Dennis R. Mortensen achieved what is for many a dream—the acquisition of his startup by a major company. But is the dream all it lives up to be?
On this edition of Founders Journey, Dennis tells the story of starting x.ai, an automated scheduling tool, and what it was like selling the company to Bizzabo, which offers an event management platform.
Dennis discusses what selling a company actually entails and what life looks like on the other side. And he should know—x.ai is the fourth company he sold.
More information: https://x.ai/
Dennis is an expert in leveraging data to deliver business insights. A serial entrepreneur, Dennis built and successfully exited several companies before founding x.ai in 2014. Along with co-founders Matt Casey and Marcos J. Belenguer, Dennis set out to solve a painful problem — scheduling meetings — through a sophisticated AI platform that saves people time and effort.
Dennis is a recognized leader, author, and university instructor in the field of digital data and analytics. Originally from Denmark, Dennis lives in New York with his family.
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!
Dennis Mortensen 0:00
I am just really a fan of startups acquiring startups. It’s kind of like, if you multiply Oh point eight, two times over, you’re not getting 1.6 you’re getting a lesser probability of us surviving. This time. We’re just heavier now, we still need to swim to shore. Now I have you on my back strike was just easier when I was swimming along.
Alexander Ferguson 0:27
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 Teraleap.io. Today, I’m very excited to be joined with my guest, Dennis Mortensen, a seasoned tech founder and entrepreneur of five ventures for successful exits. The latest being x.ai, an AI powered scheduling tool, which we actually interviewed Dennison last does last year on that exact tool. Welcome, Dennis, good to have you on again. Thanks so much for having me. Now, you were acquired by visit booth in May of 2021. This year, correct? A couple of months ago. Yeah. Very, very recent. I’m excited to hear more about this, this journey that you’ve been on and the the insights cuz I feel like a lot of entrepreneurs, this is what they dream of getting to this island is talking about that that imagery, but many drown. So here, what, what First off, what is it like to to arrive? What’s the emotions? What’s the feelings like?
Dennis Mortensen 1:30
A few footnotes. Before I paint a picture of the island. metaphor of the day, it’s hard, I think, or at least I don’t know how to design for your rival. So if you’re just trying to swim across the channel, trying to imagine the party you’re going to have on the other side might actually not increase your probability of having that party. If you just focus on swimming really sad is dangerous enough as it is. So on the way there, my mindset has certainly always been wonderful. Were trying to make some good product, and some happy customers. If you do that, you might just increase that probability. Now, having said that, most people say, Dennis. Yeah, I’ve heard that before. You’re not saying anything new here. So sure, I’m doing my damnedest best as we speak. Tell me more about the island. That was the question now to at least allow for the opportunity, if that is what you’re seeking to arrive on the island and get to that elusive startup exits, which for some people might not be the goal. There’s nothing wrong in the forever company, if anything that is admirable in its own sense. But if you’re not working on the forever company, and swimming towards the island, I think there’s at least two schools of thought. There’s the kind of West Coast why companies don’t speak to investors, investment banks, m&a teams caught death and what have you, unless you are actively in the moment, come two weeks from now trying to sell your company or raise some capital. Then there’s the other school of thought, which I believe in doesn’t make it right. remember anything I say? It’s not gospel, it’s all opinion. It’s wonderful way you should probably speak to. And I tend to clump these together. So I don’t see a difference between for this particular purpose, the investment bank, or the Corp dev team, or the business unit owner for the VC at seed ABCDE level, they’re all in the same bucket. And it’s a bucket of opportunity really wishes that I throughout any venture I’ve done probably speak to two or three in that segment. Every week, we can week out. If we take my current endeavor extra AI, and I keep a spreadsheet By the way, I spoke to 273 distinct entities throughout the years, most of them multiple times. Now, why would you speak to so many, many of them? Of course, not sorry. That’s not the right word. A few of them are existing investors because we got super intimate they ended up on the cap table. Now, I always if I’m really honest, had real pushback from existing investors and what have you like, Dennis? I heard you spoke to inside. Hey, Dennis. I was out west. I heard you chatting to Google MMA. Hey, Dennis, I saw this post. Did you meet up with these people? And they just weren’t comfortable with that idea. I was so But comfortable in the fact that you probably need to make some friends ahead of time. If you at some point in the future, think you might get married, because getting married after the second date seems just completely unrealistic, or you need to have something so staggering, successful, but they cannot not buy it. And let’s be real here, we all gonna make some good product, some happy customers and have a interesting entity that might be up for grabs for the right kind of multiple. But we’re not Snapchat, we might do something else. Now, as I did that, if I look back on my last three ventures we can take extra, I’ll give you some examples here. Yeah, but what does that translate into, there isn’t why even doing that, and two or three times a week, that seems like a real investment, not only just in time, but all the kind of potential friction you create with the existing kind of team around you, including, say your employees, like, Hey, who is that who’s at the office? What’s going on. But if you do it enough, then people figured out as part of the kind of methodology and I can just keep going here, this particular exit came about.
