Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

510: The Forecastr Formula :Steven Plappert’s Path to Startup Success

February 1st, 2024

Host Victoria Guido sits down with Steven Plappert, CEO of Forecastr, an online software designed to aid founders in financial modeling, which was born to help non-finance savvy founders understand and communicate their company's financial health. Despite the pandemic beginning right after Forecastr's launch in 2020, the company didn't pivot significantly thanks to extensive preparation and customer discovery before the launch.

Steven delves into the operational and strategic aspects of Forecastr, highlighting the importance of balancing growth with financial sustainability, a consistent theme in their business strategy. Forecastr's significant development was integrating a strong human element into their software service, a move very well-received by their customers. Steven also outlines the company's key objectives, including cultivating a solid culture, achieving profitability, and exploring opportunities for exponential growth.

Additionally, Steven discusses the importance of work-life balance, reflecting on his previous startup experience and emphasizing the necessity of balance for longevity and effectiveness in entrepreneurship. Victoria and Steven further explore how companies, including Forecastr and thoughtbot, incorporate these philosophies into their operations and culture.

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VICTORIA: This is the Giant R¬obots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Victoria Guido. And with me today is Steven Plappert, CEO of Forecastr, an online software that helps founders who hate building financial models in Excel actually understand their numbers, predict runway, and get funded. Steven, thank you for joining us.

STEVEN: Hey, yeah, Victoria, thanks for having me. I'm stoked to be here. What's up, guys?

VICTORIA: Just to get us warmed up here a little bit, can you tell me what's going on in your world?

STEVEN: Well, you know, what is going on in my world? I had a great year last year, very healthy. I have a loving fiancé, and I'm getting married this year, which is going to be super fun. And, obviously, running a business, which takes up more than its fair share of my life. But yeah, it's early Jan, so I've been kind of reflecting on my life, and I got a lot to be grateful for, Victoria, I really do.

VICTORIA: That's wonderful. You know, I used to work with a VP of strategic growth who likened forming partnerships with companies as getting into a marriage and building that relationship and that level of trust and communication that you have, which I think is really interesting.

STEVEN: Oh, for sure. Emily always, Emily is my fiancé, she always says that, you know, Forecastr is essentially my mistress, if you will, you know what I mean? Because, like, that's [laughs] where the rest of my time goes, isn't it? Between hanging out with her and working on the company, you know, so...

VICTORIA: So, how long have you been in a relationship with your business around Forecastr? [laughs]

STEVEN: Yeah, right? Yeah [laughs]. Four years with this one. So, you know, we started it actually January 1st of 2020, going into the pandemic, although we didn't know it at the time. And so, we just celebrated our four-year anniversary a few weeks ago.

VICTORIA: Well, that's really exciting. So, I'm curious about when you started Forecastr, what was the essential problem that you were trying to solve that you had identified in the market?

STEVEN: I'd say the main problem we were trying to solve is that, like, specifically founders, you know, startup founders, really struggle to get, like, a clear picture of their financial health or, like, just the financial aspect of their business. And then they also struggle to communicate that to investors because most founders aren't finance people. You know, like, most people that start a company they don't do it because they're excellent in even, like, business or finance or anything like that. They usually do it because, like, they've identified some problem; they've lived it; they've breathed it, you know what I mean? They're some kind of subject matter expert. They may be good at sales, or marketing, or product.

But a lot of times, finance is, like, a weak part for them, you know, it's not something that they're strong in. And so, they really have a hard time, like, understanding the viability of the business and communicating the financial outcome of the company to investors and stuff like that. And my co-founder Logan and I live that because all we did all day was built financial models in Excel for startup founders working for a CFO shop called Venture First. So, that's what we really saw.

We really saw that just, you know, it's really hard for folks to get this clear picture. And we thought a big part of that, at least, was just the fact that, you know, there's no great software for it. It was just like, people are using Excel, which, you know, for people that are great in finance, you know, works but for most people, doesn't. And so, yeah, I think that that's what kind of inspired Logan and I to fly the coop there at Venture First and start a company.

