The Hive Five Podcast
5 Key Takeaways from Matt Jones
1. Momentum is everything – Seek to create it and keep it going
2. Progress not perfection – Make progress without the expectation of perfection
3. Discover where you are most irreplaceable and triple down on that value
4. Simplicity and leanness wins
5. Make sure that all of your buckets are full (Listen to the episode for Matt’s personal buckets)
In this episode of the Hive Five, we were glad to have on Matt Jones the founder of Verge Law Group. In addition to Verge Law Group, he is also an entrepreneur, a mentor to the Oklahoma City startup community, and a mentor for the Thunder Launchpad, which we talked about in Episode 2 of the Hive Five.
Matt worked in a traditional law firm out of law school and got great mentorship, but decided after a couple years to branch off and start the Verge Law Group. With Verge Law Group, Matt focuses most of his energy on startups. He represents startups, entrepreneurs, and high growth companies. Matt works with a lot of technology startups, private equity investors and investment groups, mom and pop community based businesses, creatives, advertising agencies, and most other types of professionals within the entrepreneurial community. Verge has clients all over the place, but focuses primarily in the Oklahoma City area. He talks about how most attorneys aren’t doing what Verge does and how he started by doing lots of hustling, cultivating a community, and word of mouth clients.
We also ask him about what startups and people starting small businesses should focus on with regards to legal needs and how they can make sure their bases are covered, even without the resources or finances of a major corporation.
Lastly, with all of this going in Matt’s life, he also has a family and so we discuss how he manages to be an entrepreneur, a lawyer, a mentor to startups, and also a dad. Balancing all of this can be challenging, but we talk to him about what he does to make sure he doesn’t neglect those things important to him. All in all, this is a great episode and we cover all kinds of topics.
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Thank you so much for listening today. My name is Keegan with bright and we also have Katherine Parker, marketing director bribee. Hey guys. Thanks for coming back to the hub five podcast
and today we have a special guest, Matt Jones. He is with Berge law group. He’s an entrepreneur, startup lawyer and also a mentor for the startup community in the Okc area and other and he is also heavily involved with stitch crew and the thunder launchpad. How are you matt?
Doing well guys.
Hey, thank you so much for being on. Well, let’s just get started here. So you are a lawyer. You are in a large office space with lots of other lawyers and working till midnight every night.
No, surprisingly that is incorrect.
Tell me exactly what you do then because that’s my only thought on the lawyer.
Well, you wouldn’t be incorrect about like that, but I’m a startup lawyer so I represent startups, entrepreneurs, growth companies, investors is anyone in the startup entrepreneurial ecosystem and so I am a one man shop right now, contract out a lot of litigation and patent work to some upcounsel attorneys that I work closely with, but by and large I handle mostly corporate and real estate transactions and help entrepreneurs create ideas, help them grow their company and help them transition to company if they are successful enough and have an exit.
So give us an example of just some, you know, I know that you can’t say what companies you work with, but are you looking more for the tech startups or are there certain companies that really fit your niche?
Yeah, I worked with a lot of tech startups. I usually refer to them in buckets or types of clients and so a lot of technology startups that as a huge component of my practice, another area would be, um, on the other side of the coin, private equity investors and investment groups who are looking to invest in startups as well as mom and pop, a community oriented, whether it be hospitality or a community based startups and businesses. Um, and then I, I do quite a bit of work for creatives and advertising agencies and just kind of professionals within the entrepreneurial network as well. So how are you getting all this business? Are you, are you reaching out to them? Are they reaching out to you? Uh, I have a blend that I fly around with my name on it now, the Michael Jordan of verge law group ride, right?
