EPISODE 41
JON WALKER: APPFOLIO

 

Jon Walker is Chief Technologist and Founder of AppFolio, an industry leader in cloud-based property management software. Prior to AppFolio, Jon led engineering development and quality assurance teams as the CTO of Versora (now part of Kaseya) and for Miramar Systems. The software developed under his direction has since been deployed to over 20 million computers worldwide. In addition to being a CTO, Jon teaches computer science courses as an adjunct professor at Westmont College and the University of California at Santa Barbara.


IN THIS EPISODE

Behind every successful company is great leadership, and behind every great leader is a stellar team. The impetus of AppFolio’s explosive growth are the recruiting policies put in place long ago by Jon Walker and his leadership team. It’s no surprise the business now boasts 600+ employees in three cities. Casting a shadow both literally and figuratively, Santa Barbara local Jon Walker has been a long-awaited guest on MODERN ONTRAPRENEUR. And just as we predicted, he delivered. In the time it takes to edit an Instagram photo, the humble founder showered us in tremendous leadership advice any growing startup need implement, touching on assembling the best team for the job, making yourself obsolete in your position and his tried-and-true methods of market validation.

JUMP TO TOPIC

4:53 - The Secret to AppFolio’s Success
Hint: It has nothing to do with the product itself.

8:40 - Single Veto
The recruiting policy keeps AppFolio a frontrunner in its space.

11:50 - Always Be Obsoleting Yourself Out of a Job
​​​​​​​Repeated success comes from finding someone better to replace you.

16:00 - The Difference Between Conviction and Wishful Thinking
​​​​​​​Are you fooling yourself with an idea that hasn’t hit its stride?

21:25 - Market Validation and Teleportation
​​​​​​​Real feedback originates only from paying customers.

31:30 - The Long Game for AppFolio
​​​​​​​Jon’s vision for the company once he’s long gone

 

SHOW TRANSCRIPT
LR  Welcome to MODERN ONTRAPRENEUR. Today we have Jon Walker who's the CTO and one of the founders of AppFolio, a Santa Barbara software company and industry leader in cloud based property management software. Prior to AppFolio, he led the engineering development and quality assurance teams as CTO of Versora and for Miramar Systems. The software developed under his direction has since been deployed to over 20 million computers worldwide. In addition to being a tech CTO, he also teaches computer science courses as an adjunct professor at Westmont College and the University of California Santa Barbara. Thank you so much for being here.
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JON WALKER
There's a difference between conviction and wishful thinking.
JW Yeah. Thank you for having me.

LR Yeah. I'm just gonna start without one of our normal questions because we started our businesses right around the same time I think.

JW Yes.


LR I remember when we had just kind of gotten going, we went out to lunch. This was what, 10, 12 years ago, something like that?

JW  We started in 2006 basically.

LR Yeah. Okay. Even before that you were doing research and stuff like that.

JW Yes. Yes.

LR We started in 2004, and I remember going out to lunch with you guys and you were doing the ... You introduced me actually, to the Steve Blanks program, four steps to the epiphany.
JW Yeah, I did market validation, yeah.

LR You were figuring out property management space and decided to pull the trigger on that, and you and Klaus and ... What's the other guy's name?

JW Jim Semick.

LR Jim, yeah. Launched this business and it just absolutely exploded, so you're now, you were just saying 6-700 people, public company, raised $60 million along the way now with market capital over a billion dollars. Absolutely insane, especially for 10 years Santa Barbara company. What's the secret?

JW Probably this isn't much of a secret, but I think we just really have great people and we've been very fortunate to hire great people in leadership positions and just throughout the organization.

LR Interesting.

JW  I definitely believe that's the secret. Jim Semick was, I think he was a consultant for us back then, helping us with the market validation process. He was fantastic, but we've hired great CEOs and great people in leadership and marketing and sales and services. We've just been very fortunate there. Engineering of course, that's kind of my area that I really care about and I'm passionate about. We've been really fortunate.

