Who is Mason Carter and the key takeaways in this episode?
Mason Carter is the community manager for Juicetank, a startup incubator and coworking space. Mason is a self-confessed follower of his brother who happens to be his twin. Eventually, Mason reached a point in his life where he decided to be more independent and eventually found his own unique individuality. He became president of his fraternity which honed his leadership skills and management of people.
In this interview, we’ll explore more of what happened after his college years and how he got started with Juicetank and the whole startup business. We’ll also tackle:
- The idea behind JuiceTank and what exactly it is
- His sentiments about employers treating employees and how it’s important to treat everyone equally
- Why he thinks that you shouldn’t be a hands-off kind of business owner
- Mason’s criteria and first measure of success in a startup
- The secret to building a startup ecosystem
[12:34] Do you think to the process of school and the leadership roles you had really helped you in the world you live in today, to understand what culture is?
Answer: Well, I’d say that what I really got was how to read people, really understanding that the process, no matter what business you’re running and you either have customers, you have customers always and then you have your employees. And to start reading people and really understand what they went through actually engaging with them, knowing their ‘wants’ and their needs and their goals… that’s really what I learned. Now, I think that it was important that once I graduated from school to try all sorts of different things because otherwise I would have been stuck in a mindset because while I was running a fraternity, I was in a school, I was in a good school, the issue was really then – perspective. You always have to be careful, even when you’re running an organization, you have to be careful that your perspective isn’t narrowing. I think even when I started the JuiceTank it was really getting into the role, started to become all that I would think about.
[32:20] Can you describe how you see a company’s culture begin to evolve?
Answer: I think that in the beginning… if a startup company is in the beginning, don’t really think about culture all that much and it’s because… usually there’s two people, two co-founders that are just looking to get what they want to get done and so then when they do see some success and usually a great method to see it’s not the funding, that’s really the first measure of success it’s the fact that they’re looking to hire an employee. That’s the first metric that I usually see. So, at that point… then they have to start thinking about that. You know, I don’t care if you have a company of 50 people or you have a company of more than 2 people, you have to start thinking about culture.
[41:32] Is there a book that changed your life?
Answer: Yes, actually I’d say that… it’s by a psychologist named Meg Jay it’s called “The defining decade – why your 20s matter and how to make the most of them now’ and I read this when I was 25, it was… so it’s been about 2 years, 2.5 years since I’ve read the book and it really just drove me home in terms of what my priority should be while I’m in my 20s. People are just mixed up and I think that if you can get your ass in gear and if you’re 25, don’t worry about it, just get in shape and you’ll be fine but read this book because you’ll get some really good ideas of just… they’re not like – it’s not like ‘oh, you should do… you need to do this, you need to do that’ it’s really tips from her experiences and being a therapist for people that are in their 20s and telling their stories and then… basically helping you figure out ways to get your brain aligned into the right direction. So, great book!
Culture According to Mason Carter:
I see company culture as something where I can… no matter what level of employee that I am in the company, a culture that really is doing its job. And I think that there really should be someone that actually has the job of defining the company culture and enforcing it and helping it grow. I think that every person in the company should be able to feel like they’re a part of something that they’re not just a replaceable cog in the wheel that something that they’re doing is really contributing to the greater good, no matter whether you’re a marketer or a software engineer or that you’re a sales person or that you’re customer service. Every single person is important and everyone should be treated that way so I hate companies that favor their software developers just because it’s popular now and they think that they’re the only indispensable.
Go To Quote for Inspiration
- “The defining decade – Why Your 20’s Matter And How to Make the Most of Them Now” – by Meg Jay
What Mason Carter Wants His Company to BE:
- BE Courteous
- BE Engaged
- BE Brave
Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview:
Where to Find Mason Carter:
Connect with John on
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
John: Welcome to Be Culture Radio and our guest today, Mason Carter. Mason, welcome my man, how are you?
Mason: I am doing very well, thank you!
John: Glad you joined us, we’re excited to have you. You have something pretty darn cool to tell my listeners about, and you’re one of one in New Jersey which is our home state so we’re very proud of you. But hey, Mason, before we start down that path, take us down the Mason Carter path. What made you who you are? Where did you come from? How did you get here? Put the pieces together for us, would you please?
