November 30, 2022

Episode #55: Brian Rowe – Perceivant

Brian has been an entrepreneur since 2001, with his most recent venture Perceivant, started after a successful exit of iGoDigital. He started developing Internet based applications in 1990 programming in C. Since then he has been the Project Manager for various programs with annual budgets between $10m-$20m. As Director of e-Business at Cummins Engine Company, Brian started 6 online businesses and won the CIO Magazine’s 50 best Intranets award during his tenure.

Brian was a founder of Last Piece Software where he acted as the President until the company was acquired by iGoDigital. Brian has focused on technologies in the Big Data and ML space since his time at iGoDigital until the present. With a background that bridges both business and technology, he enjoys the fast paced and dynamic startup environment, where these skills can be used effectively. Brian is currently an investor and advisor to several start-ups.

Educational Background: Purdue University, B.S. Financial Planning and MBA

Transcript

hello this is coach Tim Campsall and I’m your host for the self-made is a myth show where we are talking to successful business owners to hear their stories of their journey to building their business and because we know that achieving success in business is not something that we can do on our own we’re taking some time to recognize the folks who have helped us to excel today I’m excited to have a fellow business owner from Indiana with us today my guest started programming at the age of 13 in its downtime he enjoys programming as well as stock trading Automation and he is most proud of his children it’s my pleasure to welcome Brian to the show today hello Brian how are you Tim I am fantastic thank you so much well hey let’s start with having you introduce yourself tell us a little bit of your personal story like where you live about your family and some of your hobbies yeah yeah if I’m living in Indiana these days um but I was really born Upstate New York and retained sort of you know some of that East Coast time in uh Heritage until I really uh grew up had kids and moved out to uh Indiana where I’ve spent probably the last 15 20 years or so um I you know don’t have I have the normal Tech gee copies right like I code in my free time I do occasionally play a little bit of Minecraft best game ever made but uh you know fascinating games like that but um I’ll spend uh as much time as I can though I’m traveling or you know hiking different areas Etc trying to get unplugged you know wherever I can get the opportunity uh to to really do something like that and that could be a beach or a mountain but nice you know try to enjoy those things as well yeah fantastic um and so are you here by yourself or any family move here with you uh my wife and three sons uh are here but you know my kids are pretty much grown and so um you know uh it’s pretty much uh almost an empty nest at the moment fantastic awesome hey Brian is there a funny story that your family likes to tell about you that you’d be willing to share with us today uh you know there there are stories that my mother tells that are better than I do if you will uh my my wife enjoys them much more than I do probably you know go sound perfect one of her uh one of her favorites is uh you know when I was maybe like five my mom wanted to take me to the store and I didn’t want to go and you know ever The Negotiator I I told her and promised her as a Drew line apparently with my foot on the ground that you know I wouldn’t uh cross that line I wouldn’t draw on the walls and I wouldn’t drink the poison under the counter right I’m still like a gen xer we still left poison under the counters apparently in my growing up so that’s what youth West Virginia she didn’t leave me home alone so but yeah she did or didn’t you did not I had okay it didn’t work not a five but

still still some responsibility but tell us Ryan um how the business came about I know you’ve had a few different businesses that at what point did you have the confidence that you could run your own business

that’s a fun that that that is actually uh uh you know sort of a nod a nod sort of question I’m not sure at that moment existed right uh in in some sort of moment because I think I was so fed up with the status quo and corporate and I realized I was sort of off Mission I had always known I was going to run a software company and I was trying to learn as much as I could about doing that and I you know I was in a mode where I was raising kids paying bills stuff that that people do and um you know that corporate environment was so toxic right and they wanted to do a project that was going to be miserable and fail so they were going to spend millions of dollars wasted to fail I I let them know it was going to be wasted and fail and you know they were not interested in my opinion and you know we parted ways and I and I had no choice right but but to sort of make that leap of faith and I’m not sure I’d call that confidence you’re sitting there with no choices uh bills still have to be paid and you you know you’re deciding like this is the moment where I’ve had it yeah and I’m going to make this thing work no matter what happens and and and sort of you know that’s uh you know maybe an odd type of confidence but it’s certainly conviction for sure right well I appreciate you sharing that because um you know there can be a a misunderstanding of the post that people put on social media where it makes it sound like right that everybody’s confident everybody’s got it all together and you know the hundreds of business owners that I’ve spoken to that’s really not the case so I thank you for being transparent sharing that with folks yeah social media looks quite different than reality

