Neil Patel

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In the ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurship, tales of triumph often emerge from the fusion of passion, resilience, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. Joshua Wöhle, a visionary entrepreneur, epitomizes these traits in his remarkable journey from a gaming aficionado to the founder of thriving startups.

This blog delves deeper into the narrative of Joshua’s transformative odyssey, marked by innovation, perseverance, and a commitment to making a difference. His latest venture, Mindstone, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Nex.D, Zanichelli Venture, and Everywhere Ventures (The Fund).

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Joshua’s journey underscores the importance of nurturing a deep passion for one’s pursuits, igniting the drive to innovate and create.
  • Facing setbacks and challenges with resilience is essential for navigating the unpredictable terrain of entrepreneurship.
  • Embracing change and adapting to shifting market dynamics can turn adversity into opportunity, propelling businesses toward success.
  • Continuous learning and a commitment to personal and professional growth are invaluable assets on the entrepreneurial journey.
  • A clear vision and unwavering belief in one’s mission are essential for driving transformative change and overcoming obstacles.
  • Building strong partnerships and surrounding oneself with a diverse team of collaborators can amplify innovation and drive collective success.
  • Amidst the challenges and triumphs, it’s crucial to savor the entrepreneurial journey, finding joy in the process of building something meaningful and impactful.



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About Joshua Wöhle:

Joshua was born in the Netherlands, attended High School in Switzerland, and speaks five languages.

After studying Computer Science at King’s College London, he finished his MBA at the Open University and has completed MOOCs ranging from the Science of Learning to the application of Artificial Intelligence.

Joshua has started multiple businesses, helping scale them to 150+ people and $100m+ in revenue.

Today, as CEO @Mindstone, Joshua is trying to make a difference in the world by helping people learn faster, remember more, and make sense of all the information they’re confronted with online.

Previously, he was Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer at SuperAwesome, the biggest kids technology company in the world, acquired by Epic Games (creators of Fortnite) in the summer of 2020.

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Connect with Joshua Wöhle:

Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:

Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the deal maker show. So today. We have a founder you know with a really interesting story. You know I find that his journey you’re all going to find it pretty inspiring. You know he basically did a tremendous exit. Ah, we can really disclose numbers but we’re definitely going to be talking about what that journey was. We’re going to be talking about product market fit the emotional journey of a founder the reality thistortion. You know, ah just like the stuff that you would probably you know have heard from Steve Jobs and the likes.

Joshua Wöhle: Professional.

Alejandro Cremades: And many other stuff about building scaling and financing so without farther ado let’s welcome our guest today Joshua Volla welcome to the show.

Joshua Wöhle: Um, thank you very much for having me today.

Alejandro Cremades: So originally born in the Netherlands but you’ve moved quite a bit give us a walk through memory lane. How was life growing up.

Joshua Wöhle: Love growing up was actually pretty good. The Netherlands is ah is a nice and pretty open space I did about 13 years there and then I moved to Switzerland stayed about 10 years there I did go through the the um. Non-english education system there. So the the normal education system which meant I had to learn french and everything that comes with it. So an interesting tough but very formative period and then ultimately moved to London because geneva was way too boring for me.

Alejandro Cremades: So then let’s talk about going to London I mean you ended up going to London you know for studies. Ah, and you did computer science. But even before that you know you had you had an inju because you got into the whole thing ah of coding at about 11 and at the time of 16 you all already making money so you had it in you to certain degrees. So how what? What do you think? got you into computers and then also that bug of building something or selling something.

Joshua Wöhle: Um, yeah.

Joshua Wöhle: So Computers was really all about gaming initially I loved computer games and so initially my idea was I wanted to figure out how to build them and then once I got into actually. Building stuff. It was the immediacy of the feedback loop that really got me going because if I think about what were the first things I built they were not actually games. They were websites about games for example and that feedback loop meant that you just. Every time you tried something New. You instantly could figure out if it was working or if it wasn’t and if it wasn’t you could try again. Execute Again. You’d Click. It would never end and then from the monetary side. I Got to the point where it simply was paying more than babysitting and so I could do what I wanted to do whilst making money and making more money than babysitting. So Why would I not do it.