Yeah. That’s where my advertising is outdated. And I think you knew that, but no, I’m uh, I’ve really just kind of here in Oklahoma City at least, and I have clients everywhere, but primarily in the Oklahoma City Metro area. A really. There’s not many attorneys doing what I’m doing on the ground level. And so, um, I’ve really just cultivated a community here and through that just word of mouth and I’m just relationship building, community focused outreach and really that’s cultivated kind of a, um, uh, a community of entrepreneurs or just come to me by my orange. I’m not, I’m not really going out much anymore. I mean, early on in my law practice it was a lot of hustling. But right now it’s a fortunate to have a lot of people will knock on my door.
Is this your first venture in the scheme of law? Like whenever you first started this career, did you start with verge law group or did you do something before this? I mean, how did you, how did you end up where you are?
No, I worked out of law school at a traditional law firm for about four or five years in law and my practice solely representing entrepreneurs and startups, uh, that, that involved a few years back. So it wasn’t my first Rodeo in the legal world, but I had a few good mentors at the prior firm that kind of helped me launch this mat. Let’s be real if you’re dealing with a lot of startups. Honestly, I don’t think that a lot of lawyers would think that’s probably the sexiest way to go when you’re, when you’re looking at a doing law, and I think one of the reasons is because you’re, you’re dealing with a lot of people who sometimes don’t even know where to go, what to, how to start. They don’t even know how to maybe even get an incorporation. Do you, do you feel like that that’s the case?
Uh, yeah, a little bit. I, I think, uh, honestly, I mean if you’re starting a business, I mean you’re going to have legal needs and so it’s just an overlooked area from a professional provider standpoint just because presumably, I mean, a lot of times startups don’t have a lot of money to pay for professional services, so it’s just not, it doesn’t, at least on the outset look like a lucrative opportunity, which I think is false and misleading, but I think that that’s why you just don’t have a lot of people going after it. I mean, it’s, it’s starting to pick up steam, but honestly I think a lot of lawyers see what I’m doing and they make desire this type of lifestyle being on the ground and a more casual interactive community focused practice rather than in a tall building, isolated way, you know, for 10 hours a day in one office and interacting with people. So I think there’s this interplay of people seeing that this is a great alternative and lifestyle type business, but at the same time not knowing how the numbers, um, and how the clientele can justify. I’m just making a career. So there’s this, I think it’s kind of in an integrated area right now.
I imagine that you probably stay extremely busy working with startups and other startups or anything like us. People are probably constantly reaching out to you with questions that seem impossible, but probably for here are really simple. So, uh, I can only imagine what all you do on a day to day basis. I know that’s a loaded statement, but obviously as a startup lawyer, you’ve dealt with a lot of companies at all different levels. So what are some challenges that you see that seem to transcend all stages of business?
Yeah. Uh, and honestly this is pretty much any area. I mean this is pretty consistent and I apologize for being such a simplistic statement, but I mean really it’s, we live in a relationship oral and so it’s governing relationships. People as simple as that sounds. So whether that the legal issues in Moscow founders or an employee, employer, independent contractor, company relationship or vendor, a company relationship, managing those, a really from a one person freelancing business all the way to a fortune 500 company managing relationships with people and all that that entails and the diversity and the different issues that come up. I mean, that’s, that’s consistent. No matter, no matter how big your company is. Um, so that’s by and large and far and away the number one thing.
So what are some maturing points that you see in businesses that maybe just start with an idea and then grow to this large company you’re working with startups then I’m sure people probably stay with you as they grow. We just want to kind of know what the, what are those maturing points that you’ve seen? Yeah. And No,
no two businesses are, are alike and so it’s different across the board, but um, I think seeing some common trends on that, what are some comments and commonalities that you will see a obviously revenue and generating, generating revenue and building out product lines or if you’re a product based business, we’re scaling your service based business. Really it’s at that tipping point when you’re out of the creation phase of the business and going into that growth mode and there’s just a myriad of, of indicators, unless you’re saying maturing points that tend to pop up. I’m bringing on employees would be an obvious one. Raising capital. I mean if you’re in need of raising, whether it be debt or equity or a hybrid of the two, um, that usually indicates that you’re entering into a different chapter or stage of the business. Uh, those, those two come to mind, I think, uh, just more mature and professional, robust relationships with the clients and customers that are bringing in money for the businesses as well.
