Lisa: Welcome to the Atlanta Startup Podcast. I’m Lisa Calhoun, General Partner at Valor Ventures. I have two Atlanta founder superstars with us on the program today. Welcome Rob Frohwein and Kathryn Petralia of Kabbage and Drum. I’m so glad you’re here.
Kathryn: Thanks for having us.
Rob: We’re excited. It’s nice to do something other than potentially just talk about the Coronavirus. Although, I guess that that’ll be part of this conversation.
Lisa: Oh, we’re gonna get into it. Let’s start right there. One of one of the exciting things that just happened for some of our portfolio is some of them got these payroll loans, and I know a few of them even went through Kabbage. Kabbage has really been in the nexus of the situation around the payroll loans. How has that been for you?
Rob: You want to go first? Me? Alright. It’s been absolutely exhausting. It’s probably the best way to do it.
Kabbage has been an online small business lender for 10 years, and, obviously, our capital or typical capital is not appropriate for pandemics. Nobody has built a system for pandemics. When we saw the opportunity for the paycheck protection program loans, we knew that a lot of our existing customers and others would need access to this and we thought we could do a great job automating that. That turned into the last five or six weeks of — and I don’t usually like to talk about hours because I think a lot of people say “I’m working 80 hours a week or 90 hours a week” and usually if you really count their hours, it’s like 43.
In this case, people are working literally around the clock: our technical teams, our data science teams, marketing groups. Everybody has been working 120 hours a week, if not more, trying to make this a reality for small businesses.
We’ve been thrown tons of punches. The program wasn’t open to FinTech lenders like Kabbage initially, so we built solutions in conjunction with a couple of banks out there so that we could offer these loans. We had to go and make sure that we could access capital to be able to provide these loans because it’s a huge amount of capital. And not typical capital. We had to overcome tons of technical challenges, so many things. Without a doubt, it’s I think the thing — Kathryn would agree — the thing that we’ve been most proud of that we’ve accomplished over the last 10 years. It’s really funny to say that. We never thought we would say something like that. It has also been the absolutely, by a longshot, most difficult thing we’ve done. Kathryn, you might have even at a couple expletives to share in this in this process . . .
Kathryn: There are a lot of expletives. What we realized was that every day was Monday, but we were excited. We didn’t get to participate in the first tranche as much as we would have liked. We just weren’t ready for it. We had like a day in order to participate in that. Still, we were super excited because even only being in the system for less than 24 hours, we made almost as many PPP loans as Citibank did in the first tranche.
Kathryn: It’s because we’re serving smaller businesses, including sole props, including independent contractors. The banks have now said “We’re not taking any more applications” because they can’t deal with sole props and contractors. It’s exciting to be able to help all those businesses who, apparently, banks don’t think are businesses, but they really are.
Lisa: Wow. Have you seen any differences, kind of in aggregate, between what a bank would see and what comes in through the Kabbage program and Kabbage clients?
Rob: One thing is we didn’t just limit it to existing Kabbage customers, we’ve generated hundreds of thousands of customers over time. We’re one of the few sources where folks — if they didn’t have a truly established banking relationship with a bank — they could feel free to come to us and we would take them through the process. Few banks are equipped to handle businesses like that because they have typically take them through a very manual Know Your Business and Know Your Customer, called KYB KYC, process.
We actually have automated all of that. It made it really easy. What we learned this past weekend, if you look at for the most recent tranches of PPP loans by number, we were #4 in the country in terms of providers of PPP loans behind Wells, Chase, and Bank of America. We’re super proud of that fact that we’re able to stand up. By the way, we’re not stopping. We think the money will run out in the next few days, and we plan on serving lots more businesses between now and then.
Lisa: That is great to hear.
I’m going to turn the lens a little bit to the personal side, because with that kind of accomplishment that you guys have gone through, I’m sure there’s been a lot of stress testing of your team and your leadership. I would think a lot of the founders who are listening right now are wondering how you all have led through this pressurized situation. What have you been relying on? What are some of the things that have come out for you as leaders?
