Doug Camplejohn: Founder & CEO of Airspeed

Episode 438

Serial entrepreneur Doug Camplejohn shares all about Airspeed, the company that he Founded and is running. He shares all about the suite of Slack apps he has launched that help employees feel more connected and engaged. We also discuss how leaders can be more deliberate about building their culture, ways to build relationships among employees in remote settings, and how AI and automation are changing the work environment today. We also hear his thoughts on how to take a startup from conception to launch and scale to success. Doug’s two decades of experience in the tech industry including senior roles at LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Salesforce have allowed him to be at the forefront of tech and his team is focused on solving a problem that matters. So much inspiration, wisdom and out of the box thinking in this episode. I don’t want to miss this episode. Now on #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everybody, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I am so excited to have you here listening, but also our next guest, Doug Camplejohn, who is the founder and CEO of a fairly new company called Airspeed. And for those of you who are intact Doug is actually not new to tack. Many of you may know him from stints that he’s done with some incredible companies, including LinkedIn, Microsoft, Salesforce, some of the most innovative companies, he held various leadership roles within those companies, and is known as really being a change maker within those companies with many of the things that they have come out with. He’s a seasoned entrepreneur as well leveraging technology to drive innovation and improve people’s lives. And I just can’t even wait to talk to him about this newest venture that he started in the middle of COVID, called Airspeed and get his insights overall on entrepreneurship and leadership. So welcome. How are you?

Doug Camplejohn 1:49
I’m great. Thanks for having me here.

Kara Goldin 1:51
Absolutely. So you’re an incredible, not just an entrepreneur, you’re sort of maybe the rare breed of people that have gone between larger companies and helped them to disrupt I feel like but then also have started companies and in this case, decided that you saw this hole in the market, no one was doing it and you’re like, I need to just go start this company. So I’d love to hear how you think about creating a startup, like what is sort of the first thing that you think about was it really as much as like, you looked for who else was doing this and hoped that somebody else was doing it? And they weren’t? So you decided, Okay, I gotta, I gotta take this one on.

Doug Camplejohn 2:39
I think, you know, you know, I’ve always said, you know, entrepreneurs are no smarter than anyone else that just our radar dishes are tuned a little differently. And I think that what, what, what I found for most entrepreneurs, I know and myself included, is that we’re just constantly seeking like problems. And when we see something that doesn’t work the way we think it should work, we don’t assume that the problem is us, we assume the problem is the product. So I keep this running list, I call the suck list, just things that suck. And it’s everything from like, you know, death to DMV lines, and everything in between, which I probably won’t get these get to solve either one of those. But what what I found with startups is, it’s kind of like an idea that, you know, so ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. Lots of people have ideas. I’m sure you’ve talked to people in your life that said, oh, yeah, I had the idea for eBay before he was eBay or the idea for Uber a long time ago. It’s all about execution. So and what I found about startups is, it’s, I don’t really pay a lot of attention to competition, it’s mostly, here’s something that’s intriguing to me personally. And a lot of ideas just have the short half life like within 24 or 4872 hours, it’s like, that’s not going to be a big enough market, or there’s too much competition, or it’s, you know, technically impossible, whatever. And the good ones just won’t let you go. What happened with Airspeed so I had my last company was acquired by LinkedIn, I ran a group there called Sales Navigator took that for about a quarter billion to it’s now over a billion dollar business. And then I got recruited to Salesforce to become the general manager of Sales Cloud, and started in February of 2020. So you know how the story goes, six weeks later, we’re all locked down. We’re all doing zoom everything, zoom, happy hours, you know, Zoom yoga, all kinds of Slack channels and lots of all hands meetings and kind of over a period of a few months at Salesforce, I realized all of this stuff is just scattered all over the place. There’s no system of record for things related to culture. And that’s where the idea for airspy came about. And I started thinking more and more about like, Well, how would you tackle this and and how would you go about building an operating system for culture? And finally just said, I’ve got to leave Salesforce and go do this.

