I AM CEO PODCAST

IAM1687 – Founder Creates Comfort Device at Home Using Modern Technology

Podcast Interview with Joe Natoli

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Joe has an awesome story and I really appreciate hearing how his game design background and how that helped him think differently. Not only did he create a disruptive business model but his company provide so much analytics and data about your environment. Often, we can forget about the disruption that there can be in any industry and with Joe he shared about how his varied experience and knowledge led him to disrupt the HVAC industry. Also, it was cool to hear about his CEO Hack related to googling.

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Previous Episode: https://iamceo.co/2022/12/06/iam1576-founder-creates-comfort-device-at-home-using-modern-technology/

Transcription:

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Joe Natoli Teaser 00:00

And what we do, as you mentioned, it's the world's first comfort service. So we provide analytics data health notifications and updates around your environment. So what's going on inside your home as far as temperature, air quality, all this stuff. And then we actually give you a free heat pump, a window-based heat pump that you can put in your window. It connects to our service and app. You get all these analytics on how you're using it.

Intro 00:24

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:51

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. And if you've been listening this year, we're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes under certain categories or topics. That we think are gonna be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners.

This month is going to be about not forgetting about the human part of business. Often we forget about the human part of life. We often forget about the human part of business. So look for self-care tips, fitness, burnout, purpose, biz and personal, personal branding, motivation, drive, success, understanding your why, and of course, how important customer service is. But at the heart of it, it's all about, remembering the human part of business. So sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I am CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Joe Natoli of Looft. Joe, excited to have you on the show.

Joe Natoli 01:47

And I'm excited to be here, Gresh. Thanks for having me.

Gresham Harkless 01:50

Yeah, absolutely. And I love all the awesome things that you're doing. So before we jumped into the interview, I wanted to read a little bit more about some of those awesome things that Joe's doing. So you hear about some of those.

And Joe has had many titles throughout his career, actor, game designer, educator, full-stack, developer, and entrepreneur. His passion for delighting people through technology led him to found Looft, world's first cooling and heating comfort service company. While working at a venture builder in Leipzig, Germany. Joe brings knowledge of international startups, Silicon Valley, and having worked with billionaire investors, Tim Draper, and Draper University, teaching entrepreneurship around the world from Africa to Asia.

Afterwards, Joe settled in Europe to put his knowledge to work by forming ventures in the underserved markets of Eastern Germany, and Joe could be considered the ultimate startup guy having built, founded, or failed over a dozen startup businesses. Joe, excited again to have you on this show. Are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

Joe Natoli 02:44

Yeah, definitely. And, whoever that was that you just read about, sounds super interesting. So I'm excited to hear from that as well.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:49

Yeah, absolutely. We'll be in for a treat, that's for sure. So, I guess to kick everything off, I know I touched on a little bit of your bio but let's rewind the clock and hear a little bit more about what you got you started.

Joe Natoli 02:59

Yeah, with that background user you read, there's quite a lot to go over. But I got my entrepreneurial spark and bug, I don't wanna say from a young age, but just at some point I developed and said like, If I want some stability in life and I want to achieve my goals and stuff, then I'm probably gonna have to start a business or run some sort of something. I'm gonna have to do something. I went to college for game design and development and then worked in the industry for a while, and I absolutely hated it. The hours were bad. The office politics were really bad. The game industry has changed a lot, but at that time I was not a fan at all.

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So we went to college for game design, which kind of also has also sparked my joy of like bringing people delight with my products that I start which is another path that we can discuss. But yeah, once I left the game design thing, I think that's when really when I was like, I need to do businesses. This whole startup thing is interesting. There are people making cool products making billions and millions of dollars. Like how do I get out on this? And I founded my first business, which was where a lot of people start actually, and which was a t-shirt company. But I wanted to infuse a little bit more technology into it. And so, the company was called Basic. And we did a one-for-one model where if you bought one of our shirts, we would donate to someone's basic needs, food, water, or shelter.

I developed a backend where on the shirt there was a QR code that you could scan and you could see what the person who actually purchased it could choose to donate to, how we helped and like the story behind the garment. I think it was a really cool idea. It could have also been certified on the blockchain. That was, back then, like Bitcoin maybe was like a glimmer in someone's brain. But yeah, so that I, that's how it started. And then from there, it led me to Silicon Valley where, as you mentioned, I got to work with this guy named Tim Draper teaching entrepreneurship all around the world. And eventually then ended up at a venture builder applying all my knowledge over Eastern Germany.

