Andrew Senduk: Winning Hires, Vanity Metrics & Incentives & Entrepreneurial Itch - E181

· Founder,Purpose,Indonesia,Financial Security,Podcast Episodes English

I really felt that my creative spirit was not really unleashed in the dealing room. So then I'm like “Let's just go, let's just go. We got the money to be safe for one year and then let's just go”. I have to say, from wining and dining to having no income, we went to the markets and we always bought the stuff like all at the bottom of the floor, right? Then went to the markets and yeah, you need to adjust your spending, especially as starting entrepreneurs, which was an amazing time, by the way, especially to do that with your wife as well. I mean, for me, it's special. -Andrew Senduk

Andrew Senduk started his career in both consulting and banking at top-tier firms but found a true passion in e-commerce. He holds 12+ years of entrepreneurial experience building ventures across Europe and Southeast Asia. He co-founded Orami, Southeast Asia’s #1 online destination for mums & babies. Orami raised $20M+ in venture funding and employed 600+ people.

Prior to this, Andrew spent 1 year building one of the fastest-growing digital agencies within the region, Lion & Lion where he acted as Country Managing Director Indonesia. He currently holds several strategic roles as an advisor to both startups and corporates and is a highly sought-after keynote speaker on entrepreneurial leadership, digital transformation, and growth.

Jeremy Au: (00:30)

Hi Andrew. So excited to have you on the show. You're a founder, you're a speaker and you're a podcast host in Southeast Asia and Indonesia inspiring and motivating so many folks out there, so excited to have you share your journey with everyone. So for those who don't know you yet, could you share a little bit about yourself?

Andrew Senduk: (00:48)

Of course. Of course. First off, thanks so much, Jeremy. Appreciate us connecting here. Andrew Senduk, former banker turned serial entrepreneur. I love building companies, building people. In the last couple of years, I've built several tech companies, e-commerce companies within the region and specifically in the last four years, I became like a professional keynote speaker and wrote a book in 2018.

And as of today, I still work a lot with entrepreneurs, founders, and growth. So I help them scale businesses from A to B, and I love doing that.

Jeremy Au: (01:21)

How did you first catch the bug to say - Forget this consulting and banking career, I want to be a founder.

Andrew Senduk: (01:29)

Yeah, it's funny enough, it was like in 2009. I was back then working at the dealing room at ING in Amsterdam and honestly speaking, it was kind of like my dream job. I always wanted to be in this fast paced environment, doing big deals. I was a young guy, quote unquote. I'm still a young guy, actually.

But I felt like I was in their cage. The famous golden cage. I was playing a lot with the idea of, you know what, I want to start a business. I tried some side hustles, but for me personally, it was kind of difficult to juggle like a pretty high pressure job with the side business.

So I came to this point where I said to my wife, I want to resign from my job. And to give you a bit of context, like both me and my wife are entrepreneurs and back then we just bought a house with a mortgage and pretty big stuff, grown up stuff. Then we eventually decided like enough is enough, let's give it a try, let's give it a year.

So we planned this just budget wise. We planned this one year. If there's no income, we still survive. And in the same week we both resigned from our jobs and started entrepreneurship from the living room. That's kind of like where it started. So since 2009, I've been building stuff, building companies.

Jeremy Au: (02:42)

Awesome. And what was that first thing that you built?

Andrew Senduk: (02:45)

That first thing was actually an e-commerce company as well as a one product shop. Pretty straightforward stuff. In Indonesia, there's this famous pillow which is called the Guling. I always tell this story, especially when I speak. But Guling is like a long sausage shaped pillow. I don't know if they have it in Singapore, but in Indonesia it's kind of like part of culture.

Every time when I came to Indonesia, you know, for holiday or to meet my family, I was like, Man, this pillow is amazing, right? To sleep with such a pillow is amazing. But they didn't have it in the Netherlands. They only had similar types of pillows, but mostly focused on pregnant women. So my idea was really to make this one product, make this pillow into a cool product, like a united colours of Benetton type of photoshoot and that type of branding.

I'm like, you know, let's go to China, find a supplier there who could make it. If you're buying in Indonesia, it's going to cost you like $8, maybe $7. I sold it in the Netherlands for $70, and I did a photoshoot with some friends from all colours, all nationalities, Chinese girl, black guy, white girl, green girl, red girl, whatever, all types of colours.

