Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, my name is Bryan my name is Maggie. We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
Maggie: (00:00:23) Today we have a very special guest, his name is Jerry Ting and he is the founder and CEO of Evisort. Evisort is an AI-powered contract management system, and it’s on a mission to change how companies interact with their legal documents. Founded out of Harvard Law and MIT, the company has been backed by leading early age venture funds. Jerry, welcome to the show.
Jerry: (00:00:54) Thanks for having me.
Bryan: (00:00:55) Of course, it’s super exciting to have you, Jerry, can you start off by introducing yourself and telling us about who you are, where you grew up and. Well, I know, learn a lot more about you.
Jerry: (00:01:03) Awesome, I’m originally from the Bay area born and raised in Fremont. I grew up in a very Asian high school called Mission San Jose, which I’m sure some other people in Asian Hustle Network are from, and then went to USC for undergrad, where I studied political science and marketing. So I went to law school thinking that I’ll be a startup lawyer.
I’ve always loved working in tech and my first 10 clients were all entrepreneurs and founders. I realized that I had a quarter-life crisis and at just 25 years old, busting my ass to go take the LSAT and go to Harvard for law school. I realized after three months on campus that I didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore.
And for my Asian parents, that’s a very disappointing piece of news. For me, I was wondering gee, I worked this hard to go to law school. It’s a white-collar career and the pay is really good. I was going to go work at a big law firm in New York so, well, what can I do instead?
And that’s actually when I met my co-founder, who actually was a graduate researcher at MIT focusing on AI. And I was thinking if I really don’t like law maybe there’s a way to automate it and that’s how we came up with the idea for other suites.
Bryan: (00:02:16) Well, that’s awesome and I think you bring up a really good point too. You’re brave enough to admit that law wasn’t for you when you’re almost at the finish line. Not a lot of people can make that pivot so directly you had that mindset where you want to see what else is out there and I feel like in this type of situation like the universe is like helping you out.
You’re like, hey, I want to do this and I’m not quite happy and you met your co-founder when you started a company, which is awesome to hear. We want to hear more about your company. How did you guys start? Like at the very early stages?
Jerry: (00:02:57) I was sitting there in grad school and literally questioning what am I going to do for the rest of my life? I think a lot of people in their twenties, early thirties especially during COVID and I have a lot of friends who are like, maybe I don’t want to work in finance.
Maybe I want to be an artist. Maybe I want to open a bakery. So, I think a lot of us can relate with that, with that message, because I was sitting in law school having the same thought. What happened was in grad school as they had a lot of speakers come in and the speakers were like C-level ads, big banks, fortune 500 and they were talking about their jobs.
If you worked really, really hard at this path, 20 years later, here’s where you’re going to be and I was like, that’s not what I want to be. I don’t want to be there now or in 20 years, but I was listening to their stuff, and stories and I thought, wow, one of the things I did do in Moscow, actually, I worked at BCG as a consultant.
I pride myself on understanding business challenges and problems and these guys are talking about every day we have to open a contract, we have to read it. We have to manually do this like accountants do similar stuff, finance professionals do similar things and so everyone’s kind of doing manual work and then glorifying you in a professional practice.
It’s always wow, that sounds odd that you can basically control and then charge people $600 an hour to do that. Right. So I was, the idea was like, I’m from the Bay, I’ve always loved tech. If I could figure out a way to automate that, or I can use automation or AI to basically do what a lawyer or an accountant is doing, then here’s a huge opportunity here because if you can charge $650 an hour if I just charge 20% of that, but I do it with a system with the automated system.
Hey, we’re off to the races. Right? So that’s where the idea came from and also was my personal frustration my gosh I don’t want to be doing that.
Bryan: (00:04:52) That’s really cool to hear about that and you turn a pain point to business and. That’s really innovative, I feel like he kind of understood what it took in order to start your business.
I really liked what you mentioned before about career progression. I feel like a lot of people go through three stages, right? They are like I graduated college, I’m working in my, my first job. That’s my career light. This is what I’m going to do and you find out a couple of years later that you are incredibly unfulfilled and that you need more purpose in life.
