I was lucky enough to interview Max Lynch. Max is the CEO and co-Founder of Ionic. If you do any type of app development, you probably have heard of Ionic and Max. Ionic makes it easy to build interactive mobile apps using just HTML5 and AngularJS. Ionic’s platform and community have exploded over the last two years. It’s amazing the number of apps that have been built using Ionic. I ask Max to share how he started Ionic. They essentially started a strong community, twice. That’s pretty amazing. Max tells us his thought process and how they did it.
And what’s so cool is that Ionic is located in our lovely Madison, Wisconsin. So this interview is in person.
Here are some other questions Max answers:
-How did you come up with the idea for Ionic? How did the initial platform look compared to today?
-How in the world did you get it going, attract developers/designers to the platform?
-Why did you turn down an acquisition offer?
-What channels (like twitter) have been best for outreach, engagement? What new channels are starting to emerge?
-Why did you stay in Madison? Does it make it easier or more difficult to recruit talent?
David Kruse: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of Flyover Labs. This is Dave Kruse kind of live from Madison, Wisconsin. And today we are luckily enough to have Max Lynch with us, and Max is the CEO and Co-Founder of Ionic. And if you do any type of app development you probably would have heard of Ionic and probably Max. If not we’ll talk about exactly what they do and how his team has seen an explosive growth and how they have done that over the past four years or so. So that’s quite a story. Ionic and Max are located in Wisconsin so I’m lucky enough to be sitting here with Max. We get to do an in-person interview. Ionic is really kind of a hidden gem definitely in Madison and in the Midwest. So hopefully you guys could learn more about it. I would say I learnt more too. So Max, thanks for joining us.
Max Lynch: Thanks for having me.
David Kruse: So we’ll definitely talk about Ionic, but curious to hear more about your background, like where you went to school and what interested you growing up. Yes, can you share a little bit about that?
Max Lynch: Yes sure, so I grew up in Milwaukee. I actually specifically studied with Ben my Co-Founder. So we went to elementary school and all the way up through to college together.
David Kruse: Were you friends all the way through?
Max Lynch: Yes, pretty much.
David Kruse: Wow.
Max Lynch: Actually it was earlier than that, it was kinder garden that we’ve been friends. Yes, so we have been – we haven’t always been like working on things together, but that’s a separate story. But yes, I kind of got into computers and programming I think when I was in middle school. So I was fortunate to go to a school that did have some basic kind of programming. I think we started out with HTML, and kind of worked your way up. But I also had a family friend who was a professional developer who kind of saw that I was interested and kind of started pushing me towards Java, so that’s kind of like my first language. So since then yes, I’ve really just always been into programming and computers. I pretty much did that through high school and then college.
David Kruse: What did you do? Like did you work on projects or did you…
Max Lynch: Yes, I mean in the beginning it was very basic website stuff and then I kind of got in to Java and was doing desktop development, like Java Swing back when that was big, dabbled a little bit in C and C++ and then I started getting into Linux. But yes, I think after that I was pretty much drawn back to the web and building web stuff, just because it was nothing else where you can reach so many people for so little technical time required. And it kind of sealed the deal for me. It was like okay, anything else I build it going to be a little comparison to something that I put on the web. So I pretty much focus on HTML, Java Scripts and then PHP at the time to kind of make it do things.
David Kruse: And what type of things were you making it do? Were you in consulting work or just working on your own stuff?
Max Lynch: I did a little bit of like client development just to kind of prove that I can make some money, but I hated it.
David Kruse: Fair enough.
Max Lynch: Was this is college or where…
David Kruse: I think the first I did a few things in high school, they were really small projects and then a little bit in college. But yes, no – I was – one of my big projects was building this kind of watering hole for all our friends in high school. So it was – we called it like Facebook before Facebook. If Facebook didn’t exist then and it was basically a blog with forum and a bunch of small little apps like there was something for sharing poetry, you can write poems and share it with each other. So it was kind of just like a site that had a million features on it just for sharing stuff.
David Kruse: Okay. Well to put someone’s poems up. [Cross Talk]. It’s probably wise. Interesting, all right. So then where did you go to college?
Max Lynch: UW in Madison.
David Kruse: Okay and you kept program, and what was your major?
Max Lynch: Computer Science, yes.
David Kruse: So what year did you graduate?
Max Lynch: I graduated in 2010.
