henry kaestner - podcast interview transcript
Brad Cooper: 00:00 Hello, this is Brad Cooper with Purpose Nation and before we get into an amazing interview with our next podcast guest Henry Kaestner, I wanted to do something that we've never done before on the podcast... and that is share something a little more personal.
Brad Cooper: 00:12 So some of you been asking where we've been the last few months. I wanted to share that we've been facing some fairly serious medical situations in our family. And so actually, looking back in 2018 overall was a fairly tough year for us in our family in terms of medical situations. At the same time, also wanted to share testimony that God has been faithful and incredible and true and just been leading us through this fairly rough season of life in the past few months. And the medical issues are still ongoing and pretty serious... but, God has just been amazing and shown us peace and love during this time.
Brad Cooper: 00:44 So my wife, Lisa, and I just wanted to thank so many of you who've had us in your prayers and reaching out to us.
Brad Cooper: 00:50 Now, the interview you're about to hear with Henry Kaestner, an amazing guy, was actually recorded almost five months ago now. So it's taken us this long during this time to bring it to you. We do have many other interviews coming up and hopefully we're gonna get back on track with the interview schedule here.
Brad Cooper: 01:05 Now, as it would happen, since the interview with Henry was recorded, he ALSO went through a fairly, at least it sounds like a scary and life threatening medical situation of his own where his aorta had ruptured and he had to be taken into emergency surgery to repair it. He shared his testimony about this situation on his video blog. And so we'll have a link on our podcast page to the video blog. So after you listen to my interview with Henry, please also check out his video blog where he talks about this.
Brad Cooper: 01:32 Thankfully it sounds like the surgery went well and he seems to be doing well, praise God. And just Henry and his family will continue in our prayers, continued healing and for him and his family and just amazing story. And hopefully we'll have Henry back on the podcast in the future to share that.
Brad Cooper: 01:45 I know in our own situation, I'm sure in Henry's too though, what this is reinforced for us personally, things probably would have been different, obviously without our faith and without God, but also without some amazing medical staff and teams and the gifts that God has given us in medical science and medical technology.
Brad Cooper: 02:02 And we take these things for granted, but we shouldn't.
Brad Cooper: 02:06 And this is a huge reason why God has called us into this ministry and Purpose Nation... to bring you a lot of these folks who are on the front lines of science and technology, whether it be in medicine and other fields.
Brad Cooper: 02:17 So this medical situation that we've had, I'm sure when Henry situation as well, I'm just reinforce why we need more Christians to take up the calling that God hopefully gives them for vocations in science and technology, especially in the fields of medicine and doing some amazing, amazing things that we've experienced. I'm sure Henry did and I'm sure all of you have had your own medical situations, but also pray that God would call many people into these fields to help come up with cures and come up with a lot of the different technologies that have been so, so helpful in our situation. And I'm sure many of you as well. We need these focusing, especially Christians to take up the calling to get into medicine and technology.
Brad Cooper: 02:54 And so thank you for your support of us in this podcast. And we've had, we're just amazed by this, over 150,000 listens to the podcast from people around the world. So we're so thankful for that would've never intended that we've had that kind of, um, so many people, I guess who share our love for hearing the amazing stories of Christians who are actively living out their faith in the worlds of science and technology and just doing amazing work.
Brad Cooper: 03:16 So we'd be so blessed though if you'd subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or youtube or wherever you grabbed your podcasts. Thank you again for your prayers and support.
Brad Cooper: 03:41 Now please stay tuned for our amazing interview with Henry Kaestner. Also, if you listen closely, we were joined in this interview by an animal friend or maybe it was animal friends, I'm not quite sure, but if you are one of the first people to comment on YouTube or our social media and let us know what you think the animal or animals are that join us on my interview with Henry, then we will get you a free Purpose Nation T-Shirt for the first 5 folks.
Brad Cooper: 03:51 So with that in mind, onto our amazing interview with Henry Kaestner!
Announcer: 03:58 Welcome to the Purpose Nation podcast, inspiring conversations with Christians in science, technology, and industries of the future. For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, visit purposenation.org
Brad Cooper: 04:11 This is Brad Cooper with the Purpose Nation podcast. And you know, at Purpose Nation, we're always on the lookout for Christians who are leaders in the areas of science and technology and we really want to talk to them about their work and their spiritual journeys. Unfortunately, sometimes it's hard to find them. We are hoping to change some of that through this podcast and other things. It's a little bit hard sometimes especially to find technology CEOs who are outwardly Christian and have had very successful companies or ventures, especially in the computer or technology industry.
