On the very first episode of the Loop Experience Podcast, Fobi CEO Rob Anson recount the early days of Fobi and talks about what it's like running a publicly traded startup stage company.
Listen to Fobi Insider - Episode 1: It's Like Being In the Matrix
The following is a transcript of the conversation between Fobi Marketing Director Devon Seidel and CEO Rob Anson.
Fobi CEO Rob Anson: People are always telling me "oh, you've got horse shoes". Everything just happens, and "you're the luckiest guy that I know". And, you know, luck is an attitude, in my opinion. Casey and I and Gavin were talking one day we were trying to think of our ticker symbol because Loop was taken, and I'm like MTRX, because this whole thing has been The Matrix.
Fobi Marketing Director Devon Seidel: Hey. You're listening to the Loop Experience podcast. Join us for exclusive interviews, behind the scenes updates, and all things Loop. Coming at you from the head office storage room, I'm your host, Dev.
Today we have none other than Loop's CEO and Founder, Rob Ansen. How's it going?
Rob: It's going great.
Devon: It's actually good to finally sit down in person and have a conversation that's not over Zoom.
Rob: Yes, that is the truth for sure.
Devon: Staring at the screen all day long, just like wipes you out.
Rob: Yeah, I hear you there. Last week I had logged over a 102 hours and was averaging 18 Zooms a day. Becomes very monotonous. And it's hard to focus after a while. I mean, you're just staring off into the abyss and multitasking, a load of distractions working from home with kids, and wives, and dogs, and whatnot. And no, it's great and we're very fortunate that we've got some great processes in place and a great set up with our team and we can actually be live in office for something like this.
Devon: Yeah, no, and like what you said it's so easy to just now have a Zoom call. You don't have to fly all over the world to be able to have these meetings in person. And also now people are more adjusted to having Zoom calls as well, too. So you can schedule something and people are right there. They recognize that it's an easy, accessible way to do it.
Rob: Yeah, for sure.
Devon: Before trying to have a Zoom call, people are like, "can you just come here and do it in person", but now it's actually pushed us towards that, which is good.
Rob: I think it's great. There's a lot of advantages, especially for us here at Loop and myself that's hyper-focused and, burn and turn and pushing, pushing, pushing. But I got to tell you, I mean, when we were in Vegas for the NCAA bubble, being able to be interactive and face to face, that was exciting. Especially, for most people at home, I might not realize that I'm six, five, big guy, walk in, I've got somewhat of a big presence and that goes a long way when you're engaging with people and people pick up on your body language and passion, not just the little image that's up on the Zoom.
Devon: You have to go closer into your camera to show yourself.
Rob: For sure. No, it was great. It was almost like a reinvigorating then, you felt alive again, instead of a Groundhog Day that's repetitive, in and out, over and over. But yeah, no, it's exciting to come in and be here today.
Devon: Yeah, no, it's awesome. This is our first podcast so we're going to do a little bit of background on Loop, where the start was, because if you look at us as a company we've grown so much from that very start. And I think a lot of our content and we gathered a lot of investors, and a lot of people that were interested in the company over the past few months, but what they don't really know is that we have been running this for six, seven years. This is really only two, three years and two years at the most being a publicly traded company. So there's a lot that we've came from, a lot of things that we had to learn, a lot of things that we had to do on the spot and create on the spot.
And that goes right from business set up right to technical aspects, actual production of the devices and everything that we do here at Loop. So why don't we go back to the beginning, because if I look now, I think I am, from people left, probably like employee number five.
Devon: So that kind of puts me way back there.
Rob: You're a pretty senior guy man.
Devon: I don't feel like it just because we've grown so fast, and I don't feel like I've had that five solid years here, but really if you do look back so much has happened.
