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You can’t build a company alone. Nick Turner has learned a lot in life, but most of all he’s learned the power of networks and how to trust other people to help you move forward.
Building your own board of advisors
At every step in the journey, Nick has spent time asking for advice and help. Some of his connections are people in his past, but it was surprising who was supportive of his early ventures. “A lot of the people that you believe would support you don’t, and a lot of the people that you don’t know, do end up supporting you.”
Other people he just reached out to on LinkedIn. Nick says to not be afraid to reach out to people who can help you. “The worst thing someone can do is say no.” He’s been amazed at how generous people are with their time.
“Not one business out there wants to see another fail. Because every competitor can become a strategic partner.”
Decentralizing the stress
We talked about the level of stress and anxiety leaders often carry. And a lot of their time is spent being lonely. They feel like they can’t share with their team, and other entrepreneurs are also bust.
“I always say entrepreneurship is 99.999% stress, but that 0.1% is amazing.”
Nick recommends being transparent with your team about your stressors. You can invite them into the conversation. They know you are stressed and likely have good solutions that will help you.
Nick Turner on LinkedIn
Welcome back to The Digital Workplace podcast. Today, our guest is Nick Turner. He is the CEO at DeliverEnd. Hey, Nick. What’s going on?
Hey, how’s it going?
It’s going great. I’m talking to you so I’m having a great day already. So I’m really excited to chat with you and to get in deep about your company and what you’re doing. But first, one thing we do on every show is that we do a CAPTCHA question to prove that you are a human. We’re talking to a real life, human, not a machine. So Nick, I want to ask you this question. What’s been the highlight of your week so far? Last seven days, what would you say is the high point?
The highlight of my week has been, that’s a…
That’s a tough one.
Yeah. Like business or personal?
Either one, whatever you want to share. My highlight would have been, I’m coaching a soccer team with my son. And we’re 5-0 right now because we had an awesome game. So I live that in my head all the time.
My son has a T-ball practice tonight. And then he has a game on Saturday. My highlight is, of course, spending time with him, and also, my daughter. And we’ve had some partnerships close this week, which is awesome. And also, we’re working on the partnership with Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Racing as well for the rest of their season. Awesome because I love IndyCar.
Yeah. And we are in May in Indianapolis and so that’s one on everyone’s mind. Cool. Nick, tell us a little bit about, you passed the human test. So that works well. Tell us about DeliverEnd. What does it do and how did you get started?
So I started DeliverEnd because one of my best friends was actually robbed at gunpoint, on his iPhone on Facebook Marketplace for $70. He was in broad daylight. It was at a gas station. And he called me immediately after, and just expressed what happened. And I was like, dude, you have to be safe out here. It was like, just because you go to the gym every day doesn’t mean that you can protect yourself from guns and everything. So he was like, “Well, Nick, if there’s a safer way to exchange goods, then please let me know, because I haven’t seen anything yet.”
So I was looking at all the platforms out there, like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp, Nextdoor, and none of them have a safe, secure way to transact the items currently, or to actually inspect the item, unless you’d go across town and meet them in person, which is also risky, because with every single transaction that happens on these platforms, you’re putting yourself in a potential dangerous situation. And so what we did is we replaced that in person meetup with an app live video chat. So you can further investigate the item, ask questions, negotiate the price, and do a quality check.
From there, you can pay for the item in the delivery within our app, and the funds are held in the cloud or a temporary escrow. And then we have gig economy, driver partners that’ll go pick up the item and deliver it right to you. You don’t have to give out any of your personal information because it’s all connected through your username. And I wanted to build something that people needed versus wanted. Because with how the marketplace works right now is super risky. You hear day in and day out about different transactions going wrong, from robberies to murders, to rapes, abductions, and things like that just shouldn’t be happening. So I wanted to ensure that people are safe. And everyone on our team just cares about other individuals. We’re humans, and we’re not like the robots, and we want to make sure that everyone is safe and taken care of. So that’s why we really put the emphasis on building what people need versus what they want.