Rob: I’m going to talk about you, Kathryn, first so you have to shut up for a minute. Kathryn — I’ve shared this with her — I’ve been so incredibly impressed with the leadership. Not that she doesn’t do this normally, but it’s at times of stress that you really know who can step up and who can’t. I’ll give you a couple of really specific examples.
One is she has personally reviewed must be 1000 different customer files like to get them through the chute. Talk about leading by example, she has dove into the system, solved problems for tons of customers, and effectively then, in addition to your normal responsibilities, has really handled it from a customer service.
The other thing is she said three weeks ago, she said, “You know what, we need to get all the key leaders on the phone a couple of times a day to sort of troubleshoot what’s going on out there.” So we created this SBA leadership meeting that happens a couple of times a day. At times, it has happened three times a day during periods of time to get everybody together, problem solving together, helping one another. I think that has been one of the things that really driven us to where we are now through this process.
Kathryn: That’s very nice of you to say, but everyone is in it 24/7. I’ve been flabbergasted by the commitment that everybody else on the team has made — two engineers who are working around the clock to people whose day job is marketing but they are reviewing customer applications like nobody’s business — to the fact that, and I’m so proud of this, that we actually have now automated the process such that a customer can come in, upload their documents, and be approved by the SBA within an hour. It’s just amazing that we’ve taken a process that has always been manual, always been cumbersome, and we figured out how we build our own OCR to classify the documents and to suck up the data and to make these calculations for PPP loans. It’s just incredible. There’s lots of things going on. A lot of things break when you move that fast for sure, but everybody is committed to getting to the other side, even when it’s been weeks and weeks and weeks and it feels like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it might be a train.
Rob: It probably has been a train half the time.
Rob: I literally can’t describe how hard.
Lisa: How has the team been responding to this? Are most of the team working remote? Did they work remote through this situation?
Kathryn: Yep, remote the whole time. Most people are actually doing pretty great with it. We use Cisco WebEx. This is kind of silly, but I had this meeting with the Cisco people to talk about how things were going and how everything was performing. I said “Yeah, but you know what would be really awesome? Zoom has this thing where you can change your background, and it’s really fun.” I was like, “Can you guys get that because I think people would really enjoy the video conference calls a lot more if we could do that.” They were like, “What the hell is wrong with you lady? That’s what you think is important.” I was like, “I think it’s really important we should do that.”
Rob: Yeah, like so that people don’t have to see their dull backgrounds like you see in mine. I’m in like a six by seven closet, basically I’ve been working out of for the last forever. It has been fun actually seeing other people’s homes and actually seeing their kids. It’s one of these things where this whole work-life balance is completely shot to hell, so you have kids on the video, dogs barking, people sitting at their dinner table talking. We are now starting to be able to review people’s own hair cuttings of their own hair. That’s been quite hysterical. No knock on wall at all. That’s why my hair looks like it does right now because I have not ventured in that territory yet.
Lisa: Yeah, this is my personal clip as well. I’ll tell you what, it’s interesting, I agree, seeing the real life behind the real people. We did our quarterly investor meeting actually and most people were speaking from their homes, as well as our founders, as well as myself, with this lovely background you see here: my spare bedroom. It’s kind of nice bringing all the worlds together a bit. I know there’s a new level of awareness of boundaries, too.
Oh, Kathryn just pulled up a really excellent background. Is that the leadership team? Tell us more about backgrounds you enjoy.
Rob: You might not want to put them all up yet . . .
Lisa: I would love to talk a little bit about how you’re coaching your team to lead in such a no-boundaries, 120 hour weeks. What are some of the things that you’ve learned through these last six weeks?
Kathryn: I can go first because I think about, you know, we have some teams where there are a few amazing strong leaders we tend to rely on those folks for everything, and including those folks who rely on a couple of people for everything. We have a lot of other folks who are here who could do great work, and so sort of training yourself not to always go to the same people to get what you need and training them to do the same thing. That’s really hard to do. There are a lot of people who are here who care very deeply, and they just really want to get it done. They don’t always take the time to say, “What if I shared this with four other people? We could maybe get it done faster. Maybe I would be less of a pinch point. Maybe I could sleep for three hours tonight instead of no hours tonight.” I think pushing people in that direction has been hard, especially in a remote environment.