Kara Goldin 4:58
So interesting. What You think when I was actually part of an acquisition to a little startup in the mid 90s? That was a Steve Jobs idea inside of apple that ended up getting acquired by America Online. And, you know, I’m, I’ve been through it. In terms of the acquisition, what do you think is the key thing for entrepreneurs? I guess, when you’re going into an acquisition, like, what would you share with a colleague or a friend that’s going through that and culture I think would probably you’re, you’re like walking into someone else’s house and trying to get the hang of it. But and also trying to integrate your baby, I guess, in many ways into that company, too. But I’d love to hear your perspective.

Doug Camplejohn 5:44
Yeah, it’s funny, I was having dinner with some friends who sold their house. And then they realized that people who bought it were, like, totally gutting and remodeling it. And I was like, well, you sold it, you have to kind of let go, you know, the new owner has the rights to do what they want to it. That’s kind of how you you are with a startup, I feel a personal responsibility that if somebody’s you know, when I’ve had acquisitions in the past that I want to make sure the integration goes, well, I want to make sure that this is successful, that they look back on this and say, this was a, this was a fantastic acquisition for us. And so I probably put a lot of energy into that. But you also have to defend your team. Like when we got acquired by LinkedIn, it was really important to us that we were, you know, working close to where we, most of us were living in San Francisco. So we kind of fought for that to be the case. You know, we kind of fought I fought for people to be put in the right positions, and who got brought on, into into different roles. And then you just have to, you have to really understand where those things are going to blend together. I think that LinkedIn is particularly good, Salesforce, as well, at doing acquisitions, where they have people dedicated to making sure the integration is going well. It’s not just, you know, they don’t just walk away when the acquisition is done. And they really take time and actually measure, you know, kind of what’s the happiness level? What’s the retention level, what’s the productivity level of those teams afterwards. And so I would just say, really get to know the leadership really get to make sure that you are almost thinking like a service leader for the acquirer, the acquirer. But, yeah, they go all kinds of different ways. I mean, if you look at Microsoft in the past, they’ve screwed up a bunch of acquisitions in the past, you know, and then you’d like Nokia, or Skype, and then they did a brilliant, you know, Satya did a brilliant job, in my opinion on LinkedIn, because he basically said, Jeff, why don’t you CEO Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn at the time he goes, You’re in charge of integration. So we won’t ask you to do stuff for us. You just tell us how Microsoft can accelerate your business. And I think it’s the blueprint for how you do acquisitions. Well,

Kara Goldin 7:49
so interesting. So and have all the acquisitions that you’ve been a part of, you know, you’re the founder. So you’ve gone in to the company. Have you ever seen it work where the founder doesn’t go in?

Doug Camplejohn 8:03
Well, actually, I didn’t go into the first two. So the first one, first company I had was acquired by Bertelsmann, we were a digital music locker pre pre iPod pre iTunes, and Bertelsmann acquired us. And they wanted to move the entire company in in New York City, which I was kind of excited about. But they, every week, they come up with a new title for me, or like the VP of Digital Publishing or the VP. And I finally was like, You have no clue what to do with me, do you? And I said, Do you would you be with do you want to just vest me out? And they’re like, you would do that? I was like, Yes, I would do that. So just bested me on that one. And then the second one was acquired mi five networks named after the British spy agency was acquired by Symantec. And they were in a hiring freeze at that time. So they literally said, Hey, listen, we’ve got somebody to run this group. And again, I was more than happy to go. Get get vested out. And LinkedIn was one of those things where I expected to be there for a fairly short time, but just really found that I enjoyed the culture and enjoyed the team and really liked what we were building on the Sales Navigator team. So I ended up staying for over four years.

Kara Goldin 9:13
That’s great to hear that. That’s, that’s great. So getting back to Airspeed, so you’re inside of Salesforce. And you see, you know, this challenge, you’re probably looking around thinking, you know, it’s got to be somewhere around here. And then you start talking to friends and seeing no, no one really does that. What what were the issues that you were really seeing around culture that you felt like really should be there and could be really needed? Well, a lot

