Speaker 1: Hey there, product lovers. Welcome to the Product Love podcast, hosted by Eric Boduch, co- founder and chief evangelist of Pendo and super fan of all things product. Product Love is the place for real insights into the world of crafting products as Eric interviews founders, product leaders, venture capitalists, authors, and more. So let's dive in now with today's Product Love podcast.
Eric Boduch: So welcome over to the Product today. We have Cyprian Vero, the CPO of Lobster with us. Cyprian, why don't you kick this off by giving us a little overview of your background?
Cyprian Vero: Sure. Thanks for having me, Eric. So my background is in software engineering. That's how I got my start into the digital world. And immediately from college, I went to work for Axiom. It was a big data company. It still is, I think. Did that for about a year, but I was extremely bored. I think my head was always about building something and impacting rather than adding to something bigger. And it was at a time of Web 2.0, so at the times where you could actually start creating in a single app page obligations on the web, and there was a really good moment to enter the digital space and actually tried to do something there. So it was a five years of a lot of errors and problems and discoveries and learning the market. I was able to focus on e- commerce, which was pretty profitable at that time, did it for five years and sold my first company. And shortly after, it was actually a second kind of wave of innovation, which was mobile. Mobile just started. And one of the things that was very interesting in mobile is that because it was such a new concept, specifically the new medium of smartphones and new interaction with a new medium, it was lacking the tools to understand that new medium in terms of analytics. So I built a user experience analytics tool. It was called heatmaps. io, and it was all about measuring your touch interactions, your zooms, your swipes, to really understand how people interact with mobile application. So that startup, I moved to LA, I used to be in Poland, based in there. So I moved to LA and started to selling it to enterprise clients that were very new to the mobile as well. So it was a very interesting learning curve in digital. And at the same time, I founded another startup in the IOT space. It was called Allocation X, and it was all about proving the ability to track outdoor advertisements. So the concept was that in LA, we wanted to take an IOT device, put it on a billboard outside of an intersection, which advertise a movie and then put another beacon in the movie theater and see if we could understand how many audiences were potentially seeing that advertisement, and actually seeing the movie. We learned a lot and failed in that company. It was very interesting in terms of a business model failure. So there was another amazing learning on my journey and shortly after, thing was I have to stare up for five years. I sold the company and I think it was a pivotal moment in my career when I asked a question, " What the hell do I want to do?" I've been a founder for 10 years and this is the first time I really found that there's a role like a CPO. Before then, I was kind of the engineer who was forced to go and sell into the business and to the marketing. And it was the first time when I was like, " What does a person do that loves building products, but loves doing it a lot?" And for me, what I found is that you can join a much larger organization and be engaged in so many more products and solve so many different more problems. And with that idea, I went to join a company in Netherlands was called Crowd Mobile and was engaged in everything from payments to chat- bot applications to blockchain. It was just everything, even SMS, an old technology like that. So that was a really, really interesting place for me to work in, but my newest and latest place where I spent my time innovating is Lobster Ink, which was acquired by Ecolab, a huge chemical company that acquired the e- learning company. And my work here is to bridge the opportunity between Ecolab, which provides also operational information and audit with learning, which provides the solution to the problems identified by audit. So that's what I do. And at Lobster, I'm the CPO. And in that actually role, it's a very interesting role because I actually overlook the user experience, but also customer operations, customer service implementation, and also technology. So in that sense, the entire product and everything that touches the product is within my control. So hopefully that's a short intro to my background and crosstalk.
Eric Boduch: Yeah, no, that's a great intro. Thank you. So I'm curious, moved from Poland, I think it was, right, to LA?
Cyprian Vero: Yeah, sure.
Eric Boduch: How what was that different? Both, I mean, from building a company, building product standpoint?
