Xander Schultz

CEO, Complete Labs

Product: Complete
A community-based to do app
Vertical: Social Network
Tags: Productivity, Utility, Task Completion
Stage: Launched (Web & iOS apps)
Funding: $1M seed round; investors include Structure Capital, Red Eagle Ventures
Co-founders: Effi Fuks-Leichtag, Elad Ossadon
Location: Palo Alto, CA

Born in Palo Alto, moved to Wisconsin aged 3 months, then to Philadelphia. Started a record label and vending machine company. Studied Finance at the University of San Francisco. Joined social bookmarking startup Kifi in 2011 and rose to lead Mobile Product. Launched Complete in January, 2015.
Traveling’s been really big for me — I’ve been to all the continents. That was cool in terms of self-identity breaking. For instance, I’m a huge MBA fan but I was amazed how quickly I abandoned it in Australia. What’s part of a social dialogue in one place is not in another. You realize you’re a very flexible person who can be many different things, and that’s the case as a CEO. One day you’re marketing or raising funds, the next you’re an accountant or building the product. It’s not static, it’s a super dynamic thing.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming…”

— Theodore Roosevelt

My father was really successful, one of the best technical wrestlers, and had a reputation of treating everyone so well. He wrestled until the age of 36 and kept improving himself by listening to other people. He’d go to tournaments to ask kids what they were working on just to get a different insight.
It’s trying to do the one thing, cultivating that level of focus, having habits, knowing what the most important thing is you need to do that day and just doing that, not getting sidetracked doing busy work, getting comfortable neglecting other things to support doing the most important thing.

MY STORY

Have you ever seen the movie, Foxcatcher? Well, that’s pretty much my story.

Son of a wrestler

My dad was the professional wrestler, Dave Schultz. Growing up on the Du Pont estate in Pennsylvania, I was exposed to many different nationalities from a young age: Russian and Iranian Olympic champion wrestlers and YFC fighters. I would hang out with all the wresters’ kids and it was a very social environment.

You start seeing recurring themes in successful people. They have a singular focus, and as athletes were forced to be that way. They segmented their day and there was lot of habit-based stuff — in the morning I do yoga and at midday, I do this, in the afternoon, I do that. They were very habit-based rituals, almost religious, getting up before everyone. My dad used to say, “when I’m sleeping, the Russians are training.”

Emotional turmoil

When I was 9 years old, my dad was shot dead by (heir to the family fortune) John du Pont. I moved back to California for middle school and high school, but I suffered academically and didn’t get a high school degree. I spent a few years during entrepreneurial things without discipline, starting a record label in LA, collaborating with Ray J and Lil Kim, and creating a vending machine company in Arizona. I was trying to figure out how the world worked.

My godfather was employed by Goldman Sachs so I took an internship with him which reminded me of hard work and good habits. I went back to school at 23, to study finance at the University of San Francisco. In my junior year I joined Kifi, first as an intern, then I became Product Manager and ended up leading Mobile Product. I worked full-time and was in school full-time and had very long days.

A “to do” community

Complete is my second time on a founding team. My impetus for developing the app is rooted in my childhood experiences. The wrestlers didn’t just train, they did meditation and other supplementary things. They knew it was necessary for overall wellbeing. They were also there to exchange information. Even though the other guys were their top competitors, they were very transparent about what they were working on. That knowledge made them all better.

There’s a lot of self-publishing on social networks. From the content creator side on Twitter and Facebook, it feels really good, but from the consumption side often you walk away from those platforms feeling worse about yourself. With Complete, people from the viewing angle have a Yelp or Amazon reviews experience and feel good about what they’re contributing. I knew that if you could socialize future intentions there was some serious value to be provided by the wider community. And it’s really hard to be negative to someone who’s being vulnerable and aspirational. When you post your intentions, you’re putting yourself on the line, being vulnerable and open. It’s a very positive platform.

I’d love to continue down the path of providing people value, brokering some kind of exchange but without disadvantaging users. If we can connect service providers to the people who are looking for them in a way that isn’t intrusive to the experience then I think that can be very helpful.

I’m also dying to create a smart toilet one day.

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