Leaders Podcast

Good Ideas & Sleepless Nights

With Aisle411 CEO Nathan Pettyjohn

Show notes

Aisle411 has raised over $15 millon in VC funding

On this episode of Leader, Nathan Pettyjohn. Have you ever had an idea? Like a really good one that kept you up at night? Have you ever gotten to point where you said “I can’t let anyone else takes this idea? I’m the only one that can make it work.”  If you have then you have a lot in common with today’s guest, Nathan Pettyjohn. He’s the CEO and Founder of Aisle411. They leverage virtual and artificial reality to help brands sell products. Nathan and James met a few years back at a conference and when Nathan started talking about VR and AR technology he lit up. It’s no wonder that his company has raised over $15 Million in venture capital funding.  His journey from cushy salary job to budding entrepreneur might sound familiar to you, it’s a common founder story “I had the car, the money, etc.” But it might be identical to the crossroads you are standing at right now. Enjoy my far-ranging conversation with Nathan Pettyjohn.

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Episode Transcript

Quick disclaimer: these transcripts are auto-generated. They are best used in addition to the Podcast audio not instead of. We cannot guarantee 100% accuracy.

James Fratzke: [00:00:00] Nathan how are you today?

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:00:02] Doing a fantastic.

 

James Fratzke: [00:00:03] Thank you. Thanks for being on the show. We appreciate it.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:00:07] Absolutely. I'm happy to be here.

 

James Fratzke: [00:00:09] I want to talk about Aisle411 one but before I do Nathan I want to unpack your entrepreneurial journey. I saw an interview one time that you were working in a cushy job. You had a nice title position a car all of that fancy stuff but eventually you came across an idea that you couldn't let anybody else do you had to be the one to take this to market. Can you walk me through that moment when you decided to take the leap?

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:00:36] Yeah well first of all you have a good memory. I think we talked about that quite a while back but here you're dead on. I think any entrepreneur and was the case with myself you just become obsessed with solving a major problem and you see how you can solve a problem for yourself that would then solve the problem for millions of other people. And it's most likely that you have a business on your hands and one that can make money and create jobs and grow. So you know as you mentioned Oprah when one was an idea born out of frustration and most likely thousands of other people have had the same frustration where you're walking through a retail store you're trying to find something that you want to buy but you're unable to find it. And a lot of times you leave disgusted for you know leave and go buy it somewhere else. And there's a huge loss opportunity there for the retailer. I find myself in a big home improvement store looking for a surge protector. I spent 10 minutes and talked to three different associates that sent me to the wrong places in a store and I said you know this is back in 2007. The iPhone had just hit the market and I said you've got to be able to take like all the inventory data on the shelf and put it in a phone so I can just have asked my phone. or I find the RfS protector shows me where it is maybe recommending a couple of nice products that would go along with that. I buy more than I came in for and I leave happy. And

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:02:10] so as I started to research the market I realized nobody had really done that on any type of scale. And I realized you know there's a huge opportunity to solve the problem for a lot of different people the retailers the brands and the shoppers. That's why I became obsessed with it. I would stay up until beyond midnight researching putting together a business plan. And finally it just came down to it. And I said you know I've got to do this. I also found a co-founder that was willing to jump in the boat with me and he actually helped to provoke me making the move from my cushy job because he said hey I'm going to go ahead and start working on this raising investment capital and going to market. And I was like you can't do that without me. And that's why I decided to leave my job where I you know I worked out of my house and some travel had a company car a lot of flexibility a nice bonus program you know married with a couple of kids. And now I have four kids which was even a lot more stressful than I realized it would be when you're growing your family and growing a business right.

 

James Fratzke: [00:03:26] What if there was somebody in a similar position to you. Because I think this happens a lot in today's world. There's a lot of people that have full time jobs and they also have a side hustle where they're trying to start that business and they're kind of moonlighting on the side. Some companies would say hey stop doing that other thing and just focus on what we're paying you to do. Would you agree with that logic or would you disagree?

