Amos Schwartzfarb Transcript

Clint Betts

I'd love to just start with your background. Let's start there.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Yeah, sure. How far back do you want me to go?

Clint Betts

Well, how did you become the managing director of Techstars in Austin?

Amos Schwartzfarb

Yeah, so I've been doing this job for almost eight years. And so, for people listening, if you don't know what Techstars is, what we really are is a very early stage investor and very early stage VC firm. The way that we execute our investment is via accelerator programs that we run globally, so literally all over the world.

I've been in this role for almost eight years. One of the things that Techstars does really well and is unique to Techstars is that we run mentorship-driven programs. And what that means is that you can have a managing director who knows some things, but really, we have a global network, thousands and thousands of people who have raised their hand and said, "I want to help founders be successful," which is how I got involved with Techstars originally, I guess, 11 or 12 years ago when Techstars first moved to Austin and the then managing director Jason Seats first moved to Austin.

We were introduced. I just sold a company, and I don't know that I was specifically looking to give back, but he described to me what it was like. You get to meet a bunch of people that are starting companies and help them out in ways that experience can allow you to do and help them unlock doors and that sort of thing.

And so, I became a mentor and really fell in love with it. And then Jason, who is still at Techstars, he's now our chief investment officer, moved into that role, approached me about filling his seat. There's a little more to the story than that, but that was essentially what was going on. So, almost eight years ago I took that role.

Clint Betts

What drove you to write a book? I'm always fascinated by the people who write books. You've written two books.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Yeah.

Clint Betts

What drew you to that? Why do that?

Amos Schwartzfarb

They're pretty different. The first one I wrote because I was injured. And I play a lot of sports, racing mountain bikes for years, and I had an injury and it kept me off the bike, and I just felt like I had to do something with the time on my hands.

And the short version of the story is my intention was to put together a series of workshops for other Techstars managing directors because I kept getting asked to come and do a workshop on sales. And anyone who's in sales knows that a workshop on sales is not a real thing because sales is a very broad topic.

And so, what I set out to do originally was to say, "Okay, what are all the potential workshops that I could put together?" And I basically just created a big list of them. And my intention was to send that to my peers and say, "Are there any here that jump out at you? And I'll create a couple workshops." As I looked at the list, I realized that that list would not be helpful to them to decide. And so, I decided to write a little summary for each bullet point that I had. And then, I looked at that when I was done with that, and I said, "Shit..."

Clint Betts

Oh, you're okay. You can say shit.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Yeah. I thought to myself, "Maybe there's something more interesting here. Maybe I'll write a series of blog posts, and I can publish it and reach a broader audience." I didn't actually do that initially, but that was my thought process. And then, by complete coincidence, at the same time, someone that I knew from a past life reached out to me who was a publisher at the time, and worked for Wiley, and said, "Do you know any of your peers who might be interested in writing a book? Because I'm looking for new authors."

And it was just a perfect timing thing. I had done all of this sort of pre-work, which is what you would do if you were thinking of writing a book. I'm like, "I don't know. I hadn't really thought about writing a book, but here's this stuff I put together," and she was like, "Super interesting. Do you think you can put that into a book?" And I was like, "I don't know."

So, I sat down, and three weeks later I had basically written the first draft of Sell More Faster. And it was really like, if I wasn't injured, never would've happened. It was not on my bucket list to write a book. It was really the perfect timing of several things that brought that one to fruition.

The second book was a little bit different because of a few things. One, I think Wiley was a really great partner in getting that book out, but as an entrepreneur, I think the publishing industry is pretty broken. And I wasn't going to do another book with a traditional publisher. I don't own the copyright of Sell More Faster. It's my material, why don't I own the copyright? So, there's a bunch of things there.

That industry, once I got into it, I was like, "Eh, if I'm ever going to do this again, I'm going to do it a lot differently." And it's a lot of work to write a book, as you might imagine. So, in parallel, at my job at Techstars, I had been running this process, which is the levers process with my founders and sort of refining it as we go.

