Christian Gap Year for Entrepreneurs

Transcript:

Seth Barnes: How's life working for you?

Scott Barstow: It's good. Yeah. I went through the low point earlier this week, emotionally, but I think everybody's figured out that food's still going to be in the grocery stores and stuff like that.

We're on necessity only lock down here, but for the most part my life really isn't that different. I work all day, and then I go to sleep. So not much has changed for me, my family is a different story of course.

Seth Barnes: Well, tell us as much as you feel comfortable telling us.

Yeah. There was something that was discouraging for you and yet you're hard at work, so that's gotta be encouraging.

Scott Barstow: So yeah. I think it was really precipitated. I went to the store, I think it was Monday night and it just sort of felt apocalyptic to your earlier point. Everybody in the store had a look of panic about them. And you know, everyone was clearly avoiding everybody.

It just didn't feel natural at all and when I came home from that, I \was just like, well, I probably picked up this virus while I was at the store and just turned on that for the next two hours and started working my way through all of the dominoes that would fall if I got really sick. And, you know, came out of that and created I think it was a good thing, created like a dr plan for the family.

A disaster recovery plan that is, and just did a bunch of stuff the next morning, you know, preparing myself for death and, you know, made sure Shelly had access to all of the financial accounts. There's all this craziness and spent a bunch of time the next day reading all the news. And then I just, by the end of that day, I felt like, so this would have been Tuesday.

I was just in a really bad spot. And didn't sleep much the next night. I woke up on Wednesday, and I was just like, you know, I can't, I can't do that anymore. I can't read the news. I can't. It's just not productive. And just decided to stay away from all of the news and look at what needed to be done on the work front and get back to work.

That was somewhat productive on Wednesday. And then yesterday had a really great day. The business, you know, my company took a major hit when all of this happened. We had a bunch of deals in the pipeline that all just went to zero.

It is much easier to sell things to people you already know, then to try and go get new business

But it was just an abrupt end to everything that we do. And so we've been trying to figure out, much like all of you trying to figure out where we go next, what are they, where's the opportunity in all of this? And, what is the thing, how can we serve the same group of customers that we already know with different products and services.

And so that's what we've been working on this week is just designing some new stuff that we can start selling into people we already know, and much easier to sell things to people you already know, then try and go get new business, especially in this environment. So that's the mode we're in.

Seth Barnes: Yeah. So what are you pivoting to? What, what did you do? Just to be clear with the students here, what are you pivoting to?

Scott Barstow: Yeah, a lot of what our company does is when one company is getting ready to buy another one. We provide, if it's a software company, we work on behalf of the buyer and provide due diligence on all of the technology, the engineering team, all of the processes for the company that's being acquired. So we go in and do a fairly deep dive into the company and look at everything that's going on, including all the software and stuff like that.

So, as you might imagine, investors get really twitchy in periods like this. So all of the deals basically came to all of the deals that were in motion came to a screeching hall. And, but what's become more important is for existing portfolio companies, for the investors, there's a huge concern around security and all of this with everybody starting to work remotely, you have a much bigger attack surface area.

When everybody goes remote and starts including, you know, putting their work computers on their home network and you just get into all of these new risks, and for companies that aren't used to working remotely, there's just a lot of things that can go wrong. People get very unproductive if they're not used to working, on their own.

So we are doing a couple of things where. We've partnered with a security firm and are doing a series of webinars on, how to secure your company in this context. We're going to be sending that out to all of the investors that we know we're doing the first one next Wednesday. And then, following that, we're offering some security consulting for companies that want it.

And that will turn into engagements around helping companies secure their networks, better and things like that. So, it's really about, I think in what I've learned in periods like this before is that, people are hesitant to spend money and get more hesitant.

Every business starts conserving cash in environments like this because if you run out of money, you know, saying goes, a business can survive anything except running out of money. So everybody gets really conservative. So it's difficult to get people to part with cash.

So this is really a time to build relationships and build more trust, with the community that we serve and the customers that we serve, so that when things free back up, we're. Even more a trusted resource, for what we do.

Seth Barnes: So how would you suggest that people in a similar situation as you pivot, so something isn't working, a change needs to happen, you're looking to somehow find a hole in the market, you can still address. How did you make the pivot and what do you, what can we learn from that?

Get in front of customers and just listen to what their problems are. It's the most valuable thing you can do.

Scott Barstow: Yeah. I think what's always, what's always worked for me is, and I've stubbed my toe a number of times, but I think the thing that's consistent, if I look back on the things at work, is that getting in front of customers and just listening to what the problems are.