Cyprian Vero: So, I didn't tell him that, but I do have education in US. So I actually went to high school in Memphis, Tennessee, and I went to college there. So I had my bachelor's degree in software engineering from US college. So I knew American culture, at least on the south. LA is much different than Memphis, but so, it wasn't my first experience with US. And obviously at that time it was, I think 2011, 12, I knew very well where the hub of innovation is and the customers where the driver declined to move. I was working with companies like Adobe, Evernote, and a lot of them were hubbed in there and they were expecting the same timezone and communication visits. So I had to move. What I loved about LA was just this very laid back culture. And it's so different than Europe. In Europe, everything is operational, whereas in LA, it was more of, what's the dream, where do we want to go? Why do we want to go there? And it was a really good vibe. I really loved it.
Eric Boduch: So alk to me about your experience now at Ecolab. What are you guys solving there? What, are your big challenges? What are you working on? What keeps you up at night? What excites you?
Cyprian Vero: Yeah, I think the challenge is huge. So if we look from above the acquisition of a learning company by a chemical company, sounds quite radical and doesn't make sense at the first site, but actually what Ecolab does really well, it helps organizations with their operations. They do it for chemicals, but they also do it through audit. And what we did a Lobster is we provide operational training. So think about all the workers in hotels, the cleaners, or think about people at McDonald's that work at the back of the house and need to learn how to put your burger together. This is the kind of operational work. And if you look at the problems that those companies face is that they have a lot of churn, so they have to train the same knowledge a lot to new audience, or new workers all the time So what we try to do is we try to really understand the problems that those huge enterprises have and deliver them a platform with which they can quickly on the boards and train your employees to deliver the operational work efficiently and safely. And the impact is huge because if you can really quickly educate a new employee, you are mitigating risks, but you're also delivering value much quicker to the markets. And those companies feel much bigger boosts of value for themselves at the end of the day. So, that's what I spend most of my time. And it's very, very interesting being part of the huge enterprise, which has such a big legacy of customer base hundred- year- old company, any big brand you think of we already help, right? So having access to such amazing customer base has definitely been very exciting to really try to think about increasing the value for them.
Eric Boduch: So you've been in a chief product role or something similar at various companies. How did you help product get a seat at the executive table? How did you communicate the value to the executive teams there?
Cyprian Vero: Yeah, I think this is a really interesting question because it just happened kind of naturally. So I have to think back a little bit. Actually, if I look back at how the companies were structured in the past to startups, you had this very technical founder and you had this business person that could go and sell the ideas that you could bring the technology. And I think over the years, that line between the CTO and a CEO got blurry. Why? Because technology is not the answer to every problem right now. It's more of, there is a problem and you try to fit the technology to it. And someone who understands which technology to use and how to shape it into a product that solves a problem is this new category of a leader in our organization. So if I entered an organization and they didn't have that position, which actually was part of my journey in the past, the reason I found myself at the table was because I was bridging the technology and the business together and creating the link and explaining them, you know what, this is what's next. Okay. This is what's possible. A lot of times they got stuck about this is what we have. We have this technology, we have this client base, but what do we do next? How do we move forward? How do we bridge what we have, how we bridge what's on the market? So, because you can provide that by being that middle link between technology, the markets, you really are well- positioned to be at the table, right? The answering the questions of what next from the product perspective is exactly what the company needs. So we're seeing more and more companies creating those new roles. And it's actually fascinating if you look at the enterprises who normally had positions such as chief marketing officer or chief innovation officer, and chief information officer was more about digital space inside the company, how do we make the company adopt digitally insight and be quicker and have new processes automated? The chief marketing officer was specifically very prevalent in companies that had physical products, that had their research and development department that created the products and then them thinking about how to package it and how to reach to the customer. Whereas a lot of the companies now say, " How do we establish our presence digitally? And who's that person that can help us bridge that gap between technology, the market digitally?" And oftentimes they think, " Well, there's something called a CPO that can help us deliver that."
Eric Boduch: Awesome. I was listening to that and thinking about our conversation earlier triggered this whole idea of innovation, and we had some conversation about forced innovation. Let's talk a little bit about forced innovation. How does purposely setting constraints, force product leaders to think about things differently, to maybe innovate beyond just optimization.
