00:00:00:01 - 00:00:17:19 So definitely a little bit different, my career path. But should I start from the beginning? I didn't go to school for any of this. So the story is essentially I, you know, I had trouble learning in school, to be quite honest. And I didn't think I was going to be able to work. So it was either this or like, you know, nothing else.
00:00:17:19 - 00:00:40:07 I don't know. I think one thing that's very unique about my story and it was, you know, obviously a lot of hard work, but I was diagnosed when I was very young. I was like seven or eight with Tourette's and OCD. Tourette's was something where I tried a lot of different medication and it went I mean, sometimes it work that it would it would almost like depress me and change like who I was.
00:00:40:09 - 00:01:06:03 So I had to learn how to do other strategies to suppress thoughts. Because Tourette's tic, you tic through thoughts. So I basically had to learn how to suppress it just naturally. And through doing that, I, I do feel that I was able to focus more as I started to learn to suppress and focus on like very specific problems for a long period of time, increase my executive functioning.
00:01:06:03 - 00:01:28:02 If I need to speak to a larger audience, or if I had to make a pitch or a presentation where I was just generally not good before so and so, I always felt like I developed some competitive advantage because I continuously suppress Tourette's, where before it was destroying my life and elementary school, middle school. And I really learned how to suppress it, like middle of high school.
00:01:28:02 - 00:01:49:10 Unknown So I started to do better academically. I started to like, hone in on very specific problems and focus. I built two different consumer products. One was called Fitivity, had over 15 million downloads. But we that company got acquired and I was able to kind of parlay that experience into starting the Valere Labs, which is the company on Upwork.
00:01:49:12 - 00:02:15:17 We have over 130 employees. We build mobile and web applications and AI, so very unique computer vision, AI technology. You know, definitely it was interesting how it all came to fruition. So two different companies, one of them was an AI product and that was in 2018. We started building it sports and fitness activities, working with pros, college athletes, fitness professionals, all these different people.
00:02:15:19 - 00:02:34:06 And we launched over 300 applications under all these different titles, just replicating the same strategy. So we started to get about 10,000 organic downloads a day, figured out how to make a business about it, and we raised venture capital and then I moved the company to Santa Monica, lived there for a couple of years, and then I sold the company.
00:02:34:08 - 00:03:01:14 And then simultaneously, when I was doing that software, I built the computer vision product, just learned a lot and then started Valere after that. Just looking at a day, you know, the first thing I like to do is I have like a personal project that I'm always working on growing Valere. So I'll work on that for the first hour without looking at emails or Slack or Upwork or anything that will distract me and then after that, I usually have 100 plus messages between Slack and email.
00:03:01:14 - 00:03:30:14 So I'll go through all those. I'll collaborate with, you know, my sales and marketing team. I'll then collaborate with all the office leads. So the y of Valere's set up is we have essentially a remote team in the US and then we have physical offices in Croatia, Uruguay and India and they each have office leads. So I'll collaborate with them on kind of projects and stuff and then, you know, I'll finish the day up, usually working on another personal project.
00:03:30:17 - 00:03:56:22 And then I also do angel investing. So I'm usually looking at like usually a deal or two each day. Valere. Valere So my, my first festivity was venture capital backed and Angel-backed, but no, Valere was my own money starting it. So like, it was really scary, obviously doing that and it just ended up working out. If you want to be very successful, don't always necessarily find like follow your passion, but try to find passion and just solving problems.
00:03:56:23 - 00:04:16:08 Follow what's working for activity. It was a content app, but I didn't set out and I wasn't passionate about building a content app. I wanted to build like a social network. People could organize pickup sports. Like that was the vision. And I actually I think I, I wasted a lot of time and energy and like investor money trying to chase that.
00:04:16:10 - 00:04:36:08 And then when I pivoted and just follow what was working and then I just got passionate about finding like solving problems to grow and like make a company. And when I started to become obsessed with that, I started to become more successful. So I think like the mistake people make is like, follow your passion. Like, yes, but like, be passionate about solving problems.