Yeah, I mean, it’s a great way. It’s amazing to look back and realize how much of the marketplace is just built on trust. You’re meeting a stranger you’ve never met before, you don’t know anything about, and you’re assuming that everything is going to go well. And it does a lot of times, but obviously, not all the time. And to be able to provide that safety is a great thing for pulling this off. Nick, we want to get into a little bit about how you are running your business. You’re leading it. You’re the CEO, the founder that’s come in. And you’re also trying to navigate new waters. I mean, this is your first venture as a CEO, correct?
No, no. I started a few other ones.
All right. Well, tell me about those. What have you learned from those experiences?
Oh, I learned a lot. My very first startup was called the Unbounded Group. It was a online platform for startups and seasoned entrepreneurs, where they can exchange tips and tricks. And we also partnered with the ISI agency, who would build out websites, logos, different marketing materials for everyone on there. We created a subscription model. We had over 600 users month over month. It was just a platform that I used to learn while I was at IU just taught me how I learn and just building that platform just helped me escalate the process without having to look for mentors and everything else at the time.
And then I started Showcases, which was a cellphone case that came with a cigar cutter, flint and matches. And I did it because, like my granddad, he was a pastor and an entrepreneur, but he also loved cigars. I was looking at the cigar industry, and I was like, well, I want to do some for him in this. I was thinking about, oh, just cutter. And I was looking at it like, okay, what is missing from here. And none of them have an actual cellphone case. So I built it out and everything. And this was a learning lesson because we actually ended up losing $50,000 in China for doing that. We went through a third party to get access to the prep over in China. And it was just, yeah, but I learned that you’re supposed to have a project manager over in China watching over your product. And I didn’t know that until I got connected with a few other individuals that produce items from China and told me that. So life lesson.
Yeah. I’m fascinated, Nick, by the way that you’ve learned lessons throughout your career so far. At start, you’re bringing in a lot of other people around you who are more experienced and learn about different things and come through. You’re also learning things the hard way, through your own experiences that come out. Has that been you’ve just always wanted to learn all these lessons and get as much as you can, or have you had different approaches throughout your life?
Just learn as much as I can. I love learning new things and trying out new things. And just being the one that, I just like to push limits whenever it comes to everything. Like right now, we’re scaling into over 20, we’re actually doing a national rollout. But we’re also building the plane as we jump off the building. So we’re scaling and adding in new features as we enter new markets and adding more people onto the team and also raising additional capital along the way, and forming different strategic partnerships. And it’s just, yeah, it’s just a crazy ride right now. But it’s so awesome.
As you’re doing this national rollout, tell us what it’s been like to make some of those connections. Because, typically, in pre-digital times, you only have access to whatever networks you’re a part of that are there. So how have you hacked that system using digital methods enabled to reach out and to find new people that are willing to help you from across the country?
Yeah, just really utilize LinkedIn and Twitter. Because the worst thing that someone can say is no, and that’s totally fine. But putting yourself out there and just being genuine with your efforts really shows the more successful people, those people are the most willing to help you. And even some of the executives at large organizations, they’re incredibly nice, incredibly kind, some of them. But it’s been a huge blessing to be able to speak with and be connected with a lot of these people because they’ve heavily influenced a lot of my decision making and also just the knowledge around their experience on execution. And they also have the proof to back all their decisions as well. They’re teaching me how to execute in a similar way that they’ve done it throughout their career.
It’s entrepreneurs and also other executives. Like, I speak to everyone from CCOs to CROs to directors to heads to customer service reps, just learning and understanding everything through and through whenever it comes to a large organization versus a startup. And just seeing how they actually got there. Speaking with some of the people that are in the gig economy that have already been through, jumped over those hurdles, or got knocked down and got back up, it’s really nice to see that they’re so open and willing to communicate some of the things that they’ve been through and some of the things to watch out for, and be able to implement it in our current processes to make sure that we’re able to maneuver around it and continue to execute on time.
