Marty Bauer

Passionately challenge the status quo. Warum Nicht.

Why Family Helps Reset My Compass

I am fortunate to have a great family, and even more fortunate to have great relationships with everyone in my family.

Since I live 7+ hours from most of my family – we don’t see each other as often as I would like. So when we are together there is plenty of quality time spent together – as any large German Catholic family can relate to.

It is this family time that both grounds and motivates me.

I recently spent a week with my family over the holidays and came away with a refreshed outlook on both personal and business perspectives.

When living away from family it is easy to forget some of the idiosyncrasies that make us who we are. But when you spend time with family little things quickly come back. Like how I owe much of my understanding of business from conversations with my dad or how my sister and I have equal levels of stubbornness on the same minor details in life.

Another thing that spending time with family does is remind me that not everyone sees the world in the same way I do or spends their days working on the same things I do. Having spend the last few years surrounded by a world of tech and startup culture it is easy to believe that the everyone else the same perspective on work. Always on – work from anywhere.

As we always do when together, my dad and I were having breakfast last week and catching each other up on what our work lives have us doing. I still learn so much from him and these 1-on-1 breakfast chats are incredibly impactful for me. I mentioned to him how much I had learned in the last 12 months in adjusting to two roles simultaneously. His response was in-line with what I expected – but hearing it directly from him made me think deliberately how fortunate I am to to be in the position I am in life and career.

The emotional roller-coaster of life in a startup is a wild ride. I am actively seeking ways to normalize the peaks and valleys – as time passes spending time with family becomes a more powerful way to reset my compass.

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6 Myths About Rideshareing Busted

6 Myths About Rideshareing Busted.

Cyber Hitchhiking: The RidePost Solution

Cyber Hitchhiking: The RidePost Solution.

 

StartupLand: a documentary

A documentary series recently launched a Kickstarter campaign. StartupLand is billed as an authentic story of what life is like for 5 early stage companies.

RidePost happens to be one of the five companies that Justin Gutwein profiles. Justin and team followed a few of our steps and missteps over the last year, and I cannot wait to see what he comes up with.

As of now I am one of over 175 backers for his ambitious Kickstarter campaign. Check it out and if you feel you can contribute, it is going towards something I believe in.

Click here for more info

50 to 500: Redefining transportation of 50 – 500 miles

50 to 500: Redefining transportation of 50 – 500 miles.

How to get from BWI to DC

Sarah and Shannon,

We can’t wait to see you guys in DC tonight! Here are some step by step directions to get here, made just for you.

1.) Get on the plane! Southwest Airlines will treat you right.

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2.) When you land in BWI, go through baggage claim and exit at door #2.

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3.) Turn left and walk 10 yards. Go towards yellow the Amtrak/Marc signs.

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4.) Get on the free shuttle bus that says AMTRAK/MARC on the front marquee.

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5.) Get off at the last stop. Amtrak/Marc station. Go inside the office and buy a $6 MARC ticket to Union Station in Washington, DC.

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6.) After buying a ticket, you will need to climb the steps and cross over the tracks via the sky bridge to get to the tracks on the far side of the ticket office.

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7.) Get off the MARC train at the last stop: Union Station in Washington, DC.

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8.) Look for the two handsome guys wearing these:

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See you soon!

Marty + Robert

Life of the Fire Turtle

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Several people recently have asked what it is like to be a startup founder. The truth is that there is little time to think about such abstract answers.

Everyday is different. Today for example started last night when I finally finished working at 1am only to get up again at 4am to catch a flight at 6am. I was in the office 500 miles away by 9am. However, my phone battery can attest to the fact that much work had already been done.

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By now it is 9pm. Many phone calls, meetings and tasks have been checked off my to do list. Now it is time to figure out how in the world I am going to be in two places 250 miles apart at once on Friday. Hello McFly?

Sometimes I feel like the beloved RidePost Fire Turtle in the picture above (that’s him at the bottom in orange): passing by on the outside of the glass while the rest of the herd is sitting inside a climate controlled building enjoying life as it passes them by. On the other hand I thrive on being on the outside living for the opportunities to fly high above like the Fire Turtle below.

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While it is hard to answer the question about being a co-founder, I could not help but find the dramatic irony of the Fire Turtle today as we passed by another window as I was racing by to the next destination.

We may not always know for sure where the journey will take us, but it is moments like these that make me realize the opportunity ahead. I would rather be the Fire Turtle out hustling than all huddled up together on a comfortable shelf like his friends.

Note: Fire Turtle belongs to my co-founder Nik, and travels nearly everywhere with us. He is not for sale, but is available for guest appearances.

5 Ways To Reduce Travel Stress

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Travel is an exciting time that brings new experiences from start to finish. When we hit the road, be it for a day, weekend or longer, the reason for our travel is – more often than not – an exciting event, person or destination that we are driving toward.

Travel has the power to change our perspectives on anything, as it is out of our daily routine. In doing so, we all hope for the best experience possible.

As the costs of travel continue to grow, not only in terms of dollars but also in terms of time and other resources, so too does the stress involved. While individual travelers may not be able to reduce the fixed dollar costs associated with travel (gas prices, ticket prices, tolls, etc) people can help alleviate the other travel headaches with a little bit of planning ahead.

Here are 5 travel tips that help an individual reclaim ownership of their own travel experience:

  • Food: Find a grocery store near where you are staying and buy your meals there. This dramatically reduces the cost of food on the road by avoiding dining in at restaurants every meal. Also it helps you stay on a more normal diet schedule, similar to when you are at home.
  • Accommodations: Ask a friend to stay on their couch or spare bedroom. Since we launchedRidePost we have been traveling a lot, yet not once have we paid for a hotel room when traveling. We are very lucky to have some great friends who have opened their door for us and so many great stories to tell as a result of our stays with them.
  • Traffic: Avoid rush hour. Nothing makes blood boil more while behind the wheel than stop and go traffic (Maybe Mythbusters or HowStuffWorks could help prove this). Apps like Waze can help you see live traffic conditions while on the go.
  • Stereo: Pick what makes you happy. With great services like SpotifyPandoraTuneIn andSirusXM radio available, we are no longer tied to one CD or radio static jumping in and out along the trip. If music is not your thing, stock up on Podcasts or audio books to help pass the time productively.
  • Souvenirs: Skip the souvenir shops, take a picture instead. Does your family really want an inauguration shot glass? No. Would it make their day if you sent them a picture from outside the White House instead? Yes. With apps like ByPost you can even send a postcard of your own picture straight from your phone.

Travel and the freedom of mobility is an important part of our journey in life. By managing the stress of travel, we invite a better experience.

 

 

This was first published on the RidePost Blog

On Fraud

Fraud happens. It is our job to prepare for it and deal with it when it happens.

This is the short story about what happened to my company recently, and how we dealt with fraud before anything happened.

As background, before founding RidePost I previously worked for several years dealing with the cleanup of a multi-million dollar fraud that lasted years, ultimately sending a co-worker and customer to prison for years while many others in ruin. The learning curve in that job was steep and challenging. But as a young guy willing to learn by drinking from a fire-hose I survived the cleanup of a mess beyond comprehension. Needless to say I saw many forms of fraud and the terrible effects they have on people – both good and bad. Those lessons stick with me everyday.

As a result I am hypersensitive to fraud and have built our company with plans in place should it happen.

Recently after a long day we received this ominous email from our payment processor:

Hi Guys,

We caught and stopped a payment on the following credit as they are a known fraudster.

Please issue a credit on the related debit as it is likely from stolen credit card.

Thanks.

Our payment processor is proactively watching transactions coming through our marketplace? Wow. That is huge. But that was just the beginning.

This was a first, someone was trying to be naughty on our site. Turns out that someone was trying to make charges against a stolen card by setting up two fake Facebook accounts. Thankfully, in addition to many layers of safety and trust for our members built into our community, we have several unpublished safeguards in place that drew red flags.

We immediately were in contact with our payment partner and worked it out before anything happened. When I say in contact – we were in touch with real humans who caught the event as it happened, not a robot or cookie cutter customer service department.

This brings us to my next point.

