The Path to Y Combinator with Juan Andrade of Rebank

Summary of Episode

#29: Juan Andrade  joins Annaka and Ethan to talk about Rebank, a startup-to-startup software company that provides young businesses with the financial operation systems needed to succeed. Juan discusses the importance of trial-and-error marketing and how his own issues at his previous job led him to conceptualize Rebank.

Juan Andrade is the founder of Rebank, a software-as-a-service company providing startups with the tools they need to manage their finances. Although Juan grew up in a small town, his decision to pursue an MBA connected him to many entrepreneurs. Rebank is backed by Y Combinator, and Juan sheds some light on the pitching process as well as the value of networking with other entrepreneurs.

Podcast Episode Notes

Rebank’s goal — Improving visibility of your financials and managing your money’s movement [1:45]

Juan’s decision to go all in with Rebank [2:04]

Researching potential customers to find a niche target [5:08]

When should a startup bring on a CFO? [11:42]

Marketing and using TikTok to build out a content strategy [15:38]

Rebank’s rejection from Y Combinator [23:02]

How Rebank bounced back and changed to eventually be accepted into Y Combinator [27:16]

Y Combinator’s network and mentorship opportunities have created lots of value [31:13]

Learning from Youtube and peers in business school [36:04]

The importance of caring for yourself in order to tackle responsibilities [42:25]

Rebank’s future and new updates to their product [47:03]

Juan’s advice — “You shouldn’t have a work-life balance” [48:02]

Full Interview Transcript

Annaka: Hey everyone. And welcome to Startup Savants, I'm Annaka.

Ethan: And I'm Ethan.

Annaka: If you're a returning listener, welcome back. And if you're new, this podcast is about the stories behind startups, the founders who run them and the problems they're solving. Today, our guest is Juan Andrade. Hey, welcome to the show. How's it going today?

Juan Andrade: It's going well, thanks for having me here.

Annaka: Of course, I'm pretty sure I could just listen to you talk all day and I'm sure you hear that all the time. So I'm definitely excited to hear everything you have to share with us. Can we start off, would you tell us a little bit about how Rebank got started and the problem that you're solving?

Juan Andrade: Yeah, we got started after I lived through the problem that we want to solve. So, what we say now is we help companies control their spend. And at the core of that, it's not about oversight, but it's about giving a business no matter what size, the full visibility of what's going on in their finances without all that accounting knowledge. So, yeah, we got started in my previous company I worked with where I spent time with the finance team and I saw these problems and yeah, we're trying to solve those problems now.

Ethan: So, I'm guessing this is some sort of software solution. What's the actual product that solves this issue?

Juan Andrade: Well, it's a web app, right? So yeah, it is software. It's like a subscription product that companies from the US and the UK are using today. And it all boils down to really two things, the ability to put all of your financial data in one place for you to observe in real time, without needing to do bookkeeping and any of that stuff. And then for the bigger companies, the ability to manage your money movements from one place as well.

Ethan: Cool. All right. Let's go back to the very beginning when you quit your day job and decided to focus on your startup full time. Can you tell us the story about how you made that decision?

Juan Andrade: Yes. I was part way through a master's. So like to describe what happened there, I have to sort of go back a few more years and say like, I knew I wanted to start a company, but I didn't know what. And also I knew I wanted to start a company and I had sort of gaps in my knowledge. So at the time I thought, Hey, I'll do an MBA. That's going to help me with my finance skills. I now realize you don't need an MBA to start a company, but that's what I did.

So halfway through that, I basically hit a sort of fork in the road where the master's was asking a lot more of me. My company was asking a lot more of me as well, and I just had to make a call. So the decision was sort of forced on me really. And yeah, it was the easiest decision to make. I don't know why, but it just was. Yeah. So it wasn't like I sort of designed the decision in the moment. It all just, it all hit me and I had to decide. I was like, well, yeah, let's go for it. If not now, when?

Ethan: So, Reid Hoffman always says the only degree that you have to explain away is an MBA when you're a startup founder. Is there any part of you that wishes that you would’ve finished that? Or was it just, were you being pulled so far apart that you were going to get ripped in two?

Juan Andrade: So I did finish the master's, but I think, yeah, the Bay Area doesn't like MBAs. And let me give you sort of the MBA's perspective as to why. Those two years, those 18 months, you basically fall under the false illusion that you understand capitalism and that you understand businesses and how they work inside and out, but it's all theory. It's so academic.

Ethan: Right.

Juan Andrade: So when you come out of it, you just feel like you could do anything. Because you've seen how Patagonia did their thing. And you've seen how, like other companies did their thing. You've read all the Harvard case studies and whatever, but yeah, like that confidence is great, because it drives you forward, but you have to start from zero in your next thing. And I think that's a recipe for disaster sometimes where you have like a hundred percent confidence in actually zero ability.

