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Make the Most of It with Nanxi Liu

George Grombacher October 6, 2023

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Make the Most of It with Nanxi Liu

LifeBlood: We talked about how to make the most of it in every situation, lessons learned from growing up in rural China and coming to the United States, being a good steward of your resources, how to best serve your customers, and how to create an app for your business without the need for coding, with Nanxi Liu, CoFounder and CoCEO of Blaze, and Forbes and Inc 30 Under 30.       

Listen to learn how to find the right fit when evaluating potential software partners!

You can learn more about Nanxi at Blaze.Tech, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Nanxi LIu

Nanxi Liu

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
So Louis is the co founder and CO CEO of Blaze dot tech. They are one of the fastest growing no code platforms for building apps and software. She’s She grew up in rural China with no running water before coming to the United States. At five years old. She has been named to Forbes and Inc 30 under 30. Welcome, Nancy.

Nanxi Liu 0:21
Thank you so much for having me. George, excited to

george grombacher 0:24
have you on the show. Tell us a little bit your personal lives more about your work, why you do what you do?

Nanxi Liu 0:29
Yes, absolutely. So I started Blaze, because I wanted to empower people to go and build software without needing to know how to code. And I actually built this company with people that I’ve worked with for over a decade. So my co founders, Tina and Bruno, we previously started one of the largest digital display software companies, that company was acquired. And in the process of thinking, what do we want to build next? We said, you know, something that would be really transformational, really revolutionary is, how will we allow people to build software without needing to be engineers without needing to know how to code? We thought, Okay, that’s a pretty big problem to tackle. But we said, alright, this time around, you know, second time around, we got to go big or go home. So we wanted to go big. And that’s what brought us to build Blaze.

george grombacher 1:22
That’s awesome. So, big problems, simple solutions. Tell us a bit about the personal life to Nancy.

Nanxi Liu 1:31
Yes, absolutely. So I guess in the personal life side, I am pregnant. That’s the big one. And so years ago, and now. Yeah, expect to you know, my first babies were literally by companies and now literally creating a new one. So that’s been the most interesting thing. I’m married. My husband is the CFO for Faraday Future, which is this luxury Evie car company. And so we both I guess, in some ways are in startup world together.

george grombacher 2:04
Very cool. And how did you find your way from rural China with no running water to the United States? Yes.

Nanxi Liu 2:13
So this is all my parents really, I was, you know, only a kid then. So it was sort of like, Alright, we’re gonna go to the US. And so it’s alright, let’s go to us. So rules China is really interesting, because my parents actually got scholarships to go to Europe, but they couldn’t afford to take me. And so then they sent me over to live with my grandparents, which is in rural China in a province called Zhang Shi. And there is just super different type of like, literally, you pump water. Now you get to pump water from the wells. At the time, it was literally you put a bucket into the well, and you do a special maneuver to knock over the bucket and take out the water. Really, really fascinating, interesting. And my parents didn’t got scholarships to come to the US. So I hadn’t seen them in several years. And so the next time I literally see my dad for like, the first time since I was basically a year old is in the US where they were doing grad school. And so that’s how I came to the US. And we were definitely like, did the very poor immigrant hustled our way to just try to make ends meet. But that was my background growing up.

george grombacher 3:21
I think it’s it’s a mean, what a story and sacrifice on on everybody’s, from everybody from your grandma, raising you for those couple of years, your parents leaving you. I mean, I just can’t even imagine. And I’m sure that I’ve got three kids. And you’ll you’re going to be a mom. And I’d love to have you back on the show and see what it would take for you to give your kids to your parents for a couple of years. But the promise of a better life, I guess.

Nanxi Liu 3:55
Yep. No, that’s exactly right.

george grombacher 3:58
And now you’ve obviously well, from my perspective, the outside looking in, you have found that better life, what do you attribute your ability to solve problems? I should just ask the question. This is now you had a successful company. And now you’ve started another successful company. Why? Why are you successful?

