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From the Comedy Club's to the Investor Room Nina Barnett's Journey as an Entrepreneur

From the Comedy Club’s to the Investor Room with Nina Barnett | Ep. 178 | Business Podcast

From the Comedy Club’s to the Investor Room with Nina Barnett | Ep. 178 | Business Podcast

From the Comedy Club's to the Investor Room Nina Barnett's Journey as an Entrepreneur
From the Comedy Club’s to the Investor Room Nina Barnett’s Journey as an Entrepreneur

Summary

Nina Barnett is a comedian and Founder. She is CEO of Ninz inc. operating under the DBA, Grooop.

Grooop is a platform designed to make safety more fun, inclusive, intuitive, and non-invasive using service contracts and a mobile app.

Nina is a UNC, Chapel Hill (go Heels!) 2019 graduate with a degree in Physics and Acting with a Mathematics minor.

She is a proud member of the Female Founder Collective, a Vital Voices Leadership Incubator Fellow, Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur Nominee and Finalist, Luminary x UFA 2021 Fellow, and most recently one of FLIK’s 21 Women Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2021.

In her spare time, she is also a stand-up comedian in New York City performing at iconic venues such as Gotham Comedy Club, Greenwich Village Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club, Stand Up NY, and more!

Links from this episode
Grooop

Hello Friends.

Nina:

Welcome to the show. Today, we’ve got a really fun episode with Nina Barnett who was a stand up comedian and an entrepreneur co founder of an app called group which helps groups stays safe.

Nina:

In the beginning of the episode we talk about stand up comedy and how it relates to entrepreneurship, which there’s a ton of parallels and a lot of rejection, a lot of practice and copyrighting, which was really important for our sales and marketing and understanding punchlines or hooks if you will.

Nina:

And then we talk about how she found a group while she was an undergraduate and how she’s currently growing it.

Nina:

You’re going to love this episode.

Nina:

It’s really fun.

Nina:

Nina Barnett stand up comedian, co founder of the app group.

Brandon:

Here we go.

Brandon:

Welcome to the Edge podcast, your weekly playbook about the inner game of building a successful business, making you a happier, healthier and richer business owner.

Nina:

And here’s your host, Brandon White.

Nina:

Good morning Nina.

Nina:

Hello, can you hear me?

Nina:

I can.

Brandon:

Amazing, wow!

Nina:

Those are fancy headphones.

Nina:

You’re making mine look terrible.

Brandon:

Oh my gosh!

Brandon:

Well my favorite color is pink and so I obviously had to have big headphones and I didn’t really take them into consideration when I started having to record things with video, but I kind of, I love them.

Nina:

I like them.

Nina:

They’re very stylish.

Brandon:

Thank you.

Nina:

Thank you.

Brandon:

Look at that little, what does that say in the background.

Nina:

It says choose Joy.

Brandon:

Cool, yeah, how is new york today?

Nina:

Well there’s a heat wave.

Brandon:

So I would say it’s hot, but it’s very nice.

Brandon:

This is now our second heat wave in about seven days.

Nina:

So it’s been a little toasty but it’s actually, I mean there’s not a cloud in the sky, so it’s really nice right now.

Brandon:

It’ll probably be later when it’s in the 90s that it’s not exactly my favorite place.

Nina:

Well, how has new york been compared to your originally from north Carolina?

Brandon:

Yeah, I mean it’s been great.

Nina:

Honestly, I’ve loved being here.

Brandon:

I I left during the first part of Covid and I have been here since I guess last july and you know, it’s it’s, we had a tough winter of course to top things off.

Nina:

And then now we’re having a quite a hot summer, but it’s been great.

Brandon:

And you know, it’s still been really, really nice despite minor heatwave moments.

Brandon:

Well you’re sort of used to it, right.

Nina:

I mean Chapel hill is gets hot.

Brandon:

Oh, absolutely.

Brandon:

And like all the humidity in north Carolina, I’m definitely used to it.

Brandon:

I think the biggest differences in north Carolina, you can kind of, I don’t know, drive around with the Windows Town or most people have central air conditioning whereas in new york and just kind of the summer can be a little tough because it starts to starts to just smell bad and the concrete makes it even hotter.

Brandon:

But I live close to the water.

Brandon:

So that that definitely helps.

Nina:

I’m interested what prompted you to everyone was moving out of new york city when Covid happened and Nina moved in.

Nina:

How did that work?

Brandon:

Yeah, so I actually lived here right before Covid as well.

Brandon:

So I moved here in kind of the end of summer 2019 and I, I mean I’m just, I love new york, it’s one of those places and I think most people that are here right now would probably agree sometimes when I leave new york, all I can think about is getting back to new york and that’s kind of how I felt when I was deciding where to move and all that good stuff and you know, just loved it and then was really kind of finding my groove and then Covid hit and I was living in a really small studio apartment and so I would have probably lost my marbles and so I moved back in with my parents, which was so much fun actually.

Brandon:

And then come july, we all kind of looked at each other and we said it’s time when I came back, but it’s actually been great up here and you know, I think everyone in new york right now and especially the past year are people that love new york and they’re not here because their job, they’re not here because of, you know, another person, they’re here because they love new york because that’s really the only thing that kept people here for most of the offensive Covid and so it’s kind of nice because everyone’s happy and it’s I don’t know, it’s just pleasant.

Brandon:

Well you’re a unc tar heel and aren’t the people very different.

Nina:

I’m not saying bad good or, or equal, but they’re very different from.

Brandon:

Yeah, I mean it’s funny because I would say previously before Covid, I would say, you know, the biggest thing about new Yorkers is everyone’s always going somewhere.

Brandon:

You’re always on a mission to go somewhere.

Brandon:

And so, I mean, even my mom had said, hey, you know, keep your head down, don’t make eye contact, just go.

Brandon:

And she lived here for 10 years and she was like, people aren’t trying to be rude, they’re just trying to get places and you know, there’s a comedian that I actually love who I’ve done a bunch of shows with and he always talks about how new Yorkers are, the nicest mean people you’ll ever interact with because they’ll throw cough drops at you if you’re coughing, but technically, you know, it’s something nice.

Brandon:

And so I think that the biggest difference, I mean in the south, it’s like you wave at people and everyone is friendly, it doesn’t matter if you know them or not.

Brandon:

And in new york it’s people are still very friendly, but I think it’s just a bit different.

Brandon:

But I think post Covid, it’s been very different.

Brandon:

I think that people are interacting more.

Nina:

They’re craving that social interaction, you know, even in the comedy world and entrepreneurship world, you know, instead of kind of fighting to the top, everyone’s trying to help each other, Everyone’s trying to interact with each other.

Nina:

Network with each other just because we missed it for so long.

Nina:

So I don’t know, there’s definitely been a shift.

Nina:

But yeah, at the, at the beginning it was a little different for someone to be kind of offended if I, you know, waved at them or something.

Nina:

But now I think everyone’s waving at each other.

Brandon:

So I don’t know, it’s kind of a new new york in a way.

Brandon:

Sounds like a jerry Seinfeld bit or that bit.

Brandon:

Yeah, absolutely.

Brandon:

We’re always going somewhere.

Brandon:

We’re always going somewhere then we’re always, how are we going to get, when is this over?

Brandon:

Where are we going to get back?

Brandon:

I watched his special, my dad and I watched his special I think three times in a row when it came out over Covid.

Brandon:

Oh, that’s cool.

Nina:

We, my wife and I flew to Dallas and went and drove to Oklahoma to what is the largest casino.

Brandon:

If you can believe it in the world.

Nina:

It’s like a mile long to see jerry Seinfeld in person.

Brandon:

I’m so jealous.

Brandon:

It was so funny.

Nina:

Oh, so jealous.

Nina:

My dad and I, we’re actually supposed to go the day that the world shut down.

Nina:

So we had tickets and he was one of the last, we were to cancel and I mean up until almost the hour we were supposed to go and then he canceled it and truly new york shut down the next day.

Brandon:

I think the great thing about him is that he doesn’t have to work and he still works his ass off and he’s funny.

Nina:

Oh yeah, absolutely.

Brandon:

I mean he’s, I think he’s one of the comedians that I admire the most too, because you know, he is just, he’s talking about his life, he’s talking about things in normal people’s lives, he’s talking about new Yorkers, he doesn’t have to go with something super vulgar or anything like that and he’s hilarious and it’s something that I find funny, my dad finds funny my brother who’s in college fight, it’s funny and so I think, you know, he’s just so so so talented and I would, I would kill to meet him one day, but who knows, maybe you’ll run into him in new york.

Brandon:

Well let’s talk about you, you’re a founder of a startup and a stand up comedian?

Brandon:

Yeah, so a very stable job.

Nina:

Yeah.

Nina:

Right.

Nina:

How did, so let’s talk about, well we’re talking about comedians, how did you get into stand up?

Brandon:

So it’s actually kind of a funny story.

Brandon:

I I’ve grown up acting, I still do it, I’ve loved acting and performing my whole whole life, you know, half the reason I even have a mic is because I’ve always been singing and I was living in san Francisco working at carbon three D, another super cool company.

Brandon:

And I was living there during college, just just college summer and I had truly no friends, like I had my work friends and that was about it.

Nina:

I didn’t know my roommates, you know, I, I had a bike and I lived in a really random place in Redwood city and so I said, you know, I really need it sometimes, creative outlet, like I just need something cause I’m literally just waking up, working out, going to work, I need something and I signed up for an acting class, the acting class didn’t get enough people and so they canceled it, but they said, oh, you can, you know, enroll in the fall.

Nina:

And I said, well I don’t actually live here and they said, well we have one open class and it’s a stand up class and there’s this amazing woman Katy Rubin teaching it.

Brandon:

And I thought, okay, I mean, what do I have to lose?

Nina:

I don’t know anyone in this entire city.

Nina:

So I ended up taking this workshop and truly, I think, you know, by the grace of God, it was this amazing woman because I think if I hadn’t had a woman teaching it, I would have been, I don’t know, intimidated or just thought, you know, this is probably not going to work out and you know, just kind of picked it up and said, you know, this is actually really fun and I really like it and even if I bomb nobody even knows I’m doing this?

Nina:

And came back for my senior year in Chapel Hill did stand up kind of secretly for a semester and then said, okay, I think I’m actually funny people are pity laughing.

Brandon:

And I invited all my friends and you know, became a resident comic actually at the Pit in Chapel Hill, which they have a location in new york too.

Brandon:

And their founder went to you and see, so that’s kind of the random connection there and then just sort of was right place, right time and then moved to new york and again right place, right time and now here we are.

Brandon:

Well, that’s a great story.

Brandon:

Redwood city isn’t really that random.

Brandon:

It’s actually just across the hill from me.

Brandon:

Do you know that they have the best weather in the world I think is what they’re rated Oh, I loved the weather.

Brandon:

I mean I absolutely loved, I went on runs, I was I was right by Bear Island and I loved where I lived but I truly couldn’t have been farther from anyone.

Brandon:

I even remotely new, but it was really close to work, so that was convenient.

Brandon:

Well that’s cool.

Brandon:

But yeah, Redwood city is not a it’s a cool little city but it’s not a city for necessarily young people to hang out who I don’t have kids and it’s a job, but Redwood City school.

Brandon:

So I’m interested in how comedians come up with funny stories like how does this, how does it work?

Brandon:

Yeah, like how do you do it?

Nina:

It’s interesting.

