The Startup Junkies Podcast

The Startup Junkies podcast is hosted by Jeff Amerine and the team at Startup Junkie. We’ll cover topics ranging from getting started, planning, growing your business, proving your concept, leadership, marketing, exit strategies and so much more. We’ll interview business owners, entrepreneurs, experts and people we think will bring value to our audience. Subscribe, and together we'll take your business to the next level.
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Now displaying: August, 2015

This is the Startup Junkies Podcast. These are the stories of the people that are afflicted with creating the next great products and services that are going to change lives - not just in America, but worldwide. We're going to tell the stories of the next great beer producer, products and apparel makers, and the stories of people that don't accept the status quo and that want to make things better. 

Welcome to the Startup Junkies Podcast.

Aug 31, 2015

We talk with Hayseed Ventures COO Scott Andrews. Hayseed Ventures is a VC Production Studio located in Northwest Arkansas. They are actively working to change the face of startups in Northwest Arkansas and to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship in beautiful downtown Fayetteville. 

Q : What do you do?

Scott: We are a startup that starts startups. We are a venture studio, with a team of 7, we partner with early stage companies and help them raise funds. Our goal is to work with 6 to 8 companies a year.

Q : Who is John James?

Scott: He is a physician by profession who likes to build businesses. He figured out how to arbitrage keywords back in the 90s with google adword traffic and became a huge portion of it, he built Grill Stuff and started Acumen brands (monetizing facebook).

Q: What is your competitive advantage?

Scott: Customer Acquisition. We understand the process of getting the data, analyzing it and creating the economic machine that drives it.

Q: What are some of your current portfolios.

Scott: We actually have 5. One is the Q-Ball, it's a quiz ball reloaded. We built the content behind the machine and then built a SaaS business around it and built an online platform for it

Q: What kind of companies you work for?

Scott: A company that is early but has some tractions, some customers and some revenues.

Example: Menguin (Online Tuxedo Rental)

Q: Your model, how it is different from venture fund or from incubator or accelerator?

Scott: Its kind a mixed of everything. Our revenue is like a venture fund. We are co-founder.

Q : How did you come to work for Hayseed Ventures?

Scott: My interest is to work with a lot of different engineers and to continuously learn and learn about new things.

Q: What advice could you give to entrepreneurs who might want to talk to Hayseed?

Scott: Any entrepreneur needs to understand the problem they are solving, If you have specific interest or understanding, turn into competitive advantage.

Q: What do you look for entrepreneurs or businesses to work with?

Scott: We have a checklist and the top 3 are: Can we test this quickly? Can we reiterate it quickly and can we do it cheaply? And aside from these, we also identify if the business is a 10 million dollar business, if not then it is not something that we mess with. Does it have a clear customer acquisition strategy?

Q: Why should entrepreneurs come to Hayseed?

Scott: With a team having different brains, you get a lot of experience thinking about you all the time and you get a lot of contacts. An accelerator would introduce you to a lot of people and say go figure it out; a venture capital groups would say here’s the check, go figure it out. We’ll say come work with us, we will help you figure it out. We are hands-on and we’re teacher, not doers. We will teach you how to run your social strategy, how to manage your website and how to raise capital.

Q: What needs to happen next to make this whole Northwest Arkansas rock and roll?

Scott: I think we need to continue the path that we’re going, we’re starting to create density. Find ways to retain talents.

Q: What is your message to big companies, why do they need to care about this startup things?

Scott: I think that when we do better, they’ll do better as well. They’re going to be able to attract more talents and provide more service to them.

Q: Why should they come to this region?

Scott: This region is the Silicon Valley for retail. You’ve got Fortune One and everything that supports it. There are vendors and world-class educational institution here.

Our contact info:

Jeff Amerine

Jon Cadieux

Aug 24, 2015

Bryon Western and Jim Lewis of Little Bird Systems talks with us about the internet of things.

