I had a blast getting to sit down with Matt Landers, CEO of Platypi and Covalence, earlier this week. If you haven’t heard of him, you need to read this. Listen to what he has to say about stepping out and starting a company!
It’s fascinating to hear how people from Birmingham got to where they are and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. I hope you learn from our conversation and are inspired to ask people for their stories.
Matt left his comfortable job with Microsoft and moved to Birmingham in April of 2012. He started Platypi out of Innovation Depot in November 2013 and then Covalence later in 2015.
So…Why the name Platypi?
So when we first started the company we created a framework for writing mobile apps on ios, Android and Windows, so you could write it once and it would run anywhere.
When we started that was kind of a new idea. That’s called a cross-platform framework and a platypus is kind of a cross-platform animal, like a beaver and a duck, so that’s literally where it came from.
That’s a pretty impressive track record if you ask me. Their unique platform makes it easy for companies to edit their content and grow their business.
Tell me how Platypi came about!
Yea, so no one was going to use our framework until there were some apps running on it, nobody wanted to be the first one so we started writing apps and doing websites.
There’s alot of different companies around town that are running on our platform now through our services.
Then we really started digging into marketing. And with marketing becoming so technical, you really need to know a little about coding to be an effective digital marketer now.
We were able to build specific things into our platform to get better marketing tools.
Covalence started in 2015 and is a 10-week coding boot camp that prepares individuals looking for a career change to the technology field.
What is Covalence?
We ended up just kinda morphing into a digital marketing company. And then through that, as we were trying to find developers, we could not find developers in Birmingham.
We talked to some companies around town having a similar issue and decided why don’t we create a curriculum and start training people in Birmingham? So that’s how Covalence came about in September 2015.
Matt was really honest about the scary side of stepping out and starting a company. He mentioned the great amount of risk involved in leaving a comfortable job at Microsoft to start Platypi.
What’s the scariest part about being an entrepreneur?
But the important thing is that you do it because you love it. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. I’m making less money now than I’ve ever made but I’m happier than I’ve ever been in what I do. It’s really fulfilling and then you have the opportunity at some point to have that big pay day.
If you’re focused primarily on having the big pay day then you’re not going to have very much fun because it takes a long time. It’s really important that you do it because you love it and that’s the only way you’re going to get people to follow you and do it with you too.
Because starting a company has a lot of risks, Matt emphasized how important it is for entrepreneurs to get plugged into a community, especially in Birmingham. He praised Birmingham’s helpful attitude and said reaching out to experienced entrepreneurs has helped Platypi a lot.
What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
I would say read more books about entrepreneurship, about starting a business and about being a leader. I didn’t do alot of that and was very arrogant in the beginning. I thought that I knew everything.
Over the past four years it’s been a humbling experience of figuring out what you don’t know. If you don’t try to learn from other people then you’re going to have a really hard time.
To finish, I asked Matt a few random questions about some of his favorite things.
What’s your favorite book?
The Lean Startup.
Favorite restaurant in Birmingham?
El Barrio. The chorizo meat loaf is the best.
What question do you want to ask an entrepreneur? Let us know!