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:03:53] I don't agree with that statement at all. In fact I think that if you look at the most successful people in the world yes there are obsessively passionate about something but you know whether you like them or not I'm and I'm going to go out on a limb here and mention Donald Trump from a business standpoint. He has as many hours in the day as you and I do. And you're somehow able to build multiple businesses that create billions of dollars in revenue and profitability. He failed many times along the way but you know when you look at him or other people out there that have created really big opportunities a lot of jobs a lot of them you know they decide hey m my focus is creating opportunity. And so I think that you have the ability to do more than one thing. And I also I'm a firm believer you know with our employees that work it out for one I encourage them to take on the other side consulting opportunities as long as they don't conflict and take business from us. Because you know they could either go play softball in the evenings or they could do some and they're passionate about doing consulting work and most likely they're going to bring back knowledge that they can apply to this business. So I think that you know you've got to be obsessed but I think you can do more than one thing in life.

 

James Fratzke: [00:05:20] Well I agree with you. I love that concept. I've certainly worked at places where they kind of try to pigeonhole you and say Hey do this thing really well and sleep eat dream about it and come back and do it again in the morning so I love your approach of saying hey let's work really hard within the business. But if there's these other things that you're passionate about you know take that passion and do something with it. And in your explanation it actually helps increase your business as well.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:05:48] Yeah exactly. You know I have another kind of example of this so about two years ago our company had all crowing when we started doing a lot of work and augmented reality technology were a key partner with Google's tango platform which is a really cool computer vision based augmented reality solution that you can navigate in in a car and point to a vitamin bottle on the shelf. Well I became really excited about augmented reality. Our customers kept asking us to do virtual reality type solutions. And I realized you know I know from one couldn't strategically focus on all these different types of solutions just with the resources we had. And therefore I also realized that we along the way when I was trying to connect our customers with new vendors who might be able to do virtual reality for example there didn't exist any kind of a trade group or a network that was easy to navigate. So I ended up founding the VR/AR association almost two years ago just really to solve a need for a company and I thought hey this will also give me a great thought leadership position in the community of augmented reality and help you know I'm all for one one along the way. So I quickly realized that that market opportunity was taking off fast. I couldn't you know oversee a trade organization globally. So I ended up hiring a global executive director to run the VRA our association. But and the reason I mention this kind of circling back around is as a result of starting the association we now have not only 550 companies that are members in like 40 countries around the world but we also for one one just as a byproduct of me being involved in the industry it's landed us you know hundreds of thousands of dollars in new business just because it exposed me in a new way to t the industry on a global scale. So it's a perfect example of you know how I'm doing some multiple things in the industry can come back and really help help your business.

 

James Fratzke: [00:08:02] All right so you've mentioned AR/VR a couple of times that's augmented reality and virtual reality. Could you give us a high level overview of what the differences are between the two for people that t might not know.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:08:16] Sure. Well virtual reality which became really in the limelight due to a Facebook acquiring Oculus I think it was for a couple of billion dollars a few years ago. Basically virtual reality allows you to strap on a headset and take you to a virtual world and because of the sensors in the headset and in the processors are now able to kind of make it feel like you're in another world or another space. And we now have the ability to hold controllers in our hands that look like we're able to move things around in this virtual world. So it takes you to another space augmented reality then you can be described as wearing digital content on top of your real world environment so that it augments your existing world. And that's really become huge because Apple's launched a service called a market in Google's launched a service called our core that brings sophisticated augmented reality to about 400 million people within months and so that that industry is exploding the VR/AR are also colliding. So I think in the future we're going to see where you have glasses that can augment your world like you can see digital content on top the real world and then you might be able to flip a switch or use your voice and go into a complete 360 virtual world in another environment e back and forth.

