The Hive Five Podcast
5 Key Takeaways from Ken Barton
1. Be Tenacious
2. Make relationships early
3. Aggregate Evangelists
4. Build Growth Loops
5. Be Honest With Yourself
Today on the Hive Five podcast, we are excited be the debut podcast appearance of Ken Barton, the founder and CEO of a company called MinnoTank. Ken is a busy BEE and has had a diverse amount of experience all over the world. He was born in Orlando, Florida to entrepreneur parents, and started his first business at fifteen years old. Through college, he was given an opportunity to travel to China and study business there. Falling in love with the culture and community, he has two degrees in Mandarin Chinese, but after traveling throughout southeast Asia decided to move to Berlin, Germany for some culture shock.
While in Germany, Ken started and sold a successful tech company. It was during this time that he came up with the idea that would become MinnoTank. However, he didn’t have a great grasp or understanding of finance, so he moved back to the US and went to work for Merrill Lynch, where he remedied this problem.
MinnoTank launched in November 2017 and is a platform to connect tech startups and investors. Through his experience as both an entrepreneur and in corporate finance, he knew that there was a gap between startups looking for funding, and investors looking for startups they believe in. MinnoTank aims to shorten this gap by enabling founders to have a platform to pitch their company through video and have interested investors come to them. This allows the founder to reach the right people and the same for investors. To date, MinnoTank has helped almost 40 companies raise over $2 million through their platform and there is a waitlist with hundreds of companies waiting to pitch. We are so glad that we had the opportunity to talk with Ken and we hope that you enjoy this episode!
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Hey guys, thanks for listening today. My name is Katie with bright B and this is catherine with bright and today we’re excited to have on the high five podcast, Ken Barton, the founder and CEO of Minnow tank, and then taking the platform to connect tech startups and investors through an online pitch.
Currently over $2,000,000 has been raised from companies that have pitched on minnow tank. Ken has a very background both in investing, building startups, and happens to speak fluent Chinese. I’m really interested to hear about that. They’re minnow tank. He has a special focus on helping the oftentimes overlooked in minority founders of the startup world. Thanks for being on today, Ken. Hey, thanks guys. We’ll give us a brief explanation of what minnow tank is and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Okay. Going to Catherine. Thank you very much for having me. This is minnow tanks, very first podcast interview. So I’m excited about that. So talk to me a little bit about what minnow tank is. So this kind of comes back to the story of being a founder today and being a technology founder in 2018 era is I think a lot of us feel the pain of trying to go out and pitch our company to investors. Many of us don’t live in silicon valley and even if we do, our network is kind of lacking and so it’s always hard to know when you’re pitching into one room or am I going to be pitching to the right audience or the right people going to hear my pitch and then it this pump. Is there anything that would come out of this? I had that problem many times in my life where I was living in Berlin, Germany or I was living in China when I was pitching different products or things I was working on and I was worried that people weren’t going to hear my pitch.
I’d say, you know, people just can’t hear it if they just heard my pitch of the right person heard it, I’d have so much more success. And I always thought that was a reach issue. Right? The reach of your pitch. So the problem that minnow tank is solving is that reach issue minnow tank as a platform to connect tech startups and investors. We are the conduit, the ability for investors all over the USA and the world to hear your pitch better and we do that through video. So to answer your questions specifically, we’re trying to accomplish is enabling tech founders specifically and in the future all startup founders to we’ll have a platform to pitch out their company and having investors come to them. So find your audience and find your evangelists out there who believe in what you’re doing and want to help join you on your voyage forward.
That’s awesome. Can you tell us a little bit of background about you? You mentioned, you know, you’re not in Silicon Valley, where are you?
Yeah, great question Catherine. So right now I live in Chicago, Illinois.
Very cool. So as I’m sure our audience can tell just through the intro, you’re a pretty busy person with a lot of different experience. Give us your personal story and how you’ve come to the place that you’re currently at with minnow tank.
