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December 5, 2022

Naborino on The Startup Talk Podcast

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Show Notes

Dan Flatt, founder and Chief Neighbour of Naborio joins the startup coach to discuss mental health, the loneliness epidemic, building community, and of course starting Navarino, on episode 137 of The Startup Talk Podcast.

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Transcript (automated) of  Naborino – The Startup Talk Podcast

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, building, neighbor, community, startup, adhd, bit, reno, early days, entrepreneurs, toronto, users, facebook group, app, started, buying, thought, company, couple, lead

SPEAKERS

Announcer, Craig Major, Dan Flatt

 

Announcer 

Direct from the sixth world renowned Canada’s largest city, with Canada’s biggest thinkers, visionaries and hustlers. This is startup talk featuring the founders, funders, innovators and community leaders who’ve led Canada’s startup ecosystem right here in Toronto. You’ll hear the challenges, the failures, the successes, Toronto StartUp podcast gives you the full story direct from the entrepreneurs and influencers who’ve made a difference. Now, the host of startup talk, the founder of Toronto starts this startup coach.

 

Craig Major 

Welcome back to startup talk. I’m your host of startup coach, founder of Toronto Star. It’s one of the largest startup communities in Canada. And with me today is Dan flat. Chief neighbor,  at Naborino Welcome, Dan. Hey, Greg, how are you? I’m doing great. Why don’t you tell us about Naborino? And what is your job as Chief neighbor?

 

Dan Flatt 

Sure. So I call myself the chief  neighbor at Naborino, and I’m the founder, the company is we started in in around early 2020, once the pandemic started, and I’ll tell you a little bit more about what we do in a bit.

 

Craig Major 

So its chief neighbor, not chief  Naborino, I like to start off with what the entrepreneur was like growing up, were you a handful for your parents were you studious in the music, sports socializing, who was young Dan,

 

Dan Flatt 

up until mid high school, I was very quiet. I was kind of shy, had like a few good friends, but kind of kept to myself, read a lot. I started reading when I was early threes. And so I’ve got a couple of kids now and trying to get them to love reading the same way right now, not into too many sports. But then around my teenage years, started to come out of my shell became a bit more of even like a class clown and a prankster among my, my friends became a bit more of a handful for my parents. And I think that looking back years later, I started to see some of the seeds of what has driven me towards life as entrepreneurship. And also I, you know, I talk openly about how I got diagnosed with ADHD in my late 30s. And I would say that, in those days back born in 81, the perception that people had of ADHD was that it was, you know, the noisy kid in the back of the class throwing things, but the understanding of the condition is, is has expanded quite a bit right now. And so I love to talk about that as well. And maybe we can chat about it a little bit later in the conversation.

 

Craig Major 

Definitely, I think mental health is something we need to talk about openly as a whole, but definitely in the entrepreneurial space, because there’s so many solopreneurs and so much mental health issues that entrepreneurs have no one to talk to about. And you know, just being able to talk openly makes it people to know that it’s okay, so we’ll get back to that before Naborino, what was your early career pathway?

 

Dan Flatt 

Starting in university, I went to U of T, I did a double major in physics and English literature. And so I always had a lot of interests and sometimes had trouble deciding on on which path to follow. And that that’s still something I deal with even now as an entrepreneur. But I think that it helps sometimes when you when you feel like you’ve found a unifying purpose. After that, I went to law school. And I practiced law for a couple of years article, and then one year post getting called to the bar at a personal injury litigation firm. And then I decided to go back to school again and went to do my MBA at at Ivy, in London, Ontario. And after graduating from that program, I consider going back to law but actually found that I was getting much more interesting offers outside of law in different areas of business where a law degree was was more rare than an MBA was in the legal profession. So I worked in the executive recruiting, I didn’t process based management consulting for a little while. And then the first place I really found a home I was at Bell Canada for about five years I joined their graduate Leadership Program and kind of almost created a role for myself. I was it was the earlier days of social media. I think Facebook and Twitter had already been around for a few years. But businesses were really only just starting to figure out how to use it for their brands. I was at Bell Canada in a completely different department and customer operations, took a look at what Bell was doing on social media and just noticed that all the marketing conversations they were trying to start we’re just getting bogged down by people in the comments, complaining about customer service issues. So I reached out to the director who was leading social media strategy at the company and ended up Putting together a project where I got the company set up with customer service on those channels, and lead analytics and social listening. And, you know, just working in that role. A couple of things, you know, one made me start thinking a lot about social networks, what makes them work, what makes them not, that is really, I think influenced a lot of the thinking that’s gone into napery. No, and what we want to fix about what’s wrong with social networking today. The other thing that that I really enjoyed working on, there was the bell, let’s talk Mental Health Initiative, where my team was very central to that. I think, today that stuck with me in a way that I feel a lot more comfortable talking openly about my own mental health in ways that I hope can help other people. After a bell, actually, I left to start my first startup, and it was a company in the early days of this current generation of virtual and augmented reality. But just before the Oculus came out, I don’t brag about this a lot. But I actually named the company Metaverse back in 2016, before it became a household world word, I think Oxford Dictionaries considering making it the Europe the Word of the Year for 2022. That was my first time going all in on a venture, I’d had a couple of different entrepreneurial side hustles. Before that learns a lot from it, I ended up kind of burning out and exiting after a couple of years to go back to different corporate jobs, I worked at AMD and another early stage Smart Home Hardware startup. And that took me up to about 2020, when I’d already had the idea of napery No percolating for a few years and decided to pursue it full time.