Mason: Of course! So… I’m actually about to turn 27 years old and I am… since I graduated college, which was about 5 years ago it’s been a very interesting ride. So, I was originally… I always wanted to be a therapist when I was in school. And I envisioned I would just be helping patients while they sit on a really comfortable couch, I was going to invest a lot in the couch. And I would have had the most comfortable patients in town and I think that through… once I graduated school, what sort of happened was that I got into [inaudible] of rehabilitation. I worked at a brain injury campus of volunteers for a few summers before and so I wanted to get into research first and then… and I feel like that something that too many people don’t do, whether they go to graduate school or medical school or [inaudible] school is that they don’t try the field before they commit years into educating themselves and then finding out later that that’s really not what they wanted to do. So, I took a year off to simply work in the field as a research assistant, to see if I would really enjoy myself and so, I found that we were working on a pilot study at the time, with folks with traumatic brain injuries and we wanted to see if through our process, which was actually using a… I don’t know if you have ever used Lumosity before?
John: I have not
Mason: Yes, so…
John: Tell my listeners what that is…
Mason: Lumosity is a really cool brain training program that you… basically you play these games. It’s like playing the… like if you’ve ever played any flash games on the internet, usually they waste your time but these actually help train your brain and so, through the process of starting up, Lumosity was really looking for researchers that would help to basically validate their games and through that, we were working with our patients, they would – for few months, we would do a baseline test first and then for a few months they work on Lumosity and then we’d see how they [inaudible] at the end.
And so, what I found that I really enjoyed was interacting with the patients and seeing how they would progress… I always enjoyed the connections that I had with each because I would be the one that was actually testing them, collecting data, but I also found that the pace was slow in research – you’re either moving or you’re not moving and if you’re moving, you’re moving pretty slow, you’re spending most of the time trying to get funding and so it’s a tough thing to stick around with and so I didn’t. I thought “Ok, maybe I’ll revisit this later but I want to try something else first.” And I also – I’m an identical twin and so I have a brother that’s doing his own thing so I’m constantly comparing myself to him and so…
John: You know what? I refer to what it is your tribe. Because we all come from a tribe, we come from somewhere, something that made you who you are today, I mean, something shaped you to go to [inaudible] College and become the president of a fraternity and do those great things. Take us back for a moment, tell us about what shaped your childhood, what made you – because you have some pretty cool things going on in your life and these didn’t come out of the box of sand, Mason…
Mason: I don’t know… Yeah. I think that, actually for me, I was always my brother’s follower. When you here there’s always an alpha twin and there’s a beta twin and I was the beta twin. In fact they thought, when I was a child, that I was either deaf or mute and they took expensive testing on me to find out that I was really just very selective on the things that I would say and that I usually let my brother do the talking for me. So, that’s actually something that really shaped me until I went to college, which was really when I started to become a more independent thinker. And so actually [inaudible] any family that are raising twins right now I highly suggest that either come to high school or college – because during lower middle school, when you’re in elementary middle school, it’s actually very beneficial to have a twin around because at that point you’re not a teenager yet, you still love your family and so it’s really great having a brother around but then, when the hormones start kicking in and the teen [inaudible] starts coming to the forefront, it starts to kind of chip away your individuality, at least for the person who tends to look up more to their brother and follow them around more.
So, when we both went to college, I made the decision that no matter what I would go to a separate college because I needed to really find my own individuality. So, even if we…
John: I’m one of eight but I swore to my six sisters and my mother that I had an evil twin brother that did this bad things and I was the good guy… And you could actually [inaudible] off on him, right?
Mason: Yes, and I think that he was really cool to then go to school and our relationship improved so much because at that point we would see each other maybe once a month. We went to pretty close proximity schools, I went to [inaudible] he went to [inaudible] both in [inaudible] Valley and so, we would see each other, update what was going on in each other’s lives. We were always proud of each other, and introduced what the other person was doing… it just became at that point, it became much more of a mutual understanding of a relationship and so I think that I was able to – from college I was able to gain my individuality but I also learnt how to run groups of people. And that was from being the president of the fraternity. I think that, for anyone that’s listening, either you’re a young college student that’s interested in corporate culture by listening to this podcast which I think is wonderful, or if you’re a parent of someone who’s currently in college and they’ve decided to join a fraternity, I highly recommend that if they go that route, they get some kind of executive position because at that point the skills that you can learn while also having fun, the skills that you learn can be really applied to anything that you do. So, I think that learning how to run a group where people are really coming from all different walks of life and school and there’s just once a week when you have to gather everyone in a room. Basically you tell people about what’s going on: we would have votes, we would discuss issues, we’d go back and forth on stuff and ultimately, it was always my final decision, whatever we would do, whether it was hiring a new chef or we were looking to have a charity event… you always – when you’re running an organization, the key is to… you can’t be a leader and let the group run you because then who’s really making the decisions? But you really have to think of yourself as the – it’s a bit of a cliché metaphor but you really have to think about yourself as the captain of the ship but one that’s listening to everyone else, that’s making stuff happen. So, if I’m on the ship and I have someone who particularly is an expert on how to anchor that ship, I better listen to him and if someone is particularly expert on how to steer the ship, I’m going to listen to them too. And it’s about treating everyone as an advisor, pulling them all together and really at that point, you empower the people that work for you and then you can also… really, that empowers you too because then you actually can make the right decisions. And so… I think that during college that is really what helped me and the other thing too was that because I was in a small school, where at the time the [inaudible] system was important, you had to be very careful with the kinds of decisions that you would make. Because people knew you, people knew what you were doing and if you did something that was stupid, everyone would tell you about it. So, I think that… and then, you were also representative of your entire fraternity, you were the face of the entire organization so… And this is all stuff that felt huge to me at the time but now that I’m part of a real business seems less significant but you know, when you think about it and everything that shaped you to who you are today, whether you’ve taken detours or you’ve made zigzags or you’ve made a straight line to your career, everything is important, even if it seems insignificant now. So, I think that all those things really guided me to what I need to do when it comes to building a culture [inaudible].
