A podcast about failure, mostly in startups and emerging companies, and how to avoid it. Visit us at https://failure-thepodcast.com
And, now, for something completely different....
It's not often the team from Failure - the Podcast gets serious. There was the time Mark stole an air mask from Jet Blue and hooked it to a canister of helium while impersonating Marjorie Taylor Green. Oops, no oxygen. Thankfully, the EMTs had a spare pig's brain for the transplant. And, how about when Mic hired Rudy Giuliani to defend that pesky trademark infringement suit.
It's times like these you realize that some things are serious. Mark turning blue while impersonating Greene. Serious. Handing over your defense to Rudy. Serious (mistake). Just ask Donald.
Speaking of Donald, the mind wonders from yellow on the sheets in Moscow to yellow and blue flags flapping in a nuclear breeze. Now, we are at serious. Ukraine serious. Which brings us to the topic of today's podcast: Putin in Ukraine. A bull in a china shop, but add enmity and cluster bombs.
So, how did we get here? Join the team from Failure - the Podcast in a conversation with Sam Bendett, an expert on the Russian military with the Washington D.C.-based think tanks CNA and CNAS.
Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz ...
No, it's not the ice cream. It's the podcast. This one, and you can be sure it's in bad taste. But, hey, don't be too disappointed. Before reality sunk in, we did offer you the briefest glimmer of hope. That's more than a certain congressperson from Georgia has done for you.
What is today's podcast, other than the usual meaningless banter? There is that, of course. But, there is more, too. Coffee. Yep, you guessed it, and what a genius you are! The coffee business, to be more precise. And, because we failed, yet again, in finding a guest who didn't, it's about a coffee business that's prospering. Go figure.
How much do you know about coffee — we mean really know? The Team from Failure - The Podcast has been imbibing for nearly 100 years, collectively. (Get your mind out of the gutter. We mean coffee.) And, that's only two of us. Add, Mic and ... well, you'd need to go to scientific notation. So, we thought we knew a thing or two about coffee. Just like many of you think you know a thing or two about wine, beer, or you name it. But, how much do you really know, other than where to buy them and what salesperson has you wrapped around his/her finger?
So we brought in a coffee pro. We would say he was a pro from Dover, but unless you saw M*A*S*H, the movie (starring Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland), you really wouldn't get it. But we did bring in a pro. He was the seventh hire at one of the region's largest full-service coffee distributors. And what a success story he was. He rose from janitor to CEO in a matter of years. Many of them. And, in reality, he didn't quite come in as a janitor nor did he exit as a CEO, but you get the point.
Anyway, you want to learn about coffee? Listen to this podcast. Erik Modahl, coffee curator and founder of BeanTrust Coffeebar, has something to say, even if it means talking over the knuckleheads that are Failure — the Podcast.
Fun with Numbers
Sounds promising: fun with numbers. If not the mathematicians and physicists, certainly the accountants might get something from this podcast. And, if not them, the actuaries will have a field day. Think about it: a podcast even an actuary could love. Stultifying.
Well, not so fast. If you’ve not learned anything from the last four years, it’s that labels can be deceiving. Take “Super Happy Fun America,” a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that, from the looks of it, should be more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Dig a little deeper, and it’s clear that this group is about anything but fun. Super happy? We doubt it, not with the post-insurrection arrests.
But, it’s not just the far right that is loose with labels. In fact, the team from Failure - the Podcast would hazard to guess that those of all political persuasions are guilty as charged. (Ya’ think?! Hey, give us a break, here. We’re just trying to meet our word quota on this blurb). Hell, even this podcast has been known to stretch the truth from time to time — and we are as about apolitical as it gets. Ha!
So, fun with numbers. Not so much. But you can’t fault us for trying. After all, our guest was with one of the Big Four accounting firms. Admittedly, he was working as a lawyer, not an accountant. And, whether he actually saw a single number during his tenure is left for the imagination. Certainly, the team from Failure - the Podcast didn’t ask him. That would have taken advance preparation, and you know how we eschew that. Moreover, who would have thought months ago, when we recorded this, that we’d ultimately call it “fun with numbers”? Surely, you expect too much of us.
Our guest? Why, it’s none other than Tony DaSilva. Lawyer to the stars … or, at least, the accountants. And, what an absolute wit. He lulled the team from Failure - the Podcast into believing that they were asking good questions, and that he was answering them. In fact, it was the same drivel as the last 71 episodes. You know the old saying: same stuff, different day. Well, we promise you only the latter. And, speaking of stepping in it, please don’t forget to wipe your shoes on Matt Goetz … er, the mat … before you leave.
Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three ...
It took a little doing, but the team from Failure - the Podcast think they found the first use of that magical phrase "testing, testing one, two, three.....". No, it wasn't in 2010, when Biden dropped the F-bomb on an open mic while introducing then-President Obama's eponymous health care bill. Nor, was it when Sleepy Joe muttered "God save the queen" at the close of the 115th Congress in 2017, after announcing that The Donald had won the electoral college. Had Joe prefaced these utterances with "testing, testing one, two, three," we might be more sure they weren't gaffes and that he isn't the Democrat re-incarnation of Jerry Ford.