Nina:

I think every comedian probably has a different approach.

Brandon:

I obviously credit Katie for most of the, you know, methodology that she gave and I know there were some books that she had referenced and you know, all that stuff.

Brandon:

But for me, I mean I have a notebook, I have a couple of physical notebooks just scattered around my apartment and purses, things like that.

Brandon:

And then I also have a running note sheet on my phone and if I ever see something that I’m like, that’s odd or you know, that’s something that could be turned into a joke.

Nina:

I mean it may just be something for example that I noticed recently is in new york, everybody waters their sidewalks, which in new york is just kind of a normal accepted thing.

Nina:

But when you think about it, that’s really weird.

Nina:

And so that’s something that I just wrote down in my notes.

Nina:

I don’t know what the joke is going to be yet, but it’s something odd and it could kind of go into it.

Nina:

It could also just be, I might write down sometimes I look at my nose units that’s like pesto chicken and I have no idea what that was referring to.

Nina:

But so I just kind of write down anything that stands out to me and then when I’m flushing it out there’s, you know, sort of the methodology, I guess you could pose it as is I look to see if something is hard, scary weird or stupid, which sounds really weird, but if you can say this is scary because of this, then you have something that’s a complete joke, but if you can’t do that because then it’s probably not a complete joke and then obviously from there you do the punch line or the act out or kind of wherever you go with it, I’m a big actor outer because I think that’s just growing up, you know, in theater, but I also really, really comfortable on stage, which is a very large part of my performance.

Nina:

So the fact that I can kind of just hang out in front of audiences and helps a ton.

Nina:

But yeah, I mean Sometimes it’s funny stories, sometimes it’s things about the world, the general form as you try to get a laugh every 15 seconds.

Brandon:

So if you are telling a story, it’s got to have a lot of punches in it.

Nina:

So I tend to have kind of smaller bits that have a big umbrella.

Brandon:

But yeah, I mean it can be anything, sometimes it’s like looking at a shampoo bottle that’s funny Who came up with the rule that you have to have, is it to keep the audience momentum going is why the 15 2nd rule.

Brandon:

Yeah, I wish I knew who said, I’m sure it’s someone profound and I’m disappointing comedians all over the world by not knowing, but it’s just kind of the rule and you know, everyone always says it and if you watch a good stand up special, I mean you watch Seinfeld, you watch you know, any of these amazing comedians, john Lady amy schumer, all these amazing people and you actually time it, they do get Probably a laugh every 15 seconds and it may not be the biggest laugh of the whole bit, but they get that, you know, that laugh every 15 seconds.

Brandon:

So you know, I think it’s a big part of keeping audiences engaged if you are a storytelling comic, obviously there’s some people that are just kind of punch, punch punch punch, but if you’re telling this long winded story, you know, you’ve got to make sure that it’s got those punches to keep people listening because if they don’t make it to the end of the story, they’re never going to hear the big punch line.

Brandon:

So I wish I knew who came up with that or where I heard it, but everybody just kind of knows it somehow and comedies core premise if I understand it and I thought about it because my wife and I watched comedians every single night before we go to bed because you know, there’s you know, there’s so much craziness out there and so much a lot of negativity and you know, you should go to bed smiling and laughing, not depressed and sad.

Brandon:

Is that what makes people laugh as things that are true, yep, absolutely.

Brandon:

I mean I think one of the biggest pieces of advice I’ve told to you know other young comics or even just to myself is that if I don’t believe my own joke, it’s not going to land at all.

Brandon:

And I think you know that that’s sort of in the same vein of it.

Brandon:

I don’t think my joke is funny, then why would anyone else think it’s funny?

Brandon:

But also if I think my joke is really funny, most people will think it’s funny even if it’s not a funny joke.

Brandon:

And so I mean I think we see that on SNL when people start laughing and you know, breaking character, that’s some of the funniest parts because they think it’s so hilarious that they’re breaking character and so I think you know it’s the same thing for you know stand up comedy and just in general you have to be telling the truth.

Brandon:

You can’t be making up some type of lie or obviously sometimes things are exaggerated or made into hyperba lee’s or anything like that, but obviously it has to be rooted in a foundation of truth because if not, I mean no one will believe you.

Brandon:

How do comedians?

Brandon:

I mean this seems like a crazy question, but I’m always interested in the business because I’ve seen the comedians come back, I follow them.

Brandon:

We love Sebastian, he’s coming here to the san Francisco Bay area and I think we have tickets for august, I mean he, he just is so funny, but how do they really make money in as a stable gig?

Nina:

I mean as a comedian, you are an entrepreneur, I mean you are your own business, it’s actually, I think one of the rawest things that you could ever do, because there you don’t need a set, there’s there’s always a stool of bottled water and a mic and then it’s just you Yeah, I mean that’s pretty naked and raw and then you’ve got to come up with these true stories that are funny that followed the formula that you said earlier.

Brandon:

So is it, do you get some of these nightclubs from my understanding of listening to them, you just have to be there because if you’re not there, you don’t get noticed.

Brandon:

If you don’t get noticed, you don’t get picked up, but what does picked up mean?

Brandon:

Yeah, well, you know, it’s funny because people will be like, oh my gosh, you’re doing so many shows, you have so many shows this week, that must be so exciting, you know, you know, things are taking off, which in a comedian’s mind, yes, like that is the gold, you know, doing all these shows, but I will also and a seven day period and do 7 to 14 shows in that seven day period and walk away with less money and so it really, you know, obviously depends on the place, some places usually outside of new york, I have more success, you know, getting paid and especially just being a new york comic helps, but in new york it’s so competitive that you are, you know, you pay for open mics in general, and so if you want to do an open mic you are paying, you know, 5 to $6 for 5 to 6 minutes and you know, sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more depending on the mic, but also you might do the mic and someone famous or some manager or someone may also be there and that helps you get picked up and so, you know, I think like entrepreneurship and like running a business so much of comedy is networking.

Brandon:

I mean there are times where I will be like, I don’t want to do the show, I don’t want to go as far as I have to go for this show, there’s gonna be no one there, it’s literally just comedians, but you know, you go to talk to the other comedians because maybe a comedian’s producing a show and you know, in my case a lot of times, unfortunately there’s usually a female slot on shows that they’re trying to fill and so it’s great, but it’s also a little frustrating, but it’s one of those things where, you know, I go to say, hey, you know, here’s another female comedian because in general, there’s not as many, you know, hanging out in those kind of places.

Brandon:

And so I think that it’s a grind for sure, which like I said, the two most stable jobs I could have chosen in the world.

Brandon:

But I think, you know, getting notice really can be or getting picked up.

Brandon:

It really can be everything from you have a really good show and they say, hey, we want you back for the next six Mondays or you know, you have a really good show and that show was taped and then you can send it to all these different bookers and managers and producers and things like that.

Brandon:

But it’s also now in the world of Tiktok, it’s like people are being booked for shows based on the fact that their Tiktok famous and so it’s kind of social media has made everything a little a little different.

Nina:

But I think that the biggest thing is just usually network.

Nina:

I mean that’s usually how you get put on to some of these shows and who’s the host and have you been on this show with multiple people before?

Nina:

But I think, you know, post covid comedians are still willing to help each other, which is really incredible because I was definitely intimidated before.

Nina:

But yeah, I mean it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s really interesting.

Nina:

But I mean I think that it’s, it’s something that like if I’m traveling to a new city to see a friend, even if it’s like, I’m just going for a bachelorette weekend or whatever it might be.

Nina:

I will email or DM or text someone that runs one of the comedy clubs and say, hey, I’m gonna be in town these dates, could I drop in for a set and I most likely won’t be paid.

Nina:

But then I’ve kind of got that connection and maybe it’s a good club and all that kind of stuff.

Brandon:

And so it’s really just, you know, doing everything you can, even though they’re most likely won’t be a compensation because then eventually, you know, you’re being called and you know, that’s when you get paid is when they’re calling you and you know, that’s, that happens.

Brandon:

Um, and it definitely, you know, happens more for the bigger names, but when they start calling, that’s when you can start to be like, hey, yes, I would love to do that show, Here’s My feet or you know, kind of go from there.

Brandon:

How much can you meek.

Brandon:

So I’m trying to understand the progression, is it?

Brandon:

They’ll come back and say, hey Nina, we’ll pay you 50 bucks do a 10 minute that come back to the show because you earn that, then you could open for a big name and I assume you make, I don’t know how you have to tell me, I don’t know how much you make and then you can get your netflix special, which I don’t know how much they make.

Brandon:

I actually was wondering, I’m curious if that’s is that $5 million?

Brandon:

Is that $500,000?

Brandon:

And is that really just as much?

Brandon:

Maybe they give you 100 and $50,000 in some royalty, but you’re on netflix and you get exposed to all these people?

Brandon:

Yeah, so I definitely know the answer to a couple of those, a couple of those.

Brandon:

I have no idea.

Nina:

I mean you can ask my friends and family.

Nina:

I tell just about everyone on this planet that my netflix special is coming out this fall because I truly believe that if you believe it strong enough and you tell enough people it will happen.

Nina:

So definitely be on the lookout for that.

Nina:

You’re all invited to the premiere.

Nina:

But I think that basically if so there’s kind of three spots on just a regular show, so if it’s not someone’s tour, just a regular show, there’s you know, the opener who usually is the professional comic, you’ve gotta get, has to get the crowd going.

Nina:

That also open or maybe the host and those two people are usually paid.

Nina:

The host is always paid because they’re obviously you know, kind of having to run through material, keep people engaged, all that stuff.

Nina:

So host is almost always paid, then there’s the guest spot which is usually it might be towards the beginning, it might be kind of towards the end, you know, just gets people going and you know, at a typical just every day show, Someone not paid is getting five minutes, a guest spot is 8-10 and then the headliner is usually 10-15 and the headliner is in terms of minutes, sorry, and then the headliner is obviously paid as well.

Nina:

And so depending on the show, it could probably be anywhere from, you know, like 20 bucks to you know, sometimes drinks are your payment and I don’t drink during shows, so that’s always kind of funny and you know, sometimes it’s hundreds of dollars, it really just depends and it also depends on where you are and how many tickets are sold.

Nina:

So you know, for example, I’ve been asked to do shows in charlotte because I’m obviously from there and I can probably get a lot of tickets sold and so they kind of say, you know, hey depending on how many tickets you get sold, we’ll pay you for that, but we’re not going to pay for your flight and we’ll give you, you know $500 for the show, that kind of thing and that it’s kind of dependent on the ticket sales, so some people are making thousands on shows a week, some people are making drink tickets and as far as netflix special, I think that also depends because you know, there’s some netflix specials that some people are like, I didn’t even know that was on netflix and you don’t even realize that some of these people have these specials out there because it was either not marketing well or it was just a really small special and you know, maybe they produce it themselves, but I honestly don’t even know what the money that goes into that now and with all the different streaming channels too, but I think that in general the money is pretty low until you’re the bigger names or until your verified and you, or you have special or you know what not, but then there’s obviously tours, if you’re opening for a specific person that’s usually up to that person to kind of decide, but it’s things like, you know, I’ve accidentally open for Jim Gaffigan twice, but I’m not being paid for that just because he decided to perform that night and you know, my friends are like, that’s so who you opened for Jim Gaffigan?

Nina:

It was the coolest thing ever, you know, how did you get that book?