VICTORIA: No, that's really interesting. So, you found this problem. You knew that this was an issue for founders, and you built this hypothesis and started it. I think you said, like, right before 2020, right before the pandemic. So, were there any decisions you made that once you got more information or once you got started, you decided to pivot? And, like, what were those pivot points for you early on?

STEVEN: There wasn't a lot of pivoting early on, I will say. And a part of that is because, like, this isn't my first company. I started a company right out of college back in 2013 called FantasyHub. In that company, we pivoted a lot and, largely because we didn't really put a lot of forethought into that company when we launched it, you know, we didn't do any customer discovery. We just launched the company. And then we skinned our knees a bunch of times [laughs] as we scaled that company up and had to change gears a lot of times.

In Forecastr, you know, we had actually been kind of building towards starting the company for 18 months. So, Logan and I actually had the idea originally in middle of 2018. And we decided at that time, look, like, we're not going to go launch this company right away because we got full-time jobs, and we might as well de-risk it. So, we spent about 12 to 18 months just doing a lot of customer discovery, kind of in stealth mode while at Venture First.

After about six months, we brought it up to Venture First and said, "Hey, here's this idea for a company we have. We want to go do it." You know, to Venture First's credit, you know, rather than viewing that territorially and saying, "Hey, you know, there's a great new product line for our company," they really inspired us to go forward with it. They said, "Hey, this is great. We want to support you guys." They put some money in. We did some more discovery. We built a prototype.

So, long-winded way of saying that by the time we actually got to the starting line in 2020, you know, we had 18 months' worth of really clear thought put into this thing. And we had been building in this space for years, you know, building financial models and Excel for founders. So, I think we had a great understanding of the customer. We had a great understanding of the market and the needs. We'd done our diligence in terms of distribution and figuring out how we wanted to generate, you know, a good, healthy funnel for the business. And so, it was really just kind of a matter of execution at that point.

And, you know, here we are four years in, and there really hasn't been anything that we've done that's really pivoted the business that much across those four years, except for one moment, which was actually six months ago. So, in July of 2023, we did finally have our first kind of pivot moment where one of the interesting things about Forecastr versus some other solutions in the market is that we're not just a product, just a SaaS platform. There's a real strong human layer to our solution. We've always felt like a SaaS plus human model was the right model for financial modeling for startups because a lot of these startup founders don't have finance expertise on staff or inherently.

And about six months ago, it wasn't as much of a pivot as it was a double down. You know, we really doubled down on that human element, you know, and now that human element isn't just through, like, a white glove onboarding and some email support. But we actually do give our customers an analyst in addition to the software that's with them for the lifetime of their subscription and is with them every step of the way. And so, that's the only time that we really made, like, a significant change into what we were doing. And it was just, I think, off the back of three years of saying, "Hey, like [chuckles], people really love the human element, you know, let's lean into that."

VICTORIA: I love that you saw that you couldn't solve this problem with just technology and that you planned for and grew the people element as well. And I'm curious: what other decisions did you have to make as you were growing the business, how to scale the tech side or the people side?

STEVEN: So many decisions, right? And that's why I tell people all the time, I'm like, you know, I've been a founder for 11 years now. And, in my opinion, by far, the hardest part about being a founder is that all day, every day, you have to make a bunch of decisions. And you hardly ever have enough data to, like, know, you're making the right decision. So, you got to make a bunch of judgment calls, and ultimately, these are judgment calls that could make or break your company. And it's really taxing. It's taxing on the mind. It's stressful, you know. It is not easy. So, you know, I think it's one of the really hard things about being an entrepreneur.

I would say one of the most consistent decisions that we've had to make at the highest level is decisions around kind of capital preservation, fiscal responsibility, and investing in the growth. So, categorically, it's like, on the one hand, you have a desire to build the company kind of sustainably, to get to profitability, to have a healthy working model, you know, where you have some real staying power, you know. And that line of thinking leads you to, you know, be conscientious about investments that you're making that, you know, increase the burn.