so Brian tell us a little bit more about uh the company that you’re uh that you’re building now yeah I have a I have a couple interests right now you know I think um the prime business that we’re still moving forward is um perceivent which is a great company but we’ve hired a president to run that company he’s fantastic and you know like I always encourage people like you need to hire people who you believe will do a better job than you right like these are the things you’re you’re trying to do you’re trying to build a team not of people who won’t do as good as you but that you really trust will do better things than you and I think in perceiving we’ve hired a president that can do uh quite a bit better job and have a greater passion for what’s happening there than than what I have at this time and uh I’m very excited about that um and I’ve started a few new Ventures uh one with uh automated stock trading which is facing its own uh its own challenges that’s sort of like the uh the ikigai of my of my you know passion set um and then yeah I’m working on a new Venture called dine tribe which will help groups of diners or people who want to eat out or share a drink or meal together find you know a really good place uh to do that to meet and to do that and I think sadly that is a terribly unsolved problem and we all eat like every day but maybe we go out once a week we want it we want it to be reliably good and we want it to be good for the entire group and for anyone who plans in that group it can be challenging we’d like to make it easier Amen to that that is so relevant right now we went out last night um before the Colts game and uh the experience was terrible the the food was late and we missed the kick off and it’s like oh my goodness and and despite the fact that it was we had a reservation and we were there you know two and a half hours ahead of time so there should have been no reason that we would be late for the game so I I like what you’re doing that sounds like I needed that app right right and groups groups are tough because you know people have so many variations on eating and drinking constraints today we don’t do a good job of recommending anything other in the world today than the sort of the highest advertising bidder you know seems to be what gets the most recommendations today so very challenging the best so I know you’re um it’s still you’re you’re working on it but is there is there a launch date what’s that is there any can you share anything or is it all still confident are you putting the pressure on no you know I think we would like to in Q2 be in some form of beta for that you know it’s in an early fundraising and Technology implementation phase uh but but you have to have certain number of unreasonable deadlines and you know technology if left on its own will be perfected in perpetuity you know so we’ve really gotta get something high quality but probably not what you’d be comfortable with right you gotta you gotta feel a little uncomfortable about it and then you hit the right spot so awesome well yeah challenge so exciting congratulations Brian share a story where someone pushed you or inspired you that you could do it even though maybe you thought you couldn’t and the impact that that person had on you

