Ty Harris and Matt Wielbut came together around a shared problem to launch their own insurtech startup that has already raised $200M. The venture, Openly, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like MTech Capital, Gradient Ventures, Obvious Ventures, and Clocktower Technology Ventures.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Why not to keep your startup idea a secret
- Going through startup accelerator programs
- The importance of defining your cofounder roles early
- Celebrating all of your successes
For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).
Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
About Ty Harris:
Ty founded Openly in 2017, alongside CTO Mateusz Wielbut. He received his undergraduate degree in economics at Duke University, then continued studying economics at MIT.
After that, he spent 13 years at Liberty Mutual, eventually becoming Chief Product and Underwriting Officer for Personal Lines.
At Liberty Mutual, Ty built pricing and underwriting models for homeowner’s insurance and noticed a pain point in the homeowner’s insurance market. He and Mateusz decided to tackle this problem through Openly.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
- Fundraising Process : get guidance from A to Z.
- Materials : our team creates epic pitch decks and financial models
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Connect with Ty Harris:
About Matt Wielbut:
Prior to founding Openly, Matt spent 4 years as a Partner at Elements Insurance, one of the fastest-growing property & casualty insurance agencies in Massachusetts, which he co-founded in 2013.
Matt began his early professional career on Wall Street, where he spent 8 years at Goldman Sachs as a Vice President in Engineering with projects spanning operations, sales, and marketing.
Matt is a serial entrepreneur; investing time in projects ranging from graph-based concept search to improve the way consumers find local businesses to a platform to deliver hyper-specific educational videos to students to bridge the gap between school and home.
Outside of his entrepreneurial endeavors, Matt works on personal programming and robotics projects and is an avid skier and sailor.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
- Fundraising Process : get guidance from A to Z.
- Materials : our team creates epic pitch decks and financial models
- Investor Access : connect with the right investors for your business and close them
Connect with Matt Weilbut:
Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: All righty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today. We have a really exciting episode. We’re gonna have you know two cofounders here you know jumping in sharing their story sharing the journey of this rocket ship that they’re in. And I think that you’re all going to enjoy very much. You know what they have to say because you know again, it’s all about the building scaling all of that good stuff that we like to hear so without further ado I like to welcome our guest today and that is ty har and also matt willbot welcome to the show.
Ty Harris: Thank you, Glad to be here. Thanks for having us.
Matt Wielbut: Thank you.
Alejandro Cremades: So let’s do a little of a walk through memory lane with both of you guys. You know so let’s start with thai so tai you were born. You know in Atlanta Georgia so how was life growing up. Yeah.
Ty Harris: Yeah, no look I was really fortunate I wish I had a more interesting childhood but I had 2 loving parents who you know my dad was a air force pilot and then ah and then worked for an airline so who got to travel a fair bit and they really prioritize education for me and and engendered. Ah, curiosity and and and just really sacrifice a lot for my for my education so it was it was great.
Alejandro Cremades: Now I think that when you have a parents like that you know that that that give you that insight into the world. You know I’m sure that that gives you you know a different worldview you know on everything and also the way that you would do your analysis and you think about stuff is that right.
Ty Harris: Yeah, absolutely I think there was a real curiosity. 1 of the things that I I think is is ah is a pro and a con about me is I’m very you know I got to derive everything for myself and so I’m not going to believe something unless I write it down and okay, yeah, that’s true. And I think there’s a certain aspect of that that you can certainly see that in my parents they they they brought that level of kind of first principles which I and drives my wife crazy I’m sure sometimes but where it works in business sometimes.
Alejandro Cremades: So let’s talk about numbers. You know out of all things economics. You know you’ve done the undergrad the graduate you know degree you know whether it’s in Duke or also you know at mit why economics.
Ty Harris: Yes, um, you know I I find Economics great. It’s ah it’s a really neat I’m a pretty quanny person and but I also used to be I was like on the debate team in high school. So I was very into kind of you know, social and political issues and making arguments and for me economics at the time was a really neat. Mishmash between the two you could use a lot of math to prove things you could use data and write code. But at the same time you’re arguing about kind of big weighty Issues. You know so that was that was the early days of it I do a little less formal economics these days. But um, it was. It’s a great. Start Also for for any kind of quantitative career. It’s I think it’s just a great back Background. So.
