He Was 26 And Gave Up a $400k+ Salary for HourlyNerd.com

Rob Biederman

Update 7/5/2016: Rob just raised $22 million in his Series C from my other podcast guest, Adam Valkin of General Catalyst

In Episode #276 Nathan interviews Rob Biederman, founder of HourlyNerd – a platform that bypasses traditional consultancies to help companies hire just the experts they need. HourlyNerd serves more than 4,500 companies, including GE, Microsoft and American Apparel. Listen as Rob and Nathan talk about spotting a market gap, dividing equity, and why you should have studied computer science.

  • Favorite Book? – Only the Paranoid Survive
  • What CEO do you follow? — Jeff Immelt
  • What is your favorite online tool?— Slack
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— No
  • If you could let your 20 year old self know one thing, what would it be?— Take some computer science papers

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:15 – Nathan’s introduction
  • 01:40 – Welcoming Graham to the show
  • 01:56 – “Companies use us when they have a pressing need for a solution that can’t be provided by their current workforce”
  • 02:00 – HourlyNerd makes money by taking a small percentage of transactions
  • 02:30 – Example: connected GE to a robotics professor who could educate them about commercial robotics
  • 03:30 – Around 80-85% goes to the consultant, the rest goes to HourlyNerd
  • 04:00 – Rob worked in private equity before starting his business
  • 04:34 – Had the idea of bypassing traditional consulting to connect people to talent directly
  • 04:58 – Rob started in private equity aged 21, and founded the company aged 26
  • 05:40 – He gave up a $400-600k salary
  • 06:40 – “I’d saved a tremendous amount…I could mitigate the risk”
  • 07:20 – How did Rob and his founders divide equity?
  • 07:30 – They used a vesting schedule to accommodate any changes
  • 09:15 – Worked with 5,000 customers in 2015 and had 21,000 nerds
  • 09:31 – Nerds actively making money would be “in the low single-digit thousands”
  • 09:50 – “We work with clients from GE down to a woman called Jenny in Massachusetts”
  • 10:40 – Founded in 2013
  • 10:51 – Total revenue in the first year was $150k
  • 11:00 – Total revenue in 2015 was above $5 million
  • 11:20 – Have raised about $10 million in capital
  • 11:25 – “Nobody on our founding team could code…we needed to pay a development firm”
  • 12:40 – Gave up around 20% of equity via convertible note to fundraise
  • 13:30 – Auditioned for Shark Tank: dropped out but ended up with Mark Cuban as an investor
  • 14:40 – Connect with Rob at HourlyNerd or on Twitter

3 Key Points:

  1. Be wary of how much equity you’re giving up in the early stages of your company. Make choices that minimise dead equity.
  2. Don’t be afraid to give up a salary to follow your ideas
  3. Learn some computer skills as soon as you can

Resources Mentioned:

  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for cheapest price possible.
  • Leadpages – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5 hour drive) to listen to audio books.