Episode 464: Omri Mor, CEO of Routable

In this episode, Mike Townsend interviewed Omri Mor the co-founder and CEO of Routable, responsible for the company’s overarching vision and business strategy In addition to his fintech expertise – bolstered by over five years building finch infrastructure for marketplaces – Mor is also a serial founder, previously founding Down App, Inc. and Ziibra.

He approaches every business decision with a customer-first mindset, and is committed to providing tangible value for Routable’s customers.

Omri is a seasoned expert in the fintech industry. Prior to Routable, he spent more than five years building fintech infrastructure for marketplaces in order to improve consumer check-out conversion rates.

Host: Mike Townsend

Guests: Omri Mor

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Episode Transcript

Mike: In this conversation I interview Omri Mor, the CEO of Routable. Routable, has raised over 30 million, and we talked about Ari's journey through building the company and talking to over 300 people prior to building any product. We dove into why he did that, what that process was like. It took him nine months.

We talked about the business and growing a B2B business after his past experience in marketplaces. We discussed the current market, some strategies for building remote teams and maintaining great culture and much more. Hope you enjoy this conversation. Here is Omri Mor.

All right. I'm re I'm excited to go live with you and get to know you a little bit more. You're working at a pretty cool company, relatable. You've got a number of different startup experience stories under your belt. I know from listening to the past conversations you had worked in b2c, it really wanted to move towards b2b.

How do you sort of think about the Like if someone is debating this decision internally, they wanna start a company b2c, b2b, they're, they're quite different experiences. I've started companies going both different paths. How, how do you sort of think through like maybe personality type compared to.

B to C versus B to B? Like how, how do you think about that guidance?  

Omri: So for me it's more about like the user and the problem. So I mean, if I needed to go build like better toilets tomorrow, I'd do it if I found the passion and the need around it. Does that make sense? So I, I'd say regardless of the markets, And the type of users, the conversation is about who you want to serve and who do you wanna wake up and like give 2000% of your energy to, Right.

So for me, like the shift was that I had experience in consumer, but I had also built a lot of internal tools and I've had been sitting there on the finance and executive. And I was like, Man, this process is terrible. But prior to even like engaging and starting this company, I did three to 400 customer development interviews to validate if I give a shit enough about this market, right?

And I do. It was one of those things like you meet enough people with a problem, you want to go solve it, and then you go validate is the market big enough? And then is the market opportunity big enough to make money? Right? Like is there a willingness to pay? So for me it's never about that. Now, once you decide, if you don't have the B2B experience, I think what's interesting there is it's a multiple champion, potentially multiple buyers.

There's sales cycles, everything around that can take longer, right? And I think that building a team, For B2B is different than building a team for a consumer. So I don't know, like once you've decided who you want to build for, then the next question is like what kind of business model and what kind of team you want to build for?

And if you're aligned with that, I'd say, then go for it. And it just might be that like, like, you know what? I found an awesome process. But my sales cycles are gonna be 18 months and I'm gonna hate that and I don't want to build that. Right. Yeah, it's really interesting. I had this conversation actually last night where in reality, when you're building consumer product, you're building it for a single player.

Sometimes multiplayer, right? Gaming is an excellent example about this, but a lot of the time it's a single player mode with a single player focus. When you're building for b2b, the majority of the time you're took, you're taking a multiplayer, multi-departmental thing when you actually have to think about competing priorities of humans, and then you have to figure.

Of a giant supply chain, you know, of steps, processes, internal things, where are you gonna be really good at, Which is really hard. I'll pause there.  

Mike: Okay. Yeah, yeah. Do you, do you think the b2b, this is of course in generalities, but do you feel like B2B is better suited for people who. Gone through the startup experience at least once, whereas B2C might be more ob, there's more obvious problems to solve, but maybe they're not necessarily problems.

Like, is Facebook solving a problem per se? Not, not in like a B2B sense.  

Omri: Yeah, I get what you're saying. It's really interesting. I don't know that answer. The, the reason I I say that is because I've seen great folks that have worked at really good B2B companies, believe and create their own B2B comp like startups.

So they don't need another, they don't need their first startup experience to be something else. The first startup that you'll build is gonna be terrible to build anyways. It's gonna be hard, it's gonna be demoralizing. It's gonna basically, you know It's just gonna be a mental challenge regardless of what you do.

I don't know if the type of company will matter. I think it's more of the founder market fit, and the reason I say founder market fit rather than founder product fit. Is because sometimes your product will change from your initial vision, but if you care about the market, the people you serve, et cetera, then that that's what you should really rely on.

