Building a Better Freelance Marketplace with Simone May of Clutch

Summary of Episode

#51: Co-Founder and CTO, Simone May joins the podcast to discuss her innovative digital marketing freelancing platform, Clutch. Clutch connects businesses who need social media marketing and web design support to college student creators who are able to easily keep up with trends and assist clients meet their marketing goals. Simone breaks down the mission of Clutch, the future of the gig economy, how to make a killer survey, and more! 

About the Guest:

Simone May was born to help college kids. Brought up in a family full of educators, she has always been exposed to college life. When Simone and her peer, Madison Long, were in college themselves, they noticed students struggling to make ends meet financially. Once they graduated, Simone and Madison decided to team up to help college students make money while earning their degree. And thus, the seeds of Clutch were planted. 

Podcast Episode Notes

An Introduction to Simone May and Clutch: What is Clutch and how does the next generation want to experience marketing? [0:53] 

The gig economy will become the primary wave according to Simone: how Clutch hopes to support freelancers in the future. [3:55] 

How Clutch separates themselves from other freelancing platforms by providing ease and convenience to clients. [7:23]

Clutch’s main goal is to help college students make money while they are in school. Simone explains the journey to creating Clutch, which included surveys as well as several directional pivots. [15:47] 

Simone (dubbed a “Master of the Survey” by Ethan) gives tips on creating a phenomenal survey. [25:18] 

What was the “big mistake” that was made in the initial stages of building Clutch? [29:26] 

Culture and values are deeply significant at Clutch. Simone discusses the core values at Clutch, some of the benefits her full time employees enjoy, as well as the systems put into place to ensure that the company culture stays the same as the team grows. [32:02] 

What is in the works for Clutch? [39:51] 

How to learn more about Clutch. [40:10] 

Full Interview Transcript

Ethan: Hey everybody and welcome to the Startup Savant podcast. I’m your host Ethan, and this show is about the stories, challenges, and triumphs of fast-scaling startups and the founders who run them.

This week I’m chatting with Simone May, co-founder and CTO of Clutch. Clutch is a platform that’s connecting brands and businesses with the next generation of creatives. Designers, marketers, social media folks - really any different kind of contractor that established companies might need, Clutch is trying to create a solution. And they’re doing it in a highly-specific, highly-targeted way - focusing solely on freelancers that are still in school. 

We’re going to talk about this strategy and more, but before we start, remember to subscribe to the podcast wherever you’re listening from. Just find that subscribe button and press it gently. Alright, let’s get into my conversation with Simone.

Simone May: I'm doing well. How about you?

Ethan: I am living that dream. We've got a rainy, dreary day here in Ann Arbor.

Simone May: Oh, no.

Ethan: We're making it through, doing the best we can. You know what? At least it's not snow, right?

Simone May: Exactly. Definitely not snow over here in Houston.

Ethan: Yeah, for sure. All right, let's start at the very beginning. Can you tell us what is Clutch?

Simone May: So Clutch is a digital marketplace that is elevating emerging brands, digital marketing by connecting them with next gen creators. We are creating a solution to help all individuals pursue the work they love on their own terms, as well as creating a solution for businesses to find creative talent they're looking for to grow their business to the next level.

Ethan: All right, nice and tight. What would you say is the problem that Clutch is solving?

Simone May: I think the problem is threefold. We're in a new era where marketing has shifted completely. I think when I was growing up, marketing was very much so commercial, billboard, magazine centric. It was all everything you could see around you. But now it's shifted to being in this small device that we all know you carry around with your phone and I think through a lot of the other channels, just by social media alone, we started to see a shift in what people are actually interested in seeing.

 A lot more of this next generation cares about authenticity behind brands not just being sold to. They don't want to just be sold a water bottle on a commercial, they want somebody to use it, they want to see somebody talk about it, they want to see what the experience is like to use that water bottle, as an example. And so I think where we come in Clutch, as we like to say, is we give or provide these small emerging brands access to these next generation creators who have not only the innate ability to create short form video content easily, but also they are not as expensive as a marketing agency that might not be as diverse or might not have access to that same generation of talent.