Rob: For sure. It's the good, the bad and the ugly, as they say, for me, this has been my first capital markets opportunity and while it was a real eye-opener, out of the gate. I mean, you talk about the school of hard knocks, everyone promises the world and here's what we're going to do, and we did an RTO, of course, reverse takeover, which was very interesting to say the least and a lot of people laugh and "told you so" and whatnot. And so I said, I used to have a full head of hair and it wasn't gray and now it's half gone and I think 50/50. All kidding aside it's been, for me, it's been a great learning experience and like we said, there's a lot of personal growth for sure.
And into your point, Dev, you've been one of the key cornerstones from, almost day one and it's great to see people evolve and the team evolve and, it's not where you start, it's where you finish. And, we quick quickly learned from the scars on our back and always looking to surround yourself with the right people. And that's something I've always been successful with is, surround yourself with the right people that have the same goals and are really down and focused on execution and moving the dial, and as we've done a very solid job here, especially in the last 15 months of filling positions with talent, not necessarily just roles, but it's great to see people evolve. We obviously encourage that and I always like to promote within and open door policy is always questioning "how do we get better?" "How do we streamline?" But more importantly, "how do we move that dial?"
And, I love being challenged internally about that. And I always, like our meeting today, I want you guys to step up and be more productive and push boundaries, because it's what we've done as a technology company, and there's some people that get it, some people that don't, and it all takes time and process. So, it's been a very big transition from private company to this. The capital market opportunity that came up was interesting because, like I said, it was my first experience and I get asked a lot "why the hell did you guys go public at such an early stage?" We're seeing companies go public and have huge IPO's.
And there's a lot of course water under the bridge and stuff that was almost at that point of no return, that instead of unwinding it all and staying private, I was very confident in what we were doing and I knew that we'd have some up and downs like we did, but I understood the opportunity and I've always been a quick learner. And, so now that we've been successful on some early stage infrastructure and we're now set to rapidly scale and continue to grow, and, like I said "it's not where you start, it's where you finish" and whether you stay private or not, at the end or vice versa, like we've done here. It's about growing the business to me and growing the right infrastructure and support that can manage and really, truly support the stress of scale.
it's never easy to take a minimum viable product and to truly commercialize and scale. And that's something that I have great experience in, in my past. And it's something here that, we brought on some talented people that from a design and engineering perspective, have been able to architect that, EWS has played a big part of setting us up with some great assets to play with and we bring on groups like NTT data and tell us that it's all about infrastructure and process and automation and documentation, which is key. As you know, one day we looked to exit having those pieces and cornerstones of some have been focused on from day one. And you understand, first and foremost how I harp on those things. It's very, very important for longterm. And like I said, everything we do, we do with purpose, everything we do is for execution of an end result and the process is everything and part of the journey. And I love that stuff, like I said, I spent a great deal of time and effort working throughout the days of 16, 18, 20 hours, sometimes a lot as you know, and it's a passion. And like I said, it's something that you either have, or you don't. And I love what I do.
Devon: Yeah, no, that's great. What's one of the key pieces that you remember from our early days that really stands out to you, either something great or something that we really messed up and had to really learn from.
Rob: Yeah. I think failure is everything to me. I mean, fail quick, fail often, you always hear young entrepreneurs say, but same thing here, like we said, it was our first capital markets play, and did we do things ideally, properly? I don't know what the right terminology is. Nope.
Devon: I remember trying to figure out how do we do this press release properly? What do our investors want to hear? And from a standpoint of a company that's a new tech startup in a space that doesn't really have major competitors that do everything that we do, we're like, what is our voice? How do we tell people about us and explain without writing an essay on what we do.
Rob: Yeah and I think part of it, everyone has an opinion. I get shareholders, which I love and appreciate today that even business development, we've got some opportunities that have come from shareholders that I'm involved in this business, or I can make an introduction here or there. But to that point, I think that, it's like my dad used to say, "if you want to make everyone happy, sell ice cream". I'm pretty focused and I take everything with a grain of salt, but I think that was the hardest part in the beginning was communication. We had certain board members and whatnot that didn't want to put out any news unless it was around a contract. And then you've got shareholders that wonder if we're still in operation, are you guys still around? Because, we haven't heard from you. So I think those things, it's finding that I'm going to get people now that tell us that we're too active.