John: So Mason, let me ask you this question – you hear you go through college and you know, as we all go through our college years, we’re actually getting that cultural foundation and for me that means that there are things that resonate with me, there are things that don’t resonate with me, there are things I learnt and added to my repertoire… So, do you think to the process of school and the leadership roles you had really helped you in the world you live in today, to understand what culture is?
Mason: Well, I’d say that what I really got was how to read people, really understanding that the process, no matter what business you’re running and you either have customers – you have customers always and then you have your employees. And to start reading people and really understand what they went through actually engaging with them, knowing their ‘wants’ and their needs and their goals… that’s really what I learned. Now, I think that it was important that once I graduated from school to try all sorts of different things because otherwise I would have been stuck in a mindset because while I was running a fraternity, I was in a school, I was in a good school, the issue was really then – perspective. You always have to be careful, even when you’re running an organization, you have to be careful that your perspective isn’t narrowing. I think even when I started the JuiceTank it was really getting into the role, it started to become all that I would think about.
And so, you have to broaden your perspective again. I mean, after all, I have a girlfriend that I’m very interested in and being committed to and I have a great dad and I helped and took care of my sick mom for many years so, actually, this really gave me a lot of perspective before she passed on to, really, as to how I should go about my decisions in what I’m doing and what’s really important. And I think that what she taught me was that you should really think about early on who’s important to you and what you should really concentrate on… so I think through that I realized that even through all – any day to day issues that I find, I’ve always found that, you know, basically, just constantly improving and making life as great as possible for an entrepreneur at JuiceTank, that’s really what’s important to me.
John: Let’s talk about JuiceTank… where the idea came from? What is it? Help all my listeners understand because I think it’s one of the coolest things going on in New Jersey.
Mason: The interesting thing about JuiceTank is that when we started it two and a half years ago it was a very new idea for New Jersey. Before that you had some co-working spaces that were popping up and I believe the first co-working space was started at Kane University. It’s closed now but I think it started around 2006 and at that point the idea of co-working was starting to take shape only in areas that had an already established entrepreneurial ecosystem like Silicon Valley. Even then, think about 2006, the startup culture that we identify with now was still very new and Silicon Valley even… you still mostly had bigger tech corporations that were taking up real estate there and… that’s a whole other topic about how the startup scene has really became an important part of the media.
But in New Jersey there was never a thought about co-working spaces before and so it really took a couple of years for people to actually become interested in them, mainly because they didn’t know what they were. And so, when we started, we [inaudible] Silicon Valley, Boston, DC and we took notes as to what was working and what wasn’t and none of us really had any experience. I actually really didn’t become involved in the co-working space operations until about 6 months after JuiceTank already [inaudible] and we opened at around October 22 and at that point it had been a… the JuiceTank name has already been out there because it was started by… one was by Charlie Patel and the other co-founder is Mukesh Patel. They are actually cousins and both have extensive background in entrepreneurship. They’re also fountains of knowledge too so I suggest that any one of you that’s listening that you seek them out. We have plenty of events here where you can just seek them out and take their grants because they really know what they’re doing. But they actually…
John: They are amazing guys… I mean if you do any reading on JuiceTank and you get to know these guys… Wow!
Mason: They actually – Mukesh has been involved in private equity actually, and has a stack in building that we’re in right now and so he had some understanding coming in about commercial real estate. And so did Charlie but they really… co-working was very new concept for them so the idea was to take in an experimental approach. You have this space, you also want to combine it with some aspects of an accelerator as well as an incubator and to really just offer an area where entrepreneurs can get their creative juices flowing, have help for [inaudible] access to shared services investors and really to just get people out of their homes and getting themselves out there early.
