Billion Dollar Creator

Discover what it really takes to build a unicorn company with another dope creator, Suneera Madhani. Suneera started Stax Payments from nothing, scaling it to become the fastest-growing fintech company in America, before exiting at over $1 billion in revenue, and 500 employees. Suneera’s all about women’s empowerment and showing that People of Color can build billion-dollar businesses, and she loves sharing her story so others like her can see what’s really possible for them.

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What is Billion Dollar Creator?

Attention is power and creators harness it better than anyone else.

But they’re not using that attention to create the biggest impact possible and are vastly under monetized.

Host’s Rachel Rodgers and Nathan Barry believe you can be a Billion Dollar Creator.
Sounds impossible?

Over the last 10 years they’ve followed each other on their quests to build billion dollar companies. They’ve studied creators and seen how entrepreneurs build traditional audiences and use them as a launching pad for a massive business.

And it got them thinking – if it can happen for them, it can happen for us. And if it can happen for us, then why not you?

Billion Dollar Creator is a show teaching creators how to capture attention and turn it into real wealth. They'll deep dive into brands, celebrities, and entrepreneurs who have done it before and show you how you can apply it to your business as an everyday creator.

Join them weekly as they learn from both the wild successes and the missed opportunities, the grand gestures and the integral mistakes, and through that help you become an expert at building your audience on your journey as a Billion Dollar Creator.

Suneera Madhani: That's where people get hung up in that fear is that we're expected to go from A to Z. You don't need to go from A to Z. You just need to get to A to B. Then when you're at B, then get from B to C. Big goals are made up of small steps.

Rachel Rodgers: Attention is power, and creators harness it better than anyone else, but they're not using that attention to create the biggest impact possible and are vastly under monetized. Hi, I'm Rachel Rogers, my cohost, Nathan Barry, and I believe you can be a billion dollar creator. Sound impossible?

Over the last ten years, we followed each other on our own quest to build billion dollar companies. We've studied creators and seen how entrepreneurs build traditional audiences, and use them as a launching pad for a massive business. It got us thinking, if it can happen for them, it can happen for us. If it can happen for us, then why not you?

Billion Dollar Creator is a show teaching creators how to capture attention and turn it into real wealth. We will deep dive into brands, celebrities, and entrepreneurs who have done it before and show you how you can apply it to your business as an everyday creator.

Join us weekly as we learn from both the wild successes and the missed opportunities, the grand gestures and the integral mistakes. Through that, help you become an expert at building your audience on your journey as a billion dollar creator.

Nathan Barry: It's good to be here in Nashville with you all. One thing, if you've listened to the podcast at all, we talk about Taylor Swift quite a bit.

Rachel: And also Beyonce.

Nathan: And Beyonce. Which, shout out to Taylor Swift for putting the NFL on the map this week. It's good that they're finally getting some of the attention that they've hoped for for years. In all seriousness, that's wild. Just the Taylor Swift effect, even on something so popular is the NFL, like blows me away.

Rachel: Yes, exactly. We actually happen to be in her neighborhood.

Nathan: Yeah, her apartment is the next building over. We're hosting a mastermind in the room, and Alyssa on our team comes in and is like, “I know why you chose this hotel.” I'm like what do you mean? Why? She's like, “That's Taylor Swift’s apartment.” Which I did not choose it for that reason. It's just a happy coincidence.

Rachel: Just a happy coincidence. Just happens to be a unicorn, right? Causing money to be spent wherever she goes.

Nathan: Yes.

Rachel: Money to be spent, money to be made wherever she goes.

Nathan: Yes. So speaking of unicorns, our guest tonight is someone who has built a unicorn company, has done all kinds of incredible things. So Rachel, I'm going to let you introduce our guest.

Rachel: Yeah, so Suneera Madhani is a friend of mine. I met her last year at South by Southwest. We were on a panel together, and we just hung out all day long. It's like we met for breakfast and then we just followed each other around all day.

She is just a dope creator and had an idea working at a company, and she'll tell a little bit about her story, and decided to bet on herself. Just accidentally, not so much accidentally, built a billion dollar business, which she recently exited. Now she's deciding on what she is going to do next.

She is all about women's empowerment. She is all about showing that people of color, women of color, can build billion dollar businesses. So one of the things that she's doing right now is being very visible, doing a lot of media because she wants to make sure, she knows how important it is that her story is out there. So that you know people like us can see it and say okay, I can do this too. We can have billion dollar businesses. So.

That's why we do this podcast because we want you to dream bigger. We want you to see that there's so much opportunity out there for you. You don't have to choose the smallest thing. You can do the biggest thing if you want to. So I'm so delighted to welcome Suneera who has her two children here. She's a mom of two that built a billion dollar business. Amazing. So y'all are going to hear that story in just a moment. Welcome Suneera.

Nathan: So Suneera, you build a company to an amazing level. Like someone who's not in payments or tech might not understand these numbers, but you're processing $40 billion in payments, which is absolutely insane. We want to, why don’t you throw out?

Rachel: 90,000 customers as well. Can you imagine? 90,000 customers. That is a lot of people to have a responsibility to, to deliver for. So scaling something like that is pretty spectacular.

Nathan: Yeah. Will you throw out a few more stats? What are some of the things that you did it Stax Payments that, just to help people understand the scale of it before you exited?

Suneera: Oh my God if I have to sum. It was the craziest whirlwind over the last. It took 10 years by the way. So one, I want to say that all of those stats and all of those numbers did not happen overnight. Right? It took 10 years. What I will tell you that I have felt every day of those 10 years, right? It goes by really fast. I think most successful founders will probably tell you that. That you look back and you're like man, that happened so fast. But when you look back, you did feel every single day of those days.

So it did take 10 years, but I am so, so proud of what took place. So yeah, so I started the business in 2014. Scaled it from just an idea that was rejected by every bank, every processor, every, you know. FinTech wasn't even a word. Payments was something that I was just part of. I was in the industry. I saw a need. I was selling terminals out of the trunk of my Volkswagen Beetle.

Like I literally from the ground up started this business and scaled it to just record breaking heights. I mean, we were the fastest growing FinTechs in America over the last like five years and took it from absolutely nothing to exiting at over a billion, actually exiting at over a billion. Raised over 500 million in venture capital. 40 billion in payments just processed this last year from an idea that didn't even exist.

So 90,000 customers, almost 500 employees nationwide, multiple offices, all the things. Very exhausting but super wonderful. I'm so grateful now to kind of be on the other side and to share truly. I'm here to share what it took to get to unicorn status.

Rachel: So let's start back where you began. So you're selling payment terminals out of the trunk of your car.

Suneera: Yes.

Rachel: Tell us what that was like. How did you get to selling payment terminals? You worked in this industry?

Suneera: Yeah. So I graduated with a degree in finance and marketing from University of Florida. So I'm a gator. Thank you. Yeah. I actually did not want to become an entrepreneur. So I think there's like a Forbes article somewhere that says like reluctant entrepreneur built a billion dollar business. I was a reluctant entrepreneur.

You see, I grew up in an immigrant household. So I grew up with a family of entrepreneurs. But entrepreneurship was out of necessity, not because it was sexy. Okay. So when you grow up when entrepreneurship is a need, you view it differently. So I saw the struggles that my parents had firsthand in growing their businesses and scaling their businesses.

The reason why my parents became small business owners was because that was the only way to the American dream. There was no other way for them to succeed without an education. Both of them weren't educated. They came here from Karachi, Pakistan separately. They met in Chicago. I was born in Chicago. I grew up in Dallas. Proud Cowboys fan, by the way.