And so I think that because we've helped those emerging brands meet in the middle with that solution, we also make sure that we are creator centric in the sense that our creators are also supported. We help them figure out what their pricing should be. We support them outside of just giving them a job or getting them a job or connected to these brands. We make sure they're paid weekly. We don't take any fees from them. We only have a take rate on the business side. And that is very intentional because a lot of creators are also people of color. And so we also have a charge as Black women founders to make sure that we're keeping diversity and inclusivity in mind as well, which also ties into being able to authentically talk or speak to a brand via social media. It's all related.

Ethan: So is this a platform that is working with young folks that want to be freelancers or are you connecting these folks with brands to go for more of a full-time position?

Simone May: So it's definitely more on the freelancer side, but the ideal state is that they end up becoming full-time. The way we see it is we want you to be able to potentially graduate from Clutch or continue to use this as another form of income. But the idea is that we're supporting the next generation of freelance. Getting on my startup tip, I also think that freelance is going to become the primary wave. I don't see careers and the traditional nine to five being something that captures, again, this next generation of people. I think people want to be able to live the lifestyle they would like to on their own terms. And a lot of that involves being able to work for yourself. And because there's so many different options at their disposal these days, I do foresee that as being something that becomes the primary source of income.

Ethan: So this creator economy, this gig economy, it sounds like your thought is that is going to take over and become the primary as opposed to traditional careers. Just playing devil's advocate here, there are certain protections that come in from having a W2 job, being an employee of a company, protections and benefits and all sorts of those things. Is there a way that either Clutch or the greater economy overall can change things or can make new ideas to provide more of these benefits and protections to especially these younger folks that may not know to ask for specific things?

Simone May: Absolutely. Yeah. That's the other part of our vision at Clutch, actually. We want to be able to provide a central marketplace where you not only go to get connected to jobs, but you go to learn more about 401k or being able to save for retirement or getting approved for an apartment or a car or a house.

 Being able to put those measures into the platform and bring those into the fold so we can be a more supportive freelance marketplace is I think the way that we would like to go. So we are supporting the idea of being a freelancer and being able to find the right healthcare plan, those types of things. I do agree there are a lot of benefits that come with working for a company. You get the 401k match, you get the healthcare benefits, you get all those different things. And that might also be somebody's primary form of income, but that doesn't mean that they won't also have these secondary sources as well. So hopefully most freelance marketplaces are moving in that direction as well, where they're thinking about the freelancer holistically and not just about making themselves and the freelancers money.

Ethan: Do you see there being any pushback from the brands that say, "Hey, we're just looking to have some videos made. We don't necessarily ..." A mismatch of value versus perceived value. And if somebody from one platform is coming and asking for X, but somebody from a different platform is coming and asking for X times two, are you seeing any pushback like that?

Simone May: Sorry, do you mind clarifying what the pushback would be?

Ethan: Yeah. If one platform is really working hard to advocate for what we might call, and maybe we shouldn't think about it this way, but maybe depending on the mindset of whomever is doing the hiring, if they're saying, "This person, this freelancer with the backup of this platform is asking for more than we thought that we would need to give."

Simone May: I see.

Ethan: Whether that be money or benefits or whatever.

Simone May: I see what you're saying.

Ethan: Have you heard anything like that from the brand side?

Simone May: I've heard…so in terms of the actual services that the brands are asking for, sometimes they don't know what they're looking for, so you have to guide them in the right direction. But in terms of being able to provide the additional benefits, I think that's on us as the marketplace and as the platform. What we do is we try to make it as easy as possible for the brands when they come in. So we actually work with them to help them identify maybe exactly what they're looking for. We give them demos based on what our creators submit through the vetting process to make sure they can actually see the work that they might be interested in. And we also, once they're connected, the brand is supposed to basically outline. We outline with the brand together what they're looking for. So somebody might come in and say, "Hey, I just want a social media manager."

