508 Is BioDiesel the Key to Saving the Environment? w/ Colin Huwyler (Optimus Technologies)
Colin Huwyler is the CEO of Optimus Technologies, a firm that designs and builds EPA compliant biodiesel conversion systems (“Vector Systems”) with integrated telematics to allow medium and heavy-duty diesel engines to operate on up to 100% biodiesel in temperatures to -20F.
Colin founded the company in 2010 after previously founding Fossil Free Fuel, a renewable fuel company.
Optimus Technologies’ Vector System seamlessly integrates with existing engines or as a ship-through option on new commercial vehicle purchases. They focus on the highest efficacy solutions to carbon emissions by focusing on diesel (and biodiesel) over other forms of renewable energy.
In this conversation, Colin and Aaron discuss misconceptions about renewable energy, the Optimus Technologies business model, and how Colin retrofitted his old Volkswagen to run on vegetable oil.
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Colin Huwyler’s Challenge; Take five minutes and assess your personal energy balance.
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Optimus Technologies Website
If you liked this interview, check out our interview w/ Cetin Mericli about self-driving trucks.
Ricky Stanzi is a professor and coach within the GOATA (Greatest Of All Time Athletes) system. GOATA’s goal is to hone in the most effective transfers of energy in the body and make those muscle movements second nature.
Ricky was formerly a football quarterback in the NFL, CFL, and Big Ten. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft and played college football at the University of Iowa.
Ricky and the GOATA team have studied slow motion video of crawling babies, indigenous tribes, super athletes that avoided non contact injuries, and the 55-60 year old marathon runner who still runs at a high level pain free to develop their system.
Now, they’ve built a business helping normal people recode their movements, certifying coaches to use their system, and coaching top athletes pursuing a professional career.
In this episode, Ricky and Aaron discuss the origins of the GOATA system, which athletes are the best to study, and quick wins that anyone can implement to improve their movement.
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Ricky Stanzi’s Challenge; 1) Get your feet straight, fist width apart, Inside Ankle Bone High. 2) Watch 100 non-contact ACL tear videos on YouTube.
Connect with Ricky Stanzi
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If you liked this interview, check out our interview w/ Dr. Timothy Wong where we discuss seeing patients without insurance, for just $35.
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Stanzi: And so it's people coming together United around the concept of, Hey, I believe in these global laws, like I believe that we were being taught wrong and I believe that there is a right way. And I believe that what I'm seeing on tape watching nature is the truth. So we need a hive of people that are going to make honey.
Watson: What's up everyone. Welcome back to going deeper there in Watson, I am particularly excited about today's episode. I'm excited to drop every new episode you guys, but today's interview with Ricky Stanzi is one of my favorites in a very long time. The former quarterback for the university of Iowa football team is now a trainer and coach focused on movement and physicality. He's part of the GOTA movement, which has rewired and reoriented. A lot of my beliefs about how the body works has already helped me change part of the way I move throughout the day. I think that this will be a substantially mind-expanding episode four. At the end, we talk about some of the Instagram accounts where the go-to guys break down these concepts. I'm going to encourage you to already open up Instagram and go look up G O a T a greatest of all time actions as Ricky will define later in this episode, but just know you're about to catch some absolute fire from my guest. Ricky Stanzi.
Watson: Alrighty, Ricky, welcome to the podcast and excited to be talking with you. Thanks for having me man. So I am a son of a Penn state football fan. And so I've been paying attention to the big 10 for, uh, quite a while. So when I first came across GOTA, which is this kind of training philosophy. I first came to it through that lens. And then I realized that I can remember candidly rooting against you guys when you were playing Penn state and the big 10 back in the day. Um, so let's kick things off and try to just play a little bit of connect the dots between being a quarterback at the university of Iowa and now being kind of the, the forefather or leading the thought around a very specific style of training.
Stanzi: Yeah. So, you know, 2010, 2011, right around that time is when I'm going into the NFL draft and, and I'm, um, I'm looking to make some changes to my movement patterns, right? Make some changes to my throws. I was kind of starting to tail at the end of 2010 and I, and I knew I needed to make some changes. Physically to compete at that next level NFL level. So I started to kind of look at movement with a little more scrutiny, you know, a little finer tooth comb, try to understand things a little bit more, went to some, some throwing gurus. I actually worked with, um, Tom Martinez, who was Tom Brady's throwing coach since he was a young kid. And, and, you know, I, I bounced around.
Different methods really from 2011, all the way until 2018 when I was done and I had just finished, uh, you know, up in Canada and I got cut from, from their team in Calgary at the end of camp for that time period, there was really me like objectively looking at. And trying to figure out it for my own standpoint, just to try to stay on a team because I was struggling. I wasn't playing fast enough. I was having these non-contact, uh, sort of chronic pain injuries and for somebody that's, I was QB three, you know, you're third on the depth chart. So I'm just sitting there not taking a bunch of reps and my body was still falling apart. So. I had a lot of questions about why I wasn't moving the way I wanted to. Why when I try to throw that 10 yard out, I know where I want to go with the ball, but it doesn't seem to take place like it used to what's going on. So I looked at the Pilates, the yoga is I had already been doing Olympic lifting and in that style for my whole.
And I started looking into Eastern medicine, Eastern arts, uh, look a little bit closer at Shaolins. I look a little bit closer at martial arts in general, and just trying to get a well-rounded view of, of, of how the body was supposed to move. Like I'm, I'm thinking I'm like, there's got to be a right here. It's gotta be a right and there's gotta be a wrong. And I just kept using that sort of objective lens to stay on a field, to just kind of navigate and comb through these, these modalities. And Nothing works. You know, I can not honestly say I tried all these different methods, all these different concepts and nothing worked and it wasn't until I was cut home, hanging out, knew I wanted to train people because I had just grown to love human movement and just in everything about it and trying to learn about it. But I still wasn't. I didn't have. Map. I didn't have a blueprint to work off of, you know, I'm somebody who is still having back spasms that I've had since eighth grade, when I started to do deadlifts working with the world of trainers. And I'm still having those at age 33. And so I can't fix myself, but I'm supposed to go into a high school and work on people.
I'm supposed to go and work with, you know, an aunt or an uncle or somebody that's 50. So there was a lot of questions I had and it finally started to make sense when I got to talk with coach Gilley, Jose Bosch, and in Gary Shuffler. Uh, you know, those, both those guys were on Instagram and that's where I was looking at. Or should I say looking for a couple of key concepts that I'd come across in books? You know, the spinal engine theory, uh, muscles and meridians was a book that talked about resting on the ground. So a lot of things pointing back to how things naturally happen out in nature, closest to the source. And then Gilly was speaking directly to that. He's like we got the slow-motion video. Of the indigenous and they're moving a certain way and we've got the slow-motion video of the crawling baby. We got the slow-motion video of the Michael Jordan, ed Reed, Randy Moss, Simone Biles, Jackie Robinson. We got the slow-motion video of the Ida killings and the hurricane Hawkins. We've also got the video of the. Oh, the non contacts of the people that have chronic pain. And now we're looking at the movement with these new super computers. This is what Gilly did. Was he looked at these supercomputers.
I'm kind of segwaying into what GOTA is here and Gilly looked at. The, the movement of those closest to nature and said, what are they doing that we're not? And what he noticed was those four super tribes that I just mentioned, the crawling baby, the indigenous, the decade plus super freak athlete in the 70 plus age groupers, they've got a commonality to them, right? They got an anti-fragile state that they are in because they move a certain way. Conversely, those that are injured, the, the load is the worst of all time actions. They have a pattern that is common to all of them. And it is a fragile pattern. It is a pattern that continually breaks down over and over again. And it looks the same. So the goat has looked the same. The wold is looked the same and Gilly came to this through the sort of the same lens that I came to movement through a lot of. People that we work with from a coaching standpoint, come to it where they're searching. Cause they are hurt. Their body is not working for them and they need answers. Gilly had blown out three levels in his lumbar. So he had blown the disks at three spots and his next step was they were going to try to put a cage in this man. He had gone here like eight or nine doctors, the best in the world, everybody looking at it, they can't fix it. He finally gets his big break when he meets Peter Goss. Phew. And he starts to learn about column building and he starts to get out of pain and he gets decompressed long story short, though, he wants to get back to the things that he loves. He wants to get back to the triathlons. He wants to get back to, you know, golfing every single day. And so there was a movement component that he was missing and until he was able to take that iPad, that's supercomputer and. Take a look at those new Atlanta's videos on YouTube.
