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Rebah Wheeling was a successful insurance claims adjuster. One emotional day while meeting with a hurricane victim lead to the founding of her fast growing local company – Schedule It.
In this podcast, Rebah talks about the emotional moment that lead her to start her company. Her description of the process of building her company is a MUST-LISTEN for any aspiring entrepreneur in our area and anyone else who would like to see our area prosper with technology startups in the “Third Wave” of the global economy.
Learn how she got started, how she got funded, and how she is building a very successful software as a service company right here in the Louisville area.
Transcript (machine transcribed – please forgive the typos)
Alan: 00:01 Hey everybody, welcome to the Metro Startup Launcher podcast. This is Alan Grosheider and today I’m talking to Reba wheeling with schedule it and we’ve known each other for a while, but I think we were introduced originally about Greg Langdon. Right.
Rebah: 00:17 I think that everybody gets introduced to somebody else by greg, master connector in the city
Alan: 00:24 every time you ever talked to anybody to make a connection Xyz and that’s almost, they’re always first responses. Have you talked to Greg Langdon and is he.
Rebah: 00:36 No, I mean as a volunteer in our city, I don’t think he’s paid by anybody. I mean what an incredible asset that we have in our community with Greg Langdon.
Alan: 00:44 Yeah. He really works tirelessly for without anybody around him and I don’t know how he does it, but it is nice to have somebody working that hard for the community and I think our startup community. Yeah, there’s been. I think there’s been some of the early things with metro startup launch era. I said, what’s wrong with our startup community? It wasn’t really intended to say there that we have a bad startup community. It, it was just saying what could we do better? And I kind of put it in a way that was a little maybe abrasive to some people, but that got attention. But our startup community is really great, you know, it’s so supportive and you know, people like Greg and enterprise court for the size of our city, we really do have a lot going on and start a community now. We just need a few more billion dollar companies that put money back into it. So I just wanted to kind of what I normally do, I don’t know if you’ve listened to any of the metro startup launch your podcast, but a lot of times I just talk to people about their journey getting started as an entrepreneur. Maybe things that you did early in life that led you to become an entrepreneur. Were you somebody that did a lot of entrepreneurial things as a kid?
Rebah: 02:04 Um, I grew up in an entrepreneurial family for sure construction businesses, um, you know, and my family’s in medical. They’re in construction there in restoration on the insurance side, so our dinner conversations were always about profit loss, employee issues, benefits, um, you know, rfps, all those types of things. So I didn’t know really that there was another way to be able to live even though I did go to corporate and corporate environment.
Alan: 02:43 So when, when you were growing up, were you thinking, I don’t ever want to get into all that because I know my daughter, uh, I have always been an entrepreneur and her mom has always been an entrepreneur and a lot of times these days she’ll say, that seems too stressful for me. I don’t want to get into all to being an entrepreneur. Was that, did you think you would eventually become an entrepreneur?
Rebah: 03:07 No, I mean my goal is a little girl was never to grow up and own a technology company for sure. Um, you know, um, when I started out then I really focused on just doing the best at whatever I was doing at that time. I owned my own business at night. Um, I burnt myself out at 23. Then, um, I went to the medical field, uh, took the logical, um, you know, and the more you work, the harder you work, the more you move up. Saw other people that were promoted to incompetence, which was frustrating in the medical field. I didn’t realize at that time that it was in every field. I just thought that in medical we would just push people around and other departments because, you know, they’ve been there so long, but then, you know, coming into the property and casualty insurance side, it was a natural fit for me when we saw that there was something that needed to be fixed and okay, I have this experience now, let me fix it.
Alan: 04:18 How did, what was your business before getting into the, to the adjuster stuff? What was the business? Ten Years in health?
Rebah: 04:28 Um, I’m very, um, fantastic managers, you know, people that were obviously focused on being able to document and ensure that things were done a certain way to be able to meet the guidelines of the medical industry. And that taught me on the property and casualty side, how to be extremely detail oriented and to communicate properly in sticking to the facts. Um, and then that’s how I was able to bridge that gap with the technology team and utilize the new business services aspect and communicate properly to them on what type of software that we needed to build to create a solution that made things better.
Alan: 05:12 No, I was asking about what business, what was your first business that you started at? Nineteen.
Rebah: 05:19 I didn’t start it. I bought it. It was a lady’s consignment store and when I got there, everything was manually written out. The inventory sheets, the price tags, you know, the, the, uh, receipts for purchasing. So identified a piece of software that would automate that process and um, you know, was able to double that business in three years.
Alan: 05:44 Got burned out.