There’s not a single kind of reasoning by anything, but there’s certainly a bigger multiplier in that equation, that a smaller startup wanted to see if we would not like to acquire them in the kind of scuffling space. And again, it falls into the kind of same kind of interest bucket, and I took a chat with them. Side note, actually took the two founders to ballroom dancing with my daughter, because I just didn’t have any time, but you can join me. And then we can do that. We can remove that from the equation. That’s that’s not the end on what you should do. Now, these guys were super nice people. I am just really a fan of startups acquiring startups, it’s kind of like, if you multiply Oh, point eight, two times over, you’re not getting 1.6, you’re just getting a lesser probability of you surviving. It’s like we’re just heavier now, we still need to swim to shore. And now I have you on my back. It’s like, it was just easier when I was swimming alone. So took a look and politely declined. These guys were still nice, clever and what have you, they ended up being acquired by a company in Europe, all confine kept in contact over the years, then visible was in this kind of build a buy mode? Should we build this particular type of technology? Or should we buy it? And that’s typically how many people end up? If they’re not just directly acquiring revenue? And in their network? These people were part of who do you think we should call? I think of the folks who have on your list, you need to add dentists and extra AR, they are nice, clever has an interesting technology. Well, those part of my do this thing two or three times a week, does that exit, if I take the prior exit, when we sold visual revenue to outbrain, I was at a kind of industry roundtable with eight people and could look like dentists don’t go around town singing your song, just do your fucking work. Some sort of investor comment, right. And I try again to explain. Yeah, I think this is part of my work. And at that Roundtable, the CEO of outbrain was there. And I knew obviously, don’t attend any roundtable if it’s not part of my kind of interest bucket. And now’s the time is going to go to the whiteboard and dazzle with what technologies you have, and must have been five or six months later. Because here’s another kind of footnote. You trying to extract an exit in the moment, that suggests you just wake up with some sort of lust to sell, somebody else wakes up with some conclusion to buy. And in that moment you meet, like, you might even wake up on the same day, you just know each other and you won’t even meet. So you need to kind of make sure that you planted all the seeds. So that morning when they do wake up or that particular whiteboard that we’re at in that whatever board meeting or business unit meeting where you’re not in, you end up on that whiteboard. So that’s sort of half a year later. They got into the builder buy mode, and Damien rain.
Before that, here’s an investor story. When we sold to Yahoo, I met up with a, let’s call it series at that moment, CD type investor really only wrote $50 million checks. and above, we were looking for five or 10. So we weren’t even a good fit. I take those meetings nevertheless, not as in, let’s see if you can write a smaller check. Let’s see if I can extract a bigger check. That’s not the point. Just be super honest with folks, I said, there’s nothing I can do for you today, or you can do for me, at this very moment. However, if I continue to execute, we might meet up later in life. And you will know some of the backstory, you’ll see what I kept my promises on both where I was at where I was headed, and whether I am now that destination, that must be nine months later, they are in a meeting with Yahoo. And Jerry, were there moments back as the CEO, and they were looking at a set of companies, we were not on the list. They said, Hey, I was in San Jose, and I met up with this interesting kind of European, I think we need to add them to the list. And we ended up on the list. And all of these kind of three last exits have been what some people say, Dennis, that is just the very definition of serendipity. I said you haven’t designed anything here, I would like to believe if you plant 273 seeds, some of them might blossom into something, they might all just get washed away and the next set of rain that comes along. But some of them might just blossom. It could be a complete wasted investment. But it’s been my tactic. And each one of the outcomes have been attached to this very long answer. I apologize. There’s only two, and then we’ll close up for the day.
