“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” —Auguste Rodin
In this episode, Amaury and Mitchie introduce themselves. They each explain their background and experience, how they started working together, and what led them to this podcast.
Amaury has gathered lots of experience throughout the years. So if you’re a founder without a technical background, listen up because you’re in the right place.
- What Amaury does at My CTO Friend
- What led Amaury to this and his epiphany
- How Amaury’s first startup failed and what he learned
- What Amaury does as a CTO consultant
- How Mitchie and Amaury started working together
- What’s Amaury’s vision for My CTO Friend
- Woopstore – https://angel.co/woopstore
- Mitchie’s website – https://www.mitchieruiz.com/
- My CTO Friend the Podcast – https://myctofriend.co/podcast
- Episode 2: Who are Mitchie and Amaury – https://myctofriend.co/2
Read the transcript
Mitchie Ruiz: Welcome to My CTO Friend the Podcast, where founders come to learn how to manage a tech startup. This is Mitchie Ruiz, and I’m with Amaury Khelifi. Hi, Amaury.
Amaury Khelifi: Hi, Mitchie. And welcome, startupers, to today’s podcast. In this episode, we are going to introduce ourselves. And you are going to get to know a bit our background and what led us to share tech startup experiences on this podcast.
Mitchie: That’s right. And talking about experience, Amaury has gathered lots of those throughout the years. So if you’re a founder without a technical background, listen up because you’re in the right place. So without further ado, let’s get started. Amaury, let’s talk about what you do now with My CTO Friend. What is that? What do you do?
Amaury: Well, My CTO Friend is kind of a worldwide resource for IT management, dedicated to startup founders, and most specifically those who don’t have the technical background.
Mitchie: Right. And how do you get there? How do you start My CTO Friend?
Amaury: Well, I have an extensive IT [managerial] experience. I’ve worked for more 10 years in a corporate environment. Before that, I learned scripting, coding and managing servers when I was a teenager. And it was in 2010 or 2011 when I had a real epiphany. I was working next to a guy who was 60 years old, and he [had been] doing the same thing for more than 40 years. And I just realized that I didn’t want to do the same, day in and day out without any challenges, without learning. That’s not something that speaks to me.
Mitchie: You wanted to shake things up, right?
Amaury: Absolutely. And especially with [the] new generations, the Y and Z generations, we tend to do [our own thing] and to listen [to] our dreams.
Mitchie: Yeah, true. Now once you have this epiphany, you are working next to this older man, you realize you don’t want to do this over and over again for the rest of your life, where do you go from there? What did you do?
Amaury: Well, before I share that story, when I was young, I always wanted to be an inventor. I even [remember] telling my grandpa that I wanted to invent things. I was playing with Legos and building lots of things, electronics, before I dove into the computer science environment.
And at that time, I was working in this big corporation, and I had something like 1,000 slides on my computer, slides that I had created before because I started as a teacher first. And I said, okay, maybe I should sell that content and allow people to contribute to it, and to create value and sharing that value. Because we all have a lot of [valuable content], but often people don’t know how to share it.
And that’s what led me to create my first startup, a project named Woopstore. It was a marketplace where I [would be] able to sell my digital content. But [it’s] not only for people who creates courses, it was [also] for writers, it was for teachers, it was for musicians—anyone that had digital content to share and to sell can share it on my platform.
Mitchie: Okay. And how did that work out? You’re now a CTO consultant. So how did you go from trying to build your own startup to helping others build their startup?
Amaury: That’s a tough story. I [actually] left my job by the end of 2012. We launched the project in 2013, something like six months after. You have to know that I was working and developing this project for one or two years, nights and weekends.
Amaury: And after one year, it failed. I joined an accelerator, the European Innovation Academy accelerator, and during three weeks, we coded and we worked on the project. Not this one in fact, I worked with other projects, and that was where I realized that I needed to stop. It was a very specific I asked to the mentors from Silicon Valley that came at that time. And the question was, “What’s the difference between obstination and perseverance?” And the answer was 18 months. If during 18 months you are not able to come up with a real business model that works, just stop and do something else. And that’s what I did.
