Tell us about yourself?
Ryan Williams is a South African entrepreneur living in Carpinteria, CA, a beer enthusiast, and co-founder of GYDO Before launching GYDO, Williams spent the past 20 years in the biotech space where he held a range of leadership roles that included biofeedback device training, distribution and manufacturing, and biofeedback mobile app development.
He brings a unique blend of skills and experience to the mobile app industry. Williams was inspired to create GYDO when celebrating his nephew’s 21st birthday in California, his sister in South Africa was not able to buy her son a drink at the bar for his birthday.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
I think generally people refer to a “Startup” as a bunch of young techy folks starting a new venture! Nothing could be further from the truth.
The success of any startup is the “firestarter” The individual who can see the vision and know what needs to be done to get past the goal line.
Young or old it does not matter but without a “firestarter” that person who will be the driving force, a startup will battle to succeed.
An idea is well just an idea without execution. For a successful startup, you need to have the right people in place.
The people who are willing to make mistakes and learn from them. The people who are willing to put in the hours and take chances. Startups are not “age demographic” dependent.
They are people and business dependent. You can be an expert in your field and 60 years of age and be involved in a “startup” Age does not defy the success of a startup.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
To never stop learning and growing. An entrepreneur requires a “jack of all trades” skill set. If you do not know the answer, you need to know where to find the answer.
My biggest lesson was the realization that the buck stops here! In other words, I am the master of my own destiny and there is no one I can rely on to complete a task.
If this is my business and I am spearheading this, I am ultimately responsible for the success. You can not hide behind someone else and assume they will get the answers or the solution.
This is ultimately your responsibility and therefore your financial reward!
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Ignore the noise! Pay attention to your focus groups and listen to your focus groups. Listen to your gut BUT always listen to your focus groups
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
I personally find this a blessing. As a husband, father, and social-minded individual being an entrepreneur allows you to create your own work schedule.
For as long as I can remember I work 7 days a week but my hours are flexible. So most mornings I am up super early while everyone is still sleeping.
This allows me to get my hours in early so for example I can watch my son’s soccer game in the early afternoon, whereas typical 9-5 working parents do not have the luxury to attend.
The luxury of going away on holiday with the family and while you are enjoying more regular holidays than the 9-5ers to put in some hours each and every day is a small price to pay.
As an entrepreneur, you are ALWAYS working but the beauty is you get to decide, where, how long, and how intensely you want to work. Having this flexibility means you can always be present for your family and children for those important events and never miss another soccer match again!
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
Never miss another celebration again with GYDO – get Your Drink On! Both founders are expats living in foreign countries and constantly encountered those missed moments when they could not celebrate with their friends and family all over the world.
How many missed birthdays, weddings, engagements, job promotions and more have you missed? We wanted to solve that and find a way to connect with a global audience of consumers.
We wanted to create those special moments that someone would not forget. Buying a friend a drink on their birthday or engagement has a deep-seated heart connection.
Research actually shows there is an increase in serotonin the happy drug when you buy a friend a drink. Give your friends the gift they really want… a drink at their favorite bar. Feel good when you gift drinks to friends from anywhere in the world.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
Other services are venue dependent! In other words, you can only buy someone a drink at a venue that is part of their established network! We said to hell with that! We want users to be able to buy drinks at any venue anywhere in the world. So we created a unique digital visa issuing solution!
Each user receives a GYDO Drink Card, a black digital Visa gift card that is stored in their phone’s digital wallet. Users can pay for a drink with their GYDO Drink Card at any winery, brewery or tasting room, anywhere in the world. *The venue must accept Apple/Google pay.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
We have close to 5000 active users and rely on organic growth currently. However, advertising in the right channels was amazing for us.
Our user acquisition was less than $1 but that was because we identified some key partners that were a great fit! Spend your advertising dollars VERY wisely. It can become a money pit if you don’t plan accordingly.
What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?
For GYDO Get Your Drink On, California is a progressive state and with some of the largest concentrations of wineries and breweries than any other state. This did allow us to start with our local markets to test before going live!
What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?
California had everything we needed to make a success of GYDO. As bear in this this is a SaaS model so there was little focus placed on our home state.
We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?
It has not impacted our business because as long as there are wineries and breweries and people celebrating events we are poised to be the answer to buying a friend a drink anywhere in the world.
It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?
Competition is always healthy however our competition is more based upon app usability and not so much related to California.
Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?
Not to another state NO. Another country like Costa Rica sure why not. Having just returned from Costa Rica and witnessing the growth and quality of life has left me with some serious questions.
As a digital nomad and a company with software developers all over the world, the question about choosing to live in one of the most expensive area’s in the world when you can move to Costa Rica and enjoy a simple easy living while generating US dollars certainly does have it’s the appeal.
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
To become the leading app for all things drinks-related.
From finding your friends through craft beer and boutique wine experiences to running global campaigns for major brands through GYDO.
GYDO Get Your Drink On will become a 50 million company.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
Download our app from Google and or Apple Store and buy a friend a drink anywhere in the world. Or visit www.gydo.app