The last thing that people went through during their career stages, is finding something they are passionate about. It’s like you’re at the passion stage now where you’re really successful in your company. We’re looking you up earlier before the podcast. Congratulations on your Series A fundraising amazing job and you’re at the point where I feel like you can definitely take a step back and sort of help others to get to their dreams and goals sooner.
Maggie: (00:05:52) It’s also interesting that every business has a system of agreement and has to deal with contracts. It’s just a part of business, but a lot of businesses don’t even know how to read or review contracts and I think they get intimidated about it. It starts to get to them because there’s just so much text and so much language and verbiage that they don’t understand and you were able to figure out that pain point and figure out a solution for them. I think that’s really important for you to recognize that problem.
Bryan: (00:06:27) Yeah, but we also want to take a step back too, and I want to hear what your parents’ point of view when you decided to attend USC then Harvard Law School and almost at the finish line, you’re like, mom, this is not for me. How do your parents react?
Jerry: (00:06:41) Crickets, so Thanksgiving and it’s funny cause I did the typical Asian thing, I was like, Hey, how do I like, how do I like to make something out of this? So I worked at BCG and consulting my first summer and then the second summer I worked at Credit Suisse and investment banking. I was like, hey, what are all the things now are pay like a law firm and it’s prestigious like a law firm, but it’s not a law firm.
I realized I just didn’t like any of them to be honest and so maybe as a millennial, it has a lot of creative thoughts like I’m not really good at these entry-level sorts of white-collar jobs. I remember when I went to BCG and they’re like, hey, Jerry, your entire, like two weeks was like looking at an Excel spreadsheet and sales comp forecast.
\I was like, gosh, that’s somebody else will be really good at thats not me. So when I talked to my parents, I think I didn’t really even socialize the idea with them until we had our first couple of customers because my parents are really tough, they’re actually tougher than my investors.
The perspective that the investors have is that this is a long-term company and my parents were you paid this much money for tuition. You’re losing the starting salary for an entry lawyer which is 190K a year and you’re losing 190 K and you’re down with the whole 200K for Harvard Law School.
II had to tell them, her mom and dad, I’m not an idiot. This is not like I want to go off and do something. That’s not going to be profitable. Luckily our third customer was Cox communications, which is one of the largest telecoms and so I was able to build proof points around my idea.
The team that I recruited my co-founder, who was the lead data scientist behind Uber pool express. So the walking algorithm, he invented that and say have you guys have heard of Uber. So either finds all these social proof points, you go to my Asian parents and tell them, hey, I’m not sure. I’m not crazy.
Maggie: (00:08:46) Was that the point where they started to believe in you or was it still, were they still a little bit hesitant?
Jerry: (00:08:51) No, I’m the younger of two siblings and so in Mandarin I’m like DD, which had a little brother. So they said DD is like off to his shit again and so it wasn’t until really we hired our like 50th employee and came to my office. My dad said, wow, you’re like a real company. Yea, what do you think I’ve been doing for four years?
Bryan: (00:09:22) love the proof points too beause I think all Asian parents like that they’re so conditioned to follow the traditional path of having a job. Being stable, being comfortable that this idea of the hustle and creating your own legacy is not, it’s not like they’re not fully accepted by them and from their point of view as well, but they sacrifice a lot for us to get to where we are and their ideas of success are for you to have a very comfortable job, very good life. Most people in their generation, our parents’ generation got into starting their own business because they have no other choice.
Jerry: (00:10:00) That’s right, I was an LA as a journalist and studied the Rodney King riots and there was a big conflict between Korean store owners and then the rides and the injustice that was there.
But if you look at why there are so many Korean store owners in Koreatown it’s because they couldn’t get out of jobs because of racism and otherwise and so entrepreneurship has been away in our communities as a way to uplift us and my dad’s the same way. That’s actually why I went to Law School where my dad came from Taiwan, went to Oklahoma, and got a master’s in civil engineering. So he builds, he helps people design foundations, and because of the racism that he faced in the workplace, he went off and started his own company, a small three-person company, and they were hit with a frivolous lawsuit when I was in high school.
