Side Hustle City

From Platinum DJ to Tech Giant: The Amazing Entrepreneurial Journey of Peter Schroeder

August 18, 2023 Adam Koehler, Kyle Stevie & Peter Schroeder Season 4 Episode 39
From Platinum DJ to Tech Giant: The Amazing Entrepreneurial Journey of Peter Schroeder
Side Hustle City
More Info
Side Hustle City
From Platinum DJ to Tech Giant: The Amazing Entrepreneurial Journey of Peter Schroeder
Aug 18, 2023 Season 4 Episode 39
Adam Koehler, Kyle Stevie & Peter Schroeder

Send us a Text Message.

Dive deep into the dynamic life of Peter Schroeder, a Danish prodigy whose journey stretches from the vibrant heartbeats of EDM stages to the innovative pulse of the tech world. This tour-de-force not only rose from the ashes of a harrowing plane crash but also has left an indelible mark on the vast arenas of Denmark, captivating up to 180,000 fans in a single night.

From the tender age of nine, Peter showcased an entrepreneurial spirit, launching a beverage venture which would be the first step in his impressive career ladder. By his teens, he had carved a niche for himself in the digital realm, creating Scandinavia's largest artist community. This innate business acumen was matched only by his meteoric rise in the EDM scene under the electrifying persona of Pete Fox. With a staggering 20 platinum and 40 gold records to his name, plus a bevy of nominations at the prestigious Danish DJ awards, Peter's music prowess was both undeniable and unparalleled.

Yet, the horizon beckoned with new challenges. Moving beyond the sonic, Peter channeled his genius into the technology arena. Founding Telzio, he envisioned a world where communications were both unified and simplified. Serving the crème de la crème of the corporate world, including tech behemoths like Facebook, Samsung, and Airbnb, Telzio rapidly emerged as a beacon of innovation.

Journey with us as Peter recounts tales from the frosty landscapes of Scandinavia to the bustling boulevards of LA. Discover the ins and outs of bootstrapping a cutting-edge venture with a partner-in-crime and spouse. Be privy to industry secrets as Peter unveils how a unique entrepreneurial ethos influenced his strategies, and delve into the profound topics of team dynamics, the science of hiring, and the personal tolls and triumphs of the business realm.

For those eager to traverse the terrains of entrepreneurship, arts, and technology, Peter Schroeder promises a voyage filled with insights, anecdotes, and a touch of the extraordinary. Dive deeper into the business he's built at Telzio.com. Engage with Side Hustle City and become an integral part of our Facebook community. Don't miss this enlightening encounter with a modern-day Renaissance man!

Connect with Peter:

As you're inspired to embark on your own side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision

FranchiseU!
FranchiseU! is for those in, or considering, careers within the world of franchising.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Subscribe to Side Hustle City and join our Community on Facebook

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Dive deep into the dynamic life of Peter Schroeder, a Danish prodigy whose journey stretches from the vibrant heartbeats of EDM stages to the innovative pulse of the tech world. This tour-de-force not only rose from the ashes of a harrowing plane crash but also has left an indelible mark on the vast arenas of Denmark, captivating up to 180,000 fans in a single night.

From the tender age of nine, Peter showcased an entrepreneurial spirit, launching a beverage venture which would be the first step in his impressive career ladder. By his teens, he had carved a niche for himself in the digital realm, creating Scandinavia's largest artist community. This innate business acumen was matched only by his meteoric rise in the EDM scene under the electrifying persona of Pete Fox. With a staggering 20 platinum and 40 gold records to his name, plus a bevy of nominations at the prestigious Danish DJ awards, Peter's music prowess was both undeniable and unparalleled.

Yet, the horizon beckoned with new challenges. Moving beyond the sonic, Peter channeled his genius into the technology arena. Founding Telzio, he envisioned a world where communications were both unified and simplified. Serving the crème de la crème of the corporate world, including tech behemoths like Facebook, Samsung, and Airbnb, Telzio rapidly emerged as a beacon of innovation.

Journey with us as Peter recounts tales from the frosty landscapes of Scandinavia to the bustling boulevards of LA. Discover the ins and outs of bootstrapping a cutting-edge venture with a partner-in-crime and spouse. Be privy to industry secrets as Peter unveils how a unique entrepreneurial ethos influenced his strategies, and delve into the profound topics of team dynamics, the science of hiring, and the personal tolls and triumphs of the business realm.

For those eager to traverse the terrains of entrepreneurship, arts, and technology, Peter Schroeder promises a voyage filled with insights, anecdotes, and a touch of the extraordinary. Dive deeper into the business he's built at Telzio.com. Engage with Side Hustle City and become an integral part of our Facebook community. Don't miss this enlightening encounter with a modern-day Renaissance man!

Connect with Peter:

As you're inspired to embark on your own side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision

FranchiseU!
FranchiseU! is for those in, or considering, careers within the world of franchising.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Subscribe to Side Hustle City and join our Community on Facebook

Speaker 2:

Welcome to Side Hustle City and thanks for joining us. Our goal is to help you connect to real people who found success turning their side hustle into a main hustle, and we hope you can too. I'm Adam Kaler. I'm joined by Kyle Stevy, my co-host. Let's get started, all right? Welcome back, everybody, to the Side Hustle City podcast. Today we got a special guest, peter Schroeder. How are you doing, peter? I'm doing great. How are you? I'm doing good and, as always, well 50% of the time.

Speaker 3:

Sometimes it's 30% of the time. It's kind of a cocoa quarter of a co-host.

Speaker 2:

That's all right. That's all right. You're here more than Monica Tuck, so that's good yeah, but I'm like an actual co-host. Yeah, you're an actual co-host. So Kyle Stevy, back in action.

Speaker 3:

Yes, I'm very excited about this one.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Peter, it's awesome to have you here. We're reading a little bit about your background, your credentials, all the way from Denmark and now you're in LA.

Speaker 4:

now, I'm in LA. Yeah, I moved here.

Speaker 2:

Well, I've been here for a while, 10 years now. How's it cost to live in compared to Denmark?