On the other hand, you have a desire to grow the company very quickly. You know, you have certain benchmarks you need to meet, you know, in order to be attractive to venture capitalists. And so, you have decisions that you want to make, you know, to invest in that growth. And so, I think that's a very consistent theme that's played out across the four years is Logan and I trying to walk that tightrope between growing 2 to 3X year over year and being really mindful of the company's burn, you know, both for equity preservation and just to build the company in a more sustainable way.

And I think as financial professionals and founders, the finance person in Logan and I a lot of times wants to be more conservative. The founder in Logan and I, a lot of times, wants to be more aggressive. And so, we kind of just, like, let those two forces kind of play themselves out. And I think it creates, like, a nice, healthy tension.

VICTORIA: That is really interesting, yeah. And sometimes you have to make a guess [chuckles] and go with it and then see the results of what happens. So, you're a financial forecasting company. What kind of, like, key results or objectives are you working towards this year with Forecastr?

STEVEN: Yeah, great question. So, we're really mindful of this kind of stuff. I'd say, you know, it's something that we really consider at a deep level is, like, you have to ultimately set objectives, which are very aligning and clarifying, you know, at an executive level, and then those should kind of filter all the way down through the organization.

Because so much, I think, of building a company is you have to kind of punch above your weight. You have to grow faster than [chuckles] the resources that you're putting into it might expect or whatever. I mean, you have limited resources, limited time, but you got to go really quickly. I think alignment is a big part of that, and that starts with setting clear objectives.

So, we actually have three very clear objectives, really four. The first one is living up to our cultural values. You know, we're a culture-first organization. We believe that, like, culture, you know, kind of eats strategy for breakfast, that age-old kind of cliché, but it's true. It's just like, I think, you know, if you build a really good culture, people are just...they're happier. They're more productive. You get more done. So, that is our number one strategic objective.

Number two is to become profitable. Like I mentioned, we want to become profitable. We want to build a sustainable company. So, by setting that objective, it kind of forces us to be conscientious about spend and only invest in areas that we think is, like, a one plus one equals three.

Our third strategic objective is reach 5 million in annual recurring revenue by the end of the year. We're at 2.4 right now. We want to at least double year over year. That's kind of, like, the minimum threshold to keep playing the venture game.

And then number four is unlock exponential growth opportunities. So, we definitely adopt the philosophy of, like, hey, we've got a model. It's working. We've got 700 customers, you know, we've got two and a half million in annual recurring revenue. So, like, 80% of our focus should be on becoming profitable and hitting $5 million in annual recurring revenue. Like, that's, like, the bread and butter there, just keep doing what's working. But 20% of our attention should be paid to, well, what could we be doing to, like, triple down on that, you know, to really start to create an exponential growth curve?

And, for us, that stuff and, like, kind of the data in investor space, like, there's a lot of interesting things that we could do, of course, as long as it's consensual, anonymized, et cetera, safe and secure, you know, with the kind of data that we have on private companies, you know, anonymously benchmarking companies against their peers, things like that. And I think there's a really big opportunity that we have to serve investors as well, you know, and to create a better investor experience when it comes to financial reporting, also something that we think can unlock exponential growth. So, those are the four objectives that we have going into this year.

VICTORIA: Well, I really appreciate that you had culture at number one, and it reminds me, you know, you said it's old adage, but it's true, and you can verify that in reports like the State of DevOps Report. The number one indicator of a high-security environment is the level of trust and culture that you have within your company, not necessarily the technology or tools that you're using. So, being a financial company, I think you're in a good position [chuckles] to have, like, you know, protect all those assets and protect your data.

And yeah, I'm curious to hear more about what you said about just unlocking, like, exponential growth. It's hard to keep both the let's keep the lights on and keep running with what we have, and make room for these bigger strategic initiatives that are really going to help us grow as a company and be more sustainable over time. So, how do you make room for both of those things in a limited team?