But at the end of the day, they're actually comfortable posting on Instagram and making content there. What they really wanted was somebody to help them just kick start their TikTok because ... I'm just going off one of the main requests. Because they don't understand how to create the video content there, do the transitions, follow the trends. Trends are a big deal. Figuring out what that trend is every other week is time consuming.

So what they really are coming to us for might actually be, "I just need somebody who can keep up with the trends and do some of the short form video content I can't keep up with. Can you just help me find them?" And then I think the secondary part of that is asking for revisions. We make sure that we support that, but anything outside of the services they've requested, we allow our creators to come to us and say, "Hey, I think they're asking for something I might not be able to provide." Or if the brand comes to us and says, "Hey, this isn't everything I need," we might be able to help them find someone else. So I think when it comes to the actual services, we try to mitigate that at the beginning as much as possible. But we make it easy on them because all they're doing is after signing up with a creator, they're just paying them every week to get the content and there's not too much else they have to be worried about.

Ethan: Sure. That makes sense. So it sounds like if I'm sitting here making some assumptions, it sounds like it's a lot more of a hands-on process than your standard big name.

Simone May: Fiverr.

Ethan: Yeah, Fiverr, Upwork, those sorts of things.

Simone May: It is.

Ethan: Got you. What are some of the other big differences or things that set you apart from those big name platforms?

Simone May: I think it's what we just touched on, which is that more hands-on approach, but we digitally enable that hands-on approach. So it sounds like it might be a lot of people that are required to do this additional work, but we actually have an admin tool that sits in between our creators and our clients that essentially supports the internal team when it comes to coming up with those client briefs where we're working with them to decide on what they need. We also do a lot of our vetting through our admin tool.

So the creators have to go through a four stage vetting process. That sounds intensive if you don't have a tool that supports that. So we have that centerpiece. And I think the reason for that is because the human touch in this space is still very important. Like I said, a lot of people are coming and looking for something that they don't understand, and so they need to be able to talk to someone to really be able to identify what the issue is. And it also goes back to that authenticity piece. Being able to find somebody who can authentically speak to your brand is very important, which is why we also have an element of guiding our creators as well.

There is an African food delivery service, very niche. It was a meal delivery platform, but it was specifically just for African food. Well, ideally you would have an African creator coming in to actually talk to and speak to what you can order, or they might cook on their TikTok with that food. So I think that's just a perfect example of a match made in heaven. And I think in order to be able to identify not only what you're looking for, but find that authentic voice, you do still need that human touch.

Ethan: Yeah, I agree. I think that I've used the brand or the client side of these platforms quite a bit, and there have definitely been some times where I could have used some hand holding just because just like what you said, I thought that I needed X, but I actually needed Y or something like that. And also -

Simone May: Then there's so many people to choose from all those platforms too. It's thousands of people. When you filter down to it, you find three or four people and they might be charging you way more because they might be a professional on that platform. They're highly qualified, they've got a thousand reviews. So then all the other people on the bottom get forgotten about a little bit until they can land that first deal.

Ethan: Right. Yeah, exactly. And that is such a big thing, the vetting process. Basically those bigger platforms give you a blank sheet of paper and say, "Okay, go." And it sounds like you're providing a lot more and a better experience than that. And I think that absolutely has value for sure.

Simone May: Thank you.

Ethan: So Clutch was released in beta and is currently in beta, is that correct?

Simone May: That's correct.

Ethan: Can you tell me what exactly that means? I know beta is different for every different service and every different company, but what does beta mean for Clutch?

Simone May: So beta for us means that we're limiting the number of clients that we work with on a recurring basis. So that way we can really study what about the experience that they like, and what about the experience could be improved. And part of the reason for that is because since we are a startup and we are still trying to make sure that we're hitting our product market fit, it's important for us to get out there, put ourselves out there and get something going, but also to make sure that our business model looks correct, or the platform itself is being adopted comfortably. And so for us, I think it was just keeping a small pool of interested clients and understanding what their needs are before we jump into the ocean and just start opening ourselves up to too many people at once. And too fast is what they say.