Brad Cooper: 04:37 But today we have someone who completely fits that bill in that regard. And then some, he's been the CEO and is now the chairman of a huge telecom technology company called Bandwidth and he now runs a venture capital firm which invests in technology startups among other industries and he's also got a podcast of his own helping to encourage and equip Christian entrepreneurs. So I'm just super excited to introduce our guest Henry Kaestner... Henry, welcome to the Purpose Nation podcast!
Henry Kaestner: 05:03 Brad, it is great to be with you. Thank you. That's a magnificent introduction. I hope that I live up to half that. Small point of clarification is that, as we took bandwidth public in November, I, I'm no longer the Chairman. I remain on the Board and it's been a great blessing to do that. But, uh, I'm no longer the chairman. David, my best friend and business partner at bandwidth is both the CEO and the Chairman. I get a chance to be involved in effectively be a great cheerleader about what God has continued to do through the business. And uh, it's great to be with you today.
Brad Cooper: 05:31 Likewise, likewise. And so this is my first time and maybe yours too, interviewing a fellow podcaster. So yeah, pretty cool.
Henry Kaestner: 05:37 Well, thank you. It's a, you know, and I'm a new podcaster. Podcasting has been a great way for me to reach an audience that I really resonate with and, and for me, I feel called to encouraging faith-driven entrepreneurs, people that have an active faith, who understand that they have an opportunity to, to honor God in the workplace and, and experience God through what they do. And those are my people and I'm one of them, and they minister to me and I get a chance from time to time to minister to them and to have a podcast to encourage them through things like what does it look like to pray with nonbelieving employees and how do you think about chaplaincy or not? I think about chaplaincy and, and all the different things that a faith driven entrepreneur might wrestle with as they struggled on and go out in the marketplace. That's what we do at the faith driven entrepreneur podcasts. And, but I've had a lot of fun with it. And one of the things I've come to realize with it is that not only do I have a face made for radio, but as your listeners will also now attest to, I have a voice made for print journalism.
Brad Cooper: 06:32 Ha, Ha... any journalism background there maybe in college, like a radio DJ or maybe you wrote for the newspaper or anything like that or?
Henry Kaestner: 06:38 None. I'm a lousy writer. Uh, but we do have a daily blog. And so I will, uh, I do write from time to time, I write like I talk. So lots of run on sentences, but I do enjoy hearing stories from faith driven entrepreneurs all around the world about how God is working in Moldova through their enterprise or in Ghana or all sorts of really cool places.
Brad Cooper: 06:58 Cool. Yeah, I definitely want to get to all of that and get back to faith driven entrepreneur in the podcast there. I do want to give a quick bio, I think you have a little bit in the intro there but a of Henry and there's a lot, so bear with me here if folks, but I'm going to go through it and try to get through it quickly. So, uh, he's based up just north of us here in Silicon Valley and you can correct me on if I got any, I got this off your site so hopefully I got some good, some of this correct. And he's the managing partner of Sovereign's Capital, which is a VC firm venture capital firm that invests in growth stage companies with value driven teams, which is cool. And we'll talk about that. And prior to that, and as I mentioned, he was the cofounder and CEO and now on the board of bandwidth and a company that he founded as you mentioned with David Morgan.
Brad Cooper: 07:34 And they grew it from basically zero to, as you mentioned, an IPO. And today, I mean checking my Nasdaq here, it looks like it's like over $800 million in terms of the valuation of the, of the company Bandwidth... so very impressive. Prior to that, he founded Chapel Hill Brokers, which was an energy energy derivatives broker and it became the top ranked, uh, electricity broker in the u s and prior to that he was in finance, various positions in New York... graduated from the University of Delaware... Go blue hens! I think is the mascot?
Henry Kaestner: 08:01 Fighting Blue Hens, yes, that's right.
Brad Cooper: 08:04 And he's been involved in many Christian ministries and nonprofits. He started something called Durham Cares... he's on the Board of Directors of Praxis, which is a, and I think you had the CEO of Praxis on your podcast not too long ago. It's a startup accelerator committed to faith driven entrepreneurs. And also it was, you just talked about, he started a Faith Driven Entrepreneur... and I'm also came across this and and didn't realize initially, but an Elder in the Presbyterian Church, is that still accurate?
Henry Kaestner: 08:28 It is still accurate, yes. In fact, in the Presbyterian Church of America, once an Elder, always an Elder.
