About this episode

Our guest this week is Naysa Mishler, co-founder of Everest Effect. Everest Effect is a marketplace that seeks to connect those impacted by disasters directly with brands that can meet the needs of those affected. Including the Nashville tornadoes that destroyed much of a city, the wildfires in Australia or California that seem to occur year after year, or yes, even a global Pandemic like COVID-19. Everest Effect seeks to provide for real needs, from real people, in real-time. Despite the vast ambition we see today, Naysa's journey did not start with such lofty goals. You also will hear during today's episode that the responsibilities of life flavor how we navigate our career and business. This is Naysa Mishler's startup story.

In this episode, you'll hear

  • Her early childhood and her experience watching (and working in) her father's retail business
  • Some business lessons learned from her father at a young age, like putting the customer first and also realizing that starting a retail store was not appealing to her at all.
  • What she was interested in was broadcast journalism and becoming the next Katie Couric, but you'll hear about how later in her college career, she pivoted to journalism and public relations
  • Her experience following college and realizing that even public relations were not where her real passion was and how she began to put passion first in each new direction she took: "Every time I explore new opportunities, I always start with asking myself 'What am I passionate about?" and then pursue the companies that are doing that well."
  • Her first role at Citi and how did that season in her life set her up for what would become Everest Effect
  • She talks about her time working for LinkedIn and what it taught her about 'People and Product.'
  • Some of the markers in her career journey like leaving a position after less than a year, suffering a blog to her ego and being without job while about to have a baby
  • Why Naysa left a stable job to start something from the ground up
  • How the idea of Everest Effect began and how Naysa was determined to answer the need of those impacted by a disaster
  • Everest Effect's mission, who they help, and how they do it.

“Relationships always matter, but I feel like they matter a little bit more when you are an entrepreneur.” – Naysa Mishler, Everest Effect

Resources from this episode

Everest Effect: https://www.everesteffect.com/

Naysa Mishler on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/naysamishler/

The Startup Story on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/thestartupstory

The Startup Story is now on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/jamesmckinney

The Startup Story on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thestartupstory

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Special Guest: Naysa Mishler.

Episode transcript

The Startup Story - Naysa Mishler

Naysa Mishler: Hi, this is Naysa Mishler, CEO and cofounder of Everest Effect, and this is MY startup story.

Every wildfire began with a spark. Every superhero has an origin story. And every single startup has a moment that they point to as their beginning. And every founder has a purpose that drove them in the midst of all obstacles. THAT is The Startup Story.

James McKinney: Welcome to another episode of The Startup Story. Before we jump into this week's episode, I have to ask, how are you holding up in the midst of an economic season like we've never seen before? The coronavirus or COVID-19 has shutdown much of the world. Entrepreneurs everywhere are scrambling to find answers for their employees and families, and trying to find ways to keep their businesses afloat during this challenging time. I know it may seem like this season doesn't have an end in sight, but it does. It truly is temporary so keep hanging on. Find ways to stretch your capital. Communicate regularly with your team to gainas much additional perspective as possible. Heck, hit me up if you're just looking for someone to bounce ideas off of.

In fact, just last week I had an hour long Zoom call with a listener who owns a few restaurants in Houston, Texas. He was asking about some creative ways a restaurant might look to stay afloat in the midst of the COVID crisis. It was an amazing conversation and just through bouncing ideas off of each other, we came to a pretty unique idea. Well, one that if executive well could have an impact for the entire Houston restaurant industry. Again, I'm not even in the restaurant industry but just the idea of connecting with another entrepreneur was so encouraging to me and I really hope that there's some great new that comes out of that event.

Now, that's the power of community. That is the power of simply connecting and engaging another entrepreneur. Like I shared in last week's episode, sometimes the chaos around us causes us to become myopic and our vision becomes too narrow. Connecting with others who are wired like you and I are make all the difference in the world. I hope to hear back from that listener in the coming weeks to give an update on what they did and what the impact was. In the meantime, please reach out to me via LinkedIn. Just search for James McKinney or hit up the link in the show notes. If you're an overachiever, please leave a written review and plug your brand. The combination of your review and your LinkedIn message will surely catch my attention. Entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs, so let's make it happen. All right, now let's jump into this week's episode.

Our guest this week is Naysa Mishler, cofounder of Everest Effect. The name of her company should automatically give you a sense of scale and ambition for her startup. Everest Effect is a marketplace that seeks to directly connect those impacted by disasters and brands that can meet the needs of those impacted. Now let me be clear, when I say disasters I'm not speaking to general hardships that we might encounter within our lifetime. I'm speaking of the tornados in Nashville that destroyed much of the city, or the wildfires in Australia and California that seem to occur year after year, or yes even a global pandemic like COVID-19. Everest Effect seeks to provide real needs for real people in real time. Like I said, the ambition of what she seeks to accomplish is well represented simply within their name. yet despite the huge ambition we see today, her dream did not start out with such lofty goals.

Naysa Mishler: My parents, they're both from Pennsylvania. We moved to New Hampshire when I was very young. Very, very small town and my dad had women's retail clothing stores. So he grew those from one to eight over the course of many years, and they were all throughout New England. So from a very young age my brother and I, we all were in the family business. We would spend weekends and summers driving around with my dad and listening to oldies music, and working in the store, and getting paid in ice cream and other things. It was really a big part of our upbringing but was never on my radar. I think if anything from those experiences, it probably pushed me more into corporate life, between that and also just growing up in a small town wanting to be in New York and have these big opportunities available there was how my mindset was.

James McKinney: That's awesome. It's interesting that you immediately tip your hand a bit at the idea that because of your upbringing you were kind of looking for that corporate life. I think there's an interesting thing that takes place when you're raised by entrepreneurs. You either are passionate about the idea of entrepreneurship because you saw a lot of things that were appealing, whether it be our parents or our aunts and uncles, whoever in our world was an entrepreneur, or you don't want it because you saw some hardship. Maybe there was a financial issue. Maybe you were part of it during a recession. Whatever the case may be, there's something that wasn't appealing. What was your childhood, and observing your dad's running of the retail stores, what was it that did not draw you to entrepreneurship at a young age?