Nina:

And I’m like, well, I didn’t know what was happening, so I didn’t get anything, but you know, that was probably a night where he was trying out new stuff and it’s still a cool experience and you know, great to just meet people like that.

Nina:

But yeah, in general, unless you’re called, which I would say especially post Covid is pretty much only the names that everyone knows you’re not being paid much at all.

Nina:

You said something earlier about having a woman slot and I think comedians are, Well, I listened to all these podcasts like I said at night because it’s funny, but they’re within this political correctness world comedians.

Nina:

I mean ultimately, I think what I’m seeing is a breakthrough like hey, we’ve had enough of this.

Nina:

Crazy.

Nina:

You’re offended.

Nina:

Bullcrap Eliza who I fall on instagram.

Nina:

She’s basically, I think done with it.

Nina:

Like, hey, if you don’t like what I said or you’re offended, then unfollowed me but get off your ass and stop Acting like a maniac.

Nina:

And I understand tensions are high.

Nina:

And I read an article this morning said that 95% of people, can you believe this?

Brandon:

Nina 95%.

Brandon:

According to a survey on Monster.com, 95%% of the people want to quit their job and change.

Brandon:

So clearly tensions are high, right burnout.

Brandon:

All these, all these things.

Brandon:

And, but I, I just think this world is so crazy, like you’re gonna get offended.

Brandon:

We, we could get offended at anything at any moment.

Brandon:

Generally if you’re offended, it sounds like you’ve got a personal problem for the most part.

Brandon:

But I think there’s this bit of what I think we know that there’s been this movement of all sorts of crazy stuff, but to give you mentioned about the women slot and that’s frustrating.

Brandon:

Is it frustrating because you feel like they’re making it happen versus, you know, they’re trying to say, hey, we’re promoting women and that that makes you feel different or what’s the dynamic there?

Brandon:

Yeah, so I mean, I think that, you know, something that I honestly, most of the areas of my life, I mean I majored in physics, so that’s a very male dominant major and yeah, very random physics enacting, but again, to really clear path, right?

Brandon:

But, but so I’ve been kind of used to male dominant areas most of my life, and, you know, the comedy world is very similar, you know, you sit and when there’s a show with the majority women, almost every person that is either on the show manager, including myself will be like, wow, that’s crazy, There’s so many women on this show, it’s wild and you know, in general, when I go to just an average show and you know, this could be a late night show on a saturday, it might be a monday show, it could be anything, I would say, there’s usually two females in like 8 to 10 males performing and I’ve kind of just gotten used to it at this point because I think to myself, well there just might not be that many women in comedy and then I meet all these women, I’m like, oh my gosh, there’s so many of us, there’s just as many and they’re all hilarious, but you know, it’s just kind of been assumed?

Brandon:

And also, you know, it just becomes that sort of boys club of you know, who knows who and you know, how are people connected And then you know after shows that 123 a.

Brandon:

M.

Brandon:

Most of the girls aren’t necessarily hanging out with the guys afterwards just in general.

Brandon:

I mean I’ve always been kind of a guy’s girl.

Brandon:

So I guess that’s an advantage and you know, that helps.

Brandon:

But it’s also something that I think is just a little crazy.

Brandon:

Actually.

Brandon:

I’ll pull up what my this girl that’s a host who’s incredible and she’s so funny.

Brandon:

Her name is Ashley Morris she posted this yesterday and I reposted it because I thought this was so, I don’t know, just funny, but also very important.

Brandon:

But she said, hey male comics and producing a comedy show with only men to prove that guys can be funny.

Brandon:

I’ll probably call it something like men are funny to the venue needs me to put at least one female but between men because like back to back male comics, it’s just way too much for an audience.

Brandon:

Also you’ll be paid less, but it’s a great opportunity, please send me your tape if you’re interested and get ready for hugs.

Brandon:

Do you mind if I bring you up on stage by saying this guy is actually funny and then at the bottom it says there’s no show.

Brandon:

I just wanted to see how it sounded flip and I was like that is first of all hilarious, but also just so true because it’s one of those things that you know, half the time were brought on stage, it’s like this girl is actually so funny and you know, it’s just little things that I don’t use, I don’t get very offended easily.

Brandon:

I think most female comedians would stay the same.

Brandon:

You know, we’re we’ve got pretty tough skin and you know, I don’t think about it a lot of times but it’s just sort of out there and it’s not necessarily something that’s wildly offensive, it’s just happening and you know, I can’t imagine you know what precedent that sets for some young girl that maybe it’s like comedy could be kind of cool because there’s just not a lot of representation by females, but I think you know in terms of like being offended, all that kind of stuff.

Brandon:

I mean comedians are the first ones to be like I don’t care what anybody thinks and there’s some comedians that are so funny that you know kind of make fun of it and you know, just really call it how it is and we’ll say I don’t really care if you laugh or not.

Nina:

And I think that in general yeah, we all need to loosen up a little bit.

Nina:

But I also think there’s such a big difference between being ignorant and being too sensitive and you know, all that kind of stuff and I think that comedians sometimes go over the line but they also usually are really good at finding exactly where the line is and you know, just opening people’s eyes, but I think in terms of the male, of female thing, there’s definitely a lot of work to be done, but I would say it’s not necessarily that I get there and they’re like, oh good, we needed someone for the female slot, you know, there’s ways to use that to our advantage, but they’re also, there shouldn’t be a female slot, it should just be should be a human slot, shouldn’t it just be a human slot?

Nina:

Exactly, and I think for now if they were to just say, oh, there shouldn’t be people, so I think honestly most females wouldn’t be put on the show, which is so unfortunate, but I think, you know, you are seeing that change and there’s managers and brokers that are amazing, all the clubs that I perform at that I absolutely love and I love all the producers and the bookers and the managers there, they’re so great about being like, your were great, we would love to have you back or Oh, I didn’t even realize I booked 12 females for the show and you know, they just because they just were going down the list of people that have helped were funny and you know, I do a lot of stuff at Gotham and that happens a lot where he’ll just be like, I was just literally going through who had good sets last week and it ended up being a practically all female show and a female host.

Nina:

And so I think it’s just you know, some people are more attuned to I want to find the funny and some people are more attuned to like who are my friends.

Nina:

And so I think just finding that line is what people are working on.

Nina:

But I don’t think anyone’s like actively trying to exclude females.

Nina:

I think it’s just kind of something that a couple people have to start making the change.

Nina:

I agree.

Brandon:

I I struggle with understanding.

Brandon:

I mean humans are animals who congregate into like minded people groups and you could divide it six ways under the sun if you really start unpacking it.

Brandon:

But I think dividing it, like you’re saying actually makes the problem worse not better.

Brandon:

Why don’t we just why don’t we just pick the funniest people?

Brandon:

I don’t really care if they’re men, women, if they were an alien.

Brandon:

It might be even funnier.

Brandon:

I mean what were the dog?

Brandon:

I mean I really don’t care or we shouldn’t care.

Brandon:

But it’s interesting that humans always and I don’t think, I think that anybody out there who thinks that we’re going to live in utopia and that you know, you can call it discrimination or you can call it division, but all humans aggregate into like minded people and when it works for you, everybody seems to be okay with it.

Brandon:

But when it doesn’t work for you all of a sudden we we’ve got to divide it.

Brandon:

So I was interested, I appreciate you sharing that.

Brandon:

But you know, I think that, oh, it’s a woman and she’s funny, I’d be like, well you’re a man and you’re not funny.

Brandon:

Like why, why why are we using these, Why are we categorizing, hey, this human wasn’t funny?

Brandon:

I think that’s a better way.

Brandon:

I don’t I know it’s it’s so funny and it’s I mean we all every female half, I mean not half of our material, but so much of our material will also come from things like, you know, I’m living in new york and I’m single and you know, I’ll go on dates and you guys really don’t know what to do with the fact that I’m a comedian and you know, I don’t sit down and make jokes like that, that’s not really what could you?

Brandon:

I don’t just tell jokes all the time, obviously, and but they’ll kind of want to prove that they’re also funny and I’m like, it’s okay if you’re not, I’m not going to tell jokes, you don’t have to tell jokes, you can just sit here and talk about our family sort of thing and but it’s so fun interesting because I think it’s just, you know, I think we’re seeing sort of the shift in the generation right below me, is there really just looking at everyone as everyone and I think that, you know, that will be something really interesting to see kind of when they’re, you know, in their twenties and looking at people in general looking at comedians in general, you know, Is it?

Brandon:

Oh, she’s also funny, how how crazy.

Brandon:

Because I think that’s something that even I I hear my friends saying like, oh my gosh, she’s actually so funny.

Brandon:

Whereas it’s assumed that all the guys are always funny.

Brandon:

So I think that it’s not something that’s ever offended me.

Brandon:

It’s not something that I lay awake at night thinking about, but I think also it’s just going to be something that I’m sure there will be people kind of leading the charge and there will be people that are just kind of helping people recognize when it should just say, hey, you know, these humans are funnier, These are the funniest five people and who knows if I’ll be in that about five, but I think that it’s just something where we have to just sort of acknowledge it when it happens.

Brandon:

And I think with so many things going on in the world to, it’s more of just being aware because I think for the longest time people just weren’t being aware and they weren’t looking around them.

Brandon:

But I think that yeah, it can be, it can be honestly, it’s funny because it gives a lot of material when, when, you know, people say, oh, she’s actually funny.

Brandon:

Yeah, I think that’s terrible.

Brandon:

Yeah, it’s interesting, you know?

Brandon:

Well when you use the word interesting, when you use the word interesting, that’s like, that’s like I hear here’s my line or interesting, that’s like someone saying it’s fine.

Nina:

I took my wife on our first vacation 25 years ago.

Nina:

I don’t know if it was a vacation because we’re going to see my parents in law, so that would be arguable if it was a vacation, Hopefully not listening.

Nina:

But uh we got a hotel and there was a hole in the ceiling above the bed and I was like, oh, is that?

Nina:

I didn’t feel comfortable, first of all, I didn’t like it and I was like, oh, you know, let’s move.

Nina:

She’s like, oh no, it’s fine.

Nina:

I was like, yeah, we’re out of here as soon as you hear fine from anybody, you’re out right.

Nina:

Especially females if you ever hear people say like it’s fine interesting or if they’re asked about someone and they say, oh, they’re really nice.

Nina:

That’s usually good.

Nina:

Yeah, like what the hell are they good at what they owe?

Nina:

The carpenters?

Brandon:

So nice.

Nina:

Carpenter sucks.

Nina:

Yeah, he’s he or she is nice, but didn’t do the job.

Nina:

Yeah, absolutely.

Nina:

But yeah, interesting and find big red flags from a female, but probably anyone in general.

Nina:

But yeah, but yeah, yeah, when you said interesting, I was like, yeah, not interesting and actually a problem.

Nina:

But um so I think that the dating scene, I think that I could see that, I think that men would be intimidated by that because getting on stage in front of, I mean these people can cuss at you, they can throw things at you, they can, they can really be mean, which I find I don’t I just it’s not interesting, it’s wrong.

Nina:

So you know, that’s probably the intimidation factor in the sense that it takes a lot to get up there.

Nina:

You ever nervous?

Nina:

Honestly, the only times I tell my roommate this all the time, the only time I get nervous for his show is when it’s a new venue.

Nina:

So if I don’t know the venue, I don’t know the booker, I’m basically auditioning to come back so I can’t be trying out something new, I can’t, you know, do something rogue.

