The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 4 months ago

Ep 111: Early Days at Yelp w/ Preston Junger

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Ep 111: Early Days at Yelp w/ Preston Junger

Part of the "Is This A Good Time?" series hosted by Brandon Barton. 

Hello everyone and welcome back to thePavilion podcast. I am your host, Brandon martin you're listening to. Isthis a good time show where I asked Pavilion members Some really basicquestions. They have great answers. It's about 15 minutes. We have fun. Wereally shows Tuesdays and Thursdays so hit subscribe and you will not misshearing from our experts. Our guest today is pressed and younger is thehead of U. S. Operations at Seven Ships. We talk about yelps early days andhospitality sales in general. This episode was brought to you by drift.More than 50,000 businesses use drift to grow revenue and increase customerlifetime value faster drift, helps their customers online sales andmarketing on a single platform to deliver a unified customer experience.Where people are free to have a conversation with businesses at anytime on their terms, learn more at drift dot com. Alright, let's do thisepisode 49. Is this a good time? All right, everybody was super excited fortoday's conversation. It's with Preston Younger, He's the vice president ofsales, head of U. S. Operations over at seven shifts. I'm psyched for thisbecause we're both in kind of hospitality tech. What's up, Preston?How's it going? Brandon, Thanks for having me. My pleasure, man. There isuh, there is a small little conglomerate of folks in the Pavilioncrew that our hospitality tech and certainly, uh, you know, that's notsomething I target to talk to every single day because I talked to thosepeople every single day outside of Pavilion. But this is the best. I can'twait to hear about your career, figure out how you got, where you got and soforth. So me stop talking all meat. No filler. Let's jump in. Tell us how yougot here. How did you get to Vice President? Seven ships, Yeah, yeah, forsure. Yeah. I'll try to keep it as impactful as possible. But you know,ultimately that my, my journey and I always enjoy telling my story with theopen ended this caveat of like hopefully it's nowhere near being beingover this journey, you know. Um, and...

...that's largely how I think about how Igot to where I am right. It's a series of experiences, you know, trials,tribulations throughout, largely. I've been fortunate to work for a number oftech companies. Early in my career, it was a lot of already established largepublicly traded companies like yahoo and Apple and I see barry Diller'sconglomerate of a bunch of the early dot com kind of heyday, you know, highflying dot dot com websites, e commerce platform of the dot boom era. And Ithought that was the path that I was on, which was I had to work for a bigcompany doing my one thing sitting in cubicles. I was super fortunate to havethe opportunity to get recruited in 2000 and eight to join a little startupthat was based out of the Bay Area, is sort of a hipster city guide, which wasyelp now a bit of a household name, which is pretty cool, but it was notwhen I was talking to them and 2000 and it was a really interesting year. It'swhen I have three kids now and you know, my oldest is 13, he was just born andso we were, we were new parents and you know, we had the economic crisiscollapse that year and you know, here I am fielding a call from an unprovenstartup that was trying to be the new version of yellow pages. So thatexperience, I'm highlighting that because I think that that experienceturned into eight years and that eight years turned into an NBA, combined with,you know, a whole bunch of impact in being able to help grow a businessbuild out and run, which began what became the secondary line of revenuefor the company, which was the brand partnerships, enterprise division ofthe sales team at yelp, during the course of my time there and opening upinto different markets, um international, working with a bunch ofreally great folks that I still keep in touch with and still learn a lot fromand you know, and being able to kind of look to your left, look to your rightand be like, wow, you know, we're all charging hard forward, we've got a tonof opportunity ahead to capitalize on, and I found that feels pretty darn goodwhen you're in a spot like that, and...

...for me that's kind of what I'm alwaysmaking sure that I'm trying to recreate in any, in any involvement I'm in. SoThat opportunity of Yelp started things, Yelp start to become a big publiclytraded company. I left in 2000 of 2016 co founded a consulting company withanother pretty strong operator in the space tom sour. He was an earlyLivingSocial first sales higher at Bandeira became the S. V. P. Of salesthrough their Series B and we created a consulting company to go and take allthat we have learned at these high growth companies and help, you know,largely with what Pavilion does. Ultimately at a much broader, you know,worldwide scale, help founders help startups and growth companies betterlevel set and build the foundation in terms of sales and revenue growth. Andthrough that one of my consulting clients with seven shifts and so I wasfortunate to be able to a Canadian company at the time was recently seriesa funded I had the opportunity of going up to Toronto every other week, workingclosely with the team there and I got a real sense for the business. I think Ihelped them to an extent as well with some of the things that they wereworking on respect to the sales, sales department sales efforts. And at theend of that ultimately we kind of came to the conclusion that there was anopportunity to create a full time role first us higher and help kind ofevangelize on and kind of build out the U. S. Operations US office boots on theground. So first other kind of specific role based U. S. Hires in the new yorkmarket and you know, it was off to the races. This was kind of the october2019 things were going really really well you know into March of last yearand then we all know what the punch line is. The pandemic hit us allstraight in the face and the in market in person efforts that I had built upand then I had ultimately hired been hired on at seven shifts somewhatbecame it did become a major question mark around anything in person. So wedid a really great job ultimately like...