And my main co- author, Trevor, at the time worked with me at Techstars. And so, we were doing this together. And also, he's written a couple of books, but he's been the ghost author.One of them is called Get Back, which is also a bestseller, but he wrote that book even though he's not accredited with it.

And so, we just got to talking, and I said to him one day, "Should we turn this into a book? It might be kind of fun." And he had the best response, which is, "Sure. I don't want to write a full book. Do you want to write another full book?" And I'm like, "No." However, for the process we were putting together, we were already using Troy and Cody's workshops as part of it because it fit in with what we were trying to do so well. So, it was already part of the process.

And so, we called both of those guys up, who were good friends, and said, "Hey, we have this idea of putting this process together in a book, but the only way we're going to do that is if each one of us are writing the chapters that we are experts in so that none of us are taking on the whole thing. And by the way, we want to self- publish it, which means that it's not necessarily more or less work, but it's different work."

Both of them jumped at the opportunity. They were both excited to do it. And I think getting to do something like that with your friends, that we're essentially all taking on 25% of the load, makes it a lot easier. And it helps that both Trevor and I had a little bit of experience, and different experiences doing it, so we were able to bring something else to the table.

And so, that one similarly came together. We sat down separately and brought together the first draft of that I think in three weeks or something. It takes a lot longer than that to actually go through the iterations and get it published, but in terms of getting the whole first draft done. And what I've come to learn after the fact is that both of those were written, relatively speaking, very fast.

I know a lot of other people who have since come to me and said, "Hey, I'm writing a book, and here's the way I'm approaching it," and it takes months and months and months I think for a lot of different reasons. But in our case, we were able to get it out pretty quickly.

Clint Betts

I'd love for you to give us a sense for the state of accelerators and incubators and things like Techstars. In my mind, and probably in most people's mind, there's two really, really great brands, Techstars and Y Combinator. Why haven't more been successful? What's your thought on this state of accelerators? Or am I just completely wrong and there are others?

Amos Schwartzfarb

There probably are others that have been successful. And I think it maybe has to do with how they talk about themselves, how they market themselves, who they market themselves to. I would say my mode of operation is when I'm in a role likeI am in now, where who the competition is—using competition sort of loosely here—I can talk about how I actually think about competition on a day-to-day basis, but I don't need to think about it because I am selling myself.

Techstars may or may not be the entry point to talk to me, but at the end of the day, I look at it as, mutually, do we believe that there's a relationship here that will help build a stronger business so that we can have stronger returns?

So, I do think there probably are other accelerators out there, but I frankly don't think about it. And even, I don't even think about YC ever. I would say if there is a competitor that I actually think about often, or at all, it is the seed stage venture firm who has a bias against accelerators and tries to convince their investment CEO that they can do the same thing as an individual that someone like Techstars or YC could do with the massive networks we have, which is frankly just a naive position.

But I run into that as a real blocker to a good investment way more often than anything else. And not that often by the way, but if I had to say what was the thing that popped up most? Yeah, I run into companies that are looking at US and YC, and my conversation with them is, "Help me understand what you are looking for and I will help you figure out if we are a better place to go or YC is a better place to go," because we're not the same either.

Clint Betts

Yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure.

Amos Schwartzfarb

And there's been cases where, hey, I love you as a company and you would be a great investment, but I'm not actually the best place for you. You should go there. And then there's other times when I'm like, I think I'm in the best place, but here, go talk to these founders, some of which have done both, some of which have done Techstars, some of which maybe haven't done Techstars that I know have done YC, and go tell them what you're looking for and then let them tell you.

Clint Betts

I'd love to go deeper on how you think about competition. I think that's pretty interesting. Particularly as you think of Techstars, yes, you're an investment firm, you're an accelerator, all those things. But what Techstars does that's really unique is it also organizes events and community building and all that type of stuff. And I imagine you're doing that to help the ecosystem as much, if not more, than to try to get deal flow, right? I can't imagine everybody you're inviting to these events are even wanting to or thinking about going into the accelerator. So, I just wonder how you think about it from that perspective, from a community perspective.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Yeah, there's sort of an evolution of thought process here. And I would say that evolution is not over. It's still in process. When I started at Techstars, one of the functions of my role was to build not just mine, anyone in my role, was to build out the local community. And I don't even know if I remember what all the philosophies were behind it, but just generally speaking, it was a part of the job.