Take a look at all the ACL shreds, take a look at Michael Jordan walking, watch ed Reed coming out of the title are out of the tunnel. All those pieces together gave really Gilly that, that breakthrough moment where he's like, oh my gosh, there is a right and a wrong, there's a certain way that the body moves and all these concepts that we've come to know through the training world of straight lines. Linear is really the big picture, linear concepts and lifting concepts. They actually speak to encode. The load of behavior. So, you know, long story short, I started in 2010, looking for the truth. Another guy was doing the same thing well before me, and then just kind of through the luck of just trying to objectively find the truth here and knowing that the only objective reality is. I started to follow that path. And that led me to Gilly, which, which led me to go to, I was ready for, and like I tell these guys, my cup was empty. I was ready to see the truth. I'd been a quarterback, my whole life. I love watching slow motion video. So this was a perfect blend for me. And then I just took off running and right after that.
Watson: So before we get any further, I want to make sure that we have really tight definitions for people that have never come across GOTA before. So you referenced WOTA, which is kind of the foil to GOTA give us the kind of.
Stanzi: So go to greatest of all time actions. WOTA worst of all time actions. So if I'm going to talk about these actions, what I'm really speaking on, and we post this on IgG quite a bit, just to keep it out there in circulation is a global laws of GOTA. So, what we're saying is there are global laws that are across culture all over the world, uh, because we all have the same stuff you got to flood. I got to Flint, we got ankles. We got hips. These are fractals of nature. They work, they just keep populating out. Uh, into the globe land, air and sea hips and spines are everywhere. So, there's a certain way that this body is built to move forward through space. What we're saying is that the default human OS, the way it's designed is to move forward through space. So, the global laws are such that we've got to have straight feet at the base of the column, the column being the sides of the body. So, you have two columns at the base is your foundation. So, this is what we call the pivot point. So, in nature, on the universe, there's these pivot point energy systems like a toroidal tourist, where there's a point and then energy is going to move around that corner. There's a point. And then energy moves around that corner. Like a hurricane, like a tornado, like a swell in the ocean. That same concept is playing out on your side of the body. So, on one side of the body. So, picture just my right side here, as we're were looking at it as I are as left side, as you look at it, as I land that foot is the. So, it's going to anchor and it's going to set up that strong arch that allows the ankle, which is the shin, the thigh, which is the, the hip, the spine and the bicep and the forearm to all open and then close around the top outside corner of the foot. So the first two global laws are, I got to have column building with straight feet, meaning at the base of that column, the foot is straight and the inner ankle bone. Is high. So, if this is my foot and here's my second toe, and this is the inner part of the ankle, we want the inner ankle to be high.
We do not want the inside ankle bone to be low, because like I said, there is a pivot point to the system so we can work off the outside corner of the foot, the four-toe crease. If you think about your second toe to your pinky, or we could work off the inside corner of the foot as the pivot point. Now the goal. The global laws of GOTA as seen through the four tribes that they work off the outside corner of the foot. So, their second toe is straight. Their inside ankle bone is high. They're got the pressure here that way, this ankle that is your shin can open in a spiral and then close in a spiral, and then you can reset and do it all over again. And you never create this harmony in the.
The load on the other hand has collapsed this arch, whether it be from a bad shoe that closed the toe box from too much sitting that pushed the hips in the front chain or from too many lifting or linear concepts that have now changed the pivot point to the inside of the foot, because much like we have a drive gear on the outside corner of the foot. We also have a reverse gear on the inside corner of the foot and that's for us. So, we have the ability to go into reverse much like a car does, but at the same idea here is that you're not going to drive that car. 80 miles an hour in reverse on the highway, right? You're going to dominate most of your driving with the forward gear with the drive year. So the body is much like that. We want to dominate off the outside corner, not the inside quarter. So what the WOTA is doing different from the GOTA, as they've now collapsed that arch they've now taken the foot and they've opened it and they've split it like this, and they're going to work off the big toe crease. So now that ankle that was sitting up here like this, and it was spiraling out to end it's now. Down in here and it's inside ankle bone low, and it's going to go in to out so calm building, straight foot inside ankle, bone high. And then the next piece here is we gotta be back chain dominant. So I go up to the hip level. We want the hip to play behind the ribs as we move forward through space. Right. So I throw something out the back to move me forward, hip drives back to drive the chest forward. So the haunches are loading and they're, they're securing the spine as I move forward through space. The opposite of that for the Wodo would be front chain dominance. So now they push their hips forward, right?
Their chest goes up and back as they try to move forward through space, that hip pushing forward, the chest going up and back. That's your deadlift, that's your lifting and in the neck, your reverse gear. That's your tug of war. That's your you're rowing the boat. You're going backwards. So, you have this, these three basic global laws to start it column building with straight feet inside ankle bone high. I gotta be back chain. And then now I need to create this energy wave. So, I've kind of already touched on this. I'm inside ankle bone. Hi, here's my ankle. So now when I create the energy wave, what I'm saying is that when I put the foot down, when I put the pivot point in the ground, I'm going to load up that column. So I'm going to load up the right side of my body as you're looking at it. And when I do that, the. Pass the open. So as, as the low, so above, so now is the shins opening, the thighs opening, the spines opening, the bicep is opening, and now we have head control. Meaning that, that tracking system, that is my visual engine right here. This, this, these vertebrae right here is going to sit over the. That I've loaded. And then it's going to go ahead and I'm going to release that energy, and then I'm going to start the same process over on the other side. So, the global laws are speaking to this cycle of forward movement. That is our walk run, throw, swing, strike. I love. I leave. I release and I reset. I land, I leave, I release, and I reset. The goal does have a straight foot. The inside ankle bone is high they're in the back chain, the hips behind the rib, the ankle opens in a spiral. The ankle closes in a spiral and the arch never drops throughout the whole process.The WOTA. On the other hand lands inside ankle bone low, they start the shin in, on a spiral and then they spiral it out. The heel releases in the hip thrusts forward, the chest goes up and back. And so they're using that pattern to move them forward through space. Now that WOTA pattern that I just showed you or spoke about, that is the ACL shred. That is the Achilles shred. That is the back spasm.
That is the, uh, you know, patellar tendonitis. That is the shin splints. Uh, that is the, you know, the burning pain in your hip. So these symptoms that we've given names to are actually just sort of collateral damage from a faulty pattern. Off of the base blue print that is forward movement that we've observed in those four super tribes, the crawlers, right? The newborn baby, we've got video of babies, fresh out the womb doing these same global laws, the indigenous tribes down in the Western basin of the Amazon, the, the butt-naked barefoot tribes of the Yanomami is in the Karoo bows all move the same way from birth all the way through to the adulthood, these decade plus super freaks that are able to put a lot of this stuff to, to, to, to bed. Start to show the WOTA in their career. And then the 70 plus age groupers, they're all displaying something. That's going to, the people that are injured are displaying something that's WOTA. So the go to is a celebration of the global laws. The WOTA is violating those global laws and that's going to lead to injury.
Watson: There's so much, I love about what you, you, you put down just now. I want to make sure that we try to touch on all of it. Um, and I, I want to end with that kind of question on the feet here, but in terms of that pathway, I just want to point out that, you know, we talk very often all sorts of different businesses where there's two ways to approach it.
There's, you know, Uh, not necessarily like what's, you know, the, the, the good word from some sort of higher power, but just, you know, someone who is a purported expert kind of telling you like it is, and you just go through the motions without actually really critically evaluating it versus building up from first principles. Like you're saying, you're seeing patterns and connective tissue through all of these basically like aspirational arenas, because all of these characters have low rates of injury, high rates of flexibility, all sorts of good stuff like that. Which I think is a kind of universal principle, but to come back to the feet, um, another, and I don't know if this is you or someone else in the kind of GOTA posting, explain something. And once you see like a, like a really simple meme it's so.
Like clarifying. It's like, there's all this kind of chaos and all of a sudden it kind of clicks into place. You're like, oh, I just, why have I never even been told that? Right. Yeah. But, but someone that, there was a post that basically said, uh, you were talking about like the two sides of your foot, the inside and the outside. And it said the front outside of your foot is for propulsion. The front inside of your foot is for balance. And your heel is for resting and that's, you know, an oversimplification, but you just never, unless you had the right coach. You either maintain that because no one coached it out of you as a, as an infant, or you have to relearn how to use your foot. Like this thing that's attached to you 24/7 that you probably never think about but is an engineering Marvel.
Stanzi: Yeah. And, and so the concept here is that, so let me start with this. The nervous system is a servant to the enemy. Right. So this is why Chinese foot binding works. Right. It's something that we can do. Should we do it? Probably not. Is it designed to do that? No, but can it sure. So the nervous system's gonna, it's going to obey whatever inputs you're giving it.