Alexander Ferguson 11:57
I love that. So Dennis, you actually asked several questions, I would have asked you in the middle of it too. Like you were in my brain that was that was powerful. Now, you set 273 conversations over what period of time
Dennis Mortensen 12:11
unique entities. So every entity, you get a line that means no, Andreessen Horowitz, start with a who will end soon runs a Corp Dev, there’ll be at the bottom, then figure out all the names in between, right?
Alexander Ferguson 12:28
And these these names are you come across them? Are you already targeting these people, because you thought of them that I need to know these people.
Dennis Mortensen 12:37
I try to craft a setting where most, if not almost all of this is inbound. It’s like many other things. It’s almost like, if press is one of your acquisition tactics, you probably shouldn’t be. But if it is, you can really work it hard. And it’s almost all outbound, as in you’re trying to kind of plant some sort of story. But once you cross a kind of certain inflection point, you’re now the voice of the industry, or the voice of that particular technology or the hero of the day, doesn’t matter what the definition is, and then it becomes all inbound. And the more inbound it becomes, the more likely is that the next one is also inbound. And if you can kind of flip things around, meaning that any bother calm def speaks certainly to Tencent Corp Dev. And if you spoken to three of them, then you also speak to an finance called deaf, and have you spoken to them? Click Click, click caution. If you have a good story to tell, and some interesting kind of technology, you can’t just sit and chit chat. But if you’re on, you know, some particular Avenue was is of interest to these people. Sure, then you can kind of create some sort of motion that sees most of this being inbound.
Alexander Ferguson 14:06
So you start with with some energy to begin it, but it’s ideally eventually it’s just this inbound, and then you’re just keeping track and making sure that those conversations are happening.
Dennis Mortensen 14:17
Yeah, then of course, if you can create this motion, and some firms take index ventures or insight. They have reasonably large research teams, organized venture associates whose job is to keep tabs on startups. I probably met with them 10 times like, I’m on some sort of CRM system. And you know what people say? These people are junuh they couldn’t write a check above $20 Dennis, why are you talking to them well I still ended up at some point, because they got a new partner who looked at their database saying, hey, this looks interesting. Can you arrange a meeting? Because you chatted with Dennis like four or five times? Can you arrange that I can pop by the office? Of course. And then we kind of escalated from there. We never took capital. And we could say, Yeah, all those meetings were a waste. No, the only a waste, if you know with certainty, who exactly will end up either investing and or buy your company, in the end, you need to plant those seeds.
Alexander Ferguson 15:33
This whole investing time building these relationships? Do you feel it transfers to the next venture that you start?
Dennis Mortensen 15:44
Very much. So that’s obviously the unfair part of this, which is that you can arrive at a new venture with a ball somewhat in motion, and shouldn’t be kind of shy to kind of say that, but doesn’t. But I’m patting myself on the back, because I make 1000 bad decisions every day. But I did do a complete research for our reasonably large research reset, when we sold to Yahoo that had been moved from Europe to the US, and you kind of have a less of a network. There’s not like a new 100 people in the city. And I could just kind of start ringing doors. That was not the case.
Alexander Ferguson 16:29
Your open policy, I remember last time that people could just email you and you seem to reply to every single email that comes to you. Do you feel like that that is also part of your ability to keep connections and moving forward on that
Dennis Mortensen 16:41
knowledge? I do. So this is another part of the strategy. And again, I would sometimes take pride in my inbox zero. And I would have people who push back on that, especially people who might have invested money in me for where I assure you should be proud of that. Because that could be that you just sitting doing shifts you shouldn’t be doing. Yeah, perhaps unlikely on some of them as in this particular response doesn’t do anything for this particular business. At this moment, I certainly can’t connect the dots. But over a long enough of a horizon, I actually do think and again, this is perhaps just one big part philosophy and very little kind of science. But you can certainly go back and have a look at how we’ve been perceived, which is super transparent, very kind of open, easy to kind of approach. And that to you very well on many funds. on new candidate pipeline, if you want to hire new and new good engineers, that is not as easy as it sounds, or new good data scientists or new good whatever on your team. Or if you want to build trust with customers who might have had a either a hiccup or in some sort of RFP trying to figure out why pick a or b, the B folks or the x folks in my scenario here. They just seemed very approachable as we email them responded shit had some issues the CEO actually reached out is the two main band. Now it looks like an 80 men band. That’s, that suggests to me that there’s either really strong communication channels or a willingness to kind of Listen here. So