I mean, you’ll see it early on, I’m a startup’s life. It’s kind of all hands on deck. Just get something down on paper and hopefully we can make a sale to where then it transitions into, okay, well now that we’re where our product or our services being validated now that’s that kind of backtrack and think how do we structure our relationships with vendors or suppliers or clients or customers or whatever to more strategically aligned with growing our company. That. Would you consider yourself a counselor as well to founders and startup entrepreneurs? Or would you consider yourself a counselor? Only to myself a yes, a no, a hundred percent. I mean that being really, that’s the, I think the meat and the bones of what I do is advising and counseling on, on issues that just cannot be reduced to just simplistic formulas or you know, online services or whatever the case might be. And so, uh, absolutely. I mean, I think the, I mean we live in a very dynamic world with variables, you know, interacting with this every day, come in at different angles and there’s just the human element of guiding people through this myriad of legal legal responsibility and duties and so forth. Uh, the human element of that just necessitates a more of a relationship and a counseling service rather than just more an Ali card shoot from the hip and just on demand type relationship.
Bright has had the opportunity to have some counseling services, a cal, I call them my counseling sessions because I feel as if that I’m always talking about things that I don’t really know about. And then also my fears and the struggles and it’s all intertwined and, and it just kind of this big mess. And then I call Matt and I, I think, I think he’s going to fix it all. And one thing that it has been always encouraging to me. His, he always listens and also he does give it that human aspect of it. It’s, it’s very important to actually hear what we’re saying and then start working through it together. And as you said, it’s all about the relationships and when, when you said that I, I started thinking about the recent calls we’ve had and it’s always talking about people and how, how we’re going to be able to establish this relationship together.
I really just think that that’s how people should approach life in the profession. I mean, I think we live, we don’t live in a world of ideas or possessions or whatever. I mean really what’s around us and the businesses that are being built and the products that are being pushed out to help us flourish as a community and at the end of the day you boil it down and it’s just a bunch of people accumulating in their talents and resources to make it happen. So I mean we live in a, in a people world and I mean for lack of better terminology. So I appreciate you saying that the, that’s what I strive to strive to accomplish and provide a clients, friends, colleagues. Absolutely. And I’ll, I’ll appreciate a about $100 discount on charging you for it. So I guess we’re going to figure that out. Let me make a note to kind of cancel that one out right there. The is awesome.
For those people maybe looking to start a business, what things would you recommend that they examine and questions they answer before embarking on a startup journey?
Uh, definitely they need to determine what type of business they want. And I don’t mean whether it’s an llc or corporation or whatever. I mean they do need to figure that out and hopefully a good lawyer would guide them in that they need to determine whether or not this is a lifestyle business, a business or if this is going to be a high growth, a large venture because all of those entail just different paths and different approaches. And I think a lot of people that desire, for example, a lifestyle business where there’s freedom and flexibility, but yet then they pursue a path of scaling, bringing on employees and then they realize that they’re tied more that essentially become an employee in their own company, uh, because they, they just didn’t have that foresight on the front end. Um, and then conversely if you want to build a high growth startup and scale and raise money and potentially have an exit, then you probably shouldn’t have the expectation that you’re going to have a lifestyle type of a new that your lifestyle won’t reflect, you know, some of the, some of the people maybe that you’re trying to mimic out there, the have kept kinda built a lifestyle around their business.
And so I’m, I identifying what you’re looking for is by far number one and I see a lot of people having to unnecessarily pivot and kind of backtrack a little bit because they didn’t really have that foresight on the front end.
There’s no good or good or bad to either like which one’s the right way to go or the wrong way to go with. It’s really based upon what, what you want to do and also what you can handle and what, what.