So when people start to wake up to the GOTA, to the GOTA concepts, they're like, oh shoot. You know, they're probably 25, 30 years old, maybe older, and they're looking down at their feet and they're like, dude, how long have I been walking like this decades? Right. So now I do have to teach my nervous system, the right pattern, because I've let it go into the wrong pattern for long. Whether it be from, like I said, somebody could wear a bad shoe when they're seven years old and spent a summer in it and it can start to change the way that they're using their foot. Just because of the toe box being too tight. Somebody could spend an off-season doing deadlifts and change the outside corner of their foot to the inside corner, the foot, because the nervous system has two. It's environment. That's good news and bad news. Right? It's good news. Because now I can go ahead the other way and I can fix it. It's bad news that you're not aware. You could easily fall into the WOTA trap and you can easily start to get decoded. Um, because you're not aware of these simple concepts or you're getting faulty information, like people telling you to land into your heel. People telling you to push off the big toe. These concepts are out there. They teach you, they call it yield. Hit the heel strike and then toe off the big toe. Well, what that does is it changes the pivot point. So let's say you spend a week at our summer learning from a sprint coach that wants you to heel toe. You're going to put the nervous system into that environment.
And it's going to start to change at, GOTA, we just bring you into our environment. That map is off the four tribes and we speak to that. And then people are like, man, the pain's gone. Well. It's like, yeah, you're paying homage to the design. You know, you're not letting your arch collapsed anymore. Arches aren't built. To collapse. It's common sense. Right? So you have that same concept at the base of your foot. Of course, I've got to lift the inside ankle, bone, high, everything slopes to the outside edge. If you work off the inside edge, it's like a cliff, the ankle gets stuck. It's a no bueno situation.
Watson: So let's talk to what I would guess is the majority of listeners, which are not necessarily. Pursuing some sort of athletic goal, primarily these, you know, they're, they're running a business. They want to not breakdown. They want to have the energy for the day. They don't want to be in pain, like you're saying, but they're not necessarily pursuing, you know, maybe they want to, you know, get their handicap down from a golf standpoint, but it's not the kind of all-consuming goal. They want to, you know, 80-20 at what are some of the things I can be doing, like wearing the right shoes that will put me in a position. Feel less pain to start to, you know, improve my body and not have a WOTA physique.
Stanzi: Yeah. So, and we, we take the same concept for our athletes. So we tell our athletes that the, you know, I would say tier one is what you just said, somebody that's just trying to go through life, work their nine to five, enjoy their family, enjoy their friends, but just never get a knee replacement. Never get a new hip. Never had that foot plantar fasciitis never have a back that keeps spasming. And then there's tier two and tier three, which is your tier twos, probably your weekend warrior. They like the intermurals. They want to go after it's still tier three is you're getting, you're getting paid to play. Even if you're at that top pay to play. I still tell those people up there. Listen, 10% is your training 90% is your lifestyle. Now for this first group that you just mentioned a hundred percent of what they do is inside of that lifestyle. Right? What shoes are you wearing? Pick up a shoe and you go to put it on, is your toe box super tight and clenched. Cause if it is, that's going to change the way that your foot is working. So right off the bat, I would say, give yourself a chance, right? Give yourself a shoe that at least let your foot widen out a little bit. There's some wiggle room with arch or no arch. You shouldn't whether the arch support is there or not. You shouldn't be using it because your foot should be doing that.
Actively your foot should be doing the work, not sitting there on a, on a sofa that is an arch support in your shoe. Um, and then, you know, heel elevation can start to play a problem with the tight toolbox, but just making, uh, a good shoe choice is a good start. Outside of that even bigger picture is let's change the way that you move your body. Right? So just putting on a good shoe, isn't enough. You can't just put on a minimalist shoe and start to move GOTA. It's not going to make you stronger. In fact, it'll actually just make your WOTA show itself even quicker. So, what you want to do is you want to start to walk and let's start to talk about these global laws and how can I apply them in my daily life? Well, first off, get your feet underneath. So, we sell people, get, get your feet of fists with distance apart. That means if you're at work, you're standing around the water cooler, you're standing in line at target, whatever you're doing, you're doing dishes. Keep your feet of this with distance apart. Keep your second toe straight. Imagine that your second toe is a laser pointer, and that light is shining to infinity. That light should be shining straight ahead. If that light's deviated like this, you're going to start to. The collapse, you're going to start to invite compression in the system. So just by getting your feet underneath you underneath your hips, because your hips are only sitting like three inches off the midline, they're not far out here.
Like people think they're very tight to the spine. Get your feet closer, get your feet straight, second toe. And then that inner ankle bone. Okay. So, it's the inner ankle bone that you can touch and see, you want to lift that thing. Up high, so that now the pressure is working off the outside corner of the foot. Conversely, to inside ankle bone high would be this inside ankle bone low that we talk about. So just by getting your feet closer and straightening them out, you're already kind of on your way to inside ankle bone high, but there's still some work that needs to be done to make sure that this doesn't happen. As you're standing. As you're walking as you're jogging as you're hanging out. And so this inside ankle and high at the base of the column is the first thing that we want people to work on. Now it's more complicated than that, but at least getting the process started can really just, it, we tell people this all the time and people come back that didn't get a Recode or didn't buy it and was like, yeah, I just started walking with straight feet. Closer. And I feel a lot better because if you just think about an extrapolated, take your feet outside really far, and then turn your toes out. Guess where all the pressure funnels down in it. So now if you build this nice half dome with the foot where you kind of. Play the floor is lava with the ankles. Don't let the ankles go down and in, keep them up in high, away from the inside right then. And there you're already aiding in this concept of being decompressed. So you can see compression as a root of all evil for movement problems. So whether you're a professional athlete or you're just Jane DOE and you're working through the nine to five, if you're sitting in a desk for nine and a half hours, you're in a compressed state. So piggybacking off of standing better. Straight foot, another good visual for them as if you're working, let's say you're working at a desk, you're doing the dishes, something in front of you, and you're leaning your hips against the counter or the desk. People do this all the time. Pull your hips off the counter.
That's back chain dominance. That's the starting of back chain dominance. So you can even do this little drill at your house. Get in front of the sink, uh, get in front of something with a, a counter. Get your feet underneath you. Get your second toe straight and then notice your hip against the counter. Pull that hip away from the counter. Fill your hip, go back through your spine, lengthen out. That's where you're kind of in this security system. And now you want to stay inside this security system as much as you can throughout the day. So when you're waiting or when you're, you're standing and getting ready to go, you're you're, you're in it. When you start to walk, keep the. Keep the inside ankle bones high, keep the narrow columns as you go about walking. Now, if you're somebody that's working a nine to five and you can't control your desk sitting, it is what it is. But the final piece of that is I would try to urge people to get back to the ground, to rest sitting. Isn't the problem. It's where we're sitting. We need to be sitting on the ground in these shapes that are across culture all over the world. Criss cross applesauce. Seiza where you're sitting on your sheet. Cowboy posture, where you got one leg in a squat, one leg in a, in a Seiza or even just the, the, the classic, um, double resting or the double bowl resting squat that you see in the, in the, in the babies and the indigenous. So, we're built to rest on the ground. We're built to walk straight foot inside ankle high. So pretty much everybody, whether you're on tier one, two or three pro, or just hanging out, being a Joe, you need those basic principles to be installed in your day to day. Now there's a little asterisk next to the. For sitting, I would not urge people just to immediately go to the floor and throw themselves into the most con you know, the, the most, the furthest expressed ranges of these shapes because your body isn't ready for them yet because it's been in a chair. So there is a sort of slow feeding process to these things. And, and, and if you're following us on Instagram, or if you start following us on Instagram, you'll see these shapes. We have. Tools at our disposal at our disposal through go-to shop, that kind of bridges the gap.
When you're starting to sit in these, in these ancient postures on the ground to help sort of ease yourself, but the big picture concept for people, the lifestyle start to stand with the columns. Now. Second toe straight inside ankle bone high, get your hips off the counter. Keep that same feeling when you walk and then try to get back to the ground and and reach out to somebody that's in the go to camp about these floor resting postures so that you don't overcook or push your nervous system, sort of waterboard your nervous system. As we would say, uh, too much too soon, you have to pay home. The fact that you've been a loader for awhile, we've got to slowly spoon-feed the nervous system back to go to, but it really does start with the day-to-day the walking in the rest.
Watson: And it's another lesson I, once again, I think this is just kind of a lifetime universal lesson, not just in the Boundaries have kind of movement and how your body functions. Most of the stuff has already been figured out. Most of the stuff is actually relatively simple. If you just kind of re-orient what you're focusing on. So food can be a very similar way in the sense of like all this brand new, new-fangled, super processed. Probably not as good for you as a good apple, a good steak, a good egg. Some of these just kinds of timeless things that people have been eating through time and memoriam. And it's just kind of applying that in another domain where for whatever reasons modern life has kind of. Um, blurred our vision to the reality.