 

Craig Major 

opportunity cost is infinite, you’ve got a lot of stuff running around in your head, you’ve tried a lot of things. Why Naborino versus any of the other opportunities floating around in your head at the time?

 

Dan Flatt 

Yeah, it’s always been, it’s always been a challenge to stick to one of the ideas because I, I would come up with a new business idea once a week and got very excited about some of them, I think, you know, now I understand that that’s something that’s actually very common with ADHD entrepreneurs. But Naborino is very personal for me. And I feel like it’s it’s tied to a lot of my values. And even my, my personal experience, I’ve lived in apartment buildings for most of my adult life, I’ve thought a lot about what works and what doesn’t work about the experience. And I grew up in a way where local community, getting to know the people in your neighborhood was really important part of of my childhood. And in a big city like Toronto, you just really didn’t feel that in the majority of of multi unit apartment buildings, people can go years without knowing the first name of their next door neighbor. And I started a Facebook group in my building, just because it made sense to me that there should be a way for for neighbors to ask each other questions communicate. And that grew over time, into what seemed like a really special community where we were, you know, I just saw a lot of really interesting social practical use cases, to the point where I thought this kind of needs to be its own app, like fit Facebook is leaving a lot on the table with just the generic group’s experience. And even companies like next door that focus on connecting entire local neighborhoods, there was a lot about the experience and apartment and condo buildings, and also just about, you know, the business model that usually persists with a lot of the current social networks that just didn’t seem as conducive to building real community with neighbors. You know, as I said, like, it had been an idea in my head for years before I went all in on it. And I really feel like I’ve kind of found my purpose with it. So that’s allowed me to put all those other ideas that still keep popping up, either file them away for another chapter of my life, or when possible can fold them into the larger roadmap of Naborino.

 

Craig Major 

So we’ve talked in general about Naborio, but what exactly does Naborino do?

 

Dan Flatt 

Naborino, we’re connecting local communities of neighbors, focusing primarily on apartment and condo buildings. And as we bring them together, we are unlocking a lot of the social and economic benefits of local community, starting with group buying. So especially in apartment buildings, where everybody’s essentially at the same delivery address. We’re helping them through a special group buying marketplace, to buy in larger quantities, have everything shipped to one address, and actually save a lot of money with bulk savings as well as some efficiencies on the last mile delivery side.

 

Craig Major 

Saving money is always a good way to get people together,

 

Dan Flatt 

especially in this income. When

 

Craig Major 

I started my first startup had to do with dealing with this loneliness epidemic. And, you know, the fact that since they did a study in the US and in 2014, that mean average of what a North American would call a friend, someone they could turn to if they had financial trouble or something like that became less than one over 50% of North Americans live alone, people who self identify as being single, on average haven’t had a date and over two years, we have a loneliness epidemic. Where does Naborino intersect with this? Great

 