Nina:

So not that I really do, but I think that that’s the only time I ever get really nervous in general, if there’s hecklers half the time, I can’t hear them from the stage, so obviously if I can hear them, I will acknowledge it just so everyone in the room doesn’t feel uncomfortable, but I can’t hear them most of the time.

Brandon:

So it’s actually not that terrible.

Brandon:

I mean I yeah, otherwise I don’t really get nervous one time I took a second date to a show, I was quite nervous for that, it didn’t work out, so I will not be doing that ever again, but I think, yeah, the only time I really get nervous is when it’s a new place or a new venue and I’m or if there’s a big group of people that have never seen me perform, they look so on edge that sometimes that can feed in a little bit.

Brandon:

But in general, I don’t really know because I have so much fun and I love doing it so much.

Brandon:

And the worst thing that could happen is I do horribly and I get off the stage and it was five minutes of my life.

Brandon:

So generally I don’t really get nervous, but I’m also an anomaly that I like being on stage and all that kind of stuff, but I can definitely see the intimidation.

Nina:

My dad’s been telling me that I intimidate boys since I was probably four years old and now he’s like, oh, like maybe we should work.

Brandon:

But I think, yeah, well there you go, that’s your dad, like why should you work on it?

Brandon:

That’s who you are.

Brandon:

You’re not going to work on anything if the guy doesn’t opt in and can’t handle that.

Brandon:

That doesn’t sound like a good foundation to me because it doesn’t seem like you’re going to change or why would you change?

Brandon:

That would be the real question, Right.

Brandon:

Exactly.

Brandon:

And I think that that’s something that to do.

Brandon:

Credit my dad, my dad’s always been like, you know, you could do something about it.

Brandon:

But also I don’t really think you’d be able to do something about it for quite long, and I was like you’re right, and so you know that’s that’s always been so help.

Brandon:

I mean I have so many men in my life that have always been so influential and helpful and you know, I think I give a good lens on you know what, this can also be an image of a female, this can also be an image of a comedian, but I think yeah, the intimidation thing is very real and alive, it also doesn’t help, but I also run a company, so, but it’s kind of funny because there are guys that you know that’s the greatest thing ever, and so those are the ones that it’s like great, wonderful second date, but I think that you know there’s still and I think a big part of it can be self confidence to obviously male or female, if you’re lacking in self confidence, you got to work on yourself first, you gotta learn how to love yourself before you can love other people.

Brandon:

I mean that’s something that I have to work on, so many comedians have to work on is you know, loving myself, like I have the sign that says choose joy and before I can choose Joy every day, I have to be able to choose Joy myself and then I can choose it for other people, I can give it to other people and I think that that’s so much of not being intimidated and not comparing all that good stuff that’s male or female kind of working on yourself first.

Brandon:

How do you, I want to talk about your company and how you run it.

Brandon:

We’ve gotten almost comedian thing, but I was when, when you and I were emailing who introduced to Becca Becca Becca and she’s like, well, Nina is a comedian too, and I was like finally I talked to the comedian figure this whole thing out and understand what’s going on.

Brandon:

Do you memorize the bit?

Brandon:

How do you do that?

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

So yeah, people are always like, how do comedians look like they just came up with it on the spot, but they didn’t come up with it on the spot.

Brandon:

So, and I feel like a magician revealing on my magic tricks here, but basically what I do personally, which again changes for everyone.

Brandon:

Obviously when people are working on jokes, sometimes they’ll bring a notebook on stage.

Brandon:

If it’s an open mic, anything like that, you’ll see comedians with notebooks or you’ll see them looking at their phone in between jokes, you’ll see them go, okay, what’s, what’s another one that I want to do?

Brandon:

You know that kind of thing?

Brandon:

And you know, if they’re working on it, obviously those are more mix and smaller shows and then or if it’s someone really famous on one of one of my big shows and you know, they’ll just be dropping in to test out some material and in general what I do is I have 75% jokes that I know land, I know they work, they work every time I’ll do those and then 25% brand new.

Brandon:

I’ve never done them and I’ve never said them to anyone that is not the common approach because that is extremely risky.

Nina:

But for me, I tend to commit so hard on those new jokes that they land even if they’re not great.

Brandon:

And so I, every comedian will record their show either just on their phone or you know, they’ll get a tape and basically every time I perform I will go and listen to it afterwards and kind of see how the laughs will go.

Brandon:

So most of it is memorized, but it’s not necessarily memorized word to word because sometimes switching to words will make it hilarious versus just funny.

Brandon:

And so basically until you know exactly how it hits, that’s what you kind of have to change.

Brandon:

And sometimes if I’m doing a new show, I will write like keywords on my hand next to my watch.

Brandon:

So people think I’m looking at my watch and so I have a couple pretty funny pictures that look like engagement photos, but it’s like my set list on my hand and So I’ll do that every once in a while and I’m just like, oh, I wrote this joke 10 minutes ago, but I kinda want to try it now and I’ll go from there, but in general, most comedians kind of have a set that they stick to.

Brandon:

So I have certain comedians set practically memorized because I’m on somebody shows with them, but people in the audience don’t know that they think this guy is so funny and you know, sometimes there’s crowd work that could feed into it.

Brandon:

You know, for example, I’ll ask the crowd if anyone’s dating right now, we’re trying to date and kind of no matter what they say in the audience or no matter who responds, it feeds into my joke a certain way.

Brandon:

So there’s definitely ways to kind of make it more natural, sometimes there’s no crowd work at all.

Nina:

And a lot of times it’s just kind of acknowledging the room, reading the room.

Nina:

I mean you hear that so much of comedy just reading the room and that for example, if I do a joke in, it simply doesn’t land everyone in the room needs you to acknowledge that they need you to say, okay, well that was bad and move on because otherwise they’re like, oh my gosh, what if for the rest of her set is awful.

Nina:

And so, you know, you have to just be able to feel the tension in the room feel how people are feeling.

Nina:

If it is extremely hot, you have to acknowledge that because people will not laugh if it’s hot, that’s been an issue with outdoor shows, and so it’s, it’s just a lot of times, you know, reading the room and having iterations of jokes.

Nina:

But yeah, in general, they’re pretty memorized unless, you know, you’re figuring out the wording or sometimes literally just changing a tiny word will make the biggest difference.

Nina:

I think it was either Seinfeld or someone was talking about how, you know, the word pickle.

Nina:

It’s really funny in comparison to the word apple or something like that.

Nina:

And it’s just, there’s certain words that are just a little bit funnier and you just have to figure out what those are and insert them and, you know, switch things out.

Nina:

And so usually it’s kind of like a map lib in a way.

Nina:

I don’t know if mad Libs are still around, but basically most of it’s written and then there’s little, you know, an adjective, a noun, a verb here that you switch out.

Nina:

That makes sense.

Nina:

Why don’t people laugh when it’s hot?

Nina:

I don’t know if you’ve ever been really, really hot and you get in a fight with someone just because or you get irritated with someone because you’re hot and you don’t realize why you’re irritated, but it is just people don’t like to laugh because they’re miserably hot and that’s why most comedy clubs are freezing their so, so cold and so I’ll bring jackets in the middle of summer to comedy clubs because they’re so cold because when people are hot, that’s all they can think about.

Nina:

They don’t want to laugh, they don’t want to use any energy.

Nina:

And so, but then when you’re shivering and you’re cold, you almost laugh more.

Nina:

And so yeah, I don’t know.

Nina:

I don’t know the science.

Nina:

Why not?

Brandon:

I guess I should with physics, but uh, yeah, people don’t like to laugh with them when they’re hot, but that, but that’s a real thing.

Brandon:

Do they use sense at all?

Brandon:

Like, you know, because in buying or in casinos, they use sense to get people to spend more money and there’s all sorts of science behind how that works.

Brandon:

And I’m curious because if you’re going to keep it cold, which makes sense.

Brandon:

Are their sense that make people laugh more.

Brandon:

Do you think?

Brandon:

I’m sure there are, But I would say I’ve never walked into a coffee club and been like, uh, you know, like, I don’t think, I don’t think it ever smells horrible, but I also don’t think I’ve ever, you know, like, well this, I want this as a perfume.

Brandon:

It just reminds me of like comedy clubs are like smells like alcohol and, and I guess used to cigarettes.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

Now, yeah, there’s definitely smoke marijuana in there too.

Brandon:

I’m like, I don’t know where it’s coming from, but it’s usually in there and because they were small places you can identify usually, but I would say it pretty much actually.

Brandon:

I mean I would not say any comedy club smells bad, but it definitely depends, you know, there’s a difference between the Greenwich Village comedy club, I perform a lot and it’s quite small and it’s on MacDougal, which is, you know, all of those comedy clubs, the seller, all that’s in there and then you know, you have Gotham which is super well known but huge and so it’s going to be a totally different feel and smell and all the things, but I would say it just kind of smells like cheap uncle usually what time is the funniest time of night?

Brandon:

Ooh, I was actually talking about this with one of the hosts of broadway comedy club on Fridays specifically because Fridays are when people are like done with work, they’re ready to let loose.

Brandon:

There are two times that are absolutely amazing.

Nina:

The 8 30 I think it’s 8 30 show, maybe it’s the nine show, but the 8 30 or nine show is usually so good because people are just so excited to just laugh and not think and just you know, they’re starting to drink for the night and you know, they’re having a good time, but then also the 10 or 10 30 PM on Fridays people have already been drinking and so that can be usually a really, really fun show.

Brandon:

So those are two of my favorites obviously saturday shows.

Nina:

People are really excited just in general, but then I don’t know, I mean there’s some shows that I do that are just random, like great crowds.

Nina:

I think sometimes it just depends if you get just this amazing type of crowd.

Nina:

But yeah, I would say that friday slot is just such an incredible slot.

Nina:

But then, I don’t know, I do a lot of monday shows and the crowds are sometimes really good on Mondays, don’t, don’t sleep on the, on going on on a monday.

Nina:

But yeah, I would say that friday slot is part of time.

Nina:

Yeah, that’s that’s that’s interesting.

Nina:

And do you think people laugh more with alcohol or pot?

Nina:

Ooh, that’s tough.

Brandon:

I I am not a pot smoker myself.

Brandon:

So it’s like hard to say just from sitting in on shows with that.

Brandon:

But I would say, I guess it depends on the night and the time of night because if people have that perfect amount of alcohol, everything is still funny to them.

Nina:

But if they’re already kind of past that, then it’s maybe not great and they just wanna heckled the comedians.

Nina:

I don’t know that would be tough.

Brandon:

Sometimes the outdoor shows, I think that there’s a lot of marijuana and the audience and I would say that that usually does pretty well there because most people aren’t sitting in the park or you know, sitting on a rooftop, that kind of thing.

Nina:

Ooh, I don’t know, that would be tough.

Nina:

I would have to ask one of my comedian friends, it’s probably been like hyper show or something.

Nina:

I was just wondering like, I haven’t smoked pot and wow, decades, but I do remember smoking pot and I remember that some of the stuff I couldn’t stop laughing.

Nina:

Oh yeah, I mean, I’m sure you can, you can always tell who someone, you’re like, oh they’re definitely laughing a little bit more than everything else.

Nina:

But also if you get someone, it’s got a wine buzz, wine busses are great for comedy, I’ve noticed because there’s just some, a lot of times that’s what people choose, like wine or beer is always the most reliable obviously at a comedy club.