So Catherine, I would agree. I’m pretty much a busy bee. Alright, so are we going to do literally you just stung me with that one. I want to get as many people as possible in my explanation about myself. That is awesome. It’s actually funny you say busy because it’s, you know, as a busy bee, that’s one of my least favorite words. I think we actually focused on things that are important to us, but yes, I do have a diverse amount of experience all over the world. Let me give you the quick play by play of who Ken Barton is. So I was born in Orlando, Florida, to, to um, entrepreneurs, theresa and Nick Barton. Um, they’ve led my life in the fact that they have, neither of them have college. I had been to college, so I’m first generation college and both of them have run businesses and employ people throughout their life.
So that’s always been an exciting concept when you, as being an entrepreneur and going through entrepreneurship. I started my first business when I was 15 and it wasn’t a, uh, you know, I didn’t start the lemonade stand. Uh, I started a magazine to take on franchises, so I specialized in going around and speaking to locally owned businesses in the Orlando area to feature them in a magazine to help other people understand where there were non franchised businesses. So I’ve always had intent behind what I’m doing. I had to get a Florida. So when coal was, how do you get out of the parents have never been to college. And so I didn’t really have a path forward in that direction. So luckily I went to a community college and I got the opportunity to study mandarin and go on a trip to China. Um, when I was in a business class they were looking for, for envoys are people to represent their school when visiting China went to China, absolutely fell in love with it.
You know, every book I’ve ever read about entrepreneurship and future has told me to follow innovation. Um, and when you’re driving through China on a trip from 10 gen to Beijing, which is about a four hour bus ride, while everyone else was playing angry birds. So giving guidance, but timeline of what time it was. Everyone was obsessed and maybe it was even still farm bill, I’m not sure, but it was right around that time. It was just coming around. I had my eyes glued to the glass of window watching the construction cranes in my entire life up to whatever I was 19 or 20 years old. I’d probably seen 10 or 20 construction cranes in total. In my four hour ride between 10 Jenna, Beijing, I probably saw several thousand. What were your. What were you thinking? I’m always thinking this is the future. I was thinking that, you know, how did I think that Chinese buffets where the extent of Chinese culture.
Thank you Florida, which is true. That’s what I really thought, but then as I was going through that, I said, I have to go after this. I have to. I have to follow this passion. Fast forward, I have two degrees in Mandarin. I left China to go to all over Southeast Asia and Berlin, Germany, where I started working in technology companies because I thought scale was really important to me. Reaching a large audience really mattered. I’ve always worked in sales. I’m a gregarious person. I’ll talk about that a little later with my key takeaways as to, you know, playing to your strengths. I actually, after I left the tech space, I said, you know, I built the company. I had sold the company while I was living in Berlin, Germany as a tech company and Linkdin scraper tool and it was a great experience for. The problem was when I sold it, I had to sell out of a pressure point because the market had changed and things were going on and I actually didn’t do very well when I exited because I didn’t understand finance at all.
So after leaving this company in Berlin, Germany, I came back to the USA to go work for Merrill Lynch, which is a fortune 100 financial firm. Got Amazing Education. One of my other suggestions to every entrepreneur or founder out there get someone else to pay you to educate you. That happened at Merrill Lynch where they’re teaching me and they’re paying me to learn all about finance, stocks and bonds. More importantly, how private equity works. And I used that knowledge and skill to build minnow tank. So it might sound crazy, right? Let’s take a step back. I was a tech founder and I still am a tech founder, so I understood the difficulty of finding funding and the what it’s like to raise capital. I was actually living outside the USA. Then I came to the US. I was on the other side. I was with the high net worth individuals, the investors and I was helping them understand the founder’s mentality and how to create partnerships instead of just, you know, a contentious investor relationship. And so that’s where I saw the opportunity for Minnow tank being the bridge, being the conduit with a platform to connect these two parties and I think it’s a big opportunity.
So was this all part of a very strategic plan after you sold your company you were like, I’m going to go learn more about equity and all of this through a company and then I’m going to go back out on my own? Or is that just the way that it worked out?
