Manage episode 260081363 series 2661367
Born to a Greek father, but British mother, Anthemos had a pretty normal childhood, where his natural tendency was to be introverted, but with time, trained himself to be more extraverted. He loved to read or play video games, and despite his inclination to keep to himself, he had lots of friends. At 18 years old, however, something devastating happened. His mother passed away, after battling a long illness. As an only child, this rocked Anthemos to his core and took the following couple years to recover from the terrible loss. In this pivotal moment, something inside awakened where he developed a deep desire to use his life to make his mother proud.
Perhaps it was the realization that life is fragile and not something to take for granted or the grief from losing his mother that motivated him to venture into entrepreneurship– having nothing hold him back. After raising $90 Million for his startup, Zumper, which aims to make apartment renting as easy as booking a hotel, he shares in this episode the mindset and framework he used to break boundaries and push himself to accomplish what seemed impossible. Projected to help 70 Million renters this year alone to secure rental apartments, Zumper is positioned to be a true game-changer in a clunky, antiquated industry.
In this episode you will learn about:
- Leadership Mistakes
- Building a company
- Exiting a company
- Managing and scaling a team
- Raising capital
- Company Culture
- Effective Communication
About Anthemos Georgiades:
Anthemos Georgiades is the co-founder and CEO of Zumper, the largest startup in the rental industry, used by more than 26 million renters last year alone. As CEO, Anthemos has raised $90 million in venture capital from investors including Kleiner Perkins, Goodwater Capital, Breyer Capital and Foxhaven Asset Management, including a Series B round in Oct. 2016 when many start-ups were struggling. He has grown the Zumper team to 50 and counting and successfully completed the acquisition of apartment search platform PadMapper.
With a diverse background that includes consulting for Boston Consulting Group and serving as Economic Advisor and speechwriter in the 2010 British Election, Anthemos founded Zumper in 2012 after his own terrible rental experience. He discovered that the marketplace doesn’t work for renters, and the idea for Zumper was born with the goal of evening the playing field and increasing transparency in the marketplace.
Originally from London, he has an MBA from Harvard Business School, MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and BA from the University of Oxford. Anthemos lives in San Francisco, where Zumper is HQ’d, with his wife. He remains a huge Tottenham Hotspur fan, and wakes up painfully every Saturday morning to tune into the live English soccer games.
Connect with Anthemos Georgiades:
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Anthemos: Yeah, so I like to throw people because I have a British accent but a very long Greek name.
Tanya: That’s Anthemos Georgiades, Harvard grad and former BCG consultant who raised 90 million from top tier venture capital funds to build Zumper, a platform that aims to make renting places as easy as booking hotels, now serving 70 million people annually.
Anthemos: Yeah, my name is Anthemos Georgiades. The Georgiades part is pretty common. The Anthemos is even in the Greek world pretty weird. It’s like a super old Greek saint that my father knew about and convinced my British mother to run with. It’s pretty weird. I have a lot of Anthemos handles on social media because there aren’t many of us, but it actually doesn’t mean anything. I think it’s derived from the world flower, which my friends give me a lot of banter about. Yeah, it’s a pretty unique name. I hated it growing up as a kid because I think you want to be named after all your friends, of course. I was annoyed I wasn’t called David, but now when we grow up and you’re a little older, I think it’s quite cool to have something unique.
Tanya: Oh, it’s super cool, very memorable. Is your father have any relationship to Greece or a Greek descent?
Anthemos: Yes, so my dad was born in Nicosia in Cyprus, and he is a concert pianist. He’s Cypriot Greek, Greek Cypriot and has traveled around Europe playing concerts his whole career, and then moved to London in his late 20s and met my mother in London back in the day.
Tanya: Wow! That must’ve been so amazing growing up with that name. By the way, I think we all hated our name when we were younger.
Anthemos: Yeah, it’s hard isn’t it?
Tanya: Yeah, absolutely. What kind of kid were you when you were young?
Anthemos: I was an only child. I’d say this hasn’t changed. I’m a huge introvert who’s taught themselves to be an extravert. I was always more happy on my own than I was with outside people. I always had lots of friends. I was a very happy kid. It’s a very normal family, but I was always more happy on my own, to be honest, reading or playing video games than I was doing anything else and so grew up happy.