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Yeah I could say there’s a GOTA or a WOTA, For everything. It's just a saying, it's us saying right. And wrong. Like, look, you got all these other systems in the body, you got a cardiovascular system, you know, you've got the musculoskeletal system, which is what we work on. You got the lymphatic system I can go on and name alone. Well, we know that there's a right and a wrong for those systems. Right. There's a, there's a yin and yang there and there's a good and a bad, so there's a good and a bad for your movement system too. Like, you know, that. Aren't good for you, right? We, we, we know this now we know what, what is a good choice from a nutrition standpoint and what is a poor choice from a nutrition standpoint. So we know there's a good input to what I'm eating. Just like there's a bad input to what I'm eating. So the same concept goes on for your heart. Your lungs, same concept goes on for your musculoskeletal system and your connected tissue and your joints. There's a good input, a go to input and there's a bad input, a loaded input.
Watson: So now I'm going to talk about this, this training business in particular. So you've given us a ton of good stuff away for free. And like you said, one of the things you guys do are these recodes you sell online courses; you have a facility down in new Orleans where people will actually go into the train.
If there may be at that higher tier kind of athlete, pursuing some really big stuff, can you kind of give us an opposite of what go to the businesses? Cause another part that's. Um, different than a majority of the businesses out there is you guys, at least from my management, really see this as a movement. It's a, you're kind of buying into this new way of thinking about things. And so in a movement, if you almost think about it more politically, I'm not trying to go like left or right. Or anything like that here, but you think about a political movement. And part of the nature of it is that other people can adopt it, feel ownership of it, move into it. Which is like a great thing from a brand standpoint, but probably a challenging thing from like a business model standpoint. So tell me how you guys are thinking about that and what some of the applications are of actually turning this into a sustainable business.
Stanzi: Yeah. So I think right at the beginning of it to keep it simple, cause it does branch and it gets bigger and there's a lot to it. Um, if you're an athlete or if you're a regular jolt or anybody on that tier one, two or three, no matter what you want to be doing, um, we offer recodes. So we have coaches, uh, that are starting to, you know, we're getting more and more coaches, uh, each year and they're on go to coaches.com, but reaching out to somebody to get a Recode is kind of the first piece of that, right?
Of training someone, assessing them, taking them through a Ricoh regimen, sort of that daily routine, the same way that you wash your hair and brush your teeth for, for hygiene maintenance, we consider that movement maintenance. Um, it's, it's a low threshold, not a lot of weight. All you need is a ground and a wall, maybe a staircase. Um, and we can give people nice daily Recode regimen. So to, to clean up their, their movement issues. Now, from a coaching standpoint, people are coming to us to get certified, to learn about these global laws. And we've got some changes that are actually being made as we speak to, to how we're going to roll that out. But the big idea right at right off the bat is if you're an athlete or a regular Joe, you, you you'd want to get into the Recode part of it.
And then if you're a coach you'd want to start to learn how to see this and know what right and wrong is, and kind of, you know, discern the information slightly. Um, and that would be getting the coaching certification. Now, the other piece of this, like you said, is that it's Instagram. So Instagram has got a lot of different talents and there's a lot of different content and there's a bunch of different photos and stuff like that. So. When we, when we, we do what we do at GOTA, you know, as it starts to branch out the, the, the message can sometimes be blurred a little bit. And we have had that problem. But like you said, what we're teaching is. A new blueprint. Like what we're saying is guys the old blueprint, the way that they told us about movement, all those linear concepts, that's wrong. Like that's the bad, that's the bad map. Here's a new map. So now everybody can take the new map. Everybody can, can work off of the new map. So it it's an open concept. It's not just. The, the pro athlete. It's it's the 60-year-old lady. That's just trying to put off the knee, the knee replacement. So it's, it's, it's all different types of people. Um, learning that man, we are connected like where everybody is connected back to nature. There isn't a Nate way, right? There is a right way. There's a macro view to this whole thing. So from the, the challenging points from a business standpoint are keeping that. Super simple disturbingly, simple concept, all the global laws in front of the train and letting everybody know that, listen, we are saying no to the old blueprint. Now people want to fool around with the old blueprint. They want to try to mix it. We want nothing to do with that. Right? The true Gota is people that are sticking to the global laws. They're doing the global laws and the global laws only in their training. I use this analogy as some people will go to his top shelf, whiskey it's as good as it gets. It ain't getting any better. You drink it. From a beautiful glass. It's got your name etched in it.
Well, what we got going on is she got people taking this whiskey and they're putting it into one of those little wax cups with the cone at the bottom that you get at the dentist's office, and then they're pouring Pepsi, wanted it, and it's just, the presentation is bad. It's diluted. So that is the challenge. That's the challenge quite literally is. You have a Wota low to that's been created from this exercise science, cadaver science concepts, and we're stopping that and drawing a line, a firm line saying, no we're going in this direction. So it does have those, those challenges where we've had to kind of make some adjustments. And we've had to kind of put our foot down a little bit and say, no, if it, if it's a violation of the global. We want nothing to do with that. If it's a celebration of the global laws, that's what we're, that's what we're all about. And so the, the, as we move forward through this, you know, our business is really keen on keeping the, the blueprint simple because our whole message is saving the world's connected tissue. Those violations don't save the world's connected tissue. I'm not interested in letting people waste their time. Um, I'm not interested in people wasting their money. Right. You know, I come from a, from a family where my dad took me to all my workouts. He worked very hard to make sure I could get to do the, all those things. And, you know, only to come to find out that I was training like a Wota and I was actually be paying to take away from my athleticism. So now that we've, we know this people like me, people like Gary shuffle, Were we created the GLS performance team to kind of give this back to the world in a really clean and simple way. And that starts with the global laws of Gota. So I think our, our challenge in the future is, is upholding those global laws and letting that run the train. And then we have to let everything kind of, to, to sort of work itself or Tetris itself in on the backs of that.
Watson: And it is an interesting kind of dynamic where. Uh, the classic thing is coaches. When a coach like coaches get their fulfillment from seeing the improvement of their pupil, seeing them start to master it, seeing, you know, that kind of progression and that's a whole kind of arena of impact. But then there's like the structure itself, which is like, did the certification go through, did the website stay up? Did those, these other elements and just a very interesting problem, particularly. For, uh, a career like coaching in which, you know, it's like, it's like, you're losing something. If you guys back when you were at Iowa, if you were preparing for a game, if you're a head coach had to worry about the logistics of getting the team to the hotel and to the stadium, they're not going to be able to do the same quality of job right?
Stanzi: Absolutely. You know, and, and that's why we need a team. Like, we, we, we, we need a hive, you know, when you, we call it the hive of coaches, right? And so it's people coming together United, not a social club United around the concept of, Hey, I believe in these global laws, like, I believe that we were being taught wrong and I believe that there is a right way. And I believe that what I'm seeing on tape watching nature is the truth. So we need a hive of people that are going through. Make honey. Right. But if you're now in a process where you're not making honey, or like you said, you're, you're now having to do a bunch of other things in the high that you weren't built to do. You're not the worker bee anymore, then it can get, it can get challenging. But I think as this thing has grown, you know, it really started, it was, it was, as we started picking up, it was me Gilly, Cody and Gary. And it was, it was us for talking and trying to build a certain build of curriculum. And it's. Itself since then. And it started to branch out and it's getting bigger and we are looking for young talent people that, that understand, and that, that, that, uh, Are are fearless and they're, they're, they're, they're not gonna bend the knee to man-made science. They're not going to bend the knee to anything other than the objective reality, uh, which is nature. So that is the challenge as we move forward, is everybody kind of finding their spots and what they're good at. Um, and then letting them do that, that skill set, like, you know, I can't, I not good at shooting video. I'm not good at putting that stuff together, but we got to go. Go to bam. And, uh, you know, he does a bam line. Heart is his name, and he does an amazing job at what he does. Like, bam is super invaluable to what we do. Like he's, he's he, you know, you can't put a price tag on that. Uh, we got a guy RJ Archibald, and he works with me and Gary in the GLS performance team. And, and, and he's got a mind, he's a chemist. So he's got a different set of eyes on this thing. And he kind of checks our math. He checks our work, he tidy everything up. So everybody's got these roles and everybody. Is is doing something or showcasing their skill a little differently, but it's all centered around. We got this blueprint. We know how to make honey. Now let's go feed the world. Let's go help people.
Watson: Right on, well, I'm fired up about it. I, uh, not maybe not to the same extremist that you experienced, but I had a hip surgery when I was 21. I've had my fair share of injuries that, you know, in hindsight, candidly start basically came with the onset of me kind of hitting the weight room more consistently with those types of linear movements. So, it's something that I've, I've started to implement. I'm going to continue to find ways to do so personally, obviously, everyone listening, make your own decisions as it pertains to your health. This is resonant. Go and do your own research, but I, Ricky, I really appreciate you taking some time to talk with me today and coming on the show before we ask the standard last two questions. Is there anything else you were hoping to share today that I just didn't give you a chance to?