So, Catherine, I wish I can tell you lie to you and say yes, this is all very strategic, super strategic. I think my most strategic move in my life was learning mandarin because opened up all these, all these doors for me and it’s, it’s Kinda taught me that there’s nothing in the world I can’t do and that’s a really important thing I’ll talk about later as to my own belief of how to, how to be your best entrepreneur. But no, a lot of it was very free flowing. You know, I sold my company when I was living in Berlin and I said to myself, well, I really don’t know very much about finance here. I was trying to sell and broker and negotiate stock options with myself and my co founders and I actually have very little understanding of it and you can read as many blogs as you want, but until you get in the weeds and really understand, you know, what is a portfolio?
How much does an average investor commit towards venture capital? What is venture capital? You know, what a venture capitalist expectations. You’ll actually see if you dig deep into that, that many companies are not venture capital fundable because unless your company has a very clear ability to return at least 10 times what someone has invested into it, venture capitalists should not look at you, that’s, you know, ignoring government funding and local community funding and whatnot. But a real venture capitalist and I’m not talking about, you know, an angel investor who believes in you, a real venture capitalist should not fund you unless you have a 10 x potential return. And that’s the basis of that conversation. And so that really helps help me for my mind. But no, Catherine, it was not strategic. Um, it was very organic. It. Wow. Well, let’s talk a little bit about the background of Minnow tank.
Tell us about minnow tank and what you guys do. So currently I’m a minnow tank is, like I said, a platform to connect tech startups and investors. So what we’ve done is we built out a couple things I think are really important. We are starting a company also. Let’s reference how old minnow tank is because this is important to me. We’re coming up on November will be our one year anniversary, so we’re almost a year old. Um, so we started late last year, late in 2017. Um, and the idea was how could I connect the tech startups and the investors. What I realized was I was going to have to make sure we can get the tech startups and package their pitches and a smarter format because the problem was we’d go to a pitch event and you’d see that genius founder who’s really good at what they do and they have very good technical knowledge, but they’ll speak for seven minutes and never get to the point and then everyone’s eyes have glazed over or you’d see the investor who walks into this meeting and you see this as someone who has capital, they’re interested in investing and they can’t seem to find the right person in the room that really speaks to their interests.
So what meditation does is, right now we help take great technology startups. We help formulate their pitch and we condense it down. So although we don’t consult on how to pitch, we’ll look over decks and we’ll say this is a great pitch, we like your company’s potential and we’re going to help you format it in a way that it’s attractive. And then we are the delivery platform, so we produce a new pitch every week right now where we’ll do two aspects. One is the elevator pitch and that’s a 62nd prerecorded pitch by the founder and then we’ll do a maximum of five minutes deck pitch. We’re a startup will go over their pitch deck visually, so we’ll always do the founders face and the deck side by side and there’s some psychology that plays into that as well because as an investor, nine times out of 10 when you speak to a venture capitalist, they will tell you in the early stage space, I’m not actually investing in the company.
I’m more invested in to the founder or founders because that is what you’re betting on. You’re betting on that horse only with the passion of the founding team that you’ve put together. Are you going to reach your goal and your will pivot? Ten Fifteen, 20 times throughout, but an investor’s believing in you and so we had to do is figure out and say how can we package these pitches better and how can we deliver them smarter? And the nice thing is it’s really worked. So right now minnow tank has had, I think it’s 36, 37 companies to date and this is August of 2018 we’re talking about, um, but we have hundreds of companies waiting to pitch so we have a wait list with hundreds of companies waiting to pitch on minnow tank. So we’re trying to deliver them slowly but surely and make sure we keep our quality very high and keep our brand continuity high. But more important than that we have hundreds of angel investors who are subscribed to minnow tank, but cvs pitches every week.
That’s awesome. So I want to back up though, because I know everyone is wondering where did [inaudible] come from and we all have this idea of where it came from, but can you tell us a little bit of the inspiration behind it?
Oh, hold on. Kagan, I want to hear your idea first. What is, what is Kagan and Catherine take a minnow tank? Where do you think it came from?
Well, so let me back up even further. We’re backing up. We’re backing up even further. Whenever we were in the very beginning stages of Bratby, we were talking about funding and stuff and I was researching online and found a minnow tank and I was like, okay, good. It’s like shark tank, but it’s.
And so we were, we were somewhat drawn to that and then we came to collision and then you actually approached us and told us and we were like, oh my gosh, we’ve actually seen this. Yeah. And so we’ve, we’ve had this thought that there’s some inspiration behind shark tank and honestly, Minnow tank sounds a little bit nicer, less scary right? Then then shark tank. But that’s, that’s kind of our thought.