Dan Flatt 

question. And I really think that that is one of several pillars of our of our social mission is to combat the loneliness epidemic by making it easier for people to form first, you know, kind of just utilitarian kind of superficial familiarity with the people who live closest to them, by giving them some of the tools to build stronger connections at the individual level. And at the community level, I started Naborino , in, as I said, in the early days, the pandemic, we live in a multi storey building, you can hear your neighbor, sometimes through the walls and through the, you know, from the floors and ceilings, because and you feel like you’re surrounded on all sides by people and not knowing their names, their faces, it actually makes you feel even a little bit more lonely. Luckily, in our building, we had this Facebook group already. So in the early days of of just being told that we were in lockdown, not really understanding a lot of what’s going on what was going on in the world around us and what was safe, what wasn’t, we weren’t actually getting a lot of direction from the building management about things like how many people can go in an elevator? Are we supposed to be wearing masks, nobody knew anything. And so the Facebook group at this point actually kind of became even more important than it had been in the years prior, I had the adult children of elderly people who were living in the building by themselves, who had joined the Facebook group, so they could figure out, you know, what’s going on in the building on behalf of their parents reaching out to me saying, Hey, can you please just go check in on my mom, there were a lot of other just little opportunities like that, I think that just having this hub that was very informal, didn’t have a lot of rules, there was just a benefit to it, that other buildings were they might not have that they wouldn’t have been able to access some of the benefits that we already had. And so that really just got my mind into overdrive about okay, how, how could we take, you know, the years and you know, manual invitations, you know, when we would put up a poster in the hall or, you know, mentioned it’s somebody in the elevator ride, that we had a Facebook group? How could we accelerate that process? How can we accelerate the process of building trust in a community leader in individual members in a specialized product? And a lot of that thinking went into the features and the roadmap for knavery? No,

 

Craig Major 

you covered a lot of it there, especially during the pandemic, the sense of community, there’s a lot of value in the feeling that we’re all in this together, what are some of the benefits of building a local community?

 

Dan Flatt 

It starts with just information, we had a Facebook group for a building, a lot of neighborhoods have local Facebook groups, you know, next door has kind of turned into an app that’s just about connecting neighborhoods. And a lot of the conversations you’ll see are just people asking each other questions for, you know, asking for recommendations. What’s a good restaurant in the neighborhood? Does anybody have a good electrician or plumber in the context of an apartment building? If the power goes out, if Rogers intranet is out, the first thing you’ll see is people just posting in the group saying, Hey, is anybody else experiencing this? So So there’s definitely an informational benefit? I’d say that the next level is we start getting into asking each other for help, you know, so it could be simple things like, I’m looking for an ingredient for a recipe, the classic stereotype of knocking on a neighbor’s door to ask for a cup of sugar that literally happens in my building. And then, you know, even asking for help. Well, you know, I have had instances where my car battery died, and I needed a boost. And rather than calling a friend or relative to drive in from across town, I could just go in the Facebook group and ask a neighbor, you know, there was a shortage of children’s Tylenol. That was that’s been happening across the North American supply chain. My kids got sick recently. And then, you know, we were looking for some one of our neighbors had an extra bottle. And so I’d say that’s there really is this benefit, just being able to quickly ask your, you know, your very local community for assistance in some of those areas. Then comes real social connections around common interests. So One of the things I really loved is through this Facebook group originally, but then, you know, migrating into in person real life interactions, I had a few neighbors on my floor who just started saying hi to them in the halls, getting to learn their names, people from a lot of different cultures, and we started just exchanging plates of food, you know, so if if I would make too much of something at dinner, or vice versa, we kind of knew that we weren’t going to finish it, we got picky about leftovers in my house, we were just putting it into a Tupperware and just bring it over to our neighbor. And then, you know, sometimes they would surprise us and come back. And I think that was something really, really nice and unexpected, that just added a lot to the experience of of this, you know, multi family unit living that, you know, otherwise could feel very lonely. And, you know, it’s even gotten to the, to the point where, you know, I’ve had a couple of neighbors, give me a key to their, their apartment and say, Hey, can you just feed my cat while I’m out of town for a few days, so you build up the trust over time, and they’re just really becomes utility to it, that you have somebody so close to you, that you trust enough to feed your cat to, you know, to water your plants. And then finally, I would say that there is kind of a next level is shifting some of the power dynamics that exist in the economy in in condo living. So with group buying, we’re trying to connect neighbors who just you know, might not have anything in common other than the fact that they just live in very close proximity to each other to almost become economic units like a corporation, where if they combined their buying power, they just have a lot more bargaining power to to negotiate better prices, combined their deliveries and actually save more money than if they were buying individually. The other thing and this, you know, this is a longer story I can get into but in in our building, a lot of people were not feeling like they were being represented very well by the condo board, both owners and renters building management was often very unresponsive to complaints that were, you know, very reasonable and seemed like they should be getting a response. And one of the things that happened very often in the Facebook group is that these common frustrations would bubble up, you know, people felt very passionately about them. And we almost had a bit of like a unionization effect. It’s like let’s, rather than complaining one at a time, let’s all get together and let management and the board know that this is something that’s important to all of us, you know, an example was reopening the amenities after they’d been shut down for over a year from COVID. And I think that is something that is not going to be part of the first iteration of neighborliness, but it is on our roadmap to, you know, to find some ways to improve the way that a community of neighbors interacts with the management of the building condo boards, homeowner associations, etc.