Devon: Yeah, if you look at our strategy and we looked at, for immediate strategy, what was out there? What were other companies doing? And like you always say, how can we change it up? How can we push back and really change our strategy? And that's what we've been doing. You're doing your proactive videos, Agoracom, we're active on the messaging board, lots of different press releases with all the news, and now podcasts, we want to be active with our investors, we want to have that communication back.
Rob: One of the things, obviously I'm not your typical white collar CEO, I think part of the reason that I've gained some, perhaps trust or respect, however you look at it, is the fact that accessibility and visibility, when things are going sideways or whatnot, I have no problem picking up the phone and taking the heat, it's all part of it, which I don't mind whatsoever, I think that's the biggest thing. There's always turmoil, but it's really, like I said, it's how you respond to it. And like I said, always being accountable. At the end of the day, everything's on me and my shoulders and I'm good with that. Like I said, I'm always about taking care of my family and team here and doing whatever I can to make that happen.
But I think that's the biggest one is accessibility. Learning that was one of the biggest ones, that people just want to understand what's going on. If you look at it from a social media perspective and you got into stories, you've got TikTok and all these things that people live vicariously through. At the end of the day, people just want to know someone's there. And I think that's a big part of where we started to succeed was constant messaging, giving updates, showing traction, momentum. Was it always a huge opportunity? No, not really, but it's setting the roadmap and the path, you need partners and you need infrastructure. And that's why now we've been able to leverage these key points to grow the business quite rapidly here.
Devon: Yeah, and touching on that as well, too, looking at influencers on TikTok and social media, we really find that the people that we're engaged to and want to follow are the people that are real. When there's something that looks overproduced and super fake, somehow just intellectually, we're able to pick up on that and we know it's promotion, we know it's fake. And I think the same thing can happen with how you showcase your company as well, too. If we were completely polished on everything we did and just had this perfect look as a startup, I don't think we would really be truthful to who we are. So by doing that, really getting candid, communicating with our investors and telling them, yes, we have highs and lows, we are there for them and we are very raw and real
Rob: Well, I think it was even yesterday, I had to push the Agoracom interview twice last week, just because of my schedule, couldn't make Saturday work because I had seven other meetings. I hopped on yesterday morning, 7:30 AM with George and my hoodie and I said, my wife's like, "where are you going?" I said "I got to do an interview dear". She's like, "yeah, but you're wearing a hoodie" and I'm like, "it's Sunday", I said, "this is me".
And by the way, I was 2-0 on my football picks yesterday. So there you go. Great afternoon of ball, but no, I think it's just that, I'm a straight shooter, love me or hate me. Obviously you might not like what I have to say, but you always know where we stand as an organization, internally here. And that's just the reality of it. And it is what it is. Like I said, part of that is just, I'm just an average guy, like everyone else. And I don't try to be a facade and I'm not a fancy guy and it is what it is. I drive a truck and I'm not flamboyant for sure.
Devon: Let's talk a little bit about the actual ticker symbol. So MTRX, where does that come from?
Rob: Well, that's kind of an inside joke that we've had for years. And it's an interesting story because for me, people are always telling me, "oh, you've got horse shoes", right. Everything just kind of happens. And "you're the luckiest guy that I know". And luck is an attitude, in my opinion and envisioning your future, surrounding yourselves with the right people, doing the process things is the key for me. There's so many components of timing. Of course, timing is everything in business. And it's like in the movie, The Matrix. Things just happen for a reason, not knowing why or how, but they just seem to work out. It's kind of in the journey here. There's been one turn of events that's led to another and another and, Casey and I, and Gavin were talking one day, and we're trying to think of our ticker symbol because Loop was taken, and I'm like MTRX, because I said this whole thing has been The Matrix. So, that's where it came from.