And in the first 24 hours after I launched, I sold like 600 of them. And I was in the living room and I was just in my living room, launching this website, and that's when I kind of caught the bug like, oh man, this is pretty amazing. I'm in my living room right now in my nice environment. I'm selling to Nationwide.

Eventually I started selling also in other countries. But back then I sold like throughout the nation. That's where I really fell in love with the power of e-commerce and was selling stuff online. And yeah, that's, that's where it started.

Jeremy Au: (04:18)

Obviously it is a good plan because of your experiences with marketing where obviously the big macro tailwinds of growing e-commerce in the region and obviously you understand the local culture and buying dynamics. What's interesting of course is that you scale this out, right, because it is building out one product but you start building this out in a more venture scaled format as well because you didn't decide to make this like an e-commerce dropship format as well. Yeah. So tell us more about how you scaled this from one product to more of a business.

Andrew Senduk: (04:49)

Yeah. So in the Netherlands, I was pretty, pretty big in like niche commerce or really like one product shops. So, you know, after I did the pillow, I started doing a bit more B2B selling to hotels and stuff like that, but it was still kind of like in this one product store. But after that I launched several niche websites also and like superfoods and we did a bit of fashion as well.

But I think the real scaling part, to be very honest, my real scaling experience was really in Indonesia where I really was exposed to this idea of hyper growth and what growth actually means and taking it to the next level what it really means. And that was my experience with, you know, back then launching Moxy, which was a female focused e-commerce company, initially started in Thailand, and I launched the one in Indonesia, which really grew from zero in Indonesia and, you know, through different MNAs.

We eventually rebranded and then we took it to the next level where we employed over 600 people in Indonesia. And that was kind of like pretty much scale that I've never seen or experienced before. So that was pretty new for me/to me as well.

Jeremy Au: (05:51)

Yes. What was it like to co-found at the time Moxy. And what was your thinking at that point of time?

Andrew Senduk: (05:58)

Yeah, I mean, to be very honest, like I moved to Indonesia in 2013 and I thought like I have this entrepreneur experience from Netherlands and like I know how everything goes. So I came to Jakarta. I'm like, okay, I'm going to start this new company from scratch without knowing the right people. So a bit of too much confidence there.

I felt like it's very, very difficult and I'm still a bull. I ran as a white guy in that sense. So I'm coming to Indonesia. No, no, I don't have any network. I did a stint with a digital agency back then, which was part of Lion & Lion all ex Rocket guys, funded by Nova founders, which gave me actually my initial exposure to growth because this agency grew to five or six countries within 12 months.

It showed me kind of like the potential and the demand there was and still is on that agency side and along that journey of the digital agency, I was approached by a Nova founder, by Art of Capital, which was another VC and Thai VC, who then had the idea like, Hey, we want to launch this e-commerce company?

But to be very honest, in 2013, when I just moved, I had this idea already, like, man, when I moved to Indonesia, such a massive market. I'm going to build this multimillion dollar business, even though I didn't know the people, I didn't know anything about the local market, actually. But I just came in with this idea like, okay, I'm going to do this.

So through a bit of a detour, digital agency, I came back to where my heart is really full of and it's e-commerce and we rented a small office in Jakarta like literally I think 20 square metres and yeah just ninja style, you know, like going into LinkedIn and hijacking people and that's what I mentioned like pre-interview I think, you know, when you don't have anything where there's nothing you have to show, there's no cool office, there's nothing, there's no big brand.

But then getting people inside, getting people on board on your rocketship, I think that's one of the most exciting things, like really being able to convince people like, okay, yeah, what you're going to build is going to change it’s going to be something, it’s going to be worth something within the whole tech ecosystem of Indonesia.

And then, you know, from the first person I hired and the second and suddenly we were at ten and then 50. And the funny thing was I had like 50 people, but we didn't launch it, you know what I mean? So it was very fast. Like within a few months that we had like 60 people and then so we launched and you know how it is eventually when you have investors like the pressure is also on, right?

It's not like we launch, are going to look? We take our time to go for product market fit? No, it's like we launch and we go boom, boom, boom, GMV, GMV. While I'm in that roller coaster, to be honest, like looking back, it was so exciting, man. It was so exciting because again, for me, even coming from the corporate side, you know, I worked at ING, I worked in like corporate corporations.

The teams I led there were like five people or like four or five people. So it's a different type of leadership. But suddenly there's like so many people you need to guide. And a lot of the people in the team were maybe first time ecom people, first time digital people. So, I took them from corporations, some of them I also took from other e-commerce companies, but so many things to learn.