 

Craig Major 

So I want to ask a little bit about community buying. And then we got a question in the chat room, which I’ll follow up with after that. So first of all, you I think we kind of know what community buying is based on some of the things you said, as a group, we buy stuff, but we don’t buy Slurpees from 711. In Big up, because we’re all on Facebook. So I yeah, I want a Slurpee and 100, restorative at once, what types of things do we buying community buying? And how does that whole figuring out the need and what to buy? And how many buy that system work?

 

Dan Flatt 

Great question. And, you know, I’ll say that we’re an early enough stage that we’re still experimenting and figuring things out. You know, I’ll talk a little bit about the just the, the influences that we had for community buying. So most, you know, a lot of people when they hear the concept, they’ll say, oh, is this like Groupon? And I think that if you remember, like the very early days of Groupon, kind of almost like web 1.0, when most of the deals were being shared, the email forwards, they have this dynamic where they said, if 50 People buy, you know, join the steel, then it’ll unlock a discount. And I think one of the reasons they actually kind of abandoned that dynamic, and it just became this daily deal site. But I think one of the reasons why Groupon and a lot of those other daily deal sites, kind of fizzled, was that there wasn’t really anything connecting the buyers to each other. There wasn’t any community being built there. It was still a very individual solitary buying experience. Our real our real inspiration, if we were to look at another company is actually a Chinese company called Pinto dua. They’re relatively new company. They, I think only about seven years old, but are one of the fastest growing companies in the world and have kind of already overtaken Alibaba and some of their monthly user metrics. And they saw saturated ecommerce industry in China, you could buy almost anything online, except for you know, one of the areas the economy that was left out was just produce from the rural farms making its way into the cities you couldn’t really buy that online. And so very similar to community support it i Agriculture kind of these farmers boxes that a lot of people join, you know, even locally here in Toronto, they started with, with produce, and basically created these offers where if 1020 people all in the same city ordered from a farm, then that would be enough for the farmer to drive in with the truck and deliver it, then they started expanding out into a lot of different product categories, the buying groups got smaller. That brings it back to us, you know, we’ve been studying a lot of the pre existing models. So far, we’re actually we found a lot of traction with direct consumer independent CPGs. So you know, for example, a local hot sauce company, maybe somebody started it out of their kitchen, they’ve gotten they’ve got a Shopify store, they’re selling one bottle at a time, shipping is really expensive these days, if we can offer them a channel that is somewhere in between direct consumer one unit at a time to one customer and wholesale, where they’re kind of losing the individual connection with the customer having to give up a lot more margin, they’re able to create an offer that says Say if five people buy if 10 People buy, and it all gets shipped to one location, then they’re able to actually bring down the cost per unit, the delivery cost per unit in a way that actually doesn’t hurt the bottom line at all. That’s one of the areas we’re exploring. But we’ve actually even experimented with services. So home and auto services, if the provider can cluster their their jobs all in one geographic location, for example, we tried mobile car detailing, in a lot of circumstances, when they’re coming to your house to clean your car, if their next job is half an hour drive away, they’re losing productive time. But if they can cluster a whole bunch of their jobs, one after another in the same location, they might actually be able to fit a few more jobs in they can bring the cost down. So we’re looking at a variety of different products and services always open to suggestions. And you know, we’ve been building up our our list of vendors in our marketplace who see the value as we’re getting ready to launch our groupbuy marketplace app in the new year.