His English is fine, but it’s not going to court kind of fine. It’s more like right business email’s kind of fine so the first time I ever bought a suit was actually the hell. My guy translates with his mediator and eventually got out of the lawsuit for pennies. A frivolous lawsuit, but that’s actually why I went to law school is to help business owners fight back against these sort of BS lawsuits and so when I went to law school and I realized that I wasn’t gonna be doing that, I wasn’t even working for big banks on wall street representing credit and debtors. I said this is not what I wanted to be doing.
Bryan: (00:11:27) Yeah, definitely a retrospect too. It’s funny how the universe works that way.
Jerry: (00:11:39) I share a story with you guys of what motivated me to be an entrepreneur. I worked at Yelp for a year between undergrad and law school and I lived in Fremont, which is about an hour and a half by train into San Francisco.
Then I see my friends, families, or friends, parents, like running with me to go to Bart, but they’re in their fifties. And I wonder if myself when I saw that image and that’s what the bamboo ceiling is, right? I think that when the first generation, our pensioners from that came over, or you have a generation before them and for them becoming an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer that’s a huge achievement as immigrants before from my generation.
Maggie: (00:13:29) I think it’s hard for them to understand, right? Because like, as Bryan said, they sacrificed so much and they gave up everything that they had back at home to provide us with a better future and they expect us to have a stable job. For us to go through the entrepreneurial route, a lot of people, a lot of parents are actually afraid to the ounce that their son or daughter is an entrepreneur. Because there’s that stigma too. we don’t know how much money they’re making. I feel like a lot of Asian parents, see success as like, as long as you’re making money and I’m seeing that money come in that, okay, then I can trust you.
Jerry: (00:14:07) For sure and so it’s actually funny on that point. My first investor was like how do we put governance around your guys’ spending budget? I was like, have you seen what I look like? Like half yours? Without any VC money, our first two and a half years in the bush wrecked.
For me your question earlier about how do I convince my parents where they start believing me, I put 60K of my own money in. So it wasn’t like DD has an idea, I’m working on this thing and then I got engineers, I got data scientists, I got salespeople and slowly I bootstrapped the company two and a half years before we eventually raised our first a million dollars.
Now we’ve raised over $21 million, we’ve crossed a hundred customers. We have almost a hundred employees and so now we’re hitting a certain scale but it’s been quickly and almost two years from becoming the category leader in our space.
Maggie: (00:15:10) I’m very curious to know when you were bootstrapping for those two years, how many people did you have on your team and how are you compensating people? Where people, you know, working for free at a certain period, or were you making sure you’re not everyone was getting paid?
Jerry: (00:15:25) Yeah, it’s such a good question and I think it’s a question that people are scared to talk about. I’m very transparent, I paid the engineers more in the beginning because they didn’t have any other form of compensation. They write code and then it goes and they get out and becomes a product but my sales team and this is really the definition of Asian Hustle Network, I actually hired friends from law schools who have parents who are lawyers, and I was like, go study your parents. And if you close the deal, I’ll give you X percentage commission. I took a page out of Herbalife, to be honest. Is it what you kill, what type of model, and luckily we actually did very well. Almost all my employees in the early days are still with me and now they’re directors or senior managers or VPS, but it was actually really fun cause no one believed in us. We had this crazy idea to your point earlier about contracts, every time a company buys something, sells something, hires somebody takes out a lease, or takes out a loan. There’s a, there’s a contract that goes into that and so for us, we thought, hey, contracting, hasn’t been changed in 2000 years.
How do we use AI and automation to transform how we think about that? Yeah and so for us, the vision was big enough where I call my first employees, volunteers, and not everybody was paid including myself. We thought it was for a bigger purpose and I think that for any founder in the early days, you have to have that North star mission in place.
