Josh Little is the founder and CEO of a compelling startup called Volley, an app that aims to make communication more efficient across organizations and peers. His unique perspective about communication and the mission of Volley provides an interesting use case for how to improve communication with the retail automotive experience for employees and customers alike.
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[00:00:00] Michael: All right, gang sitting down now with Maal. I feel like I can call him Maal I I've been chatting with him off and on for months and months and months centered around a really cool company that he's started. Yes. I am talking to Josh little, the founder and CEO of VO, a really compelling app that aims to.
[00:00:27] Get rid of useless meetings and streamline communication. My man, thanks so much for joining me on the dealer playbook podcast.
[00:00:33] Josh Little: Oh, it's my honor. Yeah, your team was one of the first really successful teams with V so, uh, it it's been a couple of years now, actually. So we, we are friends. We've, we've, we've connected.
[00:00:44] We've never met in real life, but we've talked a lot on VO.
[00:00:47] Michael: Hey, but I've been in your RV
[00:00:49] Josh Little: virtually. That's right? Yeah.
[00:00:52] Michael: You're like, wait, what, you, you, you, you smell different when you're asleep. a virtual tour. Um, One of the reasons I wanted to invite you on aside from, I mean, in my opinion and I'm, and I, and I'm, and I don't blow smoke.
[00:01:08] I'm not a smoke blower. Like you do such a tremendous job at building community and rallying people around. Um, the same campfire and, and conveying a message in a way that you're like, oh, that just makes complete and total sense. That was one of the things that really intrigued us about, um, what you're working on with VO.
[00:01:32] Uh, and I'll, I'll let you tell us all about that in a minute, but I'm the, the reason I stumbled on VO to begin with was because I am constantly seeking for improved communication. I. Effective communication makes all the difference in how an organization thrives and it can make poor communication adversely to that is a disaster.
[00:01:54] And I, and it kills me to think of how many businesses out there. Are falling apart, even relationships are falling apart because of ineffective communication. And I just felt like that's something you're trying to solve. So maybe give us a little background on VO, how you came up with the idea, uh, and what, what the mission
[00:02:11] Josh Little: is.
[00:02:12] Yeah. I mean, communication is the lifeblood of any organization, group, or team, and I've seen that, you know, over, played out over and over and over again. And, um, but the problem is we don't realize. There's a problem. because there are only two ways to communicate. You can either type or you can talk and, and people don't really think about this or distill it down or get nerdy like I do.
[00:02:37] But when you do something like chat or text or email you're typing, and when you choose to do something like that, you're doing something you're seven times slower at than talking. You have this gift as a human to talk really fast and convey a lot of information through tone of voice and body language.
[00:02:52] Only 7% of the words. 7% of your message is actually carried by the words you choose to speak. 38% is carried by what you sound like when you say those words. And 55% is carried by what I look like when I say those words, this is why we're doing this podcast on video. Um, and not just emailing back and forth questions because it's so much more powerful.
[00:03:16] So, um, technology has only brought us digital versions. Of typing and talking zoom is digital talking, uh, you know, stream yard, digital talking, right? Uh, slack is digital typing. What if technology actually made us better? What if it allowed us to use our human gifts to, uh, to speak. As fast as I could speak, but not interrupt you.
[00:03:39] And you could listen to me on two X and we could, we could make, we could have the flexibility of texting and talking. What if texting and talking had a baby? Wouldn't that be amazing? Hey, let's build something called VO. um, that's like texting and TA had a baby. And the way we do that is we, we share video messages back and forth.
[00:03:57] So in volume you take turns just like any other conversation, except you record your turn with a video. Um, but it can also be a text or an audio message or a screen recorder or a file or document, whatever you need to share your message. Right. But video's the hero of this story. And then you can send me a video back.
[00:04:14] And by doing that, we have the best of, of both worlds. And so that's what we've been working on the, the fastest way to human connection and trying to bring a lot more, uh, belonging into the world. And, and we have, uh, you know, especially with teams like yours early on in the early days. And, and we've evolved now to helping creators better engage with their audience and people run these really powerful masterminds because, um, it it's, it's flexible.
[00:04:41] Face to face communication, and that's really not been delivered to the world in a meaningful way that we could use as a group. And that, that's what we're kind of pioneering every day. So what do you think, is that good enough? Is that enough content? Yeah,
[00:04:54] Michael: I all right. So thanks so much for joining me on the show.
[00:04:57] like, I love it. And, and to your point, you, you had keyed in on something and I want those listening to really, or watching to, to pay attention to, to this. This is my takeaway. If communication can then become asynchronous and I don't have to set aside or be pull, you know, an hour for something that's not gonna be productive anyway.