Rebah: 05:47 Yeah. You know, um, those of us that are in the entrepreneurial community can relate to the youth no matter what it is. You know, whenever you’re passionate about doing something, you, it’s not really work for you. But one of the biggest things that I learned from that first business, you know, wasn’t only just customer service and those things, but really that in order to do better at what you’re doing, you have to step away from it and you know, I can do more in two weeks by the beach on strategic planning. Then I came for two months in the office,
Alan: 06:26 the jewelry store at one time. And that was not my, my, my wife and we got done with that. I was like, I will never ever do anything in retail again. Or did you feel that when you were finished?
Rebah: 06:46 Oh, absolutely. I mean, even when I talked about starting this business and um, I had friends that were encouraging me to do it. I’m like, I have no desire to own a business. I’ve not want to be tied down like that. You guys have no idea because he’s never had one. You don’t know how much work. But when God puts a calling on you and you know it, then you just do it can muster up the guts to walk in faith.
Alan: 07:19 There’s definitely something that you’re born with as an entrepreneur that makes you have that drive. And I went to work, I worked for Frito lay when I was a summer intern and then when I was out of college I was in mechanical engineering at purdue and I was doing project engineering and almost from the very beginning I felt like I wanted to own my business. I would see contractors come in and do work for us and just say, yeah, just a really want to own my own business one day. And you know, even so the businesses, I’ve started it over time. I just, it was almost like I couldn’t help it. I just had to do it one way or another. And you know, I’ve started businesses on credit cards, you know, it’s just whatever it took to get it started. And uh, you know, the business I’m running now, Bluetooth 22, which I kind of want to maybe maybe off the call, talk a little bit more about because I think we definitely have a things we can work on together that are complimentary in the two businesses.
Alan: 08:25 But I was, I went for several years after I sold my company working for that company and I just couldn’t stand not doing another startup. I just, it just made me crazy until I’ve figured out how to do it. And then, you know, went two years with no income getting it went from a nice income and not having to work too hard, but I couldn’t. It was like I couldn’t not do it. So I think there’s something in entrepreneurs that makes them just feel like if there’s a solution that nobody else has taken care of, I got to do it. I gotta figure out how to get that done. So that sounds like
Rebah: 09:07 because we know how to get it done. We’ve done it before. So I’m. Did you go to the Entrepreneur Hall of fame last week?
Alan: 09:16 No, I did not. Yes, last week.
Rebah: 09:22 Brian does an amazing job in our state as a connector. Brian has his finger on the pulse and everywhere on the state on who needs help in the startup community. Right? So in his presentation he talked about a puzzle and that if you have a 500 piece puzzle, it’s really hard to put that puzzle together if you don’t know what the puzzle is, the end results to look like and when you talk about, you know, that we have an itch to, to fix something that we see that um, you know, isn’t working as good as we know that it can work. I think that’s because as entrepreneurs we have done it before and we know what the end result is so we know how to be able to get it done. So that’s why we have that burning it to the second and the third and the fifth and the 10th time, you know, because after you’ve done it the first time, you know that you can do it.
Alan: 10:25 I just had a drive, but I remember working for fetal. I just take it. I can’t work for these people because they don’t know what they’re doing. And there very great people there. And I had one of the best bosses I’ve ever had working for Frito lay. But I would still look at things that were going on around the place and just say, you know, this, I can, if I start my own company is going to run so much better than this. That was always in the back of my mind and it’s, I just always felt like I wanted to work for myself and making it happen the way I wanted it to and I don’t know, just to drive. So
Rebah: 11:08 we have identified that entrepreneurial minded people in our senior leadership has made a difference. Those that come from the Frito lay environment to have the corporate environment or the medical or the government environment, they’re just so used to having money always available. Um, but entrepreneurs know that we start businesses on a credit card, just like you said you did to make this work. And if there’s not any revenue, then we can’t continue doing what we’re doing.
Alan: 11:50 You just start with whatever it takes to get it done. I know exactly what you’re talking about in hiring. If you hire somebody that’s been in the corporate world for a long time, it’s really hard to make them think entrepreneurially. I know I’ve worked with people who always worked in there. Yeah, I guess I’ve tried to hire people as sort of a part time cfo that had that entrepreneur that had worked for corporate for their whole lives and they would come on board and we had no money or you know, we’re barely making payroll and they would come in and say, oh, well we really need this $50,000 accounting system and then everything would be great.
Rebah: 12:32 Payroll is.
Alan: 12:35 And uh, and they just, I don’t know, it’s just, they don’t think at that micro scale of, look, this is what it takes to get it done today. And then we’ll put that little piece in place to automate it and then we’ll go from there. It’s not go out and buy a $50,000 package that makes it work. So getting different mindset. So getting your company started, you were, so you were independent, you were an adjuster before you got a schedule. It started.
