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Episode 78: Wise Beyond His Years A Conversation with NWA Entrepreneur Tanner Green

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IANWA - 78 - Wise beyond his years a Conversation with NWA Entrepreneur Tanner Green

IANWA Open [0:11] It's time for another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, the podcast covering the intersection of business, culture, entrepreneurship, and life in general here in the Ozarks. Whether you are considering a move to this area or trying to learn more about the place you call home, we've got something special for you. Here's our host, Randy Wilburn.

Randy Wilburn [0:42] Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. I'm your host, Randy Wilburn. Well lately, you know, it's funny because before I introduce my guests, I have been running into some brilliant people in the Ozarks here in the NWA ecosphere if that is a word. Yeah, I guess it is a word, so I'm going to use it. I'm going to co-opt that word, ecosphere. I've run into a number of people up here in Northwest Arkansas that are doing some great things with business that have taken ideation to a whole new level that has decided to develop something from nothing. And this guest that I'm having on today is no different. He is 19 years old. His name is Tanner Green, and he is the head of operations with Oculogx. He's also the founder of Fast Bags, And he reached out to me and I was like, wow, you know, I had to look him up and check into him and see what he was doing. And I said, yeah, I definitely want to have him on the podcast since our focus has always been the intersection of business culture, entrepreneurship and life here in the Ozarks. And, he represents a couple of facets of what we like to focus on here on I am Northwest Arkansas. So, without further ado, Tanner Green. Welcome to the podcast.

Tanner Green [1:56] Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I appreciate the introduction, and I'm very happy to be able to have this conversation with you. I'm just very passionate that we both share the same love for Northwest Arkansas. I'm an Arkansas native, and I've grown up here my entire life so I'm just very grateful for this opportunity and thank you so much for the kind words,

Randy Wilburn [2:13] Well, listen, why don't you tell the audience what we like to ask, and this is just a standard thing. I want to get your superhero origin story. I know it's only 19 years long, but a lot can happen in 18 years. So, why don't you just tell the audience a little bit about Tanner, and how you ended up right here where you are?

Tanner Green [2:30] Yeah, a lot has happened in 19 years, and I always have a difficult time probably deciding where to start. If I had to decide I'd probably say probably around the age of 13 or 14 years old, I got my first computer, and I was like, man, what should I do with this thing? And I decided that I should probably teach myself something that I enjoy and something that I can just kind of dive into, and so first thing that I realized something like Photoshop and Graphic Design. At 13-14 years old, I spent, let's say every single day for a couple of years just learning graphic design and learning the ins and outs of what it means to like build a brand and just kind of go from there and so at a really young age I was learning graphic design and learning Photoshop. And I always have this passion too for entrepreneurship and just creating things. I started at a really young age. My brother and I built an eBay store and began selling items on eBay. And so there was just this weird complex going on at a really young age where I was learning graphic design, and I was learning these skills and these traits and I enjoyed this side hustle at a really young age. You know, going to the post office with like a bunch of random boxes and people looking at me like they don't know what I'm selling, what's this kid doing here.

And so, at a young age, I just had this desire to do more and to create things, and I was able to be fostered at a really young age and growing up in Northwest Arkansas only made it that much easier with all the resources. I think I was 15 years old I went to a Startup Junkie Entrepreneurship Boot Camp. There I met Omar Kasim who you had on the podcast and I got this thirst for entrepreneurship. And it was with that experience, I was like, I want to be an entrepreneur, whatever that means, like, that's what I want to be, and I'm going to go and I'm going to get it and I'm going to make it happen. And so that only expedited that process more and more. And throughout high school, I kept selling things on eBay kept learning, graphic design, doing everything that I can just to learn and always seeking to understand why things work, and never so much seeking to be understood. And just learning and trying to soak up as much knowledge.

Yeah, fast forward, I was in like a bunch of business clubs in high school and wanted to figure out where I wanted to go after high school. High School is a very small facet in life, as you can imagine. And so, I had a couple of options for college, and I eventually settled on going to school at Sam Walton College of Business. It made the most sense financially and as much as I love Northwest Arkansas, it was the way to go. And so, I went and started my first year and simultaneously I got an internship at Startup Junkie, the very same place that kind of fostered my passion for entrepreneurship. And had that internship starting college and I went for a year and had a great experience. And then I kind of decided that college is a great place to go and to learn things and I'm all about that. But I think the true meaning of an entrepreneur is to go out into the world and learn things that no one else knows and try to build something from the ground up. And so, I've had the opportunity to do that lately working at Oculogx and being able to start a couple of businesses and Fast Bags is one of them. And I'm just very thankful for the experience and pleased to be in a place like Northwest Arkansas and to have people like you that just continue to foster and encourage entrepreneurship as a whole.