Neither of them are better or worse than the other. They’re just two different approaches. I mean, if you want to, do you want to eat an apple and an orange tree in picking one? And so neither of them are wrong or either of them are bad or good, they’re just completely different.
So we’ve talked about how to start a business and definitely knowing the, the idea behind and what you’re trying to accomplish there. What would you say is, are the next steps to move on? Would it be the legal side or would you say actually test out, test out the product, test those things before you start considering
the answer? It depends. And so if there’s any, any sort of risk exposure out there, whether it be a risk that you might be infringing on something that somebody is intellectual property or that you’re violating noncompete or non solicitation or some type of agreement or whether or not you’re just in pursuing or risky venture. Like if there’s, if there’s a risk involved there, then I think the legal, uh, consulting some legal issues early on would be my recommendation just to create a foundation to where you’re not moving forward with uncertainty. But if that’s not the case, I think that I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t be pushing your product out to the market without getting a legal foundation. But, um, in terms of testing ideas and market research and uh, getting feedback and informally just trying to test the waters, I think that, um, that would be a good place to start without needing a robust legal plan or robust financial or accounting system set up. And so, um, it really depends on kind of where you’re at.
So let’s take off the legal hat for a second and just talk about you and maybe the struggles that, that as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, and you know, that this is not the only thing that you’ve invested in. We’ve invested in some other things. So let’s talk about the challenges there. What have you faced personally that, that has been a challenge for, for you specifically? Maybe even for, for your family?
A great question. I have three kids and I’m married and so to give some context to that, uh, my wife stays at home with our kids and she has an entrepreneurial bent to her as well. She stays a harder job than I ever have, but true. So to really, I think the, I don’t know if struggle is the right word, but, uh, one of the challenges at least is whenever you’re a business owner or an entrepreneur, when you’re trying to do this on your own, that you don’t, you know, you’re not, you don’t have a big organization and that has your back. I mean, in that situation, uh, your workload is, is determined a lot of times by the client themselves. And so you might have one week where you had 80 hours worth of work that you have to push out and then the next week you have 10 hours.
Um, and so it’s just managing the fluctuations and being flexible with, uh, just the uncertainties of the day. At least I would say at least early on in an entrepreneur’s life. I mean, I think now I’m starting to see it in my practice where there’s more steady rhythms that I can plan for. But um, but when you’re early on and you’re building something, it’s just the uncertainty and the uncertainty of time. Then certainly of how much work you’re going to give the uncertainty of whether or not you’re going to get paid. I mean just you have to be able to live, um, you have to be able to live in a world of a uncertainty and accepting the fact that that’s okay and that it’s not that at the end of the day, those things that you used to think were secure anyway, really probably weren’t that secure when you boil it down. Um, and so that’s been a kind of a side benefit to going out on my own and realizing that, I don’t want to say the hard way, but just to kind of through trial and error is that, um, I feel more secure now because I have a skill set where I know I can go out and sell something and make money for our family. Whereas before I was relying on to a larger organization, paying me on a biweekly basis and go home and then rinse and repeat over and over again.
I would definitely
say that the startup world is not great for people who really like their routine. It’s very non routinely, but I think that to succeed as a business owner entrepreneur, that you have to take some initiative and building strategic routines and habits that are going to fit this particular lifestyle on this particular path. Otherwise I think you’re going to get swallowed up by the world, but you’re right, it’s not. If that’s a highly valued thing, then you’re going to have to wrestle through that and yeah. Well and I think that’s a good point that you make because routine is important to any day for anybody but you know, you just kind of have to work on the fly when it comes to being part of a startup. So that’s been an interesting. It’s been an interesting thing to learn for sure. And what is a mistake that you have learned as far as entrepreneurship or maybe even in your practice and that was such an important lesson that you haven’t forgot or want to share with others so that they wouldn’t make that same mistake.