And so, the experiment went really as such, the difference between and incubator and an accelerator is that an incubator may offer funding or may offer just space but it’s really an area where entrepreneurs can really get their ideas going through mentorship. And then the accelerator like you hear about [inaudible] 500 startups, they basically do fund your company for a set amount of money and a very set amount of equity. It’s really usually the same for any company that comes in. And then, they will put your business through boot camp and then you’re out and that’s it. But the reason why startups like to go to, or need to go to, accelerators sometimes is because they need that boost, they need those connections. And so, if you’re going to Y Combinator or 500 Startups you’re really doing it for the connections. You’re not doing it for the funding because often the funding is proportionally small compared to what you could get from angel investors or VC’s, especially for the equity that they take out. The equity that you’re really going to spend is more based on the fact that you know that if you’re going to a reputable accelerator you’re going to be connected and so we’ve been trying that in New Jersey for a couple of years now, around the time that we launched JuiceTank a more traditional accelerator was called TechLaunch, I don’t know if you’ve heard about them?
John: I have, yes.
Mason: So TechLaunch took a traditional [inaudible]. You have companies that applied, they’re early stage startups and then they go for a co-work together. It’s a 14 week entrepreneurial boot camp and they’ve done about three of these now. They’re actually changing their model now, though, because they found that the New Jersey ecosystem is not ready for all of these early stage companies to graduate yet. And the reason is that when these companies come in, they go through the TechLaunch program, they have their founding, they get their connections but unlike in the Valley, they aren’t enough follow-on funding connections so while some of these companies end up becoming quite well off, other companies languish because there’s just no one out there in New Jersey to take interest. And so they’ve changed their model now, they’re actually bringing in one mid-stage company, not mid-stage in terms of size but really in terms of… you’re not in early stage anymore when you’re actually making money from your company.
Those are the types of companies that they’re looking for so… I think that they’re going to actually be going through quite a cultural shift over their next few years and so, with JuiceTank we decided that we want to eliminate the whole time constraint of an accelerator. We also want to eliminate the equity portion too. I think that it needs to still prove itself in New Jersey and we’ll do our own thing: I think that TechLaunch has been – they’ve been doing a good job of testing the waters in terms of the traditional accelerator. What we want to do is we want to bring companies in and make them feel like they can really work here as long as they want. We have private offices, we have what we call work-pods, which are really cool looking cubicles and then we have an open space. So there’s really… companies can advance whilst they’re growing. They can start out in the open space, they can go to the work pads when they get bigger and need more privacy and then they can get an office. And these are good size offices too and so, I think that you can help a company from the beginning but you can really guide them through a lot of the stages. In fact we have a few funded companies that are working out of the stage so… they really have no plans of leaving any time soon because we just have the infrastructure to be able to offer a new space for their existing teams.
And then we have the aspect of… we’ll mentor all our companies. We give them the connections that they need, we offer tons of networking events, business boot camps, workshops that they have free access to. And so, to combine the best elements of an incubator and accelerator and the co-working space, that’s really what we’ve done. And so, the idea is to… if you’re just looking to fulfill your needs, if you’re just looking for space, you have that. You have a space that makes you feel like you’re in Silicon Valley even when you’re just in New Jersey. Then you have the connections and the network to feel like… ok, you’re comfortable, you can be comfortable enough that you know that if you’re building something, it’s going to get marketed properly by someone. And then you can feel comfortable and if you’re growing, you can still be a part of what we’re doing. And you can be here, you can be elsewhere, if we really feel that you’re… that you want to contribute to this, you can be out in California and we feel like that, either you introduce people to investors here or you come back and you throw an event or something like that. We want to keep JuiceTank connected to more resources than those that are just present in New Jersey.
John: Listen, I’d like to change gears a little bit, I want to get your opinion and your definition of what you see as company culture.
Mason: So I see company culture as something where I can see, no matter what level of employee that I am in the company, a culture that really is doing its job. And I think that there really should be someone that actually has the job of defining the company culture and enforcing it and helping it grow. I think that every person in the company should be able to feel like they’re a part of something, that they’re not just a replaceable cog in the wheel, that something that they’re doing is really contributing to the greater good, no matter whether you’re a marketer or a software engineer or you’re a sales person or you’re customer service. Every single person is important and everyone should be treated that way so I hate companies that favor their software developers just because it’s popular now and they think that they’re the only indispensable ones. I would counteract by saying that customer service is indispensable, marketing is indispensable, how to be able to treat everyone as an equal, no matter what they’re doing because everything is important so… To treat people like that and then make people feel like they’re all part of this collective whole. I think that if people actually come in with a T-shirt of your company, willingly, you’re doing something right because then they feel pride.