Alejandro Cremades: And you know what one one of the things that I typically see on entrepreneurs is that competitive nature in them and I think that that competitive nature came out of you when it came to ballroom dancing. You know that’s quite unique.
Ty Harris: I was I was scared. You were gonna bring that up. You must have found some old photos. But yeah, you know I I like I said I was at I was at mit a little bit kind of wandering in grad school supposed to be writing my dissertation. One of the things I wandered into was you know mit doesn’t have like a great basketball team. But my god they’re the best. Ballroom dance team in the country and I found my way there and I was very serious for about 10 years I was very serious I practiced ten fifteen hours a week at ballroom dancing. It’s actually how I met my my wife. But yeah, it was ah it’s ah it’s a weird niche hobby that I really enjoyed.
Alejandro Cremades: And thanks to me and your wife you got into the whole insurance world. So how did that happen and.
Ty Harris: Yeah, she she was so she was my bar dance partner at the time. Um, since has since now become my wife but she grew up in a family of actuaries which is this very strange thing. Most people have never heard of I was thinking like mortuary when she told me I I didn’t. But I discovered this and she said yeah you can take these tests and then just make money because you take these standardized tests and become an actuary It’s pretty good money and I you know that’s one of my I love um, centerized tests and so I that’s that was very appealing to me at the time. and and I kind of so went off and secretly started doing this without even telling her I went off and started secretly taking these actualctuial exams got through a few of them and then that got me into insurance that kind of pulled me into ah I went to work at liberty mutual up in Boston um, and that that dragged me into the insurance world.
Alejandro Cremades: But that that’s something interesting there because you were working at libertyfor13years you know one of the things that you see in the us I mean obviously I’m originally from Spain so there you know you’ll see people sticking at a job for quite. You know some time. So what do you think? kept you for so long. What was that future that you were living into that they made you you know want to stay around and.
Ty Harris: Yeah I mean look it’s a great company I I um I had some great early bosses and and mentors. Ah, it’s just a really friendly engaging environment and there’s a lot to learn boy insurance is complicated. And there’s so many problems to solve and you know for a big giant company I think they probably have I don’t know 40 rty fifty thousand employees I was able to keep getting you know promoted and recognized for for work. Um I eventually became the you know I went from being a starting analyst to the ultimately the chief product and underwriting officer there. Which was a pretty senior role so I just kept kept being engaged by it. Um, it was it was it was a great job.
Alejandro Cremades: And you know in your case you know Matt you know, obviously you know a super interesting story. It was a shout out to the wives because that’s how you know you guys come into the picture together and we’re going to talk about that in just a little bit but to allow you know the audience to really get to know Matt a little bit I mean 1 thing that is. Really remarkable is you know how you are originally from Poland Matt and and and and the also the uncertainty that the family had to endure you know during the early days I’m wondering you know if you could walk us you know through what was you know childhood like for you and. And how do you think that uncertainty you know, growing up, you know that perhaps they family experience how that has shaped who you are today.
Matt Wielbut: Yeah, of course and and I think you’re right I probably have a bit of a different take on on risk than many other people just because of that uncertainty of my childhood. So I I was born at Poland I don’t remember much of the early days. But um. From what I’m told we we fled Poland when I was very young when I was five years old um we were political refugees. We left a pretty oppressive government and we we fled to Germany we lived there for 2 years and we saw a asylum in the United States where we. Um, they were granted a asylum that’s kind of where I grew up.
Alejandro Cremades: So I know as well that they getting a computer in your bedroom. You know I say quite a breakthrough you know thanks to your dad. So so tell us what kind of computer and what were you doing there and why did your father think it was so important to have that computer in your room.