Brad Cooper: 08:34 Oh.
Henry Kaestner: 08:34 So I've got that going for me.
Brad Cooper: 08:35 Lifetime. Okay... and beyond? ha ha
Henry Kaestner: 08:38 Absolutely!
Brad Cooper: 08:40 Ha ha... yeah, I don't know how much time you have in your day here to do all this stuff. But anyway, so Henry moved up to Northern California from North Carolina and I guess it was a few years back, lives in Los Gatos with his wife, Kimberly, and their three sons... So beat me by one there... Aren't boys fun? Any teenage boys in the mix?
Henry Kaestner: 08:55 Boys are great. And we've got, two of them were about to have our third. So right now 12, 14 and 16. It's a great, it's a great season of life and it's really, it's, it's full on because you've got to process, all sorts of different interesting things about life and faith and sports and girls and uh, things are more complicated but infinitely more rewarding too. So yes, that is our season.
Brad Cooper: 09:19 Absolutely. Yeah, I know know the feeling very well, so it's good times.
Brad Cooper: 09:23 Ah, okay. So starting back, going back to Bandwidth a little bit and talk about that, and this is, so this is not your average VC funded Silicon Valley startup, it seems to me. And you, I think it actually had a blog post on this recently about slow and steady wins the race kind of a story. So it wasn't like too, you know, programmers and a garage coding and you know, got millions and VC funding and overnight success. It seems like it took a little bit longer than a little bit different kind of a success story. But what is Bandwidth in sort of layperson's terms? What do they do?
Henry Kaestner: 09:49 Yeah. So Bandwidth is a telecommunications company. And we started off life looking to provide better telecom services, small to medium size businesses and start off in the data world and the inner helping companies get better Internet access. And then very quickly thereafter we developed a voice ability. The story is that, for the first couple of years, we were pretty small. We did a lot of pivots. I had sold the company I had prior and Dave and I took all the money that we had collectively put it into the business. And uh, after about two and a half years, we did have a little bit of success and finally found a model that we thought was going to work and we came out to Sand Hill Road to try to raise money to grow our company.
Brad Cooper: 10:26 And uh, we would typically not talk about our culture on our first visit. We were very serious about our faith. Our values at Bandwidth we're faith first, then family, then work and then fitness. But we didn't have fish on our business cards and we typically wouldn't talk about our faith on our first visit with a venture capitalist. But when it came around to a second or third visit ,and knowing that we'd be bringing on somebody who would be a partner, somebody strapped to the mass with us, we would say, look, we have this culture that's really important to us. We want to honor God, it's, it's part of our life. It's our mission and our ministry. To be clear, we're going to hire the best person for the job. So it's not going to be a Holy Huddle, but we are going to be intentional about our faith.
Henry Kaestner: 11:03 And when we talked about that, oh, we got a lot of blank stares and I really think that in a best case scenario, we were misunderstood. I think a worst case scenario we were prejudiced against.
Henry Kaestner: 11:12 And uh, it was a long, hard slog. We went 0-40 in venture raises. So you're right, we weren't these guys that became an overnight success because we were able to get that big funding check in. Uh, so we raised just a little bit of money from some friends and family and what was a very humbling process and then went out to innovate and create. And over the course of the next 18 years through the grace of God, things went really well and steadily well. And so we have Republic Wireless, which is a company we've kept private that makes me uh, devices and telecommunications and has a mobile operator called Republic Wireless and created a product called Relay Go, which is a... imagine a cell phone marrying walkie-talkie and creating a phone so that parents can always be in contact with their children that typically between ages 6 and 12 but without a screen.
Henry Kaestner: 11:57 And then of course we've got the older company called Bandwidth. And at Bandwidth, we provide phone numbers for some of the leading technology providers out there. So Microsoft and Google and we've worked with Google since the 2004 providing services for their Google Talk and then Google Voice. And we've got about a dozen different products that we were on with Google on another couple of hundred of the nation's leading technical providers said incorporate telephone service into their apps and into their web services and and so that's in a nutshell what bandwidth does.
Henry Kaestner: 12:26 But no, not an overnight success but a great labor of love where we seen God clearly show up and I've had the great honor, privilege and blessing of seeing the company grow.
Brad Cooper: 12:35 That's amazing. And the culture I definitely want to talk about in a minute as well as far as the products and the company and sort of how the origins of it, and I don't know if you're, if you're business partners there, David had any technical background. I'm not sure. I don't believe you did in terms of either, neither one of you were necessarily IT guys or programmers or anything like that. How did you sort of fill that gap? Was there somebody that you brought in early on that was sort of more on the technical side in terms of your team and what guided you to come up with this type of a product? This type of a company or is it something that was an intentional or was it something you sort of fell upon?