Stanzi: Uh, no. I mean, that was pretty good. I mean, I think the big piece, I would say. Challenge people to do is, is to look for themselves. You don't empty your cup. Just take a look objectively, look at what's in front of you. Um, and let your give yourself time to, to, to pour over these concepts, right? Like. And I, I tell people if it's happening, whether you like it or not, it's like the movie inception where I plant the idea deep in your brain, and then it comes back six months. That's what Instagram is to me. I'm dropping a photo of the tiger and it's got no captioning. Is this guy talking about, that's going to make sense to you in four months. You just don't know it yet. So let the images work their way into your brain. Pay attention to the pages. Look at it, look at it from afar. Do whatever you want. You look at it, you know, if I thought like you're doing for your own self, go look at it, go, go challenge it in your own way. Right. Try to prove it wrong. Cause it's nature. It's a ducted reality. Um, so that's what I always put back on people is just go look for yourself because that's all we ever did. And, and, and that's why we are where we're out. We are right now with this thing,
Watson: we've referenced Instagram. Let's make sure that if people want to follow you guys, uh, they have the digital coordinates with which to do so where can they find you?
Stanzi: So my Instagram handle is at red pill. You can look up Ricky Stanzi you'll find me there. I'm on Twitter. I'm on Instagram. My, my business part of that I'm closest with is, is, is Gary Scheffler. He is at GLS underscore training, me and him in, in RJ at load. The bow are working on the GLS performance team. So you can look up GLS performance team. If you want to see the main guy. The dude that, that first uncovered this, that is Jose Bosch, coach Gillie, as we call him. And he is at GOTA underscore Loco. So I would say, start with those accounts on Instagram. If you go into my Instagram bio and you click the link tree, that will take you to really all the other places that you want to go. We've got, we've got, we've got YouTube pages, we've got YouTube channels. Um, those links are in the bio. We've got a. Or if you were looking for equipment, gota shop.com. We've got a coaching website for people that may be in your area that are teaching the math. So go to coaches.com, gota movement.com is a place where you can buy some courses. You can learn a little bit about the system, kind of what I talked about with the four super tribes. And then there's a subscription training website that Gary puts together called Rico two to five. Dot com once again, all this stuff is easily accessible through the link tree and the bio, if you're at my page or if you're at Gary's page, if you're at RJs page. Um, so I would start on Instagram. That's where the majority of the content is, but we're starting to branch off into YouTube. And then me and Gary are actually doing some stuff with no filter.net. And you can find all that once again, in that link tree. Right on
Watson: before we go to the personal challenge and wrap it up. Ricky, we referenced the store a couple of times. I just want to point out like, people are used to, Hey, I'm selling fitness equipment and it's like, Hey, I've got like my two pound dumbbells that are like my color or something very kind of simplistic. That's not what this is. Just give people like, you know, the briefest overview of what it is that you guys are selling in the, in the shop.
Stanzi: The gota shop.com. So go to shop.com. The biggest pieces you'll see that are kind of speaking to coding a moot, the movement back that the movement math, the global laws are the, the chucks and, um, the boards. So the chucks are like a mini board. I had one somewhere. Um, but it's like a little mini slant board that you kind of, it's like a Jenga block, right? It's just there to kind of give you an idea of where your foot should be. And it kind of helps code the foot that I kept talking about in the podcast. The slant board is a similar idea, uh, used for more of the landmine stuff or some of the bigger heavier movements that you may get into in the gym. The, the, the boards in the, in the, the chucks are sold on the website. We also have gear on the website. We've got yoga mats, our go to mats on the website for the groundwork. So there's all sorts of different stuff that we can use there. The beautiful part of GOTA is that you can do it with nothing. All you need is a ground in the wall. The mat makes it easier. Cause we've got a little diagram on there for people to follow, to kind of help them stay in the math. And then the chucks in the, uh, in the, uh, the boards kind of act like a training. Funnel you into that, uh, better positioning the, the, the golden movement. So that's the main stuff that you'll find on the GOTA shop.
Watson: beautiful, uh, me and the team. We're gonna do our best to link all of that in the show notes. For this episode, you can find it in the app or by listening to this, um, or going deeper there and.com/podcast for every single episode of the show. But before I let you go, Ricky, I want to give you the mic one final time to issue an actionable personal challenge to the audience.
Stanzi: Okay. So I, I got to 40 and like guy had already said one, but that first one is, get your feet straight. Get your second toe straight. Get your feet underneath you. Get you inside and come on high. Start with those first two to three global laws. Get your feet underneath you fist with this and second toe straight inside ankle bone high. Get your hips off the counter. That's a movement challenge, a lifestyle challenge I can give you. I'll give you a virtual challenge to go scrape video. Right screen record. Everybody's got that. If you're really into this and you really want to take a look for yourself, go on YouTube type in ACL tear. Non-contact ACL tear. Non-contact Achilles tear. Go watch those tears. I always challenge people to watch a hundred. Go watch a hundred non-contact shreds frame by frame in slow motion. That will start your journey. That's the challenge that Gilly gave me. And that's the challenge that I will give to everybody else. So start to walk the straight feet, get your hips off the counter and then go watch the shreds.
Watson: Right on. Well, um, I, I'm not good with injuries. I usually walk, walk the look away when it's like going on during one of the games, but I'm going to, I'm going to take it. I don't know about a hundred. I'm going to take the challenge for sure. I hope everyone else out there as well. Yeah. Ricky, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
Stanzi: Thanks for having me here. And I really appreciate it.
Watson: We just went deep with Ricky Stanzi out. There has a fantastic day. Hey, thank you so much for listening to the end of my conversation with Ricky. If you enjoyed this interview than I am confident that you would also enjoy our interview with Dr. Timothy Wong, he is also focused on people's health, but he is coming at it from the vantage point of a medical doctor who became disenchanted with the existing system. And now. Patients for just $35 with no insurance copay, Dr. Wong breaks down all sorts of interesting ideas. And if you pair it with this episode, I'm confident it will change the trajectory of your life. Let me know what you think of both episodes over on Twitter at Aaron Watson, 59, and I will catch you in the next.
Thanks for listening connect with Aaron on Twitter and Instagram at Aaron Watson, 59.
Sara Mauskopf is the CEO and co-founder of Winnie, a marketplace for child care built on powerful data systems and backed by a trusted community of parents and providers.
Parents use Winnie to research and uncover high-quality daycares and preschools in their geography with detailed information about licensing, tuition, and photos. Sara started Winnie in early 2016 after she experienced the frustration of researching daycares first-hand as a new mom.
She has called upon her experience in product management at Google, YouTube, Twitter, and Postmates to catapult Winnie to success.
In this episode, Sara and Aaron discuss the origins of the company, the evolving market for daycare, and the business model behind the platform.
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Sara Mauskopf’s Challenge; If you have children in childcare, talk to the care provider/teacher about how you can help.
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If you liked this interview, check out our interview w/ Luke Skurman where we discuss building a platform for researching schools & neighborhoods.
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Maruskopf: It is hard to run a profitable childcare center. Like the margins are small and you really need to build a strong business to run this profitably. And so, you know, there's just a lot of high kind of fixed costs. You need a space, you need staff.
Watson: What's up everyone. Welcome back to going deep with Aaron Watson. My interview today is with Sarah Maruskopf. She is the CEO and co-founder of Winnie, a platform marketplace focused on helping parents find childcare. This is a very big problem. That takes a very large percentage of parents' spend. And Sarah felt the pain intimately and translated that pain into her very own startup.
In today's interview, we discussed the origins of the company, how she iterated on finding product market fit. And general trends in daycare and childcare that her company is at the cutting edge of this is a really good interview and she is a master of her domain. So I won't waste any more time. Here is Sarah Maruskopf.
Voiceover: You're listening to going deep with Aaron Watson,
Watson: Sarah, welcome to go deep with Aaron Watson I'm excited to talking with you.
Maruskopf: I'm excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Watson: So I want to start off– I actually messed up the words. I was trying to write out how I was going to introduce Winnie, and I just wrote a child marketplace as opposed to a childcare marketplace. And that is definitely not what business you guys are in.
Uh, so maybe you can. Take the reins from my hands and explain your business and the value that you're providing to parents across the country.
Maruskopf: Yeah. You're going to get us in trouble and like remove from the app store or something. So we are a childcare and education marketplace. We really got our start helping parents find daycare and preschool.
So really focused on group childcare, licensed group child care across the United States. Parents come to us searching for daycare, preschool, and now all other forms of Karen education. We're starting to broaden and expand to things like camps and classes. And then they can search and filter by the criteria that matters to them, whether it's the age of their kids or price or kind of program.
So we're trying to make it really easy for parents to find the care and education that meets their needs, and then connect with those providers through our platform who are kind of the other end of the marketplace. They come on Winnie. They claim their page and then they use Winnie to get business, to fill their open spaces.
Watson: So this reminds me a lot of another company that we've covered on the show, niche.com, which is focused on, like universities and neighborhoods that one would potentially move into and kind of, you know, helping with that basic internet research that we all do, trying to get legibility into one of these platforms.