[00:05:18] And that's the huge gripe around meetings. It's like, do we have to, again, it's not gonna be productive and you're pulling me out of the zone. Like, especially for me as a someone who's a little more creative and my team members who are more creative when you're in that zone. There is nothing worse than being pulled out of it.
[00:05:36] It's like waking a dog up. Who's so deeply dreaming that they're running in their sleep and then being woken up. You can only imagine that dog is like, what, what, what you doing? Why'd you do that to me? I was, I was chasing a celery stock with peanut and you ruined it. Um, and so this idea of a synchronous and being with the understanding of you will get a response back.
[00:06:04] At the right time for me, which then means you are getting the best version of me responding back, not the stressed version, not the passive aggressive annoyed. You pulled me out of the creative zone. Yeah. Interrupted. Yeah. Interrupted. You're not interrupting anything. And, and so that thing that, that one piece, I think could be really tremendous, not just for car dealers, but for any organization or any relationship.
[00:06:29] Sure. Um, I see my wife using. Asynchronous communication all the time. She prefers it over the phone, over text, over everything. And, and so what have you seen as far as adoption? Like how are, how are organizations adopting something like V and implementing it into their workflow?
[00:06:52] Josh Little: Yeah. So, um, you know, we started, like I said, trying to solve for team communication, cuz we felt like that was the highest and best use of this technology.
[00:07:01] Cuz the previous gold standard was we're all in a room together and we can tap each other on the shoulder like that, that was the best thing could be eyeball to eyeball, but it turns out, like you said, You? Well, what if I'm in the middle of writing the last line of the manifesto? What if I'm writing the, in the middle of solving this hairy bug that I've been working on for weeks and you tap me on the shoulder and like, Hey, look at this.
[00:07:24] And it's and I'm, and I'm gone. I've lost, whatever I had. Right. And so deep work is a, is a thing, especially in knowledge work and creative work, uh, which most of us are doing these days. Right. Um, So, so that's where we saw the highest and best use of, of V and we, we had many teams like yours, um, adopt V we, we saw an interesting thing though, and this is gonna sound like I'm selling against V is most teams weren't ready for it.
[00:07:54] They weren't ready to live this higher law. They, the we're so used to meeting behavior and we're so used to just like a calendar, just dictating what we do and like being proud of like I'm back to back all day. And that, that sort of, um, I'm back to back equals I'm, I'm pretty important, right? Because back to back, right.
[00:08:14] That's shortcut you. Right. Um, they couldn't break through and, um, and, and so. So work is still a high risk behavior. You, you, uh, unfortunately most cultures, it is a high risk behavior to put yourself out there and you can hide behind a slack message. You can hide behind, you can leave your camera off on a zoom call and you can take your cheap shot in a meeting and sit in the back of the room.
[00:08:40] Right. But on invol it, you, you hit. And you're on. Like, if you don't have something to say, or it's not safe to say it, you're gonna freak out, you're gonna think it's evil. Um, and so we saw team, oh, team after team, after team, after team adopt VO and have kind of this same problem where there was this champion who was like, Hey everybody, this is the future.
[00:09:02] Like no more meetings. Let's cancel our meetings. Right. Let's here's the VO link. Jump on VO. Um, and there would be a good core of the team that would be like, yes, this is it. Oh, we're syncing up, checking in unblocking at the speed of like, this is amazing, but then they'd have these one or two people who would.
[00:09:19] No, this is, and they couldn't get there. This is dumb. This is, this is evil. Like I, well, I shouldn't be able to have to, you know, record a video, but I feel, I feel like I'm talking to myself or whatever, excuse they wanna put out there Uhhuh. So they weren't willing to swallow the medicine that could make them better.
[00:09:36] Right. They, that could make them better. Another challenge we saw were teams that. That, so, oh, this is cool. We'll uh, yeah, we'll still use slack, but, um, we'll, we'll use V as like this hobby car that we keep in our garage, you know? Right. And, but that's the problem. You, this, this hobby car you have, you get out once a month, you drive it.
[00:09:56] You wonder why you're driving it. And, and for VO to solve the problems that you want it to solve, like lack of communication, loneliness, uh, meeting fatigue. It's gotta be your daily driver. You have to use a video first format of communication so that you are communicating with all of the fidelity, all the empathy.
[00:10:15] Cause because you're right. Like, um, most meetings, it's not that they could have been a V like a single volley, but most meetings are really just, I have an idea. I wanna bounce this off of you. I need a couple rounds of feedback. Let's refine. And give unblock me to move forward. It's way too much to email it's way too much to write in a slack message.