...you want to be in a part of you know,start up, well you think there's always uncertainty while the uncertainty thatthe pandemic I think highlighted the extreme of that for all of us. But fastforward to today. We've come out of it really much stronger than we werebefore. And I was asked along the way in the past six months or so to alsotake on the head of sales VP of sales responsibility, which has beenfantastic. So being able to kind of get back into being in a sales leadershiprole at seven shifts and focusing squarely on restaurants. So that's alittle bit about my journey, how I got here, super excited to be here chattingwith you and sharing that. But it hasn't all been um outside of thepandemic. You know, it hasn't all been uh positive. Hey, it never is. I meanlike if it was and you know, frankly we wouldn't even need places like Pavilion,right? Like that's kind of who actually walks the straight line these days,right? Like it's always crooked and turns and this and that, I mean by theway, I gotta, I gotta ask this question because you made me think of something,am I now, this age, I am this number of days old when I figured out that Yelpmeans yellow pages E l is that true? It's not true, it's not, so it's nottrue, it has been that has been speculated on and the reality is um thename was really something where when Yelp was founded, it was, it was insomewhat of a sort of a think tank, a startup lab that max Levchin and someearly Paypal or ex Paypal employees including Jeremy, Stoppelman and RussSimmons, who is the co founder, both of them, the co founders, they were kindof trying to think of names and I think someone just in that group shouted outthe name Yelp and I don't know what the, you know, the sort of the ideation was,but they were trying to think of a bunch of different ideas and whoeverthat individual was, I think just went and bought the domain name and it stuck.But I think it does have connotation to help helping or yellow pages. So Ithink a lot of people have kind of, I never heard I never I don't know what alot of that, but I never heard of...

...yelping the yellow pages, which it isof course. But yeah, holy shit, has that been sitting there the wholefreaking time? It's not, it was a question that jeremy, the ceo who'sstill the ceo of yelp has been asked over the years and it wasn't it wasn'tintentional the tie in with the yellow pages, but I guess it works and forthose of us that remember what the yellow pages were, you know, R. I. Pwe're dating ourselves. Well look, I mean, you know, I think it's clear thatyou had the hard work part down in terms of your hustle and going from youknow Employee number 80 actually helped all the way up to probably you knowmaybe tens of thousands. I don't even know what he left. But what about luck?Is there is there any kind of tidbits of moments where something broke yourway that really gave you an opportunity to grow? Yeah a lot of a lot of luck, Ithink that there's I mean there's a number of cliche quotes out therearound the more you're moving, the more you put yourself in topic that are likeyou have and. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean I think that just in in terms of what Ireferenced around the opportunity to yelp it wasn't something that I wasactively searching for looking for and in fact I was kind of far down the linein conversations while I was that I was that I see at the time with it was thefunny or die, so it was funny or die, which was super hot at the time forsort of these like viral comedy videos and will Ferrell and a bunch of othercomedians were involved in it and there was like, you know, again, maybe it wasaging myself, but no, no, no, that's cool, Yeah, yeah, yeah, so like funnyor die was like a hot property at the time and I was talking to them and youknow, considering an opportunity with on the early, early team, it was verysmall at the time for funny or die around the same time that I heard fromYelp and if things turned slightly in that in those conversations then, youknow, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to yell, but I think thatfor a while and that probably, it...

...seemed like a while, but it wasprobably a couple of weeks of time, it seemed like it was definitely like the,the odds were, you know, I was excited by funny or die and when I feel likethere's an opportunity there to, to go and grow and have that opportunity Imentioned, which was like be a part of something from the ground up and, andyou know, yelp came in mid swing of those conversations and I think um Ican't give any credit to anything other than luck around the way those thingspanned out and, and ultimately how, you know, it ended up and the decision toeven go and take a job with Yelp was one where my wife and I even discussedlike the stability right of leaving this large publicly traded company foran unproven company that really had no office yet in new york. And that wasone of the things that when I joined, we did was set up the first office andright, so I would say there was quite a bit of luck there, but I think, let meadd, let me ask for you, which is your, your spouse and wife staying with youwhile you had your first child, enjoyed the startup. Lot of strokes of luck inthere. I'm sure that's true, that's true. You know, I mean, talk about luck,it would be nice to have more luck as it pertains to trying to get thingsthrough to your kids, but that's a separate chat. Probably a totallydifferent podcasts. My audience is not shut everything off as we went intofucking yeah, no, no, no, let's turn it around. Give me yeah. That you thinkpeople can use as they go through their days. Yeah. I mean, look at the end ofthe day, like, I think that the way to think about things is that noteverything is linear. Like, like I think a lot of times, because the waywe live right now, like everything seems like, okay, everything's ondemand, everything's right in front of you. And I think if you think aboutyour career and your journey and the things you want to be working on, Ithink you have to think in steps or phases are kind of dots connecting toeach other. That's something that I've learned, right? And I think what thatmeans and you can you can for sure if...