Ethan: So you're only open to students right now. What led you to make that decision?

Simone May: I think there were a lot of different factors that played a role in that. One is I come from a family of educators, actually, and also higher education. So I've always had an interest in working in the college environment naturally because that's where I grew up.

 And I think students are always, college students specifically, because you do still have to be the age of 18 to work with us. College students naturally have a lot of energy, they're more open to new things. They're part of this next generation that I keep talking about. They're already used to adopting new platforms and they actually have a lot of patience. A lot of people had some reservations about working with students because sometimes they're not always as strong in the soft skills.

But we've actually had a lot of success with that I think through learning how to vet them. And also our team is just really good about working with them. But I think that was what initially motivated us. And then we actually took a couple pivots before reaching this point. And so during those pivots we had launched on college campuses. We were working with college students. We already had a wait list of 3,000 students ready to go for a different offering, but the same idea in this gig economy space.

Ethan: Wow.

Simone May: Yeah, it was a lot of different factors. I hope I articulated that.

Ethan: Yeah, no, I think that makes sense. So this wait list of 3,000 people, that's interesting to me. I want to dig in a little bit on that. Was this specific schools? You said that you were working with schools to find the people. So was this 3,000 people at a specific subset of schools?

Simone May: It was universities across the country.

Ethan: Okay.

Simone May: So my co-founder, Madison, had this really good idea a few years ago. She was like, "Why not just see if people would be interested in a service like this?" And she literally just went on Instagram and just put out the survey and had all of these. There are a lot of college pages on Instagram for incoming freshmen, or if you want to know what's going on, on campus, you basically follow these Instagram pages. So she would DM them from our Clutch page, have them post a survey, she would pay them, whatever. And essentially they would get students to fill this survey out to see if they'd be interested. And we ended up with a wait list of 3,000 people that were really interested. I think it's up to 5,000 now. But that's just how she did it.

Ethan: Wow. So this was based off of a survey. So do college students just love taking surveys or was there any incentivization to fill this thing out?

Simone May: I think it was a bit of both. I think initially we had some incentive. I think we might have given them $5 Amazon gift cards or something like that. But down the line, because we started to get in contact with these more popular pages, people were just filling the survey out because the pages would say, "Oh, are you interested in making money?", basically. And so then that's what would be the motivation. Like, "Oh, I want to fill this out so I can see what's up."

Ethan: Got you. That makes sense. That's a pretty good incentive.

Simone May: Yeah.

Ethan: All right. I want to change gears a little bit. Can you tell us what is Campus Concierge?

Simone May: Campus Concierge was actually our old idea. And so let's see, we're in January, oh my gosh. I was about to say this time last year, but in August of 2021, we launched with a concept where students on campus can provide services to other students at their university or universities in their local area. We started in Houston, hence the 3,000 student wait list. And that concept stemmed from the idea that we wanted students to be able to make money on their own terms. That's where it's always begun. And we were excited about it. We launched at TSU. It was just difficult because a lot of students don't really have a lot of disposable income to spend. So as an entrepreneur, you're going to fail multiple times. And some people call this a failure, we call it a pivot, whatever you want to call it.

We essentially realized, okay, the student to student service idea doesn't work. Let's try working with businesses. That was actually Madison's idea. She was like, "Why don't we just see if businesses would be interested in hiring students for services in general?" That worked. A lot of businesses came to us and the most consistent request we kept getting was, "I just need help with my social media. I don't know how to use this, or it's too time consuming, or I don't know how to keep up." And so we just kept getting that request and we were like, "Why don't we just pivot to the concept now that is Clutch, which is connecting creators to small medium sized businesses looking for social media marketing support." It's stuck. And now we're here and we've made over $150,000 in gross revenue.

Ethan: Sweet.