I’ve always kind of invest in that. That’s the one part I said, you can choose to do so or not like to think in this motion we talked about before. It can’t all be fluff, as in startup, people here will know I said, Hey, how you doing this? We’re fucking killing it. Like that story we have? No, we can tell Well, I can give you a 20 minute version of how we killing it. Well, I haven’t said anything. And we’re all very good at it. This though, if you want to kind of keep that motion going and have some kind of recurrent inbound interest. You need to expose yourself a little bit be a little bit kind of vulnerable, make some promises that you might not be able to kind of make wishes that today on August 12. This is where we add this is the kind of current trajectory I plan is gonna launch PERS do whatever initiative come first of Jan, we expect them end of q1, this is where we’ll be at which is tell these stories and then later deliver on them. What you build up now is trust. Trust in this dude. I might not like the space he’s in this particular product. But whenever they say something, they do it sure seems like less diversity in the outcome. But they are very easy to go read. They say the way they do a
Alexander Ferguson 19:57
what I was about to say is like if you make that That promise that goal, but you don’t quite reach it, I guess you make progress on it. So there at least that is that is that where you kind of
Dennis Mortensen 20:09
open in, don’t pretend to be able to predict the future because none of us can. But you can certainly be very clear about the actions that you’re going to take. And then you can have ideas or projections, but I think these actions will yield these outputs with this kind of electricity attached to it. And even with that, elasticity, you should have some idea. And if you’re just a raw experiment, you should even also be open say, this could be a negative output or a puzzle, could this ROI experiment, we actually don’t know. This, though, is not an experiment. This is work that should yield something in this way. And then they’ll start to see Oh, they can kind of differ between ROI experimentation and hopes and dreams and all the things that comes attached to startup. And that’s off having found some truth and trying to kind of scale that truth.
Alexander Ferguson 21:00
You paint a an interesting picture of versus saying, Yeah, things are great. And leaving at that and just assuming, but not really sit stating anything but drawing a picture of where you’re going and very clear with with timelines and deadlines. It actually makes me think of a large popular example. Probably, Ilan Musk, he says, we’re going to Mars by 2024, where they get to Mars by 2024. Not he’s painted a picture that everyone can follow along with and gets excited.
Dennis Mortensen 21:29
I am a fan of that. He says a lot of crazy stuff, but it’s very hard to push back on his ambition. Can we all kind of if we exist in the same universe look a little impotent in on what we’re working on versus what he’s working on. Right. So I’m just not going to comment on that at all. So I just leave him to kind of make some of those promises, and hats off. Now.
Alexander Ferguson 21:55
This concept of drawing a picture, though, I’m fascinated with
Dennis Mortensen 21:58
exactly on that. Both when I pitched for capital, or even just in these kind of motions, I like to talk about the destination. Because if you are going on a journey together, and it’s going to be super hard, we should at least agree that should we be so lucky to survive and arrive on the island, we’re going to like it. If you don’t want to be in the island. Why are we even working on it, I said, you should just not even jump into the water, just stay put on shore, I’ll do this on my own. And in whatever round, I painted a picture, this is where I think we could be. Now these are all the dangers, you should just expect that will die along the way. That is the most realistic outcome. But what I’m telling you, however, show is by this is what it looks like. If you’re in love with what it looks like, great, then we should talk, you can come to the conclusion that you still want to be there, you don’t think I can get there, then find somebody else you think is slightly more competent, who kind of get you there. Now, then, if they agree on the destination, it’s my job to figure out what are some of the stepping stones in getting there. And I tell the story backwards, just before we arrive. This is what the last kind of sandbank will kind of look like, just before that this is what it looks like. And that makes it reasonably kind of tangible, all the way down to what is it that I’m selling you today? Take last venture a round, we’re gonna just pick some moment in time. What I sold them was the destination. And then when I rolled it back, I sold them that come the end of this investment. What I will have is 65 enterprise customers. Yeah, Dennis. But what about all these other things? Sure, there’ll be kind of some debris attached to that. And those metrics will align up to something those are can’t really predict. What I can tell you is that we closed five enterprise customers, we have this many in the pipeline, I can now predict with a certain amount of accuracy, what I can extract if you put some money in at the top, on that a round before we raised to be around we closed 68. That’s not more luck than than anything but it could have been 52 or 79, or something like that. We certainly had a good enough understanding of what this is what the pipeline