EPISODE 038
10X Your Startup
On this episode Jared Yellin, the founder of 10X Incubator, talks about how he has set the audacious and revolutionary goal of starting 10,000 tech start-ups in 10 Years.  After founding and building the hugely successful marketing platform Synduit, Jared decided to refocus his energies on helping small tech startups achieve launch by creating a unique network of profit-sharing partners who are committed to investing their resources into companies and individuals they truly believe in.
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Host - Monique Mills: Hi, everyone! Welcome back to Unpolished MBA. Today I have Jared Yellin with me and he's with the 10X Incubator. Hey Jared, how are you?

Guest - Jared Yellin: I am wonderful. Thank you so much for having me. I'm honored to be here. Can't wait to speak with your community and ask me anything. Just want to bring a lot of value to your group.

Host - Monique Mills: Well, I'm glad that you're here because you're going to share some of the stuff that I love talking about.

Before we get started, I want to ask you the same two questions I ask everyone, which is, are you a corporate employee or an entrepreneur?

Guest - Jared Yellin: I'm an entrepreneur.

Host - Monique Mills: Of course, right? We talked about the 10X Incubator. Secondly, do you have an MBA, or no MBA?

Guest - Jared Yellin: I have no MBA.

Host - Monique Mills: Right…what do you need that for? It seems like you've already figured out how to make money.

I want to share more about what you're doing with the 10X incubator. But before we go into that, can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got involved in the whole startup scene?

Guest - Jared Yellin: Yeah. When I was 20 years old I had this realization, which was eventually I'm going to be a dad. And I knew it was not when I was 20 and most 20-year-old young men are not thinking that way unless they are actually going to become a dad, which I wasn't. But the reason I went there with my mind is I was reflecting on my childhood and my parents went through a pretty intense divorce when I was five. And I'm sure there were more intense divorces than theirs, but it was rather grueling. And when I was 20 I was reflecting and I'm like, wow, if there was one word to define my childhood, it would have been “loud”. There was just nowhere to go for peace. And I wanted to create an extremely different future for my future children.

And as I was thinking about what that meant, I realized that for me, freedom was everything. And I wanted to ensure by the time that I became a dad, that I had freedom with regard to my health and with regard to my career and my finances and my geography. And I actually wrote a document that had 12 different categories of freedom.

And I wrote a paragraph of what each one of those areas meant to me. And when I was reading it over, I realized that I don’t know anyone that has this lifestyle. And I then realized that if I'm going to want what no one else that I know has, I'm going to have to do what no one else that I know does. And I just went all in and 17 years later, I have that freedom.

I'm a dad. I have a five-year-old and a three-year-old, I'm happily married. And it's because I went all in on entrepreneurship, specifically tech entrepreneurship.

Host - Monique Mills: Do you have a tech background?

Guest - Jared Yellin: No, I'm a non-technical tech founder. There's not an engineering bone in my body. I know how to write marketing copy, and I know how to sell.

10 years ago, I launched a company called SYNDUIT and the vision for SYNDUIT was to build what I called the simplest marketing software in the world that was pre-populated with content for every major industry. And then we would sell it to small business owners. And in my mind, this was brilliant. I'm like, wow, this is going to disrupt the entire industry, a done for you platform.

We're going to support millions and millions of small business owners, but I didn't know where to. I have the resources to start because I had a previous exit, but I didn't know where to actually begin the journey. And I didn't want to start throwing money at a concept. So I figured, let me start monetizing my skill set.

This is a great lesson for all of you entrepreneurs out there that have this big moonshot of what you want to accomplish. You got to start by selling something. So I started selling myself and I sold myself as a copywriter and I got two pretty high profile clients to give me a shot. And I was able to deliver the goods.

We did a performance deal. So I did well because I performed well for them, but more than the money they told everybody about me. And within 14 months, those two clients became almost 400 clients. And I was running a pretty large digital and creative agency for thought leaders. And it was a great company, big office, big team…like life was pretty much set because of it, but I knew this was a means to an end. I really wanted to launch this tech product.

And in 2011, I had the clarity of what the product would do. So I ended up interviewing a dozen different software development firms to find the one that was right for me. And I found one in Boston, Massachusetts that had a very strong track record.

And they said it would take 10 months and $750,000.

Host - Monique Mills: Wow!