Alejandro Cremades: So I mean that makes total sense because I mean that that got you going and obviously you have never stopped since then. So I guess in your case, you went to London you study computer science you know, obviously it was quite the logical thing to do you know, given the ah the drive that you had in this in this segment. And then basically right? Ah, right after it, you know you got started with your first day company which ended up being a pretty a pretty good outcome with super awesome. So so walk us through how the whole thing you know came about you know what? you think with your cofounders.

Joshua Wöhle: So I’ll I’ll start one step back because actually just before going to London I had started and dropped out of university twice once in in business management once in economics and this was in geneva and then when I moved to London. I did computer science mostly because I was scared that someone at some point in my life was going to tell me I couldn’t do something because I didn’t have a piece of paper but I didn’t learn anything at university I knew how to build apps I knew how to build websites. There was very little stuff that I learned there. Ah, but it was a fundamental bit of where I am today because I always loved learning in a hated education and then by the time we started to brossom that was actually my fifth company I had done 4 failures before that I mean failures are depending on how you put them. They were making money but they they didn’t stay around for very long. Um, and the way that tubraso really came to be was that um I because I had built those 4 other companies before and because I was the the catalyst I was the one who had driven that from the from the start I wanted to learn from some other people so I wanted to have a cofounding team. That would drive me a co-funding team that I would learn from and that was really the starting point I’d say Dylan not to put any like we had an amazing co-funding team with Lee and Marina and Dylan and it was just.

Joshua Wöhle: The appeal initially of learning from Dylan who had both built and sold 2 companies before was the main thing that I was interested in when we started to brosso and the reality is it was mostly his idea to start.

Alejandro Cremades: So then let’s talk about what were the early days and and getting that nice product market fit because I know that’s how domain that that you like as well.

Joshua Wöhle: Yeah, so but this is actually an interesting one when I contrasted with where we are now. So um, everyone has this different definition of product market fit and it’s kind of a magical territory that no one has a clear definition from some people say like you don’t have. If you have product market fit you know it and otherwise you don’t have it what I can say is that on the inside at superossum it never felt like we had true product market fit the numbers were pointing up constantly but it felt like a constant battle over eight years of month after month. Hitting numbers after numbers and trying to grow and it was just it was a tough journey There was no point during those eight years where I would say things suddenly got easier because we hit product market fit and I have the opposite almost within minestone so that what we are doing now with minestone. For example is. We are. It feels that we are much more running down a hill but it’s still not anywhere easier. It’s just different types of problems and that’s something that I’ve only recently got to experience because now I feel that I I have I understand what the concept is. But actually as a founder. It’s just as tough if not tougher once you have it than if you don’t have it.

Alejandro Cremades: So then so then let’s talk about then you know like at what point do you guys really realize that you were turning a corner here.

Joshua Wöhle: Um, so at’s super awesome it it was when Edward Snowden and gdpr happened at a prox and within the same two year time window so up until that point everyone could agree. That a safer internet for kids was a great thing and everyone should want that but very few people would allocate real money towards making sure that would happen when you had the privacy scandals with Edward Snowden and the um. The cia and now all of the american scandals of of data leakage and and and spying that happened and then at the same time you had gdpr in Europe that started to put really strong privacy requirements. Ah on the internet which had a specific carve out for kids. Suddenly all of the technology that we had built up that we had built up for 5 years Everyone in the world was now paying attention to before everyone was interested in it now everyone was allocating budget towards it and so that was the turning point where really everything started exploding.

Alejandro Cremades: So also how did you guys go about the capitalizing the business because I mean prior to the transaction. You guys did raise you know about thirty six million bucks so how was that journey to of of raising the money along the way.

Joshua Wöhle: So it was mostly dylan my cofounder and this was one of the greatest strengths of our team I was responsible for everything product and technology Lee was heading sales marina was heading operations Dylan was Ceo and making sure that we had enough money in the bank and. We each really trusted each other really strongly around that now Dylan had had 2 successful exits before so the initial seed money came from him then the initial backers came from his contacts and then we had an interesting journey because our series b was through private equity. Which you would not have expected normally basically ah this was the period where private equity was going earlier and earlier in the journey because there there were not that many great private equity deals going around at the time and so we ended up with being being really interesting to them and they were great partners as we. As we scaled this was may mayfair equity who who backed us then and that was the they were the most significant backers of of super awesome.