I think my life changed when I was 18 when my mother had had – she’d been pretty sick during my teenage years and died when I was 18 just before I went to college. As an only child, it was – I mean, I know people who lost their parents when they were 5 or 6. I think losing your mother at 18 is still tragic, but obviously, I’m so glad I had 18 years with her. As an only child, it reduces your family from three to two. It’s a pretty seismic event in my life. Yeah, it really changed the rest of my life in terms of my ambitions and how you really want to do your parent proud after you lose them. I had a really happy childhood until that moment and then spent the next few years recovering at college and seeing what came next.
Tanya: Wow! That’s one of those moments that you go through, and you have a before you and an after you. What were some of the grounding decisions that you made about that event that you took forward?
Anthemos: Yeah, it’s an interesting time to talk about it. I think I just crossed the point I was saying to my wife the other day where I’ve lived more of my life without my other in my life than with. I just turned 37, and I lost her when I was 18. I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. I wish I had a really smart – like you wake up the next day and the tragedy hits, and then you change your life forever. It’s, obviously, as anyone who’s dealt with grief, never that simple. You go through many phases. It takes you a while for it to really sink in. Then it really becomes quite challenging, and it’s very easy to slip into depression.
When I look back on it, I think the single biggest thing it changed is my ambition. I was like many of your audience and many of your guests a – I was a nerdy, smart kid. I worked super hard. I was never smart enough to get away with not working, but I was always high in my classes. I got into Oxford, and I was super excited to go to college. I think I went from being a kid who got away with stuff before to being – after I lost her, I think my ambition really kicked in. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I had this bizarre drive to make your parent proud. Even though they’re no longer there, you still feel like they’re watching, and you really want to make them proud.
I went from a kid who got through life because I get through it with some studying to being one who was fiercely driven and played with various ideas about what I wanted to do with a career, ended up, obviously, becoming an entrepreneur. I think that’s the switch from being just a kid to being a kid who really wants to change the world and try and do something really positive. That’s the single biggest change losing my mother had on my life.
Tanya: Wow! If there’s any change that it could have, that would be – that would make her proud, and I believe that she is listening.
Anthemos: I love to hear that.
Tanya: We probably just can’t see her. Why were you talking about this recently with your wife? What in your life now is this – why is it bringing it up?
Anthemos: Yeah, I turned 37 a few – a couple of months ago. On my birthday, I realized that just from simple back of the envelop math that, obviously, I was now over twice as old as I was when I lost her. I’d actually lived more years now without her, and I was reflecting to my wife on that on my birthday just because – I no longer think about the event as sad. I think about it as I was so lucky to have my mother who was a wonderful feminist, incredible woman, had a career, brought me up to be very well adjusted, well, hopefully, well adjusted. I look back on my relationship with my mother not with any sadness but with amazing joy, and I also have a son now. I have a kid who’s almost 2, and it’s impossible not to join the things together because you think about yourself as a parent and what you want to do. If you could marry the fact that I just figured out the math and also the fact that I have a very young child, yeah, it’s not a sad thought, but it really struck home.
I was talking to my wife about it. She has two amazing parents who are still with us, and she can’t understand it really when I tell her how life-changing the event was and for good reason as she’s never gone through it herself. It’s hard to explain to people. Yeah, for anyone who’s gone through it in their earlier life, it’s pretty life changing.
Tanya: No, it is, and what I’ve noticed is, usually a life-changing moment like that, there’s either a conscious or unconscious decision that’s made.
Tanya: In your case, it seems like something activated where you were driven to really make your mother proud, make your life count, and make the best out of the time that you have.
Anthemos: It was super unconscious. I think you’re right. I’ve talked to people about this who’ve also lost people who they were very close to. I think when you’re more mature so when you’ve maybe gone to college or I don’t know, that you’re later in your life, I think people can make more mature decisions that are very conscious. I think when you’re a kid, even though 18 is not a kid, I was probably – I think I was still pretty immature. It was definitely unconscious. I had no idea how to deal with grief.
