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Creating Businesses that Bring Joy to Work with Jay Radia

Have you ever felt that you’re in a job that doesn’t fit your genius, but you’re not sure how to find your real purpose? Then don’t miss Jay Radia on this episode of The Melting Pot. 

Having spent a few years in banking, working in a job that didn’t bring him the joy he was after, Jay realised his unique expertise lay in coming up with ideas that need to be funded.

Today, Jay is the founder of startup studio, Bliss Growth. And he has founded three tech startups – the first three got to £1 million in 12 months, and two of them got to £10 million in three years. While Jay has invested in 25 angel investments, coming up with the idea is his secret sauce. 

In this episode, Jay shares what the challenges of coming up with new ideas and funding rapid trajectory are, and what he’s learned along the way, and how he got comfortable with not being the CEO anymore. 

This is a truly insightful episode from a passionate entrepreneur, download and listen.

On today’s podcast:

  • Founding a corporate gifting company
  • Find your genius zone
  • How the Startup Studio works
  • Understanding Screen Loop
  • The importance of listening

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What Can Happen When You Find Your True Purpose with Jay Radia

There’s three things you need to know about Jay Radia, founder of startup studio, Bliss Growth: 

  1. He builds fast growing companies. He’s built three businesses in the tech industry, all three have scaled very quickly – from zero to £1 million revenue within 12 months, with one going to $10 million within three years. Alongside this, he’s raised over $100 million from some of the top VCs, including Google Ventures and SoftBank.
  2. He has a podcast called Happy Millionaire, which is about bringing more joy to the workplace. 
  3. He loves angel investing. He’s an avid angel investor, making 10 to 15 investments a year. 

What Jay specialises in though is software. He was involved in 13 different projects before he dived into the world of software, but it’s these software businesses that scaled phenomenally well. 

The second sector he’s successful in is e-commerce, with one business in corporate gifting i.e. helping businesses do better gifting to their customers or employees.

The third sector is hiring. But before we get into how he scales his businesses, let’s first explore how he got started in corporate gifting.

Founding a corporate gifting company

Reach Desk, Jay’s gifting company, is the fifth fastest growing software company in the world. They grew from zero to £10 million in revenue in 2.5 years. They’ve also raised $60 million of funding from businesses such as Adobe and Airbnb. 

“Essentially what happened was, in my first company, Yieldify, I really struggled to get hold of my customers and my prospects, it was so difficult. Whatever business you run, if you want to get hold of [people] especially in a b2b business, if you want to get hold of a customer or prospect it is literally impossible.”

Jay found that you can cold call prospects, you can send them emails, you can meet them at events, but still they ghost you and they don’t reply. But if you send them gifts, all of sudden you get a response, and interest. 

“Slowly we started to find that our gifts were actually generating more revenue than cold calling, or sending emails. I was like, wow, there’s something here. And that’s when I built my second business.”

However, you need to bear in mind this gifting strategy, warns Jay, only really works if you have clients with an average order value of over $5,000, otherwise it doesn’t make sense to be spending large sums of money to reel prospects in. 

“I’d say the data quality is important. But more importantly, I feel if you send that right gift, you can see when a prospect or a customer sees the effort. They appreciate when someone has gone the extra mile, and gifting is a beautiful way to do it. And so they reciprocate.”

Find your genius zone

McKinsey did a study looking at executives and they found if you’ve got executives playing to their genius, they’re 500% more productive. That’s because it’s draining to do stuff you don’t enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you feel it’s important. It’s just draining, says Jay.

“To find what you’re supposed to be doing in this short life, to find out who you are to the 100th degree i.e. what are you really good at? Not like the classic ‘Hey, I’m good at sales’, or ‘hey, I’m really good at finance’, I’m talking about the 100th degree. You need to dig down to the very bottom.”

Which is what Jay did, and he found his calling as an ideas man. The startup studio model was the perfect model for him, because it didn’t require him to be hands-on with every company he comes up with, but he could still be creative – he could build companies for the future and work with the right people. 

How the Startup Studio works

Jay’s business model for his company, Bliss Growth, is based on the pains he himself has experienced scaling businesses. 

“What I’m essentially looking for is solutions that I wish I had on those journeys, to help me grow faster, or to be in a better situation. So I’m looking for those ideas.”

Much of his day involves sitting in his living room and trying to get into a creative state of mind and pondering, okay, what would have helped me succeed? While he’s doing this, he has to be acutely aware of what’s already out there, but needs to be improved. Because there is a lot of software and technology available, says Jay, but it’s mundane. It’s grown old, it’s not right, it’s no longer modernised for the new world. 

And so he spends a lot of his time figuring out what are the right technologies or software that businesses now need? Then he has to figure out who the best people are to run these businesses. And it’s not him, he’s quick to add. There are the perfect founders for every business, and they aren’t necessarily the ones who have the idea. 

“So then I have a team within the studio, usually recruiters, and they will go out to find this person. I’ll use my network, I’ll speak to people, and then I’ll try to find the best founders in the world to run this business.”

He funds the business out of his own pocket, usually with a cheque of up to $500,000, to show the new founders and other investors that he’s deadly serious and supportive of the new venture. 

The next phase is to then build the business. 

“I’ve got connections with all the investors and customers, also within the team, we’ve got people that have helped build the technology. So it’s really a full partner, like I consider myself as a co-founder, but you know, I’m supporting them. That’s how I look at it. So it’s a very unique proposition.”

Understanding Screen Loop

As an example of this process in action, Jay explains his most recent businesses, a company called Screen Loop, a hiring technology company focused on removing unconscious bias from the hiring process. 

“So that one really started trading at the start of this year. And we’re getting quite close to getting to $1 million dollars in revenue already within 12 months.”

Screen Loop is a plugin that goes into video conferencing tools such as Zoom, and it provides feedback and insights to the interviewer on what questions to ask, as well as highlighting to the interviewer if they’re asking fair questions. 

The purpose of this startup? To create equality in hiring and to give all job seekers a fair chance. At the same time they’re providing feedback and insights to interviewers to learn more about themselves, because when you spend time doing introspection, you start figuring out and understanding where you’ve got insecurities.

The importance of listening

The main activity we humans do, says Jay, is we communicate to one another. It’s probably one of the most beautiful gifts we’ve been given – to be able to communicate with each other. And what Jay’s learned is that you can be a great storyteller and a great communicator and engaging, but none of that matters if you’re not a good listener as well. 

“I learned that the best way to listen is not with your ears, it’s with your eyes and with your heart, to be in the moment. And to be in the moment, what you have to do is create some space with someone and really look into their eyes and feel the energy from their heart.”

That, says Jay, is the true art of listening, because you’re trying to feel the emotion not the words. You’re trying to understand the energy that they’re experiencing. But it’s hard to do because of the way our mind works. 

Most of the time, we just listen to the words people say, says Jay, when what you should be doing is listening to the space, to the gap between the words. To the tone of their voice, their energy. Because that’s more important than the words they’re actually speaking. 

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