 

James Fratzke: [00:09:50] Right now for brands kind of in the future I guess 10 years out. Where do you see the biggest opportunity is it AR Is it VR or is it what you just said kind of this combination of the both.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:10:03] Well when you get 10 years out I think it's a combination of both. And you know I can say that but we've also seen Mark Zuckerberg. Running Facebook has said their vision going out 10 years this is two years ago is that AR/VR will collide and we'll have headsets that can do both but and in the near term it really just depends on the industry and the problems you're trying to solve. So I would say though if you look at the marketplace analysts are estimating a 120-billion-dollar market opportunity with BR/AR with about 70 percent of their revenue being generated through augmented reality solutions. But there are areas like gaming and entertainment and even like looking at like a HR training or any type of training where Virtual Reality is going to be really strong and you know tens of billions of dollars are going to be made and generated in that industry. Nathan there's been a lot of investment in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality especially from venture capitalist groups that are trying to kind of bet on the right course so they can make it big because like you said it's a 20-billion-dollar industry in your opinion what is it that's restricting some of these companies from passing that tipping point because there's really not a VR or an A.R. company out there that has mass adoption yet. Well you make a good point. And generally speaking you're right there haven't been any major winners in this space yet. That was primarily due to the distribution channel and being able to get the technology in the hands of hundreds of millions of consumers. So that is expected to change you know within the next quarter where you're going to start to see some real breakthrough massive like augmented reality apps. And they've already started to come to market and hence of AR that are being embedded into existing mobile apps. I think you know we're going to suddenly enter o our user experience these cases without us really realizing that it's you know it's there. If you look at like virtual reality, there have been some challenges to distributing all of the devices to the marketplace because the cost. So for the average person you're looking at a couple of thousand dollars to get really good headset and a computer that can actually handle the processing power that's needed. So what you are seeing there are some companies that are making a lot of money on providing enterprise based solutions. And we're seeing a lot of enterprise solutions either Winners early on in both VR/AR then we'll start to see them you know roll into more of the consumer mass market over the next couple of years i think.

 

James Fratzke: [00:13:07] Well as they start to roll into the mass market. I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about kind of the impact of that will have on our culture and society. Sean Parker formerly of Facebook and Napster I don't know if you saw recently he was in interview and he said that Facebook has literally changed our relationships with society and probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. He goes on to say God only knows what it's going to do to our children's brain. He also adds that Mark Zuckerberg and other social media founders understood what they were doing and did it anyways. So looking through that lens what impact do you think AR/VR will have on our world in the long term.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:13:53] So I read some of the articles that you're referencing. And I guess my m take on this argument is that with any new technology there's going to be benefits to it. And then there's going to be some people that take advantage of it for the wrong doing. You know I I would I would argue that in general social media has allowed people at a much broader scale to stay connected better than they ever have before. And it's created you know probably billions of dollars in efficiencies of getting work done as well. You know look at something like LinkedIn for example. I think that's how you and I recently connected to get on this podcast right now and we met in person but we reconnected via LinkedIn and so if it wasn't for that you may not have had my email and you know etc. It would have been much more inefficient. So I guess when you look at it like AR/VR I think that every way you look at this it creates more efficiencies and it creates more immersive experiences. And so I think what will happen is that while w there may be less like you know face to face interaction there will be in general more social interaction between people and more you know deeper connections that can be made. So if I can if I can say James okay I want to. I want to bring you to St. Louis and we're going to feel like I'm in the room with me now and walking around the office space that we have here and introduce you to a few people who say well I got up on a plane and now you would use something like WebEx to make me do that to see a little bit of it when you have a full 360 virtual environments that can bring you to all of a sudden you feel like you're maybe lucky you know me a little better and we become better friends. So that's in general how I feel about or think there's going to be more positives and negatives.