I wasn’t sitting around crying for years on end, but I definitely felt lonely. I definitely felt this new drive. I didn’t know where it came from. Now I look back on it. The two are completely linked, but at the time, it was totally unconscious. I think it was – to be honest, I think it was a way to deal with grief that you – maybe even selfishly that you put your mind onto something else. You tell yourself it’s to make your mother proud.
The thing is also it’s just a selfish way of dealing with grief that you can’t sit around all day thinking about it, so you find a new challenge. Yeah, I think entrepreneurship was not the obvious choice at the time. I think I was way too risk adverse having brought up – being brought up in the UK. All your friends want to be investment bankers, and that’s what you should do after college. I definitely didn’t imagine I’d be a CEO, but now I’ve meandered to that path. There’s no way back, and this is the kind of solution to that, I think.
Tanya: Once you start in the entrepreneurial space, it is so addicting.
Anthemos: Oh, it’s masochistically addicting. I mean, I’ve worked jobs before. I was at the Boston Consulting Group after college. I worked 20 hour days for 3 years. I’ve definitely worked jobs that probably have longer hours, but as you know, Tanya, the startup journey is absolutely addictive even if – the hours are last, but the emotional burden is higher because you think about it 24/7. It’s hard to see a way back. I think it’s pretty hard to imagine doing anything else after this.
Tanya: No, absolutely, so how did you even begin your entrepreneurial journey?
Anthemos: Yeah, I originally thought that politics was the way to address the things we’ve been talking about and find purpose in life. Politics are super interesting. I did a couple of stints in British politics, a very short, 6 to 12 month [10:10]. It wasn’t for me for various reasons at the time. Maybe one day but I continued to move away from that. Honestly, it was just like I wanted to solve a problem, so I never woke up and thought, cool, I’ll be a CEO. That sounds fun. I actually just stumbled on a problem of apartment renting.
I run a startup called Zumper. It’s an apartment rental app. We’re used by over 11 million visitors every month. We’re the largest startup in the US in apartment rentals, and the mission of the company is to make renting an apartment as easy as booking a hotel.
Tanya: Yeah, which by the way, I’m so happy that you’re tackling this problem. I’ve been in New York City renting for the past 13 years, and it is such a pain in the ass.
Anthemos: It’s pretty bad.
Tanya: It’s paper heavy, very process heavy, and it’s amazing what you’re doing at Zumper.
Anthemos: No, thank you. I just wanted this for the same reason you mentioned. I had that experience in the UK. I actually moved to New York originally with BCG and had the experience in New York, had the same experience in grad school in Boston, and it was always one of those things where it was the – it’s the single biggest outgoing expense of your life as a renter. You spend a third of your income on the rent, and yet, the process is the worst. It’s not On Demand. It’s not as easy as booking an Airbnb or a hotel. It’s impossibly harder than booking an Uber.
I kept in my 20s just find the same problem every time I moved, and I moved around a lot. Then, at grad school in Boston, I was just like you know what? I always thought someone else would solve this problem, and no one solved it. I’m just going to have a go at it, and candidly, 6 years on did I ever think I’d be sitting here with a company of over 100 people having raised $90 million, of course not. I spent a summer trying something out, and it started to work. Then it snowballed, but honestly stumbled into it. I wanted to solve a problem. I didn’t want to necessarily run a tech startup. It just so happened that running a tech startup as a CEO was the way to solve the problem.
Tanya: You started it you said when you were in Boston at grad school?
Anthemos: Yes, that’s right.
Tanya: Awesome. This is a total sidebar. Everybody that I know that went to HBS, Harvard, they’re so discreet about it. What is it about going to Harvard that you just under the rug, don’t really – you’re more reserved with it?
Anthemos: I think that’s generous, Tanya. I’ve met a lot of people who have said the opposite where they’re like – I think there’s a joke about how do you know someone went to Harvard Business School? They’ll tell you in their introduction. I’ve actually met a lot of people before I went there who were the opposite. I don’t know. It’s a really good question. I mean, I’m based in San Francisco now. I don’t think San Francisco, or Silicon Valley, or the New York or other tech communities particularly care where you went to college. I think they value your brain and your work ethic [13:15].
Tanya: Contribution, yeah.
