Derrin Hill is the Founder and CEO of RevRoad, a firm that provides venture services to accelerate entrepreneurs on the road to success. The team at RevRoad have a unique approach to helping business grow and succeed, and they offer a huge catalog of products for brands that work with them, who are affectionately referred to as “roadies.”
Derrin is an entrepreneur, a loving father and husband, and a dedicated volunteer. He specializes in building empowered individuals and teams, systems for growth, motivated communities, and strong companies.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Darren Hill shares the features and benefits that entrepreneurs can expect from RevRoad
- How RevRoad helps entrepreneurs make better decisions when exiting or acquiring a business
- RevRoad’s criteria for deciding which companies and executive teams to work with
- How to evaluate whether or not you have the right team and strategy in place to succeed
- Derrin explains why his portfolio includes a number of physical product companies
- Derrin’s advice to entrepreneurs on innovation and product development
- How product companies can create a feedback loop with their customers
- The role marketplaces like Amazon play in Derrin’s evaluation of companies, and the types of product companies he works with
- Where to learn more about RevRoad
In this episode…
For most entrepreneurs, starting a business is very capital intensive. The cost of producing a new physical product or software and taking it to the market can be extremely prohibitive for these innovators. Luckily, there are a number of venture capital firms and incubators to give them a boost.
However, having a great idea for a product or software is not enough to land a deal with these companies. You must also have a dynamic team and strategy in place to propel you toward success. In order to evaluate a potential client, venture services firm RevRoad uses a model that they refer to as the five Hs: Head, Hands, Heart, Humor, and Humility. So, do you have what it takes to get started on the road to success?
Derrin Hill, the Founder and CEO of RevRoad, joins Eric Stopper in this episode of Buy Box Experts to talk about what the most innovative venture companies look for when evaluating entrepreneurs to work with. Derrin shares his firm’s five Hs evaluation model, how his team helps brands grow, and the types of companies he’s most excited about right now. Stay tuned.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Buy Box Experts
- RevRoad Events
- Derrin Hill on LinkedIn
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
- KIZIK Handsfree Shoes
Sponsor for this episode…
Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace.
The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload.
Buy Box Experts prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management.
Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com.
Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.
Eric Stopper 0:18
Hey, welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast. This is Eric Stopper. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. Ah, everyone take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay. FBA is going well. The people at Amazon are becoming much better at identifying fraud. Just take a deep breath, it’ll be okay, come and talk to our team, go to buyboxexperts.com click on the free analysis button you’ll be connected with me or remember the other consultants that I work with. And we would love to help you identify key low hanging fruit. And just give your brand an analysis right help you get give you some tools to move forward with your business. Go to buyboxexperts.com. The free analysis button is big and orange, you can’t miss it. Come and talk to us today.
I am so absolutely pleased to be joined by Derrin Hill, Founder and CEO of RevRoad, an accelerator incubator company for entrepreneurs that provides venture services on the road to success. And they use a unique approach to providing resources and experience at just the right time. They have a huge catalog of products that they can offer to brands that work with them, who are affectionately referred to as ‘roadies’, you can check out their brands and services on their website revroad.com. Derrin is an entrepreneur, a loving father and husband, and a great mentor and friend. I brought him on the show to talk to us about entrepreneurship in 2020. And moving forward, and how we can build better businesses and leverage the best technology and processes for years to come. Derrin, welcome to the show.
Derrin Hill 1:52
Thanks, Eric. It’s a real pleasure to be with you. And love that you have that big orange button for people to smash for their free trial and their assessment. That’s awesome.
Eric Stopper 2:03
Yeah, we’re getting, we’re getting fast at it too. Luckily, you can come. We can give you just a handful of insights that even if you don’t work with us, it’s always super valuable. I wish we could make the button bigger. Um, so lots of questions for you to set the stage right? A lot of these guys listen to product people, agency people too, we want to be able to empower them with the best. So tell me a little bit more about RevRoad from a like kind of feature benefit standpoint just to break it down and distill it for everybody that works with you. What can they expect working with RevRoad?
Derrin Hill 2:42
Sure, I’m guessing that most of your listeners at one point or another had a beginning in their company. And there was some innovation that took place where they iterated on some sort of product, or some way of delivering that product in a new and better way. And in doing so they had to find that product market fit, they had to, then once they got that solid, go through all the growth steps that are necessary to to build their business. And each of those phases are things that we help entrepreneurs work through that RevRoad so they can grow their business. And while we’re helping them do that, we help them keep control of their company too. Because while some of us are really good at creating products and services, and getting them to market, there’s this whole other side of the business that requires, you know, some savvy and capability and making sure that the funding can take place in a way that lets those entrepreneurs to be able to take advantage of the benefits of what they’ve created over the years.
