Fostering Relationships, Forecasting Financials with Brandon Metcalf from Place Technology

At 19, Brandon Metcalf was a bank teller in Florida. He one day found himself talking to the regional Executive VP, and she asked what he wanted to do. “I want your job eventually,” he said. “What do I need to do to get there?” She gave him some goals, and gradually he met them.

Two years later, he was managing a bank, and soon thereafter, he was opening a new branch. The chief lesson he learned throughout this climb was the importance of relationship building.

This lesson would eventually lead him to start several companies, including his current startup, Place Technology, which offers financial forecasting software to help companies produce the info they need to grow and thrive.

More information:

Brandon Metcalf has extensive experience creating, scaling, and leading global companies, with a deep understanding of building successful software companies on the Salesforce Platform. He is currently the CEO and founder of Place Technology, a software solution that automates financial and business processes with live connected data, so that companies can  easily collaborate, gain visibility, and work more efficiently.

He is also a founder and on the board of directors for Blueprint Advisory, a product development outsourcing company, that helps other companies build Salesforce-based businesses.

He was formerly the founder and president of Talent Rover, an operating software for the global staffing and recruitment industry, which he scaled to the 9th fastest-growing software company in America in 2017 (Inc. 500). Talent Rover had tens of thousands of users around the world and worked with both enterprise and SMB clients.

Brandon’s diverse background also includes leadership roles in software, staffing & recruiting, and financial services. In addition to his other projects, he is currently completing a three-year executive management program at Harvard Business School.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Brandon Metcalf 0:00
A lot of decisions I think you make as a founder or CEO, you’re going with gut because you don’t always have data, and you get good at trusting your gut. But the more data you can have, especially when it comes to money, the more successful those those decisions will be.

Alexander Ferguson 0:19
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our founders journey series UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at Today, I’m joined by my guest, Brandon Metcalf who is based in Austin, Texas. He’s the CEO and Founder at place technology. Welcome back, Brandon, and good to have you on again. Hey, glad to be back. Now this is part two, you should definitely go back listen to part one, where we heard about actually the origin story of place technology, and the evolution of the concept itself and where you guys are today. Definitely go and listen to that. And today, though, I want to actually dig a little bit further of the lessons learned because you started first at Bank of America, in the financial space, but then quickly got to recruiting. I’m gonna do a quick recap, it actually went a little more detail in the first part of our last interview, and it’s several companies, but then you’re like, oh, there’s got to be a better process for for recruiting. That’s what led to then talent rover building the process into a unique technology, which then from 2011, to then selling it in 2018 to bullhorn that’s when new ideas you’re like, let’s start something new. Couldn’t didn’t want to stick around there and start place technology in 2018. Help me understand, though, like taking us back. Brandon. Did you Did you always say I just want to run a business like I, you knew you’re gonna get there or just kind of happened evolutionary.