Cyprian Vero: Yeah. I think that's a great question. I think we look at constraints a lot of times, which is something that stops us from innovating. And I think putting constraints and forcing constraints on your teams can actually accelerate innovation. So forcing innovation is really mindfully setting those constraints. And we sequence trains in the business all the time. Lack of resources, maybe lack of funding, maybe the market is drying out, maybe the competition is doing something better. There's always certain constraints. But actually a few years ago, I was participating in a conference, just as a listener, as a participant. And there was a guy that wrote a book, A Beautiful Constraint, I think his name was Mark Barden, I believe. And he wrote that book with some other guy. And he was talking about how there's many companies who are embracing constraints to actually force themselves to leap beyond just the simple optimization. We have this natural tendency to go 20% more every year. Like, " Hey, let's increase sales by 20%. Let's shorten the time." But what happens if you ask a question like what's going to happen if we decrease something that takes an hour into almost in real time, is that possible? What's going to be the impact? So forced innovation is this toolkit that you have as a leader to mindfully go to your team and say to them, " What if instead of getting a million dollar from a completely new market, we're going to get additional million dollars from the same customer without spending any additional marketing dollars on acquiring new customers?" And saying, " What can we do with that additional marketing dollars if we do that? How much more impactful can we be?" Now, it's a great concept, but by itself, it's not enough. You really need to be ready with your team to guide them through that concept of forced innovation. So your team, when they hear this idea, they might go into a mindset of a victim, " Holy shit, we have now to think about how are we going to work more?" And this is impossible. It's impossible. It's going to be this victim like, " We can't do that." But a little bit after they settles down this whole idea on to them, they might go into this mode of neutralizing. Right? So to give you an example, let's say COVID happened last year, right? And still happening. For our company, one of the biggest impacts was hospitality industry. So hospitality industry has been extremely effected, and we were really established in the hospitality industry, and it was one of my main markets. So when COVID happened, one of the questions was like, what do we do with that market that doesn't exist financially for us? No one has money to pay. They don't have customers. So how can they pay for us? And then natural question in that instance is, how do you go around the problem? Well, one way to go around the problem is you go to another market. You go, " Well, if I can sell to that market, I'll find another market." And that's more I'm talking about neutralizing, right? The mindset of people that when they're faced with constraint, they're trying to find another way out of it. A person that has a mindset of embracing the constraint, so as a leader, you keep them forced on, " No, let's not escape from that market. Let's still embrace it." Right? What does that market still needs from us? How can we benefit from COVID heating us and affecting the market? So what we did, for instance, we look about how can this benefit us? And we can only do it if the leadership uses this forced innovation to say, " Stay on to target, don't worry about escaping. Don't worry about going away from this idea, embrace it." Right? So in an enterprise world, you want to go a long- term with a customer, right? You really want to engage and have a five, 10, 20 year relationship. So when COVID happened, even though it might take a year or two, you really want to ask yourself, " What's going to happen to the customer after two years?" And you might realize that even though the market was affected, that doesn't mean the customer doesn't want the value from your product. They still might want your product, they just might not afford it at this moment, tight? So what we realized for instance is that even though our market was affected, the value of the product was still there. It's just that the customer couldn't pay us at that moment. So we said, " Well, what can we do to the customer so that we reach customers we couldn't before?" because they weren't ever had time for us. Well we said, " Well, what if we provide them through this time the solution for free? And what if we allow them to not stress out about not being able to deliver something they have to anyways?" and what we are hoping to achieve as a long- term relationship beyond COVID. Because if we help them at this moment, we're hoping that they will recognize this in the future and the long- term relationship is going to be stronger. And that's purely saying, we're not escaping from the problem. We're trying to embrace the problem. And that's what the forced innovation is. Here, the forced came from the outside, we didn't plan for it. But as a leader, you can actually put a mindful constraint on the team. And I think one of the interesting examples was Audi, that was one of the examples they gave in a book. And when Audi was trying to win Le Mans in 24 hours, one of the engineers asked, like, " How can we win Le Mans by not being the fastest car?" And everyone was like, " How will we become fastest?" And he was like, " How do we put a constraint of not being the fastest, but we still win?" And what turns out is they said, " Well, efficiency, fuel efficiency, so let's change an engine to an engine that's more fuel efficient," and that allowed them to win because they mindfully put a constraint, say everyone is trying to win with speed. What if we win with something else? Right? And by mindfully setting them constrain, you're forcing to completely rethink the process. And in organizations, especially big ones, you always see established processes and setting a crazy constraint like that will basically destroy the