 

James Fratzke: [00:16:02] Yeah I know I love that point. From that perspective relationship building could certainly now instead of getting on the plane and flying St. Louis like you said you can start to have those kind of interpersonal connections over VR. I love that concept. Let's kind of get back to Nathan the entrepreneur. You know you once said in an interview that maybe one of the biggest shortcomings that entrepreneurs have is they're too optimistic. Do you still believe that? And if so can you kind of unpack that for us a little bit and tell us what you mean by that.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:16:35] Yes. So I think this is something that you see with almost every entrepreneur in it and it has to be there to an extent and you have to believe in your product.

 

James Fratzke: [00:16:44] You have to believe that you're going to win in the marketplace if you didn't want to start companies and people would quit too early. So I think a lot of times what happens is you get a little naive and callous to the industry and then you don't listen to the data points of you know the feedback from your customers or the feedback from the marketplace. You don't adopt and adjust quick enough. I've

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:17:12] been guilty of that myself. I think any entrepreneur out there can say In retrospect they should have looked at some of the data indicators and shifted their business earlier than they did. So I think that's mainly the point that I was trying to make previously as you know while you need to have conviction on your idea you need to get out there and get the idea you know at an early stage of starting a company start talking with anybody and everybody you can and get their feedback. You got to put your filter on. What feedback is good or bad but you'll quickly start to understand if you have an idea that's ridiculous or not. And then along the way as you grow the company you know so if sales become too hard. If retention of customers becomes too hard then you know you might be doing something wrong and in fact you might be selling the wrong product. Don't be afraid to let go of that baby that was your idea and let it mold into what your customers are telling you should be.

 

James Fratzke: [00:18:21] All right you mentioned so many great things there that I want to dissect. Let's start with sharing your business idea with as many people as possible. You know one of the things that I've come across in my dealings with entrepreneurs or what I would call want-entrepreneurs are people that want to be an entrepreneur but they don't have it quite figured out yet is that they're afraid to share their idea with people because someone might steal it. Can you speak a little bit to that point and why it's important to share your business idea with as many people as possible?

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:18:51] Yeah that's a great point to bring up and I will admit that when we're starting own Aisle411 I was in that same situation I was scared by the UN everybody was going to steal my idea. What I realized along the way that starting a company is extremely hard. It's rare. You're going to find somebody that's willing to take the risk. If you do, there's an even smaller chance that they're going to figure out how to execute properly and make it a success. So you know and then let's say somebody does well it's actually it's good to have some competition because you have a market and if you don't have a market that works well actually in many cases harder to sell because you don't have anybody else out their kind of. Selling the concept. So I found that you know with that being considered it's really important to start getting out there and talking about the idea and getting help and feedback because there are really more people than not that are willing to help you in just a little way that you would never have understood without just sharing your idea.

 

James Fratzke: [00:20:00] I totally agree with that Nathan and I think in my own personal life I've always been surprised at the amount of people that come through the woodwork that are willing and able to help. And so to your point if you're having conversations about your business you might start coming across these people that have been down that road before you can learn from their mistakes. You can take their key learnings and it makes your business that much better.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:20:25] Yeah well said.

 