Naysa Mishler: So retail in general is a grueling, grueling business. So I think being around that in and of itself I knew retail was not for me. Both my parents are extremely, extremely hardworking, and while my dad had a number of people working for him, nothing was beneath him. He would literally roll his sleeves up and do everything, and expose us to everything. I don't even think I thought of it as entrepreneurship as I was experiencing it as a child. I saw how hard they worked and I think I had appreciation, especially for his love of his work and his love of the customer. If you remember the book Hug Your Customer that like literally is my dad. Teaching me things like if someone walks in with $10 or $100, how do you make them both feel valued and how do you use those values to drive the business forward. I think it taught me a lot, but I don't ever think I ever connected it to entrepreneurship or something that I wanted to pursue.

And then unfortunately what happened so this was through the nineties and around the late nineties Simon Malls came in. They basically pushed out a lot of these small businesses and were bringing in the big box stores. He ultimately saw that as a time to get out, so it wasn't even an option for us to carry it forward because at that point it had dissolved. At that point I had already kind of set my sites on what I wanted to do and those next steps, but I took a lot away from it.

James McKinney: When you were coming to the end of you high school years, that's a natural chapter for us. Coming to the end of high school, do we go to college, do we travel abroad, what it is that we do? What was your dad suggesting to you coming to the end of your high school years?

Naysa Mishler: To go to Ohio State.

James McKinney: As a USC Trojan fan, I'll leave that Buckeye reference there, but I'm just letting you know…

Naysa Mishler: Literally I remember touring the campus and I initially wanted to go into broadcast journalism, and they had just gotten rid of their program. I actually remember him saying, "Oh, that's fine, you can still go here." I'm like, "Dad, they don't have my major." They saw at an early age that I was fascinated with journalism and media. I had secured an internship at this super small station to get experience and had my sights set on going to a really good communications school. They had supported that and they also saw growing up I wanted to try a little bit of everything. I kind of took charge and whether I was good at it or not, I was nonstop in experiencing new things. I think they knew that in order for me to do that and continue to do that, I needed to kind of spread my wings and go after whatever it is I thought I wanted at that time.

James McKinney: And so what was the, obviously Ohio State not having the broadcast journalism you were looking for, you obviously went to college. What were you thinking entering the college years? What did you think you wanted to do?

Naysa Mishler: So I was convinced I was going to become a broadcast journalist.

James McKinney: What does that mean though? For you, what does that mean? Because a lot of people are like, "Oh I want to write for shows, I want to be on the camera, I want to be on radio." What did it mean for you?

Naysa Mishler: So I wanted to be Katie Couric. Wanted to be on the news every evening, telling people the good, the bad. And that's what I went after. I applied, I got into Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse. It's one of the top schools. But then as the early years progressed, realized I really wanted to be in New York City. My brother had gone to school there and was living there, and I had spent some time there growing up through my dad's business and just really wanted to be there. I also had student loans and broadcast journalism was not going to support either one of those things. So I found myself kind of halfway through saying okay, if I'm not going to do that what's related to that? I was drawn to journalism and public relations, and so that's how I spent the remaining two years.

James McKinney: Awesome. So what was your step out of college? Graduate, what was that first step? And then how do we journey on through an incredible career to get to where you are today?

Naysa Mishler: Because I majored in PR I said I'm going to start off in PR. So I met a woman who worked for MasterCard, and she didn't have a job at MasterCard but said there's a job at the agency that we work with so I started there. I highly recommend it because it exposes you to, anytime anyone's worked at an agency you get exposure to so many different types of industries. It's pretty grueling, especially right out of school, it's really great exposure. But quickly realized that I actually didn't love public relations, and so I had this degree. Started off there and then said this is not for me. So I only stayed for about a year, but through that actually ended up working at this nonprofit. I worked in corporate PR so not the sexy PR, and worked for this nonprofit client called The Life Foundation. They were all about financial education and within that there was a theme of stay at home moms, the value that they bring, and while they're not generating a traditional salary, if something were to happen to them there would be a giant void. And this was 15 years ago so while the-

James McKinney: That's interesting.

Naysa Mishler: … women's narrative and female narrative is much stronger now, back then it was pretty forward thinking. It was something that really resonated with me. I was not a mom, I was not married at the time, but I just I became really passionate and interested in women's empowerment and financial education.

James McKinney: That's fascinating. Again, 15 years ago. I don't want to spend too much time on that organization, but 15 years ago to be thinking about that narrative. Because now in the startup space we hear a lot about female founders. Not as much as we should, but it is part of a conversation taking place. But the idea of what you mention, the working moms, that's fascinating. As you are venturing along your journey, you go from an agency to a nonprofit. Correct me if I'm wrong, but one of the first big breaks if you will is coming into Citi, right? So Citi Card is just a massive financial institution. When we follow the breadcrumbs, raised by an entrepreneur, you kind of were I want to say free spirited but you wanted to do what you wanted to regardless of what some of the outside noise, again very entrepreneurial minded. A great ability to communicate which is absolutely necessary for an entrepreneur, whether be communicating to clients, communicating to the general public, communicating to investors, communication is key. So you're going through this public relations and communications career and you end up at Citi Card. One, how did you get there and what was your first role within Citi Card, and how did it set you up for ultimately what becomes Everest?

Naysa Mishler: Sure. So I go through this exercise and I've done this literally every time I've explored new opportunities, and I think part of it is how I'm wired and part of it is living in a place like New York. I figure out what it is that I'm passionate about and then I find the company that's doing that really well.

James McKinney: There you go.