John: Let me ask you something – you brought up a point in your statement earlier, you said you think someone should be responsible for developing and maintaining and driving a culture, correct?
John: Now, for me that’s the founder of the company. For me, that’s the person… that is… You know, my wife and I developed our company ‘Be Furniture’ 12 years ago, and it’s founded upon the founding belief that we will be the change we wish to see, that each and every person matters and each and every person is valid and we created a linear organization, not a hierarchical organization, and we protect that at all costs and for me it’s the founder’s job to drive a culture. It solely sits on that person’s, his or her shoulders; it says ‘that’s you’. If you’ve got a good culture, that’s because of you. If you’ve got a crappy culture, that’s because you do a crappy job. And for me, you know, when I worked 20 years in corporate America [inaudible] culture, it’s the people. I look in the [inaudible] look at the women or the men that’s in the C-suite, in the corner office, he or she is a direct reflection of the culture of the company and I simply don’t know no other way to say it but in very black and white terms, that’s your job as the founder and the keeper of the people. You know, when you lose sight of it, trust me, the metrics will fall very, very quickly.
Mason: Oh yeah, I completely agree with that, I mean… another very important thing is to just be… you really – even as a founder, you need to be present, you can’t be a hands off kind of owner, you really need to work with the people because I think… and then you also need to do – but since you really can’t be doing everything everywhere at once, you need a great team of managers to be able to understand what each one of their teams is doing and what I mean by that is often you want to [inaudible] employ managers that… let’s just say that I’m a working manager and I have a team of people that I’m expecting to do work and get the metrics that I want: if I’ve never been in the roles that they’re doing, whether it’s… whether they’re working on SEO, they’re working as Search Engine Marketing Account Managers or they’re working as an Analyst to really… to pull data, what the managers’ typical pitfall is that they’ve never been through the trenches before and so they don’t understand what they’re really asking their employees to do and they don’t understand deadlines, proper deadlines. They don’t understand when their employees have questions, I think that when you’re going lower, like the CEO should be the embodiment of the culture and then the managers of the CEO’s employees should understand then what each of their teams are going through.
John: I can’t agree more because I think it is the job, you know for me, I’ve had a job. I started 35 years ago in the interiors business. I was a receptionist and worked all my way up to the president of the company. So I’ve had everybody’s job so I understand that my role is to try to make a difference.
Mason: Yes, and I think…
John: In each person’s life and if your founder has a belief system and they’re aligned – if your belief system and your goals and your behaviors are aligned, because a lot of times what happens is you have a belief and you have a goal and you have behaviors and they’re not aligned. And you see that, to your point, your managers are asking unreasonable things, they don’t understand what they’re asking. They haven’t walked the walk, they just talk it and so culture [inaudible] ‘oh yes, yes, let’s go into the corner office and agree’.
Mason: Exactly. And I think that, you know, another thing that through my experience and even being at JuiceTank is that I’ve always felt like that I’ve had a mentor and this is another important thing, to feel like that you have a higher up that really cares about you and your interests and what it is that you really want. When an employer cares about those things and you feel like it, that’s important. So, for me I’d say that my mentor is Charlie the co-founder and we worked together for… we worked together for about 2 years now and every step of the way he’s always tried to teach me things that even aren’t within my job description, just because he always feels that those are things that I should know. That’s part of my growth but he has really been an excellent figure. I’ve always felt like I could go to him for anything and so, that, I think it’s something that I tried to transfer onto all of the community members of the Tank here. Anyone can come to me for anything, really, I’m… even today I’m helping one of our startup companies go through their recruitment process, they’re trying to hire their first employee and so I’m helping them through that whole process, even if it’s just me sitting in on their interviews so they know what questions to ask or, you know. I’m also, today, I’m helping one of our others starting companies work on their first marketing campaign. And so… and then another company, I’m helping them re-arrange their office today because they’re just looking for something new. And so… to really think ‘ok, I have someone here that I know will be able to do anything that I need or at least talk with me through options so that we can both figure out together how to step up’. To be in a company where you feel that you’re always just going to be known as ‘that support guy’ or ‘that IT guy’ and that no one cares about what you’re doing or where you’re going, that’s something that I wouldn’t invest in as a company, that I would never want to be a part of.