Speaker 4:

Rageous Competeer anywhere in the world actually.

Speaker 2:

And do you have a family? You got to support a family out there.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, yeah, well, not in Denmark. I had twin babies a year and a half ago, so it's serious now. Congratulations, yeah, congratulations.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Wow. Well, enjoy yourself in LA sunny LA. I mean, it's a little bit different weather than Denmark, I would say.

Speaker 4:

Oh yeah, definitely. There's no doubt I became a better person when I moved here you got sun.

Speaker 3:

There's sun. It's magical with vitamins in it.

Speaker 2:

No more vitamin D supplements. No exactly.

Speaker 4:

No more of those lamps to not get depressed and kill yourself. Oh my God, that's that. That's that bonus for sure, except that I sit inside in front of my computer 16 hours a day, so I don't really.

Speaker 2:

It doesn't help. Well, it's awesome, man, tell us about your background. I mean, you're obviously, you know, from Denmark. You've? You were a DJ for a really long time. I think it said you started as a radio host when you were what? 12?.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, Well, I mean, yeah, that's kind of just fell in my lab, I feel like most things do. I just do things that I think are fun, and that was fun. I was invited into to kind of be a what do you call it A children's reporter for like a show on a national radio when I was, yeah, probably 11 or 12. And then from there on I kind of graduated to the national TV and did the same thing there for a couple of years before I, before my voice changed and I really this is funny because I did the same thing.

Speaker 2:

I was on a show for teenagers when I was a kid for two seasons and it was during the summer when school was out and I had to be a reporter and it was called a. It was a group called Citizens Against Substance Abuse, so the whole thing was to, like, keep people off of drugs and alcohol and show kids there were other things to do and we would go out and we'd create our own TV show really, and we do reports on whatever. We had to come up, write our own stories and film them, and then we come back and then I was one of the hosts of it, but that's. It was really fun. It taught me a lot and it introduced me to technology and television and all that stuff, and I'm guessing it did the same thing for you and it kind of sent you on that path.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I've always, always, been fascinated about these kinds of things. We're just talking before the show started here, about how all the studio I mean you know I'm going technology bongers on broadcast equipment because I'm just into that kind of stuff and that just started back then, there's no doubt.

Speaker 2:

Wow, and there you kind of like what went into music.

Speaker 4:

No. So when I was 14, I started the website. That was my first website. That was like right when the internet became a thing. So I started this online community for artists. I have some friends that were really good at drawing and painting and that kind of stuff, so I was like you should put that on the internet. That's what people do now. So I made a website and another people started submitting the things and all of a sudden I had Scandinavia's biggest community for artists and I sold that in an hour's 18 when I started DJing.

Speaker 3:

So you see, Scandinavia to me seems like a sneaky, like quiet place where you would get like awesome art. I don't know, because Copenhagen has like some sort of just like in Stockholm has like mysteriousness to for me, because I'm like in, you know, kentucky, hillbilly, and I don't ever leave the country, but to me like always think about the Vikings and the descendants of Vikings and like all this other like cool, like how they would intermingled with all the Eastern civilizations and they intermingled with the Europeans, and I was like a really cool, like melting pot, for you know where the world's kind of converged in the north.

Speaker 2:

Well, they were wealthy also, especially the Dutch. I mean, I mean, the Dutch did a few paintings right, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 4:

I mean. So what's really interesting is like we don't have anything else Like remember that, especially Denmark, there's no natural resources, there's no room for farming, there's no anything. All we have is brains. So, you know, the government has just been really making sure that people get educated. Well, it's free, you actually get paid to go to school in Denmark, so that you don't have to take an extra job while you're in school. So we have smart people, but that's also the only thing we have. So we kind of have to double down on that.

Speaker 2:

You got to export the smartness somehow, which is where you come in, which is now you're in LA. They exported you all the way to LA.

Speaker 4:

Oh, yeah, I mean. Denmark has a whole center for technology up in Silicon Valley with several hundred government employees, people just to help Danish tech companies.

Speaker 2:

Oh, wow, oh, that's impressive. Oh, so they just yeah, oh, that makes a lot of sense. So if you're Danish and you're like, it's almost like an embassy for technology.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, yeah, I mean, and you know, a lot of big tech companies that you probably didn't think about are, you know, founded in Denmark, like uh, send us, or Skype, or you know there's, there's a bunch of of these like really big ones that come out of Denmark. Really.

Speaker 3:

Oh wow, yeah, Like Spotify Swedish right Swedish yeah.

Speaker 2:

Nokia is finished right and yeah, no, yeah, yeah, that's right. Linux, I use Linux. We do WordPress sites. All the time is based in Linux. So yeah, that's crazy. So then you and you got into technology and you've been doing what did it say you were doing IT or technology work for about 20 years?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, so that's the thing I've actually just done both music and technology my whole life, like simultaneously. Even when I was in the music industry for a long time and I had a record label, I would be writing the software to manage the releases and and, and, you know, making sure that the tours were planned correctly and all these different things, that royalties and stuff. And at the same time, you know, when I, when I was producing music, I would be writing plugins for the, for the programs I was using and stuff like that. So I've always been a major nerd. And then you know, like really like playing around with computers, and then I'm also very creative at the same time. So you know I love music.

Speaker 2:

Well, talk about some of this music that you did. I mean, it's a, you know we got the thing it's. You got platinum records, gold records. You've helped on. I mean, what are? What are some of the ones like people would know?

Speaker 4:

Well, you probably don't know a lot of the things over here. I did most of them in Europe. Of those things there are pop things, but yeah, I mean I've just had them at hands and a lot of different things over the years. I might know some of it if you hear it, but yeah, Were you with Ace of Base. That was like five years before me.

Speaker 2:

Good old Ace of Base. Oh my God, dude, you brought something out of nowhere they're legendary.

Speaker 3:

I know there are two girls but the one lead singer and what the hell's the name of their top song. I saw the sign. I think that was the girl that brought me into puberty, because her voice I don't know. For whatever reason, I was like, oh, the girls are awesome.

Speaker 2:

I love her voice.

Speaker 3:

I thought you were going to say Abba, Abba yeah.