I think as a leader in general, so many things to learn from a vision perspective. But, I think most mostly from a leadership perspective, leadership is all about communicating is all about like sharing stories so that people believe in you. And these people could be other investors. The people could be new employees that you have.

So yeah, that's why I believe like this ecosystem right now, so many young leaders, it can be overwhelming to build something, to have the pressure on one side of like investors or even maybe yourself, because you just want to scale as fast as possible. But it can be overwhelming. And that's why I like structuring your thoughts and like having good guidance in that this, I think, crucial.

If it's not for the business, then it's for your own mental health, you know, to kind of like be systematic and systematic with what scaling means and how to do it.

Jeremy Au: (09:47)

So lots of different things that you mentioned in terms of this thing around the rocketship and taking notes here, obviously, it being GMV, GMV, GMV to it being overwhelming. Let's talk about that early days first, which is can you tell us more about what was it like trying to get people to sign up on board?

When, you know, you're talking about the rocket ship story, you know, when there's no rocket ship, just the two of you. Yeah. So there's a little bit of a chicken and egg, right? So you're not being authentic, but then you're not being real. So how does that work? You know, everyone has struggles with that, right?

Andrew Senduk: (10:23)

Yeah, of course. Of course. And that's why I always believe, like entrepreneurs are visionaries and entrepreneurs are like they can sell the dream. Right. And literally, I was looking at some old messages that I had sent to a few people that eventually joined my team. I'm also honest, right? The most honest, like, you know, I'm the only one right now.

And we need people now. We need to strengthen the core team. So we need heavy people, people that are inspired enough, passionate enough to, like, make a dent in Indonesia's tech industry. And they want to be part of the story. And you need to understand that back then, I think the Lippo Mall, they were just launching their e-commerce, you know, with a lot of like a big war chest.

So you need to differentiate yourself from just because I can afford paying people like these super big salaries. Right. Of course, I asked them, you know, what your current salary is and of course, I added a bit on top of that. But it's…I can really play that card. So then what card do you play? What card do you play?

You play this abstract card, that feeling, the feeling of telling the story and then convincing people to come on board to be part of that story. That's right. I think communicating and telling stories. I think so. So crucial for entrepreneurs in general, even if it's you're leading your team on a day-to-day basis or if it's like telling the story to investors to keep backing you, to keep funding more.

I think storytelling is so crucial. Yeah, though those emails were I mean, literally were like, you know, hey, I'm Andrew, I'm going to launch this e-commerce company and I'm looking for strong people that want to be part of this journey. And let's have a coffee. Pretty straightforward stuff. Yeah. Along the way, people bought into that story.

And then you build the team, you built the culture, right? And then once we had the culture, then suddenly it's like, oh, like my employees started hiring other people because they want to be part of the family. And I think that's the beauty. That's the beauty of this whole start up type of culture when the team is still small, like 50 or 60 people, it’s still like a big family to really protect that, I think that's what a challenge is because to keep the same culture, the same communication levels for a 50 or 60 people team versus a 600 plus or 1000 people team, I think that requires a lot of intention and that requires a whole different team which is focused on HR And culture and people. But as a hands on CEO, I really, really enjoyed that season where, you know, we went from me alone to, you know, 60 or 70 people. That's such an exciting time because you also build a lot of relationships with everyone and everyone becomes part of the family that you're building.

So, yeah, that's always exciting about building.

00;12;53;12 - 00;13;13;05

Jeremy Au: (12:53)

There's a huge part that is there. But I think there's a challenge there, which is you said that you sent a text and you're being honest about the upside. And it's also a struggle for a lot of founders to say like, how do you be exciting about a future while also getting them on board? Is any advice in retrospect?

I guess sometimes it feels like it’s obvious in retrospect and sometimes it doesn't feel so obvious. Any advice quickly you have on getting people on board that rocket ship?

Andrew Senduk: (13:20)

I think at the end of the day, it's really about being yourself, which kind of sounds corny maybe, but I think when you're really close to who you are and you are actually convinced, like 200% convinced that this idea that you're building is going to change lives, that enthusiasm, that passion should come across, you know, so it's not really about like, oh, I'm like an imposter syndrome type of thing.

I think it's really about, you know, if you are really passionate about something and about solving a problem, I personally think that it would be very easy to get people on board. And even there also it's a product market fit, right? Even there is product market fit. Like where are you going to fish for new people?