Simone May: Where in 2021, we made $3. So that's really exciting. So I think at that time with Campus Concierge, it's just interesting that you said that. I haven't heard Campus Concierge in so long 'cause we rebranded to Clutch 'cause it was a little bit catchier.

Ethan: We'll call it a throwback.

Simone May: Yeah, literally it's a throwback. It's weird to even talk about.

Ethan: Okay, so you realized at some point that college students were not the best target market. When do you feel like you internalized that and you said, "Okay, this truly isn't going to work." What was the mindset and when did you make the switch to what is now Clutch?

Simone May: I think that's actually a really important question because a lot of people will get stuck in what they think the good idea is instead of looking at the opportunity. And so I think at the time it was actually Madison who was like, "Oh, let's just try this." And I think because we had launched with this concept, I was like, "Okay. If we're already in this space where we've launched with this, let's continue to just leave it out there and see how it goes and let's experiment and test this new hypothesis." So she ran. We set her up as best we could with the tools we had at our disposal. We used Stripe and a lot of our students sign up for the platform and connect to their Stripe account so we could at least be compliant. We make sure that everyone accepts their terms and conditions off platform. And so she went out and started just talking to businesses and it just worked.

Another thing I think that was important is that we actually surveyed the students on the campuses were after we had launched to see what their appetite for paying for their services was. How much disposable income do you actually have to spend? Would you hire your friend? Would you even use this platform to hire your friend or would you just end up going off platform and texting them? And a lot of the results we saw were to be expected, which was not a lot of disposable income. If I'm going to hire my friend, I'm just going to text them. So we realized, "Oh, this concept isn't something that's really going to stick." But we did notice that businesses didn't want to have to figure out how to pay these new employees, or not really, they're not employees, they're contractors, excuse me. Didn't want to have to figure out how to pay contractors. Didn't even know where to start when it came to finding them. Didn't necessarily have the time to keep up with what they were already doing.

So a lot of what we were doing was taking that burden off the business and at the same time finding what are now our creators more work. So I think the mindset was just what can we do to support students? What can we do to get them in a space where they can make money and also graduate? Because Madison and I both went to Purdue. We went to school with a lot of students who had to work and go to school. So either their grades were affected or their finances were affected. They could never really find a way to balance both. And so our biggest thing was how can we help and make sure students are able to find that balance?

Ethan: That makes sense. That makes sense to me. It really sounds to me like you are a master of the survey. And I think that that is -

Simone May: Lots of surveys.

Ethan: That's really a skill that new founders and existing founders and really just anybody who's in business and is talking to people, which that's what businesses is offering services or products to people, needs to have. So this may be a very esoteric question, but do you have any tips on how to make an awesome survey?

Simone May: Actually, I will do my best, but another silver bullet is that Madison actually worked for the Cheryl Sandberg Foundation. And a lot of what they did was teach the concept of creating an unbiased survey. So the idea is that you don't ask leading questions, but you try to keep the questions as open-ended as possible and as data driven as possible. So I think an example of one of the questions we asked was, "What is your disposable income budget?" And instead of asking, "How much money do you spend a week?" It was more like, "How much disposable income do you have?" So it's specific enough for them to be able to answer it. And then we gave them options to answer rather than just letting them do free text. So I think that's an example of a question where it's like, "Okay, we just need to know what the average amount that people have to spend is."

And so also going into your surveys with a goal in mind is very important. And also thinking about what audience you want to send the survey to is important.

Ethan: So once you get these 5,000 responses back, that's a lot to sit and chew on for an afternoon. What's the way that you all synthesized this information and turned it into actionable steps to take?

Simone May: With that survey, we basically found out through, you get all your answers on Excel or Google Sheets or whatever is free, and we basically visualize the data. I think one of the questions was, "Would you be interested in using our service?" That was the main question we're trying to answer. It was mostly yes. I think we had 70%, yes, 30%, no, something like that. So based on that, we were like, "Oh, okay. People would definitely sign up to use our platform." I think through that visualization is how we were able to make a decision. 