kind of looks like. We’re able to close five on the prior set of capital. Now if we do this at the top, I can see how much we can kind of push through. And that was the only promise I made and give you another one for the seed round and extra AI for where we thought given languages unsolved signs that the one of the biggest obstacles was whether the space we would exist in will be finite sn, we thought we could predict a set number of intense new meeting, continent meeting, reschedule running late new participant your opt out all those things that can happen in my little universe. But as I say them above 10,000 or 108, right as in, what is it? Because some things, even in the real world, don’t come along that often. And it could be that for every 10,000 meetings, something happened, or for every 100,000 meetings, so I see so rare, it’s kind of like getting a card kind of drive itself, for the most part, you know, oh, that is the easy thing. But then you see something so rare that we just don’t have a model for it, right? And they’re figuring that out as we speak. Musk endpoint and, and for that initial kind of Siva, what we told them, all you’re going to get from us is a thumbs up, or a thumbs down, we will tell you whether this space is finite, we won’t have a product, we won’t have customers, we won’t have revenue, we won’t have anything but an answer. Now, if you would like to invest in this answer, where you would be the only one together with us who knows this, then we can see whether we can capitalize on that. It might just be a secret, that is a value. But if you don’t believe that, that is that particular secret is of value. We’re not going to be good, good partners. That was a slightly bold statement. But it was also a very good qualifier for plenty of people just there’s not a good fit with the particular fund that we are running. And I, I respect that.
But it worked as a very kind of a Boolean type qualifier. But there is i’m not buying a thumbs up for $2 million. Like knockout for me.
Alexander Ferguson 27:07
It’s clear, clearly stating where your head and saying this is the gold point. Are you comfortable with with this as the objective?
Dennis Mortensen 27:14
Yeah. And then I think it becomes more like that this becomes very kind of tangible. I said, What is it that you buying from me? Are you buying a say a data science truth? X number of enterprise customers some amount of MRR some prosensus month over month growth? Just be super straightforward and honest with what is it that you’re trying to sell. Because if that is the one thing that you’re measuring, measuring in your business, you can’t have a different set of spreadsheet you send out to investors, because then you you’re not really walking together.
Alexander Ferguson 27:51
Now you’ve painted the powerful picture of how do you get there? It’s it’s these multiple conversations over time, it’s painting the right pictures that you’re able to get to this point. But you know, you will arrive. Going back to this, how do you feel because I actually talked to someone else just recently interviewed them on they arrived? And they’re like, haha, I’m here. Describe what is what is it? What is it like to cross them and get to the island?
Dennis Mortensen 28:19
Certainly different emotions attached to that. That Island, when you come back, it’s almost like lost, right? So remember, I have been at the island three times before. And then I said to see. So there’s so many different emotions versus that kind of first time. And I did all the things that you’re supposed to do the first time that we’ll get back to kind of what we did. So first time, I did sell all my things. And we did move to the Caribbean. And kind of like when I was only 2627. And you have a few monies in your pocket. You can just only have so many more heroes, right? So that didn’t work. But I wouldn’t suggest to you do that. Now. I’ll give you there’s 1000 things we can talk about here. But I’ll say two things. Three things actually. There’s so much that goes into a 30 day long thing. First. If you never had an exit before I say in your early in your kind of entrepreneurial career or it just haven’t lined up all sorts of reasons for you not having reached this, you know, including the fact that it’s super hard to kind of get to that point. But if you have this kind of moment, and it looks like you might be able to extract an exit, but you have to kind of give up on things you feel might be unfair saying price terms. Things that that wasn’t what I dreamed about yesterday, as in what a thought about it, and then I saw the contract and my kind of imagination and contract, that Venn diagram, they just don’t overlap, right? I would strongly suggest that you have a Diet Coke, look out the window, calm down, take another look. Because there’s two reasons why I think you should take that contract have not even looked at it, that imaginary contract on that imaginary intrapreneur. But if you can craft an exit, you get entry to a very exclusive club founders built something who got to an exit, it is nearly impossible. There are so few members and those members that are in the club are so stars, that they’re not going to live alone. But it’s very elusive club and you can take that card that members of card and shop it around in a positive way. Start new lenders get co founders raise capital, you can do so many things. That is a gay yet. And as I hear you know, you don’t you’re not hearing really like you should pause right now and say, What if he’s right? What is what dennis is trying to