The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 10 months ago

Ep 111: Early Days at Yelp w/ Preston Junger

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 the Pavilion podcast. I am your host, Brandon martin you're listening to. Is this a good time show where I asked Pavilion members Some really basic questions. They have great answers. It's about 15 minutes. We have fun. We really shows Tuesdays and Thursdays so hit subscribe and you will not miss hearing from our experts. Our guest today is pressed and younger is the head of U. S. Operations at Seven Ships. We talk about yelps early days and hospitality sales in general. This episode was brought to you by drift. More than 50,000 businesses use drift to grow revenue and increase customer lifetime value faster drift, helps their customers online sales and marketing on a single platform to deliver a unified customer experience. Where people are free to have a conversation with businesses at any time on their terms, learn more at drift dot com. Alright, let's do this episode 49. Is this a good time? All right, everybody was super excited for today's conversation. It's with Preston Younger, He's the vice president of sales, head of U. S. Operations over at seven shifts. I'm psyched for this because 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 is uh, there is a small little conglomerate of folks in the Pavilion crew that our hospitality tech and certainly, uh, you know, that's not something I target to talk to every single day because I talked to those people every single day outside of Pavilion. But this is the best. I can't wait to hear about your career, figure out how you got, where you got and so forth. So me stop talking all meat. No filler. Let's jump in. Tell us how you got here. How did you get to Vice President? Seven ships, Yeah, yeah, for sure. 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 the open ended this caveat of like hopefully it's nowhere near being being over this journey, you know. Um, and...

...that's largely how I think about how I got 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 of tech companies. Early in my career, it was a lot of already established large publicly traded companies like yahoo and Apple and I see barry Diller's conglomerate of a bunch of the early dot com kind of heyday, you know, high flying dot dot com websites, e commerce platform of the dot boom era. And I thought that was the path that I was on, which was I had to work for a big company doing my one thing sitting in cubicles. I was super fortunate to have the opportunity to get recruited in 2000 and eight to join a little startup that was based out of the Bay Area, is sort of a hipster city guide, which was yelp now a bit of a household name, which is pretty cool, but it was not when I was talking to them and 2000 and it was a really interesting year. It's when I have three kids now and you know, my oldest is 13, he was just born and so we were, we were new parents and you know, we had the economic crisis collapse that year and you know, here I am fielding a call from an unproven startup that was trying to be the new version of yellow pages. So that experience, I'm highlighting that because I think that that experience turned 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 business build out and run, which began what became the secondary line of revenue for the company, which was the brand partnerships, enterprise division of the sales team at yelp, during the course of my time there and opening up into different markets, um international, working with a bunch of really great folks that I still keep in touch with and still learn a lot from and you know, and being able to kind of look to your left, look to your right and be like, wow, you know, we're all charging hard forward, we've got a ton of opportunity ahead to capitalize on, and I found that feels pretty darn good when you're in a spot like that, and...

...for me that's kind of what I'm always making sure that I'm trying to recreate in any, in any involvement I'm in. So That opportunity of Yelp started things, Yelp start to become a big publicly traded company. I left in 2000 of 2016 co founded a consulting company with another pretty strong operator in the space tom sour. He was an early LivingSocial first sales higher at Bandeira became the S. V. P. Of sales through their Series B and we created a consulting company to go and take all that 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 better level set and build the foundation in terms of sales and revenue growth. And through that one of my consulting clients with seven shifts and so I was fortunate to be able to a Canadian company at the time was recently series a funded I had the opportunity of going up to Toronto every other week, working closely with the team there and I got a real sense for the business. I think I helped them to an extent as well with some of the things that they were working on respect to the sales, sales department sales efforts. And at the end of that ultimately we kind of came to the conclusion that there was an opportunity to create a full time role first us higher and help kind of evangelize on and kind of build out the U. S. Operations US office boots on the ground. So first other kind of specific role based U. S. Hires in the new york market and you know, it was off to the races. This was kind of the october 2019 things were going really really well you know into March of last year and then we all know what the punch line is. The pandemic hit us all straight in the face and the in market in person efforts that I had built up and then I had ultimately hired been hired on at seven shifts somewhat became it did become a major question mark around anything in person. So we did 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 that the pandemic I think highlighted the extreme of that for all of us. But fast forward to today. We've come out of it really much stronger than we were before. And I was asked along the way in the past six months or so to also take on the head of sales VP of sales responsibility, which has been fantastic. So being able to kind of get back into being in a sales leadership role at seven shifts and focusing squarely on restaurants. So that's a little bit about my journey, how I got here, super excited to be here chatting with you and sharing that. But it hasn't all been um outside of the pandemic. You know, it hasn't all been uh positive. Hey, it never is. I mean like 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 the way, 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 Yelp means yellow pages E l is that true? It's not true, it's not, so it's not true, it has been that has been speculated on and the reality is um the name was really something where when Yelp was founded, it was, it was in somewhat of a sort of a think tank, a startup lab that max Levchin and some early Paypal or ex Paypal employees including Jeremy, Stoppelman and Russ Simmons, who is the co founder, both of them, the co founders, they were kind of trying to think of names and I think someone just in that group shouted out the 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 whoever that 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 I think a lot of people have kind of, I never heard I never I don't know what a lot of that, but I never heard of...