David Kruse: That’s very young, super young. Nice, all right. And so when you are graduating, did you have any plans or what was your plan for after college?
Max Lynch: I think I had a general idea that I wanted to kind of do my own thing. But I didn’t really know what that meant then, and this was 2010, so the start up craze hadn’t quite hit. It was still a little bit early, but I started paying attention to like the start up world and was interested in doing something like that. But I really had no clue what I was doing. So I actually did start a company my end of college and like late junior year with someone that I met. It ended up not really going anywhere, but it was kind of my first taste. I got burned out from that, when to go do some development at a local gaming company and after that kind of convinced Ben to go build something crazy and build our first product.
David Kruse: Nice, and before I jump into that, I read some of your blog posts and one was on action sports and how that kind of influenced you. Your thought – can you share a little bit. I thought it was interesting.
Max Lynch: Yes, yes, yes. So when I was younger we were taking to rollerblading. So rollerblading was like a big craze back then, whenever that was and we used to skate all the time, take pictures of each other. Like you know everyone had their own crew and the crews kind of battled, but they all had their own websites. So it was an interesting like contrast between like the kind of person that a lot of people probably thought was, I don’t want to say like – they weren’t like academically inclined, but yet we were all like learning computers, building things, so in a way like very creative crowd, but just a little bit off beat. So I was – you know I hung out with those people and they are very individualistic, very like build it yourself kind of thing until I started building websites and building image galleries and doing flash videos, trying to compete with like who could build the best website.
David Kruse: You right, how much more usefully that is than a – high school have their place, but yeah, that’s another whole project.
Max Lynch: Yes, it is.
David Kruse: So before, what your sweetest move you ever did?
Max Lynch: Move?
David Kruse: Rollerblading there.
Max Lynch: Probably jumping off like a big set of 10 stairs and doing a little spin in the air. My knees regret that.
David Kruse: Oh! My goodness, yes. Well, some of those folks must have like special knees, because they just keep doing it over and over again, I don’t know, but…
Max Lynch: It’s a rush, it’s a rush.
David Kruse: Yes. All right, interesting. All right, so you are talking to Ben. This is probably around 2012 or so and your talking to Ben and did you, who came up with this idea or did you guys – were you brainstorming or were you frustrated by mobile app development or what was the…
Max Lynch: So when we stated we were doing something slight different and Ben came from the design world. So he is a designer, he is not a developer and he would do a lot of work doing wire framing and mockups. Then he’d hand it over to a developer and the developer would basically look at it and throw it out and start over. And we just felt like there was an opportunity because we knew what like, we knew though the library and the framework that the developer was using and we figured like why don’t we just start with the framework, but build a tool that kind of replaces something like Balsamiq Mockup’s or Photoshop, but it’s actually generating the real like UI for that framework underneath. So you can give it to a developer and they already have the UI built and we kind of felt like that was the same tooling that any kind of popular UI capability would have, like visual basic had a visual design tool, which made it kind of blow up in popularity. So he had this idea like okay lets, maybe you can help me kind of build the app visually and we’ll go from there. So we started there, that was in 2012. Bootstrapped the company building this like only, drag-and-drop tool called Codiqa and that was targeting the jQuery Mobile community and then we kind of did something similar with Twitter Bootstrap, thinking like maybe this was going to be our thing, like a popular framework and we built the tools on top. Kind of mid to end 2013 we felt like the technology underneath was not quite where we wanted to see it. So our tools were kind of limited and what they could actually produce underneath.
David Kruse: And why is that, it was to take so much more effort to get it where you want to be or just never been able to…
Max Lynch: So jQuery Mobile and jQuery were very hot and successful project kind of pre-2012 – like around 2012, 2013, if not a little bit earlier. And they had their purpose, had their time, but we felt like the phones had just become much more powerful, that you needed something a little bit more aggressive underneath that kind of pushed the limits of what was possible and that kind of became Ionic.
David Kruse: Got you, okay. Right so it kind of evolved and at some point you went to Texstar.
Max Lynch: Yes.
David Kruse: What that Codiqa or was that with…
Max Lynch: That was Codiqa and Jetstrap, yes. So we were a very different company back then.
David Kruse: Interesting. Did that help at all?