Lisa: That is fascinating. I can definitely see that. Anything to add to that, Rob?
Rob: The other thing we’ve tried to do is realize that this is super stressful. We’ve tried to send food, gift certificates for food and stuff like that, or coupons to Doordash to people so that they can distribute among their teams and they can help people sort of get through this period. We just try to keep the folks front of mind. It’s been really hard, though. It’s been really hard. These are extreme hours. We have had a couple of people over time, not in the executive team, but a couple people resigned. We’ve had to go back and we also said we have our town hall every week. Somebody said, “I’m working 100 hours a week and I can’t do this anymore. I’m at the point of mental and physical breakdown.” We said, “Holy crap, stop working.” That’s not what we’re trying to achieve. We definitely need your time, but stop. But just to put it in perspective, it’s not just like the people are working on these applications, although this is the kind of concept. What a typical day Kabbage pre — I call it like BCV, “Before Coronavirus” — a big day might be 5000 or 6000 calls and into customer service center something like that, maybe 7000. Last Friday, we logged over 500,000 calls in one day. 500,000 calls in a single day.
Lisa: Did you have to stand up your call center for that? That’s an incredible amount.
Rob: We can’t even come close to answering them all. There’s no way we could actually scale — you can’t cover that many calls. We’ve had a lot of challenges. We’re in a “let’s try our best.” We’ve definitely scaled it up, but we can’t scale it up infinitely overnight. It’s just not something we can do. We’ve had a lot of people, especially in the program where before we served a lot of these people, crying on the phone. People are at their wit’s end.
This has been an emotionally traumatic experience for our customers, for all small businesses out there. In our customer service team, we hire people who wear that stuff on their sleeves. We hire people who care. So it’s been incredibly challenging. We’re not trying to sit on this podcast and say we’ve nailed it or that we’ve been perfect at anything. We have screwed up so much. We are well below what we would like to be able to do, but we’re absolutely trying our best.
Lisa: Certainly an unprecedented situation. I think the entire world has been caught flat footed in this one, so you’re not alone there. I would love to think that maybe the world is learning some lessons and resiliency in our infrastructure and just the way we look at how we operate. Are there any takeaways, and it’s early days, but are there any takeaways for how you and Kathryn will look at building in the future knowing that there can be these one off, insane, unpredictable events?
Rob: I’ll start. Look, I’m a big believer that you live out of either desire or fear. This is, I hope, a once in a lifetime. You can’t build a risk model, you can’t build a business, worrying about the next pandemic that’s going to come down. I think you have to take into account the impact this has had and how it’s going to reshape the world, and I think you can be thoughtful in terms of how you deliver your solution out there in light of what’s happened. But you can’t build your business like, “Hey, there’s going to be another pandemic.” This hasn’t happened for 100 years. Hopefully, we got another hundred years before, or never, before something like this happens again.
Kathryn: I think you can also try to find the silver linings. I’m a silver lining kind of person. From my perspective, there are a couple of things. We started this website, called helpsmallbusinesses.com. Rob had the idea on like a Friday to create a website where customers can go and buy gift certificates to their favorite restaurants to put some money in their pockets to help them get through. We built it over a weekend. That was sort of the start of the long nights, long days. It was before we really knew how PPP would go, and then we could participate in it. Sort of other than delivering a lot of money to small businesses, and through this process through helpsmallbusiness.com, it turns out we’ve acquired a bunch of payments customers who want to use Kabbage to take credit card payments. If you think about that, we’re going to be way ahead of our goal for the end of the year for that product just because of this one thing that we did, which is exciting. We had to get them to use, of course, that’s a different issue. Also just the hundreds of thousands of customers of small businesses who have come to Kabbage to get their PPP loan, only a few thousand of them were actually Kabbage customers before that. We’ve been able to meet all of these new businesses who didn’t know about us before, and it gives us an opportunity to build a relationship with them that we may not have had before because maybe they would never have heard about us. It’s exciting to be able to establish new friendships with new companies and customers.
