know, what can we do with convolutional neural networks today, right. What can we do with the image recognition, you know, what can we do to make these photos safer? You know, so there’s no, you know, nudity or whatever, you know, who knows? Right, so, so remove, you know, all of that, that the Sisyphean activities out of photos and bring it into a simplified workflow tool. We just felt like that was a great starting point for something new. And we’re certainly in our infancy stage. We’re excited by the opportunity. And, you know, so that’s my answer. That’s why we’re doing.

Host – Wiola 15:38
Like, firstly, where this idea came from, to address like to create a tool that addresses this market?

Host – Bryan 15:46
Yeah. Because from like, when we were talking about it, usually people who come up like ideas like this is right, it’s like someone did a bad job on a house project. And, you know, you kind of saw a, you know, there should be an easier way to validate the work, and now it’s done. Right. So is that kind of where it came from a bad experience on your end? Or?

Guest – Mark 16:04
Yeah, yeah, I mean, again, I’m I see a lot of deals, I see a lot of data, you know, I’ve a lot of friends that were doing, you know, house projects, or whatnot, really frustrated, or, you know, or are simply trying to get the lawn mowing crew, you know, to mow a part of the yard that they kept missing, you know, and they’re paying them $75 a week, you know, and the person wasn’t doing it, or the cleaning, you know, cleaning people that kept missing, you know, a room or a closet or something, and like, you’re not, you don’t feel like you’re getting value. And at the same time. You know, remember, like, you know, we’re all so busy in our lives, like tools shouldn’t be data entry. You know, like, you don’t want to just keep typing and typing. Like, we have to get away from that, right. That’s why we’re starting to see, you know, voice and speech and you know, all these other things, proliferate platforms, because we’d rather just talk into an app, right? Now, here’s my instructions, for instance, well, I feel the same with like photo based work, which was really missing, you know, is the ability to kind of annotate on a photo and go, like, Look, you miss this next time, don’t miss it, or the ability to have a recurring task, where you snap it, once you set it, and then every 30 days, that task has to be, you know, get done. And you get proof of work from the person that does it. Right, they have to take the after photo. And so those are just things, you know, those were all there. It was a, it was a large group of things that brought the SeeSnap together. But yes, it was, you know, looking at the frustrations, the, you know, again, we’re, you know, we’re most of the deskless workforce is operating, we don’t see it, right. We don’t know, if it got fixed. You know, our cities and towns in the United States, I don’t live in Poland, but like, you know, when there’s millions of issues every day, they’re not getting resolved. You know, like, we have a pothole out in our street, you know, it’s pop five tires, you know, and it doesn’t get fixed, I want a better reporting tool and SeeSnap we feel is going to be, you know, the tool for that, that those kinds of issues.

Host – Bryan 18:20
Cool. So so then you had this idea, right, so you had this idea? And then I guess you had an MVP, right? So you had some minimal viable product? Right? So what were some of the key features that needed to be on that MVP, to validate that this is actually something that the market wants? Or, you know, what were some of the things that needed to be in that MVP?

Guest – Mark 18:40
Yeah, so we had to, you know, one, we had to get photos. Right, right. And two, we had to get the assignment of photos, right, which is war workflow, that has anything to do with photo, and then we had to, you know, equip the back end, you know, with a very lightweight, you know, CNN, so we could start to, you know, does this metadata, you know, how relevant is the metadata? And where does that go? And then, of course, you have to start building the database. Right. And that, is that reporting. So, you know, the MVP was quite extensive in our case, you know, maybe more so, than a few other apps, because it just, there was a lot of tricky things in including notifications, you know, because there’s so many different steps in the, in the workflow where notifications could have been, or can be important. And that’s very hard to get, right. Right. I mean, it’s, it’s not impossible, but it takes it’s laborious. It takes a lot of time, and a lot of effort and a lot of dev time to really get those rights. So you don’t you know, you’re not getting, you know, ping every six seconds. And, you know, people are, you know, hitting ‘Delete app’, you know, so so so MVP, was critical, and then I would argue, you know, I, you know, the more critical piece was getting a couple 100 customers, you know, and really working with them and to figure out like, you know, how do we make their, their their lives easier?

