Daniela Perdomo & Jorge Perdomo

Co-founders of GoTenna

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 10, 2016

Discussion

Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
Hi all, Daniela & Jorge Perdomo here. We are siblings and co-founders of @goTenna, a startup building tools for decentralized communication. Our first product started shipping last fall and pairs with smartphones to enable users to send texts & locations even when there's no cell service or wifi. We also just launched nationwide into retail last week at REI.
Nik Sharma@mrsharma · Director of Performance Marketing, hint
Hi Daniela & Jorge! So I'm assuming this product came from a need one or both of you had..? If yes, what's your favorite place to go outdoors/camping/backpacking? Trying to get to do some of those things this year! Thanks! :)
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@mrsharma Hi Nik, the idea came from a combination of not being to communicate a music festivals, as well as Hurricane Sandy knocking out 25% of the towers in the 10 state area. I'm not the biggest hiker myself, but perhaps Daniela can tell her some of her favorite spots!
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@jperdomoz @mrsharma Hey Nik, the hike to the Grand Arch in Arches National Park in southern Utah red-rock country is astounding. I don't recommend doing it in August as I did -- you feel like a fried egg -- but still worth it nonetheless! I also really like the Porcupine Flat trail in Yosemite, because at the midpoint you can watch all the rock-climbers make their way up El Capitan right across from you. It's like the easier, safer way to get all the views. And Mohonk Preserve in NY has lots of great bluffs and waterfalls to escape to when you live in the concrete jungle that is NYC (I live & work in Brooklyn).
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Your office is awesome. What makes Brooklyn such a great place to build a company?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@eriktorenberg Well the metrotech area has the advantage of being at a crux of subway lines, so its easy to recruit talented staff from basically anywhere in NYC. Also, the office cost is cheaper, but rising rapidly..... ;)
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@eriktorenberg Thanks for visiting ;-) I think Brooklyn is a great place to build a tech company because it's not a one-industry-town. That means you aren't in a bubble of other tech entrepreneurs, where you may very well end up 'solving' a 'problem' that only exists, say, among other tech startup people. Here in Brooklyn, my friends are nurses, academics, architects, media people -- they don't particularly care about my VC funding or my MVP. They give it to me straight. Keeps me humble and exposed to lots of different ways of thinking
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@danielaperdomo @jperdomoz thanks so much for joining us today. I would love to hear how you chose your investors? I was lucky enough to have @coenyc on @twentyminutevc and obviously an amazing investor but what value add or reason was behind the decision to choose the investors you did? Btw, always welcome on @twentyminutevc love what you are doing @gotenna
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@harrystebbings Hey Harry! TBH they kinda choose you, especially at the first go-around. During our seed I was lucky enough to have gotten a commitment for our seed (closed in balk half of '13) from @ceonyc way early on -- before I even had a deck ready -- and that kept me going through the slog of filling out the round which took about 6 months. The second time around -- we closed our A recently -- it was more strategic (though still not super easy, particularly in this bear market... and lots of people still don't "get" hardware). Obviously we've de-risked quite a bit in 3 years which did make some of the slog more efficient (didn't even have a pitch deck this time around), and we're starting to see where the key markets for us are, so we did try to partner with investors who have experience covering consumer, B2B, institutional (i.e. govt), as well as emerging markets. We're dreaming big beyond this first product. ;-) (BTW thanks for podcast invite, reach out over email!)
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@danielaperdomo @ceonyc awesome to hear and very excited by the potential of having you as a guest on the show. What is the best email to reach you on?
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What industries would you place your bets on in the next 10-20 years?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@jacqvon Anything related to water, its a critical resource that I don't think people are paying attention to yet, its not sexy/high-tech enough. However in the tech space, I think that really advanced work around AI, advanced transportation systems, and the like are going to be key. I think there is so much you can get from the social media boom we recently lived through, now we need to get back to making products and businesses that truly solve real world problems. Personally, I'm a huge fan of SpaceX, but no one can invest in them unfortunately :(
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@jacqvon Great question! Hmm, I'm pretty bullish on tech that shifts the paradigm around centralized infrastructure. It may not be 'sexy' or 'trendy' but rethinking the top-down approach to things like water, energy and, yes, comms, is really interesting. They are hard problems to solve, and I think there's lots of shots on goal here, and potentially lots of winners. I generally think that low-cost, intuitive technology that addresses enterprise and civic needs are likelier to stick. I'm sort of terrified of B2C-only plays, particularly in social
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@jperdomoz @jacqvon ahaha just saw your reply, J. We're a family that's pretty bullish on water, as you can tell — I said something similar. In part due to our father being an agricultural engineer, and our being from Latin America where water scarcity is a real thing. We grew up in São Paulo which has a Kafka-esque water situation going on (read more here: http://time.com/4054262/drought-...)
