ARYZE sat down with Taylor Ryan to discuss his two start-ups, life as an expat entrepreneur and his top five tips for marketing and efficiency.
Taylor Ryan has the friendliness, self-assuredness and high-energy of an American entrepreneur juxtaposed against a calm, insular society. Our discussion, which was fast paced and riddled with swears, covered work culture, entrepreneurship and ex-patriotism.
Where many American expats enjoy the work-life balance they find themselves entitled to, Ryan has committed to an “American-style” eighty hour work week with little time off. He is the founder and CEO of two companies and a bi-monthly event series. One of those companies is just over two years old and the other of which was started six months ago. Ryan had been brewing the ideas for his two companies while working full time, but after being let go from his job, he immediately transitioned to full-time entrepreneurship.
ArchitectureQuote, the older endeavor, is a 2018-founded Saas platform aiming to link architecture projects with small to medium firms. When he first moved to Denmark, Ryan befriended a group of architects who were also international, and quickly learned through them that Danish architects get projects through word of mouth. He saw a gap in the market, and set out to create a systematic way to connect people with the right professionals to design their homes.
Klint Marketing, the newer company, is a Marketing Strategy and Growth-Hacking firm aimed at using data creatively to scale companies of any size. Klint Marketing specialises in content creation, SEO, SEM, PR, conversion rate optimization, workshops and more. After holding a few successful marketing events, people began asking Ryan how much he charged for marketing strategy advice, and thus began Klint Marketing.
Ryan believes that being an expat entrepreneur leaves him in a particular intersection of two societies, wherein he simply has to “out work” most people:
If I was looking for funding in the US, I’d have it in three to six months; here, there’s a lot more politics. As an entrepreneur, if you aren’t Danish, you have to outwork everyone else around you. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t get to participate in the 37 hour work week like everyone else, you’ve got to put in the time. And yes, I also believe in working smarter, not harder. I automate more processes and substitute tools for manuals in every facet of my companies. I’ve worked 7 days a week for two years now, and it’s a thankless job.”
Still, Ryan enjoys the fact that his work and successes are shaped entirely by his efforts, and he does not aspire to a life marked by hobbies and social events:
There is no cross-fit to my life, there are no squash tournaments; the only time I’m really going out is to network with people in my industry, entrepreneurs, or investors.
Indeed, his intrinsic desire to “make it” is the reason he is willing to sacrifice work-life balance. Says Ryan:
‘Making it’ is a moving finish line, you never actually get there. There’s no crossing the finish line and having everyone pat you on the back. Tomorrow there’s a new challenge or a new project. That’s actually part of the fun. ’
Part of Ryan’s drive is a wish to maximise every effort. As a result, he would rather work with larger companies that either work with startups or have innovation projects they need to scale, because they simply have more money than startups do. He sees consulting is a service based on time, so larger companies will give him more financial gain for the same work. According to Ryan, the way to leverage your business into bigger clients is to ‘do great work’. Now, he is finally starting to get traction with the larger players:
The reality is, no large companies will work with unknown entities, but the more small-to-medium sized players that you do amazing work for, the more word spreads, and the better portfolio you have to show the larger players. And a lot of people have at least taken the meetings, which they weren’t doing six months ago. So, I’m continuing to grow off of working with small-to-medium sized companies that are hungry and flexible, but ultimately I want to be working in the larger innovation space.
Ryan gave us his top five pieces of advice each for start-ups and corporations who are looking to scale and maximise efficiency.
Taylor Ryan’s Top 5 Advice for Startups
- Develop a product or service first: many people get funding off of ideas, which Ryan considers absurd. But if you have a product to show, you’ll be much more likely to receive funding and specific feedback.
- Integrate: Find a way to integrate with well-known, well used tools in your industry. If your product can become an add-on to an existing and widely used tool, or provide value in tandem with that, you’ll gain traction more quickly.
- Get a ‘big ass’ client first: If you can show a major player that you are working hard and building something valuable, they will nurture and support you with resources, enabling you to launch quicker.
- Create content: To drive users and convert them to paying customers, releasing lots of content will generate traffic to your website. People don’t care about your product or service until they actually need it, and quality content is a free way to ensure they know how your product will benefit their business or their lives.
- Prioritise: Deciding what task to start with creates an ‘analysis paralysis’ and procrastination. Don’t get stuck. Instead, start your day with whatever you absolutely need to get done. This is often the task you want to do the least. Once that is out of the way you can see what’s next.
Taylor Ryan’s Top 5 Advice For Corporations:
- Create a “stop-doing” list: there’s too much nonsense that companies continue doing, but no one is asking why. You should only do things that generate results and provide value: “It if doesn’t make money or make you happy, you can probably stop doing it”.
- Trim the fat: If people don’t stop making such large salaries for no apparent reason, there will continue to be a major trend of large companies going bankrupt. There are too many people making four-to-five times what they should, and too many inefficient employees who are draining their companies.
- Absorb and track lessons: Absorbing lessons learned and keeping them on file is crucial for any large organization. Keep track of what has been done, when and by who. What worked? What didn’t? Why? Recording lessons and having systems in place to track these lessons will help entire departments avoid wasting effort and money on projects that have already been tried.
- Hire diversely: Stop hiring people that look and think like you. Ryan believes that hiring should be merit based, and that hiring people who think differently and come from different sectors will allow for divergence and innovation within your company.
- Work with Klint marketing: says Ryan, “they’re going to help”.
Ryan’s advice for professionals looking to break into the Danish job market is to build relationships and go to as many events as possible. He acknowledges that it may be uncomfortable, but it worked for him. Now, as an American entrepreneur living in Denmark for four years, Ryan seems happy with where he’s ended up:
Not so long ago, I was back in the States. I was going to work in a place I didn’t see a future. I had no respect for my boss and hated where I was in life. I was in a situation where I didn’t see an exit. Now, I’m doing all this extra stuff because I enjoy it. A ton of people would find themselves in a similar circumstance if they start to look at what work really is. If you see it as an opportunity to evolve, to transfer your knowledge to other people, to set goals for yourself, and help some people along the way – then, yeah, I say, go get it. That’s a good life.
To learn more about Taylor Ryan, add him on LinkedIn or visit the ArchitectureQuote and Klint Marketing websites. For more interviews and information on entrepreneurship, technology and more, please visit ARYZE’s blog and website.