 

Craig Major 

Excellent. I can see all sorts of value in thinking outside the box working with local startups that do like mobile hair stylists, and they you know, saying, Alright, we have a day of the week or the month that we’re going to be at this location because we have 20 Customers potentially here or what have you. Lots of stuff there. So the first question is, how do you make money? So what’s your business model look like? Yeah, so

 

Dan Flatt 

our business model. Right now we’re not charging our, our Naborino ‘s or communities of neighbors to sign up. But what we are doing rather than targeted advertising, like you’ll see on a lot of the other social networks that can be you know, I think we’ve seen over the last few years that is problematic, because of the way that data is mined, and not always lining up with the way that’s communicated to users, we’re taking more of an E commerce model our marketplace has offers from all the different vendors. If a group ID deal goes through successfully, we will take a success fee from the vendor before we pay them out. So we’ll collect will collect the funds from each one of the users who who joins a deal. Let’s say five people need to join a deal before the discount unlocks, we’ll charge their credit cards, the discounted amount. And then before we’ve had the vendor, we take a small success fee. As we move forward and prove the model out a little bit more, we’re going to try to shift over to a monthly subscription model for the vendors that lowers the percentage that we’re taking on each deal, gives them a few more options, access to analytics about about the users in the different neighborhoods and adds value in that way.

 

Craig Major 

Another question here, my building uses condo can control central with a website that tries to build community, but it doesn’t seem to work. I’ve lived in several buildings with the same kind of setup. Why doesn’t it work? And why will it work for you?

 

Dan Flatt 

Great question. Yeah, so we’ve looked at a lot of those, those kinds of condominium portal type apps. And the reason that they don’t work for community is that they’re not they’re not built for the users, you know, in with any business you don’t. They’re not built for the residents, really, they’re built for the management to manage the residents. And so, you know, if you’re not being charged for the product, you are the product in a case like that the the client who’s actually paying for it, it’s the condo board and the management paying for that app as a way to manage the community. I think a lot of these apps will try to include a kind of a bulletin board where you know, where people can post things. They can maybe sell things to each other in the building, but it’s not really built to connect community and when we really start to validate, you know, when we started thinking about whatever This model could be at the very early stages, I spoke to a couple of different property managers of both rental apartment buildings and condominium buildings, and ask them, you know, would you see it as a benefit? If the residents of your building were able to talk and connect more? And actually the majority of them said that they would hate that they they said that they would, you know, they would actually, it would make your job harder. And I think I alluded to that earlier about kind of, you know, this dynamic of neighbors unionizing when they have frustration with management, and it’s a lot easier for management to knock down a complaint one person at a time rather than having, you know, I think one of the managers I interviewed at that time said, you know, I don’t want to an angry mob of, you know, with torches and pitchforks coming at me every anytime I’m in the building. So we’re not, we’re not trying to be antagonistic to management, I think that they really are a really big part of the experience of living in a building and for it to be a good experience for all the residents. And so we actually are already in talks for strategic partnerships with some companies that are kind of in that condo, Portal type of category, four ways that we could integrate and add value to their experience. We’re not trying to compete with them on that aspect, we’re really much more just going directly to the residents, and trying to unlock all the benefits of the neighbor to neighbor community.

 

Craig Major 

Yeah, and that makes a lot of sense, I think you hit the nail on the head on who the product was made for. And at some point, maybe the landlords or building management don’t want to hear about all the issues that people are having, rather than say, let’s find out what the common things are. So we can fix those things that you know, the most which what they should be doing. But, you know, we all know that. Everyone is different. The questions keep on coming. This is a great startup question. So if you have an online platform or mobile app, Dan, how will you be able to manage it without an IT background?

 

Dan Flatt 

That’s a very good question. So I’m a non technical. I’m a non technical co founder I’ve, my other co founder eras is I say, we’re both tech adjacent like we’ve worked in tech companies, but usually more in the business side. Right now, we actually are actively recruiting for a head of development. We’ve had a couple, you know, we have a couple of great technical advisors, who’ve allowed us to get this far, we worked with a great team of student developers at Centennial College who have built the current version of our app that we hope will be ready in early 2023. But absolutely, it is a gap right now. And I think that what we’re ideally looking for is somebody who both has the technical skills and familiarity with the different code bases can lead a technical team, but also is fired up by the by the purpose and the mission that we have here. And I think that as we see a lot of layoffs from some of the traditional social networks, and a lot of other tech companies, a lot of really talented people are back in the market may be disillusioned with the stated mission of some of the companies they were working at. And we’re hoping to be able to offer something different from the ground up. If anybody who is listening is considering starting or joining an early stage technology company, we’d love to chat because we are in the market and I can share a link to our job posting in the show notes afterwards.