Doug Camplejohn 9:42
of this, you know, for me personally, a lot of startups I have are kind of scratching a personal itch. So like when I did my first startup, my play was kind of like, I wanted all my music to be in the cloud, which sounds so obvious right now but wasn’t then. And I wanted ultimately my video games and Like, you know, movies can be there as well. And, and realize the kind of it was feasible to do with music. With Airspeed, we just had a bunch of things where I was like, You know what, I think there’s tools that can help facilitate this. It’s like, you know, I’ll give you some examples like we used to in person. All my previous companies take the new employee to lunch. And so we’d get a bunch of people, we go to lunch, we had, you know, a handful of questions like, what’s the first concert, you went to? What’s your most, you know, what’s something we’d be surprised to know about you? What do you like to do for fun? And it was great. But if you didn’t, weren’t at that lunch, or you joined after that person, you never found out the questions, or the answers those questions, and vice versa, that new employee didn’t see how everybody else answered them. So you know, one of the first apps we did our speed was called intros. And so you just kind of say, Hey, here’s a set of questions. When somebody is joining the company or joining a team, they can just get asked the same set of questions, fill it out in the slack app. And instead of it just being, you know, lost in the data stream of slack, it’s going into a database. So later on, you can say, Well, who else has the same interests? Or who else? You know, what are some of the answers these questions? So that was an example of something specific. Another one was at both LinkedIn and I took this to Salesforce, we used to go around the table in the beginning of meetings, and we call them shout outs and personal wins. So everybody would give a shout out to somebody, a team or person. I always thought it was ironic that sometimes you’re giving a shout out to somebody who wasn’t in the room or team that wasn’t in the room. So you never even heard the recognition got the benefit that and again, the personal win was a verbal description. So if I said I just bought a new house or I got a new puppy, you don’t get to see what that looks like. And anybody not in the meeting, missed it. So we did an app called icebreakers. And so now it Airspeed we have our company meeting and ATM every Thursday. And every Wednesday, an automated message goes out to everyone to the channel in Slack so that that weekly meeting that says, hey, what’s a personal win for you for the last week, and I can kind of grab my phone, and I can go post a video of something I just did, or a photo. And I spend five to 10 minutes at most, at the beginning of the meeting going about and as opposed to something that used to take half an hour or more to kind of go go around the room verbally. And I’ve learned more about people I’ve worked with for over a decade in the last four months through the app. So there’s a couple of examples of we just took all these moments of culture. And you know, we’ve six apps in total, that just launched in Slack App Store starting in March. And they’re all about how do you address these like specific moments of, of culture?

Kara Goldin 12:39
So there, so you’ve got six, can you name? I guess you’ve named two of them so far, but I’d love to hear what they are.

Doug Camplejohn 12:47
Sure. So intros was going to introduce yourself. We mentioned an icebreaker starting with the meeting. Maps is where do you see everywhere everybody is on a map. And it’s not tracking you in real time. It’s just kind of where your home office is located. But the thing I was wondering for that is like I would go be at LinkedIn, I’m like, I’m gonna go to the New York office, who in the Sales Navigator teams in New York office? And how do I, you know, reach out to them and say, Hey, let’s go grab dinner, let’s go grab a drink or something like that. So maps does all that you see what time zones people are in, and where people might be able to meet up for local meetups. And we’re going to add a bunch of stuff in there where you can specify your travel so people know they can connect with you. And you can, you can be open to suggestions as well. Coffee Talk was something that I wanted at Salesforce because I joined Salesforce, as I said, and six weeks later, were locked down. And I hadn’t met most of the people who were on my team, I had a fairly large product product team of you know, 6070 people. And so coffee talks is just something where you can opt into a channel, a coffee talk channel, and say, I’m interested in meeting these kinds of people, you can name them or you can just describe describe their their role or their department. And these are the kinds of things I’m talking I want to talk about. And then we will use AI to kind of match you up with the right people. And then not only help facilitate finding a time for that meet up, but then provide you these these icebreakers for the meeting. So 10 minutes for the meeting, you’ll get a little Slack message says, Here’s five questions you might want to ask Kara. Here’s five questions you might want to ask Doug. So we can kind of facilitate that those kinds of getting to know other people in the team that you might not meet with on a regular basis. So let’s say that for two more celebrations is just putting all your celebrating anniversary work anniversary birthday cards on autopilot. Right now you’ve generally got admins chasing people around the organization’s kind of, you know, kind of breeding them to go sign a Kudo Kudo board card. This is just automatic in Slack. So we go and collect everybody’s signatures, and it’s all delivered on the day of the work anniversary on the day of the birthday on Slack. And there’s all kinds of fun stuff in there like we’ve got aI prompts. So if you’re like, Hey, I know Kara likes sailing and I A wine tasting writer a birthday greeting in the voice of a pirate, you know, you can go do that kind of stuff. So just just fun stuff in there. And then the last one, which is actually one of our most popular apps is called Shout outs. And so shout outs is really how you give recognition. And there’s, there’s other apps that go do that. So you can give direct recognition. So we worked with a bunch of HR people to say, a good recognition involves what did that person do? What was the impact of what they did, and, you know, maybe did wasn’t attached to any company values. So we have kind of have that structure. But you can also nominate people. So you can say, You know what, I could give that person feedback directly, but it would be much more effective if it came from this vice president or the CEO. And therefore, I can kind of compose it all, and have it forwarded to that person so that they can give it directly, which I which I love. And then you can also set your own goals. So you can say, Listen, I want to make sure that I’m giving, you know, you know, for shout outs a month or something like that. So you can kind of set your goals and get reminded as a manager of that. And finally, we found that most people are like the peak of feedback is Friday. So we have this thing called feed, feel good Fridays, you can turn this on. And it basically just kind of reminds folks and says, Hey, Mike, is there anybody in your team you want to go recognize, and then kind of gives a snapshot of it at the end of the day?