process. The process will no longer be able to be performed, and those you have to really rethink it. And one of the toolkits I use, and that was also described in that innovation conference I went to and I use it is if you propose a propelling question, propelling for your organization, you should help your teams think how to approach that crazy question at the beginning. So if you ask almost an impossible tasks to be done, sometimes we fall immediately into all the paths that we already been through, all the old ways of solving the problem. But what I've learned is that there's so many other opportunities like you can use this tool called what- if questions. What if you get a funding from your customer instead of your investors? What if you replace X functionality with Y functionality? There was kind of with Aldi. Or what if you reduce a certain cost and you start to giving them all those questions and saying, " We're not only here, we have opportunity everywhere." Joint ventures. I speak to a lot of founders. They don't even know what a joint venture is, that it;s possible to get what you don't have by partnering with someone and creating a joint venture proposition that can be successful. A lot of times, we always feel about the resources that we have, and we don't expand beyond those resources because we never being asked to, and forced innovation forces you to ask those questions and then propel you beyond what you have.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. So I have a bunch of questions from there. Let's pick one thread and go down it. Talk to me about your experience with forced innovation. Can you give us some examples of how it's worked for you? I mean, I love the Audi example, right? Where everyone's racing for speed and they started looking at well, how can we get faster? It's actually not by going faster for a period of time, but it's probably going slower for longer without having to stop, right. In that sense, tell me some more stories.
Cyprian Vero: Sure. So from a personal one, the recent ones was COVID, and I was exactly describing what we did is when we lost the ability to sell, we thought, " What is the value for us?" The value from us out of that was the market reach. So we kind of changed our KPIs. We went from dollar value to reach, right? Because it's like penetration and you want to get the penetration into moments where the market is vulnerable. And we actually see that a lot as well with companies who are using that moment to do a lot of acquisitions because they see the opportunity to do a land grab and they're actually using the constraint of COVID to accelerate their market penetration. So that's one example we were also really working on. In the past, we had a situation where the business was relying heavily on... So in the business of Q& A, answering questions, before NLP, natural language processing, you pretty much had to throw people at the solution. So if you had a question coming in, you want someone to answer it, you had to have a human answering it. And we had about 3000 people answering questions. So how do you open new markets and scale that without actually scaling and getting all those people on. And that's where we for instance said really a lot and said, " What if we decreased the amount of people instead of increasing? What do we have to do to actually, instead of having 3000 folks answering questions, we'd go to a 100?" And the answer was that we had to really invest in NLP, but in order to invest in NLP, we had to first collect a database of knowledge to build that NLP on, to use the natural language processing. So this his ow we used the constraint, instead of saying, " Sure, the answer is simple. We always scale with people." The question was like, how can we be more efficient, delivered the same thing much quicker because in normal person respond can be three, four or five minutes, but we said, the were self- willed. The constraint is that we want to answer within the first 30 seconds and a constraint a 30 seconds meant we had to rethink completely how we do that. And the only way to do it was through automation and technology, right? And the technology turned out to be NLP. And it was extremely successful because what happened at the end is we reduced the human cost of operators answering questions, but we also found something extremely interesting: the quicker your response is, the more engagement you're going to get from the customer. So if you're waiting a long time, you might give up on something, but if you start typing in and you're going to get an answer immediately, you're going to be prompted to ask another question, and your engagement with the product is much bigger. So that constraint that we initially set for scalability, actually also turned out to provide as much bigger business opportunity. And that only comes if you're not following your normal procedures, but you set a mindful constraint. So, that was a kind of two examples from my business. And you can do it a lot. You always have people joining and leaving your organization. And there's always a question, do we replace or do we rethink it? Can you mindfully change the shape of your team and see what's going to happen? This is really a very good tool to show you also where your gaps are in organization. Do you have people who believe so much in your product that they really want to succeed? Or do you only have people that just clipped the check, and if you put a big challenge in front of them, they will give up? That's also not great, right? So that's a very powerful way of using it, but you also have to always give a good reason why you were putting a forced constraint on your team. You can't just come in and just tell to them, " Just do it because I want you to do it," right. You have to tell them, " What is the big benefit for everyone out of that? If we're going to go so crazy on this specific constraint, what is the benefits to me, to you, to the company?" Because that's how you're going to convert their initial mindset of a victim, " Oh, no," into more of a transformer and willingness to actually do that.