 

Craig Major 

This leads me to naturally to what’s your funding situation.

 

Dan Flatt 

I bootstrapped for the first year and a half kind of self funded even this student team, this team of student developers, we got grant funding that paid for a large chunk of it, the rest of it I was paying for for my savings. I’ve been maintaining a independent consulting practice while building a brewery. No just I’m a dad of got a wife and two kids and just trying to keep the lights on at home. It’s not not the same circumstances if I was in my early 20s And could just live on ramen. So just over the last few months, we actually started raising a friends and family round using a safe note. And we actually decided to host our friends and family round on equity Vesto which is one of Canada’s leading equity crowdfunding platforms, equity crowdfunding, for those who aren’t familiar that’s, you know, there’s a lot of due diligence that’s required before you can set one up as a company, but it essentially allows you to go out into the market and raise from retail investors, sometimes for as little as $100 as a minimum check size for people, for companies who aren’t quite at the stage where that makes sense, when you’re at the friends and you know what they call the friends and family round, there’s a lot more restrictions that are put in place by the securities regulators in Ontario. It’s the Ontario Securities Commission about who is allowed to invest at this stage. And really, that those regulations are put in place. Because early stage investments are inherently more risky, they want to make sure that unscrupulous founders are misleading the public into just giving them money and running off with it, we’re actually really excited. There is a new pilot program that was just announced a few weeks ago in Ontario, by the Ontario Securities Commission, it’s actually going to be expanding the class of retail investors who are allowed to invest in early stage startups, if people have certain education or relevant job experience, they’re able to self certify that they that they understand the risk involved, and they’ll be allowed to invest up to $30,000 a year in early stage startups. So I think I saw Craig just shared a link, I’m co hosting a lunch and learn tomorrow with Alex morsing. The managing director, Aqua Vesto going to be LinkedIn lunch and learn. And we’re actually gonna be talking about this new pilot program, what it means for retail investors who might be interested in, in backing early stage companies and for early stage companies and their founders, where I see this as a really big expansion of the options that we have to fundraise at this at this stage.

 

Craig Major 

And we work with Aqua Vestal all the time, they’re a partner of ours, they’ve been in our community before they launch. And it was great to see how many successful companies have raised with them. And it’s great that they’re these new opportunities to invest in startups, and I can’t wait to hear about it tomorrow. And I’ll probably end up having equal message one a couple of months to talk about themselves directly. I like to try and share both success and failure. So the chance that others won’t make the same mistakes, can you tell us a time where you screwed up or made the wrong pivot or startup decision?

 

Dan Flatt 

Sure, you know, hindsight is 2020. And, you know, one of the other things I think, is that, you know, there’s a lot of standard startup advice that you’ll hear, and sometimes you, you just don’t fully internalize it. But you know, one of those pieces of advice that I have, that I unfortunately, ignored, because I thought that I was different was starting to build, you know, technology before before getting enough business validation to justify it. So in the early earlier earliest days of knavery, no, I actually kind of had a beta version already, I had the Facebook group, from my building. And then I also just built a Shopify store, modified some of the Shopify liquid codes that we could create this group buying dynamic in on on the different offers that we had for our initial community, and was actually getting some traction, I started doing weekly Costco runs, putting some of the most frequently requested items up on the Shopify store and started getting orders. You know, I started having some months where we were already making a few $1,000 in top line revenue. At the time I was, I was so low, I didn’t feel like I had the bandwidth to run that aspect of the business. At the same time, as I felt like I was already ready to start building, the more specialized app had this opportunity to work with the team of developers at Centennial got some some grant access, I kind of just put the the Shopify based business side of it on hold for close to a year as we were building the app. And now I’m I’m finding that when we speak to a lot of the investors, they think it’s great that we’ve already made so much of this progress on the app, but they are looking for a little bit more of the business traction. I think at this point where we’re almost there, where we’re hoping to have the the app ready to go, we’ve already gotten a lot of traction on business development side with many vendors who are ready to put offers on on the app, as soon as we’re as we’ve got it live, if I had to do over again, probably would have held off a little bit longer on building the app kept the earlier stage of how we were generating revenue going a little bit longer. But I think at this point, you know, we’ve benefited from all the lessons that we had doing it this way. And I think that sometimes as as a founder in order in order to be successful, you have to have a bit of stubbornness. You know, if people are telling you this isn’t gonna work, sometimes the right but you kind of have to be able to push through and trust your own conviction, because otherwise people would never try anything new.