Max Lynch: It helped. Yes, I mean I think the biggest thing it helped with like we were a Bootstrap to start-up. We were in Madison so you know there weren’t a lot of other start-ups and we had no clue like how we were doing. So probably the biggest, immediate impact when we were in Texstar was, oh! We had like a measuring stick. We’d actually say like okay we are making this much, this team is making this much, so you can kind of see where you are at. Just like of learn how like the game is played a little bit. That was probably the biggest.
David Kruse: Has the network helped at all? Do you use contacts from there?
Max Lynch: Yes, every once in a while I put it to work and it’s been helpful and I think they are doing a ton of work to make the ecosystem and the network stronger. So they got a tool to see like oh, who knows this person so you can get an intro to like through the person who knows them best. They are doing things like rating investors and helping you kind of manage investment stuff. So I think they got a big opportunity to build a strong network. I think why I see is benefited from just being focused on thing and one area with one group of people and they haven’t had that, so I think they will get there, it’s going to be out there. It will take some time.
David Kruse: So at the end of 2013 along share with Codiqa, so how many users did you have at that point? Do you remember or…
Max Lynch: I think we probably had upwards of 300,000 users spread across.
David Kruse: Wow! So you had a lot.
Max Lynch: Yes.
David Kruse: So was it – did you keep the Codiqa platform going while you developed Ionic or…
Max Lynch: Yes. So we hadn’t raised any money yet, this was 2013.
David Kruse: You are still in raising money.
Max Lynch: We have, but at the time we had – so we were like pretty much bootstrapped and this was mid-2013, but the products Codiqa and Jetstrap were making enough to cash flow us basically. So we basically ignored them for three months and built Ionic and so it kind of paid for us to…
David Kruse: Okay. And how did you charge for the – do you have like a premium or like – because was the basic plan free with Codiqa?
Max Lynch: Yes [Cross Talk].
David Kruse: Interesting. So, at what point did you know – so you really started Ionic and you at had experience. So you really set to kind of your same community.
Max Lynch: It was similar. We did cross market a little bit, but I think we felt like there was, you know the technology space changes so quickly that everything that we built Codiqa on top of was kind of old news by then. So then the user groups were kind of new, but they definitely overlapped which made you know the pitch a little bit easier.
David Kruse: And for the audience, what do you with – what does Ionic do or what’s the platform?
Max Lynch: Yes. So Ionic just makes it easy for web developers who know how to build websites to build mobile apps, native apps and mobile web apps with the same technology.
David Kruse: Yes, that’s good, I like it. And so I mean it’s kind of fascinating, twice you created a really large community, which is not easy and I mean you think a lot of it was, you had the right technologies at the right time or is it more like kind of your – and good technology, but also like your marketing strategy.
Max Lynch: I think you know timing in luck plays a huge factor, but I will say that we’ve kind of built a strategy that we have used several times, that’s been successful and it’s simple. We liked to find groups of people who are really passionate about something and are open to improvements on that thing and build it for them. So with Codiqa it was the jQuery Mobile community. It was getting really popular. People wanted to – they liked building apps with jQuery Mobile, but they needed more help, they needed more tools. So if you built anything in that ecosystem like the community will eat it up. So with Ionic it was very similar, except the community this time was jQuery Mobile, I’m sorry [inaudible] which was you know a really successful project from Google and so the community was hungry for ways to take their angular passion and bring it to mobile and I Ionic was basically that thing. So I look back and I think like the value prop and like the whole pitch, no one else in the world would understand it except for the angular people. My pitch to them was you know angular, well now you can build mobile apps. And we started with that niche and kind of grew from there, but it’s a good approach, because you are part of the community, like I was an angular developer. So I was building something for myself, but I was also building something for the community in a way that actually helped them and was very like complementary and that works out well.
David Kruse: So how do you go about building something like that from like the ground up? Right, so something I have to translate the web language, HTML, CSS into the angular. So how do you – how does that work?
Max Lynch: You know it’s actually very straightforward and a lot of – like I think people are able to pick it up and learn it pretty quickly, because we are trying to keep the same like HTML that you are used to plus or minus like a few customer things, but it’s really just the same development process that you are familiar with.
David Kruse: But from your platform perspective, how did you guys actually build kind of that engine to make that happen.