Matt Wielbut: Um, yeah I think I think I can credit a lot of my ability to to program and kind of the career that I have with my dad’s forward thinking and knowing that computers are going to be the future at such an early age so he spent probably are. Most of our family’s life savings at that point on this beautiful Mac Performa and he instead of putting it in the living room like most people I guess he he put it in my bedroom and he just wanted me to see this thing and to to me this was this very intimidating expensive box. But then you know my dad. Loved languages he was ah actually a language teacher and he he spent time with me learning how to program and he didn’t have a background and programming either. He ah, he and I were both learning together I think that was actually quite an amazing bonding experience for us to both learn how to use this tool. Um, and then. From there I kind of just fell in love with it and the the rest of my life. My career has been engineering and being obsessed with programming.
Alejandro Cremades: Now you know after after school you know, basically 1 thing that that happened for you is that you went to the investment banking world. You know with Goldman Sachs where you were scaling through the ranks then you know at 1 point you decide. That’s not for you and you went at it as an entrepreneur. And 1 thing that is very interesting here from your journey as ah as a founder is that you’ve been able to experience everything you know you’ve been able to experience you know when things work out. You’ve been able to experience when things don’t work so well. Ah, but as they say you know either succeed or you learn. So obviously the most immediate. Um, you know journey you know or or event that happened in your entrepreneurial journey was a success right? Elements insurance. But before that you went at it. You know for a few times and unfortunately things didn’t work out the way that you had hoped for so it sounds like the third time was a charm for you. And I’m wondering what kept you going because obviously you know the first try you know it didn’t you know, but get the outcome that you hope for same thing on the second one. What let you to keep going. Until you actually stumbled you know with elements insurance you know and and and thank god that was a success.
Matt Wielbut: Yeah, no, that’s such a ah great point you know I I think I have maybe the typicals or the stereotypical I should say immigrant story where you know education was really important to my parents grades were really important to my parents and and. You know if school wasn’t tough enough if I was getting too many a’s I would get a tutor right to to make it even more difficult they they knew that educational is the future and and so throughout kind of my entire upbringing I was always put into situations where there was. A lot of of challenges. There was always a next rung higher and so when when I when I was at Goldman Sachs and I was succeeding I think I still yearn for those like additional challenges like what else is out there that I can push myself into a place where i’m. A little uncomfortable and and trying and do things it may be fairing a little bit and and that’s okay, um, and so when I left Goldman and I I founded a startup called peakful I founded a startup called recitatee Neith of those worked out but I think it was probably a lot of the upbringing that. Should push yourself beyond your comfort zone and it’s okay to fail that let me to just like no but this is okay I can continue and I will continue and eventually it will work out.
Alejandro Cremades: And with elements insurance. Actually it ended up a working out. Ah you build it into a multimillion dollar agency you know which eventually you sold it to titan you know one thing that is really cool here is that when you go through the and and here obviously you know like you you didn’t raise any money. But. But when you go through the um I say the full cycle with a business. You know, ah building scaling and exiting it gives you full disibility into how you know really the game works what kind of disability. Do you think that gave you.
Matt Wielbut: Yeah I think you know you read in in Techcrunch and all these other publications. You just read the highlight reel of the success stories and and just the tail end of these big exits but seeing the business. Through when it’s just you and your cofounder when you’re hiring your first employees and you’re convincing them that this pine and this sky dream is going to work out through to you know, just sitting there building it for years to the exit and then those negotiations when you’re talking to your buyer and and they’re. You know, picking apart every little bit of your business. You don’t experience that when you’re reading those those articles. So yeah, that was that was really an amazing experience. So.
Alejandro Cremades: Um, and it sounds like 2017 was the year when magic was going to happen and that magic came because you know your wives you know went to mit together. You know they knew each other as a result you know you guys became friends too. But I wouldn’t know ty. You know what was that day they were you and Matt you know were having a chat and and the idea of perhaps doing something of your own you know came up how did that come about.
