14 Minutes of SaaS

14 Minutes of SaaS

E49: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 7 of 7 – the Illusion of Overnight Success

E49: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 7 of 7 – the Illusion of Overnight Success

E49: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 7 of 7 – the Illusion of Overnight Success

Vaughan shares his best advice for other entrepreneurs and ‘EntryPreneurs’ as he likes to call them.

Do we ever truly lose the fear as entrepreneurs? We visit Vaughan’s obsessive compulsive world and we discuss founder mental health. We chat about and the pressure as a founder of always having to seem positive for your team. One of the key messages is look after your health and take your time – overnight successes are uncommon in the startup world.

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After that amazing 7 part series with Vaughan Fergusson, we’re moving from RISE in Hong Kong to SaaStock in Dublin where we go back to our 14 Minutes of SaaS roots with a one-shot 14 Minute episode with Dave Blake, founder and CEO of ClientSuccess, a SaaS startup the delivers software that helps you build lasting relationships. It’s a customer success platform, founded in Lehi Utah in 2014, that empowers SaaS companies to maximize revenue and minimize churn.


 

 

 

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Vaughan Fergusson

 

There are very few examples of overnight successes that are true overnight successes. And in my experience it takes at least five years … probably more like 10 for you to build something that significant. Like if you trace it right back to you when you first start. So Pace yourself, hydrate, get sleep … like honestly … like this is the advice that my Mum always gave me when I was young. And I ignored it completely … like eat well, drink lots of fluids get a good night’s sleep and everything else takes care of itself. And it’s so true. It’s only taken me 40 something years to figure it out. But, you know as humans we’re very simple machines … well actually we’re very complex machines … but, you know, your outputs are all about your inputs.

 

 

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 7 of a 7 part series with Vaughan Fergusson, sole founder and former CEO of Vend.

 

Do we ever truly lose the fear as entrepreneurs? We visit Vaughan’s obsessive compulsive world and we discuss founder mental health. We chat about and the pressure as a founder of always having to seem positive for your team. One of the key messages is look after your health and take your time – overnight successes are uncommon in the startup world.

Vaughan Fergusson

The institutions are like education, healthcare, the political system … and just out of necessity of just being able to manage really complex systems. You had to have all these very well defined paths. And we can put all the kids through and hopefully, you know, more than 50 percent of them will come out the other end effective in the workforce. But now with the infinite pathways that technology supports with AI … we will be in a future where everybody can have their own bespoke learning experience. So the way that your kids go to school will be completely tailored their way of learning, right. So no longer are they just one kid in the classroom of 30 all learning the same, they will have their own designed learning experience. And the same in the healthcare system … instead of it being a reactive. You know, everybody will have their own personalised healthcare system.

Stephen Cummins

Do you think government should spend a bit more time looking around the world for best in class examples of these things …. like when you talk about personalized education systems … I start thinking of Finland. It’s doing some really amazing things. Do you think governments should just wake up and start sending people to find pockets of the earth where we do things really well – and just take those learnings and take a shortcut to creating those personalized experiences.

Vaughan Fergusson

Yeah, and I think… I think the New Zealand government is pretty good at that. Just because we’re a tiny nation at the bottom of the world … we have to go out and find those smart ideas from where we can – find them and not reinvent the wheel. So absolutely. I think there’s an opportunity for more of that to happen. Because, you know, as a global society if we can improve the way that our kids learn and help here … this is just making everybody better. So, you know, why be in competition with Finland .. why not share ideas and hopefully make both societies better.

Stephen Cummins

When did you lose the fear?

Vaughan Fergusson

 

The fear. I don’t think I have. I don’t think I ever will. It never goes away – you just become comfortable with it. And maybe that’s been a detriment to my psychological health over the years. But life just gets even easier every year – technology advances, the world becomes safer. If you compare today to 20 years ago, it feels like it’s still dangerous and, you know, the world is in a bad place. And it is… but it’s definitely better than it was 20 years ago. Like we’re moving forward.

Stephen Cummins

Sections of the media focus on the other side.

Vaughan Fergusson

We don’t focus on the good stuff. We focus on the next thing that’s gonna kill us. Yeah, because they make better headlines I guess. I think, you know, everyone is motivated by fear… fear is pretty big motivator. So it’s great. But… but yeah, I think there’s some other great news stories out there that we just don’t give enough oxygen to. I don’t know why. I don’t know why.

Stephen Cummins

Do you have a routine in your life? Or is every day a completely different day? Or a combination.

Vaughan Fergusson

I think it’s a combination …. like I think Zowie will agree that there are things and different routines in my life that .. if they aren’t there, I become visibly uncomfortable. You know, just things like having a tidy kitchen. You know. It’s one of those things. I can just can’t function.

Stephen Cummins

Is it like a Nadal thing?

Vaughan Fergusson

No. I’m not like that – I don’t have labels on everything and like everything organised and color-coded from places. Like in my head there’s this mental blueprint of the kitchen in order – and at least until the kitchen is in that state, I just can’t … my brain just can’t get past that. Like you would look at our kitchen … and there would be nothing special about it … like you would probably say I that my kitchen is a mess. But it’s my mess.

Stephen Cummins

It’s your familiar mess.

Vaughan Fergusson

It’s a familiar mess. Things like that. Routines … absolutely. I wake up at 6.59 every morning without fail … without the use of an alarm clock. Yeah, I will always make at one minute before the alarm goes off. I can’t explain why, but my brain just knows when it’s 6.59. So absolutely. I mean we all live by our routines. Yeah, you know, that could be thousands of small routines.

Stephen Cummins

What would a typical day like for you typically day?

