An entrepreneurial journey in finding Loxo’s Co-Founder and CTO

Loxo Blog

I will always remember the day we finally made it Linkedin official. Its that milestone you reach as a partnership where you make it public on social media — a la “Facebook official” for couples when you know it’s getting serious. I deeply value transparency, and it’s a core element of our cultural DNA at Loxo. From time to time I’d like to share my perspective on the entrepreneurial journey to not only celebrate key milestones with our team and rapidly growing customer base, but perhaps most important to help other aspiring non technical entrepreneurs who are faced with the same challenge I was.

Finding the right Co-Founder is a lot like dating after the age of 30

You know what you want, and conversely what you don’t want. However, you’re battle tested and introspective enough to know the outcome if you were to drive up to the hottest LA club in your Subaru wagon, and expect to attract the blue-eyed super model at the front of the line — simply because you “arrived.” Unless you’re fortunate to be at the top of the entrepreneurial pyramid, you’re going to have to take the hard road in order to identify and court a partner who you feel matches your selective criteria and has what it takes to grow stronger as time goes on in order to make it through the intense highs and lows that epitomize startups.

Never settle

There is a difference between being dogmatic, and being persistent, however finding the right co-founder is the most important thing a non tech founder will do in the formative years in a tech company. The success of any industry leading organization or championship team comes down to the individuals on that team; for startups this is magnified by 100x. When you are a big name company who can write blank checks attracting talent is relatively easy, however that doesn’t mean early stage startups should be less selective simply because it’s extremely hard and a lonely endeavor.

Loxo aims to evolutionize the hiring model. Our software will enable our customers to build a next generation talent warehouse — making it possible to easily find the best talent for any position. If our mission with Loxo is helping our customers identify the best possible mutual match, and we don’t eat our own dog food — what is that saying not only about the validity of our own capabilities and product, but subsequently the message of why the quality of hire and cultural fit is the most important measure in talent acquisition and team building.

To answer the question you may have — yes, I discovered Loxo’s Co-Founder by using Loxo!

Put your true self out there and realize nothing worth having comes easy

Finding a life or business partner should take time and if you happen to serendipitously come across “the one” on your first pitch, then head straight to Vegas and keep rolling; don’t even worry about the startup stuff.

Unless you have a next generation talent warehouse, you’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone, cast as wide a net as possible and be methodical about the hiring process — identifying, engaging, going through the learning loop and having dozens if not hundreds of two-sided interviews to truly find the optimal fit.

For me, it was a major learning curve and the single most stressful and exhaustive thing I’ve done as an entrepreneur. We’ve been building Loxo since 2012 and I was fortunate to work with some of the most talented consultants in Denver and Boulder’s tech scene, but finding someone who exhibited the talent, ethics, and humility combined with the founders mindset was really hard, and the longer I went without a tech Co-Founder the more acute the pain was. As I mentioned, it’s kind of like dating in later stages of life — you refuse to settle, but at what pain threshold are you willing to say maybe I’m being too picky. In retrospect, if I didn’t spend my weeknights going to TechStars affiliated BDNT and Colorado startup events starting in 2011, if I didn’t have hundreds of conversations with different developers, and if I didn’t have a tool like Loxo that enabled me to methodically map the talent market, I would not have met my current Co-Founder and definitely wouldn’t have known when I came across the best possible mutual match.

You know it when you see it

The colloquialism rings true with business partners and hiring as it does in the dating world. If you’ve found your match you may be nodding your head in agreement, and if you haven’t yet hopefully sharing this personal journey gives some insight and credence that if you commit to the process and refuse to settle you’ll find who you are looking for, and the rest they say is history…

The most interesting thing we discovered in our first face-to-face conversation was not only how well we hit it off on a personal and values perspective, but that we were both extremely passionate about an unbelievably narrow emerging field — AI, machine learning and predictive modeling. While I was learning everything I could for the past 5 years on this emerging space from a business perspective, he was coincidentally solving extremely complex mathematical driven problems and quickly becoming an expert on architecting these AI driven software systems. Marrying the unique combination of business, operations and tech was like we were purpose built to solve this exact problem.

Have your eyes wide open

If you don’t get out on the dance floor and don’t have an open mind you’ll never find who you are looking for. However, be willing to consider new ways of thinking and alternatives which will dramatically improve your ability to solve your problem and in far less time. In my case, if I never went through that lengthy learning process, Loxo wouldn’t be anywhere near as strong a position to achieve the goal and vision we set out to do. After all, we’ve developed a tool aimed at solving the problem we’ve personally dealt with, and are helping our customers be significantly more successful in mapping the talent market and ultimately creating a repeatable process that ensures the best talent and organizations find one another in far less time than ever before.

Build for the long-term

The good news is that Loxo exists so that it doesn’t have to be as hard or require such an exhaustive process to find these needles in the haystacks for all parties involved; recruiters, hiring managers, and ambitious individuals looking to accelerate their career trajectory. The future of recruiting and talent acquisition has never been more exciting and as Loxo grows we’ll continue to pave the path with our own internal hires and stop at nothing in solving this, because after all — talent and human capital is the single most important asset and driver of an organization’s long-term success.

Loxo Blog

Loxo UI Design

Loxo Blog

The first thing anyone will notice about any software is the user interface. In the space of a few seconds to a few minutes, a user will be pleased, nonplussed, or disgusted. A good user interface and intuitive user experience always translates into happy users. This automatically means better retention, less churn, and more referrals. Think back to 2004 and the early days of GMail–everyone was clamoring for an invite because of how much better it was than existing email solutions.

Our philosophy at Loxo is to focus first and foremost on making users happy. Hand-in-hand with providing unmatched customer service, the best way to do this is by making software that works the first time and does the right thing every time. If a button does not do what it’s expected to do, that’s a problem. A good user experience translates into lower training costs, a smaller learning curve, and an overall faster workflow. We win because our customers are happy and they win because they hit the ground running from day one with no training or sunk cost.

This user-pleasing philosophy echoes throughout Loxo. Instead of providing endless buttons and filters, we have a powerful search. After all, who wants to open a list of location filters and hunt through them when typing “Denver, CO” into a search box is enough? Another example is how we expose functionality that is rarely used; these things go into a quick list of shortcuts that most people never ask about. This way the power users are happy with their sharp toolkit and the casual users are happy with their simple workflow. In other places, advanced functionality only comes up when hovering over a certain piece of content. When software intuitively helps along the way to a goal, that’s really pleasing.

Doing all of this right presents a challenge. Sure it’s easy to just throw in every button and checkbox in the world, but we would feel embarrassed to force our users to stare at a monstrosity. Every feature we add leads to our core team sitting down and asking difficult questions of each other. Who do we want to be? What are our goals? Does this fit in with our vision and mission? There are a lot of hard questions that need to be answered every time we add a new feature. The second-hardest part of this is deciding a feature doesn’t belong and then saying no. The hardest part is removing an existing feature that no longer fits into the puzzle.

The end result is that our users are happy and we are happy. They have an easier time doing their job which frees up time for them to enjoy their lives. Even though our internal conversations are harder, we have an easier time maintaining Loxo–after all, software tends to reflect its user interface to at least some extent. A clean user interface and sensible user experience hint at a good software architecture. It’s certainly not easy, but nothing worth doing is ever easy, especially when the goal is to build world-class software.

Loxo Blog