Ty Harris: Yeah, you know we knew each other for I don’t know maybe twelve ten or twelve years even before we started and the company together and we had always. You know, kick things around I I think I didn’t have a lot of role models in my life. They were entrepreneurs so that you know I saw lots of lawyers and doctors and finance people. But that was kind of success that I that I had access to and it always seemed magic to me that people could just start companies. Um, but I think my outlet was I would ah had a bunch of. Hobbies these really deep hobbies some of which were somewhat lucrative and whatnot but Matt and I we both you know I’m an amateur program. He’s a professional programmer and we would always talk about interesting technology things and you know we talk about companies and I think um from my perspective I so you know I was at a giant insurance company and I just saw so many opportunities. Like 10 different companies I think there’s ah, a theme around you know what they were going after but there were a bunch of different companies. One could start um to to go after opportunities there. Ah, but yeah, we I think it was we probably had. The hardest thing for me was well I also was having 2 kids at about that time in my life and so I knew I wanted to do it but I was a little bit of the straggler because jumping out of ah a very cushy corporate job into.
Ty Harris: You know my first startup it wasn’t Matt’s first my first startup that was that was a big big leap that I think probably I was a little slower too than Matt was.
Alejandro Cremades: So I guess say Matt what was that moment where you know you guys really get a line and he’s like a screw. Let’s do it. Let’s go for this one.
Matt Wielbut: Um, yeah, think the stars really aligned in a number of different ways you know ty and I are the right pair of of of technical ability and you know we we obviously friend our friends kind of our are comfortable being around each other but our. Backgrounds right? this this 20 or 30 years of of work that we have done really lined us up for success tie had spent his life. You know in this insurance career and and seeing the world of insurance through the eyes of an insurance company and the problems that they were facing. And I had spent my life as a programmer as aor and had recently got into insurance but I was looking at it through the prism of an agent as a broker who is selling the insurance on behalf of these insurance companies and we both saw the same problems from different perspectives and so I think that. Genesis moment is like when we’re sitting at the dinner table and then I’m ranting and raving about these problems and asking. Why aren’t the insurance companies making it easier for us time ranting about problems and asking. Why aren’t brokers making it easier for us and so I think to come together and and create an insurance company that solves both of those problems was.
Alejandro Cremades: So ty for the people that are listening. You know to really get it. Why didn’t ended up being the business model of openly how do you guys make money today i.
Matt Wielbut: So perfect for us.
Ty Harris: Yeah, so we are a heavily tech-enabled provider of what I’ll call premium homeowner’s insurance. Um, you know so you know most people know what homeowner’s insurance is but you know why? Why are we different. Why is it better. We use technology to make it extremely fast and easy. So for example. You could get your home insured by answering just your name and date and birth birth and address to an agent they they could have you quote in like 8 seconds as opposed to with many carriers. It might take you know days or or weeks to to get that we also use technology to you know, drive automation and low expense the industry as a whole about people don’t know this but about 40% all the money people paid to home insurance goes toward like administrative expense not profit not claims but admin expense we dig at that as well. We also have very sophisticated underwriting but you know Matt was alluding to a final aspect of our company which is we we had this great all these algorithms and you know low cost model of of premium insurance. But who really is going to care about that. It’s really tough to get in consumers to care about that because they don’t shop that often for home insurance. It’s not like top of mind thing you want to think about. But I think some of the magic we found is we said you know who does care about that these independent agents who do this all day every day and sell like half the homeowners insurance in the us and we brought them. Very technology forward product and and they had that in their hands from us and then like a you know, hundred year old system available from from one of our competitors. It’s much slower and Clunkiky and awful to work with and it’s really that advantage that is made openly go viral. Um, you know so that’s that’s sort of the the.
Ty Harris: Secret sauce that we built and credit to Matt and his team for for building that technology that enabled that of course.
Alejandro Cremades: And building. You know, have some being easy. He a Matt you know how was that time where you guys launched you know this thing and there there was like nothing happening for weeks.