Host – Wiola 20:15
And so what is the testing process? Actually? How does it look like? And what is the process of collecting feedback? Who is your final user who can actually test the product?

Guest – Mark 20:29
So for me, I do a lot of on site interviews with customers, right? So I’m walking around, you know, and I don’t again, I don’t know in Poland what it’s like, but in the US, I can actually drive to these job sites, call a friend, you know, go on a site work with the workers, you know, how, how is that? You know, and so I always say, from Ada, you know, Ada, aha. But you know, that that’s kind of where we’re trying to get to, we’re trying to get to, you know, that value moment of where the user goes, Ah, like, you know, I finally got the value I needed. And, you know, for us, that took us longer than we want it. So it took us about six months, in this case, you know, to really get to Aha, you know, enough that we could go build the second version of the product.

Host – Wiola 21:18
Okay, so where are those moments where, when you thought that, wow, I just, I got it like I, I found this is the best feature, this will probably change everything, and then you finally finding out that it’s not going to work? Like it doesn’t work at all, for, you know, this particular group of customers?

Guest – Mark 21:41
Yeah. Well, I would, you know, again, I’m not I don’t want to use the wrong analogy on your show. But I would say it’s a lot like Tinder dating, you know, where you think everything’s going great. And then, you know, on on the fourth glass of wine, you know, something crazy happens. And you’re like, Whoa, who’s the Who’s this person? Well, you know, product testing is, is, you know, no different, right? So you’re in the field, and you’re getting, you know, positive feedback, positive feedback, positive feedback, and then they try to get to the value moment. And then it’s like, boom, and then they go, oh, you know, and so those are very difficult, and why it takes a long time to really get it right and dial it in, you know, before you want to ship kind of the next version of the product. And then I would say, additionally, and not a lot of founders think about this is like, you might know what that solution is, you might have it baked, you might be like fully ‘This is it’, I would say that the greatest skill any founder can have is the ability to tell that story. And share that vision with the developer or the next person building your product as your as your team skills. Because you you’ve got to capture that in a way that they synthesize it, and, and can really own it pushing forward. Like they really get behind the rock, and they want to roll it up the hill with you. Because you know, that’s the next great challenge for every entrepreneur, right, and you can have the greatest vision in the world. But if you can’t execute on it, it’s it’s never gonna get anywhere.

Host – Bryan 23:22
Yeah, and I think maybe to get back from like, because I think, Mark before you mentioned that 95% of apps are for people. I mean, the only 5% of apps are made for desktops workers, right, I think.

Guest – Mark 23:34
Believe it or not, 99% of, you know, companies that get funded from venture capital, we’re desktop software, you know, for for desktop, folks, right, and you can look that up. I’ll share an article so the viewers can read about it. But you know, that that’s what AMCAP sat in their, you know, in their thing now. Now, I will tell you what my my hypothesis is. My hypothesis is that a large majority of this, this work group uses tools like Facebook, right, they use it for groups, or to advertise or whatever. And they’re using subsets of like WhatsApp to make payments or Venmo to make payments. But the issue you have there is, again, you have this kind of decentralized data structure that where, you know, you’re not capturing all your work in one place. Right. It’s not cloud based. It’s that’s specific. And so, I would think that, yes, that these numbers are pretty accurate and that the market at largest kind of, you know, their choice is going to be used something that’s commercially available on the consumer side. Right, and it’s gonna it’s going to fill a gap, but it’s not, it’s not meeting all their requirements. And so I think that’s entire deskless space is really prime for, you know, thinking about mobile first technology, you know, thinking about in a tap in a snap, you know, you know, we always say fat fingers, but you know, in the field when you’re sitting standing on a roof, and it’s 120 degrees, and you can’t see your screen, you know, it’s a different experience. Right? And so you have to, you have to, you have to think about all those things when you’re building for this for this group.

