Podcast Episode

How to De-Risk Your Startup, The State of VC Funding, and Brett’s Advice for Founders

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Never be out of the loop on what’s going on in finance, tech, and business.



Joseph: Hey, Brett, I just wanted to pitch you on something that I just read. It’s like not even five minutes ago. I read that FTX was using QuickBooks. It just came out of their depositions because obviously SBF got arrested last night in the Bahamas, so…

Brett: You’re kidding. You’re kidding.

Joseph: Yes. Yes.

Brett: And it’s not gonna play well for Intuit. Every stigma and stereotype that QuickBooks has, it’s really unfortunate.

Joseph: It’s just kind of funny – QuickBooks. And we talk about it all the time. We talk about the scaling part of the startup and how you go from… You could be operating on QuickBooks. You’ll be fine for a while. But then, you have to go to NetSuite. And then, it’s like that line when you go to NetSuite – it’s almost like when you grow up. It doesn’t seem like FTX ever grew up.

Brett: It’s crazy because QuickBooks has this stigma, of course, because of the market they serve, but it’s actually… It’s really user-friendly. There are a lot of features in QuickBooks, and people don’t realize that. They think, “Oh, QuickBooks is just for small companies.” You could actually use it as a bigger company. And people wonder, “Why can’t the bigger ERP systems be more like this and have some of this ease of use?” But there’s this robustness about it. So one of the things QuickBooks has is you can basically go in and fix your journal entries. You can put some restraints with user controls and stuff like that, but that…

Joseph: Yeah.

Brett: Especially in the early days, you could just go in there and just post stuff very easily. And it’s not locked down very well and things like that. I’m sure that some of that’s changed, but I’m just feeling like there are eight backdoors to QuickBooks in terms of what you can adjust is not going to help the FTX story.

Joseph: It was just funny to me because I was thinking about all of the massive transfers of funds and liquidity management that they have to do for the FTX platform because you kind of are taking deposits from your customers, but then with those deposits, they were doing all kinds of investments left and right. And you’re telling me that all of that outflow was being managed through QuickBooks.

Brett: Yeah.

Joseph: Did it even have enough rounding to cover the billions of dollars that they were doing? It’s crazy.

Brett: I guarantee you none of those were journal entries even in QuickBooks. So it’s not QuickBooks’ fault. None of that was even in QuickBooks. It’s just they’re balancing or reconciling to the bank and there are a few journal entries that… But none of that, I’m sure, is in QuickBooks, which is even scarier.

Introducing Fintech Corner

Joseph: All right. Well, I guess we never actually kicked off this podcast. So let’s do that. Welcome to FinTech Corner! This is our inaugural episode. I’m joined by Brett Turner – our founder and CEO. I’m Joseph Drambarean. I’m the CTO at Trovata here. And we’re so excited to get this podcast off and rolling. We’re gonna be covering all kinds of topics, not just in fintech, but generally, what’s going on in the market, how we see the kind of the VC world where funding is happening. And we’re excited to dig in.

Today, we were going to focus a little bit on the headlines. We just started talking about FTX because how can you not? It’s been dominating the headlines recently.

The state of the economy’s impact on startups

Joseph: But one of the things that just right out of the gate a lot of our customers have been focusing on – we’ve been focusing on it, too – is just the state of the market and how crazy things have been, not just from a Fed perspective, increasing interest rates, and what does that mean? For the consumer, obviously, that’s what we think about. But when you flip that coin and you think about it as a company, there are all kinds of new opportunities. And I was curious right out of the gate. You’ve covered it in internal all-hands and other meetings that we’ve had, but how do you feel about the state of the economy? And what does it mean to us and kind of for other startups going forward?

Brett: I mean, that’s a loaded question. So many different things to… But when you go through these troubled periods or these challenging kinds of… It just exposes things that maybe aren’t all that solid. I think if you look at any winning team, whether it’s baseball, football, or whatever, when the team is winning, you’d never expose this like, “What may be the conversation in the locker room? Do they actually like each other? Is there a lot of team chemistry?” The team starts losing or gets on a little bit of a losing streak – and you see, all of a sudden, teams just start to fall apart. And I think that’s a little bit indicative of what goes on also just in the market, whether it’s in the startup world or innovation or whatever. It just starts to test your mettle. It starts to test the very pillars or backbones or whatever is holding up what is out there. And when the winds start to change a little bit, you really need the solid operator skills you need to bring to the table then. If a lot of that substance isn’t really there, it doesn’t mean it’s gonna fall apart, but it starts to expose that and weaken it and things get fragile.