Kara Goldin 16:18
Very, very cool. So you mentioned slack, does this have to be in Slack?

Doug Camplejohn 16:22
So the first version of slack slack is kind of our entry wedge, eventually will be Slack teams, web mobile, the whole thing. But we found is we actually, you know, kind of in the in, as you know, in the nature of startups is often not a straight path. So our initial assumption on this was, oh, well, we think there should be a mobile app. It’s almost like an internal Instagram, where you can kind of share these memories and photos and things like that. So we built or overbuilt this and, and rolled it out to some folks last year, and consistently heard, this is great, except I live on my laptop, and I live in Slack. And after getting hit on the smack in the forehead, you know, 50 times were finally like woke up and said, Okay, maybe we should go do that. So that’s when we pivoted and released the slack apps. And it’s been going gangbusters. I mean, we released the first one intros in March, we just actually released coffee talk this week, mid July. And we’ve already got over 1000 organizations using it. We’ve got over 85,000 employees on it. We’re seeing north of 65% Weekly usage, you know, so the stats are great. where it’s at?

Kara Goldin 17:32
That’s amazing. So how many apps do you envision? Like how fast are you going to be building?

Doug Camplejohn 17:39
Yeah, I think we’re you know, we’re slowing down for now on apps. I think that you know, there’s a lot of enterprise stuff that we’ll do right now we’re in what we call the Early Access period. So we’re following the path that just like Slack, and asana and lots of these product, lead growth, SAS companies have done where you give it away for some number of months, or in the case of figma, a few years. And then you start charging, will start charging some time next year, we’ll have a free forever tier. So if you’re kind of below 50 employees, use all the apps for free or below 50 people using the apps I should say, above that there’ll be a couple tiers. One will be around how do you customize. And you know, we’ve had a lot of requests for people saying, Hey, listen, we call a work anniversary this or I’d like to use their own corporate branding for these kinds of things. And so there’s lots of that stuff that comes in. And then of course, there’s people who want to integrate in with HR systems like Workday, bamboo, HR, ADP, things like that. So we’re doing that work right now that will be released before the end of the summer. And what’s cool about that is you can start to do things like automatically the maps are populated automatically birthdays and anniversaries are on autopilot. But I can also say things like, hey, you know, and we’re we’re building a whole bunch of really, really cool AI stuff into it as well. So you can query and say like, Hey, notify me if I haven’t given enough recognition to my team this quarter. Or, you know, let me know the next three, you know, work anniversaries that are coming up, or, you know, we’re about to have an all hands meeting next week, what would be like five good awards that I could go create, based on all the shout out feedback I’ve gotten. So there’s a bunch of really fun stuff coming.

Kara Goldin 19:12
That’s amazing. That was one of the questions I wanted to ask you about AI and how has that really changed the course. I mean, you probably knew about AI before two years ago, but most consumers did not hear especially ones not in tech. So I’m so curious how that’s changed your company.