Naysa Mishler: And I literally did this and I found this division within Citi called Women and Company. Again, this was 15 years ago. I remember the job description. You had to have experience in financial services and have your financial licenses, and I did not have either one of those things. I think I literally mailed them a letter. I found the hiring managers mailing address and I mailed them a letter why they should hire me, and I ended up getting this woman Heather just saw my potential and just gave me a shot. I've actually since worked with her two other times but it was a time where a lot of these big firms were losing assets upon death and divorce, and a big reason around that was because they had no relationship with the female in the household. As women, we're inheriting and accumulating more wealth had to figure out how to do that.

So they were growing in influence and affluence, and they didn't want to create a program where they were just wrapping a pink bow around something. They were like how do we create something that's really meaningful that's going to help these women and also help grow the company? That was really how Women and Company was born. I landed there and right around or right before the financial crisis, and spent my time with the team building up that program.

James McKinney: That's incredible. It amazes me all the time within large organizations, just the various slices of data that they observe and how they approach it. They were seeing a loss in assets because they didn't have relationships with the women as there was a loss in the family dynamic. That is fascinating to me. But you were with Citi for quite some time. You're in financial services and having lost everything, myself and for my family in 2008 and 2009, I will never forget those years because the wounds have healed but the scars remain for me personally. And so I can't even imagine what it was like inside of financial services at that time. What was your exit out of Citi and then what was your next step? Because that was a tough season. Obviously you didn't remain in financial services, but what was that next step for you?

Naysa Mishler: Sure. So it was. It was only my second job out of school so in some ways, I hadn't experienced many other things to compare it to, but it was bad. There were layoffs. We had colleagues that were let go and it was a really challenging time. Then on top of that, the behavior in the markets how people were responding, they were being very emotional. Your job is to educate people and to have them remain rational. It was taking an already challenging opportunity and making it even more challenging because of the environment.

So after Citi, I actually stayed in financial services for a few more years. I'm very much an extrovert and I wanted to get more experience on the sales side. So I ended up spending a few years working for a small advisory firm where I split my time between sales and marketing. And then after that I said I was just ready to move on from financial services. Similar exercise, there was this company called LinkedIn and they were opening an office in New York. They'd been around for about eight years but they were only 500 or so employees, and it was just at the point where they were about to experience explosive growth. So I found the hiring manager and similar exercise, sold her on why she should hire someone who spent most of their career in financial services. It went from there.

James McKinney: What was the role there?

Naysa Mishler: So I had a number of them. Mostly as I mentioned it was just explosive growth, and it was within they had three divisions that were part of their enterprise offering. The one I was in was talent solutions. It was this idea that companies were starting to lose talent to the Google of the world, and a lot of these sexy startups, and how can they compete. And it was the first time a lot of these companies had to think about what it is that they offer, what is it about their culture that makes them special, and how do they market that to attract and retain employees. If you've ever had exposure to HR, it's a very antiquated industry and function, so you're not only having to change the mindset but you're having to give them the technology to also enable that change. So that was really what it was about.

So I started off in sales and then was actually able to create this customer advisory council. Part of it is my love for product, my love for marketing, and just my love for the customer. The concept is it was called the LinkedIn 100, and it was LinkedIn's top 100 customers and you would bring them together, and they would provide product feedback. They would help you think about how do you bring these new features and experiences to the market, and they ultimately would become advocates for the brand. So I ran that for a number of years and split my time between sales and marketing.

James McKinney: Why would, again just I'm sure a lot of people listening are thinking man, LinkedIn, that would be an incredible place to work. Why would you, especially given the opportunity you had, why would you ever leave LinkedIn?

Naysa Mishler: It really it was and is an incredible place. I don't know what their boomerang rate is, but I still have number of friends that are there or that have returned, and they are truly about people and product. I'm so happy I had that experience because I think a lot of companies lead with that but they aren't… they don't really deliver on that. I can think of even when they IPO'd it's such an important milestone. When you look at, especially in today's environment, there are so many companies that sell employees on that. For them, it was so much more. They actually had t-shirts made that said, "Next Play" on that day. It was a celebratory day, but it was this idea that it was one of many milestones.

James McKinney: That's awesome.

Naysa Mishler: And so it was those moments. And then Next Play actually became a term that we would all use when people would move on, and you would celebrate their next play. So it wasn't an easy decision, but I'd hit a ceiling and being in New York you get to a point and a certain level where unless you go to California, there aren't a whole lot of opportunities. But I thought long and hard, and I went through that exercise again of let me find a company that I can get behind their mission and find a role that's going to be meaningful, and so that's what I did. But it was not an easy decision and I could have stayed much. I was thinking of starting a family, but I did decide to move on.

James McKinney: Before we continue on with Naysa's incredible startup story, I want to acknowledge an incredible new partner in the Vinetta Project. The team at the Vinetta Project helps female founders find capital for their startups. In fact, it was the team at the Vinetta Project that put Naysa and I together for this episode. So if you are a female founder, make sure to visit vanettaproject.com to learn more. And lastly, for the past few weeks we've spoken about the impact the coronavirus has had on businesses everywhere, and The Startup Story is no exception. For the last six to eight weeks you've heard me talk about our first ever Startup Story Live event at the global headquarters of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. It was going to be an amazing evening with some unbelievable featured founders. Well, as you are probably very well aware of live events everywhere are being cancelled. We tried our best to keep pushing the date back, but due to capital constraints we could not keep pushing.

Our pursuit right now is to keep standing so when this passes, because it will pass, that we're able to reimagine what Startup Story Live can be. We will definitely be revisiting this in 2021, but for now we're looking to move Startup Story Live to an online conference in the next few weeks. I am pushing to ensure all the various touch points that I wanted to bring to the live event are represented in our online event. So please stay connected by visiting startupstorylive.com as more and more details are released. All right, enough with the announcements. Now let's get back to the episode.

James McKinney: When you look back on your time with LinkedIn and kind of a bit of foreshadowing as we know we're getting to Everest Effect. When you look back at your time with LinkedIn, what are some critical lessons learned from your time with LinkedIn that you can attribute to the success of Everest Effect because of that season?

Naysa Mishler: So truly living by people and products, and your people I would say even first. They taught us all that talent is number one and it wasn't just because they were in the business of talent. It truly is. I've always felt that but now being on the other side, there is absolutely no way we could be doing what we're doing without the people around us and the importance of just hiring for talent and not longevity, and so celebrating if someone spends 2 years with you or 22, which wasn't always the thinking for a lot of companies.

I would say also just truly being customer centric. It's such an overused phrase, but they would live and die by their customers. That's the reason why, a big reason why they've had the success that they've had is because they truly build products that customers want and need. So having that member first mentality was something again a lot of people talk about but don't always live by.

James McKinney: Can you explain for our listeners, as they're hearing the word customer and LinkedIn, is the customer in the LinkedIn vernacular is it the user, is it those who are buying the ads, those who are paying for the premium services? Who does LinkedIn see as the customer?

Naysa Mishler: So it's really, and they call them members. I should be using that term. Really everybody because if you think about, you used LinkedIn for your business but you also use LinkedIn perhaps for personal reasons, and there are a lot of people that maybe by day they're recruiting for their company but then by night they could be searching for their own job or building their own personal brand. So all of their members are potential customers, and all of their customers are members if that makes sense. So I think that's where that member first mentality needed to exist because without that they wouldn't be able to grow the ecosystem the way they did.

James McKinney: I think we should probably definitely move on from LinkedIn because if we just sit here more and more-

Naysa Mishler: I could keep talking about it all day. I love it.

James McKinney: If we keep talking about the LinkedIn culture and experience, there might be a point where you're just like why did I ever leave?

Naysa Mishler: I know, it's all good.

James McKinney: So let's talk about that leap and what was that next step for you as you leave LinkedIn, looking for again you hit that ceiling, to get back to where we were. You kind of hit that ceiling with opportunity unless you wanted to move to California. You were looking to potentially have a family here, you didn't want to go to California. So what was the leap outside of LinkedIn?

Naysa Mishler: So I came across a company WeWork, and this was 2015 so while most people know WeWork now I would say in 2015 it was pretty limited to major markets like New York and San Francisco. I loved what they stood for. It was community, it was like rethinking how people work, where they work. Figuring out and creating these communities for entrepreneurs and so there were a lot of things I feel like I experienced as an intrapreneur at LinkedIn that I could carry with me. And so I went through the exercise, I connected with someone there, and I literally did this for every job. And they were thinking about creating something called WeWork University, and the idea was that schools have a lot of students and alumni that are starting these ventures, and they wanted to provide them with these resources to help them launch and grow.

A lot of that can start with a physical space, so it was helping them think about if they build something on campus, in the town near campus, or perhaps remote where the school could be in Boston but providing them with an opportunity to live in California. And another challenging group because it's higher education so I would say across all of the groups I've ever marketed or sold to, probably the hardest in terms of how they make decisions and funding. But it was something I really believed in. Long story short as I was just talking about LinkedIn, I would say I experienced the opposite at WeWork where they had this incredible brand on the outside and a lot of the experiences I had on the outside just did not match that.

James McKinney: Do you think that was partially due to growing pains or do you think this was just a cultural thing?

Naysa Mishler: So I think both I would say, and we've read the headline so we've read a lot about what's happened since, but one of the biggest lessons I learned is that not everyone is meant to stay in the roles that they've started in and you get to a point where the growth is so massive that I call them bringing in adults to help steer the ship. Especially in a role or an organization like sales, so I think that was missing, and then our values just weren't aligned. So I think it was both. I ended up actually leaving after less than a year-

James McKinney: Oh wow.

Naysa Mishler: … which was really difficult. It was a big blow to my ego and my confidence, and I actually that same week, I'll never forget, found out I was pregnant. So when you think about planning your life and timing of things, I found myself after having this amazing experience at LinkedIn, a not so great experience at WeWork and here I was without a job and about to have a baby.

James McKinney: Let's talk about that real quick because obviously those moments are markers in our journey. I can imagine probably a few different things that were running through your head at the time, but as opposed to me just kind of assuming and laying those ideas out there, what were some of the thoughts running through your mind about your next steps and your options? Because you have a tremendous history. You have a tremendous resume, but one of the things you said that I know can hang us up sometimes is that it was a blow to the ego. There was some self confidence. What happened that might have had anything to do with your confidence and ability to execute?

Naysa Mishler: So I became really critical of all these companies. If you remember it was a lot of these unicorns were emerging and I became just really critical. I went back to that people product piece that I learned at LinkedIn. As I would meet with companies and interview, I think it just completely changed how I looked at what was happening on the outside versus the inside, and there are a lot of great companies out there so it's not to say that they don't exist, but I gave myself a lot more time than I probably would have and I was open to other things.

It's what lead me back to Citi actually was I was sitting down with my former boss from Women and Company, and I was seven months pregnant so it was clear I was having this baby, and now I had this timeline that it wasn't indefinite. They were building out this group called FinTech, stood for Financial Technology. It wasn't all really figured out but it was this idea that they needed a team that could be all about innovation and help bring this 200 year old bank into the future. So it just so happened that she was looking for someone to come on short-term to help her figure it out, and so she gave me that opportunity to do that.

James McKinney: Short-term you mean two months or?

Naysa Mishler: it really was. It was a few months to start and then it worked out that it was a good fit on both sides, and so then I returned to a fulltime job but had never expected to be back in financial services. Thankfully was not in a suit. It was a culture where people could wear jeans and hoodies, but I found myself back working for a bank.

James McKinney: So now this was the last role you had prior to leaving for Everest Effect. You talked about how you met this individual at Citi, you were seven months pregnant. You had your baby during that time. As you're with Citi, you have now the added responsibility of a child and for anyone listening that thinks oh well family life, work life, they're totally separate, you're an idiot. I'm just going to put that out there. If you're thinking… all these things whether it be a spouse, a mortgage, a child, the responsibilities of life flavor how we navigate our journey and the decisions that we make. So I have to just ask the question boldly and bluntly, why would you leave a stable job to start something from the ground up when you have now a child to care for?

