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The Foundr Magazine Podcast is a weekly podcast where we upload our best interviews with successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Tim Ferris, Arianna Huffington and many more. Filled with tons of actionable advice for every entrepreneur.

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271: Fighting Food Waste and Growing Fast, With Ben Chesler of Imperfect Foods
<p>Ben Simon showed up at his college classmate Ben Chesler’s door with a giant, ugly sweet potato, plopped it down in front of him, and declared, “This is the future.” Chesler believed him.</p> <p>Simon had visited multiple farms in California, and discovered that 20% of the state’s produce was being thrown out, which amounted to around 3 billion pounds of unnecessary waste. Together, with their friend Ron Clark, the trio launched a service in 2015 that would save ugly, unwanted fruits and vegetables and deliver them to consumers at low prices. They called it Imperfect Foods.</p> <p>Thanks to an admirable mission and relatively untouched market, Imperfect Foods took off. Four years after the launch, the company now boasts six fulfillment centers in over 20 cities and more than 1,000 employees. The team is also expanding their offerings in order to fight food waste across the entire system, now offering dairy, dry goods, and canned foods to their customers as well.</p> <p>Learn more about food waste, the power of customer interactions, and the importance of giving employees a stake in a company in this interview with Chesler.</p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Chesler and Simon got their start tackling food waste in the nonprofit world</li> <li>The giant, ugly sweet potato that became the catalyst for Imperfect Foods</li> <li>The hilarious story of how Reddit brought in more customers for Imperfect Foods than <em>The New York Times</em></li> <li>Why the original founding team’s first hires were a bunch of teenagers</li> <li>A look into Imperfect Foods’ massive growth over just four years</li> <li>Why product-market fit wasn’t on the team’s mind until six months after the company’s launch</li> <li>The brilliant marketing strategy that helped Imperfect Foods take off</li> <li>The power of customer interactions</li> <li>Why Chesler and the founding team make sure every single employee works in the warehouse at least once—and has access to stock options</li> <li>The biggest challenges Imperfect Foods faces</li> <li>Chesler’s reasoning for hiring people you have no business hiring, early on</li> </ul>
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270: Using Licensing To Make Billions in Sales, With Beanstalk Co-Founder Michael Stone
<p>If you’ve ever bought a bottle of Jack Daniels BBQ sauce or Febreze kitty litter, you’ve seen Michael Stone’s powerful approach to brand licensing in action. This attorney-turned-entrepreneur pioneered the form of corporate licensing that makes such products possible and wildly successful.</p> <p>Stone made his first foray into the world of licensing with the launch of his company, Beanstalk, in the mid-1990s. The firm quickly became the go-to resource for prominent brands like Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and AT&T—all corporations that were eager to expand their reach into different product categories and strengthen their relationships with consumers.</p> <p>In 2018, Stone and his company were responsible for generating over $7 billion in retail sales of licensed product. While he stepped down as the CEO a few years ago, Stone still serves as the chairman of Beanstalk and is committed to innovation in this industry.</p> <p>Check out this interview to learn more about the ins and outs of licensing and to hear about Stone’s experience writing his book <em>The Power of Licensing: Harnessing Brand Equity</em>.</p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Why Stone switched lanes from practicing law to pioneering brand licensing</li> <li>The uncharted territory Stone noticed, and how it led to the launch of Beanstalk</li> <li>The necessary components for successful corporate brand licensing</li> <li>How Beanstalk became the go-to resource for prominent brands</li> <li>An explanation of why Febreeze is a better candidate for expansion via licensing than Citibank</li> <li>Handing over the reins of a business that was responsible for over $7 billion in sales in 2018</li> <li>Why Stone decided to stick with his existing niche instead of starting multiple new businesses</li> <li>Stone’s honest warning for aspiring entrepreneurs</li> </ul>
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269: The Rise of a Cannabis Mogul, with Reef and OneQor Founder Matthew Morgan
<h2>Cannabis King</h2> <h3>How Matt Morgan, a misfit from Montana, took the booming marijuana industry by storm.</h3> <p>A typical life was not in the cards for Matt Morgan. Fortunately, he found an atypical career.</p> <p>Growing up, he was fired from every traditional job he ever had, and when he tried college, he lasted just 10 days before dropping out. Next, Morgan became an electrician apprentice at the age of 19, still hoping to find a career path that he might enjoy. But like his previous ventures, this too was short-lived and he resigned <strong><a href= "https://medium.com/trykecultivator/stakes-is-high-matthew-morgans-legal-weed-gamble-pays-off-91ce5ec534ca"> after a year</a></strong>.</p> <p>Having always possessed an entrepreneurial flair, Morgan did find quick success as a realtor, which would lead him in a roundabout way to the world of legalized marijuana. Finally, it was in the Wild West of the cannabis boom where Morgan found his home.</p> <p>Within a three-and-a-half year period, Morgan would become one of the most recognizable leaders in the cannabis industry. He is the founder of multiple cannabis companies, such as Bloom Dispensaries and Reef Dispensaries, with the latter becoming the first in the world to hit a $100 million revenue run rate. In 2018, Morgan was named one of the most influential people in cannabis by High Times.</p> <p>But as we all know, the highs are so often preceded by lows, and had there not been an financial crisis in 2008, he may have never entered the business in the first place.</p> <h3>Taste of Entrepreneurship</h3> <p>Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Morgan had a hard time finding his niche in the working world, but he did find one thing that he was quite good at, which ended up being a gateway drug to starting his own business—real estate.</p> <p>“ really opened up my eyes to entrepreneurship,” Morgan says. “Running your own business. You know, basically, eat what you kill. It’s totally up to you, whether you’re going to survive or not. That’s the type of environment that I thrive in.”</p> <p>And thrive he did. By the time he hit 22, Morgan became the managing partner of his own real estate company.</p> <p>By early 2008, he had begun to take notice that prospective homebuyers were reaching out to him with very specific guidelines on the type of home they wanted to purchase. Not only were they asking for roughly the same amount of land, they were all specifically requesting that each home have a shop out back — a detached garage or external structure that could be used as a hobby space.</p> <p>And if it didn’t have a shop, he didn’t have a deal.</p> <p>This left Morgan perplexed. He had met most of their demands, and more times than not a deal fell through because of this one caveat. This finally left him to ask himself, “what’s so important about these shops?”</p> <p>At the time, Montana’s legal cannabis industry had just started to boom, and people wanted in with a place to grow. This was an industry that Morgan was not in tune with at the time, but he started to pay attention to.</p> <p>Then the financial crisis of 2008 hit and Morgan’s real estate business was dead in its tracks. He needed a new play.</p> <p>Despite his youth, Morgan was old enough to have seen one tech boom and one housing boom, and had an itch that he may be in the presence of the next gold rush.</p> <p>“All these crazy people talking about this marijuana stuff, there must be something to it,” Morgan says. “So I started digging into it.”</p> <p>One day, after months of research, it became clear to him that marijuana was going to be the next big boom.</p> <p>“That day I went and found a light and a warehouse and I was damned if I wasn’t going to grow some marijuana, “ Morgan says.</p> <h3>Growing Pains</h3> <p>With the exception of spending some time on his grandparent’s farm, Morgan wasn’t that experienced in horticulture. He knew the basics of how to grow some crops, but after looking around at the competition, he felt he could succeed in marijuana.</p> <p>“How hard could this be?” Morgan says. “There’s a bunch of hippies in tie-dye with hoop houses out in the wilderness growing, you know, grade-A cannabis. I’m sure I can figure it out.”</p> <p>He didn’t. At least not at first.</p> <p>Morgan set up a small operation in his garage, and after about 15 failed attempts, he finally found a grow system that worked. Then in 2009, he teamed up with another grower in Montana and they opened a state-of-the-art, 15,000-square-foot cultivation facility, one of the largest in the state at the time.</p> <p>This new abundance of space gave them a controlled environment to grow a significant harvest of plants. Within Montana’s medicinal marijuana caregiver program, as long as you had a patient card, you were legally allowed to grow six plants per patient that you were a caregiver for. With Morgan’s patient list growing to over 500, he was legally growing over 15,000 plants. Not bad for a guy who didn’t know much about the business just one year prior.</p> <p>But just as quickly as he had struck gold, a new law would bring things grinding to a halt.</p> <h3>Next Stop: Arizona</h3> <p>Per Morgan, in 2009 Missoula’s population was over 65,000 people and the city was home to over 60 dispensaries. That equates to around one dispensary for every thousand people.</p> <p>In short, that’s a lot of dispensaries.</p> <p>The state began to worry that the new industry was growing too quickly. So to help slow it down, Montana had an emergency legislative session and reversed its laws so that a caregiver could now only have three patients total. Instead of having 15,000 plants, Morgan was suddenly only allowed to have 18 plants total.</p> <p>Once again, Morgan was stopped dead in his tracks. Feeling the cons outweighed the pros of running the facility in violation of the new laws, he shut down his operation in 2010.</p> <p>Having tasted the fruits of his labor, he turned his focus elsewhere. He immediately began to look around the country for states with more favorable marijuana laws so he could scale a business.</p> <p>“I knew I had the skills sets at that point, I just needed the right vehicle and platform to do so,” Morgan says.</p> <p>Arizona ended up offering that platform.</p> <p>The Grand Canyon State was about to roll out an extremely favorable and innovative program that was to be the first of its kind, and Morgan wanted to be a part of it. Morgan says the state’s population was also substantially larger than Montana’s, and it was going to allow a permit holder to have unlimited plants, unlimited square footage to grow, and unlimited weight in product. He felt like it was a “dream” and couldn’t wait to head south.</p> <p>“I literally packed up all my stuff into my Chevy Silverado and I drove down to Arizona within that week,” Morgan says. “And literally, probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I was 25 years old.”</p> <p>Upon his arrival, Morgan opened up a chain of hydroponics stores to help gain a foothold in the area and to network with the locals as he waited for the new laws to roll out. While doing so, he befriended the son of a senator who would become key in helping him land one of the state’s limited marijuana licenses. (Morgan chooses not to divulge the senator’s name during our interview.)</p> <p>“These licenses were looked at as a valuable asset,” Morgan says. “There’s no way these guys are giving some kid from Montana one of these licenses that could end up being worth, you know, millions of dollars.”</p> <p>His chances may have been slim, but a senator’s chances were very good.</p> <p>After agreeing to terms, Morgan says he and the senator’s son partnered up and convinced the senator to put his name on the application. Soon thereafter, the two won a Sedona license through a lottery system and within four weeks after that, they purchased a Phoenix license on terms from its winner for $450,000. With two licenses under their belt, Bloom Dispensaries was well underway.</p> <p>Like Morgan’s real estate business, Bloom took off, and in under a year grew to 100 employees and was generating $1 million in revenue a month.</p> <p>Everyone came calling.</p> <p>By 2013, Bloom was drawing national attention and was destroying its competition. This led to private equity firms and wealthy families to reach out to Morgan for advice and potential opportunities.</p> <p>“People were starting to look at marijuana,” Morgan says. “It was still kind of in the shadows, but it was starting to come to the light.”</p> <p>Due to Morgan’s knowledge in the space and Bloom’s exponential growth, companies wanted to replicate his success and learn his secrets. However, Morgan says one such wealthy family, worth billions, wanted to do more than talk. They wanted Morgan and offered to purchase Bloom in order to get him. However, after negotiations between the family and Bloom’s investors fell through, the family extended a proposal to only Morgan for him to come and launch their new venture.</p> <p>Realizing a good opportunity when he saw it, Morgan accepted their offer. As for Bloom, he divested his shares and gave the company to his partner in order to remain on good terms. Now armed with over $100 million in capital from his new partners, Reef Dispensaries was born. And its growth was on a whole other level.</p> <p>“I came out of the cannon like a cannonball,” Morgan says.</p> <p>Reef quickly expanded to 200,000 square feet of cultivation, had two extraction laboratories, and six retail dispensaries, with one of them becoming the busiest dispensary in the world. And to top it off, Reef became the first cannabis company in the world to hit a $100 million run rate.</p> <p>Despite the success Morgan was able to create at Reef, he says tensions began to grow between him and his partners. After months of disagreements, Morgan resigned as CEO of the company in November 2017, forcing a buyout and shocking the cannabis industry.</p> <h3>The Next Frontier</h3> <p>Morgan’s next major move took some time to develop.</p> <p>Much like the beginnings of Bloom, an entrepreneur reached out to Morgan about a potential partnership. However this time, the individual challenged Morgan to look at the other chemical compounds in the cannabis plant other than THC, and to research how they were being used in the healthcare space. After spending close to a year discussing healthcare and the science on how to use cannabinoids, the two of them founded Oneqor Technologies.</p> <p>“It’s really a hybrid of a biotech pharma company that’s leaning heavily on cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, excluding THC, the psychoactive one,” Morgan says.</p> <p>After spending 10 years in the THC business, Morgan says he was becoming bored with the industry. Oneqor presents something new and exciting for him, plus he’s able to operate it almost like any other typical business. Working in a business that doesn’t deal with THC is a whole new frontier, and one with barely any restrictions.</p> <p>And without the restrictions, Morgan’s ambitions grew.</p> <p>On top of helping brands such as GNC create private label CBD products, Morgan wants Oneqor to revolutionize the market. He hopes to dominate the cannabinoid industry in the same way Intel did with computers by becoming the secondary brand.</p> <p>“If you see a product and you know it has cannabinoids in it, I don’t want it to say CBD inside,” Morgan says. “I want it to say Oneqor inside.”</p> <h3>Matt Morgan’s Playbook for Building a Business</h3> <p>In a span of less than 10 years, Matt Morgan became a leader in the cannabis industry by creating Bloom Dispensaries and Reef Dispensaries, along with his new venture Oneqor Technologies. After some early growing pains, Morgan came up with his own playbook on how to grow a successful business.</p> <p><strong>Believe In Something</strong></p> <p>Many founders, especially first-time entrepreneurs, tend to look at only the financial aspect of creating a business, rather than if it’s something they actually want to do. Other times, people may start a company because they feel that the idea might be a fun thing to do.</p> <p>Morgan believes, that although the financial upside is something to consider, you must also believe in the product and have passion for it if you’re looking to build a company. Otherwise, you may lose interest and not do the things needed to succeed.</p> <p>“You shouldn’t pick something you want to do because you think it’s cool,” Morgan says. “You should pick something you do because you believe in it and you see a lot of upside potential. Or else, what are you doing it for?”</p> <p><strong>Look at the CEO</strong></p> <p>Morgan credits much of his early success to the teams he’s built. From building a C-suite team to hiring the employees for his stores, he believes that everyone is important. And to find those right employees, it starts at the top with the CEO. That means either looking within yourself if you’re the CEO, or by sitting down with your leader and asking them what their core values are. Skill sets are important, but if your employees don’t share the same values, the culture won’t work.</p> <p>“You want to hire people that have the same core values as you, because you can’t teach people core values,” Morgan says. “They’re born with that…or their environment, whatever it may be. You can teach people anything, but you can’t teach them that.”</p> <p><strong>Be Uncomfortable</strong></p> <p>Another trait that Morgan says led to his success is the ability to go outside his comfort zone. He used to be a nervous wreck, he says, but wanted to rid himself of that anxiety. So beginning from the age of 20 until he was 28, he put himself in uncomfortable situations daily in order to grow as a person. This not only helped in his everyday life, but also as a professional and leader. It helped him with everything from speaking in front of 10,000 people to raising capital for his businesses. In order to succeed, you must be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and get to the point where you’re calm and collected in every situation.</p> <p>“Human beings have a defense mechanism and they don’t like getting out of their comfort zone,” Morgan says. “You don’t know what to say, what to do, how to operate. But that’s really your biggest growth potential as a human being, is outside of your comfort zone.”</p> <p><strong>Maintain Focus Among the Chaos</strong></p> <p>Founding your own startup can come with lots of unexpected surprises. Especially within an emerging field such as the cannabis industry, things can become chaotic as the rules are still being established. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of chaos around you, a lot of drama, and a lot of arguing. But the only thing you can do is figure out how to control your reaction to it and always remain focused on your goals. Find what makes you relaxed and focused, and master it.</p> <p>“One thing that has really helped me with that is meditating,” Morgan says. “It’s really helped me, you know, keep my concentration, collect my thoughts. … There’s not really anything that can rock me mentally.”</p> <p><em>Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Nick Allen</em></p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>A look into Morgan’s struggles to fit into the traditional working world</li> <li>How real estate became the gateway drug to entrepreneurship</li> <li>The impact of the financial crisis of 2008, and how it led Morgan into the cannabis industry</li> <li>From 15 failed attempts at growing marijuana to a patient list of over 500</li> <li>How a change in Montana’s laws sent Morgan’s business to Arizona</li> <li>The political relationships that helped the launch of Bloom Dispensaries</li> <li>How Bloom Dispensaries reached $1 million in revenue and dominated the cannabis industry</li> <li>Why Morgan decided to sell Bloom and launch Reef Dispensaries with new partners</li> <li>Growing Reef Dispensaries to become the first cannabis company to hit a $100 million run rate</li> <li>Behind Morgan’s decision to quit as Reef Dispensaries’ CEO and his next step with OneQor</li> </ul>
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268: How Life Coach Marie Forleo Figured Out Her Life, and Empowers Others to Do the Same
<h2>Figuring It Out</h2> <h3>Why Marie Forleo walked away from Wall Street to help people build lives they love.</h3> <p>Marie Forleo was on the brink of the American dream.</p> <p>After graduating as valedictorian from Seton Hall University, making her the first in her family to graduate from college, she’d landed her first post-grad job on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Her peers were millionaires, and she was on track to become one, too.</p> <p>But that dream came crashing down after a panic attack halfway through a workday left her sobbing in the pews of the nearest church. Just six months into her job, the little voice in her head was telling her that she was on the wrong path, and she knew she had to make a change.</p> <p>Of course, she was petrified by the idea of leaving her job behind (especially with the mountain of debt that came with the pursuit of the American dream), and she didn’t know if she’d ever find something that would truly fulfill her.</p> <p>Determined to figure it out, Forleo eventually made her way to a new career path that would not only bring her happiness, but would also enrich the lives of many others experiencing their own difficulties.</p> <p>Today, Forleo inspires millions through her work as a life coach. She has over 578,000 YouTube subscribers on her award-winning channel, MarieTV, with over 49 million views spanning 195 countries. She’s also ushered 55,000 students through her eight-week marketing school for business owners called B-School. She’s even been interviewed by Oprah herself. And now, Forleo’s got a new book coming out, Everything Is Figureoutable, in which she unpacks the life lessons that she considers to be the secrets to her own success.</p> <p>While coaching wasn’t her next, or even her next-next career choice after leaving Wall Street in the dust, by trusting her gut, advice from her parents, and the tiny voice of truth in her head, she found her way there eventually and built a life she loved.</p> <h3>Struggling to Start</h3> <p>When she was younger, Forleo dreamed of becoming a Disney animator or a fashion designer. But amid her disillusion with the job on Wall Street, all she could think was, “What else am I going to do?”</p> <p>With her head spinning and stomach performing an intricate gymnastics routine, she called her dad. She was horrified by the idea of disappointing him, but didn’t know what else to do.</p> <p>“I was quite broken,” she says.</p> <p>She told her dad about how unfulfilled her coworkers seemed, her growing fear that she would end up like them, and her unmet desire to do something that brought joy to herself and others.  After baring her soul, Forleo nervously waited for her dad’s response.</p> <p>What he said would shape the course of her entire life. He reminded her that she would be working for the next 40 years or more of her life, and she needed to spend that valuable time doing something she loved.</p> <p>She quit her job two weeks later.</p> <p>But as little voices in our heads often do, Forleo’s told her just enough to get her out the door, but didn’t offer much insight on what she should do next.</p> <p>She loved design, but was also fascinated by business, so she decided to give the world of magazine publishing a go. Through a temp agency, she got an ad sales assistant position at Gourmet magazine. Forleo loved her boss and publisher, and, with a desk conveniently located right next to the test kitchen, she believed she had finally found her niche.</p> <p>But six months in, the voices of doubt took up their chorus once again. “I couldn’t deny the fact that I didn’t want to be there,” she says.</p> <p>Forleo wondered whether a more creative role in the magazine industry would quiet the voices, so she snagged a job on the editorial team of Mademoiselle. Sure enough, when she reached that six-month hurdle, the voices told her that, once again, it was time to move on.</p> <p>Discouraged, frustrated, and afraid for her future, Forleo wondered if there was just something wrong with her. Why couldn’t she find any work that made her truly happy?</p> <h3>A Calling for Coaching</h3> <p>The profession of life coaching wasn’t something most college graduates in the 1990s considered or even knew existed. In fact, Thomas Leonard, who is commonly called the father of the profession, only began his work in the 1980s.</p> <p>So when Forleo stumbled across an article about life coaching in the early 2000s, it was as if she was uncovering a buried treasure.</p> <p>“When I read this article, I swear to you, it was like the clouds parted and cherubs came out and they were shooting little sunbeams into my chest,” she says.</p> <p>At just 23, Forleo questioned whether she had anything to offer as a coach, but she says something about it just felt right. So she enrolled immediately in a three-year, part-time training program. When the six-month wall that had diverted her path so many times arrived, she pushed through it like tissue paper.</p> <p>And for the last two decades, Forleo’s “move along” voices have been silent.</p> <p>In 2001, she launched her first weekly newsletter, called Magical Moments, which attracted a modest following. Slowly, but steadily, her reach grew. Forleo attributes much of her success to her tremendous patience, calling herself “a worker bee.”</p> <p>Her skills and audience grew, and she launched new, ever-evolving platforms. As the 2000s rolled into the 2010s, Forleo launched B-School, her online course on marketing for business owners, as well as her wildly successful YouTube channel, MarieTV.</p> <p>But her journey wasn’t all unicorns and balloons. She encountered moments of failure (like the time she tried to build a custom coaching platform without a lick of relevant tech expertise), but each one taught her a valuable lesson.</p> <p>“I realized the power of positive quitting,” she says. “I think there’s a big distinction between giving up and moving on.”</p> <p>She also learned the principal of, as she puts it, “simplifying to amplify.”</p> <p>As Forleo began to draw international attention for the work she was doing, she felt the pressure to create more, attend more, and give more. Pulled in so many directions, the beginnings of burnout set in and she felt she wasn’t giving her best to her flourishing business.</p> <p>“Having a really successful, thriving business is not just about the money,” she says, emphasizing each word. “How does your team operate? How do they feel showing up to work every day? How do you, as the founder, feel? Are you so stressed out that you want to run away and hate that you even started this thing?”</p> <p>So in 2013, she decided to scale back and focus instead on the things that enabled her to make the most impact. She says she killed over a million dollars in revenue with a snap of her fingers.</p> <p>But the flood of creativity and renewed sense of direction that followed laid the groundwork for her to rapidly recuperate that amount and much more. So when others tell her that she should be investing more time in a particular platform or conference or trend that she feels will take her off track, she has no problem saying no.</p> <p>“I’m not out there to chase things,” she says. “I’m not going after vanity metrics. I give no shits about any of that. The metrics that matter to me are the lives I can impact, the profitability of the company, the difference I can make through our philanthropic endeavors, and am I actually enjoying my life.”</p> <p>She also knows who to listen to when considering what to add to her business—her customers.</p> <p>“The feedback, the iteration, the constantly making it better is how you get to something that’s legendary,” she says. “And I think folks don’t have the patience or the ability to focus over time and the desire to make something extraordinary, and that’s why we have so much mediocre.”</p> <p>Forleo says that the Customer Happiness department is the largest chunk of her 30-member team because they are committed to responding to every single email received. So, for example, when she noticed an influx of emails from MarieTV viewers lamenting that they most enjoyed listening to her show in the car as they drove but hated running up their data, she created a podcast to solve the problem.</p> <p>And if anything is clearly evident, it’s that Forleo is, to her core, a committed problem solver, a trait she attributes to her enterprising mother.</p> <h3>Sharing Her Secret to Success</h3> <p>Forleo’s mom, the child of two alcoholic parents from the projects of north New Jersey, “learned by necessity how to stretch a dollar bill around the block like five times.”</p> <p>She was always looking for ways to save money, so if something was broken and the price for a professional to fix it was too steep, she would fix it herself. From a leaky roof to cracked bathroom tiles, lack of experience or a college degree didn’t keep Forleo’s mother from tackling even the most complicated projects.</p> <p>One day, Forleo found her mom hard at work fixing her favorite radio, a Tropicana orange with a red and white straw for an antenna. Staring at the fully disassembled radio, amazed, Forleo asked her mom how she planned to put it back together again.</p> <p>Her mom told her that nothing is too complicated if you just jump in and get to work, because “everything is figureoutable.”</p> <p>That conviction lodged itself deep in Forleo’s heart, and it carried her through everything life threw at her, from difficult relationships to launching her own business. So when the time came to write her second book, she knew she had to share this principle with the world.</p> <p>In Everything Is Figureoutable, which comes out this month, Forleo builds on three simple rules:</p> <ol> <li>    All problems (or dreams) are figureoutable.</li> <li>    If a problem isn’t figureoutable, it’s not a problem. It’s a fact of life.</li> <li>    You may not care enough to solve this particular problem or reach this particular dream, and that’s OK. Find something you really do care about, and go back to Rule #1.</li> </ol> <p>While these principles can be used in every aspect of life, Forleo feels they are particularly applicable to entrepreneurship, a career path she feels is often “over-glammed.”</p> <p>She says that being an entrepreneur is a lot harder than it looks because it’s all about suffering in the short term to reach long-term goals, and sometimes that period of suffering can feel neverending.</p> <p>“I think we all really feel stuck in our lives from time to time, but if you do embed this belief that everything really is figureoutable, it gives you this energy to get up and go again,” she says.</p> <p>Forleo also insists that the ability to change direction is essential for a business owner.</p> <p>“To survive as an entrepreneur, you have to be incredibly nimble and flexible and to keep evolving yourself,” she says. “Otherwise, you’ll get left in the dust.”</p> <p>And she advises any founders who are living in fear or doubt about their business or career path to pull out a trusty journal and write it all down.</p> <p>“We, just as humans, underestimate the value of writing things out and writing things down,” she says. “When it comes to feeling stuck—when it comes to feeling fear, which can stop many of us—we allow it to stay amorphous and kind of shapeless like a boogeyman in our head, rather than being concrete and specific about it on the page.”</p> <p>Forleo’s particular brand of down-to-earth optimism has inspired millions, and, through her new book, she is excited by a new opportunity to share a piece of how she achieved her dreams.</p> <p>As Forleo’s business continues to grow, expand and evolve, one thing has remained ever constant: the belief that her audience can fashion a life they love, just like she did. Because, after all, everything is figureoutable.</p> <p><em>Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo</em></p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Why Forleo was miserable living the American dream</li> <li>The advice Forleo received from her dad that empowered her to walk away from her job on Wall Street</li> <li>Her brief stint in magazine ad sales and editorial work</li> <li>How Forleo discovered the world of life coaching</li> <li>The journey of scaling a newsletter, online course, and YouTube channel to an international level</li> <li>Forleo’s thoughts on positive quitting and the motto “simplify to amplify”</li> <li>Why Forleo decided to scale back on her business and kill over a million dollars in revenue in the process</li> <li>Who Forleo turned to when deciding the new direction for her business</li> <li>The valuable lesson Forleo learned from her mom, which inspired the premise for her new book <em>Everything is Figureoutable</em></li> <li>Forleo’s survival tips for entrepreneurs</li> </ul>
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267: How TOMS Founder Blake Mycoskie Blazed a Trail for Social Entrepreneurs
<p>Blake Mycoskie had a number of hits and misses as a young entrepreneur, but it was a trip to Argentina that inspired the idea that would become his mission—and end up having a huge impact on the business world.</p> <p>Mycoskie wanted to find a way to help the children he encountered who didn’t have proper footwear, but he wanted to do it in a for-profit, self-sustaining way. That’s how TOMS came to life.</p> <p>From there, Mycoskie blazed a trail in the way companies think about social good, by popularizing the one-for-one giving model and building the beloved brand that still exists today. TOMS generates hundreds of millions in sales and still stays true to its mission of giving back to communities around the world.</p> <p>Check out this episode to learn more about Mycoskie’s advice for those who want to pursue social entrepreneurship, the business model that led to his success, and the expansion of TOMS into other types of products.</p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Why the idea of a “job” was foreign to Mycoskie growing up</li> <li>How Mycoskie’s entrepreneurial spirit led to him founding everything from a laundry service to a reality cable television channel</li> <li>The trip to Latin America that inspired the idea for TOMS Shoes</li> <li>How Mycoskie changed the social entrepreneurship game with his one-for-one model</li> <li>Why social good isn’t necessarily the right path for every business</li> <li>Mycoskie’s personal reasons for selling half of TOMS to Bain Capital</li> <li>How TOMS was able to grow completely organically through social media when it launched in 2006</li> <li>The journey to achieving millions in revenue and donations</li> <li>The reasons behind TOMS’ expansion into eyewear, coffee shops, and more</li> <li>How Mycoskie continues to innovate despite a lack of background in apparel design</li> <li>Mycoskie’s best advice on choosing the right partners and building a sustainable business</li> </ul>
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266: How Warby Parker Changed the Way We Shop for Glasses, With Founders Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa
<p>Why are glasses so expensive?</p> <p>Dave Gilboa could not stop asking himself that question. After leaving his $700 pair of eyeglasses on an airplane while returning from Southeast Asia, he could not wrap his head around why a technology that was so archaic could cost him more than his iPhone.</p> <p>Within his first weeks as an MBA student at the Wharton School of Business, he repeatedly brought this question up among some of his new peers. Gilboa, along with fellow students Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, and Jeff Raider, had all shared in the pain of losing or breaking glasses and had all agreed: the high markup made no sense.</p> <p>Inspired by Gilboa’s pricey misfortune, the four of them founded Warby Parker. Now led by co-CEOs Gilboa and Blumenthal, the billion-dollar empire <strong><a href= "http://fortune.com/2019/05/30/warby-parker-founders/">with 2,000 employees</a></strong> is revolutionizing the prescription glasses industry by selling stylish eyewear online at affordable prices.</p> <p>The New York City-based company is also on a mission to combat the global problem of impaired vision through its charitable Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. Since the company’s start, the program has <strong><a href= "https://www.warbyparker.com/buy-a-pair-give-a-pair">distributed over 5 million pairs of glasses</a></strong> to those in need by donating a pair of glasses for every one sold.</p> <p>But long before they could build an ecommerce giant, the team would first have to learn how to even build a website.</p> <h3>A Moment of Clarity</h3> <p>Prior to going to Wharton, all four co-founders had already spent some considerable time in the workforce. This allowed for each of them to gain valuable real-world experience, and it helped guide them to understanding if they had an actual problem to solve and a business to move forward with.</p> <p>However, it was Blumenthal’s experience while running the nonprofit VisionSpring that would become crucial to the early concept of Warby Parker. During his time with the company, they trained low-income women in the developing world to start their own businesses. Participants were to take their new skillsets back to their rural communities and administer vision screenings and sell glasses. But it was something else Blumenthal had witnessed that would have a lasting impression on him.</p> <p>“I had been to the factories,” Blumenthal says. “Here I was producing glasses for people who were making less than four dollars a day, but 10 feet away were factories that were producing…the $700 pair of glasses Dave had. So we knew something was awry.”</p> <p>A light bulb went off and the classmates soon pulled together $120,000 and went to work on developing Warby Parker in 2008. The problem they wanted to solve: How can we make glasses we want, but at a low cost?</p> <p>Eager to launch, but more focused on preparation and planning, the founders began sketching out all the main aspects of the company. With limited funding, they knew they’d have to really refine and plan each facet of their business before revealing it to the public. Their first steps were to design glasses that they’d want to wear and then find a manufacturer who could produce them for less, starting with Blumenthal’s connections.</p> <p>The next step would be trying to figure out how to sell their glasses directly to the consumer. The answer was simple.</p> <p>“This magical thing called the internet,” Blumenthal says.</p> <p>The founders all knew that ecommerce was an innovation they wanted to take advantage of for their direct-to-consumer brand. Had they come up with this idea 10 years prior, the company may not have gone any further than an idea. With a brick-and-mortar store requiring a lease, utilities, and other costs, they knew it would be hard to make their new dream a reality with limited capital.</p> <p>“If we did , we would have one location that we might be able to attract some local customers, but with the power of the internet, we were able to all of a sudden, launch a store to the entire US,” Gilboa says.</p> <p>But there was a small problem. None of them knew how to build an online store, nor did they understand the many other details that came with creating an online shopping experience.</p> <p>“We started talking to friends on how you build a website,” Blumenthal says. “And then we started visiting a bunch of websites that we would normally already go to. But now with a critical eye, we were understanding, okay, what’s the shopping flow?”</p> <p>Over the next year and a half, the four of them kept chipping away at all the details of Warby Parker. Nothing got overlooked. They spent countless hours going over the vision and mission of the company, and worked on all the brand architecture of what they wanted their company to be.</p> <p>In addition, the group constantly sought out feedback from friends and professors. Could something like this work?</p> <p>One glaring concern that kept surfacing was whether or not a person would actually buy a pair of glasses online. With fit being so important, it would be hard for a person to gauge on a computer screen if a pair of glasses would fit their face and feel comfortable.</p> <p>This forced them to reconsider their business model, and ever the problem solvers, the home try-on program was born. Breaking new ground, Warby Parker would allow a customer to select five pairs of glasses from the website and then ship them free of charge, allowing five days to test out the frames.</p> <p>This was a major ecommerce innovation that would get them past the biggest challenge facing the business’s core premise. But there was one other challenge that would prove nearly impossible to overcome—agreeing on a name.</p> <h3>Thank You, Jack</h3> <p>Prior to Warby Parker’s launch, brands had already started to emerge that were selling glasses online. Customers were able to purchase glasses from sites such as 39DollarGlasses.com and FramesDirect.com, but they were sacrificing other elements, such as quality and customer service, for their lower prices.</p> <p>The founders wanted to take a different approach with their company. They wanted to launch a fashion brand that not only offered great quality, prices, and service, but also one that made the world a better place. The company vision was clear and ambitious. But they could not come up with a name.</p> <p>“We wanted kind of a proper name and didn’t think Gilboa-Blumenthal, our last names, really rolled off the tongue,” Gilboa says.</p> <p>They sought out inspiration and ideas from historical authors and artists. People who represented the brand ideals that they were trying to carry out. One author that stood out to them was Jack Kerouac, the novelist and poet who was a pioneer of the beat generation.</p> <p>Coincidentally, the New York Public Library was holding an exhibit one afternoon with some of Kerouac’s private diaries and journals. Seeking inspiration, Gilboa made a visit to the exhibit and stumbled upon some of Kerouac’s unpublished works, finding some interesting character names.</p> <p>Two jumped off the page: Warby Pepper and Zagg Parker.</p> <p>“So I took those back and the four of us were discussing,” Gilboa says. “We all loved those names and were debating, do we pick one of those, and we decided to combine the two and make it our own. And the URL happened to be available for nine bucks.”</p> <p>After six months of debating and with over 2,000 names rejected, Warby Parker came to life.</p> <h3>Getting Noticed</h3> <p>The challenge for any new brand is figuring out how to gain exposure. With a small marketing budget, the co-founders had to be strategic about finding a cost-effective way to maximize their exposure in such a competitive industry. Realizing glasses are an accessory and that the fashion industry was an insider’s game, the team hired a fashion publicist to help set up meetings with editors and writers at major publications.</p> <p>In February of 2010, WarbyParker.com officially went live. Within days of launching the website, they were featured in GQ, where they were dubbed “<strong><a href= "https://www.inc.com/magazine/201505/graham-winfrey/neil-blumenthal-icons-of-entrepreneurship.html">the Netflix of eyewear</a></strong>.” Soon after, another profile appeared in Vogue. From there, things went viral.</p> <p>“We ended up hitting our first year’s sales targets in three weeks,” Blumenthal says. “Sold out of our top 15 styles in four weeks and it was just complete mayhem.”</p> <p>Soon, they found themselves sold out of all their inventory with a waitlist of over 20,000 new customers. Warby Parker was an overnight success, a year and a half in the making.</p> <h3>Onward & Upward</h3> <p>Today, Warby Parker is <strong><a href= "https://www.inc.com/kaitlyn-wang/warby-parker-2017-company-of-the-year-nominee.html"> valued at over $1 billion</a></strong> and has cemented its place among the top glasses retailers in the world. Even after they made it to the big time, however, the team kept innovating.</p> <p><strong><a href= "https://www.inc.com/kaitlyn-wang/warby-parker-2017-company-of-the-year-nominee.html"> In 2013</a></strong>, Gilboa and Blumenthal began to expand their brand with more storefronts, having now opened close to 100 stores in the US and Canada. And within some of those stores, they’ve begun to employ their own optometrists where states allow it.</p> <p>On the technology side, they’ve found new ways to cater to the customer. Within the Warby Parker app, any customer with an iPhone X can now virtually try on any one of their frames. In addition, they’ve made a move into telemedicine by allowing eligible customers to take eye exams from their phones, allowing a licensed doctor to write them a prescription remotely.</p> <p>But no matter how large the company becomes, the team’s underlying values remain the same: they do whatever it takes to make customers happy.</p> <h3>3 Tips for Standing Out From the Crowd</h3> <p>When Neil Blumenthal, Dave Gilboa, Andrew Hunt, and Jeff Raider founded Warby Parker in 2010, they knew it wouldn’t be easy. But with the right planning, execution, and maybe some good luck, they felt they could make the world a little better, one pair of glasses at a time. The founding team knew that in order to get any attention in the noisy fashion industry, they had to be different and they had to stand out.</p> <p>Here are Blumenthal and Gilboa’s tips for helping your new startup gain exposure.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Be Novel</strong></li> </ol> <p>From the beginning, the founders knew that it would be hard to get any immediate attention in the fashion industry without the help of insiders. They knew their service and product would be different from any other retailer before them, but if no one knew who they were, it wouldn’t matter.</p> <p>So the team hired a fashion publicist to get them meetings with top fashion publications. By being able to tell their story directly to their target audience, and through a medium that their audience trusted, it was a giant step in the right direction. And since Warby Parker was so different from its competitors, once it got on the insider crowd’s radar, it wasn’t hard for them to draw media attention.</p> <p>“There was a bunch of things that we were doing that were novel,” Blumenthal says. “Selling glasses online, in 2010, was pretty novel. Having this home try-on program was really novel. Providing a pair of glasses for every pair we sell, was really novel. Charging $95 instead of $500 was really novel. So they really wanted to write about us.”</p> <p>In today’s startup world, it’s never been more crowded and harder to stand out. Be different with your concept and separate yourself from the fray.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>Don’t Get Distracted </strong></li> </ol> <p>Although WarbyParker.com went live in February of 2010, the four co-founders spent over a year and a half focusing on their company’s mission, product, and business model. And after they found success, staying focused became an even more important priority.</p> <p>“We got some advice early on that if you’re walking down a path towards a giant pot of gold, you shouldn’t stop to get distracted by any shiny little coin that you see along the way,” Gilboa says.</p> <p>It would have been easy for Warby Parker to launch dozens of different products or to expand into new markets for monetary gain. However, that would’ve brought about great distractions that could have pulled them from their main goal, which is to solve their customers’ problems by offering them quality products and experiences.</p> <p>“We’ve just seen so many businesses that have failed due to lack of focus,” Gilboa says. “But it’s rare that you’ll see a business that fails for being too focused.”</p> <p>Remember the problems your business is trying to solve and stay focused on it. By always learning and iterating, you’re working towards providing the best service possible for your customers.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>Above All Else, Make the Customer Happy</strong></li> </ol> <p>From the very beginning, the Warby Parker team knew they had to keep their customers happy. They understood that they had to not only provide a great product, but also provide superb customer service.</p> <p>In the beginning, all four co-founders were directly in touch with their customers. They each replied to customer emails and even set up an 800 number that would be sent to their personal cell phones until someone picked up. They were willing to do anything to make sure the customer was always satisfied.</p> <p>“Do whatever it takes to make customers happy and make them feel good,” Blumenthal says. “Smile, personal notes, whatever it takes.”</p> <p><em>Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Nick Allen</em></p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How losing a pair of $700 glasses led Blumenthal and Gilboa, along with fellow MBA students Andrew Hunt and Jeff Raider, to identify a major business problem</li> <li>How Blumenthal’s experience of running a nonprofit informed the early stages of Warby Parker</li> <li>A look into the 1.5 year process of bringing the co-founders’ business idea to life</li> <li>Why the team decided to merge eyewear and ecommerce</li> <li>The process of familiarizing themselves with the world of online shopping and websites</li> <li>How the name Warby Parker came to be, and why it took brainstorming over 2,000 names to get there</li> <li>The team’s cost-effective approach to marketing and launching the website</li> <li>How powerful press placement led to a sold-out inventory and a waitlist of over 20,000 new customers within weeks</li> <li>What’s in store (literally) for the future of Warby Parker</li> <li>The single piece of advice Gilboa and Blumenthal received that helped them be successful, and how other entrepreneurs can apply it to their own business</li> </ul>