Anthemos: The same for me, I grew up in London and went to Oxford, and the UK is very elitist, though. It’s still a class-driven society. It really matters where you went to university, and it’s changing, just to be clear. It’s absolutely changing where Silicon Valley – I went on a holiday with my wife a week ago, and there’s four new joiners sitting around the corner from me at work. I couldn’t possibly tell you where they went to college or even if they went to college. Who cares? Anyway, long way of saying with HBS and the MBA, yeah, it’s just irrelevant. It was a great two years, but I want to be – just like you, I want to be judged on what I do in my life and how you help people and grow people’s careers, not brands on resumes.
Tanya: That’s amazing. You’re almost seven years into Zumper. What is your job at Zumper today?
Anthemos: Yeah, it’s really changed from having pretty much had every role at the company probably except CTO to now I’d say I do three things now, to oversimplify the role. One is fundraising and just general [14:29]. I’ve raised 90 million for the company. We have a lot in the bank.
Anthemos: We may go and raise more money in the future, so that’s on me.
Tanya: You also have the who’s who of investors. It’s not like you just raised – I mean, you have some serious credible people behind you.
Anthemos: We love our investors. We have Kleiner Perkins, Goodwater Capital. We have Jim Breyer and Breyer Capital. We just brought in Axel Springer and Stereo Capital. Blackstone invested. They’re one of our clients.
Tanya: It’s amazing.
Anthemos: We’ve got great investors, and we have a great relationship with them. They’re super pushy, as they should be. Yeah, so continuing to maintain those relationships and then grow the next generation is the first job of any CEO in a tech back company, assuming you want to continue to raise venture capital. The second one is culture, so increasingly, I obsess on the culture. How do we define the right hires? How do we motivate them? How do we retain all our best people? Culture and how it matches our mission is super important to me, and I think, ultimately, culture is the reason people stay at companies, not compensation. The third one is strategic alignment so super unsexy, sounds really boring, but we’ve got to make sure that what we tell the board is what we tell the exec team, is what we tell the engineering team, is what we tell the interns, and that we do not build products that we throw away tomorrow because they were like a crazy crackpot CEO idea. I don’t need to be in every meeting to do this, but making sure we run a really tight quarterly planning process is actually a really big part of my job now. I work a lot with our CFO on that.
Tanya: How do you get the team to stay aligned because, so many CEOs that I speak with, that’s one of the hardest challenges?
Anthemos: Yeah, totally. I think absolute full transparency is the best way. Even though there were various risks of being wildly transparent with your team, can stuff slip out? Can an investor find – oh, I’m sorry, a competitor find out something you don’t want them to? Yeah, sometimes but the benefits of being full transparent and trusting your team with the information far outweigh, at least at the moment, the downside. We at Zumper run a closely planning process. Ultimately, everything rolls into our mission of making renting an apartment as easy as booking a hotel. That distills down into five OKRs, which are a – it’s a one key management tool that some companies use. You may use them, Tanya, objectives and key results that John Doerr at Kleiner had pioneered, and that every initiative we have has to roll up into one of these five key objectives. Otherwise, we can’t do it.
Then we plan out a quarterly basis. Every beginning of a quarter, we do a full team-wide analysis of every number in the business in the previous quarter. We plan out every initiative and project a number in the business for the subsequent quarter, and then every single week we do a 20 minute check-in every Monday for every person in the team on progress against those initiatives. That drives a lot of alignment because an engineer might go back to their desk and really think to themselves is what I’m building aligned with any of the things I just saw in this Monday presentation? If not, I should really probably speak to someone.
Tanya: That’s amazing. I love that incredible structure that you set up. When you say transparency really drives alignment, that is always interesting to me. Are you thinking more of transparency like super – I mean, super transparent, like Bridgewater and Associates transparent where you table the meetings? You score people, and you give live feedback, and there’s a rating system. It’s like that level of transparency? Where do you draw the line?
Anthemos: Yeah, great question and absolutely not at that level. It’s a really good one. We are absolutely transparent with pretty much every single number in the business. I’m talking about radical transparency on our performance. If we have a crappy month, people need to know about that, and as long as you’ve got the right leadership team and you believe in the CEO and the C-level and the board, it’s fine. Growth is spikey. It’s not a linear curve for any company and so showing down months important, and I think you want to hire a team that comes in on the first of the next month and is resilient. They’re going to keep grinding.