Mitchie: Obstinacy or obstination is really a problem in this sort of environment because people want to make their dreams come true but they might not be able to identify when they’re being a little bit stubborn. So like you said, I’m sure that was a harsh lesson to learn but definitely a useful one. And I’m glad to know that now you’re sharing that knowledge. How did you get into being a consultant? How were you able to share that knowledge? How did you get the people to share it with and what have you seen?
Amaury: Well, that was definitely a tough process, stopping my own company. I started to help startups around me just by helping them manage their development. It’s worked pretty well. It was kind of classical freelance work first. And one startup after another, and then I did a few conferences in incubators, then I started to mentor in incubators.
So I was really moving from the freelance work to consulting work, teaching things in incubators, then I had a lot of clients, and I just thought—it was something like two or three years ago, “How can I scale?” And the only way for me to scale was to come back to my first job which was teaching. And teaching thanks to videos, to content, writing, and today podcast. And that’s where My CTO Friend came about.
Mitchie: True. And talking about teaching, that’s something we have in common. Because while you were trying to reach more people, I was teaching English. I taught English for around five years. I started very young actually, I started while I was still in high school. I did a little bit of work when I was still in primary school, but I don’t count that. I started very young teaching languages, and that’s actually how we got to know each other.
Amaury: Yeah, two years ago. Absolutely.
Mitchie: Two years ago, you decided you wanted to do all of your content in English, right, to reach more people? And I worked for you as a language consultant, and I’ve been doing so for two years. And now let me just go ahead and jump on that to talk a little bit about myself.
I’m originally from Venezuela, so Latin American country, right next to Colombia. I’m also from Colombia, but that’s a different story. My first language is Spanish, so it’s not English. But I learned English by myself and made sure I was an expert at it and start teaching it. And that’s how I was able to work for you as a language consultant because I had gone through the process mastering a second language myself. For you I’ve done proofreading, content writing, you name it. I’ve done everything you’ve thrown my way. And how have I done? A little feedback?
Amaury: You [have done] many things. You reviewed every course I produced. I think it should be something like 2,000 slides, writing my blog posts for more than a year, for sure. As for ghostwriting, we have a proven process for interviews, very effective because I am always seeking for more time to do more, and it was just thanks again for being next to me on that project and helping me on almost a daily basis. Again, I’m very grateful for that.
Mitchie: Thank you. Sure thing. I’m grateful to you too because I’ve been able to dabble into fields that I didn’t know I was going to be good at. But I love trying on new things. I love learning. That’s pretty much my selling point, learning new things. So the work we’ve done together for the last two years, I’ve learned a lot about the startup environment. Something that I am not all someone with technical background. I’m not a technical profile. Coding that’s not on my plate.
So hearing you talk about these things, I have learned a lot. And with the affinity we have through our work together I’ve been able to add a little bit into this equation to be the ears of someone that doesn’t have that extensive experience that you do, and being able to translate that to simple English for us to understand. So I’m very excited about this project.
I’m really interested in learning more and I love what you do. I love that you want to share your knowledge, that you want to share your experience, that you want to help all of those sort of founders out there that are struggling with tech management. This is a real necessity. So the fact that I’m able to be here by your side to just help out, I’m very proud of this project, and I’m sure that the people that the people that are going to be listening are going to learn a lot. And we’re going to make it entertaining.
Amaury: And on that topic and the process of learning. Tell us a bit more about what are your techniques. This episode is all about us and introducing ourselves to our My CTO Friend audience. And you are only 23, if I’m right?
Mitchie: Yes, that’s true. I’ll be 24 by the end of this month.
Amaury: Great. And you have so many skills. How in the world is that possible to learn that fast?
Mitchie: Well, there’s a lot of resources out there. We live in a very interesting time where if you have any interest in learning something, you can get resources for it. You can actually find some material out there that’s going to help you. And I just made the most out of that. I’ve never lived in an English country, jumping on the example of English speaking. But I have spoken to a lot of people the United States.