John: And you know, it’s said that very often that you find great leaders and what they believe matters so much to them and what all the people they work with, what they think matters equally. And so… you know, because a lot of times it seems that I believe this and I think that you’re not listening, God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. So… that being said, if I believe something strongly but all the feedback I get is not aligned with that, then I’ve got to get back and make changes in behaviors to get an alignment, correct?
Mason: Yes, absolutely.
John: So, you know, and that being said, tell us – can you share a story with our listeners because you have over 70 companies coming into different stages of maturity and… can you describe how you see companies culture begin to evolve?
Mason: Yes, so… I think that in the beginning… if a startup company is in the beginning, they don’t really think about culture all that much and it’s because… usually there’s two people, two co-founders that are just looking to get what they want to get done and so then when they do see some success and usually a great method to see – it’s not the funding that’s really the first measure of success, it’s the fact that they’re looking to hire an employee. That’s the first metric that I usually see. So, at that point… then they have to start thinking about that. You know, I don’t care if you have a company of 50 people or you have a company of more than 2 people, you have to start thinking about culture. And so, I think that the companies that I’ve seen that have succeeded so far in building that culture are those that where the two co-founders had a good relationship to start out with. But if the co-founders don’t trust each other or if they’re constantly trying to one-up each other, then, at that point, the culture would suffer. So, even though most companies don’t think that they have to start early on, very early on with the culture, you have to start from day one. If you’re working with someone else you have to establish that precedent with your own co-founder because then that’s going to translate when you’re hiring your first employee. And then, what tends to happen is that when the company gets more employees that’s when they really get more engaged with me and they also get more engaged with what’s happening around JuiceTank so… in the beginning if there’s just one or two people they’re kind of working heads down on their own thing. Then, suddenly when they get more employees they really start to care where JuiceTank is going, like what’s going to happen with what we’re doing here. They also start to care too because they need to be able to have that… continue to have that environment that’s going to be more collaborative so… that’s really where it comes in when it’s great that companies can start to move around the space because then it’s really my job to create something for them that’s going to improve the workflow. Because…
John: Let’s talk about that for a minute. You talked about how they move around your space and they grow, you know, at JuiceTank, let’s talk about the layout and the furniture and how does that match the culture of what you’re building and helping these organizations build because as you build a culture, each one of these startups are a little bit different so I would imagine you have to give them different types of collaborative environments, yes?
Mason: Yes, so… and that’s really why we have the three different settings in the space. And so, when I found that generally each space tends to work better depending on what stage the company is in so… I found that companies that are really looking to have their heads down and to have that kind of close collaboration, they really benefitted from being in our work-pods space because it’s in a more secluded environment compared to where our open desks are and they can really then pick and chose what they want to get out of JuiceTank and then what they can just sit back, sit out on. And so then the challenge is to keep them engaged because then they might as well go work somewhere else if they’re just feeling that way so… then the challenge on my part is to get them to be keeping engaged with what’s happening here but I found that the best way that companies can work is as long as their workflow isn’t being challenged. So if you have it where a company of 5 people where 2 people are sitting on one end of the room and 2 people are sitting on the other end of the room, then I know at that point, they need a new change so then I’ll come up with something that works better for them where they can be all together and really be able to… space doesn’t have to be an issue for them at that point so… I’d say that, that’s really when the – I’m always watching these startups like a hawk to make sure that this is when I really need to start engaging with them to make sure they’re really having the optimal setting.
John: Now, let’s talk about JuiceTank for a moment because I’m going to shift gears again on you…
Mason: So, I’d say that we are not ready to announce anything yet on that, we’ve actually – we’ve been approached by many different locations around the world actually that… we’ve met with folks from County of Cork to Tampa to New York actually, and so we’ve definitely at the point of expanding our locations and even doing it as a more franchise type of operation where companies can really just replicate the model as to what we’re doing. However, my opinion really is that if you’ve already run a co-working space and you’re doing it right in the sense that you’re providing them with more resources than just space, you’re engaging the community together, you really are ready [inaudible] JuiceTank model so I’d say that while yes, I’d like to expand locations in the future because I think that one I’d love to be able to run organizations from around the world and to make sure that what I feel is the real proper JuiceTank touch is applying to these co-worker spaces but I think that if you travel to Silicon Valley or you can go into a co-working space in Boston and another excellent space in New York City called ‘We Work’ which has been doing amazing things…
John: Very, very cool!
Mason: I think that they actually – they’re in a further stage than where we are. ‘We Work’ is really what we aspire to be. And I think we can be in a couple of years. And so that’s what I… I think that really perfecting the model for New Jersey is the best thing that we can do right now because it’s already being done around the world.