Doug Camplejohn 19:34
Yeah, I think, you know, I was probably you know, I’m an electrical engineer. I’ve worked in tech for a while. I was probably caught as off guard by Chad GBT is everybody else was I just didn’t think it had gotten that good that fast. And so it’s, I’m, for me, it’s the most exciting time I’ve ever worked in tech in my entire life. And that’s saying a lot. But, you know, as I said, we’ve incorporated really some little stuff like, you know, creating these fun birthday cards or work anniversary cards? Or how do you create more prose like, you know, recognition, suggesting, you know, ways to make it sound good. You know, if you look at kind of the average Facebook, birthday greeting, it’s lots of people just saying happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday, you know. So this makes a little bit more personal if you know something about the person, and you can kind of incorporate that. So that was kind of that’s already done in all the apps. The next phase is what’s really interesting about Slack is Slack has taught everybody not just to kind of message each other in the company, but how to talk to apps through a messaging interface. So if you think about chat, GBT, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a messaging interface. It’s all it is. It’s already there in Slack. So each app in Slack has the messages tab. And so we’re just going to add in slash API command to every app. So you can just go query that app, and you can ask any question, like, you know, like, who’s been here the longest, you know, or how many people are there in Chicago? Or, you know, what are the next, you know, what employees have, have given the most praise, in the last, you know, year, all kinds of things like that. So that’s kind of interesting. And then longer term, all of this data combined with the HR data, you get to start to ask some some pretty interesting, even broader questions like, How connected are our teams? How engaged are they, you know, what are people that we might want to make sure that they’re, they’re getting more time together, you know, where, where might we have, you know, some some attrition risks, all kinds of things like that, they get really interesting. And I think just a much better approach, if you think about how most companies measure employee happiness, it’s a once or twice a year survey, which is, everybody hates everybody hates giving it putting getting everybody hates, you know, filling it out, it’s stale the minute you fill it out. So if you have something that’s a lot more real time than just kind of this is kind of in the background, figuring this stuff out, I think it’s gonna be a lot more effective. Yeah, definitely.

Kara Goldin 22:03
So having remote offices is, over the last couple of years is obviously challenging, whether you’re a small company or a large company, and people are trying to figure out, you know, now that we don’t have offices, is this the right thing? But if you’ve got a product like Airspeed, how do you think that really helps to solve a lot of these issues?

Doug Camplejohn 22:27
Yeah, you know, I think the interesting part is, Airspeed, obviously came out of COVID. And, you know, it was originally designed to address a lot of remote work problems, I think the thing we found is that these problems exist, whether you’re in the office five days a week, or zero days a week, or anywhere in between. And I think that one of one of the things that was really fascinating to watch when I got to LinkedIn, because we went from a 30 person company to 10,000 plus person company, was how good Jeff, the CEO, and Ryan, the head of product at the time, who’s now the CEO, and the entire executive team was a kind of cascading communications. So it’s this very deliberate process of going like, here’s gonna be our, here’s a, here’s our mission, let’s make sure we’re always reinforcing that. Here’s our goals for the year, here’s our goals for the quarter, you know, and he would, he would communicate that to his leadership team, he would, he would do all hands every two weeks, there’s a very deliberate process of repeating things. So people ultimately were kind of lined up and heading in the same direction. And I think that what COVID taught us is we have to be just as deliberate about culture. And I think that that, you know, if the, if you think about Facebook, what Mark was trying to create in the early days was a tool set to help people, you know, kind of facilitate their friendships, you know, things that would just help them understand things. We’re really creating a toolkit to help people facilitate their work relationships. And so that’s where I think that it ultimately goes and plays out.

Kara Goldin 23:55
I think the best entrepreneurs are ones that are obviously curious, I think that that’s a that is a consistent thread amongst entrepreneurs in everything single industry, but, but also they love what they’re doing. They’re passionate about, it’s kind of another child to them, and in many ways, and and I heard you say that you’d like to work on the blank page. Can you describe this to people? Because I don’t think everybody likes to work on a blank page.