Yeah, it’s almost like you’ve built your own personal private board of people that are there to consult you and to watch you grow and help you in different situations like that. What kind of advice would you give to other CEOs and leaders if they’re in a situation where they just feel stuck. They feel like they have no one to ask for. They feel like their problem is so unique that no one else could really give insight. Or how should they go to reach out to these people? Is it just as simple as just finding somebody on LinkedIn and then sending a message?
Yeah, just swallow your pride and just reach out. Yeah, just reach out. If they don’t get back to you the first time or second time or third time, that’s totally fine. Just wait a few weeks maybe. Everyone has different things going on throughout their life. Just wait a few weeks and just reach back out. If you target the top three people, make a list of 10 and just target the top three that you really, really want to be connected with. Whenever you first messaged them, don’t be generic and just say, hey, I’m trying to connect with you. Say like, hey, I’m building this company. I saw your past experiences. And I just want to ask you a few questions. Because I feel like I’m stuck in this situation and I would love your advice. And that makes people feel super valued that they’re open to express their tips, tricks, their experiences with you.
It’s just being human and genuine and making sure you’re humble. Because we’re all in this together. I always say just like how it takes a community to raise a child, yeah, it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to build a company. So we have to work together and continue to innovate and iterate things so that we just grow together. Because not one business out there wants to see another fail. Because every competitor can become a strategic partner. There’s ways to work together no matter what, just like whenever someone’s arguing back and forth, there’s always a better way to communicate, to take that argument away and just form it as a straight communication, a conversation. Just having it to where you can be open with them. And they can be open with you and just form that relationship. It will be a lasting bond where they’re like, oh, I think you should talk to this person or that person, then they start opening up their networks to you and once they start doing that it’s, yeah.
Keep going from there, yeah. So, Nick, a lot of times we hear from people that, especially as a CEO of a company, it’s lonely. You feel like you’re stuck to make all the decisions yourself. It’s hard to share some of the burdens that that role carries with it. Do you feel those same pressures, or have you felt like some of this digital community you’ve created enables you to share some of those burdens with other people, too?
Both, it is some time to build up the connections. But also it is a lonely road. There’s some times that you’ll find yourself in the office and you’re like, man, this is tough. Like, I don’t know what’s going on. It could be something in business. And then also you’re battling something personally, whether it’s family or even health problems. But having that strong, mental state and capacity. I mean, my mental health, it’s absolutely incredible how much it can affect your work, and also your overall mindset. Taking some time away to meditate and just to feel, even though you’re alone all the time, just take some time to take a break from your organization or your company.
Because whenever you take that break, and then when you come back, you can come back with a clear mind and clear vision. So you can execute, because some of the decisions that you’re making underneath pressure and stress aren’t the best decisions that you could be making after if you would’ve taken a break. It’s a struggle, it’s a battle. You have to be really, really resilient whenever it comes to knowing, you just have to have that confidence in yourself to believe that you can do it and you can execute it because there’s going to be people throughout your journey that’s like, oh, what are you doing? Especially when you start off, friends, family members, they’re like, oh, yeah, I’m starting a company, they’re like, what? You are? Yeah, I’m going to do it. Will you support me? A lot of the people that you believe would support you don’t, and a lot of the people that you don’t know, do end up supporting you.
It’s a constant battle. The stress levels are absolutely insane sometimes. I find myself thinking, oh, man, I need to update my resume, but I know I never would do that because at the end of the day, it’s all about why you started and how many people need you to build what you’re building. In times like that, I literally start looking up some of the Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist killer stuff that have gone wrong and I’m looking at it like, okay, look at these families. What you’re building could save them, and not only them but people you care about and people that you love and also your friends, your family members. It’s just that motivation right there just pushing me to keep going, even on the tough days, which I mean, in the startup realm, you’re going to have way more tougher days than you do glorious days. I always say entrepreneurship is 99.999% stress, but that 0.1% is amazing. It’s just a huge motivator for me is making sure that people are safe.