Host – Bryan 25:28
Yeah, and I think that’s, that’s good. So how did you how did you guys at SeeSnap, like design? The UX for something like that? Right, something that’s built exclusively for outdoors? Right. So what sort of process did you go through through the UX process?

Guest – Mark 25:44
Well, you know, let me just state this and be clear. I mean, I have a, you know, a VP, co-founder of design, you know, Calyn, you know, we work with another gentleman, Noi, and, you know, I’m not gonna give last names and first names and LinkedIn. But, you know, I’m very fortunate that that, that they’re really gifted. You know, when when I first met Calyn, in 2019, he was doing a project for IKEA. And I looked at his project, and it just blew me away. And it had a different UI and UX, you could just tell the quality was exceptional. And somehow I convinced him early on, like, ‘Hey, I’ve got this huge idea. Come join me. And guess what, you get to work for free. You’ll love it. [laugh] And, and so, you know, somehow he’s stuck with us. And he’s really been just, you know, he thinks about everything, right, like disability access, and just, you know, he’s really into that, you know, design at the end level. And so, you know, we are thinking about those things and, you know, conscious of, you know, those decisions, but I think it’s fun, like, you know, I personally think it’s exciting to solve problems, right? I’m an entrepreneur, I get up every day, and it’s like, okay, what problems can we solve? Let’s go. You know, yeah.

Host – Wiola 27:16
Yes, this is surely a really interesting process to design this UX path for this kind of app, which is you, as you said, on the roof, or in the field, comparing to something that you’re mostly using sitting in the office or at home, or in a totally different environment.

Guest – Mark 27:34
Yeah, you can almost tell like, you know, I love Slack, okay, I’m not a Team’s guy. And you know, I might get flack for that. But I love Slack, I was one of their first users somehow got into their Beta, and I’ve been a user ever since. But even with Slack, you get to the mobile side of Slack. And you can really see it’s restricted, right? It cuts back a lot of features. And it works and it’s fine. And it does what it needs to do. And I think that’s what they focus on. But like, you know, there’s so much more that they could do there. Right. And so, I do think desktop still gets, you know, a big, much bigger part of the budget, a lot more focus. You know, and we need to do better, just as a community. You know, we really need to keep pushing the ball forward there.

Host – Wiola 28:25
So what’s on your roadmap? What are the features you’re working on? Or you’re planning?

Guest – Mark 28:33
Yeah. You know, again, I hate to say, I’m gonna sound like a hypocrite, but we are working on desktop. [laugh]

Host – Bryan 28:45
Alright, interview’s over. Thank you, Mark, thank you for showing, we appreciate everything you’ve said so far. [laugh]

Guest – Mark 28:51
Yeah, that’s, that’s like the next big challenge for us. We just pushed, you know, some payment functionality, which is really exciting. You know, SeeSnap’s entering the FinTech space. So I can’t really disclose that, but there’s a lot of just really, really, you know, phenomenal opportunities for us ahead. And we’re excited, really excited by that. And, you know, I just, you know, for us, it’s, it’s really just continuing to build the team, we are hiring across some key areas, and, you know, the team’s just super excited, you know, by what we’re doing, so we’re, you know, just keep plowing ahead and with the, you know, we have a healthy product roadmap for the next you know, I’d say 24 or 36 months.

Host – Bryan 29:38
Cool and and for SeeSnap I like, just in general, maybe you don’t have to speak about any specific client or customer right. So what has been like the most interesting use case you’ve seen for SeeSnap, that was something that you didn’t expect, like some some sort of job that was like, wow, I wasn’t even thinking that that would be a purpose for SeeSnap.

