Making Something From Nothing: Gary Paull Jr Of Gauss On How To Go From Idea To Launch
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Don’t be afraid to let go of something and delegate it. There’s power in delegating tasks to those on your team, even though delegation can be difficult.
As a part of our series called “Making Something From Nothing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gary Paull, Jr.
Gary Paull, Jr. is a Marine Corps veteran and boot-strapping entrepreneur with decades of white and blue-collar work experience under his belt. He has worked as an optical alignment technician, machine operator, project manager, and business development consultant. He launched the Gauss project in 2021 due to his passion for blockchain technology and all things Web 3.
Gauss is a curated layer 1 ecosystem, with a team of more than 20 people around the world, working towards building a more ethical and sustainable internet culture.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I’m originally from Providence, RI but my family moved to Florida after my parents’ divorce. I lived in Florida until the end of high school.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. When I was young, I went to work with my Dad regularly. He did a lot of odd labor jobs but he was more of a hard worker than a businessman.
I started mowing lawns when I was 10. I did this for the whole neighborhood before and after school as well as on weekends.
I also ran an Easter egg hunt in 3rd grade. I hid change in the eggs and charged an entry fee for the other kids. This was my first contest I suppose.
I started a dinosaur kids club after Jurassic Park came out. Basically, my friends and I pooled our money together to create a sort of toy co-op. This was likely my first membership service. I still have that stuff in a box somewhere.
I’ve always been fairly self-sufficient. I was the kid that took my lunch money and bought candy to sell on the bus to school. I started buying my own clothing at 13. I built an entertainment system at 15. My Dad showed me a lot of respect as a child. He knew he couldn’t take away things that he didn’t buy. My Dad taught me the value of hard work.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The largest room in the world is the room for improvement.” I always believe it’s important to improve oneself and constantly learn. Learning and adapting are incredibly important.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Scythe Series by Neal Shusterman. It’s an interesting exploration into a possible future with the pros and cons of extreme technological advancement and advanced general intelligence. One person’s utopia is another person’s dystopia. One person could be happy living in that world while another would be horrified by it. For anything possible, there’s a diametrically opposed view. For every hero, that hero is likely someone else’s villain. That’s just the nature of us as a species.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. Can you share a few ideas from your experience about how to overcome this challenge?
First, I think good ideas come from working through a lot of bad ideas. Come up with 1000 ideas. 999 might be bad. 1 might be good. Second, execution. You can have the best ideas but without the motivation to execute them, it won’t matter. You’ll likely fail at things many, many times before you succeed. I also don’t look at failures as failures per se. I see them as learning opportunities.
Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?
I think that looking at things that others have done before you is validating. It’s not something to be discouraged. Google was not the first search engine. It’s more about the timing of that idea than whether or not someone has done it before you. Don’t concern yourself with being the first. Be the best.
For the benefit of our readers, can you outline the steps one has to go through, from when they think of the idea, until it finally lands in a customer’s hands? In particular, we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.
There’s no one founder’s guidebook. It’s not a straight line. It’s a roller coaster with many loops and turns. Do your own due diligence to see if your solution is being offered and if so, can you do it better? Then identify whether or not you can do it by yourself. If you need to bring on others with synergistic skills, then do that. But be confident with who you bring on board. Co-founder conflict is one of the number one business killers. Finally, talk to customers as part of the validation process.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started Leading My Company” and why?
1. Don’t be afraid to let go of something and delegate it. There’s power in delegating tasks to those on your team, even though delegation can be difficult.
2. You should be working harder than anyone else on your team. I believe in leading from the front.
3. Celebrate small victories. I’m still working on this. I believe it’s important to celebrate wins whenever necessary.
4. Set everyone on your team up for success. Approach this goal with genuine intent.
5. Take care of yourself. I think everyone struggles to some degree with balance. It may sound cliche but self-care is hyper-important. In 2017, I was working an event, and put in 20-hour days for 14 days in a row. It’s definitely not sustainable or healthy. Make sure you’re eating and drinking water as well as getting adequate rest.
Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
Talk to someone else who has done it or something similar. Learn from the mistakes of others before you have to make them yourself. Product and hard tech businesses can be very expensive so there needs to be some hard introspection on risk tolerance.
There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?
That depends on capital availability and where they are in their cycle. If they’re early and don’t know much but have capital, then use them as a resource. Explore all available resources at your disposal. And heavily use as many free resources as possible. Google everything exhaustively.
What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?
I think most businesses should explore bootstrapping before exploring venture capital. We’re launching our product before exploring venture capital. Try to sell the product or service to bring in money. Find customers and talk to them. If other people believe in it and are willing to give you money for it, then it should be able to attract VC money when the time is right.
Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive. That is to say, I don’t think you necessarily need success to make the world a better place. You can do small things constantly to make things better for the people around you. Success makes it easier to do things on a larger scale, but all of us have the potential to make the world a better place.
You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Focus on being decent to people. It’s a simple baseline. If everyone were just decent to one another, that would be a marked improvement in the world. It doesn’t take much to be a decent person and to do no harm to others. That would change the world. It’s really, really simple.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
John Doerr. He’s been around for so many of the largest impacts in tech. He had an immeasurable impact on Google, Intel, and the rest of the tech world. I feel like I could learn a great deal, even over just a single meal.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.