Beause things are gonna suck for a little bit, but it didn’t feel like it sucked. It felt like we were just in grad school, we were young, we were taking a risk and hanging out with each other. We would stay late in the working space that ordered chicken nuggets from McDonald’s. You get 2, 4, or 5 bucks, and what we’ll literally be working until 2:00 AM 3:00 AM but we all became friends and I think that if you don’t have the right culture, then that feels terrible.
Bryan: (00:17:44) Yeah, absolutely, out of curiosity, Was your company like a side hustle while you had a full-time job? Or did you just hop over full time, cold turkey?
Maggie: (00:18:06) And if it is the former, when did you decide to make that switch? Because I think a lot of people in Asian Hustle Network have that fear, that they are too afraid to make that jump, to become an entrepreneur full time.
Jerry: (00:18:25) It was definitely the former because I think the latter is kind of scary and maybe not the recommended path for most founders. I have this idea and pain that I’ve had at work, and I’m going to spin off something to fix the rate. But you milk out the salary as long as you can because that’s your seed round. For us, we’re lucky to be in grad school and we used the school as a platform where we may not be working, but instead of going out in bars, Thursday nights.
You can sacrifice some of the sorts of free time to explore and see if you have something right and I think for us, we did that for the first full year. The first full year was to go call on random customers and tell them that I have this thing I’m working on. Would you pay for it? Maybe because I think for me, the hard word is not necessarily just good for you. You need to be paid at the end of the day and so what I did was I called customers and asked them. If I have this product, how much would you pay for that I start to understand, okay, there is value here.
Most startups that my opinion are not based on good ideas and so if you don’t have a monetization strategy, then I think jumping head first then is very scary and maybe not the best of us and strategy, but for us, it was two and a half years of bootstrapping. We’re using every dollar we got from clients to put back into the business for AWS hosting costs and otherwise. To answer your question, the time that we went full time, was when we raised our first round of funding. Now you have outside investors now. It’s not just a bunch of dudes hanging out and that was the first time.
But to be honest, I was actually going to go to investment banking and signed an offer letter and had this backup set up a warming cause our first round of funding, I had to call the VP and tell them I wasn’t showing up. I called him and I said, I was like, I’m sorry, this is kind of unusual, but I’m actually CEO of a company that just raised money and I’m not going to be there for the fall cohort and he paused, and said, I’ve never heard that before having worked at a bank for 20 years. I appreciate the opportunity you guys gave us an XYZ and then he eventually became friends with me and he follows me on LinkedIn and a lot of the folks at the company now.
Maggie: (00:21:16) I think the great thing about that is that he could see that you were being super transparent and honest about it too because I feel like a lot of people juggling their full-time job and their side hustle. They tend to hide their side hustle and they don’t say anything about it.
Jerry: (00:21:29) It was a side hustle for a long time until we raise outside funding.
Bryan: (00:21:47) That’s amazing and you brought up the topic of culture. That’s extremely important and I feel like it’s extremely underrated because all you really have is strong morale, but North star is a group of crazy people who believe in your vision.
Jerry: (00:22:01) When we were six months, my quote, unquote employees, or I call them volunteers would show up on time to work every day and they’ll pay for their own Uber’s and I thought, wow.
Honestly, this actually gives me goosebumps even talking about it now, but I’ll sit there and I’ll see these guys who paid for their own Uber come to the free office that I put together.
I’m working full time now without a salary and I’m not saying they’re losing money by being here. I mean, if you think about that’s not a job, that’s a volunteer. 11 bucks getting here and gonna lose eleven bucks going back and that was my motivation to help my guys actually make it meaningful. It wasn’t actually about me or my parents or otherwise, but it was for Riley and Mamie and Jacob and me and Derek. Those guys would pay for their own Ubers to come work on my vision, which I’m very grateful for that.
Maggie: (00:23:04) That’s really amazing. I’m very curious to know, we were talking about the North star and the mission and your volunteers are, so we call them, they were very passionate about your mission. It’s important to point out terms of like having your employees and volunteers are aware because it’s very hard to have volunteers. Stay committed to a company if they’re not getting paid. What other factors besides making a very clear statement on what your mission statement is important in terms of making sure your workers and your employees are committed to your company?