It's the most valuable thing you can do. So if you have a product that does X and nobody needs X, you know, is there a way to bend the product to do Y, which is what they really need in the new context. So that's really what we're doing. The purpose of these webinars and the follow on free, you know, the 30-minute consulting thing is just to get time in front of customers to understand where the pain is.

And invariably when you have a conversation about one thing, lots of other things come up. So the most valuable thing is spending time talking to customers about what's going on in the business and where the pain is. And then looking at the, you know, toolkit that you have. And applying that toolkit to the problems that the, that these customers have.

So that to me is, I'm a simple person. That's just the only thing that's ever worked for me. And there are people that are a lot better at it, a lot smarter. They can see trends in the market and go after them. I have to sort of go and go at it with a club.

Seth Barnes: So you're an entrepreneur who has worked in startups and is now an entrepreneur working. To help others in the startup culture. And maybe you could just speak to the students about what it is that has helped you in the past that you're applying in this season.

Scott Barstow: Yeah, I think the number one thing, as I was telling the story about this week, I think the number one thing is honestly just being willing to get out of bed and go to work.

It's, I can always, I think it's one of the things that's always worked for me is the willingness to work harder than anybody else. And to not let whatever's going on environmentally, determine what the outcome is. So I'm willing to do what it takes.

There's a lot of pressure on that for me, I sort of turned that into a challenge. But I think that's the number one thing. If I look at everybody, I know who is successful, and it even happened this week as I was having conversations with people when I asked, you know, Hey, how are you doing?

How are you handling all of this? The people that I admire and the people that are really successful, every one of them said, yeah, we're going to get through this. There's going to be better. On the other side, I'm putting my head down and going to work and doing what I know how to do and we're going to be better on the other side of it.

And you know, the ones that will fail on this are the ones that look at everything going on and get doom and gloom and let that overtake the men. And you know, that devolves into inactivity and, sort of sitting around and waiting for something to happen as opposed to being active.

Seth Barnes: Let me open it up now for the students to ask you their questions.

Scott Barstow: Sure.

Kelson Mudd: Okay, so I've asked a handful of the mentors this question already, and you sort of touched on the answer, I think a little bit, but what are you seeing as far as your business and other businesses you're working with? And what are the things, what are the ways that they're not handling this crisis? Well, maybe some ways that they are, have like companies that you are seeing at handle well, or just ways that they're handling things.

Scott Barstow: I think that it's a hard question. But I think the number one thing I would say is, just a willingness to look for the opportunities as opposed to retrenching.

You know, if you think about these things ahead of time, I do a lot of reading of the Stoics and the Stoics always talk about this idea that you shouldn't be surprised by anything that happens because everything that's happening today has happened at some point in history and these things are all going to happen again.

So I spend a lot of time thinking when it's not happening, about what I'll do, when it might happen. I think businesses that will struggle anticipate that. Everything will always be as good as it has been for the last five or six years. And they're not thinking about what does it look like when things go the other way, there's a lot of companies that are going to struggle. They've taken on a bunch of debt you know, they're running right at the red line, and so they don't have any margin to absorb a couple of months of downturn or whatever this turns into. So that's one thing that comes to mind immediately.

It's just thinking about what might happen and how you would react in these kinds of situations. The good companies always are thinking about those kinds of things. It's not a doomsday. Mindset like when? When is the sky going to fall? But it's just if it does, how may we react?

Kelson Mudd: That's really good thank you.

Troyer Morse: So you mentioned like security for businesses that are now going remote, do you think that market's going to get flooded or do you think that's a place that's good for someone to say, I have no experience with cybersecurity, but in the next three months, is that a possibility that I could learn in three months, crank it out and then start working over the summer, what do you think on that?

Scott Barstow: Yeah. So, interesting question. I think my guess is if you haven't done it up to now that's a fairly deep pond to jump into and try and be an expert in, in three months. I don't think you'd have much credibility. Mmm. Yeah. That's my knee jerk. I think it's, it's a really tough business to step into.

I guess the other, the other way to look at it is, Mmm. So there's, I think there are two ways to look at the problem. The one is a, once everybody's screaming about, the other is, what am I good at? And what are all of the areas that I can apply that in as opposed to having to learn something brand new and try and go do that.

I think you're probably much better off trying to find something that fits what you're already good at. If you're trying to work, trying to figure something out in that short of a window. That's my initial thought.

Scott Barstow: Anybody else?

Jacob Hoekert: Yeah, I have a question. What do you think is going to happen to the custom software and consulting firms in the next couple of months? Will their business change? Will it decrease, increase, or what do you see software going?