Rebah: 13:05 Yes, I did. I worked at a local restoration company for four years after I left healthcare. Um, and I figured if I could charge for everything on a body, I could charge for everything on a house. I just needed to learn the language that the restoration company, that’s how I learned the skill of communicating with insurance companies and other adjusters and was able to get my license and network in the industry. And then I’m at the end of my four years. Then I went ahead and he became, went out on my own and became an independent adjuster about the restoration where I learned all these valuable skills, but I was also being paid to be trained. So.
Alan: 13:48 And how did the transition occur? Obviously you working for yourself as an independent adjuster. You saw a problem?
Rebah: 13:59 Yeah, I’m working Hurricane Sandy. We got there at the end of October and I was still there in February and January. Well really in November, in December I had some friends saying, hey, you know, you open up the scheduling company. I’m like, absolutely not. No, I’m perfectly fine. Work in six months, a year, making good, good money and, and just being on call when I’m needed. I don’t want the 24 slash seven. Right. And then in January I was listening to call Adelman from southeast and he was talking about New Year’s resolutions and um, so I really felt that God wanted me to do this scheduling company, but I was questioning like a typical person, maybe just the typical female. I was like, you know what, you need to show me a sign if this is what I’m supposed to do. Right. And so in February, a few weeks later from then I went to a lady’s house and her little boy was out front and he’s played three or four and he had blonde, blonde hair, you know, like that white blonde hair a little boys have.
Rebah: 15:11 And um, he was doing the airplane a thousand miles an hour, it felt like out in the front yard. And then I get up to the front porch and she’s sitting there with the baby, she’s rocking the baby, I’m in the car seat and she had tears running down her face. And I’m like, what’s wrong? And she’s like, I’m just glad you’re here. And long story short, I was her fourth adjuster, she was in that hotel room for four months since the hurricane had hit with the two children and obviously, you know, a very energized little boy and the baby and their three dogs because, um, they had used the money that they got from their cars to be able to pay for the hotel because they still didn’t have any money from their insurance carrier get.
Rebah: 16:03 And so it took me about 15 minutes to write up her paperwork and she had a check in like seven, 10 days. And it was all because, you know, I’m, there just needed to be a better way to do it, just do it the same way. We’ve always done it. So that’s how schedule it really came to be. And you know, when God gives you a calling and then when you obviously get the answer like that, we shouldn’t treat human beings like that. We wouldn’t treat dogs that bad. Um, so we really have to recognize that these are families that are being impacted out California right now, down in Panama City and still in Puerto Rico were taking care of homeowners every single day and that was over a year ago. These people’s lives are impacted and people commit suicide because it, that’s a terrible process and we shouldn’t have things like that here in America we can do better.
Alan: 17:08 So having that kind of emotional experience for your startup really seems like that’s ideal in terms of your passion for building the startup having. Because it’s not often that a company has that emotional founder has that emotional experience and getting something started. So I guess that really helps keep you going.
Rebah: 17:37 You know, I think about that in Ireland. I think about Fort Mcmurry fires two years ago. I mean we talked to women that were in homeless shelters that were to go to sleep because they didn’t know who the people were around them. They were scared that they’re killing kids would get abducted her raped. I mean they didn’t have a place to go. Their entire ecosystem was burned to the ground. I mean, you know, when people file a homeowner’s claim for the toilet that’s leaking, but you know, when people file claims and catastrophes, their life is on the line.
Speaker 3: 18:14 Hmm.
Alan: 18:18 No story to be able to talk to people that might invest or whatever and have that kind of passion behind your story. That’s fantastic and fantastic that you’re doing something that feels like it’s going to really help people. And I’m good for you.
Rebah: 18:39 I mean, on average in our industry, whenever you file a claim, it takes an hour for somebody to contact you. Two and a half days almost. Right? Well, we created schedule it and so in July of this year we went fully automated. We did four and a half years of research manually, personally scheduling for adjusters to be able to create the automated way. Take a guess what are received to contact now with full automation
Alan: 19:16 eight hours. This is a stab.
Rebah: 19:19 We’re averaging about 18 minutes.
Alan: 19:22 Oh Wow. And that’s your first contact or first contact from the adjuster saying, oh wow. Wow.
Rebah: 19:34 Eighteen minutes. Fifty two hours. And the biggest thing is that the insurance carriers and the independent adjusting firm now they’ve seen a tremendous decrease in the number of calls that they’re getting from homeowners thing. When am I going to get contacted that? The number one thing that we hear at the carrier level, our phones stopped ringing. We didn’t have to hire as many people because we didn’t have to answer all the phone calls from homeowners asking when they were going to be contact.
Alan: 20:06 Yeah, that’s great. Let’s talk about how you. So the process, day one, you decide, okay, I’m going to do this. Where did you go? What happened?
Rebah: 20:16 Um, I went online to the Kentucky Department of Revenue and got my tax identification number and then, you know, probably a few hours later I called some of my friends and said, hey, I’m gonna start a scheduling company sent you guys keep trying to recruit my scheduler. And about 10 minutes later, um, I had my first customers and they’re still our customers today.
Speaker 3: 20:43 Hmm.
Alan: 20:45 So it started out you were just scheduling for the insurance companies. Is that, is that who your client is? The insurance, an insurance company or the schedule or the,
Rebah: 20:59 in the beginning it was the independent adjuster on average, we get paid $300 per claim and so the more claims we do per day, then I’m wasting 40 percent of our day trying to get people scheduled and then that wasn’t an efficient use of time in my eyes. So I hired a scheduler for me and then I could see two more claims that they, another $600 or $3,000 a week, you know, that there’s an Roi. But I mean, you would think that somebody would have created a scheduling platform for insurance. I mean, but it’s a very complicated process.
Alan: 21:47 Here’s something that I think is really important for our whole entrepreneurial community to look at is exactly what you just said, that people either had the mindset of, well, somebody has probably already done it, so why bother? They’re going to beat me to it or whatever attitude that you hear from people who talk themselves out, you know. And then the other is, um, you know, just that it’s the opposite. You know, they think it’s going to be too easy and they’re just gonna, you know, throw it down and it’s going to, it’s going to get started or you know, I think people, people have that facebook, Mark Zuckerberg sort of mentality is that, well, I’m not 22 and have a Hoodie, you know, wear a hoodie every day and um, and have some world changing idea. And if I actually read recently and posted this from on some of my metal serp launcher, social media stuff that the average age, the most successful age right now for a startup is a 50 year old person.
Alan: 22:55 And I happened to be 50 right now. So I’m, um, I, I liked that statistics since I’m in startup mode right now. But I think that that’s something for people to pay attention to is it’s people that have been in an industry long enough to know what really is needed and to have the nerve to, to get on it and make it happen. And that’s, that’s exactly what I, I, there are parallels are very similar. I had started a business that did environmental inspections and I saw a whole lot of inefficiency in the whole real estate due diligence, you know, a mark and just terrible ways of getting that stuff, you know, the bids and, and people getting people coordinated to go out and do jobs and things. So I know, I just felt like I needed to do it. And I think that’s where if you, if you read the third, um, you know, uh, Steve Case’s third wave and he talks about, uh, you know, more entrepreneurs are going to come in the mid, the middle of the United States, but they’re, they’re going to be people that have been in an industry for a while. They’re not going to be, you know, some 20 year old that comes up with the idea for snapchat. It’s going to be somebody who knows the industry and know and it’s been sitting there watching it for awhile ago. Why has nobody come up with a fix for this? And finally they get it and do it. And that’s exactly what it sounds like. That’s great.
Rebah: 24:30 You either want to be able to make a difference in the. You can talk yourself out of it or you can talk yourself into it. Yeah,
Alan: 24:38 well I think that’s where you’re either. You’re either an entrepreneur. I think somebody just has had enough of that entrepreneurial and to take them over the top and, and just fall into actually doing it. Like you said, as soon as you made the decision you got online and got your tax id, you know, you, you’ve made something happen right away. And I know for me when I got this company started, it was I hired a programmer and he said it was going to take x amount of time and it was going to be this amount of dollars and I think we said we were going to have a system up and running it for months and here’s what I do is I’m like, okay, that sounds doable. I know it’s totally total bs, but I’m just going to jump in with both feet and make it happen and it’s going to be harder than that. But. And then that ends up being way harder than that. But I’ve, I’m been, my momentum momentum’s already there. I’m already started, I’m already committed and I’m already saying right, and I’ve already told people I’m going to do it. So now I’m kind of stuck and I’ll wake up some mornings, go, what was I thinking? But, but you know, then then it’s something good happens. You’re like, yes, this is working. Okay. So let’s talk about how once you get things started, you said you went and got your tax id number and then you just had some customers. You started with, what was the next step? How did you start building things and go from there?
Rebah: 26:13 So at that time we were doing everything by hand, manually scheduling for other adjusters and probably about six months into it we probably had maybe five, 10 customers at that point. And I’m like, I need a piece of software. So I did the research and everything to be able to automate this process and found a great piece of software from intuit. It’s called Smart Service, paid the $10,000, lots of. And Holly, 30 days into it, I realized this isn’t going to work, is what they called highly customizable, was only 14 field, so wasted that money. Um, so, uh, I had a $5,000 budget to be able to create a piece of software and how was I going to do this? Right? What’s the bare minimum that I needed in a piece of software to be able to identify if this is going to have a return on investment?
