Matt Baxter is the CEO of Wedge, the one-way recorded video screening tool which enables candidates to show their true selves. In addition to Wedge, he is the host of The Matt Baxter Show, a podcast focused on purpose, passion, and calling. A serial entrepreneur since the age of 15, Baxter owned and operated Stony Pointe Lawn Care for over 6 years, before selling the business in July 2015. He is a graduate of Hope College.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Matt says:
Please don’t do it for the money. Please don’t do it for the status. It’s ok to pursue those things, but it shouldn’t be the reasoning behind your dreams and passion. If you truly find a problem that enacts change and a solution that people find valuable – those things will fall into place. Oh, and do it with good people, ask for help, learn, and build yourself & others along the way.
I want to be remembered as the guy that helped push individuals closer to where they want to go. If I can be a reflection of Christ to others (without pushing it down their throat), but a reflection of the man he was, I would be humbled and consider my life a success.
Read on to know more about Matt Baxter and his journey.
Please tell me about your personal background and What motivated you to get started with your company?
Matt Baxter: I started my first business when I was 15 years old. It was a lawn care company with a little seed capital (a.k.a. a mower) from my dad. Over six years, that company flourished until I had about seven employees. I had the opportunity to sell the company while I was attending Hope College, and I was very fortunate to sell the company at a relatively young age.
At this point, I started focusing on the “broken” hiring process, stemming from issues I experienced while hiring for my lawn care company. I wanted to make hiring more efficient while allowing candidates to share their stories above and beyond their resume. In turn, we launched Wedge, a SaaS video screening provider. I will forever have the heart and desire to be an entrepreneur.
What is your current main product, and can you share any previous product pivot story to the current product?
Matt Baxter: Wedge is a video screening solution (wedgehr.com). It’s a Saas product used by talent acquisition and HR teams.
Our most significant pivot was the shift from selling directly to partnering with Applicant Tracking Systems. The majority of our customers already have existing systems for hiring, so we decided to integrate our product with these platforms. It was one of the best decisions we could have made. This move helped us scale our product, grow with our amazing partners, and, most importantly, give our customers a fantastic experience.
How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Matt Baxter: We have raised $1 million in funding to date, $500,000 in our recent round.
What were the internal decision processes in determining when to begin fund-raising, and what were the logistics for this? And how many investors have you met so far, and how did you meet these investors, and which channels worked best for you?
Matt Baxter: Our first round of capital was raised from angel investors. We were fortunate that a few individuals requested to invest in our company. A year and a half later, I decided to put together a formal funding round. It took us nearly six months to close the round. It was challenging, but I met hundreds of investors, customers, and individuals who later become friends, clients, and more. Our most recent round took one month to raise because of the relationships I had built. I wouldn’t change a thing. It was tough, but I learned a ton, and I would do it again.
What are the biggest challenges and obstacles that you have faced in the process of fund-raising? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Matt Baxter: I learned that just because somebody says they want to invest doesn’t mean they will. It’s not complete until the documents are signed, and the money is in the account. That was a difficult lesson. I also learned that a lot of people in the investment world have egos. Just because somebody wants to invest doesn’t mean their money is worth taking. Align yourself with investors that you can trust, who trust you, and you align with before you take their dollars. I am very fortunate to have investors that I trust and believe in me as a person. It doesn’t make things easy, but it means there is a deeper dive into what you mutually want to accomplish.
How have you attracted users, and with what strategy have you grown your company from the start to now?
Matt Baxter: We have three levers that we pull to gain customers. Marketing through our public brand. Sales in the form of direct campaigns. And finally, the partnerships I mentioned above. We integrate our solution with partners that have customers who need Wedge and formalize agreements that benefit the partner, the client, and us.
Which has been the best marketing software tool for the growth of your startup, and why?
Matt Baxter: It is LinkedIn. No question.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing in general?
Matt Baxter: They plan too much. There is a time for planning. But sometimes you just need to jump.
How do you plan to expand globally?
Matt Baxter: We are building the infrastructure to do so as we speak. We already have some international clients, and luckily, our partner relationships allow us to expand without building a large team.
What are the most common mistakes companies make with global expansion?
Matt Baxter: It is understanding the various compliance requirements involved in each country. Just because you can do a deal in another country doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Stick to your core product, customers, and value proposition. If those things line up and there are companies in other countries that want your solution, it makes sense. Otherwise, it’s a distraction.
How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Matt Baxter: Fortunately, we operate in the video interviewing space. Since Covid-19, our business has boomed. We have grown, helped many companies hire, and found ourselves the niche we needed in the marketplace. We plan to continue helping organizations as the world becomes fully remote.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company?
Matt Baxter: Distractions. To be a founder, you have to be a starter, you have to like jumping into things, and you have to like (or at least be comfortable with) not knowing all the information. By definition, that means you throw yourself at a lot of different things. That can be a fantastic asset or a great distraction if you don’t use that well. I have made that mistake many times.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Matt Baxter: Please don’t do it for the money. Please don’t do it for the status. It’s ok to pursue those things, but it shouldn’t be the reasoning behind your dreams and passion. If you truly find a problem that enacts change and a solution that people find valuable – those things will fall into place. Oh, and do it with good people, ask for help, learn, and build yourself & others along the way.
What are the top-three books or movies (TV series) that changed your life and why?
Matt Baxter: The Bible, Lone Survivor, Sacred Pace.
The Bible is the story of Jesus, and that has forever changed my life. Lone Survivor is this wildly insane story of survival, persistence, and finding protection in the most unlikely place with the most unlikely people. Sacred Pace is a tough one for me because it’s a story about how to invite God into your work life as a partner. I run 100mph all the time and don’t take many moments to sit still and breathe.
How do you keep yourself motivated every day?
Matt Baxter: I surround myself with people that are smarter than me, work harder, and encourage me. I couldn’t do it without the people around me. I also love life, have fun, and laugh. And hopefully, I do that for others or encourage others to do the same.
What are the top- three life lessons that you want your (future) sons and daughters to know?
At some moment in being a child, you are going to wake up to the world. It may be a single moment or over time. But, at some point, some significant pain is going to happen to you. This is often the turning point for a lot of people. They become angry. They become cynical. They start to retreat into themselves more often (not as an introvert but they draw smaller circles of people).
This is the moment that you have a choice to choose joy. It may sound cheesy, and it may sound dumb (especially if you are in pain), but this separates those that end with an impact on others’ lives.
I would encourage my kids (and anybody) to find mentors to spend time with.
In college (and today), I started meeting two new people every week. And the network of people that I spent time with was amazing. I would recommend people to do that.
Oh, and have a lot of fun in life. Life is awesome.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Matt Baxter: I want to be remembered as the guy that helped push individuals closer to where they want to go. If I can be a reflection of Christ to others (without pushing it down their throat), but a reflection of the man he was, I would be humbled and consider my life a success.
You can follow Matt Baxter here.
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