Why small business owners and investors should get involved

Being a small business owner or a startup co-founder isn’t just a chance to make money, it’s a chance to make a tangible difference in the way people live their lives. Sometimes, it’s even about increasing accessibility to the most complicated processes. That’s exactly what Amelia Friedman, co-founder of Hatch Apps, is doing to expand the D.C. tech community.

ABERMAN: Well, tell us all: what is Hatch Apps?

FRIEDMAN: Yeah! So, at Hatch Apps, we have built a platform that makes it possible to build and deploy mobile and web apps really quickly without coding. So, to break that down, if you want to go and you want to build an app today, it’s really expensive. It takes forever, and we felt like there would be a better way to build software. And that’s what Hatch Apps is, it’s a way for our customers to build software, to build apps really quickly, without breaking the bank.

ABERMAN: And not only that, it demystifies the process, which empowers people who aren’t coders how to use technology to help themselves, right?

FRIEDMAN: Yeah! I think one of the things that we’ve really seen is that this space, the space of software development, there’s not a lot of transparency. So, you go in your set, you say, I’m going to build AirBnB for cats, and it’s a great idea. Anybody can take that from me. You go to several different development firms, they all give you different quotes, different timelines, different all sorts of things, and if you are an uneducated consumer, and you get one quote for fifty thousand dollars, and one quote for five hundred thousand dollars, how do you tell the difference?

ABERMAN: You can’t.

FRIEDMAN: So, there’s a real opportunity for a company to really bring transparency to this market, and that’s what we want to do.

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ABERMAN: And I find it interesting, as I look at your career, that this is a recurring theme, what I would say is not just coming up with a way to make money or change things, but a way to empower. You know, whether it’s our prior conversation about the mentor project, or the things you do.

I find it important for our listeners to learn a little bit of a lesson from your experience, because now you’ve got this most recent company, Hatch Apps, which is what I would say is, as it’s growing, is a classic story from the standpoint of: you got some angel investors, now you’re getting venture investment from professional investors, some of the best known investors in our region, and they’re putting money in to help you grow. How does having an investor change the entrepreneur’s experience in doing a startup?

FRIEDMAN: Great question. I think it changes your experience in a similar way as something like, for those of us who have hired before, but haven’t raised capital, I think it’s pretty similar: when you bring more people into your journey, you owe them something, too. Right? If I hire you, and I commit that I’m going to create a great professional experience for you, then I’m not just going about my own business now. I’m also investing in you, and in you having a really positive outcome as my employee.

And for investors, it’s similar. I’m promising you a great financial outcome. You can never really promise it, but I am going into work every day committed to not just my own work, and what we’re building at Hatch, for my own purposes, and for the purposes of my co-founder, but also for all of the folks that have invested in us. And so, those folks, they want to be updated, they want to be kept in the loop, as it’s only appropriate: they’re the ones who are financing you.

So, there’s a fair amount of time and energy that goes into that, but more than that, there’s a change emotionally when you take in external capital, that there are other people that are now involved in your business, involved in your success. It’s a certain amount of pressure that it puts on us, that, for me, if somebody invests in our company, I am very very committed to making sure that they not just get their money back, but really many multiples of that.

ABERMAN: The way I would differentiate an entrepreneur likely to be successful from one that’s not: the ones that I’ve seen that haven’t been so successful, look at everything as a zero sum game and a control game. You know, if I have to be accountable to somebody, therefore I don’t have autonomy. But it’s really hard to grow a business unless you do have accountability to somebody. But don’t they have to be accountable to you for it to work right?

FRIEDMAN: I think the best investors are. There are some investors that write a check and then they just want to get a call when you exit. That can be great for some people. The best investors are the folks that, they want to be in the loop, not just for curiosity, but because they want to be able to refer customers, or connect you to the investor for the next round, or help you hire. And there’s so many ways that great investors can really move the needle for a company. We’ve been really fortunate that we have a lot of folks like that in our company, and that, yes, take our time for those phone calls, but deliver many multiples of that back to us by providing tremendous value.

ABERMAN: Yeah, many investors talk about being a partner with entrepreneurs, but without question, in my experience, the best investors are truly, truly partners. Let me shift gears: last thing before I let you go. Your career shows to me an enormous amount of positivity and empathy in how you go about doing things. Do you think the positivity in those things are a really important part of the entrepreneur journey, generally, as you look at other people?

FRIEDMAN: Well, first off, I always think it’s hysterical when people use the word career for me, because I’m 26 years old, and I don’t think of what I’ve done as a career, as much as a sequence of of different projects. But yes, I think that, while I’m working towards a career figuring out what that’ll be one day, I think that for me, what makes me want to work hard toward something is purpose. And for me, purpose has always come from not only building great things, but building great things that make an impact.

I don’t always see myself as like, a really bubbly person, but I do think that I see a lot of positivity, and when you say the word positivity, I feel like there’s a lot that we can do to make our ecosystem better by contributing back to it, by building great companies here, and dispelling capital when everyone exits. By hiring great people, training them up so they can be even greater, and then they go back and they contribute to this community. So for me, I’ve really been motivated by building great things that can contribute back into this community that we’re building here, this D.C. tech community. It’s something I’m very committed to.

ABERMAN: Well, I would say, not only you’re committed to it, but I think you’re making a visible and productive difference. So, Amelia, thanks a lot for taking the time to join us today.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks for having me.

ABERMAN: Amelia Friedman, co-founder of Hatch Apps.

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