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The SuccessLab Podcast: Where Entrepreneurs Collaborate for Success

Oct 18, 2015

Most entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of pursuing their passion, great idea or new venture full time. Instead they have to create a side hustle – working nights, weekends and early morning to make their idea a reality.

That’s exactly what Ryan Hermansky, CEO and co-founder of talk2Legends had to do.

The genesis for the app, which allows fans to talk to their favorite pro athletes via video chat, sparked two years ago when Ryan was talking to his now co-founders Mark McVey and Tom Stitt about how cool it would be to be able to have phone conversations with athletes.

“The idea was sparked by a press release about about a website that allowed you to have phone conversations with B-list celebrities like Lindsay Lohan’s parents,” he said. “It started as just an amusing conversation between the three of us at first, and then it turned to, ‘Imagine if you could do this with athletes?’”

From there they started evolving the idea. Since then it has morphed from just a website, to an app to video calls. That initial conversation was two years ago, and Ryan admits knowing they’ve been working on it for so long is a bit of tough pill to swallow.

This was in part due to not having a background in technology and not knowing what to look for when on boarding someone to help build the app.

“We spent the first year trying to figure out what we were going to do and finding the right tech people to bring on board,” Ryan said. “But we basically struck out.”

They even tried making this person a fourth co-founder so they’d have more skin in the game, but it didn’t work.

“We eventually decided to go out, raise money and hire a company to do it the right way,” he said.

Once they secured enough funds to hire a company to build it right, he said the difference was night and day.

Evolving the Product

As they began building it talk2Legends too many different shapes before it would ultimately become an app that enabled video chat with pro athletes.

“We knew it would change over time. I think all companies and apps do. I don’t think I expected it to change as drastically as it has,” Ryan said.

But he said they realized they were trying to make it too complicated so they simplified everything down.

“We eventually simplified everything down to an app,” Ryan said. “Now we have the mindset that we want to get the product on the market and start letting our fans tells us what changes and features they want to see.”

They worked with Tallwave to go through the validation process with early users and athletes, and to eventually arrive at product market fit.

Overcoming Early Challenges

Since none of the co-founders had technology backgrounds, Ryan said that proved to be one of their biggest hurdles in developing a tech-based product. Building an app was a foreign language they had to learn. Which made it tough to interview those initial developers they brought on. They didn’t know what to look for wand what questions to ask.

“That was the biggest issue and hurdle,” Ryan said. “And that may be something we always battle until we have a CTO on board – someone who eats and breathes technology.”

Getting people to invest has been another big challenge. Despite continually getting positive feedback from potential investors, any time you trail blaze with a new concept, it can be an uphill battle in getting people to actually back your concept.

Ryan said one of the best things they’ve done for Talk2Legends, however, was keep an open mind. This is something they continue and are now looking at delving into the music industry – offering the ability for fans to talk to their favorite musicians.

“Keeping an open mind has been one of the best things we’ve done,” Ryan said. “It was necessary, but it has opened the door to other possibilities.”

The Side Hustle

Like many startup founders, Ryan also juggles a full-time job – talk2Legends is his side hustle. Working to bring the concept to market has forced him to master efficiency.

“It’s definitely been a challenge, but it wasn’t an option,” he said. “Efficiency has been must for us.”

But their long nights and weekends dedicated to getting the app to market is paying off. They’ve garnered buy-in from pro athletes from all backgrounds from football to basketball, to golf, motor cross, MMA fighting, surfing, snowboarding, and the list goes on. They’ve also amassed more than 17,000 Twitter followers in less than two years - all through organic engagement.

And now, their app, talk2Legends is officially in the app store. Ryan offers up some advice to startup founders and entrepreneurs.

“Keep an open mind about everything you’re doing. There’s a lot of people out there who are going to give you advice. Keep in mind, but be careful on who you listen to. Try to understand what advice your getting, who it’s coming from and what their motive is.”

“In the entrepreneurial world you’re generally trying to do something that hasn’t been done before or do something better than what’s out there. Most people you talk to, especially if you’re trying to raise money, may be trying to shoot you down as quickly as possible so they can get on to the next idea. They’re naturally pessimistic. No matter how cool your idea is people are going to hate it just because they don’t get it. Stay openminded and focused.”

“You also have to be patient.”

Biz Hack:

Primer is an app created by Google with short, snackable courses all related to marketing. It was built for anyone - from startups to marketing managers - who wants to learn more about marketing. The lessons cover branding, storytelling, remarketing, SEO and programmatic ad buying.

Next week I’m in the Lab with Derek Harju who works with Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Company. We talk about intrapreneurship - the idea of innovating from within a company. Derek has led the launch of a couple new podcasts at Rich Dad and initiated the complete overhaul of one of their long-time products. We talk about how to be an entrepreneur even if you’re working within a larger company. Be sure to tune! Until then, have prosperous week!