Eric Boduch: So this conversation about innovation also triggered a thought on my part about longterm roadmaps, right? Do having long- term roadmaps hinder innovation?
Cyprian Vero: No, I don't think there's a one answer to that because you have certain businesses which must rely on roadmap. I mean, you want to build a physical product like a house, you have to have a roadmap. If you have a customer who is committing work for you and they have their timelines, for instance, they need to release something in a certain time. For instance, a customer in an enterprise says, " We need to implement your solution because on the middle of the year, we're going to have this huge rollout, which depends on five other divisions. And this is a huge coordination, so we have to be sure to hit it, create the plan." And in that instance, roadmaps make perfect sense. Now, if you're thinking innovation- wise completely for your organization and you're setting your own deadlines for it, then I think it is more important to have a vision and challenge your mindset to why do we have to wait for that vision 10 years? Why can't we achieve that vision in two years? And roadmap is not necessarily going to tell you anything about it, it's not reliable in that instance. So the answer to that question from my side is it depends on where you sit. Sometimes roadmaps make perfect sense. On the other hand, I've seen so many times a strong roadmap and then an event happening that completely changed it. So the question is, who does the roadmap satisfy? A CEO who just needs to have confidence in you? It's really tricky.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. It just made me think, going back to the Audi question and making it hypothetical, maybe Audi had a plan for how they were going to do engine improvements or car improvements to get an extra five- miles an hour top speed. Right. And that was this three- year plan in order to get there. And they thought that might help them win the race, right. Putting this forced innovation around finding another way to win, completely could disrupt the longterm roadmap like that. And if you have a longterm roadmap like that, you might not even go down the path of innovating. So how do we do a better job carving out both the time and the space to innovate in conjunction with our existing roadmaps?
Cyprian Vero: Yeah, that's a great question. I think it depends on where you are in the organization right now. I mean, I see organizations that are old and there're just starving for innovation and they might have a roadmap just purely on, " Hey, let's optimize what we have," and they absolutely don't need that roadmap, they need someone who comes in and forces them to rethink it. And you have organizations who found their markets, there's plenty of need for that. And you just need to really deliver and sell, and it's a much different timeframe there. So if you are in a sense, finding yourself in a place where you found your markets value, you are seeing that the customers want it and you just need to sell more of that, focus on just listening to the customers, build a short- term roadmap for them and deliver that. If you are in a place where you have a lot of competition, the market is saturated with solutions. You are really fighting for every customer. You're spending a little money on marketing. That's when you need to really instead of thinking about your roadmap, you really need to start asking yourself, how are you going to change this completely, right? We are in this situation as well from Lobster perspective. And we are thinking in terms of our market situation competition, and we're asking ourselves, instead of the roadmap for the next X amount of years is like, how do we change the game of learning? And we have some amazing ideas about it, which I can't say yet about, but for us, we're at the same stage where the roadmap is not going to save us, it's more of a rethinking of what's next that will help us to get out of where we are.