Brandon:

But yeah, I would, I would, I’ll have to ask around because because of singing, I’ve never smoked.

Brandon:

So I, I don’t know, I’ll have to ask, well let’s switch gears, I think there’s tons of lessons from being a stand up comedian into being an entrepreneur.

Brandon:

So can we segue and how, how does it items or items, how do the characteristics or the art of comedy translate into your or any entrepreneurship and what we can talk about your company and how you got started and everything, but what are the, I’ve heard a ton of lessons and what we’ve talked about from everything from awareness to practice too, all these things, how does being a stand up comedian translate into being an entrepreneur.

Brandon:

So actually in so many different ways, so obviously pitching in general is very similar to performing stand up because you’re like, here is probably everything that I’ve committed my life to please select it, you know, and I think it’s the same thing of believability in truth and passion in jokes, you know, if you don’t believe in your jokes, the audience will and it’s the same thing with a company.

Brandon:

If you don’t believe in your company, why would any investor or customer believe in your company.

Brandon:

And so I think that that kind of directly correlates, I actually mentor a lot of different young entrepreneurs and some people that are in business school a lot of times that will help with and also, you know, just help with pitching in general and help kind of coach people through pitch competitions, that kind of thing.

Brandon:

And I usually lead with a lot of comedy methodology and you know, making sure that if someone is not a naturally funny person, which totally fine that they know how to kind of work with humor in a pitching scenario or when they’re getting questions on their company or just even networking in general because there are people that are just so, so, so much smarter than me and have amazing ideas and run their company better than anyone ever could, but maybe humor is not their thing.

Brandon:

And so, you know, I kind of help in those situations, so I would say that comedy and pitching or directly related, but then I think also in terms of rejection and highs and lows and dealing with all that, that’s obviously a big part of entrepreneurship to is, you know, learning how to take feedback and not be upset by it and knowing that 100 knows might lead to one, Yes, and I think that’s a lot of types of comedy, you know, the, some of the big clubs might say no, we don’t, we don’t like your stuff and then the next club might say we love you, we want your headline.

Brandon:

And so, and I think there’s so many comedians that, you know, are now really successful that will say, hey, I was denied at all of these clubs and I am now making more than all of the managers there and all this stuff and so I think that it’s, it’s really similar in entrepreneurship, just thinking, especially with investors with customers, with hiring, it might be all of these people saying no, and it just has to be okay, what did I learn from that?

Nina:

What was the feedback from that and how could I then adapt that and then go forward and actually make some type of a change and be successful.

Nina:

And so I think it’s, you know, the same type of grit in a way that you have to have in both professions, but also, like you said earlier, being a comedian is being in our trio, I mean you’re promoting your brand yourself and I think that, you know, when you are an entrepreneur and you’re running a company, you’re promoting your company, but you’re also promoting yourself as an entrepreneur as a ceo, as a founder.

Brandon:

And you know, there’s so many investors that on their website will say we invest in founders, not companies and you know, obviously the company has to be good, but they really want the person.

Nina:

And so I think that that’s so similar to comedy in a way is people want the person.

Nina:

Not necessarily.

Brandon:

There are three jokes that they told on that on any other night when you were at UNC did you think you were going to be a physics PhD?

Brandon:

Did you like what was your, I mean what was your goal?

Brandon:

You started group in college.

Brandon:

Right.

Brandon:

And so what was the game plan there?

Brandon:

So when I actually decided on you and see which I did literally at the last hour, I really love the fact that they Physics, the physics department had a quantitative finance physics majors.

Brandon:

So I really liked the intersection of business and physics and but I also said I really want to make sure that I’m doing an acting major.

Brandon:

That that’s really important to me doing drama, doing acting.

Nina:

I need that in my life.

Nina:

So that’s what I declared orientation was acting And then day one of classes I went in and declared my second major is physics and just kept it as the general physics because the quantitative finance major was essentially a double degree with business major as well and I tend to take on too much, but I also had already declared a math minor, so I quite literally was not allowed to, so I which very much so for the best and you know, I wanted to do stuff, I basically did the entrepreneur minor without declaring it and so I was like, I’m just going to take a step back, but I never, I mean, I don’t think in my entire life I’ve been like, oh, I should be in a lab, I’ve never said that I would lose my marbles, but you know, the idea of physics to me honestly started interesting me in high school because I just found it really interesting and our valedictorian and the valedictorian from the great above who went to ivy league schools, who are absolute geniuses, who are doing amazing things with their lives, so, so, so smart, didn’t get physics and I thought, ha ha, I get physics And I may not be in the top five in our class, but I get physics and so I thought that was so great, an amazing teacher.

Nina:

And so, and he told me, you know, you’re going to want to put physics multiple times throughout your college career if you decided to go with it.

Nina:

And so when I went into college declared it was extremely hard, did not do well at all, but I loved it, barely graduated with it, but I absolutely loved it was obsessed with it and I’m not the ball rolling down a hill type.

Nina:

I mean it’s interesting I guess, but I was more, you know, the electromagnetic fields, I understood that I understood that there were things going on.

Nina:

I understood special relativity.

Brandon:

I it just made sense.

Brandon:

And so to me, I was like, I really want to take physics in a strategy way and be able to go to companies or startups, you know, be able to go to somewhere like google or facebook or apple or be able to go to a brand new company.

Brandon:

Obviously at the time I had started mine and say, hey, these are the approaches you’ve been taking, here’s the approach I take because my whole life, every single class I ever took and all throughout college, I would always come up with the answer and generally would get points taken off on tests because I went about it a weird way and you know, they’re grading off of the proofs and all that kind of stuff in the traditional way.

Brandon:

And I always said, you know, this is how I approached it.

Brandon:

And so I really wanted to take physics in that strategy position and take it from, this is a totally different way of thinking.

Brandon:

But I also can do all the calculations that anyone in a econ major, finance major, anything like that.

Brandon:

I do all that.

Brandon:

And so you know, just being able to have kind of that weird cool strategy position was what I always thought of, I think like in the back of my mind there was definitely a bunch of random iterations that I considered, I don’t know Nasa and of law school, weirdly the most accepted major into law school is physics fun fact.

Brandon:

So yeah, there was a bunch of random things that I thought about but engineer, I’m sitting here listening to you thinking back and I’m like, God, I don’t know if I was that mature, I was like I’m gonna go to go to college, get good grades, play across, maybe play soccer.

Brandon:

I told everybody I was going to be a lawyer because as soon as you say that everybody shuts up and but damn thing the lawyer, I was a psychology major, so was my dad a psychology major with a sociology minor and I love math but then I took a lot of math classes but I’m listening to you, I’m like have you, how do you get that smart?

Brandon:

Like thinking about going to Nasa when you’re going on to become a physics major in college man, I’m just trying to get to college.

Brandon:

And I mean it was it’s one of those things where and I’ll give my parents so much credit, they truly have always said you know whatever you want to do, we’ll support you like my entire life.

Brandon:

And so I think truly I grew up thinking I can do anything that I want to do, which I think is so, so important.

Brandon:

You know, my dad’s in commercial real estate, my mom’s an artist and does a million and one different things too.

Brandon:

And so it’s just something that I kind of saw two totally different paths but also was supported either way.

Brandon:

And I think they always said do something that you’re passionate about.

Brandon:

And so I thought physics seems pretty cool and I really loved math.

Brandon:

Math minor was terrible.

Brandon:

I should not have done that one regret in life.

Brandon:

It was absolutely terrible.

Brandon:

It tanked my G.

Brandon:

P.

Brandon:

A.

Brandon:

Does not did not help me, but I think that in general obviously I’m sure like slightly maturity plays a part in it, but I was just like I just want to do things that I think are cool and so that’s why I was acting also, that’s why I was, I was still, I was in a sorority and you know, I was doing all the other stuff too.

Brandon:

I wasn’t just by the book, but it was things like I said, I want to study abroad and they said physics majors don’t study abroad and I said, well I would like to, so I’m going to do that and you know, it’s just something that I’ve always had that kind of mindset.

Brandon:

But I mean I know I mean I truly were tugging the amount of tears and meetings with teachers that happened in the last two years of my college experience to just make sure I graduated with physics.

Brandon:

I mean I could probably pull up the conversations with my dad saying How do you feel about a 5th semester and luckily I made it out, but I just did what I loved, I was not at the top of the class and that’s okay, but I loved it, loved my teachers, loved the experience, loved what I learned and I still use a lot of it.

Brandon:

So physics sounds hard.

Brandon:

Yeah, most people hate it.

Brandon:

So I respect that decision for most people.

Brandon:

I like mass better.

Brandon:

So how do you start your company?

Brandon:

Yeah, so I actually had the idea when I was in college right before, so I guess kind of high school and I have always been kind of like the mom of my friend group, I have always been just trying to look out for people and I didn’t grow up super passionate about safety, anything like that, but then I said you know, there’s gotta be a way to take care of everyone through technology because I’m, I’m running a very short fuse here and you know, I’m running out of steam and all this good stuff and then you know, told a couple of my guy friends told my parents, obviously my parents said that’s an amazing idea, you know will support you and and they did truly mean that, but you know, got to take with a grain of salt, salt, they’re going to say that either way and my guy friends were actually the ones that said this is this is a really really good idea, you need to actually pursue this and kind of went into my freshman year, I didn’t really think much about it and you know, unfortunately kind of started seeing statistics come to life in college um regarding so no go totally fine.

Brandon:

So group is a company, you know, started with the mission of making safety more fun, intuitive, noninvasive and inclusive and so we started out as a mobile app and you know now have expanded into also be to be contraction service contracts and you know helping people just make safety more of an everyday and so a lot of it pertains to physical safety on the app and you know making sure people have that peace of mind, especially women and you know there’s it’s a very simple platform but the idea is to make safety more of a normal conversation to bring safety into everyday lives to bring it into normal conversations.

Brandon:

And so I think when we started it just the app was really created for college students and you know, with women in mind, but for women and men and anyone that would want to use it and just being able to kind of rely on the people around you to keep you safe and rely on your community, rely on your friends, your family, co workers, faculty and staff of the university and you know, be able to keep each other safe.

Brandon:

And so that was kind of, you know, how that idea.

Brandon:

So in the actual app, when we started and you know, it’s obviously gone through a lot of iterations, but now what it is is when a user logs in, they will log in with facebook, google, apple whatever and then they set safe zones.

Brandon:

So that could be anything from where you live.

Brandon:

If it was a campus, maybe it’s certain buildings on campus, maybe it’s even a restaurant or a bar you go to frequently for me, obviously I have comedy clubs or some of my state stones and any time a user walks in or out of one of those zones, it’ll say they’re good or out and about.

Nina:

So it’s not saying the safest place on the planet or in a dire situation, but it’s saying, you know, this person is in a place they’re familiar with, the place are comfortable with or they’re not and but it doesn’t show exactly where they are.

Brandon:

So that was a big part of it was making sure that people had that privacy aspect, but still could give peace of mind to friends, family, whoever and then they can also say when they’re ready to go and they can set off an alert.

Brandon:

So the alert will show exactly where the user is, but it’s the only time it will and it will not call the police, which was actually a deliberate decision when we were, you know making the app, we decided okay, we want people to be able to use group, we want people to be able to use the app and feel comfortable using the of what has been the barrier.

Brandon:

Why has there been so many resources given to college students to women for safety?