Randy Wilburn [5:33] Yeah, I appreciate that. Thank you so much. Those are kind words for sure. Well, I'm curious, how did you connect with Charu? And I'm referring to Charu Thomas, who's actually going to be on this podcast at some point in time in the very near future, who founded Oculogx and she's also a Forbes 30 under 30. So, I've always been taught that if you're in a room with really smart people, good things can happen. But how did you guys connect in the first place? Yeah.

Tanner Green [5:59] So, when I was working at Startup Junkie, they had just launched the fuel accelerator cohort, and Oculogx was one of those companies. And I had heard about Oculogx, and I thought it was incredibly interesting. You know, fast forward, I ended my internship at Startup Junkie, and I was working at another company at the time doing some work. And I'd reached back out to Michael Eisenman at Startup Junkie and said, a bunch of cool startups came to Northwest Arkansas because of Fuel- what's a cool one to keep my eye out for and he had referenced Oculogx at one point. And so, I sent Charu an email and I said, hey, Charu, my name is Tanner and I'm really interested in working as a startup. Here's my resume. And I had a reference on there who happened to be a mutual connection, and she called the referee, and he told her like, you need to stop what you're doing right now and go and hire him, so she hired me as an intern. And it was just the best decision I had made to send it cold email. I hope she's pretty happy with following up and bringing me on to the team.

Randy Wilburn [6:59] How long has that been?

Tanner Green [7:00] I've been working at Oculogx for 11 months.

Randy Wilburn [7:02] I love that. My grandfather use to always say to me, a closed mouth doesn't get fed. You got to open up your mouth. I listen to a lot of podcasts of different individuals, especially--- I don't know if you ever listened to Guy Raz, How I Built This, which is a great podcast. If you don't, you need to check it out. He interviews all of the major players, but they all seem to have a similar line in their story where they didn't take no for an answer. So, they were told no thousands of times, and they just kept moving forward. The other thing was, they were bold about just stepping out and connecting with somebody that they thought could help them get to wherever they ultimately wanted to go right. For a lot of us, especially those of us in business, we don't always clearly know where we want to go. We know we want to be our boss; we want to be the master of our domain. But the reality is, where do we want to get to and a lot of times I think it's good to have examples of people that have achieved something, and you're saying, I want what you have, maybe not exactly what you have, but something along those lines, and then you kind of go after it. So, I certainly applaud you. And I think anybody listening to this, I don't care what stage of life you're in, sometimes you just have to pick up the phone and make a call. Sometimes you have to write an email or send a text. And you never know where that will lead. But did you think that you would end up where you are now, 11 months later?

Tanner Green [8:26] Not at all. Not even close. I've always kind of had this ongoing mantra that it's not about the plan. It's not about how you get there. What matters is that you have a goal that you want to achieve, and that vision just exists inside your mind and you just do whatever you have to do every single day in order to get there. And on that day back in July or August of last year, that day was sending an email. That was the to do that day to make that vision a possibility. And, events just kind of compound over time. And here we are and, if you make a bunch of small actions, they will add up and then it was just a tiny moment and everything that's happened that led me here.

Randy Wilburn [9:03] Now so just for our audience perspective, give us a quick cliff note version of what Oculogx is? Fifteen seconds, whatever, just give us something so, in their mind, they can say, okay, I understand that because it's going to reframe what I'm about to ask you after that.

Tanner Green [9:18] Absolutely. So, Oculogx is a software company, and we build software for order fulfillment. So, if you go online and you place an order, someone, whether it's in a retail store or a warehouse, has to go and find that item. And so, we build software for those employees that have to go and locate items and other software just helps them work more efficiently, faster and better.

Randy Wilburn [9:37] Okay, so getfastbags, that's your baby, right and so in terms of the cart before the horse that did not come before Oculogx? Is that correct? So that came because of what you were exposed to at Oculogx, and then all of a sudden you started seeing other ways to ideate and come up with some bigger better mousetraps.