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What's the biggest critique of your work that you are most sympathetic to?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@jacqvon Well we did take longer than expected to finally launch the product. Its basically an adage in hardware startups and we weren't any different unfortunately. Other than that I think there haven't been many critiques which were things in our control, like there's nothing we can do to make goTenna go 20 miles while you're in a concrete and steel bunker! Beyond that, there are always bugs and feature requests that we want to get to ASAP, but with limited resources, development really is more of a practice in triage than anything else, and that can upset people sometimes. Beyond that, I think we're pretty happy with the product we delivered!
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Daniela and Jorge! What have been some of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome founding goTenna? How did you approach these?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@ems_hodge Just getting the thing to work! Haha, but seriously, its one thing to get a gizmo working in your garage, another to make it in mass quantities while maintaining quality. That was very difficult. Also I have to say that unlike on the west coast, hiring great engineering talent is more difficult in NYC, not impossible by any means, but harder because the pool is smaller, and the company can only do as well as its team members!
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@jperdomoz @ems_hodge I'd actually say hiring non-engineering talent is harder. Evidence: our full-fledged technical team v. our very understaffed non-technical team. Anyone reading: Send some marketing & comms geniuses our way, please!
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What advice would you give to others thinking about founding a new company?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@ems_hodge Make sure that you're solving a real problem. I've seen so many people who are attracted to the "sexiness" of having a startup who end up going for it just because of that allure. I gotta tell you, its not that alluring. Its painful, difficult, and like any other business the odds are stacked incredibly against you. The best thing you can do is live your life normally but always ask yourself a question when you run into something annoying or inefficient, ask yourself something like, "Man I wish this was like X" or "I wish something could do X for me..." and its that kind of inquisitiveness that can perhaps help you find the real golden nugget issue around which a business can be built and that you can be passionate about. Don't start a company to start a company, start a company if you have a real problem you want to solve, and you're passionate about solving it (and you know others people want it solved too!)
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@ems_hodge Beyond ensuring you are solving a real problem in a new way, make sure you really believe in what you're about to embark on because it's going to be hard, no one is going to think it's a good idea (usually), and it's going to take 5000x longer than you think. But it'll definitely be worth it if you have the commitment and drive to see it through (and through...)
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
How hard is it being siblings and running a company?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@bentossell It has its up and downs as any kind of long term relationship does. The important thing is that unlike any other partners, we're basically stuck together no matter what, so we always find a way to make things work, even if we might come close to combat from time to time ;)
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@jperdomoz @bentossell Right. Our mom would kill us if this didn't work out.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What are your favourite things to ask other founders?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@bentossell Its hard to find other founders of hardware companies as they're much rarer, and I might go so far as to say harder as well in many respects. In the few times I do find these people we usually spend our time commiserating over the tribulations of bringing hardware to market without blowing things up. Its hard to find someone to talk to about that kind of stuff sometimes. Beyond that, its usually very topical or tactical, talking about distribution, marketing campaigns that did or didn't work, and so forth!
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@bentossell How do you hire people? What was your best mistake? What was something everyone told you wouldn't work, but did?
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What's the target location for a goTenna? Could've used one at the music festival I was at this past weekend...
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@andrewmettinger goTenna can be used anywhere were communications are down, unavailable, or you don't want to use them for any reason such as cost or privacy concerns. i like to say that even tho goTenna range is usually measure in miles, we're useful from the moment someone is out of shouting range! I can tell you the the very first see of the goTenna concept came to me at EDC Vegas in 2012, so I'd like to answer yes, I would hope goTenna would be a great tool there as well!
