Shawn Rao, Co-Founder and CEO of SynGroup built his business into a $20M force in the Texas hospitality industry. He was planning a venue opening in April. Then Coronavirus hit, and he had to lay off half his company.

On this episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

3:31 The world just changed. “Because of [the impact of COVID-19], we’ve decided to pivot our podcast focus from the conversations, insights, and guests that we’ve already recorded and that we had planned …to pivot to focus on businesses, entrepreneurs, and leaders who are on the frontlines of what’s happening with coronavirus and are contending with this pandemic in real ways.” -KS

15:27 Shawn’s lessons for entrepreneurs. “When you’re an innovative mind…you take the best of the best [in each industry] and always want to apply it to the craft you’re doing. And if you can take a little, piece by piece, you can always innovate and always learn.” -SR 

26:55 Adjusting to COVID-19. “We realized we had to pivot, we had to do some sort of pivot, to make this even a fringe-worthy concept, to make us sustainable for our employees.” -SR

36:02 An opportunity for community. “It’s an opportunity for all of us to come together to appreciate each other and to support each other. A lot of things that we took for granted before, we’re not able to interact with anymore. And then we see people that we used to walk by all the time and we never thought about -now we know that the patronage that we share, the business that we give, really makes a difference. I’m hopeful that we’ll come to a better understanding of how we’re all connected and how we’re all helping each other grow.” -KS

41:17 The most important aspect of leadership right now. “Everybody can be successful when times are good, but this is what I’m made for, when times are bad, to step up, be a leader, and be a role model. And show people what it means to be resilient and persevere.” -SR

44:51 Kash’s One Big Thing. “The importance of being able to stand out in front of the situation, of the crisis, of the circumstance. To stand in front of your team and your employees and to be able to clearly communicate the goal, the vision, the mission.” -KS

Besomebody Founder and CEO, Kash Shaikh, shares the behind-the-scenes story, emotions, and lessons from his appearance on the Reality TV series, Shark Tank, including the 60,000 emails he received after the show.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

5:15 Getting to Shark Tank. “I also had a mini keynote presentation at this conference… I got up around 11am and gave my talk about Besomebody and was very passionate about it. And when I got off the stage one of the assistant producers that was there with Shark Tank said, ‘Hey, you should probably try out. I really liked your talk. I liked the energy. People here don’t have any energy.’” -KS

13:14 Kash travels to LA for the pitch. “As [the audition] was going on, [the producers] were like, ‘Man, you’re really good talking about passion and your platform is really good. We’re thinking about doing a different show, piloting a Besomebody show where you’re the Bear Grylls, and you’re going around to people around the country that are living their passion and interviewing them. We want to shoot a pilot; we’re raising money for it.’ I walked out of that thinking I was the freaking man.” -KS

18:57 Shark Tank goes off script. “Honestly, if I could go back in time, I would have walked out. I really would have walked out because I knew that this was not what was supposed to be. It was reality TV, it’s scripted, we know the flow, and it was off script.” -KS

23:35 The truth about “reality” TV. “Remember I said they could never make me look stupid? But they did. And a lot of it was my fault because it was a little bit too much ego that I didn’t think that could happen to me. I got 60,000 emails in a 48-hour period after Shark Tank. 42,000 told me I was the dumbest person on the planet and that’s the G-rated version.” -KS

26:17 Kash’s One Big Thing. “The last bit of ego that needed to be erased within me to be able to do what we’re doing together here was erased in a very public and painful way, but it needed to be. Because if I didn’t have that…I wouldn’t have been able to do all those things necessary to reboot and rebuild the Company. It wasn’t fair and I don’t think it was right…but I think that it was necessary and I’m grateful for it.” -KS  

The story of Besomebody from the early beginnings as a simple blog, to the evolution into a global content platform, through the highly-visible peaks & valleys of entrepreneurship, to today’s growth as a multi-million dollar company.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

9:41 The Besomebody blog. “Those were the early days of Besomebody. Because I started to get so inspired by all these people. And I started to see that we’re all a lot more similar than we are different. I saw that there is a lot more that unites us than divides us. And I said, ‘How can I start sharing these stories, sharing these feelings?’ And we started with the Besomebody blog.” -KS

14:52 Funding & launching the world’s first experience marketplace. “We were growing fast…it was blog posts, inspirational visuals, video content. Tens of thousands of people have seen it. We ended up building this community of ten million people, and through those conversations I came up with an idea – to create the world’s first passion-based learning platform. It was an experiential marketplace where you could learn anything you’re passionate about by booking an experience with an expert in your city.” -KS

16:32 Trouble with scaling the app. “A lot of what we felt in 2014 a lot of startups are feeling now. I was just talking to a friend whose company laid off a lot of people because of the amount of money you need to scale marketplaces. We had to build supply and demand in every city that we were in…We had to learn everything from pricing, to how to market, to how to have the right instructors on board, the training programs, in addition to building the mobile platform…Getting out of Texas, getting to New York, getting to LA, trying to make it here to Ohio became very challenging and became very expensive.” -KS

18:54 Pivoting the Company. “We had an opportunity to pivot the company. Take everything we learned about bringing people together on learning experiences and reposition it to help them learn the skills they need to get jobs. It was a massive pivot because we were teaching people skydiving and pottery, and then we were going to go teach them how to be pharmacy technicians and dental assistants.” -KS

25:26 Kash’s One Big Thing. “I thought the journey was about passion. And it was in the beginning, that was the spark that lit the flame. But without the resilience that flame goes out pretty quick. There are so many people, incidents, and accidents that happen along the journey that extinguish that flame. If you don’t have that resilience inside you to keep going, you’ll never get there.” -KS