Guest – Mark 29:57
I’ll tell you the two most interesting things, but I don’t know if they’re necessarily interesting. But they’re interesting to me because of my customer. So one is that. So he had taken smart photos of a concrete pour. Right? So not that exciting. But he had taken you know, so we pull all the metadata, we pull all the location, our CNN tell you concrete, specific, you know, everything right. So while we were equipped with all that metadata, well, six months later, the concrete cracked, and the customer sued him for $17,000 saying that he had never done X, Y, and Z while he had the photos. So it saved him. $17,000 And then another. Yeah, and then another one I thought was interesting, was, we have a customer in Colorado that had built this $100,000 backyard deck for customer and they said, you know, once he was done, you know, last screw in, he had asked for payment, and they said, No, we’re not gonna pay you. And it’s, you know, 25-$30,000. And because he got all the photos organized and metadata, etc, etc, etc, you know, with all the details, and, you know, I’m not going to belabor that, but you know, he had the information, he was able to file a lien against the, you know, homeowner and then get paid his money. So, you know, I think I think it works twofold. I think you’d have those kinds of outcomes. And then I would say, for the consumer, or the customer, you know, who’s not, say, savvy on water pipes, or, you know, parts and material and construction, you know, I would say that it works for them as a safety mechanic, right, like, as a safety mechanism. Because, you know, now you’re getting kind of validation, like, this is the right part they’re installing, you know, this is the thing they’re supposed to be doing. You know, and we’ve all watched like HGTV. You know, we’re an expert will come in and be like, that’s wrong, this is wrong. That’s wrong, you know, and consumers don’t know that. So I do think the photo validation piece is the is critical. And kind of any go forward plan.

Host – Wiola 32:26
Are you the first company with this Smart Photo feature? Or are there any others in the market who maybe do similar stuff?

Guest – Mark 32:35
So there’s definitely competitors. And I would say that how they approach the market is different, right? So so when I, every time I get asked this question, I would say one competition is great to validate your, your product. Two is that, you know, I say this, and this is just to make a point, you know, when Elon Musk was building SpaceX, I wonder how many people went ‘Elon rockets have already been done’, and he’s like, no, they haven’t, you know, because, you know, we’re not just going to shoot something up, we’re going to shoot it up. And we’re going to bring it back down. And we’re going to make them recyclable. Right. And so I was, I always say photos are being you know, the reason we’re interested in photos is because it’s in video and smart video, smart photo and smart video, is because it is the biggest growing category. It’s, you know, most things are growing like this photo and video are stratospheric, right? So the way we consume as users, it’s about thinking about Instagram – photos, think about tik tok – videos, think about, you know, you can go through the entire list how we consume content today. Podcast – video, right, and you go on and on and on. So we’re excited by that we have competitors, I don’t really want to name them. I mean, I can, you know, I don’t want to advertise for them. But yes, we have competitors. I think I think they’re, you know, some have a little bit of a head start and, and are doing pretty well. But we have we have our own way we’re tackling this and we think it’s the right way long term. You know? And so, my answer to this as always, we’re gonna build the rocket that goes up and down and you can reuse, right? So we’re gonna, we’re gonna build the better version of what we think the world needs. And yeah, and hope that we’re right. You know, I can, you know, I could be wrong. We could be wrong, but we’ll see.

Host – Bryan 34:47
And, you know, Mark I think, you know, when me and you talk, right, you know, it seems like you’re always in some new meeting with VCs are trying to get funding right. So, so where you guys are at now, and maybe where the global landscape is now. Right? I think the era for now of cheap money’s not it’s gone right for now. So how has that changed maybe the global landscape for in terms of funding?