Devon: Yeah. And it's just going to continue as we get deeper.
Rob: Yeah, for sure.
Devon: Yeah. So looking back at when we started, even way before we started, you had this idea of creating a company around the technology that brought Fobi to life. You're really looking at big data on AI automation, all these pieces, that wasn't around in the market then. I know you've told stories where you have this idea, you'd be telling a buddy at the bar and they'd just be laughing at you. But now we look at it and this is like the forefront of what all major tech companies are focused on. So what gave you that idea back then? Or what was the inspiration around that?
Rob: I had a few friends that were in business intelligence, was their new role and because big data was starting to become a thing and the thing that I commonly heard over and over was that they've got all this data now, but they have no idea what to do with it. And they've got all these manual processes of taking all these data silos and trying to stitch them into Excel spreadsheets.
Devon: So it's just one guy sitting in a back room taking six or so.
Rob: Well that team's huge, 20 people on these teams for one of the organizations, which I'm not going to name, but that's what it was.
Devon: Yeah and you don't come from a crazy analytical tech background. You come from a very solid marketing TV production background. So was this just a passion project and something you were really excited about? Because I know now that I can talk to you about any of these, because you're up reading all night, all these blogs, these reports to stay on top of, where is everyone with AI, where is everyone with all these different facets that Loop's doing. Was it really just, you're passionate about this topic and that's where it came from?
Rob: Yeah I had exited from one of my other companies and was looking for some opportunity to get involved in, obviously because I'm a huge believer in myself first and foremost, I saw an opportunity and no, I knew nothing about technology per se, if you will. And I think for me, when I do things I become obsessed and there's no half-asset, I'm all in or I'm not interested whatsoever. So for me it became an obsession. The problem nowadays is people don't want to put in the work. And for me, I read a ton and I'm always searching for other trends, internationally what's coming. That kind of mindset that if you're not up at 4:00 AM every day learning, pushing the envelope, there's someone over in Asia that is, and is going to catch up to us.
I think part of it too, Dev is, as I said earlier, was fail early, fail often, learn. That's the greatest attribute is you have to become almost Teflon, because, you're going to fail, to be successful, you have to fail. It's like that great one I love about Michael Jordan, he took 973 game winning shots and only had 160. We don't hear about the ones he missed, it's the ones that he made, of course.
It's the same side here. A lot of the investors invest nowadays. They have one out of 10, they win, so it's process once again, it's hard work, and loving what you do, and passion. Business is all about people and it's all about relationships. And I think the one thing that we did right in the beginning was, we had some great investors that believed in me, had no idea what we really did. I think they've just started to learn now three years later, but people make the world go round and people sense energy. And that's one of the key things. I think that early stage was definitely a key figure that got us off the ground, was people sense my passion and like I said, I'll never ever be a worth.
Devon: We know that you're a 100% invested in Loop, a 100% always working, all the time, but what do you do on your free time? What does Rob do on his downtime when we don't see you on videos or meetings all the time?
Rob: I love the outdoors. I've been a big advocate of the outdoors and I'm huge into fishing.
Devon: Yeah. We went on a big fishing trip, I guess, over a year ago now. Super fun.
Rob: I love the West Coast lifestyle here. And for me, it's like I said, it's about the next generation and I was fortunate to grow up on the coast here. And I spent a lot of time with my dad and my uncles and neighbors fishing, some of that I got hooked into early. Pardon the pun. But no, I share that same passion that I do with Loop in my personal life. And like I said, for me, good things happen when you're having fun. And that's a big part of whether it's in work, relationships or recreation, I'm always pushing the envelope and competing and trash-talking, as you know, that's a big part of it. It's natural.
Devon: And what about cooking? Obviously with COVID, going out less, I know that you're really passionate about cooking, especially with the fish that you caught, fish from that last trip that we went on. So What are you cooking lately? What was the best thing you cooked so far in quarantine? That's a pretty big time.