yeah probably had a couple I think um the great thing for me has been being lucky enough to have amazing mentors all along the way and I think you know you end up in these situations where you want to wonder about what you can do or how to do something so if you if you start from where I was I always wanted to run a software business and knew that I knew that was what I needed to do I knew that’s what I would be happy doing and I needed to acquire you know skills and knowledge to solve some of those problems and and you know those businesses you just can’t start them if you don’t know anything about business you can’t start a business right right it’s like oh okay you know I could do things like even then write stock tracking apps not you know uh as useful given my uh stock trading knowledge at the time which was still quite quite limited um but even my very first job I took was at a small software company right it’s an IBM Global Services partner and I got to work on IBM Global Services projects and I would work nights and weekends anytime I could to just follow the owner around anytime he would give me and I just followed him around I pulled wire through walls had nothing to do with the with a future career job but I wanted to see like what does this guy do what does he think about in his free time why why is he pulling wire why am I here with him on Saturday you know what are you doing this is this is this helpful well you know it really instilled sort of that mentality that as as owner all the Glorious jobs weren’t gonna just land upon me like literally taking out trash through walls is going to be one of the jobs that I would do if it meant that I could sort of preserve the productivity of of my team and what they were doing and he certainly wasn’t going to pull someone off of a billable project to do some of these other other things he was doing them you know himself and I realized that a lot of these things you know from that weren’t complicated necessarily they weren’t amazing you know you don’t give a words to people for taking out the trash right because anyone can do it but um baby it’s good right like all of these things um but he he was he was amazingly uh inspirational in that regard also just career-wise right he spent time on little things how I acted professionally with clients how I dressed what I thought about how how to focus on things that were positive or be persistent or continue to work through uh challenges you know I didn’t know I thought I knew a lot I knew nothing I learned quickly how little I knew and uh I think you know through that you learned a lot about how you could learn do hard work and um you know you could kind of see yourself saying okay I can see myself doing that that job in the future right and I think uh you know that was inspiring did push me always to do to do more things and that just never let up and I think you know I sometimes took jobs that maybe you weren’t the highest pain or didn’t look quite right just so I could work with the people that I wanted to learn stuff from that’s awesome yeah you know and what’s that what’s that business owner’s name that uh you were just describing uh Larry Howe okay he he was and I it was in Boston actually he’s a great he’s a great great guy I usually don’t like to um name too many many people they don’t want to necessarily also be uh name but he’s he he was extremely helpful to me that’s awesome obviously that’s you know it’s your first job it leaves an impression and um you know it’s a great individual well I like how generous he was um with his time to to Mentor you and train you and guide and direct you and and let you see the the full picture so that you can have that perspective that’s amazing right oh yeah yeah I I I I just think that most of the people at least in my experience have been very open um in the in the I would say um startup small business world in the corporate world right extremely opposite I’ve been lucky to have decent mentors there as well but

there is an attitude of abundance in the startup world uh in the small business world even back then but in corporate world there’s such a mentality of scarcity yeah everything is scarce yes uh in that environment and you know sort of the antithesis of of where I’d want to be even little things like planning right you’re always told in the corporate world under promise and over deliver because we you know we don’t want to set ourselves up for failure and not get our bonus that’s that’s one of the things that I have to deprogram with my clients is no think big right put a stretch goal out there if you don’t achieve it you’re that’s okay because what you do achieve is going to be bigger than your conservative version they know that you were taught in the corporate world to plan ABS absolutely uh you know I talked to our team about failure you know just the other day like if we’re not failing we’re just doing this wrong and you know it’s sort of like a shock to their system yeah right you’re like wait why why would we want to do that well you have to do that like we’re gonna set goals that may be irrational we’re going to reward you greatly if we reach them um but on some level we have to you know fail quite a few um yeah I think um you know even uh this was recent I saw Elon kind of do a piece where they were talking about you know blowing up engines faster just trying to produce something yeah cycle times and we’re blowing up a lot of them but we’re blowing them up faster yeah and you know cycle time is everything yes indeed so yeah you gotta be got to be comfortable with some level of failure you said the the fail forward that our our founder has a a saying that I like he says he never fails he either succeeds or he learns and I thought that that’s just a great way of of explaining failures right it’s not failing it’s I’m learning so that I can do it better the next time yeah So speaking of learning Brian what’s what’s your biggest learning as a business owner

you have to love this stuff that’s number one right because it’s really hard it’s not just it’s not just sort of hard

