BTU #80 - Zach & Drew - two Navy vets team up to raise $13M for Rhumbix


Zach: "And so the two of us grabbed beers down in Santiago when we were both overlapping there, and started talking about this same problem. And about three months later we had officially decided to co-found Rhumbix together." Drew: "My favorite part of that three months later story was that you look at three or four months of being in and around the idea and getting comfortable with it. But then it really took a leap of faith. And the moment for us was we actually did a whiskey tasting in Alameda at St. George's Spirits. And after a great tour and continuing to talk about Rhumbix, we were sipping some whiskey and looked at each other in the eye and said, 'let's do this.'"– Zach Scheel & Drew DeWalt

Rhumbix is based in San Francisco and is a mobile platform designed for the construction craft workforce. They were founded in 2014 and have raised over $13M in funding from investors including Greylock Partners, Brick & Mortar Ventures, Spectrum 28, and Glynn Capital.

Zach Scheel is the Co-Founder & CEO of Rhumbix. He started out at Duke, after which he served in the Navy for five years as part of the Civil Engineer Corps. After the Navy, he attended Stanford Business School, where he earned an MBA and a MS in Renewable Energy. After Stanford he started Rhumbix.

Drew DeWalt is the Co-Founder & COO of Rhumbix. He started out at Notre Dame, after which he served for over six years as a Submarine Officer. After the Navy he attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business, earning his MBA and his Masters in Public Policy, a 3-year process. After Stanford he started Rhumbix.

The top 2 reasons to listen to this episode are:

  1. Co-Founder: if you’re thinking of starting your own company, one of the first things you’ll need to decide on is whether to go solo or with co-founders. And if you get this wrong, it’s the fastest way to destroy your company. Zach and Drew are both Navy vets who co-founded a successful SV startup, and talk about how they vetted each other and focused on difficult questions up front to make sure they would have a lasting working relationship.

  2. Tactics: Zach & Drew have a wealth of advice on everything from running a company, maximizing your efficiency through scheduling, managing work life balance for the long haul, and committing to continued personal growth as your company grows.

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Show Notes

  • 2:14 - Zach and Drew's backgrounds

  • 3:43 - How Zach and Drew each decided to leave the Navy and how they decided on Business School after they left

  • 5:33 - Advice for veterans thinking about applying to business school (or Stanford in particular)

  • 7:12 - The genesis of Rhumbix

  • 10:05 - Advice on finding - and vetting - the ideal co-founder

  • 13:05 - How they thought about pairing with someone with a similar background, given that they both had served in the Navy

  • 14:55 - An overview of Rhumbix

  • 15:45 - How Zach and Drew decided who would be CEO, and how they delineate their responsibilities

  • 17:40 - How they think about growing together as co-founders, building on the level of trust they established early on (Zach uses a great phrase of, "you're in my swim lane")

  • 20:30 - Advice for veterans about the fundraising process

  • 23:03 - Mistakes they made along the way and what they learned from them

  • 24:30 - Having hired so many employees, advice they have for how to evaluate if someone is a good fit for your team

  • 27:15 - A look at the day-to-day life in an early stage startup

  • 31:50 - Advice for veterans thinking of starting their own company

  • 34:32 - Resources that have been helpful for Zach and Drew that they would recommend to other veterans

  • 38:10 - Habits that they had to break in order to be successful in their civilian career

  • 39:33 - In what ways their roles have changed since starting their company

  • 40:46 - Final words of wisdom