The Entrepreneurial Journey of Justin Hatch in building the Premiere Reporting Solution for CPAS! Justin discusses woodworking, leaving his job as a VP in the oil and gas industry, and growing his company: Reach Reporting.
Announcer: Welcome back to your personal CFO podcast, where we get to hear from entrepreneurs on how they’re growing their businesses, staying on top of their finances, and not only succeeding but thriving. To listen to previous episodes of the show, please go to our website www.actionnowCFO.com. And now, for today’s podcast. Here is your host for the show; your personal CFO, Greg LeVine.
Greg LeVine: Alright, everybody, welcome back to another podcast. I hope everybody’s doing good and locked and loaded for another podcast interview. You’re out there, and you’re doing your thing. You are excited to tune in and get some more motivation, more inspiration, and more clarity to achieve extraordinary results in your business. The person who’s going to do that today is our guest, Justin Hatch.
Justin is the CEO of Reach Reporting, where they serve accountants, CFO’s, CPAs, advisors, consultants, and more. Their mission is simple; provide not more but less software that is simpler and user friendly to allow accountants to relay quick, actionable, and decisive information. Reach Reporting enhances the relationship and is the catalyst, connecting the CPA to the small business owner. On that note, Justin, welcome to the show.
Justin Hatch: Hey. Thanks a ton for having me.
Greg LeVine: Thanks for coming on. We are excited to talk to you– you are calling all the way out in Utah.
Justin Hatch: That’s right.
Greg LeVine: How’s life in Utah? Are you getting a lot of snow?
Justin Hatch: You know what, we need more. We always need more here in Utah. The slopes love it, and the moisture is welcome, and there’s plenty of snow up here in the mountains.
Greg LeVine: Nice. Let’s talk about woodworking. I know you’re a master woodworker, and I’d love to hear what’s some of your best stuff? What have you made that impresses you the most?
Justin Hatch: Ah, thanks, man. Woodworking is a little hobby that I have. I love the business world. I love building and creating businesses, but sometimes it’s nice to unwind and go out in the woodshop; smell that fantastic smell of the cheery dust in the air or the maple dust in the air. Recently, I made 26 memory boxes for each of my dad’s grandkids- so my nieces and nephews. They all had their names laser engraved, and there was a poem written by my dad that I etched inside the box. So, that was a pretty cool gift. That was a labor of love, but they turned out pretty darn good.
Greg LeVine: Did you say 26 grandkids?
Justin Hatch: Ya, 26 wild animals! Yup!
Greg LeVine: How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Justin Hatch: I have five brothers and sisters, one brother and four sisters.
Greg LeVine: Wow, so Thanksgiving is pretty hectic!
Justin Hatch: Party! Ya, it is a COVID sharing playground. Luckily, this year we took it back a bit. But ya, Thanksgiving is fun.
Greg LeVine: Thank you, man. Thanks for sharing a little bit about you outside of the business.
Let’s dive in. You’re a business owner, entrepreneur, and you are out there to create a new reality for yourself. As I understand, you were a VP at an oil and gas company, and you had enough; you had enough with the corporate world, and you wanted to get out there and do your own thing. In 2014 you jumped ship, and you started to go with an idea called Reach Reporting. Talk about what it was like the day that you finally said, “Corporate world, my VP title, corner office maybe, nice view… goodbye.”
Justin Hatch: It was crazy. It was all of that. I had a cush job, great pay, options, and equity. I had all these fantastic things, but I didn’t have the fulfillment that I felt like I needed. It’s crazy how you have those desires and those needs that are deep inside of us, and for me, they couldn’t be satisfied by the cush job. I was driving home with my family after Christmas in Canada, and I was dreading going back.
We always joke that people in the oil and gas industry have no heart; they are brutal. But people on Wall Street, they have no soul. We had this juxtaposition of these two different audiences. It was hard. It became something where there was no more creativity in the workspace. The company I was with stopped wanting to create new stuff, and that was my passion. I was an inventor. I was the one creating new products, new designs, new strategies, new approaches. As that came to an end, I realized that maybe this isn’t for me anymore. That’s when I started to realize I wanted to migrate out.
That whole time I had been considering what I would do. I didn’t make this decision in a moment, and it’s not something that you say, “Ok, I’ll go to work today, and tomorrow, screw it, I’m out!” These are decisions that take a long time to make. I’d been pondering what I would do if I were to leave and start a business. Instead of me starting with, I want to create this product or that product, I said, “What are the things that I want to accomplish in my life? What are my goals, my objectives? What are the things that I want this business to do for me?”