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265: Battle-Tested Lessons on Scaling a Fast-Growing Global Company, With Printful CEO Davis Siksnans
<h2>Success On Demand </h2> <h3>How Printful co-founder Davis Siksnans rose to the top by helping entrepreneurs custom print and ship products with greater speed and ease.  </h3> <p>Davis Siksnans’ motto as an entrepreneur has always been, “If you can’t find it, build it.” It’s led him to some fascinating and quirky pursuits, from building a business that sells customized friendship bracelets to launching an ecommerce store that creates motivational posters for startups. </p> <p>Having spent much of his career working at a startup incubator, coming up with ideas and helping to bring them into reality, much of Siksnans’ expertise has involved smoothing out and speeding up that business-building experience. He’s especially excelled at improving the fulfillment process, allowing businesses to whip up clever ecommerce product ideas and then ship them out to eager customers in a heartbeat. </p> <p>While not all of his ventures took off, they were critical stepping stones to Siksnans building his most successful business yet—Printful. This leading drop-shipping, fulfillment, and printing business has mastered the process of creating on-demand ecommerce products. As a result, Printful has grown exponentially since its launch six years ago and now has a 500-person team across the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. </p> <h3>Survival of the Fittest</h3> <p>Long before his days as Printful’s CEO and co-founder, Siksnans always knew he would end up doing something in tech. Fascinated by technology from a young age, he taught himself to code, saved up his allowance to purchase his first computer, and built custom websites for his friends and neighbors. In the process, he realized he had a knack for turning ideas into businesses. </p> <p>So it came as no surprise when Siksnans secured his first job as an IT administrator with Draugiem Group, a startup incubator and one of the most exciting technology companies to work for in his home country of Latvia. </p> <p>Over the course of 15 years, Draugiem Group funded over 100 business ideas. Today, only 12 of these businesses remain, which is the nature of entrepreneurship, Siksnans says. What makes Draugiem’s model unique is that it doesn’t source ideas from outsiders—only from its own founders and employees. This means that everyone at the company has the opportunity to come up with the next big idea.</p> <p>“At Draugiem, if you do good work and gather trust, you’re given more opportunities to step up in your career,” Siksnans says. “I was given the chance to work on business ideas based on the fact that the founders thought I was doing a good job.”</p> <p>Timing was also on Siksnans’ side, as Draugiem Group was just starting to focus on the US market for the first time. He had previously completed an exchange program in the United States for one year and was familiar with the market, so Siksnans officially began his career as an entrepreneur.</p> <h3>Take Your Vitamins</h3> <p>After experimenting with a variety of ideas under the banner of Draugiem Group, Siksnans hit gold with Startup Vitamins, a company that sells, no not vitamins, but motivational posters. </p> <p>Siksnans and his team initially came up with the concept when they moved into a new office space that had ample wall space and wanted to put up some posters. But they couldn’t find any designs they liked. That’s when his motto of, “If we can’t find it, let’s build it” came into play, and Siksnans decided to launch a Shopify store to meet this need. </p> <p>Initially, the Shopify store sold posters with motivational sayings such as “Life is short. Don’t be lazy.” He and his team started off with one printer in the Los Angeles home of one of the founders, which made it convenient to produce posters on-demand and was also low-cost. </p> <p>After seeing promising growth, Siksnans decided to expand by taking on the biggest category in ecommerce—apparel. He liked selling posters because they could be easily printed on demand and didn’t require inventory. He wanted to replicate that model with apparel, so Startup Vitamins started working with a fulfillment partner that could produce on-demand products. </p> <p>This turned out to be a horrible experience. The fulfillment partner’s website was clunky; it took one-to-two weeks to fulfill orders; the quality of products was subpar; and there was no public API—no way to automate the orders that were coming into Startup Vitamins. </p> <p>That got Siksnans thinking.</p> <h3>Testing Theories</h3> <p>Siksnans realized that there was a significant gap when it came to services that could produce on-demand and high-quality products at a reasonable speed. He also recognized the lack of a powerful API that could integrate with ecommerce platforms like Etsy, Shopify, and Storenvy. He decided to test this theory, and that’s how the idea for Printful came to life.</p> <p>The key difference was that, with such an API, his company could allow clients to automatically receive and process orders for their online business instead of serving as the middleman.</p> <p>“When we launched Printful in 2013, we didn’t even own the domain printful.com because we didn’t know if this idea was going to work or not," Siksnans says. "Maybe it would fail and we would have to refocus. We used Startup Vitamins’ mailing list as our first marketing channel to push out Printful’s services because our customers overlapped—startups that were likely to be open to using print-on-demand in their respective niches."</p> <p>Printful found product-market fit immediately. Its combination of drop shipping (when an ecommerce store purchases inventory from a third party and has it shipped directly to the consumer) with a custom print API and other services made it easy for anybody to sell posters, t-shirts, canvases, and other merchandise, seamlessly. As a result, Printful made around $800 in revenue in its first month, then $1,600 the next, and the business only kept growing from there. In under six months, Printful had become larger than Startup Vitamins. </p> <h3>Lessons on Scaling</h3> <p>Since its launch, Printful has seen impressive growth. The company now has a team of more than 500, locations in four geographies, 6.83 million orders fulfilled to date, and $540 million in products sold by its customers. </p> <p>Of course, with growth comes growing pains, which Siksnans says has been one of the toughest aspects of his job. He has turned to certain resources to help him navigate the challenges around scaling.</p> <p>“I recommend the book Scaling Up by Verne Harnish," Siksnans says. "Whenever I see a person in management struggling with growing pains, I give them this book and discuss it with them. It contains so many great practices and tactics, and it shows that this is a normal process that many companies have dealt with." </p> <p>Siksnans also emphasizes the importance of collaborating across cultures. At Printful, they make a point of educating team members about cultural differences. The company also invests in resources to make sure its employees have the opportunity to travel between Latvia and the United States to conduct knowledge and culture transfers. </p> <p>While it’s important to acknowledge the differences among Printful’s various locations, Siksnans believes it’s critical to maintain a thread of consistency throughout every employee’s experience. </p> <p>He once sat in on an onboarding process for an employee in Riga, Latvia and noticed it lacked many of the helpful components found in the US process, so he connected both HR departments to make sure they were added. That’s why Siksnans stays involved in all of Printful’s HR processes—from running new hire trainings for employees once a month to being involved in the recruiting process.</p> <h3>Looking Forward</h3> <p>Siksnans has several thoughtful predictions for the future of the print-on-demand and drop-shipping industry. </p> <p>For starters, he envisions decreased reliance on advertising. As Facebook ads become more expensive over time, Siksnans believes it will become increasingly important to build microbrands. This means becoming less reliant on advertisements and turning more to influencers, who have powerful audiences on social media and promote products organically to their user bases. </p> <p>Siksnans also anticipates potential policy changes around shipping. Consumers are already demanding faster shipping speeds as companies like Amazon set a new standard. He’s keeping an eye on what happens with the Universal Postal Union, the UN agency that coordinates postal policies among different nations. They’re experiencing many issues, for example, the fact that it’s cheaper to ship a mug from China to New York than it is to ship a mug within New York. As a result, some countries are already taking steps to limit the influx of cheap drop-shipped goods coming from other countries. </p> <p>Finally, Siksnans is focused on understanding ecommerce algorithms. A growing base of users is leaning into newer marketplaces such as Etsy, which have less advanced ranking algorithms to figure out than sources like Amazon or Facebook advertisements. As a result, Siksnans is noticing a lot of people finding success by learning the ins and outs of various internet marketplaces.</p> <p>Regardless of which direction the market goes, Siksnans believes Printful is well positioned to continue growing. All of this success came as a result of him identifying a need and deciding to go for it—a mindset he believes all founders should emulate. </p> <p>“I have a lot of people asking me when is the right time to start,” Siksnans says. “There’s no right time when someone is ready to start anything new. You will never feel ready, so just start now.” </p> <h3>Davis Siksnans’ 4 Tips on Scaling Company Culture</h3> <ol> <li><strong>Hire people who love to learn</strong>. Siksnans picked up this concept from the book How to Castrate a Bull by Dave Hitz. The basic premise is that your business won’t scale if your team won’t scale with it. That’s why it’s critical to look for employees who are eager to learn because they’ll be more willing to grow with the company and embrace the changes that come with it. </li> <li><strong>Stay aligned with your values</strong>. Initiative, integrity, and experimentation. These are Printful’s company values, and Siksnans ensures they’re embedded into the DNA of the organization. He does this by weaving the values into the onboarding process, making sure they’re conveyed across every location, and working with managers to help them embody the company culture. </li> <li><strong>Prioritize culture fit</strong>. While it may be tempting to hire the most qualified candidate, Siksnans recommends putting culture fit first. “Don’t hire people who don’t embody your culture. I’ve had interviews with managers who met the professional criteria but weren’t a culture fit. It almost hurts to pass on those candidates, but I believe it’s more important to find someone who fits on a cultural level than on a professional level,” Siksnans says.</li> <li><strong>Encourage cross-team collaboration</strong>. It’s easy for holes to emerge in cross-team communication as a company scales. That’s why Printful has a process of having new hires meet with people outside of their own department to ask questions about their roles. For instance, a new marketer might meet with the finance department to learn more about their day-to-day functions. This is a helpful practice to break down barriers and improve intra-team collaboration. </li> </ol> <p> </p> <p><em>Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Sophia Lee</em></p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How his first job as an IT administrator at startup incubator Draugiem Group nurtured his entrepreneurial spirit</li> <li>How the motto of “if you can’t find, build it” led to Siksnans’ first successful business idea, Startup Vitamins</li> <li>Why ecommerce and the on-demand model were appealing to Siksnans</li> <li>How a bad experience with a fulfillment partner led to the launch of Printful</li> <li>The savvy marketing tactics used to test product-market fit for Printful</li> <li>The six-year journey to becoming a 500+ person team across four global locations</li> <li>Which books Siksnans recommend for startups experience growing pains</li> <li>The top lessons learned on scaling company culture</li> <li>Why it’s important to collaborate across multiple cultures and offices</li> <li>Siksnans’ thoughts on the future of the print-on-demand and drop shipping industry</li> </ul>
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264: How Revolve’s Founders Went from Finance and Engineering to Running a Billion-Dollar Fashion Brand
<h2>Where Data Meets Denim</h2> <h3>How Revolve founders Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas, a duo with backgrounds in finance and engineering, used data to take the fashion world by storm.</h3> <p>You would think that finance, computer engineering, and fashion have nothing in common.</p> <p>But Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas, the founders of the wildly popular online clothing company Revolve, would beg to differ. It’s true that when they first met each other at a software startup, they never thought fashion was in their cards. After all, Mente was a finance guy and Karanikolas was a computer engineer. They weren’t exactly cozying up to the catwalk.</p> <p>And yet, a series of unfortunate events led Mente and Karanikolas to the retail business, which ended up yielding quite the fortunate outcome—together, they built a billion-dollar business that serves as inspiration for any entrepreneur looking to get into the online apparel game.</p> <p>Using their respective strengths in analytics and number crunching, they developed a hunch that there was a gap in the market when it came to places young, millennial women could buy fashion brands online. Their hunch proved to be correct.</p> <p>From there, it was Revolve's famously prescient marketing strategy — in particular, the company's influencer marketing — that set them apart from other online clothing brands coming onto the market.</p> <p>"We had first-mover advantage and recognized power of social early on. We’re been working with influencers before they were even called influencers — before instagram even existed," Karanikolas says.</p> <p>With their near-perfect product-market fit and the love of influencers like Chrissy Teigen, Chanel Iman, and Jessica Alba, the California-based company has grown from being a small online store to an iconic billion-dollar business.</p> <h3>Challenging the Mainstream</h3> <p>Mente and Karanikolas were both working at the software startup NextStrat when the dotcom bubble burst, kicking off a recession that eventually led to the company’s collapse. That’s when the duo started to brainstorm ideas for a new venture. They knew they made a great team and had a feeling they could achieve big things together, it was simply a matter of finding the right opportunity.</p> <p>Given their math and engineering backgrounds, they approached the research process of finding that new endeavor in a very methodical way. Ecommerce was on the rise, and after digging into keyword search data, they noticed there was growing interest around online apparel. There were other attractive aspects of the apparel business too, such as the fact that it promised high gross margins and was a relatively untouched market in the late 90s and early 2000s.</p> <p>“There were a lot of questions about whether apparel made sense online at that time,” Karanikolas says. “But any time there’s a new space, that means there’s room for innovation. We recognized that online represented a wealth of opportunities, and it was just a matter of figuring how this new medium worked for apparel and how to make it appealing for consumers.”</p> <p>It didn’t take them long.</p> <h3>From Denim to Dominance</h3> <p>Mente and Karanikolas launched Revolve in 2003 with $50,000 of their own savings. That meant carefully watching cash flow was extremely important, which forced the duo to be highly disciplined about how they made decisions. Even early on, they leaned heavily on data to inform what products to sell. The core of their business model was to sell clothing from other brands, start with existing numbers, and then test and iterate as they identified what worked and what didn’t.</p> <p>For instance, they initially assumed denim would be one of the hardest types of clothing to sell online, since fit is so important and there are lots of size variations. Through data analysis, however, they discovered that people actually did shop for jeans online and even returned them less frequently than other clothing categories. So for the first year or two of running Revolve, denim made up a majority of their business, which led to their first wave of success with the company.</p> <p>They also weren’t afraid to go against the grain in how they ran an online store. When they realized the inherent risk that came with buying online due to fit issues, they instituted a policy of free shipping and returns. Mente and Karanikolas also quickly recognized the importance of having big, high-quality photos of their apparel—so they kicked standard web guidelines to the curb and covered their site with beautiful images, even if it meant it took a little longer to load.</p> <p>“There were all sorts of different ways we approached retail and online fashion that ended up working out really well for us,” Mente says.</p> <p>“Eventually, we came to understand the creative and aesthetic side of things more and become expert in areas we weren’t before. That piece took us many years to develop, and it wasn’t easy because it didn’t leverage our initial core strengths. But building that expertise on top of our existing strengths helped us become really powerful.”</p> <h3>Struggling to Survive</h3> <p>Mente and Karanikolas’ journey wasn’t without difficult times. They were still self funded when the Great Recession hit in 2008. Demand plummeted, and they saw that competitors were responding with extreme discounts, which made it challenging to make money.</p> <p>Despite the fact that they were fighting for their lives, Mente and Karanikolas agree that this period actually led to incredible personal and professional growth. It also showed them they had the right company culture and people to get them through these challenging times.</p> <p>The duo recalls one particular memory with fondness. Since Revolve also had to offer discounts to make sales during the recession, they had to ship a massive volume of product to remain profitable. During this time, every single employee voluntarily came out to the warehouse on weekends to help get all the products out on time. That’s when Karanikolas and Mente knew they would survive and come out on the other side as a stronger company.</p> <h3>Standing Out</h3> <p>Revolve is now a major player in an incredibly competitive online apparel market. But Mente and Karanikolas aren’t worried because they’ve come to deeply understand one of the most important lessons in marketing: You’ve got to stand out from the noise.</p> <p>The way they do this is by leaning into the authenticity of their brand. Everything, from the events they host to the people they work with, is saturated with a genuine desire to grow relationships with consumers. It has never been about trying to outspend their competitors.</p> <p>This type of commitment to their consumers is also what led the founders to start Revolve’s own line of clothing back in 2010.</p> <p>Through data and conversations with their audience, they knew that there were products they either didn’t have a big enough selection of, or weren’t stocking fast enough. They realized they had the ability to provide a better product and have since launched an array of new clothing lines to meet the different needs of their customers.</p> <h3>Next Level of Growth</h3> <p>Karanikolas and Mente are optimistic about the future of Revolve.</p> <p>“There are more opportunities today than ever, and we’re the best positioned we’ve ever been in the history of our company. We’re trying to build one of the biggest fashion and apparel companies out there,” Karanikolas says.</p> <p>The duo plan to continue focusing on their core business of building a better experience for their target consumers, youthful women in 20s-30s looking for premium fashion. They’re passionate about getting better at everything they do, from improving their data to creating better products. Thoughts of further international expansion are top of mind for the founders as well, given that more than 40% of their social media following is international.</p> <p>When it comes to the secret of success, the duo say there isn’t one—it’s simply about putting in the hard work, grit, and perseverance.</p> <p>“There’s so much chance involved in the short term, but if you keep making the right steps, over the long run you’ll go in the direction you want, even though there are periods of time where it feels like things aren’t working for you,” Karanikolas says. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s going to be more rewarding than anything you’ve ever done.”</p> <p>Mente agrees and leaves aspiring entrepreneurs with an additional piece of wisdom.</p> <p>“Hard work and dedication are 100% important, but another aspect is to take care of yourself and your life,” he says.</p> <p>“Your physical, mental, friendships, and relationships are all important as well. When you’re living well, you’re thinking clearly, healthier, and more productive over the long run. You need to recharge and have some balance in your life. It’s something I’m still trying to learn.”</p> <p><strong>3 Tips to Build a Powerful Consumer Brand, From Michael Mente & Mike Karanikolas</strong></p> <ol> <li><strong>Define core principles</strong>. It’s important to clearly identify which principles drive your brand—make sure those values are authentic to your organization and aren’t just an imitation of other organizations. From there, all decisions should map back to these principles to ensure the brand is consistent.</li> <li><strong>Understand the landscape</strong>. You have to know who you’re competing against so you can figure out how to spread your message more broadly in the market. This also means figuring out who your primary consumers are and where they’re spending their time, as well as discovering your own message that’s positioned well and unique enough to mean something, but not so niche that your target audience is too small.</li> <li><strong>Be consistent, but don’t be afraid to be flexible</strong>. “Know what you stand for and make sure you’re consistent in communicating that message. What you stand for has to make sense for the consumer segment you’re targeting in comparison to the competitive space,” Karanikolas says. However, he also says that it’s okay to refine your brand message. “We actually have consistently used data to refine our brand message. In other words, what are consumers responding to? There are things we knew from the start but also evolved as we learned from data.”</li> </ol> <p><em>Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Sophia Lee</em></p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Mente and Karanikolas’ paths crossed while working at a software startup</li> <li>How the dotcom bubble led the duo to start brainstorming new ventures</li> <li>How their backgrounds in finance and engineering helped them decide on an online apparel business</li> <li>The launch of Revolve, with $14,000 out of pocket</li> <li>Why every business decision was driven by data</li> <li>The duo’s breakthrough with denim</li> <li>How Revolve survived (and thrived) through the Great Recession in 2008</li> <li>Mente and Karanikolas’ recommendations on standing out in a crowded market</li> <li>How Revolve changed the game of influencer marketing</li> <li>The importance of knowing your consumers, not outspending your competitors</li> <li>The future of Revolve’s global presence</li> </ul>
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263: From Food Writer to Digital Entrepreneur: Ed Levine’s Journey to Launching an Award-Winning Culinary Website
<p>In business, everyone wants to win.</p> <p>But sometimes it’s the people who refuse to lose who end up finding success. This is the mindset that food writer, author, and founder of the website <strong><em><a href= "https://www.seriouseats.com/" target="_blank" rel= "noopener noreferrer">Serious Eats</a></em></strong> carried with him throughout the ups and downs of his career. This tumultuous journey is also the primary focus of his latest book <strong><em><a href= "https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L2GN15T/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Serious Eater: A Food Lover’s Perilous Quest for Pizza and Redemption</a></em></strong><em>.</em></p> <p>In this interview, Levine shares the details of how he got into food writing, experimented with media platforms to diversify the way he told stories about food, and ultimately bootstrapped the money needed to launch <em>Serious Eats</em>. From struggling with being profitable to testing his tolerance for risk, Levine shares the sacrifices he had to make to keep his company alive for the eight years leading up to its sale.</p> <p>If you want an unflinching look at the challenges of entrepreneurship, this is your chance. Levine speaks with candor about the toughest aspects of launching a startup and dispels the most common myths around starting a business.</p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Why Levine published his first book, <em>New York Eats</em>, while working his day job at an ad agency</li> <li>How the book kickstarted Levine’s career as a food writer</li> <li>The various media platforms, from TV to radio, he experimented with to expand the way he told stories about food</li> <li>How Levine’s desire to control his own fate creatively and financially inspired him to launch his first blog in 2005</li> <li>The journey to bootstrapping enough money to launch <em>Serious Eats</em></li> <li>Levine’s struggles with making Serious Eats consistently profitable</li> <li>Why knowing the limits of your (and your partner’s) tolerance for risk is critical</li> <li>The financial and emotional costs associated with bootstrapping a business</li> <li>How Levine’s childhood experiences contributed to his “refuse-to-lose” mentality with <em>Serious Eats</em></li> <li>How <em>Serious Eats</em> organically attracted up to 8 million unique visitors per month and was eventually sold in 2015</li> <li>Why the startup mantra of “fail early and often” didn’t apply to this 52-year-old digital entrepreneur</li> <li>A sneak peek into Levine’s book <em>Serious Eater: A Food Lover’s Perilous Quest for Pizza and Redemption</em>, which captures the unspoken side of starting a business</li> <li>Why Levine believes the most important business lessons can’t be learned without starting a business</li> <li>How Levine defines success</li> <li>Final thoughts on what it took to build a tribe of people who are passionate about food</li> </ul>
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262: A Deep Dive Into What Makes or Breaks Habits, With Nir Eyal
<p>When Nir Eyal has a burning question (which he frequently does), he goes on the hunt for an insightful answer.</p> <p>That curiosity is what led Eyal to publish his first and wildly popular book, <strong><em><a href= "https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LMGLXTS" target="_blank" rel= "noopener noreferrer">Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products</a></em></strong>. He was inspired to delve into this topic after launching a startup in the advertising and gaming industry, where he observed that product design had the powerful ability to change human behavior. Eyal wondered why some companies were so good at it while others failed.</p> <p>In this fascinating interview, we chat with Eyal about his early days as an entrepreneur, the behavioral model behind forming habits and get a sneak peek into Eyal’s upcoming book <em>Indistractable: Mastering the Skill of the Century</em>.</p> <p>Plus, Eyal uses Nathan as a live case study and shares his best tips for breaking bad habits!</p> <p>Whether you’re an entrepreneur who wants to better understand the link between product design and human behavior, or you’re an individual looking for tangible ways to build better habits, this is an episode you don’t want to miss.</p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The story behind Eyal’s successful startups in the solar power, advertising, and gaming industries</li> <li>How observing the behavior change through product design led to a burning question in Eyal’s mind</li> <li>Eyal’s journey to understanding the deeper psychology behind how products are designed to be habit forming</li> <li>The principles behind the Hook Model, and how the Bible is a perfect example</li> <li>How Eyal’s own book inadvertently helped him improve his physical fitness</li> <li>How his desire to control his attention inspired Eyal’s upcoming book <em>Indistractable: Mastering the Skill of the Century</em></li> <li>A sneak peek into techniques from Eyal’s new book to help people overcome internal triggers</li> <li>A live case study with Nathan to help him address the habits he wants to break</li> <li>Why high levels of distraction at a company are usually symptoms of a bigger problem</li> </ul>
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261: How Raegan Moya-Jones Built a $100M Baby Blanket Business Using Common Sense and Hard Work
<h2>Against the Odds</h2> <h3>How Raegan Moya-Jones built a $100 million business from the ground up—no fancy MBA required.</h3> <p>Raegan Moya-Jones was an Aussie in New York City, pregnant with her first daughter, and she couldn’t find the right baby blanket.</p> <p>Every Australian mother from time immemorial had swaddled her baby in a cotton muslin blanket, and Moya-Jones wanted to do the same. But no matter where she looked, she couldn’t find one.</p> <p>Rather than simply becoming frustrated by the futile search, she had an idea.</p> <p>“I figured that all Aussie parents couldn’t have it wrong, and if I introduced it to American parents, they’d feel the same way,” she says. “Luckily for me, my hunch was right!”</p> <p>Moya-Jones went on to found the successful baby product company aden + anais (partly named for her first daughter), publish a book about her journey, and launch a second business all while raising four daughters.</p> <p>Even when success turned sour, as it so often can in the entrepreneurial world, she didn’t let that stop her. Moya-Jones has weathered the heartbreaking end of a partnership and gut-wrenching business betrayals, becoming stronger, wiser, and more successful for it.</p> <h3>A Rocky Start</h3> <p>In 1997, Moya-Jones moved from Australia to New York, after her Chilean boyfriend landed a new job. She was partway through an MBA, but put it on hold to be with the man who is now her husband.</p> <p>Without a visa, she struggled to find work, but eventually managed to land a position at the Australian consulate. Through connections she built there, she moved into a job at a conference company and then into a position as a sales executive with The Economist, where she worked for over a decade.</p> <p>It was when she learned she was expecting her first child in 2003 that she began that fateful search for the perfect swaddle.</p> <p>For three years, she toyed with the idea of starting that business. As a first-time entrepreneur, she had to learn everything from product design to manufacturing, but in 2006, she set out to launch her brand.</p> <p>While she may not have had a completed MBA under her belt, she had years of experience in sales, a degree of common sense she felt she could truly rely on and, above all else, the drive to work as hard as it took.</p> <p>“I really am a huge believer that common sense and work ethic are the two keys to building a successful business. They’re the two most important things,” she says. “At the end of the day, it’s how much work you’re prepared to put in to be successful. I could never, ever have estimated how much work had to go into building a business from scratch.”</p> <p>For the next three years, Moya-Jones would work her day job, then return home to spend quality time with her family (which now included three daughters). But once the bedtime rituals were complete, she burned the midnight oil building her business, from 8:30 p.m. until 3:30 a.m.</p> <p>“It was pretty brutal,” she says.</p> <p>But the odd hours she kept weren't the only tough part from the early stages of aden + anais.</p> <p>Moya-Jones launched her business with her friend Claudia Schwartz, and for the first few years, they worked together flawlessly. They initially invested $15,000 each into the company to build a basic Yahoo website, design a logo, and make their first manufacturing order. They anticipated the investment would last them six to 12 months.</p> <p>The money ran out after eight weeks.</p> <p>They each invested another $30,000, but at this point, Moya-Jones had run through her savings. Timing is everything, and it wasn’t on their side.</p> <p>“We were starting out during the worst recession since the Great Depression, so it wasn’t really good timing in terms of having access to capital and people wanting to loan us money,” she says.</p> <p>So Claudia made an additional investment that Moya-Jones was unable to match, and once they asked Claudia’s father-in-law to grant them a $200,000 loan, Moya-Jones says she noticed a bubble of resentment growing.</p> <p>“I think the disparity in what I could contribute financially to what Claudia could was one of the biggest catalysts for the partnership dissolving,” she says.</p> <p>Moya-Jones says she found three other women to buy out Claudia’s 49% share in the business, and in 2008, the partnership ended.</p> <h3>Off Like a Rocket</h3> <p>Although Moya-Jones was struggling through the personal blow of saying goodbye to a friend, aden + anais was steadily growing into a healthy, flourishing business.</p> <p>“It was a rocketship in the early stages, for sure,” she says.</p> <p>The muslin blankets were an instant hit, and thanks to 20 years of sales experience, she was well equipped to get the products to those who wanted them most. Moya-Jones loaded up taxis with samples of her product and went door to door sharing it with every store that might be interested.</p> <p>“That’s where definitely my sales experience came in handy because I was extremely comfortable with that part of the business,” she says.</p> <p>In the early 2000s, brick-and-mortar stores still reigned supreme, so she wasn't yet focused on the ecommerce side of the business. She also chose to build relationships with existing retailers, rather than launching into fraught competition with them.</p> <p>“We didn’t want to piss off the retailers by competing against them with our own website and sales and everything,” she says. “Then, Amazon entered the picture, and of course, all bets were off at that point.”</p> <p>Meanwhile, Moya-Jones was still balancing her company with her day job. She didn’t want to cause financial strain on her family, which would eventually grow to four daughters, and she didn’t want to put added pressure on her business to perform.</p> <p>“It was my conscious decision to choose sleep deprivation over any kind of financial pressure on my family and on the business in the early stages,” she says. But the years of toil took their toll.</p> <p>“There were definitely times when my hair was falling out,” she admits.</p> <p>She still believed in her business, though, so she powered through the strain, set a goal for when she would leave her day job, and waited for the right moment to arrive.</p> <p>“Statistically, only 2% of all women-owned businesses ever break a million dollars in revenue,” she says. “I knew it was a pretty stretch goal, and so I sort of said, ‘Well, if I can get to a million in revenue, then I’m prepared to dive fully into aden + anais and quit my day job and give it a really good go,’ which is what I did.”</p> <p>In 2009, Moya-Jones went full time with the company.</p> <p>But even though her business was a success, she still needed additional investments to keep the business alive. She borrowed money from just about anyone who would lend it to her for nearly a year and a half after the dissolution of her partnership.</p> <p>“Initially, it was friends and family, and then it was friends of friends, and then once we got to the point where it was just obvious that we were never going to be able to scale doing it that way, that’s when I went out and looked for investment money,” she says.</p> <p>Although the business had traction, Moya-Jones says that she struggled to find investors. But in 2010, her first investor came aboard. That investment led to aden + anais’ first year of $10 million in revenue.</p> <h3>A Dark Day and a New Dawn</h3> <p>With the acquisition of another business in 2016, aden + anais pushed past the $100 million mark. But even as Moya-Jones’ success continued to blossom, disaster loomed on the horizon.</p> <p>In 2013, the first investors in the business departed, and their parting piece of advice to Moya-Jones was to bring in another private equity firm to share the load. They could never have known what this would mean for the company’s future. The new firm bought the majority share of aden + anais, which would lead to an internal struggle for the future of the business.</p> <p>“That’s when the whole thing started to go downhill for me,” she says. “We did not agree on the way forward. I don’t think they really understood me. This is the whole Stanford, Harvard, Yale backgrounds coming up against the crazy, opinionated Australian girl who has no education on a piece of paper to show. We just didn’t see eye-to-eye on very much at all. It was sort of the beginning of the end to tell you the truth.”</p> <p>Outspoken about her disagreements as she saw her beloved company moving in a direction she didn’t support, Moya-Jones was informed in 2016 that she was being moved from the position of CEO.</p> <p>“My story is actually way more common than I think people realize,” she says.</p> <p>After a string of failed replacements, a new CEO finally stuck, and in 2018, Moya-Jones was fired from her own company.</p> <p>“It was a pretty awful time,” she says.</p> <p>But the new firm had the controlling interest in the company, so they were well within their rights to show her the door. And it wasn’t as though Moya-Jones had planned to run the company forever. The luster of serving as CEO of a massive business had already started to fade for her, and she missed the rush of innovation.</p> <p>“Once you get up to the $60, $70, $80 million dollar mark, you just become the person that all you’re dealing with is shit every day,” she says. “The fun stuff everybody else is handling. The only time you’re really needed is when it’s too hard for somebody else or they don’t want to make the decision and deal with it.”</p> <p>But she still wishes she would never have sold the majority share, at least until she was prepared to exit on her own terms instead of being forced out as CEO.</p> <p>“I’m grateful in that I ended up making a very nice amount of money from aden + anais, but it’s definitely bittersweet. If I could do it all over again, I would do it differently.”</p> <p>To this day, she is still the single largest individual shareowner in aden + anais.</p> <p>But her story wasn’t over. In fact, a publisher soon approached Moya-Jones and asked her to share, well, what it takes.</p> <p>While she was initially hesitant because, as she says, until the business reached about $50 million in revenue, she was operating largely on common sense, she decided to move forward with the book when the publisher said they didn’t want a conventional outline of what it took to become successful. They just wanted her story.</p> <p>“To say I’m the antithesis of the MBA-educated business mind is an understatement,” she says.</p> <p>And in her book, <em>What It Takes: How I Built a $100 Million Business Against the Odds</em>, she shares just how she did it and hopes she inspires others to do the same. She believes that anyone could follow in her footsteps without any kind of training or prior experience, as long as they are willing to put in the work.</p> <p>And being asked to leave aden + anais didn’t keep the tenacious Moya-Jones down for long. Today, she is elbow-deep in a brand new business that has taken her “from babies to booze.” In June 2018, she co-founded the moonshine company Saint Luna Spirits.</p> <p>“We wanted to create a high-end moonshine that was served in five-star restaurants and the best cocktail bars out there,” she says.</p> <p>The business has already won gold and silver medals at spirit competitions, and after only a few weeks on the market, the label already appears in renowned establishments across New York, such as Jean-Georges and Employees Only.</p> <p>“It’s super fun to be back in the trenches building something and creating,” Moya-Jones says.</p> <p>And no matter what she does or where she goes next, by weathering the storms of her first business, Moya-Jones has proven unequivocally that she has what it takes.</p> <h3>Raegan Moya-Jones Tips for Entrepreneurs</h3> <p>Through successes and trials, Raegan Moya-Jones has build up an extensive bank of knowledge when it comes to launching and shepherding businesses, and these are some of the tips she shares with every entrepreneur she meets.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Use Common Sense</strong></li> </ol> <p>“Not all people have common sense, but what I’m trying to say is you don’t need to be an expert in really anything, I believe, to start and build a successful business.”</p> <p> </p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>Think Twice Before Selling</strong></li> </ol> <p>“Never, ever sell the controlling interest of your company if you’re still passionately involved in it and dedicated to it.” Unless you are looking to exit a company for good, Moya-Jones recommends that founders think twice before relinquishing control, even for a nice payout.</p> <p> </p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>Stay True to Yourself</strong></li> </ol> <p>“Everyone’s going to have an opinion. There will always be the people who want to come in once you’re successful to change the way you do things.” Moya-Jones reminds founders to trust their instincts and remain true to the things that help them launch and grow their business, even if others disagree.</p> <p><em>Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo</em></p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Moya-Jones’ first child inspired the idea for aden + anais</li> <li>A peek into her journey from Australia to the US, and the struggle to find a job</li> <li>An entrepreneur’s juggling act with a full-time job, family, and building a business</li> <li>Why Moya-Jones was committed to staying at her full-time job until she broke $1 million in revenue</li> <li>How finances eventually turned a partnership sour</li> <li>Moya-Jones’ philosophy of running a business on common sense and work ethic</li> <li>How she got aden + anais off the ground by using old-school sales tactics</li> <li>The journey to $100 million in revenue</li> <li>The one business decision Moya-Jones regrets to this day, and how it led to her being forced out of her company</li> <li>What motivated Moya-Jones to write <em>What It Takes: How I Built a $100 Million Business Against the Odds</em></li> <li>How Moya-Jones made the transition from babies to booze and is now finding success with moonshine company St. Luna Spirits</li> </ul>