Brandon Metcalf 1:45
You know, I’ve always been fascinated by my business. Even in high school, you know, I’m going way back then, which is very long time ago. My last two classes of the day for my junior and senior in high school. My school offered a work program. So I just got to go to our local our local newspaper. This was in Venice, Florida. So it was the Venice gondolier. And I worked in the classified department doing their bookkeeping. So every every day for a few hours, I would go when and manage You know, this, this wasn’t a huge company. This is a huge city, but you have to manage all of their bookkeeping and really learn, you know, debits and credits and basics of accounting and, and all of that, and then eventually decided to move on. And then yeah, my, my banking career started, uh, I started off briefly as a teller. And this is part of the story of started off as a teller and met Executive Vice President for the region. And she was she was an amazing woman. And we had a, we had a chat one day, and she’s like, what do you want to do? I’m like, I want your job eventually. What do I need to do to get there? And we started talking about a career plan of Okay, well, here are the things you need to do. Here’s what you need to do in order to move to the next stage, which was a personal banker. So she gave me some some goals. And, you know, the bank was really interesting, because they had contests all the time. So they were actually I was 20. Okay. Okay, now, it’s probably 19 Oh, it’s probably 19. Yeah. Around 19. So doing this, and one of the contests was, you know, tellers needed to get referrals for the bankers to be able to sell new products, such as, like, here’s the number of referrals I want you to go get. I’m like, Okay, well, can I do this a little differently? And she’s like, What do you mean? Like, well, we have all these cars. In the drive thru? Can I just go out there and sell them in the cars? Can I like, give them information on their cars? And, yeah, go for so I went out and got a bunch of leads came back in and you know, did this for weeks on end. And fortunately, I didn’t win the trip to why but I got really close. But what I did win is the recognition of Okay, we need to promote this guy. So that made me a banker, when I was a banker. So same thing is like, Okay, how do I how do I move to the next step? I think it was like six or seven months and as being a banker, that I became one of the top bankers in the region, and then won a bunch of trips. And then when I turned 21, they promoted me to manage my first bank. And then did that for a little while then they sent me to Chicago to build an open banks in Chicago. And, you know, that whole experience was really foundational for what was foundational throughout my career, which is relationship building. With the key

Alexander Ferguson 4:45
things I’m wondering like, What What kept you kept jumping ahead, jumping ahead. Is it just knowing the relationships and always asking, What do I need to do to get to the next level?

Brandon Metcalf 4:54
I think it’s a couple different things. I think it’s really investing in those that invest in you. I say this quite a bit like Invest in the people that are willing to invest in you. And vice versa. Like that’s a give and take thing. But you got to work. Like, it doesn’t come easy. Like I, I’ve always been the one that will roll up my sleeves and just work, whatever is needed to get the job done. And I think that’s if you really want something, you figure out how to do it, even now, I usually get up super early time in the morning and get to the office by like 530 or six, and then I’m here until I don’t know, whatever. But that’s always been a piece of it. And then yeah, not being afraid to take a risk or take a challenge. Like moving from Orlando, to Chicago to open banks was a huge risk of Okay, I don’t know anyone up there. And this is terrifying, but I’m going to do it. And then, after a couple years in Chicago, I started to get a little bit bored with with banking. And one of the one of my next challenge. And, you know, I stumbled into staffing and recruiting with Kelly services for a job posting that I applied to, for sales position, and Denver. So I applied and met a great friend who was managing that region. And she hired me to be a sales manager there. And, you know, they’re just really dug in and asked questions and really wanted to know, okay, what makes someone in this role successful? How do I win and all of that. And then, you know, I think nine months later, I was one of the top salespeople in the company for the division. And that division was interesting, because that division of Kelly was Kelly financial. So I was recruiting junior and mid level accounting and finance people. So then, they promoted me to go to Sacramento and rebuild that region, because it was a failing region. And, you know, shortly thereafter, I turned that into one of the top 10 regions for the company. And then they promoted me to go to San Francisco to manage that region and was there for a bit and then got recruited out by the guy that became one of my best friends, my business partner for talent rover, but was the same thing with Kelly, it’s, you know, not being afraid to take a risk. So if you think about moving to Chicago, moving to Denver, moving to Sacramento, moving to San Francisco, not knowing anywhere, anywhere you’re going and just saying I’m going to do this and grow was rewarding and challenging, but then really relying on you know, the people and asking a bunch of questions and making a bunch of friends and also ruffling a little bit of feathers here and there, because I want to do things a bit different. I remember, when I got into San Francisco, I sort of made a really big mistake. I wanted to grow our our region as fast as I could for accounting and finance. So I didn’t ask for permission. But I emailed every client, I can email and a blast email that were clients and other divisions, introducing myself and what we do and all that. Well. Needless to say the other regional managers were not very thrilled with this new guy, this new young kid who’s coming in and disrupting everything worked. I don’t know if I would do it exactly the same way. Again, I think lessons learned so far. But you know, it’s always being not afraid to make mistakes, and sometimes asking for forgiveness later, but making sure they’re calculated as best as you can. And then, and then the next part of the journey is the whole move to see the partners where, you know, I get a random phone call from this guy named Ken, who I had no idea who this guy was, who said, once come and have lunch with me, Mike, who are you? He’s like, just come to lunch, I’ll tell you. So I got lunch with him. And he ends up recruiting me to come work at his company c departments. Now CB partners does the high level accounting and finance recruiting, so VPS of finance, CFOs and all of that. So he recruited me to come be a headhunter. So I made the move, trusted him and started doing that. And then, you know, a short time later, I get a random phone call from Google, saying, hey, we’d like to interview you. And of course, when Google calls you go to see what Google wants to talk to you about. So I went through, I don’t even know how many interviews it was well, over 10, it might have been closer to 20 interviews for a job I wasn’t even looking for. But it’s just part of there was part of the process. I don’t know if it still is that intense or not. But eventually, they got to the point of offering me a job. And the amount of money they were gonna offer me was insane. It was way more than what I was making, recruiting. And it was a salary versus recruiting was commissioned only. So I went back to the CB partners went back to cat and said, Hey, we need to talk. Now. Any manager that’s ever had an employee have come up and say, Hey, we need to talk. You know what that conversation is going to be about?

