Hay, It’s an Interview!

John Abraham & School of Hard Knocks

Our co-founder, John Abraham was recently interviewed by the School of Hard Knocks.  They sat down at one of our Haymaker locations, Hill Country Home, to chat about John’s experience founding his previous company and selling it a few years later, and what he’s working on at Haymaker.

Interview Location: Hill Country Home

Did you love the Haymaker space featured in this video? It’s Hill Country Home, and you can rent for your work needs! Spend a day with us!

Interview text follows, which may be inaccurate in some places,  because we used an AI transcriber.

James: Good to see you. What’s your story as a startup founder and entrepreneur? What are you up to right now?

John: I used to bartend in college, and a lot of folks would come in from Dell, Applied Materials, and Intel. I knew I wanted in on the tech space, so I finally begged one of them into giving me a chance at sales, and that’s how I started my sales career in tech. We launched an application in 2014 and had an exit in 2018. Now, I’m working on a new startup called Haymaker, which is like AirBNB, .it’s a marketplace for on-demand and temporary office space.

James: A lot of people have a lot of great ideas. What’s the first step in order to turn that idea into actual action and execute on that?

John: Well, before you create anything, you need to understand the viability of the product and the total addressable market. So, before you build anything, I would start with interviewing as many potential clients as you can. If you’ve recognized a need in some sort of industry or some space, you want to start with talking to the decision-makers in that space. What are your challenges? What are you struggling with? The more interviews, the better. Then go back to them and say, “If we can solve this problem for you, what would that mean for your company?” You’re not quite asking for a sale yet. You’re just trying to get them to help you understand what that would mean for them. And if you can get somebody to commit to piloting that project early on, then you can go and build your MVP, your minimally viable product. That is the best approach.

James: Yeah, and I kind of wanted to ask you. So, if you have that idea, you start to get a team around it, you start to invest some money in it. At what point do you know that you have a good idea and that you should keep investing in it?

John: You don’t until you figure out a way to scale it. It could solve a really substantial problem, but until you figure out how to get customers, you don’t really have a great idea.

James: What is your best piece of advice for entrepreneurs that might be struggling with perfectionism? They’re constantly in analysis paralysis, working on their product, and they’re not sending it out into the market. What would be your piece of advice for those entrepreneurs?

John: Yeah, I’ve maybe been guilty of this myself, but I think perfectionism is really a form of insecurity. So, you don’t want anybody calling the baby ugly, so you’re never going to show anybody the baby. That’s not a place where you can really get any constructive feedback and course correct if you need to. If you have a differentiator, though, that you can highlight and then let your client buy in on, how helping you shape the product in a way that’s maybe a better fit for them, now they’re bought in. So, it’s a great opportunity for you to just show them something. It’s not perfect. You even admit it’s not perfect. What can we do to make this perfect for you?


James: What is the number one important theme that you can implement to scale your business from six to seven figures, from seven to eight, and maybe against the eight to nine figures?

John: The rule that I use is one: if I could outsource this for less than my hourly rate, then I’m gonna outsource. If it means bringing on someone permanent, that’s something that you’ll just have to budget for and build your forecasts on and continue to bring people on.

James: What do you think is the absolute best way to go about marketing your product or service?

John: If you’re an enterprise play and you have enterprise clients, there’s one strategy there – email is actually still pretty prolific there. But it’s going to be a mix – a mix of social media, a mix of direct outreach through emails. I’d even be cold calling if you’re doing enterprise stuff. If you’re doing more of a consumer play, social media plays a pretty critical role there.

James: You built and sold a company in 2018. What does that process look like of selling a company, and how can you set up your company to be sold one day?

John: The best way to set up your company to be sold is just to keep focusing on the bottom line, keep building revenue, keep moving the needle. And if you keep doing it and it’s efficient, people notice. Institutional investors will notice. They probably want to help you along and help promote the company in the form of an investment or an acquisition might take place because they want to be part of that, or they want to roll your products into their services and offerings. That happens every day.

James: One of the things you mentioned is having that circle around you, that board of advisors. How important do you think it is to have a mentor and just advisors around you to give you that proper advice and guide you to where you really need to go?

John: There’s typically not one person that you go to for everything. You might have that one person that you go to to keep you motivated, like a business coach or some sort of motivational coach or something like that. But there’s a lot of nuance to running a business, and you’re not going to be an expert at everything. So if possible, go out and try to find people who are experts in those categories. I still have sales mentors. You know, I can forget; you get rusty sometimes, and so you gotta go out and go back to your mentors, and they’ll steer you down the right ship.

James: The company you’re currently building right now is called Haymaker. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what you’re up to as the owner of it?

John: Haymaker is an online marketplace similar to Airbnb, but we specialize in temporary office and meeting spaces. This is actually one of our Haymaker spaces here. It’s ideal for companies with distributed employees or that don’t have a ton of office space and they need to supplement that office space. So, we have luxury homes like this one, we have flex spaces, studios, traditional commercial real estate – they’re all available by the hour or by the day.

James: What made you come up with this idea?

John: Oh gosh, during the pandemic, actually. Pre-pandemic, my co-founder came up with the idea of launching more of an online marketplace for co-working, but then when the pandemic hit, we saw the number of people moving around, and that really affirmed that we’re headed down the right path. Pivoted a little bit from just co-working into meeting spaces since so many companies had dropped their real estate foot-print. 


James: John, thank you so much for having us out to your spot. We’ve really enjoyed getting to talk to you today. Where can everybody find you and find out more about your company?

John: Yeah, you can come to haymakerspace.com, check it out, look at our listings there. You can book directly through our website as well,