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260: How Nimble’s Jon Ferrara Used Partnerships and Relationships to Strike Gold in CRM
<h2>Back in the Game</h2> <h3>How Nimble’s Jon Ferrara returned to the startup world to revolutionize customer relationships for a second time, all while maintaining a life he loves. </h3> <p>Jon Ferrara was frustrated.</p> <p>As a young computer software salesman and son of an entrepreneur, he firmly believed that one of the most vital aspects of business was relationship building. But in the 1980s, managing those relationships was a giant pain. He was stuck fumbling with paper leads, appointment calendars, spreadsheet forecasts, and no great way to keep or share records. He wanted to fix the problem, and thought he might just be able to.</p> <p>Of course, he could have stayed content where he was and raked in a sweet $200,000 a year, while waiting for someone else to solve the problem. But surrounded by aging coworkers who regularly lamented the shots they didn’t take, Ferrara didn’t want to be just another guy with a good idea who didn’t chase his dream.</p> <p>So at 28, he quit his job to see what he could create.</p> <p>Three decades and two successful companies later, Ferrara changed the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) game—and then changed it again! Through his work in founding GoldMine and Nimble, Ferrara strives to boost the R in CRM by improving the way salespeople relate to each other and to their customers, first by integrating email, contacts, and calendar, and then by drawing in social media.</p> <p>“As I went into my career and struggled to sell in the technology arena, I found it hard to scale connections and relationships and pipeline and marketing, and I looked for a tool to do it,” he says. “I couldn’t find it, so I built it. And it turned into a gold mine for me.”</p> <p>The path Ferrara has traveled has not been a straight line. But thanks to a willingness to pivot, seek partnerships with high-profile businesses, and put relationships before profit, he has built businesses, and a life, he is very proud of.</p> <h3>Striking Gold</h3> <p>With no Windows, Outlook, or Salesforce, the life of a salesperson in the 1980s was an endless wilderness of loose scraps of paper.</p> <p>The salesperson was handed a lead that they would cold call, making notes on the piece of paper and scheduling further meetings in a separate-but-also-paper appointment calendar.</p> <p>If the paper was lost, so were the notes. Forget about other team members sharing information to build well-rounded relationships with a client. And the bigger the company got, so grew the problem.</p> <p>This was the root of Ferrara’s frustration.</p> <p>“What I wanted was a tool that integrated contacts and email and calendar with sales and marketing automation, not just for me, but for the whole team,” he says.</p> <p>No matter how hard he looked, he could only find pieces of the tool he sought. A marketing tool here. A calendar there. A pipeline tool way over there. But nothing that brought it all together. So, he set out to create it himself.</p> <p>Ferrara sketched out the idea for GoldMine, and Elan Susser, a friend from college, made it into a reality. Using the money in their savings accounts, Ferrara and Susser created a CRM that integrated every tool a sales team would need and designed it to be accessible across a network.</p> <p>They had created something revolutionary, and that filled a prevalent need, but they had no money to advertise and no real connections to reach out to.</p> <p>“There we were, two kids in an apartment with $5,000 in the bank with basically Outlook and Salesforce before either existed,” he says. “So, how do you sell that?”</p> <p>They say our struggles become our greatest strengths. And it’s in his past sales struggles that Ferrara found the key to GoldMine’s success. During his two-year stint as a software salesman with Banyan, Ferrara was often beaten to the punch by the local resellers of a competing company, Novell.</p> <p>“The Novell resellers used to kick my butt as the enterprise Banyan sales rep because I had to sell at the top level, the enterprise, all the way down to everybody in the company, and that took months if not years,” he says. “Whereas the Novell guys sold into work groups.”</p> <p>Rather than focusing on the top dogs at well established companies, Ferrara’s competitors got to know the small groups in coffee shops that would one day form successful startups and eventually large corporations.</p> <p>With their bottom-up approach, Novell representatives were becoming the trusted go-to software salespeople of small workgroups, allowing them to spread more quickly and eventually become the corporate standard in a fraction of the time it took for top-level executives to make decisions.</p> <p>So when Ferrara wanted to spread the word about GoldMine, he sought out his former competition. He called top Novell sellers and showed them what a difference GoldMine would make in their own businesses.</p> <p>As they fell in love with the software, the trusted, local reps recommended it to their customers. Ferrara says that this proto-influencer marketing tactic was the secret sauce that allowed them to reach their first $100,000 in sales.</p> <p>But as the business grew, so did the needs of the GoldMine customers. While Ferrara’s company initially targeted solopreneurs and small teams, they were rapidly being asked to cater to the needs of organizations with as many as 5,500 people. They needed a more scalable model.</p> <p>So, when Microsoft approached Ferrara with a deal, he knew it would be mutually beneficial.</p> <p>“They said, ‘Well, we just built NT Server, SQL Server and Exchange Server, and we want an independent software vendor to help us drive adoption because nobody’s going to buy SQL Server without a business application that calls for it and makes it sticky,’” he says.</p> <p>As Microsoft created new servers, the company needed to find a way to sell them to business owners who were reluctant to leave the comfortable. By partnering with up and coming business applications that would run only using their newest servers, they drove sales of both products.</p> <p>Ferrara decided to create a new version of GoldMine that supported the needs of larger corporations by relying on the tools provided by the Microsoft servers. In turn, Microsoft pushed GoldMine to its customers.</p> <p>“We became corporate standard at 50 of the Fortune 500 companies, and that’s what propelled us to $100 million a year in revenue,” Ferrara says.</p> <p>But as he stood on the mountaintop of success and looked down at what he had built, he began to question whether he wanted to keep climbing or if it might be time to take another path.</p> <h3>Stepping Back</h3> <p>The life of an entrepreneur can be tough. Building a company, particularly a large one, requires high levels of dedication, brainpower, and time.</p> <p>“Ten years of scaling a company to $100 million in revenue took everything I had,” Ferrara says, “and it cost me time and moments with everyone around me.”</p> <p>He started searching for his exit.</p> <p>It was 2000, the stock market was soaring, and Ferrara suspected it wouldn’t last, so when he was offered $125 million in cash to sell GoldMine, he took the deal.</p> <p>Four months later, Ferrara says, the dotcom bubble burst, sending stocks plummeting. But even as he sighed with the relief of a bullet dodged and settled into the stay-at-home husband and father life, another much more insidious threat was already growing. One year after Ferrara sold GoldMine, doctors found a tumor in his brain.</p> <p>“Life is going to hand you blessings, and it’s also going to smack you, and you can’t control that,” he says. “The only thing you can control is how you react to it.”</p> <p>Ferrara chose to react in the way he knew best: through research and relationships. He visited a variety of doctors while also learning about Eastern medicine, and through a combination of these treatments, he says he healed his body while also taking a deeper look at his soul.</p> <p>“I came to a simple conclusion about my purpose in life,” he says. “I think we are on this planet to grow our souls by helping other people grow theirs. Rinse and repeat. That’s it.”</p> <p>Even though he had only planned to be away from the business world for a short period, his brush with mortality caused him to reevaluate where he invested his limited time.</p> <p>“They don’t write on your grave, ‘kickass entrepreneur,’” Ferrara says with a laugh. “They say, 'beloved father, friend, husband.' So I decided to dedicate time to being a present father, husband, and contributor to my community…and to be able to do that at 40 years old was priceless. It was precious.”</p> <p>So for nearly a decade, Ferrara was almost entirely absent from the world of technology. Then in 2009, as his 50th birthday approached, the rise of a new technological power caught his attention: social media.</p> <p>Still with an eye for relationship building, Ferrara recognized that social media was about to reshape the way people related to one another and also how consumers related to businesses. He also knew that the current CRM options weren’t built to integrate with social media.</p> <p>With contacts spread across CRM software, company software, and every kind of social media platform imaginable, salespeople were once again as overwhelmed trying to manage contacts as they were in the days of pen and paper.</p> <p>“So I said to myself, ‘Imagine if you could build a CRM that worked for you by building itself from the disparate data you already have in your business—the email, contacts, and calendars that you have in GSuite, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn,’ and I built it,” he says.</p> <p>In 2010, Ferrara built an exploratory team. In 2011, he launched a beta test. In 2013, the paywall went up, and so Ferrara returned to the entrepreneurial world with the creation of the social CRM, Nimble.</p> <h3>Back in the Game</h3> <p>It was like déjà vu. Once again, Ferrara felt he had a valuable piece of software, and once again, he had no easy avenue to market it.</p> <p>“I’d been out of technology for 10 years,” he says. “Most people in technology have only been in technology for 10 years, let alone out of it.”</p> <p>No one remembered who he was, or even what GoldMine had done. But while he may have lost name recognition and connections during his absence, there is one thing that had only continued to flourish in his time away: his ability to build relationships.</p> <p>So, Ferrara dove into social media, sharing and commenting on the posts of thought leaders in the entrepreneurial space.</p> <p>“Rather than me having to go out and write my own content, I shared content that resonated with me in and around the value that my product provided, which generated eyeballs to my brand,” he says.</p> <p>Over time, this led to moments of interaction with the influencers whose content he shared. But he avoided diving right into a pitch for Nimble. Instead, he would hop on a call with them and ask them questions based on research about their lives and businesses.</p> <p>“If you let somebody talk, you’ll learn what you need to learn to add value, and they’ll love you because people love to be heard,” he says.</p> <p>As the connections grew, he would offer them meaningful introductions or even business ideas. Only when he was asked would he share his current venture, Nimble. And as he shared, some of those he spoke with decided to give it a try. Then those happy customers shared their experiences with their followings.</p> <p>And while this approach to marketing took time, Ferrara believes you can’t put a price on authenticity.</p> <p>“Real, solid relationships are one to one,” he says. “They’re heart to heart. They’re relevant and authentic. And when you blast, people feel it.”</p> <p>His patient methodology led to over 100,000 Nimble subscribers and such high-profile investors as Mark Cuban and Google Ventures, all without a single cent spent on marketing. And, after partnering with Microsoft once again, Ferrara sees explosive growth in Nimble’s future.</p> <p>With the rise of cloud computing, he has his eye on which businesses are finding the most success in that arena. And Ferrara points out that, according to the numbers, it’s undoubtedly Microsoft. He says that while G Suite has about 7 million users, Office 365 has 175 million.</p> <p>“Essentially it’s really game over in the cloud productivity wars, and Microsoft dominates and will grow from here. “Most businesses that use Microsoft products rely on their local reseller to facilitate their adoption and implementation. Microsoft has hundreds of thousands of them around the world, and nobody has that.”</p> <p>With Nimble’s status as the simple CRM for Office 365, Ferrara says they’ve signed up 30 of the 50 top Microsoft distributors and over 1,000 Microsoft resellers in just the last six months. And it’s only onward and upward from there.</p> <p>But even though lightning has struck not once but twice in Ferrara’s journey as a tech entrepreneur, he feels that his greatest achievements are those he has made as a husband, father, and member of his community.</p> <p>“Life isn’t about money,” he says. “It’s really more about the moments that create the memories. All you leave are the moments you’ve been truly present with the universe around you—with other human beings—and the ripples that you leave behind.”</p> <p><em>Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo</em></p> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Why Ferrara believes in valuing relationships over everything else</li> <li>How Ferrara pioneered the world of CRM with his first company GoldMine</li> <li>Why you should avoid the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” mindset</li> <li>The 10-year journey to scaling GoldMine and selling it for $125 million in cash</li> <li>How a serious illness shifted Ferrara’s perspective and led to his current life’s mission</li> <li>The transition from 10 years out of the tech game to building leading social CRM platform Nimble</li> <li>How Ferrara rebuilt his personal brand and Nimble’s brand</li> <li>His best advice when it comes to building strategic, high-level partnerships</li> <li>Why Ferrara recommends focusing on moments, not money</li> </ul>
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259: Taking on Google, with Gabriel Weinberg, Founder of Privacy Browser DuckDuckGo
<h2>Taking on Google</h2> <h3>Gabriel Weinberg has made it his mission to protect internet privacy, and his scrappy Google competitor DuckDuckGo is leading the charge.</h3> <p>Everything we do online is tracked. Searching, browsing, shopping, even navigating.</p> <p>Most of us have grown accustomed to this. Although we may acknowledge now and then that it makes us uncomfortable, we haven’t changed our habits. Maybe we’ve become too reliant on our preferred online services for basic day-to-day tasks. Or maybe we don’t even know how we’d change our ways in the first place.</p> <p>This is a problem that Gabriel Weinberg has been helping people solve since 2008, when he first created privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo. While the company has been charging ahead ever since, Weinberg’s mission is on everyone’s mind these days. Concerns about internet privacy and data protection are at an all time high, following recurring <strong><a href= "https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/12/data-privacy-scandals-and-public-policy-picking-speed-2018-year-review"> scandals</a></strong> around tech companies leaving their users vulnerable.</p> <p>While still far smaller than industry leader you-know-who, DuckDuckGo’s popularity is surging, thanks to its commitments to never collecting personal information or tracking your activity to sell to advertisers. The search engine offers other services like informing the user of what tracking is being blocked, and now has a mobile privacy browser and desktop plugins. Since incorporating in 2008, DuckDuckGo has grown to a global company of 63 employees.</p> <p>As internet privacy has taken the spotlight, Weinberg’s been busy, writing and advocating for federal “do not track” <strong><a href= "https://spreadprivacy.com/do-not-track-act-2019/">legislation</a></strong>, and speaking up in the <strong><a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/19/opinion/facebook-google-privacy.html"> New York Times opinion page</a></strong> and other platforms. He’s also got a new book out that explores the power of mental models he’s relied upon during his career.</p> <p>But Weinberg’s core mission remains: to make it a lot easier for you to use the internet without being creeped on.</p> <h2>The Start of DuckDuckGo</h2> <p>DuckDuckGo is a search engine, but it’s also an internet privacy company that’s out to help you protect yourself online.</p> <p>“We like to say the internet shouldn't feel so creepy, and protecting your information should be as easy as closing the blinds,” Weinberg says.</p> <p>DuckDuckGo offers a variety of tools to help consumers achieve this privacy—and feel confident about it. The company started as a search engine and has since expanded to offer a browser for iOS and Android, along with extensions for desktop browsers.</p> <p>The company is 10 years in the making, but it wasn’t Weinberg’s first internet startup. After graduating from MIT in 2003, he created educational software that supported student achievement by using the internet to connect parents and teachers. Unfortunately, the software was developed about 15 years too early, and it fell flat.</p> <p>Next, Weinberg started a pre-Facebook social network that helped people find old friends and classmates. That fell apart in 2006, and DuckDuckGo followed soon after in 2007. The company incorporated in 2008 and officially launched at the end of that year.</p> <p>So, how has DuckDuckGo competed with giants like Google for over 10 years and lived to tell the tale? It’s a modern day David and Goliath story, although in this case David is growing bigger and stronger every day.</p> <p>Weinberg attributes a lot of DuckDuckGo’s success to his team. As he often tells other entrepreneurs, “If you're going to succeed, you're going to need an amazing team around you.  Work on crafting the values and mission to attract a team... to reach your ambition.”</p> <h2>The Power of Mental Models</h2> <p>Weinberg also credits much of his success to years of dedicated research on mental models, which he’s recently turned into a book with his wife Lauren McCann, <em>Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models.</em></p> <p>“Mental models are concepts ... be a better strategic thinker,” Weinberg says.</p> <p>He encourages people to think of mental models like this: When you first learn arithmetic, you learn addition, then multiplication based on addition. If you didn’t advance to multiplication, you could still combine quantities using addition, but it would take you much, much longer.</p> <p>Mental models operate the same way. “Once you know something, you can think in a higher-order way really quickly,” Weinberg says. On the other hand, if you didn’t have a mental model, you’d have to start from scratch, every time. It’d be more difficult and time-consuming to make good decisions, repeatedly.</p> <p>When he started training the DuckDuckGo executive team, Weinberg realized a significant knowledge gap: His team didn’t recognize more than half the mental models he’d instructed them to learn and use.</p> <p>That’s how Weinberg and McCann, a statistician, came up with <em>Super Thinking</em>—when he realized his current training method was inefficient and no other resource would suffice. Through their research, they also realized that many of the mental models were related.</p> <p>Almost all 300 mental models in the book are existing concepts. Super Thinking simply collects and organizes them into main themes—nine, to be exact. The last two themes are called “Unlocking People's Potential” and “Flex Your Market Power,” and the mental models in these chapters apply to leadership, management, and other business best practices.</p> <p>“People are really different, and if you want to manage effectively, every person requires different characteristics,” he says. That’s why effective managers take the time to understand personality types and strengths, using questionnaires like Myers-Briggs and DiSC.</p> <p>One notable mental model is called Joy’s Law, which tells us that all of the smartest people already work for someone else. “This means that you can’t corral smart people,” Weinberg says. “Instead, if you arrange people in just the right way and give them jobs that fit , they can reach extraordinary success both as teams and individuals.”</p> <p>In their book, Weinberg and McCann explain that Joy’s Law also overlaps with mental models like 10x Teams and Resonant Frequency, the latter coming from physics. “A lot of mental models come from different disciplines,” Weinberg says. “The idea of mental models is to take a multidisciplinary approach—to take the best ideas from all different disciplines and combine them to use them for general strategic thinking.”</p> <p>To understand Resonant Frequency at work, imagine an opera singer breaking a glass by hitting just the right note. “The same happens with people; hitting the right frequency and absorbing energy from the right role and jobs,” Weinberg says.</p> <p>But just as a singer can’t break glass with every note they sing (it’s actually quite rare), a team can't operate at a resonant frequency at all times. So, how do you know when you’ve reached it with your team? You constantly shift around your team and test to see which combination produces the best output.</p> <p>That’s what Weinberg does at DuckDuckGo, where he doesn’t have a traditional management hierarchy. Instead, they’ve divided management responsibilities between positions and operate based on objectives and projects, and the team doesn’t hesitate to shuffle around when needed.</p> <p>”We are constantly moving people around to fit what they're most interested in and best suited for... to achieve these 10X Teams,” Weinberg said.</p> <h2>Gaining Traction for Growth</h2> <p>Weinberg previously authored <em>Traction</em>, which serves as a scientific experimentation approach to marketing. In it, he systematically lists 19 different channels that companies can use to gain traction with their audiences.</p> <p>“My advice is to not leave anything out,” Weinberg says. “It’s often one of the unusual things  might be the thing that actually works.”</p> <p>Over the last 10 years, DuckDuckGo has found that different stages of growth have required different marketing channels. In the early stages of growth, the team used social media, content marketing, and PR, but these channels eventually saw diminishing returns. Since then, the team has transitioned to organic, viral growth and offline word-of-mouth marketing.</p> <p>In the last nine months,DuckDuckGo has succeeded at brand marketing that has also raised market share. “I wrote some long-form articles on Quora on topics like why to use DuckDuckGo vs. Google, how tracking works, how to avoid it, and more,” Weinberg says. “These got such high engagement, more than anything else.”</p> <p>Since publishing the posts, Weinberg and his team have been working to promote that content on platforms like Quora and Reddit. As one of the first native advertisers on Quora, their posts have been promoted to over 150 million people per month.</p> <p>“It’s all about finding bigger audiences and putting content in front of them that's compelling and native to the platform,” Weinberg says. The team has made just seven Quora answers and has been promoting them to 100 million people. It’s not cheap, but it’s working, he says.</p> <p>What is DuckDuckGo’s traction like at this point? Since the DuckDuckGo engine doesn’t track unique users, they can only report on total searches, which is currently at over 1 billion each month. For a company competing in a search engine space that’s dominated by one player, that’s pretty astounding.</p> <p>A top 100 website, the engine is ranked #4 in most countries and #3 in Australia. “Some third party estimates say we’re at 50 million users per month, which would be about 40 million searches per day.”</p> <h2>What’s Next for DuckDuckGo?</h2> <p>How does a search engine that doesn’t track customer data make money?</p> <p>“Search is unique because Google still makes money off search without having to track much ,” Weinberg says. Instead, Google conducts contextual advertising, which displays ads based on what a user is searching (versus behavioral advertising which uses customer data to display ads).</p> <p>DuckDuckGo can do the same contextual advertising without having to track any data. Calculating customer lifetime value (LTV) isn’t as simple, though. “It’s is even more difficult because of the lack of tracking,” Weinberg says.</p> <p>Instead of relying on customer data, the company measures factors like brand awareness and market share. Through national surveys, DuckDuckGo asks users if they're familiar with the brand, how they heard about it, and if they associate it with privacy.</p> <p>Feedback is an important tool at DuckDuckGo. As they’ve expanded their product line, the team conducted primary research on privacy and people who are interested in privacy.</p> <p>“We ran different methodologies, national surveys, user tests, and diary studies,” Weinberg says.</p> <p>DuckDuckGo’s diary studies involved a small group of 12 to 15 people who adopted the product and kept a diary for a period of two weeks. The team would then check during those two weeks to see how the subjects were using, navigating, and feeling about the product.</p> <p>“We found that would use DuckDuckGo but then click off to other websites that can track,” Weinberg says. “They felt unprotected, and we realized search was only part of the solution.”</p> <p>This inspired the company’s latest release, DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser, including extensions for desktop that help block trackers and enforce greater encryption across the internet.</p> <p>“It’s all about encryption and education,” Weinberg says. “We’re trying to simplify privacy.”</p> <p><em>Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Allie Decker</em></p> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>A history of Weinberg’s early startups and side projects</li> <li>The birth of DuckDuckGo and its mission to make the internet less creepy</li> <li>Why Weinberg decided to write a book on mental models, and how he uses them on his own team to build better leaders</li> <li>Why DuckDuckGo eschews traditional management hierarchy</li> <li>The marketing strategies Weinberg used to help DuckDuckGo achieve viral, organic growth</li> <li>An overview of DuckDuckGo’s monetization strategies</li> <li>How DuckDuckGo used diary studies as a methodology to gather insights</li> <li>What’s on the horizon for DuckDuckGo</li> <li>Weinberg’s advice for entrepreneurs who are competing against behemoths in their market</li> </ul>
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258: The Story Behind Game-Changing Travel Brand Away, With Founder Steph Korey
<h2>Selling Luggage and a Lifestyle</h2> <h3>How Steph Korey and Jen Rubio co-founded a luggage company for the modern adventurer that is taking the world by storm.</h3> <p>Jen Rubio called her friend Steph Korey to vent about an irritating, expensive problem that just about any frequent flyer has endured at some point. She had a busted carry-on.</p> <p>Rubio was suffering from suitcase-demolition blues, and Korey wasn’t sure what brands to recommend. So Rubio texted a dozen of their trendiest, travel-savvy friends—the kind of people who would know all the best hotels in Bangkok—but they had no clue where to direct her to buy the perfect suitcase. They were quick to tell her which brands to avoid—sharing similarly frustrating stories of failure—but no one had the answer she was searching for.</p> <p>The search seemed hopeless.</p> <p>A single, action-packed year later, Korey and Rubio shipped the very first piece of Away carry-on luggage.</p> <p>Today, the luggage company that is so much more than a luggage company has sold over a million bags to customers across the world and captured the imagination of a generation known for its desire to chase down experiences instead of possessions.</p> <p>“This business isn’t really about luggage or suitcases at all,” Korey says. “What we’re really creating is a travel brand, and travel has the ability to really impact someone’s life.”</p> <p>With an eye on revolutionizing the luggage industry while leaving the world better than they’d found it, Korey and Rubio designed a bag that is durable, practical, and looks dang good in an Instagram photo.</p> <p>And that was only the beginning.</p> <h4>Charting the Course</h4> <p>In the beginning, Korey wasn’t sure she even wanted to start a business. She just wanted to learn more about the way other people traveled.</p> <p>She and Rubio had become friends while working together at Warby Parker, the online store that home delivers hip eyeglasses at affordable prices, so they knew firsthand the challenges that come with life at a startup.</p> <p>Rather than cannonballing into the deep end, the pair chose to start small and simply follow their curiosity. They decided to create a survey and send it to 50 people in a vast array of demographics, including male and female students, young professionals, established professionals, and retirees, who lived both in the US and abroad.</p> <p>After sharing information about how they traveled, how they packed, and what travel products they used, each person taking the survey was asked to forward it to five of their friends who also came from varied backgrounds.</p> <p>When the survey finished making its rounds, Korey and Rubio had over 800 responses to sift through. The pair was quickly able to start noticing themes, particularly when it came to how the existing luggage industry wasn’t meeting travelers’ needs.</p> <p>The survey results showed that travelers wanted a light piece of carry-on luggage that maximized packing space and still fit in the overhead compartments of airplanes. They also dreamed of a bag that could take a baggage handler’s beating if they decided to check it, including wheels and zippers that wouldn’t fail.</p> <p>Respondents also expressed the need for a place to put dirty, sweaty laundry after trips to the gym, summer walking tours through cities, or perilous mountain climbs. Oh, and they hated traveling with dead cell phones.</p> <p>With these results in mind, Korey and Rubio moved into the next stage of development.</p> <p>Korey says they were still unsure whether they wanted to start a business when they sat down with a group of designers from the fashion, luggage, and industrial design industries. They weren’t even sure when they decided to partner with two industrial designers to transform their findings into a product design.</p> <p>The team had plans for their new carry-on bag in one hand, and plane tickets to Asia—where they planned to meet with dozens of luggage manufacturers—in the other, but were still unsure where this journey would land them.</p> <p>It was only when a family in the manufacturing business told them their radical design could be actualized that it all clicked together. And just like that, the family agreed to manufacture the first 3,000 Away carry-on bags.</p> <p>Well, not quite.</p> <p>“I’m glamorizing this story a little bit,” Korey says. “It’s, in reality, probably a little more along the lines of we begged them to work with us.”</p> <p>Korey and Rubio spent days with the family, attempting to convince them to manufacture the bags. With every new pitch she used to convince the family—that they were about to revolutionize the luggage industry, and their business model was totally unique, and this was a chance to get in on day one with a company that was going to be huge one day—she felt herself becoming more convinced that this was it. It was finally time to start this business.</p> <p>Their manufacturers came around, too.</p> <p>“I’m entirely certain that they didn’t believe any of that,” she says. “Actually, they’ve told us that they didn’t believe any of that, but that we were so sincere and passionate about what we were doing that they just couldn’t turn us down.”</p> <p>Now that the ball was officially rolling, and Away was on the verge of becoming a reality, they had to jump a final, daunting hurdle. They had to find the money.</p> <h4>Gathering Supplies</h4> <p>“Raising any kind of capital is difficult, but raising seed capital is particularly difficult, because you can’t really tell the story of your business metrics at all, because they don’t exist,” Korey says. “You just have to tell the story of your vision and what you’re trying to create, and it really takes a leap of faith from investors.”</p> <p>But she adds that the knowledge she had gathered from her time leading the supply chain at Warby Parker, and Rubio’s experience in the marketing team there, gave them a definite advantage.</p> <p>“That is for sure the only reason that we were able to convince investors to take that leap of faith,” she says. “We knew what we were doing, and we would create something that resonated and that was successful.”</p> <p>In fact, she recommends that all aspiring entrepreneurs invest some time working at a startup.</p> <p>“I think it’s essential that you spend at least a couple years working at a startup first, for two reasons,” she says. “One, find out if you like it! Some people don’t like that chaos. … And then the second reason is it really gives you a sense of context of all the different pieces that go into creating something from nothing.”</p> <p>In the summer of 2015, Korey and Rubio were ready to create something, so they met with more than 20 different investors across the United States over the course of a week.</p> <p>After many failed pitches, and several uncomfortable red-eye flights, the pair met with Forerunner Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that invests primarily in early-stage ecommerce brands.</p> <p>While most of the firms they met with simply didn’t understand what they were trying to do with Away, Korey says that Forerunner was captivated by their vision.</p> <p>“We’re really creating a broader brand and business around inspiring people to live a life of new experiences, and equipping them with all the products they need to make those travel experiences more seamless,” she recalls saying in her pitch.</p> <p>Within the first meeting, Forerunner was on board as a partner. With over $2.5 million raised, it was finally time to make some suitcases.</p> <p>Excited by the prospect of holiday sales, Korey says they set their launch date for November 2015. But as the date drew closer and the production of the first 3,000 suitcases was delayed until February of the following year, they had to get creative.</p> <p>Instead of selling the suitcases during the holiday season, they published a coffee table book called, The Places We Return To and paired it with a gift card for the February release of the first round of suitcases.</p> <p>“It was really one of the first moves we did as a brand really establishing ourselves as first and foremost about travel and not about travel products,” Korey says.</p> <p>In the book, they featured stories and photos of successful chefs, writers, photographers, and other talented professionals. Each person was asked about their favorite place in the entire world, why they loved it, and what they did during their visits.</p> <p>“We ended up with this collection of short stories that were very intimate because it was about people who were so knowledgeable about their favorite place in the world,” Korey says.</p> <p>Those featured in the book helped spread the word about the exciting new travel company, its mission, and the revolutionary new suitcase that was on the way. And the word traveled like a millennial with a break between jobs.</p> <p>Korey says they prepared 2,000 books and gift cards. By Christmas, every one had sold.</p> <h4>Embarking on the Journey</h4> <p>In February 2016, the first ever Away customer (his name is Adam) received his carry-on bag. Three years later, over a million bags in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes have made it across the world in shipping boxes, overhead bins, and car trunks.</p> <p>The ribbed, hard-shelled luggage is becoming more recognizable by the day. By offering their luggage at direct-to-consumer prices, what was once reserved for only the chicest of travelers could now make it to the general public.</p> <p>They take their social impact seriously, as well. Away works with manufacturing companies that have, as they say on their website, “exemplary and thoughtful work environments we would want for our own employees.” The company has also partnered with several charitable organizations, including Peace Direct, Charity: Water, and Kode with Klossy.</p> <p>So what’s next for Away?</p> <p>Korey says the company is currently working to expand across Europe, Asia, Australia and other parts of North America. Taking a page from Warby Parker and other disruptive ecommerce startups, they’ve also launched a brick-and-mortar component to their business with six American storefronts and one in London.</p> <p>And as Away continues to expand, they’ll continue to release new products that support the modern traveler.</p> <p>Korey is excited to see where the company goes next, not merely because she wants the business to flourish, but because she genuinely cares about the needs of Away customers. From the moment Korey and Rubio sent their first survey, they knew that the “why” behind their brand lay directly at the feet of their customers.</p> <p>“You should never start a business because you want to start a business. It’s a terrible reason to do it. It’s going to be a long slog if you’re not really focused on a particular insight or a problem that you’re trying to solve,” she says. “Whether you’re just getting started and you don’t know where to start, or you’ve already gotten started, and you’re trying to figure out the next step, it really starts with deeply understanding the customer.”</p> <p>It starts the way Away did: with a need, an idea, and a customer survey.</p> <p><em>Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo</em></p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How one phone conversation between Korey and Rubio inspired the idea for Away</li> <li>The role data played in cementing the need for better luggage</li> <li>How the data insights were transformed into a product design</li> <li>Why one investor and one manufacturer decided to take a chance on Away</li> <li>How Korey and Rubio made the best of a worst-case scenario during their launch</li> <li>The journey from producing an initial batch of 3,000 units to selling millions</li> <li>Why Korey believes every entrepreneur should work for a startup first</li> <li>What the future expansion of Away looks like</li> <li>Korey’s words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs</li> </ul>
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257: How Ryan Hoover Grew Product Hunt From Humble Email List to Tech Trendsetter