STEVEN: Yeah, it's a great question. And it's not easy, I would say. I mean, I think the way we make room for it probably on the frontend is just, like, being intentional about creating that space. I mean, ultimately, putting unlocking exponential growth opportunities on the strategic company roadmap, which is the document that kind of memorializes the four objectives that I just went through, that creates space inherently. It's one of four objectives on the board.

And that's not just, like, a resource that sits, you know, in a folder somewhere. We use the OKR system, you know, which is a system for setting quarterly objectives and things like that. And these strategic objectives they make it on our OKR board, which filters down into our work. So, I think a big piece of creating the space is just as an executive and as a leader, you know, being intentional about [chuckles] putting it on the board and creating that space.

The thing that you have to do, though, to be mindful is you have to make sure that you don't get carried away with it. I mean, like you said, at the end of the day, succeeding in a business requires a proper balancing of short-term and long-term priorities. You know, if you're focused too much on the short term, you know, you can kind of hamstring yourself in the long run. Yeah, maybe you build, like, a decent business, but you don't quite, you know, reach your highest potential because you're not investing in some of those things that take a while to develop and come to play in the long run.

But if you're too focused on the long run, which is what these exponential opportunities really are, you know, it's very easy to lose your way [laughs] in the short term, and it's very easy to die along the way. You know, I do think of startups as much of a game of survival as anything. I always say survive until you thrive. And so, that's where the 80/20 comes in, you know, where we just kind of say, "Hey, look, like, 80% of our time and energy needs to be devoted to kind of short-term and less risky priorities, such as doubling down on what's already working. 20% of our time, thereabouts, can be devoted to some of these more long-term strategic objectives, like unlocking exponential growth.

And I think it just takes a certain mindfulness and a certain intentionality to, like, every week when you're organizing your calendar, and you're, like, talking with your team and stuff like that, you're just always trying to make sure, hey, am I roughly fitting into that framework, you know? And it doesn't have to be exact. Some weeks, it may be more or less. But I think that's kind of how we approach it, you know, conceptually.

VICTORIA: Oh, what a great perspective. I think that I really like hearing those words about, like, balance and, like, being intentional.


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VICTORIA: You mentioned earlier that you're getting married, so, like, maybe you can talk about how are you intentional with your own time and balancing your personal life and making room for these, you know, big life changes while dealing with also the stress of being in kind of a survivor mode with the company.

STEVEN: Like I mentioned, this is my second company, and Emily, bless her heart, my fiancé, she's been with me my entire entrepreneurial career. We started dating the first month that I started my first company, FantasyHub. And in that company, I ran that company for three years. We took it through Techstars down in Austin. It was a consumer gaming company. Interesting company. It ended up being a failure but, like, super interesting and set me on my path. Yeah, I was a complete and total workaholic. I worked around the clock. It was a fantasy sports company, so weekends were our big time, and I worked seven days a week. I worked, like, a lot of 80-hour-plus weeks.

And, you know, looking back on it, it was a lot of fun, but it was also miserable. And I also burned out, you know, about six months before the company failed. And had the company not failed when it did, you know, I don't know what the future would have held for us. I was really out of balance. You know, I had deprioritized physical health. I hadn't worked out in years. I wasn't healthy. I had deprioritized mental health. Emily almost left me as a part of that company because I wasn't giving her any attention.

And so, you know, when that company failed, and I was left with nothing, you know, and I just was kind of, like, sitting there licking my wounds [laughs], you know, in my childhood bedroom at my parents' house, you know, I was like, you know what? Like, I don't know that that was really worth it, and I don't know that that was the right approach. And I kind of that moment, I was like, you know, look, I'm a startup founder. I love building these companies, so I'm, like, definitely going to do it again, but I'm not going to give it my entire life.

Like, regardless of your religious beliefs, like, we at least have one life to live. And in my opinion, there's a lot more to life than [chuckles] just cranking out work and building companies. Like, there's a whole world to explore, you know, and there's lots of things that I'm interested in. So, this time around, I'm very thoughtful about creating that balance in my life.