I’m a firm believer that we all work super hard. It just depends on the direction we are going, what the outcome is going to be. Some people work phenomenally hard, just as hard as I do, but they work for somebody else. They are making somebody else the money. I decided to create something where I can design and build something to control where that goes and who that affects. I had this ‘recipe’ in mind. It was critical to me that we stuck with the recipe. There were specific criteria. One was that I didn’t want to feel forced to work. I wanted to take those moments away; if my brain needed a break, I wanted to be able to do that. I wanted to have software because I wanted to create something scaleable without fulfillment issues. I had particular criteria in mind, which was the origin of why I went the direction I did it and what led us to start Reach Reporting.
Greg LeVine: The day after you quit, you wake up in the morning, and what are you thinking that day?
Justin Hatch: It was free-ing! It was such a great feeling. I got up and didn’t even have a desk at my house. Before then, I worked at the office and the office only. I cracked out one of those old lifetime tables; you know the plastic ones with the metal legs? That was my desk. So, I set my laptop rocking in the middle of the dang thing, and I just started to look at what was possible.
I wanted to let the creative juices that hadn’t been flowing in a bit start flowing again. I looked at a whole bunch of things. An image of what my little office space looked like, which was a tiny room down in the basement; There were sticky notes everywhere. There were a series of sticky notes around a central one, and this one would be an idea that maybe I could work on, a space I could see myself going. It took months, and nothing came immediately. I did a lot of research. I was lucky enough to have a reasonably good exit from my previous job. I had acquired some equity, and because they were public, I was able to sell that. But it was still a decision making process.
Some history: I’d started a business when I was 21; I was a baby looking back. You know, at the time, you think, “Oh ya, I’m this mature kid, and I’m going out, and I’m going to change the world.” But looking back, I can see that I was a baby, and I started this business. The one thing I knew about business was how little I knew about business. I realized during that process that it’s hard to understand what your financials are telling you. Running a business off of your bank balance is not the way to do it. I realized that I had no idea what the balance sheet was trying to tell me. I didn’t use the P&L properly. I didn’t even know the top five financial reports I should be running. I had these questions, and I thought, “Maybe there’s a way to create software that could help diagnose businesses for people, and it could help them realize the health of their business. We could take all the financials and combine them to create something that helps startups; the entrepreneurs to make something potent, powerful, could tell where the gaps were–where the needs were. That was the whisper for this initial dream that inspired us to build this financial software, that is Reach Reporting. Something to automate powerful visual financial reports.
Greg LeVine: Ok, now let’s say that this was around 2015 that you started with this idea. How long does it take until you make your first dollar?
Justin Hatch: Golly. Sustainable dollar? It took me five years! We made money in and out. We realized as we were building this thing; financial software, this is the kind of research you want to do in advance usually. As entrepreneurs, we are often ‘go get ’em’ people. We think that way. We didn’t make a sustainable dollar until 2017. We had about two solid years of real hard sluggin’ where we would take the product to market and say, “Ok, What do you think?” And people would say, “Wow! It’s cool and amazing! Oh, wait, does it have this?” We’d say, “No, but it has all this, and this, and this, and this…” And they would be like, “Oh, ya, that’s cool too, but so-and-so has this particular feature.” So we’d go back, and we’d work hard for that client, and they’d either moved on or not needed it anymore or something, but the great thing was- we’d built a new feature for financial reports.
Looking back, you can easily see all the mistakes you’ve made. You see all of the things where you think, “Man if I had only had a contract or a pre-purchase agreement and all this stuff,” but that’s tough when you’re desperate for people’s attention. It’s tough when all you’re trying to do is breakthrough into the market. That was a real challenge. We didn’t have anything sustainable until 2017, and we didn’t have anything groundbreaking until, honestly, the end of 2019. It was Q4 of 2019. Right before COVID.
Greg LeVine: So, Justin, tell us. When you were in the weeds, and you were slugging away, and you think you have this great product, but people don’t want to pay for it, or they don’t need it. How did you crack the nut at the end of 2019? What was the breakthrough that you finally felt you created something people wanted to invest in?
Justin Hatch: Excellent question. In 2018 we found that there was this market of people that wanted to talk to us. At first, being the gritty survivors we are, we didn’t want to pivot to this little market adjacent to our own, which was targeting accountants who needed visual reports and dashboards. We were hesitant to make that pivot. We realized over time that these guys were desperate for the exact thing that we were providing. They didn’t have somebody providing the right software for them yet.