That for a managing director is not necessarily the case anymore. It is more the latter, the thing you said, which is now, newer managing directors, when they're doing it, there might be a piece where they're doing it because there's a long-term effect of how do you attract great investors, how do you attract great mentors, how do you attract great companies to know about you?

Or for an ecosystem like Austin, and I care about this community deeply. So, when we do things, it's coming more of a place of, we have an established community here, how do we show our love and our appreciation for the people that have been supporting us for 11 or 12 years?

But from a recruiting standpoint, at least in Austin, and every one of us is a little bit different, people are coming to us because we've been established and we've been around for a while. And I think fortunately, the books have definitely helped raise the stature of the program here in general.

There used to be be a whole part of our organization that their responsibility was to go and build communities even where we didn't have programs. And that still exists, but I would say I don't think about that part of the organization any more just in how the role has evolved.

Clint Betts

Right. That's actually super interesting. Let's take Brian Trotter's question. He says, "When it comes to vetting for this passion and founders, how do you figure that out? Especially for those on the investor side, angels, how do you assess that in a pitch or due diligence process?"

Amos Schwartzfarb

I'll answer the first part. I'm not sure I fully understand the second part of the question, especially for those on the investor side. Maybe you're an investor, Brian, and you're asking like, "Well, how do I do it?" Maybe that's what you're asking.

So, I think about it, some of this stuff is not quantifiable, a lot of it is not quantifiable. Some of it is, I guess arguably it is, but it's pattern matching over time. The things that I think about are when I'm talking to someone, I would say there's maybe three or four things that I look to as standouts.

I try really, really hard in my first and second conversation with any entrepreneur that I'm meeting to not talk about their business. It doesn't always work because people are excited to talk about it, and I get it, but I don't pay close attention to that intentionally because I don't want to be biased one way or the other.

So, the thing that I try to focus on is a couple things. One is, I try to understand other things that they've done in their past life and how they've approached them. And I'll give you some more specific examples. Do they get obsessed with things? How do they work through the challenges of those obsessions? Can they persevere through those things? If they're successful, how do they behave? If they're not successful, or if success isn't what they had hoped it to be, how do they behave?

And so, the kinds of things that I look for, to give you two specific examples, one is if they were an athlete in their life—I don't care if they were or weren't, so I want to be careful. Yes, I've had some great athletes, but the thing that I look for is like, okay, were they an athlete in high school and maybe college? Are they still an athlete? And, are they are still doing it? They don't have to be at a professional level or an elite level, but are they disciplined with continually improving themselves?

So, the athletic example, and I'll give you a non-athletic example too, but the athletic example is, is part of their routine to wake up every day and work out for an hour, hour and a half, five, six days a week before they go to work? Or do they say every day at lunch, "I take an hour and a half break"? What are the things that they are doing to continually improve themselves?

Flip it to something that's not athletic. Maybe they had music as a passion, or it's a newer passion, and say, "Yeah, I used to play guitar as a kid, and I still play, I still pick up the guitar for an hour a day or five to 10 hours a week, and here's what I'm learning." And I might ask specific questions to test that. Are they always challenging themselves to learn more and to improve?

And then the way that I think about that is, okay, they're showing a passion and an obsession, and if they have that same passion and obsession for the work, they will likely put in the same kind of effort and discipline.

So, that's one way.

Clint Betts

Yeah, that makes sense.

Amos Schwartzfarb

That is a big thing for me. And look, I get it wrong sometimes too, just to be clear. But that is a big thing that I look for and I'm really honest about that upfront. I don't hide from that.

The other thing that I look for is how metrics and data driven are they. And so, I can get some of that in the same line of questioning, and sometimes I can't and we need to talk about work stuff. But using those two examples, if they're athletes, I might ask them about, what are you using to track your progress? And if they're like, "Oh, nothing," that tells me something. Or if, "Oh, a spreadsheet, and I do all these things," I'm like, "Oh my gosh, you're obsessed."

And you don't have to be that extreme by any stretch, but understanding how they think about the data they use to improve helps me understand how they will potentially approach their business.

And the same thing with the music example, which is much less quantifiable. But if they are like, "Well, I've got a notebook that I keep track of the songs I'm doing. I have another notebook for the songs I'm writing, and I have another notebook for the chords I'm learning, and another..." all of a sudden, I'm learning a little bit about how they process information and how they use that information to improve. And so, those are the kinds of things that I look for that help me get a sense of who they are.

And then, I want to not gloss over maybe the obvious, which is, are they good human beings? This is very, very important to me.

Clint Betts

Right.

Amos Schwartzfarb

I don't care. I don't want to invest in someone that I just don't like. And I like a lot of people. I think it's pretty hard to ruffle my feathers, but I definitely have a no asshole rule. I don't care how awesome your business is going to be. If you've got a huge ego and you're not coachable, let someone else invest in you, but it's not me, because we're in so early, we're going to have a relationship for a decade, maybe longer. And I want to have relationships with people that they're going to enhance my life as a human, not just my pocketbook if they're successful.

Clint Betts

Yeah, yeah, that's a good rule. A no asshole rule is always good.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Easy to say, but harder when you're looking down the barrel of a great investment. Look, like I said, I get it wrong sometimes. Every couple of programs, I do miss it because I get excited about something else. I'm like, "Ah, shit, I missed it." And someone was there, but I ignored them, and it's really hard sometimes. It's easy to say, but harder to do.

Clint Betts

I was at an event once where Reed Hastings, co-founder of Netflix, former CEO, he said something like, "If you can't lead yourself, you're not going to be able to lead others." And it kind of sounds like in this second meeting, you're kind of looking for that, like, can this person lead themselves?

Amos Schwartzfarb

Oh, interesting. I hadn't thought about it that way. I had never thought about it that way. I like that. I'm going to put that aside and think about it more. But there is, in the longer description of how I think about it, do I believe that they can attract and retain great talent? That's something that I do actually say and talk about and have written about.

And that founding team may or may not be the right founding team, but it tells me a lot about the kinds of people that they are able to bring into an organization. And hearing someone say, "Oh, we've got the best developer ever working on this, or the best CTO," like, maybe, or maybe your bar's too low, or maybe they are great, but they're actually not as invested as you say they are.

And so, these are really, they're nuanced, non-data driven things. But I do look for those things. Like, yeah, are you going to be a great leader? Are people going to swarm to you and be like, "Wow." And actually, something that I used to do, I haven't done this in a while, and I probably should do it again. I used to think about is, would I go work for you? And if the answer is yes, then you're probably someone I want to invest in because I'd be willing to invest my own time and follow you somewhere.

Clint Betts

Yeah, that's an interesting one.

Amos Schwartzfarb

I've run away from that a little bit because I'm doing so many investments now. I think that I probably should add it back in, but it sort of fell by the wayside.

Clint Betts

How many startups do you bring in per cohort? Is it a fixed number, or is it loose?

Amos Schwartzfarb

It's fixed. Yeah, it's 12 a cohort, and we do that twice a year.

Clint Betts

Oh, okay. So, you're doing 24. That's a lot, man.

Amos Schwartzfarb

It's a lot.

Clint Betts

Yeah, 24—but you guys don't take board seats, right? Or do you sometimes, or do you do follow-on investments? How is it working these days? It's been a while actually since I've looked at Techstars. I'd love to know how it's changed and evolved.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Yeah. As part of the Techstars deal, we do not take board seats. We have a couple of different funds. We have the accelerator fund, which funds the accelerators. There is another venture fund inside of Techstars that will do some follow-on. It's not a huge fund. Less than 10% of the companies will get any follow-on. We will never, ever lead. We always take a very small position in those. And it's really just exercising our pro rata rights.

So, occasionally, a company might ask, or more than occasionally, but companies might ask us to join boards, and sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. As you probably know, being on a board is a lot of work and sometimes—

Clint Betts

Yeah, it's time-consuming.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Yeah. I wish I could say yes to everyone who asks, but the reality is, I can't. I've tried to actually.

Clint Betts

What do you think of venture funds who sit on 15, 20 boards, particularly at the early stage, maybe even more. How can you possibly be a good more board member to 20 companies? Isn't that a lot?

Amos Schwartzfarb

I think it's possible to do. One, how do they prioritize their life and their job, and what is important to them? And for me, this work is really important, but the work doesn't define everything that I do. There are other things in my life. So, for me, it's important to also have time for my family and not to say my family's a priority so I'm going to block time to spend with my family. No, my family is a priority. And then also, the work is a priority. So, how do they fit together? And hobbies and such.

So, that's one. I also think if you're an emerging fund manager, if your first fund or your second fund, especially right now, but really at any time, you probably have to do a little bit more work in order to ensure that you're able to raise that second or third fund because you're not going to have as much data and time to say that you're actually good at your job. If you've been doing it for three, four, five funds, you start to have enough data if you're good to be able to point to lots of data.

So, I think that being able to be more hands-on earlier on. But I don't know the answer to this, but I would bet, I would not be surprised that when you hear that, it's usually people in their fund one or two. And when you look at people that are in fund four, five, or six, they're probably taking less board seats or making less. If they're taking a board seat, they're making less investments a year.

Clint Betts

Yeah, yeah, I think you're probably right about that. How do you think about the current state of early stage, like seed investing and Series A? What's that looking like? Not just in Austin, but just in general, because your companies can pitch any VC?

Amos Schwartzfarb

Yeah, and most of the companies I invest in don't come from Austin. Most of them come from somewhere else.

Clint Betts

Yeah.

Amos Schwartzfarb

So, when you ask that question, you mean what's the state of available

capital?

Clint Betts

Yeah. Obviously, we're hearing, hey, heading into a recession, may already be in a recession, all these types of things. I can't imagine that affects early seeds' thinking too much because you're looking at like 10 years, and they're looking at quarters. But I am interested in the current state of things and if you've seen more get into the market, funds shutting down, anything like that.

Amos Schwartzfarb

I'll give you my macro answer and I'm happy to get more micro, because I have a lot of opinions, and I'd say I'm not sure that I have data to support a lot of them, but maybe a little bit. But the macro is the later stage your company is, the harder it is to raise money right now. And it's still harder now than it was a year or two ago for earlier stage companies, but because you're talking about smaller checks and you're talking about people and even if there's a lot of data there, you're still really investing in a dream because there's still not enough data to say this is going to be a huge thing in most cases.

So, there's still capital there. And I think really good early stage investors get this, and newer early stage investors maybe don't get it quite as much, which is regardless of where we are in this economic cycle and regardless of how long it lasts, most of the investments you're making today, you won't realize the return for a decade or more. If we are not out of it by then, we've got way bigger problems than the checks you're writing today.

And so, I think, really, my opinion is, and my opinion is the popular opinion, but this is the best time to be investing in early stage companies. This is the best time in probably 10 years or more, since probably 2008 or '09, there probably hasn't been a better time to invest in early stage companies.

Clint Betts

Not just invest, but to start one, right? This is where you weed out all the fat and the real people in there.

Amos Schwartzfarb

And if you think about it, I actually love that there's less available capital because it means that there are less entrepreneurs out there. They're weeding themselves out if they're not obsessed and passionate. So, when I'm meeting founders, I'm still vetting for that, but it feels easier to get to those answers because if that person doesn't have a lot of personal runway and a lot of passion, and by runway, I don't necessarily mean cash, but I mean resolve to figure it out, they're probably not going to do something right now.

Clint Betts

Right. What do you think of some of the criticisms of VC, which is like, you only have two options, you either need to go public at some point or get acquired? How do you talk about that with your portfolio companies?