Jerry: (00:23:46) I think this is where my New York background is actually helpful. I’m very direct and so I was helping them with their sales as a sort of a sales manager and whenever the dollars came in, the commission went to them. I was very clear, to you’re you are making an investment into your business, into your practice, and here are the model payouts, here’s how much your stock’s going to be worth based on current growth rates in one year, three years, four years, five years, here’s the vision.
You can attach a dollar amount to that and we knew that we couldn’t guarantee that. But what we wanted to do was we wanted to quantify if there’s going to be a reason why you do this. There’s going to be a reason why you’re away from your wife and your kids, and you’re doing these things and so I was extremely direct about that. I think that that level of transparency and trust is why they stayed with me and they’re still with me today.
Bryan: (00:24:48) I love that.
Jerry: (00:24:52) We’re all motivated by something, right? I think in the early days when you were in your early twenties and you’re trying to work in a startup, you want to be an equity holder and you want to have a piece of a Rocky ship and for me, I knew that was the motivation.
Bryan: (00:25:10) I love that too and one more question to follow up on at one point did you start converting them over to full-time? Also, did you cover all of their volunteers the whole time do you have to be like, alright, I can only hire 5 of you guys.
Jerry: (00:25:25) Eventually the term volunteer was no longer cute cause they worked with me for two years and I was like when we raised our first round we will convert everybody. I think that was really cool because they were basically employees just not getting paid and we acted like employees.
We had an internal notion page, had a website with our bottle on it, and when you said to go public and when you start to formalize the roles and say, you’re going to do product. you’re going to be an engineer, you’re going to be a salesperson, you’re going to be in marketing when you start to formalize.
I think that’s when you go from an idea or like a garage startup to this is an early-stage company. I remember the first time we got to call the company I remember the first time we got called a vendor. I was like should we offend me a little bit? I was like, I’m not a vendor and we’re like the people like push and change your industry. But a client called us a vendor because there you’re paying us and I realized it’s a good thing to be called a vendor.
Maggie: (00:26:34) So while you were in the early stages of building your company, what advice do you have in terms of how to position and title your employees?
Jerry: (00:27:11) It’s a really good question, I can tell you guys have been around the block because that’s not a question that other interviewers asked me. It’s a really good one for us, we have certain growth assumptions about where we were going to be as a company, to my point earlier, about how much do I think your equity is going to be worth?
Some employees, if you give them an inflated title, they’ll actually rise up to that. The title was too much, but I saw other companies that were next to me, who gave really young engineering as a CTO title, and then the person has no architectural background whatsoever. So then you have to build multi-person afterward and put in a real CTO and so for us we were, we are clear we’re going to eventually have to hire a VP of engineering. We’re going to eventually have to hire a VP of Sales and what these people look like is like maybe 20 years of experience.
Bryan: (00:28:21) I love it. Yeah. That’s true leadership right there.
Jerry: (00:28:28) I read a lot of books as well beause when I was a young founder and so I read a lot of books because title inflation is one of the easiest things. You can get people outside of monetary comp, but if your company is going to grow like really quickly, and you’re going to put in a real CFO, a VP of sales marketing, you’ve got to be careful of doing that because if you start fudging around with titles, you can create SVPs with lots of confusion.
Bryan: (00:28:58) I want us to take a step back to understand your mindset and your routines and how you develop such grit to start your company because listening to your story, your explanations made it sound like it’s extremely easy, but we know from an entrepreneurial perspective, nothing’s ever easy in life. So we want to understand your struggles.
Jerry: (00:29:20) I didn’t mean to make it sound like it was easy because it was, well, I wouldn’t say it’s like hard either. I think those are the wrong words to describe the entrepreneurial journey. I think it’s like your perspective of how to be happy and fulfilled as you go through it. If we said, hey, our goal in Q1 is launching the product, we’re going to earn half a million dollars in revenue, we failed. We will be failures by that definition. That wasn’t the goal we tried to understand frameworks from the lean startup model addressing how do we learn? How do we improve? What does success look like as small wins?