James Fratzke: [00:20:27] The other thing you talked about a few minutes ago Nathan was receiving feedback and as a startup company being willing to pivot or to shift or to change your perspective based on what you're hearing out in the industry or what you're hearing from people that are close to you giving you that feedback. Can you talk a little bit about how important feedback is and if at any point in this journey with our 401. You received a piece of feedback that you didn't necessarily agree with at the time but eventually you realized that yes that was in fact the right place to take your business.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:21:07] You know early on in the company and this might be obvious for a lot of the listeners but we actually started our company as an IUDR. which is an interactive voice response company. So do you remember anybody when we start to dial for 411 on your phone and you would get an operator. that said so you know directory assistance how can I help going to help you well those started to evolve to automated voice. There was a service called Goog 411 and then we started our company where you dialed an 800 number and asked for a product in a store and they would tell you the aisle that it was be via voice. You would hang up and get a text message with where the product was located. It didn't solve the problem but you know it quickly evolved into mobile applications and you know we were saying well whey more people have phones and make phone calls. The mobile app business was just starting to hit and we said dose it doesn't make sense. Well you know after the 10th retailer says you need a mobile app and I need maps that I can visualize and put in my map and my application it's pretty apparent that We had to shut down the IDR component of the business. And then to mobile application based solutions. So I mean that is really an indicator that was pretty obvious for us. And there is some nice byproducts that we we gained out of it where we had already taken all of the product inventory data we had scrubbed that data so that it was normalized for voice based search technology which gave us an advantage in the mobile WAP business. But you know that was I guess a pretty obvious move we had to make but we had invested significant dollars and interest in IVR systems and we had to just basically saying we're going to scrap it and we're going to we're going to leverage the database that we have in moving into a mobile app solution. We wouldn't it that when we would have the company owner died many years ago. And then and then I guess the second page of that is we started seeing the augmented reality piece of the business you know a lot of people were asking about that. We had an opportunity to work with Google three years ago doing our navigation and we could have said no it's not quarter our business and it will be a distraction for as well. We decided to take the lead investor resources into it and this year we've seen almost the doubling of our business and 80 percent of the growth has come from augmented reality. And we will have missed out on that completely if we had not listened to the market one.

 

James Fratzke: [00:24:01] Right. Well I mean that's one of those great examples. Door closes and a window opens right. So and one prospect you had to kill a part of the business many years ago but then in another perspective you took that chance on Google and it's now led to growth in the company. Let's talk about you personally a little bit because I think to be a founder to be an entrepreneur or to be a CEO it takes a certain type of person and so I want to take a few minutes to try and unpack that a little bit. So for you Nathan what does success look like and what is your guiding light. From a personal perspective.

 

James Fratzke: [00:24:38] I'm focusing on the guiding I think the guiding light is the perseverance and never giving up and always finding a way because any entrepreneur will tell you that they could have hung up in the business many times along the way and it's easy to do that you struggle and you say oh my gosh you know there are days almost any of business where you say I'm not going to make payroll in two days how am I going to get it done. Well you have to find a way. You have to get creative and it can be done. And so you know it's perseverance always finding a way always adapting and pushing humility that comes along with that too. As any entrepreneur you have to be extremely confident in what you're doing. You have to be humble about your successes that you have because failure is just around the corner. You get complacent and too confident. So you know I think success can mean many different things to me and you know hitting your numbers can mean solving a problem getting positive reviews from customers. Ultimately I think most companies that are in the technology space the ultimate in Success is getting a return on investment for all your shareholders. It's ultimately what you're delivering a solution to the customer is your business and you have to make money for shareholders so that is something that always has to be cared for and I think most of the time if i you're getting a return on investment for your shareholders then you're also going to have produced a product that worked and was a success.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:26:19] And so that's constantly something that I think has to be looked at.

 

James Fratzke: [00:26:24] From a perspective of humility I think that that's kind of a lost art form in today's world in the business world and outside of it. How do you do it. How do you stay humble.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:26:36] Well I think it's just that I'm constantly reflecting on not only your successes but your failures and acknowledging when you fail and then if any entrepreneur says that they've never failed then I wouldn't believe that he himself. And then it's learning from his failures in adapting and just remembering all the time that it's not all. It's not all glitz and glamour. And. So. Just kind of self-reflection and being you know focused in on your character as well as the business and knowing that you're going to need help along the way and you never know when that helps going to come from. So I also try not to burn any bridges with anybody because you never know where you're going to need help in the future.