Referrals are always good, right, which are a bit more low hanging fruit. So there's a bit of filters there. But everything in life, a product market fit is applicable. The first hires I did were like maybe introductions from friends within industry or went through VC or just other networks. So it's not too like, Oh, Andrew's coming out of nowhere, which I also did.

I mean, I also did like the Ninja style on LinkedIn, which I also did, and I hired a lot of people on LinkedIn, but I think the first ones it will be, ideally speaking, it will be nice if these are like some type of introductions. So there is some filter, but, again, like going back to your question, I believe like once if you're really convinced that what you're doing is going to change the world or make life easier for a certain group of people, for your specific ICA, your ideal customer avatar, then that enthusiasm should just be natural, right?

And when you tell that story, you will pull people in. But going more into detail of that then it comes to communication strategy, it becomes really about trust. And trust is a topic which is applicable to startups and investors, but also from startups to their future employees. How you build that trust, how you build that trust. So yeah, there's all different strategies for. I think when you're really intentional about, about the idea that you have intentional about the people that you talk to, that there's a potential good match or at least there's some match there, then I think it will be pretty easy actually to get them on board.

Jeremy Au: (15:24)

And there you are obviously you bring them on board and you've won these hires. You're hammering GMV, you know, trying to grow aggressively. What are some aspects you mentioned that you started to understand some parts about growth that you didn't understand before. So could you share a little bit more about what you meant by that?

Andrew Senduk: (15:45)

Growth is a beautiful thing, right? Because growth is easy to look at from a superficial perspective, from a superficial angle. It's easy to look at growth. Growth as in the number of people that you have, growth as in GMV, growth as in just your overall revenue, whatever startup that you're doing. But along the way, I've been really starting to see that apart from like the pressures of investors.

But you as an entrepreneur, when you're building something, you need to really make a difference between, let's say, the vanity metrics, which could be sometimes superficial and the quality metrics. So really about, let's say employee engagement, like just purely the happiness level of your people. How is communication going within the teams? What culture are you building? I think those things you don't see on a headline, there's not a lot of exposure on those type of things, right?

But I think it's crucial for the foundation of growth. And when you go more to the financials, yeah, I mean, it's always going to be this tension between, let's say, top line versus your bottom line and everything in between. So I think there's just a bit of a balance that you need to really focus on. If I look back like we were pretty focused on top line, top line GMV and we're talking about 2014, 15 and 16.

So maybe back then it was still allowed. It was still allowed. But I think just in hindsight, I would really say that balanced those two. So at least that you have a really good benchmark between the vanity ones which could make the headlines, but then also the metrics that maybe don't make it, don't make the news, but are crucial for the foundation of your organisation, for the foundation of your leadership, because those quality metrics will actually help you really grow to the next stage.

Jeremy Au: (17:29)

That's amazing because sounds like something that you learned in retrospect. So, tell us more about two things. First of all, give us an example of a vanity metric versus a more like fundamental metric from your perspective.

Andrew Senduk: (17:48)

For me, the most obvious one is really like this, your top line GMV, right? This purely your top line sales or gross revenue that you're doing, which of course, is going to be maybe one of the first things that the investors could be asking or media could be asking or even you hold for yourself because we need to grow this business.

And then you're just from an e-commerce perspective. I think margins, of course, is kind of like what was what actually is the quality? Going a bit deeper, it's more retention customers like how many of the new…just your whole balance between your new customers versus your retention and go maybe a level deeper is more on marketing efficiency.

If we talk about eventually we're spending what, 500,000 or $1,000,000 a month in ads, going into like micro detail of I don't know if you're a return on ad spend. For example, your role was on certain campaigns versus your margins, for example. Right? Because oftentimes when you're running behind GMV, it can get really, really like a rat race.

Then you're certainly you're trying to sell things purely to bump up your average order of value or your basket size. But actually, in the back of your mind, you know that it's not part of the core of the business, but you're doing it to show the numbers. So that's that's really a tension. And, you know, like I mentioned, I think once investors are on board, I think it's really important that that that you have the right even on that side, you know, the startup and the investor that there's the right product market fit as well.

So that the investors also know and have a sort of a realistic timeline on when certain growth is being achieved. And they're not like with a whip behind you, like, you know, you need to keep on going, keep on going. So I think there should always be a balance between the two. But yeah, I think those two metrics we talk about top line GMV or gross sales versus your margins, as I think that's a very big balance that entrepreneurs and leaders need to need to look into.