Scott Barstow: Yeah, so it's a good question. I actually was thinking about this the other day.

There's a company that I've worked with that. A guy I know is getting ready to buy one of those kinds of companies and the transaction stalled because nobody's sure what's going to happen. On the other side of it, my own opinion is there's still going to be a huge shortage of talent whenever this thing whenever we get to the other side of it, and I'm assuming that some companies go through big layoffs.

Which some will then, you know, restarting and having to rehire. I feel like there's an opportunity sitting there to end contract software development and similar areas where you can serve the customer, that you can serve an immediate need while they're maybe looking for longterm hires again.

I don't think that, I don't think that's going anywhere. It may change a little bit and there may be a bit of a dip, but my, my initial read on it is there's going to be opportunity where companies are more willing to bring on contract resources near-term and while they figure out what it looks like, to kind of re-engage full time.

That's my, that's my take.

Joshua Owen: Scott as a followup to that one. So it's pretty likely we're going to see major layoffs. I mean, across the board it's going to hit software development too. Do you think we're gonna follow second-order effects? If lay off a lot of developers in the States? Do you think they're going to look to the States to rehire anything? Or are a lot of these jobs are going to go international for cheaper wages.

Scott Barstow: Yeah, I don't, I think everybody still has, there are some people who are comfortable with that model and some people who aren't, and there are businesses that are set up to hire people from Spain and you know, Ukraine and India, and there are businesses that aren't, and going from a company that isn't to a company that is, especially if you're of any size, is pretty difficult, you're just not set up to.

You work with people that are seven or eight times zones away. And so, yeah, I don't think there's going to be this huge push to jobs back overseas that doesn't feel like that to me. It doesn't feel like there's a structural sort of problem like there was in 2008 or now that it may turn into one.

By the time this is all over. But it's not, it feels like, you know, financial markets aren't leading us into this, like it, like it was before. So it feels like the bounce back will be pretty, will not be as bad. And my own take is, I think, first of all, any companies that do big layoffs, I think they'll likely, you know, they're going to keep the best people.

So maybe some of the folks that were in the bottom, 20% of companies struggle to get rehired or something like that, but I don't think it's, I don't think this is a market was already, you know, it negative unemployment in software development already. There was 5 million open jobs or something like that worldwide.

So it's hard for me to imagine that, you know, that just goes away and that we're sort of back to real unemployment. Hmm. Maybe I'm being overly optimistic.

Hailey Hite: I have one question. In regards to silica, the trends that you're seeing in the tech space, like thinking three, six, 12 months of where things are happening, in relation to us. So right here taking computer science classes. Some are interested in going into engineering, like what things should we be looking for in terms of opportunities and trends and new watching and what things should we start building up skills like right now and even through the summer. Elle prepare us for what you can kind of project will come.

Scott Barstow: So I'm definitely not a, I'm definitely not a great guy calling the ball. You know, I don't think there's a. I guess the, my first comment is, I don't know that something that's going on for three or six months. I wouldn't call that a trend. So it's not something that a trend to me is like something that happens over a number of years. So there may be a short term bump.

But similar to what I said earlier, I would just sort of stick to the, yes, keep learning the things you're interested in. Keep working toward the things that you. And so, and then go find the opportunities for those things as opposed to, you know, there's going to be all sorts of, Mmm.

I guess activity around trying to dig our way out of this thing a longterm, you know, longish term. You know, the rest of this year into next, what do you want to be doing. And those opportunities are going to be there. And so if that's in cybersecurity, if you're really interested in that space, then you know, what that looks like is you're spending a lot of time trying to hack the machines.

You're doing all of the work. That's required. So you can sit in an interview or sit in front of somebody and, and be credible about it. And the same would be the same, would be true of software development. So, that's my thought.

Hailey Hite: That's good. Thank you.

Stephen Barton: This is just a random question, I'm just curious on. Do you foresee that there's going to be some sort of rising or a massive decline in the number of startup entrepreneurs?

Scott Barstow: So historically this is the, I guess in my working life, this is probably the third of these kinds of events. The .com crash of 1999-2000. You had the thing in 2007, 2008 and then this, and what tends to happen is that there tends to be more business started, more businesses started in a downturn because a people are out of work and are scrambling to try and find, you know, they need to find a way to make a living. And so, you know, a lot of times necessity's the mother of invention as far as the saying goes. So a lot of times people that would never think have thought about starting company take the opportunity to try and, you know, while they're looking for work, they may start working on an idea or get together with somebody else that's been, think about starting a company and all the investor calls. I had this past week trust trying to figure out how they're thinking about every single one of them.