So I grew up in this amazing household. It's like one of the most, like the thing that I will always say that has if I look back at why I'm successful it’s because of the values that we had as a family. One of the things that we had, now I know and we talk a lot about which is like the abundance mindset, right? So we talk a lot about the abundance mindset. We naturally had that as like an immigrant family. Like did not matter what we had. Whatever we had was more than enough, right?

It was the best. Like we had the best vacations. We had the best meals. We had the best celebrations. It took a village. So I was always used to having one a million people in our home, a million people at the dinner table, but it took every one to succeed.

So I didn't grow up with that. I'm so grateful for that because I didn't grow up around. Now I look back at, and I didn't have any scarcity mindset around me. It wasn't about self anything. It was about community. It was about the togetherness in the building and those family values. So that is important for me to share how I grew up.

I also grew up working in my parent’s small businesses. So we had a convenience store and then another convenience store. Then we had like a chicken franchise and a marketing firm. My father was a serial entrepreneur by the definition and successful in his own way, but also a very like bored entrepreneur. So he would start something and then we would go to the next thing.

So my brother and I went to 10 different schools in 12 years. That is a lot of schools. So I'm used to, and that's why I can make friends with anybody so quickly, so easily. I'm also grateful for those experiences, but it was hard. So I was a kid that was always new, always trying to find a seat at the table.

Now when you hear these things about me, Rachel would be like oh my god, she knows this. This stuff like totally makes sense in my friends because I always fought to belong somewhere.

I ended up going to school at UUF because that was like the scholarship that I had. I ended up going to UF. It was this amazing opportunity. I went to college. I was the first person in my family to earn a degree, and it was a big milestone for our family. That was the American dream for my parents was that we become educated so that we never have to work with the sacrifices that they had to work.

So I wanted that corporate job. I wanted that stability. I wanted that 401k. I wanted the things that I did not grow up around seeing. So I was a reluctant entrepreneur. But all of the things that were just in my DNA, right, naturally. I'm a problem solver. I cannot sit back and see things that take place and not want to fix them, whether it's on my paycheck or not. Okay.

So that's how the payment industry like was. I got a corporate position. I had multiple corporate positions. Then my third job out of school, I was working for a payments company. It was a super large payments company, and it was credit card processing. I was sold this dream that ended up becoming this nightmare.

I'm so grateful for having a real sales job. Let's call that. I was like hesitating to say it was a real sales job. It's different getting rejected over the phone or online then you have to show up to a business in person and be rejected to your face.

Rachel: First of all, one of the best things that can ever happen to you is that you are rejected repeatedly.

Suneera: Yes.

Rachel: Because then you are like oh look, I didn't die. Then you get comfortable asking for what you want and what you need. So I love that. I think we need to put ourselves in positions to be rejected a whole lot more often. So that we can understand like okay, this ain't the end of the world and be more like Suneera and just strike up conversations and ask for the sale and get up in there. You know?

Suneera: So hard. I remember sitting there. I would have to like look myself in the mirror and say all I need is one yes today.

Rachel: Yes.

Suneera: Right? Like I get to eat lunch when I get that yes. So I would go hungry if I didn't. I knew once I got the yes, I could eat my lunch.

Rachel: First of all, can we talk about this for a minute? Because I play games like this with myself.

Suneera: Do you?

Rachel: Do you do this too Nathan? Is this the mark of a successful?

Nathan: Not with food. These are like war games. You're taking that very seriously.

Rachel: But I think it's, I don't know. There's something about gamifying it, right? Like oh, when I hit this, I'm going to reward myself with that. You know? It's fun. So I don't know. Maybe not with food.

Suneera: I guess it is. I guess it is like what's important to you. I mean food is very important to me. I am a Pakistani. Food is very important to me. I think about the next meal. I do. I want to eat really good. I want to eat really well.

Rachel: So that, listen, that motivated. It's about what motivates you, right?

Suneera: It was just about the fact that I knew I had to get the one yes. I knew that I was going to get the nos. It's hard. So I show up in person. I learned the credit card processing industry, but I was paying attention, right? I was paying attention to the customer. I think people are not paying attention to their customers. I think we think we're paying attention to our customers. You're not actually paying attention to your customers. So I was paying attention to the customer.

I heard all of the things that why I was getting rejected for. They were burnt out. Fees were really crazy. They couldn't understand like what this was. Like all they had no support. But also I paid attention to where the puck was going.

So the industry was very commoditized. It's just like who can offer better service or better rates, right? So pricing, better pricing and better service. That is not the industry you want to be in. If you are in a position where you're having to undercut pricing, or you're having to like I have better service, you're not going to be a billion dollar business, right? Because there's going to be the next person who's going to offer better service and better pricing than you. Okay.

But where I saw the puck going is that we're becoming more and more cashless as a society. Those transactions that are flowing through, that terminal that I was selling, I was focused on selling those terminals. Like what about the data that's actually going through those terminals? What do we do with the data that's in that box, like that little black box? What are we going to do with that?

So I worked in the industry for a couple years, and I was really frustrated. One snowstorm in Texas, Texas does have snow storms. Dallas does have snow storms. I was stuck in a snow storm. I was visiting my grandma, and I legit that week binge watch season one of Shark Tank.

So it did happen. This is over a decade. This was like 11/12 years ago now. I binge watched this whole season. I think there was something in there I saw that is so important. You can't be what you can't see. You cannot be, and I saw entrepreneurs and like they're asking for money. They're asking for investment. I had no exposure to that. I did not have any exposure to that.

I saw, and all these businesses, none of them were – I didn't know what the term SaaS was. I didn’t know the term software. It was just like product based businesses that were getting up and pitching. But one, I can look back, and I can like put the pieces together. I saw people asking for money for their business.

Two, at that same time, I was rerouting my subscription boxes because I was a subscription junkie. Okay, so in every which way. So like it was like this is, I'm going to age myself, Birchbox ladies. Birchbox. BarkBox, right? Like all of the boxes. Okay.

Rachel: They all got you.

Suneera: Yeah, I was obsessed with these boxes. I was like making sure I'd be home to like receive my packages. That was it. That's when like the aha moment happened. I was like why isn't there a subscription based credit card processor? Like there's all this subscription based movement happening or it's about to happen. Industry is moving this way. Who's supporting one subscription based businesses? Who's supporting, like all of my customers are complaining about pricing, like all this stuff?

What if we had a flat fee subscription like we do our Spotify? Netflix wasn't even, like I think we're still in like CDs. I don't know. But what if it was a subscription in the payment industry? I did what every young entrepreneur does is you go to Google, right? You're like okay, here you go. Like there's gotta be something out there. There wasn't.

I had two options. I was like okay I can either hold that idea, or what can I do with it? So I decided to, my superpower, I can get into the room with anybody. That is my superpower. That is my superpower. I'm one degree away. Maybe it's like how I think about it. I'm one degree away from anyone I want to be in the room with.

Rachel: That's an abundance mindset.

Suneera: It is.

Nathan: Just a quick brag on you. That includes the Vice President because you went to.

Suneera: That also includes the president too, but the Vice President is way cooler.

Nathan: To be clear, you were at the Vice President's house.

Suneera: Yeah recently. She just invited me over to her house for dinner. It was amazing.

Nathan: So just when Suneera talks about that mindset and how she channels it, it goes all the way to the top.

Rachel: It clearly works.

Suneera: It does.

Rachel: She's onto something.

Suneera: But you've got to, you do belong. Like you do belong in the room. Whatever room it is, your voice matters. It does. When you start believing that it matters and you feel passionate about something that you want to advocate for, like the seas will part.

Nathan: I love that.

Rachel: Just preaching up here today.