Doug Camplejohn 24:29
Yeah, I like I like the idea of going like, this has not been solved before, right? And listen, like, you know. Anytime you do a startup idea, the chances are there’s somebody that’s done some piece of that in the past, there are very little ideas that are completely new. No one’s ever thought of that before. You know, there was electric cars way before Tesla, all of that. But I liked that idea of going it’s up to me to kind of figure it out and I’m a very visual person. So I love and really have deep respect for user interface. So I don’t think in words, I think in pictures. And so I like to like I have a great partner with our UX lead, where we can just riff on stuff and come up with, you know, think about how this is going to go. Because I’m much better at kind of going, it’s in my head, but how do I get it out of my head and show other people where we’re going to go, is often taking that and kind of translating that into a visual, even for your writing code. So that, for me is the blank page, I love the blank page and start, you know, building a team. And an Airspeed, I’m lucky enough that we kind of got the band back together for you know, from the last company. And so I got to go work with my VP of Engineering and some of his top engineers, and my, my CFO, and these are people where, you know, we were like an old married couple, we finish each other’s sentences at this point. So. So that’s great. But also, we brought in some of the most amazing people, this is one of I’m sure every CEO says this, but this is the most amazing team I’ve ever worked with. And we are incredibly productive. So that notion of, hey, we started small, the vision never changed, but our path to get there changed. And because the vision stayed solid, people were like, Okay, we’re gonna hang in there for the ride. And I think people are just incredibly excited about what they’re seeing now, of how much it’s taking off. So that’s, that’s what you get from the blank page. And then, you know, you, every company, you make mistakes, you just try to make new ones, if you can.

Kara Goldin 26:35
So what has been one of the hardest parts of growing this company, you’ve obviously started other companies and every, every company probably has, you know, those, those hard days where things are not going exactly as planned. But what what’s been probably one of the hardest things with air speed.

Doug Camplejohn 26:53
Yeah, I think I think it was trying to figure out what product market fit was. Because I think we we started out was just such conviction like that we were right. In the first thing, we were building this mobile app and the web experience. And, and, you know, we had talked to a lot, we’d spent like a quarter or two talking to customers and doing a bunch of customer research, and all seem to align with that. And then to just, you know, it not be the right piece out of the gate, was this thing where you’re like, wow, okay, is it are my instincts, you know, slipping what’s going on? And, yeah, and the ironic part is, there’s another friend of mine who started a company that that, strangely enough was kind of tackling the same problem at the same time and very similar approach, and have the same feeling like this is such a no brainer. And they hit a wall. And they’re, they’re kind of turned, they’re doing a very hard pivot. But I think that was, that was probably a moment where we’re like, we probably spent a quarter or two trying to figure out like, where the goal is still valuable. But how do we get from point A to point B? And it’s, it’s a lot more fun to be on the other side of that, where you’re like, oh, it’s working now. Right? As opposed to a we’re searching and, you know, like any startup you don’t have infinite time.

Kara Goldin 28:14
I just finished a book called The in perfectionist, you know, this book,

Doug Camplejohn 28:19
I don’t, I love actually, it’s

Kara Goldin 28:21
Charles Kahn, do you know Charles Kahn, and very good, but he talks about entrepreneurs and how, you know, the best ones are actually imperfect. And you know, that you can sit around the room and strategize and, and have focus groups and make all these plans. But by the time you actually do that, then your ideas gone. Right, somebody else is doing it, they’re faster than you. So he’s the Chairman of the Board of Patagonia. And he talks about the way that Yvonne does things is just just go try, right and figure it out. And you’re gonna, some things aren’t gonna work out. Would you say that you are in perfectionist?