Eric Boduch: So you've been a founder three times now, you talked about some of your learnings or at least hinted at some of your learnings from your talking about your background. Tell me about your big learnings from being a founder and what advice you'd have for other first time founders.
Cyprian Vero: Well, I think that the biggest mistake I did, which I felt was really the next step in my career when I started a startup was I need funding. I think this is one success metrics, which is a very vain. I mean, getting initial founding is not making your product successful. And I see a lot of ideas being validated through funding. If we're going to get one million, are we going to be successful, if you're going to get half a million of funding. So if you are a founder that have an idea, the better path to go is really prove it with your customer, because if your customer really truly believes in this, they can even found your product. I had situations where the customer founded the product and they were the first one. So they invested even before the product existed because they truly saw the value. And I'm seeing a lot of the first- time founders in the situation where the best thing they can do is get funding. And the best thing you can do is get market validation for your product and get your first customer sell. So, that's my advice to you, don't look into funding as a solution to your problem, right? Look really to the value you can deliver it to the client. And if you can't have a client putting money on the table, well, you have to think your value proposition, right? Maybe your value is not big enough for the customer.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. I would even say, even if they're not putting, money on the table in the beginning, if they're those ecstatic customers that are more passionate about your product and maybe even you are, and you know you have something and then try to grow those types of people, right? Because then you know you got something, and if you have happy customers like that, the funding's going to chase you.
Cyprian Vero: Exactly. And I think this is a big misconception is like, because it's like, you look at the successful people and you think that's how they made the success because they got the funding, they're successful, they get the clients. But you're missing out on all the work they did beforehand. And they've learned about what the problem truly is. They found out what's the true cost of that problem. They really have time with the customer to understand whether there's a willingness for the product. And funding, like you mentioned Eric, will come, if you really can show that the customer needs it. And that's the biggest thing, because otherwise you just need to commit. There's the second thing, commit beyond constraints because you're going to get a lot of them. You're going to get time where you're going to fail a bunch. You're going to experience time where your competition is going to do something. Another thing that I think I've learned is a lot of times it's not about a competition having a better product. And that was also a very interesting learning for me, it's who you know and how you can access the markets. So again, getting to customers and getting to the right people to open up the market is more important than looking at your competition, you need to have a better feature, a better solution. I've seen products that had shitty solutions much worse, but they were able to access the market in a better way, that they could get closer to the customer, tell a better story. And over time, get that feature; over time, build to it. But I see founders stressing about and searching their competition and saying, " Oh my God, did they have this feature, and they have that feature. Oh my God, we were so behind."
Eric Boduch: I think on the competition side, startups worry too much about competition, right? They're less worried about like, " Hey, let's make customers happy." They're more worried about what their competitors do. And sometimes all they end up doing is copying their competitors mistakes and doing them later-
Cyprian Vero: 100%.
Eric Boduch: ...after their competitors have already learned crosstalk.
Cyprian Vero: 100%. You have no idea if what their feature is actually working, was their conversion on that. It's your visibility, and they're stressing a lot about it. So I wouldn't look at the competition at all. I would just focus on getting to the customer first, having a good story and being a partner. One thing that I truly feel that you really need to commit is being a partner to your customers. I mean, beyond what the customer needs today, ask them, " What do they need tomorrow?" And to be willing to help them with that. Every time I, even from a different seat perspective of being approached by companies to sell something, right? I'm looking for those who are willing to go an extra mile and maybe there is a software that has less feature, but the type of relationship you're seeing that you can establish is that they're going to be there for you if something goes wrong and that is something rare. And that is something that helps you take you beyond where you currently are. So definitely I would advise not to worry about competition at all.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. And going back to something we just talked about, I know we have some entrepreneurs out there that are like, " But how do I build a product to get it into customers' hands if I don't have funding? You guys are skipping that whole part." And I acknowledge that in a lot of cases, you're going to need at least some funding to build a product and get it in customer's hands. But that doesn't mean you need to scale up sales and marketing, you need to have a CFO. You need to do all of those things. Get happy customers first. Sometimes you can bootstrap that working on weekends, working after hours, sometimes you can afford to take six months a year off from work and work on your startup. Sometimes you can't, sometimes you need funding. But the most important thing I think that both of us are saying is to focus on getting those happy customers and not worry about funding as a vanity metric saying that, " I've raised a million dollars, therefore I've made it," because that's just raising expectations on yourself.