Henry Kaestner: 13:07 The quick answer, your question is that David has more technology aptitude than I, but that's uh, that's not saying a lot because I have very, very little, we were motivated by trying to solve a problem that we saw in the marketplace. We felt that it was very difficult for small to medium size businesses to get reliable Internet access and they get a selection and find out what pricing to include the local loop was to their business. And so any good business, I think has as its origin trying to solve a problem, a problem that has felt acutely by a market size that's big enough market is big enough. And that was it for us, we wanted to be able to provide these services to different types of companies along the way.
Henry Kaestner: 13:45 Well, and the beginning of what we do is we would piggy back on others people's technology... at first it was the telecom carriers and we would effectively resell their services. With time, we found that the telecom carriers we were working with didn't do as good of a job and helping our customers is we wanted them to, and with time, and this is over many years, we came to believe that we might be able to do it even better. And so as you fast forward that story, we are now a competitive local exchange carrier in a regulated entity all over the country, uh, with our own switches in our own leased Fibre. And, uh, we've developed a technological proficiency that was born out of trying to solve customer problems when we felt that the existing providers weren't doing a good enough job. And yes, along the way, we hired a lot of really smart people that know the technology infinitely more than we do. And that's been a great blessing for us, is being able to attract and retain key talent that knows more about a technological issue than us. And so you got to do a lot of that when you own a technology company. And that's, that's the secret, ...that's A secret to our success. Of course, the big secret to our success is divine providence.
Brad Cooper: 14:50 Absolutely. And the values that you mentioned earlier, was that right at the get-go and then throughout or did that sort of evolve over time as well in terms of, you know, how upfront, you were about... and then the Chaplaincy... I mean, did that change over over time or is that still... Like today if we were to go in the offices today, it's sort of pretty much the same as it was at the beginning?
Henry Kaestner: 15:07 Yeah, great question. We have had our foundational values that had been around since the very beginning and I'd like to think they haven't changed at all. David and I started bandwidth it in 2000 so this is a point in time when corporate culture was actually a really big deal. This is a time when America was going from wearing a suit and tie every day to work to being a young dotcom startup type of thing with a ping pong table.
Henry Kaestner: 15:29 So corporate culture had been a part of my prior company that I had had. And so David and I sat down and said, well, we're going to start this company. Let's be intentional about our culture. And he said something to me that I thought was really seminal and it was, you know, we can't have this culture that is artificially contrived. It needs to mirror who we want to be as individuals if it's going to have any staying power at all. And so for us, we said, well, it needs to be the things that we really want to see in our own lives... So faith first, then family and then work and then fitness.
Henry Kaestner: 15:57 I'll take him real quickly in reverse order... fitness, we have a an environment, we have about 900 employees between bandwidth and Republic Wireless and we are really intentional about working out a lunchtime. It's a big part of team building, crossfunctional pollination, being able to play together with coworkers on things like an ultimate Frisbee team and have the citywide champion ice hockey team in Raleigh. We have a great basketball team. We entered a team into the Trans Rockies mountain bike race in came in second. We entered a team into the Race Across America bike race... and won it. We were really serious about getting out there and having a lot of fun and playing together.
Henry Kaestner: 16:34 That's not as important as our work. When we work, we feel like we're doing what we're designed to do. When we work, we feel God's pleasure.
Henry Kaestner: 16:41 Our work for us, however, is not as important as family. We have nine kids between us and we want to make sure that we're at home for bedtime, bath time, story time, and uh, with 900 employees and young families. We as entrepreneurs need to understand that we model that behavior out as we prioritize being a kid's athletic games. That's an a, that's really important. But you know, we're in a competitive telecom world, so there are many evenings where we need to dial back in to get our work done and sometimes working until midnight. But one night that doesn't happen traditionally is Wednesday nights. That's date night. It's a chance for me to take Kimberly out and to tell her that she indeed is more important to me than my work.