Gresham Harkless 04:48

Absolutely love it. And yeah, I think that's awesome to hear that journey, especially how it sounds like you had that and I don't know if this is where you've gotten from the game design, but this creativity thing about things differently and how that comes to fruition.

Joe Natoli 05:02

Yeah. Yeah. That's something really interesting that you pick up on. It's, something that I think other people have also mentioned, but yeah. The game design definitely empowered me to think and connect the dots differently. So when I talk about business and stuff, someone asked me recently like, how do I come up with these visions? Or how do I come up with these things? And it's really about consuming a lot of interesting topics. So in podcasts, news, technology, knowing what's going on, what's out there, like staying on top of the latest trends and then also being inspired by other businesses and seeing like, oh yeah, this business model is really cool over here.

How do I take this strange technology of whatever it is, machine learning, and this cool business model innovation over here and smash them together? But if you don't, if you're not looking for these types of things and you're not really educating yourself and staying in the know, you won't ever be able to match these patterns. And I think that's one of the big things of like being visionary, is connecting these dots and seeing, really noticing what's out there.

Gresham Harkless 05:57

Yeah, absolutely. It is so funny because years ago I read this book called The Opposable Mind. It talked a lot about how you could take two desperate thoughts, things that don't even seem to align, and be able to have that vision and bring them together.

So I guess take me through a little bit more of what you're doing now with Looft and how you're making an impact there.

Joe Natoli 06:14

Oh, sure. Yeah. So Looft is the current business and you pronounced it right, It's pelled LOOFT and comes from a German word, Looft, which means air. And this isn't really a hack, but this is, maybe like a tip or trick. I really have a thing for double letters in names. For some reason, they're more memorable, like Google, Yahoo, Facebook Airbnb, to a lesser extent. They've got like these double letters and for some reason, they're more memorable. And so, I like the word air for Lyft, and then we changed it to L O O F T.

And what we do, as you mentioned, it's the world's first comfort service. So we provide analytics data health notifications and updates around your environment. So what's going on inside your home as far as temperature, air quality, all this stuff. And as part of the service once you sign up for it, it's like a small contract for maybe a year or two years to work with us. And then we actually give you a free heat pump, a window-based heat pump that you can put in your window. It connects to our service and app. You get all these analytics on how you're using it, how much energy is being consumed how your area is both inside and outside of your apartment or room. And some filters, upgrades or updates, and replacements every couple of months when we release a new version of the Looft device, we give you free upgrades if there's enough left on your contract. And we just ask that you pass it on to other people.

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So it's this crazy kind of business model innovation in the air conditioning space is, that's our space, is air conditioning. We provide you with the device. It heats, it cools, and it's year-round. You get a bunch of service out of it, a community. It's actually, it's quite, in my opinion, quite cool. Nothing as it exists in this space at all. And we came to it from doing this research over here in this venture builder where we work with corporations on, innovating cool startups that maybe they would be interested in investing in. And there was this thing called cooling as a service where an HVAC company would buy an enterprise-scale HVAC system for a new build, like a hotel because they're super expensive.

So this company would buy it, and install it for them. And then run it and they would just pay them a monthly fee to run it and optimize it. And so, this is how we originally came up with the idea. And as part of it, the device that we include, Has a bunch of sensors in it that are also learning about your preferences and habits over time to reduce your electrical consumption while also keeping you the most comfortable with no impact to your Yeah, your temperature, and your preferences. So it's like regulating how much energy it's taking.

Gresham Harkless 08:36

Yeah. No, I absolutely love that. And so, I feel like we might have already touched on this a little bit, but I was gonna ask you about your secret sauce, the thing you feel sets you apart and makes you unique, or the organization.

Joe Natoli 08:47

That just might be the one superpower that I've cultivated seeing all these pattern matching and being able to connect these things to make a vision. And then I obviously, I also mentioned, But the Looft secret sauce in itself is just a totally different business model in the space. There's no other company established or new that's doing something like we are.

Gresham Harkless 09:05

Yeah, absolutely. Perfect. Well, I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app a book or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Joe Natoli 09:16

Yeah, this is, I don't know if you've gotten this one, but this is a cool one. One thing that makes me extremely efficient, especially if I'm like starting new things on research or just trying to find things in general is, I got really good at Googling. I know that sounds funny, but there's actually these like advanced Google techniques that you can use. The super advanced version is called Google Dorking, but the less advanced thing is just like Google search terms. And so for example, you can go into Google and in file type colon, and then let's say you're looking for like an XLS, like an Excel sheet, and you type in file type colon XLS, and now Google will only search or give you results that can be an exact XLS sheet. And so then you can search for like, For example, if I'm trying to find investors, I can search for investor list, file type XLS sheet, and Google will just give me Excel sheets it finds over the internet that have the title maybe investor list. And so you can start to find all sorts of really interesting information just using these little Google Hacks.