The Product

  • Rapid Commercialization System for the Industrial Internet of Things - lego building block approach to building electronics 
  • Difference from other companies : Giving the very quick path from the bench-top prototype to something that they can commercialize and take to market.
  • Internet of Things - trend in industry that connect electronics to any physical object, measure data on such object and perform an action on that object.
  • FOCUS : Industrial Market
  • Bandwidth Discipline - optimize protocol - system that are not highly bandwidth thing 
  • Sale Cycle -  Up to a year from completion of development cycle (which takes about 18 months to 2 years) for them to get back or realize income

The Business Model and How Money is Generated from this product

  • GOAL :  To move people from that bench-top prototype  to a 2nd stage ruggedize prototype (mass produced unit) - provide service to create their customer electronics - sell them the hardware they need to sell their products to customers

(JIM’s Perspective on what they do) 

  • What is the market? 15 Trillion dollar market 
  • Glad to have partners with business intellects

How to startup a company (based on their experience)

  1. Laying plans - what is the market? how to approach the market? what would set you apart from someone else? 
  2. Getting everything in place - operating plans, financial model 
  3. Opportunity to make difference in the world, in the industry you are attacking 

(BRYON’s Perspective on what they do) 

  • Be involved - hire people who can contribute 
  • Entrepreneur Programs could help you operate the business - adding technical knowledge
  • CEO vs employee in the startup : As an employee, you have to deal with every aspect of the business - keeping contacts - inform the people what you are doing and Delegating tasks - trust people that they can also do what you can do 

ADVICE : Creating a company Based on Technology 

  • Get a business person - somebody who have worked with technology - if you explain something to somebody and don't they get it, it is not their fault it's your fault - practice the skill of simplifying things and communicating it to people 

What’s the future of Technology-based businesses in Arkansas

  • Prediction: 2020 - 50 billion devices will connect to internet - whereas right now 90% are not connected.
  • What’s right in Arkansas as an area of startup technology companies? 
    • A lot of Manufacturing and Agriculture is going on so the advantage is you can get first hand information from people who needs the solution
  • For Arkansas to grow with technical startup companies/businesses
    • companies must be responsible for specifically defining what is to be done to be a technical startups (e.g. execution of invention assignment agreements) 
    • Research areas must be confined to such specific business that they are in 

Our contact info:

Jeff Amerine

Jon Cadieux



Aug 17, 2015

Jeff and Jon talk with a local brewer, Lee Robinson, Founder and Co-Owner of Bentonville Brewing Company.

A Discussion with Micro-Brewer Lee Robinson of the Bentonville Brewing Company

Q: What is the difference between nano and micro-brewery?

A: It’s based on volume production, what you can do annually. How many barrels a year - in Arkansas it’s 500 barrels a year is a micro-brewery. However this number increases every year, the bar keeps on raising for what can be considered as micro-brewery.

Q: How do you sell your beer?

A: We self-distribute and we don’t go through distributorship because that means a lot more costs,a lot more kegs and lot more inventories to get a good percentage of the keg.

Q: Your run your own tap room? Where is your tap room?

A: Yes, we run our own tap room. Its over here at 1000 Southeast 5th St in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Q: What is your background? Is that where you met Gavin Edwards (co-owner)?

A: My background is actually finance and real estate. Yes, we have worked together in real estate over the last few years, he was a realtor and I was a loan officer. He came into the brewery a little bit later in the game. It was me and another friend of mine who started it.

Q: About your brewmaster, how long he’s been doing it?

A: About 2 or 3 months now. But before him, we brought in a guy who is experienced so it is from that person where our current brewmaster has taken his technical background from.

Q: When you guys decided that you wanted to do this, how did you come to an agreement? Who’s gonna do what? What does the partnership look like and all that fun stuff?

A: A lot of handshakes and verbal. We do have a new operating agreement now but that’s probably one thing that we should have defined more clearly early on. We should have written out in detail what and whose role should it be because many would not do the roles they said they would do.

We did some other things, trading equity for work and build-out and stuff like that but it didn’t quite go as we planned but we all got it done in the end. I did all the licensing with the TTB and ABC, a lot of stuff, I didn’t know about. You can read all that stuff online but depending where you live at, you will have different circumstances to go through in getting a license.

Q: Now that you’re in the game, are you getting a little more confident with all that works, getting the traffic, getting the brand out there and all that?

A: Yes, we’re very excited how things are going so far. Our first brews were actually very good beers.The first time we had a bad batch, they got messed up, we got the wrong yeasts and we just flushed it down the drain.