Matt Wielbut: Yeah, no, that was that was scary days. Luckily it was only a few weeks but rather than buying an off-the-shelf you know policy management system and rating engine. All the other things that the incumbents are are buying. We built everything ourselves so we spent 2 years building our own software stack. The entire stack of running an insurance company on this bet that it’s all going to work out and so you know then the the day comes that we go live and you know we had lots of promises from agents that they were going to sell policies and. We’re waiting and waiting and a week ticks by another week tick by and we’re facing this existential crisis. Did we just waste the 2 years of our lives. But then sure enough the the dam broke and a couple sales started to trickle in and um, you know just took agents a little bit of time. It took them time to get to. No us to trust us, you know it’s a big deal for for there to be a new insurance company. You don’t hear about new insurance companies launching every year um but but eventually we built enough trust with agents that like ty said earlier it became viral.
Alejandro Cremades: And I know as well to follow up on that you know tie that you guys went through tech stars through the accelerator program. Um, you know you thought that you know things were going to be you know blue skies. You know, right? after that, but all of a sudden you realize that they. Hey maybe you know it’s not such a blue skies. Maybe it’s a little cloudy because you literally had to go to square 1 given you know a series of events that unfolded what happened there because I know that some some of those days were some of the darkest that you guys encountered.
Ty Harris: Yeah, yeah, you know we we went through tech stars in Boston very early and it was a great program. We were there with 9 other companies. You know in the kind of basement of this building but you’re really building camaraderie we were next to ah a pipe that we’re pretty sure was like the sewage that’s okay, but the you know bless. Their hearts but our our all our the 9 other companies. There were like um in industries that’s it’s easier to to get to your Mvp right? So they were selling something which required kind of a. Ah, small build and then you had to find traction and so we’d have these weekly kpi meetings and we go in and everybody else would say yeah we got like 3 sales this week we got 5 sales. Okay, it’s going up here’s the metrics and every single time but Matt and I what we had to build. It’s like starting an airline you have to have like. Reinsurance and you know yeah you have to build an amazing amount of stuff acclaims organization all this crap to actually run an insurance company even for your first policy so we had nothing and so we would show up at every single kpi meeting. So our kpi is we still don’t have this this critical thing we needed a carrier partner was like the number 1 thing we needed and we just invariably show up. You know we still don’t have it. Ah, kpi is still zero as it remained for about 2 years but so we came out and it took us about 2 years to get to market finally and that was that was why it was so troubling when we still no policies having launched two years later but but eventually it all worked out. So.
Alejandro Cremades: So at what point Matt to to follow up on that. Do you guys realize that you’re turning you know a corner here.
Matt Wielbut: Um, yeah I think I think when we started so we had this thing where we would celebrate every sale right? at the beginning. It was a big deal. We would.
Matt Wielbut: We would highlight the first five sales the first 10 sales people would have a big gone celebration. We would look at every house and examine it. We make sure the algorithms were all correct I think I think the turning point was probably would we stop doing that for every single house and every property where. We we stopped Pigeon ourselves and we believed. Okay, this is now happening. Let’s figure out how we’re going to actually get the system to scale to a thousand policies a day that are just 5 policies a day.
Alejandro Cremades: Wow now obviously the way that you guys are diversifying or dividing and conquering. You know, ah Matt he is the ceo really you know making sure that engineering and everything you know with his team you know is under control and then you know thai. The Ceo and I guess as the Ceo you know someone that is leading the fundraising efforts you know I would assume obviously with the rest of the team but but taking on that responsibility I guess to that day point. How much capital have you guys raised to date a time.
Ty Harris: Yeah, we’ve raised. We’ve been you know venture Funded. We’ve raised just under $200,000,000 of Capital life to date. Ah we have about half of that left right? So we we were not We very much pride ourselves on being an efficient company and ah. But for for what we do. We have to actually raise Capital not only to fuel the initial burn of you know so of most startups. But also we have to have capital that we put on ah on a balance sheet because part of what we do is actually take some insurance risk via some some regulated entities and so you know it’s kind of.. It’s a complex.. It’s a more complex story than your average kind of software company in terms of capital.
Alejandro Cremades: And now you know for for math too. You know when it comes to the to the to the team. You know I Guess how big is the team today.
Ty Harris: Yeah, we’re we’re just under Oh sorry.