LR Yeah. Fortunate, but also, you caused that. What is the wisdom that you've brought to the table around getting great people on this team? There's a war, right, for great people to get them to devote their time to your cause, no matter how much you pay them. It's not just about money, it's about really attracting people to a mission and to a project. How have you been so successful with that?

JW  Yeah, I think this is a little bit of a platitude, but we've always really cared about culture. I think there's some elements that, we have a really learning culture, and entrepreneurial culture, which is kind of appropriate that we're talking about this now. We've always really allowed people to thrive in that kind of way. We've done a lot of things along the way that really reinforced allowing our people to operate independently, make decisions themselves. We really try to drive decisions down into the smallest, the people that are actually doing the work and closest to the front lines.
 

We do a lot of information sharing. In fact when we went public, that was one of the big discussions we had, is how are we gonna continue to share all of the information that we want to share with employees so that they can make great decisions for the business. We've done a lot of that. We have a monthly company meeting where we share a lot of key information about the business. We've always been very transparent internally. I think that makes it attractive. Entrepreneurially, we do things like, I love to tell the story, like in engineering, we still today work in teams of about six or seven people.

LR With, you were saying a couple hundred engineers?

JW Yeah. We have over 200, probably, on the engineering team, and we're working these small teams of six or seven people, and they have very much leeway to define even what they're working on and also how they go about it. A lot of times we'll give them projects. A project might be something like ... We measure net promoter score. I don't know if you're familiar with that.

LR  Sure.

JW We measure net promoter score and we know the net promoter score for different types of users in our system. Some of the users are tougher than others. For example, accountants use our system and they tend to be a little tough on us.

LR Cranky, yeah.

JW  One of the things that we've done in the past was, we gave an engineering team the assignment of making accountants happier and measuring it by NPS. That team had total leeway.

LR To just figure out how to do that.

JW Yeah. They went to the services team. They made some changes to how we did services. They implemented some big features. They implemented some small features. They did a lot of stuff to actually make that happen.

LR Yeah. Interesting.

JW  Yeah. I think that-

LR Did it work?

JW  Yes, it did. It actually did. I wouldn't be telling it if it wasn't a success story. No, I'm just kidding. Yeah, so I think that, that's something that we've really worked to preserve, even now that we're a much larger company, is that we still have that entrepreneurs spirit. I think AppFolio is still a great place for that, and that's why we can attract good talent, I think, for a long time.

LR Yeah. I always ask, what is your unique skillset, and obviously, you're an engineering guy, but to run a ... I mean, engineers are a challenging crowd, and to run a team of 200 engineers takes something unique. What makes you successful at that?

JW  I mean, this is kind of a joke, but I always say, my only real talent is attracting other good people around me. I mean, I do not run a team of 200 engineers. I have a whole bunch of great leaders, and they have leaders that run the team.

LR  Yeah.
JW I think that's really the secret sauce there. I think we try to hire really smart people we have some strategies in place to make sure that we're always hiring eight people. For example, on the engineering side, one of the practices we have is, if we have five, six people interview someone, we have kind of a single veto policy. If one person doesn't like the person and everyone else loves them, we will pass on that candidate. Sometimes we pass on really good candidates based on that, but it really keeps that bar high.

LR Yeah.
 

JW I think for engineers, they really want to work with other smart people that are gonna challenge them and give them new ideas, and then also, they want to have impact in what they do.

LR Right.

JW We've put them really close to the customer. I kind of talked about how we do the NPS thing, and put them ... Right away they're kind of delivering value to the customer. If you're an engineer that comes to AppFolio, and in the first two weeks you haven't been talking to a customer in some way, listening to a call or something like that, you're probably ... There's a few people like that and they're working on very back end infrastructure, but almost everyone's doing that in the first couple weeks they're there.

LR Interesting.

JW Yeah.

LR Wow. I don't think our engineers spend a lot of time ... We have a lot of ways of getting feedback to them, but actually getting them listening on calls is unusual, I think.

JW Yeah.