Rebah: 27:15 Right. So, um, at that time I went to, I figured if there’s independent adjusters, there’s got to be independent programmers because I did my research and talked to some domestic companies and it was going to be between 50 and $500,000. And I didn’t have that. I didn’t even know about capital raising at that point. Um, but I knew I needed something to be able to automate this process to make it simpler. And so I went to inbound, an independent program or through a company called Odesk, which is now upwork and put out there what I needed and started programming. Um, you know, had, I didn’t even know that they were wireframes at that point. Started programming on February 24th and April 17th. We went live. I thought it took for ever. I was like, oh my gosh, because I would work all night with the programmers in India from midnight to eight. I would go out and run claims. Um, I was back on Staten Island at this point because they had a flood event. I’d run claims from like nine to three and then I would sleep from five to midnight and then while they were writing and coding and asking me tons of questions that I never talked to them verbally. We only added through Google chat
Rebah: 28:50 and we still run on that same software today for all the programmers that might be listening. When they asked me, you know, like what, what, you know, I guess, um, code did I want it written in. I was driving across the Verrazano Bridge in New York and they were chatting to me on Google and I’m like, oh my gosh, do you want it in.net or php? And I’m like, well, I like cake, so we’ll go with that. And that’s how we decided to use the programming language that’s going to be. Yeah. So, um, you know, uh, obviously we’ve had many more additive to that. I’m the first one. It only routed the first time that you put claims in and, but it didn’t have a map in a calendar and it gave you all the fields that you needed. So it was $4,800. That was a lot of money
Alan: 29:55 for a piece of software that, that’s fantastic.
Rebah: 30:04 No idea that that was called an MVP, which is now what I know is a minimum viable product. I just needed something to be online to where I could see the calendars for all the different adjusters.
Alan: 30:17 That’s a good thing to think about for an entrepreneur is that you hear people say get started with the MVP and I think it depends on how, how outward facing your software is as to how nice you make it look at the very beginning. But again, just like you said, day one you went out and got your tax ID number. You just did something and got it working and it may not have been as polished as you would like, but if it got the job done and you got moving and the momentum,
Rebah: 30:55 that was the main goal. I had no idea when we did our first capital raise about 18 months from then from when the software went live, I was part of the velocity accelerator program. And they kept asking me, you know, during that program, are you going to raise capital? And I’m like, no, I don’t think so. No, but six months later I thought, okay, if I’m really going to scale this company, then I need to raise capital. And um, so, you know, the first thing that investors want to know is, you know, do you have revenue and how much of your own money have you put in it? Um, so, you know, for us to be able to have revenue at that point, um, our first year we did $4,000 in revenue. The second year we did about 40,000 and the third year when we were getting ready to raise capital, at that point we were already over about $130,000 in revenue. So, um, you know, the investors were like, okay, we know that this is something that people want to buy. So when we did our fundraising, we did $600,000, what I went for, um, we that oversubscribed and four days, three days, four days, and then, um, so our lead investor and build strength, who is an amazing attorney to all the startups, they told me raise it to a million. And so we were done with fundraising in less than seven days and it was in the bank in 17 days.
Alan: 32:30 Wow.
Rebah: 32:36 We didn’t go outside of the state of Kentucky at all.
Alan: 32:39 Wow. Hey,
Rebah: 32:40 I’ll definitely take that. That really is a testament to being able to show some revenue. And I there, there are certain situations I think that we need people to invest earlier to help a startup build an mvp before they show revenue. If it’s a, if it’s an idea that really makes sense. And, and, and, you know, you have a good feel for the customer base and that’s kind of what, you know, with Bluetooth 22, I’d had 25 years in the business. I knew that we were going to find the customers but we had to build a product first. But I, you know, I think you really did the true sort of lean startup where you got something started and you were doing it manually and then you built a software, stayed up all night doing all that stuff. Yeah. You know, that’s Kinda, that’s, that’s definitely a testament to the lean. So more of a lean startup and then being able to show revenue, really get some eyeballs when it comes time for the investors to show up. How did you find your lead investor? I think that’s a big question that I’m startups always want to know is that’s, that’s sort of the holy grail is when you, for, for a really early startup, is finding that lead investor.
Rebah: 34:03 Let me back up a little bit. In October of 14, we had a company in our industry that wanted to invest in us and they wined and dined us, believe everything wined and dined us. But in the middle of that I’m wining and dining. Um, they made the comment that, and to me that was very personal because I was trying to help the adjuster, the guys that are boots on the ground, um, to be able to help homeowners. So I knew that they weren’t the right fit for us. So I came home and I searched and found Kentucky innovation and Lisa connected me to our lead investor. I’m just as a mentor. And so I met with them, um, December the seventh of that year, 2014. And I was scared to death because I knew that they were very, very successful people. And um, but they gave me three things to do whenever I left that meeting. And so I called them back like three or four weeks later and said, okay, I’ve got those things done. And then I did the next three things if they gave me. And then the next three things, and every time we would meet, they would say, okay, this is what you need to do next. Because they had been down this road before. And when I said, you know, hey, I think I’m going to do a capital fund raise. They said, well, can we be your lead investors?