Henry Kaestner: 17:15 And then of course the most important thing for us is our faith.. And the majority of our employees that bandwidth don't share our evangelical or maybe even an Orthodox faith, but they come to understand that faith is the important part of any whole person and we want them to feel supported, encouraged in that. Uh, one of the things that we've implemented with time, and it took us about 10 years, but we decided to hire a marketplace chaplain. We did it with an organization called Corporate Chaplains of America, and it's a great way for us to be able to take care of our whole employee. We want to provide them with real great vocational red meat, if you will work on, that's important to work on something creative and innovative. We want to take care of them financially. We want to take care of their health benefits. And then we want to take care of their spiritual selves too. So corporate chaplaincy is one of the very many benefits we offer our, our, our employees. And that's important, but we never forced any of that on anybody. We have a $10,000 bonus if you adopt a child will pay a $10,000 to help with legal services and things like that. But we don't force anybody. Of course, nobody feels any pressure to adopt a child... Similar with chaplaincy. We want to have a chaplain on staff that can minister to the needs of our employees, but we never want anybody to feel that it's being forced on them. That's just a recipe for, for bad things. But, uh, we love loving on our employees in a way that points to our foundational culture.
Brad Cooper: 18:31 You founded the company in North Carolina and prior to that you were in New York and now you're in Silicon Valley. And I know that there are other, and even companies under your umbrella there in your venture capital fund, but do you think it'd be any more of a challenge to do something like that in Silicon Valley? Or New York? So for company, you know, people who are in companies or entrepreneurs who are not in the Bible Belt, for example... any more of a challenge, do you think, you know, now that you're in Silicon Valley... And you went there, right, as trying to get VC money.... And sort of got the stairs. So, um, was part of it, the location? I mean, what are your thoughts on that and trying to start similar types of values in other places outside of the Bible Belt kind of areas?
Henry Kaestner: 19:06 Yeah, it's a great question. So of course, every region in America has its own culture and, and Silicon Valley is different than North Carolina, which is different than New York. And yet there's some great commonalities and there are faith driven entrepreneurs everywhere and they are absolutely a great number here in Silicon Valley, we've got a group called Inklings that gets together once a month with entrepreneurially minded Christ followers. And there are 220 of us. So this is a great community for that. Now Silicon Valley has some challenges, but I wouldn't suggest that they are any different than what you might find it in Atlanta. An average faith driven entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I tends to have challenges with understanding how to integrate their faith in their work. They tend to be, uh, sensitive to coming across as being exclusive or offensive or ignorant or naive from other funders or customers or employees.
Henry Kaestner: 19:55 And so, and Silicon Valley, but also again, the case, I think also in Atlanta and other places, a lot of people tend not to talk about their faith and why they do what they do. And I think that's a great travesty and it's a travesty when it happens here in Northern California. It's a travesty happens anywhere, but when we as leaders can't be articulate with why we do what we do, we're at a disadvantage and Simon Sinek, we'll talk about it in a ted.com video or Clayton Christianson or Jim Collins. But we need to be able to talk about why we do what we do with our employees. And I love being able to wrestle through that with entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. But I love doing the same with people in New York and Atlanta. And so while they're unique cultures, every place that you go, I think that, and yes, is it easier, a little easier to talk about your faith in the Bible belt? Yes. But every faith drive entrepreneur does wrestle with how do I articulate it and how do I understand to be a winsome witness? How do I lead with excellence and then how can I really talk about why I do what I do. And so that's a commonality that you have anywhere in the states.
Brad Cooper: 20:55 Yeah. And now tell us about Sovereign's Capital. So what types of companies do you invest in? What types of companies are looking for either industries or either stage that they're in? Um, you talked about the values team, you know, what, what types of companies are you investing in and you, and you also invested, I guess in Fivestars, which, uh, Victor Ho, who is the CEO, was on our podcast a while back into the I believe you also had him on your podcast. But what kind, what types of companies are you looking for with Sovereign's?
Henry Kaestner: 21:17 We're looking for companies that are excellent. We're looking for companies that are looking to compete with excellence. Uh, we're looking for companies that do have a missional intent to them. The most important thing though, and I'll tell you about the missional intent that you might see at a company like Five Stars here in a second cause we're both familiar with his story and I think that your audience is as well. But, uh, we are looking for faith driven entrepreneurs. We're looking for an entrepreneur that is driven by their faith in a way that their greatest good, their greatest aim is above the manufacture and distribution of widgets... That they are looking to really flourish in the image of God. God is the original creative and innovative force that created and spoke this earth into existence and worked six out of seven days. And Jesus says that his work continues to this day.