Cyprian Vero: It's a debt, it's a debt you're going to carry. And yeah, the expectations are going to be there and tell you that after that first day, you're going to see the money, you're going to start questioning yourself, " What do I do next? And how do I multiply that money? And how do I deliver value?" And that sometimes takes you away from the value to the customer. You start worrying about delivering value to your investor first. So there's absolutely a good reason sometimes. I mean, if you want to build a rocket to the moon, go ahead and get funding. But if you want to build a mobile application, go to YouTube, pay five bucks for inaudible, or whatever it is, 20 bucks. They may have some amazing discounts on teaching you how to build a React Native application or machine learning. There's so much amazing resources. I think that's the difference between now and 10, 15 years ago. Like you had to get someone to teach you or do it for you or get a formal education. Today, you go to YouTube and you have a course on how to build an application or you actually have software to build it using a Wiziwig. And what you see is what you get is kind of a deal. So we are living in an amazing time for founders that can prototype amazingly quick. They can deliver solutions without big investments. So it's really that constraint of, " I don't have funding." You should embrace it. If you don't have finding, that's great. What can you do to actually build it? And also getting a little bit of knowledge about technology, if you don't want to build it yourself is really good. So I would advise you to still go through some training and really understand how difficult or how not difficult it is to build an app.
Eric Boduch: Or even easier, find a technical co- founder that can help build with you, right?
Cyprian Vero: Sure.
Eric Boduch: We don't have another hour to go down this path, but when you started talking about learning via YouTube or learning via other mechanisms, made me think about the United States and the cost of college, right? Where, you pay a $ 100, 000 to get a degree. And our politicians are all concerned about like, " Student loans, we should pay for people's colleges." And I'm thinking college shouldn't cost a hundred grand. I know Google's now launch something recently, but you could become a UX designer. You can get experience programming. You don't necessarily have to leave with$ 100,000 of debt to get a great- paying job. And I think that's the whole thing of thinking differently about education, right? If you want to get into tech, that doesn't mean you need to spend a ton of money on your education. There's value to it in some cases. I went to Carnegie Mellon, and I think their bachelor's in computer engineering or computer sciences, it pays itself off, but there's a lot of other degrees that I would argue, do not have that ROI, right? Or you could do something like teach yourself or take some of the classes that are online or get that experience that way, work as an intern at one of the startups after that, build up your career without having that$100, 000 in four years of debt behind you.
Cyprian Vero: 100%. I did advise few of my friends that were younger when they wanted to go to college, they say, " Listen, actually, if you take all the money, you're going to spend on college and you're going to buy conferences and you're going to fly there. You're going to spend time in a hotel, have fun, get drunk, meet the people. I bet you going to get so much more out of those four years of traveling, meeting people, hanging out with them, talking about innovation and seeing where their heads are than you're going to get out of the four years of college," but it's a mind shift. It's like the parents want you to go to college. They want to invest money in you and you feel obligated. But the reality is, like you said, Eric, the tools are there right now. And even if you look at the areas, like let's say art. Art is like, " Yeah, but I like to paint, how would I be an artist in a digital age? And I have to go to school to get formal education." You know what you can do today with machine learning and art and create such an amazing concepts, all the guns, generative of a sailor models, creating a completely new way of engaging? And there's so much more in music and everywhere, where you can really find a space for yourself in a digital space and learn all about it, all about it for probably 5, 000 or less in 12 months. So I think crosstalk.