Max Lynch: Oh! It was a very random, haphazard process, because we had no intention of building anything like of what we have today. Like at least from a project success and scale standpoint it was really you know, hey lets – we got these other products, they are making money. We got a business here, so we are not desperate for anything. Let’s – we got this idea and we just want to try it and the deeper we got, the more we realized that no one had done anything like this yet and that was just what motivated us. So at the time like the iPhone5 was kind of state-of-the-art and until that point you couldn’t build websites on mobile that had like sufficient performance to feel good. Like the iPhone5 was really like the first phone that could do it well, and so we started build demos to push the limits and like they felt really good and now its jus kind of like what motivated us in the beginning.
David Kruse: Interesting. And how long did it take for you to develop the initial platform and how is it different from today?
Max Lynch: I think, so the first version we built it kind of end of summer 2013, we started working on it, so it was a fall project and I think back those were some of the best days running this company. It was just, like we had full creative freedom to just kind of build whatever we wanted, everyone was kind of really excited about it, we were still small team of probably like four or five people.
David Kruse: No investors.
Max Lynch: No investors really at that point, yes, yes, except for Texstar. But yes, we basically just kind of built this first version and its very similar to what have today. It’s just kind of at least the first version now. We are now about to release version two, which is totally different. But the first version has just kind of been iterated on and improved over the last years.
David Kruse: How is that? So we’ll just at to it right now I guess, but how is the version two different than?
Max Lynch: The big difference is it uses angular too, but maybe a bigger difference is that the Java Script world has evolved considerably since then to the point where everyone is using new – kind of a new version of Java Script which is called EA6, and Typescript which is a Microsoft project to expand on EA6. And so a lot of Ionic two is kind of using these new job script standards, but also built using angular to and it was an opportunity for us to just rebuild everything, using the lessons learnt and build like a much better offering.
David Kruse: Interesting. Okay and so, what’s a brief overview on the business – stats on the company, like how many employees you guys have and how much money have you raised and how many apps have been created. I know you have another constant count on your website, which is cool, so I want to use that app, we should probably look it up.
Max Lynch: Yes. So we are a team of 20. Most of us are in Madison. We have four people spread out throughout the country. Actually we have a little bit more than that. We’ve raised $12.2 million. So we just closed a Series A, a month ago which was our biggest round.
David Kruse: Who is that from or who is…?
Max Lynch: General catalyst and then other investors, our other ventures like bank and founder collective.
David Kruse: Good review folks.
Max Lynch: Yes, yes, yes. And we’ve had over 2.3 million apps built on the platform from startups up to some of the biggest enterprise companies in the world.
David Kruse: So with that Series A, will have to go towards, well obviously the platform development, and so marketing and outreach, it made more enterprise or what…
Max Lynch: Yes, I mean there’s a lot of things that we want to do. We are not going to get too crazy on hiring. I think we are at a good number. We do allow what we have and we are still in the early stages with kind of commercialization of the products. So some of that is going to go towards building out the enterprise offering, because we’ve got a lot of enterprise users to just kind of the reason the outer source version and now it’s time to up-sell them on something more substantial, but also just kind of building up the other bits and pieces of our entire stack.
David Kruse: Yes, and what does the enterprise sourcing have that will open the…
Max Lynch: At the basic there is a little bit of support, support model baked-in. So a lot of companies need more help. They need little more handholding. They want a direct like to Ionic if something happens. So we’ve got a way, a model for doing that in a way that’s not a services approach, that’s not scalable. So that’s a big part of it, but then additional features around the framework to help people with security, because client size security and storing client data is really important that’s its encrypted and a lot of these phones have features to help you with clients side encryption that are not, a lot of developers are not really familiar with these techniques. So things like that and kind of help you take your Apple further, harden it up a little bit, but then also interact with our backend services later.
David Kruse: Okay, okay, that makes sense. And so going back to when you first launched Ionic, how many apps were created in the first year. I thought I saw some number that was outrageous, just like 465,000…
Max Lynch: Yes, I think it was – this is 2014. It’s already 2016 isn’t it?
David Kruse: Two years right now, I know. So it was a lot everybody. So I mean the final post, yes it was a ridiculous amount.
Max Lynch: 2015 was our year though.
David Kruse: That was your year? How many did you do?
Max Lynch: I think we had over a 1 million built then. So its increased quite a bit.
David Kruse: Are all of these apps, they are not necessary all in the app stores.