Rebah: 35:25 So look for any, um, I, my mentor was the one that was already counseling me and telling me what I needed to do next. Um, and then they wanted to be lead investor.
Alan: 35:38 Wow.
Rebah: 35:40 Encourage any startup to get connected to the mentors and the entrepreneur hall of fame. So blessing Kentucky bills, those men and women, they want to help
Alan: 35:54 and
Rebah: 35:55 doing that. That makes all the difference.
Alan: 35:57 What was, you said you called Kentucky. Talk a little bit about that.
Rebah: 36:03 So, um, you know, just like Dli in Louisville police and her whole team, you talk to them and you go meet with them and you tell them, here’s where I’m at, here’s what I’m thinking about. Who has already done this before? Me, maybe not in the same industry, same similar type of company. So our lead investors are not in the same industry that they took the manual process, the automated and created software and then created revenue and sold. And so that’s what I was. I didn’t even know that’s what I was looking for. But you know, I’m in Lexington, you have awesome inc and you have eric and Elizabeth town. We have boom now all over the state. There are these little startup communities that really do help you as a startup entrepreneur, connects you with the right mentors. Don’t get me wrong. I mean I met probably 100 during the city accelerator program, but I’ve kept in touch with five because those five I was able to connect with and able to understand what they were telling me because a lot of them are. We’re way over my head at that point.
Alan: 37:19 I’m a big believer when you’re out there and you just network and you meet people, you don’t. You can’t. There’s no way you can say, this is the person I’m going to go after and I’m going to nail this investor because it’s never ever going to work out. And. But if you’re out there and you’re meeting people and just like you said, you find the people that you feel comfortable with and really trust your gut because I’ve had investors that were, that I, I knew from the beginning, I had a bad gut, a gut feeling about that wave in a bunch of money on my face and you did it the smart way. I took their investment dollars and it was very stressful. You, when you got the gut feeling from that lead or that the people that were wanting and dining in these, their hearts, these are not people that have their heart in the right place. Um, you listened to it and you were a lot smarter than I was, but I was, I was 25 when I did that. And you know, a lot of money, Santa really good at the time. Um,
Rebah: 38:26 listen to everybody around you as well. Um, now I will tell you that one of my current mentors is extremely bright on the financial aspect of things is not my, you know, I’m, I’m more into the tech. Let me design the process, you know, lit network. Let me go out and sell it, let we do those aspects of it, but you know, the accounting side of it, for me, it’s just boring, you know, I was able to get through those classes in my master’s degree and, and just like, Ugh, keep torturing me. I mean, he’s very, very smart in that aspect. And so now I’ve found a person to put on my team that is very, very intelligent in that aspect. And then he just gives me the facts, here’s what you need to know. I took care of everything else, but at the time, you know, the mentor was the one that was telling me what I needed.
Alan: 39:29 Just finding, finding people that do that you don’t want to do as a really important part of being an entrepreneur because a lot of people think they can do everything and when you’re forcing yourself to do things you don’t enjoy doing, it’s, it makes your job stressful. So I’m uh, you know, finding those people who, who like a different piece of the puzzle then you do is a real important thing to really just the point I was making is getting out. If you get out and go to the meeting, go to venture connectors, go to whatever organizations have started things going on and often there’s going to be 99 percent people there that you know, that are not, uh, that are looking for money or whatever themselves. But you’re going to meet the few people that can introduce you to a few more people who can introduce you to that six degrees of separation thing, kicks in
Rebah: 40:23 100 percent, agree to conduct the innovation. Then I wouldn’t have met Lisa who wouldn’t have connected me to our lead now who would not have told me that I needed to interview attorneys. I wouldn’t have interviewed. You know, it’s a whole big domino effect. I can give you the whole rundown. But there’s 100 people in that rundown now. Then it was only one with the innovation.
Alan: 40:53 So where’d you go from there? What’d you do with that? Besides, you know, buying a Ferrari, what’d you do with that?