Matt Wielbut: It’s about sorry yeah, my my my team in engineering is about 55 people the the company is just up 300
Alejandro Cremades: Just under 300 okay, got it and and in that regard you know I guess say a question you know that I that I like to ask thai and and and Matt you know I’d like for you to really expand on is if you guys were to go to sleep tonight. And you wake up in a world where the vision of openly is fully realized what does that world look like Tyler start with you.
Ty Harris: Ah, well my whole theory about insurance is that um, it’s today. It’s very opaque. It’s very hard for consumers to actually understand what pricing is out there and therefore to save money to get the best coverage for them. It’s a complex. Web they have to to dance through I think 100 years from now. It’s hard to imagine that the market won’t have changed I think you’ll see so I referenced earlier that like 40% of the money goes toward administrative expense that number has got to come way down. It’s like if imagine 40% of your 4 one and k contributions went toward the you know the management fee or something. It’s almost like that. So that’s got to happen and I think what will fuel that is consumer consumers driving that through their demand and through increasingly transparent digital choice for consumers and so what we would like openly to be we. We kind of foresee that world coming and what we’d like to be is the fastest best risk selecting lowest expense. Ah, you know insurance company and ultimately platform that is able to meet the needs of people who want to buy insurance. Um in ah in a more transparent way like that. So for example, imagine that Amazon is selling insurance down the line through a digital agency or imagine that you know. Ah, gm is is selling insurance through their on-star in the in the front of the car. These things are all retail outlets for insurance in the future and we openly want to be there to sell insurance through all of these emerging retail outlets and we want to do at low expense without wasting people’s time and with really advanced underwriting models.
Ty Harris: So I want to be part of the what saves people about a $100,000,000,000 per year in insurance. But.
Alejandro Cremades: Well that sounds like a lot to save so Matthew feel free to expand on that.
Matt Wielbut: Yeah I think I have conversations with with my friends all the time about insurance and they still they just don’t get it and these are intelligent people. They they care about their finances. They care about their their family security and their and their risk but to them. It’s just such a complicated product and so on 1 hand you know the dream is to to to revolutionize I guess not even an evolution to revolutionize insurance so that it’s simpler I don’t know how how possible that is right? It’s a highly regulated very old industry. So short of that what I would like to do is just to create an environment where it’s easier for people to get help navigating the complexity of insurance that means that making it easier for people to go to an insurance agent whether that’s a digital agent or or a human agent that they meet. Um. And get answers to their to their questions and really feel like their entire life is protected and and they have the right coverage. Um I I don’t think we’re there. Yeah I I think that there’s still a lot of work to be done to make insurance. Easier for even agents to navigate. Let alone let agents make it easier for consumers to navigate.
Alejandro Cremades: Now 1 thing that I like to ask you guys you know here that day I’m sure people are you know, probably even wondered is 1 thing that is that is amazing is that you guys started this as as already being good friends and then you know I find that. In terms of cofounder dynamics you know communication is absolutely everything you know and I and I can see that you know on the way that you know we’re having this discussion. How you both very well know you know who is accountable for what and who is responsible for what so how? how was that you know. Journey of or or in terms of dynamics with you guys to also because I’m sure that you you were very careful about the friendship too like having those discussions where you were able to divide and conquer and and and how you guys you know, agreed on why that should be the case meaning why you know ti take in on the Ceo. Why might taking the cto and obviously each responsibility that comes with each one of those so tai feel free to jump in. Okay.
Ty Harris: Yeah, and it’s it’s a great question because I think in our cases we overlap maybe more than most cofounders do in our capabilities I like I said I’m like an amateur coder. So I I kind of want to stick my nose in that stuff sometimes in Matt is you know way broader than you know, just like a technology person. He has amazing insight and. Thoughts about business and everything you know he could. He could be his Ceo easily. So I think um, it was not an obvious thing for us I think um in the we we did. We did talk about it in the early days there were some clearly some fits and starts I mean you had 2 people and you’re kind of grabbing everything as it comes like kids chasing the soccer ball. We had some times like that I think. Um, when we really first had to do it was when we hired our first employees besides us we so we can’t use like parents when they have a kid you got to like rationalize things you can’t you know, present some um, chaotic world and I think we both came from a corporate tradition that was clear about you know. Ah, roles and responsibilities. We said look we got to get this straight and so we did that we also talked very methodically and and intentionally about culture of the company and we wrote down all right? These are the values we want and let’s make sure we’re hiring for these things etc. I really am glad we did that I think I see a lot of companies where the responsibilities aren’t clear. And where the culture is not clear and I think that’s a catastrophic error early that can you know? maybe you can fix it when you have 10 people. But if you get to that point you have 50 people a hundred people. You have a big problem.