Guest – Mark 35:10
So, you know, just so the younger entrepreneurs, you know, listening to this a little bit, you know, maybe next week or a month from now, you know, just remember that funding is precede seed Series A, through So, so what I tell all great founders, if you have a small MVP, with some sort of user base, and you can validate it, it’s a great time for seed, right, you know, your first 100k, your first couple of 100k, that markets not changed at all, you know, it’s very speculative, your, your friends, your family, your business acquaintances, you know, people are gonna give you money, especially, the more you know, that that’s not changed, the seed side of things really hasn’t changed all that much, you know, it just has, you know, again, if you have a good team, good idea, you’re executing, there’s plenty of money, that change I’m seeing is is one, you know, because, you know, they’re sitting VCs are sitting on almost $700 billion of dry powder, you know, there’s several problems happening in the market that I see at a kind of like, you know, 10,000 foot view, you know, one is they want to deploy the capital, they can’t sit on it, right. So they have to spend that money, you know, just so everyone knows, they have a 2-3-4 year timeframe where they have to get that out the door. So they want to write bigger checks, they want to write $10 million checks, they want to write $15 million checks, it’s hard for them right now in this market to give you the kind of valuation that your startup needs in order to get a 10 to $15 million check. And the secondary layer of that is they’re sitting on a lot of bad, you know, investments, because, you know, they’re their darling startup from two years ago, you know, that had a, say $400 million valuation, you know, it’s worth 100 million today, or whatever. And there. So what you’re seeing is a lot of cost cutting a lot of efficiency driven conversation, you know, if you could, you can just see the, the copy and content writers just changed, you know, they did a 180 like, you know, it’s amazing, but, you know, the whole market now is like, you know, the first thing you hear is, you know, are they are they are you guys frugal. The whole, everything has changed on that side. So Series A, you know, has really changed because, again, there’s so much capital, they gotta write bigger checks, there’s not a lot of things to write bigger checks for. You know, I’m a big fan of, you know, I think we we all share, you know, similar founder stories where, you know, we might not use their products, or we might, but we’re really big fans of some of these people that go out make it right. And they have awesome founding stories, you know, where they self funded, you know, to get through, you know, everyone was telling me, it’s a bad idea, bad idea for years, right. And now they’re now they are four or $500 million companies growing like wildfire, their revenue scaling, and, you know, I would tell all founders, you know, make that your story, right, make your story about not only your product, but make it about, you know, your succeeding in revenue, you know, you know, follow the MailChimp stories, the ClickUp stories, you know, all those, those are just great. You know, Airbnb, etc, etc. Those are all just great fodder for for founders, you know, to really latch onto because it is possible, you just got to get through the, you got to make it to the other side, you know, get across the chasm.

Host – Bryan 39:02
And I think you segwayed it perfectly, because I actually wanted to talk about ClickUp a bit, and maybe like the whole productivity app, golden age we’re having, right, so I on the SeeSnap website, I saw this calculator, right that you have for saving time saving hours, right? So how did you come up with that idea like of that? And why do you think that maybe productivity apps, right, so one app to replace all apps? Are apps saving you time? Why do you think those sorts of apps have reached maybe the golden age of apps? Or you know what I’m saying like, how come how come they’re attracting so much attention now?

Guest – Mark 39:37
Yeah, well tell ClickUp, they can buy me. [laugh] Alright, we’ll be we’ll be ready for them in 24 months, and hats off to that group. I mean, I’m connected to you know, their CMO and a couple other people, you know, in their organization and first off, they’re at they execute at an extremely high level. So you know, hats off to that entire team, you know, that is that that is, you know that what they’re doing is, you know, exceptional. And so, you know, first and foremost, I don’t care what market you put that team in, they’d be winning, you know, they just have the right formula for all pieces. So, you know, if they did a healthcare startup next week, you know, they might have no knowledge of health care, but I would not bet against them, you know, they are, they’re really firing on all cylinders. So congratulations to them for that, that level of execution, specifically around productivity, I think what I think what the market in general, you know, and maybe COVID, kind of ushered in was this, this fatigue, right. And we’re looking for technology to take that fatigue out of our lives, we’re looking for simplification. And I think that’s true. You know, especially as, you know, newer generations get into the workforce, and they’re working 50-60 hours a week. And they’re used to having like, you know, this kind of, you know, whatever it is, right, there’s normalcy, and they’re looking for tech, and they’re looking for specifically, you know, tech that works well with them, I think what’s happening in general in just the workforce and the markets, and why ClickUp’s winning, you know, if, you know, again, this is just, you know, all my years of business and looking at it through, say, a different lens, I would say, you know, frontline managers probably have it harder than anyone right now. They’ve got employee quitting fatigue, they’ve got, you know, customers that are that are very picky fatigue, right? Like, the demands are at an all time high, like everyone wants next day delivery or same day delivery. And if they don’t get it, it’s like the world sucks, right. So so I would say it’s a combination of all those things is why productivity is and you know, one of the hot markets today.