Well first thing a catherine and kidding with our b puns, you all are making my honey warm. We’ll use that one because that’s exactly what you can hope for. When you’re a tech company, you could hope that your potential customers, your potential users are out there searching for you and they find you without being marketed to. So Katherine, what you found was not an advertisement, but you searched some key term, which I wish you could remember and tell me right now, but of course, but you searched some key terms that we’re hunting after that we’ve written a blog about or we’ve written some kind of content that pulled you in to us and you found us, which is amazing. Um, and believe it or not right now, minnow tank organically gets 90 percent of our traffic just because the opportunity to pitch on line like this is just so innovative and new. Now, where did it come from? It definitely came from shark tank and that I thought shark tank is really smart. So here’s the reasons why shark tank
shark tank has millions of viewers every week. Shark tank features venture capital Shark tank is educational. Whether or not you even like the companies that come on, you’ll learn about valuations, venture capital deals, what that looks like. You’re learning all of these aspects together, which even if you never invest a single dollar, even if you just want to be on there for the reality TV show, you’re actually passively learning about finance as you watch. I thought all those things were very valuable and the fact that there are millions of people watching this. I said to myself, there’s got to be a way we can do the same thing for tech companies because there’s so many more of us. There’s so many early stage tech companies, and I saw that shark tank was always featuring these little widgets, right? Ninety percent of shark tank is a thing of you are coming by and that’s a very logical business, right?
You create a reality TV show. These venture capitalists, they put a little bit of money, $100,000, which is very small to them, into this bakery company. This bakery gets 500,000 people that viewed their website, buy out all their stuff and they’re instantly worth a lot more money. That’s a very smart business, but what if we could do that for bright b? What if we could have breakbeat go in front of a half a million, a million, $5 million people and see it as a new platform to get insurance quotes? Any basic algorithm will tell you that even a five percent conversion rate of a million viewers would change bright these future, but more important than that, what if we told you there was a way that investors would be tuning into the show and potentially they would reach out to you, which is as founders, Catherine Kagan, I’m sure you would tell me it’s probably one of your most difficult challenges is getting in front of the right investors to help understand and believe in your company.
So here, here are a couple of people have told me, hey, can you should go on shark tank and here’s, I’m going to be completely transparent. This is what I think. First off, I’m not the right fit for shark tank. The second thing is that $100,000 is not going to get me very far. Honestly. That’s what I think about. Um, and you, you what, what do you have to say to that? I mean, that’s, those are the things that I think about like $100,000. We’ve already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and we still need a lot more now. Yeah, it will help us, but at the same time, it just costs so much money as a, as a tech startup. So tell me, tell me what your thoughts are on that. When you’re talking about to shark tank. I would not suggest a technology startup to go on shark tank.
I don’t think the show was made for you. I don’t think they’re ever going to actually air you. You might get taped, but they’re not going to air you. Um, and I don’t believe the deals that they write on shark tank are very valuable for the startup. If you look at some of evaluations, a lot of them are very bad. Very few companies that have got on shark tank that are tech companies have ever actually accomplished much. Very, very few. So I don’t think that’s the right avenue for you. But as an evangelist for Minnow tank, I do believe a network that is completely free, that as free to these startups, allows you to reach a large number of angel investors and does not make a limitation based on how much you can raise is a more valuable option. And that’s why. And to answer your original question, you know, where did it come from? I wanted it to exist for me. Kagan, I see your problems. I know a $100,000 is not a lot of money. Uh, in Chicago, a great example as I’m researching hiring some developers on our team, entry level developers in Chicago, would you guys like to guess how much an entry level salary is at base level? Let’s say 40,000.