 

Craig Major 

You openly talk about getting diagnosed with HD ADHD doing that so as an adult and how it can be both a superpower as an entrepreneur as well as Presenting challenges. Can you tell us more about that?

 

Dan Flatt 

I yeah, very quick story. I think that for a lot of my 30s I, I thought that I just had chronic depression and anxiety and just always felt like I was bored at work, you know, kind of lost focus. And really just, you know, thought that it was it was depression spoke to different therapists about it. And it wasn’t really until my daughter got diagnosed at school with ADHD. And this is actually a very common way that that people who are learning they have ADHD as adults, is that they have kids, they, you know, very often, the coping mechanisms that you learn when you’re younger, before you have a lot of responsibilities, they hold up until you have kids when the responsibility of just keeping another human being alive sometimes can get overwhelming. But my my daughter finding out that she had ADHD, as I started learning, reading up about it to think, okay, how can I support her? What’s, you know, what, what does it actually mean? You know, I think I’d heard about ADHD throughout my life, I think it had always been sort of a stereotypical idea of, oh, look, there’s something shiny and squirrel over there without really understanding what it was. And as I started reading about it, as I started just hearing people’s stories about what life as an adult with ADHD, I just started checking off the box like, that sounds like me, that sounds like me, I went through the self diagnosis test with my therapist who I was chatting with at the time. And we decided that it was pretty likely that I actually did have ADHD and had it my entire life. And what I came to understand ADHD actually is at the neurological level, it’s a kind of under activity in producing dopamine, which is kind of like our, it’s the neurotransmitter that is often known as the reward chemical. So anytime that you level up in a video game, or you know, click on a notification that somebody liked one of your Instagram posts, you may get like a little micro hit of dopamine, and people can get addicted to that with people who have ADHD, because our brains are our and you know, there’s kind of a, it’s not a binary thing, like there’s kind of a spectrum of how, how severe this could be, you know, our, our brains are producing a little bit less dopamine. And so we’re kind of constantly searching for it. And and so that that’s what we can be very distractible. If we see something that looks more interesting than what we’re doing right now. Our focus will shift. And so really, for me, it was it was a gift to learn that that this was the reason that I was having trouble focusing, you know, to the point of sometimes, you know, staying employed and keeping a job because I would start off in new roles, very excited, very motivated. And then after a couple of months, start just feeling like, Okay, I know how to, I know how to do this, but I can’t bring myself to actually do the things that are expected of me. And it was also really interesting, just to the sense of community, as I started chatting with people around the world, I, you know, found some really great online communities, it was the early days of clubhouse in the early days of the pandemic. And, you know, there were some really, really great rooms where people were, were just sharing their experiences of adult ADHD. And a lot of the things that I thought was something that was uniquely wrong with me, I just saw, okay, like, this is exactly how a person in Sri Lanka is experiencing life on a day to day basis. And so getting back to, you know, I focused a lot on the negatives. But the positives of ADHD, when we’re engaged, when we’re really interested in something we can hyper focus are, you know, it’s, you know, the metaphor that I use sometimes is like, it’s like having, it’s like your brain has a Ferrari engine, but bicycle brakes, so you can go really fast in one direction. But it can be hard to shift when you can channel that hyper focus. And you know, some people call it flow state, then I feel like I can get a week’s worth of work done in an afternoon. But if it’s something that I’m not interested in, like filling out one of the many grant applications that I have to fill out as a as a startup or you know, doing accounting and finances, then even though I know how to do it, and I know that I know how to do it, it can just be really, really hard to start. So a lot of different coping mechanisms and ways to deal with it. But I would say that I’ve passed the tipping point where I would say that I’ve been able to harness more of the strengths then feel like I’m held back by some of the negatives which are easier to manage and mitigate these days.

 

Craig Major 

What are your favorite books or podcasts for entrepreneurs?