Or another one that's really nice is Site. So site colon, and then whatever site you wanna search, you just do twitter.com and then all of a sudden Google will only give you results for Twitter, which can be super handy if like you're trying to find, I don't know a product mentioned. So if I'm trying to find where part people are mentioning loof so that my company or somebody, a representative can go interact with them, maybe they didn't put in a hashtag or at us or something. All of a sudden I can find all the places where my product is mentioned. So you can get really creative in how you're using these search terms, but it's definitely made me super effective. Or if somebody, just as an example, is not business related, but may be searching for a new job. You can find job opportunities just by using some of these advanced Google searches to if you're searching for something specific. Whatever, it is.

For interior designers, you can go out and find people looking for interior designers right now and then you would apply for those jobs. So it just makes your life so much easier and faster to have these advanced Googles. I don't know if you have ever used any advanced Googling before?

Gresham Harkless 11:17

Yeah, I use some of the site ones. That's just because of the work that I do. I learned a little bit about that, but I think it's so huge because there's so much that's there, but it takes a lot of time to sift through all the Google and find out everything that you're looking for. So to be able to have the shortcuts is huge.

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Joe Natoli 11:31

Yeah, those shortcuts are huge. If you just even use the site thing on Twitter, you get like a billion results just on freaking Twitter. So trying to sift through the internet. Good luck. Good luck.

Gresham Harkless 11:42

Exactly, exactly. We'll catch you on episode number 1 million or something by the time we need to do that. Yeah. So, what would you consider to be what I like to call a CEO nugget? So this is a little bit more word of wisdom or a piece of advice. I like to say it might be something you would tell your younger business self if you were to hop into a time machine or maybe even something you talked about a little bit more when you were doing the incubator.

Joe Natoli 12:03

Yeah. One, this isn't really a nugget, but it's just take care of yourself. Mentally and physically take care of yourself because it's so goddamn stressful being a CEO. There are fires that you're constantly facing. There are issues that come up there. You're running out of money, you can't find stuff, you got to take care of yourself. So I have a habit of exercising at least once a day. And then also, I guess maybe the nugget within this is go on walks. Walks are actually incredible, just even 15 minutes going outside, going around the neighborhood. If you want to have music on, fine, if you wanna have a podcast or an audiobook, like also cool.

Or just absorb nature around you and just let it all sink in. Or to think about stuff because I do some of my greatest pattern matching on walks, but definitely just go get outside and go on a walk. I think it's super refreshing for the soul to just get out. And apparently also, like the greatest thinkers in the world all had a walking habit like Einstein and Tesla and all these people. So you're also in the company of really smart people. If you just have a daily walk.

Gresham Harkless 13:06

Absolutely love that. So now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show. So Joe, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Joe Natoli 13:16

Oh, man! CEO in general means being a leader who can make decisions and follow through on their word. I think another way of looking at it is when I used to work at Draper University with Tim Draper. He had something called a superhero pledge, while also obviously, having that vision and making executive decisions as it's in the title, the executive.

Gresham Harkless 13:37

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Well, Joe, truly appreciate that definition and of course I appreciate your time even more. So what I wanted to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best people could get ahold of you, find about all the awesome things you and you are working on.

Joe Natoli 13:52

You can follow the journey of Looft at joinlooft.com. We are launching soon. We have pre-orders open right now, and you can get up to 40% off when we do launch. So it's actually an insane deal. So definitely check it out. If we've already launched this is out, then still, sign up and join us along the way.

And I can always be found on LinkedIn. It's mainly where I hang out as far as social goes. You can always email me, joe@joinlooft.com too. One other thing, I also encourage everyone to like and comment, and share this podcast. Gresh does a lot of work on this, and he definitely needs your support as well. So, support the podcast.

Gresham Harkless 14:28

Thank you so much Joe. I truly appreciate it. And just to make it even easier, we'll have the links and information in the show notes so that just in case they won't find your dad, they won't find another guy either and make sure that they find that Joe Natoli that was on this show.

So truly appreciate all the awesome things that you're doing. Again, we'll have the links and information in the show notes. And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Joe Natoli 14:48

You too. Thanks.

Outro 14:49

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe on our podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google podcast, and everywhere you listen to podcast.

Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.

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Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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