Suneera: I'm so happy. I'm so happy to be here. I'm so happy. I am here because I want to be here. I want all of you to know. I'm so happy to be here. Thank you so much Nathan and Rachel for having me. I'm so excited to be here with you all because this mission that they have is real. We're going to change the game and why all of you should be building billion dollar businesses.

Okay, so when I went to headquarters, so I decided to switch my flight, went to headquarters. Said I'm going to make a meeting with the CEO. I got into the room with the CEO. So I got the meeting, did it. Little Suneera who's 25 years old, young, not anybody important in the company. I get the meeting.

You know when you're young, and you work for like this big company, like you imagine what headquarters is going to be like. You're like oh my god. Everyone's going to wear like fancy suits. You're going to walk in and everyone's going to like, I don't know, be drinking like protein shakes. I don't know what I had. Everyone's going to be like on their laptops. There's going to be board meetings, a lot of cool stuff.

Nathan: It wasn't?

Suneera: No. It was like nothing like I had like imagine my company to be. The first thing I remember is that there was nobody that looked like me at the company. At headquarters, at like the main, like the thing I looked up to so much. There was nobody that looked like me. There was no women.

The women that were working there were all in the support department or were secretaries or were in the marketing department. There's nothing wrong with any of that, but I wanted to be in the C-suite. That's where I saw myself when I was working for that company. I got into that boardroom, and I'm super overachiever. So I'm a Virgo, by the way. I'm not just like.

Rachel: That explains everything.

Suneera: It does. Everything. Everything. My whole life is like I will tell you all the therapy right here. You'll understand me in like five seconds. So I'm super Virgo, super type A, older sibling, all the things. I'm like in charge. When I do shit, I do it well. So I gave the best presentation of my life for this business plan for my company on the subscription based model that's going to disrupt our industry.

Rachel: So you're pitching this to your job where you work.

Suneera: My job. I did not want to. I didn't even think for a second for myself that this was going to be me to do it. I just thought this was going to help my company. That I'm going to get to be the one who helps create this, and I'll get to lead a department. I'll get to have a team underneath me. I thought this was going to be my step up in my corporate journey. I give the best presentation of my life. Y'all, I get laughed out of that room.

Rachel: Wow.

Suneera: Little girl. Your ideas are too, like they're strange. This would never work. You want us to invest in technology. We want to give away our pricing. It's been done like this. You don't know, right? I don't know. I'm inexperienced. You don't know. This is not how it works. This is not how it's going to be done. Because this is how we make money in this industry. So I get back on that plane.

Rachel: First of all, how often do people love to say well, it's never been done that way before? It's like yes, that's why I'm about to do it. Duh. But it's so true. It's like oh because people always tell you it's a bad idea because it's not common, and that's why it's a good idea. So you can't let other people's fears or projections like stop you from doing what you want to do.

Suneera: So I literally left that room so defeated. But I had two options. I knew I had to quit that job. I get home. By coincidence, that Sunday like that I fly home, it happened to be family dinner. My brother was there from San Francisco. We're all around the dinner table, and my dad looks to me and he goes, “Sunny,” which is like my family name, my nickname. “Why don't you just go do it?”

The first me? Dad, where do I go find Mr. Visa? How do you go start a plat? Like I don't have any experience in building technology. Like how do I go build a network? He said, “You'll figure it out. You're a problem solver. So if you want to go solve it, you'll figure out the solution. You have it.” I have it tattooed here on my arm.

He was right. I did have it. That's my superpower. I solve shit. I know how to solve. I didn't know what it was, how the sausage was going to be made. But I knew that if I actually put my brain to it, I could go get to the next step. I didn't need to go from A to Z. I just needed to go to A to B then from B to C. I think that's where people get hung up in that fear is that we're expected to go from A to Z. You don't need to go from A to Z. You just need to get to A to B. Then when you're at B then get from B to C.

Rachel: Yes.

Suneera: Big goals are made up of small steps. Right?

Rachel: So true.

Suneera: So that was a journey. From there, we started the company and went from that first year from not knowing Mr. Visa to partnering with every major card network. I became a mother, built the business as I continued to scale. If I can do it, I kid you not, you can do it too.

Nathan: That's amazing. One thing that I want to dig in on is I think a move of playing chess, not checkers. That's when the industry is all very standardized. For anyone who doesn't know, the credit card processing industry, there's standard rates. So for the most part, you pay like Stripe would be 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. It’s what everybody does. PayPal has their own model, etcetera.

So I can imagine when you come in and say like hey, let's throw all of that out. Let's let the merchant, we’ll charge a flat fee. $100 a month or whatever it ends up being. Then you can just pay, as a merchant, you can just pay the interchange fees, what Visa and MasterCard and others charge. So it's basically like I mean you basically brought wholesale pricing. So I understand why the other like the bosses in the relatively boring office it turns out.

Rachel: Are like we absolutely hate this idea. Never say it again out loud.

Nathan: Please do not tell anyone this because it's going to disrupt their entire industry. They're not willing to take that risk.

Rachel: Yes.

Nathan: So I think it's so important. Often, there's just this one insight that shifts it and thinks about the business in a totally different way. So I'm curious. As you launched this, was it a huge uphill battle because you're showing up later to Mr. Visa and others saying this is our model. Now they still make their cuts. They probably don't care. But I'm curious how that went. Like did you get laughed out of more rooms as?

Rachel: Did people not believe you? Because I think as a customer, I'd be like really?

Nathan: This sounds too good to be true.

Rachel: What's the catch?

Suneera: I think there a lot of that. I think for anything really novel, the word disruption. What is the word disruption? What is that word disruption? What is the word disruption Nathan? What does it mean to you?

Nathan: Taking something that’s the status quo and upending it.

Suneera: Completely flipping it on its head, right? It's disruptive. So when things are disruptive, people don't like change.

Rachel: Yes, they really don't.

Suneera: People don't like change. They are resistant to change. We are all resistant to change. Right? That is why we are so fearful. Even starting a business, launching a business, it's change.

Rachel: Changing your business, trying something new.

Suneera: Pivoting. Yes. Change is hard. But in order for you to succeed, you must evolve, and you must change, and you must disrupt at any stage. So disruption I think, is what people are most afraid of. Any sort of disruption that occurs at any industry, doesn't matter what you're disrupting, you're going to get the naysayers. I think what Rachel, what you said, you've got to get used to that level of getting rejected.

I was unfortunately, unfortunately, it's not fair. It's not a great thing to be proud of to say that I was constantly rejected. Still, even at this point, I'm happy to talk about where I feel like still after all the things that we've done, still there's a space where minority founders still have to prove themselves in a different way.

Rachel: Don't get me started.

Suneera: No, I think we should. I think we should get started.

Rachel: Because it’s that proving thing. Like oh well prove that you can do this. Okay, I'm going to go do that. Do it, check. Well now prove you can do this other thing. Okay, did that, check. Now prove. It's like this endless well, we don't know if we trust you. We're not sure. We just have doubts. It's like all of this language that's really racially charged. If it’s not race, it's about gender. It's just kind of like we can't believe something so profitable is coming out of this package.

Suneera: No, it is very difficult. Change is very difficult. So yes, so much uphill battle. Like I will say that the reason for our success and for like why, if you look back. Like the biggest myth like I could demystify for any entrepreneur ever. Like if somebody asked me like what is my biggest lesson in going back to this checkers thing? It's like I wish somebody had positioned it like I was playing chess, not checkers. But I would say the biggest lesson that I learned is that it doesn't get easier. You just get better.

Rachel: Yes.