Henry Kaestner: 22:00 So we're looking for entrepreneurs that want to see their faith integrated into their work. A lot of them don't know how to do it and aren't sure how to do it. They don't know whether it's appropriate for them to have a chaplain or not. And what does it look like to pray with a nonbelieving employee and things like that. So everybody's in-process and we've got 40 investments and they run by the way they run the, the range of software as service, consumer goods and services, and medical devices are the industries we know. We tend to invest in, companies that are already up and running where there is success to reinforce. We'd like to see a diversified group of customers. We'd like to see companies that have a track record of delighting their customer. Uh, we like to see companies that really embody what Vic talks about and, and his podcast and a story a Vic has FiveStars is FiveStars is about, uh, helping small businesses to think of their customers is relationships rather than, than transactions. And so Vic understands that it is six times cheaper to keep a customer that otherwise would've turned then to buy that new customer. So we love seeing companies that delight their customers. Chick-Filet is famous for being graded to letting their customer that is, that translates into better repeat purchases. That's something we look for in our companies. 40 companies and all look like that.
Brad Cooper: 23:14 Are you actively looking for new companies at this point or where are you?
Henry Kaestner: 23:16 Oh yeah. We're in the business of doing that. So we, we invest in along those industries. We invest in the United States. We also invest in Indonesia and in Singapore. And we are in the process of raising, Lord willing, we'll fclose out with a $75 million fund, three here at the end of this year. And we're investing in those businesses. And we're also starting to get involved in more in traditional industries to even looking at some buyouts and lower to middle market space and the lower of Middle Market Space. So companies that that have a God-honoring culture, maybe they've worked on that for the 25 or 30 years. They have things like chaplaincy and they want to retire, but they don't want to sell to New York private equity shop that might rip out their chaplain or change their commitment to love on their employees and the community and grow their influence. And so we're a great financial partner for them and we've been building out our staff and are really excited about not only continuing to invest but it really accelerating the pace at which we do that with a broader staff across some more industries now too.
Brad Cooper: 24:15 That's awesome. Yeah. And so you started, I'm guessing somewhat coming out of of that and you started faith driven entrepreneur. Yes. I definitely encourage people to go check it out. I'm like I said earlier, he's got a podcast. Um, they've got a blog. There are lots of great resources, links, so it's faith driven, entrepreneur.org please do go check it out. And I mean, what, what did you hope to accomplish with faith driven entrepreneur and so how did they, how did that come about and what are you looking to accomplish with it?
Henry Kaestner: 24:38 Well, here's how it came about. We found that as we were having more and more success than word kind of got out that there's this fund that wants to be strapped to the mass and a real partner with faith driven entreprenuers. We got lots of inquiries for funding and this isn't necessarily much different from a lot of secular venture capital funds, but we ended up finding that we were only invested in one out of 100 deals that we saw. And so at a time where we wanted it to be an encouragement to faith driven entrepreneurs, we were a discouragement for the vast majority and that's a bad thing to be in if you're a traditional venture capital fund. It's just part of the business and it's just the way it goes and everybody kind of knows about it, but we have a missional intent to what we do and we want it to be able to support these people in some way form or fashion.
Henry Kaestner: 25:18 And it actually, it was a guy that came in from Moldova and this guy named Anatol had said, look, I've got this business and I really want to have somebody in my cap table to kind of gets what I do and who I am. And I'm like, I feel like I don't know anything about Moldova and I don't know anything about the industry that you're in... His in and real estate development... so we can't invest in you, but maybe I might be able to send you some of the materials and some of the podcasts and blogs and sermons that we pass around and use to encourage the 40 companies we have invested in. And so that was part of the genesis for faith driven entreprenuer, which is how might we create a site that might be a resource to equip and encourage faith driven entrepreneurs on their journey.
Henry Kaestner: 25:56 Now we're not all things all people, we just that we've got a daily blog. Most of the times it's a guest blog. We have a weekly podcast, which is a lot of fun. We talked about that a little bit before and a monthly newsletter. But then the idea is also is on the site to have a whole list of resources where people can go deeper and learn about communities like a Paxis or Ocean or Marketplace 1, uh, which are really focused on entrepreneurs or also a C12, FCC, Convene. How do people find out about chaplaincy and marketplace chaplains and corporate Chaplains of America where they go much deeper. And it's been a lot of fun. As you know, as a podcaster, it's a lot of fun talking to people that God is working through and we've enjoyed it. We've been, we've been encouraged by the feedback we've had. We've had people from, well north of 100 countries now that have come in. We're getting a lot of fulfillment from, from it and what God's doing through it.