Max Lynch: No, so there is a variety of why people keep using it today. So some amount of those are probably being shipped to the out store, a good amount are put on the web, the mobile web, a lot of them are being built and distributed internally and we don’t like know all these, where everyone is using it, because it’s an open search by the way. So we don’t track kind of that deeply as part of the ethical barrier there, but a lot of big enterprise companies are starting to build internal apps. So we know people who have had uppers of 20 to 100 internal apps or anything imaginable like inside a big organization they are building apps for it.
David Kruse: Right, well you can build it so fast with Ionic like when you compared it to what you used to build and so – I mean maybe have a certain skill set. They don’t have – they have an advanced skill set or something like.
Max Lynch: Yes, I mean if you look back like a lot of companies were building like one flagship consumer app, for the App store, you know throwing hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars into it, outsourcing it to a dash shop that actually knew mobile. And the thing that I’m excited about with Ionic that seems to be resonating really well is you can get your teams building mobile apps internally with the people you already have on staff. You can do it really quickly and cheaply. So you can actually build these things now to support the org rather than just doing flagship consumer apps.
David Kruse: Yes, it makes sense. So is there one of two apps that you know that was built. They are like wow! That’s really cool, they built that with Ionic. Well that’s like a cool functionality or a company that built it, that you…
Max Lynch: Yes, on a consumer side we have a few favorites. One is WorkIt, which is a popular app that’s like a work out app. Yes, so they are like one of the top working out apps in the app store with millions of users. So they were like our first big social consumer app. And then Untapped, are you familiar with Untapped. It’s the beer drinking social network.
David Kruse: You know, it should be.
Max Lynch: You basically tag what beer your drinking. So they use an app and then you know on the enterprise side there’s a lot of things I can’t talk about, but anywhere from like building an inventory tracking app for a tracking machinery and things like that, we’re seeing a lot of stuff that I never kind of expected.
David Kruse: Do people – well, especially with the internal apps, I was going to say, do you ever – do you have an – I mean if you almost have like an app store that you sell and you guys don’t have anything like that right now.
Max Lynch: It’s on our radar.
David Kruse: It’s on your radar?
Max Lynch: Yes, it’s on our roadmap..
David Kruse: Yeah, all right. Part of the series I didn’t know. No, that’s – I know it’s hard to deal with.
Max Lynch: Well, we kind of – so the thing is we already kind of have something like that, but it’s being sold as more of a testing tool. So we have a planned view that lets you basically send and immediately test apps without installing them, because Ionic is primarily web content, so it’s easy to package it up and load it dynamically. So Ionic view is kind of the first start to that, so we’ll see where it goes.
David Kruse: All right, interesting. That’s cool. And how – so how do you market? What channels do you use that are best, because I am still amazed by your growth. You know it’s just – obviously you weren’t calling up everybody. It was a lot of word of mouth, which is really hard to get, but obviously you have a good product of those one of them. But what channels, kind of market channels have been best for you guys?
Max Lynch: So I think initially it was a combo of writer blog tweeted out and really global landing page tweeted out. So Twitter has really been huge for us and for every single thing we’ve done, Twitter has always been the thing, but our users are on Twitter so they are easy to reach. But the thing about twitter is its pretty – if your users are on there and your savvy about it, you’re basically able to reach soo many people for free, but in a way that they are actively engaging and sharing your stuff. So I think the key thing is you have to make content that is actually authentically good and shareable.
David Kruse: You want to share it, yes.
Max Lynch: You know there’s a lot of people who just stand on Twitter and it’s just like the worst strategy. So yes, we’d write a blog plus saying, hey, here’s like an insight into the mobile space and people would share it and tweet it and we’ve mentioned the right accounts to hopefully get some bigger tweets here and there, until you get a big one and then you get an inflow of users. But from a business standpoint we’ve always been hyper focused on making sure that we always retain our audience you know. Like if we get a tweet, if we get someone coming to the website, we make sure that we get their email that they sign up on the newsletter. That we’re not spending them there, but we’re engaging with them constantly. So you know making sure whenever we do get some attention, that we do retain that audience who engages them and grow it. You know that’s smart.
David Kruse: Yeah, they say that you know email lists are probably the most valuable if we get it, yeah.
Max Lynch: Its fun – like you know we’ll write and blog and plus we’ll tweet it out and then we’ll send a newsletter and we have more people in the newsletter than on our twitter followers, but still like the engagement is just kind of like 10x.