What we realized was, we needed to listen to who is feeling the pain. The startups and small businesses were feeling pain; a mosquito bite, like dog bite level pain. The accountants; shark bite! These guys are feeling significant pain, and it’s deadly. What we realized was that there’s this market out there. It wasn’t a one-time thing where we had one CPA who needs this. We found that there’s this huge market out there of advisors who are desperately needing reporting features. That’s where we started to say, “Ok, how do we address this? How do we create something tangible and helpful for them?”
So, we took all of 2019 refining the product from where it was to create a valuable, relevant solution for CPA’s and CFO’s.
Greg LeVine: So at this point, you are three, three and a half years into it. It sounds like you’re not making that much revenue. Are you talking with your friends or family? Your mentors? Are you thinking about quitting? Have you thought about an exit plan? Or are you in for the long haul? What’s your thought?
Justin Hatch: It’s hard to look back and sum up the spectrum of feelings I had during that time. But, ya, there were a couple of things. Every day, I would talk to certain people. One of them was my wife, and I would dump data onto her and say, “This is what happened. This is what I’m thinking. Here’s where it’s going.” Looking back, it was very therapeutic. It helped me make those hard decisions because I was able to talk it out during and after the fact. After the fight was over, so, that was one.
I also reached out to my dad, who’s a savvy businessman. Almost every day, I would talk to him, get pointers and business advice, and tips and tricks. He would kind of coach and guide me. It wasn’t superficial confidence. There were days when he would say things like, “Are you on the right track? Cause, cutting your losses is not a bad thing; in fact, it’s a good thing if you’re not going in the right direction.” He was that sober voice in my life. Luckily, we were able to see that there was enough green ahead, or blue sky, I should say, that we were able to say, “We are close. We are approaching something. We recognize there is this huge need in the industry. We need to make sure we can connect the need with the solution that we’re providing.”
Greg LeVine: Alright, the last section of the show is our lightning round. Can I get a drumroll, please? (drumroll) Justin, where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled?
Justin Hatch: I’m not a huge traveler. I’m going to say, Havasupai, in Arizona, hands down, was my favorite place. It’s a 6-7 mile hike to this beautiful paradise in the Grand Canyon. One of my best experiences ever.
Greg LeVine: Favorite thing to cook?
Justin Hatch: I’m a terrible cook, but I can make an excellent skillet breakfast; hash browns, eggs, sausages. My family begs for it every Sunday, so that’s what I do Saturday or Sunday morning. I make skillet hash browns and eggs and all that. I would say that’s my favorite thing.
Greg LeVine: Last, but certainly not least. Justin, favorite charity to give back to, or something you do for a good cause?
Justin Hatch: The Malouf Foundation has swept me, my team, my wife, and my family off our feet. We were unaware of how severe and rampant Human Trafficking is. The Malouf, -M-A-L-O-U-F-, Foundation is fighting that. It’s a nonprofit organization funded in a big way by Malouf Sleep, a bedding company. They have no overhead cost because Malouf Sleep funds all their overhead. All donations to the Malfouf Foundation go directly to the people. Those who have suffered at the hand of being trafficked. So that, hands down, bar none has been where our hearts and minds are on the charity side. If anyone listening is interested in learning more, go to www.iamonwatch.com. I am on Watch.
Greg LeVine: Ok, good. Before we go, we want to tell everybody where they can find Reach Reporting; the place where you can find quick, actionable, and decisive information to get reports generated so you can be on top of your business to understand it. To not just be living by a bank balance cause you can’t run a business and be successful with only a bank balance number. So, Justin, please, tell everybody where they can find you and your company and get themselves on the right track.
Justin Hatch: You bet. Head to www.reachreporting.com. -R-E-A-C-H- Reporting dot com. By all means, reach out to us. There’s a little chat button in the bottom right. We love to talk to our people, so head to reachreporting.com to check it out. We’ll take good care of you there.
Greg LeVine: Ok. Awesome, man. We wish you much success. Keep the enthusiasm and the excitement for the entrepreneurial journey going cause it’s infectious. All the best.
Justin Hatch: Thanks, man. Thanks for taking the time. It’s super cool to be on the show.
Greg LeVine: I will wrap up another week, another show, so as questions come, you know where to find me; [email protected]. Thanks for listening. We’ll be back next week.