Brad Cooper: 26:42 Yeah, yeah. And again, it's faithdrivenentrepreneur.org. Please do go check it out and listen to it. Awesome podcasts. A lot of fun. Uh, as Henry said
Brad Cooper: 26:50 So for you Henry, taking a little bit of a step back and kind of, and then going forward with it, but for you, when did you realize if there was any given point that you were sort of wired, if you will, or by God maybe a at some point you probably realized that, but wired to be an entrepreneur?
Henry Kaestner: 27:03 When I was in college, I discovered my first love. It was not actually a girl. It was the fact that I could make a t shirt for $5 and sell it for 10. And I loved the way that made me feel alive as I was able to get out there and close the deal at $10, and it was a shot in the arm. And I figured out that I could sell 40 shirts a night and that was good money. 40 Times five was, was more money than I ever thought I'd otherwise be able to make, uh, making pizzas at Sbarro's, which is what I had been doing. And then when I came to understand that I can hire other people to do it and they could, I could pay them $2 a shirt and still make $3. It was amazing to me. It was as if a new world was opened up for me. Really, for me it's just a sense of, and it's really a lifelong pursuit of just trying to understand and know God and enjoy him forever and being in line with where I feel most alive, and that's a lifelong quest. And at the beginning, part of that revelation for me was that when I was my own boss and I could create and think and execute on and make mistakes on my own, that was something that, again, I felt the most alive. And I worked on Wall Street for six years and wasn't an entrepreneur during that period. And while it was exciting and there's a lot of adrenaline, it was as if I was living my life in black and white.
Brad Cooper: 28:14 Hmm.
Henry Kaestner: 28:15 It wasn't until I went ahead and set up my own financial driven shop that life was in technicolor again, and then as I came to faith at age 28, I got an even another level. I don't know where you go beyond technicolor, but yet another level of dimension. And so when I could merge my faith, which was the most important thing to me with my second most important thing, which is being an entrepreneur, I found that it was, I was most alive. And really with time, I've just come to understand that my life is about trying to capture that feeling and, and trying to know God and enjoy him forever. And part of that for me is when I, uh, when I innovate and I create and I work and I do that with a missional intent, I have the greatest chance to commune with the living God.
Henry Kaestner: 28:55 Uh, so part of it is a selfish motivation to be clear. It's that I want to feel alive. And then part of it also comes from this sense of gratitude for the life that's been given me by guide who loves me. And when I can respond in gratitude for that gift in my work, I'm doubly alive. So it's, you know, it's patty, you know, I'm old enough now at age 48 to understand how important pattern recognition is. And I love being an entrepreneur because that's where I feel alive and where I experienced God most fully.
Brad Cooper: 29:25 That's awesome. And you, so it sounds like there's definitely a maturity in both the work and then also in your sort of the Christian faith aspect as well that evolved over time. It seems like, it sounds like you grew up in a Christian home, but maybe kind of evolved your faith over time. Was there a couple of the inflection points for you? So you talked the tee shirts sort of on the entrepreneurial side. Was there a t shirt moment in your Christian faith or one or two of those moments where you, uh, sort of evolved in your, in your faith journey as well?
Henry Kaestner: 29:49 Yeah, there, there've been several of them.
Henry Kaestner: 29:51 First one was at age 28 when I really fully owned my faith and I came to understand that there actually was a God who love me, who sent his Son to die for me, and that the Bible was the word of God and not just a kind of a collection of neat, mythological sayings that had some sort of cultural bias to them, uh, that it was indeed that I came to believe that the Bible is the word of God. And, and that that was my manual for living. That was number one at age 28.
Henry Kaestner: 30:15 Second one was, I call it my born again, again, moment... When I came to understand the biblical message of generosity, which was that I felt most alive when I gave. And that that actually when guide create, you know, we've worked with this guy who took two fish and five loaves and fed 5,000. So he actually doesn't need my money, but that when I give, I am most alive and when I can respond and gratitude for the life has been given me by giving what I've got. Again, I feel much like that was big deal for me.
Henry Kaestner: 30:41 The third one was, and I talked before about the 0 for 40 fund-raise thing and ostensibly that story is about people in Silicon Valley not appreciating and understanding the faith driven entrepreneur, but there's more to that story too. And that is that when David and I took some of our kids on a camping trip to Yosemite a couple of years ago, we reflected back on the times that had gone really well at bandwidth and tons. It hadn't gone well, at Bandwidth. So my third kind of realization was that when I'm willful, things don't go well. And we were being willful when we were trying to raise money. We pray before he would go into a fundraising meeting that we'd walk out with the $20 million term sheet. We weren't really praying whether God wants us to raise money or not. So we're being willful. We'll find we were willful, all sorts of different types of Bandwidth. Yeah. Sometimes we got a chance to be faithful and our heart was open before God, and God would bless us during those times. So that was the third thing that was really seminal and kind of my faith walk.