As a small company: choose your partners and vendors wisely. We have a great and growing group of partners of various shapes and sizes. We scoped out many payment companies before settling on the company we use. No matter who we looked at we kept coming back to one company for two main reasons.

1.) They chose to focus on one market (payments for marketplaces) and serve that one market better than anyone else.

2.) Their developer support was the best and most responsive that we found.

We chose Balanced Payments to handle our payment system. Today, we are glad we did and for more reasons than I expected when we began. Balanced does not do payments best for everyone, but for an online marketplace they stand at or above any other option.

We diligently weigh our options whenever we bring someone else into our company’s product. As a young company this is incredibly important as the room for error is small. Every company will sell you on why they are awesome in good times. The true test is how people perform when things go wrong – Balanced handled this situation as well as we could ask.

Fraud exists. The best way to deal with it is to be aware and prepared to act when needed. A good game plan goes a long way.

Deciding When Is The Best Time To Start A Startup?

“But now is not the best time” – Everyone else

Accept a dream job, graduate, leave that dream job, convince three other people to do the same, launch a startup, land seed funding, marry the girl of your dreams, move to a new city, leave the country for three weeks.

Logic says not to do more than two of these in a year. I did all of them in less than a month. If I can do all of that within a month – and survive – then you can do it too.

There will never be a perfect time to launch a startup. There will always be risk. There will always be uncertainty. There will always be reasons and people to say “not now”.

A few months ago I resigned from my dream job making more money than I was worth to start my dream company.  In the months since doing so, I have never once regretted the decision.  The emotion and energy of working everyday on something I am passionate about with an amazing team is incredibly powerful.

Three years ago I was working in a company with a history of taking good care of their employees over a career. Great benefits, fair pay and little threat of losing your job. Then 2008 happened. Like most other financial companies they began layoffs, at every level.
My job was safe, but I began to realize that people who had spent their lives making a career for one company were no longer insulated. People my parents age were losing everything they had and everything they had known. Retirement plans – gone, paycheck – gone, security – gone. I saw this and decided that there had to be a different way to spend my years preparing for a brighter future.

I made up my mind to make a change and decided that grad school (don’t knock it till you try it) was the opportunity I was seeking. So after working nights and weekends on various projects and applying for schools I decided the time was right and spoke privately to my mentor at work. He understood my reasons for leaving and was supportive. I spent a couple months winding down projects I was working on and moved on in May of 2010. I had a mortgage – so I sold my house to start the next chapter.

I took the approach that grad school was a two year opportunity to explore things I was passionate about. The school I chose included living/working/learning overseas. I spent a good portion of my grad school traveling and gaining a new perspective on everything. Rather than rely on classroom instruction and career services to find a job, I spent two years of early mornings and late nights working with as many projects, ideas and companies that I could. Having no income for a year puts everything in perspective. I made it a point to pursue a different path with my MBA. I was convinced that starting a company was my path post graduation. But I had no idea what that would be or how it would go.

I spent a year working with a research scientist who had a fascinating product, but no means to commercialize it. I believed that this was what I would do post graduation. That didn’t happen. And I moved on to something I was more passionate about.

If there was a record kept for the least amount of time spent in the classroom during grad school at my alma mater – I would win, hands down. However, not because I was a slacker. The classes that mattered, I took. There was no time to waste on filler classes I was uninterested in. I graduated with more experience and credits than was required, mainly due to non-classroom work and independent study classes. As many of my classmates were sleeping in until their afternoon classes and partying most nights, I was up early every morning either working for other startups or working on my own. Not to say it was all work and no play, a balanced life is key, but having limited income made many decisions to stay in easier. I was hired by a startup to handle special projects and evolved into managing the financial side of their business. Eventually the founders offered me a full-time job. It was my dream job and paid more than I was worth – I was ecstatic. However, at the same time I was working on my own startup that was gaining momentum and requiring more of my time.

The decision was difficult to leave the full-time job, pay and benefits. But not one day since have I regretted making the leap.

Truth be told, there will never be a perfect time. When you do go for it – make sure you have both feet in the boat, both hands on the oars.

If you have questions about your ideas, situation or otherwise – I’d love to hear from you.

Marty
@BauerMarty

This was also published in Under30CEO.