Q: What do you think the outlook is for craft brew?

A: I think it’s very positive right now especially here in Benton County and in the Little Rock area, there is a lot of growth happening, there are a lot of breweries coming out.

Q: How has it been so far? Did it meet your expectations? Exceeded?

A: It has met my expectations. Right now, we’re paying the bills so that’s pretty good. We’re not really into real profit yet.

Q: When you get to capacity, what’s the plan? What will you do to expand?

A: That’s where it gets a little risky to me. We can add a little more areas and space but we will soon outgrow that space and that’s gonna be the next challenge - what we are going to do, should we stay in this small craft brewery or do mid-size brewery and that is where the risk will come in.  It is something we should plan and think about thoroughly.

Q: Are you going to can as well?

A: If we decide to go, we need to move to another facility. That maybe an option for us.

Q: What do you think about some of the labels that are out?

A: Sometimes more is less, that is my personal opinion. I would like to keep it simple and basic and focus on the beer.

Q: What’s keeping you up at night?

A: Right now we are trying to maximize production and also manage accounts, making sure to keep all accounts that we have. And also, what beer to produce.

Q: How many different types of beer that you have now?

A: We’ve got 5 different types.

Q: Do you guys offer anything other than your own beer?

A: We have some wine in our brewery. We have some brewed coffee from Airship coffee. We’re looking at local root beer.

Q: Are you having fun?

A: Yes, I really enjoy starting business and running them day to day

Q: What about cleaning and water quality?

A: The whole brewing process is cleaning. Brewing is not difficult, it's a lot of hard work, taking good notes so you’d know what you did right, what you did wrong. And making sure that everything is very clean so you don't get infections. With the water quality, we run it through a carbon filter and we treat it with different salts to balance the water to the beer that we’re gonna make.

Follow Bentonville Brewing Company on Facebook

Our contact info:

Jon Cadieux

Jeff Amerine



Aug 10, 2015

In this episode, we are joined by Startup Junkie consultant Jayshica Amargos. She joins us in a fun conversation about business partnerships. 

How to Put Together a Successful Partnership

Find the right partner/s.

  • Do DUE DILIGENCE.. Be diligent enough and check references of potential partners even if you already know them. Examples of questions to address in finding partners are as follows:
  • What companies are in your portfolio?
  • What types of companies and individuals do they like to work with?
  • Will they open doors?
  • Are they going to be tough to work with?
  • Are they just only financially oriented or are they’re going to add value in other ways?
  • Being clear on your purpose in entering into a partnership will also help you find the right partner/s. For instance, if you only enter into a partnership because you cannot afford to pay for your own employees then you might end up with a wrong partner because in doing so, you might neglect to take proper due diligence on that person having only in mind your desire to establish a company with employees.

Identify red flags.

  • Identifying red flags would save you from a failed partnership. For example, if a prospective partner would not allow you or your CPA to check the books then that could mean that something is being concealed from you, a sign to walk away.

Be definite on how you would go about the partnership.

  • Clearly define the following with your partners:
  • Responsibilities and scope of work
  • Expectations and Scope
  • Dispute/Issue Resolution
  • Accountabilities

Figure out if there is a cultural fit between you and the other party.

  • Identify your own company values, objectives and culture.
  • Once you have identified yours, have a comprehensive understanding of what the other party has - its values, objectives and culture. Examples of questions that you might want to consider are as follows:
    • What is their purpose?
    • What drives them?
    • Why are they doing what they are doing?
    • What is their vision?
    • Where do they want to be in 5 years?
    • What’s their mantra, their mission,?
    • What they do on a regular basis?
    • What are their core values that drive how they operate?
  • One of the main reasons why many partnerships fail is because parties fail to align their cultures and so the best thing to do is to identify this at the earliest stage.
  • You might also want to enter into a team agreement or a trial period with a partner in order for you to assess if you and your prospective partners are culturally aligned . This will also allow you to decide whether to push through with the merger or partnership.

Communicate regularly.

  • In every relationship, communication is a must. In a partnership, expectations should be defined and this could be done by regularly communicating with each other.
  • Address issues early on, do not allow it to get complicated before resolving the issues.

Divide the labor.