I set hard guidelines. There's hard, like, guardrails, I guess I should say, when I start and end work, you know, and I really hold myself accountable to that. Emily holds me accountable to that. And I make sure that, like, I work really hard when I'm at work, but I take the mask off, you know, so to speak, when I'm at home. And I just kind of...I don't deprioritize the rest of my life like I did when I was running FantasyHub. So, I think it's super important.

I think it's a marathon building companies. I think you got to do that. I think it's what's in the best interest of the company and you as an individual. So, I think it's something I do a lot better this time around. And I think we're all better off for it, not the least of which is, like, one of our six cultural values is live with balance, and that's why.

You know, because, like, we adopt the philosophy that you don't have to work yourself to death to build a great company. You can build a great company working a pretty reasonable workload, you know what I mean? It's not easy. It is kind of a pressure cooker trying to get that much done in that little time, but I think we're living proof that it works.

VICTORIA: And if you don't make time to rest, then your ability to make good decisions and build high-quality products really starts to suffer eventually, like, I think, is what you saw at the end there. So, I really appreciate you sharing that and that personal experience. And I'm glad to see the learning from that, and making sure that's a core part of your company values the next time you start a company makes a lot of sense to me.

STEVEN: Yeah, totally, you know, yeah. And I've always remembered, although this might be an extreme and a privileged extreme, but, you know, J.P. Morgan, the person, was famous for saying, "I get more done in 9 months than I get in 12," in relationship to the fact that he would take his family over to Europe for, like, three months of the year and, like, summer in Europe and not work. And so, while that's probably an unrealistic, you know, ideal for a startup founder, there's some truth to it, you know what I mean? Like you said, like, you got to rest.

And, in fact, if you rest more, you know, yeah, you might be working less hours. You'll actually get more done. You're a lot clearer while you're at work. It's a mindset game. It's a headspace game. And the better you can put yourself in that good mindset, that good headspace, the more effective you are. Yeah, there's just a lot of wisdom to that approach.

VICTORIA: Right. And, you know, thoughtbot is a global company, so we have employees all over the world. And I think what's interesting about U.S-based companies, I'm interested in how Forecastr might even help you with this, is that when you start a company, you basically form, like, a mini-government for your employees.

And you have input over to how much they paid, how much healthcare they get. You have input over their hours and how much leave and everything. And so, trying to balance all those costs and create a good environment for your employees and make sure they have enough time for rest and for personal care. How does Forecastr kind of help you also imagine all of those costs [laughs] and make sense of what you can offer as a company?

STEVEN: I would say the main way that we help folks do that, and we really do play in that space, is just by giving you a clear picture of what the future holds for your company from a financial perspective. I mean, it's one of the things that I think is such a superpower when it comes to financial modeling, you know, it can really help you make better decisions along these lines because, like, what does a financial model do?

A financial model just simulates your business into the future, specifically anything related to the cash flow of your business, you know, cash in, cash out, revenue expenses, and the like. And so, your people are in there, and what they're paid is in there and, you know, your revenue and your expenses, your cash flow, your runway, all that's in the model.

One of the things I feel like we do really help people do is just get a clearer picture of like, hey, what do the next 3, 6, 12, you know, 24 months look like for my company? What is my runway? When am I going to run out of money? What do I need to do about that? Can I afford to give everybody a raise, or can I afford to max out my benefits plan or whatever that is? It's like, you can make those assessments more easily.

You know, if you have a financial model that actually makes sense to you that you can look at and say, oh, okay, cool. Yeah, I can offer that, like, Rolls Royce benefits plan and still have 18 months' worth of runway, or maybe I can't [laughs]. And I have to say, "Sorry, guys, you know, like, we're cash-constrained, and this is all we can do for now. But maybe when we raise that next round and when we hit these growth milestones, you know, we can expand that."

So yeah, I think it's all, for us, about just, like, helping founders make better decisions, whether they be your decisions around employees and benefits, et cetera, or growth, or fundraising, you know, through the power of, like, financial health and hygiene.

VICTORIA: Great. Thank you. I appreciate you letting me bring it all the way back [laughs]. Yeah, let me see. Let me go through my list of questions and see what else we have here. Do you have any questions for me or thoughtbot?