Vaughan Fergusson

I don’t know.

Stephen Cummins

Like… like in other words, do you have a morning routine?

Vaughan Fergusson

Yeah, I get up and I hit breakfast, and get the kids ready for school. And so I think it’s a, it’s a pretty clear routine. That doesn’t usually get deviated from because if it does, then kids are late for school and somebody gets unhappy about that. And then, you know, that’s kind of the first milestone is that the kids are in school.

And then the next part of the day is like, okay, so how am I going to speand the next 8 or so hours until the kids need picking up? And that’s where the variety happens. So I could be doing some stuff with a charity with Zowie. I could be doing some stuff in Vend – or I’m also active in the tech community in New Zealand … I might be having a few cups of coffee with people from Entrypreneurs .. people who are thinking about taking that first step. And I’m like ‘yeah, go do it, go do it!’. To events. And so that chunky part of the day … there is no set pattern and I actually like it that way. I don’t like the idea of having a very fixed schedule where it’s Monday it’s this and Tuesday its that. I like the flexibility of being a bit more fluid.

Stephen Cummins

You like your freedom.

Vaughan Fergusson

Yeah, absolutely. And then in the evenings probably the family routine kicks in again. Which is like getting the kids … getting them to bed … maybe having a couple of hours to kind of to kind of do something different … and then go to sleep.

Stephen Cummins

If you were to name somebody apart from your Mum whose had a big influence on your career .. actually, I know the answer don’t I? .. apart from  your Mum who would be that … be it personal or professional?

Vaughan Fergusson

I don’t know. I never know how to answer that question. Like, you know, it’s… it’s always the people who are closest to you that have the biggest impact. And so obviously family plays a huge part in my life. Also, you know, my partner Zowie – don’t tell her this … like hopefully she never listens to this podcast.

Stephen Cummins

Oh I hope she does. I hope the whole world does.

Vaughan Fergusson

You know, she’s been here every day. She teaches me new things every day and it’s like, you know, the people who you spend the most time with. I think the key is the people to surround yourself with people that you learn from. And so I don’t have …  I don’t have people I idolise. You know, I have people I respect, so I guess, you know, you could put Rod Drury into that camp – the founder of Xero. It’s always been the people that you are with every single day that I think you’ve learned the most from.

Stephen Cummins

Just to wrap up. Can you give us one or two gems of advice that you give to anyone who’s thinking of starting up their own business.

Vaughan Fergusson

Absolutely. Do it because it’s… it’s an amazing journey.

There are very few examples of overnight successes that are true overnight successes. And in my experience it takes at least five years … probably more like 10 for you to build something that significant. Like if you trace it right back to you when you first start. So Pace yourself, hydrate, get sleep … like honestly … like this is the advice that my Mum always gave me when I was young. And I ignored it completely … like eat well, drink lots of fluids get a good night’s sleep and everything else takes care of itself. And it’s so true. It’s only taken me 40 something years to figure it out. But, you know as humans we’re very simple machines … well actually we’re very complex machines … but, you know, your outputs are all about your inputs.

Stephen Cummins

Would you describe yourself as a happy person?

Vaughan Fergusson

Yes. I would say I am. But I’ll point out that, you know, doing this stuff is hard…  like founder health is one of these things that nobody even talks about, but every entrepreneur I’ve ever spoken through struggles with the same stuff. You have to be able to internally optimize the challenges that you’re facing every day.

You have to hide them away because you’re the spokesperson for your company. You are the leader, you wanna make everybody else feel like their okay, right? Especially when things are going slightly crazy, but we wanna make sure that everybody feels like you’ve got your shit together and everything sounds under control. But that stuff adds up. Like the weight of that that adds up. And like I honestly don’t think it’s a bad thing. Like I said, it’s just part of the system. It’s just one of those side effects and the more that we talk about it … I think … everybody will feel a little bit more normal about it. Like you’ll have your shit days where you feel like the world is on top of you.

And, you know, you feel like you’re a complete fraud and like every decision you’re making is bad … and then the next day, you’ll realize that actually no…  you’re actually doing okay. But, you know, sometimes those steps can get pretty low. And so I implore your listeners …  we are all on that journey you know. We’re all on their journey. And I actually think that the best lessons are where things go horribly wrong. So people are always coming to me for advice …it’s like, you know, I’m thinking about doing this or about raising money or whatever … the thing is like what did you do that worked? And I’m like ‘No, no, no, I should tell you about all the things that I did that didn’t work’ because, you know, what works for me is not gonna work for you. Like if I just tell you the stuff that was amazing, you’re gonna try and build the same business that I did. And you won’t. Every idea is different. Every business is different. The biggest value is from some of the mistakes like when things went horribly wrong. Even just the normalization of like ‘this shit is hard’ … and it’s okay to talk it. When it gets hard its ok to talk about it … otherwise you’re to internalising that stuff … and that’s where that stuff gets unhealthy. And, you know, you try and be that superhero, you know, it’s like we’re all human. And we all screw up. And… and we can talk about it.

Stephen Cummins

On that incredibly positive note. I just like disable and thanks a 1,000,000 for being on. Thank you. Thank you. Have a great job.

 

 

Stephen Cummins

 

 

After that amazing 7 part series with Vaughan Fergusson, we’re moving from RISE in Hong Kong to SaaStock in Dublin where we go back to our 14 Minutes of SaaS roots with a one-shot 14 Minute episode with Dave Blake, founder and CEO of ClientSuccess, a SaaS startup the delivers software that helps you build lasting relationships. It’s a customer success platform, founded in Lehi Utah in 2014, that empowers SaaS companies to maximize revenue and minimize churn.

 

 

 

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