Ascent Podcast Ep. 11 - Jennifer Mercer, CEO & Co-Founder @ Metazoa - Ascent Conference Ascent Podcast Ep. 11 - Jennifer Mercer, CEO & Co-Founder @ Metazoa - Ascent Conference

Ascent Podcast Ep. 11 – Jennifer Mercer, CEO & Co-Founder @ Metazoa





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Andrew Tarvin [00:00:00] Hello, hello, welcome to the Ascent podcast, a.k.a. LARC Leadership as a service where we dig into the tactical lessons, learnings and takeaways from the top leaders in tech that you can apply directly to your own career paths, business endeavors, growth strategies and more. My name is Andrew Tarvin, your host and emcee for today. And today we’ll be talking to Jennifer Mercer, the co-founder and CEO of Metazoa. But before we get to that, I want to let you know if you are interested in receiving a free invitation to some of the incredible upcoming events from the ascent group. Then make sure that you leave a review for us on iTunes for the podcast. Take a snapshot of that, send it to the email contact at Ascent Dotcom and they’ll hook you up with a free ticket to one of those future invitation or future events. Now, before we kind of get into the full conversation, I want to share a little bit more about our guest today, who I mentioned is Jennifer Mercer, the co-founder and CEO of Metazoa. Jennifer is someone with quite a bit of experience in the entrepreneurial space, a serial entrepreneur, if you will. Formerly before Mezuzot was working at a dream factory Mezuzot and now B2B SaaS company. So a lot of great expertize and knowledge there. She’s also been married for twenty three years. Which one? You’ll see in a moment. You’ll notice that she must have got married when she was right out of the womb. I guess she’s got two kids living in the Bay Area, also an avid yogi. Maybe that’s the young looks that are coming in. But welcome to the show, Jennifer. Thanks for joining us. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:01:35] Thank you. Thank you for having me. That was a great intro. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:01:39] Yeah, we’re we’re excited. Too excited, Jen. And I’m going to have to start doing yoga because it seems like it’s like you’ve got such a great vibrancy. And you if that’s what I need, I’m going to have to start doing it, I think. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:01:50] Well, thank you very much. I definitely appreciate that. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:01:55] Ahh very good. Well, you know, before we dove into some of the more specific details about what it’s like to run a company and within the sales force, ecosystem, etc., we do like to get to know our leaders a little bit more on a human level. So we’re going to start with a quick rapid fire round. You can answer some of these questions in one or two word responses. We might do a slightly deeper dove. But first question for you. Rapid Fire is when you were a little kid, what did you want to grow up to become? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:02:22] Oh, gosh. Oh, that’s I think oh, you know what? I wanted to be in marketing because I would say the TV shows would be on and I would totally zone out. And then as soon as the commercial came on, I suddenly stared at the screen and my parents always thought I was going to be marketing. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:02:40] The Hollywood effect And so some people do that during the Super Bowl. That’s the only other time that I’ve heard of it happening. But you’re like, no, get rid of these cartoons. I want to know about this. Tricks are for kids marketing campaign. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:02:52] Pretty much. Yes. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:02:52] I like it. And what’s the current favorite hobby when you have time to actually do something? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:02:59] Well, as I mentioned or you mentioned, yoga and we also Camelot’s I mean, being in the Bay Area, we’re so fortunate the weather’s pretty nice year round and beautiful areas to go camping in. And with covid and all that happening, it’s been something that we can still do as a family. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:03:19] Yeah, it’s one of the few activities that is it’s good to camp now because you’re flying away from, from people and visit and what level of of camping because there’s like the lamping thing that’s become more new where you, like, technically go camping. But you also got like hot water running and you’ve got like electricity and you can still be on your iPad with wi fi and all that kind of stuff. So is it more of that kind of style, a little bit more luxurious camping or is it more of like. Nope, it’s just us sleeping underneath the stars or maybe a tent. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:03:47] It used to be that sleeping under the stars. And now as I’ve evolved and my kids have gotten older, it’s the lamping we have. We have a tent trailer. So it’s not super camping, but we are able to go to all these beautiful places. And and then when we go there, we’ll go to lunch and Half Moon Bay or whatnot. It’s it’s the best of both worlds, in my opinion. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:04:09] Exactly. I think that’s a great middle ground because the home growing up certainly was of that, like, let’s camp underneath the stars. And it’s like, no, I like having something more comfortable to sleep on. And, you know, we’ve evolved some of these amenities in our life that we don’t have to pretend to go out. So I appreciate that. The question is, who is someone you admire? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:04:33] Oh, gosh. That’s a long list, so first person that came to mind, I was thinking about people like Oprah Winfrey, I know this is so typical for but as a female leader and entrepreneur, I look at women like Rene Brown and Oprah Winfrey and Sheryl Sandberg and people who kind of led the way for women to step into their own. And so. Oh, and an odd one, but somebody I’ve always wanted to have a conversation with, a Stephen King. And the reason why is because he’s written more books and screenplays than anybody even understands. And he also writes more than for a lot of coming of age pieces like Stand By Me and the Green Mile and then some crazy horror books as well. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:05:21] Yeah, it is pretty impressive. Absolutely. I think, like you mentioned, Oprah, Bernie Brown, et cetera, our friend has Stephen King would be a really fascinating conversation. I hadn’t thought about that before. But you’re exactly right. Just the output that he’s had, the kind of range in terms of types of stories as well, the impact on kind of certain genres of writing and movies, to your point like that wouldn’t be actually be a really fascinating conversation. I like it. So transitioning a little bit, thinking about your entrepreneurial journey. Do you remember the first way you made money? Was it like an official job out of school or was it something else as a kid? Do you happen to remember that? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:06:04] I mean, it was probably babysitting, which I was not very good at, I wasn’t the typical, just great at it loved it, but it was probably that it was babysitting. And then I had odd jobs for ever throughout high school and college. Many, many jobs. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:06:24] Like anything like so like working in grocery stores or as a server or more like even more out there. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:06:31] A server delivery driver for a place called stakeout of a florist wrapping presents. It’s a joke with my family that where did I not work? 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:06:46] OK, and did that do you think that that informed career decisions a little bit later, like did you do you draw on anything that you learned as a florist still or is it more of like I was just kind of like a job that I needed at that time. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:07:00] I think I just had a strong work ethic, really. I just I needed to be employed. I wanted to make my own money. I needed to make my own money. I needed to pay my car insurance and all those things. Even when I moved to London after college, I had a day job and then worked in a pub at night. So I don’t know, maybe I thought I really need a job, which is odd because I’m not exactly know. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:07:24] I was I was going to say that and we’ll probably get to maybe that decision a little bit later, because one of the other things that I think is fascinating is you don’t have the traditional entrepreneurial degree at least. Right. It’s not like it’s not a degree in business. It’s not like MBAs. And we’re like, you got your degree in anthropology. And so you walk through a little bit. That process was like, did you’re like, I’m going to be an archeologist? Is that anthropology? In fact, I’m showing my ignorance. But like it was was that the gold? Did you actually do that? And eventually maybe we’ll get to like, how do you go from anthropology to entrepreneurship. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:07:59] Right.Well, so I think in college I just I was one of those kids, students who really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I think it’s admirable. My daughter has known where she wanted to go to school and what she wants to do since she was probably 14 and she’s almost 17 now. But I did not know. And I bounced around with journalism and photography and a few different majors. And I I think at the end of the day, I looked for the most interesting and anthropology is social anthropology, archeology and forensics, which is, as we know, you’ve seen CSI and movies like that. Right. But but I just I looked for something interesting. I did love it. It was a great major. It’s one that you need to then obviously go on, get your master’s Ph.D., something like that. I did not do that. I instead moved to London after college. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:08:56] OK And so but that seems like a fascinating thing, right? If you’re studying kind of in some ways like the history of people or civilizations or other things, do you think that that type of education informs your or informed at some point your then business decisions, your business career? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:09:18] I don’t know. I mean, there was a large part of it that I was watching rocks. So it’s not always as glamorous. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:09:26] Yeah, that’s that’s like a straight transferable skill, I guess. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:09:29] Right. And then also, I was at the University of Tennessee, which people can look it up, but Dr Bath and the Body Farm is very famous. So I do think, though, just we talk about kids going to more trade schools now because of the way the jobs are, but there’s something to be said for a really well rounded education and taking further in life. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:09:51] Yeah, well, I think it’s somewhat reassuring because certainly there are people that, like you said, like your daughter that know at like fourteen, this is what I want to do. And then they end up doing it. They might change along the way, but they have a good clear head and direction that they want to go. But there’s plenty of people that also go through to get even through university and aren’t fully sure of like, what do I want to do? What am I good at? How can I leverage what I’m good at? So how did you discover that for yourself, discovering the skill set? Did you have the things that you’re good at and say, OK, this is actually what I want to explore like and I’m going to learn. And instead of going to a dirt yard somewhere and like, digging up bones? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:10:32] Well, and actually I’ve spoken to a lot of college students, kids who are just recently graduated. And that’s something I always tell them. You don’t have to have it all figured out right now and try a few different things. That’s what I did when I moved to London. I just wasn’t sure about grad school yet. So I went there. I work for corporate travel agency. I ended up living in a pop, which a lot of young people did, and then worked three days a week. It was a completely normal thing and a great social experiment and experience. I think that all. So it helps you just kind of have a lot more confidence in yourself and the future, whatever it may be, but nobody I also say CEO, for example, there’s no CEO school there. So many different CEOs. There is a technical CEO, there’s a CEO, there’s a very operational CEO. And so it’s just one that you have to there’s also individual contributors and managers. So what do you prefer? There it’s it’s one that I think you just need to really try different things and see what you love and what you’re really good at. Because I would never have predicted in anthropology at University of Tennessee that I would end up being a CEO and and loving what I’m doing and managing a team and being a leader and all those things. But it’s a natural fit for me. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:11:53] I think that’s a great point that, yeah, you sometimes don’t always know. And so if you try a bunch of stuff, you start to see what are the things that you really like, what are the things that you are good at that you’re getting positive feedback for. And so one of those things you go from from London, then you also you start working to the Bay Area, spend some time at WebMD and WebEx. And so in your experience, do you feel like it’s been valuable to have experience at a company before starting a company? Because some entrepreneurs might come at it like some people might come straight out of university, like, no, I want to start right away. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:12:28] Yeah, absolutely. And that was my first real job besides the corporate travel agency. And in London, which in itself was a little bit of a high tech, they were being acquired by a much larger company. And in fact, I’m realizing now I have a history of heart because then I started working for another company that was acquired by WebMD and I really enjoyed the tech space. I fell into that. I loved it. It was it was where I wanted to be. It was also the timing of it was, I guess, with the dotcom boom, which I was able to survive, boom, bust, but weathered and then and carried me to WebEx. So, Wendy? Well, my company was acquired by 17. They started really growing and getting bigger. And then I moved to WiMAX, which was a startup at that time. Of course, they went public and were later acquired by Cisco. I really enjoyed the startup environment. And that’s what led me to entrepreneurship, because as those companies started getting bigger, I lost interest and would go on to the next startup in the next startup. So I found that I really enjoyed the early days, the fast pace, the being able to pivot and being flexible and moving quickly and working kind of as a more of a team. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:13:59] Mhm. Yeah. Well I mean what it sounds like. So if people really want to get acquired by someone they got to find a way to get you on the team because that seems to be the the history of some of those roles. But I think you’re right, part of it is, is where do you like to where do you like to be? Some people like the fast paced environment of entrepreneur or early stage, etc., your growth, you’re wearing a lot of different hats and you taking on a lot of responsibility. Other people like maybe the safety and security of something that’s a little bit more established, like how do we leverage stuff that already exists? But it’s interesting because you’re like, oh, you like that you wanted that comfort and security of like that’s why you work so many jobs before. So what was the decision then to leave WebEx and be like, I’m going to found something like I think it’s time for me to be like I’m no longer going to catch on to a rising kind of rocket ship. I’m going to build my own right. What was that process like for you? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:14:54] So a little history is that when I moved back from London back to Knoxville, Tennessee, which is where I go to college, I met my now husband and he had a company, Kibre Flix, and had the I think the number one CD-ROM game ever, which is Titanic and several others. They were very successful working with Disney, Viacom, but he saw the writing on the wall with CD rom because it was nineteen ninety seven and we’re moving to online. But he’d written a lot of technology prior for Super Card and HyperCard for Apple and Adobe and just kind of ready for his next venture. I was with Web D they had just been acquired and so we were able to come out to the Bay Area. Then I went to Web, WebEx, went through IPO, so grew with them for a time, and then Bill was ready to kind of launch his next technology. And we just made the decision that I would come on board and help run the company. So he was the obviously the engineer and. I could be the sales person, I was a sales force, so I guess I’m a sales operational CEO, but also have been in high tech my entire career. So I started a dream factory, but it was early days, I’m talking when you talk about the basement garage, we were in the basement garage. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:16:23] Well, and that’s fascinating. So how was that working with your spouse? Like, it seems like that could also that could go very well or could go like, very wrong. It seems like it’s gone well, at least based on reading LinkedIn and things like that. So it was it was it challenging to kind of find that balance where you do still have work life balance if you’re both working on that company? What was that dynamic like, especially early stage for you to create something together with this person? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:16:52] Yeah, well, I it was twenty to twenty three. So, you know, we’re in the Bay Area. We’re in Silicon Valley. We we are running this out of our basement. We have these top tier boxes out at our basement in Silicon Valley. And it was I think there’s a lot of fun. It was just a lot of excitement then. It wasn’t as. I mean, she now I would say the whole idea of raising money. I thought I told somebody this recently there we we met with Bessemer Partners and Excel and I could go on and they were really, really helpful. They introduced us to a lot of our first employees. A lot of our employees were contractors during that time who then became full time employees when we did raise our series A and and really launched a dream factory in two thousand six, really twenty five. But it was difficult because we also were selling a technology. We didn’t really have a product and that’s kind of when we became partners with Salesforce. So we were basically been playing around with API. That was the first time the API really being talked about and Salesforce exposed palette of their APIs and suddenly we’re like, oh now we can have a product. So that was very early days at Salesforce. Two thousand and three. We were at the first Dreamforce in two thousand and three. We were their first partner and one of the first apps on their app exchange. But it was definitely work life balance because I also had a baby during that time. And prior to that, I mean, even while pregnant, we’re traveling the country and doing events with Salesforce. And they had this pallet babies, but they didn’t have a product to show on top of it. And Marc Benioff is meeting with investors and analysts and and trying to talk about it. And yet once we had our product and they were able to show what it was, what a product could look like on their platform and their platform at that time was an exposed palette of APIs, of course, now. And I think their platform has been very successful. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:19:11] Well, and I mean part maybe partly be from the work that you all did. Right, because it sound like one of those things where it’s a mutually beneficial relationship in that way, because you’re like we have this technology, we don’t have like an actual service. And then so that helps you. But then also it helps them because they have like, hey, you can look at this thing, right? It existed. And you could be like this group. You could be like a dream factory if you did X, Y and Z. So it sounds like there’s great synergy there, too. It’s very corporate word synergies. But I’m curious. So then what was that process, a decision to say, OK, let’s let’s wrap up Dream Factory and start something new y y go that direction versus kind of like X, Y like Mezuzot I guess, basically. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:19:58] Right. Well, so I mean, that was a long process because we we formed a dream factory, we raised six million in our series, went on to raise over twenty three million throughout the course of the next ten years. But we also pivoted in two thousand nine twenty eight during the credit crisis. So that happened. And the whole world, not just the Bay Area, kind of fell apart. A lot of startups had a lot of investors and I mean, across the board had to decide what of their portfolio companies they could keep on or let go. We were very fortunate to be ones that were kept on board and that the investors did not feel like at that time there was a viable exit just being on the Salesforce platform and just being a Salesforce partner. Now we see that companies are going public IPO and being acquired for billions of dollars being a Salesforce partner. But at that time it was really unproven. The app exchange was still fairly new. It was just a couple of years old. There weren’t that many partners and the banks were failing. And all of that is happening. So we went back to the investors and pitched bill pitched API platform for developers and then and which they invested in. And we spent a few years building that product and then taking that product to market. So really, that was that was almost a second startup. So we had to evacuate. And then it was like a Dream Factory 2.0 because we had this now API platform. But we have the company. They kept the companies together because the what we call the legacy, which was the Salesforce partner side of things, would fund the new business because the Salesforce side now is just autonomously running and they’re just bringing in money. It’s it’s different. They needed very little marketing, very little anything. So we were able to focus on the API platform. Then in 2016, we’d just been both ten years because we had two companies together and it was time to start looking at our exit, so we went out for M&A and then twenty seventeen actually had a successful exit and was acquired. And so it was time for the next venture. We waited a whole three months or something. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:22:23] Well yeah. I mean it seems like you, you seem to like to like. Yeah. What’s the next thing. What’s next. And possibly that gross. I’m curious that what was a decision like, because I think sometimes our listeners like how do they know if it is time to exit or how do they know if it’s time to move on to the next thing? Was it a conversation that you and your spouse had to say, like, hey, I’m kind of like we’ve been doing this a lot. Can we do something new? Was it like, my heart’s just not in it as much as anymore? Is it just of like that, like, hey, I have this idea and I want to have to go after it. How did you know for yourselves that it was like, OK, now, now is the time? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:22:58] I think it’s a joint conversation. And by this point, if you’ve been especially taking VC funding, you’ve got a team behind you, you’ve got a board of directors and you’ve got investors and probably senior leadership that’s been there for a while. And it’s just a conversation of where are we going? Are we need to go IPO? No, probably not. Not at that stage. So the best bet is let’s go out for M&A. And there were some potential mergers that were in play as well. We ended up going with acquisition just because it made the most sense. And during that period of time, when you’re going through M&A, I think you’re you’re thinking about what’s next on the horizon, because this is going to come to a conclusion at some point in time. Right. And and then that can be really exciting because now you’re planning for your next venture and. It’s I mean, to me and to Bill, it’s exciting to think about what’s next. I also knew because I’ve been on the Salesforce platform off of the sales force platform and then where Salesforce was at in twenty eighteen was very different than two thousand and eight. So we were ready to come back to the Salesforce platform. It’s an ecosystem, it’s a closed ecosystem. It’s we know it very well. We are obviously really familiar with the technology. I mean, Bill helped even direct the API technology. So I think the week that I quote launched Mezuzot, I was making phone calls to folks at Salesforce back. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:24:43] Yeah. And so I think there’s a it’s a fascinating then decision to be able to make because like you said, you spent some time in the ecosystem, spent some time outside of it. What was it what is it about what are the pros and cons of being in a set ecosystem specifically like Salesforce versus trying to say, oh, no, we’re going to make this broader, like an API that anyone can use. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:25:07] Well, so selling, for example, to the whole wide world of the API platform to developers, very challenging. It’s a it’s a longer process to go to market to find your ideal customer, your messaging, your website. Versus the Salesforce ecosystem, we really had over a decade of empirical data with market research because we’ve been working with Salesforce admins, often admins since two thousand and four twenty five and a Salesforce admin just to clarify it, because people who aren’t in the ecosystem is really the business user there. They’re ahead of it. They can even be the CIO, but they manage these very complex Salesforce boards or databases, which now become complex almost immediately just due to the actual platform we sell into. Salesforce is largest customers by nature of our product. And so Fortune five hundred. Fortune one hundred. But the Salesforce admins are the key that. What did they say recently? They hold the keys to the kingdom because they they manage all of that, including the developer teams. So just having all of that information, that data, knowing who our target market was, knowing what was missing because we created a release management space back in 2006, which is for developers to release their code. I’m going to get into the weeds. I’m not going to do that. But we developed it for ourselves. And and then that space got a little bit crowded when we left. And then looking at I mean, the enterprise is fortune. One hundred companies are building their entire platforms on the salesforce, their entire product line on Salesforce platform. So there was there were problems that no one was solving. So. Why not us? 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:27:04] Yeah, why not Metazoa I love that approach because I think entrepreneurs, a lot of times they’ll have an idea, but this can help everyone. But when you can help everyone, you’re really kind of serving No. One, because, one, the service tends to be too broad. And two, people don’t know that you are for them. And so the fact that you can as a target is here, here’s a problem that needs to be solved. We can go after it directly, I think is such a powerful reminder for people of the importance of understanding who you can actually serve and building something specifically for that audience. And that a lot of these ecosystems are these these quote unquote niches are markets are broad enough that you can create a fantastic business without feeling like you have to be able to serve every single company. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:27:49] Right. I mean, Salesforce, Salesforce ecosystem is five times larger than Salesforce itself. So Salesforce is a three billion dollar company and that’s your that’s your your opportunity. Right. So that huge opportunity and it’s growing every day. So there’s that there’s also a difference between being and, say, SAP partner, for example, not to put down SAP at all, but it’s just a little bit broader. It’s not not such a target market and you don’t even really have visibility into the other partners, whereas the Salesforce ecosystem is a huge community. So we’re working with other partners and we’re working with Salesforce themselves. I always say to my team, you’re selling to our customers and I’m selling into Salesforce because it’s relevant and being in their radar and and working with them closely, which we do. And I knew I knew that, too. So we have some advantages, both with the technology and understanding Salesforce and the ecosystem. But I’ll tell you, it’s even tough for us because if if you say we’re pitching to Dell and and they’re looking at a competitor who has this one feature, you just want to add all the features and have to be really OK with selling to your customer base and not to everyone. That’s not every entrepreneur will face. And we still face it today. It’s sad. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:29:17] But yeah, you’re exactly right. It requires a little bit of discipline because you’re like, well, if you kind of just had this, this and this, like, I could do that. But then I’m a completely different, like, focus. And then we don’t necessarily serve the other people quite as well as you’re right. It does require kind of that discipline and and really saying what is what’s going to be strategic for you. And I think one of the other questions that people have that be curious, your perspective on around the strategy piece is this idea of bootstrapping versus raising. Right. Because it seems to be an either or and people are like, how which way do I go? Any thoughts on the pros and cons to each or which direction you’ve gone? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:30:00] Yeah, absolutely, because I’ve done both several times. So with the beginning of a dream factory, we bootstrap. We were out there, as they say, hustling. I mean, we were selling to Salesforce themselves, WebEx, IBM, Grand Central, a lot of big companies and and out there. And we were bootstrapping at that time running out of our basement. But then I felt like we were really starting to scale and it was time to raise money. And the the caution that I have today and there’s no right or wrong, there’s literally no right or wrong. And every situation is different. It’s no one win is the right time. What’s your valuation? Where are you in the the are you in the idea phase. Are you, are you, are you generating revenue. Do you have customers, are you still in R&D? Do you have to look at that. And what, what is your valuation look like there. Personally I believe if you can possibly bootstrap and there are other options now that we didn’t have back then, such as revenue based financing and things like that, I, I suggest going as far as you can basically to really show what your valuation is. Once you start raising money, it does become kind of a process that is just ongoing because you’re going to they’re going to want you to spend that money and still ahead of growth, really just in anticipation of growth because they have to that’s their business model and then what portfolio customers to focus on. So it’s there’s nothing wrong with that either. You need to know what their business model is, what your business model is and what your future looks like and what your your future exit looked like. I, I had a mentor who said one time, you should know what your exit is at the beginning of your business. And I disagreed with it at that time, but I don’t anymore. And the reason why. And you can be flexible, but the reason why is it gives you a lot of focus and a direction and a common goal as a leadership team as well for where you’re heading, because otherwise you can flounder a little bit. But once you raise money, you’re going to spend more money and spend it and give me more money and spend it. So you really want to be focused on what your growth is? 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:32:26] Well, and I like to to your point, you said understanding the their business model, recognizing like what are the expectations going to kind of be ones if you are taking funding, et cetera, like that, it’s going to change. Maybe not your complete strategy, but the broader strategy because that comes and and that you want to know where the I think I like the idea of at least having an idea that can always change. You could say, I think this is going to be the exit eventually where this is eventually going to go. Obviously, you can pivot, right? You can adjust, you can adapt. You can make a different decision later. But at least having a direction where you can head, I think is is great advice for people as we’re thinking about that stage. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:33:06] Yeah. Also, your leadership team is is crucial because no. One that they they’re supporting you, you’re supporting them. They’re taking your company where you need to go. But investors invest in companies and and teams much more so than products. Many times they don’t practice now because they’re looking at so many products. And they may not be technical, they may be technical, but they need to know where the team is going and what the experiences. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:33:38] And do you do you see the the spousal partnership being a pro or con to them? I feel like is that something that they’re like, hey, we think it’s great, you’re clearly going to get along or this could be disastrous? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:33:49] It’s been both in vogue at the beginning. I remember Peter Fenton is a very well-known DC comparing this to the DALS and being really positive, but then it can look like a negative because what if you don’t get along? What if or what if it’s two against one or there’s an alliance there? I think it’s one that we kind of were a little quiet about for a while. But then at some point you just have to embrace. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:34:20] It’s right when it sounds like now it’s like now it’s like, oh, this is just a dream team. This is a group that like. Yes, like the two of them together, like with with a track record, you get kind of that type of then I think positive reputation probably. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:34:35] I think the record is important and I think that’s what they saw. Salesforce now really likes the story. So for us, we’re a success story for them. And also it’s an interesting story. And and so it’s great. But there were there were times where I think we would not mention it. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:34:53] Yeah. Yeah, I know. I have. We met before. I like it. And so I’m curious, where where do you see things heading next either for Mezuzot or for you as a as a group? What does as you’re thinking about the strategy and that having some type of vision for the future, what do you see over the next five or so years? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:35:17] Yeah, I it’s interesting because as an entrepreneur to and this is something that I think probably needs to be spoken to much more. But there is there’s definitely opportunity for burnout because you think about your company all the time and the future all the time, which is good and bad. So I think there needs to be a balance, which I’m trying to achieve right now. We’re just about to hit our three year mark, and I feel like we’re starting to get more strides, things that we put in place, because you’ve got to put a lot of operations in place, your marketing, your messaging, your website, all of these things. And so now things are just really starting to roll and which is great. We need to kind of like let it go a little bit. Sales and the marketing is the leads are coming in. The press is picking us up quite a bit. Our messaging is on point. So just kind of let the next two years I feel like I think our growth is going to go from 50 percent to 10 percent year over year and or more and just kind of embrace that. And then, you know, just I would say every year, obviously, you have an all hands and you have a conversation about it. But every two to three years as well as what’s our what’s our goal here? What’s our exit strategy? Where we where are we taking this? 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:36:43] Yeah, well, I think, too, to your point, it’s sometimes important to allow the hard work that you’ve put into play come to fruition before immediately making a decision. Because if it’s always like if you’re always like, no, it’s got to be the ten year like moon shot ET or whatever, you don’t realize what you have and you might miss. Oh, actually, we can really work on this. In fact, recently having a conversation with someone that they were talking about, you know, being successful in the future isn’t about being able to predict the future. It’s about actually being able to say that present very, very clearly. And I think that’s a great kind of reminder of this, of like what is the present? What are we actually what have we built? What’s the success? There and that will help to inform what we do in the future. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:37:30] Absolutely, because also I had a mission for this company and after being in the industry for so long and working at all different environments, knowing what I wanted Mezuzot it to be about. And it’s a passion projects, I think a lot of times when people start companies just for the sole purpose of exiting at this stage, at this time, for this amount of money, it doesn’t always work because you don’t really have your heart and soul into it. What are you building rebuilding it for? What problems are you solving? I think you have to have more of your heart and soul and Sounds corny, but just even joy in it and and really loving what you do, so that’s why, yes, we can have this is our potential exit at this point in time. But let’s enjoy what we’re doing right now. And our and our customers are amazing. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:38:27] Well, I think that that’s a great message. I’m a little bit biased. I mean, my my company, we teach organizations how to use humor to be more effective because of that recognition of, like, man, when you actually enjoy what you do, you’re going to be more engaged in that work. So I think that’s a fantastic message for us to to wrap up on. So, Jennifer, I appreciate thank you so much for joining us to share some insight. Certainly your story. All this from an anthropologist that had way too many jobs growing up. I love this kind of journey, the lessons that you’ve shared along the way. 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:39:01] Well, thank you so much for having me. This is great. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:39:04] If people want to learn a little bit more connected in some way, what’s the best way to learn about Metazoa or what you’re up to? 

 

Jennifer Mercer [00:39:11] Metazoa DotCom. There is a lot of press even this week about what’s going on with with the vaccines and things like that that we’re working on. And also, if you have any questions, please reach out to me on LinkedIn. I will always follow up and respond and answer. 

 

Andrew Tarvin [00:39:27] Excellent. We’ll check Jennifer out on LinkedIn, check out what Metazoa is up to at Metazoa. Com. Thank you all so much for joining us today for another episode of the podcast. As a reminder, if you do want a ticket to an upcoming conference event in twenty twenty one, just write a review on iTunes, take a snapshot of that and send it to contact Ederson dot com, also present to you by humor that works. My organization where just mentioned we focus on teaching individuals and organizations on how to use humor to get better results at work. You can find out more about us at humor that works. Dotcom, thank you so much for checking us out in tuning in. And until next time. 

Jennifer Mercer [00:40:06] Thanks

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