00:04:36:10 - 00:04:55:00 I winged it for a long time and I wasted a lot of time doing that. So I would absolutely say like find a role model. Like my mother is a nurse, my father father's a track coach and teacher like, so I didn't I didn't grow up around entrepreneurship and I completely attribute a lot of like, you know, the way I work and the kind of habits I've developed.
00:04:55:00 - 00:05:23:08 And because of, like I said, suppressing Tourettes for, for all those years, I mean, the only one that comes to mind is, is, is let's do it, which I know is Nike's slogan. But like my dad's been telling me that since I was a young kid. So I just feel like he he'd been he's been saying it first and I don't know it's always just like because, again, he was a track coach so like a lot of track is like mental strength training means like, just just do it.
00:05:23:10 - 00:05:45:00 Look, I think one of the things that I want people to know is, is that we really we've made a major investment in AI in our focus kind of on continuously understanding all the new AI tools, APIs and technologies that are out there so we can plug them into our different clients applications and offer them.
00:05:45:00 - 00:06:13:07 So I think that's important. You know, we've worked on very interesting high impact projects with one of our clients was Johns Hopkins University, and we built an app to essentially help Alzheimer's patients get better data for researchers. And through that we were able to help them develop more funding to continuously work on the application. So that's one of my favorites, especially because my father did pass away from Alzheimer's.
00:06:13:07 - 00:06:41:05 And coincidentally, we got this project about six months after he passed. But I, I could sit here for hours with you, Mindy, and come up with 20 new, brilliant AI ideas. There's so much you can do with it. So that's why I think it's here to stay. And it's just going to grow to an inflection point where there's enough data now being plugged into these models and then there's enough developers who have interest in it.
00:06:41:07 - 00:07:03:21 So if you want to do it at a technical level, I would say just start learning how to code in Python. Use some of the some of the open code out there in algorithms and just tweak them and see what it does with the results. If you want to use AI in the context of like more about broader context, there's so many different prompting tools.
00:07:03:21 - 00:07:25:11 And I think just knowing what exists and what's out there and playing around with them, you're just going to figure out kind of what works for your business or what you would like to do and how you would like to leverage AI in your in your current workflow. And it's really generative. AI right now, projects and products and it's almost but it's but it's going to create a lot of fatigue.
00:07:25:13 - 00:08:05:06 The market will get fatigued and then you'll start to see like the big players kind of come through with the extremely highly innovative stuff because a lot of people are just copying each other right now. But it's definitely here to stay. It's not a dying hot trend like blockchain. Blockchain was overhyped. We're working on a really cool we've been working on for a few years, actually a really cool travel application to help people who are kind of, you know, figure out what they want to do around the world to find unique experiences that you wouldn't find as a tourist.
00:08:05:08 - 00:08:28:24 So we've been working with this client for a while. We helped them raise a seed round of funding through the technology we built. We're working on a project. I kind of it's an e-sports project. I can't tell you the name, but it's essentially a training application for kids to get better at e-sports and video games. But to do it more responsibly.
00:08:29:01 - 00:08:45:14 So it's how to do it responsibly and then it's like a training platform. So I thought I just thought it was a great idea. I mean, look, I think I and I truly in another reason I invest in this is, I do believe mastering video games is a skill set where you you will hundred percent use in life because you can mask.
00:08:45:14 - 00:09:09:20 But when you can make a job out of it now and you can master a video game and you have that much determination intelligence you can learn how to master programs and other things that are analogous. So there's a misconception and I and I came across this when I started to do research on a bunch of guys who are really successful, either founded technology companies or we're like executives.
00:09:10:01 - 00:09:31:00 A lot of them were huge video game experts when they were younger or gurus. So we have about 60 clients that always run simultaneously. Pretty interesting stuff. And we use Upwork really as a client acquisition tool and it's been extremely valuable. We've done a lot of awesome projects on Upwork and have met a lot of cool people.
00:09:31:02 - 00:09:50:14 I mean the platform's been around for a while. They have high quality projects and jobs and you know, I started on the platform in 2019 and it was much less competitive and fast forward 2023, it's it's super competitive. You're seeing commercials on TV for Upwork. So I think I made the right choice investing it early. I pretty much gave you my life story.
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