Eric Stopper 3:48
And you as one of the venture resources that you provide the portfolio companies is funding there’s a there’s some sort of equity event in there. Do you help them find investors? How does that work?
Derrin Hill 4:00
Yeah, that’s a great question. That’s one of the 12 service areas that we provide. Those services are everything that a company would need to nail it and then scale it. So capital is one of those services, we help companies raise capital, we have a very incredible group of investors who are part of the RevRoad investment network. And so when entrepreneurs want to go and do a raise, we help them go through all the stuff they should look at before they do it, you know when to do it, why you should do it, how to do it effectively, and who to do it with and so we put all those pieces into place. So in other words, we’ll help them do their, you know, modeling of their economic model. We’ll put together what their forecast looks like for their DCF for valuations. We do a complete analysis of their cap table structure and ownership and So that we can help them optimize when it comes to that. And then we take them through the process of building their deck, making sure that it’s optimized for their particular circumstance. And then we put them in front of groups of investors who, who have been there before, who understand how to do it well, and who happen to have great capital resources, and so that they can do a fast raise, a fair raise, and do it with people who are friendly. And have those folks on their cap table.
Eric Stopper 5:31
I yeah, so lots of stuff to unpack there. And for, for all of you who are wondering, like, in my business, you know, how, how can I use the insights from, you know, someone that provides venture services in my business? I think a huge part of that is figuring out what it is that you want, at the end of the day out of your business? Is it an acquisition that one of the first things that you go through with people is like, what is the actual end all be all of your efforts in this business?
Derrin Hill 6:00
Yeah, I’m super glad you asked that. So we do begin with the end in mind, we ask the entrepreneur, you know, the executive team, what is it that you would like to have as the outcome of this effort that you’re putting into this company? For most people, they want to have an exit, they’d like to have an acquisition take place or an IPO. And that’s fantastic. And we are really good at helping them prepare for that work towards that and get the growth necessary to make it happen. For others, they’d like to create a, you know, multi generational, long lasting enterprise, that can be sustained well into the future. And it’s interesting, because if you look at certain geographies, the headquarters of Fortune 500, companies seem to be clustered in certain locations around the world. And, and we think that, that there’s great potential for all kinds of companies to grow into, you know, become one of those or something, you know, that’s not quite that big, but still substantial. And, and to have it just be a going concern, something that stays, you know, within their family for generations. So regardless of which camp they happen to be in, in terms of their objective, we understand how to help them move down that path to make that a reality for them. And so, but it does take, it does take a specific approach, and a purposeful one, you know, if you want to build that long lasting that multi generational firm, you have to look differently at what you do, you can’t just reinvest everything into the business over and over, you’ve got to give some some love to your your investors and your your shareholders. And so that means you’ve got to build distributions into your, into your financial plan. So it really depends on what that end goal is as to which path we choose to go down.
Eric Stopper 8:01
That makes sense. Now, I imagine that and by the way, guys, I applied to RevRoad as a brand when I was running a nanotechnology business. And, and this question is very much for me as well. And I’ve eventually, I’ve left that business since then, and happy at Buy Box Experts, um, I’m sure that you have seen so many young and old executives, teams that these random people, you know, around the state and around the world are making, how often when you meet a team, is the executive team just wrong. And you help them figure that out and reconfigure, like, who is on their team so that they can have a healthy future?