Naysa Mishler: I know. And honestly it was a really good way to filter out and help me realize this is what I was supposed to be doing in terms of Everest. So I did nights and weekends for a while. So Everest was really born, it was the end of 2017 and if you remember there was a time when there were about half a dozen disasters that had happened over the course of a couple months. It was Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Maria, the earthquake in Mexico, there were fires in California, like literally it was happening left and right.

James McKinney: The world was falling apart.

Naysa Mishler: It was. For a group of us, it wasn't just myself and some of us had been thinking about this well before Citi was how do you get people access to capital? Being in financial services this seems crazy that in this system it's so broken. I'll never forget I was listening to the radio and there was a mother who had been impacted by Harvey and it was Christmas time and she was explaining how she couldn't afford Christmas gifts for her children. I was in complete disbelief that the problem existed, and to know that there are so many people that would have helped her had they realized that this was a need, and if there was an easy way to help. So that was really the beginning.

Then as we looked into it, we realized the whole system was broken. To answer your question, I found myself, I had not… I know people that had been impacted by disasters but I did not grow up in that world or industry. But I literally would wake up every day thinking about it and go to bed thinking about it. And I would come home and spend time with my family, but then read and learn and do as much as I could to wrap my head around it and become an "expert." So that was one of the key indicators of yes, I'm in a place where I have a job and I have benefits and I actually really like the work I'm doing and who I'm doing it with, but there's this bigger calling and I'm very purpose driven. So that was enough for me to say how do I now take the leap and make this a reality.

James McKinney: So one of the things you said, and I want to ask very specifically what you meant by it, you said the entire system is broken. First, can you explain the system you're talking about and then what was broken about it?

Naysa Mishler: Right now, the disaster relief recovery system is what is broken, and we're seeing this now with COVID-19 and with others where you have these horrible things that happen and this beautiful thing happens with humanity where people are moved to help, but you have people giving in kind donations and donating things that are going to waste, like over 60%. They actually call it the second disaster because it interferes with recovery efforts. You have all of these people that are trying to recover because they're not getting the resources that they need. They aren't returning to work. They're developing mental health issues and it's taking them 15 plus years to recover. What's even worse is in these disaster prone areas, they're actually recovering while preparing for the next one. So it's this vicious cycle.

But then on the other side, you have almost $50 billion that gets donated every year to disaster relief. On top of that, more and more companies now that are trying to offer their goods and services to help. So it really is about redistribution, but there's no system to make it efficient.

James McKinney: When, as a lay person and I'm assuming most of my audience falls in line with me in not being heavily or significantly rooted in this space, when I think of disaster relief I think of obviously Red Cross, what JJ Watt did for Houston and Katrina was massive and his own foundation. I think of all these independent mechanisms that are in place, and you're saying within the disaster relief economy if you will only 60% is getting to the purpose of the donation?

Naysa Mishler: So even less than that. So 60% of when people donate clothing and food and other items, 60% of that is going to waste. The actual system and we can use Australia with the bush fires as an example, and this isn't about us versus the Red Cross or other organizations-

James McKinney: Of course. Not at all, not at all.

Naysa Mishler: Like I think what's important to recognize is there are so many phases in this process and we're not trying to be first responders, but there's a role to play because a lot of money does come in at the beginning. What happens is the system isn't equipped to deploy a lot of that capital and so you have organizations like the Red Cross where only a small portion of that money is actually used for that disaster, and then the rest will either go to administrative costs or other events. So it's really about a lot of these nonprofits, they have a very narrow focus and narrow mission and focus on one piece of recovery, and no one's looking at the whole system. So it's not sustainable, it's not efficient, and even now these events will happen and no joke a lot of the organizations will get on a call and start a Google spreadsheet to start to figure out what's available and what's needed. It's so antiquated. For anyone that spent time in technology while there's still very much a human element to these experiences, technology can solve for a lot of it.

James McKinney: So let's unpack Everest Effect. What is Everest Effect?

Naysa Mishler: So Everest Effect is a marketplace for disaster recovery and it's connecting people in need with donors and brands who want to help. We recognize and believe that while recovering from a disaster is extremely difficult, accessing critical resources should not be. And so if you think of a wedding registry as a great example. You can go on, you can understand what's needed, and you have a very easy way to purchase those items. So we've created a very similar experience where we can service real needs from real people in real time, and give donors a very easy way to help meet those needs.

James McKinney: When you say donors, are you speaking enterprise or individuals?

Naysa Mishler: So both. So the beauty of the platform is on the side where people are impacted, they do not need to go through a nonprofit or an organization in order to get help, which no one is doing right now and a big part of that is there's no great way to verify that you are James and that I am Naysa, and we can do that. And on the other side it's both. You have donors that will continue to give money, part of that $50 billion, but then you also have companies like Airbnb who is offering open homes, you have U-Haul that's been offering free storage, healthcare companies are now offering telemedicine. So they are now doing more but they also don't have an easy way to reach these people and get credit for it, so our platform gives them an easy way to onboard and offer those services to people in a much more efficient way as well. It's really three sides.

James McKinney: So just to address this question because I'm sure listeners have it, why is this different than we'll say Go Fund Me?

Naysa Mishler: These are everything that is available or that is needed is an actual good or an item or a service. So if you are going on and you have $20, it is going to go on and purchase diapers that are needed for a real person. The same goes with services. So they're really while there's an opportunity to create an ecosystem where if all the money is coming in now you can figure out in the long-term how to deploy it over time, but everything actually goes to an item where you know what it is, you know where it's going, and you actually receive confirmation that it got to the person that needed it.

James McKinney: Got it.

Naysa Mishler: So it's creating a whole new level of transparency that has never existed before.

James McKinney: Awesome. So very clearly this is not a capital platform for needs, this is if someone needs for whatever reason, if we're able to fund N95 masks this is a place that someone can go and purchase 100 N95 masks for a specific need, hospital location, whatever. Again, I totally pulled that one out of the air, I'm not saying this is something that's on the platform, but that is the correlation of this location, this person has this commodity need, this product need, and you can fund it.