Lisa: Yeah, that is quite a silver lining. I think a lot of people are learning new ways of working, too. On your team, there may be some takeaways, maybe there won’t be, but there could possibly be takeaways.
You are both so passionate about helping small business. I feel like that is a deep root in both of you. One of the branches of that is Kabbage and helpingsmallbusiness.com, and another one is Drum, one of your latest startups. I’m really excited about the potential for Drum. Do you think you could share a little bit more about what you’re working on and how you envision it?
Rob: Yeah, so well, thanks for that. Thank you for being an investor in it as well. We appreciate that as well. So, Drum is really conceived to basically help lots of businesses who are caught between what are often the awful worlds of traditional advertising and digital advertising and who often can’t stand up a salesforce to basically go out and promote their products and services like a large business may be able to do. The idea behind Drum, initially, and I’ll tell you how it has evolved over time, the idea behind Drum was really to leverage the gig economy to allow a small business to stand up a salesforce faster and easier than it can launch a Google Ads campaign. It can leverage the gig economy to help sell and promote its products and services.
It was, we thought, a pretty good idea at the time, and now we end up in this pandemic where you have two difficult situations happening at the same time. One is lots of small businesses that are in a lot of pain right now and are really looking to generate sales. Then you have lots of existing, or at least preexisting, gig workers who are finding that if they worked in lots of industries, they don’t have a steady stream of income right now playing it from gig. Then you also have 26 million people who have become unemployed suddenly in the last five or six weeks. You have folks who are really looking to earn extra money. It really already worked in the way the economy was happening before that there’s an extra impact that’s coming from both of those areas. We think we can help. There’s been this remarkable inbound interest for Drum and what it can do — the number of inbounds is shocking and and in a way awesome, in a way sad, because it’s driven by a lot of fear and concern out there in the public.
We also realize that there were a lot of people out there, and Lisa you know a little bit about this, but you’re about to get an investor update later today. We also built another product that we’re launching to coincide with Drum, and it’s all under the same company. It’s under Drum technologies. Maybe we should rename it, but the company is called Scout. What Scout is, think of it in a way that most businesses go out and they market via, for example, SEO and SEM. They market search engine marketing, digital keyword searches, and then they also leverage search engine optimization (SEO), which is a form of unpaid marketing. What we’ve done with Drum and Scout has really created the paid and the unpaid version of digital marketing.
The paid version is Drum where you’re leveraging and actually paying a salesforce to go out and sell your products and services. Drum is really a product that takes advantage of the number one way that referrals and recommendations have happened over the millennia, which is one-to-one personal interactions I’ve recommended. “I recommend Kabbage, not because I’m looking to make money, just because I know you need it.” It takes advantage of that recommendation and makes it super personal.
Basically, Scout is an application that allows you to save and collect all of your favorite things that you’ve done in places you’ve seen in products and services you’ve leveraged over time into one neat place, and for you to be able to easily share that with other people who may be interested. We’ve all been part of these networks where somebody says “I need a recommendation for an electrician” or “What’s the best Thai food in San Francisco?” or “Is there a great place to see? I’m visiting. I know not a lot of travel is happening right now, but I’m visiting Austin, Texas. Is there anything to do while I’m there?” You usually send that out to your network and you kind of piecemeal collect this stuff. This allows that one-on-one interaction to really be assembled in one place and for you to be able to amplify that out to your networks.
It basically takes on companies like Yelp and TripAdvisor who have come along and built these “wisdom of the masses” sites that work in some respect where you get millions of people to do reviews and millions of people to go, but they’re inherently untrustworthy. They’re often irrelevant to you personally, and there’s just lots of other challenges. About 40% of all reviews online are fake. I’ll pause there. Kathryn is better at sharing ideas in a more concise fashion, but she already knows how I work, so there you go.
Lisa: Kathryn, who is the paying customer for Drum and Scout the way you see it today?
