Welcome to another episode of CTO Studio! Today I’m sitting down to talk with my friend Robert Swisher, CEO of the new mobile app Frendli. Today, you’ll learn from Robert what the differences are between a CEO and a CTO, how to transition between the two, and how to successfully begin a new start-up.
Today you’ll also hear the ups and downs of transitioning from one business model to another, why he wanted to employ different methods for this company than he’d previously used, and much more!
In this episode you’ll hear:
- Why city is the best in the world, according to entrepreneurs?
- Why did he decide to depart from his first CTO role?
- How Robert created the idea for Frendli.
- The differences between technical CTO and a non-technical CTO.
- Robert’s advice for successfully creating an advisory board.
- And so much more!
Robert’s experience in the business world began when he was only 19 years old. He originally began and operated a technology consultancy company for small businesses in Colorado and ran that for several years before deciding to move back to his home state of California.
Robert’s most recent venture before Frendli was being CTO at Business.com where he served as the CTO for 6 years. Eventually he decided to exit the company after selling it in June 2016. He says the sale of the company took about 3 to 4 months, from the original letter of intent to the final purchase, and was a pleasant experience by all counts.
One of the other topics we talked about on this episode of CTO Studio is how Robert created the idea for Frendli, and what he did to ensure his new startup would be as successful as possible.
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Robert said that he created the idea for Frendli and spoke with several friends to get their reactions and feedback. He was excited when they all gave him positive reviews! It was a dream come true for him – he had always wanted to create a startup as a true founder rather than someone who just came in early to the business. And he had done it with Friendli.
I asked him to expand on what Friendli is exactly and how it is different from other apps out there. Robert describes Friendli as a unique mobile app which matches users based on common interests and hobbies. The next step is for companies to market themselves on the app by posting deals for those matched friends, based on their mutual interests.
The app is still in progress, the development for Friendli is expected to wrap up in early April 2018, and should launch in late April or early May of the same year.
Out of all the advice Robert lends on this episode, one of the most prominent things we discussed was the importance of creating a sold advisory board to help through the process of launching.
Robert says this has been key in the development of Friendli. So even though he does not currently have a direct mentor, he has made sure his advisory board is made up of people with different perspectives and ideas so he is getting a host of viewpoints.
For example, he has people on his board with whom he has worked in the past. These are people he knows to be dependable and to have experience in this particular field. He also has advisors with an academic perspective on his board.
He did this because this is his first experience being a CEO, and he knew he wanted and needed to surround himself with the best group of advisors possible from a variety of walks of life.
Continuing on that same thread, I then asked Robert for his advice on making that transition from his previous roles as CTO to his current role as CEO of Friendli, and what different methods or approaches he wanted to employ within Friendli once he became the CEO.
You can hear those recommendations directly from Robert, as well as his most helpful books for startups, when you tune in to this episode of CTO Studio!