Tank Talks
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Surviving the Trenches: The Hard Truths of Fundraising with John Li of Vimcal

Surviving the Trenches: The Hard Truths of Fundraising with John Li of Vimcal

Episode 187

On this week's episode, we welcome John Li, CEO and Co-Founder of VimCal. John shares the rollercoaster of starting VimCal, from the initial struggles to gaining traction through a product-led approach, particularly appealing to like identifying and appealing directly to its most influential users—executive assistants.

Plus, hear about the extreme loyalty VimCal has inspired, including one user's permanent tribute with a VimCal tattoo.

This a candid conversation about resilience, user-focused development, and the importance of customer feedback in building a product that people not only use but love.

Also, we have John Ruffolo to discuss the week’s news. Note the news rundown was recorded before the Federal Budget proposal was released, for a full breakdown of the budget go here.

About John Li:
John Li co-founded Vimcal in 2018 and serves as its CEO. Vimcal is a fast calendar app that helps people manage many meetings and was in Y Combinator. It has features like time zone conversion and keyboard shortcuts. The company introduced Vimcal EA for Executive Assistants, saving time for users at companies like Kleiner Perkins and Dropbox.

Before Vimcal, John worked at Twitter as a software engineer from 2016 to 2018, after his company, Peer was bought by Twitter. He started his career with an internship at Apple.

John studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned degrees in Computer Science, Business Administration, and French.

In this episode, we discuss:

(0:02:36) Public reactions to the growth of the public sector and concerns about Canada's economic policies favoring public sector employment over entrepreneurship

(0:04:17) Inefficiency in government and the significant decline in productivity among remote public sector workers

(0:07:34) The upcoming federal budget will lean heavily on tax increases and the mobility of wealthier individuals and the potential for them to leave Canada due to high taxation

(0:15:25) John Li shares his entrepreneurial background, mentioning his early career moves, including working at Twitter and an internship at Apple, which influenced his product development perspective

(0:18:21) The moment he and his co-founder decided to start their venture after realizing they enjoyed working together on technology projects outside their corporate jobs

(0:20:35) The initial concept for their AR startup, aiming to integrate native advertising into AR environments, and how this idea was ultimately too premature for the market

(0:21:51) Pivoting from their initial AR idea during YC after feedback that the market timing was off, describing the emotional challenge of shifting away from an idea that defined their entrepreneurial identity

(0:25:56) The shift to VimCal, born out of the frustrations with scheduling during their fundraising. He emphasizes the importance of building a product that the founders themselves would use

(0:33:48) The enthusiastic reception of VimCal within the YC community and how personal onboarding calls helped refine the product and convert users into paying customers.

(0:43:16) A memorable encounter with a VimCal fan who demonstrated his loyalty through a permanent tattoo of the VimCal logo, highlighting the passionate user base of the product.

(0:56:23) The future focus of VimCal on enhancing team features for both internal and external scheduling, aiming to simplify complex scheduling scenarios and expand team collaboration tools

Fast Favorites:

  1. 🎙- Favorite Podcast: My First Million

  2. 📰- Favorite Newsletter / Blog: James Clear

  3. 📲- Favorite Tech Gadget: Sous Vide

  4. 📈-  Favorite New Trend: Living At Home Into Your 20s

  5. 📚- Favorite Book: Animal Farm

  6. 🤔 - Favorite Life Lesson: Learning how to deal with emotional triggers on a daily basis

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Tank Talks
Tank Talks By Ripple Ventures
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