I do … you do … we do … or should I say “Wedo”? What do you do? What do Wedo? What do you do at Wedo? So many questions, and I wonder if a lifetime will be long enough to answer them all.
It was Friday June 5, 2020, an otherwise unremarkable day, about three months in to the Covid lockdown. I was at my home in Northern California when I heard the familiar “ping” coming from my iPhone that I had received a text message. It was from Indiana Gregg and her message read:
“David. Magic has happened! Are you free to go on a zoom call? This is probably the most exciting thing we could have ever come up with and you will wanna see it.”
Having lived in Silicon Valley for more than twenty years, I’ve heard many words like this; words like “the next big thing” or “bigger than Facebook” come to mind, and are usually pitched to potential investors. I am generally skeptical of such broad statements, but Indy had credibility and integrity and also had a history of entrepreneurship and following her passion; so I responded back that I would be happy to talk and learn more about this “Magic”.
Indy and I had met a few months previously when we were both doing some consulting work for another company whose product supported mass events, such as circuses, concerts and festivals. With Covid in our lives, that project was put on an indefinite hold, but before that time I found myself in Madrid for a few days and as Indy lives in Valencia, I was invited to spend a weekend at her hacienda and meet her husband Ian, two Labrador puppies and five cats. I discovered that we shared many values, socially, politically and intellectually.
In that first zoom call, which actually happened the following day, Indy had not just hatched the idea for Wedo, she had already assembled a team of amazing people, including Daniel Coyle, Laura Duff, and Indy’s daughter, Sophia. As we introduced ourselves to each other, I discovered a very strong Scottish presence and jokingly asked if an Englishman living in the United States would fit in to the team. From my days in the venture capital industry, I am a big proponent of hiring outstanding people. The best concept in the world is likely to fail if it’s run by mediocre people. The team, the market opportunity and the economic opportunity for Wedo became very compelling and by the end of the call, I had made my decision – I’m in.
I am proud and honoured to be a non-executive director of Wedo, to be associated with such an amazing product and to contribute to the company’s successes in any way I can. But what about having some fun and enjoyment along the way, and what can Wedo do for me? Whether you believe in the alignment of the planets, serendipity, or simple good fortune, Wedo came in to my life at just the right time. The company was looking to build a library of blogs and podcasts and I was one of the early interviewees in a podcast to talk about my time working for another startup company called PayPal, that in 1999, no one had ever heard of. Soon after that, Indy asked if I would be a Wedotalk host, and I have now recorded 26 podcasts in a little over one year.
Beyond a career in finance, I had a vision for myself to become an advocate for mental health, and the Wedotalks have helped me do that, while also supporting the missions of Wedo. Every person I’ve interviewed has overcome some kind of obstacle in their life, and I’ve discussed issues such as mental illness, alcoholism, bankruptcy, prostate cancer, childhood leukemia and living with epilepsy. The people I have met along the way have been not just interesting, but also inspiring.
In 15 months, we have done all of the things that early-stage companies have to do; raise money, continue to build the team, create budgets and business plans, while focusing on the core business of building the technology and launching the product. In a slightly confused state, one question I asked early on is whether Wedo is a technology company, a service company or a bank. No need for any confusion here – it’s all three.
As I am located 8 or 9 time zones away from the team in Europe, I have been on calls and video chats as early as 4:00 AM and as late as Midnight, but most of them take place during my mornings, and we never waste any time. Meetings are clear and purposeful, and we make meaningful decisions.
I have often been asked the question “Why would anyone want to work for a startup?” often meaning that startups can be disorganized, chaotic, demanding and are usually short of money. Many people start companies or join startups for the potential to make a serious amount of money through equity appreciation. While that opportunity exists at Wedo, the primary mission of the company is to change people’s lives for the better, and to be proud of that.