Alejandro Cremades: And now you were doing your Mba at the same time which is pretty amazing. How were you able to kind of like put both in parallel.

Joshua Wöhle: Um, so this was actually one of the better this is this was the only learning experience I genuinely enjoyed and think I I really got a lot out of so I did my andba mostly remotely. Ah, and I would I would wake up at 6 I would go through the theory between 6 and eight I’d have breakfast and then get to the office by 9 and I would try to apply whatever I would have learned that morning as we were scaling the company 9 times out of 10 it would work terribly. And like everything that I thought I had just learned at the theoretical front just didn’t pan out but 1 time that of 10 something actually worked and so I do credit having gone through that feedback loop with a lot of the learning that I went through.

Alejandro Cremades: So then so then in terms of the um for the business too I mean how did the how did the whole approach to of um, getting started with with investing you know happen because I mean there’s like so many things happen with you at the same time you know during this time with super awesome I mean not only building the business but doing the Mba.

Joshua Wöhle: Um, that body.

Joshua Wöhle: Um.

Joshua Wöhle: Drop.

Alejandro Cremades: Ah, getting your feet wet on making investments in other startups too. So what sparked the interest to on on on investing in other startups.

Joshua Wöhle: So I was thinking I’ve always loved learning and so when I finished my and Mba I was trying to figure out what is my next learning journey I always wanted to do I like the idea of parallel where I’m learning theoretically whilst building and um. I then looked at the numbers and I thought okay well what are various ways that I can accelerate what what my next learning path could be and I could do um I could do a masters in Ai and I was thinking about that. But the the investment ecosystem in the u k is. Built in such a way that early stage investment is actually a really appealing financial decision and so I I ended up with a calculation where I thought well if I if I invest 10 20 £30000 a year with all the tax incentives that were in place in the u k. That ended up being less expensive than paying for another degree and so I thought well if I just invest over three years and I take all the learnings from the bad investments I do the good investments I do I take the new connections that come out to this that learning is probably worth more than any. Masters that I could go through and so I I considered it a learning experience in the first few years and it definitely paid off in my case.

Alejandro Cremades: So I guess say how how what were you? for example, like on on startups. You know what were you looking for you know and then also how did you apply those lessons learned to to your own case.

Joshua Wöhle: Um, so I I really went around it from a learning perspective. So initially I got involved with ah an early stage fund and I thought okay well let’s learn from how a professional investor invests then as I got more exposure to deal flow from that early stage fund I started to. Look at what their their various investment thesis were for for different companies. They invested in and then when when I got to make my when some of the other founders that I knew came to me for investment at some point I then. The but and thought okay well this one seems interesting I would I have a little bit more cash that I can invest now and I started doing it myself. Um, where it really started to come back was that by the time I started my next company minestone.

Joshua Wöhle: I had built out a pretty extensive investment network of other investors because as I was trying to figure out how to be a better investor I was talking to other investors about this and now when I was talking about financing I was no longer talking about financing as a 1 ne-way treat Where it was me the founder wanting money from you The investor it was okay, we are both investors here. Yes I am running my startup but and I’ll put my own money in it but let me talk to you about why I think this is also an interesting investing opportunity and because I was. Evaluating investment opportunities on and the other side I was able to position the investment opportunity in ways that I probably never would have thought about had I not been on the other side of the table that much I.

Alejandro Cremades: So I guess a talking about a to the um, the cycles here of a company I Mean in this case, you know with a super awesome. You guys ended up a going through an acquisition. You know what? what? what was that process like.

Joshua Wöhle: Um, it was very interesting tumultuous but it was about whatever nine nine months ten months from the moment that the initial intent was expressed to the moment we actually closed. Ah, there were multiple times in the middle of the deal where we thought it was going to happen and then the next day it was not ah people that started to make pretty fundamental life decisions within those periods which is really hard not to do because you very easily start running away. From yourself when you when you see big numbers being thrown around and they’re all life changinging numbers. It’s very hard to not let it affect your decision making even if none of it is really yet. Um, so yeah, very interesting journey a pretty tough one. But I mean it was ten months so ten months of toughness is is totally fair and then you didn’t. 8 year long journey I mean that we’re also but that was yeah that was pretty good.