Otherwise, like my least favorite things is when people want to start companies. without the dedication that will come with it. Because usually to build your vision, it will take five to 10 years for the initial vision, and then after that you can do cool shit, you know?  

Mike: Yeah, yeah. Did you, did you feel like in your experience, you developed a passion through those 300 interviews? Whereas in the beginning, yeah, maybe it was like, Hey, this is kind of interesting sort of, and then it became more of a emotional connection.  

Omri: Yep. Yeah. In the beginning, my co-founder and I had just like shared a passion or a frustration for the processes that we've experienced previously, but that's not valid enough in my opinion to like, go ask people for money or quit your job, or tell your spouse that, you know, like for us, he was like, Hey, like we had just moved into an apartment.

And three weeks later I was like, Hey, do we, can we move to San Francisco to go do ic? And my wife is like, What? You know, like we just moved in. We just signed a lease, we have to break it. And I was like, Yeah, there's a lot of risk that comes with starting companies. So yeah, for me prior to. Making all those difficult decisions.

I went from having a hunch to building true affinity for the buyer, the, the user, and the market. And actually, like I was playing around with several ideas, right? Cause like, you know, you like to tinker, like you're trying to always figure out what's next, right? Mm-hmm. , I'm sure before you started this podcast, there were also other avenues that you could've done.

And for me it was like, I love this potential customer. I truly enjoy the market. The work is extremely challenging. I, the market is large enough to, so like if I really, really work on it, I could have like a 20 year business plus. And then the final thing was that there's actually a business model behind it.

And I say that because previously, like I started companies based on the buyer, but I didn't think through the business model, which is sometimes a shitty thing to feel as you're couple, you're saying, you're like, Wow, I need to change my business model or the way I think about acquiring customers. Which isn't just never a fun conversation.

Mike: Yeah, Yeah. Agreed. So let's talk about Routable a little bit. What was the initial problem that you then decided to have those 300 interviews and what was, I mean, 300 conversations? Is years worth, right?  

Omri: So like how did you go about months? Yeah, so months. The initial problems, my, my co-founder and I both were marketplace founders and we both had had like the, not common but.

Really frustrating experience of trying to pay like thousands of 10 thousands of vendors. You can call it sellers for a marketplace, but a theory, they're a vendor. They're someone that needs to get payments and you needed to give them data and you needed to do taxes at the end of the years. You need to do compliance and all those things.

So we both had that, that very broad experience. It doesn't really lean into finance. And then the next step was validating that my co-founder had that same experience, right? Once we realized that we kind of shared internal tools that we build, et cetera, it was very common. And then we spent a little bit of time digging around doing research, et cetera.

And then once that went through, we said, Okay, this is interesting enough to start doing research. What was the market? . I built a, I'd say like an artisan marketplace called Zebra, and my co-founder Tom, worked on E 24 Food Delivery Network. Mm-hmm. , so did completely different type of I C P of who you're sending money to.

However the internal operations were very similar. So then we are, okay, so marketplace operations are tough. What other kind of industries have to deal with? Like more than a thousand vendors a month. Even a 500 vendors a month. Cause in the business payment world, either like your accounts payable is a thing you brush off and you couldn't quickly do, or it is.

Seven departments working together every month to like just power through it. And we had lived through the ladder, which was kind of the chaos world, and we wanted to understand, is this just a marketplace problem? Are there other industries that experience this? Where does the market look like that? Once we really dug into it and had a few conversations with like friends and peers that did some research, we said, Okay, we need to go talk to people in finance.

And that's when nine months started and we just started building a giant spreadsheet of people that we wanted to talk to and we didn't know, and people we did know and we wanted to talk to. And we kind of built that gap. So after every interview, We would ask. So every person that we interviewed, we interviewed multiple times.

And then after each interview we also asked for an intro to three other people in their network. And that strong intro was really awesome.  

Mike: Interesting. So this was kind of like a sales process and, and, and so much as it wasn't a like product discovery or product market fit validation.

Omri: A hundred percent product, market, build fit, validation. We wanted to see if we should raise money or we should quit our jobs, or we should, like, you know, I, my co-founder moved from Tel Aviv to Seattle at this time. Like he making big leaps. We just wanted to validate that we had nothing to sell. We had no product yet. We just went there and listened 45 minutes an hour.

What is your process like today? What do you hate? What doesn't work? What tools do you use, et cetera. Just being as empathetic as we can. And again, the more of these conversations you have, the more patterns you start seeing in your brain. But also at the same time, the more conversations you have, the more you build that affinity for these users, then you, the more you understand what other departments that they work with.

