For Partnership Leaders

Episode 23: Trey Roth, Founder & CEO of Yaystack (Pt. 1)

Trey talks about why the details of your personal story matter to your company and brand, the importance of authenticity in today’s marketplace and more.


This week on The CoSell Show we are thrilled to have with us Trey Roth, the founder and CEO of Yaystack

 

Topics Covered:

    • Why the details of your personal story matter to your company and your brand

    • The importance of authenticity in today’s marketplace

    • How partnerships can mutually benefit your customers and your company

Brought to you by our host: Taylor Baker for CoSell.io

 

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Follow Along With The Podcast Transcript

Taylor Baker:
Hello listeners, and welcome back to the CoSell Show. I'm your host, Taylor Baker. Today, I am excited to bring you our first two-part episode. In this part one, we are going to discuss why the details of your personal story matter to your company and your brand, the importance of authenticity in today's marketplace and how partnerships can mutually benefit your customers and your company. Who better to talk about all of this and more with than Trey Roth, the founder and CEO of Yaystack. Welcome, Trey.

Trey Roth:
I appreciate that. It is a pleasure to be here. I'm excited about this.

Taylor Baker:
We are so happy to have you. To get us started off, can you tell us a little bit about your background and the path that led you to where you are at Yaystack today?

Trey Roth:
I appreciate that. Well, I've always had the entrepreneurial spirit. I've always wanted to innovate, and just from an early age, I would ask myself like, "Why are things this way? Isn't there a better way, and what is that better way?" I started playing piano when I was six years old. I remember sitting down for the first time at my grandmother's piano, and I started plunking out some notes. Then I added some notes, and I thought, "Well, these two notes don't really sound good together, but these two notes do sound good together," which was basically a harmony, like a C and an E.

Trey Roth:
Then I started walking that up and down and thought, "Wow, this is like a..." Well, it was a harmonic melody. I didn't know what that was called at the time, but I just started plunking out these notes. I remember my parents' door to the right of the piano. I'm six years old. It was the first time I had sat down in a piano. I'm playing this little melody. I remember my parents' door next to the piano flying open with a violence.

Trey Roth:
There was my mom. She had these maroon body towels. She's wrapped in these body towels, and then a towel around her head like an ice cream cone. She had jumped out of the shower, and then she opened the door. She was looking at me, and it was all in her eyes, and she said, "Trey, is that you?" She made me feel like there was something special there.

Trey Roth:
I was like, "Whoa, yes, well, as a matter of fact, it is me," in my own six-year-old way, but that really was the genesis of media teaching myself how to play piano. Then I would ask myself like, "Why is the piano the same after centuries? There must be a better way and beyond what I was seeing in keyboards and whatnot." I just share all that to say I've always had an innovator's mind. I've always had a love for music. I've always been an audio file.

Trey Roth:
People listen to music differently. I listen to music, listening for and appreciating the Sonic landscape, the mix, the intention of the players and the composer and the writer. I've always appreciated that about music, which ultimately led to a career as a music producer. I was actually studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, and offered a job at the U.S. embassy there in college, but around the same time, my band was offered a deal from a label in Nashville.

Trey Roth:
So I did what any 19-year-old kid would do, sign the deal, and did the band thing for a couple of years. We worked with a music producer. One day, I said, "Hey Rob, how does one become a music producer?" He says, "Tell people you're a music producer." I was like, "All right, I can do that." That led to a seven-year career producing music, and it was wonderful. It was so much fun. I had such a deep passion for it.

Trey Roth:
Every Monday morning was like Christmas morning. I mean, I just loved it. However, I knew that I wasn't leveraging technology at all. I mean, I never spent a penny in advertising or marketing, and really the business grew every year for seven years all based on word of mouth referrals. I thought, "Wow." Relationally-driven exposure to me and my brand and my service has truly allowed me to live my dream.

Trey Roth:
Word of mouth referrals are so incredibly powerful, but Taylor, I also noticed that some clients were coming to me years after a mutual friend would have worked with me, and I thought, "That's my lead time." How long does it take for a word of mouth referral to happen? From the time that one has a positive experience with a product or service to the time they share about it and their friend converts, it just seems like something's missing.

Trey Roth:
I was actually on my couch. The kids were asleep upstairs. It was a typical mindless Saturday afternoon. I wasn't trying to think anything profound, but I just had this aha moment. I realized sitting there on my couch someday, somebody's going to build the referral network, and it's going to be a place where people share authentic referrals. When people buy stuff, they're not necessarily going to share every purchase, but goodness, there's a place to capture that information to share and to celebrate and to advocate a really happy place that eventually would be created and called Yaystack.