Yeah. Early on. Kind of specific goals to reach and then I quickly learned there’s little I can do to influence the outcome. The end product of what my, at that time, my goal is to be. And so, um, I think the mistake I made was making two new specific goals where I couldn’t control the outcome and now I’ve kind of shifted that to I know the processes and the habits and going back to routines that if I do those, that there’s a high correlation to success and so the one thing I can control is I’m doing the plan in the process and the routine and the habits that I know have led to my success and continually doing those, knowing that at the end of the day there’s a high likelihood that that’s going to turn out successful is the ultimate goal. But knowing that I control the outcome of whether or not I achieved x, Y, Z, which is part of the process as opposed to whether or not I can achieve a certain financial goal or a certain number of clients or a certain project goal or whatever the case might be. That’s just out of my control. So, um, I don’t, I don’t think that’s universally true for everyone. I wouldn’t say that that, that, that advice is for everyone, but I think that a lot of people probably could and kind of reevaluate whether or not they’re there are setting their goals on things they can’t control or whether or not they’re their goals are more tied to processes that they can control and that likely lead to good outcomes.
Matt, all of your feedback has been really enlightening and I know that you’ve prepared five takeaways for everybody who’s listening today. If you will share your five takeaways from the business world, the personal world, whatever it is that you’ve got,
now’s your time and this is something and I talked about it, so I’ll just start it out. Number one is momentum is everything. Once the ball gets rolling, then good things happen. If you can keep the ball rolling, but if the. If the ball stops and then it is extremely difficult to get back up and get that thing rolling again, so when you have momentum will seek to create momentum and then when you have it, do everything you can to preserve it and keep it going. Number two would be progress. Not Perfection, so always just be striving to whatever your venture is to just be striving for progress without the expectation of perfection. Perfection is going to the goal and the pursuit of perfection is going to stifle progress and you just want, you won’t be where you want to be if you’re being held back because you don’t think whatever you’re doing is a perfect outcome.
A number three I think would be a in this, I think this applies more towards a individual entrepreneurs or individual founders rather than companies as a whole, um, discover where you were most irreplaceable and then triple down on that. So whether it’s what skill set or what do you have to offer to the company or to the community at large that frankly, if you were to leave and not offer that anymore, that there’d be a huge, a huge void left because of that. Um, and if you can find that, that magic mix or that sauce, the, that makes you irreplaceable, then success, successful, follow. I mean it’s just, it’s just simple economics and market forces. And so then number four would be, I just really think simplicity and leanness winds, uh, we, we tend to overcomplicate things and build complicated systems. But at the end of the day, uh, some of the most successful businesses that I’ve encountered are built on almost embarrassingly simple and it was a simple and lincoln infrastructure.
And so don’t overcomplicate it and start and start simple because if you build something complicated, it takes a lot more effort to undo that rather than if you build something simple, I need to add onto it a lot easier to do. Um, and then I think number five is more, but just from a personal standpoint, it’s just make sure that all your buckets are full. So for me it’s a, a vitality connection and contribution are the three buckets that I daily evaluate to make sure that those are on a personal level full. Because I know that I’m professionally in every, in every aspect of my life. It’ll, it’ll pour over and have it have an effect. And so I’m making sure with vitality that my emotional health, physical and spiritual state of being is just in alignment where I want it to be, um, in terms of connection and just making sure that I’m feeling connected to those around me feeling a meaningful part of our community, that I’m just being engaged with people around me. And then, uh, with contribution, just making sure that I’m using my skills and my time and resources to make a difference in the world. So that’s all I got for Ya.
Well, it is much appreciated and we really appreciate you being on today. We want to remind everyone of how to get in touch with you. If they do have any questions, concerns, grievances, whatever they need to address with you, how do they do that?
Yeah, I think it wouldn’t be the best email is mjones@VergeLaw.com. That’s a da as I’m Victoria e r g e l a w.com.
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Check out Verge Law Group: https://www.vergelaw.com/
Matt’s Contact Info: https://www.vergelaw.com/contact/