Ethan: Right.

Annaka: And as far as your target market for Rebank, it's pretty niche. I believe startups that are post-seed, but pre-series B, how did you define that market?

Juan Andrade: Yeah, I mean, this all started right at the beginning. One thing I made sure that we did was in early research and stuff is to talk to people that we thought would not be customers to understand why, it helped us sort of form like borders or edges around our target. So yeah, right now it's 25 or more employees, series A onwards, some complexity in their finances and that's a detail. But yeah, we learned that by actively seeking companies that are way too big or way too small and understanding their finances. So yeah.

Annaka: Yeah. So in that situation you have this solution that really has to fit nicely in their existing structure.

Juan Andrade: Yeah.

Annaka: Or, it's just not useful.

Juan Andrade: Yeah, exactly. And you know, we have a view of how finance evolves from when it's one person to 30, and we use that knowledge to shape what we say on our website, what we build, but there's always a bit of translation required. Customers aren't very good at telling you what they really need. You know, there's always some. So yes, we've learned a lot about that, but yeah, we're always tweaking.

Annaka: Okay. So based on those conversations you had, do you have plans to expand your target market going forward?

Juan Andrade: Yeah, of course. One mistake that we made was to not really define this very well. And we just said anyone really, it works for any founder or business. The way we want to expand it now is going up, up market where the complexity really is. So the challenge we have is we want to keep it relevant to founders because that's where finances begin. But we're building features that are, well, that bigger companies will pay more for and use more often. So yeah, we are moving up into that space.

Annaka: And it sounds to me like you, like, I mean, you've used the word complex a couple times. What is it about the complexity of these financial situations that's intriguing to you?

Juan Andrade: Well, I mean, I think maybe unrelated to that first, I think it was an early insight that I'm not seeing the industry sort of accept. Like in B2B, FinTech, in SMB finances, everyone is essentially building a faster bank and there's players in the US and the UK doing this in Europe. They're following the same banking model or they're building a faster version of Amex, right? With more reward points to entice you. These are the two basic models out there. And what I think is a very important insight is that they both have their sort of limit because every successful business will always have multiple tools. So we come in with a brand new model of like, we're not trying to build something up, we're trying to connect all your things. So there is inherent, yeah, if there's nothing to connect, then we are not valuable. So that's where the complexity kind of ties in. You know, the more things we need to connect for you, the more you're going to spend time using us.

Annaka: So for the clients that don't sign on with Rebank, have you all identified the obstacles that's preventing them from doing that?

Juan Andrade: There are two obvious ones. One when they're too small, so they're not, they just need to use their bank for payroll. And they have one bank where every, all customer money feeds in and that's it, on the one hand. On the other hand we don't have, on the more complex side, we don't have like the custom control that a business needs to tell, to say like, okay, Jimmy can only agree an invoice up to 10 grand. And then after that, it needs to go to John and so on. Right. So that's sort of the edges of our usefulness. Those are the obvious ones. I think there's always a third, which is just we're on this journey of just trying to get good at describing what we do. It's an evolution like, and we started off being mostly wrong about how we describe the value proposition, but yeah, we slowly get better.

Annaka: Yeah.

Ethan: All right. So one of your stated goals is, our plan in the next five years is to make it possible for startups to operate without a CFO. Is this basically saying that early stage startup finances are simple enough to be replaced 100% by software and banking?

Juan Andrade: Yes. And let me give you the sort of philosophical answer, which is easy and not very satisfying. And then maybe something more tangible.

Ethan: I want them all. I love it.

Juan Andrade: So the sort of unsatisfying answer there is that generally we underestimate what is going to be possible beyond two years. And if you think back to 10 years ago, how basic tools were, what we thought was beneficial or value add. It's so much easier to build products now that we can add more on top of things and more quickly. So there's that part, because we will just be able to automate more and you know, it's unsatisfying because it's like saying because AI. Which is yeah, not great. Now to be more specific. What we see is that the first hurdle that happens, like moving finances from like a non-finance person to a finance person, is just frustration. And that this person gets sort of inundated with admin. And when you look at like the key three, four things that they have to do, there are already solutions out there that automate this for you in their sort of segregated way. And no one's bringing it together yet.

Ethan: All right. So you mentioned that the stage that maybe the average startup thinks about bringing on a finance person is when the founding team or the CEO just gets so busy with other things, more important things that they just need to bring on somebody who can handle the finances. And you know, whether or not that's an external company, a CPA or something along those lines I think is one thing. But what is the stage where you think a startup should think about bringing on an actual experienced CFO?