...you want to throw some luck into that,then that's fine. I'm sure there's there's luck. But I think if you're ifyou're aligning yourself around people and things that you care about, thenthat's actually a really good line to be following. And it may not be, it'slikely is not a linear line in terms of like how you're moving forward, but itwill be, it will be the best course to follow in terms of, you know, where areyou going to end up working and kind of how are you going to end up enjoying itand then how much impact do you have? I think oftentimes mentioned impact,impact is something I think sometimes it's thrown around like way too much,but the reality is like, everyone should feel like they're making somesort of impact and everything they're doing right, Especially your full timejob. You're spending most of your days, even nights focused on this thing,working with these people. Even before we got on the podcast, you and I werejust talking about some colleagues and former lives and how tight you get withthose people. If you're not making an impact against something you care about,then kind of why are you doing it? And I think that that's really what I'velearned throughout this, right? And I think if you're following that coursethough, then the luck that happens is really just it's luck. But its luckbecause you put yourself into a situation where those opportunities cancome up and you can then potentially being a chance in an opportunity or asituation to be able to decide on pursuing them or not. I like that ideaof like, you know, it's not a straight line, not following the dots. I Isometimes think about this idea that the characters in the story don't knowhow it's gonna end, meaning like they don't know they're in a story right?Like they don't know the twists and turns and and I mean yeah sure moviesdo but like think of a documentary and it's like Like those things talk to anydocumentary and they'll tell you I went out to do this and all of a suddenturned into this whole thing. 100% life is life is wild like that. All rightman were enlightening round because because because you and I arechatterboxes give me a position you're hiring for anything hot right now. Yeah.Yeah we're hiring we're constantly hiring BDR s right now. Always open tobe DRS and we're looking for a sales...

...manager and also account executives aswell. Give you through there. All right. Yeah, so give some shout out to youknow, up and comers people you follow, let's shout out Mike Montero who's amutual of ours. So cto breezy currently killing it over an Amex my guy MikeMontero fine, that's good. Yeah well I'm gonna plus one your shout out butI'm gonna shout out, I'm going to shut out Pete Hancock, he was a longtimecolleague at yelp he's doing some interesting things and consulting. Hemoved from the barrier down to Austin. We keep in touch a bit. He's a guy, ifyou guys haven't connected with you definitely should I try to keep intouch with him as much as much as much as I can. We share notes on how we're,how we're helping make an impact on the sales and revenue world. I love it,love it. All right man, well look this is fun to ask you this, I ask all allthe other revenue leaders of all these different industries but like give me atip it where are we eating? This is the most important question to me. Whereshould I eat? Give me one little, you know. Yeah, I mean I have to go, I haveto go home home or call here and go with Anthony David's. If you haven'tbeen there, it's a gem of a restaurant in Hoboken. It's right on 10th betweenBloomfield in Washington Street. A lot of people actually do come fromManhattan across the river for Anthony David. So, and they've got as many ofthese places in the city now have outdoor seating. It's a beautiful,beautiful outdoor decor now on top of some great, great food. It's also theyserve wine. It's B. Y O B. So you can bring your own cocktails to go, whichis the new trend. So there you go like that. What are we eating? Why were they?I don't know what type of places it yeah, it's like, it's like, yeah, it'slike, it's like, yeah, you can get steak, it's like a, you know, italianitalian place, but with some american flair, so you can go with the steak.There's some good pasta dishes as well. If you like salad, you can go with thesalad, you know, I haven't been broken in a minute. It's gotta maybe, maybewe'll make a trip there and then we'll...

...go down and grab some Roscoe's pizzafrom my boy kevin Richards. Sounds good, awesome man. So good to connect withyou and excited to just keep up as both being from the hospitality tech worldwill be fun to stay in touch man. For sure. Thanks a lot. Brandon, appreciateit. All right, that's our show. Thank you so much for listening. If you lovethe show, great review. Send it to friends. Do the whole thing. A reminder.This episode was brought to you by drip, the new way businesses, by frombusinesses. You can learn more and get the conversation started at drip dotcom. I had fun. I hope you did too. Go crush your numbers. Say something. Mhm. Yeah.

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