Alejandro Cremades: So my what would you? What would you add to that.
Matt Wielbut: Yeah, yeah, definite not it definitely didn’t come kind of naturally to us. In fact, I remember this ah this this time when we were we were going to techstars and our mentor pulled us into the office to kind of have his his weekly 2 on 1 with us and we thought we were in trouble because the the tone was a little off and he said you know everything is going great all the investors love meeting both of you. They clearly understand your idea all the messaging is coming across but we knew there was something that he was holding back and and he said but. The 1 thing that they keep telling us is they don’t know which one of yous the Ceo and that’s just you know because we were both so passionate about it and we’re answering each other’s questions and overlapping. We thought that translated to a great dynamic right? that we were both so energetic and and and involved but instead what that translated into was a confusion and so I can. From that moment on. We’re very clear about like this is technology and this is kind of the executive management side.
Alejandro Cremades: I Love it. So So I guess you know obviously we’ve been talking about to the um, the the future you know division I like to to really talk about the past and being able to to reflect on it. So if I had the opportunity of putting you guys into a time machine. And I’m able to bring you back in time you know in time to maybe that moment where you know you guys you know had the the idea of maybe starting a company if you could have a chat with your younger self and be able to give that younger self one piece of advice before launching a business. Why would that be and why given what you know now let’s start with Thai. Okay.
Ty Harris: Ah, one piece of advice I think um, don’t be intimidated by or or get too caught up in the hype of it right? There’s a whole like culture that is. Entrepreneurship and the Vc -funded startup world and you can be very intimidated by it. Um, at first first you walk in and you know while you’ve had success somewhere else. You walk in you say oh my gosh I don’t I don’t know how to behave according to these rules and you know I think you know, but but when you. And I think on the the flip side is you can get into it and say well my gosh these people want to give me money I don’t even have to create a great company I just got to take money and they love me. But I think both of those are wrong and you need to go into it and just remain grounded and say look if I build a great company. It’s not going to matter I will you know I will succeed if and only if that happens and I think just. Make sure you stay grounded and for me that would have translated into probably a little bit more early confidence in those meetings where I brought more I said you know what you you know? insurance way better than these people. You don’t need to be intimidated by this kind of vc sitting there but it was a new world for me so it was it was ah it wasn’t easy at first.
Alejandro Cremades: What about for you Matt.
Matt Wielbut: And yeah, for me I would say there’s this fallacy that that first time entrepreneurs have I have this amazing idea and it’s the idea that is the the unique thing and and that. s just wrong, right? It’s your execution of the idea. That’s the unique thing and and so what they do is because they think that the idea is the special thing they keep it secret and they say I’m not going to tell the world until it’s ready and what they need to be doing what I wish I was doing more of is telling everyone that will listen until they’re bored out of their. Like what my idea is because worst case, you’ll just get better at pitching. Best case you will find that random stranger. That’s either going to be a partner or an investor or a future employee. Um, so don’t keep it a secret.
Alejandro Cremades: I Love it now for the people that are listening that would like to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for do for doing so time.
Ty Harris: Yeah, look our our website openly dot com we have our you know, kind of contact stuff there. That’s we’re kind of old school. So that’s probably the best way to get in touch with the the openly crew obviously on Linkedin as well. But.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing and the same thing for you Matt are you also active on Linkedin Amazing well guys thank you so so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an honor to have you with us. Thanks.
Matt Wielbut: Yep! Lincoln is great.
Ty Harris: Thank you! It’s a pleasure speaking with you Really appreciate it.
Matt Wielbut: So yeah, thank you for the opportunity.
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