Rob: You know what it was, I have to say, I think I shared it with you, was when I got married, we went on a cruise out of New Orleans and I took a cooking class, it was actually with Paula Deen from the Food Network, and I love the food in New Orleans. So we took a class and one of the items that we learned how to make was gumbo. So I hadn't made that in probably seven or eight years now, then I guess about a month ago or whatever it was, I had all the crab and chicken and sausage and prawns, and I made some stock and whatnot. And yeah, pulled it out and my family went out for the day and I was at home so, I grabbed a beer and started making the roux. And yeah, it was great to have the flavors in New Orleans again, it's one of my favorite destinations to visit and I look forward to hopefully reopening travel and playing a big role into returning to the big, easy.
Devon: Yeah. So is that your ultimate goal? Reopen travel? So you can get back down to new Orleans and have the gumbo?
Rob: Yeah, man. No, of course, but no, for sure. I mean life's short, it's what you make of it, and memories you create. And for me, like I said, I love pushing the envelope and new boundaries if I can, whether it's in work or out of work. But definitely the outdoors is a big part. I used to golf a lot, play a few charity events a year and that's really the good, the bad, and the ugly, is my golf game. It's another story.
But definitely the West Coast lifestyle and time on the water fishing, and now that my boys are old enough, got them out for their first trip last year over in Bamfield, where I took you guys and had a great time. And to me, it's all about making memories for that and setting the table for the next generation. And charity, I do a lot of stuff with charity. That's where I met a lot of the great people on the Loop team. And especially with Gavin Lee, our COO, I met him through a charity event I did for kids sport and we hit it off and became friends, and successful people always drawn to giving back. And, like I said, to me that's what life's about is giving back and sharing in all we can and experiences and whatnot.
Devon: What about sports? There must be a reason why we're so focused on the sports market right now. You must have a passion for that too.
Rob: For sure. I played ball at many high levels growing up and whatnot, I'm a huge sports guy. And some of my buddies that played hockey and we're talking about the correlation between fishing and the sports and it's same thing, when that reel goes off from the fish, "the tug is the drug", as they say in the fishing world, it's kind of the same thing when you're out on the mound and get on sublime and 90 at two outs and full count and you want the ball, so it's kind of that adrenaline, if that makes sense. I support my kids on anything and everything they want to do and like I said, it's sad nowadays to see that everything's so specialized at such an early age, everyone's trying to pigeon you into something that -
Devon: Everyone wants the next Olympic athlete though.
Rob: Yeah, for sure, right. So, no, for me, like I said to my kids, my kids are big into show jumping and whatnot and people go "oh wow, what do you think about that?" And I think it's great. I always stress that to my kids, follow your passion and you'll always be successful no matter what it is. If you're there for a simple paycheck and punching a clock, you're never going to be part of my team or world.
Devon: Yeah. No, I think that's great. I think that's a great wrap up to our first podcast too. So stay tuned. We're going to be doing these often. There's going to be different interviews with people that are connected to the company, people that we're working with. So lots of good information. I think since we're in this era of COVID, let's wrap this up with asking you one thing that you've learned recently, it doesn't have to be related to the company, what's one thing that you've learned recently at home? Cooking, something cool.
Rob: Yeah. I think one of the interesting things I've learned over this time is respect the clock. And What I mean by that is, time is our greatest asset. Finding that mix, as hard as I work, on the weekends, I have calls starting at 6:00 AM with shareholders, I usually take them until eight. I make breakfast, the kids go back and do another couple of hours while they're getting ready and gaming or whatever they're doing for the morning. And then I'm there for the sporting events. And I spent a lot of the time I do have, I really focus on appreciating life's moments, because that's everything to me and obviously why I do what I do, first and foremost is for my family. So I think greatest realization I had is not taking time for granted because you never get it back.
Devon: That's awesome. Okay. Cool. Thanks Rob. And we will talk to you guys later.
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