I love your question about Bridgewater and the other kind of transparency. I’ve read a lot about Bridgewater, and I had a couple of friends who worked there. I think that’s transparency to the point of being ineffective, and you could even call it rude. I don’t want to sound too conservative because I love it as an approach. It’s a radically different approach. I don’t know if I want my team – and maybe running a hedge fund is completely different to running a tech startup, but I don’t know if I want my team spending that much time writing up notes or reading narratives of meetings they weren’t in. I’m just not sure that’s the right use of our time. Maybe it’s a pioneering approach, and we’re just being lazy. We have so many things on fire as we grow very quickly that that just seems like – it seems like a crazy use of time. I understand the reason to do it.
To be honest, it just seems like social decorum breaks down. I know there’s a trend for radical candor in the Valley as well. I really respect how radically candid Bridgewater are to each other, but I don’t if you’re like that with anyone else in your life. I don’t think I’m radically candid with my wife or my son, and so for me, it’s an interesting experiment. It’s not the way I run my company, and fair play to them, they may be trying to achieve something different in a hedge fund to what I need to achieve in Silicon Valley. I think that it would be very hard to track the level of talent we have at Zumper if I use that approach. I think that there’s a very different expectation from the top talent in Silicon Valley about how they’d be treated.
Tanya: No, absolutely, I totally agree. You’re right. In a startup, it would completely I think change the dynamic. In terms of culture, you said that’s absolutely something that you obsess about. What’s the culture at Zumper?
Anthemos: It’s obviously, incredibly hard to define. We have cultural tenets that we talk to the team about. I’d say the people that – I’d say the general culture here is it feels like a siblinghood. Now, I’m saying this as an only child, as I mentioned before, but I suppose that it feels like having siblings where it’s – even though there’s hierarchy and people report to people, in a meeting, it’s completely flat. The intern can tell the CEO they’re wrong. I think it’s like a siblinghood where there’s a lot of self-deprecation. There’s a lot of banter and humor. Yet, in meetings, we disagree all the time, but there’s no assholes. No one’s yelling at anyone. We disagree often, but we solve disagreements with data.
I’d say the thing I love the most about our culture is you’ll see our CTO walk over to our intern on the biz op side and work on something for 20 minutes at her desk. You’ll see our head of sales talking to a junior product person to fix something. That kind of collaborative siblinghood extends to every facet of how we think about the company, how we hire, how we think about providing lunches and breakfasts to the team, how we think about new office space. We’ve seen loads of new offices for our office move this year, and we’ve absolutely rejected offices which wouldn’t support that cross-collaboration or even just to the extent of maybe not having people on two floors and making sure that we remain in an office that’s open plan, which gets increasingly difficult as your grow. It’s super important.
The biggest lever you have as a CEO to culture is hiring. Your culture can’t change the same as you grow. It will evolve. Hiring people that fit, at least an aspirational culture of what you’re trying to grow is the single biggest lever you have, so I’m very attuned to how we hire and where we find people.
Tanya: Hmm, that sounds incredible. As a leader, as the leader of Zumper and as a leader, what has been the toughest moment that you’ve dealt with in your life?
Anthemos: In my career at Zumper?
Tanya: Mm-hmm, I mean, it could be at Zumper. It could be anywhere. As a leader, what has been the toughest moment that you had to deal with in your career?
Anthemos: Yeah, [23:08]. It was definitely at Zumper. In my 20s, I was – I don’t think I really lead teams before. I’d had many teams at BCG, and in politics, I had a few people occasionally reporting to me. Candidly, it’s crazy sometimes. I’m talking about the CEO stuff. You come up with an idea, so you name yourself the CEO. Then suddenly, two years later, actually, you have to be a good leader. It’s no longer an idea. It’s about leadership.
I think the toughest stuff has always been morale in the difficult days. As in now, we’re pretty big. We make pretty good revenue. We make a lot of users. I think 70 million people will use Zumper this year. We’re happy with where we are but never happy enough, but in the early days where you have very low funding, no funding, and – I remember many occasions around morale where competitors came out with products that were what we were trying to build. People try and mine our contact list to steal our customers.
