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Fireside chat with Jamie Gotz, Co-founder&CEO of Shepherd

Who is Jamie Gotz?

I grew up in Plettenberg Bay, a small coastal town along the Garden Route in South Africa. I graduated from the University of Stellenbosch with a BComm and BComm Honors degree. I’ve always had a thirst for travel, so before and after my studies I spent a year playing rugby in New Zealand, and another year working in Aspen, Colorado, before backpacking through South America for 5 months.

I then had an opportunity to move over to London and have been here for more than 6 years now. Right when Covid hit, I was halfway through working out my notice before starting a new role to head up operations for a Series A PropTech startup. As the end of my notice approached, I decided that Series A was too ‘developed’ for what I truly wanted, and so I decided to start my own company. Fast forward a few months, I moved to Oslo in Norway to join the Antler accelerator program for 6 months. This is where I met my Co-founder & CTO, Harry, and where Shepherd was born.

I’ve always been entrepreneurial at heart and started my first ‘business’ at university, which promptly failed. I consider myself to have a considerable risk tolerance which makes my career in startups so exciting.

What’s the story behind Shepherd?

The idea for Shepherd came about shortly after the pandemic hit when Harry and I met during an intensive accelerator program in Oslo. We had both felt the ridiculous frustrations of in-person and remote meetings, yet we had not come across any solution that actually made meetings better. We also knew that many companies will be reassessing their flexible working policies, meaning more remote meetings, and therefore making the problem even more prominent and widespread.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

Trying to pinpoint exactly where the pain points were. We interviewed hundreds of people, all of whom expressed enormous frustrations regarding meetings, but in a variety of different ways. We spent a lot of time diving deeper into what the most painful problems were, how we can position ourselves to solve them, and the best way to enter such a competitive market with a fighting chance.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

The way we’ve managed to execute up until now. We spent a lot of time planning, researching and experimenting, but eventually we were expected to execute. We’ve managed to build a product that we believe has already found early product market fit after only a few months in private beta, and we’re excited to build on our momentum to really accelerate our growth.

What is your vision for the future of Shepherd?

We want to be part of every company’s productivity stack – to be one of the first tools our customers open in order to get their work day started.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

I have two main bits of advice:

  1. Embrace how your value proposition might change over time based on your target audience, externalities and timing. We’ve been amazed at how the story we tell has evolved and how we position ourselves in bringing value to our customers. Don’t resist this, rather embrace it.
  2. Move with urgency in everything you do. You’ll likely make more mistakes, but I believe there’s no substitute for speed in startups, but also in the current economic climate.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

  • Slack – not only do we use Slack religiously every day, but we also try to learn from them as a high-growth SaaS success story. They’ve paved an impressive path to enabling teams to be productive, and we know that if we can emulate what they’ve done, we’ll have our own impact on productivity.
  • Loom – we use Loom several times each week. Whether we’re communicating asynchronously within our team, or sending personalised videos to investors or our users, we find Loom to be a game-changer.
  • Shepherd – I have Shepherd open for every single meeting I have. It allows me to easily prepare for meetings, create agenda templates, take collaborative notes with my team and also quickly share a meeting summary. I might be a bit biased, but I’d really struggle if I didn’t have Shepherd at my fingertips.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

  • Utopia for Realists – by Rutger Bregman
  • Super Pumped – by Mike Isaac
  • The Lean Startup – by Eric Ries
  • I Am Pilgrim – by Terry Hayes

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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