[00:10:35] So what do we do? Let's schedule something and this is why everyone's calendars, you know, look like they got the measles. Um, and that's what we're trying to solve. Right?
[00:10:45] Michael: this, this calendar is rabbit. This calendars ill it's killing news ill. This thing's ill. The, the use case I see. I mean, great job on not selling it, but I think of how does a typical organization work?
[00:11:03] And there are so many use cases. Yes. It clears up the calendar. Yes. We get the best of, of communication from that individual. But also yes, it forces everyone to listen. Yeah. Cause it's won. One at a time you can't get seven Vols at the same time they play in order of whenever they were submitted. And so I think of a use case across an organization where I even know, you know, when I, when I was working for people and you get an email, the problem with text only communication is, uh, in addition to the things that you've brought up is it's also heavily dependent on their ability to write.
[00:11:48] Yeah. And convey a message through writing, which they can't and the reader's reading comprehension level, which what's the standard it's like fifth or sixth grade reading comprehension levels in average. So now you have this breakdown where the recipient always thinks the leader is upset or being passive aggressive, or what did they mean by that?
[00:12:09] Hey, you see what Josh, Josh, what do you think he means by this anxiety? All sorts of disaster clouds start to, to form when a simple, like seeing them hearing them. And being like, oh, everything's fine. They're they're good. Yep. Like this is all good alleviating a lot of that pressure and in the back and forth of a dealership, there's so much pattern interruption that I think this could solve people lining up out of the manager's door, waiting to ask a simple question that perhaps is isn't even urgent, but that they've been trained to think is urgent because of the way they currently do things.
[00:12:45] If they just had that stop motion, that pause motion to be like, is this actually. An urgent thing. No. Okay. Hey, Hey, what's up? You know, like, Hey, what's up quick question. Get back to me when you can done.
[00:12:59] Josh Little: Yep. Yep. And you can convey law in 20 seconds there. Right. And, and that's all you really need and it, and it doesn't need to be interruptive.
[00:13:08] Um, and, and that's why I love it. It, it is sort of an all in form of, of communication. Uh, when I'm listening to your message, I can be all in on what you're saying. And, uh, when I'm recording my message back, I'm all in on that message. I'm not trying to read, um, you know, your reaction or the room or what, whatever it may be distracting me.
[00:13:28] In the moment. So, so it, I, I don't know enough about a dealership to speak in depth. I, I worked at a car dealership for two weeks, um, when I was 19. So that's my only experience. It wasn't a good experience. So let me tell you there, there could, there could be a lot improved in this, uh, central Michigan car dealership for which I won't name the.
[00:13:47] Name the name of,
[00:13:48] Michael: but ABC motors, the most famous dealership in the world.
[00:13:51] Josh Little: Uh they're out of business now, cuz they should be, but uh .
[00:13:57] Michael: Oh no. Yeah. It, it, it makes a ton of sense to me that, um, that this mission makes sense. We see it in the car industry. I believe that to today's standards. If someone because of smartphone and how this upcoming generation thinks about things and how we, the patterns we've adopted in our communication.
[00:14:19] I believe that to today's standards, if one feels like they are overcommunicating, they probably are still not communicating effectively, you know? Right. Yeah.
[00:14:29] Josh Little: Right. Yeah, absolutely. We're, we're leaving so much on the table with, with our form of communication and, and, you know, like you said, those misinterpretations, the classic example there is, we need to talk, um, there's a hundred ways you could take that, uh, in a text message.
[00:14:45] Right? We need to talk dot, dot dot. Oh,
[00:14:47] Michael: no. Yeah. My novels instantly. Yeah.
[00:14:50] Josh Little: Right. But, uh, if, if it's a V it's. You know, record, Hey, we need to talk like there's no mistaking. You saw my eyes. You heard the tone of my voice. I have something cool. and it's gonna be good when we get together and we should get together soon because we need to talk.
[00:15:07] Right, right. Um, and that's just a small example, but there's so much being, being left on the table, but these patterns are hard to break. These. It's hard to get out of slack, crack and zoom doom. I don't know. Are, are dealerships using something like slack to, to communicate ay or text? No text?
[00:15:25] Michael: No, probably email like a ton of emails.
[00:15:29] Ton of
[00:15:29] Josh Little: email really, really Uhhuh like between team members, I guess, because of proximity, there's less of a need to have like a central repository for communication like that. There's, there's a lot verbal, right?
[00:15:41] Michael: A lot of ver right. But, but, but that's the point. That's why I wanted to have you on, they need to know that this is an option.