Naysa Mishler: Correct and we partner with companies. Like right now Walmart and so when you see these real-time needs, 100% of the money actually goes to purchase them and then fulfillment is handled by Walmart, and we'll be adding Lowe's and Target and CVS and others over time, so it's also taking while the supply chain is completely strained right now, it's not the norm even when these disasters happen and so you have these companies that already have the supply chain and infrastructure to support the scale that we will have.

James McKinney: Got it, okay. So now that we kind of understand Everest Effect, let's go back to we'll say day one or even day 100 of Everest Effect. It's the starting point, right, it's getting things moving. You were working nights and weekends on Everest Effect while with Citi and you finally leave Citi. What was the catalyst to say now this is a fulltime thing. Was it investment capital you received or you knew you had some runway? Was there a significant strategic partner that came aboard? What was the catalyst that said now leave Citi, fulltime Everest Effect?

Naysa Mishler: I got to a point where I was living these two lives and straddling these two worlds, so SVP by day and CEO at night. As I said, it was all I could think of. It took time, but I'm happy I did it when I did it. There were resources available and I think that was really important for me, and not just capital but people. I thought a lot about how would I spend my time if I'm not commuting two hours and I have an entire day where I can dedicate to this, what will I do with that. And then it also just became as these events started to happen more frequently it was just one of those moments where I'm like if we don't do this, someone else will. That was truly it. I'd like to say that it was based on a date and a formal plan, that there was thought put into it, but it was really just it's either now or never and I had the support of my family and the team. But it was a mindset and it was just what I had to do.

James McKinney: When you say team, again we're talking about your transition from Citi to Everest Effect, when you say team what staffing did you have?

Naysa Mishler: So I have a cofounder and then we have, now we have three fulltime employees but at the time it was honestly people throughout my life and my career who I would tap for their expertise, and even now there's a team of 10 plus people that sort of volunteer their time or that are working on this on the side. So having those experts and those people in place is knowing I could not do it on my own, and it was a lesson I think there were times where I tried to and you just you can't do it all yourself. There are other people that are a lot better at certain areas. So it was a lesson I think I learned early on and then when I knew I was going to go fulltime, I wanted to make sure that I had the support to e setup for success.

James McKinney: How did you fund this from day one?

Naysa Mishler: So we bootstrapped some of it. We had friends and family, and then we had an angel investor and that got us to market. Then as we're generating initial revenue we're actually going to go out for our seed shortly. I think it goes back to talent of it's amazing what you can do when you have some capital to kind of get things off the ground. And there are absolutely lessons learned and we didn't do everything perfect, but I think when you have that talent and you're able to do so much in such a short amount of time, and especially once I was fulltime what we were able to do in a couple months. It was dramatically different.

James McKinney: So now this may sound odd to say because I don't think I've ever said this phrase before, but really your monetization is dependent upon a disaster. So this idea of prepping for launch or go to market strategy, what does that look like when you have no idea when this switch needs to be flipped because there's a response that needs your engagement?

Naysa Mishler: It's a great question that keeps me up at night sometimes. And I hear you on this. It is odd to wake up every day literally and just be waiting for the next event to occur. I think what's sad is they're happening now once every nine days, and so there's no shortage.

James McKinney: Really?

Naysa Mishler: There is. Sometimes they're on a smaller scale, and if you go on actually Facebook crisis response, you can see a lot of them because they'll activate and use their "I'm Safe" feature, but so they're happening quite frequently all around the world. We know they're going to happen. There are patterns and cycles as we've observed now over the years of what happens, who comes in, where there are gaps. I would say COVID still fits that, but there are some nuances to COVID-19. And then there's also cycles. So right now we're in the tornado and flood season, then we'll head into the hurricane season and the wild fire season. So there are, through data there actually is more information available than you would think. But there are just so many patterns that we've seen over time and we've built the technology to support it that while there will be pieces that are always reactive and always involved, the human piece, a lot of it can be cared for by tech.

James McKinney: As you answer that so well, I'm reminded of the global responses that you are engaged w. as I'm thinking through my, not even my north American contacts, my United States contacts. From a global perspective, every nine days makes sense. There's probably always something for you to respond to. And so while I'm sure you see the recipient of the resource as your client, from a sales perspective who do you see as your client? Is it the partners like the Walmart's and the CVS', or is there another layer in the client relationship that I'm not seeing?

Naysa Mishler: So we generate revenue on the partner side. So in no world do we ever want to charge people that have been impacted or make money off of them, and even on the donor side a lot of these models are being tested and I think they're getting a lot of pushback around fees that donors are paying, so part of our differentiator is transparency and actually seeing the impact they have. And so a lot of it is when you're redirecting revenue to these large brands, whether it's retailers or some of the technology brands I mentioned early, there's an opportunity there. Simple transaction feeds.

There's also around giving these companies access to the platform, so a lot of employers now when these events happen, they have a responsibility to their employees and to their shareholders and to their customers to respond. So finding more of those companies and making it very easy, that when these things happen and it may happen three times a year, it could happen once every five years. But also giving them an easy way to respond is a big piece of it. So I would say to answer your question it's companies and brands, but also being a marketplace, being able to nurture and grow the impacted side and also the donor side as well.

James McKinney: You know again, part of the complexity of the marketplace model is that there are so many players involved. I shouldn't say players, but there are so many participants so how do you hear about the need in which someone can donate? And again let's go back to the tornadoes you mentioned. Better yet, so you actually have an event on your website right now for COVID-19. Walk us through setting that up. How do you hear about the need? How do you find the partners to participate? And how do you market the fact that people can come to Everest Effect to participate?