Oh, no, much higher. Well, I mean, you couldn’t really live in, in Chicago area. Chicago is relatively inexpensive. It’s a great place to start a business, but what I’ll tell you is an entry level developer with any kind of experience, it’s going to run you 60 to $80,000 entry level understanding if a single developer, right? Maybe I should have been a developer, right? Um, and so $100,000 won’t get you very far. That’s true. But there’s very few angel investors are going to believe that they’re $100,000. A single hundred thousand dollars will actually get you very much. I think what I’m trying to answer here is I believe that the reason why I started minnow tank was to create something that I wanted myself. I wanted an ability to pitch hundreds of investors and have them reach out to me because it’s awful to go to events and conferences and angel networks and whatever.
And especially some of them expect you to pay when you don’t even know if you’re pitching to people who believe in what you do. Bright B is insure tech, right? There’s, you might be pitching to investors. I’ve never invested in that space and they don’t care about insurance. They don’t even think it’s an important field and therefore you’re wasting your time. So I just thought it made much more sense to have a platform where you can pitch everyone at the same time and Minnow tank can learn which investors like which startups by which field. For example, if I’m an investor who likes blockchain, Fintech, and CPG, then I only want to see those pitches and that’s what we’ll deliver it to them. And so by creating a better experience on both sides, without trying to nickel and dime the investors, nor the startups, I think we’re creating a smarter network. I’m fascinated by the whole concept. I mean, it sounds really involved and really well thought through. Why? Thank you, Katherine. I try really hard.
So can you give us a little insight into who you’re aiming to serve with? Sure. So let’s start off where we originally started. So originally I wanted to accept all startup companies and I’ll tell you that’s a fun story about Chicago. So I love startups. I’m a startup enthusiasts and I’ve found founder several times over many, many, many, many failures, but a few successes. So we started off with just startups. Uh, we actually held a live event for the very first launch of Minnow tank. We hosted three companies that I had recently done business with while at Merrill Lynch and they were, one was a wireless charging device out of a lab in New York City. One was the Chicago local company that was a dog iot color paired with an APP, which is really cool. Um, and then one was a cpg, a custom package goods, um, product that was a dog food made out of carp fish that are a nuisance to the environment.
And so they’re basically a waste of fish that no one eats. So they took this trash and they turned it into gold and then they turned into dog food. The problem was, I’m here. I was going to three very different angles here. You have a super high tech thing, the wireless charger, you have another APP that’s an interesting paradigm, iot device that’s a different kind of investor and then you have a cpg product that’s a very different opportunity. All of them were asking for different amounts of money. All of them were pitching live and yes, we did get 50 investors in the room, which is really cool. This is all live, but it was a learning curve and that the investor said to me, hey ken, great experience, awful and awfully interesting, but the fact was, and these are not in our investment range, and so learning what an investor wants to see was a really big learning curve for minnow tank and just seeing if that’s who we wanted.
So we’re trying to serve investors, you know, as a, as a marketplace of three, so trifecta, marketplace. We’re serving investors, tech startups and the people who view them. So the voyeurs of the situation, but tech enthusiasts, maybe their future employees, maybe they know they’re evangelists, they’re early adopters, all those folks and maybe even customers, right? Of these products, but those are the three markets. So the users are the viewers and then the investors and the tech startups. The reason why we settled on tech startups was because as an investment class, so as something you can invest in just as customer packaged goods or an investment class technology startups or investment class, maybe you’d even see food as an investment class. Maybe you want to invest in those tech startups, have the highest rate of return over time, and that’s pretty logical, right? We all have heard of Fang, which is facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google.
Those are four of the largest companies in the world all based around technology, so we wanted to focus and start with technology startups that were had high potentials for returns. Therefore it was easier for us to provide interesting information for investors and it’s worked so far, so those major networks we’re going for and then as we create this livestream show as a part of our platform, we’re trying to pull in an audience who wants to watch this and wants to watch these live conversations between investors and startups. So let’s talk about an important times or futuristic things that are happening here. I know we don’t want to talk about specific dates because we don’t know exactly, but tell us what we can be looking forward to in the future. Yeah, so this is also one of the things I’m talking about when we talked about our key takeaways, which I liked that you guys do.