We took our search to Google Books, hoping to find something through its Library Project. You remember that, don't you? All the fanfare over scanning the world's books onto the Internet so that they could be searched from your browser. No such luck: the copyright laws prevailed. Good thing for that. Which brings us to Google n-grams, a handy tool that searches millions of books (perhaps, collected during the ill-fated Library Project?) for words and phrases, and returns their frequency by year. Search for "pandemic," for example, and you get spikes at 1920, 2008 (remember the "swine flu"), and ... well ... let's just assume 2020, once the books are written on this one.
So, how about "testing, testing one, two, three ...," when did that phrase come about? Best the team from Failure - the Podcast can tell, it was the mid-1940's. World War II, and all that. Sounds about right, doesn't it? You can just imagine a John Wayne character at the mic as he readies to rally the troops for yet another epic battle. (Don't know John Wayne? Think Ronald Regan minus the political years, but with a whole lot more luck at the box office).
Which brings us back to testing. COVID-19, that is. Black gold. Texas tea. (Cue the "Beverly Hillbillies" theme). It's not behind us. Testing, that is. (The hillbillies? Like the 1960s, they _are_ behind us). Sure, the vaccine will help. A whole lot, we hope. But the need for testing? Well, let's just say that serial entrepreneur Sanjay Manandhar has it right when he says "24 hours to get COVID-19 test results? There's got to be a better way!" Who's Sanjay? Have a listen to today's episode of Failure - the Podcast, and find out.
Your Mailbox is Full
Yup, the team from Failure – the Podcast has been busy, too. End of year, and all that.
When we weren’t worrying about systemic election fraud, it was that “undemocratic coup“ the New York Post was railing about. But, with vaccine distribution started, the pandemic relief bill signed and the defense bill ... well … we’ll just see…, it’s time to move forward.
We might’ve been busy, but that doesn’t mean that rednose from the north, the old guy and his minions, or even Harry (yeah, you remember him: Jon Lovitz, in SNL’s X-mas special, circa 1989), couldn’t get their jobs done. And, what a gift indeed: Episode #70 of Failure – the Podcast.
In case you really need more proof that civilization is coming to an end — wasn’t our modern-day Nero fiddling on the golf course this past weekend, enough? — have a listen. The witty repartee with Karen Temple, startup guru from U of T (Toronto, that is), is a sure-fire cure to any New Year’s Day hangover. Enjoy!
Fintech intelligentsia light up when they hear about new payment processing platforms, sometimes referred to as "rails." It's an allusion to moving goods via railway with tracks, switches, sidings and all those other things grandpa used to reminisce about but that you've never actually seen in person — save for that one harrowing flight out of Midway Int'l in January 2015, when you swore you could count the rivets on boxcars at the Corwith railyard. Only difference is that payment rails can move money from, say, your credit card account to a prince's bank account in some far-off land, rather than, say, pork from Washington D.C. to a senior Congressman's home district. (Hmmm....)
Whether routing freight or funds, using the requisite rails can be complex, slow and expensive. That's fine if you happen to own a critical section of the track, so to speak, and can skim a tad for every boxcar or transaction passing by. It may not be so good for your customers, and everyone else downstream in the food chain (think pork bellies, if you wish, but financial transactions work, too). Hence, the collective shudder of excitement from the Fintech community when new rails give promise to potentially cheaper and faster payment processing.
(Yes, yes. The podcast. We know. We're almost there. Promise. Can you wait until the next rest stop, or should we pull over by the side of the road?)
Introducing new payment platforms is as bold as even the most daring of entrepreneurs care to go. Sure, you do hear about the occasional one that proposes a new form of currency, but ever since the central bankers and securities regulators cracked down on cryptocurrencies, anyone enterprising enough might fare better as a counterfeiter. (No, boys and girls, we don't recommend trying that at home.)
Creating a digital marketplace can prove nearly as satisfying as introducing a new currency, but it's fair to wonder whether that dog will still hunt. Though it only just recently crawled out from under a rock, even the team from Failure - the Podcast has heard of eBay, Alibaba, or ... what is it now? ... Amazon. You would think that starting another one of these in 2021 (yep, think about it, we are almost there, and January 20th is right around the corner -- nervous, anyone?) has about the same chance of success as Rudy G's hair dye at a presser.
Yet, some may differ. Take Pakira Inc., the Boston-based Fintech startup that hopes to revolutionize the market for physical commodities throughout the entire supply chain. By providing a digital marketplace for transactions, coupled with Bloomberg-like information on all of its players, Pakira is aiming to be the go-to platform for buying and selling everything from lumber to pork bellies.
Will Pakira succeed? If winning pitch competitions is any gauge, the answer is most certainly. On the other hand, if appearing on this podcast is the better measure, we will look forward to speaking with them again for a postmortem. Either way, we welcome you to join us in an … interesting… discussion with Nadia Shalaby and Andrew Gibson of Pakira on the origins, workings and future of their online marketplace.
i love this podcast! it’s so interesting to hear people’s opinions and hear this perspective! i also kinda have to like it because it’s my dad’s podcast.
This whole series is wonderful!
Great selection of guests and the stories they tell about failure and how to avoid it are key to any entrepreneur