I always remember flights I took where some bad news came out just before I got on the flight back home from a conference. I always thought about how I talk to my team where you as the CEO have to be balanced, where you can’t freak out in front of your team because that’s infectious. At the same time, you have to be honest. I think if you brush every competitive threat away as nonsense, your team don’t believe in you.
Tanya: Yeah, it diminishes what you say.
Anthemos: Totally, and so there’s this impossible medium and I’m sure you felt it too as a CEO of companies where you have to be authentic to the rest but also incredibly bullish and remind the team of the vision and that none of these things change. I remember two or three competitors in our early years, none of whom exist anymore, would – they were always a couple of years before us when we launched. We were always the kids in the group, and it was hard in the first couple of years to catch up with them. Now we’ve surpassed them. It feels great, but it was difficult in the first two years to keep morale high while you were so small. I think that’s the hardest days when you’re money’s running out. Your team is looking around thinking is this going to work out? How you turn up to those meetings is hard, and there’s no secret sauce to it. It’s reading the room and finding the middle grounds, and it’s not easy.
Tanya: I could so relate to that. I’ve had to do that many, many times. Are there any exercises or things that you would do before you would have to go have those tough decisions or tough discussions?
Anthemos: I wish had a – it’s a really good question. I wish I had a clever answer here. I think some other guests will probably have a great answer about looking in the mirror and rehearsing it. I’m the opposite where I’m incredibly close to my team, my executive team. Of the seven people who report to me, five of them have been here for over four years now. I think, actually, they’re five years now. I know these people very well, and I spent a lot of time getting to know them early on because we really wanted to get our exec team together as early as possible. I’d say that just – I knew these human beings, and I knew how different the people in the room were.
Because I think I understood what motivated the room in the early days, there was no rehearsal. I think I understood the context of the room really well before I went in. I guess some people would say rehearse and nail the speech. I’m much more like wing the speech, but really know who’s in the room of your team. If you’ve hired correctly, you’re working with people that will be able to balance outside shocks or slowing in funding and the kind of things that you’ll ultimately solve. No, to be honest, I just built a team that I really trusted, and a lot of the early team who went through the hardest days with me are all here now still.
Tanya: That says so much about you and your leadership style. How have you evolved as your business has grown over the past seven years and your team has grown?
Anthemos: I mean, I have not nailed this yet, but I’m getting better at it. I think the hardest transition for a CEO as you go from having raised maybe $10 million to having raised nearly $100 million or a lot more is getting out of the weeds and becoming a different kind of CEO. I think startup CEO is, by hook or by crook, grow, raise money, get customers, prove product market fit, and you have to be involved in six or seven different roles in the first few years. I think it’s really hard to step back because every – you were very successful if you continue to raise money at those roles because they worked. It’s very hard to let that go and trust that by hiring a seasoned exec team that you pass it off. They’ll do it, and you focus on strategy and hiring and culture.
That’s really hard, and when I read my upward feedback from my team, consistently – and also, to be honest, my downward feedback from the board, consistently in the last year and a half, that is the single biggest negative piece of feedback or opportunity to work on is just get out. Get out of the weeds. Trust us. Yeah, they’ll be mistakes, but focus on higher, other things. I’m 60% of the way there, but I’m not fully across. I’m getting there, but it is really hard. It’s a growing up pain, and it’s a nice one to have. It’s really hard to let go and just trust that stuff will happen.
Tanya: Yeah, no, absolutely. That is a huge challenge, but it sounds like you’re on your way. If you could rewind ten years from now so ten years back, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Anthemos: Oh, man, girl, what a question. Probably, it’s going to be far harder than you possibly think.
Tanya: That’s a good piece of advice.
Anthemos: People tell you it’s hard, and you don’t listen. You just think, ahh, it’s hard for them because they didn’t execute brilliantly or something. I’m glad I didn’t go back and tell myself that advice. If I had, I don’t know if I would’ve done it. Now I’ve done it, and I think we’ve got through the hardest part. I mean, I’m so happy I did it. If I knew how hard the first three or four years were going to be, I probably would’ve done it, but I don’t know. I think my delusional optimism in the early days was amazing.