Suneera: You just get better at tackling the fucking problem, tackling the fucking solution. You know what's coming. So you’ve got experience and is that notch in your belt. That notch in your belt is worth so much in gold. Because now I look back, I'm like okay, I'm about to go start. So I've exited. I'm happy to talk about what's next, all the things? If I do this again, which I will. If I do it again, I'm already like seven years into the game. What took me that first seven years for Sal and I go to go figure it out. So yes, to your question Nathan, a lot of rejection. But it almost becomes comical also at a certain point.

Rachel: Yes, you do get to a point where you laugh it off, where you talk shit about it, where you're like y'all, let me tell you all this story. You know what I mean?

Suneera: I dare you to tell a woman she can't do something.

Rachel: Exactly right.

Nathan: One thing, you have this entire background as a creator as well. We'll get into the dichotomy between CEO and creator and that balance. But before we do that, I'm just thinking about as a creator, we often have both the luxury and the crutch of staying behind the camera, behind the computer. Sometimes, in a way, we get rejected a lot because the thing that we put out there maybe didn't get the views that we wanted or the attention. On the other hand.

Suneera: That’s a good way to think about it.

Nathan: Yeah. But on the other hand, you can hide behind it and avoid rejection. If I'm putting out a blog post that then ties into the thing I want you to subscribe to, and then I'm selling my products on the back end of that, and people will just hit the back button. Like you don't actually learn much from that rejection. You're not out there selling.

So one thing that I think a lot of creators should do is seek out more of that rejection. Have conversations with customers. Even if it's a lower priced product, try to sell it on a call so you can understand that feedback. Because otherwise like the back button from a visitor on your website is a rejection but you don't learn anything from it.

Rachel: Right. You don't learn how to do it better.

Suneera: I love that Nathan. I think that might be one of the Achilles heels for creators. Because now, in today's world, we can stand behind a computer. Anyone can reject us, hate on us, send the shade, whatever the things are, or not view or not watch or not subscribe or whatever we measure success as as creators.

But I think that the real, like I think what we were talking about in the backroom of how creators can go build the next 100 million dollar business or a billion dollar business. It's not about the blog, or it's not about the post. It's not about the creation of the content. It's about what is the business behind it?

In order for you to build a business, you still have to connect with your customer. So behind like the digital screen, there is only so much, no matter how “engaged” you are, your audience is, like how fucking engaged are you really with your audience? When was the last time you actually went through and actually did customer discovery calls or built the product with your customer.

So I do think what you're saying on like the value of that customer and that true customer feedback of getting on a sales call. Maybe not even on a sales call. Maybe it's just about connecting with the customer without even an ask to get that feedback or that feed forward. Not even the feedback, the feed forward on what you're building, what you're doing, what you're launching, what that product is. Build it with them and not from the lens of just behind the screen or the mobile or the computer screen.

I think a lot of what's happening in the world today. It's scary. Like I, as a mother, I'm afraid of what like the transactional nature of the world has become. One of the biggest, like there's two things. Like the freedom of time. Time is the biggest currency that we have. That's the one that I value top of the most.

But I would say like freedom of dollar, freedom of time is important. Freedom of dollar is also important. But it's also freedom of not giving a fuck in the relationships. Like I do think that having like meaningful, meaningful interactions with people is one of the reasons why I've been like the relationships. Like getting in the room with people, I said, is my superpower. I didn't get that by just sitting behind a screen.

Rachel: Yes.

Suneera: My businesses weren't built by being just a creator. That happened later. My businesses were built with true meaningful interactions with humans. So in order for me to have the freedom of time and the freedom of impact and the freedom of no fucks given is because I had those relationships. I was able to call on my customers, call on the vendors, call on the partners, call on the friends, call on the support, call on that village that I was first alluding to. Those relationships cannot be built just behind the screen.

I will say we met behind a screen. We met virtually. So Rachel and I actually met just digitally online. I don't know how we connected. OBVIOUSLY, what she was doing at Hello Seven was very similar to my mission At CEO School. We're empowering women, women of color, all the things. We got connected. It was great. We became friends online. But like that was one level of it, but it didn't click until we became friends in real life.

Rachel: Yes, exactly. That's why I'm so big on events. So what you're saying is exactly what we're doing here with this podcast. We didn't wait until we were five years and had a huge audience to do events. We were like we're just going to launch with live episodes. Then we get real time feedback on what we're building from the listeners. So I think that's something that should definitely be built into whatever you're creating.

I love live in-person opportunity to interact because you just get so much more information. I remember I used to do retreats early on in my coaching business. I'd spend a week in a house with like ten of my clients. That data was so valuable.

It's like I had content for the rest of the year to write about. I knew them so well. I knew what they were buying, what they were paying attention to, what they were cranky about, like all of the things. You get to know them so well through these interactions. So I agree with you. That's one of the superpowers is the more you pay attention to your customer, the more you can serve them better, the more likely you're going to get that sale and that repeat sale again and again.

Nathan: So I think to wrap up that what we're saying is no matter what type of business you're in as a creator, building a non-creator focused business, any of that. Get out from behind the screen.

Rachel: Yes.

Nathan: Go talk to people. To think did I get rejected today? How many opportunities did I even have to get rejected today? Something that I think about when I was building ConvertKit, a lot of the time was I was sending emails that were scary. Like you hit send, and you like feel that like uh. I don't know. Then you refresh the inbox, they didn't reply. You're like waiting to get rejected. I realized.

Suneera: That's good. That’s a good feeling.

Nathan: It doesn't feel good, but it's a good feeling.

Rachel: You're in the arena. Like you're in a position where you could get rejected which means you're also in a position where you could potentially get a yes.

Suneera: No. It’s a good feeling that means because you're doing something uncomfortable. That means you're stretching. You're stretching beyond the par. So if you do not feel it in your gut, that means that you are not stretching to the next level.

Rachel: Yeah.

Suneera: Okay. So if you are playing at this level, and you are comfortable, you're going to stay here your whole fucking life. So if you want to play at this next level, that level to press that send button, Nathan, is scary.

Rachel: Yes.

Suneera: That is a good feeling. We have to get comfortable getting uncomfortable. Because if we're not uncomfortable and we don't hit that send, we're not going to move up to that next level by playing at this level ever.

Rachel: Something the president of my company Hello Seven, Brittany Martin, she always points out and she said that the feeling of fear and the feeling of being excited, it's the same in your body. It's the same physical reaction. So you can choose to interpret it as I'm terrified. This is horrible. Or you can choose to interpret it as I'm excited because something's going to happen, one way or another. Or at least, maybe they'll ignore it. But hopefully something happens. Even a rejection is good because like now somebody else out there knows what you're trying to do.

Nathan: One of the great thing about a rejection, is socially speaking, people have to give a reason why. You can't just say like no. Like if I say hey, will you buy this thing? You can't just like, or they're not allowed to just get up and like awkwardly look at you and walk out of the room. Like socially, that's not allowed.

So they have to be like oh I would love to buy it from you, but here's this whatever reason. It's too much work to switch to your product. I'm sure you heard that a lot in the payments industry. So then you're like ah, it's not a no. It's changed from a no but. You're saying like okay, what if we did the whole switch for you for free? What if? So when you actually get to a rejection then you can often just keep going until it turns into a yes.

Rachel: Yes, exactly. One question I want to ask you is about raising capital and your experience with that. Was that a positive experience for you? Was that an absolute nightmare?

Nathan: Oh, she's laughing already.

Rachel: How many conversations did you have to have to get that first check?

Suneera: We’re going to be here for a while. I mean, come on y’all. The best way to raise capital, okay, is if you were a white man.

Rachel: A straight white man to be clear.