Naysa Mishler: Sure. So we have a whole activation plan when these things happen. Even with COVID-19, we came together. Before we even built this, we actually went through and said we want to support natural but also manmade disasters. So well before this, we had looked at the crisis across the border when parents are being separated from their children, we said well if Everest would have existed how could we have helped then? And so we've really been through enough of these scenarios and with COVID-19, we said well I would say the biggest difference is there's a huge strain on the supply chain.

So in a normal disaster you would have Walmart and these large companies redirecting resources to their massive warehouses, and so it wouldn't be as big of an issue. But I would say for this, it was really about okay so there are so many people trying to solve for masks and medical supplies, and while that's really important we look at the bigger picture, and these other needs, a lot of unmet needs. And quickly learned just through our experience and with talking with people and really knowing our users that there were a lot of people that couldn't shop for themselves and couldn't get supplies, and didn't have access to food.

There's actually a shelter that we're supporting right now were mothers and their babies have to stay in the rooms to make sure that they don't contract COVID-19 and the kitchen is closed, and the staff is barebones. And so they have no great way to get food. So you start to uncover these needs and the needs are only going to evolve over time. At some point we are going to be able to address a lot of the shortages in the medical side, or as this comes to an end there are going to be needs that live well beyond. It's part of having been through this, we know what's needed and it's also having an ear to the ground, and then having a partner like Walmart who has a lot of these items available where we can quickly make them available for donors to purchase, and also for people in need to surface.

James McKinney: That's incredible. As we're talking and as I'm hearing the size and scale, I can almost back into how you came up with the name, but why don't you walk us through how you came up with that name.

Naysa Mishler: Yeah. So it actually started as a project name. It was the thinking of what feels impossible but is not impossible, especially when people take it a thousand feet at a time, and it's very similar to recovering from an event. It feels like when you've lost everything how do you ever get back from that, and you take it and rebuilding happens in phases and overtime. Then the effect piece was really there's this beautiful thing that happens, and you may have seen it even where in Texas where people go through these horrible moments and then they come out of it, and not only do they come out of it but they want to pay it forward. So you had people from Harvey driving up to support the people in the Midwest floods, and you had people from Hurricane Michael supporting Dorian, and so there's this effect where when we look at our vision it's really about it all going full circle, and the people that are impacted one day being on the other side and helping those in need. That's what we've seen and that's what we believe that we'll do.

James McKinney: That's incredible. When would you say is the launch date for Everest Effect?

Naysa Mishler: So we started, there's two answers to that. So over a year ago was technically the launch but it was just for one side of the marketplace. So we basically looked at, and it's very simple but when these things happen there are all these resources available. You can take a free Uber to an Airbnb home, receive mental health services, and then find access to food. But you can't go to one place to get all this information. It's completely disjointed. So we started doing that and building technology to aggregate that very quickly. Then we, from there, started thinking about how do we build up the other side of the marketplace. It was about a year ago for one piece of it that was really more about aggregating resources and then just earlier this year launching the piece with Walmart on the supply side.

James McKinney: So when you think of your three, five, you just launched so we'll say three years. Like if we have a where are they now episode, what are you hoping that Everest Effect will have accomplished or what is the current state you hope for in three years?

Naysa Mishler: In less than three years we will have aided over 500,000 people and expect about $150 million to flow through the Everest platform. Just scratching the surface in terms of what is possible but getting there very quickly and having a very meaningful impact, much faster than I think people imagine. I would also say expanding to other types of recovery. So when we think about what we're building there are so many of that use cases and ways to think about and use it, especially when you think about verification and identity there will be technology that will be available that will actually enable a lot of these nonprofits. So it's really just being the place that people go in that moment when something horrible happens and/or they are moved to help that Everest becomes that destination.

James McKinney: That's incredible. Absolutely incredible. Having gone through the journey that you went through, you grew up not wanting to be an entrepreneur but raised by an entrepreneur. You had that free spirit, wanted to do whatever you wanted to do even if it meant not go to Ohio State which I fully support, and you've gone through following various passion points throughout your career. But now you have the role of entrepreneur. So when you look at your journey, and I'm sure it's going to flavor your answer to this question, but do you believe anybody can be an entrepreneur or do you believe you are born with it?

Naysa Mishler: I believe that more people have the ability to now than ever before. I'm sure there are stats and data around traits and experiences and things that make that more likely but when you look at the world and the resources that are available, and the information that's available, it's completely changed. Even re-skilling which I think a lot about. It's a completely different world. But I would say the caveat to that is I also believe you can't be what you can't see. So while there may be more resources available to people, I think we all have a responsibility and The Startup Story is the perfect example of that, of how do we show people there are different paths to get there and different ways to define success so that they are more likely to pursue that startup.

James McKinney: That's incredible. I love that line, you can't be what you can't see. I love that. As our time comes to an end, there's a couple questions that I would never trim from an episode because I think the impact has a ripple effect far greater than really the show itself. And that first one is about gratitude. So when you look back across your entire life's journey who are the people you point to with such significant amount of gratitude for their contribution to your story? And the reason I ask this question is that, and for those who have been listening to this show from the beginning you know this and hopefully this is part of your ethos now, but if we begin to think that we did this on our own because we've forgotten all the people that have contributed to our life in some way, shape, or form, we'll become isolated like much of us are now with the quarantine, and there's a lot that can just weigh us down in isolation. And so I love to turn it back to gratitude so we can constantly feel connected. So when you think of your journey and your story, who are the people you point to with significant gratitude for their contribution to where you are today?

Naysa Mishler: I'll try to group it. My parents for sure. I think even going back and thinking about those earlier moments which I don't often do. Without them maybe even realizing, just the values they instilled and the childhood they provided me, and the opportunities and the support is something I'm extremely grateful for. Along with my husband who I think is the perfect balance of supporting me but also pushing me, reminding me that great startups don't die because they aren't great ideas, they die from execution. But then I would say my cofounder. She is such a special human. There probably aren't enough words to describe what she means to me and to Everest, and just bringing out the best in all of us every day.