Derrin Hill 8:48
Sure, yeah. It’s a good question. And I remember your application and your pitch, and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve become friends, you’re an impressive guy. And we’re constantly given the opportunity to to look at different organizations and companies and their founding teams. And what really helps us is we’ve established a set of criteria, it’s a couple dozen criteria that we’ve built into a proprietary model that helps us understand that business and the core operational features of it, and so that we can use the scores that come from evaluating against those criteria to determine if that company is a good fit, you know, if we can really help them grow, and in within that team is a big part of it. So while we have a lot of detailed criteria that we look at, we also have simple ways to communicate that. And with teams, we look for five simple things five H’s, okay, head, which means we look for a team that has smarts, education, talent in those ways, but not just book smarts in education, but also street smarts, common sense. intellect, all the measures that you would look for in that kind of a category. So that’s head, hands is our next one. And that skill, experience, grit, resilience, determination, all the kinds of capabilities that are necessary to, to execute, execute what has to be done there, okay. And then heart is the third one. And for us, you know, that heart piece is super important. We want them to be passionate about something, it can be about their product, it can be about the industry, it can be about creating jobs, it can be passionate about building a business, I mean, it can be passionate about a lot of different things, but there has to be a passion there. And and if that passion is there, then it is, it gets them through so many hard times that they won’t get through if it’s not there. So head hands heart. Humor is the next, we love to work with people who are happy, and who have fun. And frankly, most people do. And so we’re very careful to make sure we find people who are fun to be with and they can laugh at themselves. And, they can joke around with their colleagues. And humor goes a long way to kind of soothing the rough parts, making it so that difficult relationships can be strengthened and mended. And we feel like humor makes a big difference in leadership as well helps great leaders communicate things that otherwise might not be received very well. So we look for that as our fourth area. And then the last one, our fifth age, after head, hands heart, humor, is humility. And this is our most important one, we feel very strongly that they can have all the other ages. And if they don’t have humility, we just say we wish you the best. And you’re, you know, good luck. Because if someone thinks that they’ve arrived if their ego is in the lead, and it makes it almost impossible for them to see the opportunities for growth, for progression for improvement in themselves and their teams and their company. And so that humility piece is essential. And I love the way that Jim Collins referred to this in good to great, you know, he said, basically, you know, when you look at five, five star leaders, you’re looking for leaders who have enormous capabilities, those are those first four, and humility to counterbalance those. And so that’s really where our focus is when we look at people that come in now to your specific question about do we ever see teams that come in that aren’t balanced? Well, or maybe are short on one or more of those things? The answer is yes. Absolutely. And we do share feedback regularly with the teams that apply to RevRoad, if they ask. If they don’t ask, we figure they’re just not interested in that feedback. But they do ask that we share that feedback with them. And then in many cases, we help them supplement their teams, we help them bring in top talent to make sure that those teams get rounded out. And so they’ve got the full breadth of capabilities. You know, we’ve helped teams find CTOs and CEOs and even CEOs for their companies. So in addition to all the different staff positions,
Eric Stopper 13:56
so it sounds like anyone who’s listening to this who is involved with any sort of entrepreneurial team, they could evaluate themselves right off of these five H’s and just have some sort of indicator. But is there? I mean, is there one question that you would encourage everybody to ask themselves today to figure out if they’re on the right path with the team that they’ve built and the playbook and strategy that they have?
Derrin Hill 14:26
Oh, sure. That’s a great question. I’m not sure if I could summarize it in one question, but I’ll attempt to. If the one question is about themselves, it would be really simple. Is this right for me? There are a lot of what our CEO Jason Caldwell calls entrepreneurs, where they’re in love with the idea of being an entrepreneur. But having taken a hard look at what that path really means. The level of sacrifice and dedication and grit required to see it through. So for an individual, that would be the question, you know, is this right for me? For some people it is, and it’s wonderful for those if it’s not, you know, if the risk tolerance level doesn’t fit, or if, if there’s not, you know, supportive family or spouse, or if there’s not, or if there’s economic need, you know, if you’re trying to get food on the table, you’ve got it, you’ve got to be able to kind of provide for basics and still be able to do the entrepreneurship. In terms of team, there’s one simple, simple question that I would ask, and that is, do we have unity in our purpose. And so each member of a founding team, obviously plays a different role. You know, you have a technical person to help with building product, or you’ve got to have someone that has some good financial sense and background and you got to have someone that’s got, you know, the visionary leadership aspect, you’ve got to have someone that’s got some Rainmaker DNA to sell on market. And then you’ve got to have someone who cares about the customer and make sure that they’re attended to, and they have a wonderful experience. So however, you round that out, and you know, each company has their own specific set of needs. If there’s a unity, unity of purpose and capability there, then it’s a good fit. But there has to be that unity of purpose and capability.
Eric Stopper 16:44
It sounds as well, like you said, there are several dozen questions that you asked these teams in the beginning. So you found some sort of way to quantify head hands, heart humor, and humility. I am most interested in humility. How do you quantify how humble somebody is?
Derrin Hill 17:08
Yeah, it’s, um, I won’t, I won’t claim that our approach is perfect, right? It’s actually on our fourth version of our model. And that’s how it happens. This is the way you iterate. That is the way and so we’re pleased to be doing that. Our focus, however, is definitely on making sure that there is a it’s definitely making sure that there is a series of interactions that we can have with a person in that team to measure humility. And I’ll just give you a few examples of some Sure. Do. We have some folks who, when they come into present, present or pitch, we always have some level of feedback that we’re providing during the presentation. And the point of the feedback is not the point, the point of feedback is to see how they respond. And they take it. Yeah. You know, are they welcoming? Do they appreciate it? Do they do something about it? You know, do they actually act on it? In many cases, that feedback comes with an invitation to follow up with us on something, you know, nine out of 10? Don’t?
Eric Stopper 18:29
Wow, nine out of 10? Yeah. And,
Derrin Hill 18:34
you know, they’ll say something like, Oh, great, thanks. And then, you know, you just don’t know, hear back from them on the follow up, where we’ll say, Hey, you know, you might want to go and check on this. And if you do, let us know what you find.
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