Speaker 2:

I'm not that old, Not that old, right? Oh man, that's good stuff, but yeah, so okay. So now you've got a new company, Tellzio, and all this stuff you've done over your life. I mean it sounds like you've been ahead of things for a lot of cases. I mean you were ahead of them on the internet. You were able to build up a company, sell that, you build a community which back then, when the internet was first burgeoning, you didn't know what the internet was going to be. I mean, I remember there was a time when people were saying Amazon would never make money because nobody wanted to put their credit card on the internet.

Speaker 3:

You know and nobody. Why would anybody? Go to why would anybody go into a computer when they can just go to the mall and get whatever they need?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that was the, that was the narrative, right. I mean, that was the thing. It was like nobody's going to, nobody's going to trust the internet, and you know, then security things got better and people started trusting it. And then things like PayPal came out and now you got, you know, stripe and all these other things. But, yeah, I mean, you've got to kind of see where it's headed and it made sense for you and you started this community of artists and you had artist friends. So you took what you knew. Right, you took the people that you knew. You looked at this new technology, were like like this makes sense for what I think we could use it for. Turns out, everybody started building communities and you know Facebook's a decent size company.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, it's funny because a lot of the features that actually made Facebook big were things that we had on that platform back then. You know that the ability to instant message and to upload your pictures and have other people comment on them, rate them, and these kinds of things, and it was 1998. But you know, a different angle, obviously like this was art, that people commented on each other's art. But you know, it's, it's I'm. I'm never like inventing anything. I'm like you said, I just see things that are available or things that are happening in tech, and then I can't stop playing with it. And then you know all of a sudden, oh, I built something.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's really how it goes. I went down to this old Mark Z took some of your ideas and stuck them in Facebook. At one point Sounds like he kind of pulled yeah, Exactly, yeah. Maybe he said in the letter hey, I just need 10,000 shares of stock and we'll call it even yes. So yeah, help you pay for some of that cost of living there in California. He's going to need 100,000 shares for that. Yeah, he might need 100,000 shares. Yeah, Well, just start there and then work your way back. We'll see what you get Exactly. So so tell us about Tellsio. Let us know like where you at with it. You know, I looked at the site. The site looks great. I mean, it sounds like. I mean, are you guys? You got like a price list on there and everything. I guess you guys are rolling right, Technologies build and you've probably raised a little bit of money.

Speaker 4:

No, so that's actually funny. So we've been at it for 10 years now. It's been been a while and we've actually just been having fun building a product that, and you know, like that, that can beat the other guys. They are the big, you know, multinational public companies making billions of dollars. We just a little bit of you know a few few smart people here in LA and some scattered around the world that have built a product that's better, works better, and we've just had really a lot of fun with that.

Speaker 4:

Over the years we never raised money, bootstrapped it and kind of just grew it month by month pretty much, since we started just adding features when people came and asked for them. And you know, if it made sense to add it, then we added it. And all of a sudden, you know, bigger customers came in because now we had those things and they asked for other things and then we added that. You know. So over the years that's kind of just how it's been growing and you know we went from having just you know, I think the first month we made $300 and now we are a decent sized company that you know has customers like Facebook and Google and Lyft and Samsung and a bunch of small companies and mid-sized as well, so it's fun.

Speaker 2:

So you are getting some money back from Mark.

Speaker 3:

So we have people from all different you know stages of entrepreneurship. You said you guys bootstrapped it. Like what led to that thought process? As opposed to, I want to grow super fast, I want to take all money from investors so we can build this thing quickly and, you know, get it up and moving and market it and become like one of the big dogs right away. What like was it? Just that you guys already had the cash. You didn't need to take on investors. You didn't want to have to deal with the headache of, you know, invest your man.

Speaker 4:

No, no no, we actually. So I founded the company with my wife back then we had just met and she cast in her 401k and that was how we got started. We literally had no money when we started and just kind of just scrambled to make ends meet for the first couple of years. So we took definitely the long route and we also thought we had to go grow super fast and raise money from a VC in Silicon Valley. And that's how you do it, because that's all you hear about. That's the only story you hear. Never hear about the ones that don't raise money. You never hear about the ones that you know don't get the money from the ones you pitch to.

Speaker 4:

And in my book there's a big or this, something I've come to learn over the years. I feel there's a big difference between entrepreneurs who are technical and who are in it for the product and for the love of building something, versus the ones that are in it for raising money and getting an exit. That's two completely different games. Unfortunately, you only hear about the one with the raising money part. That's the only story you hear.

Speaker 4:

But it's hard to raise money If that's not your like, what you're good at, and if you don't have anyone on the team, it's really, really hard and people tell you that's how you have to, that's the only way to do it and that's how you have to do it. So we tried doing that for a long time until we found out, realized that that's just not us, that's not what we are, that's not what we are interested in, really, like, we started to understand that as we were growing and things actually, you know, started to pick up and we started being able to hire and actually getting a proper team behind we. You know, we found out that, yeah, maybe we actually don't have to raise that money and maybe it's a good thing that we own 100% so we can keep building the product that we actually like and we can take it the place we want us to take it. So that's our story. I mean, I'm not saying that's the only only one, but you never hear about those guys out there.

Speaker 3:

Unfortunately, there's a big sigh of relief in Cincinnati when you say that, because this isn't exactly the hotbed for raising capital for investment. So a lot of you're exactly right. People hear about like Adams company's exit and they hear about other exits here in the area. Oh well, I just I got to get to that point as quickly as I can get to that point, and everybody's telling me that the best way to do it is go talk to an angel investor. Or, if I'm past that stage, I got to talk to a VC. And if I got to give up 45% of the company to, you know, reach the X percent more markets than so, be, it is just the way it's got to be. So I think that that message is perfect for people that are listening, like you don't always have to do it the way that you've heard. You have to do it.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that's the only only path and you know, we had an offer maybe one or two years in, for I think it was $250,000 for 50% of the company. I'm pretty happy that we didn't take that today. Oh my God, it was tempting back then because we needed money to hire the first employee. We needed to do this and this and that, but I'm so happy we didn't do it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, you got sales. Now You've got great customers. It sounds like. But yeah, cincinnati is just a bunch of cheap Germans. They're all from like. I found out why. I found out why and I've said it before on this podcast I did my research and I found out my ancestors from, like, the Bodden, wittensburg area of Germany, right down there.

