Folk Stories

Episodes about Startup:

21: Building an esports platform with Grant Farwell

November 11th, 2019 (59 minutes)

Grant Farwell is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Matcherino, an esports platform that helps game publishers and tournament organizers run successful esports tournaments.

Prior to Matcherino, Grant founded Barc, a social web browsing experience for people browsing the same web sites. This was before the rise of services like discord and slack and offered some of the same functionality. Grant says that while the team had a solid technology base, they struggled with sales and monetization. This led to the eventual shutdown of Barc and the start of Matcherino.

In this episode, we talk about the esports industry and challenges tournament organizers face, we talk about doing sales in startups, and we talk about brands and sponsorship in esports.


And it was really like an aha moment… All these fans wanted to donate money… and to not just financially, but in so many different ways, contribute to this event that was happening.

– Grant Farwell


  • story behind the camel
  • economics, crypto and financial platforms
  • Barc'ing up the wrong tree
  • listening to customers but not taking suggestions literally
  • matcherino and techstars
  • esports, tournaments and payouts
  • sustainability in esports
  • how brands navigate esports
  • present and future of esports


  • inspiration
    • being at esport tournament with fans, seeing communities getting together and helping support it
  • surprising fact
    • life is quite boring at home, mostly working
  • principle
    • treat everyone like how you would want to be treated k- closing notes
    • if you want to engage with esports fans, matcherino can help you reach these audience and drive whatever KPIs you're looking to drive
  • Matcherino: Grant's company, esports platform to help game publishers and tournament organizers run successful tournaments
  • Techstars: Startup Accelerator

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

11: Building a Successful White Label Technology Platform After a Decade of Pivots With Mark Michael and Daniel Rust

January 31st, 2019 (54 minutes)

Mark Michael (CEO) and Daniel Rust (CTO) are the co-founders of DevHub, a white label technology platform that powers some of the world's most recognizable brands. Companies license DevHub technology to create sites /landing pages pages at scale. Companies also use DevHub as the repository for their experience data.

Mark and Daniel first met in high school and have been working together as business partners ever since. At DevHub, Mark handles business and marketing whereas Daniel defines its technical road-map and vision. According to Mark, Daniel is the closer and the person that comes in to seal the deal.

In today's episode, we talk candidly about Mark and Daniel's history, the early days of DevHub and how the two founders deal with conflict, and DevHub today and where the founders hope to take it.


  • mark and daniel's history and doing startups together
  • story of Devhub, its founding, pivots and the dark nights of the soul
  • Devhub today and what it does
  • customer outreach in white label business
  • mistakes and lessons learned
  • decision making process between two founders
  • hiring at Devhub
  • trends in company branding
  • Devhub future direction

Closing Questions

  • inspiration
    • mark
      • building a company (devhub)
      • travelling
    • daniel
      • acceleration of new technologies
  • surprising fact
    • mark
      • how hard we're actually working almost every sing le day
      • get up every day at 4:30 to work out
      • how often I hang out with my parents (at least 4-5 times a week)
    • daniel
      • super focused but at the same time always ready to be interrupted
      • closing abilities
      • parties
  • principles
    • mark: if you know you're right and good looking, go for it (aka just do it)
    • daniel: having a basic understanding of things before speaking about them
  • closing notes
    • lookout for Devhub and where it's going


  • DevHub
  • Mark Michael
    • Instagram: @gliderceo
    • Twitter: @gliderceo
    • YouTube
  • Daniel Rust
    • Instagram: @dlrust
    • Twitter: @dlrust

10: Getting Off the Couch with Mike Grabham

December 3rd, 2018 (69 minutes)

Mike Grabham is a serial entrepreneur who has founded six companies over the past twenty five years. He currently consults would be founders who are interested in launching either software or hardware based products and services. Mike is also the founder of "Package Guard", a company based around a patented product that protects items left out after delivery.

In addition to all this, Mike also runs a non-profit with his wife called "Survive the Streets" which helps the homeless in Seattle. Every year, they organize an annual event on thanksgiving where they give away duffel bags filled with coats, fleece jackets and other equipment to help people stay save and warm over the winter months.

When not engaged in the aforementioned activities, Mike is an active member of Seattle's start up community. He currently serves as chapter director for Startup Grind, the world's largest independent community for founders, in both Seattle and Bellevue.

In today's episode, we talk about Mike's history and the lessons and challenges absorbed from founding six startups, Mike's most common advice to founders and Mike's philosophy of getting off the couch and why that can make all the difference.


  • brief history of Mike's career
  • Mike's start to entrepreneurship
  • mistakes and lessons learned
  • consulting and decision to do it
  • most common advice for startups
  • how to reach customers and what questions to ask
  • figuring out the price for something that's never been sold
  • characteristics of good startup founders
  • startup grind and what has changed
  • doing a startup in Seattle vs the bay area
  • survive the streets and helping the homeless
  • comments on having a public email address
  • setting goals

Closing Questions

  • inspiration:
    • homeless lady that came up and told the story of how an organization like "Survive the Streets" helped them get off the street and thanked Mike for his service
  • surprising fact
    • despite drawing energy from crowds, Mike likes spending time by himself and will sometimes put on headphones to avoid conversation
  • principles:
    • helping others
  • closing notes:
    • story of package guard, Mike's current for profit company, came about because someone stole bag of coats delivered to his house which was meant for his non-profit

Contact and Details