Joseph: It’s really easy to high-five each other when the sales are crushing it and money’s rolling in and… Then, when everything turns around, you kind of start to look at everybody left, right, “Is it your fault? They’re doing something wrong.” And chemistry, I think, is just such a big thing. We’ve been… I mean, at Trovata, we have such an amazing cast of characters and I think that we’ve been blessed in that way.

Fears around raising a Series B

But when you hear about all the layoffs that have been happening in other fintechs and other tech companies, it’s scary. I mean, you can’t avoid thinking to yourself, “Is there something wrong here fundamentally and…?” What were you thinking earlier this year? And we never actually even had a chance to talk about this. When we were going through the Series B, were you worried? Were you worried about what was happening, kind of in the general, because things look like they’re falling apart at the seams?

Brett: Well, I’m human. Of course, I worry like everybody else. I think when you’re obsessively building something… Because details matter. You focus on all of that. You pour so much of your life and attention and care into something. So when you care about something, when that starts to be tested or… Worry sinks in a little bit, of course. I think that’s just natural. But it really comes down to partners’ execution, of course, “Is your plan sound, your go-to-market sound, your pricing sound, etc., etc.?” And I think the big part of…

Just answering those questions we did early, we have to have just our go-to-market. We partner with banks. We don’t disrupt them. There’s this aspect of collaboration that’s so key in our business. We have major banks – world major banks – as investors in our company. We’ve got traction with amazing tech. So I think when you get that kind of traction, it just gives you a little bit of a base or a floor or de-risks your business quite a bit.

It doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy, or it doesn’t mean it’s gonna be guaranteed success. You have to execute and you have to earn it every single day. But there are those kinds of things that sort of shore that up. And then, when you get into fundraising, it doesn’t mean that you’re gonna get the valuation you want or you’re gonna get maybe the amount that you’re targeting to raise. But it just at least, with maybe all of those kind of softening a little bit, there’s a difference between actually getting funded and…

Joseph: Yeah.

Brett: …not getting funded. And those are the things you really start. You’ve got to have those right pieces in place to make that happen, and that’s where it really gets important.

De-risk your start-up: Is disruption necessary?

Joseph: So is this your hot take? Is your first Internet hot take is that you think that there’s still funding out there, there’s still liquidity in the market? It’s just a matter of kind of separating the chaff from the wheat at this point, right?

Last year, maybe there were a lot of fintechs that maybe weren’t showing the fundamentals. They weren’t showing actual growth. They weren’t showing sound business mechanics from a go-to-market perspective. Maybe now, it’s an area of focus for VCs, right? And because there were so many high-growth startups last year or the year before that were kind of fueled by this unprecedented injection of capital into the economy, it was easy to kind of be rolling around in the good times.

Today, it’s more like there are still successful startups, right? We’re one of them, right? So we’re gonna be the first to say, “We’re fine.” We’re not suffering like every other fintech company. But the reality of the situation is that the barrier for getting capital is much higher than it would have been last year. That’s just kind of a base statement. I don’t even know if that’s a hot take.

Brett: Yeah. Well, I think you say, “Are there barriers?” or “Is there a lot of capital still left in the market? Is there a lot of capital on the sidelines? Do VCs have tons of dry powder?” I think the answer is yes. You look at the win last year when everything was sort of hitting its peak and valuations were crazy, and that had gone on for honestly a fairly unprecedented time…

Joseph: Yeah.