Speaker 2:

Apparently, those are the cheapest people in Germany. So so Angela Merkel even told everybody in Germany they should be as thrifty as the people of that region, right? And then I said well, if I'm from that region, if my ancestry goes back to there, then a bunch of other people in this city. That explains it. That's why it's so cheap. That's why these people don't want to spend any money here.

Speaker 2:

Personally, I don't like spending money either. I'm one of those sticking under the mattress and you know, save it for a rainy day, kind of people. But that's that whole mindset. I think it came over here or something. And now it's like this whole areas. But everybody thinks that's like, oh, if I do this, I've got to go raise money. And I think the reason is and see what you said to is is you guys, you guys weren't loaded with cash. You guys didn't have a whole bunch of money you didn't get. You know, you weren't bequeathed with this great inheritance or anything. I mean, you guys, you didn't have much right and and and you just met your co-founder. For God's sake, who happened to? Who happens to be your wife now, which is also kind of risky. I mean, you're just taking all kind of risk.

Speaker 4:

Oh yeah, and that was also one of the big ones we heard obviously from from the investors is like, yeah, we don't want to invest in a couple, and you know we weren't married back then either, so just, that's right.

Speaker 2:

It can be risky. It can be risky and investors I like it.

Speaker 3:

So we worked out for FTX in Alameda. Oh yeah, ftx, yeah, that couple, that was a power couple right there, buddy.

Speaker 2:

Actually, I just read Dave Wilbrand. He just posted something today on LinkedIn. It said that a lot of VCs now don't want to invest in second time founders. So if you had a successful exit already, they don't want to invest in that that second startup that you have, for whatever reason. I don't know if they've got data to back it up or what, probably the complacency of it. It might be you're not as hungry when you're cashing in a 401k.

Speaker 3:

You've got. You're basically burning the book.

Speaker 2:

You have to do it, it has to work. That's true too, because I catch myself being a little lazy sometimes too, and you know, you've really got to be able to motivate yourself, because it would be easy to just sell everything and just off I go. There is all my property, just sell that off and go live in Central America somewhere, thailand or who knows. It would be easy to do that, right, but that's not what I want to do. So I mean you've got to stay motivated.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I mean I don't see myself ever retiring. I just can't sit still. I have too much ADD for that. I just like. I like what I do. I like building things. So I think there's a difference on that, but I can definitely understand the hunger aspect of it for sure.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think there needs to be a. You know there needs to be a hunger there. If you're a VC and you're looking for somebody to invest in, there definitely needs to be a desire there for that person to really want to fight. And if you're going to give someone money, like they have to almost feel bad about losing that money. You know it's. And if you're just, if you've had an exit before and you know you've raised hundreds of millions of dollars, you know money's not anything to you. Like a little $25,000 investor or $50,000 investor, you're like, ah, that wasn't a lot of money. You know, when you're used to dealing with big, big dollars but when you come from like poverty and you look back and you think like damn, $10,000, that's a lot of money. Like when you were a kid, that's, that was a fortune. Like how many toys could you buy with $10,000, you know.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and now seriously like that's. That's exactly how we were Like when I, when I moved here, I had just met my now wife, diana, and she had been in Denmark for three months and during that time I got the idea for Tel-Zio and started coding. I was waiting for a visa to come here. It took me three months to get that. I didn't know how long it's going to take, so I had already stored everything in in the storage unit and moved up one of my dad's couch and just wait for the visa.

Speaker 4:

But I was up there just coding you know, the beta of Tel-Zio. While I was waiting up there, when it was done, I literally packed my two bags. I have a picture of it from the day I left, packed two bags of clothes and my laptop, and I think I had maybe $1200 or something like that on, like on my bank account. That was it. And I moved over here, took a flight over and we launched it a few days later and, yeah, that was really just it. We found out we need a little bit of money so we could sustain. So we cast in her 401k. That was it.

Speaker 3:

What made you pick LA?

Speaker 4:

Well, she's from here, so, yeah, and it's better than Denmark. Well, the weather is at least. So she's actually the one wanting to move back to Denmark now that we have kids, but the weather is much better here, for sure.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but I mean there's benefits to being there too. I mean you're going to, especially if you've got kids and, like you said, the free school, and I mean there's some decent social programs there and things like that to help people along. So I mean that's, that's beneficial, and they have some like they really want people to come there. So I'm sure there's got to be something with, like you know, startups. There's benefits to being there. Maybe it's a little easier to raise money because it's like being here in Kentucky, kentucky is just going all out for startups, like they're like please come here to Kentucky. Like nobody wants to come to Kentucky, everybody wants to go to San Francisco and LA and you know New York, please come here, you know. So they're willing to kind of bend over backwards for you. And is it like that in Denmark?

Speaker 4:

Oh yeah, I read recently that it's on top five of the best countries to start a company in the world and it's really like they're going. All in the government there they're really trying to make sure businesses come and not just start new companies but also, you know, attract the bigger ones. So Microsoft and Uber and a bunch of other big tech companies. They have their main developer departments. Development departments are in Denmark. It's where they write most of the software, because they have really good talent there and it's not as expensive as it is, even though that you know, denmark is not a poor country by any means. It's pretty high up there, but the cost of living is just, you know, reasonable and for that reason, you know the salaries are also reasonable. So you can get some really really good talent for not as much as it will cost you in Silicon Valley Wow.

Speaker 2:

So do you? What did your wife do? What did like when you guys met? You were a tech, you were into technology. You obviously had the background in, you know, being a DJ. You had a background in sounds like television, radio, what. What did she bring to the table Like when you met her? What did she have to offer? What were her talents?

