Skyler Logsdon was a 20 year old college student when he started his first business, MyKlips; a mobile app that helps you get your favorite haircut. In Skyler’s 3rd year of college, he had a lucky break by meeting a mentor who changed his life. That mentors name is Philip Inghelbrecht, the founder of Shazam (acquired by Apple for $400M), as well as TrueCar (IPO).. Post college graduation, Skyler has spent his time growing two successful startups, and through those journeys he’s learned what it takes to beat the odds stacked up against you as a startup. He’s with us today to talk about his experience, women in tech, and give some advice to those who want to pursue the same route as him.
Skyler, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I’m Skyler Logsdon, thank you for having me on Geam – this is going to be fun 🙂
In short, I’m 26 years old, and I love building companies. I’m addicted to taking something from just an idea, to getting it off the ground, and seeing it grow like wildfire. For me, there’s very few things more rewarding than seeing a crazy idea in your head, become reality.
I started my first company when I was in college (20 years old), and it was called MyKlips, an app that helps you get your favorite haircut, every time. After MyKlips, I joined ZIRX as their 1st sales / growth hire. We fundraised $40M+ in funding to solve city parking via an app (think Uber but for parking), and after a succesful pivot, ZIRX was eventually acquired by KAR.
After ZIRX, I joined my long-time mentor who founded Shazam (acquired by Apple for $400M), and I was his 1st hire at Tatari. Tatari is a platform that measures and transacts ads on behalf of a ton of advertisers, who want to use advertising to make money. Example, if you spend $2k on a FOX News TV ad, our technology will tell you how much sales, website visitors, and / or app installs you received from that investment.. If you made money, our technology will buy more of FOX News for you next week! Today, Tatari is a team of 25+ whip-smart people, with offices in San Francisco and Santa Monica.
What is the vibe in Silicon Valley like? Why did you make the decision to move?
When I was studying entrepreneurship at Drexel University in Philadelphia (6 hour flight away from California), I was well aware that Silicon Valley was the mecca of entrepreneurship and startups – so as soon as I graduated I headed there … I enjoyed starting my career there, as it was great for networking with ambitious, like-minded startup people, who are obviously passionate about startups. It’s a city full of dreamers, that actually have the intelligence and work ethic to turn that dream into a reality. After 2 years I left Silicon Valley and moved to Los Angeles, as we have a Tatari office in “Silicon Beach”, an up-and-coming startup scene in LA that is starting to feel like Silicon Valley, except we have the beach, warm weather, and movie stars 😉 … A few notable companies that started in Silicon Beach are Dollar Shave Club (acquired by Unilever for $1 Billion) and Snapchat (IPO).
What’s your advice for someone who wants to succeed in Silicon Valley (or any big tech scene)?
I would say that the ones I’ve seen thrive in Silicon Valley, were the ones who really focused on building their network and making impressive friends. I’m a firm believer that iron sharpens iron, as man sharpens man… When you meet an impressive person, stay in close contact with that person and turn them into a good friend.
I also think that you have to choose each startup you join very wisely. Don’t take just any offer, really evaluate the company, the team, their backgrounds. I’ve been very lucky to work with some wildly smart and awesome people, who helped me grow tremendously as a young professional.
Last but not least, reputation is very important, as that follows you everywhere you go. So pay close attention to how you’re treating people, as reputation isn’t healed quickly by some sort of cream or ointment.. For the better or for the worse, reputation is powerful. You obviously want a great one, as that opens more doors for you then a bad reputation.
Your mentor (and boss today), Philip Inghelbrecht, has made a huge impact on your career and life.. What do you think are the benefits of having a mentor?
I would say that not all mentors are great mentors … It’s on you to find the great mentors, and hang on to them tightly. For me, when I met Philip, I knew right away that he was someone I wanted to hang on tightly to. I loved the way he wore success; authentic, genuine, relatable, and wildly optimistic. So for me, having a role model of what success looks like was so valuable for me. In terms business, he works extremely hard, but puts family and health first. That was also a very valuable life learning that one can be wildly successful, but also have great balance with family, health, and friends.
In terms of my personal career development, Philip presented me with sink or swim opportunities. He introduced me to ZIRX (the startup I joined out of college), as he was an investor. I gave ZIRX my all and worked very hard to help the company beat the odds, which I think Philip took notice of. He then presented me with the opportunity of joining him as his 1st employee at Tatari, responsible with the green-beret assignment of finding our first customer. That was again a sink or swim opportunity. From a mentor, I think all you can ask from them is to lead by example, and secondly, help you with opportunities to prove your value.
What advice would you give to young people trying to find a mentor to help them navigate their professional career / life? How could one transform an acquaintance into a mentor?
I think that mentorship relationship evolve over time. It’s not something you sign-up for on the first meeting for a lifelong commitment or something like that 😉 I think mentorship is as simple as wanting to stay in touch with someone, because you learn from them. If you email that person once a month with a few questions, and they respond – then, that’s mentorship! 🙂
What was the men / women ratio like there? Do you think there’s equal number of women to men in tech startups?
This is easy to answer; no, there are far more men in tech 🙁 But, this isn’t intentional. Founders & HR teams would love to hire more females! When you’re a tech company, most of your open roles are around software engineering, which tends to be something males are studying, so most applicants tend to be male :/ … I think we’re starting to see a shift there though, where there are more female students studying computer science, which is GREAT! We NEED and WANT more females in tech. If you’re a female reading this now, please study computer science in college, and write me when graduation is approaching 🙂 Outside of engineering roles, I would say that startups have a good balance in gender diversity for the other roles (product, marketing, sales / BD, HR, finance, etc).
Lastly, do you have some last words of wisdom or advice to young people that want to start their own business?
My best advice tips to young ambitious rockstars is:
Talk to strangers: Meeting great people is a volume game; you must talk to 100 people in order to meet 1 great person. When you meet that 1 great person, hang on to them tightly. So, if you want a really powerful network of impressive people, you need to know 50 GREAT people, which means need to talk to how many strangers in order to get to 50 great people? … You can do the math 😉
Be comfortable operating in the unknown: In entrepreneurship, we don’t always know all the answers. But, you work very hard and drink water from a firehose, in order to crash course industries and learn the answers. While you’re operating in the unknown, be comfortable and confident.
Swing for the fences: If there’s a 1% chance, roll up the sleeves and swing for the fences. With sickening hard work, a smart team and strategy, and a dose of luck, you can beat the odds!