Brett: …to where any new… That’s been the trend, “Hey, let’s start a company.” And it just became a lot easier to really build things up because of access to capital. And then, as things continued, you saw just unprecedented raises, just some of the biggest, whether you’re tier one, raising huge monstrous funds. And where did all that money go? They still have that committed. Of course…

A lot of people don’t know that. When a VC announces a billion-dollar fund, all of the LPs don’t instantly wire a billion dollars to that fund. So there are these commitments. And then, they do capital calls and then in waves as they need that capital. And that helps, of course, because when the check is written, then just the IRR (the Internal Rate of Return) on that investment is “the clock is ticking”. And then, VCs, of course, are graded on how they’re doing in terms of putting that money to work. But if they’re sitting on the money that’s idle capital, they wanna put that to work. So that’s why there’s that process of you get the commitments and, then when they’re ready to make the investments, they’re doing capital calls and they’re funding that. So that way, the clock is starting when they’re actually putting the money to work in companies.

But there are still massive amounts of committed capital, there are still massive amounts of capital or dry powder that the VCs have. But of course, they’re smart. They’re gonna be cautious, and they’re gonna hold the line a little bit, and they’re gonna let this flush out. Some of them, of course, are being opportunistic. They’re saying, “Hey, this is when the going gets good, valuations are coming down a little bit. We can just basically get a better deal.” And so I think that was all playing out and… But as things start to unlock a little bit, which… We’re not out of the woods yet. I think it’s gonna continue for a while. Then, you’ll start to see a pretty, pretty significant snapback as that starts to play out.

Joseph: So let me ask you this because that sounds almost hopeful, right? That the environment is hunkered-down. But it’s not like it’s the end times, if you will, from a VC perspective.

Brett: Hopefully not.

What founders should do now

Joseph: If I’m a founder, if I’m out there on the Internet and I listen to this podcast and I have access to your brain, what do you think I should be doing right now? Are there some fundamentals that I’m just going to be running as a playbook to help get through this period? Because let’s face it. Even though we’re doing okay and other tech companies are doing okay, there are a lot of companies that are not doing okay, right? And they’re using tools like layoffs, cutting product scope, adjusting their go-to-market in some cases in very fundamental ways. What are some of your kind of…? I guess, on this train of thought takes, what are some of the things that you’d be telling a founder today? If they have to go through a raise or maybe they’ve raised a little bit of money and they have to go through this period over the next year, what are some of the focus points that you would kind of call out?

Brett: Yeah, I think a big part is, these are times where the things to call out and the things you really emphasize and what you really need in terms of the startup toolkit – it really forces you to become a financial operator.

Joseph: Yeah.

Brett: So a lot of startups start with innovation. Typically, it may be an engineering background. The tech innovation is there for sure. But then, maybe there’s just a lot of know-how that’s needed. And then, VCs will help with that around how to actually run the business, spend the capital, prudently hiring people, all those kinds of things. But all of those moving parts is part of the operations of the company. And finance, of course, runs that. Your biggest cost is generally people because everything else is very efficient these days. So you obsess on a product roadmap.

But one of the key things that I learned early on in this is just more of your financial roadmap, which is your financial operating plan. And that’s something that has always been core to me. It’s just my MO. I’ve got to have that because, of course, I’m optimistic, I’m excited, I’m hopeful about all the things that we’re gonna deliver from a product standpoint, but it takes people to get there, it takes time. And all that means is that you need capital to be able to work through that process. If you don’t have a good financial roadmap, if you don’t have a financial operating plan where you know where the money is allocated to, you’re kind of winging it in some ways. So for me, it’s always been… It doesn’t mean that I’m gonna spend exactly to that blueprint. But it means it gives you tons of confidence knowing that if you spend within things that you’ve already stressed-test and you already understand where the elasticity is a little bit on on that spending roadmap, then you know that if you spend a little bit higher, a little bit low, where you stand with all of that and you know that you’re not constantly in this…

You can sleep at night, knowing that, “Wait a second! We just hired a few extra people.” And then, the winds of change hit you. And what implications does that have? Does that mean that we just accelerate our burn rate and we’re gonna not make payroll in two months? I mean, these are panicky kinds of things that honestly happen all the time, but you now know that, “No, that’s not the case. I’m a little over, a little under.” But it just gives you that – just like it would on the product side – of where you sit in that process. And that confidence is… That is not only for you as an operator, but it’s something that you’re breathing confidence through the entire company. Everybody sleeps easier because everybody starts to worry about their job at that point.