Amos Schwartzfarb

Yeah. And I feel the same way. Good VCs, at the end of the day, our job is to make money for our LPs. That is part of the work.

Clint Betts

Oh, yeah, for sure.

Amos Schwartzfarb

So, I don't have an issue at all with investors thinking that way. And I certainly think that way too. This isn't charity work. However, I think that anyone who focuses on what the exit is, especially at an early stage, but really even if you haven't raised your Series C yet, if you're thinking about an exit, you're thinking about the wrong thing.

Because in my experience, when you focus on delivering great product and product experience and value to your customers, you will build a long-term, sustainable business. And when you do that really, really well, there will be lots and lots of opportunities for liquidity events.

Clint Betts

How do you think about leadership at the early stage? Leadership's an interesting thing. You touched on that a little bit earlier. Like, "Hey, how do they lead themselves? Can they recruit talent? Can they be somebody that could be followed and people would be excited to work with them?"

How does it evolve, though? Because it does evolve from the early stage where you're doing everything, and sometimes, the person who's the CEO at the beginning, it sometimes isn't the right CEO towards the end.

Amos Schwartzfarb

That is a real thing. I take the stance, and as I think about it, do I believe that the person who I'm investing in, do I think they can take this to the end? Even if they couldn't do it today, do I think they can evolve to that? And sometimes I'm wrong there and sometimes I'm right there, and sometimes I'm wrong where I thought I was right, and right where I thought I was wrong.

There are also firms that invest early with the intention of replacing a CEO at a certain point, which I know a couple locally, and I don't get that mindset at all. And then I think there's PE, which most of the time they do replace the CEO. That is part of their playbooks in many cases.

But I think that great people, if they choose to evolve to whatever that means, they will figure it out like they figure everything else out. Now, I'm not saying it's easy, but if they choose not to, that is also okay. But where I see the biggest challenge is when they're not necessarily choosing to evolve, but they want to stay in the role, and it's more ego-driven than learning-driven, is usually where the issue evolves.

But I think I've tried, again, really hard to find people that I think are self-aware. So, they're like, "Okay, I don't want to actually learn what this is. It's time for me to replace myself," or, "I've capped out, I'm not able to do this anymore. Let's go find the right kind of help." Or, putting in the work and getting a coach and taking classes or whatever it is, the things that they need to do in order to evolve with the role. And I was going to say one more thing about that, and I don't remember what it was.

Clint Betts

We'll come back to it. I also wonder about the state of Austin. Austin's this beautiful, incredible city. It's hard to leave when you go there. But what is the tech community? Is it growing? And you've got Elon there. Austin's a really interesting ecosystem because you've got Elon, you've got Dell, you've got a lot of major tech companies setting up shop there. Isn't Oracle there? Maybe Salesforce is there as well.

Amos Schwartzfarb

I think that there's a lot of reasons why Texas has become an attractive place to build a business. There's a lot of reasons for businesses to move here for tax purposes. As an individual, there's no state income tax, so you make more money making the same money here. So, it's attractive from that perspective.

And I think Austin, it has definitely evolved, but there's a vibe and an energy here that has been here long before I got here. That is, the motto, maybe it still is, but the motto is keep Austin weird. And I don't know if Austin is so much weird anymore, but there is certainly a really deep thread of it is okay to be uniquely yourself here. And that, I think, fits well with entrepreneurs who are always a little bit different than the people around them. And so, it becomes an attractive place to be.

Plus, from an environmental perspective, by environmental, I mean things to do outside, we're right at the base of foothills. So, half of Austin is flat, half of Austin is hilly. It's very green. There's a lot of things to do outside. Our winter for you is summer, but it's a lot easier to suck it up and go outside and figure out ways to do that in the early mornings in the summertime and enjoy the outdoors.

So, we really have a 12-month-of-year climate here, even though arguably the summers are hot and hard, but we have a 12-month-a-year climate. So, yeah. The music scene is great. The art scene is great. When I moved here, the food was not that great, but it has become excellent.