...yelping the yellow pages, which it is of course. But yeah, holy shit, has that been sitting there the whole freaking time? It's not, it was a question that jeremy, the ceo who's still the ceo of yelp has been asked over the years and it wasn't it wasn't intentional the tie in with the yellow pages, but I guess it works and for those of us that remember what the yellow pages were, you know, R. I. P we're dating ourselves. Well look, I mean, you know, I think it's clear that you had the hard work part down in terms of your hustle and going from you know Employee number 80 actually helped all the way up to probably you know maybe 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 your way that really gave you an opportunity to grow? Yeah a lot of a lot of luck, I think that there's I mean there's a number of cliche quotes out there around the more you're moving, the more you put yourself in topic that are like you have and. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean I think that just in in terms of what I referenced around the opportunity to yelp it wasn't something that I was actively searching for looking for and in fact I was kind of far down the line in conversations while I was that I was that I see at the time with it was the funny or die, so it was funny or die, which was super hot at the time for sort of these like viral comedy videos and will Ferrell and a bunch of other comedians were involved in it and there was like, you know, again, maybe it was aging myself, but no, no, no, that's cool, Yeah, yeah, yeah, so like funny or die was like a hot property at the time and I was talking to them and you know, considering an opportunity with on the early, early team, it was very small at the time for funny or die around the same time that I heard from Yelp and if things turned slightly in that in those conversations then, you know, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to yell, but I think that for a while and that probably, it...

...seemed like a while, but it was probably 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 like there's an opportunity there to, to go and grow and have that opportunity I mentioned, which was like be a part of something from the ground up and, and you know, yelp came in mid swing of those conversations and I think um I can't give any credit to anything other than luck around the way those things panned out and, and ultimately how, you know, it ended up and the decision to even go and take a job with Yelp was one where my wife and I even discussed like the stability right of leaving this large publicly traded company for an unproven company that really had no office yet in new york. And that was one of the things that when I joined, we did was set up the first office and right, so I would say there was quite a bit of luck there, but I think, let me add, let me ask for you, which is your, your spouse and wife staying with you while you had your first child, enjoyed the startup. Lot of strokes of luck in there. 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 things through to your kids, but that's a separate chat. Probably a totally different podcasts. My audience is not shut everything off as we went into fucking yeah, no, no, no, let's turn it around. Give me yeah. That you think people can use as they go through their days. Yeah. I mean, look at the end of the day, like, I think that the way to think about things is that not everything is linear. Like, like I think a lot of times, because the way we live right now, like everything seems like, okay, everything's on demand, everything's right in front of you. And I think if you think about your career and your journey and the things you want to be working on, I think you have to think in steps or phases are kind of dots connecting to each other. That's something that I've learned, right? And I think what that means 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 if you're aligning yourself around people and things that you care about, then that's actually a really good line to be following. And it may not be, it's likely is not a linear line in terms of like how you're moving forward, but it will be, it will be the best course to follow in terms of, you know, where are you going to end up working and kind of how are you going to end up enjoying it and 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 some sort of impact and everything they're doing right, Especially your full time job. 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 were just talking about some colleagues and former lives and how tight you get with those 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've learned throughout this, right? And I think if you're following that course though, then the luck that happens is really just it's luck. But its luck because you put yourself into a situation where those opportunities can come up and you can then potentially being a chance in an opportunity or a situation to be able to decide on pursuing them or not. I like that idea of like, you know, it's not a straight line, not following the dots. I I sometimes think about this idea that the characters in the story don't know how 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 movies do but like think of a documentary and it's like Like those things talk to any documentary and they'll tell you I went out to do this and all of a sudden turned into this whole thing. 100% life is life is wild like that. All right man were enlightening round because because because you and I are chatterboxes 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 to be DRS and we're looking for a sales...

...manager and also account executives as well. Give you through there. All right. Yeah, so give some shout out to you know, up and comers people you follow, let's shout out Mike Montero who's a mutual of ours. So cto breezy currently killing it over an Amex my guy Mike Montero fine, that's good. Yeah well I'm gonna plus one your shout out but I'm gonna shout out, I'm going to shut out Pete Hancock, he was a longtime colleague at yelp he's doing some interesting things and consulting. He moved from the barrier down to Austin. We keep in touch a bit. He's a guy, if you guys haven't connected with you definitely should I try to keep in touch 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 all the other revenue leaders of all these different industries but like give me a tip it where are we eating? This is the most important question to me. Where should I eat? Give me one little, you know. Yeah, I mean I have to go, I have to go home home or call here and go with Anthony David's. If you haven't been there, it's a gem of a restaurant in Hoboken. It's right on 10th between Bloomfield in Washington Street. A lot of people actually do come from Manhattan across the river for Anthony David. So, and they've got as many of these 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 they serve wine. It's B. Y O B. So you can bring your own cocktails to go, which is 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's like, it's like, yeah, you can get steak, it's like a, you know, italian italian 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 the salad, you know, I haven't been broken in a minute. It's gotta maybe, maybe we'll make a trip there and then we'll...

...go down and grab some Roscoe's pizza from my boy kevin Richards. Sounds good, awesome man. So good to connect with you and excited to just keep up as both being from the hospitality tech world will be fun to stay in touch man. For sure. Thanks a lot. Brandon, appreciate it. All right, that's our show. Thank you so much for listening. If you love the 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 from businesses. You can learn more and get the conversation started at drip dot com. I had fun. I hope you did too. Go crush your numbers. Say something. Mhm. Yeah.

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