I think I’d go back and say it’s harder than you possibly think. It’s not as easy as TechCrunch and all these blog posts make it sound like. Surround yourself with amazing people inside and outside work to serve as a support network to you because your emotional state is going to go up and down 50 times a day for the next several years. You’ve got to have a support network inside the office and, equally if not more importantly, outside the office.
Tanya: How do you stay balanced?
Anthemos: Oh, I don’t do…
Tanya: Do you go work out, or do you – how do you keep it together because it can be brutal?
Anthemos: Yeah, it’s hard. It’s brutal. Definitely working with people that you love, which I’ve always luckily been able to do, where I literally cannot wait to come to work every morning to see these people because they’re so smart and talented but we’ve also become friends. That’s important but just finding the balance outside work. If you’re in a relationship, or you’re married, or you have a kid, I think it’s a – that’s one say to do it. I mean, you don’t do it for that reason, but just having a kid, for example, was an amazing reminder of what else there is in the world. I mean, I look forward to my weekends with my son more than anything in the world. Then, for people that aren’t in relationships, I mean, sports, like friendships, movies, literature, arts, they’re so important. You are so much better at your job if you have balance outside.
There are CEOs I know in Silicon Valley who work seven days a week for six, seven years, and I work super hard. I’m definitely on the higher working spectrum, but I can never work seven days a week for seven years, nor should I. You can’t see the 50,000 foot view if you’re working…
Tanya: No, you burn out.
Anthemos: You burn out and the companies don’t work out. I’ve seen these companies, and they don’t tend to work out. Anyone who says you can run a startup without working hard, there’s maybe 1% of really lucky people who have amazing product market fit [31:41]. I don’t think that’s true for 99% of startups. I think you have to work super hard. Saying that, that doesn’t preclude having dinner with your family, putting your kids to bed, seeing your kid on the weekend.
I don’t have a perfect formula. I’m definitely not a ten out of ten dad, for example. I try to be. I think just finding interests outside work is not just okay. It should be actively encouraged by any board members or any colleagues. It’s really important for your sanity.
Tanya: Yeah, no, absolutely. Space, actually, even just a walk in the park usually comes – it brings a lot of great ideas and a lot of things that you hadn’t resolved but you have a solution for now.
Anthemos: Yeah, how many times you come back from holiday and it just – everything feels less stressful, or you go to bed a little earlier, and you wake up, and you solved that little thing you were thinking about last night. You wake up, and the solution is so clear. That stuff’s real, and it’s stuff you’re told when you’re 20. You don’t really believe, but your brain is an amazing organ. It is doing a lot of things passively, and you’ve got to let it operate on focusing on something that is at work. In the background, it’s processing the work questions. It’s so important.
Tanya: Yeah, no, 100%. What’s next for Zumper?
Anthemos: Yeah, so right now, I think most people that know Zumper or our other brand, PadMapper, that we acquired a couple of years ago know us as a search engine for apartments. We’re by some distance I think the largest startup in terms of audience now in the US and as people just looking for apartments and sending messages to landlords to go and visit. Our vision is very much to be a booking engine for apartments. Not just helping renters send messages, but how can we actually represent landlords directly and use software to prequalify renters, and then have them walk into an open house, and pull out their phone and actually leave a deposit and book the apartment like they’d book a hotel? I think, in two or three years’ time, if Zumper is equally well known as a booking engine for apartments as it is a search engine, that would be our homerun and would be fulfilling the true north of the company. Everything in the next two years is focused on two things, continuing to grow our monthly audience of millions of users and moving as many of them as possible into transactions, not just into [34:12]. They’re the only two things we’re really focused on.
Tanya: That’s a really strategic thing to focus on. That’s amazing. How do people get in touch with you if they want to say hi?
Anthemos: Yeah, Twitter is normally the best place and just @anthemos on Twitter, and we’re pretty responsive. Zumper is just the app Zumper on Twitter as well. Follow me on LinkedIn. I usually reply to stuff, and yeah, love hearing from entrepreneurs or our users. It’s very motivating to us as well.
Tanya: Amazing, Anthemos, this has been brilliant, and I so thank you for the time that you’ve given us today.
Anthemos: Oh, thank you for having me, Tanya. I enjoyed it.