David Kruse: Only if you use them right, because people don’t just like email you back. It’s more personal.
Max Lynch: Yeah, yeah. And then they go and tweet it.
Max Lynch: So kind of you know it keeps you offline.
David Kruse: Yes, nice. All right, so we kind of talked about it, but where do you kind of – where do you want to take back over the next five years and it’s kind of a broad question, but what comes to your mind?
Max Lynch: Well, I think in the simple – to put it simply, I look at projects like WordPress and I saw what WordPress has done for blogging for desktop websites and it basically changed the game you know. It enabled soo many people who were not professional software developers to build real websites to make real money doing this stuff and so when I look at mobile, I don’t see anything that’s done that yet. You know like – and some of that is probably a side effect to the fact that historically mobile has been very utility driven, so you really have to do things, but we’re starting to see a shift where mobile is not just for calculator apps. It’s also for content, it’s for reading, it’s for looking at menus and things like that. So I want to have the impact that WordPress had on desktop on mobile through Ionic. And I don’t know if that looks like yet, because no one has done it. So in five years like I don’t know what that looks like because I just don’t know what’s possible here, but we are always going to kind of push towards that vision being like the WordPress for mobile.
David Kruse: Yes, that’s an exciting vision. Yes and it’s a big one, which is nice to have and helps keep your team motivated, because if you can change the mobile or like WordPress changed the web world, that’s a major lasting impact. Interesting, all right. And so we have a little more time, not a lot, but one thing I was curious about and you’ve talked about it, so I don’t want to bring it up. You did have an accusation offer about a year ago I think and you turned it down and with all accented details, but is that because you kind of have this like internal, well you have this vision right and then the new ones see if you can make it happen.
Max Lynch: Yes I mean its complex, like there’s a lot of things that happen around…
David Kruse: And you are not going to talk about it?
Max Lynch: And you kind of, you really have a lot time to sit and think about what you want and for us we just felt like there was so much work to do still and so much that we wanted to do. Like I had this you know product vision of having Ionic be this kind of all encompassing one stop shop for everything you need to do in mobile and like we’d only built out like a quarter of that. So some of it was are just like, okay, let’s keep building because we are not done yet and maybe it will be worth more once we do, but some of it was also like personal professional entry, like I’ve never built a company bigger than what we had at the time and I kind of just want to keep going. I never raised a Series A before, so I did that. Just kind of learning and growing my own, like on my own and I think that was something that resonated with a lot of people. It was like if we sell, do you kind of stop some of that learning. Even if it’s a little bit cushy of a landing is it going to be challenging or not for us to kind of keep growing, so that’s part of it. But yes, I think we just felt like it was too early and we had seen some really great traction. Looking at the graphs, like I’m so glad that we didn’t sell, because everything that we did was kind of a quarter, if not you know less than that of what made sense then.
David Kruse: Wow! And it seems like we have – I’ve had a ton of personal experience around this, but it seems like whenever a company buys that company, it seems like the technology like development kind of state and it just doesn’t – it’s not as explosive, not as creative, it’s just base focused on like maintenance. I mean that’s always the case, but often you got to construct down and…
Max Lynch: There is a whole range of things that can happen and you never really know I think until it actually happens.
David Kruse: No, so well man, that’s cool. It went down to why I ask that – I like what you got, so it’s like boom! Go for it big. You’re young. You can make like 10 more of these things. Yes man, you are in such a good position, but – so we are almost done, but do you want to talk a little bit more about Madison, because we are both Madison and I’m sure you were – well, I’m sure you’ve thought about leaving Madison, maybe you haven’t, but yes, why have you stuck it out in Madison and how has it been?
Max Lynch: You know I think the simple answer for why we are here and why we are stayed is it kind of just happened and then I think you could kind of look at that and say, well Madison is and where you are located is not as relevant anymore, because we are building on the internet or you could say, well the fact that we’ve been able to stay here and we grew something here is because we found the right mix of people and you get that kind of just faithful blend of smart people and that’s really because of the University. I think that’s the one reason that we are here. And if we weren’t – if the university wasn’t where it is today and wasn’t as big and world renowned as it is, like I don’t know if we would have had that mix to stay. But David, that’s kind of why we stayed and so far like we continue to find great people, we are trying to get even more embedded in the university, so we can increase our recruiting, but I think like 40% of our people are UW alums. So, I mean that’s a big part of why we are still here.