 

Dan Flatt 

I’ve read a lot of the standard ones like the Good to Great The Lean Startup and I think that they’re kind of table stakes for a lot of entrepreneurs. A few that I’ve really liked that a little bit more off the beaten path. There’s a book I read called everything for everyone by a professor named Nathan Schneider. And it talks a lot about cooperative business models and where the users actually have an ownership stake in in the businesses, rather than just a this kind of top down corporate shareholder, who aren’t necessarily users or customers of the business. And kind of in this model, it’s been in the background for over a century, and there is a legal structure for it in Canada in the US. But I think it’s getting really interesting as we go into sort of the web three models, where there’s a lot more really interesting options for members of the community to actually have an ownership stake, and even a vote in the direction of the company. So that’s one that I found really influential. And then right now, on a similar theme, I’m reading a book called The Network steak, the network states how to start a new country by Balaji, Sreenivasan, and it is talking about how right now, and definitely in the coming decades, online communities who are connected by common values and mission could eventually start to take on the structure and even power that competes with nation states. And I think that, you know, we’re seeing some really interesting examples of that, you know, over the last few years, and it gets me thinking a lot about the future of neighbor, you know, if we’re able to connect local communities, unlock the social and economic benefits for them, and to the point where they can even combine their their buying power at the neighborhood level, but then, at the collection of neighborhoods level, then I think that there’s a lot of really interesting possibilities of how we can even transform large swaths of the economy and help and how consumers interact with large businesses source products and services in a more efficient and more environmentally sound way.

 

Craig Major 

So another question here, will users slash the community members be charged to use the platform, I know

 

Dan Flatt 

that our intention is for the platform to be completely free for our communities of Naborino ‘s our current revenue model is that these community group buying deals that we have in our marketplace from the vendors, whenever a successful deal goes through, we’ll take a success fee from the vendor. Eventually, we’re going to start charging the vendors a monthly subscription fee, we have a few other sources of monetization and revenue that we’re hoping to unlock a little bit further on our roadmap. But for now, we’re focusing on monetizing this community group on marketplace.

 

Craig Major 

So what is next for you, and they were, you know,

 

Dan Flatt 

as I mentioned, we’re hoping to launch launch our app in our first few communities in early 2023. Before we do that, we are actually looking for a very talented back end developer who is familiar with Django and Python, three frameworks, potentially ahead of development, who has those skills and more in the very immediate future, actually, starting tomorrow, we’re going to be selling a holiday gift basket that pulls together some of our favorite local products from the vendors who were hoping to have a new marketplace starting in the new year, and a portion of the proceeds are going to go to support Daily Bread Food Bank. And so I’ll be able to share some more details about that I can I can send the link, we’re actually just finishing that up. So I’m sure you’ve heard the story about in the early days of Airbnb, when they were trying to in survival mode, they printed up a whole bunch of boxes of cereal and started selling them on university campuses, pictures of Obama McCain was during the 2008 election. So we’re kind of trying to channel that energy to to have a push for revenue. Also, some more engagement with the amazing vendors who we’ve met, as we’ve done business development in anticipation of this marketplace go live. So I’d say those are the very short term, and then the the medium term is launching. Obviously, I’ll plug again tomorrow we’re going to be reading this lunch and learn with Aqua Vesto, where I think what we’ll be talking about our other priority, which is bringing in some early stage fundraising.

 

Craig Major 

Yeah. And for those of you listening on the podcast, I’ll have all those links in the show notes to the Lunch and Learn they did to their deck and to any fundraising they happen to be doing at the same time. But where can people go and find out more about you and Naborino ,

 

Dan Flatt 

our website is Naib, reno.com and aborio.com. And right now on social media, I’m definitely the most active on LinkedIn. So you can just look up Dan flot On LinkedIn, and we’re hoping to, we’re on all the other social platforms. But we will probably be more active on them once we are live with our, with our marketplace app and are ready to start accepting users.

 

Craig Major 

I really appreciate you taking the time out of the busy startup day to talk to us today and tell us all about. Naborino

 

Dan Flatt 

Thanks a lot, Craig. And thanks for everything you do for the local startup community in Toronto. I was just chatting with you before, and your startup drinks events that you host every month. Those are some of the places where I feel like I’ve gotten the most experience pitching live in front of a, an audience of human beings, as opposed to the majority of the meetings like that, that I’ve that had been primarily a resume. So another way to get the community get together and and, you know, build these real human connections that I think are lost in these early days but are so important. So thank you.

 

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