So we had a chat, and, you know, Ken was like, I can’t pay you what they’re gonna pay you. But give me a couple hours. Let’s figure out what we can do. Like Okay, not login, but Let’s see what happens. It goes back a few hours later, and says still not gonna pay you what they’re gonna pay you. But why don’t you take over running technology for the company. And mind you, I have no experience managing it at all. And I say that, but he’s like you’re one of the most technical people I’ve ever met, I know, you can get this job. That was way more exciting than the amount of money that Google was going to pay me. And he made a good point, too. He’s like, Look, you can go to Google, and you probably have an amazing career. Alright, you’ll be one of how many 1000s of employees or you could take here, and you can actually own this, and you can do what you think the company needs to do for it. And get us to where we want to go because the company was expanding and growing. So accepted 10s offer and turned down Google, which, you know, being a recruiter, you coach all your candidates to never accept a counteroffer. And sometimes counter offers makes sense. It’s, it’s, you know, one of the lessons learned there is you got to understand why you’re accepting or declining an offer. If you’re if you’re not happy where you’re at. And you’re, you’re just accepting a counteroffer for more money, it won’t work, you should turn down that offer. If you are happy with where you’re at, and there’s the opportunity that really excites you, and gives you passion, that’s a more difficult decision. And I looked at, I was super excited about the opportunity. But it was also really impressed and truly valued chance, taking the risk on me to give me that opportunity. In the same way, the executive at the bank did the exact same thing. So it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Because what ended up happening is me being me, I was like, okay, everything needs to change, because it’s all it’s all outdated, it doesn’t work. It’s difficult, and all this stuff. So we changed phone system, we change computers, we, you know, started to move to the cloud from from being on premise all that stuff. The last thing was, we had just started to implement a new operating system for the business. And it was not going well. But now it was my job to manage. And we got to the point where we were just losing money, because it just didn’t do what we needed to do. So I started to sorry, I just lost my headphone, I started to customize that software to try to get it to do what we needed it to do. And we still couldn’t get there. So I had a crazy idea, once cat and said, What if we just build her own? And he did look at me like I had three heads because I did at the time, probably. But before before I did that I did my homework, and you know, put together a plan, came up with a budget, came up with an ROI came up with all the things. And we said or he said, let’s do it. So I started building it. And hired a developer to do the things that I didn’t know how to do. And then a few months in, I was like, wait a minute. I know we’ve looked at every software that was out there, and we didn’t feel that any of them could meet our needs. We’re not that different from any other recruiting company that’s out there. Why is there not a solution that could solve this for us? So then I had a crazier idea, and went back to cat and said, What if we commercialize this? Why don’t we create a company to do this? That was really like 15 heads at the time. That was a much more difficult decision and took a lot of diligence, a lot of conversations with attorneys, a lot of just more financial planning a lot of conversations with other partners, all the stuff. But eventually we decided to do it. And that’s a that’s in November of 2011 when we formed talent rover and the journey began

