The concept for Speek was pieced together from a cocktail napkin and a hotel gift shop notebook. Founders Danny Boice and John Bracken tossed their ideas back and forth over a round of adult beverages after a tech conference in New York City. Speek was born.
Make super simple, free and visual conference calls with Speek. Choose an easy-to-remember personal link (i.e., speek.com/YourName) for your calls, instead of fumbling for a traditional phone number and PIN.
MO: Can you talk about the process of taking Speek from a concept on a napkin to launching a business around it?
Danny: It’s all about execution. Lots of wantrepreneurs have great ideas written on hundreds of napkins. What separates the real entrepreneurs is the ability to execute – whether it’s fundraising, launching, shipping product, winning or disrupting a market – you have to perform to make it.
MO: What are some ways that Speek helps conference calls not suck?
Danny: We make it faster and easier to get on a call. That’s where it all starts. In a traditional, archaic conference call you have to dial a phone number, a conference ID and sometimes even an additional PIN just to get on the call. It’s nuts! Our users simply go to a person link (like speek.com/YourName) and click a single button to join the call using whatever method they prefer. It’s faster and it’s easier. There are no downloads, no dial-ins or PINs.
Once you are on the call you can see who’s talking in your browser or in our native mobile apps. You no longer have to stop and ask who’s on the call or who’s talking because you can see it in our app.
I think that some people have some preconceived notions of what a Harvard graduate acts and looks like. However, you’re a healthy blend of renegade and geek. I thought you might like to share how and why you convinced your co-founder to get a tattoo on his butt.
Let me start by setting some context: I am covered in tattoo’s and am both younger and better looking (just saying) than my co-founder. John, my co-founder, is in his 40’s, has no tattoo’s and is way more straight edge than I am.
We were all at SXSW this year and were at The Stage on Sixth for the Tech Cocktail events that day. I found out about an hour beforehand that I was the one getting on stage for the pitch contest at the end of the Tech Cocktail event because John had been invited by DC Mayor Gray to go to an invitation only dinner nearby.
Perhaps I’m a little demented but as I was brainstorming for what to say I couldn’t help but think about how funny it would be if I made John get our logo tattoo’d on his ass. Perhaps some psychoanalysis is needed to get to the bottom of that one.
Anyone to make a long story short I get on stage and tell the crowd that John promised that if we win the pitch contest he’d go get our logo tattoo’d on his ass in Austin the next day. John had no idea. We won, he followed through and the Wall Street Journal covered it (with pictures mind you).
The rest is history :)
MO: Who inspires you?
Danny: Lemmy from Motorhead
Ronda Rousey from the UFC
Anyone who fights, writes, or makes music for a living
MO: Startups typically need to pivot and evolve their business model over time, especially as customers start to use the product or service. Can you provide some advice or lessons learned to entrepreneurs on pivoting while keeping your business moving forward at the same time?
Danny: A healthy blend of qualitative and quantitative data should guide all decisions. Too much of either is unhealthy. An example of qualitative data is customer development and customer interviews. Getting out of the building and talking to your users 1 on 1 produces immense value. An example of quantitative data is using mixpanel to analyze key metrics and behavior within your product. This objective data goes a long way and can help you understand trends that you would never identify otherwise.
If you are going to pivot use a healthy blend of qualitative and quantitative data to make that decision. Pivoting is extremely disruptive and I think it’s become a little to “cool” to pivot these days. A true leader has to use her experience and gut instincts in addition to data to make the right call. Getting that right is often the difference between success and failure for a startup.
MO: Can you talk a bit about your upcoming release of your PRO service and what that will mean for your customer base?
Danny: We are maniacal about talking to our users and giving them what they want. We took this year or so of constant customer development and data analysis and applied all of it to our product. The result will be an improved user experience and design, some additional features like call recording, an improved browser-based VoIP client and many other things that we are confident our users will love.
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