And I think when you’re operating blind and don’t have that financial operating plan to go by, confidence starts to run thin, people ask a lot of questions, you start responding in ways maybe that aren’t inducing confidence. It’s actually going the other way around. Things start to spiral a little bit, and everybody… Maybe, panic throughout the company starts to set in a little bit. All that stuff is not good.

How Trovata helps with your financial operating plan

Joseph: Oh man, if only there was a piece of software that could aid in helping put together that financial plan. Just so you know, we didn’t actually say this at the beginning of the podcast, but it just so happens to be the case that Brett is the brainchild of having built a piece of software that helps manage cash, first and foremost, but also helps you build that kind of forward-operating forecasting, kind of getting insights into whether or not you should be laying people off or whether or not you need to be tighter around spend in the various areas. It’s called Trovata. You can sign up for free today. We really hope you’ll check it out.

Brett: I’m outing you on the build process because, obviously, you have a lot to do with the building of this too. This is exactly what we do. I mean, this is a thing. It’s like, how do you democratize this? Not every startup… There are not that many financial operators to go around, or some are just not accessible or not… They’re too expensive, right? So how do you democratize that? In a platform now, everybody can have that. And that’s what we think we bring into the market, which is really rewarding and exciting to help folks out.

Joseph: Low key. This is the moment in the podcast when flashing lights go off and we say, “Hey, founders, if you’re listening to this, you should go sign up right now.”

Brett: Is there a coupon code in the upper left?

Try Trovata’s automated forecasting 100% free for 2 months, using coupon code: FORECASTING2023

Joseph: Oh, yeah, check out the coupon code in the upper right or left. Yeah, I think that that is right on. Just the hunkering down aspect isn’t really even hunkering down. It’s actually just getting smart about the business. The catch-22 in all of this is that there’s no replacing sound business fundamentals from a finance operator perspective. I think that’s just what we’re seeing. It’s that over the last few years, there was this go-go-go mentality. There was this “Money is cheap; you can just get it, you can raise it or get that. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what idea you have. You might not even have a market fit for it. Just go build it – they will come.”

What’s happening now is, it’s still the case that you will find an audience, you will find customers. You just have to have a real viable business. And if you don’t, you’re not gonna get funding. You’re not gonna get that, and that’s all that it means. And I think that it’s not that dire just from a startup perspective. It just means that… As we said earlier, the separating of the chaff from the wheat is what’s happening here.

Why we started Trovata

And that’s exciting for us because we’re in a situation where we’re happy to be building something that is useful to the startup community, that is useful to that kind of going on that journey of growth and how you manage that growth over time. And I think that’s something we don’t spend very much time talking about. It’s that we serve an underserved community in finance.
You started this whole kind of rant, if you will, about the hot take of what a founder should be doing. It was an ode to the finance operator, actually. And maybe, some people don’t even know you come from a background of deep experience on the finance side. You were a controller on Amazon. You went through multiple CFO ships. You’re a CEO now, obviously. That is near and dear to your heart, I’m assuming, unless you don’t care about the finance people anymore. I’m sure that’s not the case.

Brett: No. Well, I wasn’t the controller on Amazon. I worked in their finance corp, but…

Joseph: Finance corp. Okay.

Brett: I was a controller for a number of years early on in my career. And always, when I set out, I got a lot of mentoring along the way, which is important, I think, for all of us. But I wanted to run my own business someday. I wasn’t sure what that was gonna be. I got some coaching and mentoring, “Hey, take a finance track, take an accounting track, and learn about business because when you’re ready to do that, then you’ll have some really good tools.” I probably stayed in that a little longer than I thought I would, but mainly because I gravitated in the startup world. So I was doing more of these finance skills, making my way through that in advising but in a startup environment…

Joseph: Yeah.

