Q&A With Entrepreneur and Engineer Max Mautner
The Business of Crime is excited to introduce another blog series, The Boss’ Table, an interview series featuring entrepreneurs growing their businesses, and their experiences. We believe part of entrepreneurship is sharing in discussing the challenges and celebrating the accomplishments of fellow founders. We think the likes of Lucky and Dillinger would be onboard with this kind of discussion. We’re kicking off the series with some great advice from Max Mautner of The Accidental Engineer.
Max Mautner is an engineer, founder, and interviewer in the San Francisco Bay Area. His video series, The Accidental Engineer, provides authentic advice to current and aspiring engineers. He’s interviewed engineers from companies like Dropbox, Microsoft, Lyft, and Google on everything from product management to Virtual Reality. The engineering world can be viewed as insular or difficult to break into; The Accidental Engineer provides the insight and steps to making a career for yourself. We were excited to turn the tables on this interviewer and get his take on starting a business.
Can you give us a brief overview of the Accidental Engineer?
[Maunter] We’re a video podcast of career advice for engineers in tech– we share our guests’ career successes, failures, and everything in between.
How did you come up with your idea?
When I started out my career I made a bunch of missteps. I knew that there are millions of people in the position I was in 5 years ago, starting out my career as a software engineer. I knew that if we delivered insights about how to jumpstart a career then we could build a business serving that audience.
How do you think about monetizing your business?
Everything is commoditized, but your brand is not. It’s your asset with the biggest upside. That said, we are a media company that’s building a brand of informational products for those maximizing their careers in tech.
What has been your biggest learning so far?
Social news websites beat social networks by volume. Social networks win by engagement.
What has been the hardest piece about starting your business so far?
Finding your customers was one of our first big challenges. Knowing who your buyers are and how to deliver value to them is the steepest learning curve we’ve encountered.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs starting a side hustle or a company?
Keep recurring costs down and focus on income, and not just short term income. In the same way that you can- and should- break down your costs as recurring vs. marginal, you should break revenue down by active vs. passive. Active revenue comes from one-off work. Passive revenue comes from zero marginal cost (for example, advertising or paid digital content).
Forecasting passive revenue is hard when you first start. Find other successful businesses and mentors to serve as your guiding light like the Accidental Engineer!
One last question- on the light-hearted side: What’s your favorite gangster or gangster movie and why?
Ocean’s Eleven. They run a comedic team dealing with one of the most security-focused combatants of all time: Las Vegas casinos.
While they don’t hack computers or have engineers on their team, Ocean’s team embodies a hacker’s mindset of reverse engineering the system to take advantage of it (and walk away with cash, the most liquid form of asset–sorry Bitcoin).
Max has just recently launched some excellent courses on technical job interview prep. Worth a look, and let us know what you think! Thanks for sitting at The Boss’ Table, Max! We can’t wait to hear more from The Accidental Engineer soon.
Want to get featured on The Boss’ Table? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a quick pitch about you and your business.