Ethan: So there was something that when you filled out the company profile, there was something that was mentioned, and I'll just quote it. The quote is, "We did research on who else was doing something similar and started thinking about what kind of product would make the most sense." And then it says, "Big mistake. But that's a story for a different day." And I'm very interested in what was the big mistake?

Simone May: I think the big mistake was starting with building before you actually understand who your customer is. And a lot of people make that mistake. I think there's a book about it, and I can't remember the name of the book. But we started with, oh, we have this great idea. Let's just build a platform around it. During that pivot of last year, January 2022, I was like, "Let's stop building. Let's just wait and see if the concept actually works outside of any digital interface." And so I think that's a mistake a lot of people make. They're really excited about this concept. They build this whole entire app and then nobody uses it because you don't really understand what the actual use case could be. And the other thing is, as a developer, naturally as a tech person, people always end up using your product in a completely different way than you ever would expect.

Ethan: Oh yeah.

Simone May: If it's as small as user error or as big as, "I'm just using this to keep track of how many creators are interested in working with me." You just never know how people are actually going to end up using a platform. So it's really important to keep it simple and keep it small and don't try to perfect it. Just try to figure out those three main use cases that you verified are going to work because people have either started using your service or there's a lot of people that have said that they're interested in using it. And then from there you can build on top of whatever foundation you've created. But we try to build out a whole platform that honestly, quite frankly, nobody ended up wanting to use. And so now we're at a place where people are dying to use it because they're like, "I want to be able to see my matches and I want to be able to pay creators and not," whatever. But anyway.

Ethan: Well, it sounds like you made it work.

Simone May: We did.

Ethan: You worked through the problems, you worked through the mistakes, and now you're making some headway. That's awesome.

Simone May: Thank you.

Ethan: All right. I want to jump into something that…this is all over your all's website, and if anybody has interacted with Clutch in any way, they can obviously tell that this is an important thing to you, and that's culture and values. And so building and maintaining values and culture is something that all businesses should focus on. And it's difficult. It just really is. And especially not just necessarily setting them in place, but keeping them in place as you grow and as you bring more and more people on. So what are the values that you all are specifically trying to set right now?

Simone May: Yeah, I think for us it's all about balance, being able to bring your authentic self to the table and hard work. Let your work speak for itself. That's how we operate as a company. We even give everyone a mental health day once a month to make sure that ... Because I think a lot of our team internally really cares about the work that they're doing. And so sometimes we almost have to force them to take a day off because we're like, "You guys, we love that you love what we're doing, but you also have to take a break." We give unlimited PTO and we really make sure that our team is feeling balanced, because that's what we want for our creators, that's what we want for them. We want them to be able to find balance in their lifestyle.

And I think that's what the working world is transitioning to, is that balance, working from home. Everybody on our team is remote. And then bringing your authentic self to the table is, can I respectfully go to my manager and give them constructive feedback? Yes. Can I tell you what I'm thinking or how I'm feeling, even if I'm not the one making the decision? Yes. Keeping that pipeline open for the teams so we can cross collaborate is really important because we all do rely on each other for information and support. So I think that's what I mean by bringing your authentic self to the table. And then also transparency is a part of that as well. And then the hard work piece, you can't get anything done if you're not willing to work hard and make sure it's right. And so our team is also very hardworking and so are our creators.

Ethan: How big is the team right now?

Simone May: We have about seven people that are full-time.

Ethan: Okay. And then any freelancers on top of that?

Simone May: Yeah, we have a few contracted developers that are contracted out as well as we have lawyers that use the services and tax accountants and people that aren't necessarily full-time.

Ethan: Is there a specific platform that you found those freelancers on? Was it Clutch, by any chance?

Simone May: Actually, oh yeah, I should mention we also use our own creators for social media. So we hire our own creators.

Ethan: There you go.

Simone May: Thank you. We hire our own creators to support our social media efforts as well.

Ethan: So really, really nitpicky, super specific question here. So it's a team of seven and you've got unlimited PTO. Have you run into any issues so far with unlimited PTO? And those issues could be anything, people not using it, people using it too much, anything in between?