Alejandro Cremades: Ah, and you know obviously going with the ups and downs of one day. It’s happening another day is not happening I mean that’s pretty much the emotional journey tool that a founder needs to endure. So what? What? what’s your take you know from this whole emotional journey that day that you can also share with the founders listening.

Joshua Wöhle: Are So the thing. Fundamentally I believe that grit wins over talent almost every single time. Um, and I’m a big believer in that many many of many sports Elite sportsmen. Believe in this as Well. Which is the um, the saying that Victory or success is going from failure to failure without loss of Enthusiasm. The idea that if I keep getting up. You can’t kill me. Or or the idea that um if you stay long if you stay around long enough. You will eventually be right? and I think those are extremely true stories like a startup doesn’t die unless a founder gives up and.

Joshua Wöhle: That is an emotional journey that people talk about but there’s a massive disconnect between how people talk about it and what the reality of that means it means that during super awesome which was an extremely big success. There were 8 or 9 times that I nearly quit. Um I was very lucky that I had a system around me. My wife was very supportive and every time that I was close to it someone somewhere told me don’t be stupid like you know you’re going to regret it if you don’t sometimes there was something else. Sometimes it’s the tiniest messages like I was. Getting close to quitting and then you get a small message of reinforcement from ah from ah a fellow yeah from a colleague or from an investor or from another cofounder and the fruit. The the fragility of. Your emotional state as a founder when all your net worth all your life’s work is tied up into this one unit you built and that unit is so volatile that one day you think is going to change the world and the other day you think it’s going to disappear that is a really tough. Thing to put all your all your hopes on. Basically.

Alejandro Cremades: And then how how do you ah put that in parallel too with the real the reality distortion. You know which is something that the Steve Jobs saying had you know, having fun along the way.

Joshua Wöhle: Ah, yeah, so I’d say those are 2 slightly different things. They’re having fun along the way they’re having fun along the way is an extremely important bit because of the fact that it is so volatile and because of the fact that actually the exit itself doesn’t. Doesn’t really provide that much of ah I mean it’s it’s joy for a little bit and then you have to continue your life. Um, the reality distortion field is that you have to believe something to be true. That the majority of the world does not believe to be true. This was Scott Belsky actually he said if you believe yeah if if you believe something or if everybody tells you you are wrong. You are either wrong or about to change the world. And that is exactly the thing which is that as a founder you have to believe that you know something even though everybody else tells you that it is not true. If everybody else thought it was true then everybody would be doing it which would mean that it was no longer an actual opportunity. So the opportunity is exactly in that spot where the entire world pushes against you and that is in my opinion. That’s what this reality distortion field is about which is that you have to believe.

Joshua Wöhle: That you are somehow the exception and that you are going to make something happen and to everybody else. It appears as if you are magically making it happen. But it’s really just extreme persistence and extreme. Some degree extreme positivity because if you let too much of that negativity come in then the emotional journey becomes unbearable to begin with.

Alejandro Cremades: So then as the saying goes once an entrepreneur always an entrepreneur and in your case you know like the next stop was say minestone I mean as you were saying you know earlier you got involved with emerge you know, then as a result of that you know you really got the the the excitement.

Joshua Wöhle: Are.

Alejandro Cremades: About this space and you you never you know love the ah the education you know side of things as much you know now you know you’re loving it. You know, especially when you get the chance to innovate too. So how did the whole idea of minestone. You know, come together and and obviously you know you were now a second time founder. So. You had been around the block. So why was this problem meaningful enough for you to resolve.

Joshua Wöhle: Um.