The same goes with my team. They are some of the most talented, purposeful people I have ever worked with. In some cases it's now our third time working together, our third chapter. I feel honored to work with people I love so much. Then lastly just the community so there's a saying that behind every great founder is a tribe, and I have some people that have been in my life for a while and others that have just joined or I've just met because of Everest, and I know that they would be in my life even if it wasn't for Everest. We all have those moments and it can be a very lonely journey, and so having those people that can be there for you through the ups and downs is just so important.

James McKinney: I'm going to throw one additional question at you just because of your response to the gratitude question. You mentioned community and one of the things that I talk about all the time in The Startup Story is the power of community and the idea that entrepreneurship is never intended to be a solo journey. How critical do you believe community is to successful entrepreneurship?

Naysa Mishler: I think it's everything. It really is and in some of the most unexpected ways. Early on in my career, I spent a lot of time thinking about community and my network, and then for the longest time I was heads down. If anything, I was the one paying it forward that other people would come to. Then you have this moment and it's really humbling where you become a student all over again. And it's not even going to people to ask them for things. Sometimes you do, but it's really just learning and connecting with people, and truly it has opened up this whole new world of people that have now since become dear friends and advisors and mentors. But it becomes everything. So it doesn't mean that you whether you're introverted or extroverted, it doesn't matter but it goes back to and this was even my LinkedIn days of relationships matter, and I would say they matter sometimes even more when you're an entrepreneur, and to nurture those and to value those.

James McKinney: Oh man, that is so powerful and it is something that I preach all the time because I just believe it in my heart of hearts that you cannot navigate this life solo, let alone entrepreneurship. It will bury you. In those moments of opposition it is so easy to quit if you don't have someone there helping you stand up. So the last question as our time does come to an end. We've been talking to tens of thousands of listeners that have just been learning so much from you. But we've been talking at a high level about your general journey. I believe that The Startup Story is a digital mentor to many, and so I like to take the conversation from the tens of thousands down to the one.

My listeners are made up of a few different personas. There's the frustrated entrepreneur who has been maybe grinding at this for some time and just a lack of traction. Again, however they measure success, it's not where they are right now and they're just frustrated where they're at right now. Maybe there's the defeated entrepreneur, the one who has tried this time and time again and continues to fail, and the punch in the gut is just starting to wear on them, just call it quits completely. Or maybe it's the want-repreneur, the person who has that 9 to 5 job and a book full of dreams and ideas, and a passion for something but they have some narrative whether it be that they think they might be too old to start something, maybe they're married with kids and they can't start something. Some obligation that's holding them down to the steady and reliable 9 to 5 and they can't pursue entrepreneurship. As we wrap our time up and bring the conversation to the one, who is it you would like to speak to and what do you say to that person?

Naysa Mishler: I would speak to the person who's working the 9 to 5. I was there. I spent 15 years in corporate America and you are never too old. You always have the opportunity to start something new, but first you're never going to have it all figured out. You never will. And leaving y our 9 to 5 is no exception, and so don't let that get in your way. It's going to be one of a million decisions you're going to have to make, and probably not the hardest. If anything, like it did for me, it gives you that conviction you need to start hearing the no's and to start that uphill battle that is just part of that journey. It becomes a game changer and there's a lot of people that have advice around when and how you do it. I think it is up to the individual.

But I would also just say make sure you're running towards something and not away from something. You can get lost in the bureaucracy and the politics of corporate America, but it doesn't mean running to start a company is going to be any easier, so make sure that you're running towards something. The other piece is, well a few more, a lot of people also try to make it about the money and getting that initial funding. While resources are important, traction can be way more powerful than a check. Anything you can do, even if you are doing nights and weekends to have that progress and to have that traction is going to be a game changer.

And then the last thing I would say, and I haven't always done a great job of this in terms of these bigger forums, is paying it forward from the very beginning. Even if you've been at this for a month, there are so many people that can benefit from hearing your story. Again, The Startup Story is a perfect example. Don't suffer from imposter syndrome and think that you don't have a story to share. It's all of our responsibilities to remove these barriers and to share these stories, and to make these opportunities more widely available to people.

James McKinney: Once you've had a few moments to process all the value Naysa brought us in this week's episode, please hit me up on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram and share with me your thoughts on this episode. And lastly, if you've been around The Startup Story for any length of time then you know how much emphasis I put on the idea that entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs. This time, we can show up for Naysa by simply sharing the link to EverestEffect.com, because they're providing real, tangible help for all those impacted by COVID-19. Whether you want to help be a solution or you need the help yourself, simply visit EverestEffect.com and please, please share it with your entire network and on every major social channel. COVID-19 has impacted everyone so even if your friends or network have not voiced the need at all, the chances are incredibly high that there is one, so pleas share the URL EverestEffect.com. Remember, entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs so let's show up for Naysa Mishler and Everest Effect in a huge way. Everyone is impacted by the coronavirus and Everest Effect is bringing real resources to those with real needs. And now for my personal ask.

The Startup Story community has been so incredible about sharing our podcast with others, but we have more stories to tell and more people to reach. We too are a startup and word of mouth is everything, so please follow us on Facebook and Instagram @TheStartupStory or on Twitter @StartupStory_. If you're on LinkedIn, please search for The Startup Story and follow our company page. LinkedIn is a really powerful way to raise awareness of the show. But the most impactful way you can help us grow our audience is to leave a review on Apple Podcast. Or if you listen to the show via Spotify, then please simply share the podcast directly from your Spotify app or wherever you listen to the show.

These simple actions can make a huge impact in getting these amazing founder stories out to the masses. And please make sure to tag or mention The Startup Story when you do share so that we can connect with you and say thank you directly. I'm so incredibly appreciative of the fact that you listen to the show each and every week, and I look forward to sharing these amazing stories with you every Tuesday with hopes of encouraging and inspiring you to start your story.

If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer Danny Ozment. He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and make a real impact in this world. You can contact him today at emeraldcitypro.com/startupstory.

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April 07 2020
Naysa Mishler, founder of Everest Effect

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