Simone May: Yeah, I think people not using it has been our biggest issue, which is not what you would expect. But Madison and I or at least I try to use my PTO to encourage other people to use it, not just during holidays but yeah, we can't get our team to use it. And I think part of that is just because they're at home, they're working from home. We do reimburse them if they want to go work from a WeWork for a day or something like that. But I think because one, our team cares a lot about the work that we're doing, coupled with the fact that they are remote and can work from home, I think they haven't really seen a huge need for it, as well as the fact that we try to get those bonus days off, like I mentioned, and we give longer holidays. For Christmas, I think we gave a week and a half off. And Thanksgiving we give the full week off. So I think that's also playing a role in the decision making. But yes, it's interesting how that works out.

Ethan: Yeah, it is interesting. And I think while it is surprising, I think it's surprising in that exact same way for a ton of different companies that put in the unlimited PTO. It's like, "How do I get people to just freaking take a break?"

Simone May: I don't know. You just have to force them. It's weird. We haven't had the opposite problem, which is good, which is too many people taking too much time off.

Ethan: Right. And I think that's what a lot of people find. So as you grow the team, obviously teams as they grow, hit these different inflection points of different size. I've heard it's the 12, 30, 90 and then onward from there that seem these different plateaus or inflection points that things tend to change. Do you all have any plan to ensure that your culture stays what you want it to stay as your team grows?

Simone May: That's a really good question. I would say that we might have unintentionally created a plan for that. We recently created, actually, I take that back. We've recently created an employee handbook that has all of our values in there. How many people actually read the handbook is in question. But I do think that we have been very intentional about putting certain measures in place so we continue to keep this company culture.

Part of that is us being very vocal about asking for feedback as founders from our team. We do these company retreats once a year where we get together and we mix it. We don't make it so intense on the meeting side. We actually make it more intensive and heavy on the bonding and quality time side. And another key component I think is if somebody's sick or has a family emergency, we basically tell them, "Take all the time you need." We're not like, "When are you coming back?" We shift the focus away from making the work the primary piece and making people understand that work is secondary to home, family, friends, emergencies, your own health. That is the most important. And we work every day to make sure that that is something that people keep in mind. So I think there's some unintentional stuff that we do in that way, and then also intentional stuff that we do through the handbook and we have our all hands and stuff like that.

Ethan: What is your number one piece of advice for early stage entrepreneurs?

Simone May: Gosh. I think the answer has changed over time. I think today I would probably say, It's okay to be frustrated. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to feel whatever you're feeling, but just keep going. You have to keep focused on what your goal is. Whatever your original goal in mind is, whatever was motivating you to start this venture, keep that in mind for the future. Don't let your feelings play a primary role in something that's bigger than you, but also make sure that you acknowledge them and talk about them and understand them, so that way you can move on and keep things moving.

Ethan: So what is next for Clutch?

Simone May: This year I think Clutch will be focused on strategic growth and making sure that we can scale this company and take it to the next level.

Ethan: All right, simple, simple. Where can people connect with you online and how can our listeners support Clutch?

Simone May: Yes, please reach out to us on either,, to apply if you're interested in becoming a creator or working with us as a business. And if you are interested in following us on social media, all of our social media handles are thatsclutch_com.

Ethan: All right. We're going to put links to all those things in the podcast show notes over at We'll also put in everything else that you heard here today. But that is going to be it for this episode of the Startup Savant Podcast. Simone, thanks for coming on. This has been a lot of fun.

Simone May: Thank you.

Ethan: Alright that’s going to be it for this week’s episode of the Startup Savant Podcast! Thanks for hanging out!

A quick reminder before you go - Follow us on social! We make all sorts of fun videos and serve them up nice and hot on all the platforms. Instagram, TikTok, YouTube - you name it, we’re on it. So follow the Startup Savant Podcast anywhere you like to scroll and we’ll see you there!

We’ll see you next week folks! Until then, go build something beautiful.

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