[00:15:47] They need to know that there is a more efficient way. I, there are some dealers who use slack and they swear by. there are some dealers who use te like that slack is a huge improvement over email for a lot of them. Yeah. Cause it allows 'em to just, Hey, create channels, have a service department channel a parts department, whatever.
[00:16:07] Yeah. This though, to, to the point of what we're talking about here, being able to see somebody hear somebody pick up on all of those other signals to your point of we need to talk or, oh man, we need to talk, you know, So much gets lost in translation that I, I just think we're sitting here with unnecessary.
[00:16:26] Nervous diarrhea when it doesn't need to be the case. , you know
[00:16:29] Josh Little: what I mean? Right. Well, I'm thinking of like, even the, because I was in sales in those two weeks at a dealership, I was in sales. And so I, I could even think of like a sales manager who just uses it for the sales team. Hey, we've got new inventory.
[00:16:42] This is what's going on. Hey, this week we're running this, this offer. Just, just so you know, here are the details of this. Like all of those things that have to happen, synchronously mm-hmm , uh, could totally happen asynchronously and actually might be better. Because we're gonna do a tour of each new, like high Highline vehicle that we get in and we're gonna do like a two minute video tour.
[00:17:02] You can actually just forward this to one of our potential customers. Like if someone calls in we've already got this two minute video, this is actually why I created VO, which is ironic. I bought a motor home cross country. And I was talking to like 20 different dealers trying to find this very specific motor home.
[00:17:20] Um, and it was like an act of Congress to get a video. So I'm gonna take a video of what was almost a quarter million dollar purchase. Like really well, I don't know. We'll see if Bob can upload it later today and, uh, what just, uh, right. You. You should be able to do this. It should just be so easy to just hit record on your phone.
[00:17:41] It sends to a customer, but, um, I'm not sure that the use case between sales rep and, and buyer, um, makes sense just because of stranger danger issues. That that's the feedback we got early. That's why we kind of pivoted to meetings, but we just wanna create a better way to communicate. So I think car dealerships can use it too
[00:17:58] Michael: well here, as you're saying that the, the thought process that comes to my mind is okay, so you have somebody buying.
[00:18:06] The Ram TRX. That's the hot topic right now. Oh, right. Why would I not create, you mentioned this earlier, right? Like you've got, you've got Tim, Schmoyer using it for masterminds, keeping connected with his customer base course recipients, all that kind of stuff. Why wouldn't we deploy a similar concept at the dealership where it's like, I'm gonna create a channel in V.
[00:18:29] For TRX customers to create this kind of VI. Oh yeah. Hey, so you bought it. Hey, let me borrow your phone real quick. We're downloading this VO app and I'm sending you this invite or whatever, and make it this thing that I can keep in touch with my customers in a format that is. Honestly something they would love the customer would absolutely love being like, all right guys, uh, this week we're talking about the quick tip that's gonna help you improve your whatever X, Y, Z, or, Hey, did you know about this hidden feature in your TRX?
[00:19:01] Hey, did you know about who like. I would
[00:19:03] Josh Little: love that. So you're saying like, get all your TRX customers into a space together where they could even share like, oh, you know what, I just bought this new bumper. Don't get, don't get the, uh, the Illumina light bumper because you know, the bracket don't line up or whatever.
[00:19:15] Oh, really? Where did you get that? We can share tips. Yeah. All like build a little community out of your customers. I hear that community is like the, the future of sales. Uh, I I've heard that in a few places, but that could be cool. Right. It's not occurred to me till now, but I like.
[00:19:32] Michael: Seriously that that's, that's the, a really cool customer experience way that I think we could be deploying something like VO and that dealer should really be paying attention to, you know, it kills me all this talk.
[00:19:43] We latch onto buzz, right? Like that's just human nature. We latch onto buzz and it's like, web three, what am I gonna do? I'm a dealership. Web three. I gotta wrap my head around web three or, or metaverse, what am I gonna do, man? The metaverse way of the future, dude, you want, you want an intro to the metaverse.
[00:20:00] Download V yeah. Gets your team to use it. Cuz once you're in there, you're in the metaverse you're just not hiding behind a cartoon outta tower. Right? That's it? Yeah. You know what I mean? Like we're for all intents and purposes, we're in the metaverse right now. You're somewhere you're in your version of dissenter land.
[00:20:17] It just happens to be a real place I'm in mine and we're conversing one with another. Why that's right. Even go to the extreme that you can't wrap your head around if at this level. You're you're unwilling to adopt a way. And, and I mean like what better way than having the device in your customer's pocket, that buzzes every time you upload a piece of relevant information that they would want to know, they're gonna love you for it.