Nanxi Liu 4:21
There’s I would attribute so much of what makes me do what I do. And the characteristics I really am grateful for just the upbringing. I think the fact that when I grew up, we just had no money, no resources. And so you had to make the most of what resources you did have, which is we had a community, we had certain things and you just had to make the most of it. Because it was time if you wanted something, it wasn’t like it was just going to be given to you. It was always figuring out with limited resources, how to solve a problem. And I feel like that’s very much when you’re starting a company that’s exactly what it is. You have limited resources, whether it’s From a capital standpoint or a human resource standpoint, and you need to go and get to the point where you have a product, so how do you do that? And so I’m glad that when I was young that I had this. And so when I was young, it was kind of like, alright, if I wanted a toy, you know, my parents, were not going to be able to pay for it. So how do I figure it out. And so what they did do for me was they got me piano lessons. That was pretty much the only thing I had didn’t have many other, I didn’t have extracurricular activities, we didn’t have like cable television. And so I would come home, there was a piano, that’s all I could really do. So I play piano. And piano was the first thing that I started monetizing as a kid. And so would make money teaching piano would make money going to piano competitions. And that was really helpful because I saw the direct relationship between putting in effort hard work, and turning it into something that is just beyond, you know, playing piano for fun. But making it such that it can be a skill set that I can monetize. And so going into, I guess, college, and even in high school, it was whatever kind of opportunities I was given it was make the most of it. I never took things for granted. And I think that was very, very important. And certainly, when we started my first company, it was a small group of co founders, all of us were right out of college, we just had to always be so scrappy. Anytime I had the opportunity to connect with an angel investor, it was like gold, I was never like, oh, another will come along the way I really put in 110% effort in any kind of situation that I was in whether it was pitching a potential teammate to join the team, or it was pitching an actual investor. I think that the hustle and the grit and just trying to put in 110% effort all the time, is what gets ultimately to those little things that build up into eventual success. And so I’m really grateful for that. And I think having the tough upbringing of not having a lot growing up, really made a positive impact.

george grombacher 7:02
I can’t imagine how how it didn’t. And I have to imagine that. You mentioned how being aware of the value of your resources of time, attention, money, energy, all of the things and not taking anything for granted. And just utilizing being scrappy. How does that translate as you are putting yourself in the shoes of users of Blaze? How do you think that that perspective has has has informed that?

Nanxi Liu 7:35
Yeah, absolutely. So I always say when you interact with somebody, it’s putting that 110% effort, meaning those first impressions really make an impact. So when we’re building our product, we’re working with non technical folks, we work generally in traditional industries, so people wanting to build very compliance focused applications, like if you’re in healthcare, you need HIPAA compliant apps. That’s where I would say about half of our customer base, or healthcare organization, or manufacturing, legal financial service companies that data security is really important. Again, we’re working with non technical folks. And when they come onto the platform, when they start using glaze, it needs to be very easy. They need to feel the confidence we need to instill in them, hey, we’re here to be the resource, we’re here to be the solution for you and not make you go this roundabout way to finally build the tool and application that you want. And so when I think about value and creating value and being a resource to our customers, it is from day one, that first conversation I even have with him like on a sales demo call. I tried to hone in understanding exactly what the problem is, and being able to tell them, hey, is blaze a good fit? Or is it not a good fit? So even in that, first call it half an hour conversation I have, I want to always be transparent and saying can we solve your problem? And if not, here’s some alternatives that are better fit. Or if we are, here’s why we can do it. And here’s how to get started on Blaze. And that all again goes back to wanting to make sure that I’m constantly adding value, people’s time is limited. And I want to make sure that we can help them.

george grombacher 9:14
Yeah, amen. So I worked for I’ve worked in financial services for 20 years, and I’ve worked for massive old insurance companies that have these legacy systems that you probably are very aware aware of for those who aren’t you wouldn’t believe how antiquated these things are really hard to shift that over. How do you think about that? Or is that easy?

Nanxi Liu 9:39
We try to make it very easy. And when we talk to our customers, they’re so many of them are like, you know, we have these really crazy complex Excel spreadsheets that we need to now turn into a database. It’s not scalable anymore. It’s run out of rows. We always say we understand this problem because we ourselves have seen it from lots of other Are customers and even for tech companies, there’s certainly lots of processes that are inefficient. And we tell them, we’re going to walk you through that, and don’t feel at all embarrassed about it, because this is what we’re helping you with. And we’ll just take it step by step, everything we laid out very upfront, very transparent. And there’s, there’s a lot of I would say, Trust that is built in at the beginning to say, we’re going to help you through this process. So that from point eight to launch where they’re guiding you to be successful, and to have a successful app,

george grombacher 10:35
nice. Should everybody have an app?

Nanxi Liu 10:43
I always say, are only if you need it. And only if it solves a problem. We don’t want to use technology just for the sake of using technology. And so oftentimes, you know, when a customer comes to us, and they’re like, oh, I need to, you know, do this thing. We’re like, you know, blazes, probably not quite what you need for Blaze. It’s when you want really custom applications, you want your own workflow. But if you’re looking just for like a really simple, you know, color, you’re just pushing data from one place to another place, there’s a lot of other solutions for that, that’s going to be easier. So part of our service, and how we work with our clients is being just honest with them, and making sure at the end of the day, we’re helping them. And if Blaze isn’t the solution, then we want to guide them in a place where there is something else is a solution.

george grombacher 11:36
I appreciate that. So how old is Blaze? How is everything going?