And so for us, because we all became friends with each other and because we were patients with the process, it eventually worked out. I have so many stories with my cofounder and he’s a penny venture. One time we were in Boston. I had a meeting with a large client in New York, he books me a Greyhound and so it was the backseat next to the toilet and so we threw those days two and a half years of no funding that was the credit card that I swiped with. When you do that, you learn that every dollar matters and so for us, if we didn’t have the belief that this is going to be a billion-dollar company. We didn’t know that we were going to be successful if we build the product there was a possibility that it wouldn’t have worked. We kind of laughed at the situation that was in front of us and we always said, one day, we’re going to write a book.
Maggie: (00:32:00) That’s really amazing. I love that perspective. Just kind of going off of Bryan’s question in terms of your mindset, were there any failures that you had along the way, and were there any moments where you felt like just crumbling inside with your cofounder and how were you able to present yourself in front of your employees? I know as a leader, you have to make sure that everyone knows that you’re confident about your company and your mission. But I’m sure there were struggles and speed bumps and roadblocks along the way. So how were you able to deal with those?
Jerry: (00:32:36) Everything was personal when one of our early employees had immigration issues and we hadn’t raised our first funding round yet. He came to me and said, I’ve been working with you for a year and a half, and should you pay me a fair wage. I was offered an interview on Facebook and I am asking for your blessing and for me to take it. I looked at him and I said, it kind of caught me off guard because we were in the early-stage phase and can’t afford a lawyer XYZ. I support you in taking the interview because as your founder and as our CEO, I can’t guarantee I can take care of those things. He ended up resigning and we went to dinner and I thank them for the year and a half. That was really difficult because we’re only nine people and we lost one out of nine employees.
That was really humbling because I knew that at that point if we didn’t hit certain milestones, like a funding round or a certain number of customer revenue, it was just a matter of time before my team falls apart. It was a really tough time for me.
Bryan: (00:34:29) We can relate to in that sense as well as a leader, like, so much of your perspective is reflected through your organization. That’s crazy how connected the two are and your team will look to you as an example, like how has Jerry handled the situation? What is his mindset like? Is he a strong leader, we still follow him? Those are things out here are huge factors at the very beginning, because all you have is a dream and a vision.
Jerry: (00:35:04) I think a lot of founders fight imposter syndrome where it’s like, how do I know that I should be the CEO? How do I know that the division that we have, because it’s so big, it’s actually realistic and not wrong? I think that sometimes it’s hard to know but that’s why having a consulting background, I think helps us have assumptions that you can test and you can iterate and you can validate the market rate. You start to get proof points that over time out of, into a larger story, I think that’s how we kept ourselves sane.
Maggie: (00:35:57) love the family culture that you built and that fear is relevant to a lot of entrepreneurs. I think because we also always look for young professionals to join our companies. They hold all the talent and they are our future but the scary thing with young entrepreneurs or young professionals is that like if one of them leaves. Other young professionals will see that too and they get easily influenced like, Oh, that person leaving to a bigger, better company maybe I should leave too. That’s like the scary thing about it, but it sounds like no for you to create that family culture and for your other employees to see that you were able to create that culture, bringing that person back into your company dinners, company outings, and stuff like that, they were able to trust your leadership. Knowing that you are able to create that culture, then they’re like Jerry knows what he’s doing and I trust him and I trust this family that I’m part of. So I’ll stay too.
Bryan: (00:37:14) I have to follow up question with that point too. It’s like, how do you handle team disagreements? It’s inevitable. How do you have disagreements that get really heated among key team members?
Jerry: (00:37:35) That’s where having the North star is important. I think that’s where a little bit of formality for even released which companies is important because like product decisions are really hard. That’s one of the hardest things is, should we build this feature and both features are good features. I’m not saying don’t build that feature, but what’s the order that we build them in that’s an area that even today we have a lot of heated debate about how do we prioritize?