say here is really, really right, as if What if I sold this at half price. But what I’m getting is much more valuable that what I think I’m giving up. And I will tell you, it probably is as if I go back. And I even negotiated hard on price when I was in my first exit because I was super young. And I flipped to the last age didn’t even look at the terms really all sorts of kind of risk has had. So I’m surprised the whole thing worked out. But sort of focused on price, we’re now in hindsight, I should have been much more focused on get this done, Dennis should be a different person on the other side. And that has given me a ton of life opportunities. That’s why just work that list or email me and I’ll help you kind of work that column on what are you going to get out of this, which is not just that some of tax dollars that you are thinking is gonna be your Savior, that’s to the amount of money which you need to be free. When you have less than what you think you need is some sort of, if you speak to people who haven’t reached that inflection point just in life in general, they’ll say kind of amounts that are kind of
unnecessary. Yeah, I think I need $100 million to be free, do you? I said, Sure. You’ll certainly be financially free at $100 million, picks them up, that doesn’t matter what the amount is. But when I speak to people, the amount is always, in my opinion. And this is just Of course, all opinion is always way too big. As in. Okay, so let’s say you buy a nice apartment $3 million, I don’t know where you live. Set aside half million dollars. So your kids can go to school put aside another $2 million to just flimflam, right, because you don’t have any cost now, right as in your diet, cokes and laptops and you got to buy a lot of diet coke and a lot of laptops to spend spend money when you have no cost. And that means the amount is, in my opinion, waste more. So you need. And I’m saying this is all in relative terms here. I’m not trying to be an asshole or douchebag here, but I’m just saying that you don’t have to play imagine these kind of Tech Crunch style, they won the financial lottery type outcomes. If you did some really good SAS tool for where you can do a $7 million exit, you still own mostly kind of exit equity. Take it and you’ll see anybody can get 20 years in 20 years. Take it, you can have zero in two years, you can have all sorts of things can happen. Take it and just trust me on that. And then in 10 years come back and it goes not that make up the remainder. Now
Alexander Ferguson 34:34
let’s do what’s the third.
Dennis Mortensen 34:36
The third part is perhaps a little bit more strategic. There’s the added bonus pot as well as the most strategic which is that if you believe in intrapreneurship as a lifelong career, sn I’m really running the 50 year fund versus the VC who’s running before Have fun, right? They can invest in in parallel, I can only as an intrapreneur invest in cereal. So I have to do them. One by one by one, it’ll take me about 50 years, and I can do about 10 ventures in this particular firm. I’m halfway through my 50 year fund. Now, in that 50 refund, or just concept of you doing more than one venture, I said, Don’t, please don’t give up and become an investor on the side. Please don’t do that. Just keep at it. It’s kind of like, if you’re a good football, just, why would you? Why would you do anything else? Like, why would you stop coaching or, like just a good football, just play football, like, that was my dream. And here we are now. And that’s denial, when you do kind of get to the exit, you should, whatever kind of formidable terms we’ve been able to put in place. So you have no earnout or no lock up. Just super favorable kind of terms. You should still assume that the post merger integration period is really either a future discount or premium attached to your name, meaning that you can walk out the door tomorrow and be equally well off financially. Yeah. But who do you think the next exit is going to call as they do the due diligence? If you’ve done anything in the past? They’ll be your prior exit? And the first question will be Who’s that is? What type of teams does he assemble half the technology? Is he trustworthy? Does he stay put? Will he make sure the whole thing is integrate, we’re gonna pay him $10 is that going to be worth $10. So if you don’t do a good job today, you’re now running around, knowing that anything you’ll do in the future will come at a pick a number 20% discount, I don’t want that attached to my name. So you almost have to expect no matter the terms, at least. And I could be super naive here, or just too much in love with my own product. But I really believe you need to make sure that the acquire you just get your $10 will go back and have a look at this and say you know what? skills like 12, like well integrated the two or three charters that we had hoped for could implement in the platform, we have X amount of users kind of attached to it, the outcomes that we kind of put these measures to, we kind of date, you know, four months earlier, all just good signs. You don’t have to stay put for years on end, just make sure that that post merger integration is done so well that everybody’s happy. Now, after that, whether you want a job or career, you only have one startup and you that’s a different story. But at least allow yourself to say I could roll the dice one more time. Got a reasonably good name attached to it. Now, that was the three points. bonus point. There’s the emotional setting of surrendering something, wish you worked on day and night. I’m not talking about an 18 hour work day, it’s just day and night. This is all you think about something all I think about I don’t do. Any angel investing, any advisory any board seats, I don’t do anything but my adventure. So when I lose, I can look in the mirror and say, Dennis, shit, you played a bad game. It’s not like Yeah, I was kind of busy. But I have other things. No, sweat you day, man. That’s it. But if I win, I’ll take full credit, right? This is all I did. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t stumble into it, I played all my effort. And in that scenario, when you do apply all your effort, it can it can be, you know, somewhat emotional, right for where I really worked on this. And obviously, the brand is unlikely to survive. You’ll probably be incorporated your customers, depending on if they buy technology or not revenue might not be able to be incorporated in the new setting. There’s all sorts of kind of things that will happen on the other side, but a good strategic choices from the acquires point of view, but you’re emotionally invested in all of these things. I have this
saying wishes that you probably shouldn’t love anything that can’t love you back. I keep reminding myself of nothing I can no fully believe in if I keep reminding myself that there is these are just things I said no, those daughters that wife, family friends. Those are the things that matters. This is just technology. Still though, you can get slightly emotionally attached to it but you try to extract yourself from that And not look at it sn, I need to make sure this survives at all cost and his current kind of information. Which doesn’t? Do you any service?
Alexander Ferguson 40:09
That’s a powerful tool to use for yourself a checkup? Do I love that this thing that does can’t let me back more than the things that can love me back to your prioritize accordingly. This this, there’s so many insights that you just kind of pack together, they’re they’re there for us. And I know you could probably spend a week just talking about all the stories of the multiple years. For you. What what’s, what are you most excited about next, like your Do you have like new technologies? Or do you still stay focused? And keep your head down? I appreciate your your, your focus, you said you don’t invest to do anything? Like how do you see yourself moving forward from here.
Dennis Mortensen 40:51
If you want just a little bit intrapreneurial, you’ll have ideas all the times or even better see things in the world that you believe aren’t right? Things that are too painful, that somebody could come along and solve for that. And I and this is gonna sound very odd, or perhaps even in conflict where I just sit before but I feel almost unfaithful to my startup, if I go home and take notes on new things. So I never do that. But what I do do is that I keep a list of hate, which is things in the world that are really disliked. And if I spot something we really dislike, and I think, Oh, that’s a good intrapreneurial nugget, I want to extract for my mind and save it like the baby it is. And then I write it on my list. And I never look at it. But I saved it. It’s kind of like, I gave birth to an idea. And it immediately got adopted by my list. And it sits over here and it might survive. Then when I get to the end, then I look at my list. And that is fucking funny. Because what do you have here is one angry boy, police. They’re all things I dislike. First of all, I’m thinking this guy is going to be like, yo, cheer up. But the whole point of this is that these are things I dislike. And they’re really just nuisance one liners, the same thing. I’ve kind of fun to go to the same places experienced kind of multiple times. And now I started going to prove my list, then is this is silly. You’re just angry. That’s not even an idea at leat, then oh, this is interesting. Yeah, you wrote it down four years ago, two or three guys already working on it? Well, it was real, at least has up to you move that to the right. And then as you start to kind of prune the list. And I’m not yet in kind of pruning the list mode. Understanding right now scanning the list. Yeah. Laughing for myself, some some nights. But then I have a whole process for how I mostly disqualify ideas. We will talk about that in a really kind of separate day on how you should get started on a new venture. For whatever the reason, but to kind of answer your question, I have a set of the past hate, slash love letters from myself to me that I’m reading as we speak, and none of them are going to carry me anywhere just yet.
Alexander Ferguson 43:26
Those I love they almost opposite look that you have that I have not heard before. This has been powerful. That is the insights you’ve shared of how do you get there? What does it feel like once you’ve gotten there and making the right choices from that point already? Now? positioning yourself up to what’s the next venture? I agree, I think we need to do another interview. And you can talk about that process of starting a new venture. And we’ll do an interview on that once once you begin it. I think that awesome. Thank you so much for your time, Dennis for joining us. This has been great.
Dennis Mortensen 43:57
Time well spent. Cheers!
Alexander Ferguson 43:59
We’ll see you all on the next episode of UpTech Report. Have you seen a company using AI machine learning or other technology to transform the way we live work and do business? Go to UpTech report.com and let us know
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