GonnaBe Interview

GonnaBe founder Hank Leber tells us how his app GonnaBe helps you predict your social future.

Transcript

Hank
My name is Hank Leber, I’m the CEO of GonnaBe, your Social Life concierge.
Marcus
Okay. And what is GonnaBe? How does it help me as a Social Life Concierge?
Hank
GonnaBe is social life for the future, as in all the things you’re “gonna be” doing. So you can share with your friends if you are going to be at the beach, or if you’re “gonna be” out tomorrow night, it really fills the space between texting and calendars. It’s a huge space, hundreds of millions of people every night, making plans, but it’s being lost in the text world, or phone calls, something like that, so we’re trying to fill that space with something valuable.
Marcus
And is this your full-time job?
Hank
Oh, yeah. Full time, and I’m getting paid less than I ever did for any other full time job, but, I haven’t worked a day in over a year.
Marcus
Okay. Do you want to give us a quick demo?
Hank
Yeah, sure, okay.
Marcus
You’ve got something over here, or----
Hank
Okay, let’s do it on the [phone]. The Internet in here is unreliable.
Marcus
Got it.
Hank
As you see, when you pull up GonnaBe, you have a plan feed, which is your friends plans and what’s going on later, kind of like an Instagram feed, only instead of sharing pictures, you’re sharing plans. So, it looks like Carson’s going to be in the Demo Pit today, of course, I can look at the details here, I can get directions to the place, I can call the venue, any of that, and if I like that plan, and I know I’m going to be there too, then I opt in, I’m not gonna share that out right now, but she gets a push notification that says, “Hank just opted into your plan”.
Marcus
Cool.
Hank
So, what else do we have here? It’s a plan feed, sure, but you also can make your own plans very simply. You just put in the name of your plan, the location, the date and time, very simple to do. I don’t want to walk you through that because there’s so much more important stuff to talk about. This is not enough; people need more than just a plan feed. They want to know what’s going on around them, in a geo-spatial sense, so we put it on the map, so when you put a plan feed on a map, you have an event that has a certain place and it has people involved and it has time. So here’s what happens. You put a time slider on the bottom, it lets you scroll through time, different things happen around you, like social weather and what you’re looking at here is not just plans, but also time sensitive specials like a dollar off drinks, or events that are concerts or meet ups and stuff like that. So we are adding a ton of value beyond the making of a plan, this is your complete Social Life Concierge. And we’re really excited about the social weather. We’ve got partnerships with Ticket Master, Live Nation and with Anheuser Busch InBev to help us make the map more valuable.
Marcus
Awesome. Looks really cool.
Hank
Thank You.
Marcus
If you weren’t doing this startup, what would you be doing?
Hank
Well, I came out of advertising.
Marcus
Okay.
Hank
And, I was having a really great time there, but now that I’ve been in the startup world, I’m never going back.
Marcus
We hear that a lot.
Hank
I’d be doing a different startup; I would be in the social media space still, I think, it’s—we’re still in the infancy of social media, so I really don’t know. I think there’s a bunch of really good companies out right now, I may be trying to work with one of the smarter companies that’s out. There are so many new ideas that are happening in the world, it’s never been a better time to start a company.
Marcus
Nice. If GonnaBe was a Super Hero, what would its super power be?
Hank
Oh my God! (Holds up crystal ball.)
Marcus
See the future. Nice.
Hank
That’s what we actually do.
Marcus
Yeah, thus the Fortune Teller motif you’ve got going here.
Hank
That's right.
Marcus
How much have you risked to do this startup?
Hank
I quit my high profile ad job, living by the ocean in LA, making more money than I ever thought I would over a year ago. Since that time, I’ve bottomed out three times, had to sell my car, had to sell my ski boat that I’ve had for 10 years and I’ve had to sell all of the stuff that I owned that is worth any money. We’ve since built the perfect team, we’ve raised a couple hundred K, we’re going to be raising a lot more soon, we’ve got major brand partners, we’ve hit it, but I risked everything.
Marcus
And would you do it again?
Hank
Yeah, in a minute. I probably will again.
Marcus
Awesome. Awesome. Any last thoughts you’d like to share with our audience here?
Hank
We have failed, hundreds of times this year. And what I mean by failed is, things didn’t go the way we thought they would. We built this and it didn’t work, we built this and people didn’t want it, we built that, and that’s okay. Failure is not really failure if you learn from it, it’s just called learning, and you do it differently the next time and I think more companies should be unafraid to fail. Try hard. Shoot way out there. Shoot for the Moon, because you may not get to the Moon, but you’ll get pretty far if you aim that far.
Marcus
Do you see a lot of companies not aiming high enough in your opinion?
Hank
Yeah, I think so. I think, you know, coming up with an okay idea and not pushing yourself to exhaust all the possibilities is what keeps a lot of these companies from actually breaking through and being truly disruptive, I mean you’ve got to think way out there, way out there. I mean a company like Square, tapping into the phone through the phone jack and flipping over the payment world, that’s not something you sit around and dream up on your couch, like, yeah, we’ll try that out, people might like that. You got to think really big.
Marcus
Would you consider yourself brave?
Hank
You could call it brave, you could call it foolish, stubborn, hard-headed, but sure, I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid of losing everything, I’m not afraid of people telling me it’s not going to work, we get that all the time, while we’re making progress, and signing up some of the largest brands in the world, we’ve got people telling us it’s not going to work. And, I’ll bet you every big company, from Google all the way up has heard the same things, and that’s okay. I’m not afraid.
Marcus
Yeah, there’s a pretty clear differentiation as we talk to people, between those who are all in and those who are doing this on the side and there’s an absolute difference in the way they approach it. I really appreciate what you said about, you’ve got to be willing to fail and learn and just keep going, because we see that’s the key as well.
Hank
One of the things I noticed with young companies—LA is a really buzzing startup scene, young companies with young CEO’s and, you know, tech starters, they’re really excited to be a startup and they’re very proud of being a startup and that’s the wrong mentality. You just got to go build some amazing stuff and forget about going to the events and talking and being a CEO. Nobody—it doesn’t matter. Be quiet, go work and get it done. I wish I could have told myself that about a year ago.
Marcus
Excellent. Well, thank you very much.
Hank
Yeah, thank you guys.