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Is there anything you would have done differently in your journey to today? Do you have any regrets?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@ems_hodge The path to successfully launching goTenna had a LOT of twists and turns. There are tons of places where I could say we could have done things better, but none that stands out so egregiously that I can point it out as a regret. I would say although early on youre limited in who you can hire due to limited funds, the moment you have a bit more cash you really should make an effort to build out your team with the best you can find. You can hack it for a while, but at some point you really do see the value of bringing experts in-house and making those unique skillsets part of your core company
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey Guys! What's something you used to fervently believe that you now see as fundamentally misguided?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@eriktorenberg I'm going to get supremely specific on this one, making an intuitive chat application. How hard could it be? Every phone has it? WhatsApp did it. iMessage. The list goes on, simple right? Hell no. Making the goTenna app intuitive, and purposefully similar to all the UI elements in other chat apps was incredibly difficult. There are SO MANY minor toggles, long-presses, swipes, and other features that you might not notice as a feature most of the time since its so integrated, but the moment you don't have it in your app, all hell breaks loose. Making a "simple chat" app which followed regular conventions was incredibly difficult, primarily because I think people are so trained on what to expect from such an experience, much of it being automatic, that it makes it hard for another app to come in and do things even slightly differently or expect to get all the key parts that make it work right correct the first time around
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@eriktorenberg I used to think it was OK to surround yourself -- personally, professionally -- with people who were similar to you. Now I think that is a tremendously terrible thing to do to your brain. I'm a really political person so this used to really stark in my life -- recently, through my Bernie Sanders volunteer work, I've realized there are more things that we can all agree on if we don't focus on the wedge issues (e.g. most American want universal health care, affordable access to education, a less bellicose foreign policy, etc.).
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
How do you compliment each other as co-founders? Do you ever find it difficult working with family ?😬
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@ems_hodge J is really hyperlogical, and I'm pretty psychological. we're not very similar at all, so there aren't very many redundancies in our interests/skill-sets. this makes for really great complementary skills but sometimes also truly at-odds ways of looking at things. at least it's never boring ;-)
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
If you both had $1Billion what would you do?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@bentossell invest portion of it in secure bonds so I can comfortably live off the interest, then the rest I would invest into a variety of risky but high-payoff enterprise with social good in them, basically anything Elon Musk touches or tech pushing the edge of what is possible in space, power, food production, and the like. Oh, and I'd definitely book a flight on Virgin Galactic, I'm going to space before I die, mark my words
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@jperdomoz @bentossell can you tell J is a big Redditor? ;-) I'd want to focus on progressive issues that matter to me like increasing access to mental health care, addressing economic inequality, and figuring out how this planet will remain habitable given all the horrific things we're doing to it. You know, small stuff. I've never been to Hawaii but I'd also be down to be a peanut and pineapple farmer, and read books about cults and serial killers and other 'chill' topics I somehow can never get enough of. And I'd like to write a book about the left-wing fringe (the anti-GMO, anti-vaccines, anti-circumcision crowd) -- it's fascinating and weird and so anti-science. Also if Elizabeth Warren asked me to run her presidential campaign for her, I'd consider it. ;-)
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Whats on your homescreen?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@bentossell Of my computer? A mash up of Darth Vader and Boba Fett holding guns in a scene reminiscent of pulp fiction. I always thought it was by Banksy, but I might be wrong with that. As for my phone? The coolaid man bursting through a wall of breaks saying "Oooooooooh yeahhhhhh."
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@bentossell google.com. Since that's so boring here's a screenshot of my desktop background. http://imgur.com/h5uqojw <-- it's my favorite scene from my favorite film, "Aguirre, Wrath of God" by Werner Herzog
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@danielaperdomo @bentossell what about apps on your phone's homescreen too?
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@ems_hodge @bentossell Lyft (I boycott Uber) and then all the usuals like Slack and Alien Blue
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Who do you think will be the big buzz in SXSW? Or what trends will come out of it in your opinion?
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@bentossell I think SXSW is a vortex of hype. Sorry to be negative, but as a tech event it's just a lot of noise. Good film festival though. ;-)
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@bentossell Although in SXSW's defense, it is where we found our first institutional investor a long while back, but that was mostly lucky. I don't think we would recommend other people looking to get started/get investment go to SXSW though
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@jperdomoz @bentossell Are there other events that you think are more worthwhile or would recommend?
Jorge Perdomo@jperdomoz · co-Founder, goTenna
@ems_hodge @bentossell Depends on what you are trying to achieve! I'll let Daniela comment on fundraising stuff, but we've found different events are good for different purposes. For example CES is a great place to get a lot of new people to see your product, potentially drum up distribution interest, and if you're lucky get investors too. There are some government/industrial conferences that are great for BD in that space, the list goes on. I don't think there is a single "investor rich" symposium though, mostly because those kinds of people make themselves hard to reach on purpose, likely as a way of weeding out people who might not have the tenacity to follow a business idea through. I know we learned that when it comes to funding its very much a world of who knows who, and people giving each other intros directly, so you need at least one "in" to kick things off
Daniela Perdomo@danielaperdomo · Founder goTenna & FeelTheBern.org
@jperdomoz @ems_hodge @bentossell I haven't yet found a tech event I left thinking "Whoa, that was amazing, and that was definitely the best use of my time." That being said there are some pills you have to swallow like CES and other retail trade shows that get you in front of buyers you need to meet, and press/consumers who need to know you exist