Alexander Ferguson 14:01
that that evolution of both looking for constantly new opportunities, and then even giving been given ownership to be able to then you know what, this is a new problem. Let me try to solve it. Obviously, that led to to where you were, I’m curious for you were you a the foundation of it. You were leading then from that point forward? How involved was then the managers and the rest of the team? Yeah, like were you just like, You’re on your own then or like how that happened was that was that transition like?

Brandon Metcalf 14:37
Yeah, I mean, when we decided to officially commercialize talent rover, my spin off it was a separate company, you know, partners from the recruiting firm owns at that time, part of talent rover was my boss and it was my boss at the recruitment firm as well. But one thing that I learned from him that stuck with me Is he never felt like my boss. He felt like we work together. I’ve learned subtle treads tricks of how you communicate. Like when he introduces someone that works at his company, he doesn’t ever say this person works for me, this is someone I work with, because it’s true, and gets rid of that whole structure and hierarchy. And I think people genuinely connect with him in a much deeper way because of it. So I tried to learn a lot from just how he interacts with people.

Alexander Ferguson 15:25
If you were to look back 10 years ago, when when you started that journey of then leading a new new company, and you could tell yourself something that you know, now, what would you tell yourself?

Brandon Metcalf 15:36
Just one thing. And

Alexander Ferguson 15:40
one, two things I’ll let you do, too, if it comes to that,

Brandon Metcalf 15:42
I wouldn’t want to tell myself too much, because then I would probably impacted what actually happened. You know, there was a million mistakes that we made. Luckily, we made a million in one, good decisions. You can always get annoyed when I say we made a million mistakes. But you made a lot, just from trying to figure stuff out. And luckily, we were well backed and, and recovered from mistakes. So you know, I think one of the big things is just don’t be afraid to take a risk. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. But figure out how do you recover from that mistake as fast as possible? Don’t make the same mistake twice. And learn from what actually caused the mistake? Like I make hundreds of decisions every day, it seems you’re not going to get all of them, right? It’s just no one can. But when you get one wrong, how do you recover from it? How do you move on? And how do you not dwell on it? Like, if if you get caught up on every wrong decisions you make, you’re going to start to be afraid to make the right decisions, you’re going to start to be afraid to take risk. And if you look at everything I’ve ever done, everything’s been a risk. Like moving trusting people turning down offers deciding to build a software company, like, there’s so much risk. And a lot of people always ask me, they’re like, Okay, how do you how do you stay calm and not freak out? And all of that, and I anxiety like anybody else. But I tried to stay measured and try to think through, okay, what are the things in front of me, like, here’s where I think we can go here, here are the things I can do today to get there. And here are the things I just can’t control. And I’m going to try to be as aware as I can, and then also surround myself with really smart people that have done this before, or been exposed to it before so that I can get their opinion. Like right now even a place as much as I built a global software company before I have tons of advisors actually love. Like, if you look at our funding that we raise most of its from angel investors, and I love raising money from angel investors. Yes, I value their money and their their input and all of that into the company. But I more value, the fact that most of them are seasoned, successful business people that I know have an army of people who have a vested interest in the success and who genuinely want to help. They don’t want to help all the time, but they’re there if I need them. So I can pick the ones that have certain backgrounds to say, what would you do here, and it just makes me better. I don’t always take their advice. But it’s a good sounding board to make sure that what I’m thinking isn’t crazy, or is at least if it is crazy, at least has some merit. And here are some things you should look for. Because a lot of times when people like I said this a lot too. Like, if, if you come up with an idea, and people fully get the idea, you’ve already missed your opportunity. So people should be a little bit surprised, like, okay, is this gonna work or not. But then what I like to do is, I like to hear the rejections. Like, founders when you raise money, and you get rejected all the time, I’ll tell you, we this, this two and a half million dollar round, we just closed, I got rejected by just about every VC I talked to. But I really wasn’t wanting to VCs to invest. I mean, I wouldn’t have said no, for some of them. Some of them I were just talking to because I wanted to hear their feedback about what they thought was good and wrong. And, you know, a lot of times you can’t get that feedback unless you really push but that was my mindset of Okay, what’s your reaction to what we’re doing? Because they’re really smart people that are trying to make the best decisions of where to invest, but you just got to be somewhat strategic before you’re going and so I mean, to answer your question, because I still haven’t answered your question. What I would tell myself back then is, you know, take the risk, don’t be afraid to make mistake, more tactical question, understand cash flow, inside and out. I think a lot of and I didn’t know this a talent rover and I remember there was a day where our controller came up to Kanye and said, We need $300,000 or we’re not going to make payroll or pay our bills. And it was unexpected. Luckily, we had the backing to be able to pull that off without rattled me and that that moment has never changed in my mind. You have to understand how cash flow works and how you control it. And if you do that, It’ll help you make better decisions as to what you can and can’t do. versus just going with your gut. And a lot of the decisions I think you make as a founder or CEO, you’re going with gut because you don’t always have data. And you get good at trusting your gut. But the more data you can have, especially when it comes to money, the more successful those those decisions will be.