Brandon:

And still the statistics are pretty bad.

Brandon:

And you know, what we found is a lot of people said, you know, we don’t want to escalate it to the worst case scenario.

Nina:

We’re worried if we’re whatever wrong or what if someone thinks we’re stupid or anything like that.

Nina:

And so we said we want people to be able to trust their intuition to trust that gut feeling and be able to set off an alert and rely on the people around.

Nina:

You build a community, you know, strengthen that reliance on each other and also be able to use it with people that maybe aren’t your best friends because it’s not tracking you and it’s not displaying your location unless you’re in a bad situation.

Nina:

So that’s kind of, you know, the whole aspect of the app and then there’s obviously a lock screen widgets so that people can set it off if they need to without unlocking their phone.

Nina:

There’s things like the push notifications with ready to go.

Brandon:

You can request someone’s location, the little things like that.

Brandon:

But the main idea was really building this sense of peace and safety amongst our users and just empowering our users to kind of use safety and everyday lives rather than only thinking about it reactively or after a tragedy, let me say back to you what I what I believe, how it works.

Brandon:

I signed up for the app, then go into the app and do I invite people first or do I go in and say here’s my normal, I’m going to the gym and that’s a place I regularly frequent, I tagged that so to speak as a frequent place and then I do I invite people or are there other people on the platform that I become friends with or how does that work?

Nina:

Yeah, so the first thing you do is set the safe zones, but those can always be edited.

Nina:

So you know, most people will just set their home as their first safe zone and kind of go from there.

Brandon:

Obviously Airbnb and hotels and things in random places.

Nina:

I’ll add when I’m there and then you lead them afterwards.

Brandon:

But then you go in and you create a group and so some people have already been invited by someone else that’s already on the app, it sends them a text to join their group and then they download the app and so that will show up and say you know Nina has invited you to a group and you can accept that, but you know, if you’re the first one on there, you can create a group with as many or as little people as you want.

Brandon:

So I, you know in college had a group with my sorority house, so it was like 57 people and I also have a group with my roommate.

Brandon:

So you know, you can have as many or as little people as you want.

Brandon:

And that way it kind of helps the privacy situation because you know, obviously you don’t want to be just setting off an alert to the community around you, you know, especially if you’re in a situation that might somebody else might have the app right there.

Nina:

So essentially it’s creative so that you can create groups with whoever you want and, you know, a big part of like our B two B plans as we go in and help HR departments decide do they want their, you know, HR director to have an individual group with every single employee.

Brandon:

Do we want people to have point people, do we want people to have groups with their teams, that kind of thing.

Brandon:

You know, what makes the most sense for their company, You know, is there a group of consultants that generally travel together?

Brandon:

Should they have a group, that kind of thing?

Brandon:

We help strategize with that.

Brandon:

But yeah, it’s it’s pretty much just to optimize, but the nice thing is because of all the privacy that we took into consideration and you know, not tracking people, it might be your studying abroad as a student and you don’t know anyone in your group.

Brandon:

No pun intended.

Brandon:

But then you add them all to your group and you have that extra layer of protection knowing that they can help you in a dire situation.

Brandon:

But also they’re not looking at your location at all times because obviously if you’re in another country and you set off an alert, you’re only in a group with your family, they’re probably going to be very concerned and unable to do much.

Brandon:

So, you know, really allowing people to kind of have that ability to have groups with people that maybe aren’t their closest friends and family, but also with closest friends and family.

Brandon:

So I have the group app, I’ve put my regular locations or I could be staying in Airbnb, which I think is a great example.

Brandon:

I have a network of friends which I may or may not know as well.

Brandon:

And then I use that if something happens and if something happens, then that group is alerted knows where I am and can call the authorities call me or how do you, how does that play out?

Brandon:

Yeah, so the kind of two factors to, you know, answer to things in there.

Brandon:

So one thing is because of the ready to go button that is something that also sends a push notification, it won’t show where you are, but it’ll send a notification to your group.

Brandon:

And so that’s something that we added in to have people kind of actively thinking about using the app actively thinking about.

Nina:

We wanted something that people can bring safety into their good and fun and happy lives and you know, times when they’re not concerned and so that was something that, you know, we put in there because ready to go, might be ready to go home, it might be ready to go to dinner or if you’re living in a house with people or whatnot, that might just be ready to go to the library.

Brandon:

And obviously things like conferences for consultants, things like that, they’re ready to go button is used pretty regularly.

Brandon:

And that keeps people on the uh you know, seven days a week rather than just friday nights and saturday nights.

Brandon:

And so that one is obviously just to push notification.

Brandon:

And then when someone sets off an alert, obviously if you do it from your lock screen, it will set off.

Brandon:

But then if you’re in the app and you’re doing it, it will count down from 10 to make sure you didn’t accidentally hit it, anything like that.

Brandon:

And then once it goes off it’ll send the alert to everyone in your active groups because you can be, you can make yourself inactive for example and inactive for my family while I’m in new york because again, would just alarm them and they can’t do anything.

Brandon:

And so basically they’ll get the location and then it’ll say call or text nina if I set off the alert and so then it’s kind of up to them to either try to call or text or to call the authorities.

Nina:

And so one of the reasons we did that, like I said, was to make sure people could kind of trust their intuition and trust that they can set it off.

Nina:

But also there was just such this large gap between here, all the things you can use when you’re in this horrible, horrible worst case scenario and there was really nothing if you’re just uncomfortable or you’re just a little bit worried or you have a bad feeling.

Nina:

And so we kind of wanted to bridge that and make people think, you know, safety can be thought of even if it’s not your concern for your life.

Nina:

And so, but the caller text takes people out of the app so it doesn’t complicate the app, It doesn’t cause any issues in there.

Nina:

It takes people straight to their contacts on their phone when you’re building this and you have this idea in high school, you get into college, you have, you’re not a technical, I mean your physics major, but you’re not a computer science major, you don’t know how to code, how did you bridge that gap to figure that out because building an app is, it’s simple, it can be simple, but on at scale, it’s a little bit more complicated than simple.

Nina:

I, that exact same conversation went through my head when I originally had the idea, I thought I can do this and then you know about 50 hours into learning how to do it.

Nina:

I thought I cannot do this Where it will not come out until 2030.

Brandon:

And so I basically took my freshman year and interviewed entrepreneurs in the area, which, you know, Chapel Hill, luckily has a lot of those.

Brandon:

And I talked to all the ones that were working on mobile apps and talked to anyone really, that was a technical type of startup and said, here’s my idea, like limited version, you know, obviously just just in case and here’s my idea, here’s what I want to do here, all the sketches, you know, if it was someone that either was way too busy or that I trusted and what am I supposed to do next?

Brandon:

And I’m the first founder to always say, I am not ashamed to be like, I have no idea what the next step for something is.

Brandon:

And I laugh with my lawyer about this a lot because I’ll email him something like I just got an email, I don’t even know what, I don’t even know what it’s saying and you know, because I think that when people try and be prideful about things or you know, say, oh, I should know this or anything like that is when so they can happen bad to the company or anything like that.

Brandon:

So I’m always the first to like, I have no idea what I’m supposed to do, and so I interviewed hundreds of these people and because I interviewed pretty much all local, amazing founders and just technical people, they all have really good recommendations for, you know, you can do this with free lands, you can, you know, kind of hire someone, come on, you can give someone equity.

Nina:

And at the time I was in a computer science course and I thought maybe I could ask the professor, you know, if he would be interested, but they’re really busy, you know, that didn’t make a lot of sense.

Nina:

And so then I spent summer after my freshman year interviewing, I don’t even know how many people, but interviewing freelancers agencies, just development firms all around the country, some based off of referrals, some based off of google searches, some based off of, you know, probably targeted ads at that point.

Nina:

And finally, at the end of mine and I was taking classes, so that was kind of my whole summer anyway, you know, I was, because again, had to graduate on time, which by the hair imagine there.

Nina:

But so basically I got to this amazing firm smashing boxes, who happened to be out of Durham and I sat down with their lead designer, who obviously just technical world isn’t there anymore, but he I was just lighting up when I was saying my idea and he was writing down sketches and I could just tell that I was like this guy wants to do this, this guy would probably do it for equity and not for a price, and this is when group was not even group, I mean it was just an idea and I could just tell so much and just based off of you know, the morals of people that I talked, you know, we had connections with people that I trust with my whole heart and you know, kind of said this is I want to be a part of it every step of the way, I don’t care if I don’t understand the code, I would like to see it and you know, kind of work, obviously the code has changed drastically since then, but that’s kind of how we ended up on it and I think, you know, there’s so many different ways to go when it comes to coding and developing something type of technical, but I you know, kind of said having someone or having a company or a firm that’s done this a million times and kind of knows the little things that might need to go into a company, like sending up a mail chimp and you know, just random things that aren’t necessarily necessarily technical was proved to be invaluable for me, so that was kind of the route I said, but it was a lot of interviews, a lot of talking with a lot of people and but you, you mentioned in there that you had sketched, I assume you sketched the interface, so you had an idea that you put down that you wanted somebody to make into, into the screen Yeah, which is actually one of the people entrepreneurs that’s actually out of Chapel Hill, who I just talked to the other day, kind of funny, but he had said, do you have any sketches of it?

Nina:

You know, could you show me anything?

Nina:

And he’s still busy?

Nina:

I was like, this man would never take my idea because there’s no way he has the time and he said, you know, you should have something, everybody has an idea for an app or a company in their head or maybe typed out, but do you, do you have anything past that?

Nina:

And so I was like, I know and I am not an artist and I just went and kind of sketchy, but I thought obviously it ended up changing pretty soon after, like some of the bigger components that made more sense the way we were doing it or you know, for example, location services are complicated and so changing some of the location services things and making sure that it’s set up for future privacy laws and things like that, which thank God we did that and just kind of going from there.

Nina:

But yeah, I mean, I had some really rough sketches in a notebook of what I was envisioning just so they could at least see my vision.

Nina:

I think that’s an important lesson for people especially well, regardless of your technical or not.

Nina:

And whether you’re doing software, you’re doing a product or something else.

Nina:

So you brought this person on as a co founder?

Nina:

No, so I am going to show you whatever he was absolutely incredible, honestly.

Nina:

But I, we basically, I ended up loving their CEO so much that he actually runs our advisory board.

Brandon:

He’s incredible.

Brandon:

And so I kind of thought, you know, like I would love an adviser fully on the advisory board.

Brandon:

I would love, you know, kind of help.

Brandon:

And they, this is what they do this firm.

Brandon:

And so we kind of exchange for partial equity and, you know, a lower price.

Brandon:

That’s and the biggest reason for the equity was I wanted them to want it to work and succeed because then they succeed.

Brandon:

And so that’s kind of how we got started, is obviously doing anything technical, as a big cost.

Brandon:

But when you give some of the equity that helps offset that.

Brandon:

And then also having their ceo on the advisory board and he still is to this day.

Brandon:

So we kind of just went with it development firm approach, I guess is what it’s called.

Brandon:

And how do you fund this whole thing.

Brandon:

So at the beginning, obviously the Equity helps and I has, you know, not a lot of money to my name, but I put it all in and you know, kind of said, I’m going to do a friends and friends and family passed after the development stage.

Brandon:

So the way that this firm did it, which I think is so, so smart, is they kind of set up this development phase, that was way probably a tense of what I would have paid.