Speaker 4:

So she's really good with business. She had just worked for a private equity company that or like. What do you call it? Real estate? Oh, off source, you know. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Like a syndication or something like that.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and she, she has. She had just raised a billion dollars for that company. You know, she knows those kind of things and she knows how you run a company, how you do those things in various smart girl. So she, she kind of you know brings the whole. How do you actually run a business and make sure the lights stay on and that we don't spend the whole 401k on pizza and beer Friday afternoon, right?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, so she's a martyr of that and she's really, really, really talented on that, and so we compliment each other really well and I think that's probably also the secret to why we've been able to work together for 10 years is that, you know, she's the CEO of the company and really the CEO and and and you know, it's really just a title for me, because I, you know, I have a vision, but she's the one running the business and and she's, she's, she's really good at that part and we're really good at at separating things. So you know, I can, I can focus on product marketing, branding, all the creative and the technical things that I'm good at, and she can focus on making sure that we actually have a company to to grow.

Speaker 2:

I love this. It's always like when you hear about the successful startups, it's always team. They always seem to have the right mix of people. If you don't go into something or if you're trying to do people favors, you're starting a new company and you're like oh, you know what you're. You're my buddy of mine. Why don't you come into the company? Or oh, you seem like you know what you're talking about. Come into the company. You know you're just giving people equity and you're just bringing all anybody into the company. Those don't generally work out, but if you've got the right mix of people, they're all determined. Everybody's aligned on a vision for the business. Everybody's like look, this is how we're going to do it. We're going to make this thing successful. Nobody's going to give up. We're going to work hard and people are business minded. It works. There's something about it that works.

Speaker 3:

This is where you get to plug your personality test.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, I know, I always I like to use like Myers-Briggs and Enneagrams and things like that. And there's actually a company that we had. They're a VC company here in Northern Kentucky and they actually, instead of even talking to a company are you emailing anything to them you have to go on their website and you have to take per—like. All the founders take personality tests and if one—at least one of you doesn't have like there's what four or five they said that were really highly ranked, there's like INTJs, I think, are number one, entps are really high. But you have to have the right kind of mix of founders, otherwise they're just like they kind of write you off. That's like one of the first things to filter people out.

Speaker 4:

Spot on. We are actually those two that you mentioned right there, and we actually ask all our employees to take my outbreaks when they start here.

Speaker 2:

I'm telling you at work.

Speaker 3:

People make fun of it, but no, it's, I'm not making fun of it. We don't have money from them we spend all our money.

Speaker 2:

It works.

Speaker 3:

It works.

Speaker 2:

So which one are you?

Speaker 4:

You can use some tools to understand each other, like for sure.

Speaker 2:

You know what? You're an ENTP, I'm guessing. Yeah, I am Okay, I'm an ENTP, yeah, and then Kyle's an ENFP.

Speaker 4:

Oh, interesting.

Speaker 2:

That's rare. Yeah, it is. It's a lot more rare than us, Actually, we're what? 3%. I think we're only 3% of the population, but the INTJ is really the one you want too. They're the ones that can sit down and focus where we're all over the deck on place and we.

Speaker 4:

Like I said earlier, I have Raging ADD and that's why I need someone like Diana, who can sit down and focus on those things that are not fun.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and my wife is an INTP, so she's a little more focused than I am, but she's also. She's one of those that Once she gets on one thing, she just goes down the rabbit hole on it, which is good. And me I'm all over. I'm just Every day I got something new I want to do. I hear about somebody making a bunch of money at something and I'm like, oh, I'm going to try that now. I just need a team, and you're probably the same way, peter. I just need a team of people that I can just tell like, hey, we're going to do this now, and then they just go and do it for me, and then I don't know the words.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, see, that's my problem is I hate managing people. I would love to have a team. That's also why we actually have a very small team compared to our number of customers. I've been able, over the years, to put together some people that are really, really smart, so I don't have to have a lot of people, so I don't have to manage them. That's really Because I hate managing. No telling people what to do, I hate it. I just love if I can just say my ideas and I like, blabber my visions out and then people just go do it and do it better than I could.

Speaker 2:

Yes. And that's what I have now it's amazing In our heads it makes total sense, but in practice you don't know if it's actually going to work or not, and you need somebody like your wife to come in and just try it or give you feedback if it's going to work or not.

Speaker 4:

And even understand what I'm saying.

Speaker 3:

You need the dreamer, you need the doer and you need the ass kicker. Like, if you can get those three in a group, that's going to be ideal.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we're too nice, Peter ENTPs. We don't like to be controlled. We don't like people to tell us what to do. We don't like structure, Because every day we're going to want to do something different. We can't come in and do the exact same thing every day. It's awful, Like I would just throw myself off a bridge. So I mean, you want to have variety and it's hard for us to manage people because we don't respect hierarchy. So we don't feel comfortable making other people follow our little hierarchy or whatever that we create, because we're like look, we don't even know what we're doing. So why would I tell you what to do?

Speaker 4:

You know what? One of my really good friends, will Henshaw, he told me recently looked me in the eye and he said hey, peter, you and I, we are utterly unemployable. He's British, I can't even say with his accent, it's so spot on though Utterly unemployable. There's no way anyone can hire us. We just do whatever we think is fun that day and build fun stuff, and that's a superpower in itself, but it's hard to deal with, for sure.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, but it makes you a great sales guy.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, probably I don't like selling either, so I'm actually in a good Well, I'm just saying you know it's one of those things.

Speaker 3:

Well, you've got to sell to your people. There are people that sell to clients, and there are people that sell the dream of what they want to get accomplished.

Speaker 4:

That's correct. You've got to sell division and that's how you. That's a leader, right. You need to try and get your team on board with those ideas and try and convey them and then be excited about it and get that excitement to rub off on them. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

How many people do you have?

Speaker 4:

on your team we are almost 20, I think like 18, 19, something like that.

Speaker 3:

So how do you? My major fascination with successful corporations is a consistent culture, so that when you go to an office in Miami you have the same culture or somewhat of the same culture about 80% of the same culture as you do in your office in Copenhagen, as you would have in Los Angeles, as you would have in Chicago. How did you guys, how did you? I don't, you don't really, I mean you kind of focus on it, but how did you instill that with your guys? It's hard.