Rebah: 41:00 Nope. I still have my 2017 rav four with the 240,000 miles on it still today. Um, and uh, you know, I mean I just focus on being able to, um, get us an office space that was affordable, that was over the top, you know, we um, you know, got used cubicles and things like that. Um, you know, and then we focused more on the technology and being able to really make it more streamline and more automated. Every time we went through a different um, catastrophe events, then we identified something else that was taking a significant amount of time for us to do manually and that’s what we focus on then for the next 60 days to be able to automate that. And um, you know, now, uh, so we started that programming in the January of 14 and July of 18 we went fully automated. We no longer have personal scheduling assistant that do it for the adjusters. The adjusters now use the software themselves. So, I mean, it took us a while to do it. It’s not something that just happens overnight.
Alan: 42:20 The best entrepreneurial stories of people fell into something or whatever, but it sounds like from the story of an entrepreneur, you’ve done exactly what you’re supposed to get it going and then put the next piece in place and then pay attention to what you can fix and automate and just keep, keep going. And now you’re fully automated. So what’s the, where do you go from here? What are you going to raise more capital? Are you sad? Are you, are you just going to keep growing it organically from here? What? What’s your plans?
Rebah: 42:56 So we’ve done three capital raises. We’ve been extremely blessed and so now, um, we think, and each one of those, I can tell you that I thought that they were my final one. So don’t be discouraged when you don’t hit your revenue goals. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t hit your production. You know, the main thing is, are you still moving forward for us? You know, we cut our price and half this year when we went fully automated to be able to gain market share because we still don’t have a competitor in the market. Nobody wants to do what we do. It’s not easy. Um, but I say that because, you know, now our revenue goals weren’t where they were supposed to be because we went fully automated, so however, our gross margins are way better than what they were previously when we were using humans that do everything.
Rebah: 43:56 So now we’ve pivoted our team inside, which was a challenge, you know, we, we, um, you know, being, you know, identifying people on the teams that are going to be able to pivot with you and then identifying the ones that the company has that Rome is emotionally challenging as an entrepreneur because, you know, you’ve had some of these people with you for quite a long time. And so now we’re getting ready to do, um, we’re doing a fundraise right now. We’re blessed that we’ve already got commitment. Um, so I see it just as quickly as the first one.
Alan: 44:33 Wow. It sounds like you’re doing private placements where it’s, you can’t advertise or anything, you’re doing it quietly
Rebah: 44:43 very quietly. Yeah. So that’s. We send it out to our original investors first. They get the first opportunity at it. Um, and then we’ve got commitments already. Um, you know, from others that are like, okay, if the original investors don’t take it all, then we would like this portion of it.
Alan: 45:02 Right? Yeah. That’s what I think I said it before, that this is, this is something that we are community should be looking for more of our people that have been in an industry and had figured out something that’s needed and just make it happen. And the more we can throw support behind companies like that, it can really build really solid companies because we’re not good at it. It’s insane for people to come up with a crazy, you know, um, facebook type idea or snapchat type idea that’s just more fun. And, you know, I’m lucky in my opinion than that a real business that solves a real problem, you know? Um, I don’t think people had trouble communicating with each other before facebook. I think you could email of course now, now you know, what all your high school friends are doing, but I don’t even know that that’s really necessary.
Alan: 46:05 It’s stressful to see what everyone’s doing, but you know, you’re solving a real problem that makes people’s lives better. And, and as you said before, that you’re doing something that could potentially save somebodies life, say, you know, keeps, keeps some, make somebody an, enable somebody to put food on the table for their kids and that’s just, I’m all the way around. That’s amazing that, you know, and I think we need to look for more things like that where it’s just, hey, here’s a problem I’ve seen for a long time and I’m going to fix it. So that’s awesome.
Rebah: 46:39 There are many, many employees and companies that see the problem and um, I call them corporate entrepreneurs. You’re constantly solving problems for their companies. So they’ve already got the entrepreneurial spirit and so they’re just, they don’t know how to step out on their own. Um, you know, Steve Case called the third wave of entrepreneurs. And so how do we as a region or as a state or the startup community, how do we support those people and how do we give them a place to be able to come to, to be able to talk about what they see and help them to be able to fix it. I had a guy that Lisa band from Kentucky innovation to me and um, she said, hey, you know, he wants to create an APP. He’s in the fish and wildlife industry. Like, okay, so you said have $100,000 to create this app.
Rebah: 47:40 And I said, well, you draw out what you want, you know, and then bring it back to me after I met with him the first time. So he had no idea that you could go online and create app like in about 30 minutes. So the second time he came back to me, he had it all drawn out. I’m like, okay, so here’s where you go to. And so now we’re going to create your APP. And when he left that day, took us about three hours. And when he left that day, he had an app that he was then able to start getting his friends to use to be able to give feedback on in three hours.
Alan: 48:13 Yeah, I didn’t know you could do that. Wow.