<h2>Hunting for the Next Big Thing:</h2> <h3>How Ryan Hoover established an online home for tech geeks that changed the way makers get inspired, recruit, and launch their products.</h3> <p>When he wasn’t overseeing the gumball machines at his parents’ video game store as a kid or pushing carts at a home improvement store as a teen, Ryan Hoover was tinkering with tech.</p> <p>As personal technology advanced, and new programs and applications exploded, Hoover and his friends were fairly obsessed with whatever was emerging from the Silicon Valley pipeline next. Over the years, however, he found that there was no single outlet that satisfied his cravings to learn about the very latest products and developments.</p> <p>Sure, he avidly scrolled tech Twitter and Reddit threads. But what if, he wondered, there was some kind of a reliable destination where those in the tech field, or otherwise infatuated with its latest offerings, could show up regularly to talk shop—to share and learn about all the latest and greatest in tech?</p> <p>“The initial inspiration was just the desire to explore new technology,” Hoover says.</p> <p>So began a side project that, in just over five years, has become the wildly popular hub for the tech community, Product Hunt. In 2018, more than 1 million registered users and many more unregistered visitors stopped by Hoover’s creation, and over 20,000 products launched on the site. More than just a news site or message board, Product Hunt has evolved into the definitive place for makers to introduce their new projects and learn about what their peers are up to.</p> <p>But this great, big community all began with a simple email list.</p> <h4>Building a Home for the Tech Community</h4> <p>Hoover had been working in a product management position at growing startup PlayHaven, where he was employee #10. He values his time spent at the company, especially lessons learned about management. But at the time, he had only been out of college a couple of years, and was eager to try hs hand at something new, so Hoover moved into a part-time role to explore new projects.</p> <p>Going part-time gave him the space in his schedule that he needed to pursue something of his own. He’d been mulling over the idea of Product Hunt, and the time had finally come to make it a reality.</p> <p>It began as a simple email newsletter between friends sharing the latest tech product releases and mind-blowing apps they stumbled across. But soon, friends of friends and friends twice removed were added to the list.</p> <p>Before long, Hoover was managing an email list that included far more strangers than friends from all around the globe. He decided to bring his friend Nathan Bashaw on board to build a website, giving Product Hunt a home online, and the community continued to flourish.</p> <p>“We sort of filled this hole I think, in the market that no one really observed or noticed,” he says. “We do have Twitter, and we have subreddits around technology, and we have blogs and publications talking about new tech, but there is really no home for the tech community to talk about the latest products.”</p> <p>With a brand new website, Hoover planned to turn it into that home.</p> <p>But in order to host meaningful conversation, he knew he had to engage users with something other social platforms weren’t offering. Hoover says he intentionally focused on positive community building from day one by sending personalized welcome emails to each new user who joined Product Hunt.</p> <p>“As proud as I am of what we’ve built on the product and technical side, that’s not what’s going to make us successful or make us special and unique,” he says. “It’s really the people and the brand that we’ve built.”</p> <p>But the site membership ballooned rapidly, not only exceeding his ability to email each new visitor, but also evolving into much more than just a side project or an email list.</p> <p>Product Hunt grew to fill an important hole, helping entrepreneurs face a daunting task that so many in the tech space must take on at some point: product launch.</p> <h4>Reinventing Launch Day</h4> <p>Hoover noticed that traditional media outlets were the primary way that creators would get the word out about new products, but even tech publications weren’t particularly suited to support a launch. It’s also hard work to land coverage.</p> <p>“Historically, to get your first users, to get the word out, a lot of people would go to the press to do so,” he says. “They would have to have a relationship in many ways or get lucky cold emailing reporters and hoping that they’d get somebody to write about their company.”</p> <p>And when launch day is imminent, few creators even have the time to dedicate to those pitches.</p> <p>On Product Hunt, tech creators can share their new products in detail, build a following before launch day, and advertise to groups of people who are most interested. Makers, founders, and startups soon flocked to the website, eager to share their newest releases, and the community responded with upvotes galore.</p> <p>Even visitors to the site who had not yet built products of their own could find incredible value on Product Hunt, Hoover says. He points out that the site is full of inspiration for future makers, and is just a great way to pass an afternoon.</p> <p>“I like to think that it’s like a productive procrastination,” he says. “Instead of looking at maybe cat photos or memes on the internet, at least you’re spending time exploring what people are building.”</p> <p>And maybe gathering ideas for “the next big thing.”</p> <p>Comparing it to an afternoon in a museum for an artist or a visit to a music venue for a songwriter, Hoover says that a scroll through Product Hunt can trigger fresh ideas and show up-and-comers new ways to approach tech.</p> <p>“I think if you’re someone who’s excited to build a company in the future or if you’re a product manager, or whatever your role is, I think there’s a lot of value in searching for inspiration,” he says.</p> <p>As traction grew, so did their reach, and before long, San Francisco-based Hoover noticed that over 50 percent of Product Hunt’s audience was international.</p> <p>“It’s cool in that sense because it’s not just a reflection of Silicon Valley technology,” he says. “It’s a reflection of the world and the technology that’s being created all over the place.”</p> <p>Hoover had a successful brand on his hands. All he had to do was figure out what’s next.</p> <h4>Planning for the Future</h4> <p>In 2016, three years after Product Hunt launched, Hoover and his team mulled over whether they should begin another round of funding or pursue acquisition. Unsure which way to go, they decide to take the first steps down both paths, and then go with the one that had a more natural fit.</p> <p>Because community was such an important aspect of the business, both internally and externally, Hoover wanted to ensure that, if they did pursue acquisition, the companies would have complementary cultures.</p> <p>“That’s where a lot of acquisitions can go sour,” he says. “There can be a wildly different culture or vision for the company, and if that’s not aligned then it’s probably not going to work out long term.”</p> <p>During the company’s first two rounds of funding two years earlier, Naval Ravikant, the CEO and co-founder of AngelList, had invested in the company. He already understood what Product Hunt was all about and appreciated the work they were doing, so when he approached Hoover with an acquisition proposal, Hoover realized that this was the natural fit he had been waiting for.</p> <p>While he acknowledges that the AngelList culture isn’t a clone of the culture that exists within Product Hunt, he feels that they weave together into a perfect fit.</p> <p>“It’s sort of like when you hire a teammate,” he says. “You don’t want them to be just like you. Ideally, they have a similar belief and mission as yourself but also have different skills and different areas of focus. That’s kind of how I think of AngelList and Product Hunt.”</p> <p>Both companies have similar passions for tech and supporting founders, while AngelList focuses on engineering and Product Hunt approaches those passions from the angle of community building, Hoover says.</p> <p>Nearly three years have passed since the acquisition, and Hoover feels things are going well. Product Hunt continues to operate mostly independently, and has employees across 10 countries, all communicating via Slack. And the platform has continued to evolve.</p> <p>Today, creators in the tech space can advertise jobs, promote events, and launch new products with ease. They can also promote an upcoming product launch through the tool Ship, a three-in-one toolkit where makers can create landing pages, build email lists, and send out surveys without bouncing between platforms.</p> <p>As the world of tech continues to expand, Hoover sees a future of continued growth and ever-increasing user engagement for Product Hunt, particularly this year, as they direct their primary focus toward increasing users and community contributions.</p> <p>No doubt, as technology continues to advance far beyond anything we can imagine, Product Hunt will be there, ever inviting users to discover their next favorite thing.</p> <p><em>Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo</em></p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Hoover’s insatiable curiosity about new products planted the seed for Product Hunt</li> <li>The evolution of Product Hunt from small email list to flourishing online community</li> <li>Why Hoover focused on building its brand and community from day one</li> <li>How Product Hunt reinvented “launch day” for entrepreneurs</li> <li>What Hoover believes is the most important thing to look for during an acquisition</li> <li>What inspired the Product Hunt team to build tools for its community members</li> <li>The three KPIs Product Hunt is focused on in the near future</li> <li>Hoover’s most valuable advice to entrepreneurs who are thinking of building a product</li> </ul>
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256: How The Meet Group CEO Geoff Cook Built An Empire Based on Human Connections
<h2>A Digital Meet Cute </h2> <h3>How Geoff Cook linked up dating apps and live-streamed video to form a happy and profitable relationship.</h3> <p>Geoff Cook has built a small empire of successful meeting and dating apps—beginning long before anyone ever swiped right on Tinder—by following a philosophy of fearlessly trying new things. </p> <p>“Ten years from now, what will I have regretted—losing half a million dollars or not having done the thing that I wanted?”</p> <p>Of course, the fact that he has a half a million dollars to lose in the first place should be some indication that a lot of those risks have paid off. Thanks to a series of auspicious business decisions, starting with a profitable essay and resume editing business he launched as a sophomore at Harvard, Cook is living proof that experimentation lies at the heart of a successful startup career.</p> <p>While his fellow Harvard-attendee Mark Zuckerberg was busy refining Facebook, Cook launched his own spin on a social media platform. Rather than focusing on adding friends that users already knew in real life, his platform would be geared toward meeting entirely new people. So myYearbook was born.</p> <p>Today, myYearbook has evolved, changed hands, and expanded to encompass a whole collection of meeting and dating apps, all housed under The Meet Group, where Cook serves as CEO.</p> <p>“I tend to be a tinkerer,” he says. “I’ll push forward an idea even if it seems strange, just because it’s an itch and just keep moving the ball forward. Sometimes, opportunities fall out of that, and sometimes you just lose a lot of money. But it’s an itch I had to scratch.”</p> <p>In this instance, Cook’s itch proved to be so much more.</p> <p>Extracurricular Activities </p> <p>Cook started his first business in 1997 when, while still writing college essays of his own, he decided to put his economics classes to work and start a small side hustle editing his classmates’ papers and resumes.</p> <p>But in astoundingly short order, EssayEdge and ResumeEdge had scaled to millions in revenue, and the Thomson Corporation was knocking at his door with an acquisition offer.</p> <p>So Cook sold his first business in 2002, and just like that, he had the seed money to begin his first post-grad venture. But it wasn’t until he was in his mid-20s, when the social media era had just begun, that the light bulb flicked on.</p> <p>“The thought was that there needs to be a place to connect to people you don’t know,” he says. “It seemed both MySpace and Facebook were heavy into connecting to your real life friends.”</p> <p>Teaming up with his brother and sister, who were both still in high school, he created a social network designed to introduce rather than deepen existing friendships. Using games and his search algorithm, making new connections was simple.</p> <p>All they needed now were users. Luckily, the Cooks had the perfect in.</p> <p>At Montgomery High School in Skillman, NJ, where both of the younger co-founders were still in school, myYearbook rolled out in 2005. In the first two weeks, there were hundreds of users. Within nine months, there were over a million.</p> <p>But the road to a million required some clever maneuvering.</p> <p>“I think we built a pretty good mousetrap in the beginning, but we had nobody in it,” he says, laughing. “What really helped it take off was…we were able to create this great quiz app that ended up getting millions of users every month.”</p> <p>Reminiscent of today’s Buzzfeed quizzes, users would take a quiz to determine what Seinfeld character they were most similar to. They would then share their results on their MySpace profile, and when a friend—intrigued to learn whether they were an Elaine or a Kramer—clicked on the link, it whisked them away to myYearbook where they were invited to register.</p> <p>“Quizzes are a very high-uniques business,” Cook says. “You get a lot of uniques, but you get very few page views per unique, because you only basically need to see the quiz and the quiz result. So we turned that business from two page views per user to closer to two or three hundred, because we brought them into a very social experience.”</p> <p>Once the former MySpace users began chatting with the new people they met through myYearbook, the platform blossomed.</p> <p>“That was when we were basically off to the races,” Cook says.</p> <p>But unfortunately, “the races” had an expensive entry fee.</p> <p>‘The Servers Were Melting’ </p> <p>“We had to raise some money,” Cook says. “The servers were melting. The traffic was growing. The expenses were going up.”</p> <p>So, in 2006, to keep their rapidly growing platform afloat, Cook and crew decided to begin their first round of funding. The success of this venture round left them with enough money to put a team and an office together.</p> <p>The social media website continued to flourish, and in 2008, they began a Series B round of funding that enabled them to raise $12.8 million just before the financial crisis laid waste to the economic landscape. </p> <p>Grateful for their luck, but tired of raising capital, they vowed that this second round of funding would be their last, which meant only one thing: it was time to monetize. Luckily, Cook had a rapt audience at his disposal.</p> <p>“I’m of the belief that if you can amass a big enough audience…you can monetize it,” he says, “especially if it’s an engaged audience that’s spending 10 or 20 or 30 minutes a day with you.”</p> <p>In 2011, revenue was up to around $25 million to $30 million, and Cook was thinking long term. What was next for his company?</p> <p>When he was introduced to Quepasa—a company similar to myYearbook but for South America, and the first publicly traded social network—he knew he’d found a fit. The two companies merged, transforming myYearbook into a publicly traded company, and Cook thought the time had come to rename the company, as well.</p> <p>“We were always a social network for meeting new people, but the name [myYearbook] to people who didn’t know that made people think of Classmates.com,” he says. “It was not really what we were about, so we changed the name to Meet Me.”</p> <p>As part of the merger, Cook stepped into the role of COO with the intention that he would soon move back into the CEO role. In 2013, he made his return as CEO of the company, a position he has held since.</p> <p>When asked how the job of CEO at a private, venture capital-funded company differed from that of a publicly traded company, he says that the two roles are far more similar than they are different.</p> <p>In a privately owned, venture-backed company, he says, the CEO answers to several large investors who are knowledgeable about the industry and who demand growth. It’s the same for a CEO whose company goes public, he says. There are just a whole lot more investors to keep happy.</p> <p>Cook says it can be difficult to know when the time has come to take a company public, but he did offer some insight for founders.</p> <p>“I think the best time to be public would be when you have a lot of insight into your future revenues and profits,” he says. “One of the key differences of a public versus private company is that…you offer some guidance for the year—or even long-term guidance—on how the business is going to go, and then you’re measured to a quarterly yardstick on that.”</p> <p>Without a degree of foresight, he says that going public would be an extremely difficult task.</p> <p>“If you don’t have enough insight into your business to know your revenues except within a very wide range, or to know your profits except within a very wide range, that’s probably not the best candidate to be public,” he says. “You’re just setting yourself up to have some very bad quarters.</p> <p>In other words, the key is predictability. But he reminds business owners that even the most predictable companies can present a challenge.</p> <p>“You’re never gonna know everything, and there’ll always be some surprises, because things happen,” he says.</p> <p>But despite the added pressures and challenges, Cook insists that there are many advantages to being publicly traded.</p> <p>“There’s definitely pros and cons of being public,” he says, “but I would say we’ve had more pro than con.”</p> <p>And the primary advantage of going public for Cook was a clear path toward acquiring other companies. </p> <p>Forming the Group </p> <p>Not long after myYearbook became Meet Me, the business was renamed The Meet Group, the moniker it’s known by today. Because the business encompassed more than a single app, the name change was apt, and it only became more appropriate as the years passed.</p> <p>In late 2016, The Meet Group acquired Skout, a meet-up app that was approaching its 10th birthday. Then in 2017, they acquired Tagged, the San Francisco-based meeting app with high engagement in the African-American community, and Lovoo, a European dating app. And this year, The Meet Group also acquired GROWLr, a dating app geared toward the gay community.</p> <p>But Cook says all of these acquisitions stemmed from a strategy inspired by one popular Chinese dating app. The company decided to start building a live-streaming video product after seeing its success at a Chinese dating platform called Momo. </p> <p>Cook felt the app was somewhat similar to Meet Me, and when Momo added live streaming, he says that about 90 percent of Momo’s revenue was a result of that service. The Meet Group wanted to give it a try.</p> <p>“We were also kind of clear-eyed enough to know that building a live-streaming business is a big commitment,” Cook says. “It’s essentially kind of an all-in sort of company bet.”</p> <p>It was the kind of bet Cook was comfortable making. So they dove in headfirst and got to work building up the infrastructure, talent, and moderation capabilities they would need to execute their plan. And it paid off in tens of millions. Cook says that their annualized live video revenue grew from $0 to $82 million in just 16 months. This became the inspiration behind their acquisition of meeting and dating apps—to integrate video and watch as revenues skyrocketed.</p> <p>“If we believed in our story enough to make that bet, well, then we could make that bet again and again,” he says. “There’s no reason not to double down, triple down, quadruple down on it.”</p> <p>As they acquired social apps and fitted live-streamed video into them, they noticed that the engagement on those apps markedly increased.</p> <p>“In meeting- and dating- and chat-oriented communities, there’s often periods of time where you just don’t have any inbound chats,” he says. “So, it’s kind of boring.”</p> <p>But rather than exiting the app, the users of the video-fitted apps can simply hop into the tab labeled “Live” during those gaps.</p> <p>“Our users are coming to us for human connection,” he says. “Meeting new people is kind of all about that. Interactive live video is actually human connection, right?”</p> <p>Cook says that around 20 percent of their users visit the live streaming sections of the apps each day and that those users, on average, spend 20 minutes more a day on the app. Users can watch popular streamers, send them comments and witness their reactions. They can also buy and send digital gifts to the streamer.</p> <p>“They do this because they want the attention of the streamer,” he says. “It’s almost like buying someone a drink at the bar. You don’t have to, but if you want a better shot, you maybe should.”</p> <p>Cook is pleased with the success The Meet Group has found by incorporating live streaming into the apps—but he still has his eyes on Momo. Thirty percent of the Chinese app’s users visit the live section daily, a goal that Cook wants to push toward.</p> <p>He also wants to continue pushing the boundaries of live video and sees one-on-one live video and various video dating experiences in the company’s future.</p> <p>As the social media landscape continues to coalesce around a select few apps, this self-proclaimed tinkerer believes that the unique nature of his business will allow it to keep flourishing.</p> <p>After all, as long as there are people searching for connection, there will always be a need to meet someone new.</p> <p>Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Erica Comitalo</p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Cook’s resume editing side hustle at Harvard eventually led to an acquisition offer</li> <li>Why Cook decided to take a different route from MySpace and Facebook</li> <li>The surprising tactic that led to myYearbook surpassing a million users in nine months</li> <li>How Cook approached the funding and monetization of myYearbook</li> <li>The road to becoming a publicly traded company and the lessons learned</li> <li>How The Meet Group was born</li> <li>Why an investment in the live-streaming business changed the game</li> <li>What Cook has his eyes on for the future of The Meet Group</li> </ul>
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255: How Jim’s Group CEO Jim Penman Went From Mowing Lawns to Being a Household Name in Australia
<p>Great service is hard to come by. This eternal problem is what Jim Penman set out to solve when he started his part-time lawn-mowing business—and even though his business has since grown into a multimillion-dollar enterprise known as Jim’s Group, it’s still the core focus.</p> <p>Jim’s Group was an unintentional empire, started by an aspiring academic back in the 1980s. Today, Penman’s company has almost 4,000 franchisees that provide over 50 services around the world. As a result, Jim’s Group has become a household name in Australia for all things home services.</p> <p>Here’s how Penman grew his business from a humble mowing service to the largest franchise in Australia.</p> <h3>The Unintentional Founding of Jim’s Group</h3> <p>In the 1970s, Jim Penman was pursuing his Ph.D. in history at Latrobe University in hopes of joining academia. His plans changed, however, when he graduated in 1982 and realized he had little to no chance of working in academia: “My ideas were far too wild.”</p> <p>At the time, Penman also happened to be operating a part-time lawnmowing business, as he made his way through the grueling grad school years. This turned into a full-time gig upon graduation. “It was something to do until my real business came along.”</p> <p>Or so he thought. While he waited for his real life to kick in, Penman was excelling at his temporary one. He had a passion for making customers happy, which made it easy for him to attract and keep regular clients. “It was the biggest thing I had going for me,” he says. He also found success building and selling ramps (for transporting mowing equipment onto raised beds or platforms) to his customers.</p> <p>As his business grew, he tried employing subcontractors, but he couldn’t find people who matched his quality of service. Then in 1986, necessity forced him to evolve.</p> <p>Major competitor V.I.P. Home Services came to town. This was a turning point for Penman. “I simply franchised in self-defense,” he says. “Otherwise, they’d swallow me whole.”</p> <p>For those unfamiliar, franchising allows other entities to use your company’s name, trademark, business strategies, and so on in order to share essentially the same products and/or services offered by the franchisor. Franchisees typically pay a licensing fee and a percentage of sales revenue to their franchisors. It’s an effective way to quickly expand a business without massive financial investment.</p> <p>Penman started with about a dozen franchisees, most of whom were previous customers. But even as Penman expanded his business, his focus still remained on the short term. He truly had no idea his business would grow to where it is today.</p> <p>“When people asked me how I thought might go, I said, ‘If it's really successful, one day I could have as many as 100 franchisees,’” Penman says, laughing. “That was my reach goal. Now, I have just under 4,000.”</p> <h3>Franchising Jim’s Group to 4,000 Strong</h3> <p>When Penman was a contractor, he had one simple idea: He wanted to make customers into raving fans. “I wanted customers to be so delighted that they’d recommend me and use me forever.”</p> <p>That was the core concept of Penman’s business, and when he franchised, he had the same concept for his franchisees.</p> <p>With that in mind, he developed a contract that would catch the eye of any prospective franchisee. His goal was to make it so enticing that potential owners would be “mad not to join the system.” Penman even got ahold of a competitor’s contract to better understand how he could make his more favorable.</p> <p>For example, he promised his franchisees that he wouldn’t take regular clients from his franchisees without their consent (unless a customer complained). He promised territory rights—meaning he couldn’t give any client in their area to anyone else, but they could take work wherever they wanted. Penman also promised an automatic right to renew.</p> <p>“This was all really strange stuff,” Penman says. “One reason it took nine months to get the contract done was because the lawyers kept arguing with me.”</p> <p>They thought he was being way too nice and that the contract was unreasonable and extreme. They encouraged him to “soften it down,” but over time, he actually provided his franchisees more rights. These included the right to move to another regional franchisor, to walk away from the franchise for a small exit fee, and to vote out their franchisor.</p> <p>At every stage, Penman put his franchisees first. In his opinion, the secret to looking after your customers is having a great staff. The same thing applies to great franchisees—you make them the actual first priority.</p> <p>“There’s nothing particularly clever about what has done,” he says. “It’s more how we do it that matters. The way we treat our franchisees, how we maintain quality, how we make sure they're looked after, that they're happy…that's the innovative part of the system.”</p> <p>As you can imagine, Penman’s franchisee selection process is quite rigorous. With such a favorable franchising package, many people apply, but few are chosen.</p> <p>“We are very selective,” he said. “Unless I’m convinced they’ll succeed, I don’t accept them.”</p> <p>When interviewing franchisees, Penman looks for a handful of key attributes: Good character, a concern for customers, reliability, and basic decency. He takes each interviewee on test drives to watch them perform their service. He also never accepts anyone who is not putting up their investment money themselves.</p> <p>“To run a successful cleaning or mowing, you don't have to be a genius,” Penman said. “You have to be somebody with good character.”</p> <h3>Expanding the Jim’s Group Services</h3> <p>In the first few years of his business, Penman didn’t just expand through franchising. He also began adding different service divisions.</p> <p>With a successful mowing system in place, Penman considered how he might apply his approach to other services, such as cleaning. He created a separate cleaning brand called SunLite and sold a couple of franchises. That avenue failed completely.</p> <p>Penman liked the idea of expanding under the Jim’s Group name, but he didn’t think it’d be successful, because the brand image was so vastly different. Who’d hire a cleaning service with a brand image of gardening and mowing?</p> <p>Well, a lot of people did. Penman added a cleaning division to Jim’s Group and found that the familiar brand name actually helped grow his new business.</p> <p>Penman continued expanding under the Jim’s Group brand to include services such as dog washing, computer services, bookkeeping, and roof repair. Today’s Jim’s Group has 52 divisions, and the company cross-sells through a client newsletter with about 500,000 recipients.</p> <p>“The brand just works far beyond what you think it would,” Penman says.</p> <p>When asked about how he manages such a wide variety of services, he says, “There’s no real difference between mowing and cleaning and dog washing. The basic issue is the same: Follow up on a lead, respond quickly, turn up on time, provide a reasonable quote, and satisfy the customer.”</p> <p>To Penman, it doesn’t matter what the service is. His goal is getting everyone to do provide consistent, high-quality service.</p> <p>Still, Penman is always making tweaks to Jim’s Group to constantly improve that service. For example, Jim’s initially offered a flat rate fee system to its franchisees. Over time, Penman learned that franchisees weren’t always following up on leads. In fact, a survey found that 25 percent of client leads never received a follow up. Penman changed the fee system to reflect a lower base fee and a separate charge per lead. After that, the number of leads not being followed up on dropped to just 3 percent.</p> <p>Penman also made recent changes to the Jim’s Group complaint system. In the pre-franchise days, Penman would see approximately 100 complaints for every 100 leads. After franchising, that number dropped to about five complaints.</p> <p>However, Penman wasn’t satisfied with 5 percent. To fix the issue, he went to his regional franchisors, who manually receive these complaints. The team decided that every time a complaint comes in, the franchisor would alert Penman and the respective franchisee. Then, the franchisor would call the franchisee to better understand what happened and how to solve it.</p> <p>Today, Jim’s Group has an automated complaint system. If a franchisee gets six complaints within six months, they receive a warning letter. Another six, and the franchisee has to attend retraining. They’re now down to just 1 percent, and working to cut that at least in half.</p> <p>In a world full of new ideas, how does Penman stay focused on Jim’s Group? “You might think we do 50 different things, but as a national franchisor, I do one thing: I provide a service. Jim’s Group is a very focused and limited company.”</p> <p>With almost 4,000 franchisees, it’s even easier to provide global services. Today, the company also benefits from a much more sophisticated software and a wide variety of resources for franchisees.</p> <h2>Beyond Jim’s Group</h2> <p>While Penman continues to expand Jim’s Group, he never forgot his original passion: research. The only difference now is that he can afford to really pursue it.</p> <p>Until his academic career stalled, Penman never considered becoming wealthy. “I've never been that interested in money,” he laughed. “I'm notoriously stingy. I go around the house and office turning lights off.”</p> <p>But now he’s able to use the success of his company as a vehicle for funding, so he can dedicate more time and resources into continuing his research on the epigenetics of social behavior. He believes this could help in the treatment of mental illness and addictive disorders.</p> <h3>Valuable Advice to Franchisors</h3> <p>In Penman’s opinion, many people have a misleading idea of business. They think they must have a breakthrough or a big idea to be successful.</p> <p>“It's not the brilliant ideas,” he said. “It's thousands of little ideas. Every day I say, ‘How can I do this better?’”</p> <p>Penman encourages anyone who wants to grow to focus on yourself before considering franchising. “If you don't do it well, there’s no point in franchising, because you don't have anything to teach anyone else.”</p> <p>He encourages entrepreneurs to build a brilliant business, then, master a working model that you constantly change to make better.</p> <p>Penman also believes in a people-first mindset, instead of money first. He encourages people to ask themselves: What's the long-term interest of the people I'm dealing with? How can I make my customers and franchisees into raving fans?</p> <p>“Every day, I’m asking myself the same question,” Penman says.</p> <p>Finally, he recommends keeping in touch with the grassroots. Every single franchisee has Penman’s personal number and email. “I get multiple contacts a day,” he says. “I’m always listening to what's going on. I also read through most complaints.”</p> <p>After all, it's the thousands of little things that count.</p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Penman’s journey from being an aspiring academic to unintentionally starting Jim’s Group</li> <li>Why the arrival of a competitor pushed Penman to franchise his brand</li> <li>The importance of running a customer-centric business</li> <li>Why lawyers were not fans of Jim’s Group’s franchisee contract</li> <li>The reason Jim’s Group started to expand to different service divisions</li> <li>How Penman’s success as an entrepreneur helped him circle back to his original passion</li> <li>Penman’s most valuable advice to aspiring franchisors</li> </ul> <h2 id="h.hhcjh3i0zp3y"> </h2>
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254: A Behind-The-Scenes Look at How Foundr CEO Nathan Chan Built A Global Brand
<p>Success doesn’t happen overnight.</p> <p>This is something Foundr CEO Nathan Chan knows all too well. Before he started his business, Nathan was in a common predicament: he hated his job and he had no idea what career path to take. It took many steps to plant the seed that eventually became Foundr.</p> <p>Even then, it wasn’t an easy path forward. He stayed in his job long after starting Foundr, and at one point, Nathan even launched a webinar from his parents’ basement. There was no magic involved—only hard work, strategic decisions, and many lessons learned.</p> <p>In this video interview, Dave Hobson, our Head of Growth and Marketing and one of the first to join the Foundr team, has a raw conversation with Nathan about his journey to building a global brand. Nathan opens up about what it took to get Foundr off the ground, shares the key takeaways he picked up along the way, and reveals the nitty gritty details around how he turned a webinar presentation he hacked together into a multimillion-dollar product.</p> <p>This episode is chock-full of sage advice, life lessons, and even an embarrassing story or two from our CEO’s humble beginnings that you’ll definitely want to hear.</p> <h2 id="h.lm1580bynr3a">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Nathan went from working at an IT job he hated to launching a digital magazine</li> <li>The steps Nathan followed to turn a webinar presentation to a multimillion-dollar digital product</li> <li>How falling into the trap of seeking perfection will prevent you from reaching your goals</li> <li>The difference between “painkiller” and “vitamin” products</li> <li>Why it’s so critical to build an audience and test your ideas first</li> <li>How to use concepts like “a thousand true fans” and the “Oprah strategy” to create a successful business</li> </ul>
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253: How Refinery29 Defied Critics and Became a Digital Media Pioneer, With Co-Founders Christene Barberich and Piera Gelardi
<p>“I think about how little we knew, but how—I believe—how courageous we were,” says Christene Barberich, reflecting on the early days of Refinery29.</p> <div> <p>Before she and co-founder Piera Gelardi were the women at the helm of one of the fastest-growing digital media companies in the world, they were new entrepreneurs working tirelessly on a vision (<strong><a href= "https://www.google.com/url?q=https://foundr.com/refinery29-philippe-von-borries-justin-stefano&sa=D&ust=1559164635703000&usg=AFQjCNEEu1uJyak-4qCtc-7DR0hsEP7jCw">first sketched on a napkin</a></strong>) that outsiders failed to understand.</p> </div> <p>The Refinery29 founding team formed in 2004, and in those early days (before Twitter had even launched), people struggled to grasp even the concept of digital media. The co-founders’ pitches were met with skepticism.</p> <p>“We would go talk to people, and they would act like we were trying to sell them a carpet or something,” Gelardi says. “They thought it was a scam.”</p> <p>Potential advertisers and brand partners also didn’t think customers would ever want to buy something online. “I just remember thinking, like, ‘I don’t think that’s true,’” Barberich says.</p> <p>That skepticism gave them an advantage, though: It gave Refinery29 the freedom to operate and experiment without the pressure of competition.</p> <p>Today, Refinery29 has an international audience of 550 million and has earned multiple distinctions, including Webby awards and <em>Inc.</em> 500 list mentions.</p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How the two met and influenced each other’s decision to go all in on Refinery29</li> <li>The early days at Refinery29 when wireframes were hand-drawn</li> <li>The freedom of operating under the radar when digital media was still the Wild West</li> <li>The critics who doubted the business model and thought it was a scam</li> <li>What they lose sleep over</li> <li>How they approach content creation</li> <li>What they look for when hiring</li> <li>The advice they would give to entrepreneurs who want to use content to grow their businesses</li> <li>How they define quality content</li> </ul>
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252: The Refinery29 Story—From Bar Napkin Sketch to Media Empire, with Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano
<h2>Media, Refined</h2> <h3>How four founders turned a sketch on a cocktail napkin into an iconic digital media brand.</h3> <p>One night in 2004, in a bar in New York City, three ambitious entrepreneurs huddled around a cocktail napkin and sketched out a vision.</p> <p>They essentially wanted to translate the concept of the mall for the internet, only instead of catering to big name brands and retailers, it would connect visitors to all of the amazing independent brands and makers that were flourishing at the time.</p> <p>That initial sketch—it started as a picture of a virtual mall—has evolved a lot since that night, and the team solidified around four dedicated co-founders. But 15 years later, the dream of Justin Stefano, Philippe von Borries, Christene Barberich, and Piera Gelardi has become a reality, and so much more, in the form of now-iconic digital media company Refinery29.</p> <p>“One of my biggest regrets to date is that we didn’t save the napkin,” Stefano says.</p> <div><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UrBxqVfQz0o" width= "560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen= "allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>Since they set out on that journey, the team has created an online space where media targeted toward women is distilled, removing the impurities of stereotypes, taboos, and shame. Initially focused on fashion and style, Refinery29 has since expanded to a staggering breadth of content.</p> <p>Covering almost every topic imaginable—from skin care to the latest in immigration legislation—Refinery29 is a comprehensive digital media company dedicated to elevating women’s voices. It’s built an international audience of more than 550 million across all its platforms, which include all major social media, a YouTube channel with nearly 2 million subscribers, an award-winning podcast in its fourth season, a short film series, an app, and more.</p> <p>But Stefano and von Borries, the two who initially had the idea for Refinery29, didn’t come from a background in publishing or fashion. In fact, as you may have noticed, they aren’t even women. But they saw a need, set out to meet it, and connected with the right partners to realize their vision and help it evolve.</p> <h3>Refiners Assemble</h3> <p>In the early 2000s, Stefano and von Borries were just a couple of friends from high school, who had recently graduated from NYU and Columbia, respectively, and were embarking on their first post-grad endeavors.</p> <p>Von Borries headed off to Washington, D.C., to work for a political startup called The Globalist, and Stefano took a position with the Civilian Complaint Review Board in New York City, where he investigated complaints against the NYPD.</p> <p>Despite the distance, the duo stayed close, and maintained a group of friends who were mostly in the creative space. They began to notice a frequently recurring topic of conversation among the group: dissatisfaction with media coverage, especially when it came to fashion.</p> <p>“Most of the media companies that existed, most of the magazine businesses, were fairly mainstream,” Stefano says. “They would write about big designers that bought pages in their magazines. That’s how the model worked.”</p> <p>Stefano and von Borries found that many of their friends still read these magazines, but not because they felt particularly connected to the content.</p> <p>“They didn’t think it was good. They didn’t think it was interesting,” Stefano says. “It was just what they were forced to read, because that’s what you could buy at a newsstand.”</p> <p>Their friends hungered for something with a more independent edge and authenticity, but couldn’t find it anywhere.</p> <p>So the pair had the spark of an idea: What if they created something that appealed to young New Yorkers by focusing on serving their audience rather than on serving big companies and brands. But with no experience in publishing or fashion, they knew they needed to call in reinforcements.</p> <p>At the time, Piera Gelardi was dating von Borries (they went on to get married), who worked as the photo director at CITY Magazine. When von Borries shared their idea and asked for her advice, she encouraged him to reach out to her former boss and mentor at CITY, Christene Barberich. Her knowledge of fashion and brands, as well as the world of publishing, would prove invaluable to the pair.</p> <p>Barberich says that she was already paying close attention to the transformation happening in the media landscape. She noticed that with the rise of the internet, the one-way nature of traditional publications, with outlets talking at their audiences instead of with them, was slowly being set aside in favor of platforms offering more conversational approaches.</p> <p>So when von Borries and Stefano shared their idea, she had a gut feeling that they were on to something big.</p> <p>She immediately reached out to Gelardi and told her that she didn’t just want to consult. She wanted to become a partner in the endeavor. Barberich’s infectious excitement for the project then made Gelardi reevaluate her own position as a consultant.</p> <p>“Because she wanted to sign up, it showed me that bigger vision and also reminded me to think about my own value in the equation,” Gelardi says. “Now we have four co-founders.”</p> <h3>Building the Brand</h3> <p>With the team assembled, the quartet was anxious to get their vision off the ground as quickly as possible.</p> <p>But all four of them still had day jobs, so much to learn, and very little money to put toward the project. They met in a coffee shop every night after work and on every weekend as they powered toward their goal.</p> <p>“It just became an obsession until we got it live,” Stefano says.</p> <p>They called in all kinds of favors with friends who were programmers, engineers, and graphic designers, and built the first iteration of Refinery29 over a period of six months.</p> <p>“It felt like forever,” Stefano says. “That six-month period, I think it felt years of work went into that.”</p> <p>But in June 2005, the wait was finally over, and the team celebrated the launch of Refinery29 at a bar called Union Pool over pizza and beers. Looking back at nearly a decade and a half and several waves of changes since, the founders are still proud of the original website they launched that day.</p> <p>“When you look back at the first iteration of Refinery29, it just really, deeply warms my heart, because I think it’s still beautiful,” Barberich says.</p> <p>While the website received some fanfare on launch day, growth was a slow, gradual process, and they struggled to be taken seriously, especially by traditional media outlets.</p> <p>“Most of the traditional publishers saw digital as a phase,” Gelardi says. “It’s so laughable now, but truly we would go talk to people, and they would act like we were trying to sell them a carpet or something. They thought it was a scam.”</p> <p>Challenges aside, the untested nature of their business model was also a blessing in disguise.</p> <p>“I think we were able to really pioneer this new space because it was, you know, an open road,” Gelardi says.</p> <p>Barberich agrees. “When you start out and you really are at the beginning of something, you have so much freedom to just test things,” she says. “I do credit that period—the first two years when we were essentially flying under the radar—as this really important testing ground for us.”</p> <p>They gradually tried out new content, such as a segment called “Neighborhood Watch,” in which local creatives shared fun activities and events they loved, and “Spotlight,” a section featuring products by homegrown, independent makers.</p> <p>“The products that we would feature would sell out overnight,” von Borries says. “That was the first time that something we had created had really been validated. So we started to look into commerce.”</p> <p>In early 2006, they decided to raise capital for the first time to fund a marketplace on their website, and in 2006, it launched, taking Refinery29 into its next phase.</p> <p>“We didn’t engineer this thing at all to be what it is today,” von Borries says. “In fact, I think the journey for us has been sort of going down the river and hitting different moments of momentum in the business and seeing the world shift.”</p> <p>And as the world shifted, so did they.</p> <h3>Experiments and Expansions</h3> <p>Before long, von Borries had quit his D.C. job and returned to New York City to work full time for Refinery29, and not long afterward the other three joined the work full time, too.</p> <p>Stefano says that, over the first five years, they sold ads, hosted live events, held sample sales (retail events that involve selling extra prototypes, often from big names in fashion or design) and did everything they could to drive slow-but-consistent growth that took them to $1.7 million by their fifth year.</p> <p>They then decided to raise capital to grow their branded content and native advertising. This resulted in a single-year leap to $8.9 million in revenue.</p> <p>“It was not a fast journey,” Stefano says. “I think that a lot of people have this belief that you’ll launch a business and within, you know, 18 months, you’re going to be on fire, but it often takes far longer. And I would say it took us probably 10 years before we felt like we had a business that was here to stay.”</p> <p>As von Borries and Stefano toiled away on the technical and management side, Barberich and Gelardi dove into the content and creative aspects of the business.</p> <p>“Our desire has always been to elevate underrepresented voices, to really bring these new ideas to the surface and challenge sort of what is in the mainstream, and how the media speaks to and about women,” Gelardi says.</p> <p>While the focus was initially centered on fashion and style, the pair slowly experimented with content expansions that appealed to the women who visited the site. Barberich was interested in topics surrounding health and wellness, so she tested the waters and found the audience receptive. Gelardi noticed that most mainstream editorial content on sex for women was “not focused on women’s pleasure or bodily autonomy,” so she looked to offer something better.</p> <p>As they grew, they found an almost endless hunger for content on just about every topic imaginable, and with each new addition, a new wave of readers joined the ranks. Soon, stories on politics, finances, and entertainment appeared on the website, continuing to meet the interests of modern women.</p> <p>They were also able to quickly learn from mistakes and make changes, thanks to the instant feedback provided by comments, shares, and analytics.</p> <p>“We really were focused on experimentation,” Gelardi says. “We were so invigorated by having access to the knowledge of our audience in real time.”</p> <p>With the kinds of data that traditional media outlets simply didn’t have at their fingertips yet, they were able to make informed decisions and pursue avenues that seemed utterly foolproof. But, Barberich says, information in this space can be both a blessing and a curse.</p> <p>“I think in some ways you lose that spontaneity,” she says. “Just having an idea to do something and being able to pursue it and not worry so much about what the outcome was going to be or worry that it was going to hit a certain traffic benchmark.”</p> <p>So while they take advantage of the analytics available to them, Gelardi says she always wants to leave room for risks.</p> <p>“I think influence also comes down to risk-taking,” she says. “It’s the art and the science; it’s not just about volume. Quality can be subjective, as well, but I think it is about risk-taking and knowing that core of who you are and staying true to it.”</p> <p>Barberich and Gelardi say that they see their roles as a balancing act between the numbers and creative spontaneity.</p> <p>“I think that that’s really what motivates people,” Barberich says. “When they feel like they’re making content that they deeply love, but that’s also touching a person’s life. The greatest success is to know that something struck a chord that is universally felt.”</p> <h3>Scaling With Heart</h3> <p>As the company continued to grow, all four founders felt an overwhelming pressure to keep the train on the tracks.</p> <p>“I think that a lot of people lose sleep in this company because they care so much,” Barberich says. “In laying that foundation, we want to make sure that people feel really fulfilled by it and it doesn’t lose its path.”</p> <p>They knew they had to stay true to the heart of their mission and remain in sync with their audience, all while rapidly expanding far beyond what they had imagined possible.</p> <p>“The audience has been the single most important focus—and staying committed to that audience—and clearly everything that’s happened in the world at large has sort of snowballed our commitment to serving women amazing content,” von Borries says. “Our belief is that, in this moment, to really build a long term, sustainable brand in this space, you really have to mean something to your audience.”</p> <p>And Barberich believes the key to scaling while staying true to the heart of the business lies in a single, but incredibly vital, part of the business.</p> <p>“Honestly, if I’ve learned anything in the near-14 years that we’ve been doing this it’s that it all comes down to the people that you hire,” she says, “because scale is all about the people that you’re trusting to handle the scale.”</p> <p>And she says they have been fortunate at Refinery29 to find and hire people who care deeply about the mission of their brand.</p> <p>“When you bring people on board that really, automatically love the brand, when things get har, and they will inevitably get hard, it actually helps those people to deal with the issues that arise and recover quickly.”</p> <p>Gelardi also believes that hiring new staff members who have that entrepreneurial spark inside them helps the brand thrive.</p> <p>“The industry that we’re in is ever shifting. The work that we do is ever shifting,” Gelardi says. “I think it requires that level of entrepreneurial creativity in order to really be able to roll with things and to find the solutions.”</p> <h3>Establishing a Legacy</h3> <p>Much has changed in the 15 years since the four founders first tossed around the idea for Refinery29. Especially on the internet.</p> <p>What once felt like a wide open space, now feels more like an overstuffed room pumped full of noise. Because of this, von Borries believes people have begun seeking more intimate, offline experiences, something Refinery29 is working to supply.</p> <p>“We were always doing events,” he says. “Back 15 years ago when we launched Refinery, we would host local events at stores and boutiques and would bring people together. We’ve always been thinking about the real world, and when you do something in digital, the real world is very validating.”</p> <p>One such example of Refinery29 IRL is 29Rooms, an art exhibition that features 29 collaborative spaces touching on topics meaningful to readers, such as virtual reality, body positivity and music.</p> <p>At the end of the day, all four founders are focused on building a legacy they can be proud of.</p> <p>“You can’t have a media company, I don’t think, without having a really true understanding of what it is you want to leave behind someday,” Barberich says.</p> <p>And she believes that today’s world, with its renewed focus on social justice, women’s rights, and political activism, is the perfect place for a platform like Refinery29 to thrive. Now more than ever, people are seeing unmet needs, especially in areas of representation and diversity, and feeling driven to meet those needs.</p> <p>“I think the motivation to start a business is fairly universal,” Barberich says. “You feel that there is something missing. You feel that there is something missing and usually, you’re not the only person.”</p> <p>She encourages those who feel that tug not to ignore it, but to step out boldly.</p> <p>“When that happens, you have to really face the facts that this is going to be scary. It’s going to be a ton of work. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to need the help of a lot of people, and a lot of times you’re going to need their help for free, and you have to be able to ask for that help, so great relationships really make a difference.”</p> <p>When looking at Refinery29, that was certainly the case. If one thing made Refinery29 what it is today, it’s relationships.</p> <p>The relationship built between two high school friends. The relationship between a mentor and her intern. The relationship between a couple that brought them all together. And the relationship between a business and its audience—a two-way exchange of encouragement and authenticity that has amplified the voices of women for 15 years and will continue to do so into the future.</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Details on the night Philippe and Justin sketched the rough idea for Refinery29 on the back of a bar napkin</li> <li>One of Justin’s biggest regrets</li> <li>How long it took them to launch the first iteration of Refinery29 and how much it cost</li> <li>What the first version looked like and how the launch was received</li> <li>At what point they left their jobs and started monetizing the site</li> <li>The stats—audience size, subscribers, event sales—that show how their business is doing now</li> <li>The new media model and what to consider if you plan to start a media company</li> <li>When a bootstrapped company should start monetizing</li> <li>Monetization models for media companies</li> <li>Exciting moves coming up for Refinery29</li> </ul>
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251: How a Humble Typewriter Salesman Started a Software Company Now Worth Billions, With Red Hat Co-Founder Bob Young
<h2>The Open Source CEO</h2> <h3>Bob Young’s journey from renting typewriters to co-founding an open-source software company to founding a self-publishing platform.</h3> <p>Entrepreneurship carries a lot of prestige these days. But back in the 1970s, when one freshly minted, Canadian college grad decided to start his own business, the only real perk was a business card that read, “Bob Young: President” that he could show to his mom.</p> <p>This, Young explains, was the single greatest benefit of starting a business back then. It wasn’t about the money, the eager investors, or the thousands of devoted fans (he didn’t have any of those). He just hoped he could reassure his mom that she didn’t have to worry about him anymore.</p> <p>“We now have the smartest kids in our high schools going to college to study entrepreneurship,” he says. “Whereas, back in my day, all the smart kids went and got ‘real jobs’ as lawyers or accountants or whatever and became CEOs of big corporations, and it was us dumb kids who started businesses because no one would employ us.”</p> <p>For Young, that meant printing up a fancy business card and, with a little money from friends and family, buying a small, failing typewriter rental business for cheap.</p> <p>From there, though, things got interesting. Young quickly pivoted from typewriters to computers, until a mid-career stumble led him to the world of open source software, a field in which he thrived. Young has since gone on to found Red Hat, a multinational company that offers non-proprietary software solutions to businesses. In 2018, IBM <strong><a href= "https://www.redhat.com/en/about/press-releases/ibm-acquire-red-hat-completely-changing-cloud-landscape-and-becoming-worlds-1-hybrid-cloud-provider"> announced</a></strong> it would acquire Red Hat for around $34 billion.</p> <p>Today, Young is at the helm of a few businesses, including self-publishing platform Lulu.com, continuing his passion for democratic, open distribution models that favor the little guy. But despite his 40 years in entrepreneurship, he still lists just a single skill under “Specialties” in his LinkedIn bio: typewriter sales.</p> <p>“I’m a typewriter salesman, and that is the value I bring to the companies that I’m involved with,” Young says. “I’m a sales and marketing guy, and I have to hire smart accountants and smart engineers and smart product managers, because those are skills that I don’t have. My one contribution is in the sales and marketing side of the projects I’m involved in.”</p> <h3>When Success Turns Sour</h3> <p>Young realized almost immediately that his first business had to evolve, and fast. Shortly after he bought the typewriter rental business, he dug through old customer records to find those listed as inactive, and began calling them to try and entice them back into the fold.</p> <p>One of the businesses that had often rented typewriters from the previous owner was a phone company called Bell Canada. After speaking with the office manager, a sweet woman who invited him to come visit even though, “when you come by all I’m going to do is show you why I don’t need your services anymore,” Young headed off to downtown Toronto to meet with her.</p> <p>As she walked him through the open-plan office building, he saw several hundred employees, who only four years previously had used rented typewriters, at work in their cubicles. They were all staring into computer screens.</p> <p>“We then, immediately of course, got into the computer equipment rental business,” Young says, laughing.</p> <p>He managed Hamilton Rentals from 1979 until he sold it in 1984. He then founded Vernon Computer Source, another equipment rental business, that same year.</p> <p>In 1992, Young was on cloud nine. He had just sold his second computer rental business to technology services company Greyvest Capital, Inc., mostly for shares in the company, and took a stable, comfortable job there.</p> <p>Then came NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), which eliminated tariffs between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. That led to financial troubles for Greyvest, and suddenly Young’s life ceased to be as stable as he’d expected.</p> <p>“In ’93, I found myself in Westport, CT, unemployed with a net worth of something less than it had been when I graduated college 15 years earlier, only now I had three children, a wife and a big mortgage.”</p> <p>Just as Young had made his next big step forward in his career, it had all come crashing down around him. But looking back on this time in his life, Young is grateful for this heartbreaking failure, because he links it directly to the birth of Red Hat, Inc.</p> <h3>Trying on a New Hat</h3> <p>Shortly before its demise, Greyvest sent Young to New York to pursue the Unix workstation (a special computer designed specifically for scientific or technical endeavors) market, asking him to get to know the users in the big financial services companies and engineering companies in and around the city. Greyvest was in pursuit of new rental and leasing customers, and this was precisely what Young did best.</p> <p>To accomplish this, he had been attending evening user group meetings and offering a helping hand. He had even started a modestly sized newsletter.</p> <p>But when the bankruptcy of Greyvest forced him to walk away from the computer rental business for good, his goals shifted. What if, he wondered, he could transform his newsletter into something more?</p> <p>As Young explains, the true value of an online newsletter doesn’t lie in the subscriptions. It’s all about the mailing list. Products of value to those particular customers can be marketed and sold using the list. And so, ACC Corp. was born, and through it, Young transformed his mailing list into a catalog filled with programs and software that catered to his audience: the ACC PC Unix and Linux Catalog.</p> <p>Linux and Unix were two similar but competing operating systems initially released in the early 1970s. The major difference? Linux was free and open sourced. Unix was not.</p> <p>Through the catalog, he had the greatest success in the sale of Linux-based products, so when he asked his customers to share what else he could add to his catalog, and they directed him to a tiny project filled with potential called Red Hat Linux, he was intrigued. Red Hat Linux promised to be a new and improved version of the Linux Young’s customers already knew and loved, so Young knew he needed to check it out.</p> <p>Young called the creator, Mark Ewing, who was working out of his spare bedroom and his own bank account, and asked him to send over 300 copies of Red Hat Linux for him to sell through the catalog.</p> <p>Silence.</p> <p>Young questioned Ewing’s hesitation to do business with him. Ewing explained that he had only planned to manufacture 300 copies of Red Hat Linux in total.</p> <p>Young meshed his big dreaming style with Ewing’s engineering prowess, and the two co-founded the version of Red Hat, Inc. that still thrives today.</p> <p>He had taken a circuitous route to the software industry, but he was grateful that he finally arrived when he did.</p> <p>“Whether it was Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, they’re both contemporaries of mine and it’s been fun sort of growing up in the industry watching those guys be successful,” he says. “I was late to the party of success, but I was pleased with Red Hat’s success.”</p> <p>Young served as the company’s CEO from its founding in 1993 until shortly after the company went public in 1999.</p> <p>“Once we became a public company, and we had 400 employees, I realized I’d never worked for a company of 400 employees, much less managed one,” he says.</p> <p>As he faced down the wild host of new rules, regulations, and responsibilities that came with being CEO of a public company, Young recognized that the best thing he could do to ensure the company’s success was to embrace his own weaknesses and step away.</p> <p>“One of the tricks to being successful is to be self-aware,” Young says. “None of us—no human being—is anywhere close to being perfect. In fact, I’d argue that most of us are barely adequate, even among the most successful of us. But if you know what you’re good at, and you know what you’re not good at, then you can build organizations that protect themselves from your failings.”</p> <p>Young also recognized an entrepreneurial wanderlust stirring in his heart.</p> <p>“I’m an early stage startup guy,” he says. “I really, really like the big idea, and I really like selling the big idea, but once I convince people that the big idea is worth pursuing, I lose interest in it and I’m looking for the next big idea.”</p> <p>He explains that this is an excellent quality when you’re just starting a business and hunting for your great, big idea, but that, once a company is off and running, it can become a serious problem.</p> <p>“Repetition and precision are things I do not do,” he says with a chuckle. “I never have done. This is why I was such a terrible student as a kid. My mind just doesn’t work that way. My mind works always on the next idea.”</p> <p>So, he decided to call Matthew Szulik, who would become the next leader of Red Hat, into his office for a chat.</p> <p>“Probably the biggest single contribution I made to Red Hat’s success was getting out of Matthew’s way and letting him turn our fledgling Red Hat business into the billion-dollar enterprise it is today.”</p> <p>Although the time had come to bid Red Hat farewell, Young is still incredibly proud of their ongoing success.</p> <p>“It was this wonderful adventure that worked out astoundingly well,” he says. “We weren’t sure if we could build a business there, but we knew if we could it was going to be a huge business, because open source—sharing your software, sharing binaries with your customers—was simply a better way of building software than the previous proprietary model that all the other software companies were pursuing at the time.</p> <p>“To have that vision come true has been a bit of an out of body experience, and it gives me great pleasure,” he says.</p> <p>And just like that, the co-founder of Red Hat was off on a journey to find his next big idea and turn it into a reality.</p> <h3>Open Source Publishing</h3> <p>Today, at just shy of 60 years old, Young owns the Canadian football team the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and serves as CEO of craft marketplace Needlepoint.com and chairman of drone company PrecisionHawk. But the endeavor he says he is currently most passionate about was one he founded in 2002—Lulu.com.</p> <p>Through this print-on-demand self-publishing and distribution platform, Young wanted to revolutionize the publishing industry. He wanted to serve authors who write on niche subjects and catered to niche audiences. In other words, the ones that would be turned away by the traditional publishing industry, no matter the value the book offered to the market it intended to serve.</p> <p>“We serve the interests of the author,” he explains. “The publishing industry is set up to serve the interest of the readers, and the author is just a cog in their machine.”</p> <p>Young has a special passion for creators would otherwise get chewed up by “the machine,” no matter their industry. This is partly why he recommends founders consider platforms like Shopify to sell their products rather than relying on the “FANGs” (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google).</p> <p>“The consolidation we are seeing on the internet is making early internet pioneers nervous,” Young says, “because the whole point of the Internet was to bring more democracy—to put more control in the hands of the consumer, of the user of the internet—and we are seeing it move away from there.”</p> <p>When a business owner sets up an Amazon store or a Facebook page to sell from, those customers no longer belong to the business owner. They belong to Amazon or Facebook.</p> <p>“You want your customers to have loyalty,” he says. “The problem with setting up your shop on Amazon is Amazon is competing with you for the brand and the attention of the customers you’re sending to Amazon, and that’s not in your interest of building a strong brand for your product and your service.”</p> <p>Young explains that when an author sends their customers to Amazon to buy their book, Amazon immediately begins recommending other titles in that subject to the customer before they have even been able to purchase the title they originally intended to buy.</p> <p>“Amazon has just absconded with your customer,” he says. “Amazon is happy to have you as a merchant, because they want you to bring all your customers to Amazon so they can sell them other things. Shopify is the exact opposite of that.”</p> <p>Rather than sending new customers to Facebook.com/YourBusiness, he urges business owners to start sending customers to YourBusiness.com. He also encourages founders to “pay attention to the principles behind the internet, not just the buttons that Facebook and Google give you.”</p> <p>“The internet itself is this great, open vista, and if you build your market using the foundational elements of the internet, no one can ever take that away from you.”</p> <p>He’s hopeful that the rising generation of founders and business owners will be savvy enough to navigate these stormy seas.</p> <p>“As this next generation of entrepreneurs get going, they’re going to understand…you’ve got to be really careful about surrendering your customer to your supplier,” he says. “You want to find suppliers who are going to partner with you to build your business, not using you to build their business.”</p> <p>Whether in the computer rental space, the arena of open source coding or his current realm of self-publishing, Young has always lived by the principal of democratizing access to the tools that build success.</p> <p>Through collaboration and inviting more voices to the table, advancements come more swiftly, and this is a principal that even Young, a self-proclaimed “dumb kid” who started out selling typewriters, can embrace.</p> <h3>Bob Young’s Tips on Cultivating Self-Awareness</h3> <p>Bob Young says that he owes much of his success to self-awareness. By leaning into what he is good at and hiring others to cover areas where he struggles, this self-proclaimed typewriter salesman has found remarkable success. Young insists that even those who struggle with self-awareness can develop it, and these are three of his tips for harnessing that growth:</p> <h3>1. Put the Pride Aside</h3> <p>“So many of us are prideful,” Young says. “We worry about being criticized.”</p> <p>But as founders, and as humans, there is always room for growth. Rejecting that evolution in favor of belief in our own mythology only prevents us from reaching our greatest potential. Young says that, in order to achieve any increased level of self-awareness, pride first has to be eliminated from the equation.</p> <h3>2. Listen to Critiques More Than Compliments</h3> <p>Once pride is silenced, it’s time to let the criticisms reach our eyes and ears, even though it may sting a little.</p> <p>“We worry that people think we’ve made a mistake or that we’ve done something dumb,” Young says. “If you can flip that around and look at your mistakes as your biggest single learning opportunity that day or that week or that year, now when people criticize you, they’re more valuable to you than the people who compliment you.”</p> <p>Choosing to embrace our own failings today, no matter who brings them to our attention, is the only way to make sure those same failures don’t repeat tomorrow.</p> <h3>3. Be Honest With Yourself</h3> <p>Young is comfortable with sharing the skills he lacks, especially in the area of customer support. He explains that, although he loves his customers, he cannot find the patience to help a new customer struggle through a problem he’s solved for 600 customers who came before.</p> <p>He says that it took many years, and many, many customers pointing out this flaw, for him to internalize the criticism, but once he did, and once he genuinely considered the critique, he recognized that he and his customers would be better served if left that work to someone else. He says his brain simply isn’t wired for customer service, so he relies on those around him who are.</p> <p>To maximize self-awareness, Young says we should accept what we are great at, grow where we are able, and rely on the talents of others to support us where we perpetually fall short.</p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Bob got his start in entrepreneurship by selling typewriters</li> <li>How a visit to Bell Canada convinced Bob to make the transition from typewriter rentals to computer rentals</li> <li>How his net worth got wiped out and what he did next</li> <li>His transition from equipment leasing to software when he cofounded Red Hat</li> <li>Why he decided to step away and hire a CEO for Red Hat</li> <li>The project he cares most about now: print-on-demand self-publishing and distribution platform Lulu.com</li> <li>Why he’s paying a lot of attention to Shopify</li> <li>Why the next wave of entrepreneurs needs to be wary of relying on big tech companies</li> <li>How to cultivate more self-awareness as a founder</li> <li>His thoughts on Red Hat being acquired by IBM for $34 billion</li> </ul> <div class="transcript"> </div>
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250: How Dollar Shave Club Used Mission, Humor, and Viral Videos to Lead Up to a $1B Acquisition, With Michael Dubin
<h3>A viral video put Dollar Shave Club on the map, but it took a team to get it where it is today. CEO Michael Dubin talks about DSC’s growth, acquisition, and expanding product line.</h3> <p>It was the commercial seen round the internet. On March 6, 2012, Dollar Shave Club uploaded its <a href= "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUG9qYTJMsI">first YouTube video</a>, featuring one-and-a-half minutes of offbeat humor, during which founder Michael Dubin rides in a kid’s wagon, wields a machete, and encounters, among many other things, a person in a bear suit.</p> <p>“Do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a back scratcher, and 10 blades?” Dubin deadpans while riding a forklift. “Your handsome-ass grandfather had one blade—and polio.”</p> <p>It was a totally unique way to explain a simple concept: For an affordable fee, Dollar Shave Club subscribers would get quality razor blades delivered to their doorsteps on a regular basis, thus skipping the trips to the store for overpriced, gimmicky alternatives. And people loved it—the resulting traffic from the video’s launch crashed their site.</p> <p>Since then, that commercial has been viewed over 26 million times on YouTube. It cost only $4,500 to produce, yet it launched the company on a trajectory that would later lead to a $1 billion acquisition by Unilever.</p> <p>“It put us on the map, no doubt,” Dubin says. “We wouldn't be where we are without it.”</p> <p>But this isn’t a story about Michael Dubin and his famous viral video. It’s not even a story about razor blades. As Dubin is quick to point out, getting DSC to where it is today required a team effort. And with its ever-expanding product line, today, the company is about so much more than a good shave.</p> <h2>Timing Is Everything—In Comedy and Business</h2> <p>They say the most important thing in comedy is timing; the difference between roaring laughter and painful silence can be a fraction of a second.</p> <p>Maybe this was something Dubin learned during the eight years he spent training at New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade, an improv theatre with notable alumni such as Saturday Night Live’s Horatio Sanz and Amy Poehler. While taking improv classes, Dubin worked various media jobs, starting as a page at NBC, then moving into production and news writing at MSNBC, and eventually, getting into digital marketing at SportsIllustrated.com.</p> <p>But it wasn’t just Dubin’s punchline delivery that set DSC up for success out of the gate. Even the timing of its launch was strategic. As Dubin told NPR’s Guy Raz in a “How I Built This” interview, he chose that specific date—March 6—because, with his media background, he knew that news outlets would be hungry for a tech story leading up to the annual South by Southwest conference that takes place in Austin in mid-March. The launch date also coincided with Dollar Shave Club’s announcement of its $1 million seed round.</p> <h2>It Takes a Team</h2> <p>A viral video can be a major boost for any company, but it’s far from the secret to a successful business. For that, you need great people, and assembling them is easier said than done.</p> <p>“Big business is a team sport,” Dubin says, “and it requires talent from all corners of the universe that will help you build what you're looking to build.”</p> <p>Knowing where to find your future teammates can be a challenge.</p> <p>“Finding great talent is always going to be the hardest thing that any entrepreneur does,” Dubin says. “Because, ultimately, there's somebody out there in the marketplace that can help you do your job really well and help you build your company the best way possible. But you've got to go out and find them in the great wide world.”</p> <p>That’s why Dubin is a fan of recruiters, “because recruiters are paid to have knowledge of the network that you're looking in.”</p> <p>When building his team early on, Dubin had just moved from New York to Los Angeles and lacked a network in his new city, so he relied on his early investors to make introductions. “That's a great reason to take investment—besides, obviously, needing to take it to drive growth and invest where you need to.”</p> <p>To attract the right talent, Dubin recommends founders do two things. First, focus on your company’s mission. What are you trying to achieve? What gaps in the market are you trying to fill? Why do you come to work every day?</p> <p>“Really talented people want to work for companies that have purpose,” he says. “And that's defined in the mission of the company.”</p> <p>Second, consider granting employees equity. “People want to feel like they're participants in the success—if you ultimately do have the success—and that's super meaningful.”</p> <p>And if your mission changes, that’s okay. It’s natural for it to evolve as your company grows; that’s certainly true for Dollar Shave Club. “It started out more as a shave-only proposition,” Dubin says. “And then it grew out into becoming…more of a men's health, more of a men's grooming platform.”</p> <p>What’s their mission today? “Help guys take care of their minds and bodies so they can be their best selves.”</p> <h2>Growth, Acquisition, and Expansion</h2> <p>Taking on the shaving industry was a gutsy move. To put that into perspective, it was around the year 1900 that King C. Gillette invented the world’s first disposable razor, according to Gillette’s <strong><a href= "https://gillette.com/en-us/our-history#phdesktopbody_0_phdesktopbrandexperiencecontentarea_0_phbrandexperiencecontentarea0221f47a59bd482188a1d6df768958bc_2_panelBrandExperiencePromo"> website</a></strong>. So when Dubin decided to disrupt the shaving market, he was going up against a company that had already been in it for over 100 years.</p> <p>Eight months after the launch of its first commercial, Dollar Shave Club secured a <strong><a href= "https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/dollar-shave-club#section-funding-rounds"> Series A round of $9.8 million</a></strong>. And two years after that, the subscription razor blade company hit <strong><a href= "https://jobs.jobvite.com/dollarshaveclub">1 million members</a></strong>.</p> <p>In July 2016, Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club for a reported $1 billion. At the time, DSC had <strong><a href= "https://www.unilever.com/news/press-releases/2016/unilever-acquires-dollar-shave-club.html"> 3.2 million members</a></strong> and was expected to exceed $200 million in turnover (which is sometimes defined as net sales and sometimes defined as revenue) that year. Dubin stayed on as CEO and continues to serve in that capacity today.</p> <p>“Unilever's been very good to let us run the company our way,” he says, “and that was part of the design.”</p> <p>Today, Dollar Shave Club boasts over 300 employees and continues to expand its product line and global footprint. Beyond razors, DSC now sells cologne, body wash, shampoo—even flushable toilet wipes (they’re called One Wipe Charlies). It also has sites live in Australia, Canada, and the UK, with plans to expand further in the next couple of years.</p> <h2>Knowing When It’s Time to Add a New Product</h2> <p>For a long time, razor blade subscriptions were Dollar Shave Club’s bread and butter, and it gained a loyal following with its single product line. But growth almost always means product expansion, so how can a founder know when it’s the right time to add new products?</p> <p>“You have to stay true to your core,” Dubin says. “You have to develop credibility in your core categories before you can expand outward. There is such a thing as doing that too fast.”</p> <p>Timing matters. Move too fast, and you could confuse your customers and dilute your brand. Too slow, and you may miss your opportunity to take the market.</p> <p>As for figuring out what your next product should be: ”You should definitely do your research. It's always a blend of gut and research.”</p> <h2>Time Well Spent</h2> <p>These days, Dubin doesn’t star in any viral videos, but he told Foundr about a recent, albeit lesser-known, YouTube video of his commencement address to the 2018 graduating class of his alma mater, Emory University. In it, he sums up the lessons he’s learned over the years, including one about “little choices.”</p> <p>“They're the ones you make more frequently, maybe even every day,” he says to the graduates, “the ripple effects of which, I believe, actually have a bigger impact over the course of your life. They’re choices about where to invest your time.”</p> <p>Given Dollar Shave Club’s meteoric success, it’s safe to say that Dubin and his team’s time has been well spent.</p> <h2>5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Michael Dubin</h2> <p>Dollar Shave Club is a massively popular company that attracted a billion-dollar acquisition. What are some parting lessons we can take from this interview with CEO Michael Dubin?</p> <ul> <li><strong>Video isn’t a magic bullet.</strong>“What worked for us is not necessarily going to work for everybody,” Dubin says. “Unfortunately, there's no easy answer here. The best advice that I can give to somebody is to find what makes you special, understand what unique talents you have or your team has, and leverage those to try and cut through the noise. It's not easy. It's not easy, and video is not the surefire way to do it.”</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Culture is more than company perks.</strong>“Culture's a tricky word. A lot of people mistake culture for meaning like a coffee bar and a beanbag chair for everybody or stand-up desks, and that's not what culture is. Culture is a much more complex, complicated animal than that. And to me, culture means…people are into their jobs, they feel like they're contributing to the mission, they feel like they're being valued for their contributions and recognized for their contributions, and that they have a career path at that company—that's culture. All the other stuff is sort of superfluous icing on the cake.”</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Only use a subscription model if it enhances the customer experience.</strong>“A lot of people get addicted to this notion of a subscription business because they love the idea of monthly recurring revenue, but you should only be launching a subscription business if it's going to be an enhancement to…the customer's experience. The customer's experience is the most important thing. If delivering them a subscription is going to make their life better or happier, you should offer a subscription. And if not, you shouldn't.”</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Expect hard times.</strong><br /> “You're going to go through hard times. You're going to go through lonely periods. That's to be expected. There's really nothing that anybody can tell you that's going to help make that feel better. … You just kind of have to go through it, truly.”</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Take breaks.</strong><br /> “My advice to entrepreneurs who are starting companies is you have to be relentless, but you also have to step away and take breaks. You can't work yourself to death because it's a marathon, not a sprint.”</li> </ul> <p> </p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>His media background and the social network for travelers he tried to start before launching Dollar Shave Club</li> <li>The importance of building a great team to help your business grow</li> <li>How to attract and retain high-quality talent</li> <li>How Dollar Shave Club defined its mission and how it has evolved over time</li> <li>What the early DSC team looked like</li> <li>The famous first Dollar Shave Club video</li> <li>Life after Unilever’s acquisition of DSC</li> <li>Challenges the DSC team faces as they grow the brand</li> <li>How to know when to launch another product</li> <li>Dubin’s thoughts on the physical product subscription model</li> <li>How to build a healthy company culture</li> </ul>
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249: How Blinkist’s Bite-Sized Book Summaries Attracted 9M Users, with Niklas Jansen
