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EO 360°, a podcast by Entrepreneurs’ Organization, explores entrepreneurship with a wide perspective, moving beyond business to those insights not often shared by high-profile thought leaders.

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Mar 6, 2018

Jaspar Weir, co-founder and president of TaskUs, has been named in INC’s 30 under 30 list and has won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. Today on the EO Podcast, Jaspar discusses how he and his partner went from sharing a room in Santa Monica to employing thousands and helping the top 100 tech companies scale. Tune-in to learn how Jaspar uses mentorship to grow personally and professionally, how his relationship with Bryce is like a marriage, and how TaskUs quadrupled revenue in just one year.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:52 – Jaspar is the cofounder and president of TaskUs, founded in 2008, which is a customer care and back office support company
  • 01:14 – Before TaskUs, Jaspar cofounded two other companies with TaskUs CEO Bryce Maddock including a social media marketing company and an events production business
  • 01:29 – He has been named in INC’s 30 under 30 list, is a 2 time finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and won it this year
  • 01:52 – What does TaskUs do?
  • 01:57 – We all may not have heard of TaskUs, but we’ve all probably heard from TaskUs; food delivery app/ ridesharing app customer service call example
  • 02:14 – Phone/chat/email customer service reps from TaskUs work backend customer service, content moderation, and back office for top 100 tech companies to help them scale
  • 02:58 – They are the modernized “call center” to develop customer care strategy
  • 04:26 – Content moderation: When you use an app and you click “flag,” there are people that have to go through and moderate that; TaskUs does that
  • 05:07 – Mark Moses is Jaspar’s business coach; continuous self and business improvement is a core value, they started TaskUs at 22 years old with no business degree
  • 05:42 – The first thing they did was join EO (at 23-24 years old) to surround themselves with peers to problem-solve, they then hired a business consultant for an “MBA bootcamp”
  • 06:09 – Over the course of the year, the consultant taught them things like how to choose core values, how to write a role scorecard, how to properly interview/hire
  • 06:39 –The business consultant was Stephen Lynch, the COO of com at the time, they have a software that provides KPIs and they also had weekly coaching
  • 07:19 – They learned top-grading, how to grade your team, and other basic things that you don’t learn in school
  • 07:55 – When did they transition to using Mark Moses as a coach?
  • 08:00 – Jaspar’s partner Bryce started working with Mark 3-4 years ago; Jaspar was being coached by Matt Auron from Evolution coaching
  • 08:30 – Matt had suggested that he look for another coach, and he decided to go with Mark since he already understood the business
  • 08:50 – Mark now works with people on their executive team and facilitates quarterly planning; he’s deeply involved in the business and he plays psychologist between him, Bryce, and the executive team
  • 09:30 – He and Bryce have been partners for 14 years, they know each other very well; fights/disagreements don’t really occur like they did before because they work on their partnership like a marriage
  • 10:21 – The relationship was harder when they weren’t winning; now they divide and conquer, are grateful for the success, drop the egos, and focus on what’s important in the business and put it first
  • 11:20 – “Top line revenue solves all problems”
  • 11:48 – Jaspar’s specialty/ Bryce’s specialty
  • 11:50 – Jaspar is President and Bryce is CEO; they aren’t the traditional CEO and president
  • 12:05 – Historically they gave sales/marketing to Jaspar and operations/finance went to Bryce
  • 12:28 – At the end of 2016 they had 6-7,000 employees, a developed executive team, an SVP of sales, and a marketing leader
  • 12:42 – They decided it’d be best for the executive team to be entirely under Bryce so Jaspar could focus on client development and sales; this change has been great for the business
  • 13:03 – Bryce is a great leader/CEO and Jaspar isn’t bogged down by day-to-day management of sales/marketing; as a founder he goes out and represents TaskUs
  • 13:26 – Everyone in the organization plays to their highest strengths and maximum degree, which makes TaskUs a better, more profitable business
  • 13:40 – They grew 50% last year by having the right people in the right roles, including the founders
  • 14:30 – Their partnership is unique because they have similar strengths but different personalities and styles
  • 15:08 – The relationship is fluid; they’re constantly talking and evolving
  • 16:00 – Bryce can do everything he can do, but Jaspar can’t do finance/operations like Bryce can
  • 16:31 – They got $29 million in funding but they bootstrapped for 7 years until 2015; they had just finished a year of $15 million
  • 17:10 – They went from $15 million to $54 million in the year that they raised money
  • 17:15 – What happened that year to almost quadruple revenue?
  • 17:17 – They had one really big client and the rest of the business doubled; they’ve always been a high growth business