Jeremy Au: (19:37)

The second aspect of that is the learning aspect of that, which is you said that this is something that you came to realise over time. Yeah. So what made it difficult for you to understand when at a time versus something that has taken time for you to decompress and yeah that over time so is it maybe is that is that maybe like all founders are smarter now in 2021 now that I mean that was just kind of true.

I think founders are generally smarter with more Internet. I think so. I think that's an aspect of it personally. But I mean, I just kind of wondering, what do you think has been part of that journey for you?

Andrew Senduk: (20:14)

Yeah, I think on that rocketship and again with the variable of investors being involved and the variable of pressure, the variable of needing to deliver, of course we're running right, we’re running. And I think that is just something which once investors are on board, it is, of course, a bit of a different agenda that everyone has, you know, different pressure, different timelines, you know, because people want to have returns, which is legit, that if investors put money in you, they want to see returns.

But I think in hindsight, it's more on if that pressure would not be there. Maybe you should spend more time on focusing on that product market fit. So the quality of your business and the quality of your metrics would be different and would be more long term driven. That's kind of like in hindsight. Yeah, I think maybe it's because of internet as well.

I think with entrepreneurs and in leadership in general, I believe that your capacity to zoom in and to zoom out is crucial for every business, but it's also crucial for your life. And if you're so zoomed in into that business and every day you look at your P&L and every day look at your, you know, your systems and you look at how many stocks you have, how many sales you're doing. Sometimes it's difficult to, like, zoom out and to really understand, like, what actually are we doing right? What are we chasing? Are we chasing GMV or are we actually chasing a product market fit, which on a longer term, which give us much more quality.

And even up until today and I work with entrepreneurs and some are doing pretty solid numbers. It could be like, you know, 20, 20, 30, $40 million in revenue. I still have that discussion which I find interesting because you from the outside would say like, oh, these guys are doing really well. Like, you know, look at their sales or look at the team.

But when you drill down, yeah, it's kind of like a moving thing, right? It's almost like a live Google Docs, right. Which needs to be adjusted sometimes and this product market fit ideal situation is I have from the beginning I launch quality. But the reality is it's not always like that. And so I think that revisiting the product market fit and really understanding this quality of revenue is coming in.

The quality of clients that are coming in, that eventually is going to give you the good foundation for growth. But when you're in it and when there's more agendas behind the company that you're building, it's not always that easy to say, like, you know what, guys, give me like a year’s time to get the right product market fit.

Once that's ready, then we're going to accelerate. No, that's just not the reality because the moment when people come on board and you know, and I know yeah. It's going to be a bit different, right? There's, there's more people behind the wheel or at least more people who are kind of like pushing the car and that is sometimes challenging.

So that's why in hindsight, looking back, I just think it's really important for entrepreneurs and startup founders to really…when we talk about VC funding, for example, to have the right people in your board, to have the right people in your team that are there for you, for the company, and not only to write a check and wait a couple of years to get to the nice exit there which is difficult, by the way.

Jeremy Au: (23:19)

It is difficult.

Andrew Senduk: (23:20)

Yeah, it is difficult. Yeah. And especially in e-commerce because back then again, 2015, 16, a lot of burning. When you're burning, it's not very nice to fundraise when you're burning. That's why I always say like, you know, just build a business where you don't have to raise so that when you raise, you're in the best shape to raise because if you don't need money, you want in or not, man, it's not? It's going to be your win. I'll win anyway, because I don't need your money. So I'm just giving you the opportunity to chip along. So that mindset shift is, I think, very important that, that, that founders built businesses there. It is profitable and it's trying to make it profitable from the beginning - make money, understand the business model. And then if you think like, okay, I need money to scale faster to get the marketing engine running faster. Okay, that would make sense. But yeah, but I think just back then, six, seven years ago. Yeah, it was just a bit different, the different agendas, different forces that are playing a role. That's not always easy, but yeah, you need to balance, balance different agendas.

Jeremy Au: (24:16)

Yeah, I think that's a good set of learnings there. And to quickly tie to in, I especially agree what you said, which is, hey, you know, if you define the metric as GMV or vanity metric versus, you know, deeper metrics, you set yourself astray, you set the team astray, but then you also start bringing on the wrong teammate like the wrong investors.