Trey Roth:
That's actually what happened. I took it very seriously. I knew that this idea, unlike many other ideas that I had grown accustomed to ignoring, I knew this one was different, and took it very seriously and decided to take the leap. This was the least convenient time to jettisoned a company, a business that we had spent over 10,000 hours to be able to create. It was going well.

Trey Roth:
However, this concept of leveraging technology to accelerate the word of mouth referral, to elevate remarkable brands, to basically take this authentic referral-shaped hole in the marketplace and to meet a need there and to be that place, that platform that connects sellers of by definition remarkable products and services to their buyer's friends, and make it such that transactions don't just end between buyer and seller.

Trey Roth:
Rather, it now is this little mini celebration with confetti falling is how I see it in my mind, but... Now, there's this authentic connection that happens between the buyer on behalf of the seller to the buyer's friends and vice versa to say, "Hey friends, I actually bought and appreciate this product, this service, and I am happy to make a no strings attached connection to the seller." This relationally-driven exposure to brands is just really...

Trey Roth:
It allowed my dream to come true that people laughed at me literally to my face for starting my music production. I remember I worked for a company in this podcast. I'll leave the company name out, but I was working for a company a couple of years. Then I remember the general manager, this is just before my music career. The general manager says, "All right, guys, it's Trey's last day. He's going to go be a music producer." Then literally, I kid you not, they laugh out loud.

Trey Roth:
I remember this tall, blonde, lanky girl. She was just heeled over laughing. I just realized in that moment, I mean, I had deep sadness. Immediately, I had confusion. I was like, "These people I've worked with, and now they're laughing at me for pursuing this dream that was already scary enough on its own." Now, even after that seven-year career in music, which of course not all of it was easy. It wasn't all rainbows and butterflies, but goodness, it was my dream that truly came true.

Trey Roth:
Can I really make a living and do relatively well as a music producer? The answer was yes, but now, all these years later, Taylor, I'll go back to the same place and see some of those same faces that was in that circle. That just points to the difference between a fixed mentality and a growth mentality. I'm grateful for those who shared about me. No strings attached, literally allowed me to live my dream, and so now it's my personal desire to help people, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, early stage companies, mid size, large to help elevate truly by definition, remarkable products and services.

Trey Roth:
You've been marked positively, so re-mark here on Yaystack. We've built Yaystack, which is a social network for authentic referrals. It's like this little party full of people just sharing. It's almost like Oprah's favorite things for everybody. Everybody has their own list, Taylor's favorite things, but also, when you buy something that you're willing to share, it doesn't have to be your top favorite thing ever, but hey, you liked it enough to buy it, why not share about it?

Trey Roth:
Not to flex, not to say like, "Hey, I'm the best ever. Look at what I'm buying," but rather to truly genuinely help spread the word. We're on mission to elevate remarkable products, to elevate remarkable services, and to just champion awesome entrepreneurs that took a risk that was scary. They've done things that they've never done before in order to provide a product or service that has never existed before in that form. So we celebrate them, and we advocate them.

Trey Roth:
Our goal is to help them to grow further faster, to have a larger impact and continue to make the world more remarkable.

Taylor Baker:
Wow, I feel like I need to dust off a cape for you, and give you a superhero emblem because that was the best superhero origin story, I think, I've ever heard from the ice cream shaped towel up on your mom's head when you were playing piano at six years old to now running this company. You really nailed it. You went through every phase, and that was probably the most perfectly shaped beginning, middle and end answer to that question. Beautiful. Beautiful.

Trey Roth:
I appreciate that. Wow, thank you.

Taylor Baker:
No, I mean, I'm still resonating on some of those things you said like Sonic landscape and the color of the towel your mom came out in. I love all of those details.

Trey Roth:
I appreciate that. I've got a shout out Scott Harrison actually. He's the founder of Charity Water, and the way that he brings stories to life, he makes it so vivid, and it's through those details. So I'm inspired by him.

Taylor Baker:
It's funny that you bring that up because I think it was last week, I was doing yoga one morning. I just watch YouTube videos a lot of the times because I... Who has time to go into a studio, which is awesome? But sometimes, it's just more convenient to do it from home. There was an ad that popped up beforehand, and it was for Charity Water. It was a 25-minute ad that was basically Scott Harrison's story. It's so funny that you... I've watched it.