Guest - Jared Yellin: I went all in. I wrote every check for the full $750,000 and it ended up taking two years and $2 million. And I had to scrap it and start over. I just missed the mark. And in that moment I became a statistic. And I remember the day when I realized I was a statistic, because this happens to people like me, the non-tech tech founder that has this vision, this idea, and they just trust the wrong people.

And I realized that this was happening for me, not to me and that my calling as an entrepreneur was going to be to make the tech industry safe, because that felt everything but safe to me as it didn't feel safe to anybody watching me either. The second thing that happened was…we had 35 engineers on our team at that time through this firm.

And one of them was a gentleman named Mani and before Mani was working with me, he lived in India. And when he was in India, he started his own software development firm out of his parents' little, tiny, 150 square foot apartment. And 3 years later he had 100 employees. So outside of being a very strong engineer, he's a very good mentor and manager to engineers as well.

He sold that company at the end of 2011, to move to the US in 2012 with his wife to start a family here. And when he moved to the US he was living on the end of my street where my original office was, and then go to New Jersey. He could have been anywhere but there and we never would have met, but because literally his apartment building was across the street from my office.

Host - Monique Mills: What are the chances of that?

Guest - Jared Yellin: Just meant to be. And we met at a coffee shop one day, just buying a cup of coffee in the morning. So it was just meant to be. We ended up hiring him to work in my office. And when I ended my relationship with that vendor, because obviously it wasn't going well. I invited Mani to become my CTO and he accepted the opportunity and it gave me a chance to build our own in-house software development team.

We hired in the US, we hired in Canada, and we hired about a dozen people in India as well. And when you're in tech, if you could figure out India, you're in great shape, which is very hard to figure out India, unless you have Mani, who's going to hire his friends and his family. So it was amazing. The downside was they were all contractors.

And when you're a contractor really anywhere, it's hard to retain that person. But in India, their income is not recognized by banks. It's almost impossible for the individual to get a personal loan for a house or a car or really anything. So I knew eventually we were going to lose them because they were going to want houses or cars.

So I wanted to solve their quality of life challenge. And my soon to be retention challenge. So I ended up setting up a company in India that I owned, just so I can employ these 12 people. And when I did that, I launched that in 2017, I realized that was a huge amount of effort to hire 12 people, let's grow the team. And in about 45 days we doubled the team.

That was my catalyst for SYNDUIT. And today SYNDUIT has over 40,000 active paying users on the platform across 30 industries. So non-tech tech founder, didn't raise any capital, sold my way to getting to the point of having a viable product and platform. And then we were able to scale, which then led me into what I'm doing today with the tech incubator.

Host - Monique Mills: Incredible.

So one of the things that I saw on a website, and I think I saw in a video too, is where Grant Cardone says that you have the “it factor” and my goodness, these last few minutes that you've been talking, that's exactly what you have. That's exactly what you have! Was there something special about that moment in time when you decided to make these decisions to build in India and all of that?

Was it things happening like in the US or in the tech scene that made you think, “okay, yeah, I can do this.” Or was there new information or was it really just the relationship with Mani that was like the catalyst for doing it all?

Guest - Jared Yellin: I have the same general counsel since day one as an entrepreneur, his name is Kent. And I always tell Kent, please don't tell me that Santa Claus isn't real.

This is such an important lesson for entrepreneurs. The reason I've been able to pull off what I've pulled off is that I'm naive to what's possible or not possible. So as a result, I just think everything is possible. And I tell Kent, don’t tell me it’s not possible. He's a very logically minded human.

Host - Monique Mills: Like most attorneys, right?

Guest - Jared Yellin: And really most people for that matter. Most people allow reasonable outcomes for their life because that's where they go. They go to reasonable. It drives them to take reasonable action. And one of the things that I realized early on is that if I have unreasonable outcomes that I'm going to produce, and if I have unreasonable outcomes, I have to do unreasonable things to get to unreasonable outcomes. So what we're doing at 10X Incubator has never been done. And I was doing this before I met Grant. He heard about what I was doing, which is why he invited me to meet with him. But what we are doing is building, scaling, and selling 10,000 tech companies in 10 years.