LR For sure. Obviously, a lot of the people, basically everyone who is gonna watch this is not running a billion dollar market cap business. Almost none of them are gonna be running 200 person teams, let alone 6-700 person teams, but one of the things that you're kind of bringing up for me is the realization that pretty quickly, if you're gonna grow, you're not gonna be doing a lot of the work. You said, "I don't run a 200 person team." Right?

JW Yeah.

LR  "I have leaders that have leaders." I'm sure you don't write any code, or if you do, it's for fun.
JW Just for fun, yes.

LR Yeah. What would you recommend? You've got to plan for that, right? You've got to think through in advance, pretty quickly, I'm not gonna be the one who's doing the lion's share of the work. When you first started, you were, right? You probably wrote-

JW Yes, for sure.

LR Yeah, and then it didn't take long, I'm sure, for you guys to ... For you personally to be at a point where you're doing a tiny percentage of the work, right? What the work becomes is about leadership and making sure people stay engaged and work on the right problems and come up with the right solutions. How do you suppose you could help somebody that's got five or 10 employees think through what it's gonna take to get to that point where they're no longer doing half the work around here, but their job becomes leadership.

JW  Yeah, I think the way to think about it is, to just always be obsoleting yourself out of a job. My title's actually been the same for all 10 years of AppFolio. I've been the CTO and co-founder, I guess, of AppFolio, but my job's changed pretty radically like five times. From early days where I was writing some code to managing a small team and doing maybe even some product management to then, now we've got product management and some leadership in there. Now I'm more like a VP of engineering, and then at some point I was kind of very strategic on the technology side, which is more like a traditional CTO role. Even now it's changed again where I'm a little bit more of future vision.

 

I'm still involved in the technology, but it's a different role. I think one thing that I've been very comfortable with over the years is kind of just always obsoleting myself out and getting someone else in there. I can tell you, we've had a lot of success with that where we've given people opportunity to have a new role. Maybe even if they didn't have the experience and they could just grow into it, and they brought new ideas and new thoughts to it, and it was very, very successful. That's what I'd encourage someone to do, even with five people, is be thinking, "How do I get someone else to take over some of the stuff that I'm doing, that will be a real challenge for them and where they'll bring new thinking to that."

LR Totally. Entrepreneurs, we're also worried about things falling apart and our employees not doing things the way we would, or as good as we can. How do you get comfortable ... You've now let go of job after job, after job, how do you get comfortable with taking your hands off the reigns?

JW  I mean, I'm like a lot of entrepreneurs. I'm a little bit of a control freak, so I do have to fight that, I think, a little bit. One of the things I think is important is that you want to give people enough power to move the ship back and forth, but not steer it into an iceberg. You know? Anything where it can be catastrophic, the consequences, you want to have a little bit of control around it. Anything else, you're much better off actually giving it to someone who's much closer to the problem and is gonna have innovative solutions.

I have to fight that, I think, a little bit, myself, just to make sure that I'm doing the right thing there, but I've had so much repeated success with it, and I can tell you, when I kind of gave up ... My title was never VP of engineering, but when I stopped being in the role of VP of engineering, the VP of engineering that came along after me was 100 times better than I would ever be, so I've had that experience over and over again and that always reinforces it. I think I would take a risk and try that with someone. Give them a challenge.

LR Yeah, and then to learn over time that you can get people that are better than you at role after role, after role.

JW The truth is, really good people want that, so if you don't offer that to them, they're not gonna be attracted to your organization, and you're gonna end up basically micromanaging the whole thing. That's not a growing organization.

LR Right. Yeah, exactly. What is your cutting edge right now? What are you learning and working on personally?

JW Personally?

LR Yeah, or professionally?

JW I'm always reading a book.

LR You're learning french.

JW  No, I'm not learning french. That's kind of a Mark Zuckerberg thing. I'm gonna learn a new language or something. I'm always reading a book, I'm always listening to an audio book. The book I'm reading right now is called Radical Candor by Kim Scott. I told you a little bit about how AppFolio is a learning organization. I think that comes a little bit from both Klaus, my co-founder and I, have been in academia, so we kind of have that naturally in us. That's kind of the book that's actually floating around, and there's a number of groups that are reading and discussing it.