I think having like a Northern star how do we tie this one decision? That you and I both are right about, we’re just in different ways. How does it tie to our bigger goals? If we can agree to the higher-level goals and set them at the beginning of the year, then it helps us create a framework. I remember from our first funding round, my co-founder was actually at his sister’s wedding and I needed him to actually approve one clause in a document, we can sign.
I had to call them and say can you step out of the wedding for just 10 minutes and do a call with an investor and he did. I never forget how that made me feel. I thought, wow, we better become big but there was that underlying trust and familiarity and friendship that, that bonds us and so sometimes you have to make these weird, ridiculous tasks that you would never ask a nine to five employee to do.
Bryan: (00:39:06) It’s so inspirational to hear about your journey and your struggles and keeping things together beause we can relate to an Asian Hustle Network, very much the same things. It’s a very similar story and we have our set of volunteers as well. It’s similar to you. As you mentioned before, we have people mentioned to us that there are other opportunities out there and we’re at the point where it’s like, okay, like how can we keep the team and before it self-destructs.
Jerry: (00:39:37) I’ve been living here for 25 plus years and in the beginning days, it was like Sun Microsystems was the hot company, then it was like Cisco and in the next generation is like, what the hell are these companies? And now Apple, Google, and now Facebook are old. I remember when Facebook was new, right. There’s always going to be the next shiny thing, but what motivates you to do, do you want to be cognitive? I’ve got a friend who graduated from Harvard, who literally just works on the size of the button in like a Yelp, like this, the color of the button.
But what motivates you? What’s your impact? What’s your lasting legacy? How do you make a difference so that when you’re dead? If you have that vision, then I think Asian Hustle Network is the place to be. I have to start someplace that’s the way I see it. We spend 80% of our waking hours at work. What do you want to be doing with those waking hours?
Maggie: (00:41:28) I think it’s different for everyone but we’re all about this like hustle mentality. Did you know that you wanted to become an entrepreneur? Were you working on other freelance stuff too?
Jerry: (00:42:09) My first hustle actually how I even became an entrepreneur, I am a professional photographer and for me, it was a hobby and I was a journalism major. I realized that I was in LA and there were a lot of pretty girls and guys that want to be models and musicians and everyone’s working in entertainment.
Bryan: (00:43:34) I really love the side hustle, mentality, and hospitality. It’s such a, so ingrained with our community as well, and hearing that you’re a success story. I think it’ll be very inspirational for others to listen to.
Maggie: (00:43:54) We’d love to know what plans you have for the next 10 years, 20 years, 30 years? I think Evisort is on a really good path right now and the specialty, because you just a lot of contracts are going back and forth right now, due to COVID. I think a lot of people are looking into contract management systems. I’m sure you guys have a lot of plans in place right now, due to what’s been happening with the social climate and COVID.
Jerry: (00:44:28) We’ve tripled our revenue through COVID and so we’re one of the companies where not only were we not negatively impacted, we were actually accelerated and so I think based on that growth trajectory, we were on the path to become a unicorn in a way I would say before 2030, but that’s a long time from now, but I think in the next couple of years and that we can tell it really good growth story and so I’m really excited about that.
I like working with founders and making friends where I think a lot of people who are hustlers, they spend 80 hours a week hustling. I think what’s really important is actually meeting people because for me, my first client was actually a professor at Harvard who also was a lawyer at a company and so I think expanding your network, uh, and especially something like the Asian Hustle Network, where it’s people who have liked my interests and backgrounds. I’m looking to expand my network and see if I can help other entrepreneurs as well beause when we first started at a cohort out of Harvard. There were 20 companies that started together. We still stay in contact.
Maggie: (00:45:38) If you were to go back in time because I feel like just talking to you, it’s like really amazing because you have this confident aura in you and ask you questions. Were there any times when you felt like you were crumbling inside, but it seems like you were confident throughout your whole journey, but I’m very curious to know if you were to go back to a certain time? Would there be anything that you would have done differently at any point in your life?
Jerry: (00:46:15) I wish I had a better answer, but in the early days, it was such a shit show. We made our mistakes and had to pivot. We’ve had to go to clients and say we’re going to be two weeks late and there were just so many challenges when you add them all up and it’s like, how do you not have a heart attack?