Brett: …and having all of the aspects of just the everyday changes, weekly changes. I mean, you’re kind of living in dogear. So everything moves so fast and it’s very fluid – you’re learning on the fly, but you’re adapting with all of these finance skills how to learn and see all these movements and to help to get it right. So I think being in that, that sort of helped prolong this period of… I didn’t necessarily need to start a company right away on my own because I was getting this front-row seat to what was happening in the startup world and doing it in a way where I was learning a ton, but seeing how all these pieces fit together, they all moved and it just was awesome. So I could play more of this support role as I was learning. And then, when I was ready, that’s when the time came, which made the difference because I kind of had more of the tools and equipment to be able to do all that at a… And then, in the enterprise world, there are a lot more moving parts. And so it’s sort of operating a little close to the sun sometimes. I mean, you can’t get that wrong. You’re spending a lot more capital. There are a lot more people involved. The stakes go up. And so you just can’t get it wrong. And I think that all of that land itself really, really well along the way.

Joseph: Yeah, absolutely. You know what? Whenever we talk about this, I always get so inspired because, at the end of the day, the best way to learn is to be in it, is to be kind of working through the motions of the business and figuring it out as you go. But there’s no replacing having great tools. So that’s why it’s such a gratifying experience being able to both help serve the community, but also be part of it in a startup. On that note, in terms of serving the community and all of that… I know we’re in the holiday season. I was just curious. Do you have any plans for the end of the year? Are you planning on taking off into the sunset? What are your plans?

Brett: I would love to take time off and snowboard out. But you have to think in the startup world, there’s only one way to kind of play the game: you’re in the game and you’re just all in. And you’re all in all the time. And you’ve got to operate it at a high level, you’ve got to be in the details, too. It’s just the way it is. There are no shortcuts to building a great company. And so you’ve got to do that. So yeah, definitely, holidays is always an amazing time to rest and get a little bit of reprieve. A lot of family – in the Seattle area. So for my wife and my side of the family, we make an annual trip up there, spend time. My wife and I have four kids: four daughters. So if I’m not immersed in working in the startup world, I’m usually home with my family, playing a game of Settlers of Catan or battleship with my youngest daughter. She’s kind of into that.

Joseph: Oh, you’re a Settlers fan! Oh, that’s awesome. That I did not know. It turns out that there are actually tons of fans of Settlers of Catan here at Trovata. So we should probably get a big game going one of these days.

Brett & JD’s Superbowl picks

Last hot take, I promise. This is not a sports podcast. So all the marketing folks that are listening right now are cringing because I’m about to do a sports question. We’re week 14 at the NFL. We’re about to do the World Cup semi-finals. What are your picks? Picks for Super Bowl? You can’t do Seattle. I don’t accept it. We both know. What are you doing for Super Bowl? And what are you doing for the World Cup winner?

Brett: Well, maybe I’ll go World Cup first. And I’m not a huge soccer fan. I wish that I was. I’m more of American football on that side. I grew up playing a lot of sports, but I did… It was four years ago. Our family took a trip to Europe. Amazing trip! First time to Europe. And the tail end of the trip was in Paris. And then, we flew out of Paris. And it was going on when the World Cup… Four years ago when France won. And it was even toward the end of that when they… I think they were in there playing a semifinal game. And just to see the city, just… Everything was… At the time, just not expecting that. But every bar had this overflow. Everybody was watching the game on the small little screen in the bar, filling up the entire street, looking in it. It was a sight. It was super cool. So through that process, all of a sudden on the fly, we’re rooting for France because the US is not in, so… But they look pretty tough. They look pretty tough again this year. I think they’re gonna be tough to beat.

Of course, a big passion of mine is on… I use so many analogies as you hear them in the startup world about [unintelligible]. Well, just because there’s… Yeah, it’s just such an amazing team sport. And if you’re gonna build anything, it’s got to be with a team. It’s not only easier to do it, but it’s also a lot more fun. It’s not fun high-fiving yourself, right? When you’re enjoying things. And so, but that’s the… The epic fail. But when you look at football, all the things going on – 11 on offense, 11 on defense – it’s just, there are so many parallels, but…

So I’m a big Seahawks fan. Obviously, the Seahawks – they’re gonna have a tough time even to get into the playoffs now, but I’m hoping they’re gonna squeak in there. But Buffalo, I think, is gonna be pretty tough. I think the Eagles… I’m not sure if they are real. Obviously, they’ve only lost one game, but it’s… Yeah, it’s gonna be…

Joseph: All in Philadelphia, just unsubscribe from this podcast all at the same time. Oh, man.