Taylor Baker:
It was 7:00 in the morning, and I was about to do yoga, and I was so interested in how they shaped that whole narrative and how... He was being very open and forthright about doing drugs in New York when he was a club promoter. He really was very thorough about his story, and it made me like, "This is why I get now how you're hearing, why you care about this so much, and now I care about it because you were so honest about who you are."

Taylor Baker:
It's really funny that you bring that up because I actually did just hear about him and his company. That is a cool way of introducing yourself. You nailed it. It does actually... Now that you say it out loud, it reminded me a lot of that, so well done.

Trey Roth:
I appreciate that. Well, I've heard the story a couple of times. The first time, my wife and I are in tears listening to him share his story, but then one of his best, if not his best telling of the story is on Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu. He shares the story so very well, and goodness, there was an element that I was unaware of or I hadn't heard from him before that I really, really loved. At the end of his interview with Tom Bilyeu, he goes into a story that is truly impactful.

Trey Roth:
If you just Google Tom Bilyeu, Impact Theory, Scott Harrison, and then watch that video, and you could even just fast forward to the end, the last 20%, 15% of that interview, it might even be less 10%, the last story he tells is just fantastic, so I'm not going to ruin it. I highly recommend that one Google's, whoever's listening, Tom Bilyeu, Impact Theory, Scott Harrison, fast forward to the end. Just check that out. The whole thing is fantastic, but...

Taylor Baker:
We might even link in the description so you don't have to go find it.

Trey Roth:
There you go. Simplicity changes behavior more than motivation as we've learned.

Taylor Baker:
One of our favorite questions, I mean, you already had just a deluge of interesting, fun nuggets, so I'm really excited to ask you this question because I am interested to see what your response will be.

Trey Roth:
Great word.

Taylor Baker:
One of our favorite questions to ask is what is something interesting about you that our listeners cannot find on your LinkedIn profile?

Trey Roth:
That is a great question. Well, I love my twin brother, Trip. He's 14 minutes older than me. It's Trip and Trey. Both names mean three. His real name is George William Roth, III, because he was born first, so he was named after my father's father. My real name is James. You may see that somewhere, but I actually don't think I have that on my LinkedIn profile, but my real name is James. That's after my mother's father, but Trey means three because we have an older sister who's two years older. Then my brother was born, and then I was born.

Trey Roth:
So I'm the third born in my immediate family, and hence the significance of Trey, meaning three. I've got a twin brother, and he is brilliant truly, and a double math major at Georgia tech, 4.0, and ended up disproving some theories that Georgia Tech was teaching as true, and Trip disproved them. They had to actually change their curriculum based on my brother's mathematical theory discovery.

Taylor Baker:
Wow.

Trey Roth:
Try growing up with that as a comparison. It's like, "Well, we've got Trey, and we've got Trip." Anyway...

Taylor Baker:
Hey, you could pick out melodies and play piano when you were six years old. I think that's something. Well, I think you may have kind of already answered this question in your superhero origin story, but if you have anything else you would like to say or extrapolate on what it is exactly that Yaystack does, feel free to do so now.

Trey Roth:
Absolutely. I appreciate that. Yaystack is a celebration. Yaystack has a little party with confetti falling where every single piece of content on Yaystack is an authentic referral or recommendation of one's favorite or a favorite product or service. It could be a favorite book that changed your life. It could be the book that you're reading now. It could be a book that has helped you with a particular area of your life, and you basically have a list of, "Here are my books that I love and why I love them and why I recommend them," instead of it just being a one recommendation.

Trey Roth:
For example, literally this morning, just a couple of hours ago, I was having breakfast with a gentleman, and he asked for podcast recommendations or just, "Hey, what podcasts would you recommend?" I said, "I appreciate you asking. It's on my Yaystack." I've got all my podcasts that I recommend, not just one. I've got all of them. Actually, it's a growing list as I go and as I discover more.

Taylor Baker:
I'm sure the CoSell Show is at the very top of that list.

Trey Roth:
There you go. Absolutely. Absolutely. I will totally link that up. That is absolutely stackable. Then not only does he get my podcast recommendations. Goodness, he gets the videos that I'm watching on YouTube because I'm very intentional about exposing my mind consistently to the best teaching from the best teachers in the world, which is free on YouTube. We are living in a different era.

Trey Roth:
The best teaching from the best teachers in the world is free on your hip pocket, but only those who expose themselves to that teaching and actually do something about it, and put that teaching into action are the ones who benefit from that, and help those around them benefit from that. Anyways, when I referred this friend of mine this morning to my Yaystack, and when he just asked for one recommendation about podcasts, I sent him to my Yaystack. Now, he sees all the books that I recommend.