So we'll link that for folks that want to kind of understand just another version of this business model, but as you explain it via analogy via metaphor. I know that in the early days you're thinking of this as like a Yelp for parents, but these platforms we see in so many different domains, Zillow, Glassdoor, like what's the analogy that you find is the most apt.
Maruskopf: Yeah. I mean, that's the kind of crazy thing is, we started Winnie and we were like, how does this not exist because this exists for literally everything else we do in our life. Whether it's finding a restaurant on Yelp or finding a job or finding a house, and these marketplaces are really life-changing.
They make the search that before, you know, you had to drive around and look for open house signs in your neighborhood. They make that search really easy, allow you to compare prices, and that did not exist for. What is for parents, like one of the most important and considered purchases, they make the care and education of their children.
And so we almost couldn't believe that this was still a white space. But we, it was, and there's tons of analogies. Like you point out because it really exists for almost everything else in your life.
Watson: And, can you talk a little bit about how you got to this product in its current form? I know that using a net promoter score assessment was a big part of that. Can you just talk a little bit about the life cycle from the early days to now?
Maruskopf: Yeah, so it's we're coming up on our six year anniversary of working on Winnie and it was a bit of a windy path. We really started. Not sure what we were going to build. We knew we wanted to build something for parents. We were new parents ourselves at the time and just really struggling being, working mothers, my co-founder and I both had young kids and it took a while to figure out that childcare was really the big need for parents.
And that there was this white space when it came to. Your group childcare, your daycare, your preschool, or your camps. And that parents really were kind of doing things the old fashioned way, but it took a lot of building and tinkering with other ideas. And we use this, you know, very common tool and in product building, which is the net promoter score where you basically see like, are people promoters of your product?
Do they like it enough that they're going to recommend it to their friends? And what we found was that like, for all these other ideas, we were tinkering with. Like people were using it and downloading it and we could kind of drive growth, but they weren't promoters. And it wasn't until we built what, when he is today, this childcare marketplace that we were really like changing people's lives in such a dramatic way that they remembered.
And when a friend was doing their childcare search, they were recommending Winnie. Now that was really the big. I would say the big difference between like having product market fit and not having product market fit. And we didn't really realize that until we started to measure, you know the net promoters.
Watson: And when it starts to work and when you have that product market fit, is it really those referrals that people are making that is the kind of key metric or the key thing that has been, that you've attributed your growth to? Is it SEO? Cause this also seems like an SEO thing where I'm Googling best daycare, Northern Pittsburgh, I'm hopefully landing upon Winnie versus alternative sources.
Maruskopf: Yeah, we get a lot of our traffic are parents that find us. And also our providers that find us through literally just typing into Google daycare near me or preschool near me or on the provider side. Like they may want to see what other providers in their area charge for their programs so they can set competitive prices.
So it is a lot of our businesses driven by SEO, but we still continue today to measure the net promoter score, both for parents and for our providers, the daycares and preschools on our platform, to understand like, are we really adding value and how much value? And so I think it's important that we don't just build a website that gets a lot of traffic, but that people really find it useful and come back, especially on the provider side, like these are businesses that constantly need new families as kids age out of their program. And so it's really important that when we establish them as customers, we retain them and can be a lasting influence on their business.
Watson: Yeah, it'd be fascinating to know what the LTV is for one of these childcare centers.
Maruskopf: Yeah. I mean the one of the big issues with the industry and, you know, challenges that we're trying to help with is like, it is hard to run a profitable childcare center. Like the margins are small and you really need to build a strong business to run this profitably. And so, you know, there's just a lot of high kind of fixed costs. You need a space, you need staff, you need to pay that. And so, it is important that, you know, they run really efficient good businesses. And that's not, you know, always easier trivial to do.
And so, you know, part of what we want to help with is that you know, making sure they're not leaving spaces unfilled, because that's the number one thing that makes these businesses not as profitable as they could be.
Watson: And it's clear that a platform like yours aggregating demand, but also just making the entire market more legible to a new parent like myself who's just trying to get a lay of the land or what are my options? What are my price ranges is a huge service to that. What have you learned about, and I'm sure you pass this along to the providers that are on the platform. What have you learned about the decision-making process that parents go through? For this type of purchase price seems like one of the obvious ones, but dont--
Maruskopf: Yeah, I mean, it's a very considered purchase for parents, you know, there's like the other end of the spectrum is like, you know, your Uber driver, like you don't really care that much who picks you up. You're just trying to get a car and get to where you're going.
And childcare's very different. You really care about who your provider is, and there's a big difference for you from one provider to the other. And the kind of big learning for us is that all parents care about different things for summer, really price sensitive, actually a lot are very price sensitive. But other factors can matter a lot too, like the location and the hours, you know, if the provider is in your price range and a great location, but they don't have the right hours for when you work. They're basically completely worthless to you. So all of these factors really matter. And then, you know, there's all these kinds of secondary factors on top of that.
Like, You know, do they do Spanish immersion? I'm really interested in my kid learning Spanish or is it a Montessori program? And so really there's lots of information that parents need in this purchase. One of the things we're finding, that's kind of a new trend is the decision-making process is getting condensed.
So, whereas before you might've gone in toward many different programs over a multi-week period, submitted an application and then enrolled for six months in the future. Now, you know, parents are finding programs entirely online. They may never set foot in a center before they send their kid there due to COVID.
And so it's really condensing the search period, which I think is actually a good thing for everyone, for the industry. And for parents, if it can just be a shorter, faster, easier process. And if more of it can be moved online, there's really no reason you have to visit a center in person to find out you can't afford it, which was kind of the status quo beforehand.
So we're just trying to make it much easier to get kind of the basics out of the way online, save you time. And then, you know, maybe you can tour the one or two places you really think you might actually enrolling.
Watson: That's a fantastic point because even just the time saved by management for the daycare, walking everyone through individually, versus if you, even if they did one, you know, not that it's perfect for everyone, but a video tour record at one time, get it up and make that digestible to someone in a digital format makes perfect sense.
Maruskopf: And the daycares were really reluctant to do this, like before COVID they wanted to tour everyone with any possible interest before they gave basic information out like schedules and prices. And then COVID, they were kind of forced to change their ways and they realize like, oh, actually this is a lot more efficient. I don't want to tour someone who can't afford my program. It's a waste of time for everyone. So I think we are making a lot of progress on that front, kind of quickly, which is good.
Watson: Well, I mean, I think that that's the general theme, at least from my vantage point as an eternal optimist from COVID is yes, a lot of tragedy associated with it.
And all sorts of different forms, but a lot of kind of bad habits got shaken out and just cannot be able to persist after such a kind of significant cultural shift like that. I'm curious just in general. What else you saw come out of it? Because one of the things that we saw, we did a breakdown of the KinderCare IPO that recently occurred and –
Maruskopf: watch that breakdown. I did my own breakdown. So–
Watson: –we saw, you know, them have just challenges with revenue in 2020, because a lot of people took their kids out of daycare, took their kids, not necessarily willingly like out of school because of safety concerns. And that also causes this stress on an industry that really, I don't know how it compares to say airlines and hotels, but it's kind of an occupancy factor.
That's really determining profitability or not profitability on a month to month basis. What other things are you seeing? Because anecdotally, as someone who just did the whole shopping around thing, it's hard to get in anywhere. I was looking at your map on Winnie actually before this, and it's like everything within five to 10 miles of my house is not. They're not openings. And then all the other openings are like 20 miles away. So what's up? What's going on?
Maruskopf: Right now the industry is facing a particular challenge, which is with staffing. So this was always kind of a problem in childcare, but it's gotten a lot worse, as a result of the pandemic.
So, you know, overall, like we're hearing hiring troubles for a lot of lower wage jobs and childcare has been really notoriously underpaid and undervalued. And so these centers are having trouble hiring and retaining their staff who could go, you know, be a delivery driver for Amazon and possibly make more money.
And so we're finding some are responding by increasing wages, which is a good thing. Hopefully more we'll be doing that in the future, especially as more money gets put into the industry, hopefully from the government or from employers or some of these other sources. But we also are starting to help with us at Winnie.
So we actually just built and launched a feature for providers where they can not only use their Winnie page, which is kind of their presence on the internet to recruit families, but also to recruit staff, to hire teachers, to hire other staff, to run their programs. And we think this is actually great. Like Winnie is a great place to do this because we do have such a large audience of parents and providers who can be great candidates for these positions, especially parents. They're kind of an under utilized audience. But you know, many of these programs offer free or reduced tuition. If you work there, for your child. So you get to work the same hours that your kid is in childcare. You get to be near your child. And you can build your career in early education. So we actually think there's a nice fit here. So we're starting to help providers with that because it's a real problem. And it's the reason that the centers that would otherwise have more spots available, kind of have to close classrooms or not take as many kids because they can't meet the ratios that they're legally required to meet. They can't hire enough staff.