and you know just because you’re positive and you sort of think good things will happen they don’t always happen it doesn’t mean they will happen so so more than likely after you know 20 years now of of doing this bad things just happen Black Swan events will happen and uh you need to be ready for that um I think one of the things I learned I wasn’t necessarily sure I was going to learn was that I’m in sales yeah programming sort of math focused individual the realization that I’m in sales and sales was was somewhat of a shock even even to myself if you want to run a business you’re in sales yeah and you better come to grips with that yeah really soon um because because sales is King yeah uh you know I think but I’ve learned I’ve learned more than I’ve than I’ve asked or wanted to learn I think at the moment so continues in and it continues your your sales comment and I’m like the reason I’m laughing so much is because I had that similar conversation with my wife when I was um contemplating going out on my own and she’s like Tim you don’t like sales you’re this you’re not gonna I’m like it’s not sales I it’s gonna be great and then yeah in the first you know in the first couple years when it’s to your point when it’s really hard and right and and I was not feeling at my best she’s like I told you you weren’t gonna like sales right right oh man we have been days away from different entities away from no cash and you you know have to close something or have to collect something or you know that’s the the farthest place from data analytics you you could ever imagine right because the data side of me says we sent an invoice it was due in 14 days why didn’t they pay it yeah a person wouldn’t pay their bill well it turns out a few quite a few yeah so what has what’s been helpful for me is just the switching of my mindset so it’s not sales I’m professionally helping people to make a decision that’s right for them right and now it’s like oh my goodness I can do that right right I like that much better yeah so Brian we know that business success doesn’t happen in isolation so tell us about your biggest challenge during the years and maybe a fellow business owner that came alongside you to help you get through that yeah it’s probably not too uncommon now to hear that covet has been companies biggest challenges I don’t think that’s any different for us I think um we thought we would have a great opportunity to take advantage of covet at first event uh being that we were a digital learning platform and there has been some good um side benefits of that Over time however colleges close their doors going into many summer programs and so um you know that’s shocking it’s unplanned it’s a Black Swan event that you you just can’t you can’t think about so you can’t imagine colleges just canceling their summer classes in you know April right just telling students to go home we’re not going to take your money if you had asked if I thought schools would ever do that just six months earlier I’d say no way right you’re not going to forego all the planning all the revenue colleges don’t move that fast what right could make that happen well covet yeah and and so I think um I think a lot of business owners I think myself included um you know sort of shared stories and opportunities about how we were going uh to get through that time but you know for us um our lead investor who’s also owned you know several businesses really stood by us who knew that the mission was good worked with us um you know to continue through that struggling period not only just from Financial perspective but how to restructure how to um you know mentally and emotionally get back up right from you know 50 revenue losses right all of a sudden so it was a shock to the to the system and I think um you know you need sort of some folks who have been through some Black Swan events and are in a situation to to help you through that but but certainly without them uh we wouldn’t have made it through and it’s a challenge yeah challenged for a lot and a lot didn’t make it through yes that very true yeah so I I’m I’m just thankful that uh that you had that um opportunity that you had that support and that understanding and because to your point many didn’t so right so very very awesome that you had already built that you know that infrastructure and had people on your that had your back and was willing to to work through it with you so congratulations if if I had if I asked you to pick three people Brian in your business owner Journey that you’re most grateful for being there for you that’s that that has helped you with your business growth who are those three people and what did how did they help you yeah yeah certainly the investors we just talked about there was three people at that it’s a family-run shop those three I’ll count that as one but I mean without them I think we would uh struggle immensely um they’ve been you know patient kind and also you know I find they push you the most which is great um you know certainly uh my wife who has endured in 10 years crazy what’s your wife’s name Jennifer okay Jennifer and um you know there can be a certain number of long hours or irrational work moments and having a uh a spouse that’s supporting you and on your side is is insanely helpful to keeping things you know structured and moving forward the right way and then you know if you go really back uh we had a couple of Angel Investors one in particular who wrote the very first check you know and said uh they would write it on a handshake of course we did paperwork but you know the they said look if we didn’t think we could write this check on a handshake we wouldn’t write it and you know they just had a belief uh in me and uh the business partner at the time that um you know it it made Drew it made it possible uh but it also made you realize um that individuals like that who are sort of paying it forward um you know really sort of changed the course of how everything works and and sort of also set this bar like okay we gotta make this work we’re gonna have to pay them back