 

James Fratzke: [00:27:27] Let's talk a little bit about work life balance. You said that you had four kids you are staying up until 2 o'clock in the morning at least at some point you were working on these ideas that you were passionate about. Is work life balance a thing. Does it exist in your life.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:27:42] I've heard a lot about this and I just I don't myself I don't know I don't go in and make a spreadsheet you know or a list says here I've got to I've got to carve out time for family or I've got to carve out time for business so I'm you know I've found a way to do it quite nicely. I would say you know generally on the weekends I tend to dedicate a lot of time to the family and enjoying life because it's a refresher. So I just kind of baked into my you know my habits and so I you know I encourage most of our employees to take time off on the weekends because you're going to be more productive during that week. And you know I've also made it a point to just explain to my kids along with my wife who supports me and all this is that you know dad has to work extra hours or travel. He's doing it mainly for the family to support us and give us everything we need. So it's all kind of blended together. My perspective and you know you just stay passionate about everything you do in your life. And you're going to find time for all of that.

 

James Fratzke: [00:28:54] Are there two or three habits that that you follow every day that that kind of keep you from being distracted or that keep you on the path to success.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:29:05] Very good question. Well I would say one is caffeine right. Check. I do that. Yeah. .So lots of caffeine in the morning and you go on and motivated. Definitely helps. I would say that while I'm not an avid every day you know exercise fanatic you know I try to make sure that I'm getting some exercise in throughout the week whether it's running or you know weights or biking or whatever just because you know not only for the benefits of the health but you know I've found. For me it raises the serotonin and in my brain it gives keeps me more positive and a lot of times it's more productive in my opinion to spend time and like solitude like on your own for example you know going out for two or three mile run and just thinking. And so it allows you to think without a lot of distractions. And as I try to keep that as a regular habit about three or four times a week.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:30:10] We like to ask the executives and the leaders that we talked to on the show Nathan about millennials because it seems to be a very popular topic within any business whether you're marketing to millennials or you have them working for you on staff. So real quick what's your take on the millennial generation. And general I think millennials have figured out how to leverage technologies and tools to get what they want when they want it r. Which I think is a good thing they should be doing. And you know I think everybody is different and I try not to buck it and millennials in general. But. You know I think there is a stigma that a lot of people put on the millennial generation where they say you know millennials think they deserve this or they deserve that and that's them to probably do you know I mean everybody deserves some time off and some time to themselves and they deserve to be given an opportunity to shine and not you know not be put in necessarily at an entry level position every time because there's a lot of younger people coming into the workforce. May not have any experience but they're more motivated and ambitious intelligent than somebody who has been in the business for 10 years and so they should be given that opportunity. So I'm supportive of it. I don't have any issues with the millennial generation and think you know they are smart and leveraging technology to get what they want when they want it.

 

James Fratzke: [00:31:44] Well I think that makes sense I think to your point. People might say they're entitled but at the same time being able to multitask or being able to kind of want your life to mean something is not necessarily a bad thing. You just have to make sure that you execute against those goals and you actually make it mean something. I think you know there's a difference between wanting it to mean something and your life actually meaning something. Mentorship. Can you think of a mentor somebody that kind of was a big influence for you?

 