Doug Camplejohn 29:00
Oh, absolutely. In fact, the way we describe we, we call our product specs, not a product spec. Because I don’t want to write on one documents. We describe each of our sprints as experiments. And so there’s no like, some experiments are successful, some experiments are not. But the important part is we’re experimenting and renewing. We I think we found the best balance here that I’ve ever had in the past in terms of getting stuff out quickly. And not like, you know, confusing everybody. So we actually look out a few months and kind of try to do a roadmap that gets adjusted along the way because we’re startup and but each month we kind of have a major theme. So like we’re walking this month was all about HR integration. And there’s lots of smaller stuff as well. But then we break that month into one week sprints. Every week in our company meeting we’re actually doing bug bashing so everybody is all hands on the product and really gets familiar. It’s not like hey, that’s that’s engineerings problem or that’s products problem, everybody is deeply involved in this. And then we’re releasing every Monday, you know, a new version of one or more of one one to all of the apps. So it’s kind of a nice thing where marketing knows enough what’s coming Customer Success knows what’s coming. So they can kind of plan for things with, with customers on the website and things like that. But we can still iterate really quickly. And I think that one of my favorite phrases is the gentleman Tomer Cohen, who runs product at LinkedIn right now had a great phrase, which was, I may be wrong, but I’m not confused. I love which is, and I say that to everybody now, because I just say, Listen, I know that when I tell you something, and I have the the title of CEO, you might think, Well, Doug said it must be right. But you can quickly convince me to 180 Just give me better data.

Kara Goldin 30:53
Yeah, no, I love that. What’s the saying from Orange is the New Black that it’s there was there was a saying that was similar to that that was That was classic, I’ll think of a think of what it is. But it’s just a total side note, but that’s hysterical. So speaking to your younger self, you’re just getting started. You’re starting your first company. I mean, what do you know, now that you didn’t know, then,

Doug Camplejohn 31:19
I think the most important characteristic of a successful entrepreneur and you know, this is persistence. And I think that, you know, it’s interesting. One of our investors is Greylock, committers. Great firm. And they recently had an off site. And Reid Hoffman, the co founder of LinkedIn, had interviewed Dylan, the CEO of figma. And he was interviewing a bunch of people and every every interview started with the what would you tell yourself five years ago, if they were sitting in front of you? Dylan? Dylan had it, I thought the best answer it goes, I would give him a big hug, and say it’s going to be okay. Right. And then and just keep going. And I think that’s the most important thing. I think it’s really, there are certainly as you know, there’s a roller coaster ride. I used to tell tell my wife that that she’d ask how was your day? And I was like, Do you want the 10am version of the 2pm version of the 5pm version, because there’s three totally different stories. And not everybody is wired to be able to ride that roller coaster. And keep keep, you know, an even blood pressure along the way. So I think that the most important thing I would tell myself is just keep keep going. Right? Don’t give up because you’re going to be the last one standing. And and I think I’ve found that I inevitably come up with the right teams and the right products to have successful outcomes. And so just have fun along the journey.

Kara Goldin 32:44
I think it’s a lot easier when you have successful products and companies that you sell to actually get funding and have had, you know, successful acquisitions along the way, as you have. You’ve built boards. And boards are always kind of a tricky one that comes up for entrepreneurs, what advice would you share with other entrepreneurs? How do you build a board? We had Chip Wilson from Lululemon on who said, before you get any funding put nine people on the board, then you’ll always, you know, like, and again, there’s no wrong answer here. It’s just I’m fascinated by there, there really is no right answer, either. But I think everyone’s got really good opinions on this.

Doug Camplejohn 33:42
Yeah. And I think there’s, there’s there’s two different kinds, obviously, there’s advisory boards, and there’s Board of Directors, I often see in first time startup, first time founders pitch decks up, they have this, they really help this big advisory board. And unlike those people don’t, unless they’ve invested, they don’t really have skin in the game, right? Like lots of people will be like, yes, sure, give me X 1000 shares, and I’ll Don’t be an advisor. We actually what we do, and with advisors now is we’re pretty selective. And when we do choose somebody like, you know, Chris Locke, as you mentioned, is one of a number of others. We start off with just a six month gig, right? We’re just like, hey, listen, we’re gonna we’re gonna test this out. And is this working for you? Is this working for me, rather than a year? Because I find a lot of them have this little burst and then they kind of fall off. And then you know, the few that are continuing to you’re having great engagements and providing value, then you’re like, Okay, great. Let’s go extend that let’s go do something bigger. So I think that’s key for advisory boards. It’s really got to be people who are stepping up and providing something for you rather than just a name and a slide. And I think board of directors, whether it’s your your VCs or an external board member, you know, you’re effectively getting married over a few PowerPoint slides. So you’ve got to be really like my, I’m a big believer in trusting my gut on that. So I would much rather take money from someone who I feel like, I’ve done my reference checks on them in hard times, and I asked this of my last in my last board, one of the investors, I said, Send me the last three companies, the CEOs of the last three companies that didn’t make it, right. And those are the ones I want to talk to, I want to I want to see how you’re in hard times, I don’t care how you are in good times, you know, where I’m less interested in how you’re in good times. And then you’ve got to imagine that’s a relationship that could last 510 years, right? So is that somebody you really want to spend time with? We used to call it the road trip test? Like if you were driving from New York City to Boston? Would you like run screaming from the car at the end of the road trip? Or would you be like, Hey, that was really fun. Let’s go, you know, grab dinner. And you want the people in that latter category on your board? For sure. We’re going to add value.