Clint Betts

Yeah, it's known for incredible food. And you have Sixth Street, which is quite the place.

I also wonder, how has SXSW helped the ecosystem, particularly around tech, or has it at all? I mean, that thing's become this global event, and I'm not sure the founders intended it to be that way, but here we are.

Amos Schwartzfarb

It's not just SXSW. There's a few things that have done this well, but I think the thing is that SX in and of itself is not why people come to Austin. And by the way, when SXSW is happening and people are here, they're experiencing a very different Austin than the rest of the year. You have a couple hundred thousand people here that are packed into downtown. Our downtowns don't look like what they look like starting next week.

But I think the thing that it does is it brings people here that maybe weren't here before, puts them in an environment that is fun. So, inherently, they're having a good time, and they're exposed to what is a really cool place. And SXSW started as a music thing. I realize that tech has become much bigger, but the thing that revolves around all the tech stuff is music, right?

Amos Schwartzfarb

You can't go anywhere without hearing 20 different bands competing for airspace. And so, it's a fun place to be. Most of the time, the weather is perfect during SXSW. Occasionally, we get a little cold or rain, but mostly it's perfect. It's hard not to leave here going, "That was a lot of fun. I get the buzz," right? Even though the buzz would be different when you actually come back three weeks later.

Clint Betts

Yeah, yeah, yeah. There's not nearly as many people there, which is great.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Which is actually arguably better.

Clint Betts

Yeah, it's better. I wonder, how is Austin and you and the tech community in general thinking about how you avoid some of the pitfalls of Silicon Valley? Because Austin's one of the fastest growing ecosystems in the country.

Again, I ask that because Utah's asking ourselves this same question.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Yeah. The thing I'm going to say first is a little bit naive, admittedly, but I think there's more to it, which is, I don't think we do think about the pitfalls of Silicon Valley because we're just a different place. And what I really think about, maybe I'll say it differently, is two things.

One, Silicon Valley, everything about it, including how it started, was unique. And I don't know how many people know the origin story, but the origin story was, I feel like in the 20s or 30s, the government funneled a bunch of money to do a bunch of research there. And so, the government really created this petri dish for innovation, and there's some great schools there. And so, it happened at a different time in the world, and it was in a different way than Austin has happened.

Austin really kind of grew from the inside out. It started as an artist-y thing and a creative thing, and there were creative people, and creative people create things. Plus, we have a university here.

And I think the other thing, which is both very different and similar, which is that in our time, in all of the people that are listening to this podcast, even in our parents' time, Austin is really not the last, but the first city that is actually emerging in our lifetime. They all have happened before our lifetime.

Seattle, New York, Detroit, all of them happened before we were all born. The world was a different place. The world wasn't quite as connected. We were different human beings. And I just think about the different upbringings between boomers and Gen X and Gen Y and Gen Z. Everything about it is so different. It's not that I want to be naive and say like, "Oh, who cares, because it won't happen to us," because yeah, history could repeat itself, but I think that the ingredients are so different that I don't really think about it.

Clint Betts

Yeah. Oh, yeah, for sure. Hey, Amos, thanks so much for coming on, man. We've got to bring you back as things keep going over there with you and you write another book. Have you got another one in mind?

Amos Schwartzfarb

No. No.

Clint Betts

You'll put one out.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Yeah. Maybe at some point. At the moment, I'm onto other projects.

Clint Betts

Well, I'd recommend everybody get Levers and your first book. I forget the title of your first book.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Sell More Faster.

Clint Betts

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But Levers is an incredible book. Everyone should read it if you're an entrepreneur or a leader or you care about business in any sort of way. Amos, thank you so much for coming.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Thanks for having me. It was really, really fun. And thank you everybody for dialing in.

Clint Betts

How often are you playing those instruments back there?

Amos Schwartzfarb

Every day.

Clint Betts

Very cool, man. Well, okay. We'll see you down the line, man. Maybe we'll be in Austin sometime.

Amos Schwartzfarb

Cool. Look forward to it.

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