Kathryn: Well, for Scout, the paying customer is the businesses that are interested in understanding more about how their products are being shared. Who is the real user? What is their actual NPS? That’s really measurable because you know that there’s somebody who’s a customer of theirs who’s also sharing that product. There’s a ton of value in that. That’s the paying customer.
Everybody else just gets this amazing benefit. The number of times that I want to share something with someone, I’m like, “Oh, man. If only I had an easy way to remember this for later.” Rob and I do this with television shows all the time where we can’t keep track of the things that we want to share with each other that we’re watching or with other people. It’s really neat to have that tool. From Drum’s perspective, the paying customers ultimately are the businesses who are interested in maybe restarting after a pandemic, who are interested in getting more traffic into their store, and it’s also brands who are interested in pushing more product through the funnel in a more personalized one-to-one experience. That used to be the way things were sold all the time 100 years ago, but now everything’s digital. Everything is impersonal.
Lisa: There’s definitely no marketing platform for the gig economy. Even when you look at what Google and Facebook have done very successfully, it’s really just a digital reboot of the print economy. It’s “place an ad and get views” and there’s really not a whole lot of innovation there. Speaking for me, I’m not putting words in your mouth, but that’s how I feel about it. I think that what you’re trying to do with the social aspects and the gig native aspects of Drum and Scout are going to be fascinating. I can’t wait to use it. I really enjoyed using the Drum beta last fall and can’t wait to see the newest release.
Rob: Yeah, so we’re excited about that. Scout is actually going to be in the Apple Store in about a week, but we’re doing that more for kind of a show. Basically, in about three and a half weeks, the full featured platform comes out. The initial is just sort of the basic plumbing of it, but we’re going to have some really, really, really cool features and functions that allow you to quickly share the best of everything with other people. Clip a little video onto it explaining a little five second shout out as to why it’s great. It’s going to allow you to collect basically everything. If you basically have a request for something and send it out to Facebook, you send it via group message, you send it via other methods, all the responses will be collected in one spot where you can quickly go through and you can get rid of the ones you’re not interested in and you can and you can keep the ones you are. You can quickly respond and say, “Hey, thank you. Thumbs up to the people who’ve done it.” You can leave a video back for them after you’ve done it to let them know that you tried this thing out and it’s fantastic. Basically, it’s going to give life to that one-on-one personal interaction, which has really just been a very, very, very simple experience in the past, very complex but very boring existence in the past.
Lisa: If I have experienced that I love King of Fox down the street, which is something I really love, I can use Scout and post that and share that out whenever someone’s like, “Hey, what’s a fun thing to go walk down the beltline and do?” I’m like, “Hey, stop here.” That kind of thing?
Rob: Yeah, so you might say, “Here are the 10 things that you’d love in the BeltLine area.” King of Pops is one, maybe stopping by PCM is another, maybe I don’t know, maybe there’s eight different things. Somebody might say, “Hey, I’m looking for something fun to do this weekend.” You can literally share that deck, which has eight cards, one is King of Pops, one is PCM, whatever it may be, or you can quickly collect that share it with them. They’ll now have it within their Scout app. They’ll be able to check those things out, get rid of the four that they don’t like, add the five that they do, and now that suddenly becomes the thing that they really like to do in the area. Then, by the way, they might rearrange that collectio. They might have that collection, but they might take everything that’s food related then put it into their Atlanta food deck as well and then we’re able to share that when a friend comes to town, right? It’s this system that allows you to kind of sort and shift and organize things exactly how you want to do it for whatever purpose. One particular thing, you might fall into four different categories so four different decks, it might only exist in one and you might not like it, so you might blow it out of all of them. You might get rid of that out of all of them. It basically creates this incredible daisy chain of sharing that happens that takes, again, that one-to-one personal interaction and it makes it scalable. That’s the one challenge that you’ve never been able to do is “How do I take my recommendation to you, Lisa, and make something that’s scalable well beyond you and I having that experience?” We think that’s an absolute great opportunity that adds a lot of value. We think it’s a goldmine down the road. It’s really a living breathing NPS for businesses because the NPS question is “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product or service to somebody else?” Now you don’t have to be theoretical about it. Yeah, you’re like “I did it.” There’s your NPS.
