Matt Spoke Shares 5 Things Founders Should Know to Win in Business
Matt Spoke Shares 5 Things Founders Should Know to Win in Business
CEO of Moves Financial Matt Spoke leads a “social finance company that supports workers in the gig economy.” He is a tech industry leader and resource speaker at various tech conferences.
Likewise, Matt Spoke has also contributed writing to several publications, including Forbes.com, Coindesk.com, FinancialPost.com, and TechCrunch. As a leader, he has always been “on the cutting edge of future-defining technologies.”
As an advocate, Matt Spoke has also “served as an advisor to governments on the regulatory implications of new technologies like blockchain on the future world of finance.”
Matt Spoke also participates in a “wide variety of industry groups.” He sits at the Board of Directors of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, and he teaches at Singularity University.
Also, Matt Spoke sits at the Investment Committee of Portal Asset Management, and is the Founding Director of the Blockchain Technology Coalition of Canada.
It was while working as a CPA with Deloitte that Matt Spoke discovered Bitcoin, which fascinated him immediately. Deloitte gave him the opportunity to “build an entrepreneurial venture within a traditional corporate environment.”
Over 5 years, Matt Spoke was able to raise more than $50M, and build a “well-known and reputable software company in the blockchain industry.”
In late 2019, Matt Spoke engaged in a 15-minute conversation with an Uber driver, which gave him the inspiration to start Moves.
Check out more interviews with tech visionaries here.
The next day, it was clear to me. I had a new mission — and Moves was born. Matt Spoke, Moves Financial
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Matt Spoke: I’m a 33 year old entrepreneur from Toronto, Canada, where I live with my wife, Jen, my infant son, Nico, and our dog, Kahlo.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for 5 years, and before that I was a CPA at Deloitte. I’ve never looked back since changing my career path.
Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Matt Spoke: In late 2019, I was reading a lot about the ongoing legal debates happening in California around a proposed law called AB5 that was intended as a protection for gig workers and their lack of employment classification.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, where I live, there was a popular food delivery service called Foodora (very similar to DoorDash) that was going through a very public fight with their workers, who were demanding unionization.
I didn’t have a perfect grasp yet on what the problem was or how to solve it, but I remember very clearly seeing a massive gap and opportunity out of these things. Gig workers were critical to the success of businesses like Uber, but they obviously felt like they weren’t being treated fairly, or weren’t being properly supported in their pursuit of a stable career path.
That was enough to get me into a rabbit hole of learning everything I could about the gig economy and its workers. I specifically remember one meaningful 15 minute conversation I had with an Uber driver on my way home. He opened up to me completely about the challenges he was facing and his motivations for having joined the gig economy in the first place.
The next day, it was clear to me. I had a new mission — and Moves was born.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Matt Spoke: The most vivid memory I have about starting my journey was the day I drafted my resignation letter to Deloitte. I was physically shaking and I felt sick.
I had never taken a risk like this before.
A big factor in making that decision was that I had two former colleagues who had agreed to be my co-founders. I would resign, start the process of raising capital into this new business, and then they would follow.
Within the first week of resigning, both of them started second guessing whether they could follow through.
My drive came from necessity. I couldn’t turn back. I had already left my job, disappointed some of my higher-ups, and my only path was forward. So I pushed and I worked until I found an investor who would take a chance on me.
You start to realize that there is no distinction between your work life and personal life.
Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Matt Spoke: I’ve faced my fair share of challenges and obstacles as an entrepreneur. I’ve been on the edge of the proverbial cliff, where it didn’t seem like there was a path forward.
What I never really understood when I first started down this path is that entrepreneurship is not simply the practical steps required to build a business. It’s an emotional journey. Whether you succeed or fail becomes a direct reflection on your new identity. You have to be able to handle that.
I’ve made mistakes and experienced failures along the way, and what I’ve found is that it gets easier over time. You become more inured to failure, and more willing to take on risks. Talking openly about it helps — nobody’s a superhuman who never screws up. So you surround yourself with people who support you even when you fail, and celebrate you when you succeed.
In some ways, I’m not as successful as I think I ‘should’ be — but comparing yourself to others is a dangerous path. I’m where I need to be, and I see entrepreneurship as a life journey, not a race to the finish line.
You start to realize that there is no distinction between your work life and personal life. There is just the entrepreneurial life. But within that, you need to find a way to stay sane, stay positive, and have a support system you can rely on when things get tough. Because they will.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Matt Spoke: I’m not sure how funny this is, but I remember working on my business concept while I was still a Deloitte employee, working on my Deloitte laptop.
At some point along the way, I realized that not everyone at Deloitte was happy that I was leaving. A mentor of mine flagged that I was at risk of “owing” something to Deloitte if it was perceived that I was building my IP during company time, using a company asset.
I went out and bought a MacBook that day.
One of the hardest things you’ll need to do over the lifetime of your company is learning how to fire people. Matt Spoke
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Learn to be self-reliant as an entrepreneur, BUT surround yourself with a support system outside of work.
My entrepreneur story is one of too many disappointing relationships with partners, advisors and investors that I thought I needed to succeed. Along the way, I learned that I have the skills and resourcefulness to solve most problems on my own.
- Product, Product, Product. Nothing else matters when you’re starting. Learn what it means to build a world-class product organization
You have nothing if you have no product. As the CEO, the product is an articulation of your vision. Don’t lose sight of its importance. Learning how to build a great product is difficult, but there are incredible resources out there to compete on the same level as the best in the world. Educate yourself in product management, and build a team that views this as the top priority.
- Don’t take the first money that’s offered to you. You’re committing to a long-term relationship, and it’s a two-way dynamic that you should consider carefully.
Too often, first time entrepreneurs building great ideas don’t yet appreciate the leverage they have when building relationships with investors. Often, the investor needs you more than you need them.
Agreeing to an investment without firmly believing in the person you’re partnering with on the other side is a recipe for long-term disaster. You’re on a 10 year journey, and these relationships matter a lot to your probability of success.
- Don’t hire friends. One of the hardest things you’ll need to do over the lifetime of your company is learning how to fire people. Don’t make this more difficult on yourself by hiring friends.
This is still the thing I hate most about my job, but it’s inevitable if you’re going to build the best team and the best product.
- Don’t chase the spotlight. If you find success, it’ll find you.
To the extent this matters to you, there seems to be an inverse relationship between success and people chasing the spotlight. For one, you have better things to do with your time than pitching yourself to conferences, or trying to make it on “Top blah blah” lists. The time spent here is keeping you away from your real priorities: your product, your team, your fundraising.
Eventually, when you find success, the spotlight will be chasing you; then you can decide if you want it or not.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Matt Spoke: Best place is always on Twitter at @mattspoke
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
The post Matt Spoke Shares 5 Things Founders Should Know to Win in Business first appeared on Tekrati and is written by Jerome Knyszewski