Eric Boduch: What's the worst case, like there're people out there like, " Oh man, you're telling young people to take a big risk," but it's not a big risk. You're talking about$ 5, 000 in a year and you find out this isn't leading to the career I want or leading to the exposure, or people won't hire me, go to college then. It's not going to hurt you.
Cyprian Vero: Absolutely. And I'll be honest here. I also go on inaudible. And I like, for instance, right now being training myself on a machine learning, just so I understand what's the opportunity to actually where to put it, how it works, where does it fit in an organization? And I can tell you from right now, it takes a few hours on a weekend, you take a course, you learn about it. And you're so much better off this way. And I'm sure anyone can do it 100%.
Eric Boduch: Yeah, no, sorry. We're going up on college and now it's changed, but it's kind of fun. And I think as a person, that's a mix of product and marketing, you know how hard it is finding people that are recent grads from college that have the right digital marketing experience. It's like they might have a business background. They might have majored in marketing. But a lot of it is more applied to how I do marketing at Coca- Cola, right. It's not necessarily like even some of the best institutions don't have the best digital marketing programs. So now, those people could learn a lot more by just jumping on and helping someone out and developing SEO strategies, building out landing pages, learning Marketo, whatever it happens to be. There's a question of whether they even leave with the right education to go after that field.
Cyprian Vero: Yeah. And you know what, there's also this whole thing about failure in startups and, " Oh, you're going to fail." And one of the best product owners I hired was out of the coffee place. He was serving me a coffee and he was talkative and I asked him, "What do you do?" He's like, " I used have to start up, but I failed. Right now I'm just doing coffee." And I'm like, " I love you. You failed, tell me about it. Why did you fail? What triggered you to do it? Did you try it again?" And he was surprised that you can see a positive in trying and testing and failing. And he was one of my best POs in the past. And I think that's not being communicated, that's not the one chance to go and start something and try it: go, do, fail, repeat. And I actually love talking to people who failed and they know why and they try again. Right. And it's very hard to find them too.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. Those types of people are very hire- able too, because if they want to jump into another software company, they've learned a lot.
Cyprian Vero: 100%. 100%.
Eric Boduch: So let's wrap this up by talking a little bit about you. What's your favorite product?
Cyprian Vero: My glasses. Something you wear every day. And I know we talk digitally, but in reality, I absolutely love my glasses. They're titanium and they have a zero screws in them. There's not a single screw, it's all wire that's mechanically connected to make glasses. And if you think about a product from a product perspective, how much that saves into a building in glasses and how lightweight they are, I absolutely love it. And you can't probably even see them, they're so invisible. So that's my favorite product. I'm thankful for it every day.
Eric Boduch: So what's the brand?
Cyprian Vero: The brand is Lindberg. I think it's a Swiss brand, and yeah, I got them and I was super, super interested in how you can make something that's so obvious glasses, we have innovation in glasses for so long, what are you going to innovate in them? Right. And for me to really think about engineering behind such a simple concept of using just a wire to make the entire product and thinking a little bit further is like, how does that impact the cost of making that? And how does that simplifying everything? That's why I love it. You can learn from everything. That's why I really always think about glasses when I think about over complicating a product, I always go back. You don't need a screw, you just don't need that screw. Okay. There's probably a different way of doing it. So it just reminds me every single time that there's a different way of looking at complexity.
Eric Boduch: Awesome. So final question for you. Three words to describe yourself.
Cyprian Vero: How it's made-
Eric Boduch: I love it.
Cyprian Vero: ... isthe three words I always... You know the time that discovery created How It's Made, I was like, " Oh my God, they created a show for me." It is like, we'll watch it for hours, and it's everywhere. Every product you experienced, the first thoughts, how it's made, why it's made that way? What's behind it? Learning about it, it's just something I absolutely love. And I think that any three words, I think those would be the ones.
Eric Boduch: Awesome. Well, appreciate it. Glad to have you on the show today.
Cyprian Vero: Eric, super fun talking to you. Thank you for having me.