Kathryn: Companies spend a ton of money measuring NPS right now, and they didn’t do a very good job of it because the only way they can measure it is through a survey to their customers says, “How likely are you to recommend it?” The customer, if they just got the item, is like, “Yeah, I’m super likely.” But then two weeks later, when they’re tired of it or it breaks or whatever, then that all breaks down over time. This longevity of information and sharing is super valuable.
Lisa: App Store, download Scout. Put in your favorite things because you’ll be helping them a lot. Start sharing. Awesome.
Rob: Right, and just put everything in there. I have to tell you, Dana, my wife, and I, we watch a million TV shows and I never remember “We watched the show eight months ago. Is today the new season? I can’t remember the name of the show.” I know that sounds terrible, and some people watch non stop TV, we do watch a fair amount late at night. But I would like to have all these things collected in one place. Then I would like to have an easy way for me to keep clear. By the way, in the future, there’ll be opportunities for those shows to announce when they’re going to be coming back on the air so you don’t run into that lapse of memory that I have with most of the things that we watch. Just one example.
Lisa: Looking forward to your list drop. I want to see Kathryn’s wine bars, too. Looking forward to all the goodies.
Rob: We’re going to have to wait until we have more bandwidth for that. That is probably not going to be able to fit through current WiFi standards.
Lisa: People aren’t meeting and they’re closed for the foreseeable future.
I want to ask a little bit about Atlanta. Both of you are incredibly familiar with the Atlanta startup ecosystem, some could say that you put the mark on it when Kabbage became a unicorn and that really brought a lot of attention to Atlanta. What are some of the things that you feel Atlanta is doing really well around startups and maybe one or two things that you think we could do a lot better?
Kathryn: I’d be happy to start with what I think we’re doing well. I think Atlanta does a great job with networking. There are a ton of organizations that support entrepreneurs. One that I’ve really always enjoyed is TiE Atlanta — it’s a really well developed extensive network. They have great events and a lot of people participate. I just feel like they do it very, very well, I think. Then we have spaces like The Lola for women entrepreneurs. I think there are a lot of really neat ecosystems and networks for Atlanta entrepreneurs. I love that. I think it’s my favorite thing about Atlanta.
Rob: I truly echo what Kathryn says. I think when we started the company, there wasn’t the Atlanta Tech Village, there weren’t a lot of the places that really help to foster innovation. That’s completely changed over the last 10 or 12 years, and I think it’s given rise and start to a lot of businesses. It’s a very entrepreneurial market, I think. Not just everybody points to Georgia Tech, but there’s just so many — that’s a great point of creativity and the community, but there are just so many really amazing entrepreneurs in this community. That’s been great.
I think the thing that — it’s more attitudinally — but I think there’s a couple things that could be a little bit different. One is we have to stop trying to compare ourselves to Silicon Valley. I think everybody’s like “Are we going to be the next Silicon Valley?” By the way, every city that’s not Silicon Valley says that same thing. You can’t aim to be somebody, someone specific. You got to aim for something different. I think we need to not worry about that. We’ve always said that we wish there were more capital opportunities in and around Atlanta. I think it’s gotten tremendously better. But there’s still kind of an old guard in Atlanta that I get a little tired of — people who have been around for 25 years and they’re the stalwarts of the industry. I don’t think any of that worked. I think we need fresh capital, fresh ideas. We need entrepreneurs investing in the community, effectively giving opportunities to the people working in their companies to be entrepreneurs. I think what’s incredible is Tom Noonan has been fantastic. He’s been an investor in both Kabbage and Drum. He’s a guy that he and Chris created Internet Security Systems, and the thing that I am always and will forever be impressed by is the number of security software startups that spawned out of ISS. To me, that is an incredible legacy for a business. I kind of wish that were the case of Atlanta. We’ve had a couple of people go ahead and do that for Kabbage in Atlanta, but I really think I would love to see more of that.