Brett: Not really. I think Buffalo has been the closest. So yeah, it’s gonna… You got Buffalo and then Mahomes and the Chiefs. And then, you’ve got, I think, 49ers. Unfortunately, they’re… Unfortunately, I’m saying this, but they look pretty tough too.

Joseph: Yeah, I’ve got Argentina and I’m still a Bengals fan. So I’m gonna stay there for a little while. They’re my backup to Seattle just because I wanted to root for an unlikely story.

Brett: If you wanna see Burrow smoke, then light the cigar, right?

Joseph: Yes, sir. The Dallas are a great sight.

Is ChatGPT actually useful?

Where do I even begin with this? So open AI is basically this company that is not really a company. It’s this thing that has been invested in by just everybody and… It’s now this gigantic organization. So what do they do? They do research on AI topics like photos, chats, natural language texts, etc. So they built this tool. Anyone can sign up, so you can go to openai.com, I think it is. And there’s a bunch of different tools that you can use. It’s mainly for developers. But for the first time ever, they launched a consumer-like app. It’s called ChatGPT. And it’s scary. So…

Brett: It’s… Yeah, it’s nuts.

Joseph: So ChatGPT basically is a traditional chatbot. And you can just ask it any question – it’ll answer back, right? As if it’s a human talking. In the context of its databases, it basically has scraped most of the Internet to get its database of text that it’s using to frame answers and identify patterns and do all kinds of stuff. And people have been really creative about what it can do. Famous YouTubers, for example, have asked it, “Hey, can you write a script for my next video?”, and it, literally, in the style of that YouTuber will write a script. It’ll write short stories. It’ll code. Recently, we were in a meeting and I was like, “What if I just ask ChatGPT how to write this particular JavaScript code?”, and it did it. And it did it in a way that isn’t wrong. It’s not the best way, but it’s also not wrong, so…

Brett: …the one that I saw, that it was…

Joseph: Yeah.

Brett: …writing about the… This journalist said they wanted to test it to write the story on a fintech company, but do it in a style, but do it as if he’s Snoop Dogg.

Joseph: Yeah.

Brett: …writing about the… This journalist said they wanted to test it to write the story on a fintech company, but do it in a style, but do it as if he’s Snoop Dogg.

Joseph: Yeah.

Brett: And not enough… It was probably maybe not nearly as cool as Snoop Dogg doing it, but it was amazing – the stylization that they turned. It was incredible.

Joseph: So I was thinking it might be fun if we open ChatGPT right now and we ask it some questions about Trovata and see what it thinks about what our marketing should look like, see what it thinks about our business, and just get a sense for its responses. So the first question that I have is, “I need to write some marketing taglines for trovata.io. Do you have any suggestions?” And let’s see what it says.

Brett: You’re not gonna make the team feel insecure now. Just easy on Rida.

Joseph: All right. Well, it aired out. So minus one for ChatGPT. Let’s try that again. And Rida’s still safe. All right. Let’s try it again. Here we go. All right, so here’s its response, “Sure, here are a few potential marketing taglines for trovata.io. Number one, unlock the power of your data with trovata.io.” Okay, that one’s… That’s pretty easy.

Brett: Yeah.

Joseph: Number two, transform your business with trovata.io’s advanced analytics. Three, get insights and drive growth with trovata.io. Four, empower your team with trovata.io’s data-driven solutions. Five, optimize your operations with trovata.io’s AI power tools. And then, it says, “Remember that the goal of a marketing tagline is to quickly and effectively communicate the value that your product or services provide. In the case of trovata.io, some key points to focus on might be its ability to help businesses gain insights from their data, improve their operations, and drive growth. You can also highlight the use of advanced technologies like AI to make your product stand out.” This is a conversational assistant that just said that.

Brett: It’s nuts.

Joseph: What?! Okay, so you don’t have to stop there. So let’s say you read this and you didn’t like the fact that it was so generic. So you could then respond back in context. So you could say, “Is there a way to say these taglines, focusing more on cash and the analysis of forecasting?”

Brett: Yeah, we need a little more finance in there.

Joseph: What?! Okay, so you don’t have to stop there. So let’s say you read this and you didn’t like the fact that it was so generic. So you could then respond back in context. So you could say, “Is there a way to say these taglines, focusing more on cash and the analysis of forecasting?”