Brandon:

And basically we said, let’s go and do customer research, let’s do all this stuff, let’s gather all the material, let’s do customer interviews, let’s get the beta test and then do the surveys and after the beta test, if this is not something we should be pursuing, we will drop it.

Brandon:

And if it is something that people will continue to use and will be successful, we will continue and we’ll do the full development and pay, you know, the bigger price, which probably saved me because, well, first of all, I definitely couldn’t have afforded it like, you know, otherwise.

Brandon:

And so during that time, I also did a friends and family around and I kind of said, you know, here’s what we’re looking at, you know, considered crowdfunding as well.

Brandon:

But you know, the issue with that was, it was an idea that I knew was about to be kind of what’s the right word, like very hot and so I said, you know, I don’t even know if I’m comfortable with it being out there and crowdfunded because what if somebody else can make it really, really, really fast and so really the biggest thing was kind of my like any tiny scrapped dollars for this research and development phase and partial equity and then friends and family around, you know, kind of getting into the next little sprint as they call it, How do you know how to do friends and family around?

Brandon:

That was another asking for help.

Brandon:

And so that was something that I, you know, my dad invests in certain things.

Brandon:

He went to Davidson and you know, there’s always people coming out with really cool stuff from Davidson and you know, he’s always forwarded along pitch decks and things like that and sent them to me, not that I could have ever invested, but he would send them and just say, hey, you know, look at this, do you think it’s a cool idea and some of them are really great and some of them, I’m not sure they’re around, but you know, that’s entrepreneurship in general.

Brandon:

And so I had luckily kind of seen what that it looked like the firm that I was with, you know, said we can help you with a deck and then also just pretty much going to people in Canaan Fogler going to people in the area, just talking to different entrepreneurs and saying help and you know, getting their advice and figuring out what I was even supposed to be doing and you know, luckily having a lawyer also, which is, you know, number one most important thing of all startups is a good lawyer I think, and that had experience in that as well and so, you know, kind of figuring out, okay, how much do I actually need to raise?

Brandon:

You know, besides just getting the development done, all that kind of stuff.

Brandon:

And so luckily it wasn’t, you know, huge kind of looks more like a bridge round to me today, but yeah, just kind of asked for help.

Brandon:

Well I think sometimes you have to do that.

Brandon:

How much money did you raise?

Brandon:

So we raised $250,000 and that was kind of, it was kind of two bridges, so it was really like 100,000 and then 100 50,000 and that’s kind of been what’s gotten us honestly to where we are today.

Brandon:

And then we’re actually in the middle of our seed round right now.

Brandon:

So um, that’s a much larger number obviously, but we, yeah, we just raised that kind of in the 21 for development one, you know, kind of the next bridge for everything else.

Brandon:

And how did you find investors just network?

Brandon:

Yeah, so friends and family was a lot of just network, talking to anyone and everyone and people that I trusted and said, you know, here’s this thing and I think a lot of people can relate, especially if they have daughters that usually hits pretty home and you know, just people that believed in it.

Brandon:

Obviously my parents believed in it and they said, you know, this is something that we want to see grow and there the majority investors there.

Brandon:

So you know, they helped with that.

Brandon:

But then, yeah, now it’s a lot of all the investors we’re talking to are all network.

Brandon:

It’s not really any, unless the major angels, it’s not really any angels or anything like that.

Nina:

So, but I mean now it’s even like advisory board members that want to be investors, that kind of thing.

Nina:

So just kind of evolved how you gonna make money.

Nina:

So the way that we kind of very risky lee decided the business model should work.

Brandon:

As I always said, this app needs to be free.

Brandon:

I don’t care if it takes me under this act needs to be free because there should not be a barrier to entry for safety.

Brandon:

And I think that that’s something that, you know, I wanted it to be able to bridge all different types of community and also college students in general are cheap.

Brandon:

So that was my kind of first thinking, but this app will be free.

Brandon:

It will stay free.

Brandon:

No question.

Brandon:

And so the next question was, okay, well how would you possibly stay afloat if you’re not a nonprofit and basically We kind of thought of these B2B service plans.

Brandon:

So with these service plans, the main thinking behind them obviously was originally set up for universities, but we then kind of pivoted because covid hit.

Brandon:

And so we’re now really focused on corporations and nonprofits, but universities are still a major use case, but we kind of said, okay, what is a way that we can set it up?

Brandon:

So eventually it will be more of a SAAS company, but right now it’s going to be more of just a service offering.

Brandon:

And so we offer our app that we on board for an organization and then we set it up so that the analytics are tracked for their organization.

Brandon:

So that might be, you know, if it’s a major campus for an organization or it’s a university actual campus, then we’ll look at kind of their location in their area so that they can maintain that area.

Brandon:

But if it’s, for example, we’re working with a nonprofit that they help human trafficking survivors and victims.

Brandon:

They’re obviously in all different areas.

Brandon:

So we work on the analytics from individual films.

Brandon:

And so then we kind of package those analytics, give them back to them so that they can improve safety, which obviously safety helps improve employee well being, which helps improve efficiency and money, all this good stuff that there’s been millions of dollars of research on so from so many different people.

Brandon:

But then we also go in and we say, hey, we have strategic partners through a sexual harassment prevention company for diversity inclusion training for mental health resources.

Brandon:

So while you’re trying to check those things off your list, here’s a long term safety solution.

Brandon:

And then also you’re all these trainings that you’re probably already looking for and we’ve already vetted these companies and we can schedule them and they’re part of your plan.

Brandon:

So that’s kind of, you know, our offerings and what we go towards and what most of my job is now is kind of those sales.

Brandon:

So that’s obviously they range and pricing depending on if it’s a five person nonprofit or a privately owned university is very different.

Brandon:

But yeah, that’s, that’s our business model.

Brandon:

How many people do you have?

Brandon:

So right now on the app itself, so it’s we cars of B two B, two C, which I guess is a newish term.

Brandon:

But for the app we have over 3500 users, which is awesome.

Brandon:

And you know, kind of seeing that grow and seeing it also be global.

Brandon:

It’s really cool.

Brandon:

And then for our B two B contracts, we actually just relaunched them because of Covid.

Brandon:

So obviously I can’t name some of the ones were in conversations with, but like I mentioned that nonprofits, one of them and a couple of others that we are hopefully cheering up coming soon.

Brandon:

So stay tuned for that.

Brandon:

But we had kind of put them on pause when Covid hit and spent The greater part of 12 months really focusing on Margaret research since we pivoted from universities.

Brandon:

So we’re really excited.

Brandon:

We’re actually in a really cool I guess program fellowship kind of thing with J and J.

Brandon:

That’s helping us with all of our strategy and thinking for our business model kind of going forward.

Nina:

Well that’s cool.

Nina:

How big is your team that works with you?

Nina:

Yeah.

Nina:

So obviously including part time as well.

Brandon:

We’ve got about Yeah.

Nina:

And see Like 10 people but full time obviously not as many.

Brandon:

So there are me and my head of marketing and we’re the two full time and then we have everybody else part time obviously.

Nina:

And then we have an amazing social media contractor who we love And we have our advisory board that that’s not included in the 10.

Nina:

But I I feel like they’re going to the 10 because they helped me every single day and I have three amazing men on that.

Nina:

So they helped me all the time.

Nina:

It’s funny that you call them men.

Nina:

Uh huh.

Brandon:

Well people always assume all of my other employees are females, literally every single one of them.

Brandon:

So I’m like there are guys, I’m just saying we were talking about that comedian like that that comedy stuff, it’s just it’s just human nature but that’s cool and you’re raising around now.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

And how much are you raising?

Brandon:

We’re raising a million and a half.

Brandon:

How’s that going?

Brandon:

Um it’s good.

Brandon:

I mean, you know, back to male female thing.

Brandon:

I didn’t realize that all of these women saying it’s so hard to raise money as a female was actually real until I started raising and obviously certain investors, it’s just not a good fit totally get that.

Brandon:

But there are others that, you know, you can kind of unfortunately see the bias and you know, see kind of that difference.

Brandon:

And so that’s been a little tough to just like realized that’s a reality.

Brandon:

How does that come through Nina?

Brandon:

Like how do you, how do you get that?

Nina:

Yeah.

Brandon:

So like sometimes it’ll be, you know, just kind of the classic, like mansplaining situation, which is the most obvious way to see it.

Nina:

And, you know, which honestly, I’m like, good to really glad it didn’t work out because I don’t think I would want representing my board.

Nina:

But you know, sometimes it’s, it’s a little smaller.

Brandon:

Well, the, well where they will say, oh, we’re doing a lot to make sure we’re investing in women this year.

Brandon:

Like we’re definitely investing in like one or two, but obviously it’s a highly selective spot.

Brandon:

And I’m like, okay, so how many better you invest, You know, that kind of thing.

Brandon:

And, and so it’s really little.

Brandon:

Sometimes the mansplaining is the only time when I’m like, this is just annoying, but sometimes it comes through in ways where you’re just like, you know, you can see that someone was also not generating, for example, like we’re not generating revenue right now.

Brandon:

And so they’ll say, you know, we don’t we don’t go with any companies that don’t generate revenue and which I say, great, totally understand, move on and then they’ll invest in, you know, three not generating revenue, companies that are male founders.

Brandon:

And you know, you you just kinda have to wonder like if, you know, what was the network there, what was the connection?

Brandon:

And you know, a lot of times they just have a stronger network through a lot of men.

Brandon:

And so generally, I would say though it is rare that I’m having that issue, I would say that most of the investors are incredible people and if it’s not a good bit, they have referred me to someone and they are so excited to help men or women and they are being so, so helpful.

Brandon:

So I would say it’s not the norm, but it definitely happens, which stinks.

Brandon:

But I think that, you know, most people now are so helpful and they’re so encouraging and willing to, you know, either give feedback or say, great, like we’re on board let us know in the term sheets negotiated all that kind of stuff.

Brandon:

So you kind of see, you see both, but obviously it stands out when when it’s not great.

Brandon:

Yeah, I think it’s I don’t know obviously what it’s like to be a woman or you know, I’m a white male, so I really get to open my mouth apparently much but the anymore, but I’m half joking the, the truth is is that raising money is hard here.

Nina:

Here’s the reality that, and I’ve been a venture capitalist and I am an angel investor and, and I’m an entrepreneur more than anything and have been in front of those, those things.

Brandon:

And as I’m listening to you, a lot of the things that you’ve explained are things that I’ve experienced as a white male meaning and look money people are absolutely horrible at saying no.

Brandon:

Yeah, they like, let’s just, it’s hard in general as a human to say no right to humans saying yes to too many things anyway, but it’s really hard to say no.

Brandon:

And it ironically saying no is what frees you up in everything that you do, whether you’re an entrepreneur, mom and dad, whatever you whatever pilot, whatever you are the um, but money people in general never want to say no.

Brandon:

In fact I’ve raised money for decades and I’m just thinking, you know, I’m literally trying to think of one money person that said no to actually said no to me and I can think of one and he then my, I fish with them.

Brandon:

I used to fish with him every friday.

Brandon:

He’s a hugely successful business guy and we’re close friends now.

Brandon:

He’s older, but he’s, he did say no to me, like the people who are closest to me are they actually the people who have said no to me exactly.

Brandon:

The people who are out there.

Brandon:

So I would just for for, um, for listeners money people, if you, if you don’t know are absolutely horrible at it and we’ll delay.