Nathan: [00:32:17] Well I've read many of them along the way. I think. You know in some respects you know I give a lot of credit to my co-founder.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:32:28] His name is Matt Khulud. So you know whenever I wanted to start this company I came to him. He had started other companies and you know he h was nice enough to say you know you're going to read this you're going to run it I'll be kind of like second in command of the company but in a lot of ways he kind of mentored me along the way. You know in terms of how do you form a company that you started how are we going to raise capital. How are we going to grow it. So he's been a great person for me to learn from. You know for many years and then also it has been somebody you know that's trustworthy you know somebody that you can complain to and lift you up along the way. And so I think ultimately a mentor is somebody who's going to be there for you in the good times and the bad times and try to help along the way. And I've had many other advisers in the industry that have come in and been just phenomenal people. From different aspects of the business. So there are many different mentors along the way and I'm sure there's going to be more to come. You know I never stop learning and always start looking for people the said should grow from.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:33:44] Speaking of growth I mean you started the company in 2008. Our 401. Founded in 2008 on the internet somewhere it said in 2015 we raised 11 million dollars in funds. What is the trajectory in growth for Aisle411. Now that we're in 2017 we're moving into 2018. There are some things that you guys are excited about. You know I'm going Provost I was saying we we've grown our clambers pretty considerably scaled really nicely to about close to 15000 retail stores that now have our software implemented and recently in the past two years we started seeing globally are now in five different countries. So there are no great benchmarks to look at in terms of how do we grow. We've got a very small team that we implement with surprises a lot of people. So it's under 20 people that we have on the team per week service. All those accounts but we have a really brilliant team that's built some really smart software that's highly scalable. So I told you know measure growth by you know the number of customers generally that you're serving not necessarily like the number of employees you have on your team to provide all those services. And I guess where we're growing next year I think I mentioned we've nearly doubled revenue this year beyond what we did last year. We're really excited about extending some of our products into augmented reality. We think that there's just a massive opportunity that's very underserved and the retail industry. And so we're building a really cool solution where we've we create 3D models of any product line so that they can be used in AR/VR ops and experiences. We're doing that you know actual physical consumer products and certainly look at the industry right now. Every product that sells anything has to have a high resolution image they put on a mobile app or a website. Saw it in and B are you need a 3d model that actually has that spatial data. It's not even a 360 image it's a 3D model. And we started hearing from brands that none of them have that solution. So we've built some really cool software that leverages into machine learning technology to post process special data of a product along with high res imagery and it creates about 70 percent efficiency use of the old way of building 3D models so we're excited to grow into that market and we're going to expand beyond just the retail segment we're going to be expanding into consumer brands as our target customers. And we're doing more than just you know your average you know grocery consumable products that will be you know fashion and beauty and electronics brands that we're dealing with and that will be a global scale that we're going to set up an affiliate network with different partners around the world. So I'm really excited about that part of our business growing over the next several years.

 

James Fratzke: [00:37:04] You know that kind of reminds me of a thought process as we started doing these three 3D models. A lot of people are shopping online Amazon etc. etc.. Do you think the brick and mortar store is dying dead? It will be revived. I mean what is the state of affairs when it comes to brick and mortar stores for brands.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:37:27] Yeah well I think if you look at the data it does show that there is a small reduction in the number of physical stores that are being put out there. So you're seeing new stores go out but you're seeing a little bit more stores being shut down and close. I think we reach kind of like a saturation point. The number of physical locations in general that people need to be able to go and shop at. So I think I don't think physical retail is dead. I think that it's just going to be growing slower and slower over the next few years. But the interesting thing is if you look at it like AR/BR it's really the convergence of digital and real world. So you're going to start to see even a new evolution of our AR e-commerce and our VR e-commerce and these are two new things that most people haven't used to shop with. It's already started. So you're going to and that's just going to pull from the existing ways that people buy. Right. Going to be new ways for people to buy. People will still buy as much or more things than they ever have. They'll just have more ways to do it.

 

James Fratzke: [00:38:45] Let's shift gears we're going to the telling of our time together. I want to go into our rapid fire mode. These questions I've come up with myself so some of them are fun. Some of them are trying and trying to get some quick answers from some tactical things that people can do. So let's start with my favorite which is if you could send a postcard to anybody past or present this could be a family member or some sort of icon or star that you really admire. Who would you send that postcard to. And what would it say.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:39:15] Great question or thought about. I'm really inspired by Ilan mosque and the changes that he's making for our world and interplanetary discovery. But I can't say necessarily that I'm ready to jump on them.

 

James Fratzke: [00:39:31] That was my follow up. NATHAN How did you know?

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:39:35] So I would use. so I would say Thanks for your digging for humanity in general and I think I'm hoping that doesn't involve getting on a spaceship let me know.

 

James Fratzke: [00:39:47] Hey I'm with you there it's like I'm all for sending people to Mars I'm just not sure that I want to go with them. So all right. Here we go. Here's a question number two do you like to read or listen to audio books.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:39:57] Yes I listen to quite a few audio books.

