Wade Wyant | From Two Business Failures to 80 Employees and $30+ Million in Revenue
Smart Business Revolution

Wade Wyant is a seasoned entrepreneur, business coach, and author. His most recent company is called Redegades, which helps families protect their digital privacy and safety. Wade is a longtime entrepreneur, Scaling Up coach, and executive advisor focused on mid-market companies as they scale into industry-dominating businesses. He is also a member of YPO and EO, and served as President of the EO West Michigan chapter and in the leadership of YPO. One of Wade’s past startups was a technology company which he grew from five employees in 2006 to over 80 employees and $36 million in revenue in 2017. It was one of the fastest-growing companies in America six years in a row as listed by Inc. 5000. 

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Wade Wyant, an entrepreneur and Scaling Up coach, about the lessons he learned from entrepreneurship and his business failures. They also talk about the hedgehog concept, Wade’s book, and the challenges he faced with his PalmPilot business. Stay tuned.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Wade Wyant’s entrepreneurial childhood and the challenges he faced with a PalmPilot business
  • How Wade’s company has evolved over the years
  • Wade talks about writing the book, Wake-Up Call and explains what the concept of “bunnies” means
  • How Wade decided what to focus on in his company and his advice for working around two hedgehog concepts
  • Wade explains how different books have impacted his career and his experience building relationships with some of the authors
  • The peers Wade respects and where to find his book

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I am the host of this show, you know, go check out some of our past episodes, we got all kinds of great episodes in the archives with smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs from companies like Netflix and Kinkos’ and YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, OpenTable, and many more. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And I want to thank my guest here today. His name is Wade Wyant. He’s a seasoned entrepreneur, business coach, and now author. His most recent company is called Redegades. It helps families protect their digital privacy and safety. But he’s a longtime entrepreneur, longtime coach, and executive advisor, and scaling up coach focusing on mid market companies as they scale into industry dominating businesses. He’s also been very involved in YPO and EO, as had lots of great past guests, guests on the show that have been involved in those organizations. He served as president of the EO West Michigan chapter and also in leadership with YPO as well. And one of his past startups was a technology company, grew from five employees in 2006 to over 80 employees and $36 million in revenue in 2017, one of the fastest growing companies in America six years in a row listed by Inc 5000. 

Before we get into this of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25, where we help b2b businesses with their clients, referrals and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. If you’re listening to this, and you’re thought, ‘Hey, should I start a podcast?’ Go to our website rise25media.com and you can learn all about how to do that. Alright, Wade, such a pleasure to have you here, today. Yeah, thank you. And I want to dive in with you know, I love to ask people about this. You seem like you’ve been involved in so many different entrepreneurial endeavors and startups but were you the kind of kid who was just out there hustling you’re out in your parents’ lawn doing lemonade stands that you that kind of kid or did you do I was probably right on your average average house?

Wade Wyant 2:26

So I definitely did it. But you know, those kids who hustle and cool and sold things and did that I was I was there. But I was always on a technical and maybe a little naive. So yeah, I mean, I did I do a lot of things. The classic is the lemonade stand, right. So I lived on a busy road and I had a lemonade stand and it drove my mom bananas. Because she I take her stuff from the house. I take all the stuff she had for us now. So I go out there and I do it. And I always made some good money. But I was getting I was technical. I knew how to do it. But I was naive because I remember my mom getting so frustrated. She’d be on the porch watching people at stopping in mid traffic to get over and get lemonade from us as busy street and and it was fun. But then kids would come along and like oh, how much money you made and open up my children’s drawer and I didn’t see them taking monies. I was just you know, I was one of those kids. So I was always very technical, but I wasn’t good to hustle. As much as I was passionate about the hustle. How about that? Yeah. Daniel growing up. I did did everything.

John Corcoran 3:32

Small cards also.

Wade Wyant 3:33

Yeah, I tell you, we talked about the I, I I tried, it wasn’t online. It was via mail. It was before online, but I had I figured out what therapy were selling baseball cards. Why can’t I and so I started up I sent flyers. So my friends and I, I use my dad’s photocopier, he had a meltdown, because it’s so expensive to photocopy, photocopy stuff and send to them. And I actually like had a couple of friends buy one or two things. But I really realized very quickly, like, you have to know what you’re doing. And it was one of the first lessons I learned in business that it’s not as easy as it looks. And and when you get into it, there’s a large learning curve. On most businesses. It’s just it seems like oh, I’ll just get in. But there’s, there’s a, there’s a learning curve to just about everything, and especially being in business.

John Corcoran 4:19

Yeah. Now, it’s easy. You know, in my introduction, I was mentioning that you took one business from five employees to over 80 employees. 36 million in revenue, it’s easy to acknowledge the victories right? Yes. But there’s also the struggles and you know, in college, you started a couple of businesses, you an IT services business. And then in the late 90s, you had one that involved the Palm Pilot, which was actually kind of ahead of its time. Tell us about that one.