Host – Bryan 42:05
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So Mark, so now we get into the wrap up phase, and I’ll just rapid fire a couple questions your way. So go, Wiola, who can go for it.

Host – Wiola 42:16
Are you ready for the first question?

Guest – Mark 42:20
Is this one of these things where I get to like, draw? No, I’m kidding.

Host – Bryan 42:24
Yeah, you should put your cowboy hat on. Come on. You’re from Tennessee. We expected cowboy hats, the whole getup.

Guest – Mark 42:30
Yeah, well, I wasn’t born here, but I live here.

Host – Wiola 42:36
Okay, so the first question. Don’t be surprised, please. We’ll explain later. Have you ever been a DJ?

Guest – Mark 42:44
Ah, sober – no. [laugh]

Host – Bryan 42:48
Well, it’s because, you know, we had a theme for the first like five guests we had this was Oh, yeah. Cuz our first guest was Ralph Sutton. So he’s the co-owner of Gas Digital, like a huge Podcast Network. And, you know, we kind of had just a question after the second guest. Have you been a DJ? And they were so you know, and then it just became a running theme for like the first four. And you’re like, Okay, this is getting pretty weird. Because DJs out of nowhere, like I was a DJ in the army or something like this. And, you know, we had one guests break it, but then we brought it back on. So, so yeah, so you’ve been a DJ, we’ll keep it as that. What’s your favorite cocktail?

Guest – Mark 43:30
You know, right now. I’m in love with like an Arnold Palmer, which is simply lemonade and iced tea. I don’t you know, and nothing else in it. I’m clear and focused. And so that’s my favorite drink.

Host – Wiola 43:45
Are you planning to come to Poland? You have a Polish surname!

Guest – Mark 43:52
Yes. I mean, and I have a lot of friends in Poland. So I’m, you know, I feel bad about not. You know, my grandfather immigrated from Poland. And, you know, I feel the need that, you know, I have to go right in my lifetime. It’s one of the trips I’m really looking forward to. And you know, if SeeSnaps very successful, you know, certainly we might look at, you know, you know, something, you know, an office in Europe, I don’t know where, but, um, you know.

Host – Bryan 44:24
Krakow is a great location. Yeah. So, and I think maybe we’ll end on this one. So, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Guest – Mark 44:33
Oh, there’s too many. You know, there’s just too much in my head, but I will end it. You know, I really believe that you have to stand on the shoulders of giants, you know, those that came before you? And you know, one of those for me was a mentor. His name’s Tom. But he says something that I believe it’s true and true and everything in life which is the rent on success is due every day. And and you know, it’s pretty much that it’s pretty simple. You know, you wake up every day it’s due. And, you know, if you think someone’s gonna hand it to you, or you made it, you know, very quickly, you’ll find that life’s got other plans for you. And so, you know, I really live by that motto and, you know, if you’re going to ever, you know, call yourself a leader, you know, I, you know, I would say leaders eat last. And, you know, we’ve lost that in society, you know, we put some leaders on, you know, on these pedestals and, you know, they’re not feeding their, their people. And so, you know, I think you have to, if you want to embrace leadership, it’s, it’s really kind of, you know, acting. And, you know, it’s what are you doing for the team? Is your team thriving? You know, are you going first at every problem, right, if it’s a big enough problem, you know, as a leader, I think it’s your problem, you know, and it’s your job to address it. And so that, you know, again, I just think leadership, you know, that’s my version of it. And, you know, I’d encourage more leaders to start looking at problems and solving them, you know, so that would be my advice.

Host – Wiola 46:18
That was Mr. Mark Russell Filaroski, founder and CEO at SeeSnap. Mark, thanks for joining us.

Guest – Mark 46:25
Awesome. Thank you all for having me. Really appreciate the opportunity to be here and speak with you today.

Host – Bryan 46:30
Awesome. Thanks, Mark.

Ending 46:33
Thank you for listening to ‘How We Innovate’, a podcast by Applandeo. Get your apps and web apps built today by visiting applandeo.com We’re Applandeo!