Tanner Green [10:03] That's exactly right. So, you know Oculogx was building order fulfillment software, and I was getting some great exposure and learning a lot, all the ins and outs of that space and then a global pandemic struck, and that started to happen. And a friend of mine, who also works at Oculogx, his name is Philip Cannon, we sat down and we're like, well, we should kind of make something based on all this experience and knowledge that we have that can just hopefully make people's lives a little bit easier right now. And, the product of that, after several days of sitting down for 12 hours straight, was Fast Bags, and it was let's figure out some way to bring groceries to people's doors. Let's do it absolutely free. Right. And let's just try to make life a little bit easier for people right now. And if it works for a week, we would have done something productive. If it works for a month, we would have contributed if it can last for a long time, then that will just feel really good knowing when everything that was happening with COVID was going down, we were able to really make something that can have a positive impact and shine some sort of light.

Randy Wilburn [11:12] Oh, man, I love that. So, walk me through this because I know a lot of times when people hear this, they just think automatically somebody jumps on their computer and starts typing up a bunch of code, but I don't think it was that way. How did you guys kind of iterate and walk through this process so that people have a better understanding and appreciation for what is required to create something? So, I'm looking behind you, and you know how these rooms have paint where you can paint on a dry erase board, which I absolutely love because you can put all kinds of stuff on here. But I would imagine you being in a room like this, where you have this whole wall just to write up your ideas and oh no, that's wrong erase that start again and do go that way. So, walk us through that?

Tanner Green [11:54] Absolutely. So, I think what's really important when you're creating a business is that you decide, are a small number of people going to love this, or a bunch of people just going to kind of like this? And, being here in Northwest Arkansas wanting to create something in this vertical in which we are operating that a small amount of people needs to really like it. And so, we kind of started there. And then you also have to create some sort of overarching thesis. And one of our overarching theses is that we believe we will come true over time, is the fact that grocery stores are going to transform in the next year, five years to 10 years or die. That's exactly right. You're either going to have to transform or--- And so, we know that grocery stores are going to have to make a change. They're going to have to do so either by offering delivery or pickup and that was kind of the thesis that existed, and then based on our experience and our knowledge at Oculogx, it just kind of made perfect sense. We had all the technical infrastructure to make something like this without as much work as you might expect because when you build software for companies that just do order fulfillment, it's like you just kind of go. And it's not as simple as copy and paste, obviously but it's like, you've got a very nice baseline to get started and to build on. And so, we kind of decided the direction that we want to go and we made sure that it was thesis-driven and that it was going to last. And then from there, you just start working and having someone to work with definitely helps. And we are both very passionate about building something purposeful and that is going to be transformative. And that's what I think Fast Bags is and cool as it kind of grows and changes over time that's what it's going to do.

Randy Wilburn [13:35] Okay, I love that. Did you teach yourself to code? Are you coding actually, or do you do some of that? Because I know some people that don't code. Like I mean, there's this whole no code movement. And I have some friends that know code all the time. And they code but they don't code because they just kind of cobble things together and it works. Like I had a buddy create like literally from scratch, and this is a big shout out to my friend Sanjay but my friend Sanjay and I work together and he's just like from scratch cobbled together through new code, and a strong workable online job board. So, I mean, it's what can be done today versus what things were like even just ten years ago, five years ago, for that matter. It's amazing.

Tanner Green [14:15] I think it's really important that you just kind of pick something that you can contribute. And so, for my experience, I'm not a programmer, and I can't code so I've got Philip. Philip is the epitome of a software engineer and can make anything from scratch. All of my skills and trades are all based more on design and building products. And so my abilities and Philips came together and we had this vision I can build a website, I can do all the marketing, I can make this operation exist, and Philip can do all that hard work on the back end. The work that nobody else sees, and it's like, probably harder than what I'm doing.

Randy Wilburn [14:54] So, you could take care of some of the UIUX, and then he can take care of that side.

Tanner Green [15:00] That's exactly right. And at Oculogx that's where some of my work also takes place, you know, the user experience. That's one of my favorite things. It's definitely a combination of that in marketing and in brand strategy. I'm very visual, and I always have been, and I love seeing things come to life. I like building things and seeing them. And code is the same thing. It just operates in a very different way. And so, it's very interesting seeing how people who are very left-brain oriented or right-brain oriented can come together and create something special.

Randy Wilburn [15:28] Yeah. And usually, if you can get two people like that together, that can communicate effectively, there's pretty much no limit, right? Because you figure the one can have the amazing ideas, and the others can apply it and say, oh, I can make that this way.

Tanner Green [15:45] And that's just the power of like building a team dynamic and anything that you're doing, and you can always do things by yourself and you can still do awesome things. But when you can get together with someone that complements your skillset, there are no bounds to what you can create. And that's precisely what we did at Fast Bags. We made fast bags in a couple of weeks. It just happened. And we did that because we had the skills, we complemented each other well, and we just worked hard and that's the product of it.

Randy Wilburn [16:10] So, in your mind, as you created Fast Bags, what is the span of companies that probably would be an excellent opportunity for them to use?

Tanner Green [16:20] Yeah, absolutely. So right now, with Fast Bags, we are delivering people groceries, and it's very simple. This is exactly where we're starting. As we grow, I think we can be able to compete with companies like Instacart but the difference is I could see Fast Bags partnering and doing the in-store fulfillment for those small to medium-sized grocery companies that don't have the technical infrastructure in order to do so. So the whole idea with something like Instacart is that they can just kind of plugin and some person can come and do your groceries and it works great. But not a lot of those small to medium-sized grocers have the technical infrastructure to be able to present Instacart with all their inventory and all those things because it's just not that simple. And some of these grocers have been operating for 10, 20, 30, 50 years, and they haven't had to have all that. And as the landscape of retail is transforming, I think someone is going to have to come along, and not necessarily help those companies expand their lifespan or anything. Still, it's like there's a nice supplement that can keep them competing with those very large retailers like Walmart. And as Amazon continues to grow and step into this space, that's definitely the long term strategy for Fast Bags is how can we help those small to medium-sized grocers offer more and do more for what they're already doing. And at the same time, still be able to focus on what they do, and that's run a grocery store. And hopefully, Fast Bags can just really help give them like an extra arm's length to really capture more of the market and cast a wider net.

Randy Wilburn [17:43] I mean, would you even see it going as small as like a little bodega that has a regular group of customers coming in because I was talking to somebody the other day. We were talking about how the buying habits of people, obviously even during the pandemic has changed how people buy. Like my wife has been using, and this is not a shout out to them, but she's never used it before, but she's been using Walmart's online market to purchase things and she just goes there and it's ready. They know when she's coming. She pops open the back of the minivan, and she gets her stuff and leaves. At first, she wasn't sure she was going to like the experience, but she loves it. And then she was like, man, I wonder if this place is going to do that. And I wonder if that place is going to do that. So, it seems like the application has legs and can be utilized in a wide variety of ways.

Tanner Green [18:34] It does. Absolutely. The online grocery market was 3% before COVID-19. And now after COVID-19, it's 9%. And it's only going to grow more and more. And so, for these companies to be able to compete, they're going to have to offer some sort of delivery or, these curbside pickup options, and I think that's where Fast Bags can be able to step in. I think our goal with our leadership team is to essentially be able to operate in set areas and have a couple of those channel partners. So, if we are operating in Fayetteville, we can partner with a couple of local stores and a couple of grocers and then that's where we serve for Fayetteville. And then we move on and we go to somewhere like Oklahoma City, or we go to Omaha, Nebraska. And then we just branch out to these smaller metropolitan areas that are going to have a very similar community assets to Northwest Arkansas. And so that's definitely the strategy if we want to empower those small to medium businesses with the tools that they need to compete.

Randy Wilburn [19:26] Okay. All right, well, great. Well, hopefully, you'll be able to kind of take this podcast episode and push it out as you share marketing materials to let people know what you guys are all about and what you're doing so they can really capture the essence of what is all about.

Tanner Green [19:39] Yeah, absolutely. I'm excited because I know that where you start is never where you finish. And so, I'm just really excited for us to learn more about what we're doing and be able to have more opportunities. And over time, it's only going to strengthen, and hopefully, our thesis-driven approach is only proven to be somewhat correct.

Randy Wilburn [19:56] Absolutely. So, I want to talk about you just a little bit more. So, 13 years old, you get your computer, and I remember those days, and I'm dating myself now, but I had a Commodore VIC. That was a big deal because like kids in 79 and 1980 didn't have computers at their home. But I remember my mom getting me a Commodore VIC with the floppy disk and all that. I wish I had really stuck with it like Bill Gates did, or some of these other people and really made it work. But I mean, you had that experience and its kind of morphed into something else. What do you feel is next for you? I mean, you're only 19, the sky is the limit. You've got two programs, two companies under your belt now that you're working with and I mean, now you haven't even graduated college yet, have you?

Tanner Green [20:40] No, I've decided to kind of forego college. I think that's kind of where a minute the route that I'm going. Yeah, I might go back. But you know, right now, I think college is a really great track for a lot of people. And I think for me, the entrepreneurial route doesn't always require it. And I've always just kind of been like a self-starter. And so, as I've kind of gotten to know myself more and more, I'm not sure college is the best avenue. And I'm also like, I'm not very smart. Like, I didn't get a scholarship to the university, you know what I mean? That's the reality of it. But you don't have to be very textbook smart to go on to do that. But you have to work hard and that's exactly right.

Randy Wilburn [21:17] So, I'm curious, how did that conversation go over at home? How did that, and I don't want to rub salt in a wound? In your mind, you were like, okay, well, if I'm going to go because everybody's got to have a plan, right? If I'm going to go this route, I'm sure Bill Gates said the same thing to his parents, like, hey, listen, I'm going to do this. And I'm sure they were like, okay, well go ahead and do that and if it doesn't work out, then you can always go back to school because that's what Sir Richard Branson's parents said. They were like, listen, you could go back and get a law degree if this virgin whatever doesn't work and billions of dollars later, here he is, right. So, I'm just curious, without getting too deep into the details, how did it go?

Tanner Green [21:55] So, I had one scholarship. And so, I went to the group that had offered me that scholarship. And I said, hey, I'm going to take a semester off, can you guys put this scholarship on hold? And here's why I'm taking this semester off. Here's this opportunity that I have them. They said, yeah, we'll hold your scholarship, go and do what you need to do. So, I took that, and I went to my parents. My mom is a schoolteacher. My dad worked manual labor his whole life. And so, going to college, that's like a very big deal. And so, it wasn't so much a difficult conversation as I thought it might have been, or that you might suspect, I think that they just believed in me. And I'd say the one thing they always told me that always ended up being true is like, your greatest asset is yourself and being yourself is kind of a superpower. And so if you can envision the direction that you're going to go and you believe in yourself, almost to the point of, it's kind of crazy, that things will go well, and so it felt like that was the route to go, and I'm pleased with the decision that I've made. And it's not to say that college is always going be there, and some people that I look up to a lot and I aspire to be like, they didn't take the college route. And, here I am, things are going okay. And like you said, I've been able to start Fast Bags and work at Oculogx. In the long run, it's like, I don't really know what I want to do yet and I feel like that is kind of a great part about it as obviously I want to create transformative ventures that are going to make people's lives easier. Like, that's definitely the broader message for what I think I'm trying to accomplish. But I want to experiment with other things. Like, I want to write books, and I want to like philosophize, you know, about life. And that's kind of where I see myself in the long run. And, the only way to get there is to live life and to make mistakes and to do things that I'm doing now. And so I think that this is just for me, you know, a very early stage and in what's to come, and I don't know what the future looks like, but I know that I just keep working hard and putting myself hopefully in situations. If you don't succeed, you're going to learn a lot that this is a great place to be at.

Randy Wilburn [23:56] Well, I've always been a big believer that your experience or testimony or whatever you have to share about your life work is really what people relate to. Right? Because a lot of people end up seeing themselves in you. So maybe somebody listening to this is 16 years old right now going to Fayetteville High School. Still, he's torn between, you know, making his parents happy and going to college versus he's got this grandiose idea and he could change the world. I mean, you could change the world with the way Fast Bags is set up with what you're doing with Oculogx, you really could I mean, that's, to me, that's always the upside, right? I mean, and then the worst-case scenario is that hey, you know when a couple of years you decided, you know, I'm going to go back to school and finish up and then we'll see what life has to lead. But I think there are plenty of opportunities out there to take advantage of that and you know, I'm a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk. I don't know if you follow Gary, you probably eat what Gary is serving just like I do. But I went to school. I got a college degree, but I get it. And now more than ever before, realize that some people, and I'm not suggesting that's your case, but some people just aren't cut out for college. It doesn't mean that they won't go on to do great things. I understand that we hold a college degree in high esteem in this society, right. But there's a ton of folks that I personally know that have done amazing things have made more money than they ever know what to do with and they never stepped foot inside of the four walls of a college classroom.

Tanner Green [25:24] That's exactly right. And I had a very different life experience than others might have as well. Like, my brother, he's like one of the most important people in my life and he is my biggest role model, and he's 32 or 33, I can't even remember. He went to college, and he got a bachelor's and he got a master's and he told me, it's like, hey, I went and did this, but you don't have to do this right. And you know, having someone you can look up to like him and say, like, you know, you can go this route and like, I'm going to support you and you know, Mom and Dad are going to support you; that was incredible. I'm very thankful to have that experience. And, when I was in high school, if you would have told me when I was 16 or 17, that I would have gone to college and not finished like I probably would have laughed. Why would I not go and finish but you know, the reality of it is I kind of had this vision of the difference that I want to make and how I want to contribute. And I saw people that were graduating college and they're getting these great jobs. And I remember when I first went to the University, and them talking about how you can go to business school and you can graduate and get a job making $80,000 a year and get a company car and all these cool things. And, I didn't care about any of that, like I didn't want to make $80,000 a year and then get an Audi. I wanted to wake up every day excited about what I was doing that mattered so much more to me. And in college is a great place especially if you're learning a trade that is always going to be around and it's just like having a superpower and for me it was just like, I just want to wake up excited and like do something and get pumped in college that's not the route. There is no route. You got to figure it out. And so thankfully, I've just been going in that direction where I feel like I'm learning a little bit more every day, I'm always seeking to understand how things work and, and that is a big pillar of it, I'd say.

Randy Wilburn [27:14] I love that. So outside of the sphere of influence of the people that you have around you right now, who else has a big influence on you in terms of as a thought leader, as a book that you've read that has really helped you? I'd be curious because maybe somebody else could benefit from that.

Tanner Green [27:27] There's been a lot, and depending on the day of the week that you asked me, you might get a different answer.

Randy Wilburn [27:33] I like that, so don't worry about that. That's fine.

Tanner Green [27:34] I would say very relevant to the last year of my life. I always have books that I say I'm going to read, and I wait to read them until I feel like I'm at a point in my life when I need to read them. And so, I have a list that I have. It's like, these are the books that I want to read, but I'm not going to decide to read them today. I'm going to wait until there's a moment in time. And for me, I read a book called The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday, and I read it the week before I decided to drop out of college. And that played a very big role in my life. But as you know, in regards to thought leaders, people I look up to Ryan Holiday, the author of that book is definitely one of them. He's a big proponent of stoic philosophy.

Randy Wilburn [28:16] He wrote Ego Is The Enemy, which is the next, was one of my favorite books ever. And anybody that I know that I care about that has a big head, I typically give them that book or tell them to read it.

Tanner Green [28:30] I've actually bought that book as a gift for a couple of people. And because it's one of those things when you read the cover, and it's like every time you have an ego, it's like, no, just read the book, you will understand. So that was, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy and then Stillness Is The Key, which is the newest one Ryan Holiday. And the idea of stoic philosophy has definitely had a huge influence- I'd say beyond that.

Randy Wilburn [28:55] Have you read any of Adam Grant stuff? No, like Origins and---. Adam Grant is a real big on organizational and leadership development, and he is a professor at Wharton and just an amazing guy. He's in that same vein as Ryan Holiday. But Origins is an amazing book. Some of these books are just incredible because if nothing else, and a lot of what Adam Grant talks about in Origins is some of what you experienced by virtue of you just stepping out in faith and sending off that email saying, hey, I don't have a dog in the fight let me just put myself out there and see what happens. I think the challenge is that Tanner you've learned something at 19 that a lot of people don't learn at 40 or 60 is that you have to put yourself out there, and then the world will respond.

Tanner Green [29:46] Yeah, that's exactly right. And one another thinker that I like a lot is Navaugh (sp)*. And one of his quotes that I could never say it perfectly, but it's something along the lines, the world is almost like numb in the sense that it doesn't have like a good or bad. Whatever exists is whatever you bring to the table, so if you bring in that good attitude, I'm going to make the right connections, and I'm going to do what I need to do to make it to somewhere, then you allow that reality to exist to manifest. And so, I'm thankful to have learned it at such a young age and it was definitely the product of trying things. When you are growing up, I didn't touch on this because I didn't really want to start when I was 11, 14, and 15, I tore my ACL three times and I had three surgeries within five years. It was like two years of physical therapy. We got three screws in my left knee.

Randy Wilburn [30:40] Were you playing sports?

Tanner Green [30:41] So I was growing up, I was huge into football and basketball like I wanted to be a basketball player. I never got over 5'-8", but I still think I had a shot. Though that was all I ever wanted to do, I'm just extremely competitive in that nature. And so, I just had a different life experience than a lot of people like when you're 11 years old, and you tear your ACL, and you're the youngest person that the doctor has ever seen. You know, consciousness really starts to kick in around 10 or 11. If you really start understanding like, okay, if I hurt someone, they're going to feel pain, you begin to understand cause and effect. And for me, being 11 years old and having to go to physical therapy and like watching my knee not work, like not knowing how to walk, that was a life-changing experience. So, it put me in that situation where I started to almost have this existential crisis, like, here I am 11 years old, and this is the situation I'm in. And then that only, you know, grew because it happened two more times. And then on the third surgery, they had to go into my good knee and so, now I'm lying in bed at 15 years old. There's so much to go through in the world. Neither one of my legs works. My parents have to hold me in the shower and there's no reason that it happened but along the same time that my passion to go out into the world and to just make things- it all kind of mix right the same time. It's not by accident.

Randy Wilburn [31:50] No, no, absolutely, and things happen for a reason. I firmly believe that but I appreciate you sharing that because I think that's good for some people to hear. Sometimes we ignore those things and just think, oh, that was just a bump in the road. No, it wasn't a bump. It was a reminder that, hey, there may be some other things that you could do. And you're given that time to exercise that option and see what happens. I think, honestly, this bump in the road that we've had with the pandemic, I mean, a lot of lives have been lost and I was really sad last week, because when they announced that we had hit 100,000 people due to the pandemic, and it's just sad all around. But I also thought there's the human cost, but then there was also an opportunity that was created by all this extra time that we've had with ourselves, just to think, and to process things like I've had more time with my family, of course. I've had more quality family time, but there's also been just opportunities for me to ideate and come up with new things that maybe I can do. And if I had just been continuing to move at 90 miles an hour like I was pre-pandemic, I don't think I would have had that opportunity.

Tanner Green [33:00] Yeah, I could not agree anymore, especially when I was in that situation growing up. When you're just lying in bed, there's nothing you can do. I can sit around right now and choose to be miserable because the reality of it is I was sitting in a house that had AC. I had running water. I had everything I needed to survive. We just get so comfortable but I chose to put myself in a situation where I can learn something and make this for the better. And we've all kind of been forced in that situation right now. And I just hope that a lot of people have been able to take a step back and understand what's important to them. And understand that like, here, we are living in this wonderful community that is Northwest Arkansas. We are all in this together. If we don't have family or friends, hopefully, we've got something we can relate to and help us understand what we bring to the world. And with the pandemic, I just hope it has brought people up in a way in regards to their level of conscientiousness and what they see, and I can only help.

Randy Wilburn [33:57] I think we're all that way with everything that's going on right now. I really appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to sit down with me and kind of share your story. I'm energized by what you've been able to share and I'm afraid to ask you what's next because I'm sure there's something good you've got up under your sleeves even though you're wearing short sleeves right now so that's exciting. But seriously though, what are you hoping to see come to pass with and what you're doing with Oculogx?

Tanner Green [34:29] Yeah. It's a difficult question because I think it's important to think about the future. But it's also important to understand that what you're doing right now matters and so, it's important to execute. I hope with Fast Bags, we can create something sustainable. I want people that work for Fast Bags, to be able to wake up in the morning and be proud of the fact that they have this job, and they appreciate it and they respect it and they're thankful for it. I definitely want to be able to give people that opportunity. I think our economy is going to grow and change over time and like a gig economy is going to become much more prominent and I hope Fast Bags can play a role in giving the opportunity to give people jobs right now. Thirty percent of the US is unemployed so when running Fast Bags, it's like what can we do to give people jobs to give people the leisure to work whenever they want? That's definitely a long-term strategy with Fast Bags and with Oculogx and just continue to learn and grow. I mean, that's all I'm really focused on. I think if I can continue to learn and grow for the next several years, hopefully, I will end up in a place that makes sense and I'd say that's where I'm at- just keep learning. And I remind myself every day just to seek to understand, that's what's important and you should never seek to be understood. It's much more important to hear what other people have to say and I've always thought that way. You know what's going on in your head. It's not every time that you need to speak up. It's much more important to listen to other people have to say. You can either build a business around it or are just learn so there's a lot of ways

Randy Wilburn [35:57] I love that. Well, hey, will you drop a little Stephen Covey on us, that's good. So, as we close up, about Northwest Arkansas' favorite place that you like to eat? When I ask people this, I always say to them, I get it especially because I know a bunch of restaurant tours and a bunch of people that own restaurants so, I don't want anyone person to feel bad. I've got favorites and a lot of different categories, but like what's your go-to? What do you enjoy, like something that you find here that you can't find in other places?

Tanner Green [36:25] Oh, man, that's tough. So, I have to say that my favorite restaurant for my entire life from the age I was five or six is definitely Slim Chickens. I remember being five years---

Randy Wilburn [36:35] Yeah. Local company. They're expanding now. They're definitely expanding but that is Fayetteville's pride and joy when it comes to a restaurant.

Tanner Green [36:43] I remember being five, six years old going there, but outside that, because they're pretty big now, I would definitely say Con Quesos and Sir Hugo's. Those are the two.

Randy Wilburn [36:51]. We mentioned Hugo's earlier. Their French fries are out of this world. They are right off the square and Omar Kasim who we've had on the show. He owns between Con Quesos and Juice Palm. Con Quesos is right down south of town right near, not far from the stadium, right off the U of A campus at the bottom part. So definitely on MLK. So, certainly want to encourage people to check out those places, you won't be disappointed. Well, Tanner Green, I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule. Thank you so much for bringing us into an air-conditioned room because it's hot outside right now, as on the day that we're recording this. And so, I'm glad we've had a chance to connect and I'm sure this won't be our last time communicating. If anybody wants to reach out to you, what's the best way for them to contact you?

Tanner Green [37:38] You just send me an email, I guess.

Randy Wilburn [37:40] Which email address?

Tanner Green [37:41] My email is O-C-U-L-O-G-X. So, or just add me on LinkedIn and shoot me a message, I'd be happy to connect.

Randy Wilburn [37:58] Absolutely. And we will put all of Tanner's contact information and as well as Oculogx's website on the show notes so that those listening to this have a chance to check it out. And we hope that you're able to get in contact with this young man because I suspect he's going to be doing some big things and one day we may even be looking up at him giving the commencement address speech at the University of Arkansas.

Tanner Green [38:24] That would be pretty cool.

Randy Wilburn [38:26] We'll see what happens. So, Tanner Green, thank you so much.

Tanner Green [38:29] Awesome. Thank you so much, Randy.

Randy Wilburn [38:30] Yeah, well there you have it, folks. Another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Big shout out to Tanner Green and the team at Oculogx and the team at Just to give them a quick shout out. Please check out if you are a company looking to expand and looking to put your product out there in the most expedient manner possible. You need to check in with Tanner and his team and see how they might be able to help you out. This, of course, is in no way as a sponsor for them, but we're sponsoring them as far as that's concerned, and so we want to encourage you to check them out.

I think this young man is going to do some amazing things in the future. So, I'm going to continue to stand on the sidelines and root for him as I would encourage you to do the same. And if you are moved by this particular episode, you can check out all the other episodes we have at and we encourage you to share because, as we say, sharing is caring. Wherever you listen to this particular podcast, whether it's Apple, Spotify, Google Play, we'd love for you to give us a review. Five-star reviews are great because we love to get that kind of feedback. But if you have some constructive criticism or feedback for us as well, we'll take that too because we wear our big boy pants every day. So that's all I have for you this week. As always, the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast comes out every Monday. So, we will see you with another amazing episode next week. Peace.

IANWA Open [39:55] We hope you enjoyed this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Check us out each and every week available anywhere that great podcasts can be found. For show notes or more information on becoming a guest, visit We'll see you next week on I am Northwest Arkansas.

In this episode of the podcast, we sit down with Entrepreneur Tanner Green from Oculogx.  He is one of the youngest people that has been on the podcast.

Tanner is full of energy, ideas, and creativity, and he learned at an early age how to leverage those abilities into new opportunities, especially his latest project as the COO of Oculogx.

You may be familiar with this company as we sat down a few episodes ago (episode 75) with Charu Thomas, the Founder and CEO of the company.  Oculogx is a software and technology order fulfillment company for retailers.  

Hear the whole story as only Tanner can tell it on this episode of the IANWA Podcast.

(Show Notes Coming Soon!)