So for me, like by the end of it, I was like, Yeah, I'm ready to cut my arms off and, you know, work on this thing, right? It's like I was so jazzed about the problem and I was like, this is a really fucking hard thing to solve. So like, we're going all in, you know, Like, you either gonna really solve it or you're gonna fuck this thing up and there's no, there's no landing in the And it was a really large engineering problem too, which made my co-founder and myself excited. So I don't know. Yeah, like it's a big mountain. You know,  

Mike: why, why do you think you felt in sufficiently motivated at 50 people and felt like we have to get to 409 months? Cause you, you could have done 50 in three months and then spent six months building just poking at it.

Omri: Yeah. It's one of the things, I talk to founders a lot, but market is very big. There's already a lot of encompass in it. I had to figure out our wedge. So the first 50 validated that this thing was a problem, and we started understanding kind of the, the, the profiles that are workflows, all that stuff. But I feel like if you're gonna start a company, you need to have a wedge into the.

And that took us a little bit of time. That make sense? Mm-hmm. Now, when I say nine months, it felt like a breeze. I remember talking to my co-founder about this and raising money, and it felt like it happened in three days, but that's what we did. We just lined as many conversations as we could per day. We went into offices back when this was like, acceptable, you know?

Mm-hmm. , like Covid didn't exist. Mm-hmm. . Yeah, I really enjoyed it. Just to also talk to banks like we, we, we went like all around the ecosystem and tried to constantly just get a repeatable pattern. And then once you got a repeatable pattern, then you started to like, to like click in and it, it got a little bit more like design partner oriented and a little bit salesy.

Hey, if we were to build it this way, hey, we're gonna do this, right? And then by the time we raised money, I remember my beard was really long and we weren't actively raising money. We, we said, You know what? We have savings. We can do some contract work on the side. Like we're not gonna raise money until we have customers.

And I remember one of my former investors, like saw me with this like beard looking like, you know, like I hadn't take care of myself in a while. And he is like, What are you working on? And I was like, What are you talking about? And he's like, You look like shit. You've been in a cave for like a year.

What's going on? I haven't seen you in a while. And I was like, Oh, I'm working on this idea. And he like pulled me into a room, sat me down, made me tell him what we're doing over 30 minutes. And then he is like, All right, I'm writing you a check at the end of this conversation. Just go do it full time.

Like, don't have anything blocking you. And that was a really fun, like,  

Mike: so yeah, you did you feel like you, in hindsight, after meeting with him, you realized, hey, maybe we shouldn't be continuing to spend. some percentage of our time contracting. This is just too important. Yeah. Like it was a nice kick in the ass, right?

Omri: Yeah, totally. Like, go fucking do it. Like you validated enough, like the risk is gonna be the same moving forward.  

Mike: Yeah. So what was it specifically? So you're running a marketplace of artisans, people wanna get paid same day. Did was it specifically a, a payments play initially or how do you sort of think through the, the product roadmap in that we,  

Omri: Yeah. For us, it was the pain that we experienced between like engineering, finance, and operations. And what I mean by that is like from an engineering standpoint, like for example, some people want checks, some people want wires. Some people want like ach, like some PE international payments. So like the broadness of what a payment can be for a recipient to the big.

Some people want PayPal payments, right? Like you want to unblock folks as quickly as so engineering, it was really interesting because like, you don't, you don't wanna build this in house.

You don't wanna take, like if you're building a marketplace, You wanna get better at buyers and seller acquisition and retention. You don't wanna build all these internal tools. So there was a lot of internal engineering tools. Finance was like, How do we report this back to our accounting software?

There's a lot of work there. Mm-hmm. operations was like, you know, Johnny at. The name Artisan Company didn't receive their payment, but we showed that we did receive their payment. And you have customer support, like trying to grab data out of like shit that only finance has access to. And then like when you're rushing the right code, you don't really think about sending that data to look or somewhere else, right?

Like, so engineering has to pull data and so forth. So we're like, okay, there's. You know, there was a triangulation between these three departments that worked together all the time, and then there was the clicking on what's next. I think what's really interesting is what we found is sometimes you have more than those three departments working together.

Sometimes you have less, like there's a lot of like, Sexy tech companies that are just like, just finance powering through this. No operations, no engineering. Sometimes you have to bring compliance and treasury into it. So it really depends on the experience of the company over time and how they've felt it and how focused they are on their, like vendor experience per se.