Once I figured out how to do it one time with SYNDUIT, I had this moment where it was almost like a calling. I was kind of obsolete at SYNDUIT as I stabilized the company. So I had a lot of bandwidth and I was thinking to myself, what does a 35 year old with two young kids, who is happily married, that has a pretty good life because he's a founder of a tech company that never took any outside capital.

What do they do with all their bandwidth? And I felt this calling to step into my moonshot and the moonshot for me was to build, scale, and sell 10,000 tech companies in 10 years. So Mani is still my CTO at SYNDUIT at this time, this is in April of 2020. I approached him and then one other person that was on my SYNDUIT team whose name is Katie.

She's our Director of Operations. And I shared the moonshot with them and I said, are you in? And their exact words were “we're in because it's you. But we have no idea what you're talking about.”

Let me explain, we're going to launch a tech incubator. But this is not going to be like every other incubator or accelerator where we invest very little money and then offer mentorship inside of a classroom for three to six months.

Host - Monique Mills: Tell me what you're doing differently because that model is just tired.

Guest - Jared Yellin: It's tired. And the other day I was talking with the president of Babson University. His name is Stephen Spinelli, an extraordinary entrepreneur who was the founder of Jiffy Lube. And Babson's the number one entrepreneurial college in the world that we're partnering with. And he said to me, Jared, you guys are like an incubator with an attitude.” I'm like, that's exactly what we are.

Here’s what we do. People come to us literally from around the world. And they pitch us their ideas, their tech ideas that they scribbled on a piece of paper or what we call a napkin or their minimum viable tech product that they put a little bit of money into, or even their cash flowing tech company that's kind of plateaued and they really want to accelerate and they pitch us. And when they pitch us, there's four major criteria that we're looking at. The right person with the right idea, and the right market, and the right business model.

And if all four of those things are present, we will co-found a company with that person. We'll both take equity in the company. So our values are completely aligned. And then we build the entire company at cost. Everything. Software development, go-to-market, sales, customer support, legal, fundraising, financing, bookkeeping, press, branding, everything. And about 99% of the initial minimum viable product cost is at cost in India, in a company that I've owned since 2017. So the risk is almost nonexistent and the cost is really low. So in June of last year, we opened up our doors and we started allowing people to submit their ideas.
And since then, we've had over 14,000 people submit their tech ideas. And of those 14,000, about 600 of them had a chance to actually pitch us their tech idea, kind of like a shark tank kind of environment. And we said yes to a little over 125 companies at this point, which is actually more remarkable that we did that in our first year versus 10,000 in 10 years, because we needed to figure this thing out.

Like how do you scale team? How do you onboard? What are the processes? What are the procedures? And here's what's so important for you and your audience to hear. What we're not doing is the law of averages. It's not like if we launch enough companies, we will have a few winners. Everything we say yes to, we see a clear path to build and sell.

The reason why for my certainty is two things. One, our criteria is very strong, so we don't say yes to everything and two we're hyper vertically integrated, we launched our own angel investor network last year. We have our own crowdfunding platform. We're doing some really cool stuff with the blockchain, right now and selling perpetual use licenses of tech products. And we're launching a regulation A+ fund in the first quarter, which allows both accredited and non-accredited people to invest in early stage tech. But here's what I've learned, which is really valuable for your audience. I learned how to get attention and keep attention.

And the way you do it is through three specific steps. The first is you declare a moonshot: build, scale, sell 10,000 tech companies in 10 years.

The second is you take what I call maniac action. And maniac action means that you take so much action so quickly that anyone that's watching you, they think you're crazy and they think you're on something at the same time.

The third thing you do is you talk about it a ton, a ton, like you just don't stop talking about what you're doing. And if you deploy those three steps, you get what I call a lot of attention. So we just have a lot of attention from athletes, celebrities, Silicon valley, venture capital, private equity, big tech companies.

And one of the people that we got the attention of is Grant Cardone. He heard about me and he said, this dude is crazy or he's onto something, but I got to meet him and he invited me to come to his office about seven months ago. And I did not know him personally at all at this point, I knew him the way that 15 million people on social media knew him.

So I didn't know him, but I was excited to meet him and I was not going to his office to do a deal. I was just going to meet him and I really want to meet him.
I love what he's done. I see pictures with him and his daughters and he has two younger daughters and they have a twinkle in their eye and no child has a twinkle in their eye while looking at their dad, unless their dad's a really good dad. I wanted to meet that guy.