I’m going to be very honest about my product, so I’m not trying to be defensive and saying, oh no, guys were flying under the radar. We can’t tell you our secret sauce. I actually, what’s interesting is whenever I talk to investors right now about the future of the no time, they say, well, show me your competitors and I’ll say, I will tell you what I find them because minnow tank is still revolutionary and new at this point. Um, so my, my suggestion for those listeners to the high five is please be open and loud about your products because even if you attract investor, uh, you attract competitors, that’s wonderful because then you have someone to benchmark yourself off of because right now I as minnow tank and completely trailblazing this opportunity. So just a two cents on the side there. What do you have in store?
So let’s just say in the near future, because we are looking to close and contracts and I don’t want to give out dates that don’t want this to be wrong in the future. But in the near future, you can look to [inaudible] dot com and you will be able to find an opportunity for you as bright or as a early stage tech startup with the ability to create a profile, upload your videos and find your tribe. So think of it like this, if you’re familiar with either reddit or product hunt, both of those are uploading platforms, crowd validation platforms. The idea is you put your idea on Reddit or your sentence or your you know your thing and you upload it and then it’s seen by the masses because the crowd up voted and said it was important. There’s also on product hunt, which is one of my favorite tech communities out there.
That’s for new products that accompany or corporation starts whether small or big, and you want to make sure the world sees your new product as there’s thousands of new products arriving everyday to the market. So Minnow tank is using the same theory that we want to see up voting by our community, by the investors, by other founders, and by our users, customers, evangelist, early adopters, all those folks up voting and helping us decide which tech companies should be seen by the world and that’s really cool I think because if you look at competitors to us are fuzzy competitors, possibly competitors. You might look at an angel list or you might look at a gust or one of these startup aggregation platforms. Many of these as a founder, you have no way to impact who sees you and you also don’t know who sees you. Plus there’s payment situations going on so either you have to pay or someone has to pay and that limits all the exposure and growth.
Same thing as when facebook, a long time ago, there were all these threats that facebook was going to start paying. Well, the reason why facebook is able to grow at the scale it did is because it didn’t make you pay. Same thing for minnow tank, so neither side’s are paying for this access. It will always be free to enter for investors and free for startups forever. That’s awesome. Yeah. Thank you. Well, I’ll tell you. Well, I get to the end and we talked about our takeaways. We did not start that way. We did start by charging founders, which is a very dumb mistake and I’ll talk to you about being honest with yourself and being honest with your business model and that’s important because it helps you learn over time what works and what doesn’t. So what can you look for in the future? One will be our web platform, the ability to drive your own traffic, build a tribe of not only investors, not only other tech founders who believe in what you’re doing.
Maybe it’s future partnerships. You can learn from them. You can ask questions, but more importantly, we’re going to help you build a tribe of people who want to see you succeed. Imagined bright beast, submits their profiles and Minnow tank and you tell your network, hey guys, would you mind uploading me here? And possibly some other tech companies you’d love to see succeed. We have algorithms built out that help us understand an investor is more significant as an upvote than someone else. So as an 18 year old college student who’s trying to get a job there, a boat might be worth one or an investor might be worth 25 and certain investors like Elon Musk, when I get them on my platform coming soon, I promise guys he might be worth a thousand. And so we’re building an algorithms to help us create a valuable community to know when certain people up vote you and prioritize what you’re doing.
It matters more now coupled with that. So that’s the web platform coupled with that. We’re in the process of building out our livestream pitch, which I’m most excited about because I love being on camera. So, uh, the theory of the live stream pitch is very much like a shark tank. Every week we will host a live stream pitch where everyone can, Washington in, we will have the top three companies from the web platform. So you’ve worked really hard, you’ve got several hundred upvotes and now you’re at the top of the ranks this week you are selected to be on the live stream pitch. You will get to record your pitch and deliver it to an audience of let’s say 100,000 people in the future or even 500,000, all the techies out there who believe in what you’re doing. Maybe they want to come work for you. Maybe there’s customers watching.
More importantly, maybe there’s a lot of investors watching, but you’ll be pitching off with other startups. So there’ll be three companies you do a live pitch off and then we will always have venture capitalists, Angel Investors, they’re on the call with you. So at a minimum you’re going to get more exposure to big angel groups and some of the ones that are connected with us as well as venture capitalists. But on the show live there will be another upvoting. And so we will decide which one of those startups wins. And when I say we, I mean the audience. So all the investors tuning in and everyone, all our users tuning in. And one of you will win money as well as rewards from all of our partners. So we have strategic partners with different, you know, banking, finance, credit, all kinds of solutions that are gonna help you move yourself forward and obviously drive interest for the audience.