Speaker 4:

It's really hard, and especially because we started getting more and more distributed. I mean, we have people. We only have what four people in our LA office now we used to be Everyone used to be here, and then one guy in Copenhagen. Now we are everywhere, literally distributed all over the US and the world. We have, you know, and of course, denmark, england, serbia, philippines and, of course, a few here in the US.

Speaker 4:

It's hard to do it when people are remote and get that culture and that camaraderie that you need when, especially when you're a small team like ours, so people are excited about what they do. And I think it's really about finding the right people who are social online, because a lot of our for our company things take place on Slack and those kind of things. So you need to find people who are comfortable posting inappropriate memes and things like from the day they start, and that's really hard to find people who are actually comfortable in joining the conversation about something random and pitching in. But if you can find those people and instill this energy of being okay for everyone to say whatever and be part of it, respond to when they post something or respond to them, if you can get that going, then you can succeed, and that's what we finally managed to do. It's taken a long time for us to kind of get to that point, but we literally have people that we've never seen in life and they feel like best friends. It's special.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's hard to, especially nowadays, because you know workplaces can become so toxic, especially with sensitivities, and you know you and I have the same kind of personality type. I could not be in an environment where people are. We feel like you have to walk on eggshells right and be scared to say things. And I mean you're in LA, you're surrounded by these people, but we're in Kentucky, so what's the exact opposite here? Like you could also buy straight to their face. They stink and they'll be like, yeah, I do kind of stink, and you're right, so they don't, you know, they don't care, like they're not sensitive at all here. Like having to be in a corporate environment where there's so many rules Now there's HR, the bigger you get, the more rules you're going to get, the more strict things are going to get and it kind of the fun culture kind of starts to go away.

Speaker 2:

I mean, you're still you're at 20 people now, which is good, and, like you said, there's a lot of people that are remote there in other countries. Maybe they don't have the same sensitivities that people in America have right now, or even in Europe. I mean, you've got some of these things going on in some of these European countries too. What do you do to and this is a good point you bring up Kyle. What do you do as you start to scale even past where you're at now? I mean you're a 20. Eventually you could get to a hundred. You know you could double, triple the company in the next year or two. How do you? How do you manage that? Do you even want to touch that, or do you let the wife do that?

Speaker 4:

No, I mean we, we. I think one of the main things to really understand is you can't ask the CEO, a founder, be friends with your employees, so you can't be the one doing this. There's just that just doesn't work. There has to be a buffer, otherwise it's not going to be real what they do. You can participate and post memes and whatever you're doing Like, but you can't be the one creating that culture.

Speaker 4:

And we found out about that the hard way. We really we have an employee that's been actually one of our first team members, who started as a sales person with us and was doing a great job. He was just the perfect person for that position at that time at the company. But as we grew and doing like right before COVID, I think things have just changed because we've grown as an organization. We were in a different place and she is not a salesperson by heart. She's not like the aggressive hunter. She's not like that person that we needed at that time. So we did the major mistake of letting her go and that felt horrible because she was one of the first people and I was sick for a week, literally. That's the only time I've actually like physically been sick from firing someone. Geez it felt bad.

Speaker 4:

But the thing was then COVID hit and we started hiring a lot of people remotely and the culture was completely gone. Like there was none of this camaraderie. There's no. Like it was just boring. Like there was literally you're going to be a trumbleweed through the Slack channel Like there was nothing going on and no one had any like, no one knew anything about themselves, each other in, like personal life and anything like that. And we're like what's going on here? Like how do we get back to that point where we can sing karaoke Friday afternoon and be so drunk that we have to take an Uber home? What happened.

Speaker 4:

We found out that that was her. She was that buffer, she was that one that created that culture, that engaged and started like got people out of their shell. So we were like, okay, yeah, we made a mistake. And finally like one thing was that she was not the right person for the position that she was in, but there were so many other things that she was contributing. So we ended up figuring out like, well, if that wasn't the right position, what is? And we found out that well, there are actually things that she would be perfect for doing that we need in the company. So we hire her back. We asked her like we were literally down on our knees, asking her hey, could you please consider coming back? We'll give you a huge raise and all these benefits, and then you're going to be in charge of these and these and these things which you're, like, really good at. And then you know we just need you on our team, like there's no doubt. And that completely changed the company.

Speaker 2:

Do you know what kind of personality type she had?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I should know. I'm sorry, but yeah, similar to us.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, no, no, but similar to us, like I mean, you can sell, right, like we talked about earlier, you can sell. You just don't it's not your favorite because you don't like to, I don't know, you just don't like it. It feels icky for some reason, right?

Speaker 4:

Yeah right.

Speaker 2:

You just not good at telling people things that you're not 100% confident that you can deliver on and I don't know there's something not doesn't feel right about it. But if it's an idea that you have 100%, like I could get people pumped, Like I can get people aligned, you probably can too around your concept, around your idea, and you could get people to want to come on the team who can then turn around and sell. I mean Kyle. You know Kyle manages salespeople. I mean he helps train salespeople for a company that and this is a hard sales job, I would say, but it's not easy, yeah actually the cold cause of the day was awful.

Speaker 2:

You did yeah, oh yeah, but it's trucking, it's, it's a, it's a, they're. They're a freight broker and they're one of the biggest in the country Second biggest, second biggest. So he's dealing, you know he's dealing with, you know truckers all day and you know they're not the. They can be a little rough around, rough around the edges, you know so. So not only that, you're kind of dealing with a tough crowd. On top of that, you're doing sales. It's just, if I had to do that job, I don't know if I could do it. It's just dealing with people. Be tough, yeah yeah, it's.

Speaker 3:

I mean it's no company's the same, no industry is the same. You just find your, your role or niche in that industry. So I grew up in, you know, working class, lower middle class neighborhood I was. I went to softball games all the time with my dad on Friday nights and guys would go and you know they would have six to 12 beers before they played or after they played.

