We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeremy Barnett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeremy, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
As a startup, the odds of success are stacked against you. Rad is definitely no exception. I think being a startup CEO I’ve learned how to be “blind” to rational thought. While everyone has a different journey, I believe the path is what reveals the next steps. What I mean by this is when you’re tinkering, learning or doing whatever…. This “new idea” needs the failures to create meaningful feedback. And continued feedback into an idea or new business concept is what creates success. Oftentimes people quit too early for whatever reason. Sometimes the answer is that the original business idea was wrong. If your mindset is “feedback based” opposed to “failure based”, then pivoting the business based on specific learnings is a great way to win.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Rad Intelligence is a marketplace for brands to engage influencer audiences to drive website visits, sales and conversions. For brands that want to use influencers and need quantifiable ROAS, RAD is the only game in town. The “right now” moment has put RAD in a great position as we’ve caught fire this past few months. Online usage has almost doubled since mid-March alongside a constant “Black Friday” atmosphere around online spending. The world was already a virtual economy, but now… it’s on steroids. In late March’20, I made one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made as RAD’s CEO and decided to run a crowdfunding campaign on Wefunder. We were getting lots of advice not to do it from some of our most valued advisors. Without going too deep on the reasons why, or why not… The decision to bet on our team and take control of our fundraise is a pivotal moment in RAD’s journey. After multiple “no’s”, we secured our lead investor Chris Grabe from Startup Camp for the Wefunder campaign. Through Startup Camp, RAD secured one of our largest platform clients, Raging Bull. And during this time, we also closed several platform deals which gave us serious momentum heading into our Wefunder campaign. Today, RAD has over 25 advertisers on our platform and are experiencing hockey stick growth. The success of our Wefunder campaign and most recent platform growth is 100% attributed to my team’s dedication and never quit mind-set. As a team, we’ve had multiple opportunities to quit, and didn’t. To the contrary, we stuck together and got through the muck. When things are good and business is booming things can be a ton of fun and come easily. The “good stuff” however comes from the setbacks and rollercoaster of challenges you must overcome as a startup. The team we’ve assembled at RAD is by far the most talented team I’ve ever had the privilege to lead and work with. When speaking to other startup CEOs that are in the “struggle”, my specific advice is to embrace it. True success can’t happen without hardcore challenges that need to be solved.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Finding sanity during Covid-19 has been a mission all in itself. The work we are doing here at RAD has definitely become a source of therapy. Marco Hansell and I (Rad’s CRO) started a RAD podcast which tackles all sorts of entrepreneurial and social topics. Real talk (shout out to Natacha), staying balanced in 2020 has been a challenge to put it mildly. One of the things I’m most excited about is that my passion to surf has been reignited. My heart has always been tied to the ocean as I’m a surfer for over 35 years. Funny how the little things are even more enjoyable these days. I get to surf uncrowded spots from time to time, which is rare in SoCal. And now…when I get together with a friend to surf, it’s intentional. Meaning we meet, do whatever….then go back to our families.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I always come back to this. Life’s biggest moments for me have always come during my most challenging and vulnerable times. During the early stages of RAD, we were at a pivotal crossroads of the business. If you’re reading this as a CEO or Founder, you’ll know this crossroads. Let me explain. RAD hadn’t paid anyone on its team for two months and had bills stacking up at every corner. All the credit cards were maxed out and the prospect of meaningful revenue was 60-90 days out. RAD was surviving on fumes of fumes if you know what I mean. The situation was dire to put it mildly. I decided to get into the car, drive for 5 hours to visit my lead investors (Tom & Krista from Dzhel Ventures) from my previous venture. This conversation was too important for a phone call. The result of this in-person meeting was enough investment to get RAD to the next milestone. The odds and rationale pointed elsewhere, but Tom and Krista believed in me. It would have been much easier to give up. It would have been easier to not drive a total of 10 hours with my family and just call Tom & Krista. It would have been easier just to hide and throw the pity party. My point is this, as a CEO you always have a move. Even when you’re out of moves, you have a move. Sometimes you have multiple options that offer a solution…and each option is worse than the next. You must pick your best option, and keep fighting.