Wade Wyant 4:45

Yeah. So I I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I want all my own business. I knew it. I lived overseas for quite a few years. And when I returned to the US as a late teen, it was just like I saw all this opportunity. I was kind of like an immigrant come here and usually see a lot of opportunity. And so I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and start a business. And the it startup unfortunately failed, which is okay, you know, that’s it is what it is. And that happens learned a lot, I learned a lot. The second one was a business where I teamed up with a doctor. And we had this idea in the late 90s, when the palm pile five came out, the processing power on that was enough to support a pretty significant database. So you can sync the database, yeah, to be a cradle, not Wi Fi time. But you could cradle the thing up sync a good portion of a database, and then take it on the run. And so warehouses use these things like crazy back in the late 90s, it would revolutionize warehousing. So we want to take that concept into the hospitals and be able to say, Hey, doctor, you go right into the room with his palm pilot quickly go have access to way more data than they would in their head because back then you had to just know it, you know, you had to have the data available you had there was just no computer or anything in the room. Or you can maybe go research it later. But at the doctor for guy it was that it was a very clunky system if you were in medicine up until 2000s very clingy. So anyways, we we put together solta to hospitals, we have these, we had these doctors run around the Palm Pilots, it was quite successful. They think and all the data is there. And then we have analytics to tell them what to do next. And we build got smarter and smarter. Challenge was you had to convince the doctors because the evil staff wanted it and hospital wanted it. Because it how do you convince these doctors use IT technology? We didn’t think about them. And then the problem is we were 10 years too early. And you know, you think now and when they I follow the industry very closely, you think about now and in 2010 Once the once the Apple iPad came out that revolutionized that industry because doctors loved it. They forced hospitals to adapt. And now you got technology in every room, usually a minute or less devil computer. But the doctors forced hospitals down that path. Because once it became something they wanted, it was it was game over. But for me, I was 10 years too early. We had success. But then we rolled all that money to sales and marketing, which was a smart thing to do. If you have something’s gonna work, you know, go nuts. And nobody else bought. I mean, nobody. And you were just sitting there head in hand, like why don’t they get it? And now he back 20 plus years later, I guess it was almost 25 years later. Real simple. It was just too early to the market. Yeah. And I’m not I’m not making excuses. Maybe I could have figured it out. Right. But no, I mean, sometimes you failed. It’s now your it’s out of your control. You just don’t have the right product at the right time.

John Corcoran 7:39

Yeah, like pets.com, which came along right in the late 90s, or something people made fun of that for years. But there’s chewy.com now. I mean, there’s all kinds of, you know, there’s this anything came along just later,

Wade Wyant 7:52

or the biggest one the biggest companies in America, Amazon, and they got beat up for years and years, even after the.com bust in 2002. People like was Amazon really gonna make it now that this thing’s busted, and, you know, basil and love or hate them. And that team, they just they had their eyes down. They just said, Nope, this will be something big. And they were 100%. Right.

John Corcoran 8:12

Yeah, that’s right. So talk a little bit about some of the challenges the victories for your your business as you’re growing over the years. So it starts with five employees in 2006. Did you acquire the company or did you?

Wade Wyant 8:27

Yeah, well, this is a complicated story. But I love telling it because I think it’s something everybody can learn from. Again, I was an entrepreneur, I had two failures. So I went to my business coach, and I said, I like talking to him. And he’s a good friend. Still, as he’s retired, and he’s in Florida now, which I’m jealous of and be honest with you don’t say in a demeaning way, like Ken Vandenberg was my coach, and I wouldn’t be here today. If it wasn’t for that gentleman. He poured so much into me and never charged me and just was amazing, man. So everybody listen to this. If you have any kind of skills, go out and coach and help people and you know, whether you make money or not go help them. And even in my business, I help all kinds of small businesses I never get paid for because I want to I want to pay it back. But anyways,

John Corcoran 9:11

they pause on that. How did you get this amazing business coach to work for you for free or to? Well, he was,

Wade Wyant 9:17

he was a professor. He was a retired businessman and one of my professors and I just liked him and I synced with them and I went to I said, I just went to him that’s the thing to people need to know. There are so many people will coach you if you just asked you know, Jesse Itzler talks about this and other predominant people, but this has been a subject people have talked about for 3040 years. I’ve heard leaders talk about all they did is go ask and someone did it for him. So I asked him and he coached me in and so he basically said him he said wait, I remember this was yesterday. I was talking about my failure in this thing. Text this pump out the end just fail and I was discouraged. He’s like, he said to me, wait, I think it’s time for you to go get a job. And what I know those say that and he’s like, No, you need to go work for someone who’s doing what you want to do. And I’m like, oh, man, you’re killing me here. So I put my resume out there. And I went interviewed several places got several offers. So I was a technology guy, I had an MC se, I knew technology very well. And, and that was huge back in that time period. Still is, but back then it was crazy. They’re throwing money at Tech, like nuts anyways, and I went work for a guy, Chuck Haggerty hired me and I owe this guy a debt of gratitude. One of the best partners I’ve ever had, he’s in my book, Wake-Up Call anyways. So Chuck hires me, and I get to know his partner, Bob Sweezy. And so Bob, and I chatted back and forth about me wanting to be an entrepreneur, and then that was out. So anyways, two years later, I went to him and said, I’ve got an idea. I failed twice. I rather, I rather build this with you, I’d rather we be partners, you know, split up your equity stake, I’ll use your money. So we worked it all out. And, and I grew this business. And that’s why I say from five people, because the first five people I took out of his business. And, we grew in size business. And then if you look at my you know, my LinkedIn, you’ll see that in 2007, we started a business called it as partners. And the reason was called it as partners is because it was me choc Bob, some other people. We all we start this partnership, and we transfer all the assets over to it. And then I grew that from 2007 Till I accident 2017. And so, you know, I always have a hard time telling people, am I truly an entrepreneur? Or am I a hired gun? And I’m like, Well, I think I’m an entrepreneur spirit. I think I’ve done all the things you need to do. I just found someone to fund my business instead of doing myself the third time.

John Corcoran 11:45

Well, that’s a brilliant approach. You know, it’s kind of a I would call it maybe a hybrid approach, right? Because you had mentorship, you had a little bit of a safety net. Right. Well, that you had some guidance. But then you also I imagine realize some upside potential.