Speaker 3:

So you were hearing you were hearing adult language. You were just, I was just used to those, who, those the people I was used to being around. Anyway, for someone who comes from a more you know, upscale upbringing, it's a culture shock for sure. Yeah, but that's you know. You got to have, like you said, you got to find the people that can fit their roles. And once you find the people that can fit their roles, it's you. You have to support them as their, as their, progressing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so what? What do you think too with? With tells you like what's the next step? I mean, you're at 20 people, you didn't have to raise any money. Sounds like you got a great set of customers. Like, what are you guys looking for now? Is it? Are you just kind of building awareness at this point?

Speaker 4:

No, so we actually raising money now.

Speaker 2:

Oh, now you're raising money. Okay, because now you got to get bigger. Now you got to get to that hundred people, right?

Speaker 4:

Now, now, yeah, now we are actually for the first time we actually be teaming up with a capital partner and actually have a three year plan for a serious a and a serious B funding, and we are at that point now where we can't take it further ourselves.

Speaker 4:

Like we need also to hire more people on the sales and marketing side, but also hire people that have taken a company like ours, larger than you know, to eventually, you know, either public or an acquisition, who knows. But we also don't want to do this. However, like we are 10 years and now and we're not going to be another 10 year we have so many like all of us, the whole team, have so many ideas every day of things we need to build and change and go out and do so. We don't want to want it to become this like lifestyle business that in so and so many years, like we're still stuck here. So now we kind of like ready for the next phase. We've kind of prepared for the next for the past almost a three or four years with for the product and put a lot of things in like in line, and now we're raising some money and launching a bunch of things here the next six months.

Speaker 3:

That's awesome. So you're I mean, like we said before you're in the perfect place to raise it to.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, yeah, it's no. Again, we couldn't have raised the money if we didn't before. We weren't ready for it Both. Personally we weren't. We didn't have what it takes to raise money at that point. We also didn't have the products. We didn't have the story and like that. Now we actually can prove that a stable business that's been growing year over year for 10 years and customers that stay with us for well, I mean forever so far we have one of the best retention rates in the industry. So with all these things in the back, now we can actually go say okay, let's find someone who knows how to not just raise the money but also spend that money in the right way. And again, we don't want to go to Silicon Valley and raise $100 million from a VC. That's not what we are. We want to actually grow a business and spend it on on getting real sales, instead of just like some kind of inflated thing that doesn't have any reality.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean you hear so many stories now about these companies that raised all this money when everything was cheap, when money was cheap, right, and you've had hedge funds, you had everybody had their hand in the cookie jar a little bit and they were throwing just crazy money at these. I mean billion dollar valuations, right and left.

Speaker 3:

And there's guys were going through like series DEFG oh it was crazy, yeah, and just raising money without going public, and it was just like people are doing down rounds now Like it's.

Speaker 2:

You know, these guys that had billion dollar valuations six months ago are now trying to raise money at you know $800 million valuation or whatever, because they just they raised money was too cheap and now money is getting a lot harder to find and it's getting a lot more competitive and it can be tough out here, and you know you're in a really good industry, though tell people just the main services you guys offer.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I mean, it's almost a commodity. So it's something that that's definitely mostly relevant, you know like, stays relevant, at least. I mean it's a business phone service provider, right? So if you really boil it down with your phone company, we do business phone service and we build a platform where it's really easy for users to go in and manage it and set it up themselves.

Speaker 4:

And then we built this scalability, you could almost say, where we have a building model that works for, you know, startups with one or two employees and Fortune 100 companies, because we really just charge. It's kind of like similar to Stripe, where you only charge for the things you use, so the calls you make and text messages and all these things but you get every single feature from day one. You don't have to, you know, get an enterprise plan for this and this much per month just to get a certain feature that you need. Now you get everything and then it's up to you whether you use it or not, and that works for all kinds of businesses. So that's why we have businesses with, you know, one or two employees, but we also have companies like Facebook and Samsung.

Speaker 2:

I've had a really hard time finding a good company that I can get, and you know what? Google has their own phone number of things. You've got Dialpad, you've got all these services out there. But for the small business person like the guy who's you know running a small agency, a guy who's you know somebody who's starting out a startup, and they just need to put a phone number on their website and then be able to get that phone number actually ring into their phone, you know, and be able to set it up without being a freaking IT expert. You know that's that's really really hard and then being able to scale it up with your business without being charged like, oh, I need this service, I need this extra feature now. Oh wait, you got to jump up to like two more levels in order to get this other little feature it's crazy and sign through your contract. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, or I'm still paying off this stupid phone contract I've got from the local telephone company. We got like a four year contract or something with this thing just to get front desk phones and a conference phone in our conference room.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that was exactly why we started this company. We needed it ourselves. I was doing another project where I needed a phone service and I couldn't find anything that was, you know, out of the box and I couldn't afford. So I started coding it and that was really just the start up, tells you. I just found out that, oh, this is actually fun to work with, so I just kept going on that one instead.

Speaker 4:

But it really just rebuild it for ourselves and we use it ourselves.

Speaker 4:

So every feature that you know that we built, we use ourselves first and we want to make sure that it's usable and that it's actually has merits, because we don't put a lot of things in there that that you know that is just useless. You know that that or that just like sluffs it up. And we use, we build things that that you know our customers ask for and that we can see some real benefit for. And you know, because we built the whole platform from ground up, we're not like licensing some kind of product from someone else. That also means that we are completely in control with what we built and you know we can. We can take it, shape it the way we want it and we can make sure that it works. I mean, we haven't been down for I don't want to say four or five years, and no one else in our industry can say that literally not been down a second for four years. That's just because you know we're in control and you know the code because you wrote it.

Speaker 2:

And you know where, everything is yeah, you commented it the right way and you know you're five guys writing the whole thing right Exactly.

Speaker 4:

We know everything in and out.

Speaker 2:

You know, the funny thing is I've noticed there's a bunch of companies call themselves like AI companies and they're like AI website building companies or whatever, and they literally are just using WordPress and they're using WordPress. And then they're like sticking a little something on the front end like just it's like a questionnaire or something like that, and all of a sudden it's a WordPress site. You know it's. You're like this is just WordPress.