Yeah, having that vision and that purpose obviously keeps you going and keeps you driving. When it comes to dealing with that stress, I’d like to know from you, how open are you with your teammates, people who you’ve hired, they’re employees, they’re people that you’re partnering with every day that are there. Do you feel like you need to protect them from that or do you feel like if you give too much of it, they’re going to see you in a different light that’s not good. Do you try to put that stress on your other outside adviser community or on your family and friends? How do you balance out those stress loads when it’s overwhelming for you?
I just take it all. There’s a balance whenever it comes to employees. You’ll know who you could communicate your stresses with and who you couldn’t, just because of the communication level and everything. But in all honesty, the team will know whenever you’re stressed. It’s really hard to hide it. But with that stress, as long as you’re giving solutions, and asking advice, even inside your team, like, hey, this is what I’m thinking about doing. What’s your thoughts on it? And bringing the team in on your decision making really helps create a clear path, not only for you, but for the entire organization.
Because, yes, like being a CEO, you’re the head decision maker, but you don’t have to be the only person that’s making the decisions. And even some of the decision making skills you can delegate out, where you can sit down with the whole marketing team, you’re like, okay, this is what I was thinking for a budget. How far would this get us? And we do have additional this, but do you feel like that’s necessary to dig into or should we just use it as reserves? And they could come back and say, actually, the budget that you gave us is solid, but we can just shorten it down or lower it to X. And we can see the responses we get from these different advertising or strategic marketing plays that we have from this, and then that will determine how much we need for the rest of it, or where we put the rest of the capital. Because you can think like, oh, we need to pour everything into Google ads. The marketing team is like, actually, Facebook ads and digital ads are where it’s at. And that’s our biggest return. And just communicating with them, that’s just the best thing.
Yeah, that seems more like being open about your alignment, being open about your strategy, where you’re trying to go so everybody knows you’re on the same page. And then as stress inevitably comes, it’s going to come from somewhere, but if everyone’s stressed about the same things, it’s nice, because then you can all bring a different perspective to it, and somebody is going to be at that moment of clarity. If you’re in some kind of relationship, it’s always nice if one person’s freaking out, the other person is a little bit more calm and can keep the boat going. Because even sometimes reacting strongly to stress is a good thing so that you can actually make progress and focus on what needs to happen, too. That’s great.
Yeah, there’s just different levels of stress that you’re going to experience with each level of the organization, like from raising capital, that’s stressful, hiring talent, that’s stressful. There’s a lot of stress in it, but it’s just about how you manage it and just don’t let it overwhelm you or control you.
Nick, it’s been great to chat and to learn about these things and to learn about how you are distributing that stress or managing it yourself, these networks you’re building with new people that are able to build you up is a great lesson that I’m taking away from this about how we can just reach out to people that we maybe didn’t have access to before. So this has been a fantastic conversation. If people want to learn more about DeliverEnd and where to go for that, where should they go?
Excellent. Please check it out. Connect with Nick. You can reach out to him on LinkedIn, I’m assuming, because that’s the way you encourage everybody else to do it. So cool. Thanks for being on the show. We look forward to continue to connect with you and hear from you again soon.
Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.
Nick is an entrepreneur with a passion for taking care of his community and keeping people safe. As Founder and CEO of DeliverEnd, Nick is leading his organization through rapid growth and scaling so he can bring marketplace safety beyond the borders of Indiana to markets across the United States.
As an entrepreneur, Nick has founded multiple start-ups and is bringing attention to Minority-Owned Tech – particularly in the Midwest. As a dual-sport athlete at Indiana University (football and track), Nick fine-tuned the grit and perseverance needed to be successful in business. Nick has been honored as a MIRA awards finalist and has built relations with Indy Car teams as a company sponsor, the Indiana State Government to help with Covid-19 recovery program “Back On Track Indiana”, the NFL, Yahoo, Facebook, Uber, and more.