And then I see him and his wife Elena and then I know a few people that work here are used to work in the office and they're like, “he changed my life”. So that was the Grant that I wanted to meet. And that is the Grant that I met. We ended up speaking for about four hours the first time.
And in the first hour he said to me, Jared, that chair you're sitting in right now, my sales team sells that chair for $100,000 an hour. And when people pay it, I donate the money to my foundation and then they can come in and when they come in they can have lunch with me. They can pitch me and they can ask me for advice.

And here's what I know to be true. You did not spend a hundred thousand dollars to sit in that chair because I invited you here. And the second thing is, you're not asking for anything. You're not asking for money. You're not asking for advice. You're not asking for anything. So I'm going to ask you for something.

And he stood out of his chair and he put his hand out and he said, “shake my hand. I want to help you build, scale, and sell 10,000 tech companies in 10 years.”
And I stood up and I shook his hand. And the reason I did is what we have done from an infrastructure perspective, taking a napkin and turning into a company has never been done before.

The level of infrastructure we've established is unmatched. And what Grant has done from a platform perspective with a loyal audience perspective is truly in a league of its own. So bringing these things together, what it does is it creates massive disruption and what we're doing and what we stand to do is to democratize technology.

At this very moment, the vast majority of tech resides in Silicon valley and Silicon valley is in California and it's a very pretentious place. If you don't have the right skin color, right gender, right ethnicity, right pedigree, right everything, you can't even buy a cup of coffee there. Even if they say otherwise, you just can't, it's a really closed off community and we just stand against it.

We have founders in a little village in New Zealand, all throughout the US, in countries where there's never been tech founders. We had a woman the other day pitch us from a mud hut in Africa, her tech mission. So, what we don't care about is where someone's been, or even where they are. What we care about is where they want to go.

And when the right person shows up with the right idea in the right market and the right business model, we give them a shot and we co-found a company with them. So that's what we're doing. We have a huge push right now in the space of diversity. We partnered with a wonderful gentleman named Jarrett Albritton, who is an African-American man that has been in tech for probably close to 20 years now on the more corporate side and realized that his skill set could really help these budding entrepreneurial founders.

So he's partnered up with us. He's become our diversity partner. If you go to 10Xincubator.com/diversity you can see what we're referring to, but we're putting a huge push on having everyone represented. We have more women than men right now. We have an 11 year old founder. We have a 77 year old founder because we don't believe it's ever too early or too late to become a tech founder. We have every skin color, we have ethnicity.

Once again, all that we care about is the right person, right idea, right market, right business model. And that's what we're doing.

Host - Monique Mills: Wow. That's definitely under the 10X philosophy. That's for sure. You're blowing it out of the water. So with the founders, like you said, you did 125 in your first year and they're all over the world, right?

Do you have ambassadors or directors or someone in these locations or are you having to fly everywhere?

Guest - Jared Yellin: No, I don't go anywhere. I'm a dad first. We have a pretty big team at this point. And I figured out the whole like remote culture thing, prior to COVID even. SYNDUIT as an example, we had a huge office right outside New York City.

There was a point in time where the team was begging me to get rid of the office. And I'm like, “what do you mean? We have so much fun coming together and they're like, “just give us a chance to work from anywhere we want.”

So I'm like, all right, cool. Let's do a remote challenge. This was years ago. So we did a 30 day remote challenge where they can work anywhere they wanted to work, but on day 31, they had to come back to the office and we would debrief.

And I think we were on day six or seven and I'm like, this is way too good. This is just awesome. They're happier. They're more energetic. They work harder. I like the flexibility. So I told them not to come back and I said, “stay remote”.

And as a result, I figured out how to do that. So when COVID hit and that became the norm, we were already remote and the entire incubator is remote as well.
We have people literally around the world, working for the incubator. I happen to be in Miami. And literally if I knock on my wall Grant will knock back. Because we share a wall. So I'm in the office with him and we have a few people in south Florida in the office as well.

But for the most part, we are scattered everywhere. So I don't personally need to travel anywhere. Our team is everywhere.

Host - Monique Mills: Yeah. And I mean, starting with the remote first, the whole virtual culture from the beginning is very, very powerful and important.

I mean, I was an advocate for it way before COVID as well. And so that allows all different types of people and countries and backgrounds and everything to be involved because travel and location is no longer a factor.