Juan Andrade: Ooh. Yeah. The first thing you have to do there, as soon as you can afford it, is getting like a bookkeeper, which maybe in the US is like a CPA, right? Just someone external just to do the basic stuff. The CFO, I mean, some companies wait until they're 50 employees, some companies do it around 20, 30. I suppose, let's sort of define what a CFO is supposed to help with first. And the key thing that a CFO brings to the table is an appreciation for control.

Annaka: Okay.

Juan Andrade: Yeah. It is, a lot of working in other finance teams we'd say things like control, but verify because it's the only function where your work is externally audited and it's held to such a high regard. There is an element of control being necessary and justification of any sort of expense. So like, you usually have a very optimistic founder, let's do all the things. You've got like a CTO founder, maybe that's like, okay, but how? You know, feasibility. And then you've got the CFO, which is like, yeah, you're not going to spend that money until you justify what it's going to give us back. So those conversations can happen without a CFO. So yeah. I don't want to, yeah. I think that's a better way to think of it. Like you can have that CFO mindset before you have a CFO. When should you have one? Yeah. Someone will usually tell you when. When you need one.

Ethan: Is that your investor? Are they going to come down and say, Hey, you're trying to go public here and you don't have a CFO, like maybe think about grabbing one of those.

Juan Andrade: Yeah, exactly. Well, your financing will be growing and then yeah, it feels like you need someone to set some strategic direction in that area. But yeah, it really depends. It really depends.

Ethan: Well, so maybe let's simplify that question then. Is it finance team and then CFO, or is it CFO and then finance team?

Juan Andrade: Oh, I think it's yeah, finance team and then CFO. You need, I mean, generally when you're hiring in startups, it needs to be the person that has done the thing already and is going to do it where you know, where you are. So a CFO coming in early will want a team around them and they'll want some controls in place and some systems in place. And it's just, yeah, it'll be painful for them. 

Annaka: Yeah. So you have to have a bit of a foundation before bringing in someone else on top. And now I want to talk a little bit about your social and content marketing. Spend a little time on TikTok, just, I mean, when I say little time, I mean like hours a day.

Ethan: It's disturbing, truly.

Juan Andrade: Yeah.

Annaka: I know it's and I'm like, I'm mid thirties spending six hours a day on TikTok, when did this happen?

Juan Andrade: Yeah. Yeah. It's crazy.

Annaka: And so what are the values of these marketing strategies for Rebank?

Juan Andrade: We started that thinking video's important, let's figure it out. And I've been sort of asked about this before, like we're 150 videos in, and we've learned a ton, but I couldn't say that we're TikTok famous. And that's slightly disappointing, but I guess TikTok doesn't really care about financial advice in the same way they care about memes. But yeah. You know, what value does it bring? We didn't, we don't know. Where we are now, what we've realized after 150 videos is that, and I'm starting to hear this from other sources. TikTok is like your search engine and your place to experiment. So we can throw three videos in a day very quickly and see what the interest is with each one. And then from that build some content, an article maybe, or even like a post on another platform. So that's the stage that we're at now. It started off with like, Hey we give advice to founders every day. Let's see if we can give that advice to a broader audience. Let's see if they care. But now it's evolved into almost like fitting into our broader content strategy.

Annaka: Gotcha. So it's almost... It's like having a little spy in social media and then it's like, okay, these people are really interested in blue pigs. Let's write an article about blue pigs.

Juan Andrade: Exactly.

Annaka: You got to give the people what they want.

Juan Andrade: Yeah, exactly, exactly. They comment. There's a lot of comments on a video and they're, the people are comment or like debating something. So we write an article to clarify it. And yeah, that's sort of, that's the stage that we're at. I think one point to mention on marketing, generally, all of us are non marketers. Like there isn't a single marketer in the team. So we, I think the way we got there was just by having this process that allows us to constantly experiment. And yeah. I mean, if I just, one little thing for me about that, how do you grow as a non-marketer? You know, B2B marketing for non-marketers. I think the whole thinking behind that was like every marketer that we spoke to said the same thing. We'll put you on Google Ads, AdWords, and we'll do you LinkedIn this and whatever.

And it just seems so boring. And we're like, there must be, why can't we make it interesting? Why can't we put some of our own personality in it? It's been, yeah, it takes longer because you've figured out as you go. But I think we're getting to a really nice place now where we've got some really cool pieces of content coming out and like a nice little sort of content workflow forming. So yeah, it's something I'm really proud of.

Annaka: Yeah. And it's fun to engage in that sphere, as being content creator and all of that. When it comes to kind of narrowing down, you said you did a lot of experimenting. Do you think you found like the brand personality and voice for your social media?

