Matt Tant | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Matt Tant

Background:  

Launched in Nashville in 2014 by co-founders Matt Tant and Joe Christopher, Relode has evolved from a small startup to a company with tens of thousands of agents and multimillion-dollar investors. Relode works by connecting the best healthcare professionals to the best jobs all across the country. 

The Mistake:

A mistake I made early on in my career was putting more faith in others, and sometimes in strangers, than in myself or my gut.

I made an investment of time and capital, into an entity that ultimately was not mine, as a very young professional chasing the entrepreneurial dream. Long story short, it turned out that the CEO of the business was a felon, and I had failed to do basic research. I had fallen in love with this idea of being an entrepreneur, and I failed to believe my gut and follow my methodology on doing due diligence on opportunities.

That one was a startup that I had gotten involved in as an introduction from some friends. I didn't really have a good checklist process. Again, after getting into it, I learned it was a Ponzi scheme that I had become a part of and put a lot of my family's limited resources in. It ended up collapsing, and the guy ended up getting prosecuted. A lot of people lost a lot of money.

My career journey continued on and that kind of happened again – not with a felon, but just with friendship and relationships and absolute belief in other people. I learned a similar lesson in a different way. It wasn't a monetary loss like that one was, but it set me up today for how I operate and deal with strangers and opportunities.

You have to recognize your weaknesses.

The Lesson:

I always look back at that as one of the most rewarding things that I have ever been a part of. It created a really strong regimen for me of investment opportunities, not only with my resources but with my time. I felt comfortable to bring in an advisory board. But when we make investments, it's okay to ask for help from others and not shy away from good due diligence on an opportunity.

This mistake shaped the next project I started, and how I view people and opportunities. Going into every startup I have created, I've used a panel of experts and advisors to vet and protect me from making bad choices. Now, I have surrounded myself with people and have proper diligence checklists before making investment opportunities.

It's also created in me a 'trust but verify' viewpoint around everything in business. That has to do with acquisition opportunities, personnel, hiring and raising capital. Everybody is always selling the best story, and I think it is really good practice to run all those things through a similar process, versus taking people at their word.

Early on in my career, I thought it was a bad thing to admit weakness or ask for help. But you have to recognize your weaknesses, and either hire or engage with experts to bolster you during those key decision moments.

Pictured: Matt Tant | Photo courtesy of Relode

Follow Relode on Twitter at: @relodehealth

Do you have a good story you’d like to share, or know someone we should feature? Email HGamble@crain.com.

And be sure to sign up for your local newsletter from Crain's Nashville.