Brett: Yeah, we need a little more finance in there.

Joseph: Yeah. Sure, here are a few potential marketing taglines that focus on cash and forecasting. Maximize your cash flow with trovata.io’s forecasting tools. Improve your financial planning with trovata.io’s data-driven insights. Optimize your budgeting with trovata.io’s AI power analysis. Achieve financial stability with trovata.io’s advanced forecasting capabilities. And then, the final one – gain a competitive edge with trovata.io’s comprehensive cash flow analysis. I don’t know.

Brett: Not bad.

Joseph: We’re doomed.

Brett: I think they used that too. I saw the announcement on fusion. Did they use it to actually get the fusion breakthrough this morning…?

Joseph: Yeah. It only took us 100 years to figure that out. It’s very questionable that OpenAI is just a recent thing and maybe that… Yeah, I don’t know. The biggest thing that I’ve been looking into for this is, obviously, there’s everybody that’s like, “Oh, we’re all gonna be replaced by machines and all of that.” Honestly, just playing with it for the last few days, the thing that I’ve been noticing is, “Could you imagine if this is our future, if it’s Jarvis-like assistance? That you need a creative burst or you need to look into a corner of something and, instead of having to do work, you just type in one sentence and it unlocks all this creativity? You can take it in any direction.” So I’m not scared at all by this stuff. I think that this is amazing. If this is the future, please sign me up for it because it just… Look at the little taglines that it gave. It makes it so much easier to engage in a creative session when you have a starting point, right?

Brett: I think where you start to go with this… I mean, you think of forecasting and one of the approaches to how we’ve built our forecasting tools because forecasting is… It’s not like a report interface problem. It’s just a data problem, a data-sourcing problem. And then, when you… You gotta manipulate and do things with that data, building assumptions, and kind of test theories and all that. Elasticity kind of scenario, modeling, and all that. So when you look at taking that data set and then applying certain assumptions, “I want growth plus 5%” or “What happens…

Joseph: Right.

Brett: …if I do this?” If you use then that to start to model out those things or do all those modeling permutations, it takes a ton of time to set those up and then it’s like, “Turn the crank, rerun the model, see what the results are…

Joseph: Right.

Brett: I mean, that’s the future of, I think, where we’re gonna go – one of many – of just automating a lot of these manual workflows, where… I mean, this is pretty cool. How are we gonna get this into our product, Joseph? Can we put that on the roadmap for Q1?

Joseph: I knew it was coming.

Brett: You back your way into that one.

Joseph: Yeah. Anyways, this is just, I guess, to finish this off. I just asked it in the spirit of the holiday season, “Say all this as if you’re the Grinch and it’s not safe.” We’re not gonna go into it. Anyways, I think this is just so interesting. And I’m excited to see where this goes.

Brett: Cool.

Joseph: I think that’s all we have for today’s podcast. This was awesome. Really excited about this going forward. Thank you for your time, Brett! This was great. We’ll see you next time. Have a good one.

Brett: Absolutely. See you.

Hosts / Guest Speakers
Brett Turner
CEO & Founder, Trovata
Brett Turner
CEO & Founder, Trovata
After starting out as a CPA at Deloitte, Brett spent his early years as a financial reporting & GAAP specialist in Controller roles prior to his time at Amazon managing its SEC reporting. After leaving Amazon in 2005, Brett developed a strong track record for building, financing, and growing tech startups as a CFO. Prior to starting Trovata in 2016, he raised over $100M through equity and debt financings with successful exits at 3 enterprise startups generating over $500M in shareholder value. Outside of work, Brett enjoys time with his family, the beach, playing golf, and watching the Seahawks.
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Joseph Drambarean
CPO, Trovata
Joseph Drambarean
CPO, Trovata
As a Director of Strategy with the mobile app design firm, Punchkick Interactive, Joseph was responsible for developing roadmaps and executing global product launches for brands like Marriott International, Allstate Insurance, and Harley-Davidson. He later served as a Senior Manager in Capital One’s Digital Product Management team. Joseph is a Chicago native, and graduated with a BA in Political Science & Economics from Loyola University of Chicago.
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