 

I'm a part of one of those groups. It's a really interesting book, Radical Candor by Kim Scott. It basically talks about how to challenge people very directly, but in a way that you care for them. It's really about how to be a really good manager, but also here and at Pfizer and all these things. I'm only a little bit into the book. The first half of the book tells about how you do this and why you do this, and the second half is a lot of specific how, and I haven't gotten to that part yet.

LR So that's the cutting edge?

JW  Yeah. That's one of the things I'm doing.

LR Awesome. If you could go back, I mean, you've had a pretty successful run here. 10 years to a billion dollars, but still, there's always lessons we learn, mistakes we make along the way. What would you tell your early founder self to do differently?

JW People ask me that question all the time. This isn't being disingenuous, every mistake we made, we learn something from, so I don't know that there's any of them that I'd change. I think there was times when we were more cautious than we should have been. Maybe we should have gone for something a little bit quicker than we did, and there was times also when we jumped into something and should have thought about it a little bit more. It's hard for me to come up with specific examples because all of them I just kind of put in that, hey I learned something from this, category.

LR  Yeah. That really speaks to the relationship with mistakes or failure or setbacks that you have as an entrepreneur. Many of us take failures heavier than that. Your ability to look back over 10 years and go like, yeah, it was all perfect. I would have done those again, or I got something out of that, that was more than the cost. I think it speaks to your relationship to the process.
JW Yeah, and definitely, it wasn't perfect. I don't want to give that impression. We made lots of mistakes, but in general, we went on the path we wanted to go on. We have the same vision today that we had back then, which is to build software for a number of different small to medium businesses in different markets. That was the original vision. It's still the vision today. We're still excited about it. Employees are still excited about it. We're in two verticals today, which is property management, and we do software for small offices. Our goal is to do more of them. I think we're still really passionate about that. I wish I could come up with huge mistakes we made. I think I was very fortunate too in that I have a great co-founder. Our CEO just retired, Brian Donahue, and we've got a new CEO, Jason Randall. They were both ... We just had a great relationship the entire time, and we did a lot of divide and conquer, and we're very complimentary, and I think that helped us a lot from avoiding some mistakes, but you know.

LR It's hard to call it wrong when it's worked out this well. When you think about what it's all for, what would you like your-

JW  Oh, sorry, can I go back and do one more?

LR Yeah, please do.

JW  I will tell you one mistake we made because it is pretty educational. We actually made a product that didn't work out, and we target kind of, our software is built for property managers that are professional property managers, so they're managing maybe 50 units up to about 3,000 units. We built a product for the very low end kind of landlord market. We had invested a lot in it. It had actually achieved pretty significant revenue, but we could just see that it wasn't gonna grow the way we wanted to. The rest of the business, there was some problems with that market. We actually had to go and make the decision to shut it down.
 
LR Oh wow.

JW  We just totally amended it at one point. We took care of the customers and did the right thing there. That was kind of a mistake where we made, where we went down the wrong path on a product and ended up having to make the tough decision. There's a lot of people who were really invested in it and put a lot of effort into it. That's kind of one example of-

LR How do you know when to stop with a project like that? I think that a lot of us investors, it may not be a product, but for example, a marketing program or something like that. Everybody says, "Shoot, you should be doing Facebook advertising," or, "You should be doing a podcast," or whatever it might be. Everything's hard.

JW  Right.

LR How do you know that you're not quitting right before things start to work?

JW  Start to work out? Yeah. I think that's the challenge because as an entrepreneur, you have to have vision, right?

LR Mm-hmm (affirmative).