Suneera: Straight white man. Then it's a lot easier for you to raise capital. But no, all jokes aside, it is fucking a nightmare to raise venture capital as a woman in business. It is so, it's not even beyond difficult. First, I want to say, let's just first forget even pulling out any other piece of it. Just as a woman, and we're leaving out an entire fucking sex. Like 50%, 51% of the planet. It’s 2.3% of venture capital still, I think it was 2021 stats, still less than went to women founders.

Rachel: I want to like connect for you why that is so important.

Suneera: Oh, my God.

Rachel: We’re talking about billions upon billions of dollars that are poured into the economy every year to support certain ideas and to make sure certain ideas happen. So that means that certain other ideas never happen. So if there's no people of color who are able to do that, and if there are no women who are getting that money, then the like people of color’s perspective, women's perspective is completely left out of that conversation. Those ideas never get to happen.

Because if you have a big idea that requires a lot of capital, it's like you can't get that check. So it's really challenging. Of course, there are all kinds of things that are coming up now where there are now women venture capitalists and Black women venture capitalists, and people like Suneera and myself and Nathan where we build companies and then we reinvest in other companies. So like now there's more people like us, but it's still such a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny thing.

Suneera: No, the gap, it is a real, it's a big problem. There's a lot of conversation about it. I really do. Like the one thing that I'm not a, I hate using the word anger. Frustration and emotion, I think, honestly, it's great. We are all humans. We have those emotions. But I really don't try to, there's not a lot of things that truly rile me up.

This is a real problem. In how fast technology has grown, how fast at like everything has moved into this amazing direction, but we are really held back like as women. It is very, I am a mother of two daughters today. It's going to take 300 years, 300 years before I'm not even talking about color yet, y'all. I'm just talking about our gender.

For women to have equality in terms of opportunity. We don't need to have physical, I don't need to like lift as much as you and take. Like I don't need physical equality. I want mental equality. I want opportunity. I want the same opportunities to be CEO, to have the position.

Rachel: To create our world. Because that's what this venture capital is doing is allowing new businesses to come, like Uber is now a part of our life that wouldn't have never happened without capital first. So like these ideas get to create the world of the future. We are not participating in that. That is a huge fucking problem.

Suneera: Huge, and it is important. There's a lot of conversation. We all feel like wow, there's this great movement for women in business, and we're having the conversation. But the statistics are not moving fast enough. They're just not.

Rachel: They're barely moving.

Suneera: They are barely moving. So it is important not to bring light, but it's actually what needs to change. I've done a lot of research on this over the last three years. This is how CEO School was created. I mean, I got really frustrated. In 2020 during the pandemic, I read an article in Forbes. I read less than 2% of female founders ever hit a million in revenue. That was like, that was it for me. I read this, and I'm like why is this? Like this is a major, major problem.

In order for us, and I was speaking on a lot of stages. We were venture backed, all the things, and it was not easy. I'm happy to share so many, so many scars on my back on how we got there. We willed our way there because I was not going to take no. I was going to figure it out because we're problem solvers. So you can find. Just don't give up.

It's hard to not give up. The world is different for us. It is different for us. I think you just accept what that is, and it's an unfortunate truth. It might not be the advice that you want to hear, but I want to be honest with you. Accept the fact that the world is different for you but show up anyway. Show up with a passion that you know that person, there is a judgment there. There is.

Whether it was, I don't believe that it was intentional. There was parts of it that there is unbiased racism consciousness, sexism, ageism, all of it that exists, all of it. So you are, the cards are stacked against you. I think knowing when you like play the game. So if you know you're playing the game, you're playing this game. If you know the cards are stacked against you, you just have to be so good that they can't ignore you. You have to be even better.

That is what I found that men are given investment for their potential while women are given investment for what they've done. Prove it. Okay. So I had a business. I didn't raise capital out of the gate. So I had to prove myself. So I didn't get the investment out of the gate. We were rejected countless times. I built a business. We had $5 million worth of payments going through our rails. Like we had built our platform. We had built our MVP. We had customers.

Rachel: Meanwhile, been they’re writing checks for people who've done none of this yet. They just have a slide deck.

Suneera: They wear a hoodie and a sweatshirt, and they're like here's my idea. Invest in us.

Rachel: That's exactly why we created this podcast. That's exactly why we're having this conversation. This is the thing to get you motivated. To say, I can go bigger. There's more that I can do. When I do it, I will be example to all of these people who are watching me do it. I make it more possible for the next woman behind me, the next person of color. So these conversations are very, very important to just sow that seed so that you can start to believe that yes, you can do it. It’s doable.

Suneera: But you can. So that's where the rejection comes in. You just have to get that one yes. So you'll find a way. That's all it was. It's a numbers game. Everything is a numbers game. So it's like how can I show up? I'm not going to go build those connections behind my computer screen either. So if you expect to go raise oh yeah, like here's the stats. It sucks. They're not investing in women owned businesses and less. It's like decibels for minority owned businesses, regardless of gender, by the way. Huge fucking problem.

It's not going to change fast enough. It's not. So what are we going to do? How are we going to be solutions to the problem? Okay. We can sit here and bitch about the problem, but how are you going to be the solution to the problem? You're going to go figure it out. So we can not do it behind the screen.

I was out every place that I could. I was at every venture conference. I was at every stage. I was pitching every place that would give me a mic to say I want to talk about my business. I want to get the message out. It did not matter what the outcome was. I was there with pride. I was there happy to sign one customer up in every room that I was in.

So I do think that there is that resiliency. That if you do have that level of true grit, and people don't like to hear this. I know like this is where Rachel I'm getting canceled out of the world because I know people don't like to grind and hustle and work.

Rachel: Well, there's a point at which you have to.

Suneera: But you do have to.

Rachel: Yes, you don't get anything started by sitting on your ass. You know what I mean? You’ve got to get moving.

Suneera: I was there. Hard work is the shortcut. There is no shortcut. No, it's not. It's hard work. It is fucking hard work. We had to show up, and we had to grind and we had to be better than everyone. Our like KPIs had to be textbook perfect. But guess what? I knew what I needed it to look like. So I knew what the end result needed to be.

I think that's where you play the game smart. You're like this is what you study. You study your industry. You study your competitors. You study who is getting funded, who is funding those competitors, and you find a way to get in the room. But then you find a way to be better than anything they've ever seen.

You're not going to be better, again like I said, because of the idea of I'm going to be better, and I'm going to provide this thing, and I'm going to be blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They're not going to trust you. They're just not because you didn't go to Harvard. Okay, I didn't go to CEO school. I don't have an MBA. I don't have a rich dad. I didn't have the network. I didn't have the connection. I did not have shit. But my business stood for itself. My revenue stood for itself. My sales stood for itself. My customers stood for itself.

Rachel: Well see this is the thing that you're pointing out is that all of that sort of being underestimated creates a chip on your shoulder, which is very powerful. That chip on my shoulder is why I have an eight figure business because I just was like watch me. Just indignant about it. So believed it for myself and that irritation, like being underestimated, fueled me to get up at 5 a.m., go do the thing.

I like what you say about it's a numbers game. Like it's all a numbers game building the audience. If I show up every day, then I'm going to see, more people will see my stuff. I'll build a bigger audience. If I show up twice a day, then more people will see my stuff 2X, and then I can build an audience even faster. So just playing with the numbers in your business a little bit and seeing like where do I need to double up my efforts so that I can double up the return that I want.

I want to make two times as much as I'm making. I want to double my revenue. Great. What are you going to do differently? It doesn't mean you have to double your efforts. It just means like what's the opportunity where you can see more coming from your efforts and see more happening? So I want to jump to exiting your business. Let's talk about that.