But I don't know. It was just cool. Like we just kept seeing patterns and I'm a person. I'm a very rhythm oriented person. Like I, I like my weeks to be somewhat the same. I like to focus on the same things. And when I kept seeing patterns, there was like enough there to keep digging and keep Val validating that stuff.

Mike: So it's kinda like engineering ops and finance. What is how the different marketplaces send out payments? I imagine early on there's just a finance arm to it. You want to. Have the manual custom process to be able to send people money through finance, which is, you know, on some level, like you're not gonna mess up all the payments if you have someone manually looking at them.

Whereas once you engineer it, it just has to be right there can't be, you know, a bug there. Yeah. That accidentally sends people payments earlier or something.  

Omri: So, That's the interesting thing there, like, but for, for example, like we built this feature recently. Our, our developer experience team built this feature for engineers to be able to talk to finance.

So one of the like funniest things is like, let's say you wanna book, let's say you're gonna do a delivery. Food delivery business. Mm-hmm. . And you're like, you know what? You made $10,000 from selling pizzas. That's fine. And then we wanted to do a $500 bonus because you did X, Y, and Z, right? Like promotional things to get sellers engaged.

You know, this, you would book and finance the $10,000 one thing, and then our promotions another thing. Knowing as an engineer how to book that to the accounting system is like virtually impossible. And the engineer needs IDs, which the finance team doesn't have the ERPs and like accounting softwares don't expose those IDs.

So we built this tool for a finance person to be like, I need you to book it to this. And then we query the E R P and then return the data as an engineer needs it. So like a translation layer for teams to talk to each other. But these, like, I know that sounds silly, but like what we've seen is people book spent to the wrong thing, which ends up like messing up, like how you report stuff to the board or publicly and audited financials, or you overpay or underpay and so forth.

So it's one of those things like the more time we spend with our users, the more we understand about like what they need in order to succeed talking together. Right? Because we do see it as a supply chain and kind of a relay race, right. Finance, Hey, this is how I need you to report the data engineering.

Cool. I made the transfer operations great. We got a status update, like, do you know what I mean? Mm-hmm. , like it's, it's a bunch of tiny events that happen over time.  

Mike: And is this the, is this the concept of the wedge where you first introduce a product to the market? That is, I think if another word for this might be like a Trojan horse where it's a simple, easy to say yes to product that gets you in the door and then you can kind of expand out from there.

Is that Yeah.  

Omri: I'd say yes. I mean like for it's worth, we have a lot of competition. Like we walked into a very mature market. So yeah, we started with folks that were having that specific problem and then we built out a more complete suite for general finance teams that are maturing and growing and might eventually add that.

Right. So that was our, we up front. We went to a lot of marketplaces. Then we found out that like in the gig economy, that it's similar. Then we found out that in healthcare it's similar and like now we're like, you know, F traditional industries, right? Manufacturing, et cetera. But we get more mature like in the industries that we target over time by building more functionality.

Luckily though, the functionality that a food delivery company and a manufacturing company needs is actually very similar. Because regardless of like all the nuances they do with finance and engineering and everything, there's still a common practice on how to get things done, right? Like, for example, you write a paper like, you know, you can have many different ways to like write something, but you're, you're probably gonna end up with paragraphs and spaces and periods, you know, like a punctuation.

It might be different in different languages. But I think concept's gonna be there. Mm-hmm. . So we've been able to see patterns across industries and invest our time by, you know, prioritizing the needs of multiple industries over time.  

Mike: And so would you put this in a, like a marketplace infrastructure category?

Is that the right way to think of it?  

Omri: No, just like boring accounts payable. Accounts payable. It's just supercharged ,  

Mike: not necessarily for market. .  

Omri: Well, I mean, we do have a solution for a marketplace, so if you do go to our website, like we actually have industries now and all that stuff. So yes, like if you have the marketplace and you need to move a lot of money and you know, it's getting out of hands for sure.

But I think that now, like we have, we have broadened it into you know, really like what we call this mass payouts because it's a lot of money movement and mass payouts just means a lot of accounts. Right. Mm-hmm. . So for anybody that's, you know, growing the amount of output of dollars or the amount of vendors that they're adding to their ecosystem in finance.

They run into this problem eventually. And for us you know, we really want to be the true owner of, Oh, you have more than 500 vendors. Cool. Talk to us. You have more than a thousand transactions a month. Talk to us. You have more than 25 people that need to approve something. Talk to us. So that's how we're thinking about it.