And then they are your boss, your teammate, the wrong structure, the wrong time pressure, and then you're stuck, and then you're, like, pushing each other on a wrong timetable or the wrong incentives and the flywheel goes sideways, right?

Andrew Senduk: (24:53)

Yeah. That is challenging. And again, it's not always that easy, right? To really orchestrate that in the right way. It needs a lot of intention. That's why I like from the get go, if you can already build in a profitable way, it's going to make the whole negotiation different where you actually have the power to decide, you know, what's important, yes or no. In the moment that that's not the case, it becomes very difficult to demand things, somewhat difficult to drive things. And that's just the reality which kind of makes sense as well, right? Because if they put money in you, then…

Jeremy Au: (25:23)

Yeah, exactly. You know, if any of these learnings that you're building and you know, you say, okay, you know, you build out around me. What was that learning as you scale out, as the company scales to the next level, how did you feel like the company shift and change?

Andrew Senduk: (25:38)

Yeah, I think for me it's really on the people side. I think that's the biggest learning for me is really people because in a certain moment, like I said, I think that journey from the say up until 60 people is very family ish, family like. But then once we grow further and eventually we had like 600 people, it's a different beast, different ballgame.

It requires much more structure and how teams are operated on reporting. And I think that's one of the big lessons for me, I mean, apart from, you know, talking about vision or apart from where we as a company are evolving into, I think the people side is, I think, definitely one of the biggest learnings where just adding people is never the solution, right?

Just adding people is never the solution. And then sometimes in developing countries it is actually the easiest solution. I got like, I don't know, my sink is leaking. I'll just hire someone to hold like something beneath it, you know, instead of just fixing the sink. That sounds really weird. If you go deep into some companies that actually is the philosophy.

So I think that has been a big learning where, you know, hiring people is never the solution. Firing people is sometimes the solution, but always thinking in automation. That's why nowadays I'm so much into like automation. How can we build businesses without any hands being involved in the process or at least minimum number of hands? But just again, like looking back in hindsight, I think it will be good if that paradigm of hiring people shifted towards hiring very slow, but then firing fast, which sounds pretty aggressive.

But I think there is a fundamental theme which is really that the people that you hire should be really adding value, like really adding value. And then once you have those people on board, then it's really about think thoroughly on structure and team structure and organisation, on reporting lines, on the dotted lines. And you know, working in sprints, just the way people work and the way they're productive, I mean, that becomes a big issue and it becomes a big challenge when there's so many people on the payroll.

Again, even now, when I work with founders and entrepreneurs, maybe they have like 50 people or 100 people. I always hammer on this because, yeah, we just hire…we just hire a few people for that. And I'm like really? do need to hire people for that? Maybe you should fire some people for that and maybe one person should be doing that.

I had this interesting discussion with one of my guests and he's like, you know, you could hire ten developers, but maybe there's a 10X developer out there as well. So that process has been a very big learning. You know, Indonesia is such a huge country. There's so many young people, there's so much potential. But just hire the right person, groom them properly, and then you'll be much better off than just, you know, just hiring ten guys and kind of keep going, right?

So just be much more intentional with people, how you organise it, how you build them, how you structure it. And that would definitely be a big factor in the next stage of the business.

Jeremy Au: (28:37)

Amazing. Andrew, I'd love to hear from you. Could you tell us about a time that you have been BRAVE?

Andrew Senduk: (28:42)

Well, for me, honestly, the time that I've been brave was really when I resigned from my job and need to understand that back then we were DINK-y, like a double income, no kids. We lived in a beautiful apartment in the city of Amsterdam and life was really good, man. Like life was really good. I had a dream job, actually.

Making good banking money. And my wife was a chief designer at a clothing brand. But, you know, sometimes I just feel like we plan our lives as much as we can and we plan like long term and we should plan long term. But at the same time, I'm also a guy that would say, like, you know, life could also be over.

And I mean, a lot of people, walk on a street and a bus hits them. They didn't think that it would happen that day. So sometimes I also need to find a balance in that. But I sometimes really like I listen to my feelings and back then, even though life was very comfortable, I was like, I just need to do this.

I mean, it's pretty tough, man. I mean, you just signed a mortgage, you know, and both of us would resign that week. So it was a pretty, I would say, pretty brave moment for us and it was actually a catalyst for our career as well because both me and my wife have been entrepreneurs since 2009. But that's definitely a pivotal moment.