  • Once goals are set and expectations are identified, take time to study each other’s strengths when it comes to the functions of the business - sales and marketing, operations, accounting, compliance, etc. to identify the responsibilities of each party for proper delegation of work. If there are overlapping skills or expertise as to those functions of the business, partners must decide who is responsible for what task (marketing, sales, operations, etc.) instead of both of you handling the same function.
  • There must be complementary strengths among partners and this could be done by proper delegation of functions.
  • If everybody can do the same stuff then it is not a good partnership.

Set aside egos. Master emotional intelligence. Be self-aware.

  • When companies are merged or a partnership is established, it is expected that different leaders with different values and personalities would have different ideas or perspectives to bring into the newly established company and this could cause misunderstandings and issues. In order to avoid emotions from taking over, especially in tough situations, these leaders must have the commitment to listen to each other to resolve the situation. They should be able to stay calm and respond logically.
  • If there are people who are emotionally responsive rather than logically responsive, think of a strategy on how to deal with it. Have a coping skill for tense situations and understand how to diffuse a tense or bad situation.

Honor your commitments as a partner.

  • All parties in a partnership must be aware of what they are getting into and should take part in all the affairs of the partnership. Commitment is very important in any relationship including business relations. Once you are a partner, make sure to honor your commitment and bind yourself to what has been agreed upon. If you cannot, have the class to exit gracefully before things get real bad and irreversible damage is done.

Our contact info:

Jon Cadieux

Jeff Amerine

Aug 3, 2015

In this episode we talk about the business of craft beer. NWA is seeing a lot of new nano breweries opening and we will more than likely continue to see more open in the coming months and years.

History of Beer and Beer Business

  • The craft beer business includes nano-breweries and micro-breweries.

  • Northwest Arkansas is the home of a lot of very tasty craft breweries.

  • Samuel Adams, one of the biggest brands in US craft brew industry, resurrected the movement towards beer with taste in the late 1980s. The millennials  are aging into the stage where their interests are on things that are hand-crafted and not mass produced so the growth in craft brewing has increased while the overall mass-produced beer market has flattened out.

The Business of Beer

  • The brewing business is not easy.  Having a qualified brewmaster is part of the equation and this is so because in all cases, the beer has to be great.

  • Craft beer can be a high margin business but understanding the brewing process, and the numbers that drive the operation are essential.

  • For example one in every five or six batches has to be tossed because it did not work right.  Beer brewing involves chemical engineering process and it pays to have a smart business person, the brewmaster, and even a chemical engineer to ensure efficiency.

The Demand for Beer and Development of Beer Business

  • The penetration of craft brew particularly in the southern United States is low but the demand is there. So as the demand increases, more and more craft breweries are expected to open.

  • Innovations  in unique flavors have also kicked in (e.g. putting in chilli peppers and chocolates in beer) and it is working.

  • Canning. Many craft breweries are canning beers because it actually keeps the beer better because it keeps the beer from being exposed to ultraviolet light that could contaminate the beer.

  • Brand Labeling. The childlike, cartoonish designs of beer logos indicate that the designers may have gone too far on designing the labels. Brand labels must be improved to easily differentiate the brands. The traditional retail competition for shelf space sorts itself out for this micro booze.

  • Venture Capital on Beer Business. It is a growth sector, it has an 11% annual  growth rate whereas large and established national breweries or brands are flat and declining. Consolidations are expected and it is better for the large players to buy out brands that are bigger rather than risk in coming up with something new.

  • Capital Expansion, Strategy and Distribution. The approach and level of regulatory complexities are different per each state and even locally within states. This makes expansion across state lines a tricky proposition.

Words of Wisdom/Tips for those who would want to venture into the Beer Business

  • Be an APPRENTICE. Go find a solid craft brewing operation and work for them for 6 months to a year. Understand all about the business - how to brew a great beer, how to be compliant with regulatory issues, and what point of sale system is best. Being an apprentice sounds like a big commitment but it will save a ton of headaches and possibility of failure. The timeframe of being an apprentice will help a new operator see what is bad or good about the business and if it is really a good fit.

  • Be an EXPERT. Craft beer is a hard business but it can be profitable with solid research, customer development, attention to detail, and focus on quality..

Contact Information:

Jeff Amerine

Jon Cadieux