Nanxi Liu 11:41
Yeah, so Blaze is two years old. And it’s been incredible. I think having the experience of working with my co founders, at the last company, literally working with them for a decade before starting Blaze was incredibly helpful. So that where we are today probably took us at least twice as long to get to our last company. And so the growth that we’re seeing from the company, the number of customers that sign on board, and the kind of success that we’re helping our clients be able to create is really remarkable. And it’s what gets me just so excited every single day. I truly love working with our customers, even just today alone, we had several new customers sign on board who are just like, this is the perfect solution for us. And we’re like, yes, we also feel the same way. And we love helping them launch solutions and ultimately make their business and operation better.

george grombacher 12:35
Yeah, well, I certainly appreciate that. In terms of I mean, everybody’s concerned with data protection, when you’re dealing with with HIPAA with organizations and industries that work with HIPAA. I guess my question is, what has been the most challenging and maybe also what’s been the most surprising as you’ve worked in this worked on this?

Nanxi Liu 13:02
Yes. And in fact, when we started the company, our initial target market was not, you know, health care and compliance based organization, we thought it was going to actually be like more like tech companies. And it turns out the value we provide are for companies and organizations that don’t have a lot of engineer. And that’s because even for the organization with engineers, and they might not have the capacity to do it, they always were like, well, we have engineers that we could use when their time frees up. But for traditional industries, they’re like, well, our tentative is to hire engineers or to hire a dev shop. And that process is just really hard, very costly, and takes a long time. And so the HIPAA compliance and the data security came in, because some of our early customers, they were organizations that needed this data security, and from our last company, we worked in enterprise software. So single sign on audit logs, getting having our software be sock two certified, were things that we just did from day one, because we’re so used to that. And so we’re one of the only NoCo tools that has sought to certification. And, and honestly, it’s been a huge differentiator because it immediately for so many organizations, that’s a requirement. And so we ended up being such a great fit for them, because we have that. And then the user permissioning system, again, we learned that from our last company just working with enterprise companies, this is something that they absolutely need. And they found that when you’re building these complex applications, call it and you know, regular no code tools that are building consumer facing apps that don’t require data security, to add the user permission to add the data security is really hard or it just might not exist. And so for us that was one of the things that we did from day one and has ended up being such a differentiator

george grombacher 14:56
nice in terms of how How do you how do you keep your life organized? Do you have favorite apps? Do you have just what what? What kind of tools do you use to keep yourself efficient?

Nanxi Liu 15:09
Yes, I would say two tools. And one of them I say tool in quotes. And I’ll tell you why. So one, of course, is, you know, having my google google calendar just being very, very organized, I tried to have it all synced up with my Calendly, if people want to schedule meetings, and so efficiencies around that, there’s, you know, your traditional tools. The second tool that I think is the most impactful for me, is maintaining my health. So health from physical standpoint, and from a mental standpoint, too. So I do a lot of things that I feel like always, you know, optimizes for my productivity. So it’s, you know, taking time for myself, when I need to, I remember, even in the early days, you know, I always felt guilty when I wasn’t working. And I saw other founders, it was like, they could just do like 24/7 all the time. And frankly, I couldn’t do that I wanted to go read, I wanted to go on a run. And all of these things that for a long time, I felt very guilty about doing got over that and realize, you know what, I don’t have burnout. I actually, I’m grateful to say I’m very lucky. And that in this entire time of building companies, I never had a burnout phase where I was just like, I’m done, I’m so tired. And I think part of it is just taking time for myself in recognizing that, I need that. So it’s eating, it’s staying active. And it’s doing things that I love that oftentimes aren’t related at all to work and being like, okay, you know what, this is actually still good for me. And it’s good for work, because it’s bringing me joy. And it’s making sure that I stay balanced and whatever way that I feel is balanced for myself.

george grombacher 16:55
It’s so great to hear. You know, there’s a lot of talk about self care and mental wellness and mental health. And that’s super valuable that to hear somebody that’s experienced the kind of success and recognition that you have, that that’s something that you pay close attention to, I think is really great. So I appreciate you sharing that. Well, that’s it. Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you and tell us how organizations, companies, individuals can connect with Blaze and find out if what you’re doing is going to be a fit for what they want to do? Yeah, absolutely.

Nanxi Liu 17:30
I would say best resource is our website, www dot Blaze dot tech. And folks can also follow us or find us on Twitter. It’s Blaze, no code. And for myself, I’m also I guess it’s x, Twitter slash x now. It’s just my name Nancy underscore Lu, and excited to chat with people and hear about the types of applications they want to build.

george grombacher 17:56
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did, should answer your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas. Check out blaze at Blaze dot tech. And you can find them on Twitter as well. And you find Nancy on Twitter. It’s na n z I underscore Liu is the x or Twitter handle.

Nanxi Liu 18:18
Yeah. exci underscore Liu na n exci. Excellent. Perfect. Well, I

george grombacher 18:25
will make sure that I link all that correctly. Thanks. Good, Nancy. All right. Thank

Nanxi Liu 18:30
you, George. And until

george grombacher 18:31
next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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