Suneera: What do you want to know?

Rachel: What was that journey like deciding that you were done? Or I'm sure you wrung your hands about it because that's a hard thing to do to walk away from your baby after many years of building. So what was that like for you?

Suneera: So for those that don't know, I officially exited, like left my business as CEO, February of this year. So it's very recent. It's a very hard thing to decide. So over the last decade, I've only had one thing. Head’s down, you'd feel my passion, obsessed with what I do, love what I do. I'm out to prove it. I'm here.

One of the things that I'm ambitious. So I'm always raising the bar for myself. I think most incredible successful entrepreneurs like you that are in the room, you're like here's the bar, and then you start to climb it. Before you even get to the level, you're like okay, here's the new bar. Then you start to climb it. Then you're like here's a new bar.

So you don't even allow yourself to actually achieve the bar. You're constantly raising the bar, and it doesn't stop. It's not a bad thing. That's hunger. That's what I said is so good. It's so good to be hungry. It is great to be hungry. The ones that are hungry are going to win. If you're not hungry, you're complacent. You're comfortable. You're not growing.

So I did find the most incredible investors that believed in me, that believed in our business. It took a little bit to get there, but once they got there, they got it, and they were 100% in on the mission and were there to fuel and to mentor and to guide and grow. I remember the one Christmas I sent these Macallan’s bottles, and I changed the label. I said aged to 100 million, and I thought I was so clever for this. I was like we’ll open it at 100 million.

But I look back, and I'm like I capped myself. I capped myself. It's honestly because I did not know that like I could keep going. Like I did not know what was achievable. Every day, I showed up for a job that was harder than the one I had yesterday. Every day, I showed up for something, and I showed up.

I know you can feel that Nathan at where you are in your business. These are the hardest times. I remember that. You're showing up every day for a job that was harder. The next milestone was, and I hope you don't cap that. I remember like once we surpassed that series C, it was like 200 something million was our valuation. We did a private equity recapitalisation of the business.

So I ended up, there's different ways to exit your business. We're not going to go into all the details right now, but it is really important for you to think about your exit in mind. I find that most often entrepreneurs start a business without an exit in mind. Or they say they want to sell their business for like a bajillion dollars, and they don't know how they're going to get there.

So it is important for you to not just like throw something out to say I'm going to go build this to 100 million or a billion. What is your actual path for your business? That means you understand your industry, you understand your competitors. Who has sold in your space? How have they sold? Who have they sold to? Is it a strategic buyer that's going to acquire your your company? Are you going to take it public? Are you going to go IPO? Are you going to sell it to a private equity? There are multiple ways. Are you going to merge it and then be part of a larger organization?

Rachel: Selling your business is a whole art. It's something I think that people need to study and think about as something that you might do in the future, even if you don't want to do it now. Eventually, you'll be done. Or eventually, you'll be ready to move on in some way. So thinking through what could that look like is an important part of the journey as an entrepreneur.

Suneera: Huge. I really encourage every creator to think about that now. It’s like you're building that business, but what does that exit? How long are you going to show up online for or on your blog for? What happens after? We have to view our business as an asset.

Rachel: Yes.

Suneera: It is an asset outside of you. Right now, it's okay if your name is tied to the business. But what happens when you get tired, and you don't want to show up anymore? What happens to all of that value that you created as an asset? That just dissipates? That's not how real businesses work?

So if you were to get a restaurant or an e-commerce store, any sort of business at the tangible business, software, whatever the service is, your business is an asset. So even as a creator, think about your business as an asset. Think about what the exit in mind and whatever your niche is, whatever your specialty is. What's already been done is important. I'm not saying you have to go do that, but at least gives you a space to say what are the benchmarks?

So as I was scaling across the that point where it was a couple 100 million and we did our series C funding, we had a private equity come in, and they bought majority of the business, which meant that all of our previous investors were bought out. We had a huge, it's called a recapitalisation on the business.

As founders, we got to take take some chips off the table, which was amazing. We got to finally make some wealth out of all of the sweat equity that we had put in, and the business was valued at I think it was like 250 million at the time.

But what was interesting is that I was still tied to the business. So everybody else was given 100% of their exit equity. Our investors and our employees that had it. Like we had made 30 millionaires on our team. Like it was the most amazing, most beautiful. 2020. It was during COVID too.

People told me not to go to market. By the way, when somebody tells me don't do something, I definitely go do it. So I took my business to market. You don't want to go against, like there's so much I can. We should probably do more later, Rachel, on like what the exit strategy is.

But I got stuck back into the business. I loved my business. I had no problem doing it because I still had this vigor and this passion, but I was seven years into my business. I got to take some chips off the table, but I was expected to roll 70% of my personal equity back into the business and go make more money for our new investors, which I did. I 4Xed their investment and went from the 200 million to the billion.

However, yeah, thank you. Thank you. I'll take the round of applause. However, at this next turn, I knew that if I was going to stay into the business that I was going to keep getting stuck into the business as the CEO and as the founder. There's nothing wrong with that. I was ten years into it.

As a founder and as like I'm a visionary. I'm a builder. There comes to the point where you build. We had crossed 100 million in revenue as a company, as a SaaS company. Like there's a lot of like the CEO that we need is definitely, I could do the job. Okay, so because I learned how to do the job. But it wasn't making me happy to optimize processes every day, to optimize our P&L every day.

Rachel: It’s not as fun.

Suneera: It's not because I wasn't innovating. I wasn't building. I wasn’t disrupting.

Rachel: A super successful business is usually a boring one.

Suneera: Yes. So you know.

Rachel: Entrepreneurs are not good at being bored.

Suneera: No. So at that point, we’re a decade into the business. People call me crazy for leaving. I was incentivized at every step to continue to stay, and the company is going to be amazing. I built it. It was hard walking away and making that decision. It happened when last year we did our series D funding. We did another round of financing the scale the company, grow further. We surpassed a billion in value.

I literally thought getting to that point, like you kind of want to reach for it, reach for it. Like how many more times do I keep raising that bar? I raised it, and we did it. We fucking did it. We hit a billion, crossed 100 million, did the things. That celebration lasted that week. Everybody wrote about it. It was on, I did the press tour. I was on every major public. I did all the things. So exciting. So whatever.

When I was done, I was the loneliest I'd ever felt in my life. I felt so empty. It's like what happens when you actually achieve the goal you set out to do? What happens when you actually land on the moon? What else do I do? Set a new one.

But I took the time. So I took a sabbatical with my family. I just took time. Finally it was the first real vacation that I took. I realized that like I didn't want to go. I got the new board plan. It just wasn't. I didn't want to go hit another number. I knew I did what I needed to do for my company.

Now it's time for me to go focus on the things that, like it's time to build something again, or to take the time off. I thought it was to take the time off and retire. Then I traveled the world, and I did the things, and I hung out with my kids 24/7. It was amazing. I'm like okay, I've got to get back to work. So now it's working on chapter two. But it was a very hard journey, but I feel the happiest that I've ever been now today. Finally being like I did it. It's done. It's going to be great.

Nathan: There's a joke that I've heard in Silicon Valley from venture capitalists. If you've invested in a company and the founder starts posting on Twitter, you can just go ahead and write off the investment. It didn't go anywhere. Because the idea is that like a content focused CEO is going to then like care more about their image or something like that than they do about building the business.

Which I think is, maybe there are cases that it's true. Like we could prove anything with a few random exams. Both, but in the inverse is true so often where the profile that a content creator is able to get is so much bigger than what accompany, what a logo can do as a brand.

Suneera: Yes.