Juan Andrade: No. Well, no, it's hard. The brand personality is some version of me and Simon, my co-founder. And the way I would describe that is sort of the opposite of what you would expect a financial institution to be like. Very relaxed, kind of matter of fact, bordering on sort of nonchalant. But when you have to hand that over to someone, to a community manager there's a little bit of a translation thing there. But yeah, me and my community manager are talking like every week about how we tweak messaging and the tone. But yeah, that to me is always an ongoing thing. You know, there are some times where he posts something, I'm like, Jesus, Frank, it's like, you were reading my mind. And other times I'm like that, no, please never do that again. So yeah, it's always like that.

Annaka: Yeah. It's like when you're like scrolling Instagram, like before bed and you're like, oh no, what is that?

Juan Andrade: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Annaka: Start reigning in the social media managers.

Juan Andrade: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And actually, I mean, Simon, my co-founder, was telling me yesterday that some of his friends who are marketers comment on our marketing, I think trying to poke Simon a bit. But they're like, why are you letting someone with a mullet do your social media?

Ethan: Yeah. For those who can't see this podcast, definitely go check out the video because the hair on this guy.

Annaka: Yeah.

Ethan: Juan, you've got an awesome, I mean probably the best mullet mustache combination I've ever seen. So-

Annaka: Yeah.

Ethan: ... I appreciate you bringing that energy up into this podcast.

Annaka: Yeah. You're probably my brother's hero at this point. It's great.

Juan Andrade: Yeah. No, well that's not what some sort of so-called expert marketers think, but it's just funny. It's just funny. And you know, we talked about, and I was like, listen, I think just people, people having a conversation about our marketing means we're doing something right.

Annaka: Yes.

Juan Andrade: And like, if some people don't like that, you know that if some people think I should be wearing a suit that's, yeah. We're always going to get stuff like that. So yeah.

Annaka: Yeah. I love the anti-marketing marketing. I don't know if you're familiar with all the things that like Taco Bell is just like pulling off their menu. That's marketing. They're like, Hey-

Juan Andrade: Oh really?

Annaka: Oh yeah. They're like, all right, you love the Mexican pizza? Guess what, it's gone. So everyone blows up about it. Right. And loses their collective minds. And then they're like, oh, Hey, but wait, it's coming back in a month. That's marketing.

Juan Andrade: Oh, wow.

Annaka: So we're entering this marketing aspect where it's like, just do what works for you, what fits your brand, what fits your personality. And if there's interest in it, it's marketing. Just have fun.

Juan Andrade: Yeah. Yeah, that's so cool.

Annaka: I'm not a marketer, but like every once in a while I'll come across something and I'm like, that is genius.

Juan Andrade: Yeah.

Annaka: So do your thing. You're doing really well.

Juan Andrade: Yeah.

Annaka: So you don't have any marketing on your team specifically. How does that impact your sales team? Do they have a lot of cold calling?

Juan Andrade: No. No.

Annaka: Thank god.

Juan Andrade: Because the experimentation that we do, the experimentation that we do has been across all channels that we can, that we think will make sense and we've narrowed it down to content and community. So those two channels really create leads for us that we then speak with. So we're not, it's never a cold approach. We have tried it and it's really uncomfortable. People saying like, I never asked for this or like, please stop emailing me. I hated it every time someone suggested it. So yeah, we don't do any of that.

Ethan: All right. I want to jump back into, again, earlier times at Rebank. So Rebank was in Y Combinator, correct?

Juan Andrade: Yep. 

Ethan: All right. And so for everybody who doesn't know, Y Combinator also known as YC is a pretty big, probably the most well known startup accelerator, state side. So jumping back in now, when I read your story, it seems that you didn't make YC the first time you applied. Can you tell us your thoughts and your feelings in that moment that you got the rejection notice?

Juan Andrade: Yeah, it was the thing that very, very clearly separated our time in the US, because everything before then was like a Rocky montage: wake up in the morning, go to the park, go for a run, get healthy, practice, practice, practice. As soon as we got that. No, I think we were in the pub with some other founders and we got the no, and we woke up the next day a bit hungover. And we were like, like the thought of running to the park. And we were just like, what's the point? Yeah. So we were completely deflated, completely deflated. I remember it was a very quiet flight back, you know how you picture on the way there, chatting, planning, coordination, all these calls and whatever. On the way back is just, we were very muted. Very sort of withdrawn. But luckily, yeah, luckily we were just like, okay, let's just keep going. Let's see what we can do. We very quickly bounced back once we got back. But yeah, it was very, it's like a gut punch, you know?

Ethan: Yeah.

Juan Andrade: You take it personally.

Ethan: Oh yeah, for sure. Well, I'm glad to hear that it didn't take too long for you to bounce back. I think that could be, a rejection like that's taken personally could be the death sentence for a lot of companies. So I'm super glad to hear that you were able to pull it back together and end up where you are now.

Juan Andrade: Yeah. And you know, I have to thank Simon as well for making that easy for me because it's, you take it very personally and you want to bounce back, but that other person is also in control. If there's any doubt in their mind or they're like, well actually I just want to go to that comfortable job. Then yeah, that's it. So yeah, luckily we were both on the same page as to like, okay, we can make this work, we can keep going. We cared enough. And then I think just failure generally, there's so much failure at the beginning that we were getting used to it. So you have to move through that pain. 

Ethan: I'm super glad that you had Simon. He sounds like a good dude.

Juan Andrade: Yeah.

Ethan: Was there any pivot that you made there or was it just like, okay, we just need to get back to work on what we're working on and make it work?

Juan Andrade: At that stage there were no pivots, it was more about showing decent traction. We happened to write an application that was unique for the time with what we were doing. There was new regulation in financial services and we were one of the first startups to be like, regulated with this new thing, et cetera, et cetera. So it was unique and it probably peaked their interest, but we just didn't have enough sort of points on the board. So that's what we focused on. You know, we finished getting our licenses, we got some, what I'd loosely call customers at the beginning, just like begging people to just create an account and yeah, with that, it was enough for the second interview.

Ethan: So yeah, let's talk about that. What was the difference between the application the first time and the second application in 2019, when you were finally accepted?

Juan Andrade: Well, on the practical side, we updated one of the partners. Every month we'd send a quick update and you know, I'm now used to it, but like sending an email and someone just ghosting you is pretty common as a founder because you're always trying to get things done that I've sort of a little bit crazy or like you're asking always for a little bit too much. So we did that anyway. We're like, look, let's just update them. And they, at least, I'm sure they'll read it. And we did some, like we made sure we could build as much as we could and so on. So all of that practical stuff was working so that when we got there, we were like, okay, this is what you told us. And this is what we've done.

And from the research that I'd done about the partners and what YC likes, I just knew, I mean, it's obvious now, but like, I just felt that would show them that we were really serious about this. But of course, when you go into a meeting the second time around, you're just a bit more comfortable. The first time, and Simon won't, Simon doesn't like me sharing this, but like the first time around Simon almost fainted. And we were sitting down. We were both sitting down, we'd practiced our like spiel for hours and hours every single day. And they were firing questions. It's like a 10 minute interview. They just fire questions at you. And it seems kind of aggressive or like mean, but actually they're just trying to get, really quickly decide if you're a yes or no.

So we had a whole spiel and Simon said something like, okay, so the reason we're better is, there's three reasons. There's A, and then he paused, and he paused for a little bit too long. And I looked over and his face was bright red. His neck was red. And I did the wrong thing. The thing I should have done is been like, Hey, Simon, did you mean this to help him continue? Instead, I took over.

Ethan: Yeah.

Juan Andrade: Right. And the partners noticed that, they really look at how does the team work together. Are these people that actually like, know each other and understand each other? And yeah, that could have been one of the reasons we didn't get in on top of traction.

Ethan: That's super solid advice. What were some of those questions that they were firing at you just like quick fire, what were they asking of you?

Juan Andrade: YC is very focused on the problem and the user and then traction really. But what they say is they look at the team, at that stage, the team, have they done anything impressive? Have they worked together for a long time? The market. And then the actual traction, the product. The questions, I don't know exactly the questions, but there was one founder of a big company that basically was like, I mean, judging from what I could tell, didn't really understand how this would've fit into his company. So he was asking questions like, oh yeah. But doesn't the CFO just have this? And you know, at the time I wouldn't really have been able to answer that well, but I would've said something like, well, yeah, but we're better because of this or this, but you know, that's not good enough. The other question is like, what problem do you solve? And that is a surprisingly difficult question to answer succinctly, because in your mind you solve everything, you know? And like you do all the things, but actually like, your customer really only cares about one thing that you solve.

Ethan: So now that you've been through the program, people talk about all the collaboration, the networking, the opportunities at capital, what do you think that their biggest value add is? And do they live up to the hype?

Juan Andrade: I have nothing to compare it to, other accelerators, but all of those things are true. I'm in a bunch of different WhatsApp groups with founders from LATAM, because I'm originally from South America, London founders, FinTech founders. And if you are in certain parts of the world, you already have that network, that tribe. But I didn't, I grew up in a small town in the UK. And before that I traveled in different parts of the world. All I knew about entrepreneurialism is my grandmother ran like a hairdresser salon. And my dad was like, in catering, he built a business, which failed. So I didn't really understand all this tech stuff other than what I'd read. So yeah, they do give you that where every day we're talking about like, oh, how boring, boring company stuff like, oh, how do you do this document? Like an employee needs this share options thing. And we're just giving each other advice constantly. And yeah, there's real comfort in that when you can talk shop with others.

Without that it's, I don't know. I think it's undervalued. It is so difficult if you are just isolated in a small town, trying to build a startup in the way that you see startups being built because you have no one to talk to you. So yeah, it is valuable. The capital side, demo day is like the highest leverage that you can have as a founder on investors. And that's how they design it. Right. They throw a thousand plus investors at you. You only have two minutes, but that's all you need really. And yeah. That's why they, investors hate, they call it the YC valuation or something, like every YC company, the good ones will always raise at like double the valuation that a typical company at that stage should. Obviously that's great for founders. So-

Annaka: Yeah.

Juan Andrade: So yeah.

Annaka: That's pretty wild. So, I mean, going back to your background, you didn't grow up around a lot of entrepreneurs. Where did that drive come from to then be an entrepreneur yourself?

Juan Andrade: Yeah. There's so many things that I could probably pick from childhood, from growing up and that I'll never truly know, but my understanding now is that I think one of the earliest memories is about me listening to my dad telling me how he invented the radio alarm clock. And like this whole concept of invention was then born in my head. And I started like drawing. I thought I invented picture-in-picture when I was like eight years old, because I drew a little diagram. Like we had one crappy sort of CRT TV.

Annaka: Yeah.

Juan Andrade: We couldn't afford anything. I was like, wouldn't it be cool if I could watch two like cartoons at once? And I drew it all up and I thought I'm creating something. So yeah, like creation, invention was, seemed fun. But then I think, yeah, but then I fell into the sort of that content marketing sort of waterfall or lake of all this startup stuff. Moving to London, yeah was really when I started going to events, startup events and I was just fascinated by people just being like, yeah, I'm going to build this thing. And like, we've just raised two million. I need to hire people, all these little stories. And I was like, that sounds really cool. It sounds much more interesting than my job. I wonder how I can do that.

Ethan: So let's talk about that for a second. This is supremely interesting to me since I also grew up in a small town. The company that I founded, it stayed fairly small up until the point that I sold it, but what you're doing and what all these VC backed companies are doing, they're not solving small problems. So you were from a small town. The experience you had with entrepreneurship was at granny's salon. Where did you learn to think big? Where did you learn that it's just as easy to solve a billion dollar problem as it is to solve a million dollar problem?

Juan Andrade: Yeah. I never framed it as like, what you are saying I genuinely didn't understand until very, very late on, and it's a really important thing. Whether you are building a $1 million business or a $100 million business, you're going to put all of you into it and it's going to consume pretty much all your time. Right. I didn't understand that going in. But luckily I had people around me with the master's, right, quite late on that were teaching me these little things, these little nuggets. And the master's I did was more of an international one, because it was a London business school. So it had these like Russians and Kazakhs and like French and all these different people telling me about their life experiences. And actually yes, the MBA maybe gives you a bit too much confidence, but I really did learn a lot from those people, that group.

I spent so much time on YouTube watching all the speeches, Steve Jobs, Bill, like learning how they came to be, all the stories, I just became addicted. So really it's more like what got me addicted to that sort of, all of that stuff. You know, why startups and founders and not like, I don't know, investment banking? And that, I don't know. It might have been because you know, my dad starting companies and the whole invention thing. I'll tell you one thing that was, going back, it doesn't quite answer your question. But I realized in my first proper job, I worked in a call center, insurance and eventually it was pretty good and I got promoted a few times and stuff, but I realized, Hey, like work seems to be split up into continuous stuff and like new project stuff.

And I really enjoyed the new project stuff. So I started learning about project management and became a project manager and was like, Hey, this is cool. I started working with product managers and I was like, oh cool. I love that they can just create this brand new product out of nothing. And they understand it. So it all evolved really. And yeah, so it was, there's nothing deliberate about sort of the early parts of my journey to here. And that's why it probably took so long. And you counter that with someone that grew up in Silicon Valley, their uncle sold their company for a billion and-

Ethan: Right.

Juan Andrade: And their dad is working for Google. They're like shaped to when they're 19, they're going to drop out of Stanford and they're going to have this amazing like YC company and they're going to be worth like, that's a very different path. That's like the opposite of maybe what me and you went through.

Ethan: Exactly. And you know, this has always been something that I've been, I've been searching for this answer. And I think maybe it's different for everybody, but it really sounds like, just like what you said, that the situation that you and I came from. And I'm sure that there's plenty of differences in our early situations. But you know, that it's like, you need somewhere to find that permission to say, okay, I can solve a bigger problem, or I can put more work into this or I can actually go raise money. I don't just need to make some little bootstrap company or something like that. We can really go out and make something big happen.

And hearing the story, hearing your story from the outside, it sounds like I'll just highlight the two situations that you had that were in a proper order, when you worked at that job and you started working with project managers and product managers, it sounds like, that was when it was identified to you that, Hey, we can go make something new and it doesn't require, nobody has to sign off. I don't need to go get permission to just go build something. And all I need to do is come up with an idea that fits and make a pitch. That sounds great. And I don't need anybody else's permission. I can just do it.

Juan Andrade: Yeah. And I think the other influence is just the city you are in, your surrounding. I was in London working as like a payments manager. And every now I'd interact with people my age or younger that it's set up a company that I was potentially going to be a customer of and I was assessing the product. And yeah. So it all sort of ties up, at least for me. It basically had to be like drilled into me, you can, as opposed to some people just sort of get it. It took me a while to be like, oh yeah, I can. I can do this. But yeah, you're right. Actually, I never thought of it that way. The exposure to these people that are a bit older than me, have done their first business. And now we're looking for a career change that the MBA might help. That really sort of opened up my, yeah, my view to be like, yeah, no, I could go for something big. 

Ethan: Well, I don't know if anybody else needed to hear that, but you sure helped me out today.

Juan Andrade: Yeah.

Annaka: So, your background is working for startups. I'm sure you've noticed a few differences between employee and founder roles. What surprised you most about entrepreneurship?

Juan Andrade: God, it's such a shock. Yeah. It's a huge, a huge, huge, there's a huge difference. And I don't know if people walk around thinking that it's the same. The biggest thing was, well, just the amount of responsibility or maybe how dependent I was on life as an employee. How comforting that is. Because life as an employee is you basically, when you're out with friends or families, you're like, yeah, this is the brand I work for. Right. And Secret Escapes, a cool startup here in the UK or like Google or whatever. This is my brand. This is linked to my identity. And I've got my comfortable sort of package. And I've got very clear, like role and whatever, even though you don't think it is. But entrepreneurship is the complete opposite. You have zero identity. People are questioning whether you're an idiot. Like when are you going to get a job, Juan? When are you going to get a real job? You know, I thought you did the MBA to get a real job. Mom, this is a real job.

So yeah, that's, to be honest, it's something I struggled with because I felt like my responsibility just went up like this. But my ability to like deal with responsibilities was just kind of flat. So I had to fill this gap, and I started doing all the dumb CEO stuff like morning routines and eating healthier and exercise. It all made sense in the past. I tried it and it'd be like, I don't, there was no real urge or need, but when you acquire that much responsibility that quickly, it's not about doing it because it sounds cool. It's like, if you don't do it, you will have a shit day. You will not be able to get out of bed.

Annaka: Yeah.

Juan Andrade: And you'll feel like you'll feel a bit lost.

Annaka: So as far as that work life balance goes, we've heard from previous founders that it's like, it's hard, it's a struggle. Are there things from that, like the CEO survival guide that you've stuck with?

Juan Andrade: Yeah. I mean, I always experiment with, and I guess fortunately I enjoy experimenting with different routines and different plans for my day. So yeah. I have five or six things I do in the morning and they kind of move in and out. I'm not too strict with myself. One thing that I've been doing recently is going to the sauna every day for like maybe three months now.

Annaka: Wow.

Juan Andrade: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, every single day. And that's been, that's a whole new discovery, like of what I what you learn about what you can handle and whatnot and what you can't. It basically, I can't describe what it does, but it feels like it helps me deal with the peaks and troughs of the day much better. Right. So there's plenty of research out there about like, it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, blah, blah, blah, blah. What I think it does, it kind of, yeah, I feel like it resets me. It gives me 10 minutes to just think about whatever I'm doing. And then yeah. It makes the day a bit more manageable.

Before that, we have different forms of how else do you decompress? You know, there's exercise and well, there's alcohol, there's drugs. Right. And those, yeah. And like those, well, hopefully most people quickly realize that they're short lived, the relief from those. And listen, I'm not saying I don't drink, but I make sure that it's for enjoyment, social and not because of the stuff that I'm dealing with. But yeah, there've been periods even where I was smoking like 20 a day at one point and I don't even smoke. Yeah. I don't even smoke, but it just felt good.

Annaka: Yeah.

Juan Andrade: But yeah. So let's just say I've, experimentation means everything. Not just all the good eating porridge in the morning and all that crap, but like all the good and bad stuff. So yeah.

Annaka: You’ve got to find what works for you.

Ethan: Right.

Juan Andrade: Hey, maybe for some people 20 cigarettes a day is the thing.

Annaka: I actually had a friend of mine who does run his own business. We're both swimmers. And it was like, why do you still swim so much? And he is like, well, then if I go swim two miles, that's the hardest thing I've had to do today. Not running the business.

Juan Andrade: Yeah.

Annaka: The hardest thing I've had to do today is go run a marathon.

Ethan: Yeah.

Annaka: Or whatever. So it's like some people use exercise and self-care, and what have you, as like a reframing of like, well, at least it's not cycling a century or something like that.

Juan Andrade: Yeah, exactly.

Annaka: It wouldn't work for me, but I'd be like, I still had to fire someone. Oh, my God.

Juan Andrade: Yeah, you can't avoid those. Actually wouldn't those difficult conversations firing or keeping someone on or whatever. They're always hard, but I find that it's hard up til you to do it, once you do it. It's like, okay, that's cool. But it's the lead up or the anxiety of like, what might happen, how they're going to react. So yeah. I'm with you there.

Ethan: I think maybe you should bring people to the sauna where you can fire them.

Juan Andrade: Yeah.

Ethan: By the time you get up to 180 degrees, they're like, you know what? That's fine, I want to be done anyway. 

Juan Andrade: Yeah. Exactly. I'm out. Yeah. Get me out of here. Yeah. Yeah. I'll try it out. I'll let you know how it goes.

Ethan: Cool. Awesome. I expect a full report. All right. What is next for Rebank?

Juan Andrade: Well, we are about to launch a brand new updated version of our product for the people that think about this a lot. It means synchronizing into your accounting tool. It means paying invoices just by uploading them into Rebank. And it's all handled, whether it's a global bill payment or something domestic. So you don't have to use multiple tools. So yeah, we're doing that towards the end of this month and yeah, we're really excited about it. It's been a lot of hard work from the product team and on us as well, the marketing side to make people aware of that. So yeah. Really looking forward to that happening and being done.

Annaka: So what is your number one piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Juan Andrade: Sleep more.

Annaka: Sleep at all.

Juan Andrade: Yeah. Sleep a lot. And actually there's another one, maybe, that maybe hopefully more people will disagree with me on which is that you shouldn't have a work life balance. I think the times where I've achieved the most are also the times where I've sacrificed the most. And you know, I mean sacrifices in like not spending time with family, friends, not developing relationships, romantic or not. Yeah. You look back and you're like, ah, that sucked. Like I've really sort of fallen behind my friends on certain parts, but as long as you can manage that period as long as it's not like 10 years, as long as it's like in bursts, I actually think that's really better than, I don't know, aspiring for some like balance where you're doing everything. You know, you are the great dad. You're the great friend and a great boss. 

Ethan: All right. Well, if that is disagreeable to people out there, where can people go online to publicly disagree with you?

Juan Andrade: Yeah, I've occasionally tweet. So itsjuanonline is where you can find me. They can email me directly if they want to get really offensive. My email is

Ethan: All right. Cool. One last question. And then we'll sign off for the day. How can our listeners support Rebank?

Juan Andrade: I'd love to know, and it's really boring, but I would love to know what makes finances difficult for your readers, for your listeners? Sorry. Yeah. What keeps them up at night? You know, we speak to customers every week. So if we can speak to more, yeah. We'd love that.

Ethan: Awesome.

Annaka: I was just going to say math, but I don't think that's the answer you're looking for.

Juan Andrade: Yeah, no, not math, no.

Annaka: A little too simplified.

Ethan: All right. So those listeners out there tell him, send them an email. What was that email one more time?

Juan Andrade: Yeah. It's Juan J-U-A-N

Ethan: Awesome. Juan, thank you so much. We're going to put everything that we talked about in the show notes today, but this has been a ton of fun, but that's going to be it for today's episode of the Startup Savants podcast. Thanks for hanging out with us. Now, as you may have guessed, this show is a pretty big deal for our team. Me personally, because I am such a huge podcast nerd. We put a ton of love and effort into each and every episode. And that's us as the hosts, the producers, everybody else who's involved, the video team, everybody. And we want it to reach everyone who it could be helpful to. And that's where we could use your help. So if you enjoy this show, chances are that somebody else who would enjoy it too.

So this is our ask to you, send it to them all of these podcast apps make it pretty easy to share a show or a specific episode with a friend, it's right there on your phone. Check it out, just look at it right now. It's in your hand already. Should take less than 30 seconds. And if you share, we thank you so very much. For tools, guides, videos, startup stories, and so much more head over to That's See you folks.

Annaka: Bye.

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