<p>Raise your hand if you’ve experienced the all-too-common dilemma of wanting to read new books but instead falling slave to long hours and mindless digital content consumption. (I’m raising mine right now.)</p> <p>Self-education takes time, and time is often the one asset we don’t have nearly enough of.</p> <p>Well, Niklas Jansen found a way to give his customers more time. “Some of my friends and I didn't have time to read books, and we were working full time. We also noticed more people consuming content on their mobile phones,” he says. “We wondered, ‘Is there a smarter way to combine these two things?’”</p> <p>This was the very question that Niklas Jansen and three of his friends addressed as they formulated the idea for Blinkist, a mobile app subscription that provides 15-minute insights from the bestselling books we all wish we had the time to read.</p> <p>Today, Jansen and his team of 130 are bringing ideas from the best nonfiction books to some of the busiest people on the planet. Blinkist is paving a new path for modern content consumption and self-education, and they’re doing it in a remarkable way.</p> <h2>Launch Day</h2> <p>Jansen has been an entrepreneur since he was in college. He did consulting for a couple of years, but once the idea for Blinkist hit him, he dove right in and founded one of the most unique startups in Berlin. That was seven years ago.</p> <p>As Jansen and his three co-founders developed the company, they each managed different parts of the business: content, product, operations, and marketing. (Jansen owned the product side.) The team tried to stay lean from day one, a decision they’re happy about today because, as they scaled Blinkist, they didn’t become distracted by a large team.</p> <p>“We had to figure out so much every day,” Jansen says.  Keeping the team small allowed Jansen and his co-founders to hustle every day, soaking in new knowledge by trying new things, reading voraciously, and talking to others. This process was especially important for Jansen, as he had no experience with product management prior to Blinkist.</p> <p>Despite initial obstacles, it only took a couple of months to build the first version of the Blinkist product. To keep the development process simple, Jansen and his co-founders decided they only needed three things to get started: a mobile application, 50 nonfiction books to populate the app, and a marketing plan. “After five months, we were ready to launch,” Jansen says. “We were incredibly productive in that time.”</p> <p>As the Blinkist team did their competitive research, they found that there was only one similar product on the market, but since it served a different audience and used a different business model, they weren’t worried. “We designed our content for mobile from day one in order to be different,” Jansen says.</p> <p>Blinkist closed their launch day with five customers, “after our parents, of course,” Jansen says, laughing. To promote the launch of their product, the Blinkist team published a variety of articles in startup magazines and relevant websites. Jansen had high expectations for launch day. “I thought everything was going to explode,” he says.</p> <p>The number of initial Blinkist customers was fewer than Jansen expected, but he still enjoyed watching people discover and purchase the product. “It felt good to watch it grow.”</p> <p>And grow it did. Blinkist is now a worldwide product with major markets in the US, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and Germany.</p> <h2>Growing Sustainably</h2> <p>The leap from five customers to more than five global markets wasn’t an easy one. It took years of trial and error, but Jansen and his team eventually scaled Blinkist to a successful, profitable level.</p> <p>With unique approaches to fundraising, marketing, and team management, Jansen has lots of valuable insights to share with aspiring founders.</p> <p>As they built the company, Jansen and his team raised about $35  million from investors in the US, Germany, and other parts of Europe. They raised their first $300,000  as early stage, pre-seed money. If he could, Jansen isn’t sure that he’d do that part again.</p> <p>“We felt  a pressure to use it without having figured out a lot of things,” he says. He also suggests other founders be careful about taking on too much money too early. “Investors have expectations, and building a company takes time. Mistakes can be more costly if you have too much money in the bank.”</p> <p>Of course, money can be helpful, but with too much, it can be tempting to spread your business too thin, too early. “If you can do one thing really, really well, that can be your superpower,” Jansen says.</p> <p>Working from a small budget can also help you focus.</p> <p>Jansen boils Blinkist’s marketing strategy down to one word: Sustainability. “It’s important that whatever you do in marketing to grow your company is repeatable,” he says.</p> <p>For example, Jansen wouldn’t consider PR a sustainable growth channel. It might work a few times, but after one or two days, PR stops being effective. “Marketing needs to be able to be repeated and sustainable,” he explains. “You don't want to burn money for customers.”</p> <p>As for Facebook and other social advertising, Jansen and his team know precisely how to target their customers and how much they’re going to spend on acquisition. Through different campaigns focusing on different creative elements, his team was able to conduct A/B testing and determine what the best parameters were.</p> <p>They now apply those parameters to replicate successful campaigns. “It involves lots of mechanics and details, but once you find something that works, you can scale it,” Jansen says. “That's why we call it a ‘marketing machine.’ We automate as much as possible.”</p> <p>Recently, Blinkist has started investing in TV advertising—a completely new channel for the company. “It’s very different from the others, but it’s exciting because now we’re part of mass marketing and mainstream media,” he says.</p> <p>Additionally, Jansen and his team rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing and customer stories to grow the Blinkist brand. “It’s a very shareable product,” he says. “People share stories about how they use Blinkist and how it improved their lives.” The team also polls customers and uses the feedback they receive to further improve the mobile app.</p> <p>With such a robust strategy, one must wonder how the Blinkist team manages so many marketing channels. Contrary to what you might think, the team doesn’t outsource any of its marketing strategy or creative work.</p> <p>Blinkist keeps everything in house, which is helpful for making lots of updates and changes to a campaign or strategy. “We want full control of the whole customer experience and what customers see from Blinkist,” Jansen says.</p> <p>What started with the Blinkist co-founders testing various ads has turned into a team of six to seven tech marketing experts. Today, they manage their marketing by channel: Two managers for paid social (such as Facebook and Instagram), one for paid content (such as Outbrain), one for AdWords and Google, one for podcast and influencers, and one for TV.</p> <p>The team also retains a creative team in house, including videographers, designers, copywriters. These folks work with the Blinkist channel managers, who develop audiences and strategies. These managers, in turn, go to the creatives for the right vision or creative assets.</p> <p>A single, in-house creative team can be tough to share across an organization, but Jansen believes Blinkist has established a good model for dividing resources. “Some  designers work directly with marketing. Video and copy are shared with other teams, but they do prioritize marketing needs.”</p> <p>At Blinkist, this model works because the marketing sees faster duration cycles than the product teams do. Marketing has daily cycles of content production, whereas product managers deal with longer cycles of design-build-test-repeat.</p> <p>The entire Blinkist team still resides in Berlin. “We haven't expanded offices yet,” Jansen says. “So far, we’ve established a global business, but we work out entirely out of Berlin.”</p> <h2>What’s Next</h2> <p>While Jansen doesn’t plan on expanding the Blinkist team outside the Berlin office, he is excited for the international growth of the Blinkist product. The team is currently pushing into brand new markets and eventually wants to expand to be a truly global brand.</p> <p>They’re also making changes to how they select and source the content available on the Blinkist app, by selecting local curation from different markets. “We want to find what's popular in each market and be very local when selecting and curating content,” Jansen says.</p> <p>He’s also aspiring to build out more original content under the Blinkist brand. Right now, the product is mainly focused on third-party books and authors, but there’s a potential to create a learning space and provide new content formats.</p> <p>At the moment, Blinkist is a curation tool, but Jansen can see the product creating original content, not unlike what Netflix has done. “We know what users like and their behaviors and favorite topics,” he said. “We can use that data to make original content that our customers love.”</p> <p>Above all, Jansen encourages other founders to stay on top of what’s happening. “Learn as much as you can,” he says, “whether through books or podcasts or Blinkist!”</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The origin story of Blinkist</li> <li>How Blinkist can publish summarized content of nonfiction books and why they see themselves as a marketing tool for authors and publishers</li> <li>What the first six months of building the product looked like</li> <li>Why Jansen thinks Blinkist raised money too early</li> <li>The inherent virality of Blinkist and other growth levers they’ve pulled</li> <li>The Facebook ad “machine” they’ve put together for sustainable marketing</li> <li>A breakdown of their paid social strategy</li> <li>International growth and the introduction of original content on Blinkist</li> </ul> <div class="transcript"> </div>
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248: On Emerging Technologies and Creating a World of Abundance, With Peter Diamandis of XPRIZE
<h2>The Sky’s the Limit</h2> <h3>Space enthusiast, doctor, and serial entrepreneur Peter Diamandis on abundance, exponential technologies, and why the world is better than you think.</h3> <p>Ever since he was a child, Peter Diamandis has been looking up, literally and figuratively.</p> <p>Captivated by the lunar landing in 1969, he’s spent much of his life pushing the boundaries of space exploration through his various companies. And as a proponent of the concepts of exponential technologies and abundance, he has a refreshingly optimistic outlook on the future.</p> <p>“I believe that we're heading towards a world where we can uplift every man, woman, and child on this planet,” he says.</p> <p>And as the founder of more than 20 companies in the fields of longevity, space, venture capital, and education—perhaps most famously the XPRIZE—Diamandis is doing his best to advance the world he envisions.</p> <p>“I’ve always followed my passion,” he says. “And at the end of the day, that’s really the world that I feel extraordinarily lucky to live in, one where I am doing what I want to do.”</p> <h2>Exploring Medicine and Space</h2> <p>Born in New York to Greek immigrant parents who both worked in medicine, Diamandis felt obligated to become a doctor just like his father. But as a child of the 1960s who was fascinated with the Apollo program, he also felt compelled to explore space. So, he did both.</p> <p>After getting accepted into Harvard Medical School, Diamandis co-founded the International Space University, which today has graduated <strong><a href= "http://www.isunet.edu/blog/what-is-isu/85">more than 4,600 students from over 105 countries</a></strong>, and started International Microspace, a rocket company that was later acquired by CTA Incorporated.</p> <p>Even after he obtained his medical degree, instead of practicing medicine, Diamandis continued building businesses, many in the area of space. He founded XPRIZE, a global contest whose winners include a team that developed the first non-governmental manned spacecraft; and Zero-G, which has helped people like Stephen Hawking, Buzz Aldrin, and Martha Stewart experience weightlessness in a modified Boeing 727 that performs aerobatic maneuvers at 32,000 feet (if you fancy a ride, the Zero-G Experience starts at $5,400 per person).</p> <p>While Diamandis has worked hard to get here, he’s having a lot of fun too. “I've always been a 9-year-old kid pursuing my dreams,” he says.</p> <h2>Turning Science Fiction Into Fact</h2> <p>Looking at Diamandis’ long list of companies is a bit like reading synopses of science fiction novels. <strong><a href= "http://www.spaceadventures.com/experiences/space-station/">Space Adventures</a></strong> sends private citizens to the International Space Station to live and work alongside astronauts. <strong><a href="http://www.humanlongevity.com">Human Longevity</a></strong> seeks to extend the human lifespan through genomic and phenotypic data. And XPRIZE hosts multimillion-dollar global competitions to solve humanity’s most challenging problems.</p> <p>There are some truly out-of-this-world inventions that have emerged from XPRIZE competitions that are worth noting here. To make space travel possible for private citizens, <a href= "https://www.xprize.org/prizes/ansari/articles/mojave-aerospace-ventures-wins-the-competition"> <strong>Mojave Aerospace</strong> <strong>Ventures</strong></a> designed a privately financed manned spaceship with technology that was licensed by Richard Branson for Virgin Galactic. To provide clean water to the underprivileged, the <strong><a href= "https://www.xprize.org/prizes/water-abundance/articles/waxp-grand-prize-winner"> Skysource/Skywater Alliance</a></strong> invented an energy-efficient device that gleans water from thin air. To make healthcare more accessible, <strong><a href= "https://www.xprize.org/prizes/sensing/articles/from-ebola-to-stroke-timing-is-everything"> Team DMI</a></strong> created a device that can run hundreds of lab tests on one drop of blood, alerting the user within minutes if they have a cold, the flu, or even Ebola.</p> <p>Diamandis says that XPRIZE helps address just one of his many passions: “How do I empower entrepreneurs to really go big and change the world?”</p> <h2>On Emerging Technologies and Abundance</h2> <p>Watch the evening news or read the newspaper, and the world seems pretty bleak. But Diamandis believes we have good reason to be hopeful. One of his most popular contributions is his concept of abundance, which he’s given a TED talk and written a book about. It’s the idea that technology is transforming scarce resources into abundant ones, quickly closing the gap between the haves and the have-nots.</p> <p>Google, for example, has given the general public access to a storehouse of knowledge that history’s greatest philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists could never have imagined.</p> <p>Further, exponential technologies—such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and virtual reality—have made it easier than ever to produce solutions at scale, solutions that, previously, only governments and massive corporations were capable of producing.</p> <p>“Energy is a perfect example,” Diamandis says. Humans went from killing whales to get oil for lamps, to mining mountains for coal, to drilling the ocean floor for oil. Meanwhile, the sun bathes the earth in more energy than we could use in a year. An exponential entrepreneur, therefore, would find a way to use technology to efficiently harness the sun’s energy and distribute it to the masses.</p> <p>Through the lens of abundance, Diamandis sees an opportunity for entrepreneurs to change the world, so much so that he created an exclusive community, Abundance Digital, that aims to do just that. He hosts monthly webinars and provides courses to inspire its roughly 3,000 members to think bigger, teaching them that “the world's biggest problems are the world's biggest business opportunities.”</p> <p>Because of exponential technologies, Diamandis envisions a future where AI makes education and healthcare effectively free and available to all, where self-driving electric cars make using a car service cheaper than owning a vehicle—a future where nothing is truly scarce.</p> <h2>Finding Your Massively Transformative Purpose</h2> <p>Though Diamandis keeps his eyes to the sky, that doesn’t mean he has his head in the clouds. He acknowledges that every new venture carries the potential for failure.</p> <p>When asked if he ever has doubts when starting a new business, he says, “Of course, I mean, I'm not insane. But it doesn't slow me down.” That’s because, though he recognizes entrepreneurship’s inherent difficulties, he draws strength from his unshakeable sense of purpose.</p> <p>Diamandis recommends beginning every entrepreneurial journey with determining your “Massively Transformative Purpose,” or MTP. This is what keeps you going when the going gets tough; it’s the thing that, even if you do not succeed, grants you the satisfaction of knowing that your time was spent improving humanity.</p> <p>“People have to understand why they're building their business,” he says. “If you're just trying to build a business to make money, I view that as sort of an empty pursuit, and when it gets hard, you don't have the emotional energy to push through and succeed.”</p> <p>So what are Diamandis’ MTPs? He has a few: opening up space exploration to more people, extending the healthy human lifespan, and inspiring entrepreneurs to solve the world’s biggest problems. For an advanced entrepreneur, having three MTPs is fine, but Diamandis recommends beginners start with just one.</p> <h2>On Hiring a Team and Finding a Co-Founder</h2> <p>Behind every great entrepreneur is a great team, and Diamandis is no exception. He has a roughly 12-person “strike force” that works with him across all of his ventures. Each team member has been carefully selected.</p> <p>“I don't suffer assholes or fools,” says Diamandis, whose rigorous hiring process is proof of that. To fill a position, he’ll sometimes run a global contest. The winners advance to a 60- or 90-day trial period, after which, the entire team has to vote them in, meaning there must be 100 percent acceptance.</p> <p>“One person who's out of whack can send the whole thing careening,” he explains. “So it's really important that we operate as a team.”</p> <p>While he uses the Kolbe test, which assesses conative skills, Diamandis doesn’t rely heavily on testing to make his choices, preferring to use the team interview process as a major determiner.</p> <p>Ultimately, though, his hiring decisions boil down to one simple metric: He needs to genuinely like the candidate.</p> <p>“If when we're in the meeting and that person is talking, if I'm, in the back of my mind, saying, ‘I wish this guy would shut up,’ that's not a good situation. On the other hand, if we're in a meeting and I'm saying, ‘Listen, I haven't heard from you. I really want to hear your thoughts,’ that's a good situation. So I need to respect them and want to hear what they have to say.”</p> <p>Those same likeability and respect factors go into his selecting a co-founder or CEO. For every company Diamandis has started, he picked a co-founder or two to help him get it off the ground. Now that he has more than 20 companies, for some of them, he may step back and serve as founder and chairman and then either promote a co-founder to CEO or hire one to run the company.</p> <h2>Moving Forward</h2> <p>Not one to rest on his laurels, Diamandis has his hands on many projects, including a new book he’s working on with Tony Robbins. “I'm doing a lot,” he admits, “but it's all driven by passion.”</p> <p>As for work-life balance, for him, it doesn’t exist. “It's more about work-life integration,” he explains. “I am ‘on’ 24/7. I have two 7-year-old boys; I do my best to prioritize them, but there have been…too many days away, and so there is, for sure, the trade of time.”</p> <p>That trade-off is a familiar one for any entrepreneur trying to make a difference, big or small. “I know some of the more successful Silicon Valley gazillionaires,” says Diamandis, “and it's brutal sometimes. But at the end of the day, it's living a life of meaning and a life of where you get to choose how you spend your time and the dent you want to leave on this planet.”</p> <h2>4 Lessons Every Visionary Founder Can Learn From Peter Diamandis</h2> <p>It’s one thing to want to build a lifestyle business, one whose sole purpose is to make enough money to support the way you live, but it’s quite another to want to build a business that changes the world. If you fall in the latter camp, here’s what you can take away from our talk with Peter Diamandis:</p> <p><strong>Be true to yourself.</strong></p> <p>“The most important thing you need to do as a founder of a company is know that you love what you're doing, and you're not doing it for your parents, for your friends, for your teacher, out of obligation. … You’re doing it because it is what you love doing.”</p> <p><strong>Know your MTP.  </strong></p> <p>“What's your massively transformative purpose? What is it that keeps you going? Who do you want to be a hero to?”</p> <p><strong>Think big(gest).</strong></p> <p>“I teach that the world's biggest problems are the world's biggest business opportunities. If you want to become a billionaire, help a billion people.”</p> <p><strong>Harness exponential technologies to help people at scale.</strong></p> <p>“As an entrepreneur, you can choose to work hard 40 hours a week…and impact a hundred people, or you can work those same hours and impact a million people. It's your choice. The tools we have to impact the world are extraordinary.”</p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Peter grew up wanting to be an astronaut, went to medical school, and managed to merge his passion for space with his knowledge of medicine.</li> <li>The 20+ companies he’s started, including Space Adventures, Zero-G, and XPRIZE</li> <li>Peter’s advice for founders</li> <li>The new book he’s working on with Tony Robbins</li> <li>How he curates an amazing team, including his rigorous vetting process</li> <li>How technology is taking what used to be scarce and making it abundant</li> <li>How he’s inspiring entrepreneurs to think bigger and change the world through his exclusive Abundance Digital community</li> <li>On using your “massively transformative purpose” (MTP) to drive your business forward</li> <li>What Peter’s MTPs are</li> <li>The sacrifices he’s had to make to get where he is today</li> </ul>
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247: Finding Your Focus as a Serial Entrepreneur, With Jake McKeon of Coconut Bowls
<h2>The Power of Focus</h2> <h3>How Jake McKeon of Coconut Bowls stopped chasing new ideas, and scaled a business and community that he’s passionate about.</h3> <p>Jake McKeon considers himself an idea man, and that’s not always been a good thing.</p> <p>For years, he lept from one idea to another, always enchanted by a shiny new business possibility. With a thumb on the pulse of social trends and a knack for testing new business ideas, McKeon always had two or three ventures going at the same time.</p> <p>It’s common for new entrepreneurs to begin their journeys by following their ideas, imaginations, and curiosities. But McKeon was taking that to the extreme, and eventually found himself a little scattered. He needed to find a way to center himself, and ultimately that meant being grounded in his personal passions.</p> <p>Through some tough experiences and hard lessons, McKeon learned to mute the part of himself that saw potential in every new idea. Instead, he turned up the volume on the interests he personally cared about the most, and let that guide him to his sole venture today—Coconut Bowls.</p> <p>The name may sound a little funny when you put it in such a serious context. But today, Coconut Bowls is a thriving business with a charitable initiative that supports rural coconut farmers and local artisans in Vietnam and Indonesia. In the process, the company is providing people with ethical and healthy livelihoods and reducing environmental waste. Here’s how McKeon is proving that having a heart is good for business.</p> <h2>The Creation of Coconut Bowls</h2> <p>McKeon had already experienced a few failed startups by the time he finally connected with Coconut Bowls, but when this one took shape, it was an entirely different story.</p> <p>“Coconut Bowls has been the most natural of all my businesses,” McKeon says. “The product fell into my lap.” McKeon was walking through a market in Bali and came across some handcrafted coconut products. He was running a health and superfood business at the time and thought that his customers would love this simple concept—bowls made from coconuts.</p> <p>So, he had a bunch of bowls made, filled his suitcase, and started selling them online back home in Australia. He found that—on his shoestring budget—it was actually cheaper to fly back and forth to Bali with empty suitcases than to ship the product.</p> <p>McKeon ended up making a few more trips, each time bringing more and more luggage. On one trip, he brought along a couple friends and a load of empty surfboard bags. “We didn’t have any surfboard equipment, just coconut bowls. So coming back through customs was ridiculous, but they let us through, thankfully,” McKeon says.</p> <p>It wasn’t long after that trip when Coconut Bowls started to see sales and momentum build (and made the switch to sea freight).</p> <h2>The Backstory</h2> <p>But what originally brought McKeon to Bali, and to that fated market that brought him face-to-face with his most profitable business venture yet?</p> <p>It was a thirst for travel and healthy food—and failure.</p> <p>To understand McKeon’s story, let’s back up to the very first business he started, six years prior, Moodswing. Moodswing was a social networking app for sharing emotions. “I wanted to create a safe platform for peer-to-peer emotional support, for people to speak openly and honestly,” McKeon says.</p> <p>With no experience in business or tech, McKeon came up with the idea for Moodswing, and simply assumed people would want it. Following that assumption, he went on to spent all $40,000 of his savings—money he’d originally intended to use to travel.</p> <p>“Moodswing was my most outlandish business concept,” he recalls. “I was very naive at how hard the process was going to be.”</p> <p>McKeon hooked up with a co-founder and developed the app idea. On top of his savings, he raised another $20,000 from family and friends, increasing his overall funding to $60,000. He also put significant efforts toward marketing it and growing his user base.</p> <p>His growth hacking worked. In 10 weeks, Moodswing had reached a user base of 100,000 people, faster than either Instagram or Facebook had experienced early on.</p> <p>Moodswing’s significant and immediate growth only fueled McKeon’s naiveté. “I thought I was the next Mark Zuckerberg.”</p> <p>He flew to the States and met with a few investors, namely Snapchat investor Jeremy Liu. During McKeon’s pitch, Liu promptly asked about his app retention metrics, and McKeon was stumped. “I thought, ‘What are ?’” he says, laughing.</p> <p>It turned out that only 10 percent of those who downloaded Moodswing returned, which reflected poorly on the user experience of the app. McKeon returned to Australia, humbled.</p> <p>With only $20,000 left in the bank—not enough to improve on the app—he decided to pitch to an accelerator. They agreed to invest $25,000 in exchange for 10 percent of the business, but only if those friends and family who invested were no longer involved.</p> <p>“So I used the remaining $20,000 to pay back our friends and family members who’d invested,” McKeon says. “I didn’t want them to lose out, and it was good, because I’d never do business like that with friends and family again. I learned that lesson and got out scot-free.”</p> <p>McKeon and his team spent three intensive months creating a beautiful new app for Moodswing, then returned to the US to raise more money. “At this stage, Moodswing had a 60 percent retention rate, which was really good. Forty percent of users returned seven days later, and 30 percent returned 30 days later,” McKeon says.</p> <p>Investors essentially told McKeon that if Moodswing could get to 10,000 daily users, they’d be able to raise whatever they wanted. But the app only ever got up to 8,000 weekly active users.</p> <p>It was the end of the road for McKeon and Moodswing. “We just couldn't get there. We didn't have any more money,” he says. The business also started to lose McKeon’s attention. His co-founder’s, too.</p> <p>With Moodswing in his rearview mirror, McKeon switched gears and started an organic superfood business called SupermixME. This time he took a more traditional route, ordering a batch of products for $5,000 on his credit card, packaging them at home, selling them, and buying another batch. But things were moving too slow for him.</p> <p>So he took a step back and asked himself, “What am I good at?” He realized that, although Moodswing didn’t work out, he’d gained valuable insight into the world of social media marketing. He used that experience to start an agency, 7 Star Social, and quickly landed a few profitable clients.</p> <p>At that point, McKeon was ready to take a break. “I decided I was going to travel for six months and work online,” he says. “I didn't want to focus on growing anything.”</p> <p>His travels brought him to Central America, Europe, and—you guessed it—Bali. When McKeon returned, armed with a suitcase filled with coconut bowls, he started to scale his social media agency. At its peak, 7 Star Social was servicing more than 35 clients, each paying between $500 and $2,000 per month.</p> <p>And in the background, Coconut Bowls was growing slowly. Eventually, McKeon decided he didn’t want to work for other people anymore, so he turned his sole focus to Coconut Bowls.</p> <h2>A Few Valuable Lessons</h2> <p>McKeon walked away from his experiences with Moodswing, SupermixME, and 7 Star Social with much more than the idea for Coconut Bowls. “I look at my journey like an apprenticeship,” he says, one that gave him a crash course in failure and success.</p> <p>McKeon’s first major lesson from that time was around building a minimum viable product—a process he failed to follow when launching Moodswing. “It’s all about finding product-market fit before doing anything,” McKeon says.</p> <p>That can be a hard thing to define, exactly, but when you’ve got it, people will start buying and enjoying your product organically. “It shouldn’t feel like a hard sell,” he says.</p> <p>McKeon thought he had a good idea and spent all of his money without testing whether it was something people wanted. Looking back, he realized that he could've created a simple website or Facebook group and asked for feedback. “There are so many ways to test . It’s cheap to do and saves time and money in the long run,” McKeon says.</p> <p>The second major lesson he learned was to avoid doing things too fast. “Take your time. Don't expect immediate success.”</p> <p>With Moodswing, McKeon spent all his time getting those 100,000 users as fast as he could, but in reality, he says that businesses shouldn’t want to achieve that level of growth until they’re happy with their product.</p> <p>“When our users tried , didn’t like it, and deleted it, they weren’t going to give us a second chance,” McKeon says. “Focus on product first, make sure people like it, then look to marketing.”</p> <h2>The Power of Focus and Community</h2> <p>McKeon’s biggest takeaway, though, was about focus. He had always given more attention to new ideas than the things he was most passionate about, despite the advice he’d heard countless times from others.</p> <p>McKeon found that with every new business, there was always a new, more exciting idea that held more potential—hence his quick transition between Moodswing, SupermixME, and 7 Star Social. But he doesn’t recommend the same for other entrepreneurs.</p> <p>In his opinion, when you focus on just one business, you learn more about the product and industry, and you invest more time into talking to your customers. Over time, McKeon has found that this only strengthens your passion, or develops a new one.</p> <p>When it comes to Coconut Bowls, for example, McKeon has always been passionate about health, and has since become passionate about running a socially responsible business. “While I’ve always been mindful and conscious of sustainability, it’s never been a passion. But it’s been developed since I’ve fed off excitement and passion of our community.”</p> <p>McKeon has derived valuable learnings from his community since creating Coconut Bowls three years ago, none more so than from a live strategy session with Quest Nutrition co-founder Tom Bilyeu.</p> <p>The duo conducted the session on a live Foundr podcast, and McKeon walked away with some valuable lessons. “We were one year into Coconut Bowls and had some epic growth,” he recalls. “But we were chasing our tails. We didn't have a long-term strategy, a community strategy, or a brand strategy.</p> <p>As an avid supporter of building community, Bilyeu helped McKeon learn the value of “supporting the people who support you.” That conversation helped shape the Coconut Bowls business and influenced a lot of McKeon’s current marketing and growth strategies.</p> <p>One of his biggest marketing wins with Coconut Bowls has been building a customer base that markets for them. Through social media engagement, a thank-you card and follow-up email, McKeon and his team encourage customers to share on social media what they made in their bowl.</p> <p>“We started with this strategy and are still using this call-to-action today,” McKeon says. “We’re very lucky that our customers do our marketing for us, and it’s basically been the driver for our growth.”</p> <p>Another successful tactic has been creating something to do with the Coconut Bowls community. Along with his customers and other content creators, McKeon and his team came together to create a cookbook, Vegan Bowls for Vegan Souls. It’s had tens of thousands of  sales to date.</p> <p>“We’ve had feedback from customers saying that it’s changed their lives,” McKeon said. “It’s not just a cookbook; it’s also built around having fun in the kitchen and being mindful about where your food comes from.”</p> <p>Eventually, McKeon sees the Coconut Bowls brand expanding, which will allow him to expand the product line and its “made-by-nature” concept.</p> <p>But McKeon and his team don’t only see Coconut Bowls as a brand—they view their business as a community and a collective of people who are all passionate about health, nature, and sustainability. “We share recipes with each other. We share inspiration and experiences,” McKeon says. “It really brings people together. … It almost comes back to the root of Moodswing—people who support each other.”</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How a couple of failed ventures led to what he’s doing today</li> <li>The story behind how Coconut Bowls came to be</li> <li>McKeon’s history of testing multiple product ideas at one time</li> <li>The key difference between Coconut Bowls and his other ventures</li> <li>How he leveraged user-generated content and social media to grow</li> <li>The biggest lessons he learned from his previous business, Moodswing</li> <li>The power of focus to combat “shiny object syndrome”</li> <li>Where Coconut Bowls is going next, particularly with product line expansion</li> <li>How Coconut Bowls is fostering its community for growth</li> <li>The Instagram strategies he’s used that he thinks will last long term</li> <li>The challenges Coconut Bowls is facing, even with its success</li> </ul>
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246: Co-Founder Matthew Brimer on General Assembly’s Tremendous Growth and $412M Exit
<p>Matthew was a guest of <a href="https://www.startcon.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">StartCon</a>, Australia’s largest startup and growth conference. It was held at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.</p> <p>When he was young, Matthew Brimer spent his days taking apart old electronics and dreaming of space exploration. A child of the Midwest, he was raised on the belief that hard work and passion could turn even the grandest dreams into realities.</p> <p>As he grew older, he continued to hold tightly to this conviction, and, with the blood of two entrepreneurial parents pumping through his veins, Brimer knew he wouldn’t be stuck in his high school job selling ice cream forever.</p> <p>Always that tinkering kid at heart, Brimer wanted to be an inventor. And he ultimately achieved his dream, but in a way he never would have imagined while growing up. He became an inventor of businesses, of communities, of experiences.</p> <p>Co-founder of several brands to date, including dance party/lifestyle brand Daybreaker, VC firm The Fund, and most notably online education platform General Assembly—Brimer has developed an incredible knack for building passionate, engaged communities. Today, General Assembly has 20 campuses and more than 35,000 alumni, and Brimer serves as a mentor to members of the next generation of entrepreneurs through his role at The Fund, a New York City community of founders that he co-founded.</p> <p>And it all began with an old piece of furniture and a lucky break on eBay.</p> <h3>Extracurricular Activities</h3> <p>In 2005, during Brimer’s freshman year at Yale, he and a few buddies noticed that some of the buildings were under renovation and the university was selling the contents in the process. After perusing the items for sale, they decided to buy an antique piece of furniture to see what they could get for it on eBay.</p> <p>They took a couple photos of the item, posted it and hoped they could make a few extra bucks from the sale.</p> <p>They had purchased the piece for $50. It sold for $1,000.</p> <p>Minds blown, they rushed back to the buildings, bought more items and the college freshmen launched a small online business in the antique furniture space.</p> <p>Having caught the entrepreneurial bug, Brimer wanted to try his hand at something a little bigger—something that required more technical skill.</p> <p>In 2007, he and four other college students launched the website GoCrossCampus.com, an online game that turned college rivalries into a wildly popular online battle.</p> <p>“We made every first time founder mistake in the book. It ended up a few years later becoming a total failure,” Brimer says. “But for a while we were the largest college gaming network in the country.”</p> <p>He acknowledged that with too many founders and no way to generate new revenue, the project was doomed to fail, and GoCrossCampus shut the doors to its battleground in 2010. But while his first project may have ended, Brimer’s desire to create new things had only begun to grow.</p> <p>He graduated, moved to New York and freelanced as a web designer while he spent all his free time immersing himself in the tech space. Although the city was bursting with brilliant entrepreneurs and new, exciting ideas, Brimer soon realized that bringing them together to interact and exchange those ideas was a challenge.</p> <p>What if, he wondered, there was a physical building dedicated specifically to serving those in the tech space? What if there was a place where they could work alongside each other and learn while building meaningful community?</p> <p>With that dream in mind, Brimer, Jake Schwartz, Adam Pritzker, and Brad Hargreaves co-founded General Assembly in early 2011.</p> <h3>Education for the 21st Century</h3> <p>General Assembly launched as a place for coworking, education, and community, under a single membership model, and this system worked well at first. But Brimer quickly noticed that, to better serve members, a greater emphasis had to be placed on building out the educational branch of the brand.</p> <p>“There’s this huge skills gap between where traditional higher education leaves off and where the 21st century begins,” he says. “College education isn’t changing that much relatively speaking. But the 21st century—in terms of what employers are looking for, in terms of the talent they’re hiring, in terms of the skills you need to be effective in any industry today—that’s moving quickly.”</p> <p>Brimer says that a traditional university education can leave graduates in tech fields woefully unprepared for the challenges ahead, and this was the gap he hoped General Assembly could fill. So they eliminated the coworking aspect of the business and doubled down on providing quality education from stellar instructors.</p> <p>According to Brimer, these practical training programs on digital skills taught by actual practitioners currently working in the space were the most powerful, the most transformative thing they could provide. He wanted to equip students with valuable skills that enabled them to land a new job, upgrade their current position or pursue their passions in the digital economy.</p> <p>Brimer and his cofounders threw themselves into the new phase of their business, raising more capital, expanding their curriculum both online and off, and launching a new branch that offers corporate training and assessments to large companies. They also built out a credentials program and launched a philanthropic wing designed to lift up those with talent and tenacity from all socioeconomic backgrounds.</p> <p>With this grand expansion came a need to cement the trust consumers had in the brand.</p> <p>From day one, Brimer placed a significant focus on delivering measurable outcomes at General Assembly, as a way to build firm trust in the brand. He wanted to answer the question, “What can I do after experiencing this product that I couldn’t do before,” with an unequivocal answer: get a job in tech.</p> <p>It’s no secret that a college degree doesn’t necessarily guarantee a job after graduation, and this, Brimer feels, is a major issue right now for traditional colleges and universities.</p> <p>“So here you have spent all this money, all this time getting a college degree and it doesn’t guarantee you a job anymore,” he says. “The outcomes are a little nebulous.”</p> <p>Brimer and General Assembly wanted to provide something with more certainty. By supplying classes in coding, data, design, marketing, business, and career development, as taught by instructors with the most up-to-date information, Brimer feels that General Assembly fills the gap left by traditional education, more directly preparing students for a career in the industry.</p> <p>The co-founders of General Assembly also made a concerted effort to attract instructors who were not only excellent in their fields, but also who cared deeply about passing their knowledge and skills on to others.</p> <p>Brimer says that the best instructors at General Assembly are those who love giving back and empowering others, even if they’ve never had any teaching experience. Today, according to its website, there are more than 250 expert instructors. With an ever-evolving curriculum, and continued expansion, General Assembly is bound to continue making a splash in the tech world.</p> <p>Brimer began as a cofounder, later transitioned into a part-time position, and this summer he stepped into a new role as an external “evangelist for the company,” when the Adecco Group acquired the brand for $412 million.</p> <p>While his day-to-day work at General Assembly may have come to a close, he is still extremely passionate about what he was able to accomplish during his time there, and is excited to see what new frontiers they are able to conquer in the years to come.</p> <p>Brimer is no longer the kid tinkering with household electronics in Missouri, but with free time to concentrate on new ventures, he’s still dreaming big.</p> <p>“It would be a hilarious thing,” he says, “to explain to my 6-year-old or 8-year-old self what it is that I am, have been, and will be.”</p> <h3>4 Ways To Establish Trust in Your Brand</h3> <p>When competing with major colleges and established universities, the way Matthew Brimer was when he co-founded General Assembly, it is absolutely essential to establish deep trust in the brand as quickly as possible. But all brands, not just those in the education space, have to find a way to build a bridge of trust between company and consumer to become successful. These are four of Brimer’s best tips on how to establish trust for your brand.</p> <h4>1. Deliver Measurable Outcomes</h4> <p>Brimer says that one of the best possible ways to build trust in your brand is to deliver outcomes that are clear and measurable. To decide what that outcome is, he recommends asking, “What is possible for a customer after engaging with the brand or product that would have been completely unattainable before?” By nailing down the measurable outcome and then delivering it, it turns word-of-mouth references into undeniable, tangible results.</p> <h4>2. Celebrate Success Stories</h4> <p>Once you’ve determined what “measurable success” for your brand looks like, it’s time to celebrate those who have achieved it! Brimer says that even prestigious colleges only gained the clout they have because of the success of their alumni. In the same way, the successes of others who have interacted with your product reflect back onto your brand.</p> <h4>3. Establish and Adhere to Core Values</h4> <p>By crafting a definitive and concrete set of core values you can stand by, customers learn what they should expect from your products and services. Brimer says that by delivering on those values, you can develop an invaluable level of trust with consumers that can only come from maintaining integrity.</p> <h4>4. Stay Humble</h4> <p>Brimer says that, all too often, as companies grow larger, so do the egos of the people at the top, preventing them from quickly acknowledging mistakes and accepting feedback with humility.</p> <p>“The more human of a relationship you can have as a company with your users, the more trust you’re going to have,” he says. “Trust goes away when it’s a faceless brand—a faceless corporate entity—interacting with live humans on the other side. That’s when things go downhill.”</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Why we need to stop asking children what they want to be when they grow up</li> <li>How buying an antique piece of furniture at Yale sparked his first ecommerce business</li> <li>How he and his friends built the largest college gaming network in the country</li> <li>How General Assembly got started</li> <li>The philanthropic arm of General Assembly</li> <li>GA’s $412.5 million acquisition by Adecco Group</li> <li>What it’s like post-acquisition and his involvement in General Assembly</li> <li>GA’s hybrid approach of both online and in-person classes</li> <li>Why, from an employer perspective, General Assembly is a great source for talent acquisition</li> <li>How GA built trust in their brand in the early days</li> <li>What they look for in a General Assembly instructor</li> </ul>
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245: Crafting a Brand Worn by the NBA, NFL, AND Navy SEALS, With Aidan Clarke of 2XU and SA1NT
<h3>How Aidan Clarke grew global brands 2XU and Saint by prioritizing product.</h3> <p>In a market saturated with quick, cheap fashion, building a high-quality, global apparel empire was not an easy feat—but in 13 short years, Aidan Clarke paved a way.</p> <p>It took a lot of dedication, but Clarke was determined to make a game-changing clothing company. Clarke decided early on that he doesn’t care about how his apparel looks, as much as he cares about its quality, and that commitment has paid off in a big way.</p> <p>His first and primary brand, 2XU, is based on the idea of making high-performance athletic wear, with a focus on unique, custom-engineered materials first. This approach and the resulting success would lead him to his second brand, Saint, which takes that same emphasis on materials and applies it to safety gear for motorcyclists.</p> <p>The funny thing is, by focusing on high-end users and materials, Clarke’s companies ended up creating products that have much broader appeal than the initial target audiences, branching out into athleisure, workwear, and potentially even streetwear for skateboarders.</p> <p>Through these two brands, Clarke has found a way to sell products that look good <em>and</em> perform well—and outfit consumers in over 60 countries.</p> <h2>From Door-to-Door Sales to 2 Worldwide Brands</h2> <p>Clarke got his first taste of the clothing business at just 18. As he was preparing for a school dance, he took a second glance at the neckties he and his friends were buying. A young entrepreneur’s mind started crunching numbers and realized that the fabric only cost $30 per meter, and each meter could make up to seven ties. Yet here he was shelling out almost $100 to purchase just one. “I thought, ‘Hang on, there’s a business here,’” Clarke recalls.</p> <p>He decided to start making his own ties and selling them door-to-door to businesses in his home of Auckland, New Zealand.</p> <p>Clarke’s entrepreneurial path didn’t continue in a perfectly linear fashion, a common theme we see among emerging founders. After graduation, he went to college and started a corporate career. His pushed his entrepreneurial passions to the back of his mind, but not for long.</p> <p>“I ironically landed back in clothing,” Clarke says. “I’d grown up around seamstresses and saw the value-add of clothing.”</p> <p>Clarke started his first apparel brand 2XU in Melbourne in 2005 and moved his family there soon after. He spent the following five years on a plane building 2XU into a multinational business reaching more than 60 countries.</p> <p>Why Melbourne? Clarke and his team had received a significant amount of startup funding, and their investor was based in Melbourne. The Australian market for 2XU was also better than in New Zealand. “We spotted an opportunity. New Zealand had lots of local sports brands, but Australia ironically didn't,” Clarke says. “We wanted to take on the big boys.”</p> <p>2XU started with audacious goals. Clarke and his team wanted 2XU to be uniquely performance-focused, so they spent the entire first year developing fabrics for their apparel, before creating their product. “You can either buy fabric or focus on quality,” Clarke says. “We said, ‘Hey, we want to change the fabric.’”</p> <p>With millions in seed capital, they were able to spend ample time and resources on fabric development. Eventually, their warehouse became so full that they had to start selling their product.</p> <p>Clarke and his team did wholesale and direct sales at the same time. While most clothing brands avoid direct sales so as to not compete with wholesalers, 2XU opened its first retail store to prove they could sell premium, expensive sportswear in Australia. “Selling at our own store motivated retailers to accept products,” Clarke says. “Having our own hero shop drove demand for wholesale.”</p> <p>The team also visited both retail and special sports stores. Selling next to well-established international brands was difficult, but they pressed on. Their first major sale was to a now-closed triathlon store that purchased the entire 2XU line for over $3,500.</p> <p>Another significant sale Clarke remembers was to Rebel Sport, a major retail chain in Australia and New Zealand. “Needless to say, we had a few drinks that night,” he says, laughing.</p> <p>Clarke’s next step for expanding 2XU was finding ambassadors and distributors. But that wasn’t always easy. “Trusting someone with your brand is like a glorified babysitter,” Clarke says. “You have to find someone with the same passion to sell your story.”</p> <p>He found that the best thing about distribution is how it taps into local knowledge and expertise. The 2XU team worked hard to find passionate brand ambassadors and people to accurately represent 2XU brand in each country. In doing so, they found mostly nontraditional distributors: athletes.<br /> <br /> “It was a big risk, but passion is the right of way,” Clarke says. Over time, some distributors scaled with 2XU operations, and some were replaced by commercial operations.</p> <p>In the following years, 2XU celebrated two major equity events. In 2011, a local company bought 30 percent of the company. Next, the capital arm of Louis Vuitton discovered the brand and bought in at 40 percent, a significant valuation for 2XU.</p> <p>Since then, 2XU has scaled up and hired corporate CEOs to run the company. “The challenge we face, though, is how to still act like a small business…an underdog,” Clarke says. “We used to say, ‘By athletes, for athletes,’ but we can’t say that anymore.”</p> <p>But at the end of the day, the 2XU product is “still sensational.” It’s been well-received at the professional and Olympics level and is very much considered a premium brand. In the United States, it’s worn by the NBA, NFL, and even Navy Seals.</p> <p>In other places, 2XU apparel has become an athleisure staple. “You don’t have to be a world champion to still want quality,” Clarke says.</p> <p>After getting 2XU settled, Clarke pulled back and spent a “non-executive year” focused on himself and his health. One day, while riding bikes with his co-founder, he came up with what would become his next big idea—a new form of safety apparel for motorcyclists.</p> <p>The idea sounded simple, but as the duo dove into R&D, they realized creating this type of product would require a significant commitment. “It cost us a couple million dollars after a couple years,” Clarke says. This effort would go on to become Saint, Clarke’s second global clothing brand.</p> <p>Their goal was to create a single-layer safety product—ensuring a flexible, comfortable riding experience—that wouldn’t rip or tear if someone fell off their motorcycle. The global “slide time” standard for the fabric on these products (which defines the amount of time that a fabric should withstand sliding across an abrasive surface, such as pavement, before it tears) is four seconds, and they’re routinely tested in facilities equipped with spinning disks of sandpaper that replicate sliding on the street.</p> <p>Their first fabric lasted 3.67 seconds before ripping—just short of the standard but still much longer than any other single-layer fabric. After continual development, Clarke’s fabric now lasts almost six seconds.</p> <p>This single idea helped Clarke and his brand break into work clothes and other tough lifestyle applications.</p> <p>They’ve since patented their super-durable fabric, which involves a unique material spun into the yarn. “As for workwear, no one can do what we’ve done,” Clarke says. “It’s nice to have the IP protection.”</p> <h2>Premium Product > Price</h2> <p>Both of Clarke’s businesses, 2XU and Saint, lead with a premium product line. And there’s a reason for that. “People often lead with price,” Clarke says. “That’s a lazy way to sell. Product is king.”</p> <p>Some clothing retailers also find themselves tempted to sell their products relying on aesthetics alone, but not Clarke. “Rather than being a fashion brand, I’d rather be an authentic motorcycle brand with tough products…that also look good,” he says about Saint.<br /> <br /> Instead of encouraging people to “buy because it's cool," he always wants the dialogue to be, "buy because it's going to protect you."<br /> <br /> Through both ventures, Clarke aimed to develop a high-quality product, as he believes that is his “greatest value proposition and strong positioning” against competitors. He believes that “if you have an amazing product, you're not selling—you're just recommending.”<br /> <br /> Of course, selling your product is much easier when other people endorse it. In Clarke’s eyes, strong brands start with a great product or service, get their margins right so they’re profitable, and then create demand. “People think there’s a complexity to business, but there’s also a simplicity,” Clarke says.</p> <p>How can you create this demand? Clarke relates it to a “chicken and egg” situation. If you create demand before you’re ready to supply and distribute your product, you risk wasting resources because you’re essentially creating demand for competitors. On the other hand, if you develop and supply your product before the demand is there, you risk wasting resources on product that never brings in revenue.</p> <p>To build demand for your product, Clarke recommends doing so authentically. He and his team often attended sports events and spread the word about 2XU to one person at a time. Those early adopters and advocates would then tell friends. “It’s like a grassroots movement,” Clarke says.<br /> <br /> By targeting their market and talking to those who are passionate about what they do, they got authentically involved with communities and built trust in 2XU from the ground up. The same can be done through social communities.</p> <p>Clarke claims that social media, in fact, is a lot more directed. “The ability to target and generate demand is more focused than ever,” he says. “That’s what’s exciting about today.”<br /> <br /> Clarke and his team have made other exciting changes over the years. When they started 2XU, they only had an informational website. They didn’t want to compete with wholesalers through ecommerce sales. Now, ecommerce is one of their biggest and most important channels.</p> <p>Every business’s website is now the flagship store, at least to begin with, Clarke says. People form their judgments about your products very quickly, and you’ve got to have your website synchronized with the products you’re offering in the real world.</p> <h2>The Future of Saint and 2XU</h2> <p>Looking ahead, Clarke is excited for the futures of both 2XU and Saint. The brands are at different stages, but they both sell high-quality product and are both in growth mode, as Clarke calls it. His primary growth measure isn’t from a focus on sales numbers—it’s from a focus on communities.</p> <p>“Saint is a rocketship about to take off,” Clarke says. “It’s five times tougher than standard workwear.” The brand has even had inquiries about street fashion and safety gear for skateboarders and other action sports.</p> <p>As for 2XU, Clarke says that seeing more and more people discover the brand is exciting.<br /> <br /> To other entrepreneurs, Clarke encourages “passion, tenacity, resilience, and a belief in yourself.” He highly encourages those in the clothing business to focus on quality. “Cheap fashion is too hard a place to play,” he says. “It’s not unique enough.”<br /> <br /> When you have a unique space and unique selling proposition, you have a better chance of selling your product—or having it sell itself. Clarke is also adamant about using brand ambassadors to create a movement and conversation around your products or services.</p> <p>“The tough thing about clothing is that scalability is hard,” Clarke says. Small businesses often buy too much stock, but Clarke encourages the opposite—pay more to make fewer units and sell them up.</p> <p>In his opinion, it’s better to scale yourself up. Too much stock can put clothing brands in a hard place. Unlike the whiskey business, apparel product is worth less and less every year.</p> <p>At the end of the day, Clarke reminds brands and entrepreneurs to prepare themselves for the road ahead. “It’s a tough game,” he says. “Just believe in yourself, be resilient, and keep pushing.”</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>His first job as a teenager selling ties door-to-door</li> <li>Why he left his corporate career to start a business in 2005</li> <li>All the leg work that went into developing a premium performance clothing brand</li> <li>How the internet affected his business</li> <li>On raising capital and how he used the funds</li> <li>How he and his cofounder came up with the idea for the world’s strongest single-layer denim for motorcyclists</li> <li>Why he focuses heavily on performance, not fashion</li> <li>Advice for fellow entrepreneurs entering the apparel space</li> </ul>
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244: Viral Growth and Influencer Marketing in Ecommerce, with Ben Francis of Gymshark
<p>At 16, he began building websites.</p> <p>At 18, he became a regular at the gym.</p> <p>At 20, he started sewing and screen-printing workout apparel in his garage.</p> <p>By 26, when most adults are only on the cusps of their careers, Ben Francis had already launched a viral gym clothing line, served as its CEO, and stepped down in favor of a more creative role in the wildly successful company.</p> <p>Today, the Gymshark founder works alongside 190 staff, including the high school buddies who partnered with him to launch the brand, bringing this unmistakable apparel line to customers in more than 130 countries.</p> <p>And while it seems like this former pizza delivery boy magically rocketed to entrepreneurial stardom overnight (OK, he sort of did), his success can be traced back to a dedication to community building and an innate understanding of social media influencer marketing, long before it was a thing.</p> <p>But it all started with amateur website building, a love for fitness, and a whole lot of YouTube.</p> <p>Years before he was a CEO, Francis longed to make a name for himself in the fitness space. But the closest thing he had to investors were people calling to order a pizza, so establishing a clothing brand couldn’t have seemed less attainable.</p> <p>Not to be discouraged by limited funds, Francis and his high school friends began a workout supplement drop-shipping business and quickly realized that there was an opening in the workout apparel market.</p> <p>Dressing a bodybuilder and a skinny, weight-lifting newbie are two totally different jobs, especially when you’re going for form-hugging designs fit for a workout. Francis and friends, however, believed they could create a line that would be sleek, modern, and appealing to gymgoers of any body type.</p> <p>“And so,” Francis says, “I bought a screen printer and a sewing machine and started to make the clothes by hand.”</p> <p>The designs were an overnight sensation.</p> <p>“People were seeing the clothes, and they were so iconic and unique, that it sort of started to spread like wildfire,” Francis says.</p> <p>But the real secret sauce was the passion he and his friends had for YouTube.</p> <h3>Influencing Influencers</h3> <p>In the early 2010s, YouTube was rising fast. People passionate about everything from movies to knitting, gaming to, yes, fitness, were creating video content and building communities around shared interests.</p> <p>Francis and his friends were among the millions who joined online followings based on their hobbies, but stuck around for the personalities in the videos. One such fitness YouTuber who held their attention was Lex Griffin of Lex Fitness, whose channel now has over 440,000 followers. Another was Chris Lavado, whose channel has 65,000 subscribers today.</p> <p>Realizing they could leverage the followings of others, Francis and his friends pursued a business strategy that put them on the map, and that they still use today.</p> <p>They sent samples to Griffin, Lavado and other fitness YouTubers they admired, and hoped for a stamp of approval—and a video to prove it.</p> <p>While the term “influencer marketing” has only recently entered into the pop consciousness, the principle has been around as long as marketing. Attracting the favor of a wealthy or influential person by showering them in gifts that define a brand is as a classic move, a point Francis illustrated by sharing some history of his hometown of Birmingham, UK.</p> <p>For hundreds of years, the Jewellery Quarter in central Birmingham has been a hub for opulent accessories. Many jewelers open businesses in the Quarter, and the competition is fierce. But historically, there was one way to ensure that a brand’s name would be on everyone’s lips: become the first choice of royalty.</p> <p>Frances explained that this principle of vying for favor worked then and still works now.</p> <p>“They would provide a bunch of free jewelry to royalty so that people would associate that jewelry with the royalty and then hopefully back to the brand and go buy it,” he says. “It’s no different to what influencer marketing is nowadays.”</p> <p>“I think it’s worked forever, and as far as I’m aware, I think it’ll always work.”</p> <p>And so, like an ambitious jeweler in the 1700s, Francis sent off his product to curry favor with those who had the power to make his brand catch fire. And it worked.</p> <p>“They absolutely loved it, and they’re still with us today,” he says. “That started, I guess, what you’d now call an influencer market for us.”</p> <p>Today, Francis continues to leverage the audiences of athletes through an ambassador program that now includes such personalities as bodybuilder Matt Ogus, lifestyle and fitness vlogger Nikki Blackketter, and weightlifter Whitney Simmons.</p> <p>Because of Francis’s early success in harnessing an influencer-generated market, Gymshark has never relied on investors for capital.</p> <p>“We never needed investment,” he says. “So why complicate things?”</p> <p>Francis recognizes, though, that there was also a component of luck at work. He entered the world of social media influencer marketing when it was still a young idea, and those with followings weren’t inundated daily with products in search of a boost.</p> <p>“I do think it’s a hell of a lot more difficult than when we first started,” he admits. “It’s a completely different place now.”</p> <p>But if he were to launch a new business today, a venture he says would be a fun challenge with the vastly changed online landscape, he knows exactly where he would focus his attention.</p> <p>“Product is king at the end of the day,” he says. “I would focus on creating an absolutely brilliant and a gorgeous product because I think from that, it’s like a snowball effect.”</p> <p>He believes that by designing a remarkable, unique, and stunning product, anyone can rise above the cacophony online.</p> <p>“If you get someone’s attention with a genuinely brilliant product, people will wear it, people will use it, and people will talk about it.”</p> <p>But for now, Francis is focused on the current community he has built.</p> <h3>Fostering Community</h3> <p>Growing up, Francis loved attending events and expos in his hometown and dreamed of the day he would not only participate, but host his own. His belief in the power of person-to-person advertising was instilled in him as a young expo attendee and has continued to stick with him into his mid-20s.</p> <p>“Even though the world is becoming ever more online, and 99.9 percent of what we do is online, there is always space for that human connection, and I think that’s really, really important, and it’s a real important thing to Gymshark.”</p> <p>So in Gymshark’s very early days, when an opportunity to participate in an expo presented itself, Francis says that nothing could have stopped him from finding a way to join.</p> <p>When he reached out to one of the coordinators to find out how much it would cost to get Gymshark a spot, he was quoted a price far more than they were able to afford at the time. But as Francis likes to emphasize, he plans hyper long-term and hyper short-term and lets the rest in between work itself out.</p> <p>“This was 12 months in advance of the show, and I was like, ‘Right, yeah. We’ll have it. We’ll get that, and we’ll just sort of make it work,’” he says. “It was our dream to go to an event like that.”</p> <p>And go they did, beginning a successful string of expo appearances that were initially in the UK, but rapidly branched out internationally until, eventually, they stopped going to expos and started hosting them.</p> <p>“I literally think, ‘Let’s make the product that I love,’ and by default, I think other people would love, and let’s create the event that I would love to go to, and by default, I think that other people would really enjoy to go,” he says.</p> <p>He also says that when it comes to events, making a profit is not the immediate goal. Just like the early days spent working a screen printer in a garage, Francis’s motivation is simply a desire to create something awesome. Something he loves.</p> <p>“We just sort of think, ‘Right, what would we really, really love to go to? Let’s go make it happen. Let’s forget about the profit and loss at that point for that event. Let’s just go make something really, really cool.’”</p> <p>But rapidly gaining a dedicated following, especially when selling a physical product, has its challenges. Francis says that Gymshark’s biggest challenge at the moment is keeping up with demand, especially when YouTube influencers or expo attendees are hyping them.</p> <p>“We definitely made massive improvements in the last six to 12 months, but there’s still a long, long way to go,” he says.</p> <p>Part of the Gymshark’s effort to keep up with growth meant Francis himself coming to terms with his right role within the company. As CEO, he quickly came to realize that he was in a position that he was not suited to fill.</p> <p>“We were growing so fast, and the role of the CEO is very people oriented,” he says. “I’m very much an introverted person. I’m much more suited, and work better, in either a very small team or on my own where I can really dive into a project, focus on that thing and make it really special.</p> <p>“As we were growing bigger, it became more and more evident to me that the CEO really needs to be a lot more of a strategist and a lot more of a people person than what I am.”</p> <p>So Francis made the difficult decision that it would be best for him to step into the role of Chief Brand Officer instead. But the transfer of CEO power didn’t just happen overnight, which he feels helped build trust among himself and the staff. It happened over a period of about a year as Steve Hewitt, the current CEO, slowly took on more and more until he finally stepped fully into the role.</p> <p>Of course, passing leadership on to someone else is always a humbling and challenging process, but it’s one that Francis has come to embrace as an opportunity to become more fully himself.</p> <p>“I think it’s very important to be self-aware and to understand what you are good at what you’re not good at,” he says. “I’m a massive, massive believer of that.”</p> <p>Today, Francis has the freedom to focus on product and vision, gathering small teams together to pursue new designs and strategies for the future.</p> <p>So what’s next for Gymshark?</p> <p>Francis says that they are always pursuing innovation and are currently in the process of designing new fabrics, as well as looking to branch out of the strictly apparel space.</p> <p>And in an effort to keep avid followers and fans of the brand up to date, Francis has recently launched a vlog series of his own, giving a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Gymshark and into his world.</p> <p>In the 10 years since Francis started creating amateur websites from home, his world has utterly transformed. But many things remain the same: a love of fitness, a passion for social media, and an unbreakable bond with his high school friends turned business partners.</p> <p>The Gymshark brand invites each customer and avid follower to “Be a visionary.” And Francis is asking nothing of his followers that he hasn’t done himself. After all, where would Gymshark be without an enthusiastic pizza delivery boy who had the vision to buy a screen printer, and the boldness to show the world what he could create?</p> <h3>Ben Francis’s Tips for Success</h3> <p>Launching a brand new product on your own or starting your own business is never easy. No matter how large or small the venture, it requires vision, courage, and determination. But Ben Francis believes that there are three things any beginning entrepreneur can do to improve their chances of success.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Surround Yourself With Support</strong></li> </ol> <p>Francis says he was once asked to share a story about a time when he was told that he couldn’t do something. He paused to think, but his mind came up blank. “That never happened, because I never surrounded myself with those people,” he says. Starting a business is a challenge, but with the support of people who inspire and motivate you, Francis believes that mountains are reduced back into molehills.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>Embrace Self-Awareness</strong></li> </ol> <p>Being honest with yourself and clear about who you truly are is one of Francis’s crucial steps to success. “Self-awareness is key,” he says. “I think it’s massive. You can only kid yourself for so long.” Without the ability to identify which skills you have in abundance and which you lack, you’ll be unable to build a team around you that complements your abilities and improves upon them.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>Play to Your Strengths</strong></li> </ol> <p>Once you’ve identified your strengths and weaknesses, Francis insists on the importance of allowing them to guide your decisions. “Could I do an operational…role for a little bit? Absolutely. I’m reasonably intelligent. I could manage,” he says. “But would I be able to do it for a sustained period really, really well? Absolutely not.”</p> <p>Rather than forcing yourself to be something you’re not, Francis encourages all entrepreneurs to be honest about their strengths and find ways to play to them, even if that means relinquishing, as he did, the title of CEO.</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How interests in building websites, going to the gym, and sewing and screen printing combined to help him launch a wildly successful business</li> <li>How connecting with YouTube influencers helped Gymshark take off</li> <li>On using events to build community</li> <li>The biggest challenge Gymshark faces right now</li> <li>Why Ben traded the role of CEO for Chief Brand Officer</li> <li>On separating personal brand from company brand</li> <li>Why Gymshark has never taken investments</li> <li>What he would do if he were to start a totally new ecommerce brand today</li> <li>What his personal life is like now that he’s a successful business owner</li> <li>What’s next for Gymshark</li> </ul>
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243: The 5 Traits That Help Founders Go From Dreamer to Doer, With Kim Perell of Amobee
<p>When Kim Perell landed a job at a hot new internet startup in 1998, she thought she had hit the jackpot.</p> <p>She loved her job and learned a lot, but when the dot-com bubble burst, the startup went bankrupt. What was once a dream company that she recruited many friends to join had become a nightmare when she had to lay off those friends, and then lose her own job too.</p> <p>“In an instant, someone pushed delete on my life, and my future, my identity,” she says. “My multimillion-dollar stock went up in flames and was worth nothing.”</p> <p>Perell turned to the one person she thought might give her a loan to start over: her grandmother. And sure enough, even though Nanny didn’t know what the internet was, she loaned her granddaughter $10,000, which Perell spent on a computer, a GoDaddy account for a website, and a one-way ticket to Hawaii to live with her boyfriend rent-free.</p> <p>Perell launched Frontline Direct, a digital marketing company pairing brands with online advertising. Scarred from the bankruptcy, she was eager to work for herself and get back to basics, which meant focusing on profitability and growth. In 2008, Frontline Direct was acquired for $30 million, and again by Amobee, where Perell now serves as CEO.</p> <p>Through all the ups and downs, Perell has learned many lessons, which she passes on to fellow entrepreneurs in her latest book, <em>The Execution Factor: The One Skill That Drives Success</em>. After investing in over 70 startups, she noticed one thing stood out in particular for those who succeeded: they focused on execution more than anyone else did.</p> <p>For her, writing <em>The Execution Factor</em> was a way to pay it forward.</p> <p>“If I could shortcut the system and share, based on my own experiences, what is important as an entrepreneur, that was really meaningful to me,” Perell says. “And I just felt like my grandma made a bet on me, and I was going to pay that back.”</p> <p>In addition to the book, she established The Execution Factor Fund to provide seed stage funding to execution-driven startups. One hundred percent of the proceeds from her book are contributed to this fund.</p> <p>(And in case you were wondering: Perell paid back the loan to her grandma.)</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The rock bottom moment when the internet startup she worked for went bankrupt in the dot-com bubble burst</li> <li>What she did with a $10,000 loan from her grandmother</li> <li>Founding Frontline Direct, a digital marketing company, while living rent-free in Hawaii</li> <li>Frontline Direct’s multimillion-dollar acquisition</li> <li>Her new book, The Execution Factor</li> <li>Why vision, though important, is not enough</li> <li>The five traits you need to master execution</li> <li>How to attract and retain great talent</li> <li>What she looks for when investing in businesses</li> <li>Thoughts on branding versus direct response</li> <li>On if she felt a loss of identity after selling her business</li> </ul>
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242: How Tony Fernandes Bought an Airline for Under $1 and Made it a Leading Carrier
<h2>Tony Fernandes has worn many hats over the course of his decades-long career. And if the Group CEO of AirAsia (and former host of The Apprentice Asia) ever finds himself dissatisfied with a signature look, he’ll just invent a new one.</h2> <p>“You have to keep renewing yourself,” Fernandes says. “You’re only as good as tomorrow.”</p> <p>That philosophy undergirds Fernandes’s entire career trajectory. Before starting what is now one of the world’s most successful budget airlines, Fernandes was an accountant, working briefly for the likes of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Communications. He then reinvented himself within the music business, where he served as a Warner Music executive in Malaysia.</p> <p>Fernandes’s latest reinvention is his biggest, and most complex. He’s the co-founder and Chairman of Tune Group, a conglomerate of hotel, automotive, financial services, education, media, and telecommunications industries subsidiaries. And he sits at the helm of AirAsia, a budget, no-frills airline that has revolutionized travel in Southeast Asia. After purchasing the then-bankrupt airline for a shocking 24 U.S. cents, Fernandes has grown the brand to a net worth of <strong><a href= "https://medium.com/thrive-global/the-inspiring-backstory-of-tony-fernandes-ceo-of-airasia-94c67b8110d2"> more than $1.5 billion</a></strong>. AirAsia is now the fourth-largest airline in Asia, behind only the big Chinese carriers (in 2017, AirAsia flew over 90 million passengers), and it recently embarked on an ambitious program that will see the airline transform itself into a travel technology company.</p> <p>To hear Fernandes tell it, two primary factors differentiate AirAsia from other companies. For starters, the company has always embraced digitization. And secondly, the organization is built on inclusivity and creating a fantastic work culture. Here’s how Fernandes has leveraged those strengths to build a company that no one thought possible.</p> <h3>Pursuing a Childhood Dream</h3> <p>In 2001, during Fernandes’s more than decade-long stint in the music business, digital advancements began to threaten deeply entrenched industry norms. Fernandes spotted an opportunity, but his colleagues weren’t so keen on the digital revolution.</p> <p>“Napster had come along and Spotify was just starting, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is super exciting for the music industry,’” Fernandes says. “But I was a lone voice.”</p> <p>No one at Warner Music or Time Warner Inc. (where Fernandes was working at the time) thought it was a good idea. “They thought the internet would destroy music,” Fernandes says. “My premise was that we can’t hold technology back and that this was a fantastic distribution model to create more revenue.”</p> <p>But his vision didn’t gain traction, and when Time Warner merged with AOL, he decided to bid adieu to his music industry career.</p> <p>He was sitting in a bar in London, trying to figure out what to do next with his life, when he saw mention of the budget airline easyJet on the pub’s TV. Fernandes instantly recalled his childhood love of planes.</p> <p>“Always from a very young age, I’d told my dad, ‘I’m gonna own an airline one day,’” he says. “That’s one of those things you say, but you’re not entirely sure you’re gonna do. But I always said it. And so I thought, ‘Well, this could be the time.’”</p> <p>It might seem like a bold move for a music industry exec to presume he could run an airline, but Fernandes was motivated by one simple premise: YOLO.</p> <p>“I thought… ‘You only live once,’” he says. “If I fail, I fail. It’s okay. I’ll go get a job doing something else. But I don’t want to sit there at 55 and say, ‘I wish I did it.’”</p> <p>Fernandes’s idea gained further traction after he started studying the models of low-cost airlines such as RyanAir. (RyanAir’s then-Director of Group Operations would later become a shareholder of Fernandes’s airline.) Inspired by what he refers to as an “amazing concept,” Fernandes gathered up some partners and returned to Malaysia for a meeting with the Prime Minister.</p> <p>The Prime Minister agreed to let Fernandes and his partners into the airline industry, but only if they purchased an existing airline. As a result of some devastating circumstances, there were a lot of opportunities. Fernandes was looking to purchase an airline around the time of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which had sent the industry reeling. He ended up purchasing AirAsia, a Malaysian government-owned airline that was $11 million in debt, for a grand total of 24 U.S. cents.</p> <h3>Driving Growth</h3> <p>After purchasing AirAsia, Fernandes knew he had to move fast. “It was very clear to me once we started moving that…I was going to put the foot to the accelerator because there were some big around me,” Fernandes says. “When you have something, scaling up is important.”</p> <p>Luckily, Fernandes spotted multiple avenues for growth.</p> <p>For starters, he knew that at the time he acquired AirAsia, only 6 percent of Malaysians flew. If he could capture even a portion of the other 94 percent, he’d be in business. What’s more, he was willing to fly to places that most airlines didn’t go. “A lot of our growth has come from destinations that no one did before,” he says.</p> <p>But perhaps AirAsia’s biggest differentiator was its use of the internet at a time when, globally, many still weren’t online. “Back in 2001, most people didn’t even have internet yet,” Fernandes says. “But I said, ‘Trust me, when I put a fare at 2  dollars, people are going to find their way to the internet.’” Since then, AirAsia has been religious about tracking and keeping data. So when huge brands started to embrace digitization many years later, they were already ahead of the game.</p> <p>Still, Fernandes knew he was at a disadvantage, due to his lack of industry knowledge, so he accelerated his learning to ensure he could continue AirAsia’s rapid growth. He sat down with engineers, pilots, simulators, and cabin crews; learned how to change a wheel; and generally threw himself into understanding the intricate workings of planes and airlines. “I was a sponge,” Fernandes says. “I took everything in.”</p> <p>A strong focus on innovation, learning, and growth helped Fernandes and his team make up for what they lacked in capital.</p> <p>“Let’s be real, three guys from the music business coming in to start an airline is not the most convincing business ,” Fernandes says. “No bank gave me a cup of coffee. Did we want capital? Of course. But we didn’t have it. But again…we built a massive airline with very little capital.”</p> <p>In fact, AirAsia only raised one round—$30 million around year three—before launching its initial public offering (IPO). “I’m old-fashioned in that aspect,” Fernandes says. “I believe in cash. I believe in making some profit. If you have a model where you can make money, make money. And of course reinvest some of that money, which we did.”</p> <p>Much of that money went into flying to new places. “The product was going places that no one else wanted to go,” Fernandes says. “We couldn’t stand still… kept adding routes and new destinations.”</p> <p>While the airline continues to add new destinations, today it’s equally focused on developing a multi-pronged digital strategy. The organization is digitizing all of its processes to enhance efficiency and the customer experience. It’s also attempting to create a comprehensive travel ecosystem that will enable users to book train tickets, purchase concert or other event tickets, use financial services, and so on, all from one central hub.</p> <p>“We’re using and building platforms that will provide more value to my customers…and it’s an exciting vision,” Fernandes says. “There’s a huge potential if we can execute well.”</p> <p>That execution hinges on a top-notch team working cohesively and effectively. Luckily, Fernandes has been building that since day one.</p> <h3>Building a Dynamite Culture</h3> <p>“Culture is, I think, the most important thing in the success of AirAsia,” Fernandes says.</p> <p>Fundamental to that culture is a bedrock of transparency and trust—even among 24,000 staff. “It is by complete choice that we’re open plan,” Fernandes says. “When you have an office, you have all these invisible walls. … So one day I just came in and smashed all the offices. I brought a contractor in and just tore them all down. And we’ve been open-plan ever since.”</p> <p>In keeping with the open office concept, AirAsia also employs a fairly flat organizational structure. “I like to think we utilize everyone’s brain,” Fernandes says. “We put everyone…in the same building. Everyone eats in the same place, everyone goes to the same gym. I want people who believe they can do a lot more and grow in this company.”</p> <p>This spirit of inclusivity extends to diversity. “We embrace diversity,” Fernandes says. “We don’t care what race, creed, color, sexual orientation you are. And I think that’s a strength. Because that gives us a huge diversity in our workplace, and a huge ability to attract great talent and great ideas. … I wanna have a fantastic, multi-ethnic, diverse company, and I think we’re not far from that.”</p> <p>Of course, when you’re dealing with a team of 24,000 people, it’s easy for bureaucracy to rear its ugly head. “We got big, and politics and bureaucracy creep in,” Fernandes says. “But it’s not something I’m gonna run away from. I confront it because bureaucracy and politics is the cancer of any organization”</p> <p>One strategy the team uses to confront bureaucracy is simply having fun. “I think too many business leaders take life too seriously,” Fernandes says. “Too many entrepreneurs get too stressed. Have a balance. You don’t have to work 18 hours a day. Make sure you give time to your family and your kids and your friends.”</p> <p>In Fernandes’s view, this juggling act is worth it in pursuit of building a great team. “You’ve gotta surround yourself with good people, and you’ve gotta be prepared to listen,” he says. “Too many founder CEOs think they know it all. … You can have all the ideas you want in the world, but the execution is what it’s about, and you need a good team.”</p> <p>Luckily, developing a great team has always been fundamental to Fernandes’s vision for AirAsia.</p> <p>“My vision was to create a great place to work—a fair place to work, where it didn’t matter whether you…had money or a great education, but if you had a great brain and you had the will and belief, you could achieve anything in this airline,” he says. “To turn a raw diamond into a diamond—and we have so many of those. … If you really push me, it’s allowing a lot of my staff to live their dreams—that would be something I’d be most proud about.”</p> <p>That spirit of affirmation and inclusivity extends from AirAsia’s team members to its customers. In spite of the many ways that Fernandes and his airline have reinvented themselves over the years, the company’s slogan has remained the same since Fernandes first developed his vision all those years ago: Now everyone can fly.</p> <p><strong>5 Mini-Lessons in Entrepreneurship from Tony Fernandes</strong></p> <ol> <li><strong>Spend Money on Branding and PR</strong></li> </ol> <p>“Great ideas are great ideas…only people know about them,” Fernandes says. “Too many businesses don’t spend enough on branding and marketing. Keep a budget for that.”</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>Always Be Reinventing</strong></li> </ol> <p>“The world is littered with products that didn’t reinvent themselves,” Fernandes says. For example, he references Nokia. “Who believe a world without Nokia phones? They were it.” Today, of course, the phone landscape is very different.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>Balance Focus With Innovation.</strong></li> </ol> <p>“You have to live within your means and live within your resources,” Fernandes concedes. “But you also can’t stand still. It’s a balance. But life is a balance. Everything you do is a balance.”</p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong>Don’t Worry so Much About Failure</strong></li> </ol> <p>“Failure doesn’t worry me, because I’d rather fail than not try at all,” Fernandes says. “Many people are too worried about failing, so they don’t do anything. I’ve had many failures… I don’t have any regrets, because if I didn’t try I didn’t know.”</p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong>Go With Your Gut</strong></li> </ol> <p>“You can do all the marketing research you want,” Fernandes says. “You just gotta go with your heart sometimes and do it.”</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Tony’s background in the music industry and how he wound up interested in airlines</li> <li>The wild story behind how he purchased AirAsia for 30 Australian cents</li> <li>The fundamental growth strategies he used on AirAsia</li> <li>His thoughts on funding</li> <li>AirAsia’s digital strategy</li> <li>On expanding your product line and trusting your gut</li> <li>AirAsia’s culture and why he thinks it’s the single most important factor in their success</li> <li>His advice on building a founding team</li> <li>How he came to host The Apprentice Asia</li> <li>His thoughts on personal branding as a CEO or founder</li> <li>How he views failure</li> </ul>
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241: Mastering Behavior-Based Email Marketing, with Jimmy Kim of Sendlane