but uh yes certainly um that first sort of Jack of of of of size right um you know six figure size you know it’s meaningful and it’s hard to not be grateful to to to someone who has put that kind of faith in you yeah wow that’s all I’m I’m just in awe about you know the the the generosity and then to your point the confidence that that generosity gives and and also you alluded to it also that burden or that responsibility right of these people trusted in us and so we’ve gotta you know pay it back and and make sure we do you know nothing’s guaranteed as you already mentioned right with the Black Swan events but doing everything that you are capable of to to honor um that commitment and so yeah congratulations that’s an awesome story thank you for sharing so as you think about the next three to five years what’s the biggest challenge or challenges that you see that you’re going to face in getting to your goals and who are the types of people that you’re going to need to help you solve those challenges yeah you know if we go back 20 years which is hard to say you’re asking what the next three to five if you go back 20 years I had a very good economic picture of what the world looked like through 2020 to 2022 surprisingly um and I mean a very good picture so I felt I felt very confident in what the world looked like through that time period even into the covet event right so like we had expected a downturn in 2020 in some aggressive way not knowing the trigger would be covered sure but had planned for that I think what’s challenging right now is it’s an economy that is so uncertain that it is hard to see right and we are living in a time in a period where um I think the the next two years is going to be rough you know we’re in I think a recession right now I know that’s controversial on some level I don’t know why it’s controversial it’s it’s just truest but I think 2023 is going to be rough economy 2024 I’m um hopeful and positive that 2024 can turn that around so if you’re if you’re looking at a three to five year Challenge in a bad economy into the next year what types of things do you need to do to to survive next year to get to those three to five years right and what does that look like and uh what type of talent um and what type of economic goals can you really set in what what I expect will be a very challenging uh economy for for people in the next you know 12 months so I think those things are really challenging and probably if you’re looking at a consumer business or a stock trading business a stock market that’s in 30 declines and extreme uncertainty is um you know it’s an opportunity sure for sure uh but it’s also a challenge um right raising investment when Investments are extremely challenged and people are losing uh billions in some cases as you’ve seen with uh some of the tech investment collapse like in in coin right FTX Etc I think uh those environments create moments where um Capital doesn’t free up or flow as freely as it might have valuations I think will come under intents and scrutiny not not that they shouldn’t they they probably should have before sure and they’re probably going to in the future so I think that those economic challenges are gonna are gonna drive a lot of pressure on what happens over the next you know 24 months and you know companies there’s probably a few that don’t make it out of that window as well and then you know like any time period I think it’s going to be hard to find the technical talent and sales Talent like it’s always right there’s never been a time in my life where I go oh we just have an abundance of sales people they’re just falling off of trees you know that that is never uh that has never been a statement that’s always a challenge you need to find the people that can close those deals and move the the products that you’re needing to move um and and those are really unique you know individuals and Tech Talent is is is is always challenging I mean think about I was trying to think about in terms of stock trading who I could talk to about one of the problems I was trying to solve I have zero people in my Rolodex zero I I have to figure out the right Quant Trader you know in Indiana I don’t it’s not against in the end but it’s not a high Quant training environment right so you can’t just Network your way into some other Quant Trader that has tried to solve you know sort of one of these problems I’m trying to solve um so so how do you how do you even find that person you know these are sort of edge Talent cases I’m not talking about you you know sort of some of the more mainstream just Tech talk but but um that type of edge Talent that’s you know high in those data science categories I think will be um still challenging to find the right people despite all of our sort of collective efforts to to get programs in schooling and boot camps and you know college programs turning out students um finding those right individuals that can solve those problems in a rational way I think it’ll still be really challenging yeah there is a there’s definitely a big uh a big concern with the recession I agree we’re there already and we don’t know how long it’s going to be and what the the true impact’s going to be and um but what we do know at least from covet is the the folks who sort of put their ducked their head in the sand and said this is just going to be a couple months and pass over I did not uh do very well versus those who like you were saying say hey we know it’s here we’re gonna face it head on we’re gonna pivot we’re gonna adjust we’re gonna figure this out um those businesses actually came out the other end in a much healthier position than go where they were going into covet so I I appreciate what you’re saying in terms of eyes wide open right let’s let’s head it face on and and work our way through it yeah ABS absolutely it’s not it’s not it’s not something to be to be ignored and I think um in terms of like my Paradigm of thinking through it at the moment in terms of maybe a stock market in general um with such great uncertainty in the market you know maybe there is uh more openness to um a different way to to participate if we if we can bring that you know solution to Market that is mired in Regulatory and other legal constraints right now but um you know I think that uncertainty through is going to last for a certain period of time right and uh it’s going to be uh it’s gonna be exciting to see though there are there are no boring days in the stock market for the last three to four months so Jim Rohn said that we become the average of the five people that we spend the most time with so as you think about this what advice do you have for business owners who are trying to do it on their own

