Jake Weatherly’s startup has raised almost $100 million to make it easy for brands to instantly verify eligible teachers, students, the military, and hundreds of other consumer tribes for their gated personalized offers. This helps brands like Spotify, Lowe’s, and Target build new relationships with influential customer groups while mitigating fraud for their exclusive offers. It also allows eligible consumers to receive a benefit in seconds instead of days.
During our interview on the DealMakers Podcast, Weatherly shared his inspiration for his startup, the art of fundraising, the value of “no” and what ski racing teaches you about entrepreneurship.
Pitching Your Parents
Jake Weatherly was born and grew up in a small town with one high school. His mother was a teacher, and his father a builder.
He learned the value of good old fashioned hard work from his father who would work long hours through humid summers and snowy winters. At least until an injury meant he needed to reinvent himself and his career.
Jake had witnessed a lot of kids who had moved into their small town from other places in the country. They had the chance to make new circles of friends and improve their social skills. He wanted that opportunity too.
So, as a high school junior, he prepared a PowerPoint presentation for his parents explaining why they should let him go on an exchange student program to Europe for a year. Though surprised, they supported him, and he won a scholarship to fund the venture.
It wasn’t long before he was taking his first flight, and heading off to Germany. He described it as an experience that broadened his horizons and comfort zone, as well as an understanding of how the world works. That dive into living with a new family, being thrust into a completely different culture and having to learn a new language, led to rapidly expanding his mind. All great things for future entrepreneurs.
How Entrepreneurship Is Like Skiing
Jake also spent time as a ski racer. It inadvertently equipped him with even more entrepreneurial skills.
- Was a competitive sport, just like new businesses
- Was a team sport, but one which relied on your personal performance
- Requires you to go out on your own, take risks, and overcome fear
- Helps you get comfortable pushing yourself out of your comfort zone
Before an athletic career-ending injury, Weatherly also learned that while you may latch onto big visions of the Olympics or World Cups, getting there is all about the daily discipline of getting up and putting in the work on the small things.
Jake’s wife landed a position at the University of Oregon. So, together they packed up the car with all of their belongings and headed across the country.
There he landed his first job doing tech support for entrepreneurs at Palo Alto Software. His customers were founders preparing business plans and running financial models so they could raise money for their startups.
One of the biggest takeaways for Jake was that those who were successful were those who weren’t deterred by hearing “no.” Instead, it fueled them to do better and try harder and go back and pitch some more.
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