JW   You sometimes have to work against obstacles, and keep going with that vision, even when some of the signs are saying you shouldn't go this way. I think there's a point though where you actually are fooling yourself that this is gonna work out. I don't know how to ... It's kind of one of those you'll see it when you get there, although it's really hard for entrepreneurs to recognize that themselves. We've actually had a great board of advisors and we got a lot of input there, and a lot of times they make us look at ourselves in the mirror pretty hard. I think that's one of the things that, if you're an entrepreneur running a small organization or even doing marketing, you want to have someone who will actually tell you the direct truth, and kind of say, "Hey, you know what, I see where you're going with this, but I can't see where it's ever gonna get here."

 

If you're an entrepreneur and you say, "You know what, there's five more things I know that we can try to go that way," keep going. If it's like, you're really stretching like, "I'm hoping this works out and it's gonna take a real long shot to make this work," then you know something's not going quite the right way.

LR Yeah, hope is a good sign.
JW  Yeah.

LR When you’re kind of hoping and praying instead of planning.

JW  Yeah. There's a difference between conviction and wishful thinking, you know?

LR Yeah. What could you have seen, do you think, before you even invested, because that's brutal, right? I don't know how much you invest with this, but you can build a whole product and get a whole marketing team around it and get sales people on it and get customers on it. That was probably a multi million dollar flush of cash, right?

JW Yes. It was.
 

LR It would have been nice to avoid that. What could you have seen, do you think, in advance that would've ... How do you avoid that?

JM You know I'm a big believer in this idea of market validation. Market validation, the real simple way to explain it is, the way most startups happens is, someone comes up with an idea, and this works for kind of any business, someone comes up with an idea, you start to build a product. You go, "Oh, you know what, we're gonna have to start selling this thing soon," so you get some marketing people, sales people, then you get to a later phase, like maybe a beta, and you're like, "We're really gonna have to sell this thing." For technology companies, a lot of times, you hire a PR firm there. You hire a couple marketing people, more marketing people, more sales people. Then you launch the product, and that's when you learn everything. Sometimes, unfortunately you learn that no one wanted that product. That's why a lot of startups, they run out of money at that point. They have a product no one wants and the startup fails or kind of limps along forever.

LR Right.

JW The idea of market validation is, instead of design, build, sell, you try to move the selling up front. Obviously it's tricky and a little subtle because now you're selling something you don't have. There's definitely some subtleties to that, but I think that that was something where we had done that with this product that I was talking about, and we didn't listen to some of the things we heard.

LR Interesting.

JW For example, one of the problems with the product was, individual landlords, it was a screening and payment service for individual landlords. Individual landlords do those kind of activities about once every year, once every two years, depending on, if they've got one or two units, people aren't moving out that often.

LR Right, right.

JW By the time they go to do it again, they've forgotten your product.

LR Forgotten all about it, yeah, yeah.

JW So you have to sell to them over and over and over and over again, which is an expensive proposition. We heard that in market validation and kind of had some thoughts of, oh well maybe we can convert them to ... They're gonna grow and they're gonna convert into our customers of our property management product.

LR Oh, right.

JW I think we heard that, but we still kind of, it was a little wishful thinking thing. I'm a big believer in the idea of market validation, and it doesn't guarantee you success. It basically helps you get a lot of the bad news out up front.

LR Yeah. It's tough. I will say. I remember you guys introduced me to the four steps to the epiphany, which is kind of like the original text on this thing.

JW  Yeah. A guy named Steven Blank. He's awesome. A lot of people have read Eric Ries' Lean Startup book.

LR  Right.

JW It talks about exactly the same thing, except for he refers to it as customer development. It's a really important concept, and you're right, it's hard to execute.

LR It's super hard. We tried. We did. We did the whole process, but totally deluded ourselves early on, and convinced ourselves through the process that we had a winner. This is back in the early days, before we actually did find traction. It took us years. I mean, you guys came out swinging in 2006. We didn't get anything going really until 2009 because we just whiffed early on in that process. It is super easy to delude yourself and to kind of like listen to the people who are excited, the two people who are excited and ignore the 10 people who don't even understand what you're talking about.