Watson: And I cannot think of, a better baptism by fire, so to speak and learning childcare skills than actually having, becoming a parent and having a kid.
Maruskopf: Yeah. I mean, the other challenge with, you know, some of these states and a lot of the kind of teaching positions to be the head teacher, you do need certain early education credentials. And so there's, you know, an expense associated with becoming a preschool teacher. If we're not compensating these teachers enough, like who is going to go into this field. And so we really do have to increase wages, and these businesses have to run more efficiently and more profitably to be able to do that.
Watson: So right before COVID, was the last fundraise for you guys at $9 million series a in late 2019. And I have to imagine that a part of that was– I know that a part of the fundraising process is talking about the Tam, the total addressable market and what this opportunity represents.
And we've alluded to it earlier in this conversation that this is a non-trivial spend. Basically, like for me and my wife, it's our mortgage and childcare and our daycare costs are like the two biggest line items. So I'm sure that was a part of the pitch, but what other parts, just in terms of the market opportunity here got you so excited in addition to the obvious need for parents to kind of have this legibility?
Maruskopf: Yeah. I mean, I got excited to build this like out of my own need, but what I was able to get Besters excited about was the opportunity. And so like we started Winnie, you know, as I was saying, kind of like not sure what we were going to build. And we tried a bunch of things that not only didn't have product market fit, but weren't good businesses.
And so it's important to find the intersection of like solving a real problem, but also a problem people will pay money for. Childcare and education for your kids under 18. So this doesn't include anything to do with college is $212 billion in the U S alone every year. So it's massive. So this is, not only your daycare and preschool, which I think is around 65 billion of it, but you know, things like camps, classes, you know, even tutoring and aftercare for older kids.
That's the 212 billion. So it's massive. It's a huge Tam. And then of course there's places outside of the United States to expand to one day to, to make that Tam even larger. And so I think that is really the kind of what made this such a ripe area for us to work on, was like the combination of solving a real need for parents and providers, but also a really huge market. And now, you know, I think some of the challenges have been like making. opening investors' eyes to that opportunity, you know, as they kind of look for the new shiny thing. And I think COVID also helped with that. Like it kind of brought childcare to the forefront, education to the forefront. And I already see things really changing investor appetite, increasing to invest in childcare and education, which is great.
Watson: And it's also in that arena of somewhat illegible markets that might actually be expanded by, you know, bringing a more legible service to them. So you referenced Uber before and not necessarily came who the driver was.
I can remember before Uber, a night out when I was much younger. And there would be, you know, just someone that kind of pulled up in a car that was trolling the streets late at night to potentially drive you back home to your apartment. And that was something that eventually became, Hey, we know we're calling the Uber and we're walking out and we know, you know, at least who the driver is, where they're going so on and so forth.
And the original kind of like black car for hire option, which seem tiny expanded into this much larger idea, childcare in a similar way. There are all sorts of, you know, inter neighborhood relationships where, you know, parents are passing the kids off house to house down the street. There's other characters who might not necessarily be licensed or regulated in the way that is important.
So what else have you learned or seen from that vantage point as it pertains to this daycare market?
Maruskopf: Yeah. I mean the amazing thing with childcare is a lot of these centers are not operating at full capacity. Even when they are full, they have spots every single day that are going unfilled.
That might be an afternoon spot from 12 to five. It might be because some kid is sick. In class that day, and those spots just go unfilled. And that's because there's not really a good way to offer that spot. If someone calls in sick, like how do you flag to your neighborhood that you now have a spot available?
And we see, marketplace is really the first step to start to enable that. So, you know, just a simple example is one of the kind of really big searches on Winnie is actually for drop-in care. We see tons of parents come to us looking for not their full-time daycare preschool, but maybe an opportunity just for a week when they're in between options or maybe because, you know, they need to go to a doctor's appointment and they don't, they may be a stay at home parent and lots of providers actually offer it smaller home-based daycare is tend to love to offer this service, but they don't have a good platform to do so. So that's just like one way that we can kind of open up a new form of care which by the way we think the world is kind of moving in that direction anyway.
Watson: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that's really like a liquidity thing almost in like the adjacent rooms or spare rooms of a house for Airbnb.
Maruskopf: Yeah. It's kind of crazy that this, again, doesn't exist because there's kind of, we don't have to create new supply. We don't have to invent new spots from somewhere, which is kind of the thing that investors always love. Like, where's the kind of latent supply? It's like, it's here, it's already operating every day and they're just not full to capacity. Because the way we think about capacity is this really stringent view of a full-time nine to five space, which isn't how the world actually works. And isn't what parents are looking for.
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Watson: So classic question associated with marketplaces is getting something like this bootstrapped off the ground.
It's relatively self-evident that, you know, this information super valuable to parents and what, where the users would come from necessarily. But in terms of populating your actual website with this valuable information, what did it look like in the early days and how has that process evolved over the years of running Winnie?
Maruskopf: Yeah, so in the early days, it was a lot of integrating with the state licensing. Authorities pulling in information from the state, which is public, are really hard for parents to find themselves on all the licensed childcare providers. But increasingly most of our data comes from the providers themselves. And so there was like this time when we really had to bootstrap by getting a lot of the data ourselves and that the data we could get was really limited because a lot of this was not on the internet, and having a model where it starts to be the case that providers the supply provides more and more of the data. I think that was a really important dynamic. We needed to see working. And when we saw starting to work in certain markets, like we knew, okay, this is kind of a sustainable thing where we can start by integrating with the state licensing database.
We can get the information on licensed daycares and preschools, but we really need the providers to come on board and claim their page on Winnie. Update with stuff like their prices and whether they have openings, which is information that is constantly changing and really only they know. So it was important to kind of see that switch from the majority of the data provided by us to the majority provided by the supply.
Watson: Makes sense. Can you talk a little bit about the business model? We've talked about Zillow before a lot of their business leads for real estate agents, niche.com who reference at the beginning leads for the universities in the form of the students. How's that work?
Maruskopf: Yeah. So our business model is our customers are the providers, the daycares and preschools and camps and classes.
Parents use our product entirely for free. No way for parents to pay in this process. They're paying for childcare, which is hard and expensive enough, and we don't need to charge them anything on top of it. And the daycares and preschools are the ones that are growing their revenue as a result of using Winnie.
So it just naturally fell into place that they're the ones that are willing to pay for our services. So right now, the number one service that when he provides is regeneration, like it is the reason providers typically come to us and start paying us. But increasingly, we are trying to provide them with other tools and services like their page, which by the way, now for most providers gets more traffic than their own website.
These tools and services are very important for them to run an efficient, profitable business. So, you know, the other example of the feature to help them get staffing needs, we want to not just be, you know, kind of lead gen for them, but also start to help them in other ways.
And we think, you know, we can we’re a kind of product and engineering driven company. And so there's lots of other things we can build and do that would help them run their business better.
Watson: What also seems like, and I’m truly have other avenues to getting insights like this, but as the platform gets more and more traffic, more and more queries within your search engine for daycare, daycare near me, Spanish immersion, like you referenced before that you would be able to offer an information product that would inform future if it's a franchise model or if it's an expansion model for, Hey, you know, this geography, this neighborhood, this whatever really, you know, it's underserved in the daycare market, in the whatever market. And that would basically inform development opportunities.
Maruskopf: Yeah. Yeah. Right now we kind of do that for free for customers. And we actually, we do a lot for free. And I think this is, you know, what we're starting to realize is like you're providing a lot of value and I think marketplaces need to do this to grow.
They give away a lot of value. They don't capture all that value. But yeah, this is, you know, some of the stuff we're starting to think about, is like, how do we package a lot of the stuff that we're doing for our customers and start to think about it as like a value add service. And you know, as we think about things, that way we would, you know, naturally be incentivized to do a better and better job at it because it's you know, something they're actually paying for rather than just like a thing we do when they ask for it.
Watson: So as we aim towards wrapping up here, Sarah, um, I want to talk a little bit about your background before starting Winnie, and really, you know, you've been at Postmates, Twitter, YouTube, Google. These really kind of successful and blue chip technology companies and a common kind of query that we get from listeners, from people that had our events is, you know, I'm in corporation, ABC startup XYZ.
I kind of want to go. Do my own thing. I'm not sure, you know, do I need more seasoning? Are there more lessons that I can export from this big established business, into my new one? So in whatever order with whatever kind of specificity you want to, from those past experiences, what have you taken from roles like being head of product into starting your own thing that you found really valuable?
Maruskopf: Yeah. So first of all, I do recommend that young people who are starting out like do join a larger company or at least one where they feel like there's really people that they can learn from and grow from. Because I think that is a huge value added of working at some of these larger companies is you see, you know, experts amazing people in the roles doing these jobs and you can really learn and, and know how it should be done. I think the other really like, thing I didn't value until later was, you know, the people you meet and the connections you make at a larger company are super valuable.