Brandon:

And, and unless it’s so obvious that it’s not a fit of which I would say to anybody, you should have done your homework.

Brandon:

You shouldn’t be pitching them or you should pick them knowing that they’re not a good fit because they’re a practice run and you can try your bit, uh, unintended there on them, right.

Brandon:

And know that they’re going to say no, but know that you’re going to get feedback.

Brandon:

And I think that’s a strategy that, that should people should use.

Brandon:

I find it troublesome that any investor would category.

Brandon:

I’m not saying it doesn’t happen.

Brandon:

I’m just saying I would find it troublesome because as an investor to be candid, I may like you, I may have a connection, but when I invest investing for an Arli, I mean, anybody who thinks that investors are doing anything different than that are wrong unless you’re applying to a non profit other, which is a different discussion at that point.

Brandon:

And I think that I don’t, I’m not trying to make you feel any better in the sense of say, hey, it wasn’t a man woman thing, but I can tell you that there’s a lot of people that I pitched over decades that told me that they don’t invest in pre revenue companies and went out and invested in.

Brandon:

And I’m like, I don’t, I don’t understand, I do understand at some level, right?

Brandon:

It’s either they, their friends, their alumni.

Brandon:

I mean that can’t be underestimated in any regard.

Brandon:

Right.

Nina:

Whether it’s your high school alumni, your college or NBA or your local dog club, right?

Nina:

I mean your local bike club, if you ride bikes with somebody, they’re going to do that.

Nina:

So I think it’s terrible that that happening and I, your perception is the truth whether and if you feel like that, usually people’s gut feelings or generally pretty right on, you don’t strike me as a, a person who overreacts or doesn’t have awareness.

Nina:

In fact, I would probably argue have more awareness as a comedian on stage to understand what is actually going on.

Nina:

But raising money is super hard and I would tell you that investors always want to leave that door open because when they get, when you get traction, they won’t come back or they’re like, hey Nina, can I put in an extra 100 grand, like, hey, remember we had that meeting and it’s sort of no different than, you know, I’m not picking on investors.

Nina:

I think they’re funny that way.

Nina:

And I was one.

Nina:

So I understand it or on the venture capital side, but raising money is as much of an art.

Nina:

I’d say it’s just like being a comedian, it’s as much of the art as it is a science.

Nina:

Absolutely.

Nina:

And I think there’s been so many amazing people like men and women that have helped me so much with, you know, dealing with how to pitch.

Nina:

And of course my first time going to VCS is virtual, which is my worst nightmare.

Brandon:

And so, and I think a lot of people, some people are like, this is the greatest thing ever.

Brandon:

I have notes, all this kind of stuff.

Brandon:

I am such an in person person that the fact that I, you know how to start this round Essentially virtual with maybe one or 2 exceptions.

Brandon:

I was like, this is not it.

Brandon:

And you know, because I, I feed off of human connection.

Brandon:

And so I think that, you know, there’s been so many people that have helped me and there’s been women that have said, hey, you know, I’ve raised a butt load of money and these are some questions that people unconsciously ask women and not men, but this is actually the answer that they want and what are those questions I’m curious.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

So one of the ones that I was told that I’ll probably never forget is basically women are usually asked prevention questions and men are asked promotion questions.

Brandon:

So kind of the difference, but they want the promotion answer.

Brandon:

So the difference is men are generally asked, okay, so how is this going to be the next big thing, You know, how is this going to scale and become the next unicorn.

Brandon:

Whereas women are generally ask questions like how are you sure that google is not going to create it or how are you sure that?

Brandon:

But they, the way to kind of overcome that is to answer with the promotion answer.

Nina:

And you know, it’s something that if I had not been told that I would have just thought everyone was asked these questions because how would I have known?

Nina:

I don’t sit in the meetings with everybody else and, but it makes the biggest difference and, and usually feedback or investors that we kind of have on board, that kind of thing.

Nina:

Have said, hearing you talk about more of the promotion, like all of that.

Nina:

Obviously they had, they didn’t call the promotion answer but made the biggest difference.

Nina:

And I think that that’s something that anytime I’m mentoring, which I do a decent amount of, I always say, you know, hey, if you get this kind of question, make sure you answer with this kind of answer because that’s actually what they’re asking you.

Nina:

They’re just, you know, it’s just a, it’s women and men asking that question, it happens to be Yeah.

Nina:

I hate the question I’ve been asked a million times and I think it, I think it’s interesting that the promotion question gets asked more, but I have been asked, I think it’s unoriginal.

Brandon:

I think it’s not thoughtful.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

And I think the answer always is well of course they could do it, but if they were doing it, they’d be doing it and they’re not doing it and and I mean I can’t, I’ll be honest, I still haven’t figured out why people still answer that asked that question, like, and you know, I still got something to learn, but what is it, where does that question go?

Brandon:

What does that Question go?

Brandon:

We know big companies by smaller companies, we know big companies aren’t as nimble.

Brandon:

I have no idea that Google isn’t going to do it, but I could probably name 100 companies that did something that google did that and I’m exaggerating, I can’t name a hunter because somebody, somebody will inevitably write me, tell me tell it 100 and 100 questions, you know how that goes, right, jesus, excuse me.

Brandon:

But the there’s been tons of things that google have tried that they couldn’t get done in a big organization that a smaller company did and did it well and got either bought by google or bought by six other companies that can buy them and I don’t know that’s my rant, you can tell when you hit a trigger right.

Brandon:

Yeah, no, trust me.

Brandon:

I mean I’m because obviously with safety, it’s one of the things that safety didn’t just appear over and I I mean it’s not new and and I think, you know, the approach that we take is always, it’s always been social safety or fun safety, which sounds just wrong?

Brandon:

And I mean, even very early on, we worked with the PR company and one of their head executives was like, just could not grasp it.

Brandon:

I mean, he truly was like, there’s no, it can’t they find and safety don’t coexist, which was also a hilarious conversation because I finally had to be like, that is the point of the company and that is our unique advantage.

Brandon:

And so, you know, it’s one of those things where obviously someone probably, there, there are other safety companies and I mean we even get it.

Brandon:

For example, we have a Tiktok account obviously as every startup does and are one of my interns was, you know, had posted a Tiktok about group and all this kind of stuff and and said, Hey Nina, someone commented and said, you know, this is just like, you know, X, y, z, yeah, what do you want me to stay back?

Brandon:

And I was like, oh, I’ll just hop on and do that.

Brandon:

And I hopped on and said, hey, we actually really love that app and we suggest it, we post about it a lot and we encourage people to use it.

Brandon:

But our approach is totally different.

Brandon:

The use case is different, but we really, our goal is to be safe.

Brandon:

So of course please use that.

Nina:

You know, you can use both.

Nina:

I use both and you know, I think that it’s the same thing in an investor conversation where someone will say, you know, how do you know that someone is not going to create this or take this?

Nina:

I’m like, well they might.

Nina:

But in general, like we kind of have this competitive advantage right now and you know, we still encourage people to use all the other resources out there.

Nina:

The goal is always to just make sure that, you know, sexual assault rates are going down and people are feeling safer and employees are feeling safer and all this different stuff like that’s the goal.

Nina:

That’s the mission.

Brandon:

And I think that’s a big part of being a social impact oriented company is obviously we’re for profit that is very important.

Brandon:

But our mission is what drives that.

Brandon:

And so you know, we’re not going to tell people oh don’t use these other apps just because they have the same mission.

Brandon:

They have a totally different use case.

Brandon:

So it’s always, it’s always an interesting conversation.

Brandon:

Is the social media using Tiktok working for you.

Brandon:

You think?

Brandon:

So we actually just started it because our intern who is, she’s so good.

Brandon:

She’s so, so talented on Youtube video content in general.

Brandon:

And I kind of said, you know, creative control run with it, do whatever you want.

Brandon:

And so I think that and we truly started it last week.

Brandon:

So I think that honestly it is helping a ton.

Brandon:

And you know, even on my personal Tiktok, which is obviously more comedy focused, I had posted, you know once about group and just said, hey, this is an app I use with my friends and that alone did really well.

Brandon:

And so I think it’s, you know, we see like, you know, when I had posted that we saw jumping downloads and so I think that as annoying as it is to say, I think Tiktok is one of the most powerful things in the world right now, which is insane.

Brandon:

I mean, I’ve, because obviously my, my feed is very curated, you know, there’s obviously a lot of entrepreneurship stuff in there too.

Brandon:

And You know, I’ve watched companies go viral on Tiktok and now be making over $1 million revenue, it’s.

Brandon:

they were started a month ago and just because Tiktok so I think Tiktok is incredible.

Brandon:

Well I find it, yeah, I haven’t had a Tiktok account but I really didn’t get on it because of actually privacy issues, safety issues on who owned it.

Brandon:

But I can understand that that happens well, You know, you’ve been really generous with your time today.

Brandon:

I’m really grateful how I want to end up with three tips that you would give to fellow entrepreneurs out there who are starting companies.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

So I would say number one, I said this earlier, but your idea, your company, your innovation will go as far as you believe it.

Brandon:

Well, you know, I said that earlier, I think that the second you stop believing the second everyone else will stop believing, so definitely that I think number two is that find a greater purpose than just your company or your innovation that’s driving you because entrepreneurship is so hard and days are not always great days, you’re not always getting a Forbes article or getting your first sale, you know, those are great days, but there’s also days that are really hard, so find something that brings you joy, find purpose and that can be through so many different things.

Brandon:

And then number three, is that I would say is the way I phrase it is love people, well obviously that’s probably phrased differently for different people, I’m sure my younger brother would not say love people, well you probably phrase it a little different, but loving people well just means, you know, being intentional with your relationships, that is so important everywhere I’ve gotten with entrepreneurship with comedy is because I’ve actually tried to Grow relationships rather than meeting 200 people at a conference and getting every single business card meat 10-20 and really get to know 10 of them, you know, have a standing coffee date with people, you know, really work on that and love people well, so don’t just be a take or be a giver too, and that will help you succeed in life, but also your business, like you never know who might be able to give you a favor here there and might be able to introduce you to someone.

Brandon:

So love people.

Brandon:

Well so what I would say, I think that’s great advice where can people find you for your stand up and for your group to be sad.

Brandon:

So um group is in the app store so if you want it just go ahead and download, it’s just group with three owes and it’s free and then obviously are all of the group’s social media, everything is get group and that’s our website as well and then me personally for stand up, all that good stuff.

Brandon:

I think there’s probably something on Youtube.

Brandon:

I’ve taken most of it down because I have to use it for a lot of booking but I’m sure you can find something on youtube of me doing stand up but I am on instagram, it’s just Nina Barnett, I’m on tick tock means Barnett with a Z.

Brandon:

And yeah everything else is just probably Nina Barnett I think.

Brandon:

But if you’re in new york, feel free to DM me and I’ll give people free tickets and things.

Brandon:

So always would love to have people in the audience.

Brandon:

Well that’s really cool.

Brandon:

Again, get group G R 00 O P dot com and Nina Barnett you can google and find a stand up bit and even better if you’re in new york city, go see Nina live.

Brandon:

Thanks a lot for taking time out of your day.

Brandon:

Really grateful for sharing everything and opening up about opening your book of plays on how you do all this.

Brandon:

Thank you so much for having me.

Brandon:

This is so much fun.

Brandon:

Thanks for being generous with your time and joining us for this episode of the edge.

Brandon:

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Brandon:

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