Kara Goldin 35:57
Do you typically have independence and from the beginning, that actually are not investors in your company, when you’re building your boat?

Doug Camplejohn 36:06
I don’t. I don’t do the Lululemon lemon, like have nine people and then invite the investors in has not been my plan. So we we actually don’t have a board right now we did our seed round of funding, which was like Greylock, Venrock, Salesforce ventures, a bunch of CEOs from great companies, LinkedIn and others. And because because it wasn’t, you know, a series a stage, we didn’t put them put a board together yet we have great advisors at the stage. And we have all the same discipline around, here’s our quarterly reports, I send out updates to all the investors. But with with the next round and subsequent rounds, we’ll start building that board. And then obviously, that’ll be a mix of investors and outside folks as well.

Kara Goldin 36:50
Super, really, really helpful. So how are you getting the word out about air speed? I mean, you’re growing very quickly. Are you partnering, like through slack? In order to do that? Are you just kind of or is it word of mouth now that people are talking about it? And that’s how it’s growing? Or how else are you getting the word out?

Doug Camplejohn 37:10
I think, you know, we’re not spending money on advertising. We didn’t we do a little bit because when people search for Airspeed, we want to make sure they’re not getting the velocity, you know, equation for speed. So they can just find the website. And most of it is just through the slack App Directory, through word of mouth. One of the interesting things we found that we didn’t expect up front is the Slack community. So there’s a number of these communities, whether it’s women in tech or investor network, something like that, that have built this Slack community. And in particular, the intros app, and the Maps app have been really useful in those communities. And because we’re the way we’re going to charge as we’re only that 50 plus is only gonna be if you’re 50. Plus in the same email domain, for most communities, it’ll still continue to be free. But that’s been a great source of lead gen for us where somebody sees this and goes, Oh, this is kind of cool. actually bring this into my company as well. So that’s a really low cost acquisition method there. And then we’ve got I’ve got a great marketing team has just been doing a lot of good stuff on the on the blog and the social side. And getting me to post on LinkedIn more more often as well.

Kara Goldin 38:19
There, that’s awesome. So best advice you’ve ever received personal advice, or somebody sat you down and said, duck, you’re going to remember this advice for the rest of your life I’d love to hear is that is a business personal, a little bit about.

Doug Camplejohn 38:38
So I think my dad, who passed away a number of years ago, I remember when I was young, I said if you can find something in your life, where you kind of go, Oh my God, they’re paying me to do this. Right? You know, you’re you’re kind of amazed at that concept. You found your bliss, right. And I’ve been really fortunate to be able to combine what I love, which is kind of sits in the intersection of of as Steve Jobs would say, at the intersection of kind of liberal arts and science. So for me engineering and business, in this field, initially a product management and then starting companies where I’m I’m, I can’t believe I get paid sometimes, you know, I’m like, this is exactly what I love to do. And I’ve I’ve really enjoyed contributing to larger companies as well. So you know, both LinkedIn and beginning of my career at Apple and then at Salesforce, but this is really my my happy place.

Kara Goldin 39:34
That’s awesome. Well, you’re smiling and you can tell in your voice, you’re having a lot of fun. So that’s what’s most important. And thank you so much, Doug for coming on and sharing a lot more about Airspeed with us and just your entire thoughts and wisdom and entrepreneurship, leadership, etc. So really appreciate it. Thank you. Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show. If you would please give us a review and feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit. And of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that I can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen. Or pick up a copy of my book on daunted which I share my journey, including founding and building hint. We are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And thanks everyone for listening. Have a great rest of the week, and 2023 and good bye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening