Alex Douzet: I was born and raised in France as you can tell from my accent, I’ve been in New York for the past 20 years. I worked at a few very successful tech companies in New York. The first one was Hot Jobs back in 2000 – 2001, the company was sold to Yahoo in 2001. Then I went on to cofound company called The Ladders, build the company from 0 to 82 million in revenue. I left out a year ago took some time off and now I’m working on my next company.
Alex Douzet: As I mentioned I worked at Hot Jobs between 2000 and 2002 so that’s where I really got to learn the online recruiting industry and this is where we got the inside for a company like The Ladders. So went on 2003, came up with the ID built an MVP basic product just the proof of concept, then went on and talk to friends and family to raise money and then we raised a series A in 2004.
Alex Douzet: What’s interesting is back then the New York City tech ecosystem was very different than what it is today. I think today you have lots of potential money, you have company like TechStars with incubation projects. There was none of that back then when I was starting The Ladders. We actually had to go to either Boston or Silicon Valley to talk to a handful of early stage funds to be able to raise capital.
Alex Douzet: So that was the beginning, then from kind of growing to idea to growing the company at the top did 82 million revenue. And in a very — as I mention, in a very capital efficient way because we only raised a total of like 8 – 9 million in equity funding, that was it, a couple of rounds, that’s it.
Alex Douzet: You really have to be focused on execution and in watching the numbers and it’s really about what people today called “growth hacking” looking at where are the different real way you can find the right customers who understand the value of property product. Trials and errors a lot of A/B testing, modified testing or the social media, online marketing. And then just blow the brand from it would it be a product, put a great experience, try to foster word of mouth and viral and just go from there.
Alex Douzet: When I moved here in 1996, my first real job I worked with an early stage that was catalog. Setting high end European tabletop items talking catalog direct to consumer. And so I was really born from the professional standpoint on direct mail. I learned the in and out of direct mail in that job. And when I was in that job I went to NYU and get a masters in direct marketing.
Alex Douzet: And so through my experiences in NYU I really got to learn how to do direct mail marketing properly. And then I was recruited by a few classmate of mine to go and work for BMG direct. BMG was a phenomenal platform for me to grow and acquire the right skillsets. It was a billion dollar company selling music. So we’re at access to everybody in US, we knew everyone. Everybody tried to the club us some point. Who would spend about a 100 million every year on acquiring 10 thousand minimum? I’m sorry — yeah we spend a 100 million marketing to acquire 10 thousand active music buyers.
Alex Douzet: Get them to spend a 100 to 120 dollars on music every year, would you know it would it billion dollar revenue? And so I got to work there and get to one every acquisition and retention channel, so really got a good insights from what works, what does not work. And the tools and technique that I’ve learned there is what I grabbed and apply to online when I switch over to Hot Jobs.
Alex Douzet: Because back in 2000 – 2001, the web is still pretty basic in terms of like ecosystem and infrastructure. Today, you have great tools like Facebook, social media, SEM, retargeting you can do very complicated and very specific on the top of targeting online which didn’t really exist back in 2000-2001. But applying the principle and the mythologies is what it got us to be successful.
Alex Douzet: If you’re looking at the business like you’re direct to consumer of business or if you are going to be a SaaS business but a SaaS customers is a mid -sized to early stage company. Its not as applicable if you’re like looking at big enterprise place where you have to go get clients which trying to get contract like 10,000 you know 10 million dollars a year is not as extensive. But you think it’s going to be a marketplace direct to consumer business, the role of the growth that you can pull under the term of the Chief Marketing Officer is extremely essential.
Alex Douzet: And unfortunately every company is going to be looking for that unicorn that can say, “I can do it all.” I can do the quantitative very, very well. So that sort of very analytical approach and discipline towards growth. I can do the brand and understand, build a great brand, create the emotion, figure what the pillars are behind the wall of a brand of voice. And then I can do the public relation and figure out how do we build the story in the media so that it much more powerful than just really you buying pay advertising.
Alex Douzet: And kind of looking all aspects of that is hard because very few executive up there are trained and have the skillset to do all of it very well. And so a lot of companies in our world are looking for an advise and help always tell me you know, “I need this kind of Chief Marketing Officer where do I find it?” Unfortunately you’re like the other one, you’re chasing that unicorn that exist but it’s hard to find.
Alex Douzet: I think to be great at the CEO Job, it’s not an easy job and what I’ve learned when I became CEO, there’s no real job that prepares you to be CEO. There’s really no other job like it that’s really prepare you to be. There’s one other job, you learn on the job and as a result, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes the first time around. And I think I wish more people probably try a couple of time. What I’m really excited about is, is this going to be my second venture as I mentioned I’m going to be a CEO again of this company?
Alex Douzet: And so I’m excited to be able to build upon the things I’ve learned, I can look back now where I step back and say, “Yeah, that I did not do as well as I should have all.” That decision I could have done a better job in making the decision because it’s all about great decision making, great judgement and leadership. And you just don’t learn that overnight, it takes a lot of trials and error. And you do have to make mistake, hopefully the mistake you make aren’t so bad that it’s really like devastating for the company.
Alex Douzet: But you do all — you all going to make mistake and also, what I want to want people is like you should make mistake. You know mistake and failures are a past to learning where you have to be cautious and discipline about this is not to make the same mistake over and over. You know it’s okay to fail once in a certain way because you have got a lot of learning. And then next time is at if that opportunity came itself I won’t make the same mistake. And you’ve learned from that, you grow from that, you’ve built from that but you don’t want the same mistake over and over, that’s where you become very efficient as a leader.
Alex Douzet: New York City is an international city, everybody in the world wants to be here and work here. And so as a result, we get people from different background, nation, culture, religion I mean just like me for example, I was born in France and raised in France, I wanted to come here, I wanted to work here and I was fortunate in my past jobs to work with people like, they came from China, they came out India, they came out Germany you know came out of Latin America.
Alex Douzet: As a result, after being able to work across the spectrum of nation and culture and I think the key recipe there is for people they have to trust you, they have to believe in you, they have to follow you. And you have to find something in common with people first before you can connect. And it can be as simple as well you know we went to the same college or we are following and we’re fan of the same football team or the same baseball team. Or we read the same book or whatever it is.
Alex Douzet: I think as a leader you have to take the time to get to know the people that going to be working with you. And just find what is that common ground, what do I have in common with that person. And it could be as little as we both love ice cream, we went to grad school together. It does not matter what it is but to find the common grounds you can connect. Then when there is a connection, you start building foundation for trust, then trust you can really create leadership inspiration.
Alex Douzet: But the first time it can be daunting it to you looking at that mountain and say I want to climb that mountain but it’s going to be hard. I think that part of it you have to be focused on the tasks at hand, you have to be focused on the mission and the goal. You almost have to make yourself the servant of that mission and the vision and goal and say this is bigger than me and I’m here to serve this mission. I’m not here just to serve myself, I’m here to serve the mission.
Alex Douzet: I think it’s a quick little piece I would look for in a — sometime in leaders. How much the trust they believe in the mission and they’re here to serve the mission. And then it’s just focus you don’t just set your eyes in the prize and you don’t let go and you’d figure out in case it’s not working why do I need to tweak and change to get there. The past to zero to whatever a 100 million or 200 million it’s not linear right?
Alex Douzet: And the first route then you thought it’s going to be the route to get you there, turn that half point you had to shift gear and go on the different direction. But that’s okay as long as you keep that mindset and that open mind would say, “I need a date it does not matter — it’s not about the route I’m taking it’s about getting into the goal.”
Alex Douzet: I am a little bit maybe a typical when it comes to mentorship and I truly believe in mentorship I have a slightly different approach to it I can’t really point to you and say this one person was a great mentor to me, I look for mentors in every opportunity and I’m really disciple of learning and just believing that the next time around I can do better. I can achieve a greater success, I’m always looking for learning.
Alex Douzet: And so learning come in multiple forms, it could be reading a book, to researching something, talking to somebody, talking to people above me that work above me, people who are on my board or an advisor that I’ve had. But actually the most surprisingly, I have learned so much with the years from people that works for me. Why? When I was building teams I was looking at how do I compliment myself, this is who I am, this is what I’m good at, this is what I’m not so great at. What skillsets do I need to bring to compliment me to achieve this mission?
Alex Douzet: And then from those people I always try to learn from them and see what they could teach me. They want to look at my teams, the ones are the best, all the teams they are phenomenal people they are much better than me in anything that we were trying to achieve and I could learn from them and they could learn from me hopefully. And it was this not only we all doing something great together but we’re growing together because we both learning from each other.
Alex Douzet: I can maybe teach them about leadership and mentoring and coaching. They teach me something about it could be finance, it could be product, and it could be engineering. It does not matter what the topic is, but I think that to me that’s what mentoring is all about. There’s no just this one person “Oh I’m looking up to this great CEO entrepreneur that have been very successful, hopefully if you can find one like this it’s fantastic. But anybody has a chance to contribute and teach you something.