Feb 17, 2020
About the Episode
On this episode, I’m joined by tech entrepreneur, and founder of Yodle Inc and OJOLabs, John Berkowitz, a man who is revolutionizing how consumers make decisions with what he calls “the most expensive refrigerator magnet for agents.” After starting Yodle in college and growing it to a tech brand that sold for over $300 million, and dealing with some of the challenges and stresses that come with being a first-time founder, John decided to build a business that could allow him to make a bigger impact, and he found something that fulfilled his priority for a high-magnitude opportunity.
Building meaningful business platforms that defy the status-quo has long been in John’s DNA. Fueled with the vision to build a product that would truly meet and serve consumers’ needs for valuable information, John co-founded and launched OJO Labs in 2015. OJO Labs has quickly become a leader in conversational AI technology with a powerful team working toward developing the best product possible, and a sizable opportunity meeting the perfect set of resources along key partnerships at the right time. John’s dedication to establishing a positive work environment has resulted in OJO Labs being recognized among the best places to work nationally by Inc. Magazine, Fortune Magazine, Built In and Comparably, and regionally by the Austin Chamber of Commerce and Austin Business Journal multiple years in a row. Recently, John was named to Swanepoel’s SP200 and The Most Powerful Technology Executives in The Residential Real Estate Brokerage Industry list.
Understanding the pains of what it means to run your own business and be fully accountable, and the level of responsibility to serve the end user is what drives him, and that’s what drove the creation of OJO.
There are so many challenges that come with running a business, and what people don’t talk about is how much long-term stress the people who run these businesses take on. In order to overcome the stress, it’s important to have a greater goal or purpose behind the business because that’s what will fuel them through all of the phases, and fuel them to stay focused on what matters.
The thing about business is, whether you run a small company or a large operation; no matter what reason you have for being in business, the journey is not easy. Companies are really hard to build and maintain, and what makes it easier is really having a North star that guides you, and being driven by the mission to solve a problem, not the outcome. If we’re driven by that we’ll always focus on what will benefit the end-user.
In Today’s Episode, We Talk About;
- John’s journey as an entrepreneur prior to real estate and starting Yodle at 21.
- Exiting Yodle and the importance of being led by value not the goal to exit the business.
- Entrepreneurial PTSD and the challenges founders face
- The journey of OJOLabs and why John chose it as his next venture after Yodle.
- The difference between real AI and what people say AI is.
- Scaling and its connection to a lack of entrepreneurial desire.
- What John is excited about, what he has changed his mind on and something surprising about him.
- The value of earned trust, and why it’s what makes a real difference in business.
What doesn’t exist today is a consumer trusting a product or company
John Berkowitz is the Co-founder and CEO of OJO Labs, an Austin-based company that has quickly become a leader in conversational AI technology. With the application of its patented AI, OJO empowers people to make better decisions through the fusion of machine and human intelligence by automating lead conversations for agents and creating data-driven, personalized experiences for consumers. John’s track record of building and scaling successful, mission-driven technology companies with award-winning workplaces paved the way for the formation of OJO in 2015. John’s dedication toward building a positive work environment led to OJO being named to Comparably’s 2018 Best Company Culture list, and Built In Austin’s Best Places to Work in 2019.
Prior to founding OJO, John co-founded Yodle, and was instrumental in building it into a $200M+ revenue leader in the online marketing space with more than 50,000 SMB customers and over 1,400 employees. In February 2016, Yodle was acquired by Web.com in a $342 million all cash transaction. Recently, John was named to Swanepoel’s SP200 and The Most Powerful Technology Executives in The Residential Real Estate Brokerage Industry list. John is actively involved in nonprofits, and currently serves as CASA’s board president, using his entrepreneurial background and resources to fight for the welfare of children in the communities he operates in.