28: Dr. Courtney Hill and Adam Choe - YonderPublished January 21, 2020
Run time: 00:43:43
Tim chats with Dr. Courtney Hill and Adam Choe of Yonder, an app for helping young children prepare to visit the dentist. They discuss the history of Yonder, how important it is to find the right fit for a development team, the brutally honest feedback that comes from having a target audience of 3-5 year olds, the joys of bootstrapping a business, and some tips for working together as a team.
In this episode, you will learn:
- How to find “nuggets of rewards” while building a business
- Why your development team needs to buy into your vision as a product owner
- The importance of being open to feedback
- The correct way to pronounce “otolaryngologist”
This episode is brought to you by The Jed Mahonis Group, where we make sense of mobile app development with our non-technical approach to building custom mobile software solutions. Learn more at https://jmg.mn.
Recorded January 16, 2020 | Edited by Jordan Daoust
Tim Bornholdt 0:00
Welcome to Constant Variables, a podcast where we take a non-technical look at mobile app development. I'm Tim Bornholdt. Let's get nerdy.
Today we are interviewing Courtney Hill and Adam Choe, who are the co-founders of Yonder. Yonder is an awesome app that helps kids become more comfortable with going to the dentist. Their app is really taking off, and we are thrilled that they both were able to take the time to chat with me here on the podcast.
In this episode, we talk about the history of Yonder, how important it is to find the right fit for a development team, the brutally honest feedback that comes with having a target audience of three-to-five year olds, the joys of bootstrapping a business, and some tips for working together as a team. So without further ado, here is my interview with Adam Choe and Courtney Hill.
Courtney and Adam, welcome to the show.
Adam Choe 1:00
Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Courtney Hill 1:01
Tim Bornholdt 1:02
Yeah, so, tell us about Yonder. What is the app? And what does it do?
Adam Choe 1:07
Well, Yonder is an educational platform that we have for young children with a goal of using something to prepare before they go in to see the dentist for the first time. And generally at this age, it's not always just the first time, it's the first few times where they're really getting acclimated to the dentist. And so we offer them something to prepare at home with their parents, which is also really nice for mom and dad. And we've seen that it's been pretty good results too for the dentist and their staff.
Tim Bornholdt 1:37
How did you come up with the idea?
Courtney Hill 1:39
Adam and I were Innovation Fellows at the U of M. And there was a need brought to us by a pediatric's group for helping children to get through difficult medical procedures. And we really started to think about that and explore more what we could do and we found out that actually a lot of issue really has to do with kids being anxious, mostly due to being in a new place with something all new around them, being held down. Usually things are painful. And so we were thinking of how can we head this off to begin with. And one of the really common things, as most of us know, as adults is that many people do not like to go to the dentist. And there are a lot of really good reasons for it. But we really thought that this was a nice way where we can make a difference in kids' lives. Everyone should be going to the dentist, and you should be going when you're quite young. In fact, as soon as you have your first tooth, you should go see the dentist. And it was just a nice way for us to make a difference for kids because it's also not something painful. So generally speaking, your first visit shouldn't be painful and we can prepare kids for it. And by doing so, make it seem like that's just what's happening. It's just the usual thing. Being in the dentist office wouldn't be new to them if they've already been exposed to it virtually over the app. And we just thought that that would be an excellent way to make a difference for little ones on the broad scheme, you know, for really under five and help them out in that way.
Adam Choe 3:23
I'll just add two things there. You know, Courtney's modest. She's a pediatric ENT surgeon. So she has to see kids that are, you know, nervous, afraid or whatnot in her day to day life. And, you know, she didn't throw me under the bus. So I'll do it myself. I growing up was one of those kids that kind of had that fear of going to the dentist. So for us, I think we just both had realistic and real life pain points that we wanted to try to address.
Tim Bornholdt 3:49
Yeah, that was going to be my next question. It seemed like targeting a dentist where you're only going there, you know, twice a year realistically, I mean, maybe people go more often but that's what I tend to do... Is that kind of the specific reason you chose the dentist over like their normal... because most kids go to a pediatrician, right? So they might already be more used to going to a pediatrician. Is that kind of why you targeted the dental space over a different kind of space?
Adam Choe 4:19
Well, I think that we wanted to target something that is very reliable as to what happens. At the dentist, it's very reliable. As far as your cleaning, your check. If you're not needing additional things performed on your teeth, then, generally speaking, it's the same thing every time. And in medicine, a lot of times if you're going to the pediatrician, it might be something different each time. You get shots. So there are things that kids are really scared of there. But generally, most people as adults are not very calm when going to the dentist, and we have a feeling that that is a result of some scary moment in their childhood. Because once that happens, it can be deeply seated, and it's not anything on the dentist. It's often just it's a totally new place and things are happening and they're happening very close to you and in your mouth, which is even more threatening, as it should be. We need to protect that part of our body, just typically. And so I deal with that every day, you know, looking at kids' mouths and noses and ears. They just really don't love it and I get it. But we wanted to see if we could move the needle for really the population as far as having this fear of going to the dentist. When kids go to the dentist regularly, their teeth are healthier, and when teeth are healthier, your whole body is healthier. So it was a nice way for us to both take advantage of the fact that what happened at the dentist is very reliable and also that it could make a really big difference.
Tim Bornholdt 6:09
That's really cool. And it does seem like the app is making a big difference. So very, very great on that. Adam, a question for you. So, prior to Yonder, you have had some experience working with startups. Would you mind kind of sharing your experience in dealing with the startup scene?
Adam Choe 6:27
Yeah. So at the end of 2019, I officially resigned as the managing director of the Gener8tor Minnesota office. Gener8tor is what you would consider a venture capital company, but we do work in the space of accelerators. And so we raise money from outside investors from the community at large, and then we take that money and then invest it into companies. We also run a couple other programs of that nature, but the long and short of it is we find startups that are early in their lifecycle, and try to either give them coaching, guidance, and funding, in some combination of the three. And so the best way to put it together is it's a less exciting version of Shark Tank and Silicon Valley, the show on HBO, you know, a little bit of all that wrapped into a less exciting package. You know, we're not on TV. So we can't always have all the drama, but that's what we're trying to do. We're finding cool companies, cool founders and helping them get from point A to B. And, you know, just playing a small part in their journey.
Tim Bornholdt 7:32
Well, yeah, and, I think, as somebody that watches Silicon Valley myself, it's like, I've been around startups enough where sometimes I get heart palpitations watching it because it triggers a moment from my past. So it's like sometimes I have to pause the show. And the only other show I've had to do that is Curb Your Enthusiasm with just how awkward that show is, too. So it's good that Gener8tor doesn't increase the amount of drama that is already inherent in building a startup.
Adam Choe 7:59
Yeah. So we are essentially a very small blip on their timeline of existence. And if we do it right, we're at the very early stages and it's a very long timeline that they get to have a lot of successes out of. So, you know, obviously we learn a lot there and a big part of it is working with a lot of software companies. So you know, they were very mutually beneficial to each other, to be building a company at the same time as supporting companies, and I think they both were strengths that played upon each other. And obviously in both roles, I've made my fair share of mistakes, but it's helped us get to a point where we are today with Yonder.
Tim Bornholdt 8:25
Well talk about that a little bit more. Having all that experience with coaching and building up teams, I'm sure you took away at least something that you've been able to apply specifically to Yonder. Is there anything that you can share that you can say has been a direct benefit to helping you get this company off the ground?
Adam Choe 8:59
Yeah. Courtney would probably be shaking her head as I'm saying this, but I'm a pretty impatient guy. I think most founders are. Whatever they're building, they want it to be going faster. And so the biggest takeaway that I've gotten so far is that it never goes as fast as you like it to go. And so it's always a constant reminder to, you know, myself and for both of us as a team to realize that it's not always going to be done in 24 hours. It might take two months or, you know, half a year for something that we want to have accomplished become a reality. So just the perspective of it could always be going faster than we actually have it happening. But to realize that, you know, it's not always the case, and in reality, it's usually the norm.
Tim Bornholdt 9:44
I can totally understand that. I've seen that happen time and time again, even with our business. When we first started, we were like, why does business go so slow, and then the longer you're in it, you kind of understand there's a lot of things that go into it. So that totally makes a lot of sense.
Courtney, a question for you. So as we've talked about before, you're a pediatric ENT. I'm going to go for it and try it here. I wrote it down. I haven't practiced it, but I'm gonna go for it. Otolaryngologist. Was that close?
Adam Choe 10:15
That's close. Yeah. So some people will go by oto or otolaryngologist.
Tim Bornholdt 10:20
Ah, oh man, okay. I didn't google it beforehand. So I was trying to crack into my high school science prefixes and make sure... I went for it. Anyway, so clearly, you know, having the ENT background, having gone, you were also summa cum laude in your undergrad. Clearly you've had success and clearly you're smart. A question I'm wondering is with starting Yonder, have there been any interesting challenges that you've come across that you kind of were surprised that you would have to deal with, just specifically going through startups and building a company?
Adam Choe 10:54
No, I wouldn't say I've had any huge surprises. I understand that it's a real journey. And it's tough to get up and running. But I think that we get, you know, little nuggets of reward. You know, one child has an amazing experience. For example, when we had first started our pilot, and that was just everything. It tells you that everything you've been doing for the year and a half before that finally materialized and it really helped a little one. And I think that's really what my goal is anyways is just to be out there helping the little ones. So, as it happens, you know, there's tough stuff along the way. You fully expect it. I never expected anything to be perfect on one go around, and we often work and and have to continue developing or getting out there with dentists and, yeah, nothing's really been surprising. You just kind of take it in stride and take your rewards as they come.
Tim Bornholdt 11:59
That's awesome. That kind of led me into another question that I had. You mentioned going through those early pilots and working with kids and seeing the rewards from that. It's really common in the software space that people these days are really focusing on user-centered design and user experience and all of those good buzzwords. But I'm curious to hear how it is dealing with younger patients and how do you incorporate, and Adam you can maybe speak to having experience with other companies where the feedback comes from an adult. I wonder is there any difficulties or any interesting things that have popped up where trying to incorporate feedback from younger users of your app?
Courtney Hill 12:39
So I mean, kids are just the best. So we really worked hard to make the experience in the app exactly what they would want and what they experience when they go into an office. So we did a lot of things really with them in mind. Otherwise, I don't think it would work.
So a couple of things. You know, in our video, when we show the office, everything is done at the child's height, which is the average height of a three-year-old coming into the office. We made sure that our character and our character's name was everything that kids would want. So we did a lot of A/B testing with children. And honestly, I think, I haven't done A/B testing with adults, but I think it's a lot easier in kids because they're just going to tell you, no, I don't like that one. All right. Yep. That, you know, that one. And you can tell when they get excited because they just have this like, they're just so pure, you know. So when they see something that is good to them and exciting, you can see it on their face. And so we just followed that. And so that's how we actually got to our final version of Mimi. And the reason why Mimi is the hippopotamus's name is because we went to the speech development and we wanted to make sure that any two-year-old who's regularly developing their speech would be able to say this name. And according with all the consonants and vowels that are possible at that age, we formulated that name. And we've never had a child who couldn't say her name. So that's why we focus so much on kids. And I think that's where the success comes in because we have them right front and center.
Adam Choe 14:32
Yeah, I mean, the only thing that I would add or reaffirm is just a brutal honesty. There's no sugarcoating it from the little ones. The younger, the better, because, you know, their vocabulary is not as built out, but you clearly know if they like something or don't. And so there's no ambiguity about this or that. It's one or the other and it helped us get to a point very quickly. I mean, in the grand scheme of things we spent time making sure that we got there, but when we got there, we felt ultra confident that the end product was something that we had no concerns about. And so, working with kids has been great. You know, they're a breath of fresh air. And I think, you know, to your question about what I've learned from working with founders is, yeah, I think the more open to feedback from people that aren't, you know, stuck in the weeds, which is what as founders what we are, we're stuck in the weeds. We know we can't see the forest for the trees, whatever cliched way to describe it. We deal with it. And so, I think giving us that opportunity to work with a subset of people that don't have those same issues was a breath of fresh air. And so it made it, you know, that much more exciting to do.
Tim Bornholdt 15:50
Absolutely. I could see that. I have a three-year-old daughter myself and, yeah, she does not hold back. So I can see why that would almost be a benefit rather than when I was thinking about it beforehand, I thought it might be difficult to tease out, depending on how you phrase questions and things, like if there would be differences in the way that you ask an adult versus a child. But it makes sense that you can just straight up ask a blunt question and receive a blunt answer. And it's almost refreshingly like New York as opposed to Minnesotan.
Adam Choe 16:20
It's funny you say that.
Exactly. Courtney's from New York. So I mean, she brings a little bit of that flair to the Midwest. I really appreciate it when she's direct with me because I'm guilty of having that Minnesota nice in me, I think.
Tim Bornholdt 16:39
I'm switching gears a little bit, and I am changing topics. Let's talk development. So actually getting down to writing ones and zeros. Who did you, how did you pick who is going to develop your app?
Adam Choe 16:53
I'll take this one. So that is one of the most, you know... Courtney and I joke about writing a book when it's all said and done. And there's a whole chapter on the early stages of our software development, you know, we went through quite a journey. Both of us aren't coders. We have a strong vision of what we see as the final product. But we rely on groups like yours to be kind of the technology backbone of our development. So we didn't know exactly where to start. But we did the whole process of reaching out to developer groups in town and we picked one and we didn't have the best result with that first group. I mean, long story short, there was a miscommunication along the way. And what we thought we were getting didn't end up getting to where we needed it and it slowed us down significantly. We regrouped and found another group in town that is a little smaller, a little bit more our speed, I think, and we finally got to the finish line. But in terms of the day to day coding, it wasn't done by us. We were tasked with making sure that when we spoke to our developer, we had the proper, you know, requirements in the proper way to lay it out, so they knew exactly what we wanted. And we knew exactly what they could deliver. I think that was our biggest learning from the first group that we worked with was expectations, being able to communicate properly, and not having, you know, conversations get lost in the emails or whatever, you know, face to face conversations where we thought one thing and they thought another. And so, you know, parse out the blame however you want. But that first group was a little bit of a challenge for us. But, you know, part of that I think we have to look in the mirror and say, as founders, we need to do a better job of knowing exactly what that pocket knife is, instead of the Swiss Army knife, on that first go around.
Yeah, I mean, I think Adam described our software development pretty well. I think one of the interesting things that we brought to the table, not being coders, was that as Adam said, we had this vision for what we wanted for the end product, and just being able to put that into a wireframe. I mean, anyone can do that, you know, if you're not a coder, you can make a wireframe and decide what you want. And it's so much easier. And getting to the point of communication, it's very clear when you can lay out frame by frame what you're expecting in the final product. And, you know, I think that that was actually a really fun part of what we did, even though there were some heartaches there. And I mean, I think we got to what we wanted and have really enjoyed working with our second group and are very happy to keep going with them.
Tim Bornholdt 19:38
That's awesome. You mentioned communication, which is, whenever we're dealing with clients, I think we've learned and continue to learn that lesson time and time again, is that everybody communicates a little bit differently and something that works for one client might not work well for the other clients. What kind of balance have you struck with your current team in terms of communication? Are you guys talking everyday or are you talking once a month? Like how do you ensure, like you said, that those nuances that you thought were communicated actually do get communicated clearly?
Adam Choe 20:11
Yeah. I mean, I think the biggest difference is, we've gone a little slower at the beginning to go faster in the middle and the end. So before we get going, like Courtney said, we are meticulous with our developer, to ensure you know, line by line, exactly what we need. I think, as much as you can, if you can do it with someone that's with the capability of doing it in person, the better. I think technology is great, and everything, but some things just don't come across as easily over a phone call. So finding local developers, I think is helpful in that regard. Could we have done it with international? I think so. But I also think it might have had some additional hiccups that we don't know about. So I think on that front, that's kind of the best approach that I've seen. Courtney, I don't know what your thoughts are.
Yeah, I think having that initial meeting in person is very key because at least with our current team, they are so good at reading our expectations. Maybe there are some things that they realize they need to parse out and decide what that means technically, because I don't have that knowledge to just tell them. And so they've done a really nice job of pushing us. Well, you know, what is the limit here? And what are you expecting here? And could it grow? Should we build for growth? And I think that that has been the key to the success on this go around.
Tim Bornholdt 21:45
I've found that one of the best things to do too when you're establishing that relationship with the development team is really figuring out that trust factor. And I would imagine, after having the experience with your first team, going to your second team, how did you go into finding the second team with building up that level of trust with them so that you're not feeling burnt like you were the first time?
Adam Choe 22:12
That's a good question. So I think the first level was, we had someone, I think it was someone that I knew from my time at Gener8tor, mention this individual and their group. And so we said, that's great, you know, I'd love to talk to them. So the first line is, obviously, direct word of mouth referral. It's the same thing that Yonder is based on is we think we can drive great word of mouth referrals. And we think it's the same thing in any type of service industry. So that's where we started.
In terms of trust building, I think, we told him exactly what had happened in the past. And he told us exactly how he felt about what had happened and how he would change it and how he could do it. And, you know, we felt good about it. We felt as if... I think here's the other part of it that, it just kind of came to me. There was a level of understanding where it was never a conversation that felt like we weren't the experts in what we were trying to build as a vision. And in some regards, I think when we talk to some experts, they try to do their best to assert themselves as the leader, and whether or not it's a product they know well, they'll tell you, this is how you should build it, not you could build it this way. And so we never got that feeling from our current developer that it's a you should do this not you could do this. And I think that was a big difference there in having us feel a little bit more comfort working with him. I don't know if you feel the same way or not, Courtney,
Yeah, I definitely think that when you work with a developing team, and you're not technical yourself, you have visions, and you have to meet someone who can parse that out of you and figure out what that means on their end and then also to push you and say, Well, you know, that might not be realistic for this part, or we might be able to do that, but that's something for the future. What do you want from right now? And do we need to have a vision for, like I was saying earlier, for growth? And how can we build that in? So is it smart for us to do that upfront rather than, you know, after everything is done, and basically redo everything. So I think it's just a matter of having someone whose personality you really jive with who can see the end vision. And in our case, it was really making a difference for kids. And this particular group is pretty well aligned with that. And so I think that they are excited to work on it with us as much as we are excited to work with them.
Tim Bornholdt 24:46
That's really exciting. And it's good when you find that fit. Whenever people come to us with app ideas, I sometimes feel like the world's worst app salesman, because I actively tell people that doesn't need to be an app or that doesn't need to be, you know, whatever. But I think part of it too is that finding the right fit is so important because there are so many different development teams and so many different people have different life experiences where it's like, if you don't have a lot of experience with kids, maybe you don't know that they are brutally honest or that they need, they have different demands, like when you were mentioning filming everything from the height of a three year old. It's like that's a perfect little detail that whoever came up with it, it's like, those are the kind of details that you want to be able to fire back and forth and really put yourself in the eyes of your user.
Another question that I was thinking about while you guys were talking was both of you mentioned that you're not technical by nature with your backgrounds. Was there a very big learning curve to getting up to speed with the different terms in the industry and learning about, like you mentioned, wireframes? Was that something that when they mentioned wireframes for the first time, you just kind of had to go and google it or were dumbfounded. How quickly were you guys able to pick up on all the kind of technical side of things?
Courtney Hill 26:05
Well, for me, it was a totally different world. I also have no shame in asking someone. If I'm having a conversation and it has to do with my business and what we're trying to do, if I don't understand a word, I will ask them on the spot. So that it's understood and so I clearly know what I need to do on my side and what they're doing. So, you know, there is some research into ultimately what needs to be done and different things for back end, which still a little bit baffles me, but yeah, I don't think it was too hard. But you know, the information's out there.
Adam Choe 26:44
I think, you know, Courtney says she'll ask square away right at the moment. I'm the guy that's got his phone out under the table trying to search the word. I still haven't gotten to that level of comfort yet, but that's why we make a good team, I think. But in regards to the question of tech, you know, while we aren't coders and we don't do the ones and zeros, kind of like you said earlier, you know, Courtney's a surgeon, so she's technical in that field. I've been working with founders for a long time. So we've been adjacent to the scientific world and the tech world. I would classify both of us as early adopters of technology as well. So we definitely have a pulse in that regard. I think the hardest thing was definitely just understanding capabilities and limitations of, you know, capabilities at the stage that we are at and what was realistic and necessary for us to, you know, get to that next milestone. When you look at all the opportunities that you see in the news, you want all of those things into your product. But in reality, there is the version 1.0 that doesn't need to have the 15 different options necessary to be successful. So that was probably the hardest part about bridging the gap is figuring out technical capabilities versus realistic needs to get to the next stage.
Tim Bornholdt 28:03
That's good to hear because I've been programming since I was in first grade. So I do have a really ingrained technical experiences, you know, for understanding this. But I think that at a high level especially, Courtney, you said it's your business, right? You can't just take a passive look at the technology and just put it in a box and let somebody else deal with it. You can at least know from a high level, like what a server is and what an API is, and how that talks to your app, and why that might be important. And you don't have to know how to code it or think about how the data structures work, but at least being willing to ask questions and drill down so that at least you can understand enough to make business decisions. I think that's it's a really important skill for non-technical founders to have.
Adam Choe 28:54
Tim Bornholdt 28:55
Kind of bridging off something you said, Adam, about you guys being a great team. I've noticed that. I saw you guys present at, I think it was a MinneDemo. I can't remember which one it was. But you can clearly tell you guys have good chemistry together as business partners. So I wanted to talk about that a little bit because I've met business partners that have that chemistry and I've met business partners that do not, and it can be disastrous one way or successful the other way. So what really is the dynamic like between you two, and can you touch on how you divvy up tasks and deal with conflict as it comes up?
Adam Choe 29:30
Yeah, I'll go first. Courtney's got laser focus. And she's extremely good at being efficient with her time and making sure that we don't have scope creep and all that kind of stuff. I'm more of the wildcard, I think. The thing that I value the most is when I'm high, you know, she's staying level. You know, and we balance each other well, so, if I'm having a bad day, she's having a good day. If she's having a bad day, I do my best to have a good day. So it's not even about the skill set more than just the emotional side of it all because I think, as founders, that's probably the hardest part is just keeping your mental wits about you. But outside of that, I would say, you know, when we write patents, she's got a skill set that I can't touch. And yeah, you know, when it comes to writing pitch decks, I feel as though that should be a space that I'm strong in and so I try to lead there. And, you know, I think we just kind of understand that we feel capable that we can do all the responsibilities if we needed to at any given time, but we also know that it's just better to kind of put the right projects in the right hands. And so we don't really actively say, Hey, who's gonna do this? I think we just naturally know what makes the most sense in whose hands.
Yeah, I'd echo that. I think it's really important that we know what work has to be done. And we're able to divvy it up and oftentimes we kind of look at what each other has done and say, Oh, yeah, that's great. And maybe we should add this and you know, other things, and we just collaborate pretty well. And that's been the story of all of our work, I would say. So I think it generally is having, as you mentioned, Tim, the right chemistry between the founders and knowing that you can work well together. And the biggest thing for me is work ethic. And in Adam, I don't think I could find someone else who has better work ethic. So it goes a really long way. And we both, I think, really contribute our hearts into this project and our business and I think we have something to show for it.
Yeah. And I'll just throw one more thing in there. I think the easiest way to know if you have the right founder is, do you both have the same, you know, aspirations for what the company can be and, you know, without even conversing with Courtney, I know that we both want to have kids have the best outcomes possible. And so, as a result of that, we understand that we both have the same mission values at the end of the day.
Tim Bornholdt 32:06
That's awesome. I love that. Within Yonder too, are you... I mean, obviously, Courtney, you are a practicing physician, so you probably have duties outside of the company. How much time do you guys put in on a given week in Yonder? Is it like every night you guys are going another 40 hours a week? Or how does that work?
Adam Choe 32:25
That's variable. So for me, it's variable. For Adam, Adam is full time. So that's been a blessing to have since he has stepped down from Gener8tor. Generally, it depends on what needs to be done, right? So there's definitely fluctuations. And I spend as much time as I can at night on anything that needs to be done. And of course, there are things during the daytime that can be had, conversations, you know, phone calls, inperson meetings at certain times. It's always possible. It's sometimes takes some juggling, but it's, you know, you have to do what you have to do. I think that's why we got where we are.
I'll also add, you know, in the mindset of what this podcast is for, we, up until just the last six weeks have been living the life that I'm gonna guess many of your founders that approach you have led, which is the double life. And so I would say it's not 40 hours and 40 hours, but there were some weeks where we had to get a grant submission or patent filing in or whatever the case may be, where yeah, it did feel like you went home to start your second shift, and that's fine. I think for anyone that's in the space of early soul searching on whether or not they want to go full time with their idea in the software world, it's okay to start at like a 90/10 split, and then go down to an 80/20 and then a 70/30. But I think you get to a certain point where you're doing yourself a disservice if you truly keep it at 50/50 for too long. And so it's understanding when it's the right time to make that jump, and you know, committing to it. And so hopefully if they've done it properly, they have no regrets. And they work with the right team to get them to a point where they feel comfortable in that decision to go full time.
Tim Bornholdt 34:17
That's great advice. I think that a lot of people listening to this will appreciate that because it is sometimes, like especially if you're doing something you love, like if you are like a software developer by trade, and then you come home and do software development that night, it's like it might be a lot of fun to start but then you burn out pretty quickly if you're just going hard for months on end. But kind of the dipping your toe in the water, like you said, doing 90/10 and kind of easing into it, there is a point where it does kind of just make sense to flip from being a working and paying the bills, but then now being able to work and pay the bills with something that you built.
Adam Choe 34:54
Agreed. You know, I think if I put my investor hat back on, I've never discounted somebody that said, I need to pay the bills to keep the lights on. That is something that resonates with everybody that has started a company. And so no one will ever fault you for that. Where they will start to kind of question you is if you've been moonlighting it for quite a while. And they clearly know that it's a 50/50 split. And they start to question whether or not this is a serious endeavor that that person on the other side is looking at. And so I think that's where the signaling can get a little bit wonky for somebody that says, I'm really invested in this. Well, you know, you've been doing this part time for 18 months now, when are you going to make it full time if you really feel serious about it? Especially if they want to raise money to continue development. So I think you get a grace trade for the first couple years, but by then you should really know whether it's something that you think is going to be successful or has a chance of being successful to the point where you can make that commitment.
Tim Bornholdt 35:55
One thing too you just brought up, you mentioned investing and that made me, not to abruptly change subjects, but that made me think of another question I wanted to talk to you guys about was, one of the probably, besides how much does it cost and then picking the jaw off the floor after hearing how much it costs to build an app, the next question is, how do I raise money? And how do I get money to build my app? How did you guys go about funding the business? Did you guys do like the whole friends and family and go get investors? And you mentioned grant proposals. So I would assume that that's a part of it as well. Could you touch on how you were able to raise the funds to get the business going?
Courtney Hill 36:32
Sure, I can take that. So as you know, Adam and I started this really as a research project at the U. And a lot of the preliminary research that we needed we were able to do during our time there. So in a way we were funded as researchers for that time. And then Adam was able to achieve a MnDrive Grant which allowed us to further develop after that year, and we were able to do some preliminary development for the software. But since then we have been entirely bootstrapped between the two of us. And that's what's gotten us to today. I don't know, Adam, if you want to add anything else.
Adam Choe 37:21
Yeah, I would say, to the point that I kind of brought up, at this point my flavor of the week analogy is the pocket knife versus the Swiss Army knife. And so I think if we tried to develop the Swiss Army knife, it would have cost us a lot more to get to where we are today. But we've truly felt as though we were designing the most perfect minimum viable product and I don't even like to use the word viable. You know, I think it's more just the most opportunistic to get to the market. And so we were very efficient with understanding what we needed to do and resourced tight. We go paycheck to paycheck in filling our bank account, but, you know, it's nothing that another founder couldn't do. Obviously, everyone has different inputs. But yeah, we've been pretty much very fortunate to have the capability to kind of keep this going without raising money. But, you know, we'll see what the future holds for us in that regard.
Tim Bornholdt 38:20
It's really admirable because we bootstrapped our company as well. And I know it took us a really long time to be able to go, you know, full time with it and to ramp it up. But it seems to me like if you believe in the mission enough and you're willing to put in the work, it almost, I think kind of lends to a better product because then you are making some better decisions. Like if you're bootstrapping everything, you can kind of focus on doing the pocket knife as opposed to if you have infinite funds, you might spread yourself too thin and, you know, have to deal with having a less polished product. Where if you're kind of having to watch every penny that goes out the door really carefully, then you make different decisions.
Adam Choe 39:02
Yeah, the stakes are a little higher. But we feel as though we have a very clear idea of, you know, the vision because we do have to be very mindful of how we deploy our capital.
Tim Bornholdt 39:13
That's awesome. So speaking of vision, what's next for Yonder?
Courtney Hill 39:17
So, we are generally focused on kids' dental health, and what we're realizing, you know, our first point of tackle had to do with being at the dentist and really making that a very positive experience for children. But there's more to it. And generally, there's not a lot of knowledge about dental health at home and, you know, we know we should brush our teeth. And there's a lot more to it. As we're learning, going through it, you know, some of the things you pick up in medical school have to do with what kinds of foods and things are not good for teeth, and a lot of the dentists, if anyone is listening, would be nodding their head because they give a lot of information that is really more prophylactic or preventative so that kids have healthier teeth. And so there's a lot that we can do, as far as disseminating that knowledge, making it something that kids can interact with. So things like content, just so that more on an everyday experience, children are remembering what is good for their teeth, and so are the parents as a result. So I think that's really where we're headed. Now, from the dental perspective, or sorry, from the dentist perspective, we really are looking to expand throughout the Midwest. And right now we have a handful of dentists using our product. But we'd like to expand throughout the Midwest and eventually nationally. Our goal is really that this is a national product kids can use. And, of course, we want to start at home in Minnesota, but we want to really get out there. So, yeah, lots to go.
Adam Choe 41:11
Yeah, I think, Courtney hit around that. We think we have an opportunity to really help give kids the skills and the tools that, you know, they're not necessarily accustomed to seeing at that age. They see a lot of cartoons. They see a lot of music and songs and dance, but we have a laser focus on focusing on health related content, specifically in the dental office and just at large, and so we think that's a great opportunity to just give kids more knowledge at an earlier age and let them make a decision for themselves that says, hey, you know, let me do more healthy things because it's fun and natural and not because someone's telling me to do it.
Tim Bornholdt 41:52
Well that's super exciting. I'm really excited to see you guys continue to push this forward. And when I first saw your presentation and ever since then, I've been just rooting for you guys. It sounds like such a cool idea. And you seem like you're so passionate about the topic of dental health, especially with children. And I wish you guys the absolute best of luck, and I hope you stay in touch. And thank you very much for coming on the show and sharing your experiences.
Courtney Hill 42:21
Thank you, Tim. It's been a great opportunity.
Tim Bornholdt 42:23
I suppose I should ask before I close it off, if people want to get in touch with you guys, how can people get in touch and maybe even get Yonder in their dental practices?
Adam Choe 42:30
Yeah, the easiest way is for them to reach out via our website, www.letsyonder.com or they can just send me an email to Hello@letsyonder.com. And yeah, otherwise, thank you, Tim. This has been really fun. And if there's anything we can do in the future, let us know. We'd be happy to help.
Tim Bornholdt 42:54
Fantastic. Well, thanks. Thanks again. We'll talk soon.
Thanks to Courtney Hill and Adam Choe for joining me here today on the podcast. You can learn more about Yonder by visiting LetsYonder.com.
Show notes for this episode can be found at constantvariables.co. You can get in touch with us by emailing Hello@constant variables.co. I'm @TimBornholdt on Twitter and the show is @CV_podcast. Today's episode was edited by the valiant Jordan Daoust. This episode was brought to you by The Jed Mahonis Group. If you're looking for a technical team who can help you navigate the complicated waters of mobile app development, give us a shout at JMG.mn.