JW Yes. That's absolutely true. I think people don't believe this, but we actually start out with just a slide back that we use to do this, and we would say ... We would talk directly to customers and the slides were basically, here's the pains we've heard. We've talked to some people. We think these are your problems. Hopefully what you hear then is, oh yeah, that one's really important to me. That one's really important to me.

LR Right.

JW Sometimes you even hear the right words to use to talk to them when you want something in software. Then the next slide was, here's what we're gonna do, and we were kind of realistic about it. We're not gonna build 10 years worth of software in six months, but here's our first version. Then we had another slide that was, here's what we're not gonna do, so it won't include these things. We're realistic. Then the last slide was, would you buy it.


LR Uh-huh (affirmative).

JW  Before we started, we had 10 customers who said, "You build that, I'll buy it." We heard a lot of things. One of the things we heard was, there's a lot of pain in the industry. One of the very early customers we talked to said, "Here I'm gonna send you a document." We said, "What do you think of your existing solution?" They said, "Oh, I'm gonna send you a document." We're like, "Okay." They sent over the document, and they were like, "That's the list of 300 things that are wrong with my existing software."

LR Holy smokes.

JW Yeah, that's what we were ... We were like, "Wow, I've never made a list of 300 of anything." I mean, you really are in pain. Another thing we heard, for example, is after a while we were starting to nail the problems. We'd hear, "Oh yeah, those are my problems. Oh that would be so great if you delivered that," and then on our not to do list, we actually had accounting. One of the reasons was, we thought, oh, there's Quick Books out there and accounting's hard. I don't know that we understand it super well.

LR Yeah.
​​​​​

JW We would have excitement, yeah those are my problems, oh I'd love to, this is really exciting. Oh, it doesn't have accounting, forget it. We wouldn't even get to the would you buy it decision.

LR Oh wow.

JW Very early on, we had to switch that.

LR So you built accounting too?

JW Yes.

LR Oh my god.

JW By the way, we spent a lot of time figuring out how to do that right. We even looked at how can we not build it by partnering with someone. We could have easily gone and built the whole software product without the accounting and got to the end and be selling it and have people say no.

LR Mm-hmm (affirmative).

JW With four slides and a couple of customer calls, we found out that has to be part of the product.

LR It has to be part of the thing. Yeah, crucial.

JW Yeah.

LR You can use that, you figure, with not just software products, but services?
JW Absolutely. Yeah. The key is putting someone to a buying decision at the end to where you're really getting real feedback.

LR Like actually writing a check?

JW I think that that's the key. Now, someone will say, well what about Facebook or something where it's a service and people aren't necessarily paying for it. There's still a buying decision there. The buying decision's a little different. It's more like, will I invest my time to use that.

LR  Oh, right.

JW  You know, so you've got to figure out what that buying mechanism is. The easiest one is when it's money and I think that's the best one. Sometimes the buying decision is something else like, will they invest enough time to learn this, or will they invest enough time to use the product. Will they spend time on this page, or whatever?
 

That's the key. I always explain that to people. I have a little analogy I use where I explain that to people where I say ... Most entrepreneurs have had this experience. You know? I may come to you and I may say, "Landon, we're really good friends, I'm super excited. I'm gonna build a teleporter. I've talked to a professor at UCSB and the technology is there. They're already moving mice back and forth, and I know we can do it with people. I'm really passionate about this idea." If you're my friend and not an investor or something, your feedback, what's it gonna be if I'm really passionate and excited?

LR Awesome. Do it man.
JW Yeah, awesome. Go for it. Right?

LR Yeah.

JW  Which, that's what I would do with a friend too. Now, if I say to you, I say all the same stuff, I'm really excited, and then I say, "Oh by the way, you're gonna be the first customer. Can I have your credit card?"

LR Yeah.

JW No, seriously, can I have your credit card?

LR  Right.

JW All of a sudden, even you get a little tense.

LR Different conversation then. Different conversation.

JW Yeah, and your whole attitude changes and you're gonna start giving me real feedback like, "Oh, that would be great."

LR I would need to see 1,000 people go through it first.