That's definitely a moment in my life that I would say that I was brave. Yeah, that moment is also the reason why I am now here where I am with a lot of highs and lows as well. But you know, and that's how life is.

Jeremy Au: (30:05)

What made you make that leap?

Andrew Senduk: (30:09)

Maybe one of the reasons as well was like a good friend of mine was an Internet entrepreneur and we studied together and of course, I admired him. Right. The super inspiring guy. And he exits this business when he was 27, 28, sold the business for 20 million. And I've always had this entrepreneurial itch. Even when I was working at Deloitte, for example, early days of my career, I was like side hustling with a few other guys to start an app.

So I was always intrigued by entrepreneurship and building something, but I just didn't have the time or the dedication or just the priority of my schedule, it just wasn't there. Then I said to myself, You know what? This is now or never that I was thinking like, it's now or never. If we should try, just try it now.

And I didn't do it as an impulse. I literally said like, okay, our mortgage, mortgage back then was like 1500 US a month. And I said like, okay, you know what, let's at least if we have like 12 times our mortgage, a bit of money for groceries, I'll tell you, like back then, dinky lifestyle, we're like we're balling every day like a restaurant, wining and dining everywhere.

And then we both quit our jobs and like, no income, no income, like, literally from one month, nice income, second month, like zero coming in. It's the first one's nice, right? We're like still in this kind of holiday mood, but then the reality sets in, right? Like if you don't do something, no one is going to do something.

If you don't do something, nothing is going to move. And I think that paradigm is, I think, for entrepreneurs, I think that’s the foundation, like if you don't push it, if you don't come with something, nothing is going to happen. Yeah. So, eventually, we just jumped ship because we just saw that the world is so big.

And my world back then was only the dealing room with IMG. And we're just trading derivatives, which look at my Bloomberg screen, which kind of like sounds nice or looks nice from the outside, but at the end of the day, it's super niche, very specialist, specialist job. And I'm like, I want to look out. I don't look in the world, you know, what can I do?

And I really felt that my creative spirit was not really unleashed in the dealing room. So then I'm like, Let's just go, let's just go. We got the money to be safe for one year and then let's just go. And I have to say, like from wining and dining to having no income and we went to like the markets and we always bought the stuff like all, all at the bottom of the floor, right?

Then went to the markets and yeah, you need to adjust your spending, especially as like starting entrepreneurs, which was an amazing time by the way, especially to do that with your wife as well. I mean, for me, it's special. To me it's special. And I've been working with my wife for the last 12 plus years.

So, it's been good times, man.

Jeremy Au: (32:33)

Awesome. Amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your journey so far. I’ll love to take the time to paraphrase and summarise the three big themes that I got from this lesson.

The first is thank you so much for sharing your advice on really how to win people over at hires. In terms of the early days about a culture, in terms of being a founder, especially in terms of articulating it when you have nobody except for yourself and your co-founder to articulating the vision of a rocket ship to actually bringing people on board and actually win them over, over and over again while also being honest about where you are versus a competitor and the reality of the market. And I think along the way you talked about some of the culture and people dynamics of being a founder and leader of a scaling company as well.

The second part that we've also got to talk about was really about vanity metrics and incentives. So got to talk a little bit about how we often chasing metrics like GMV or other metrics are very not really the core of what the business is. For example, like margin or efficiency and effectiveness, like return on ad spend and things like that. And so therefore it causes our team and the founders to prioritise initiatives that like order size value or things like that are not really the core of what needs to be done. And therefore it causes us to search for the wrong or choose the wrong VCs, the wrong capital strategy, and then things go sideways. But I think we also got a chance to very quickly outline what the perfect world looks like, which is that we are focusing on the right core metrics and therefore we choose the right core team, the right incentives, the right core business, and therefore we're in a good capital and revenue situation and therefore we are in a good negotiating position to pick the best VCs and then the nice flywheel from there as well. So, I think this is a good reminder for the next generation of founders to remember for the next stage.

And, lastly, thank you so much for sharing a little bit about what I call the entrepreneurial family itch, I guess, about how both you and your wife had that itch to really build something for both of yourselves and explore new geographies, new roles, new industries, and really move from a double income, no kids situation to zero income, no kids to now, I guess back to double income and with kids situations double income, double kids, DIDK. And this is amazing to see that switch and inspiring story for people looking to make that jump across so many different areas. So thank you so much, Andrew, for coming on the show.

Andrew Senduk: (35:14)

You're welcome. You're welcome.