Like these are really talented individuals who will go on and do amazing things in their careers. And so you're now connected with this network of amazing people. But not to shoot myself in the foot at Winnie because we are hiring, we would love newer grads. In addition to really experience folks is there's also like.
Watson: What kind of roles?
Maruskopf: We're always hiring for engineering and product. We're now also, you know, trying to staff up on the sales side. So some interesting positions there and marketing, I mean, we are trying to also be opportunistic. So like for talented people kind of have like a general apply for whatever thing on our website.
You know, we want to hire the best. So anyone in the U S because now we are remote first, so, we still have an office, but we can work from anywhere. But yeah, the benefit of a smaller company and like Postmates was a pretty small company. When I joined, even Twitter was relatively small. It was a couple hundred people, the hats you can wear, you're not so specific in your role. You can try lots of things and branch out and typically move around in the organization and up in the organization faster, which can be a great experience for them starting your own business, where you have to wear all the hats and do all the things.
And I think for me, it would have been really jarring to go from like Google to starting my own company. And it was good to have experience at smaller companies. At least at the time they were smaller, to see, you know, what does it look like when you have to do some of these things yourself? How do you think about, you know, hiring for these areas?
When do you know when it's time to hire, how do you, you know, present to investors or your board. Those are experiences you really only get at a smaller company earlier on in your career.
Watson: Right on. Any specific hats that were challenging to put on for the first time upon starting Winnie.
Maruskopf: Yeah. I mean, I thought when I started a company, I would get to be the product owner.
My background is product management. I was just excited. I teamed up with an amazing product thinker and Halsall who is now our chief product officer. And I was like, we're just going to get to like, build great product together. It's going to be wonderful. Like, so much fun. And it was for the first, you know, year, we were just like, we were writing code.
We were coming up with product ideas. But quickly it became clear that like for the company to grow, I needed to do things that weren't product and actually I couldn't spend any of my time on product and engineering. Uh, so things like raising money and hiring, and press, and things that like the CEO is really only positioned to do.
That was a little bit in people management, you know, managing the team, and the talent. That was a little sad initially to come to terms with. Like it, wasn't going to be just like all fun and games tinkering around. I needed to build an actual company, but I've come to terms with that and embrace my new role.
And also now I'm proud to be like the worst product person and definitely the worst engineer at Winnie. And so happy to see that to all the folks who are better at it anyway.
Watson: Well, that's actually such an architectural story that we've covered in the past year with a person that gets into, you know, starting a bakery because they love to bake. And then they build a successful bakery and they hire bakers. And now they're kind of managing bakers as opposed to being that baker in a similar way. So a lot of familiar threads.
Maruskopf: Yeah. I mean, just the other day I wrote like a launch announcement that we were going to send out. And then I, you know, I kind of drafted up an idea I had in my head and then I sent it, sent it to our marketing, woman, to you know, get it ready.
And like, she just made it, like 500 times better. Like it was like, not even, it was so embarrassing what I had initially written compared to her take on it. And I just realized like, yeah, this is building a company. Like you hire people that are 500 times better at the role than you are. And my job and my super power is like, can I find those people? Can I retain those people? Can I put them in the right roles to shine? Can I, you know, challenge them with the next set of challenges and experiences, and it's not going to be writing. Amazing launch announcement because I'm gonna, I'm going to always be worth it.
Watson: Right on self-awareness. But if you want to go far, go together, just mess it up. You want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together is always the best way.
Maruskopf: But she also did it faster than me.
Watson: Awesome. Sarah, this has been fantastic. I want to aim for asking the last couple of questions, but I've got a rule. If I ever am interviewing someone and they're doing something that I have never seen someone else to do before I have to ask them about it.
Cause when else will I get the opportunity? So on your Twitter page, you have a linked out to an OpenSea collection for folks that are not familiar with what OpenSea is. It is a marketplace for NFTs, which is amongst other applications, a way for selling artwork in a way, you know, without going through some sort of a middleman, it's a kind of open marketplace concept OpenSea has absolutely blown up over the last year.
The application or the route that you've taken, is having when your kids actually produce artwork there on OpenSea, so just, you know, in whatever terms, make sense. Tell me about the decision to do that. I think it's super creative and interesting. I was like, wow, that's so cool, the moment I saw it. But just take us through the thought process there from a parenting.
Maruskopf: Yeah. I mean, I'm really interested in, like crypto and web three and NFTs, but I also, you know, have a company and a full-time job. And so, you know, one of the things we pride ourselves on Winnie, is like, just the ability for folks to develop professionally, we have a professional development budget where people can apply that towards anything they want to learn or do every year.
It doesn't have to be related to their job function. And so, you know, similarly I think it is important like as the CEO, when there's new technologies out there that are gaining a lot of momentum that I like have some understanding of what's going on. And so it was important for me to kind of like, learn about what is going on with Crypto and NFTs. But because I don't have any talent myself. I, again, like had to tap someone who was a much better artist than me. So I took my six-year-olds artwork and she is on board with this. She is doing it with me. I have her permission. In fact there are a number of pieces she does not let me put on OpenSea.
But we created this persona crypto Brynn. Her name is Brynn, and so crypto Brynn has a collection on OpenSea and it's been fun to just see how it all works. I feel like the best way for me at least to learn something is just by jumping right in and doing it. So I've just been having fun with that. And it's also a nice, a nice way to bond with my daughter because she now gets really excited when one of her crypto Brynn pieces sell, and is really proud of that. So it's also a good way to share one of my interests with her.
Watson: Right on. Well, tell her I like the Fox drawing amongst the others. And we will link that in all the other good stuff in the show notes for this episode. Sarah, before I ask the standard, last two questions. Anything else that you were hoping to share today that I just didn't give you the chance?
Maruskopf: No, this was great. I feel like we covered a lot if you know, folks are looking for childcare, check out Winnie, winnie.com. And if folks are looking for a job, check out winnie.com/jobs, because we are hiring.
Watson: Right on. We're going to link that in the show notes for this episode, goingdeepwithAaron.com/podcast for every episode of the show or in the app, we are probably listening to this right now. I'm also going to link Sarah's Twitter as well, which is a good follow. You had a nice zinger on, what's the guy from my first million. I can't think of it. You roasted him pretty good here a couple of weeks ago.
Maruskopf: Yeah, probably. Big on a dunking on people in Twitter.
Watson: I love it. So before we let you go, Sarah, I'd like to give you the mic one final time to issue an actionable personal challenge to the audience.
Maruskopf: Yeah. So my personal challenge is for those of you that have children in childcare in daycare or preschool or in school. Is to talk to your childcare provider, or your teacher and ask them, you know, one way you could help.
I think. We just take these educators for granted. And you know, we've all seen over the pandemic, how essential they are and they are, you know, in need of our help right now. It's also a great thing to do around the holidays. Ask, you know, there's a way you could get involved or help in the new year.
Whether it's a small way or big way. And if you were not a parent, or you don't know any childcare provider educator you can ask to help. I would say, ask to help a parent and they also, many of us are struggling and challenge. Still it's the case that we are still very much in the thick of it for us, with young children who are not yet vaccinated, the under five set.
And so, you know, if you have the capacity or the ability to do anything, to help a parent, you know, I'm sure they would appreciate it.
Watson: Amen to that. And one of the underrated qualities of things that are people remember as being kind, cause, you know, hopefully we're always kind to our family, our friends, people that are close to us.
But when someone does something for you that wasn't required, it wasn't expected. It wasn't out of any sort of obligation. Even a small act can really resonate with someone as an act of kindness. So I think that your challenge is perfectly in line with that. Sarah, thank you for sharing it with us and for coming on the podcast.
Maruskopf: Awesome. Thank you for having me.
Watson: We just went deep with Sarah Maruskopf, who we're not there has a fantastic day.
Hey, thank you so much for listening to my interview with Sara. If you enjoyed it, then I would encourage you to also check out our past interview with Luke scurman. As I referenced in the interview, his platform. It's a very similar business and business model. And if you pair these two together, you will have a much more coherent picture about the challenges and opportunities associated with building a marketplace.
It's linked in the show notes. Also hit subscribe because we have another great episode coming next week.
Maruskopf: Thanks for listening. Connect with Aaron on Twitter and Instagram at Aaron Watson, 59.
Matt Dayton is the cofounder of Pure Air Nation, a company that focuses on mold remediation and air quality around the greater Pittsburgh area.
In just two years in business, Matt and his cofounder Jake have raced to serious business success with a full calendar and loads of 5 star reviews. Beyond mold remediation, they also offer air quality testing, duct cleaning, and preventative care.
In this episode, Matt and Aaron discuss how he got started in the business, why the demand for mold remediation is growing, and the challenges in hiring blue collar talent.
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If you liked this interview, check out episode 419 with J.D. Ewing where we discuss scaling his family’s office furniture business.
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