John: It is, you know, one of the things when – 2 years ago – we developed a 15,000 square foot facility in [inaudible] and we show people – people say ‘Is it an office?’ and I’m like ‘No, it isn’t an office it’s clearly a company laboratory that shows different setups from board rooms to private offices to tech desk to benching, to desking the cubicles… ‘ and someone said ‘I think I’ve got 20 employees and you’ve got 15,000 square feet.’ I started to laugh and I said ‘Yes because every company, I don’t sell a commodity to, every company has a different need and a different desire, the perimeter you’re talking about, which is – you know, come and see it because if people can’t see it, they can’t imagine it’
Mason: And so yeah, I’d say that if you really… and I think that if you want to really have your [inaudible] ground for what’s really just going on in New Jersey because there is a lot of great stuff that’s happening right now. I think it’s just that a lot of people aren’t aware of it so Charlie and I actually, we make sure to read this New Jersey startup digest which is a really great newsletter that comes out every two weeks. It has stories of all kinds of cool companies that are doing really cool stuff around New Jersey, whether it’s helping build out miracle processes for people with multiple sclerosis using Watson technology or building robot [inaudible] parking assistance like it’s a lot of cool companies that are being built in New Jersey. And so, I think that if you keep your ear to the ground to all that, sign up for New Jersey startup digest. We really just… I just really engage with what’s going on. So, that’s… I think that’s the first step, if people are interested in building a startup ecosystem, the key really is just to get more people involved because that’s when the chances are greater that someone’s going to come and really become interested in what someone else’s doing, they have the capital, then raise money for some startups, that’s what I think it’s the first start. I even think it’s more important than building out the co-working spaces. Make sure that startups in New Jersey get the funding that they need and then at that point, the co-working spaces will become even better.
John: Ok, I’m going to take you to Lightning Round, are you ready Mason?
Mason: All right! I am ready.
John: Is there a book that changed your life?
Mason: Yes, actually I’d say that… it’s by a psychologist named Meg Jay and it’s called “The defining decade – why your 20s matter and how to make the most of them now” and I read this when I was 25, it was… so it’s been about 2 years, 2.5 years since I’ve read the book and it really just drove me home in terms of what my priorities should be while I’m in my 20s. People are just mixed up and I think that if you can get your ass in gear and if you’re 25, don’t worry about it, just get in shape and you’ll be fine but read this book because you’ll get some really good ideas of just… they’re not like – it’s not like ‘oh, you should do… you need to do this, you need to do that,’ it’s really tips from her experiences and being a therapist for people that are in their 20s and telling their stories and then… basically helping you figure out ways to get your brain aligned into the right direction. So, it’s a great book!
John: Ok, I’ve got to check that one out, now do you have a quote that you go to for inspiration?
Mason: Yes, so, I think I always go to Henry Ford and so: ‘A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business’ and so, that’s any business that I ever want to be associated with will always think of more than just money because… and for anyone that says ‘Oh, if we’re not making money we’re not benefiting from the business at all’, you’re wrong, so… There are so many ways to build a brand and the money will come through that too, but you’re doing so many other good things. I mean just look at what you’re doing, this is an awesome resource for people to learn about culture and you’re really building [inaudible] but you’re offering more than just ‘Hey, take my money!’
John: Yes, well, for us it’s never been about money, for us – my wife and I – built a company so we could change the world, one human being at a time. What we do in our philanthropic lives, we try to change the world, one child at the time and if we can leave… our whole objective is to leave the world a better place than we found it.
Now, in the process of doing this, we have a business and metrics follow it. I would agree with you Mason, anybody that gets up in the morning and says ‘I’m doing this solely to make money’, will soon find that that is a result, that’s not an objective.
Mason: Yes and I think that just if you look at a company, if you look at a company [inaudible] which culture I admire very dearly and they really figured out way that they can offer value to people while…
John: Wait, go back to that one again so my listeners can hear it because this is the one… you know, he got to the question before me so that’s a great guess, I love guests who do that for me… but what company do you admire the most as you relate to culture?
Mason: So it’s a company named HubSpot. They offer – you know, it sounds like “Hey, they offer marketing, all in one marketing software for companies.” They are based out of Cambridge, they launched in 2006 and now they’ve gone public, they’re huge and they invented the term inbound marketing. Well technically that was coined by Seth Godin but it’s really the process they invented and it’s really just “Hey, what’s not marketed to people by just shouting at them – Hey, buy this product because you should.” It’s “Let’s offer value to people and then through a buying process and through [inaudible] each person as they go through the process and what they want, can give them what they want and help them figure out what they want.” And what they’ve done is that – I’d say that [inaudible] prioritization is to have a culture that reflects that. So, basically everyone in that organization is treated as someone very important. You can just tell by the employees when you talk to them that it’s just a lot of pride that they have in their company. I think that some people are as proud of working at the company as they were about their college when they attended it.