But what’s really cool and my secret sauce that I always get my own moment, um, I’m trying to think of another beep, Hon. uh, uh, I dunno, like, oh, I got it. I got it. My Royal Jelly, I got, I got it. My Royal Jelly, or my secret sauce is we often say in tech startups, the Royal Jelly is that whatever we give away to a tech startup. So for example, if we’re giving away $10,000 to the top tech startup that was crowd voted live on that show, we will also write a $10,000 check to one of our users who’s tuning in. Anybody who’s watching, just ordering them for participating. So the idea is there’s a what’s in it for me system. So not only did the tech startups say, Hey, everyone in my network, guys, please tune in, please update me. We could really use this 10 k, it’s equity free. This is not dead. It’s completely a grant. We just give it to you, but as a viewer you have the opportunity to win the same amount of money. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Please? Soon into minnow type. That’s cool.
Yeah, that’s really great. Well, can I do not want to run out of time on your five key takeaways, so let’s go ahead and dive right into those because I know our listeners are probably really excited to hear what you have to say.
Cool. Well thank you Katherine. I know I’m a bit of a chatty guy, so apologize. All right, so my top five key takeaways. So number one is to be tenacious. So this is the word that I learned when I was playing roller hockey in Florida from my roller hockey coach. Again, Florida education was 16 years old, so a little bit delayed. I used the word tenacity and tenacious as being one of my key driving roles to founder. You as the founder have to do 99 jobs and you definitely can’t complain about it. You can’t afford a pat on the back. You can’t expect people to be very impressed with what you’re doing and you need to always be horrendously humble and tenacious in getting what you want. So tenacity is my number one goal for any founder. I don’t care if you’re a tech founder or you’re a real estate agent, whatever you are, you need to be tenacious in your efforts.
Unstoppable. What I’m saying. Number two, make relationships, early minnow tank, nor any company, whether it’s facebook, Amazon, Google, Netflix. None of us have gotten to where we were on our own APP. A lot of founders make. They believe I can do everything on my own. I don’t need anybody else’s help or I’m going to go do this. That is part of being tenacious, is believing in yourself and definitely going at it, but you need to find relationships. And when I say relationships, I mean go find mentors. Find people that have done it before. Find people that have raised money, find the others, just ask questions and be humble about it and say, Hey, listen, you’ve done this. I would love to just glean just a little bit of knowledge from you. I’d love to be your mentee, which is a compliment, right, so make relationships early.
Number three, aggregate evangelists, so you need to find people who really believe in what you’re doing. As I’m talking to you, Kagan and Catherine, it sounds like Catherine is really interested in what I’m doing. It’s so important that I keep Catherine engaged with minnow tank because otherwise if I lose this evangelist that is word of mouth marketing that I cannot pay for it. It’s impossible for me to pay for that, so you need to not only find evangelists, people who believe in what you’re doing, but aggregate them, and the way I’m suggesting that is the most useful time after time, way to do it is by their email. Email is still one of the ways that we all have control over our communication channels. It’s not by creating a facebook group, it’s not by getting more twitter followers, although those are not by instagram. All of those are great platforms, but they are not nearly as controlled and as personal as your email inbox.
Now, obviously there’s a big fight for that, but aggregating evangelists, number three, bring them all together. Get a list of 5,000 people who believe in what you’re doing and that’ll help you when you want to ask questions and you want to say, hey guys, here’s what I’m thinking of doing. Can you help those evangelists will help you. Number four, growth loops. This is one of my favorite theories when it comes to how to scale your business and I’ll give you an example of what a minnow tank’s. Growth loops. So as I just mentioned about being on the live stream show or even let’s take a step back and look at the web platform. Minnow tank does not have the capital and we cannot afford to spend a quarter million dollars getting every tech enthusiasts out there. It’s too intimate or tank. It’s not logical and it’s never gonna work.
