14 Minutes of SaaS

14 Minutes of SaaS

E44: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 2 of 7 – Therapeutic Personal Challenges

Vaughan Fergusson in conversation with Stephen Cummins. Part 2 of a 7-part series focused on the founder and ex CEO of Vend and the co-founder of OMG tech. Episode 44 of the 14 Minutes of SaaS podcast is called ‘Therapeutic Personal Challenges.

E44: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 2 of 7 – Therapeutic Personal Challenges

This is episode 2 of a 7 part series with Vaughan Fergusson, sole founder and former CEO of Vend.
Vaughan talks about people who influenced him and 10 years of amazing personal challenges which he initially used as therapy for his obsessive compulsive tendencies with in business. He talks about how he worked out, with a little help from some friends, how to build Vend on a long bike ride through New Zealand.

Transcript

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Vaughan Fergusson

Well that was Vend started. That was my challenge 8 years ago to build a 100 million dollar business.

Stephen Cummins

And where were you when you decided to you wanted to build a 100 million dollar business?

Vaughan Fergusson

I was roughly somewhere between Wellington and Kapiti .. on my bike
[laughing]

Stephen Cummins

Oh so this was during the bike ride. Of course ….

Vaughan Fergusson

So I had the idea for Vend. But I was really working out how it would play out … like having an idea is great, I had to raise money etc. So .. being on a bike .. or running .. or whatever that thing is … swimming … you find yourself in this zone …once you get over the pain of ‘why the hell am I doing this?’ … you get into a zone where your mind clears and .. I find my mind will pick an idea and it’ll go almost like a repetitive loop around the idea.

Stephen Cummins

Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps.

This is episode 2 of a 7 part series with Vaughan Fergusson, sole founder and former CEO of Vend, a SaaS company that empowers you to run and grow your retail business.

This is episode 2 of a 7 part series with Vaughan Fergusson, sole founder and former CEO of Vend.
Vaughan talks about people who influenced him and 10 years of amazing personal challenges which he initially used as therapy for his obsessive compulsive tendencies with in business. He talks about how he worked out, with a little help from some friends, how to build Vend on a long bike ride through New Zealand.

Stephen Cummins

Has this annual challenge that you’ve set up for yourself. Has it been life changing?

Vaughan Fergusson

Absolutely! Yeah. I’ve just realised that it’s been 10 years of doing them – and it’s always been adding something new to my life or taking something out of my life that’s not good. Like quitting smoking. not drinking alcohol for a year, at the moment I’m a vegan – and I’m exploring that. So making good life choices. But then there’s the physical challenges as well. I’ve cycled the length of New Zealand, I’ve cycled around the southern hemisphere. One year I ran a thousand kilometres. So those challenges are all about testing my physical resolve for doing things. It sounds crazy. It’s like I’m gonna… I’m gonna ride a bike around the world. People think ‘How do you do that?’ It’s impossible to do that’. That’s like well, you get on a bike and you cycle every day to get around the world. It’s like making the time in your life to do it through a crazy day but… but totally achievable. And like running a 1,000 kilometers sounds like you know …  I describe it as running 1 million metres which makes it sound even more impressive …  but, you know, a 1,000 kilometers … you break that down and it’s like three kilometers every day. Yeah, which makes it sound way more manageable. But of course, it could be a good challenge – it’s a logistical challenge .. because I had to run 3 kilometeres a day – every single day. And then be miss a few days and, you… you know, you gotta run 10Ks to catch up. It is basically running a, you know, a half marathon every week. So that one I knew that physically I could do it. The most challenging part was more around the… the logistical planning like around my life because I was a startup founder was going crazy traveling all around the world. So, you know, having to find those those slots. Where could get your daily run. That was actually the most challenging.

Stephen Cummins

Okay and if people can hear announcements and stuff. We are right here in Hong Kong at RISE – so that’s what you’re hearing with the background noise. We were talking earlier about  you giving a drink for year but you’re, not extreme … so that’s something that you still enjoy right?

Vaughan Fergusson

Yeah, absolutely. So that, you know, I cut out drinking for a year, which I actually found was one of the most challenging ones – not because I’m an alcoholic. But just because of the social norms around things like that.
So at a conference where every evening revolves around you know, drink. And so, you know, that was hard because people always assume that that’s just part of the culture – and then if you’re abstaining people would want to apologize to me thinking, you know, ‘I’m really sorry to hear you’re an alcoholic.’ And I’m like don’t worry … Making a choice to not have a drink.  Sue is crazy.

Stephen Cummins

Do you find that some of your challenges are a bit bigger than others? Do you feel this need that you know what’s ahead of you in the year … that you gotta have some sort of a challenge to anchor you for that year.