Nathan: So I'm really curious about your experience of building an audience and that community, first on Instagram and then on the podcast, while running the company and how you balance those two things.

Suneera: I will be very honest, like you talked, I've not shared this. It was never viewed as an asset. It wasn't. It was always viewed as a distraction.

Rachel: By your investors.

Suneera: By everyone. By everyone. It was always viewed as a distraction. I never felt that what I was doing to go drive an audience, to go build customers. So like my audience, a little bit about my journey like online, I started sharing, I think my Instagram handle was MomBoss. So I like I think I still have hashtag MomBoss trademarked, by the way. If anybody wants it, call me. Rachel’s like when you become a new mom and then you're a business owner, you're like your whole world is like trying to figure out the two balances.

Rachel: Yes.

Suneera: It is. It's like it becomes like this huge thing because you're like do I go build my business? Do I go become a mom? The world says I can't do both. It's really hard. I went through that. I was sharing my journey online of being both. I was like I deserve to have it all. I can be a great mom and be a great CEO. So I was like sharing. I think this is when Instagram stories came out. That's kind of how, I love the natural element of stories. I'm a great storyteller. It was so easy for me to do that.

So I was sharing online of like dropping like Mila off to school and then heading to like Atlanta for a board meeting or whatever. So this audience was growing. It was truly like women entrepreneurs, and I was connecting with them digitally through Instagram. So fun. I actually got to keynote at Meta on Monday. It was so great. It's like literally the offices are so freakin cool. Like everything is grammable.

Rachel: I saw it on your stories.

Suneera: I was geeking out. I was geeking out. It was so fun. But that is how the online journey started for me was on that platform was on Instagram.

Rachel: Also you're saying that you were just talking about something that was going on for you.

Suneera: Yeah.

Rachel: Talking about being a mom and being a business owner.

Suneera: It was easy. It wasn't, I had no intention to go build like this audience, to go build whatever. It was like so fun. Then I definitely started getting a lot of the mommy blogger, like started getting things to like share and whatever. It just didn't feel authentic for me. I was like I'm not trying to go down a, I wasn't – There's nothing wrong with that. It just was not what I was trying to do.

Rachel: You mean like brand deals, like promote this products.

Suneera: Brand deals with like products and like all the. I tried a few. Like there's definitely like if you like scroll all the way back like decades of.

Rachel: Oh, I tried a few too. I was like this is absolutely a waste of my time.

Suneera: So it wasn't going to be what I wanted to do.

Rachel: I mean, you can definitely make a living doing it. It's just that wasn't my thing. So.

Suneera: I had no purpose in that. So I wasn't a full time influencer in that. I was just sharing just hard shit of like being a mom, raising capital, doing the things. From there I had this like when live came out, it was the audience grew from being like this mom boss audience to just women entrepreneurs who are resonating with me. I was just showing up online.

In 2020 during the pandemic, probably had an audience, it was a small audience of like maybe 35,000. Like quite sizable, but just in my own little corner of the internet had this audience. I had switched. So you do the mom thing for like new moms. Like we're like super into it in the beginning and then we’re like so over it three years later. So I like literally went from MomBoss to Suneera Madhani real quick. Yeah. Love you kids, but I have an identity outside of you.

Rachel: Yes. exactly.

Suneera: You go through that journey. Moms out here can like relate to what I'm saying. So I went from MomBoss to just Suneera Madhani. I was still posting. It was all about like just female entrepreneurship. During COVID, or before COVID happened. So I was showing up for these Instagram lives, and women would come, female entrepreneurs would come, and they would just ask me. It probably was like 12 the 20 million in revenue.

I was very transparent about like oh, here's I probably raised series A. Maybe I was raising series B. We were still like a growing company, but I was just a couple years ahead of like what was just sharing my journey. Instagram Live was how women were showing up.

I'm like why are people coming here and like asking me like business questions? All these different types of every industry imaginable. Service based industry, product based companies, brick and mortar businesses, physicians were coming to this live. Then during the pandemic when real COVID hit, so 2020 and like March, everything shuts down.

That Wednesday was my Instagram Live for like Wind Down Wednesday and like business talks with Suneera. I had over 1,000 women. For my audience that were like maybe like 40 people showed up to a live, there was 1,000 women there that night. They were asking me about Suneer, what are you doing for remote work? What are you doing with a PPP loan? What's happening? How long do you think this COVID is going to last? I was like I don't know, like two weeks. Like let's prepare for the worst, a month.

Nathan: Is that really funny or really not funny? I can't tell which.

Suneera: I think it’s both. I think that’s why we're all kind of like crying hysterically. Three years later, here we are. So it wasn't, I don't know. But I knew in that moment, there was no place for us to go. Like as women, you're showing up to my corner of the internet to ask me about PPP loans. I'm doing it with you girlfriend. We're doing it together, and we gotta go find the resources. I knew then like I didn't go to CEO School. That was it.

So I pulled up my mic, and I could not do the live. So I did a live every single night. I was trying to find resources. I had other people come join the live. I am not a social media expert, or I thought I was not a social media expert. I pulled up, and that is how CEO school was born and the podcast was born. We just celebrated a million downloads. Yay. You guys all have to subscribe to the show. It is amazing. It was literally that week of that frustration and during the pandemic, when I thought I had free time.

Here we are three years later, and every single week I've had a show. It has been a labor of love, but it's been all about consistency. I've shown up every single week. You asked me the question, Nathan, of like what happened? What were the investors thinking? What was everyone thinking?

What was interesting is like my intention was to go support women in business and also my audience, like the customers who could become our customers at Stax could be women in business. They are our ideal clients as well.

So I thought, like what a great win. I was also like, I've never had like sponsorship for the show. Our only sponsor has been HubSpot, which is like one of like a tool that I love and I use, but I've never had like ads on the show or sponsors on the show. Like I've truly felt like I wanted to have this platform to be to bring in as much knowledge. Like I feel like education is what I bring to the table that is all about scaling your business. That's what I do best. That's what I'm bringing.

That's how like this, I never put ads into it. It just organically grew. But the end result. I was like great. I can also support the women through Stax. So I always had Stax ads running. To be like sign up for our solution, which makes complete sense. But it made even our, like everyone uncomfortable. Because it was like well CEOs don't show up on social media. CEOs don't share what's happening in their private lives.

Rachel: They want you to go work like 18 hour days and have no time for anything else.

Suneera: No, and they don't want other people to see that. So if investors see that I'm doing something else, is she distracted? So the word distracted is what would come up in these conversations. I remember feeling so exhausted, always fighting to say like look at the impact this has had. Like I cannot give this up. Who's going to support these women?

There are not a lot of examples that are who's doing this that's actually building like this type of business that we, and I saw the tangible results of that. So I was going to fight for it, but man, it was so hard. So, so, so hard. I had to work every single Saturdays when I would record it, and I had to do all of the, it was my own company. I had to make sure everything was perfectly fucking checked off the box, done the things, do the things.

I will tell you, I look back at that journey, Nathan. I'm like well if Jack Dorsey can fucking run Twitter and Square. Like it's not Elon Musk can run all of these fucking companies and do all the things when women do one – Like it's already so fucking hard for you to accept that I can go do this. But if I can accel at multiple things, why is that a problem?

But it is. It makes people uncomfortable. I definitely had to go battle with even people that I love. Like I had to go battle why this was important. I'm so proud, so, so proud that I did not give up. I built CEO School as while I was building Stax still.

Rachel: It was your side hustle.