No investor’s going to fund that, but that’s not gonna happen. But if we built a growth loop in that we asked, right be to create a profile and we show them a competitive system and we show them a way that if they infuse their own effort, meaning if there is a reward for bright beat or a tech startup to do the thing that we want them to do and that grows our network and it makes everyone happy, we’ve been successful. So let’s walk through what that looks like real quick. So right. It creates a profile on minnow tank bright. But he realizes there’s hundreds of other upvotes and the other companies and they want to get onto the live stream, show bright b shares with their network saying, hey guys, would you please vote us? We want to get to the top of the ranks.
Once they get to the top of the ranks, they again say, hey guys, if you have a reason why you as our friends family and everybody who knows us should drive traffic to this to drive traffic to minnow tank because you as my friends and family and everybody else has the ability to win money. But so does bright be so if you want to help us, let’s please come do this together. Afoot and watch together. That’s a gross loop because it repeats over and over again with hundreds of companies. This is used by referrals. Whenever you see a company say, hey, tell a friend, we’ll give you 10 bucks. All of those are growth loops because that’s marketing. You can’t pay for it. So that’s number forest growth lips.
Yeah. Catherine, I think we need to brainstorm with Ken a little bit on some growth loops. I think we’ve got some in the, in the pipeline, but I think that’d be really fun. That would be fun. So on, on the podcast, you’re, you’re agreeing to brainstorm with us on growth growth, right?
Was this a command or a request? What the fuck? You sound very tenacious. That’s what. That’s good.
That’s right. I’m just being practical when I’m working on making relationships early by force. And He’s aggregating event and evangelist.
Yes. I will happily on hearsay. I’ll be more than happy to help you guys. Willingness to number five first so I can get it done. Because I know I’ve used a lot of your time, so number five is to be honest with yourself. So I think one of the things that many tech founders will do is founders are many entrepreneurs, is they are charming people. They will make you believe whatever they’re selling doesn’t really matter, which is a very good skill to have, but the problem is sometimes you can make yourself believe so much that this is such a great idea that it can fail and you’re still believing it’s, you know, it’s, it’s obviously not working, but you’re still believing in it and you’ve told everybody else that they should believe in it. Let me give you a great example and that’s where I’ll end my speech.
So being honest with yourself, when you started, I thought to myself, I would be able to charge startups between 500 and a thousand dollars to pitch a network of investors. There are many businesses out there that do this already. So it was a proven market seemed possible. Um, and then I could also charge investors to be validated to make sure they were real investors and we can charge them and so we’d have a really nice two sided market with both sides pays after 60 days and having company after company after company hanging up on me after having, you know, investor after investor hanging up on me. It was not good, although we had a few shows where we did have people pay. It was a really bad experience for all parties. So I had to be honest with myself and say, this is not the way we need to do this.
We need to, we need to pivot here. We need to be smarter and we’ve got to reformat the way we’re thinking about this. So honesty with yourself and your product and, and critical honesty because oftentimes, you know, you’re so filled with your own ego that you will keep going in a direction even when secretly inside, you know, it’s not working. Um, but then ego gets in the way. So key five key takeaways from Ken Barton with Minnow tank are, number one, be tenacious number to make relationships early. Number three, aggregate your invent evangelists. Number four, build growth loops for your startup or your business. And number five is be honest with yourself and know when something’s going wrong and don’t be afraid to change it.
Well, we want to thank you again for being on and we will have all of your information in our show notes to make sure that people get to the right place and really look forward to seeing how many tank is going to grow and expand next time. And we’d love to learn a little bit, uh, Chinese. Uh, while you’re on, maybe maybe have a conversation in Chinese.
Yeah, no problem. We
think that’d be lots of fun. But again, thank you so much for being on. We want to make sure everyone subscribes to this podcast. Do it now so you don’t forget and give a review on what you thought about Ken Barton and Minnow tank. It was phenomenal and it’s going to be really exciting to see how they grow in the future. Don’t forget, if you are looking for insurance quotes that don’t, in which most people are, go to bing.com. We’re insurance quotes, don’t stay in click get a quote, and you will find qualified insurance agents of your choice to give you quotes. We’ll have a wonderful day. We hope you learned a ton and we look forward to seeing you next time. Thank you.
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