STEVEN: Yeah. I mean, so, like, how do you guys think about this kind of stuff? Like, you know, you said thoughtbot's a global company at this point, but the name would imply, you know, a very thoughtful one. So, I'd be curious in y'alls kind of approach to just, like, culture and balance and some of these things that we're talking about kind of, like, straddling that line, you know, between, like, working really hard, which you have to do to build a great company but, you know, being mindful of everything else that life has to offer.

VICTORIA: Yeah. Well, I think thoughtbot, more than any other company I've ever worked for, really emphasizes the value of just, like, people really want you to have a work-life balance and to be able to take time off. And, you know, I think that for a company that does consulting and we're delivering at a certain quality, that means that we're delivering at the quality where if someone needs to take a week off for a vacation, there's enough documentation; there's enough backup support for that service to not be impacted. So, that gives us confidence to be able to take the time off [chuckles], and it also just ends up being a better product for our clients.

Like, our team needs to be well-rested. They need to have time to invest in themselves and learning the latest technology, the latest upgrades, contributing to open source, and writing about the problems they're seeing, and contributing back to the community. So, we actually make time every Friday to spend on those types of projects. It's kind of like you were saying before, like, you get as much done in four days as many companies get in five because that time is very highly focused. And then you're getting the benefit of, you know, continually investing in new skills and making sure the people you're working with are at the level that you're paying for [laughs].

STEVEN: Yeah, right. No, that's super cool. That's super cool.

VICTORIA: Yeah, and, actually, so we're all remote. We're a fully remote company, and we do offer some in-person events twice a year, so that's been a lot of fun for me. And also, getting to, like, go to conferences like RubyConf and RailsConf and meeting the community has been fantastic. Yeah, you have a lot of value of self-management. So, you have the ability to really adjust your schedule and communicate and work with what meets your needs. It's been really great.

STEVEN: Yeah, I love that, too. And we're also a remote company, and I think getting together in person, like you just talked about it, is so important. We can only afford to do it once a year right now as an earlier-stage company. But as amazing as, you know, Zoom and things like this are, it's like, there's not really a perfect replacement for that in-person experience, you know.

VICTORIA: I agree, and I also agree that, like, once a year is probably enough [laughter]. That's a great amount of time. Like, it really does help because there are so many ways to build relationships remotely, but sometimes, at least just meeting in person once is enough to be like, oh yeah, like, you build a stronger connection, and I think that's great.

Okay. Let me see. What other questions do we have? Final question: is there anything else that you would like to promote?

STEVEN: I guess it's my job to say we are a really awesome financial modeling platform and team in general. So, if you are a startup founder or you know a startup founder out there that just could use some help with their financial model, you know, it is definitely something that we'd love to do. And we do a ton of education and a ton of help. We've got a ton of resources that are even freely available as well. So, our role in the market is just to get out there and help folks build great financial models, whether that be on Forecastr or otherwise, and that's kind of the approach that we take to it.

And our philosophy is like, if we can get out there and do that, you know, if we can be kind of the go-to resource for folks to build great models regardless, you know, of what that means for them, a rising tide will float all boats, and our boat the most of which, hopefully. So [laughs], if you need a model, I'm your guy.

VICTORIA: Thank you so much for sharing that. And I have a fun question for you at the end. What is your favorite hike that you've been on in the last three years or ever, however long you want to go back? [laughs]

STEVEN: Well, I would say, you know, I did have the great pleasure this year of returning to the Appalachian Trail to hike the Roan Highlands with a friend of mine who was doing a thru-hike. So, a friend of mine did a southbound thru-hike on the A.T. this year, went from Maine to Georgia. Good friend of mine. And I had not been on the Appalachian Trail since I did a thru-hike in 2017. So, I had not returned to the trail or to that whole community. It's just a very special community. It really is a group of, like, really awesome, eclectic people.