David Kruse: Got you, okay. And you’ll probably stick around for a while.
Max Lynch: Yes, I mean I think long term if you look at our space, we are able to find engineering talent here. I think that will – we’ll be able to keep that part of our company in Madison for – it’s a lifetime. Beyond that when we talk about sales marketing, things like that, Madison doesn’t quite have that ecosystem yet and that experience yet. So we’ve been open to kind of adding other small offices, but I think headquarters, HQ will always be here and we’ve certainly been pressured to move the company in the past or have been disregarding because we are here. But I’m seeing a mindset change in the investment spear. Like Ionic was a general catalyst first at Madison investment, it was fund reflected at its first Madison investment.
David Kruse: Did they push you, I was curious if they pushed you to move at all.
Max Lynch: No, not at all. I think – and that’s something that I found is if you tell the story and you show the results, like people understand the story and what’s happening in the funding markets recently is the high burn rates of San Francisco companies, the hiring challenges, the recruiting challenges are very real and you have investors who – the valuation bubble out there is crazy, so you have investors who are interested in trying a different approach and not having to play by those really expense rules and companies like Madison appeal to people who are thinking ahead a little bit. I certainly talk to people who like it’s a non-start and I get it, but it’s also who we are and if we like give up who we are to please an investor, that’s probably the wrong step.
David Kruse: Yes, exactly. Right, if your forced to move to San Francisco you won’t be happy and then you know…
Max Lynch: I mean the soul of the company is so important and the culture of being here is part of our culture.
David Kruse: I like that, because I like Madison and most people leave, so not most, but I think more and more stick around.
Max Lynch: Yes I mean you need more – you need more magnets to keep people here, like on the job site, I think that’s really a big thing. So we are happy that we are helping out.
David Kruse: Yes, yes definitely. All right, two more questions and then we’ll wrap it up. One is kind of a big question. I don’t know if you want to answer it or not, but we’ve talked about some lessons, but anything for the audience really like Wow! I really wish we would have done this differently or people should not do this. I mean it’s not easy as a lot to be honest, so…
Max Lynch: Yes, I mean, I think try to do a lot with less. Especially when you raise money you kind of, you feel this urge to hire and put it to work, because you feel like that’s what you are supposed to do and you raise money and you are supposed to spend it and investors want you to spend it, but I think if you start getting comfortable and not going back to the roots, I think you lose a little bit of that energy and excitement you have back when you were starting out. So not that we’ve had an issue with that, but I can kind of see it happening now. It’s like okay well, we can hire five more people or we can kind of figure out how to get that fire back when we are just building the products again. So that balance was like spending and not spending and hiring and not hiring is really important. So I think anytime I felt like pressured to hire another person, when someone else could have done that work, I think it’s always been the right decision to kind get them into that position instead. So that’s one lesson, I mean that one is still playing out, but you kind of see it right now with the burn rate strategy happening.
David Kruse: Definitely.
Max Lynch: So that’s a big one.
David Kruse: And wait, and there was also maybe something to say about small teams can be a little more creative than nimble.
Max Lynch: Yes, exactly. Every time we kind of grew, this company has changed and sometimes when we cross a line in headcount that we are not quite ready for on the business side, I feel like there is a little bit of slow down there. It’s kind of like letting the company scale with the product, because we did raise this around the head of a lot of commercial growth. So we still need to stay small and built the product and build the team for its growth.
David Kruse: Makes sense. All right, well that. Yes, so over the next few years you’ll probably start hiring more sales, marketing, [Cross Talk] okay. All right, so last question, and this is for Madison folks, do you have your – what is one of your favorite restraints in Madison?
Max Lynch: Oh! Man.
David Kruse: You can name multiple or you can say none, you can say your kitchen.
Max Lynch: I went to Harvest recently and I was very impressed with that, had been there. That’s definitely one of my favorite and then Pig in a Fur Coat is also there.
David Kruse: Nice, nice. Those are good suggestions. Anyone who is visiting or haven’t been there, could do any of those. But all right, we should probably wrap it up. But this has been awesome. Thanks Max for your time and thoughts.
Max Lynch: Thank you.
David Kruse: And loved being in Madison and stayed in Madison and yes, thanks everyone for listing to another episode of Flyover Labs and I guess we’ll check you out next time. Bye.