John: Wow, that’s pretty… that’s great. Now, why would an individual want to work for JuiceTank?
Mason: So… I think an individual would want to work for JuiceTank because the – well, are you asking me as a part of our team or working out of the space?
John: As part of your team, and I want as much – which do you feel would it be as an entrepreneur you want to be at JuiceTank or would someone want to be on your team because you can probably, based on everything I heard today, there’s a lot of entrepreneurial stuff that’s going on at JuiceTank to be part of your team.
Mason: So I think both because to be an entrepreneur in residence at JuiceTank is great for the person because they can work on their own stuff while we always have projects they need to get done and so there’s just a lot of opportunities for them to be able to learn things through the work that we’re doing, because we launch our own companies too so besides… since we’re all [inaudible] it’s like we’re working on a product business right now when we’re doing the, you know, marketing software business and so… and people they’re coming through, well actually they come in to do their own thing but they’re also going to help us out with what we do. If someone wants to work directly for the team, I think that we put every member that works on our team through a learning track so people tend to think that they’re more qualified for a position that they really are in reality and when they’re coming out of college and so, we really worked the best with those types of folks because we put them through a learning track and really, they’re either staying or they’ll come out extremely [inaudible] and then they’ll be able to get a great job somewhere else. And the great thing at that point is that you were still working with somebody that isn’t completely set in their ways yet so… we’re kind of helping them develop their professional code as they’re going on. I think that anybody that comes out, anyone that has worked here has grown and so that’s why I said…
John: All right, Mason, big finish, here we go – if you had to describe the culture at JuiceTank in three words, what would it be?
Mason: So I’d say Be Courteous, Be Engaged and Be Brave.
John: Be Courteous, Be Engaged and Be Brave. I like that! I can sign on to those.
Mason: So courteous, I mean like… I think that for a co-working space like this to work, people need to [inaudible] about what other people are doing. You don’t have a community otherwise. Be Engaged – I mean engaged with what we’re trying to do here but also engaged with what you’re doing too. You need to be – if you rely on [inaudible] to be able to determine where the next work opportunities are, you need to be acceptably engaged with that, just be completely immersed in what you’re doing. The idea of [inaudible] is to create opportunities but also eliminate distractions as well. And then Be Brave. I think that too many people are just [inaudible] about whether the [inaudible] funding or the risk that’s involved or they’re people [inaudible] worried about ‘Oh, I’m paying 250 dollars a month to work and have a JuiceTank membership’ and I think that if you’re not willing to put some money upfront, make what you really want to see working then, you know, to be worrying… it’s like 200 here and there, or to be worried that ‘oh, I don’t want to spend 80 dollars a month on this marketing [inaudible] or I can’t pay [inaudible] 15 dollars an hour’ or something like that… you have to be willing to take the plunge because you have to spend money to make more money and so there are too many people that aren’t brave enough and or they’ll keep tinkering on a product and not launch it because they don’t think it’s good enough. And to that I say ‘look at what Twitter looked like before, when it first launched, Facebook, look at [inaudible]’ you don’t look right [inaudible] from top spot, they actually have a whole [inaudible] in terms of what their own journey was like and how absolutely primitive they were when they first launched compared to what they are now. And so, that’s what I said…
John: Now, how can my listeners connect with you Mason?
Mason: Of course, they can connect with me through Twitter because I love tweeting and so my handle is @masoncarter8[inaudible] and then you can also sign up for the startup digest, just go to startup digest, I believe it’s…. I always forget if it’s .com or .org. It’s .com so startupdigest.com and then select New Jersey and then of course go to JuiceTank.com, you can [inaudible] that you want through our contact form, it always goes to me and then… just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love talking to people. And I love helping people solve their problems so don’t hesitate. As I said before, be brave.
John: You’ve been a great guest, I can’t thank you enough for your time, Mason, before I end any show I always share with my guest my favorite quote from Maya Angelou which is ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’ and we certainly hope we made you feel like part of our tribe today and we hope we made you feel valid and we hope we made you feel welcome.
Mason: Yes, thank you so much, it was wonderful being on the show today!
John: Means you’ll come back and see us in about 6-8 months and tell us how it’s going for JuiceTank, correct?
John: Send us some of your emerging entrepreneurs to talk to us and use this platform to launch them, would you please?
Mason: Of course!
John: Super! Mason, be well my friend and thank you so much for your time today!