Trey Roth:
He sees all the podcasts that I recommend. He sees all the YouTube videos that I'm watching. He sees the clothes, the food, some travel here and there, dad hacks, whatever. He sees my referrals and recommendations. In a way, Taylor, you can think of it like what Pinterest is to interest Yaystack is to referrals and recommendations. There's a big difference between interests.

Trey Roth:
Taylor's interest is one thing that's good, but her referrals and recommendations like her authentic shares, where she's advocating and she says, "I have had a good experience with this. I recommend it. It's made my life better in one way, shape or form. It solved a problem for me." That piece of content is 1,000 times more impactful to me than any ad for the same product or service.

Trey Roth:
What we stand for at Yaystack is a new way, well, to advertise in a way. It's a new way to have exposure to what we call the best finds from your best friends. No longer do you need to have a cup of coffee with somebody for them to share one recommendation. You can get all of them. Obviously, we've got a long way to go in regards to it becoming a household name where people understand it. If I were to ask you, "Hey, are you on Pinterest?" You would know what I'm talking about, because it's a household name and you know what it is. It's pinning interests, which is a brilliant name.

Trey Roth:
For Yaystack to become a household name such that you truly do... It's more common that someone would know what Yaystack is, and know, "Okay, you've shared all your recommendations and referrals on this one place to capture only that." I emphasize that just because what we are not is just to entertainment platform, just for the sake of entertainment. Goodness gracious, TedTalk will beat us at that game all day long. If you're looking for entertainment, algorithmically, TedTalk has got you covered.

Trey Roth:
If you want to keep up with your friends, Facebook. If you want to check out, and check out Instagram for whatever your intention is to keep up with friends, but obviously in a visual way that's different from Facebook. Your intention as a user of Yaystack is to see ultimately the best finds from your best friends. Now, before it's a household name and you have truly, literally your best friends on it, what we're doing now is we're curating thought leaders.

Trey Roth:
We're curating wonderful minds and incredible hearts, people that are genuine, people that are really, they just are authentic. Yes, they may be influencers with affiliate deals where they are getting paid to advocate. That's fine. We celebrate that as well, just knowing that influencers do have a level of authenticity for the brands that they advocate and are paid to advocate. However, our primary focus is trust and authenticity. We are protecting her with everything we've got with our lives, trust and authenticity.

Trey Roth:
Our goal is to be the best in the world at authentic referrals, emphasis on authenticity and trust such that you know that or you trust and you know that there isn't some kind of behind the scenes deal between the influencer and the brand or whatever, but rather truly what you're getting with Yaystack is just purely authentic referrals. That's our job right now in 2020 to establish a community that is totally authentic and real and happy to share the products and services that have made their lives better. No strings attached. That's what we're doing.

Taylor Baker:
That is amazing. I love your reference, everything you were saying. Pinterest, I think you are making the right point. Pinterest to me is like a vision board. It's like aspirational like, "Man, I wish I knew how to wear infinity scarves and look effortless with these cool boots." It's not that it's not authentic. It's just not a real depiction of things that I've actually interacted with for the most part.

Taylor Baker:
It's the skylights I want in my library and my future home. It's been interesting actually watching my Pinterest evolve as my life has changed. When I was getting married, it was just constantly flooded with wedding stuff. Now, it's all grottoes and houses that I dream about having. My husband and I were recently looking for a new apartment to live in in Austin to save up and buy a house and everything. I got deeply overwhelmed in the review rabbit hole, where I would find a place that I felt good about.

Taylor Baker:
I liked it. It was in a great location, blah blah blah, but then I would look online and Yelp or apartments.com or whatever review I would find were scathing, because no one goes online to say nice things for the most part about a place. They want to be like, "Oh, well, I had this terrible experience. I'm mad so I'm going to post it." I don't know if Yaystack has a home portion of it, but if there was a side of it where I could go to someone I knew had lived in a place and had a good experience, I overarchingly just loved the idea of a genuine, authentic place where people can go and have that positivity and be like, "Look, this is something that I loved and I want to share it with you. Now, you don't have to spend 45 minutes trying to find someone who will cut your hair because I had a great experience with this person."

Trey Roth:
Absolutely. That's it. I mean, you get it. It really is not complicated. It's quite simple. We truly see the world as being a better place and as we love to call, more remarkable, because we desire to be the place that people go to remark. They've been marked positively, and they are remarking. They are advocating. They want to help their friends have their problems solved in the same way. It's trust, right?