 

James Fratzke: [00:40:00] What are those top three. They could be fiction nonfiction historical whatever they are what are those top three books you recommend to people.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:40:07] Yeah so most of mine are nonfiction that I listen to. So I would say one of them that I really love is called the inevitable by Kevin Kelly and it really takes a look at the next 20 to 30 years and how we should be thinking about preparing for it just really fast and book. Right now I'm reading Richard Branson's latest book called Finding my virginity.

 

James Fratzke: [00:40:36] That's right. I did read the virgin way and I enjoyed that but I haven't gotten to finding my virginity yet.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:40:42] Yeah I would say that book Finding My Virginity it's not necessarily you know a business ra ra book talks a lot about life lessons along the way and having compassion for the world and business and humanity in general. So it's a really interesting book as most of the books I've read are focused on the business. Oh there's one that I really love called The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris really talks to you about creating efficiencies in your life and you really get in working for four hours a week. Yeah you probably could but it's going to take you a while but it really kind of puts into focus you know what's important to you in life and how to you kind of push out of the way the things that. Really aren't gratifying to you and focus on the things you know that 80 percent is going to focus on getting the 20 percent of the things you're going to do 80 percent of the success.

 

James Fratzke: [00:41:41] Now you talked about staying up late at night. Sometimes that's driven by curiosity. So is there something today that you're just really curious about it intrigues you it comes up in the news you know like oh what's that thing.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:41:54] so Yeah I mean a couple of things. There's two topics really so IRA a kind of nerd out on the Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies so I'm constantly working for like where is that headed. So I read a lot about that and try to experience a lot of it too through apps. When VR/AR a you know I'm also myself more and more intrigued by you know space and planetary discovery you know a lot of tech technological advancements in the last several years have been just fascinating. And it's kind of changing our perspective on you know what else is out there. You know the universe and beyond so.

 

James Fratzke: [00:42:37] Alright so two more thoughts and then I'll let you go so that the first is did you go to college and if so would you recommend the college route or if there is an entrepreneur out there that's looking down the barrel of just jumping into it or going to college what would your recommendation be.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:42:53] Yeah I went to college. And yes I would still say that I would recommend. I think you grow and mature as a person but socially the ability to work with groups. I've learned a tremendous amount when one of the most important things in college for me was also having internships started three of them and kind of progressed into more and more involvement in the work environment. And I really enjoyed that aspect of it and along the way. You know college can be fun.

 

James Fratzke: [00:43:24] I've certainly had some fun in college myself so I understand where you're coming from. You know I was never part of a fraternity. But my last name is Fradski so everybody said I was a frat boy anyway so it didn't matter. All right here's the last thought Nathan. Is there something that you really want to share with our listeners that we did not talk about today and you would not let yourself sleep at night if you didn't mention it right now.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:43:50] You know it's been said a lot but I would just say you know if you have something you're passionate about go for and find a way to get it done. You're going to learn something. You might fail but you're going to learn a lot along the way. It doesn't mean completely give up income supporting your life but just take the next step or something you know any entrepreneur or potential entrepreneur is something you could do right now that would probably only take you 15 minutes and they would move you forward on that path and just start opening up doors so you know just don't overanalyze just do it.

 

James Fratzke: [00:44:28] Absolutely. The Nike effect. Just do it. Nathan thank you so much for your time today. Where can people stay up to date on everything in your life. I'm all for one and all the other stuff.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:44:40] Well I would say I'll try to stay fairly active on the LinkedIn. Look for me there and eating John.

 

James Fratzke: [00:44:47] Well Nathan enjoy the weather in St. Louis. I'm enjoying the weather here in Southern California. And thanks for being on the show. We appreciate it.

 

Nathan Pettyjohn: [00:44:54] Absolutely. Thanks for having me. It's been a lot of fun.

 

James Fratzke: [00:44:57] All right. Thanks Nathan.