Joshua Wöhle: So I in one I was loved learning actually I just hated education I hated the education system but learning itself I really enjoy. Um, the main question. For me, it’s just that I am not a person to sit on a beach I’m not a person to not do much at the end of the day as much as I as much as I hurt or much as it’s hard to build a business for me. It’s harder not to have an impact. And so I have a hard time being in a much much bigger machine. For example where you might have a smaller impact and I was thinking. Okay, well if I have another thirty forty fifty years on this planet. How can I spend that time. In the most impactful way where do I think I can have the best possible impact and because I had such a checkered past with education and because I am an engineer by by background and the education or the learning experience. And with technology was terrible is terrible I would say I thought this is an area that I can really make a difference in and if we make a difference I think that education is probably the most impactful space in the world if you can help people. Ah.

Joshua Wöhle: Learn better acquire new skills better than the ripple effects of what you are building are so big that they have a real effect on humanity as a whole versus a small segment of it.

Alejandro Cremades: So then so then talk to us about minestone. What are you guys doing at minestone. Okay.

Joshua Wöhle: So right now we are bridging the gap between the potential that ai has to offer and the 10 to 40% productivity increase that people keep talking about for employees across the business. So we we built a. The biggest practical ai community in the world and we combine it with a best in class fully personalized technology platform that runs people through how this technology can be used on a daily basis in their respective jobs today. To actually be more productive.

Alejandro Cremades: So then in this case I mean how did you guys go about building the business tool because I know that they you guys have raised some money as well. But I guess before we even get there. How do you guys monetize here. How do you guys make money.

Joshua Wöhle: Um, so we run an a I master stream program which is 9 hours in total. So it really only focuses on the practical bit. It can be delivered over three months or three weeks and we work with companies and specifically the all the employees in in the companies to help upskill everyone in the company and make sure that they are prepared. And able to leverage all the benefits that come from all the Ai tools that are currently being developed all around us and so companies pay us to use our platform to upscale, their employees.

Alejandro Cremades: So then so then what about the capital racing. You know how was that for you guys.

Joshua Wöhle: Ah, dramatically easier this time around than last time for sure as a second time founder it is. It is definitely easier to make the point that you know how to build a business and people are more willing to trust you with that. We had a mixture. Of really great kind of risk or early stage risk capital moonfire ventures who were the first backers of minestone and also some strategic capital from Pearson Ventures and Zeny Kelly venture who obviously Pearson being the biggest education group in the world and. Now we have to run and execute. But I think we’re at exactly the right time with exactly the right product and I think upscaling has never been more important than it is today because it’s the number 1 or number 2 element on every Ceo’s priority list at the moment.

Alejandro Cremades: So let’s say if you were to go to sleep tonight and you wake up in a world where the vision of mainstone is fully realized what does that world look like.

Joshua Wöhle: That is a very good question the way we talk about it is that we unlock the potential of humanity by bringing personal and professional growth to every individual and so the way that materializes. Is that if you ask people where they go to learn something new to learn a new skill today you will get a hundred different answers. Some people will answer Harvard Stanford the University Coursera udemy whatever the starting point is but you’ll get 100 different answers. There is no. Google or Amazon or Apple of education. There is no one destination where you start to build that new skill that is what minestone will be um.

Alejandro Cremades: So then always see we’re talking about here about the future. We’re talking about vision I want to talk about the past but doing so with a lens of reflection. So let’s say I was to put you into a time machine and I bring you back in time you know maybe to that moment where. You were coming out of school. You know, let’s say 2013 you know where you were coming out and let’s say you have the opportunity of seeing your younger self. You know, maybe that younger cell that you know was coming out in one of those I mean maybe graduating out of King’s College you know you’re able to stop that younger self coming out of school and.

Joshua Wöhle: But.

Alejandro Cremades: You’re able to give that younger self one piece of advice for launching a company. What would that be and why given what you know now.

Joshua Wöhle: Um I would have told myself to enjoy the journey more than I did um the I have become better over time at taking the roller coaster. But. The um, the downs hit me pretty hard and the ups also hit me pretty hard and that made me less effective. So I should have been slightly more moderated on both ends of that spectrum.

Alejandro Cremades: I love it so Joshua for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.

Joshua Wöhle: So I am both on Linkedin and on x so Joshua Vola can reach me there.

Alejandro Cremades:
Amazing, well easy novel hey Joshua thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an honor to have you with us.

Joshua Wöhle: Thank you very much for having me really enjoyed it.


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