Alexander Ferguson 20:22
When you have have dropped nuggets of wisdom throughout your entire journey that you shared, I feel like actually have an add on Ask a lot of questions in this interview, it’s more of just being able to soak in it. And I feel like there’s a ton more nuggets. I’m gonna ask just one last question, though, because we’re at the top of our time here. For you, what are you most excited about looking looking ahead, especially with technology or specific business? And you’re kind of just looking ahead? What what gets you excited when you up in the morning? Like, yes, I’m ready to take this on what comes in your mind,

Brandon Metcalf 20:57
you know, a buddy of mine, who’s in my CEO group named Tony, he built a pretty large company and sold it. And now he’s building second company. And we were talking and, you know, it’s kind of like, when you build your first company, you have something to prove? You know, can you do it? Because most businesses fail? Like, the odds are against you, can you do it? And then I will say one of the biggest accomplishments is doing it and knowing that you did it. So now when I look at what we’re doing with place, I don’t have that ego to prove now it’s how do we do it? Right? How do we do it? Well, but also, how do we really enjoy the process because I didn’t always enjoy the days of talent rover, it was a grind, it was stressful. It’s where all this gray hair came from. But now it’s like, how do you enjoy the journey? And how do you help the team grow with you? How do I challenge them? How do I get to see them succeed? That’s the biggest reward for me is really two things, helping customers with what we think we can solve for them and then solving it. Which if you look at a lot of our reviews, and all of that you can see that customers are loving what we’re doing. But then how do I build the team? Like how do I grow the team? How do we get them out of their comfort zone? And they don’t always like it? Because I usually don’t give them the answers. I usually give them challenges and, like I’m not a micromanager. I don’t like to be micromanage. And that’s good or bad, but how do I get them to grow to the next level, so that they can go on and do crazy things, either here or, or wherever they go and be more successful than I ever was?

Alexander Ferguson 22:28
Thank you for sharing your story. I know there’s there’s a bucket load of more more insights that we could unpack. But for those that want to hear a bit more of the journey and the product itself, go back, listen to part one of our discussion. And you can head over to to be able to get the full insight on what they’re providing. Thank you again, Brandon it was good to have you. Thank you. And we’ll see you all on the next episode of UpTech Report. Have you seen a company using AI and machine learning or other technology to transform the way we live, work and do business? Go to UpTech and let us know


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