  • 17:58 – The big client came from a connection they had in Santa Monica; they had started an office poker game and one of those guys connected them to the client
  • 19:21 – They grew with the client
  • 20:02 – When did they start making a profit?
  • 20:25 – It took over 3 years to be able to pay themselves out $3,000/month; they started in 2008
  • 21:33 – How they raised $29 million
  • 21:35 – They raised $15 million in equity from a strategic private equity company; most of their operations were in the Philippines at that point
  • 21:55 – They get calls from investors wanting to invest because of their growth/profitability; now they turn them away
  • 22:06 – That original minority partnership has been great; the operators of that fund built and sold a company in their space so they understand and are helpful
  • 22:37 – The rest of the funding has been through debt financing; it has been used for operations, cash flow, and timing issues
  • 23:30 – They build out incredible office spaces with themes
  • 24:03 – In 2015 they spent almost $10 million in office space; they have over 8,000 employees that come into an office
  • 24:48 – Profitability is different from cash flow
  • 25:15 – “Growth eats cash for breakfast, lunch, and dinner;” You can be the most profitable business in the world and still run out of money
  • 25:37 – TaskUs growth rate: 50% last year and hoping to do similar this year; they are at over $100 million in revenue
  • 26:02 – They have over 500 employees in San Antonio and small client services offices in San Francisco, LA, Dallas, New York, and Austin; they offer a domestic support product out of San Antonio now
  • 27:10 – How do you build an office in the Philippines?
  • 27:33 – The real story: They lived in Bryce’s parents’ house, had a personal virtual assistant business, and were testing a dozen different countries in VA tasks
  • 28:15 – They decided the Philippines were the best; starting in 2009 they were named the largest destination in the world for BPO (Business Process Outsourcing/ call center industry)
  • 28:45 – They interviewed people on Skype and through placement agencies, they met a guy who said he’d open an office for them and needed $10,000
  • 29:32 – They wired him the money and he built the 400 square foot office; they had problems early on, but the office was built and that’s how they started
  • 30:15 – He would never do that now, but some of those earlier risky decisions panned out
  • 31:06 – When you start your own business when you are young, you don’t know any better so you just try things
  • 31:29 – Somehow it still worked
  • 31:48 – How did Jaspar find the product market fit for what he has going on now?
  • 31:58 – One key pivot: When they went from being a virtual assistant company to being a B to B enterprise solution
  • 32:15 – Their friend’s older brother’s friend, Jamie Siminoff, the CEO of Ring, had operations in the Philippines; his company at the time was called Phone Tag, a service that did voicemail to text transcription
  • 32:42 – Jamie asked if they could go from 5 employees to 100; they didn’t have $ but they set up a deal to get 100 computers in exchange for a good rate
  • 33:25 – They made more money with that one contract than they had before, so they sought out more contracts like that
  • 33:45 – They sold shifts and did work for other startups; that was the main pivot point
  • 34:00 – Jaspar’s thoughts on A.I.
  • 34:17 – In his industry, there are always predictions about how robots will replace jobs; they’re keeping an eye on it
  • 34:35 – When it comes to customer service, Jaspar believes things are moving slower than we think and won’t eliminate the need for people
  • 34:48 – A chatbot will serve as first response to understand the query or problem and offer self-service solutions
  • 35:02 – Jaspar likes to ask people if they have had positive experiences with chatbots as consumers because the answer is usually no
  • 35:20 – Dave likes to start with the chat option on company websites; but slackbots are usually annoying
  • 35:42 – Jaspar never encourages their clients to lead their customers to believe that they’re chatting with a human when it’s actually a bot; over time he believes they’ll take over easy tasks so humans can focus on the emotional and more complex tasks
  • 36:25 – What’s in store for the future?
  • 36:47 –Money and big luxuries don’t bring him happiness, he lives the lifestyle he wants and appreciates the little things like going out for lunch
  • 37:31 – He makes good money now and doesn’t know what he’d do with a ton more money since he’s happy with his life now
  • 38:48 – How to get more information on TaskUs: website
  • 38:55 – Jaspar and Bryce host a podcast on customer experience: CXYZ Podcast
  • 39:05 – Find Jaspar on all social media outlets @jasparweir

 Key Points:

  1. Business coaching and consulting can make a huge impact in your business; know when to get a coach/consultant and when it’s time to advance to a new one.
  2. When working with a partner, be grateful for your success, drop the ego, focus on what’s important for the company and always put it first.
  3. Appreciate the luxuries you experience at every step of growth; more money isn’t always the answer if you’re living the lifestyle you want.

Resources Mentioned: