84: Forming the Tele-Legal Avengers with Jazz Hampton of TurnSignlPublished June 29, 2021
Run time: 00:55:47
Do good by doing well. The new social enterprise taking that to heart with a first of its kind tele-legal service is TurnSignl, with an on-demand app that facilitates and records real-time interactions between drivers and law enforcement during traffic stops.
CEO and General Counsel Jazz Hampton joins the show to chat about building the bike as they were riding it, and how investors, individuals, companies, media, and police officers are responding to their service.
In this episode, you will learn:
- What it means to grow responsibly
- Why if you’re proud of your first product, you did something wrong
- How a culmination of the right people and experience can change the model of an archaic industry
- How 3 co-founders determine responsibilities
- How raising money while running a business is two separate jobs
- How pricing your product too low can make users think it doesn’t provide value
- How bringing in an expert can help avoid irreparable damage
- How TurnSignl is using social media in an unexpected way in its B2B approach
- How police officers are responding to TurnSignl
- How being in-person has made a difference for a startup that launched virtually
- How to choose which skills to bring to the table and which to delegate
- Why you should document who reaches out to you when you’re starting a business
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 June 17, 2021 | Edited by Jordan Daoust | Produced by Jenny Karkowski
TurnSignl’s website | https://turnsignl.com
Contact Jazz | firstname.lastname@example.org
JMG Careers Page | https://jmg.mn/careers
Connect with Tim Bornholdt on LinkedIn | https://www.linkedin.com/in/timbornholdt/
Chat with The Jed Mahonis Group about your app dev questions | https://jmg.mn
Tim Bornholdt 0:00
Welcome to Constant Variables, a podcast where we take a non-technical look at building and growing digital products. I'm Tim Bornholdt. Let's get nerdy.
A quick note before jumping into this week's episode. We at The Jed Mahonis Group are looking to expand our team by bringing on some more iOS and Android developers. At JMG, we place an emphasis on hiring for fit as opposed to skills. Skills are something that can be taught and fostered through mentorship and experience. Fit on the other hand is harder to define. But we've outlined some of the traits we're looking for on our careers page at jmg.mn/careers. So whether you have a year of experience or 20 years of experience, I don't really care. If you're interested in talking with us, please reach out at email@example.com. We'll put that email address and a link to our careers page in our show notes as well.
Today, we are chatting with Jazz Hampton, co-founder of the app TurnSignl, which has taken Minnesota by storm with its launch just a few weeks ago. So without further ado, here is my interview with Jazz Hampton.
Jazz, welcome to the show.
Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate your time and looking forward to chatting.
Well, I appreciate your time because I mean, you've been on regional news, national news. I can't basically see any articles anywhere printed without mentioning TurnSignl. But I got to ask, is this your first podcast episode?
Jazz Hampton 1:37
I think this is even my second or third podcast. So I stay busy. However, no, actually, this is my second. However, if I'm the only feature, this is my first like exclusive, one on one episode. I was just a few people in one episode, and I was thrown in the middle. I was lost. So there is a first year nonetheless.
Tim Bornholdt 1:58
Well, yeah, you were on, was it the Twenty Minutes podcast?
Jazz Hampton 2:01
Yep. Exactly. Exactly.
Tim Bornholdt 2:02
Yeah, we sponsor that podcast. So I think it's okay. I'm fine yielding the award to those guys over there.
Jazz Hampton 2:10
That's awesome. I love that.
Tim Bornholdt 2:11
So for the few people that haven't, you know, that are listening to this that haven't heard. I'd love for you to introduce yourself and also TurnSignl and what you do there.
Jazz Hampton 2:20
Yes. So my name is Jazz Hampton. I'm born and raised here in the Twin Cities. I went to St. Thomas for undergrad and St. Thomas for law school. And I was a practicing attorney for the last six years. But I left all of that to start a company with my two co-founders, unbelievable co-founders, Andre Creighton and Michael Felix, I should say. And we started TurnSignl. And I'm the CEO and General Counsel here at TurnSignl.
And TurnSignl easily is explained as we're a phone app that you have on any device, Android or iOS. And when you're pulled over, you simply press one button on the phone mounted on your dashboard. And it instantly begins recording. And an attorney will appear in a video chat with you 24/7/365, whenever you need them during those roadside interactions. And our mission is simple. It's to de-escalate roadside interactions with law enforcement. It's to protect your civil rights. And third, and most importantly, to make sure that drivers and police officers get home safe at the end of every day.
Tim Bornholdt 3:20
I know you're pretty new, like we just, in full disclosure, I mean, we worked with you guys to get the first version of your app off the ground. But how has the release been? I mean, you've been in the App Store for a couple months now. Is everything going pretty smoothly from your standpoint?
Jazz Hampton 3:38
Yeah, it's been 33 days, actually. I feel like I keep a counter the whole time. And it's been really smooth. The user interface and the work done by JMG, you all, has been really great for us. We really love what the users are able to see in that in the interactions they have on after being live for 33 or so days, it really is gaining traction. And we're excited about it. Actually, after MSNBC, we had 5000 downloads in one and a half days, which was absolutely incredible. The only negative there is that we weren't at all of those jurisdictions. We're only live in Minnesota yet. And so a lot of them were, you know, California and New York, Florida, DC, Washington. But really excited because I think that kind of showed us that, you know, we need to get into all 50 states as soon as is practicable, as soon as responsibly we can grow into those states. So we're looking forward to doing that.
Tim Bornholdt 4:32
I like the way you phrase that, responsibly growing, because I would imagine that you got quite a bit of people on social media aren't afraid to to call a spade a spade if they can't use your app or something. I'm sure you heard some nice choice words from those people but the way that you phrase it of being like responsibly moving into markets, is there a reason you started just in one small market and instead of just trying to launch nationally all at once?
Jazz Hampton 4:57
Yeah, you know, I'm like I said, I've been practicing law for the last six years, and my two co-founders were in corporate America as well. And so this is the first time we've been entrepreneurs. But what we do know as founders is that we don't want to have a poor representation of our product out there in any way, shape, or form. And one of the favorite phrases, I'm going to butcher it, that I've heard recently is, if you were proud of your first product, then you did something wrong, right. So the flipside of that, like, there has to be, you know, everything won't be perfect when you launch, but you have to be responsible about it, especially when we're talking about giving legal advice to people who are in, you know, or legal guidance, I should say, giving it to people who are in one of the most stressful moments of their life. We have to be responsible about taking on that ownership of that interaction. So I'm looking forward to doing it. And if we aren't ready to be in a jurisdiction, if we don't feel like there's enough attorneys to answer, we just can't be there. But we know that, you know, we have a lofty goal of getting into 10 more states before the end of December. So we're excited about the rate at which we believe we can grow.
Tim Bornholdt 6:00
I would imagine too the lessons you learn just being in Minnesota, you know, there's pros and cons really to every state. But I'm sure that once you can kind of get a strategy down for recruiting attorneys, as well as if there's any specific state level legislation that needs to be accounted for with the product in one way or another, you know, you can kind of have some time to iron all those lessons out in one state and then build a model to spread out to other states as time goes on.
Jazz Hampton 6:28
Yeah, that's exactly correct. Correct. So we know what it takes here in Minnesota now, right? We know the infrastructure we have to set up. We know the amount of attorneys that we feel comfortable launching. We know kind of what the call numbers will pan out to be. And at that point, you're just replicating. And there's always going to be tweaks, you know. Wisconsin law is always a little different than Minnesota than DC than Texas, right. So there's going to be tweaks and changes, but at the end of the day, that the app is built in a way that we can just turn on a light switch in those jurisdictions once we have the attorneys there. But it's really great to have Minnesota be, you know, we're all from here. Minnesota was the epicenter of, you know, a social movement here in the last year and change. So we're proud to started here and then grow to the rest of the country. And recently requests to grow beyond the borders of this country. So, exciting stuff.
Tim Bornholdt 7:21
I think a lot of times, you know, we get approached with app ideas. And it's hard for me as an app developer to kind of understand the market. And it takes a little bit of digging before I can get it. And this is like if you're talking about like some highly complex business problem in some, you know, manufacturing industry or something like that, where it takes some time for me to wrap my head around. But this product, like the second that I saw it. So like Jazz and I grew up in the same city. We both went to Richfield, for part of it.
Jazz Hampton 7:53
I'm the traitor that went to private school.
Tim Bornholdt 7:56
Yeah, no shade, but a little bit, I guess. But as soon as I saw you share that you were working on this product, it was just like, it could not be any more of a clear idea, clear market, clear need. Do you have any insight or really any understanding as to why something like this doesn't already exist?
Jazz Hampton 8:18
Yeah, we get that question a lot. Because in our investor conversations, I think the first thing investors think is, you know, any new idea's a dumb idea is often the thought and there's not really people in this space with a real time, on demand tele-legal service. The reason that I've really been able to distill it down to is twofold. First, attorneys are the most archaic, old fashioned, never progressing professionals, group of professionals ever. Doctors progress in a way that that attorneys don't. Accountants change their ways and practices and automate things. Everyone does except for attorneys. I mean, the billable hour system has been in place for centuries, right. But changing the model is something that doesn't happen. There's not much disruption in the attorney field. And and so, you know, not many attorneys are entrepreneurial in that sense. So that's one barrier that you have to get over.
The second is, you know, we talk about solutions or finding a, you know, instead of a problem, we now say opportunity, right, finding an opportunity, something to solve. Some of these opportunities aren't seen by all eyes equally, right. And we're three black men in the city of Minneapolis and St. Paul, so we saw a need that maybe others didn't, along with one of us being an attorney and an adjunct professor of law. And, you know, so it was kind of the perfect storm of people and experiences. Andre being a finance expert with his MBA. Michael being a marketing and sales expert with his MBA. It took kind of combination of all of these things to say, Hey, let's figure out a solution and then create it. And I think that's why the publicity in the media and my conversations come naturally because exactly you hit on. It's just like, Why hasn't this been done yet? And we're excited to be the people to finally do it.
Tim Bornholdt 10:16
I remember in college, I took this class on people of color in the media, and how like, with way back in the day with Ebony Magazine, for example, how, before they launched, so many people were like, Oh, there's no way that this is going to succeed. And the people that were saying that, of course, were 70 year old white dudes, and it's like, well, yeah, clearly, you're not the audience for this. And I think a lot of times, you can see this represented in VC money and with investors is like, the representation of people of color is just so abysmal that I can imagine that there'd be so many people that would just have this idea completely pass by because, you know, me myself, if I get pulled over by a police officer, I have different feelings than you, you know. It's just that's the way it is. And so I wouldn't have even thought like, it'd be really nice to have an attorney on board, you know, in protecting me and also protecting the police officer at the same time. It baffles me like that when I took that class in college, and I realized, like, when she was explaining that of how there's so much untapped market, and so much untapped potential if you just listen to other people's problems, and not just worry about your own problems, you know.
Jazz Hampton 11:28
Yeah, and the thing is, and I think that kind of what you said is so true. And then it kind of segues into the rest of our business model. That is, listen, we hear the need from people of color. And just like, by way of analogy, just like, you know, whether it's BET or hip hop music, where it was made for and targeted a specific audience. Soon it grows, and it grows to escape just the bounds of that audience. And we know TurnSignl is in that same vein, right? Where we believe our early adopters will be people of color. But then we know soon after that, moms who are saying, Hey, I'm worried about my 17 year old kid, regardless of their race, when they're pulled over or when they're in an accident, because that's also another piece that we connect you with an attorney, when you're in a car crash, right. And now you have someone looking your son, your 16 year old daughter in the facing, Hey, I'm so sorry, you've been in this accident. Let me help walk you through this interaction. Now we're talking about a user base that is growing so much more. I can't tell you how many parents that have talked to me and said, Oh, yeah, you know, my child isn't a person of color. But I want them to have this on their app, because I want to make sure they're safe when they're driving. So we know that there's a foothold. And now we can say to the rest of the market outside of just the people of color, Hey, this is why we add value to you as well.
Tim Bornholdt 12:48
You know, you mentioned earlier that you've got, there's three co-founders in this business. And I know having a co-founder myself sometimes the line in how you delineate responsibility and kind of share the stresses that come with a rocket ship startup can bring. How do you determine splitting all those different responsibilities to make sure that the app gets built, and the revenue models get calculated, and the advertising happens? Like how do you balance all of those responsibilities?
Jazz Hampton 13:18
You know, I think because we have such, we have three really different sets of skills, 85 to 95% of it really fall to different people really organically. So you know, obviously the law stuff or anything having to do with lawyers falls upon my shoulders. But I can't do a P&L for the life of me. But Dre can, right. So all of these finance questions kind of fall to him. Michael with his expertise in sales, right? And I'm sure we'll touch on here in a little bit, kind of the B2B model that TurnSignl really is thriving upon. I don't have any sales experience. But Michael has been in sales for the last six years. So that naturally falls to him. So our text thread is called the tele-legal Avengers, because we all are like different people with different skill sets, right? Like I'm not putting on the Ironman suit. That's Dre, right.
So, that 85, 90% of it falls organically that way. And the rest, I mean, Michael and Dre have been best friends since they're four years old. I've been close with Michael since we were in undergrad at St. Thomas together. We operate as friends and we're like texting, we're always talking. It's like Yo, Mike, like, this is too much for me this week. Can you please just take this meeting? And he's happy to do it and he's happy to take it, you know, and run with it, you know, all the ongoing communications or just, you know, pinch hit for me that day. And being able to be, you know, people that you really care about, and, you know, if I have to go home because my wife needs me, and Drake can cover. It helps a lot. And I think I couldn't imagine running a business with people that frustrated me because it just wouldn't be doable in the way that we have to do things even for that minor 15 to 10% of the tasks that fall to us.
Tim Bornholdt 15:00
I think that kinship really comes through like whenever we deal with you guys and just seeing it in your interactions together. Whenever we talk with co founders and with entrepreneurs and teams of founders, you can tell early on whether they're going to be successful or not just by the way they interact with each other. There's teams that where it's kind of like the Avengers, but it's kind of like if it was more like when you piece together an all star team, for like, football or baseball.
Jazz Hampton 15:30
Yeah, someone's not a role player. You got all stars on the court and it doesn't work.
Tim Bornholdt 15:35
Too much ego and not any synergy between those tasks. Yeah, exactly. So I appreciate that about about you guys. That does make things easier. Which if you were an Avenger, which one would you be then? Cause you said you're not putting on the Iron Man suit. So what suit are you putting on?
Jazz Hampton 15:52
Ah, that is like literally my favorite question I've ever been asked. And honestly, it would have been Iron Man, but they would have been like, yeah, you have an ego for it. That makes sense. You want to be Tony Stark. So I'm going to intentionally avoid that. And I will say that I am Dr. Strange.
Tim Bornholdt 16:08
That's who I was going to pick for you too. I was thinking Dr. Strange. I don't know why, but that when you were mentioning the Avengers, I was like, yep, that makes sense.
Jazz Hampton 16:17
And I guess it'd be because like, I don't know, just whenever something's like frustrating, or like, something's really hitting the fan. And like, we're trying to figure something out. It's like, what are we gonna do? I'm just like, I'm always like a quiet internal thinker. I think a lot before I talk, because I don't want to say anything I regret. And I feel like he's kind of got that vibe, you know. He's always just like moving those hands real slow and thinking about stuff.
Tim Bornholdt 16:40
I'm just really glad that I'm in the host seat. And I'm not going to give you an opportunity to try to punt that back on me because I have no idea what answer I would give for being an Avenger.
Jazz Hampton 16:50
You're whoever Samuel Jackson is, that's who you are.
Tim Bornholdt 16:53
Okay, yeah, I'll take that. What's his name? Okay, I'll come back to that at some point. So I want to move back in time. So we obviously know you're in a good, you know, a good spot right now. But this has been an ongoing process for you to get to this point. So I kind of want to go over some of the first things that you and Andre and Mike did when you started the business. So talk about things like funding and product development, revenue model, just like where did you get started with like, We've got this idea, and then now what?
Jazz Hampton 17:27
Yeah, so a little bit more of that genesis. There's a fourth co-founder. He's kind of like our advisor. He's one of our consultants now, and he kind of brought us together. His name's Mike Nathan. He has a long background and kind of in the entrepreneurial world, and so actually, he's the Samuel L. that was like, You guys should all go and attack this problem. And I can advise you on it. I've made that analogy before, actually. So, he kind of pointed us in the right direction. He's like, the first thing is fundraising. And that, you know, for three people who have always had a salaried, stable job, that was a daunting thought and experience. I'm not a sales guy naturally, so I don't like asking people for money in any form. And this sounds cliche, and I can appreciate that, but like, I don't feel like I'm selling something that needs to be sold. Like, it just makes so much sense to me, and why, you know, people wouldn't want to get on board and stand with a company that's doing what we're doing. I don't feel like I have to convince anyone. I just explain what we're doing and see if they want to be a part of it. And we really took that kind of view from the jump. And our fundraising has been that, you know, we're blessed to say that we filled up a seed round quicker than we anticipated, at almost double the number that we thought we were going to raise at initially. And we're happy about that.
But it was a grind. It was a lot of zoom calls. It was zoom fatigue. What was occurring during that time, which I'm sure a lot of, you know, founders experience is, you're kind of building the bike as you're riding it, right? People are like okay, So tell me about the business model? And you have a pretty good idea and you have your pitch deck and you have everything you're going to do. But it's still coming together. You're still learning more about what the product will be like in the environment, and you haven't even beta tested yet. And so developing the product while we were fundraising was pretty smooth all in all. We tweaked a few things. We're changing price points here and there. That was a lot of the changes that we were making. But all in all, it was pretty smooth, and we're thankful to be able to raise money to keep the doors open.
I will say the last point on that. Raising money while running a business, those are two entirely separate jobs. You know, if you're at a nonprofit, there's a group of people are doing a work. And there's a group of people who are fundraising. So to do all of it at once is like a lot. And so all the power and kudos in the world to people who are running startups by themselves because without Michael, Andre, there's no way that we could have gotten that done collectively, individually without each other.
Tim Bornholdt 19:58
And I believe that. And I do like what you said about just going out and fundraising and it feeling natural, in a certain sense, because that's why a lot of the companies that we take equity positions in too, it's just like, it almost is a no brainer. You know, when you have to sit and explain it and really build a picture and a case and you're fighting for it and it's a struggle, it's like, it seems like something is off, if it takes that much work. And so it's not to say like you said, you know, the zoom fatigue is real. You still have to have the conversations and beat back the rejections and fight for it. But at the end of the day, I can see it being a lot easier when you actually have that kind of heart and motivation to, you know, get the product out the door. That comes across more than just whatever the metrics and things you come up with in your deck.
Jazz Hampton 20:50
Yeah, and I think that speaks a little bit to, you know, and terms are nebulous, but the term social enterprise, right. How many startups are there that they're just really good business model of things that needs to get done, right. There's businesses that need to get people from A to B like Uber, but when you hear about Uber, it doesn't like warm your heart, or give you relief about, you know, a larger issue that's being resolved, right. I guess, drinking and driving that is very true. But you get what I'm saying. This is solving a real need that everyone is seeing like on a very personal level, especially over the course of last year. And so it's a business plus solving a real issue. That gets you over the edge a lot, I feel like so, you know, if there's anyone thinking about starting a business that can really, the phrase we use is, Do good by doing well. I think that makes all the difference in the world, too.
Tim Bornholdt 21:43
One thing that I wanted to make sure we touched on too was just the initial revenue models for the app, because I think that's one thing I'm struggling with a few of our clients right now is, and I think every startup struggles with, How do you fund it? How do you like, you know, generate money from this product? Like, do you do subscriptions? Or in-app purchases? Or do you have every time you activate it charges you 10 bucks? How did you through the process of evaluating the possibilities, and then ultimately selecting one?
Jazz Hampton 22:14
Yeah, you know, we thought about how B2B, you know, our cost of acquiring a customer that just is driving down the street, and hear's a radio ad and wants to download it for themselves, or their friend or their son or daughter. That customer acquisition cost is about five times that of a business that will come in and say, Hey, I'm going to provide this as a benefit to all of our employees, part of our DNI strategy, part of our employee wellness strategy, whatever pillar you want to put it in. That customer acquisition cost can really drop. So we knew that that could push down our overall cost if we were able to capture them, so everything kind of revolved around making sure that we can have a B2B structure that can still stand up.
So we thought about the free model, but you know, it's hard to charge a business for something that is free to the public. So that's not really an option. We thought about the token, right, where you have the app on your phone, and then every time you initiate it, you know, it charges you $25 at a higher price point, right. But now, you know, people don't even want to call their insurance when they're hit by a car. They're like, No, I'll pay out of pocket. I don't want to have anyone running that risk or that value proposition in their head when they're pulled over. I don't want it to be a concern at that time, like, Oh, I'm sure I'm fine. I'm not gonna, you know, initiate a token. So that kind of drew us back on that one, too. And we didn't, you know, and people, we view it more like insurance, just keep paying it. And then whenever it happens, use it and you already paid for it.
Tim Bornholdt 23:44
That makes sense. And it does go to show like, it's not just, a lot of times people I think, believe that this part of the process is easy of how you actually generate it. Because I think a lot of times, you know, for a lot of entrepreneurs, they think that the answer to providing an app is, well just throw some ads in it. And I think there's things like that, where it's like, well just do x and it's like, Okay, well, you know, x works really well for, you know, games or for this specific type of app, but for your app, like what do your users think? And that's what I really appreciated about you explaining that thought process was being pulled over and being in a car accident are probably two of the most stressful experiences that like you can ever have in your life. And that was, I know, when we were like kind of working through the user interface of the app, like when you're in that like fight or flight stressed out mode, you don't get to have the full capacity of your brain to sit and think and analyze. And ou can't be Doctor Strange in that situation. Right? So I think the simpler you can make it and not have to have like, any additional variables to the calculus that you're trying to do in your head. It's just like, Oh, yeah, TurnSignl, bam. Like, that's all it should be is, you know, I've been like, Siri, I've been pulled over. And just then it launches the app and you're good to go. Like, that's all it needs to be. And you don't have to, you know, put any additional thought into it. And so I'm glad that you explained that that's how you were thinking through, is putting yourself in the mind of the user using the app instead of just kind of willy nilly throwing something out there.
Jazz Hampton 25:21
Yeah, I mean, and down to even the actual price, so, and for anyone listening that isn't familiar, TurnSignal, is 9.99 a month or $75 for a year. Alternatively, you can hit a button below that says, I don't think I can afford it. And just answer eight questions. And if you're within the threshold, we let you on for free. We don't want anyone who doesn't have money in a position where they aren't going to be able to feel safe when they're driving. So we let those folks on for free. We don't even take your credit card information. But even getting to that price point was a battle, a mental battle with us sitting in this conference room, like running the numbers, right. And we actually, it got to the point where we hired an expert. We spent some of our early value cash on having a professional survey organization go out and find out what the price point is that would make people feel comfortable paying for it. And we learned a lot from it. One of the things we learned is, if we priced too low, people would think these aren't even real attorneys, or they're the worst kind of attorneys or the lowest quality attorneys. So there's even a value proposition that is added to how much we're charging. If you really sell a cheap product, people think it's going to be cheap.
Tim Bornholdt 26:26
That's really interesting that you said you used some of your seed money to bring in outside help. I think sometimes it's hard to know, in a startup sense, when is the right time to, you know, ask for help, go to your advisors and get, you know, quote, unquote, free help and when to pay someone to bring in to do that. And when to just sit, you know, it's a startup. So you have to, you're the janitor and the CEO, you kind of have to do everything, at certain times. So how do you make that, like, how did you make that determination, in this specific case, I guess, of like, bringing in somebody else to kind of mediate and help advise how you select a revenue model?
Jazz Hampton 27:02
Yeah, I think a lot of those choices as we sit and again, it's nice to have three people in a room so we can really talk out loud and maybe think of ideas others didn't. But a lot of it is I think about, you know, I'm being a little hyperbolic but unfixable damage, and going out into a market and pricing at 1.99, when you found out that's too low, and it should have been 12.99. You can't make the jump then, right? Like I can't be a product that's 1.99 that goes up to 12.99 without adding significant, you know, enterprise value or changing the service. Right? Only, I mean, hell, people get pissed when Netflix goes up $1. And we all spend 20 hours a day on Netflix, at least in my house. So if it's gonna do irreparable damage on some level, I don't want to guess. And if I make a choice, and it's based on statistics and information and expertise, and it's wrong, then I did everything possible to make the right choice, and it just didn't work out. But you know, what is the, I thinkit's Zig Ziglar is a quote that's, like, If you don't know what you're aiming at, you'll hit it every time. Like I can't just shoot in the dark and hope I'm right. Because I won't be
Tim Bornholdt 28:20
No, I love that. So we've been talking about how you kind of have a direct, you know, B2C play of going from yourself to individuals who, again, you can go right now and download it from the App Store or Google Play. But I know that you're working on bringing this to businesses and making more of a B2B play so that it's a benefit to the different organizations to their employees. Talk about that initiative, and just, you know, where it came from, and what the interest level in it has been so far.
Jazz Hampton 28:49
Yeah, so the interest level in it has been really high. In fact, we've had, I'll just say, like, we've had Fortune Five companies. Target, an SVP from Target, went to our website and filled out the Contact Us form to reach out to us to learn more about the program.
Tim Bornholdt 29:05
Who does that?
Jazz Hampton 29:06
Right. And I was like, You guys, I think we're getting phished. And he's a really great guy. And he, and again, I think that just speaks to, you know, when I was at my law firm, I was also the director of diversity inclusion, you know, over 150 attorneys, 300 employees, 15 states. And I know what the DNI strategy was, right? It's to diversify your employee base. It's to retain your employees diverse and their counterparts. And then to do community outreach. It's really valuable to the diverse communities that need it the most.
And so what I do, and this is not a joke, we meet with HR, the SVP of HR, senior leadership, the president, whoever it is, and I pull up their Instagram feed, and I go to that blackout Tuesday from last winter or last summer. I'm sorry, June 2 usually is the date. And I pull up what they posted on Instagram and I read it to them. Hey, X company is truly disturbed by what we've seen happening to the Black community. We're here for them, and we want them to know we're listening. And we're a voice that's gonna use our platform to be a part of the solution. I read that to that senior leadership person. And then I say, Okay, TurnSignl is here in this room, offering you an opportunity to fulfill exactly what you're proposing. I want you to provide TurnSignl to every member of your company, so they feel safe driving to and from work, or when their kids have basketball tournament on the weekend. I want you to, when people who click, I don't afford it, I want you to say, Hey, these memberships are sponsored by JMG. All members of this community are getting it for free because of this organization. Right? There's your community outreach portion. Again, just like when I'm talking to investors, I'm not selling anything. I'm offering you an opportunity to fulfill what you want to do already, in a clear way that is actual a tangible solution, not just, you know, diversity training day with a outside consultant.
Tim Bornholdt 31:02
It's just ridiculous how good you are at this, like you should be doing this for a living, you know? Yeah, it isn't even kind of like you can be kind of flippant about and say you're throwing their words back in their face, but it's funny just that there is so much talk and so much just social media posturing about what you can do to help. And I don't think if you look back at JMG's social media that we've made any posts around any of those things, because again, it's not because I don't believe in those initiatives. I do, like that's one reason we wanted to work with you. And one reason that we want to, like bring you on and promote you is it's, like, I'm tired of hearing, like just flipping through social media and seeing all these grandiose posts about like, not even just like people of color, but like the LGBT community, just all the other, just different communities that are underserved and under appreciated. And it's like, just yeah, put your money where your mouth is, and actually do something instead of just like saying you're going to do something, and then a year goes by and it's like, well, what have you done?
Jazz Hampton 32:07
Yeah, and that's the thing. And I like that you said it,, like, because I'm not, if you make these posts, I'm taking them as very genuine. Like, I assume, to a fault, I assume the best in people. And so when you post that, I assume you really want to do that. And so I'm like, the other analogy I always use is like, if someone's on Facebook, and they're like, Damn, I'm hungry right now. And then I knock on your door with a fresh pizza. Like, you're hungry, right? Like, here it is. I assume you were serious. And they are, right. And so take it, right. So I'm just providing a solution to what you openly said you want to work towards. And it just makes sense. And I was in that position, right? I was the director of diversity inclusion, looking for ways to be a part of the solution. And one that works with law enforcement, right? It's not an adversarial solution, either. When Chief Blair Anderson talks about how much he thinks this can be a real positive for the community. Who's losing? No one. It's a win all around.
Tim Bornholdt 33:06
Right. I've had interesting conversations with a lot of different people in my personal circle about TurnSignl because everybody has people on all sides of the political spectrum and whatnot. But in my case, my grandpa was actually killed in the line of duty as a police officer. And I know very, very well, like that side of the story, just from growing up, like that was my growing up experience. And it's taken in an embarrassingly long amount of time to learn empathy, and actually, like, put myself in somebody else's shoes, but it's like, there's always two sides to every coin. And I think it's like, it's not just about getting people homesafe that are driving, it's also about the officers too, of like, how can we hold that hold some accountability. Like if you're doing your job, right, and you're doing a great job, you should be rewarded and commended for that. And that's what the police are supposed to do at the end of the day is to actually protect people and get people home safe, everybody, not just the driver, but also yourself as the officer.
Jazz Hampton 34:05
For sure. And that's the other thing. And I'm glad you brought up the point about, you know, your family in law enforcement. That's another thing I always talk about or try to when I'm having these communications. My older brother, my best friend is a conservative Republican that graduated from Alexandria Technical Law Enforcement Academy. Right? Like, and he's my best friend. Right. And so I mean, I talk to him every day, no matter what. I talk to him like three times a day, he never stops FaceTiming me. But I talk to him every day about what we're doing at TurnSignl, and say, Hey, what do you think about this? What would you think of this? How would you interpret this? Am I being disparaging to police officers when I say this? Because, and the phrase that I've been using around here is, just because something is true, or I believe it to be true, doesn't mean that I need to say it, right. And so there's a lot of words that are charged nowadays that could divide people further and prevent listening. And so if you can avoid those and still get the same message across, I think it's imperative to try to work towards doing that, if it's going to help get the solution into the hands of, you know, everyone to save lives.
Tim Bornholdt 35:12
And it goes back to something we preach a lot on this podcast, and just when we build apps in general is, it always comes back to the user, right? And, one way or another, when you're talking about an app like this, it's clearly the user is the person that's tapping the button and being there, but then there's also the attorney is another user and another voice in this equation. And then law enforcement is a third voice in this equation. And like the worst thing that could happen for TurnSignl is that there was this big adversarial, you know, issue with law enforcement, where if you put a TurnSignl sticker on the back of your car, you might as well be like putting like a middle finger to the cops or something on it. You're just gonna target yourself even more like, and worse comes to worse, if an officer, I mean, even not worse comes to worse, but just in general, if an officer doesn't understand what TurnSignl is, like, if you don't get into their community as well and educate them on what it is, then they could feel, you know, certain ways when the camera is pointed on them and you say this conversation is being recorded. And here's my attorney and all that stuff. Like, you're just kind of setting yourself up a little bit for some failure. So it's good that you're going out and actually engaging with the law enforcement community, because they have just as much of a voice that needs to be as part of this equation, I would think.
Jazz Hampton 36:33
Yeah, 100%. And because the thing is, not only do I want them to return home safely, obviously, cause I want everyone to, but if a police officer feels more calm as they approach the car, guess what, that interaction is going better. When I come home, and I'm pissed from whatever happened at work or anywhere else, like, my interactions with my wife are not as good, because I'm in a bad mood, right? Or I'm nervous, or I'm scared, whatever the feeling is that a police officer might have if they're nervous or scared as they approach car. Now, if I take that away, because, Oh, there's a recording of this, and there's an attorney on the phone. So this person isn't going to do something erratic or something that I have to like fear like I would normally, the interaction is going to be better. Right? And so I don't know, I just, I'm yet to find even, like we've interviewed nearly 20 police officers, or are approaching already 20, and every one of them is like, Hey, great. You mean they'll have a recording, and they'll know that I always follow the rules, and I'm not doing anything wrong. Great. That means there's an attorney on the phone, who if I really do have a right to search their car, now the driver isn't gonna be screaming, I didn't consent, you can't do this. The lawyer will actually say something along the lines of, Actually, that is sufficient probable cause and you have to let them through your car. Don't worry about it. We'll take care of it on the back end when we are in court. Great. Right? So it's a win win.
Tim Bornholdt 37:53
Yeah, no doubt. So you often talk about Dante Wright being killed during the product development of TurnSignl. And if the app had been developed sooner, maybe he and frankly, you know, countless others would still be alive today. Facing some of these societal pressures of getting your product to market as soon as possible, I know, we kind of took a very complex app and shrunk it into like three months of development, which I'm not gonna pat myself and my team on our back, but man.
Jazz Hampton 38:24
No, you should. You don't have to. We will. You did a great job.
Tim Bornholdt 38:28
It was a Herculean effort, but we did it and the important thing is now it is out there, and it is helping. But let's move in a different world where maybe you had had a little more time to go through the development process, what might you have done differently? And another side question is, what features did you push later because of these time constraints of wanting to get this out the door as quick as we could?
Jazz Hampton 38:52
I love that question. I think the first thing and maybe this is a wish list and not a do over list because even if I could do it over, I don't know if I would have changed this. Well, we now have architecture, an overall tech lead in house that can help steer conversations and direction better than we could, right. We didn't develop swim lanes for our developers, you all to review. We didn't do a lot of higher level things that would have made, you know, version 2.0 and 3.0 easier to do. So I think, but I mean, I didn't have the money then either. So that's why I say if I went back, I don't think I could redo it necessarily. But a little more front end work in that sense would have been better.
And things that we didn't put in that we could use now. You know, are all things that I think would help spread the word. I think the product does what it should do today, right? But you know, could I have added something that says, you know, If you download this and subscribe, you can send it to two friends for free, right? These are marketing things that would have helped a little bit too at the beginning here to get off the ground and maybe saved us money on the long run. And there's other, you know, functionality that we want to put in. But honestly, a lot of it is dependent on lawyers and some of the work we have to do internally. So I feel like our opportunities there are a little smaller now. So overall, I think, you know, especially with the truncated timeline, I'm super happy with it.
And just that, oh, the last thing I would say is our admin portal. We wanted to make it as quickly as possible for the users and that their experience to be good. But we didn't have all the time in the world to make our experience as good as possible. So I would have been able to build that out a little more if we had a little more time. But at the end of the day, you know, I never know how many, you know, this isn't like a water fountain where it has, how many bottles of water you've saved using it. But I have to believe you know, in the years to come, I'll sleep good at night knowing that some lives were saved because of TurnSignl.
Tim Bornholdt 40:57
Yeah, I think, crap, man, I totally lost my train of thought, again. It's like hard being in a conversation with a friend of yours. Like, then you want to like say seven things. And then you just your kid walks by and like, my daughter is like sitting outside the house. I can see her out the window, and there's a strawberry plant my wife has, and she's just like whacking it. And I'm just like, How can you focus when like something that hilarious is happening. Like, Why are you hitting this plant? What is wrong with you?
Jazz Hampton 41:27
Oh my God, when I was working from home with the kids. I was like, This is never going to work because my son is trying to like electrocute himself over here playing with like a gum wrapper in the outlet. Like, How am I supposed to work? So I feel that. I feel that to my core.
Tim Bornholdt 41:41
How have you been managing getting through the pandemic with like, dealing with family stuff? I mean, this is like a total 180 from what the rest of this podcast is about. But you know what, let's just go with it.
Jazz Hampton 41:52
Yeah, no. So you know, my wife is also a full time worker. We have two kids, three and a half and one and a half. And then our third is due in 20 days. So we are like, full on busy. And working from home, we ultimately were able to send them back to daycare, which was really helpful. But the thing is, and actually, this does parlay super well into being a startup with, with my co founders, we did the first two and a half or three months of this remotely. So you know, you have a zoom call, and you're trying to communicate with with what, you know, what your desires are, like, let's take the price point coversation. You know, you can't be head over emails. It was a barnburner for a week in a conference room for two hours a day. Right. And so when we were finally able to be back in person, it made all the difference in the world and kind of our pace really picked up. Because I can just spin my chair around and say, Hey, Dre, what do you think the projections are for, you know, July and August? Where it's normally an email then you have to stop. And it's just way more time consuming. So being in person all vaccinated has meant the world of difference to us as a startup during a pandemic.
Tim Bornholdt 43:04
It's hard with, usually we communicate with all of our clients over phone and zoom and remotely. So we're used to that. But even still, internally, you know, there was some hard times early on, where you do need that in person collaboration. And I think that's just something that we're going to all have to work through together figuring out what that right balance is of. I don't want to force anyone to go into an office five days a week. I think those days are pretty much numbered. But there's going to need to be you know that right balance for your organization of, is it one day a week? Is that enough of being in person or two or three, maybe even four? Like it really just kind of depends on the circumstances. But it's, I don't know, nice to have that flexibility nowadays, where you can choose to work from home if you want or choose to go into the office if you want.
Jazz Hampton 43:52
Yeah, the flexibility is key. And whether it's, you know, kids' swim lessons, or a doctor's appointment or whatever, the fear of leaving office now is kind of put to the side a little bit, which I appreciate.
Tim Bornholdt 44:04
So I know you have somewhat of a technical background in computer science.
Jazz Hampton 44:10
Tim Bornholdt 44:11
Did any of that come into play when developing? Like, how much of that experience did you directly draw on while you were building out an app-based company?
Jazz Hampton 44:21
That's a great question. And Michael Frelix, my co-founder, is going to kill me because he's our CTO, and I don't think I've ever said this out loud. And so this might be when he hears this, it'll be the first time he's heard it, but like, I have experience in making swim lanes and overall like, you know, planning and development. I was information systems. So like that kind of high level planning, I do have experience in, and I didn't use it in the way that I could have in the development of this. Mainly because, you know, my knowledge and expertise in law took over, right, so I have to address all of the legal implications, from hiring people, to legal implications of having an attorney on the phone, to contracts with folks that were doing, so I had to focus in on that, and not the technology as much.
But what it did make a difference for was kind of my brain works in the swim lane world already. Right. So when I'm picturing the app, I was picturing, you know, like the diagram with a diamond with an arrow coming out of it to the next screen. And eventually, went into new like, a new, a whole new swim lane, like a box and then drawing down to a new one. That's how I pictured it on a high level. And I think that helped us as we developed conversations with you all, compared to like, someone who's just like, I have an app idea, and I want to do X, Y, and Z. So it did frame our conversations a little better, to have a better understanding and be able to communicate with you all better. But I didn't go the full process of making the swimlanes and developing an overall story for that, but Mike's gonna kill me for that. I could have but had to spend time elsewhere.
Tim Bornholdt 46:01
Well, I mean, and this is, like, the problem of being a polymath like yourself is if you have so many skills that you can bring to the table, like knowing and choosing which ones to bring to the table and when to delegate like that's a skill in and of itself and a task that most people aren't really great at. And I know I struggle with that sometimes to have, it's taken me a long time to even, I'm still kind of uncomfortable with at JMG I rarely touch code anymore. Because there's people out there that are better at it than me, and I'm better at like this and strategy and different things. So I think it's interesting that, yeah, Mike might be a little upset for a little bit of it. But I think he'd get over it knowing that, you know, you were doing what you needed to do in order to get the whole rest of the system built up. And there's other people that are better suited to like, you know, use it when you can and delegate when you have to. It's basically it.
Jazz Hampton 46:59
Yes, yeah. I mean, I think I love rap music, because I love analogies. And that's like all it is. But by way of analogy, it's like, you know, in high school football, there was a guy on our team who was like, he was the best wide receiver and he was the best linebacker. But if he did both, he wasn't the best at either, right. And so if you have to focus in on one thing, and maybe plug and play somewhere else, sometimes that's necessary. So you can really, you know, actually fully dedicate yourself to something, and make sure you're doing it the right way.
Tim Bornholdt 47:30
I'm sure it was relatively obvious in this point, too. But I think trying to figure out how you lay out these different paths you can take because like you laid out with with a football analogy, it's like you can pick to be a linebacker or you can pick to be a running back. Both could lead to really great careers and great prospects going forward. But like there's always this, what-if kind of mentality when you do that route of like, you know, you choose to be a best linebacker, or maybe you were like, you know, top three or something, then you're thinking, Well, could I have been the best running back too? And you have this kind of regret as to which path you should have taken. Do you feel any of that at any time, like when you're thinking of things with TurnSignl? Because since you do have such a breadth of areas, you could tap, like, are you happy with just sticking in the lane of being like chief legal officer and managing the legal side of it? Or are there times when you're like, Oh, man, I really could have like, taken this tech thing and run with it.
Jazz Hampton 48:24
Yeah, I think sometimes, even though I have those feelings around the actual legal work, so I have the legal knowledge, but almost, and I feel like this is kind of similar to you, I love like, you know, the MSNBC stuff and explaining the product to people and explaining the value to other folks. That's where I really think I thrive. And sometimes I think like, Well, if I did more podcasts, if I did more interviews, if I did more meetings with business folks, would that be more successful for us as a company, right? Compared to even legal work? So I do. That's the one place I think about it sometimes. And Mike and Dre are like Jazz, and my wife, are like Jazz, you need to stop taking so many meetings. But it's hard for me to do it because I really, you know, I see myself as carrying value in that area. And I think I like to do that the best. So it's tough to give it up sometimes.
Tim Bornholdt 49:12
And no one wants to see Mike gone on MSNBC.
Jazz Hampton 49:15
No one or Dre. Dre doesn't even want to see Dre on MSNBC.
Tim Bornholdt 49:22
Full disclosure, I would love to see those interviews, by the way. That was a total joke, because I would love to see either one of them on there. But that's okay. I think you definitely carried your weight on that front.
Jazz Hampton 49:33
And I will say that Dre and Mike are great about that, because that's what they prefer as well. It wasn't like a rock paper scissors who was going to be the one that does that. Dre was like, No, I know these numbers, you go do it. And Mike was like, I don't want to see my face up there either. So it's nice to,you know, come to a consensus and not have to be fighting over it. But again, that's kind of like that 85, 90% of you know where we're gonna fall in terms of roles fell organically. So that's good.
Tim Bornholdt 50:01
I love it. Wrapping up here, what advice do you have for other founders right now that are going out there and trying to get a product developed? Is there any kind of, I always find this to be an obnoxious question. But I still think sometimes it can glean some good insights. Because if you were, you know, the whole, like, if you're starting over just, what would you tell other people who were in your shoes where you were, you know, just a short while ago?
Jazz Hampton 50:27
I think it's really important to, especially if you have something that has high interest, like we did, if people are reaching out to you, document it, respond, follow up and see where it goes, right. And this is a shameless plug, I should say, but you reached out to me, about us, and we had a developer already. And I was like, Hey, like, I really appreciate you reaching out, Tim. We're working with someone right now, and if anything changes, I'll let you know. And the developer that we had previously was just, you know, he was a friends and family guy who had this full business and he had his plateful. And we were asking more time than he had, and he was giving more than he had. So we had to pivot to someone who could dedicate full time and the first thing I thought of was, Oh, you know what, I have a spreadsheet of folks that have reached out to me. And I know one of them was a developer from, you know, my childhood. So let me reach out and see. If that didn't happen, we wouldn't be where we are. I don't think anyone could perform the level of work JMG did in the timeline they did, at the price they did, you all did, I guess I should say. So that's just one example. But I have a million of them, of investors who are like, Hey, this sounds really interesting. Let me know if you have time to meet. I'd like to talk about potential investment. You know, protect your calendar and your time is one thing that these two keep telling me but, you know, if you have an opportunity to follow up on those, if people want to reach out and help, ear them out. I think it's really valuable.
Tim Bornholdt 51:57
I heard a long time ago, somebody say like, when you're talking about people that, people want to help. I think when you reach out to somebody and ask them for help people feel honored. Like people want to feel that their skill set, the thing that they can bring to the table is something that can be used and useful. So I think that advice is so good, because people really under appreciate the value of their own internal networks. And I know a lot of times founders that especially when they're young, when they're in their late 20s, you know, they don't have 30 years of corporate experience with all these interactions of kids like at school with like meeting parents at different events and whatever. Even though you only have your small network, you still have a network and you can still reach out and find just one person that can help you move to the next level and that person is going to know somebody really well that can help you further. The point you made of actually writing the stuff down is something I'm awful at but the that's something I've learned too over time is like if you actually write stuff down and routinely check it and reference it, just doing that you're going to be leagues above the most people that run businesses.
Jazz Hampton 53:12
For sure, because especially if they reach out first. It's like you're not bothering them. If they didn't reply to you, I just sent a follow up email to someone I was like, Hey, you said you're interested in connecting and I haven't heard from you. Just wanted to touch base again to let you know how things are going. Just give an update right? Hey really exciting we're bringing someone else on. I just want to keep you up to date. Let me know if you want to follow up on your previous email. And he replied instead he was like, Thanks for getting this back in my sights. I'm going to take care of this. Right. And sometimes people just need a check in. If they started the conversation, unless they're you know kind of jerks, then they want to finish it.
Tim Bornholdt 53:44
I love it. Jazz, this has been like one of my favorite podcasts that I've ever done. This was so effortless.
Jazz Hampton 53:49
Thanks, I appreciate that.
Tim Bornholdt 53:51
How can people find you, TurnSignl? If anybody wants to reach out and get in touch with you, how can people do that?
Jazz Hampton 53:57
Yes. So TurnSignl.com is the website and that's TurnSignl without the A, so t-u-r-n-s-i-g-l.com. TurnSignl.com. Use the Contact Us form, just like Target did or you can just email me directly at our email address which is firstname.lastname@example.org, again spelled the same way, email@example.com.
Tim Bornholdt 54:21
Awesome, Jazz, thanks again for joining me today. This was great.
Jazz Hampton 54:25
Thanks for having me. I also thoroughly enjoyed it, again feel like I'm catching up with an old friend more than doing a podcast, so thanks for your time.
Tim Bornholdt 54:33
A big thanks to Jazz Hampton for joining me on the podcast today. You can learn more about TurnSignl at TurnSignl.com and that's TurnSignl without the A in signal. Also for the record. It's Nick Fury is the Samuel L. Jackson Avenger. I had to look it up after we chatted and I still don't know which Avenger I would be.
Show notes for this episode can be found at constantvariables.co. You can get in touch with us by email Hello@constantvariables.co. I'm @TimBornholdt on Twitter and the show is @CV_podcast. Today's episode was produced by Jenny Karkowski and edited by the earnest Jordan Daoust.
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This episode was brought to you by The Jed Mahonis Group. If you're looking for a technical team who can help make sense of mobile software development, give us a shout at JMG.mn.