you know first that seems like a ridiculous question to me like I I don’t and I know you mean it in a genuine way but if I think about a business owner who’s trying to do it on their own I think of someone who is unemployed or self-employed and that’s not a business and and and so so I do I sort of just I struggle with that on uh you know on some level like what what kind of business or even are we talking about uh on the on the other hand um I do have that stock any that I talked about where I’m the primary person who does all the work but even in an effort to not do that alone I found a handful of individuals who I have um that you know we don’t let them code or do anything like that but you know they they participate to keep you sort of sane and honest your brain the human brain has a tendency to not be able to check itself very well and so I could easily lie to myself about my uh performance right I it cancel out the bad days keep the good days your brain can trick you immensely yeah and so um without having some outside check and balance even in that entity where those individuals um are are participating really only at a check and balance level sure right um but but it’s it’s just it’s just required yeah it’s it’s impossible if I if I think about um one of the early businesses we started you know I partnered with someone who was just excellent at sales just just fantastic right and so we knew hey I’ve got the pieces that I’m doing in the in the skill sets that I have that are going really well that are just as required but you’re gonna do this this stuff that I’m not that good at right and yeah I think um statistically if you if you look at the successful outcomes of businesses Partnerships always do better than Soul owners and there’s a reason for that you just no one person has a hundred percent right of of the high skills needed to to compete and I would say today it’s it’s even harder it’s even harder so you know going it alone just that again sounds more like you know I’m self-employed yeah and that’s okay that’s okay um there’s risk in that uh for sure and it can always lead to other things but I think when it leaves those other things what you’re gonna find is it leads to enabling other people to to work with you and participate and grow this to something that is you know bigger than what one person can do so um you know maybe it takes a little bit longer but you have to you have to find those checks and balances and those you know those other folks that um You Know cover your gaps if you will your skill gaps and then you know everybody has a bad day and a good day right and hopefully hopefully whoever you’re working with their cycle is the opposite of yours right yes occasionally be great if they meet but they don’t always do that so Brian you’ve been blessed with some incredible people it sounds like who have helped you along on your journey they were all on the show here today what would you want to say to them you’re crazy

yeah you know I think you know try to not uh try to not wait but you know we’ve said say thank you a lot I think um you know we’ve tried to realize that most of these things um could go away sort of almost at any time all these things are are are sort of temporal they’re one Black Swan event the way from not really existing anymore um but I find that most of the people who’ve been impactful have often believed maybe in me even more than I have right my wife will say that often I’ll try to say to her we have this Challenge and she’ll just say something like well let’s just figure it out yeah well right I I didn’t know I will just you know I’ll just figure that out obviously you always do and it’s like you know but a lot of those individuals had um you know faith and confidence in your work even when you didn’t or more than than you have and uh it’s greatly appreciated it’s how it’s how you kind of get get to where you need to be actually thank you is what I would say but I but I but I hope this would not be the first time

if anyone heard this this would not be the first time fantastic well Brian it has been a pleasure speaking with you today thanks for being on the show yeah I really appreciate it hopefully it’s helpful in some way and uh thanks for your time to everyone who tuned in thanks for listening to the self-made is a myth show with your host coach Tim cancel be sure to help spread our Movement by liking the show and posting about it on your social media and to join us go to be mad together.com all right folks that’s a wrap make sure to pay it forward and I’ll see you all next time take care