Vaughan Fergusson

Yeah. I think I do it because I find it good to have something else for your brain to focus on like when you’re … I’m pretty sure I’m an obsessive compulsive type person. Once I get an idea in my head, I find it very hard to get the idea out of my head. And so in business like when you’re like throwing everything at growing a business …  I find it helpful for me to have something else that I can, you know, like flicking a switch in my brain .. it’s like I’m not going to think about that. Yeah, I’m gonna try and figure out how I’m going to ride a bike around the world or whatever. Or stand up on  stage and sing in front of 100 people and… and use a slightly different parts of the brain. And there’s the fear element as well. Like singing in front of 100 people. I can’t sing! I pick these things because I think that these are the things that make me feel very uncomfortable. Like, you know, sitting in front of 100 people for an hour.

Stephen Cummins

Is there a video out there of that actually.

Vaughan Fergusson

There’s probably a few out there on people’s phones that will come back to me and be used as blackmail.

Stephen Cummins

Did you get coaching for it?

Vaughan Fergusson

I had a few lessons. Yeah. Probably not as many lessons as I probably could have, but the point of it was not to be amazing. It was just to feel confident that I could, you know, sing for an hour… an hour long. Stand in front of 100 people and not be booed off stage.

Stephen Cummins

I think it’s a great challenge. It’s actually one of my favourite ones in the ones you did. I actually I did briefly try and find you on the net, but I’ll have another look and see if I can find the bootleg version.

Vaughan Fergusson

I haven’t found them yet. So I think it’s just sitting in wait.

Stephen Cummins

I’ve been a vegetarian for 32 years and you’ve… you’ve gone a step further as a vegan and your partner Zoe is also doing it.

Vaughan Fergusson

Yeah. That’s this year’s challenge. And honestly, I thought it would be a lot harder than what’s actually transpired but …  the choice was not really from an ethical point of view. I was just fascinated about the economics of food. And I just found myself … I guess … with age going off looking for new things .. and so yeah, so I thought it’d be really hard … and I remember the day I decided and came home with the great news for Zoe. And I was like .. ‘Guess what? … I’m gonna be a vegan. And she was almost about to punch me in the face. She was like ‘You know that means that now I’m a vegan as well. And I was ‘Yeah, I guess it does. And what about the kids? … maybe they didn’t even get to. And then yeah, how about the kids? …  is how do you manage a family?’ You know this. When you’ve got a slightly different dietary preference. But, you know, I’ve learned how to cook. I’m paying more attention to what’s actually goes in. You become one of those obsessive people that has to read the labels on everything to make sure that there’s no meat or dairy in it. I’m now more aware of what I’m consuming. And it’s actually pretty easy to be an unhealthy vegan again right? Yeah, you can just eat fries all day, right? Fries and coke.

Stephen Cummins

Do you feel better?

Vaughan Fergusson

Yeah, sleeping better … have more energy. You know, I had a love hate relationship with cheese. I loved cheese, but cheese probably didn’t love me back. And so there’s always things that have been differently benefit of becoming a big deal. But, you know, it gets challenging like when … you’re going out and traveling. Travel is always the problem and it surprised me … like we you could travel around the world. You can go Tokyo or New York. You think… you think it’ll be pretty easy to travel and sustain a vegan diet. When you look at feeding a planet of, you know, a 8,000,000,000 people, you know, the amount of destruction and devastation that comes with massive intensive farming …. It’s actually quite eye opening. But that was not why we decided to become vegan. And so who knows like, you know, I think we are more aware of the food. What do you what happens at the end of this challenge will be a conscious decision.

Stephen Cummins

Now … most of the challenges that we’ve spoken about here. Most of them are personal challenges. Have you ever taken one of those years and made it a professional goal that was your challenge for the year?

Vaughan Fergusson

Well that was Vend started. That was my challenge 8 years ago to build a 100 million dollar business.

Stephen Cummins

And where were you when you decided to you wanted to build a 100 million dollar business?

Vaughan Fergusson

I was roughly somewhere between Wellington and Kapiti .. on my bike
[laughing]

Stephen Cummins

Oh so this was during the bike ride. Of course ….

Vaughan Fergusson

So I had the idea for Vend. But I was really working out how it would play out … like having an idea is great, I had to raise money etc. So .. being on a bike .. or running .. or whatever that thing is … swimming … you find yourself in this zone …once you get over the pain of ‘why the hell am I doing this?’ … you get into a zone where your mind clears and .. I find my mind will pick an idea and it’ll go almost like a repetitive loop around the idea. And my brain just keeps doing that until it feels like it’s process the idea to it’s natural conclusion. And it’s all very sub-conscious – like I’m not putting these ideas in my head. I’ll just go for a run and just whatever pops into my head. I would just set my brain go with it, you know, for the next hour while I’m running.

Stephen Cummins

In the next installment – episode 3 of 7, Vaughan talks about how crucial his early hires were and why independent retailers are the sweetspot for Vend

Stephen Cummins

You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills and to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating.

14 Minutes of SaaS