It's not a tool for everyone, but the businesses that need this tool are ever growing and they're profitable businesses that are here to stay. So it's one of those things that's really interesting. I never thought I would be working on this. Yeah. Like this is not a sexy problem. Nobody talks about what we.

But I really like it because like  

Mike: yeah, like did it become sexy to you through those conversations and like, what is it that really, is it like the emotional connection to the people that you can pull up in your head like, Oh, I remember Jane and Jack and like, connect with it.  

Omri: It's, it's that, it's that like I love talking to our customers.

I love understanding that are problems. I love understanding that are problems by industries. And two, I also like just the size of the challenge. Mm. Honestly, like, I don't know if you go hiking or surfing or snowboarding, like what's your cup choice? But all of 'em at some point. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like you, like, I don't know, you do a two mile hike and then you do a 60 mile hike.

Not in that order, but you know, I mean, like you, you get some like icicles building off like your beard, like Yeah. Yeah. So I, I think that as we continue to grow, , the opportunity behind the challenge is very rewarding. And I also fucking love my team. Mm-hmm. . So, you know, like, I think at the end of the day, like I think we've built a really great culture.

We have really great team members and. I just want to put our team in a, in a position to win, and then I want to win in the market. So, you know. Yeah.  

Mike: And was it, was it, was it crowded when you got into the space or was it more like timing at that time? You guys raised money, right? You did? Yeah.  

Omri: And we, we raised some money, but it's, it's, it was crowded.

It's been crowded and it will be crowded. So I think that's one of the biggest things. I remember that what our YC interview. Was like, Oh, we like, we fucked that up. Why'd you think that? Because he asked us. Cause nine minutes of it out of 10 was what? How are you different than competitors? Right. We never told 'em what we do,

And then they said, So what do you do? But I just remember like Tom and I were just being to like mortified by the fact that we didn't even, like, we became so prepared. With all this research and experience and stuff like that. Yeah, and I just remember the interview and obviously it's probably different than those who interviewed us.

Like they probably have a different lens of it, but I just remember Tom and I walking about it like, Oh my God, all we did is talk about our competition and we never explained even what we do. And I just remember like, fuck, well, you know, like that's kind of the feeling. That didn't work. We'll figure something else out.

Yeah. Yeah. But it, it did, it did end up working out. And,  

Mike: and do you feel like in hindsight, you, you honestly answered the questions with enough sophistication to press the. the team like you, you were able to answer those questions or you kind of have set up  

Omri: no, to I I would love to like actually ask them what the fuck went down there.

Yeah. Because Tom and I just like, felt like we just got punched in the face. Not that they were rude, they were asking really good questions, but we never like, you know, like when you go into these interviews, especially as you're fundraising, like. , you have some sort of like thesis about how the conversation will happen.

Mm-hmm. , and this just came out of left field. We'd never felt comfortable and it just, it was like one of those things where like, you work so hard and to think about it, we just had come off nine months. Yeah. Yeah. You know, we hadn't built anything, but like we, we, we had so much confidence in what we were doing and they were just, just like a, a shock to our system.

Like, wow. We thought we were prepared, but we didn't know what we were walking into.  

Mike: Yeah. It's an interesting relationship between like, the confidence you get from building product and you get from understanding, like deeply understanding the market from talking to people. I think there's kind of like a, like a, you, you could almost like.

It's difficult to say cuz in some scenarios you just can't talk to customers like you. You can, you know, you can yeah, talk to people who might potentially use a thing but they don't really have the problem. And then to try to postulate or, or like say this is what it's gonna be. If you don't build a product, it's hard to know.

So, obviously, you know, people paying is the ultimate source of confidence cuz. You, you know that there's value derived there, but you know, it's a chicken and the egg of startups. And I, and a good investor will ask the questions that are the most sensitive. They'll, they'll find the Achilles heel and they'll really try to assess, hence their, you know, that's how they justify their earnings at the end of the day.

I agree. . Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so Good, good on yc. And you guys went through the program in 2019?  

Omri: 2017. 2017. Summer 2017. Yeah. Yeah. That was fun. Yeah. And came, we, we, we started the program with no code written. Mm-hmm. . And we ended the program with the product. I think that was like one of the hardest things.

Like I remember Tom and I just like did nothing. We rented an Airbnb and all we did was write code for like six, seven weeks in a row. Mm-hmm. ? Mm-hmm. . It was like long days. I remember we wrote a lot of code at like the, was it called Sweet Greens or was it Sweet Greens? Palo Alto. If we just like. We'd go there for lunch and not leave.


Mike: And where did you, so I, I know previously your, your first job was in marketing. You worked in business development and then founded, founded a couple companies. Where did you, did you end up spending your time in a code editor or what was it more on like product side or how did you find your lane?

Omri: So my co-founder Tom, was like, was born to code and mm-hmm. solve math and all those things. I think for me it was just like in, in a previous company, I couldn't contribute, like one of the most critical phases of the company is just getting it off the ground right before you have product market fit, before you have go to market fit.

And I was very frustrated, like being an outsider, like I did all the design work and did all the product work, but I was like, you know what? I actually wanted to contribute to getting this shit. So for me, like one of the biggest things was I wanted to develop empathy with the people that were working hard to build the vision.

And my requirement for building my companies became that I wanted to like, have empathy for different employees that I will work with. And especially like, you know, as you're just like, I don't know, when you're just 10 people or five people, et cetera. Like you do a wanna be like, Oh, that doesn't look good.

That doesn't work well. You want, you want to sweat equally. Which, which I believe. Even if you don't write code, you do. But for me it was just one of those things where I really wanted to invest there. So I took the challenge and I just learned. The wonderful thing is that we're at a point now these days where learning anything is almost available.

I mean, there's still things you need degrees for, right? Like you wouldn't let me like put you under like an ER room. Like you shouldn't, right? Cause I have no idea what I'm doing there, but like to learn to code. And to push yourself, that's very much available to learn to cook. There's so many beautiful things that you can do.

So I think that I'm very fortunate that like YouTube and, Yeah. Yeah. So many tools out. Are free. And I always just encourage people to go learn shit they don't know because you never know what you might do with it.  

Mike: Yeah, no, there's almost a problem of just too much information and too many sources and the decision of where to and then become stale.

Yeah. They become still and, And also, yeah, it's like, okay, you watch a YouTube video and then you watch this other course and it's like there's some sort of patchwork there that is happening. That just doesn't feel, in my experience, as ideal as like the concept of a curriculum where it's like, Okay, we're gonna do this for.

13 weeks or whatever it is. So did, did you kind of sit next to Tom and look over his shoulder? Or did you dive deep on a specific YouTube channel, or was there a place that comes to mind where you're like, this is where I learned how to get off the ground?  

Omri: So I spend that energy before working with Tom. So I feel like I came to the ecosystem more equipped to do so. But I think that working with Tom, like Tom is fantastic. The level there is really high. So for me it was just about like, I think that working with Tom every day, whatever, like I came into that partnership with, really pushed it forward.

Mike: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Interesting. And let's take a step back and look at like the high level market. So we're recording now, 2nd of November, 2022. The market is kind of like a. Kind of like tentative place right now. I'd say like tech has certainly changed dramatically after Covid. It seems like there's a, a massive push towards globalization and through remote work people are raising money easily and probably by default remotely.

Does that do how, like maybe just speaking about that for. , Has that changed how you think about growing the business? Or if you were to start today from scratch, would there be a different tactical strategy you'd have given? Like the fact that it's, it's not all located in the valley anymore and that it's really a global workforce and.

Omri: Yeah. No. I don't know. Like every year there is something great businesses were started during covid, great businesses were starting in 2008. Like if you wanna go build a business to go do it, I do think that like remote work, the the one benefit is we've been remote from the start and it allows us to just hire the best people regardless of where they are.

I do really. You know, my previous two companies were in person. Mm-hmm. . So that was like, it was a huge learning experience for me. I think that in order to do remote really well, you have to constantly invest in that, which is, I say a lot harder than I expected. But I don't know, like, it's always gonna be hard to build a business.

It's always gonna be hard to raise money regardless of the market.

Mike: So how do you invest in any, And you know what, like,  

Omri: I just want one quick comment. The first 18 months of a company is just like, you're like trying it out. You're like, you know, you have a paper airplane and you're like, Oh my God, Willy, like, just like nose dive, right?

Like, so it's never a bad time to start anything in my opinion. Like, you shouldn't wait, you should just go for it. How do you invest in remote work? You, you. great management. What does that mean, making that, Like what? Yeah, like we, like we constantly invest, like, I mean like, first of all, you gotta hire amazing people, but we invest in like learning and development, building programs, building like online trainings, like sounds very boring, but like doing sessions together, having conversations monthly about what we can do, hiring a great people operations team that wants to make remote work great.

Like I remember like. I don't know if we talked recently, but they were surprised by like how much of a production our all hands is every week. It is, it is our, is it is our time to communicate with all of our people. Right.  

Mike: And this is a, this is a Zoom call with everyone and that's a one way conversation for how long do these last and what's the general structure that.

Omri: Yeah, so they're, they're an hour. We typically go a little bit underwear like, but like for example, like next Friday, we're all making jam together. There's not gonna be an all hands, like, the all hands is like, we're shipping kits to make jam together.  

Mike: Literally jam, like jelly and jam. Jam.  

Omri: Oh, right. A hundred percent.

Right. So like, sometimes you gotta do something serious, something and you don't, But like, for example, we always start our all hands like the first 10 minutes with a silly question. Like, for example, like what was your most embarrassing Halloween costume recently? Mm-hmm. , right? Mm-hmm. . And then we do it, we, we go into like random breakout rooms, Try to just to get to know each other better.

So it's not just about that. Like, and it's not just one way conversation. We have like, I think like on average, like probably between five to 10 people speaking like departments and so forth, . . I actually think the less that I speak, the better the company does because you want owners and accountability and pride to come through through different departments, so  

Mike: Totally agree and, and do you think of it as a reporting, like these folks are reporting on the different departments with some kind of metrics that they say, This is how we did for the last week, or We,  

Omri: we definitely, we definitely share reporting, but I actually think about it more as creating empathy between departments because the one, the number one thing that I've seen, Throughout my life is departments can either hate each other or love each other.

And if you can do anything to strengthen the bonds between departments, it's gonna make your business operate better. And empathy is a huge thing there. So I think the way I look at it is let each team celebrate themselves, their peers, and the business together.  

Mike: So is there a specific structure that is employed across the different teams to do that?

Or is it more free flowing like, Hey, I observed Joey in market. D is more anecdotal stories or do you think about a, a particular structure to this?

Omri: I, I am not a big fan of myself, of like passing down like structures and processes. Mm-hmm. , each team just says whatever the hell they want to. Mm-hmm. , I think it's okay.

Mike: Yeah. So yeah, more or less just open town hall conversation. Yeah. And how about in person? Do you guys make an effort to get together in person or have you so far?  

Omri: Yeah, so before Covid we actually did quarterly offsites. Okay. And we are a much smaller team. Yeah. Now we do it annually. We also go to a lot of conferences.

So like for conferences, we try to get a mix of people going to them just to make sure that they get that comradery and just getting to know each other and so forth. And then like, yeah, we, we are having an offsite coming up in December. Okay.  

Mike: And for that offsite, will it be like, how do you think through that?

I asked this question because so many people are in a similar situation where they run remote companies. They might be 20 people, they might be 200 people, but they're now dealt with the situation of flying. Hundreds potentially of people from around the world into different airports and different accommodations with different needs.

And I think about what, what does that sustainably look like? And is it every company has their like internal travel agency effectively and they just figure it out? Or have you seen any Yeah. Interesting companies come up to support this?  

Omri: No. It's been kind of our people, operations teams and managers working together and kicking ass.

I don't know, like the cost of an offsite is big. I don't know if I'd want to pay an agency to make it even bigger, you know what I mean? Mm-hmm. I dunno. It's really interesting, but like, it's just one of those things that really matters for our people and every time that we can like devote budget to that, we will.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. I, I would think. Less about the coordination effort. I mean, you could do that internally and it's just a cost internally for a company, or you can have it be outside managed. I, I don't know that there's much innovation there. It seems like the space would be, the place for innovation would be on the actual accommodations themselves.

Right now you're gonna probably find mostly hotels, suites made for couples, maybe families, maybe small groups for corporate events.  

Omri: I don't disagree with you there like, but you know what the really weird thing is, is like, how do you. How do you sustainably do that? I think that's a great conversation to have.

Like, can you host a thousand person company? Can you co-host a hundred person company? Can you host a 20 person company? Like Airbnb has been our mode the longest. Like, yeah, you can get enough people through multiple houses. Yeah. And then you can find activities they can do, like, you know, But I don't know, just, it's just really interesting, like as every, every year we grow and this problem gets harder and more fun.

And a lot of the cool thing is we let our team get involved in the decision making around how to do this. Yeah. Like, I don't know, again, like if it was rigid, it wouldn't be fun.  

Mike: So, Yeah. Yeah. Well, fun's an interesting way to describe it. I imagine if for a company, say a company that's like 5,000 people, they're completely decentralized, remote, They want to get together.

It's almost like, in a sense, it's like a mini burning man popup. Like you can, you can rent out a ton of condos and Airbnbs, but at some point, Aren't gonna have, I mean, unless you go to Vegas or a couple cities,  

Omri: I, I'll report back to you when we get that large Yeah. I have no idea how to handle that. Yeah.