Trey Roth:
When it's relationally driven, there's just a comfort factor in like, "Okay, well, I trust Taylor's opinion just because I know her, and I know that she's not going to steer me wrong. And I really trust her opinion in these areas and those areas." Then, "Oh wow, I didn't even know that she had this great experience with this and this great experience with that. I've heard of that but I've never liked..." There've been a number of things that people have posted.

Trey Roth:
It's like, "Huh, I've heard of it, but I've never thought to actually buy it until now because you're sharing it and because I like you. That has brought me over the edge, and now, not to use this business-sy terminology, but now I've converted, and I've actually made a purchase based on that." Referrals in my experience in the way I see it is referrals make the economic world go round.

Trey Roth:
Even though, yes, there are businesses that are built on cold exposure where it's like you see it maybe on an Instagram ad or something like, "Huh, I like that. Okay, that looks good. All right, I'm going to buy it. Cool. That's great," but truly, Forbes calls the word of mouth referral the Holy Grail of marketing, so it's not good marketing. It's not great marketing. It's not excellent marketing. It's the Holy Grail.

Trey Roth:
That's where we just see an opportunity to really create a place that is dedicated to that only, where, again, one's intention... When they open up Pinterest, they have a certain intention. I love actually how Ben Silbermann, one of the founders of Pinterest, describes Pinterest as a self discovery tool. That's wonderful. For us, it's flipped. It's like, "I want to help people make their lives better by sharing what has had a positive impact on me, far beyond what content I would post to Facebook and Instagram."

Trey Roth:
It's just like, "Okay, it doesn't reach that threshold," but the cumulative effect of having all of my referrals and recommendations in one spot, not only me doing it. Basically, what's happening is users are stacking yays, so referrals and recommendations, we affectionately call yays. So you're stacking yays over time, much like what you've done with Pinterest over the years. We're doing the same thing, where you're basically stacking yays to where it's not ephemeral.

Trey Roth:
It's not disappearing after 24 hours in a Snapchat snap or an Instagram story, even though, yes, you can save Instagram stories and you can have them on your profile. A lot of people do that. I love it when people do that. At the same time, it's like, "Well, that content is not searchable amongst all my friends very well. It is cumbersome, and it's lost in the noise." You're weeding through all of the other great entertaining content, but it doesn't serve me in my purpose of I want to know specifically what my friends recommend with X, Y or Z.

Trey Roth:
Hence, our layout, hence, our focus on yays. Then over time, our goal is to build like a Yelp on steroids. I'm not really a Yelper. Yelp is reviews for the public. Yaystack is reviews for my friends and people who know me. So there's a difference there. With us, it's like, over time, your Yaystack is becoming more... Well, it's like a net, and you're putting stuff in there that's gifts really for others.

Trey Roth:
Then when your friends do the same for you, the cumulative effect there is quite spectacular such that you do truly have like a Yelp on steroids, and at that point, you really do have the best finds from your best friends.

Taylor Baker:
That's really great. I'm really excited to be able to share this with our listeners, and to take a deeper dive myself and get on there and start yaying.

Trey Roth:
Thank you. Absolutely. We look forward to it.

Taylor Baker:
Of course. You had mentioned that some of the people in Yaystack might have an affiliate marketing type of thing. An influencer is on there, and a brand is paying them to promote or say something. In that example to talk more about it or whatever other ways, how has Yaystack engaged in partnerships either currently or things you're maybe planning on doing in the future with maybe other companies or just within the platform itself?

Trey Roth:
Absolutely. We actually started out with a focus on serving businesses first. Then going from there, from that partnership, and making it easy and rewarding to share a point of sale. What we've learned is that it really... to build Yaystack, the true vision of Yaystack can only be built with a focus on authentic referrals being our supply and demand, and curating truly authentic referrals. Sure, we're open to navigating what brand deals can look like to take genuinely, truly authentically raved about brands, and help elevate them all the more, while at the same time protecting authenticity and trust.

Trey Roth:
That's something that we imagine we'll have opportunity to do all kinds of things in regards to brand deals, but, again, we stand for a new way to be exposed to a brand that is not traditional marketing. Where it's brands raving about themselves, and they will have paid for that, that's traditional marketing. With us, it's all about their fans raving about them. I say all that to say we are currently not focused on brand partnerships or deals right now for the sake of building this out to be a true hub for authentic referrals that can be trusted 100%.

Trey Roth:
Down the road, we'll navigate our opportunities while protecting trust and authenticity 100%.

Taylor Baker:
There we have it for part one of this very special two-part episode featuring Trey Roth from Yaystack. Be sure to tune in for part two. Thank you so much for listening. Now, go get your partnership on.

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