Suneera: It was my side hustle. It was. It was my side hustle. We have a small team. We have a team of seven. It's not so great, but it's a seven figure business. It's not a business that's like generating anything, but it's a great business that's going to scale and all the things, but it's for impact. We have a foundation, and we have so many women that go through our programming and our curriculum. We see like the statistics on that 2%, our women that come through CEO School. 47% of the women that go through CEO School scale beyond the million dollar mark. Okay.

Rachel: That's awesome.

Suneera: I know what I'm doing. What we're doing is working, and I know this is my way of this is how we're going to change the statistics. It hasn't been easy, but I'm very, very, very proud of not fucking giving up. So.

Nathan: I love that. So you've had a huge journey related to like the amount of money you have. I imagine your relationship to money has changed. Backstage we were talking like we should talk about money on this. You're like, “Yes, I love talking about money.” One thing I'm curious about is how, we’ll start here. What's something that you're still cheap about despite having private jet level money?

Suneera: Definitely taking the jet. I'm saying like hurts my, like every time I see the money go out, it definitely hurts a little bit every time. So it never gets easier.

Rachel: I got a whole education at South By last year about private jets from Suneera.

Suneera: Yeah. It's the greatest thing that you, time. You have to value time over dollars.

Rachel: Yes, but I'm still too cheap to do it. So I'll just take my diamond status on Delta. I do it sometimes, like if I really need to if it's really hard to get to a place or something like that but.

Suneera: I will convert you. This whole week, I was strict. Like I did the Delta diamond thing all week. All week, I was in New York. I was in San Francisco. I'm exhausted. I spent way too many hours in the air.

Rachel: Yeah, I mean.

Suneera: I'm not with my family.

Rachel: You can't beat it in terms of time.

Suneera: You cannot. So there is, I would say that it depends on what you value as money. So first, okay. The value, there's different kinds of currencies. I think that we all think about currency one dimensionally. Okay. It's not the tangible dollar. That's one value of it. It’s very important. Money is energy. Okay, so we have to value currency differently. So my level of currency, I would say time is my highest level of currency.

So for me, hands down, I do everything into $10 tasks and $1,000 tasks. That's how simple I make it. Whether it's now worth $10,000 an hour, or it's now whatever it is, I just start to simplify it. Every single aspect of my life, I say is that a $10 task, or is that $1,000 task? If it's a $10 task then somebody else has to do it.

If it’s a $1,000 task, which is my value of my time. Or now, it should be $10,000 or whatever it is now, but I still go back to that, then that means that that is my worth on my hour that I need to make sure that that hour is measured in dollars. Okay. So if I'm spending that time doing something like else, am I making that $1,000 an hour or $10,000 an hour now, whatever the hourly rate is? So that level is number one.

Rachel: The thing that I want y’all to know specially about that too is when you create a business, you create an economy. So you have a team, you have customers, you have agencies that you hire. There's so much that is happening around the business that you can provide value for. So you want to value your time so that you can contribute at the highest level to that microeconomy that you've created within the business.

Suneera: I agree. This goes even beyond your business. I see mothers all the time not delegate things out that are $10 tasks. For me, even without a business, a thousand dollar task for me is spending quality time with my children. When I get home from work, I want to spend time with them. For me, a thousand dollar task could be cooking with my kids. Although I could delegate that out, for me that is a thousand dollar task. To be with my family, to be present with my family.

Rachel: It's my priority to never cook for my family.

Suneera: That's your $10 task.

Rachel: Right. For you it’s private jets. For me, it's chefs. Like I will never live without a chef.

Suneera: Exactly, exactly. Whatever, whatever. It doesn't apply. I want to be clear here. It's not about having a billion dollar business. We all, no matter where we are in our world today, we need to change our relationship to money today. I do not care what level of income you're at. You are not valuing your currencies. Okay.

So the number one currency is time, whatever time looks like for you. I'm not going to determine what that time looks like for you. But you have to determine what are those $1,000 tasks and what are those $10 tasks. Number one, my relationship to money, luckily, has always been with that mindset of time is my currency.

Then I would say another currency is relationships. I never viewed relationships as a currency. One of my earliest mentors, she told me people collect things in their lives, in their journeys. She’s like, “I collect relationships.” I was like that is so profound beyond like I've never heard this.

Rachel: It’s important.

Suneera: She's like I want you to think about it, and it's probably one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given. I’d love to pass this on to every single person in the room, collect relationships. You don't need anything from them. You don't. There's no ask. Build real, meaningful relationships, and that is going to be a currency to you over time. You don't know it yet, but that is an asset. That is a valuable asset. So it's time. It's people and then there is a tangible factor to the dollar. Dollar has value. Freedom of dollar allows you to have the freedom of time. So it is important for you to have that freedom of dollar. So yeah.

Rachel: We still want to know what you're cheap about.

Suneera: So what am I cheap about? I am cheap about. So I will say, I'm a value seeker. So like the thing that I am like cheap about is even when it comes to spending money, I'm all about like I still will make sure that we are getting the best bang for our buck. I'm all about spending money, but I always am, I'm a value driven human. I want to make sure that my value, like that I'm getting the value. So as long as I'm getting the value, I spend all the money, but I want to make sure I get the value.

Rachel: You don't want to overpay for anything.

Suneera: I do not want to ever overpay.

Rachel: Everyone wants you to overpay when it's like public knowledge that you have money.

Suneera: Yes. Yes.

Rachel: Yeah, so everybody will try to overcharge you.

Suneera: Yes. But it still hurts me every time. I'm taking the jet out tonight. It is a very expensive bill, but I got to be here today.

Rachel: Yes. That wouldn't have happened otherwise.

Suneera: It would not have happened. I know today there is a reason why I am here today. Like I love Rachel so much. Nathan, I don't know you. I hate that I'm like not being like oh my God, Nathan's fabulous y’all.

Nathan: We can hang out.

Suneera: It is really hard to take a business to 40 million. So let's give him a round of applause because it’s fucking hard. So it's just a matter of time when he becomes a billion dollar business.

Rachel: Yes.

Suneera: So I will say that.

Rachel: That is bootstrapped too.

Suneera: Yeah. That is incredible. You own 100% of that at 40 million? Damn, you should be paying for the jet tonight. But it's been with Rachel, like one of the reasons why I did feel like, I was here speaking for an amazing conference yesterday, a women's conference. I happen to be here.

We connected like last week just on text. We always kind of keep in touch high level. Like every quarter there's always like an exchange that happens. It should happen more but life gets busy. I saw a photo online, and just I am so tired of the same people taking up space. Okay, that look the same, that it's just the same circles, the same things. I like texted Rachel, and I'm like we've got to go fuck shit up. Like I am ready to go fuck some shit up. So she's like, “Hey, you want to come on Friday?” I'm like yeah, yeah. I will be here.

Rachel: I love it.

Nathan: On that note, one thing that I want you to take away the most is this idea that there isn't a billion dollar idea. We're not out here looking for what the one thing that okay, that. Now I found it, and that's going to make you rich. Yes, there are insights that you can have. We realize oh, I can disrupt the industry in this way.

But exactly what you said is, it's the billion dollar execution. How long you're going to stick with it and grind it out. You did this for 10 years. That's a long time to let things compound. A lot of people tap out early, whether it's they write the blog for a weekend and they're like oh, I guess that's not for me. Or they're like I'm on social consistently every week for three months. I guess it's not for me.

Rachel: Yeah. I don't have a million followers yet. So I guess I'll quit.

Nathan: Yeah, so all of these things. It takes a lot of time, and it takes a level of execution that's beyond what most people are willing to do. So I just encourage you to look at okay, am I going to show up? This is within my control. The one thing that I can fully control is how I show up. Am I going to bring that billion dollar execution to what I'm doing? So thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Rachel: Thank you.

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