Henry Kaestner: 31:30 And really the fourth one recently has been one where I've come to understand that when I'm in line with God... you know, "seek first the Kingdom of guidance, righteousness, and all these other things will be given you." It's when that's finally kind of sunk in for me, where I just have just tried to, you know, guide and God's nature more than actually doing things for God. That's kind of my four thing and Gosh, I'm only 48 now, so there may be another five or six things that God will continue to reveal to me.
Henry Kaestner: 31:57 But, thanks for asking. Those are the four major lessons in faith I've learned along the way.
Brad Cooper: 32:01 That's awesome. And it sounds like you, uh, you have a friend there in the background... and we were hearing the crows in the.. ha ha... In the background... he's chiming in. Ha Ha.
Henry Kaestner: 32:09 Yeah. Ha Ha ... You're getting... that's great... Yeah. Sorry for that.
Brad Cooper: 32:14 Oh no worries, you know, it sounds like you're in the Bay Area with the, you know, the, the, uh, the nice weather. So got to get outside.
Brad Cooper: 32:19 Uh, so yeah. Thank you for that. So what's up for next for you? For Sovereigns, for Faith Driven Entrepreneur, any kind of a big, big things coming up for big plans coming up? more guests I guests on the podcast?
Henry Kaestner: 32:32 I think it's more of the same. I think we love doing a Sovereign's Capital. We love coming alongside and financially partnering with great. Uh, we love the creativity that comes from have an entrepreneur in the larger community and being able to encourage that flock and being encouraged by them is something that's super cool. I've got three teenage boys, so my hope is that I'm able to equip them for a life without mom and dad and, and then I'm able to love on my bride in such a way that she sees a life calling beyond just raising kids because she's going to be an empty-nester and I want to love her. Well through that process, and I love mountain biking. I love skateboarding, I love skiing. I've started teaching myself that guitar, which I am really, really bad at, but I really get a lot of joy out of trying to figure it out. Hopefully more of the same, and that God will continue to unveil his mysteries to me in such a way that I can experiences his presence during, during this life.
Brad Cooper: 33:24 That's awesome. Yeah. Let us know. Yeah, I'd like to see, you know, maybe some of the guitar on, on the Vlog, the video blog.
Henry Kaestner: 33:31 I did that. We've got this new thing of the Vlog. That's right. Because my business partner, best friend, David, was an editor at the oral Roberts Student newspaper and said, Henry, you are the worst writer I've ever read anything more that you write, but you should do a vlog. And so we've started doing a little bit of a video, a blog, and that's what you're alluding to in that. And that's fun. But I am way it's going to be a long time before you see me play guitar on the Vlog.
Brad Cooper: 33:54 We'll see. Jammin on the blog. Yeah. So you had like something and it was like Switzerland or something. Right. Or Sweden or where the...
Henry Kaestner: 34:00 ...with a with a guy that we walked up to and convinced to do a play, "Amazing Grace" on the Alpine horn. Yeah.
Brad Cooper: 34:07 So everybody checked that out. Go check out the Vlog and Amazing Grace on an Alpine horn. That sounds awesome.
Brad Cooper: 34:13 Well thank you so much Henry, for taking the time for being with us on the podcast and just for all you're doing in giving back, so to speak to the Christian community and the business community and entrepreneurs in, in supporting them and loving them and equipping them. And again, once again, it's FaithDrivenEntrepreneur.org please subscribe to their podcast, check it out if you're thinking about starting a business, if you have a business, if you're entrepreneurial minded, you want some advice, not sure what to do with certain aspects, you know, they go through a whole bunch of stuff on setting up the business and just marketing and all kinds of things that you'd want to sort of get some advice on. Please check it out as faith driven entrepreneur.org.
Brad Cooper: 34:48 Henry, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
Henry Kaestner: 34:51 Thank you for having me, you and your audience, a great encouragement to me and it's been a great joy and blessing to be with you. Thank you.
Brad Cooper: 34:57 Likewise. Likewise. God bless you and all you're doing in your family. Talk to you soon.
Henry Kaestner: 35:00 Thank you, you too, brother. Thank you.
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