Speaker 4:

This is just open source software. That's the same for the for the phone service, business phone service, like that, all the ones you mentioned and all of our other competitors. They that's what they do they license a product and slap another UI on it and a logo and and then they have to wait for that company to build the new features or fix a bug.

Speaker 2:

That's exactly right.

Speaker 4:

Tough luck, you're behold. And then they say it's the guarantee 99.999% uptime, right? That comes out to about eight hours of downtime a year. By the way, like is that? Are you okay with being down for a day?

Speaker 2:

Exactly. But you look at 99.99 and you go, oh wow, that's almost perfect, right, but yeah, it could be eight hours in one big chunk, yeah exactly. That's ridiculous. Oh wow, that's awesome. You were able to sit down and do all this work as an ENTP.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I'm good. I'm good at focusing.

Speaker 2:

When I'm interested in something, then I really go down the rabbit hole and I yeah how many hours do you think you've got into coding this thing out and making all your upgrades and doing everything Like? What kind of time do you think you have? Have you ever sat down and actually thought that through?

Speaker 4:

Not no. So there is actually an interesting little app that we've used a couple of times that creates this little animation of your check-ins of code in GitHub. So GitHub is where we put our code when we're done for the day, and you can see over the years, little icons of the different developers and how they like kind of patch little things into a big web of like it's like a graphic. It's very fascinating to watch and then you know, sped up in time, it's very cool to watch and that one is fascinating because then it really shows how much we've built like how many different, how complex the system actually is that we don't really think about in the data.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, what's fun is to go back and tell people you know because someday you're going to sell Tellzio and you're going to, you know off you and your wife go to an island somewhere and you know you're going to have your jet and your helicopter, but you never know. But the fun thing is is going back and trying to figure out how many hours you got in and then how much you made off of it and what you've made off it over the years, and then figure out how much you made an hour and then compare that to what you could have made it.

Speaker 2:

What you could have made it a job Like. It's like oh, if I worked a regular job this whole time I would have made, you know, 80 bucks an hour or something. I mean, you're an engineer, so yeah, you probably would have made good money, Uh, but instead, you went to the entrepreneur.

Speaker 4:

That's not something I wanted to think about, because there's. I mean, I, I, I literally worked 15, 16 hours a day, seven days a week, and I've done it for 10 years. So, uh, it's a lot of time, for sure, um, but I like doing it and I like being in control.

Speaker 2:

It doesn't feel like work? No, it doesn't at all. Not at all, and it's wild. You can go to the store when you want. You can pick up something for the kids if you need to. You know you can. You can take an hour and take a break. Uh, you know you, you are in control, but you're working probably twice as much as you would if you had a regular job, but it just doesn't feel like the ones who are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week, right.

Speaker 2:

For someone else. That's right.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, exactly, and and and I think if you really think about it, it's, it's really uh I'm putting a little bit too extreme now, but it's kind of what uh, prison is all about. Taking away is your ability to be in control, so I would do really bad in prison, you know it's. It's uh the fact that uh, like you say, I can, I can go all do all these things. I don't go do all these things, but I can. It's more about the uh. You know, having that uh in in the back of your head, that you can always. You know you, you can like. For example, this past weekend I actually went to Vegas to hang out with small friends and I stayed there on Monday and Tuesday. That's the first two days I've had off for at least a few years. Whoa, um, and, and you know, but I could, I could just do that, you know, and I didn't have to to tell anyone.

Speaker 3:

Wow.

Speaker 4:

How do you?

Speaker 3:

how do your European friends handle the workload, your work, your workload? Because to me I always, I always think of. Every time I'm in Florida, I see guys from Scotland, or they're always from Great Britain, and they are like on their third week of vacation. They're like oh yeah, we've been here since Tuesday. Oh, like three days ago. No, no, no, I'm sorry, three Tuesdays ago.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, exactly, I mean Denmark has uh, I think there's five days mandatory vacation of five, five weeks of mandatory vacation a year. What? My dad, now that he's almost retired, he's has seven weeks of vacation paid. It's crazy, yeah, wow.

Speaker 3:

Why would you even retire Like you like?

Speaker 2:

I know you got seven weeks.

Speaker 3:

You've got seven weeks off. Well, like, oh you can. You can like golf so much or go out on a boat so much.

Speaker 2:

I know you're gonna want to know what he's doing. That's awesome. That's almost once a month. I mean that's half a year.

Speaker 4:

Well, he comes over here all the time to hang out with his grandchildren. Now They'll be here like three or four times a year.

Speaker 2:

Wow, wow, what's great. He has that freedom too. That's great. So how do people reach out? Like how do people get a hold of you, peter, like if somebody's interested in taking a look at your deal, um, you know they want to dig into it a little bit, check out the financials and all that stuff. You know how do they get a hold of you to take a look at this?

Speaker 4:

So be personally petersrotacom. There's really not much on that website. It's really just my name and then there's a bunch of links to all my social media and my email address. Everything is there. So, petersrotacom, that's if you want to reach out and please do I love when people do that, um and um if you want to check out, tell you, go to T L Z I O and tells you, uh, and click on the trials button. There's a free trial and try it out. And I really want to encourage you to do that, because we have a crazy conversion rate for people who actually signed up for trial. Uh, because it's fun, it actually works. So people are very impressed once they are actually in there and tried out. So please go do that.

Speaker 2:

Cool man. Well, uh, peter, thanks a lot for being on the show. You've been great man and uh, yeah, good luck with everything.

Speaker 4:

Thank you so much, guys. It was fun. Have a great day.

Speaker 2:

You too. Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of side hustle city. Well, you've heard from our guests. Now let's hear from you. Join our community on Facebook, side hustle city. It's a group where people share ideas, share their inspirational stories and motivate each other to be successful and turn their side hustle into their main hustle. We'll see you there and we'll see you next week on the show. Thank you.

Interview With Peter Schroeder
Successful Company Without External Funding
(Cont.) Successful Company Without External Funding
Raising Capital and Investment Strategies
Team Dynamics in Startups
Building Company Culture and Raising Funds
Business Growth and Product Development Discussion
Entrepreneurship, Workload, and Freedom