Or I’m feeling a little naughty and I want to fake an English accent or a British accent, I can do that and make sure I cheat my way into a Brit’s ear and they think, “I’m not able to place you exactly. What part of London are you from?” And no, I’m not from any part of London. Yeah, I just like learning. I really, really enjoy the process.
I call myself a learning hacker because I’ve thought myself a lot of things. I learned English that way. I learned German. I’m actually based in Germany. I learned how to sew. I work with leather, work with wood. I’m studying to be a product designer, so a lot of the skills that I use, technical, physical skills, like an artisan that I’ve used to get into product design school were self-taught to some extent. I also do acrobatics. I do aerial silks and a little bit of contortion. That’s also self-taught and that’s a dangerous field to be in.
So I have experience with, let’s say skills that you might not have motivation to learn. Languages can be very frustrating to learn because you don’t see many results. Maybe you don’t have the, let’s say, it’s not easy for you to practice because you don’t know people that speak the language or you don’t have the environment to do so. So learning new words, learning new vocabulary, making sure you get a rhythm when you’re speaking, that’s very frustrating. But if you learn contortion on your own, that could be actually dangerous.
So I have also experience with things that might not be frustrating, contortion is not that frustrating, but you really need to be careful. Make sure that you have all of the resources available and you talk with experts. Very much close to what you do, make sure you surround yourself with the right people and with the right material to make sure that what you’re learning is going to turn out well. And yeah, I mean, I have a bunch of more stuff that I could share—hairdressing, baking, cooking, whatever, you know, there’s a lot.
Amaury: So basically coming back to how we build a startup, I think what we can learn from this is that you just need to surround yourself with the right people. And I was looking for someone to help me teach what I know and you were the right one. I am really glad too that I met you and we’re going to do it together through this podcast. And you can learn a bit more about Mitchie as well on her website. Mitchie, can you just remind us your website?
Mitchie: Yeah, so that would be mitchieruiz.com. That would be, M-I-T-C-H-I-E, R-U-I-Z, or zed for the Canadians, Australians and Brits out there, dot com. Yeah, that’s the website. It’s a personal website, and you can see what I’ve learned so far there. And if you want to get in contact, you can reach me there as well.
Amaury: Perfect. So now this episode is all about you getting to know us. And now you know a bit more about what we do. And you’re going to learn a bit more about, above all, what are the challenges when we build a startup. What you need to know, the minimum, to lead tech developers, to work with agencies, providers, etcetera. And we are here for you.
So go on myctofriend.co/podcast if you have any questions. If you want to suggest a topic, we are here to [listen] to you as well as to improve the podcast because this is just the second episode. And yeah, what did I forget, Mitchie?
Mitchie: I wanted to add in here that founders just everywhere, listening out there, this is the podcast for you. Because we’re going to cover a lot of topics. We’re going to cover them in depth and in simple terms. So it’s going to be something that you will be able to follow and understand and make sure that you’re doing the best for your startup, you’re giving it its best chance. You’re in very good hands here with Amaury. And we are going to make sure together that you get through this, whatever challenges you’re having, we’re going to get through it together. I promise.
Amaury: Thank you. And you are in very good hands with her because she will help me make things more understandable for everyone.
Mitchie: That’s a plan.
Amaury: Thank you, Mitchie for this great discussion. And again, if you want to know more or to get the notes of this episode, go on myctofriend.co/2, which is the number of the episode which is “2.” Thanks again, Mitchie, and I’m looking forward to recording the next episode.
Mitchie: Thank you, Amaury. Until next time.
Amaury: And what are going to talk about in the next one? Yeah, in the next one, we’re going to talk about the difference between what startup founders want, which is usually success, which is usually a developer to build their product, so the difference between that, what they want, and what they really need. And what they really need is in fact what usually a CTO is providing. They don’t have a technical background. They need to fulfill the CTO role. Fulfilling the CTO role we’re going to touch on a little bit more about the product owner, the IT manager, the innovator as well as the tech expert. But let’s talk about that next time.
Mitchie: That’s right.
Amaury: And until then, take care and bye for now. Thank you.
Mitchie: Bye. Thank you.