Lisa: Awesome commentary. Kathryn, was there anything you wanted to also share around that?
Kathryn: Capital is always a struggle. I think it’s amazing that there are firms that are starting, like Valor, that are here, that are serving this community. I think we’ll see more of that. I think that this whole pandemic may change the face of geographical investing, geographically based investing, because maybe all the board meetings are going to be virtual now. Maybe the folks in Silicon Valley won’t have to get on a plane to go to a board meeting anymore because there’s just going to be the norm to do it via Zoom or WebEx. I think we may see the entire complexion of investing change after this.
Lisa: That would be a fascinating outcome. I know that we were already pretty pro-digital, but I think that’s also just a little bit generational with the generation of capital that Valor is. Now seeing that all of our pitches and everything are on Zoom, it’s interesting. There’s a big conversation in the VC community about, is it the same or not?
I actually think it’s better because if I speak with a founder in their home, with their family, with their kids at their kitchen table, on their walk with their dog, and with their team, I feel like I really saw that person way better than if I came to meet them at their co-working space. Their co-working space is the very definition of vanilla. Then you see people’s real lives. I think that there are actually even better ways to approach diligence and get your arms around a founder and the opportunity that are unlocked by a freedom from geography. So I’m with you, Kathryn. I’m excited about that. And I think a lot of investors will be as well. But not all. Not all. There’s this surprising percentage that I speak to that are like “You absolutely must do the boardroom diligence meeting thing.” I don’t know that’s true. Anyway, we’ll see. Time will tell.
Kathryn: They could have a lower carbon footprint, which is certainly on the forefront of a lot of folks minds.
I know that you guys have an incredibly busy schedule to get back to, so I’m going to say just one more real question. Who should founders in the Southeast be watching, be looking at? People that you would recommend that you know in our ecosystem that are doing interesting things and you feel like “Ah, take a note there.” Aside. of course, from you two and I know that they’re going to be following you closely.
Kathryn: I’ll go first. I’ve really enjoyed my time that I spent with Techstars. I’ve been a mentor for two different programs there, and I really, really, really enjoyed it. The second time I did it, I wound up becoming close with a company called PadSplit, which leads me to the second group or person that would have folks meet. Atticus LeBlanc is just a wonderful guy. Super bright, really passionate about the community, really engaged, doing great things, doing well by doing good. I think that it’s really nice to meet somebody who’s passionate about and cares about social impact.
The last person — and I would have said this if you hadn’t asked me this — but I would say Lisa Calhoun. You are the person to whom I send people today, because I think it’s important that they get a chance to talk to you and give them a different view on what it’s like to be doing this in Atlanta.
Lisa: Kathryn, I’m just blushing.
Rob: No, it’s true. By the way, we’ve been so impressed since you invested in Drum by the content, by the emails, you support the ideas, everything you’ve sent me. You don’t even know the half of it. We’ll send something out, and we have lots of great investors and board members and everything we’ve done, but you come back with thorough, interesting, useful information. You can actually see who actually takes time to do work on it. It’s super, super helpful.
In fact, you brought up the idea of videos in connection with the new iteration we’re building which has become Scout, and that has actually become something that we’re incorporating into the core of the product. Well, one is we can share video when you’re making a recommendation or just when you find something so somebody understands the context around that recommendation. Two, we’re creating a feature called Shout. What is Shout is we feel like the recommendations are made in two ways: they’re either passive when somebody asks you and you respond to them or you have such an incredible experience with something that you want to shout it out. You’re not going to shout it out to the masses, right? This is within your network for people for you to basically say “I just had a great experience with XYZ” and you clip a little five-second video to it. That whole genesis thanks to you. It really is, so thank you for that.
Lisa: You are so welcome. You two are an absolute joy, a pleasure, and an honor to work with. I am thrilled in Drum and for your time this morning. Completely blushing. Thank you for those kind words. Thank you for making time for this program. I know listeners are going to love getting a sense of both of you and are going to enjoy hearing from you again and again as this journey continues. Thank you so much.
Rob: Stay healthy and stay safe. Take care.
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