And so, yeah, this last year, I got to go down to the Roan Highlands in Tennessee. It's a beautiful, beautiful area of Tennessee and in the Southeast, rolling hills and that kind of thing. And hike, for him, for, like, three or four days and just be a part of his journey. Had a ton of fun, met some awesome people, you know, great nature, and totally destroyed my body because I was not prepared to return to the grueling nature of the Appalachian Trail. So yeah, I'd have to say that one, Victoria. I'd have to say that was my favorite in the last couple of years for sure.

VICTORIA: Yeah, it's beautiful there. I've hiked certain parts of it. So, I've heard that obviously the Appalachian Trail, which is the eastern side of the United States, was the earlier trail that was developed because of the dislocation of people over time and that they would create the trail by getting to a peak and then looking to another peak and being like, "Okay, that's where I'm going to go." So, when you say it's grueling, I was, like, a lot of up and down hills.

And then what I've heard is that the Pacific Trail on the western part of the United States, they did more of figuring out how to get from place to place with minimizing the elevation change, and so it's a much more, like, sustainable hike. Have you ever heard that?

STEVEN: Oh yeah, that is 100% true. In terms of, like, the absolute change in elevation, not, like, the highest elevation and the lowest, just, like, the change up and down, there's twice as much going up and down on the A.T. as there is on the Pacific Crest Trail. And the Pacific Crest Trail is graded for park animals, so it never gets steeper than, like, a 15% grade.

So, it's real groovy, you know, on the PCT where you can just get into a groove, and you can just hike and hike and hike and hike for hours, you know, versus the A.T. where you're going straight up, straight down, straight up, straight down, a lot of big movements, very exhausting. I've hiked a good chunk of the PCT and then, obviously, the whole A.T., so I can attest, yes, that is absolutely true.

VICTORIA: I feel like there's an analogy behind that and what Forecastr does for you. Like, you'll be able [laughs] to, like, smooth out your hills a little bit more [laughs] with your finances, yeah.

STEVEN: [laughs] Oh, I love that. Absolutely. Well, and I've honestly, like, I've often likened, you know, building a company and hiking the Appalachian Trail because it is one of those things where one of the most clarifying things about hiking a long trail is you just have this one monster goal that's, you know, that's months and months ahead of you. But you just got to get up every day, and you just got to grind it out. And every day is grindy, and it's hard, you know, but every day you just get one step closer to this goal.

And it's one of the cool things about a trail is that you kind of steep yourself in that one goal, you know, one-track mind. And, you know, like we were saying earlier, there's so much more to life. So, you can't and probably shouldn't do that with your startup. You should continue to invest in other aspects of your life. But maybe while you're within the four walls of your office or when you open up that laptop and get to work on your computer, you know, if you take that kind of similar approach where you got this big goal that's, you know, months or years away but every day you just got to grind it out; you just got to work hard; you got to do what you can to get 1 step closer. And, you know, one day you'll wake up and you'll be like, oh shit, like, I'm [laughs] pretty close, you know what I mean? Yeah, I think there's definitely some similarities to the two experiences.

VICTORIA: I appreciate that, yeah. And my team is actually it's more like starting up a business within thoughtbot. So, I'm putting together, like, my three-year plan. It's very exciting. And I think, like, those are the types of things you want to have. It's the high-level goal. Where are we going? [chuckles] Are we on our track to get there? But then day to day, it's like, okay, like, let's get these little actions done that we need to do this week [laughs] to build towards that ultimate goal.

Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Steven. I really enjoyed our conversation. Is there anything final you want to say?

STEVEN: I just want to thank you, Victoria. I think it's a wonderful podcast that you guys put on, and I really appreciate the opportunity to be here and to chat with you. You're lovely to talk to. I enjoyed the conversation as well, and I hope everyone out there did, also. So, let's make it a great 2024.

VICTORIA: Thank you so much. Yeah, this is actually my second podcast recording of the year, so very exciting for me. I appreciate it. Thanks so much for joining again.

So, you can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at If you have questions or comments, you can email us at And you can find me on X, formerly known as Twitter, @victori_ousg.

And this podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. Thanks for listening. See you next time.


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