[00:20:43] You're gonna stay top of mind. They're gonna come and buy all of those bumper accessories and wheels and everything and who they're gonna come by from. They're gonna come and buy it from the central point of the community. That's been.
[00:20:55] Josh Little: I would love it. Yeah. I mean, if, if, if anyone's listening and wants to build that, let's, let's, I'm happy to lean in and help them and onboard them and you give them a, you know, VIP experience.
[00:21:06] Cuz I'd be curious. I'd be curious to see if that if a use case like that could work for vol cuz I could see as a, as a Raptor owner, Haven't gone to TRX yet, but, um, you know, same thing. And I've even thought I've had my rap for five years, which is a world record for me, by the way. I'm hoping someone gives me an award, cuz usually I'm a, like a six month car person.
[00:21:26] Oh wow. Okay. But uh, yeah, car dealers love me. Um, but uh, but there there's still stuff. I don't know how to use on my rap. And, and I don't know that I'm gonna search it out, but if, if my dealer sent me like a two minute video, Hey, that trailer backup thing that, you know, you know, that knob that you've never touched, um, this is how you do it.
[00:21:46] It's so, so simple. And it's gonna change your world, man. Right? Like I would watch it like yeah, of course. And, and, and I would love. Doug Smith, you know, or right. You know, who I, who do I value, uh, the Raptor front? I can't remember. And I hope, but, um, I'd love the dealership for me right. For that.
[00:22:03] Michael: But you would remember him if
[00:22:04] Josh Little: he did this.
[00:22:06] Yeah, right. Yeah. Totally. I that's. That's a good point Corbin. And also
[00:22:10] Michael: like, Hey, that's who it is. Hey, Raptor owner. Uh, I hope you guys are doing well. We're having a meet up next Thursday at the parking lot burgers, hot dogs. We're gonna show you some cool things about your. Hope you can make it it's at this time, this place.
[00:22:24] Boom mm-hmm done. Mm-hmm real time quick in my pocket. Customer experience. Um, and you know, people are gonna be buying swag and parts and accessories cuz they're there feeling the energy. So I really do think there is a use case to not just to improve communication, but to use that communication then to build a community.
[00:22:44] And so which leads me in no connected way to my last question for you. Mm-hmm how, what, how old were you, like when did you realize that you enjoyed Bri.
[00:22:58] Josh Little: Oh, probably when I was old enough to like stick my finger in the brine and taste it and, and say, oh, that's good.
[00:23:06] Michael: Um, what can you, Brian? I see, I see jars of pickles on your LinkedIn.
[00:23:11] Josh Little: Yep. Yep. Um, oh, there's a skit on Portlandia. That's just like, you can buy anything, man. A shoe, an egg, you can pickle that like a bird pickle.
[00:23:21] It, um, no, but I, I come from a family of, of Pickler. Um, my great, great grandfather. Um, you know, my family didn't have money, but they had amazing pickle recipes and wrote 'em down in a leather bound book. And that's what I keep in my safe today. And. I make pickles. Um, it's a total hipster side hustle. Uh, my kids are involved.
[00:23:44] It's what keeps them off of setting up from setting lemonade streets. Lemonade stands up on the streets. Um, it's their kind of summer business and we, we grow and we only jar as much as we can grow here on our property and, um, and jar it up and usually sell out in a day, usually in the morning.
[00:24:02] Michael: Wow.
[00:24:04] Josh's classic deal. The crunchiest pickles known to man um, it is actually my mouth. My mouth is watering. I'm not gonna lie, but I had to ask you that because I, I know you play guitar. I know you are V I now know you drive a Raptor and this one was, I was like, this is interesting. Uh, but also speaks. Can I just say to the brilliance of your marketing mind?
[00:24:29] You go through LinkedIn, it gets pretty stale. It's starting to become kind of like a doctor's office. And there you are tech entrepreneur with a hero image of pickles, pickles, and I it's just so such a pattern interrupt and I love it, man. How can those listen and get in touch with you and learn more about VO.
[00:24:49] Josh Little: Hey, LinkedIn is a great way. If you're on LinkedIn slash little Josh, or just download V and it's, it's pretty hard not to find me on V in one of the communities or in hello, V. So if you download V you probably run into me. I love it. Yeah. You're part
[00:25:03] Michael: of the startup sequence. Aren't you?
[00:25:06] Josh Little: I, I was once upon a time now, we, we have a team that, uh, Mitch and soon to be grace.
[00:25:12] Who's, uh, they're amazing.
[00:25:15] Michael: Well, man, thanks so much for joining me on the dealer public podcast.
[00:25:17] Josh Little: Oh, it was my pleasure. Thank you.