JW  Yes, or maybe ... Yeah, that's a great one. That's like a selling motion. How do you sell? Well, you're gonna have to sign up 1,000 customers that just are gonna try it so that you can get someone who really wants to buy it. But you might say, "Oh, you know what, that's great, but I have a teleporter. I have to go into a central office. Could I go from my home." Then now you know, oh, it's got to have the teleport from home feature.

 

Or you might go, "You know what, oh, you want me to pay $500 for it? Great. I spent $1,000 on my current teleporter," or, "No. I wouldn't pay more than $250 for a teleporter."

LR Right.
JW I'm picking a little bit of a ridiculous example, but you get the idea.

LR Yeah.

JW It's like you've got to, in that market validation process, you've got to put someone to that buying decision to really get the real feedback.

LR Yep. That's so true. I think that's actually the piece that we actually missed because we had a lot of people saying yes and apparently being really enthusiastic, but when it came down to ... This is in earlier pre ONTRAPORT product.

JW Yes.

LR When we came down to actually ... We produced it and we're like, "Here we go, you said," and we got zero of them. Zero out of 20 people that said that they would totally buy it, actually bought when the time came.

JW Well, to your credit, you guys got to recognize and change and move along.

LR Oh, we stopped that day.

JW Yeah. I mean, a lot of people will continue to delude themselves, oh you know what, we're just missing this one feature.

LR Yeah.

JW You know. That's kind of how it goes a lot of times.

LR I think in one instance we were lucky because we whiffed so hard that it was really clear. It was literally that week I was just like, "I could do it 100 times better and I'm still at zero."

JW That's good. That's good. That's a good lesson, I think.

LR It's almost worse if you get some traction and there's hope and you start going, "Maybe if I ..." You know. Anyway.

JW Right. One of the things I say is that most startups really don't fail. What they do is kind of go along status quo for a long time.

LR Yeah.

JW Like, you have one big customer, and then you lose that customer but you get another one, and there's another deal if we just sign this deal. Whatever your metric is, you know? They usually actually don't die. Startups don't just go up and gone. They usually kind of drag along and that's when you know you've got something that's just not working.

LR Yeah. Yeah, it's a tough one. You've been at this for a while now, couple of careers, several companies, leader of hundreds of people, creator of lots of opportunity. What would you like to look back on your career and have your legacy be?

JW Definitely my hope for AppFolio is that it's a long term sustainable business that people feel really good about working at long after I'm gone.

LR Yeah.

JW I think one of my big focuses now is keeping that entrepreneurial spirit as we grow there. I would say it's still a place where there's a great entrepreneurial spirit there. It's always challenging to keep that as we grow. I consider that my personal part of the legacy. I'm not really a big, I want people to remember me, or anything like that. I just want to create a place that a lot of people feel good about and really, I think one of the things that's really rewarding about AppFolio is, a lot of our customers are small to medium businesses, so these are like family businesses. We're not curing cancer, but we're helping small businesses succeed, and that's really rewarding as well.

LR Absolutely. Good. What do you think it means to be a modern entrepreneur?

JW That's a great question. I definitely think of entrepreneurship in terms of starting companies myself, and that's something I've always been interested in. I think it's amazingly easy to start a company today. It's still really challenging to make one successful.

LR Yeah.
JW Obviously with tools like Ontraport and Amazon web services, there's a lot of tools to help you be successful that just weren't there. Even to development frameworks, they've progressed so much to where you can do incredible software pretty quickly, but it's still really challenging to find a problem that people really care about, solve a pain, and all that part is really the hard part.

LR Mm-hmm (affirmative).

JW I would say, being a modern entrepreneur is about trying things quickly and moving on when you find out something doesn't work, because it's so easy to get things going quickly. You can actually do it way faster than you could before where you had to invest a couple million dollars building a data center before you could ever launch a service and find out about it.

LR W Yeah.

JW To me, that's, I think, the really important thing is moving quickly.

LR Awesome. Perfect. Thank you so much for doing this. Would you mind signing our wall?

JW Oh, certainly.

LR Cool.
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