Rebah: 48:17 So I mean, it’s just one of those things that you’ve got to go out and look for it on the Internet, you know, how do you do this then, you know, give them, give people that have that entrepreneurial spirit, um, a way to do it
Alan: 48:31 and things are going to keep changing. So fast and software, I’m reading more about program, less software that’s coming out and it’s going to make it so people can just put together an app without even having any programming knowledge whatsoever. The. And so things are just going to keep changing. And I think it’s just the people that get off their butt and do it are going to, are the ones that actually make something out of it and solve problems for people. And I think more than anything is they stick to it. You know, just say, you know, you’re busy, you’re not going to hit your business plan. Nobody hits their business plan. You might, it might be, you might do better than your business plan or much worse in your business plan, but it’s the people that just keep going, that are the ones that make it to me more than anything. An entrepreneur just has a vision and they just keep going until they get it to work. And, um, you sound like you’re, you’re doing it.
Rebah: 49:34 Don’t get me wrong. There are many, many days that I would much rather go by a month, a year. I made a lot of money and um, I probably could have had for new vehicles by now. Um, but you know what, this is a calling we need to change and make things better. Um, when homeowners and file a claim. We’ve just had a ton of claims here in Kentucky with our small little ice form and those, you know, those homeowners were impacted. And so how do we make that process better? And so there are lots of other startups are entrepreneurial minded people. Like this is a problem. How do we make it better? What would I do to make it better? But so many people get discouraged when one person’s like, oh no, that’s a bad idea. Do you know how many people told me that we could never automate scheduling? I bet you 100. At least
Alan: 50:29 that’s that. That’s something that is a problem for so many people. It might be your friends or your family. There’s so many there. Just go, oh, you can’t do that. It’s because they’re scared. It’s not because you can’t do it. It’s because they’re afraid to take those sorts of chances. And they, they went to, they were sort of wanting to discourage everybody else so they don’t feel bad about themselves. That’s my opinion, you know? Um,
Rebah: 50:53 well I would say my closest family are my biggest critic. They’re the ones that are like, why are you working 16 hours a day and you know, you need to take a break and. But they’re also the ones that are like, hey, I’m really proud of you. But you know. Then on the other hand, they’re like, why are you on the road so much? And it’s like, well, somebody has got to go out and sell this and there’s nobody better to do it than me. Um, so you know, you’ve got to be able to just stay true and stay focused and get up everyday and know that this is what I’m supposed to do today. And don’t overwhelm yourself with 50 things on your to do list. It’s three things. He got that from Brian Rainy over awesome make. He’s like, what are the three things you’re going to get done today and get those done first. And then the rest of it, you know, this falls into place.
Alan: 51:46 I need you to be my mentor.
Rebah: 51:49 Oh No, I’m just surrounded by great mentors. But the thing I always say to them is that I don’t know what I don’t know. Tell me what I need to know. And every mentor conversation I always ask them, what should I be asking that I don’t know to ask?
Alan: 52:07 Well, I’m more impressed with you then before we got on the call. A simple country girl. No, but I like your, you have the right attitude for being an entrepreneur. And I think, uh, hope we can get a lot entrepreneurs listening to this podcast because I think they can learn a lot from the, your attitude, you know, versus thinking you’re going to start this company and be, you know, a, a billionaire. That’s, I think a lot of people, that’s their mentality for starting a company. And that’s probably generally not the best way to become a billionaire. His thinking you’re going to become a billionaire. It’s by starting something that really helps people, you know, that I’ve heard that said that if you, if you want to become a billionaire, help a billion people and pretty much the only way to do it. So,
Rebah: 52:56 uh, well, um, if we ever get to that stage, you know, then wow. But, um, right now I’m just trying to get to break even.
Alan: 53:06 Well, why don’t ask him, I want to, we need to talk offline because I think there’s definitely some overlap of what we can. Things that we could do between our companies. Um, for, for Bluetooth. Ours is more of a bidding platform and it’s certainly a communication tool, but scheduling is not something that we built into it and wow, I think we could really have some synergies there where we could send customers your way in, in, in, you know, you could send customers our way and you know, put some apis together that would make it, make it great for everybody. So maybe maybe we close, we shut off the podcast here. We can schedule another call a couple of weeks out in and talk about that,
Rebah: 53:54 exactly what the community needs is just to be able to talk to each other. Then you can figure out what, what people are needing and how you can help.
Alan: 54:08 Yeah. Well anything else you want to throw out to the startup community before we stop recording?
Rebah: 54:16 Yeah, whenever you gotta do just do it
Alan: 54:21 again. This, I think there was so much advice in this podcast and I’ll get it out as soon as I can and I think will, will, will, will be held by this and get started because of it I’m sure. So I really appreciate your time.
Rebah: 54:37 I look forward to talking further. Yeah. Alright, have a great day. You too. Bye. Bye.