One thing that we could have done better is to take some more pictures that might’ve not been the answer you’re thinking, but it’s actually kind of fun now where we are today to look back and be like, hey Jake, that was a Greyhound. And those are now memories, right? I think when you’re a first-time founder, you’re going through the experience, you’re just trying to survive and for us, we took more pictures. I think today, I’m passing on hundreds of employees. I have no idea what it was like in the early days. If we show them pictures we have some pictures and I know this has been a ride and so I think cherishing the memories as your kind of going through them. Even if it’s hard, I think that would have been a perspective.
Bryan: (00:47:40) It’s always great to remember roots in your history and especially as you grow bigger and bigger.
Jerry: (00:47:55) I think like a startup, every six months, the company changes, and literally, every other person is new. Between our series A and now every other person that left looked left that person’s new way. I looked at the whiteboards we have in our conference rooms and it was like a delivery delay on March 31st. Wow, almost like the office was frozen in time when it kind of felt like I am Legend, the movie. But you see the whiteboard and you see the handwriting of your employees frozen from seven months ago and for me, that was a really weird experience because the company has changed even since then.
If you’re going to be building a successful hustle, celebrate the little wins, and cherish them as they come. Beause you’ll overnight, you’re behind with your employees and you have an HR department, a marketing department and be like when they had all these people come here. You’ll miss when you’re six people and all eating M&M’s and chicken McNuggets.
Maggie: (00:49:10) That’s really important to celebrate the little milestones and I think that’s also important for your team as well, because if they don’t get to celebrate the milestones, then it’s like, where are we really going?
Jerry: (00:49:34) I think for me,m I am a problem solver. I’m always the guy and this could be an annoying one of my personality actually but when something is inefficient, I always want to make it more efficient.
Maggie: (00:50:54) What would be that one piece of advice that you can give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Jerry: (00:51:31) I think it’s important when you look at your idea or your venture to know which of two buckets does it fall into? There are VC-backed companies and then there are cash cows. They literally could not be more different and what I mean by that is if it’s a VC-backed company, profitability is not the main measurement, right? It’s about the total addressable market. It’s about how do you scale? How do you get to a hundred customers quickly? But if you’re a cash cow company, then it’s about cash flow management. Right? Think of a lot of founders, they don’t know which bucket they’re in for example my company is a high-growth company. We haven’t made a dollar profit and we probably won’t for the next couple of years.
Beause that’s not what we’re optimizing for, we’re trying to win the market. Very different company and a very different personality, I have a board above me it was Jerry as much C so easy to work for yourself. I don’t work for myself. I have a board above me. I managed investors. I manage clients. Are you pointing off my employees, maybe? So that’s one kind of entrepreneurial. The other kind of entrepreneur I want is to open a Boba shop. I want to open a laundry mat. I want to open a hundred dentists’ offices and become the dentist Margo. Right? I’m not saying one is better than the other, but you need to know which bucket your business falls into because depending on that If you get that decision wrong, you can do everything wrong.
When you can read all of these startup books, but you’re not really a startup. You’re a cash flow business, which is a great business, more profitable, quicker returns, but you should be doing your business completely differently. So think carefully about that. There’s not a right answer. Not one is better than the other. Not everything has to be a startup. It’s real estate, right? That’s a great business, right? That’s not a startup. From a business perspective. So I think it’s knowing where you are.
Maggie: (00:53:38) All right. Well, it is at the top of the hour. Are there any closing statements that you have Jerry and how can our listeners find out more about you online?
Jerry: (00:53:47) Yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn, I respond to most messages asking for help or just want to network. I think Asian Hustle Network is a very meaningful project and I think what you guys are doing is awesome I encourage you guys to keep going and for everyone to get involved.
Bryan: (00:54:46) Awesome, we can really use the kind words!
Maggie: (00:54:48) Thank you so much for sharing.
Bryan: (00:54:52) Great. And thank you so much for being on the podcast.