Folk Stories

Episodes about Business:

20: Nick Hughes and Building a Global Community of Entrepreneurs

October 7th, 2019 (68 minutes)

Nick Hughes is the founder of Founder's Live, a global entrepreneurial community started by Nick to inspire, educate and entertain entrepreneurs around the world.

Prior to starting Founder's Live, Nick had already done multiple startups. It was through the process of recovering from a failed startup that Nick started "Feature Friday", an event for early stage entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas in 99 seconds and network with others in the Seattle community. This event proved extremely popular and led to Nick scaling it out globally with events now in over fifty cities.

I know Nick from going to the Seattle Founders Live events. While Nick didn't pay me to say this, I'm happy to say that I've always end up meeting interesting people from the event and come out of it feeling highly motivated about doing my own thing. In today's episode, we talk about Nick's entry into entrepreneurship, lessons from having a startup fail, and Nick's vision with Founder's live and where this is going.


Have enough courage to say things aren't going well and I'm feeling down and have you had this before? Most people are gonna say "Oh yeah , I know what you're going through and here's what I did!"

– Nick Hughes


  • how Nick got interested in business
  • study habits and business lessons
  • first startup experience and lessons learned
  • marriage aka finding a co-founder
  • founders depression and Nick's experience with it
  • starting Founders Live and expanding globally
  • Nick's world tour and living up to your potential


  • inspiration
    • being at Founders Lives events and seeing early stage founders getting on stage and pitching
  • surprising fact
    • studied kinesiology and human psychology - used to be a strength coach
  • principle
  • closing notes

16: Friends, Family and Startups with Robert Sweeney

May 6th, 2019 (82 minutes)

Robert Sweeney is CEO of Facet, the premier platform for hiring senior contract software engineers.

Before becoming a founder, Robert was a senior software engineer himself at companies such as Netflix and Microsoft. Robert knew from an early age that he wanted to be an entrepreneur from working at his grandpa's grocery shop. Robert left Netflix with a friend to start a software development studio with an initial verbal contract from Western Digital.

In 2014, Robert founded Numetric, a SaaS based analytics startup. After working on the company for close to four years, hiring over 40 employees, and raising over $16 million in venture capital, Robert was fired from the very company that he founded.

Today, Robert is working full time on Facet and helping other engineers make the leap from full-time work to doing their own thing.

In today's episode, we talk about negotiating contracts, hiring and firing friends, and that time Robert's house almost burned down.


We had to make the decision that day… That didn't give us enough time to sign the contract. So we quit our jobs on a verbal yes.

– Robert Sweeney


  • inspiration
    • being fired from my startup - changed my perspective on startups and venture capital and also provide extra motivation
  • surprising
    • deal with anxiety
  • principal
    • complete transparency
  • anything else
    • successful entrepreneurs out there don't have anything that you don't have


  • working at grandpa's grocery store
  • early years at Microsoft and Netflix
  • first startup and quiting Netflix on a verbal agreement
  • working with western digital and communicating expectations
  • hiring and firing friends
  • that time when the house almost burned down
  • keeping a family together while doing a startup
  • Numetric, working with family, and getting fired from a company that you founded
  • facet, how it came to be and where its going

15: Domain Expertise with Jay Westerdal

April 22nd, 2019 (68 minutes)

Jay Westerdal is a CEO, founder, board member, and investor of a wide multitude of companies.

Jay first got interested in technology at an early age after witnessing early demonstrations of the internet in middle school. His first job out of college involved creating systems to help manage domain names, a field that Jay has stuck with ever since. Jay founded his own domain company, DomainTools, in 2001, which provided information about the history and ownership of internet domains. Jay also started the Domain RoundTable, a conference dedicated solely to the topic of domains. Jay later sold DomainTools in 2008 for an eight figure exit and continued to work with domains as well as technology ever since.

Today, Jay is CEO of, .Realty and Top Level Spectrum. is a company that provides companies with toll-free 800 numbers, .Realty is a domain registrar for real estate professionals, and Top level spectrum manages various top level domains like .feedback and .forum.

In today's episode, we talk about what domains are and why they matter, we talk about Jay's current day ventures and where he's going, and we talk about the systems Jay has put in place that lets him focus on so many different priorities.


I like to build a rocketship and ride it to the stratosphere but [exit] before it becomes a spaceship just sitting there doing nothing collecting whatever that status quo income is. – Jay Westerdal


  • Jay's initial interest in technology and the internet
  • web domains and domain registration
  • new top level domains and trends in the industry
  • domaintools, what it was and how it was sold
  • organizing a domain conference
  • Jay's current businesses
  • prioritizing tasks
  • what Jay looks for as an investor
  • investing in yourself
  • how to recharge


  • inspiration
    • travel and looking at other people's concepts and ideas
  • surprising fact
    • take vacations seriously
  • principle
    • body is a temple, trying to live healthier and healthier everyday
  • closing notes
    • would love to do more philanthropic stuff in the future, especially addressing homelessness in Seattle

14: Focusing on the Message with John Lauer

April 8th, 2019 (44 minutes)

John Lauer is the CEO of Zipwhip, a Seattle based businesses that enables businesses to text message their customers through software and API solutions. Zipwhip is one of Seattle's fastest growing private companies and was the first business that made it possible for landlines and cellphones to communicate with each other.

Prior to Zipwhip, John was already neck deep in entrepreneurship. John started coming up with business ideas ever since he was thirteen. John started his first company, Rootlevel, at the age of 21 - Rootlevel was a web design firm based in Detroit and had included GM and Ford as their clients. John dropped out of college one semester from finishing his computer science degree because he made a commitment early on to never do something that would require a resume.

In today's episode, we talk about John's storied history and start in entrepreneurship, we talk about the makings of Zipwhip and the state of texting, and we talk about the focus and people that it takes to start a business.


If you contribute to humanity, humanity rewards you back, which gives you more ability to contribute. It sort of pancake layers on top of itself.

– John Lauer


  • how John got started with entrepreneurship
  • dropping out of college and commiting to startups
  • Zipwhip, how it got started and where it is today
  • importance of texting to businesses and consumers
  • closed vs open systems
  • predictions about communication platforms going forward
  • finding the right people to start a company with
  • staying focused and deciding what to focus on
  • ways of recharging


  • inspiration
    • week without at Zipwhip - two weeks without office food, raised $5000 to donate to Mary's place
  • surprising fact
    • walk around with smile on face but there's a great amount of simulation happening inside of what might happen at Zipwhip
  • principle
    • do the right thing
  • closing notes
    • Zipwhip will keep plugging forward and texting is adding huge value to peoples lifes, lots of new releases coming out later this year