But that's okay. Right. Like, and for what it's worth, the operation that we go through now to get it done is completely different than what we did three years ago.  

Mike: Yeah. So you just learn what, what outside of outside of the business is most interesting to you, that you spend most of your brain cycles on.

Omri: I watch a lot of basketball. I like to go outside. I'm doing a half marathon soon. Nice. And then honestly, just like I like. I like spending my weekends helping founders. Mm-hmm. if I can. I think that like, it's tough and I really like it when people put themselves in a position to take on a really big challenge.

Like right. Going back to what we said earlier, like. To me, the challenge of building this business is equally as exciting as a day to day work, right? Mm-hmm. , so, you know, when you get into kind of a lull mm-hmm. mentally or physically, whatever it is, you have to like, you know, like. Let's say you're like, you're doing like a five day hike and it's extremely challenging.

You're not looking just like up the whole time and be like, Fuck, there's another step. Sometimes you pause and you look at the view of what you've already done. Right. So whenever someone starts to embark on that journey, I think it's really fun thing to do and I, I just like to be around. Yeah.


Mike: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Yeah. Same. I really love the outdoors. I've done a ton of marathons and also love helping out other founders, so I, I resonate with you there. Well Ari, this has been a lot of fun, man. Where are you online? Are you actively tweeting or blogging anywhere? Personally? We'll have the company links.

Omri: The majority of, yeah, the majority of my tweeting is done to help our marketing team push more forward. Yeah, sure. What do think about on. Can I ask about that? What, what do you mean?

Mike: Well, I, I, I go back and forth. Like when I was like actively running a startup, venture funded startup, I would have this internal dilemma, like, do I wanna just be a megaphone and just like push advertisements on Twitter for the project that I'm working on, which is usually not very interesting to people and gets relatively low engagement.

Or do I. Distinctly have this be my space where I can iterate and scratch pad and build my personal brand. I, I'm just curious if you've given it a. Conscious thought on that.  

Omri: Yeah. So I'll put it this way. Like, marketing asked me to post a lot of stuff, but I'm proud of the work the team is doing, so I do want to share it.

Right. But I don't know. I'm not a,

I text people, you know what I mean? Mm-hmm. , like, you don't see me like posting an opinion on something that happened recently. Mm-hmm. You know or something has to be. Grave for me to do so. Mm-hmm. I don't know. Twitter's not as much in my jam, so forth. Like, I don't know. I just, yeah. I text people WhatsApp, like I'm on Slack all the time already, so, you know, a lot of, at the end of the day, like.

To end my day, like, you know, I'll take care of myself, I'll, like, I'll cook for my family. I'll watch like a lot of anime . Yeah. I don't know. Do you know what I mean? Like there's, you find your fill elsewhere.  

Mike: That's it. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.  

Omri: Yeah. I, I, I, I guess like I don't have the desire to, Read other people's opinions about things that are happening in the world as much.

Mm-hmm. to get my fulfillment at least. So, Yeah, that's fair.  

Mike: Well I appreciate the time and congrats on everything. Anything else you wanted to throw out there? Has there been any particular, I like to ask this question. Books or people or sources of inspiration or knowledge that you've stumbled across fairly recently that have impacted you?

Omri: That's a great question. I should have thought about this in advance. Man, So books right now? No. Transparently people, it's too personal. Like, I don't know. But I think like for me, I just like watching sports right now. Like I don't know, like my wife's family is, are huge Seattle Mariners fans.

Mm-hmm. and I don't know if you know, but they like, hadn't made the playoffs in 21 years and they kicked ass for part of the playoffs which was good. Made it to the playoffs, kicked. It. That was very inspiring. I think that, like for me, whenever you watch a team do something together to achieve something extremely hard, you understand that it's all the intangibles and it's all the small work, and it's not, I mean, you know, whether someone.

Basketball is my favorite thing to watch. Like if someone has a 50 point game, it does not mean that they won the game. Right. And I think that most teams would rather go on a 15 game win streak than to have a player average 40 points a game. Mm-hmm. . Right. So I, I, to me it's always just like inspiring to see people do things when the majority of folks will doubt them and Yeah.

Yeah. Like that, that, that gets me. That gets me motivated. If that gets me excited, that makes me want to go invest in our team. Go Mariners.  

Mike: All right, brother. Thank you so much and talk to you soon.  

Omri: Appreciate it. Thank you. Bye.