Guest - Jared Yellin: Yeah, it makes it easier to hire too. No boundaries to hiring. So we hire for character and skill versus proximity.

So it makes that significantly easier. There's tons of benefits, our founders, like I said, they're everywhere. We do get together. Every morning at 9:30 to 10, we have Light your Flame. Every morning we get together, which is a ton of fun. That's virtual. Every month we have our monthly mastermind session, which is virtual. Every quarter we have our immersion. Which is a three-day physical experience where we come together, we have a virtual element as well for the international founders that can't travel. And that we've created an ecosystem. So I get asked often, how are you going to do this? Like, come on, Jared, like come down to earth.

And I'm always like, “don't tell me Santa Claus isn’t real!”.

And the other day I was on an interview with NASDAQ, we launched a show together called Tech Talk, and I interviewed founders in tech, investors in tech, strategic advisors in tech, and it gets pushed out through the NASDAQ ecosystem. So it's a pretty significant reach.

But they're interviewing me, and they asked that question like, truly, how are you going to do this? No one's ever done this before. And I'm like, well, let's talk objectively. So do you believe that over the next 10 years, there will be 10,000 new tech companies? And they're like, yeah, of course. There'll be way more than that. I'm like, all right, cool. And I'm like, do you think that an individual company will have a greater chance of success on an island by itself or in an ecosystem with 9,999 other tech founders. And they're like, “oh yeah, of course an ecosystem.”

Well, then you just proved my point. Then we're actually making it easier for companies to succeed because in an ecosystem they're shared everything. There's shared resources, shared relationships, shared press, shared support. I tell our founders all the time, the greatest benefit we're offering you is you have each other. We are their infrastructure. Their engineers are our employees. We are their business development team. We are their go to market team. We are their press team, their legal team, their bookkeeping team. We have hundreds of employees. We are everything that their company is, but the greatest benefit is they have each other and there's so much benefit from not the kumbaya aspect of that, but the strategic alliance growth aspect of them being able to work together and collaborate together.

Host - Monique Mills: Well, how does the money work though? Is it a revenue share? Do you guys take equity in the company? Like, how does that work for the founders?

Guest - Jared Yellin: It's equity. Yeah, we literally are co-founding so it comes to us, especially if it's a napkin, they don't even have a company yet. These are ideas on paper, they don't have anything set up.

So we do the whole thing. We set up the LLC or the C Corp, we issue all the agreements. We go through a process with them called idea to MVP, where we've really defined what is the minimum viable product? What are we building?
Once we know, we then start the fundraising process. And step one is what we call a friends and family experience.

We do an exercise with our founders where they plan their exit party. So when a founder sells a tech company and they make a billion dollars, they throw a really, really big party, right? So we have them start planning their party before we even do anything. And then as they plan their party, I asked them who's going to be on the list like who's coming and they literally make a list of who's coming to their exit party. And I'm like, cool. That's who you need to invite to your friends and family experience. Because the last thing you want is to throw your exit party and have Uncle Bob come up to you and be like, why didn't you give me a chance?!

“You let strangers invest? You let strangers put in 10K or 25K or a hundred dollars? I would have done that.” And this party would’ve been way more fun if you let me do that. So this is Uncle Bob's shot. They invite everyone they know. It's not a sales pitch. It's actually a chance for me to edify them in front of their friends and family so they can understand what we saw and why we said yes to them.

Usually that provides some form of funding as a result. And then we get the rest of the deal funded through various sources. Once funded, we deploy team, we build out the user interface, we build the product, we deploy our go to market team and our business development team, we launch it, we support it, we scale it and go from there.

Host - Monique Mills: Wow. Incredible. Well, I mean, that's a lot that you're doing for founders and just the ecosystem overall. And so I really look forward to seeing these 10,000 companies come out over the next 10 years. This is incredible.

Jared, I want to thank you for sharing your backstory, your philosophy, your process, and the 10X Incubator overall with the unpolished MBA audience.
Thank you very much for being here.

Guest - Jared Yellin: It's my honor. Thank you. Appreciate what you're doing. Always here to support you and anyone in your ecosystem as well.

Host - Monique Mills: Thank you so much.



The Unpolished MBA conversation continues, and you can be a part of it by going to unpolishedmba.com. Thank you for listening.


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