Companies started in a downturn are some of the best companies to invest in because once the downturn ends, there's a huge upside, if you bet on the right companies. So, there's investor appetite. There's a ton of money to be invested. Once everybody understands what the environment's gonna look like, there's a bunch of money sitting in investor pockets.

So I would think there's going to be more rather than less is that's how it's always been, at least in the Seth. I don't know if you would agree with that, but that's what I've seen in the last two.

Seth Barnes: Well, I don't know. I think I've always looked for opportunities and there's a lot of opportunities now. And I think people that see opportunity are going to dive into it regardless of the risk.

Scott Barstow: Yep.

And generally, people get more willing to take risks in this kind of environment because you have to it's not comfortable anymore. So I think these things are good to just sort of rattle everybody's cage and if you become much more aware of the fact that nothing is, you know, that come from that comfy job you had really isn't all that comfy. There's no such thing as security in any company. So, in spite of everybody, they say they're going to take care of their employees at some point, that will end.

And so the mythology around, you know, you have a job and you have that job for a long time. People sort of wake up in these periods and they're like, huh. Well, if I can just be laid off and you know, a matter of weeks, maybe I should, maybe I should think about the world differently and think about how I work differently.

Kelson Mudd: Yeah, that's good. So the only, we've talked a lot and sort of debated about was obviously with everybody working from home now, do you see this as something where companies and individuals realize that maybe having the office space that everybody is in all the time is necessary or, and possibly having, you know, like working from home, working remotely, become more of a thing, or do you just see people coming back?

Scott Barstow: I don't think there's going to be some big sea change in behavior. I think what I will, what's likely to happen is that companies will be more ready after this to operate this way. So there may be better planning in place and things like that, but the reality is there's just not a lot of companies that are, you sort of have to design that culture from the ground up.

And the companies that do it well, that's the kind of culture they've built is you can work from anywhere. So I don't, it's a big move for a lot of companies to B and. E. and the other thing is, is that most people don't thrive sitting in their house all day. Most people like being around other people.

I don't happen to be one of them. Most people like being in a, you know, in a more social setting, it's a lot of what makes them take a job or stay with a company is the social setting around the company. So I don't think that's going to change.

Seth Barnes: Final question for you, Scott, and then we'll let you run. But, as a follower of Jesus. How does that make a difference for you and maybe your advice for all of us as Christ-followers?

Scott Barstow: I think the, what I would go back to if I talk, you know, if I think back to the beginning of this week, Mmm. I think what it's being a follower of Jesus for me does in periods like this is that it sort of resets. There's always an opportunity to reset and be like, okay, I was kind of doing these other things and thinking it would, everything would go along.

Ticketing, EBU, and you sort of start to put your faith in, well, business are doing well. We're crushing it, you know, and then you get punched in the face. And so for me, it's a great opportunity to reset. Senator reground me and the things that are important. And the other thing I would say is it provides a tremendous amount of hope.

And not just the kind of hope. It's like, you know, I was watching a sermon last weekend and, the context of it was basically. Yeah, well, this world doesn't matter because the next world is all that matters and blah, blah, blah. I know. It's just not how I see it. You know, there's a heaven is both now and later, and you know, Jesus is both now and later and the way that we should operate as both now and later.

And the good news is both now and later. So that for me is. That for me is the sign of the thing that I come back to when I start to get really dark. It's like, yes, you know, I don't know what heaven is. I don't know what that looks like, but I know what being in a great community and being around people like you all, I know what that does.

I know what that feels like. I know what it looks like, and that's the thing that when things go sideways, that's the thing that I go back to. I'm just like, Oh. This feels like home. And so I don't know if I answer your question.

Seth Barnes: Good answer. And, Scott, we love you and Margaret and your family and are privileged to do life with you even at a distance. And, and I, I wonder if you would pray for Scott before we get off the phone.

Kelson Mudd: Absolutely. I will follow that. You so much for Scott. Father, thank you for just the way, just the eyes that you've given him to see the world. And also just his willingness to share it with all of us. I pray for father just for increased safety for his family and for all of his companies and all of that.

Father, I pray please continue to pour out hope and you continue to pour out. Joy and just a positive perspective through Scott and to his family and to everybody around him. So I think so much for just the awesome wisdom that you've given him and this the knowledge to be able to apply all of that. So, we love it even though we thank you, Lord, for Scott. Jesus' name. Amen.

Scott Barstow: All right guys, keep on keeping on love. You guys take care. Thank you.