<h2>Life in the Fast Lane</h2> <p>From washing cars, to selling them, to building businesses, Sendlane CEO Jimmy Kim credits focus as the key to his rise to the top.</p> <p>Like many children of Asian-American immigrants, Jimmy Kim knew his parents had high expectations for him. When he was a child, his mom told him that he needed to become a doctor because that would make him the most money.</p> <p>“I don’t wanna be a doctor,” the young Kim replied. “I’m gonna make more money than a doctor.”</p> <p>Fast forward to 2018, and Kim is making good on that promise to his parents, as an entrepreneur working in online marketing.</p> <p>He’s built and sold multiple companies, and now sits at the helm of the fast-growing email marketing software Sendlane. The bootstrapped company employs 25 full-time employees in its newly remodeled, 6,000-square-foot office in San Diego. As of May, Sendlane had already more than doubled its revenue over 2017 and was on track to triple or even quadruple that number by the end of the year.</p> <p>How did he get here? Kim attributes his success to one thing: focus.</p> <h2>From Washing Cars to Building Businesses</h2> <p>At 15, Kim was entirely focused on one goal: saving up enough money to buy a car. He started working 10 hours a week making pizzas at a local shop. But earning $4 an hour made saving enough money difficult.</p> <p>“When I turned 16 and I got my driver’s license,” Kim recalls, “I still couldn't afford a car because, well, I came from a middle-class, first-generation Asian family, and my dad's not going to buy me a car. I mean, it didn't matter what my grades were at that point.”</p> <p>He figured the next best thing to owning a car was working with cars, so he got a job washing cars at a dealership.</p> <p>“That was my solution,” he says. “That was my first mindset: ‘Okay, let me go at least get to drive cars.’”</p> <p>Kim worked at the dealership until he went off to college. During summer break, he returned and asked for his old job back, but they said the positions had been filled. He felt defeated. But as he walked out of the office, one of the salespeople spotted him and asked him a question that would change the trajectory of his career: Why don’t you try selling cars?</p> <p>Thanks to his excellent work ethic in the past, the manager hired him on the spot. During Kim’s first month, he sold 31 cars, made $14,000, and became salesman of the month, at the age of 19. Some brushed it off as beginner’s luck.</p> <p>“That just fuels the fire in me,” Kim says. “That's how I am. I'm a competitive person.”</p> <p>His second month, Kim made even more money and, again, was named salesman of the month. That’s when he decided to make the difficult decision to drop out of college.</p> <p>“Now, as an Asian growing up in an Asian family, it was probably the hardest conversation that I ever had with my family,” Kim says. “My parents did not approve. They thought I was crazy. They thought I was wasting my life, ruining my life.”</p> <p>As a compromise, he agreed that after a couple of years of making money, he’d go back to school and fund his own education.</p> <p>After that conversation, Kim went full time at the dealership and was doing well, but being the ambitious kid that he was, he felt he could do even better. He noticed a finance position opened up at the dealership, and he was drawn to the challenge of selling intangible goods—life insurance, car insurance, paint protection, etc.</p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-16555 aligncenter" src= "https://foundr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Jimmy-Kim.png" alt= "" width="3426" height="3310" /></p> <p>“I wanted to be that guy to sell that intangible because I thought it was really fun to take it to the next level.”</p> <p>Excited by the possibility, he asked if he could take the finance position. The manager said he would need to speak with the general manager, and a couple days later, came back to Kim and said the position had already been filled.</p> <p>“The anger inside of me actually grew at that point,” he says, “which, I'm not an angry guy at all, but for some reason, I just felt like he was lying.”</p> <p>Infuriated, Kim marched up to the general manager’s office (“It's totally disrespectful. I should have never have done that.”), and told him he couldn’t stand the place and he was quitting.</p> <p>A month later, he got a call from the owner of the company, inviting him to come back and talk it out. Kim shared his aspirations with the owner, and eventually, was sent to a finance class where he obtained his certifications and earned his coveted spot in the dealership’s finance department, where he eventually worked his way up to finance director.</p> <p>At 25 years old, Kim became general manager of a Saturn dealership, and under his oversight, it became one of the top 10 Saturn dealerships in the nation.</p> <h2>The End of an Era, the Start of an Empire</h2> <p>In 2009, General Motors, which owned Saturn, filed for bankruptcy, forcing Kim to make his next move.</p> <p>“It was kinda sad,” he recalls. “I remember that bittersweet moment that it was the end of that realm.”</p> <p>With GM going under, some people wanted to reopen the Saturn dealerships as Kia stores instead. They asked Kim if he’d be interested in helping, and he agreed to help them get started, but set a hard date for when he would leave the auto industry.</p> <p>“I realized that this isn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”</p> <p>Kim wasn’t entirely sure what he did want to do, but he had a friend, Anik Singal, who had an internet marketing company, and he’d always been curious about what he was doing. So he approached him and said, “Look, I don't know what's going on as far as what you actually do in business, but there's one thing I'm really good at—I can sell stuff and I'm really good at operations.”</p> <p>The timing was perfect. At that point, Singal’s company had more than $1 million in debt and needed help. The two friends worked out an agreement. Kim would help the company get out of debt, but in exchange, Singal would teach Kim everything he knew. As soon as the company was out of debt, Kim would move on.</p> <p>And just like that, Kim went from making around $250,000 to $300,000 a year at the dealership to about $80,000 a year at the internet marketing company. But remember, for Kim, it’s all about focus, and he had a plan.</p> <p>By 2013, after delivering on his promise to get Singal’s company out of debt, Kim transitioned to the next phase of his career by starting his own internet marketing company, JK Marketing. In 2016, he estimates that business brought in $4.5 million in revenue.</p> <h2>From Side Hustle to Full-Fledged Business</h2> <p>While Kim was running his internet marketing company, he and his team developed an in-house solution to their email marketing woes: Sendlane.</p> <p>“We never intended it to be anything else but for us,” he says. “That was the number one thing: We built it for us. It was a platform. It was ugly. It was purposeful. That was all we built it for.”</p> <p>But by 2014, friends and clients alike began asking Kim where they could find out more about Sendlane. The problem was, they couldn't. All that existed was a login page for Kim’s company to use to access the app. So in 2015, he and his team decided to open the doors to the public and see what happened. They put up a simple webpage with a payment portal—and people started signing up. From 2015 to 2017, they ran it passively. In its first year, Sendlane reached $40,000 to $50,000 in monthly recurring revenue. By 2016, it climbed to $80,000 to $90,000 a month.</p> <p>So there Kim was, juggling his internet marketing company, a growing side business, and on top of that, a clothing store in Las Vegas. But in August 2017, a life event changed everything for him. His daughter was born.</p> <p>“The moment I saw her I realized that I needed to find more time in my life,” he says. “Yet I knew that I couldn't slow down business because I love business too much. So I had to find a good balance.”</p> <p>To do that, Kim decided to sell most of his companies and revive his favorite tactic—focus. He would pour his energy into one company only, and it would be Sendlane.</p> <p>“I took that hard look,” he says. “I looked at the companies and I was like, ‘You know, this is the company that I can see incredible legs, and I know we haven't focused on it, but look what we did without even focusing on it. What can we do by simply focusing on it?”</p> <p>That was in August 2017. From September 2017 to May 2018, Sendlane grew an average of 10 percent, month over month.</p> <h2>Bootstrapping Versus Raising Capital</h2> <p>That age-old question. So far, Sendlane has been 100 percent bootstrapped, but Kim says he will be raising capital to the tune of $5 million later this fall.</p> <p>“Bootstrapping is great and it's a way of life, of course, and I totally respect it, and I think that it's been a great journey for me.”</p> <p>But as someone once explained it to Kim, you can own 33 percent of a $30 million bootstrapped company, or you can own 20 percent of a $100 million VC-funded company.</p> <p>“Being bootstrapped, you're always going to slow yourself down because of revenue and money,” Kim explains. “But when you have a large infusion of money, it becomes a different mindset because now all you're focused on is growth and not the money.”</p> <p>And what would Kim do with an infusion of $5 million? He says he plans to spend the majority of the funding on growth, such as media buying and salespeople, keeping a close eye on getting an ROI as fast as possible.</p> <h2>The One Thing Your Email Marketing Needs</h2> <p>While we had his attention, of course we had to ask Kim to share some of his email marketing knowledge. The first thing Kim wants people to know, though, is that you can’t use outdated tactics and expect awesome results.</p> <p>“People are still trying to do what worked in email marketing in 2008, in 2018,” he says. “People don't recognize things have changed so dramatically. … People are just getting a heck of a lot more emails every day.”</p> <p>In fact, a whopping 269 billion emails are sent each day, according to a <strong><a href= "http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Email-Statistics-Report-2017-2021-Executive-Summary.pdf"> 2017 report by research firm The Radicati Group</a></strong>. So how can you stand out in a crowded inbox? Kim recommends behavior-based automation.</p> <p>Using your email marketing platform, create emails based on actions a user took (or didn’t take). Did they open your emails? Did they buy anything? What kinds of actions have they taken in the past?</p> <p>For example, if a subscriber isn’t opening any of your emails, it may be time to get more aggressive. On the other hand, if a subscriber is opening all of your emails but hasn’t made a purchase, that tells you they’re highly engaged, but for whatever reason, they’re not buying. It may be time to move that subscriber into a separate email funnel that pushes them to make a purchase.</p> <p><img class="size-full wp-image-16556 aligncenter" src= "https://foundr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Screenshot_2018-05-22-17-27-24-1.png" alt="" width="1080" height="1069" /></p> <p>“Creating that personalized experience is, bar none, the best way to make people want to actually listen to you and want to open your emails,” Kim says. “That's email automation and that's the best way you can do it now, in 2018, and forward.”</p> <p>This level of personalization can be achieved with email marketing software that allows tagging, revenue tracking, and “if this, then that” statements.</p> <p>“Things like that you can do with email, you can do with Sendlane of course, but you can do it with most email platforms that are more advanced thinking.”</p> <h2>What’s Next for Sendlane and Jimmy Kim?</h2> <p>Aside from raising a round of funding later this year, Kim has an entire roadmap for Sendlane that he wants to continue to implement.</p> <p>“I'm not going to tell you that I'm not going to ever sell the company,” he says, “because if someone offers me enough money, I'm going to sell the company, and I'm going to move on to the next project. But the coolest thing about that is, being the owner or founder, you don't have to worry about that if you just put your heart and soul into it.”</p> <p>Kim also wants to put more time into sharing nearly a decade’s worth of his digital marketing knowledge. He plans to get more into vlogging; he’s already started a YouTube channel where he shares tips on anything from Facebook ads to affiliate marketing. And a recent project he’s particularly proud of is the Advanced Email Marketing course he put together in collaboration with Foundr.</p> <p>“It's always been kind of a small passion of mine to share this information,” he says. “Whenever comes out, that's something you should be looking for.”</p> <h2>Kim’s 4 Tips for Founders</h2> <ul> <li><strong>It’s better to be really good at one thing than mediocre at 100 things</strong>. “Too many companies try to do too many things,” Kim says. “But if you're really good at three things, you're much better of a company or product than you are if you can do a hundred things but do them at half ass and mediocre.”</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Make decisions as quickly as possible</strong>. If you, like many founders, are struggling with indecision, take Kim’s approach and go with your gut. “One of the biggest failures of most entrepreneurs is they get stuck on decisions so much. They take days, weeks, years, thinking about decisions, how to do this, what to do, how to start, whatever it is. I think the biggest thing as an entrepreneur is kind of following your gut and making that decision as fast as possible.”<br /> <strong><br /></strong>And Kim reminds us: “The worst thing you can do is fail.” And while many people fear failure, it can teach you what you need to learn.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>You are replaceable</strong>. Like many entrepreneurs, Kim used to think it was better to do some things himself rather than train someone else to do it. “I'd sit there and I’d think, ‘Oh, I can do these tasks the best. I'll never find someone to replace me.’ Well, I find out really quickly lately—I've been humbled a lot in the last couple years especially—I realized there's a lot of people that are much better than me at most of the things that I do.” So instead of trying to do everything himself, Kim invests in top talent to grow his business.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Great talent is worth the extra money</strong>. When hiring new team members, it’s best not to be too stingy when it comes to salary. Realize it’s an investment in the future growth of your company.“You focus on that talent, and the money comes with the talent, and money comes with what they're building. … I know how, especially in the early-stage companies, it's really tough when you're hiring people to make things work, but when you chose the life of being an entrepreneur or a founder, well, you kind of chose the life of being poor at some times and being broke at some times, and struggling sometimes. … That's all fine and dandy, you've got to get through that part.”After hiring people and spending months training them only to find out they weren’t good at the position, Kim decided to spend more money to get the best people possible. He says it’s made a world of difference.</li> </ul> <p><strong>NEW COURSE ALERT:</strong> Want to learn <em>advanced </em>email marketing secrets from the cofounder of Sendlane? In our latest course, Jimmy Kim is sharing all the knowledge he’s learned to help you transform your email list into a money-making MACHINE.</p> <p>In Advanced Email Marketing, you’ll learn:</p> <ul> <li>A step-by-step automation blueprint for making sales while you sleep. If you have an online business, this is GOLD for you!</li> <li>The proven, 3-part “cookie system” that will make your subscribers <em>look</em> <em>forward </em>to your emails</li> <li>The 50/50 “spam formula”—this one’s your ticket to escaping the dreaded “Promotions” tab!</li> <li>The 3-second hack that increases opens <em>and</em> builds connections</li> <li>The rest of Jimmy’s 10-year brain dump of in-the-trenches email marketing expertise</li> </ul> <p><strong>To be the</strong> <strong><em>first</em></strong> <strong>to know when Advanced Email Marketing is open,</strong></p> <p><strong>>></strong><a href= "https://foundr.com/advanced-email-marketing"><strong>click here to join the VIP waitlist!</strong></a><strong><<<br /> <br /></strong></p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Why he chose selling cars over going to college</li> <li>How he moved on to an internet marketing company and helped it get out of debt</li> <li>Why he created Sendlane</li> <li>The life-changing event in 2017 that made him decide to pursue Sendlane full time</li> <li>Whether or not he plans to raise capital for Sendlane</li> <li>His thoughts on equity crowdfunding</li> <li>How he would spend the money if he got an influx of capital</li> <li>His thoughts on media buying</li> <li>How businesses can improve their email marketing</li> <li>Why you should focus on behavior-based email marketing</li> <li>How decision-making is such a stumbling block for entrepreneurs—and how to fix it</li> <li>On hiring and spending money on the best talent</li> </ul> <h2 id="h.ot3f4tsvsnf3">Key Resources</h2> <ul> <li>Learn more about <a href="https://sendlane.com/" target= "_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>Sendlane</strong></a></li> <li>Check out the <a href="https://blog.sendlane.com/" target= "_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>Sendlane blog</strong></a> for email marketing advice</li> <li>Watch Jimmy Kim’s digital marketing videos on his <a href= "https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcylWSji9yf15LNKBKIHRRw" target= "_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>YouTube channel</strong></a></li> </ul>
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240: How to Use Excellent Customer Support to Stand Out in a Crowded Market, With Ross Paquette of Maropost
<p>When Ross Andrew Paquette founded email service provider Maropost in 2011, he never expected it to take off.</p> <p>“The plan was to have 10 customers and maybe sit by the pool a little more often than not,” he says with a laugh.</p> <p>But since then, he’s scaled the company to nine figures, with an impressive customer list that includes DigitalMarketer, Livestrong, and The New York Post. And beyond email marketing, Maropost has expanded into customer acquisition and ecommerce solutions.</p> <p>These are extremely crowded markets, but at the core of the company’s success is its strong commitment to excellent customer service, with heavy emphasis on a 24-hour in-app live chat and five-minute support response times.</p> <p>We chatted with Paquette to learn the strategies he used to so impressively grow his SaaS company in a short amount of time.</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Maropost got started</li> <li>The crazy story behind how Paquette met his co-founder</li> <li>How Maropost has expanded from email marketing to customer lead acquisition, mobile push notifications, CRM, and more</li> <li>How long it took to build the first version of Maropost</li> <li>What makes Maropost different from other ESPs</li> <li>The strong customer support focus of the business</li> <li>Why they focus on building a great organization, not just hitting numbers and growth</li> <li>Where he sees the SaaS market moving in the future</li> <li>Why he’s focused on building a legacy with his business</li> <li>What exciting projects are in store for Maropost</li> </ul>
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239: The Importance of Being Bold in Business, With Real Estate Mogul Dottie Herman
<p>You don’t become the richest self-made woman in American real estate by playing it safe. Dottie Herman has proved time and time again that bold moves pay off.</p> <p>In the 1980s, in a maneuver that solidified her path to the top in real estate, Herman flew to California and convinced Merrill Lynch to hire her to help the company expand into the real estate market.</p> <p>In 1990, when Prudential decided to sell its regional holdings, Herman then persuaded the company to lend her $9 million to purchase its own Long Island real estate offices.</p> <p>And in 2003, Herman expanded her empire into New York City with the nearly $72 million purchase of the most prominent Manhattan real estate company, Douglas Elliman (again convincing Prudential to finance the deal).</p> <p>“If you don't ask, you don't know,” Herman says. “And the worst that can ever happen is someone says no.”</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Dottie Herman got into real estate</li> <li>Her bold move that convinced Prudential to lend her money to purchase one of its own companies</li> <li>How she weathered a recession while running her business</li> <li>The story behind acquiring Douglas Elliman, a prestigious real estate company in Manhattan</li> <li>Why she wanted to expand her real estate empire into New York City</li> <li>Her thoughts on branding</li> <li>How she maintains a good working relationship with her employees</li> <li>What she hopes to do next</li> </ul>
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238: Juggling Multiple Projects and Knowing When to Step Away, With Grasshopper Founder David Hauser
<p>David Hauser’s life changed forever the moment he taught himself how to code.</p> <p>Like so many other nascent entrepreneurs, the power of computer programming set him on a lifelong path as a tinkerer, always fine-tuning and building in an effort to shape his and others’ futures.</p> <p>In much the same way Hauser learned how to code, his entire entrepreneurial journey has been one of unrelenting trial and error, involving a mix of success, failure, and personal and professional evolution. With the creation of tech companies like Grasshopper and Chargify, Hauser used his talents and curiosity to shape his own destiny, and make a splash in the startup world.</p> <p>Now, in his latest endeavor, he’s directed that very sense of experimentation to the field of health and fitness, with an upcoming book documenting his extensive adventures in improving his own physical well-being.</p> <p>But it all started with a few lines of code that enabled him to pursue a nontraditional professional life.</p> <p>“I always worked for myself since before high school,” Hauser says. “I never had a traditional job.”</p> <p>In the late 1990s, the internet was gaining unstoppable momentum, and as websites started to become viable means of doing business, the demand for web designers and ad creators increased dramatically. This shift granted new opportunities to clever teens on the cutting edge of new technology who wanted to make a few bucks (and sometimes much, much more) from the comfort of their childhood bedrooms.</p> <p>Hauser, who has no formal tech training, was one of these teens, swiftly making his way into the world of banner ad management and creating his own company WebAds360.</p> <p>“From there, I started grabbing onto different things, learning different technologies, working with other people,” he says. “But it all started with web design.”</p> <p>Before graduating college, he founded a second company, called ReturnPath, to help businesses that used permission-based email lists to keep their addresses up to date as subscribers graduated college or changed jobs.</p> <p>Being a teenage entrepreneur in the late 1990s and early 2000s presented some major limitations, however. For one, what phone number were prospective clients supposed to call?</p> <p>Cell phones of the time were still extremely basic and lacking features like putting a caller on hold or setting up a conference call. Meanwhile, home landlines might be answered by baffled family members. Neither option exactly screamed professionalism. It wasn’t just a problem for young people working at home, either, as lots of scrappy new entrepreneurs were lacking dedicated business phones.</p> <p>So when the born and raised New Yorker headed off to Babson College in Massachusetts, and met Siamak Taghaddos, another entrepreneur with a similar problem, they put their heads together to pursue a solution.</p> <h3>Leaping Toward Success</h3> <p>“It started with a really simple idea,” Hauser says.</p> <p>All they wanted was a way for tiny companies, startups, and solopreneurs to have the phone presence of a large, established company. And when neither he nor Taghaddos could find an existing solution to their problem, they did what so many successful entrepreneurs end up doing. They built their own solution.</p> <p>Because they were only out to solve a problem for their existing businesses, Hauser admits they didn’t spend a lot of time on research or planning.</p> <p>“It wasn’t well-researched necessarily, beyond the fact that we knew we had a problem, and we thought that we could solve it,” Hauser says.</p> <p>During the process of creating the solution to their own problem, they realized that they were really onto something. That maybe this was going to be much bigger than a new tool for their own tool belts.</p> <p>And because he and Taghaddos had their fingers in a lot of pies, and the money flowing in from their existing projects was enough to fund their new endeavor, they never needed to request outside funding.</p> <p>In 2003, the pair officially launched Grasshopper, a service that enabled small businesses to present themselves like big businesses using just a cell phone, complete with extensions, customizable greetings, and simultaneous call handling.</p> <p>Before long, Hauser shut down all of his other businesses, including WebAds360, and decided to focus entirely on the management and growth of Grasshopper.</p> <p>And business boomed.</p> <p>Small businesses and startups flocked to the service, delighted that it enabled them to operate with the professionalism of a well-established corporation. The company continued to grow for the next six years, when Hauser decided it was time to relinquish his role of CTO.</p> <p>“I was always relatively technical,” he says. “But I am definitely not a top programmer, and as we really started to build out the company, it was clear that we needed to have better leadership from a technical perspective, and I could apply my talents better elsewhere.”</p> <p>So, Hauser moved through another phase in his evolution as an entrepreneur and broadened his scope.</p> <p>“Rather than being just focused on the technology side, I spent a lot more time in company culture, HR, hiring, process, goals and how we implemented those,” he says. “I shifted my focus.”</p> <p>And as he stepped back, looking at Grasshopper from all angles, he saw possibility everywhere.</p> <h3>Trial and Error</h3> <p>Even though Grasshopper was a big success, Hauser’s head was bursting with new ideas and new problems to be solved.</p> <p>In 2009, he developed Chargify for streamlined recurring billing. Then in 2010, he created PackageFox, a way to secure guaranteed refunds from late or lost packages shipped through FedEx or UPS. And in 2011, he launched PopSurvey, a graphical survey creator.</p> <p>These are just a few of the self-funded side businesses born out of Grasshopper, and Hauser says there are many more that aren’t resume-worthy or that never saw the light of day.</p> <p>“Those are probably just the ones that became something,” he says. “There are tons of others that failed and never really got very far, or failed horribly bad and we lost a lot of money.”</p> <p>PopSurvey eventually fizzled out, overcome by competitors. PackageFox was an opportunity for Hauser to learn more about automation, but he eventually sold it off to someone in the space who could make better use of it. Hauser kept Chargify longer than either of the other two, but recently sold it, as well.</p> <p>And while Hauser learned much during this time of exploration and creation, he admits that it created a lot of tension within his team at Grasshopper.</p> <p>“We thought maybe we couldn’t keep growing Grasshopper, and we started all these things, and wasted a tremendous amount of time and money, but more importantly distracted ourselves—and even worse, probably, distracted the team—from the thing that was growing well. We could have just doubled down,” he says. “The success would have been much better than if we had wasted all that time, but that was the blind spot we had, and luckily we realized it.”</p> <p>Hauser says that internal blind spots are some of the most difficult challenges that founders face. While an entrepreneur is wrapped up in the excitement of a new creation, he says it can be nearly impossible to determine impartially whether or not that is the best possible use of time.</p> <p>“We’re overly invested in something, and we have that blind spot to maybe this isn’t the right thing to be working on right now,” he says.</p> <p>But whether by choice or by force, the decision to take the left fork instead of the right is eventually made.</p> <p>“I think sometimes it happens naturally. That progression just happens and you kind of see it,” he says. The problem is that sometimes it takes too long, and we over-invest in something that’s not productive, taking time away from something that has a much brighter future.</p> <p>And while he is thankful that the ultimate effect this period of distraction had on Grasshopper was minimal, he would have done things differently given the opportunity.</p> <p>“Looking back on it, it was not the best choice,” he says. “We should have focused on Grasshopper and grown Grasshopper.”</p> <p>But despite any amount of distraction, Grasshopper grew and grew until the company was raking in $30 million in annual revenue. Before long, the success of Grasshopper drew the attention of hungry eyes, and the acquisition calls started pouring in.</p> <h3>Sales and Farewells</h3> <p>“When we started the company, we had no exit plan,” Hauser says. “Our goal was to build a company we loved being at and loved doing what we were doing. That was it.”</p> <p>So when the first of the interested buyers knocked, Hauser turned them away empty-handed.</p> <p>But as Grasshopper was a privately funded company, without the limitations placed on it by investors and capital, interested buyers were not to be discouraged. Eventually, Citrix, a multinational software company, made them an offer that they couldn’t ignore.</p> <p>Citrix said that Grasshopper could retain their brand name, keep the team together and continue growing the company.</p> <p>Over the course of a year, Citrix worked with Hauser and Taghaddos until they recognized that this proposal was a great fit for everyone involved. So they decided to sign on the dotted line.</p> <p>As soon as the sale was finalized in 2015, both Hauser and Taghaddos bid their greatest success farewell, something Hauser describes as being “very emotionally difficult” but “best for both the company and Citrix.”</p> <p>He trusted the management team to keep steering the ship in the right direction, and with Citrix’s new ideas for growth and strategy, he knew the business was in good hands. Neither he nor his partner were interested in sticking around for “two more positions for highly paid executives with titles that are kind of meaningless in a big public company.”</p> <p>While he knew he had made the right decision, Hauser was rocked by the impact of his choice.</p> <p>“All of a sudden, your email address changes, your phone number, your identity,” he says. “For 12 years, I was the guy involved in Grasshopper, and I ran Grasshopper. That’s who I identified with and people identified me with, and that just changed overnight.”</p> <p>For a year after stepping away from Grasshopper, he continued with Chargify, but in July 2016, he sold that business, too.</p> <p>With a clean slate, Hauser stepped into his next phase of evolution.</p> <p>He explains that the core purpose of Grasshopper was to empower entrepreneurs to succeed. Now, he’s just hopped into a larger field.</p> <p>“After a year, I came back to and found my core purpose,” he says, “and that’s empowering others.”</p> <h3>The Pursuit of Health</h3> <p>It’s been two years since Hauser’s life changed with the sale of his two most successful brands, and he spent the latter half of that time on an exciting new project: himself.</p> <p>“I really wanted to change my life, and that included changing my exercise and diet, and I went from doing extreme endurance sports to practicing yoga six days a week,” he says. “Like massive change.”</p> <p>In pursuit of this change, he also took just about every test imaginable—blood tests, stool tests, sleep tests, DNA tests and more. All in the pursuit of a healthier life.</p> <p>And now he is ready to share what he has learned.</p> <p>Thirty pounds lighter, Hauser is releasing a book in 2019 called Evolve: Optimize Your Life, Body and Mind. In it, he busts myths around fad dieting, trendy workouts, and quick fixes, sharing instead the methodology he used to transform his own life.</p> <p>He also tackles many of the health sacrifices entrepreneurs make while chasing lofty goals. And despite all the changes he tried in his own life, he isn’t necessarily an advocate of massive life shifts or hours spent in the gym. He believes that often the little choices can make the most impact.</p> <p>“It’s always easier to work an extra hour past midnight because no one is bothering you, right?” he says. “It’s easy to pick up the phone and call for pizza, because you know you get that instant boost and gratification and can continue working for an extra hour. But I think, at the end of the day, what I care about is output and productivity, and I don’t think there is very much value in that extra hour of work when it is low productivity and low value, and it is just work for work’s sake.”</p> <p>Through his book, Hauser hopes to open the eyes of founders and non-founders alike to the power they have over their own lives and the small adjustments they can make that will bring huge impact.</p> <p>“The idea with the book is allowing people to understand that their life is a self-experiment and doing little things like maybe just buying a new pillow for your bed…could have massive gains,” he says. “Each thing in your life is an experiment, because you’re different from everyone else.”</p> <p>Once again, just as he did as a teenager learning to code, Hauser is relying on the power of trial and error—how the slightest adjustment, addition, or subtraction can make a big difference. He is, yet again, learning to crack the code, and yet again, hopes it can change lives.</p> <h3>David Hauser’s Tips For Living A Healthier Life</h3> <p>Since founding, building and selling Grasshopper, David Hauser has invested much of his time in pursuit of a healthier life. In 2019, he is releasing a book on the subject, “Evolve: Optimize Your Life, Body and Mind,” and these are just a few of the tips held inside for entrepreneurs pursuing a healthier lifestyle. For more information on the upcoming book, and a free chapter on the impacts of coffee, visit <strong><a href= "http://www.evolvebook.com/">www.evolvebook.com</a></strong>.</p> <ol> <li><strong>     Establish a Routine</strong></li> </ol> <p>“I am a huge believer in routine,” Hauser says. “If you talk to the most successful people in the world, most of them will tell you routine is very important.”</p> <p>He is such a strong believer in routine that, even when he doesn’t plan to work out, he still goes to the gym because it’s on his schedule. By developing a routine that allows for more movement, more stability, and more sleep, he thinks entrepreneurs can improve their lives—as well as their businesses—in enormous ways.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>     Sleep More</strong></li> </ol> <p>“As founders, understanding our sleep patterns—improving our sleep patterns—I think has tremendous effects and gains on our productivity the next day, the next week, the next year that we don’t realize,” Hauser says.</p> <p>By making more time for sleep, and being unwilling to compromise that time for a little extra work at the end of the day, he believes that entrepreneurs will actually be far more productive. Entering into each new day refreshed improves mood, interaction, and problem solving—all areas that are vital for success.</p> <ol start="3"> <li>     <strong>Experiment</strong></li> </ol> <p>“Life is a self-experiment and doing little things like maybe just buying a new pillow for your bed…could have massive gains,” Hauser says. “Each thing in your life is an experiment, because you’re different from everyone else.”</p> <p>Even the smallest changes can make a massive impact, and what works for others may not necessarily be the best choice for you. By trying new ways to solving old, persistent problems, he believes people can make great impacts on their health, and what is more entrepreneurial than that?</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The first company he started (in high school!)</li> <li>The Grasshopper origin story</li> <li>Entrepreneurial blind spots and distractions</li> <li>Why Hauser stepped down as CTO at Grasshopper</li> <li>Chargify, PopSurvey, PackageFox, and the other companies he’s started</li> <li>The story behind Citrix acquiring Grasshopper</li> <li>What Hauser did after stepping away from Grasshopper, and the emotional side of selling the company</li> <li>Pooling customer service for different products you’re building</li> <li>Marketing strategies they used to grow Chargify faster</li> <li>Hauser’s new book and new projects</li> <li>How to keep yourself healthy while working hard</li> </ul>
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237: Find Your ‘Talk Trigger’ to Spark Powerful Word-of-Mouth, With Jay Baer of Convince & Convert
<p>Jay Baer was born to be in business. As a seventh-generation entrepreneur, he always knew he’d start his own company one day.</p> <p>Over the years, his ventures have run the gamut—from an early internet company to a design firm to his popular marketing consulting firm, Convince & Convert. His clients have included Hilton, Cisco, Nike, and Oracle, just to name a few.</p> <p>And if that weren’t enough, Baer is a <em>New York Times</em>-bestselling author, with <em>six</em> books under his belt. His latest, <strong><em><a href= "https://www.amazon.com/Talk-Triggers-Customers-Word-Mouth/dp/0525537279" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Talk Triggers</a></em></strong>—co-authored by marketing expert Daniel Lemin—dives into the power of word-of-mouth marketing and how to use it in your own business.</p> <p>What is a talk trigger? According to Baer, it’s a “strategic, operational choice that creates conversations.”</p> <p>Take DoubleTree, for example. Their talk trigger is the warm chocolate chip cookie given to every guest who checks in. Baer and Lemin interviewed 1,000 DoubleTree customers for this book, and that’s just for one of the 30+ case studies you’ll find inside.</p> <p>If you want to acquire customers faster and cheaper, listen in as Jay Baer shares his marketing know-how to help you identify your business’s talk trigger.</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The origin story of Convince & Convert</li> <li>How he came to work for an internet company before he even knew what the internet was</li> <li>How he sold the Budweiser.com domain name to Anheuser-Busch for 50 cases of beer</li> <li>His latest book, <em>Talk Triggers</em>, and why word-of-mouth marketing is so powerful</li> <li>How to create a word-of-mouth strategy that will win over customers</li> <li>DoubleTree’s genius strategy of giving a warm chocolate chip cookie for free to every guest (their talk trigger)</li> <li>Why small businesses are perfectly primed for a talk trigger</li> <li>UberConference’s on-hold music talk trigger example</li> <li>How to (and how NOT to) find your talk trigger</li> <li>Why Baer invests in several companies</li> <li>How to use content marketing and inbound marketing to grow your business</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2 id="h.ot3f4tsvsnf3"> </h2>
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236: Bootstrapping a $300M Cinema Company, With Grant Petty of Blackmagic Design
<p>“I don’t think CEOs should be able to be CEOs if they can’t code,” says Grant Petty, founder and CEO of Blackmagic Design.</p> <p>That’s a bold statement, but Petty is a bold guy. Working as an engineer in the television industry, he realized the technology was overpriced. So he started a company that cut costs and put power into the hands of creators.</p> <p>“Really what I was doing was a protest against the way the TV industry was,” he says.</p> <p>And soon, Petty began to challenge the status quo of business in general. He runs his company a little differently: There are no spreadsheets, very little planning, and to him, metrics hardly matter.</p> <p>“In the Western world, business culture becomes so rigid and so inflexible,” he says. “If you’re a creative person, you can get destroyed by that because they don’t allow you to exist.”</p> <p>Today, Blackmagic Design boasts nearly $300 million in annual revenue and is still 100% bootstrapped. Its technology is used by 80% of modern day feature films. We sat down with Petty to discuss what he’s learned about how to run a meaningful business in the face of opposition.</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How his frustrations with the TV industry inspired him to start Blackmagic</li> <li>The story behind Blackmagic’s first product and how he got it off the ground</li> <li>The challenges with getting funding and the struggles he faced when he decided to self-fund</li> <li>The “wave of hatred” that can come when you try to disrupt an industry</li> <li>How long it took to become an industry leader</li> <li>How to know when it’s the right time to add a new product to your line</li> <li>Balancing his creative side with the operational duties of being CEO</li> <li>One common thing that’s destroying creativity in businesses</li> <li>Blackmagic’s culture and how it fosters creativity</li> <li>What’s next for the company</li> </ul>
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235: Sell Like Crazy: Psychology, Sales Funnels, and Paid Ads, With Sabri Suby of King Kong
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These days, Sabri Suby reigns supreme as the founder of King Kong, Australia’s fastest-growing digital marketing agency. But he’s come a long way since his first job, selling ink cartridges over the phone, which he describes as a “cold, hard slap to the face.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I sucked incredibly badly at doing that in the beginning,” he says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Soon enough, thanks to mastering the art of sales and persuasion, he became the top producer in that role, went on to travel the world, and eventually, forged his path as an entrepreneur. For all of his companies, he realized he was asking the same fundamental question: “How do we get more customers?”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">His obsession with answering that question has helped him perfect his selling skills and scale King Kong from zero to $10 million in annual revenue in just four years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In his latest book,</span> <a href="https://www.selllikecrazy.co"><strong><em>Sell Like Crazy</em></strong></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Suby reveals the selling system he’s created and honed over the years, including things like the Magic Lantern Technique and the Halo Strategy. He says he’s deployed this system in more than 167 different niches and markets—and it’s worked every time. With</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sell Like Crazy</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, he shares the steps you need to take, regardless of what stage you’re in, to level up your business.</span></p> <h1><span style="font-weight: 400;">Key Takeaways</span></h1> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Where to begin if you want to succeed in selling online</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Psychology vs. technology and why the traffic channel doesn’t matter</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The biggest mistake online businesses are making regarding sales</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why you shouldn’t start a business by looking only at your interests</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">How to identify a gap in the market that you can fill</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Using automation and a funnel to convert sales</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why skepticism online is at an all-time high—and how to overcome it</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">How to know when to ask for the sale</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">How to get over the fear of selling</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why you’re doing the world a disservice by</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">not</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">trying to sell</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why paid advertising is key to growth</span></li> </ul>
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234: How Tobi Pearce of Sweat Used Instagram to Launch a Fitness Empire
<h2>Heavy Lifting</h2> <h3>From humble beginnings to fitness empire, Sweat CEO Tobi Pearce tells us what it takes to run a multimillion-dollar business and grow a powerful brand with a significant other.</h3> <p>At just 26, Tobi Pearce has accomplished a lot. He’s the CEO of Sweat, a fitness app that’s been downloaded 30 million times. He’s engaged to his business partner and Instagram fitness star Kayla Itsines. And together, they’re worth an estimated $63 million, according to <strong><a href= "https://www.afr.com/leadership/afr-lists/young-rich/financial-review-young-rich-2017-20171020-gz4w8i"> Australian Financial Review</a></strong>.</p> <p>But just a decade ago, Pearce was homeless and struggling to get by on $45 a week, something he revealed in <strong><a href= "https://www.instagram.com/p/BWzyv2HAhu-/?utm_source=ig_embed">an Instagram post</a></strong> in July 2017. “I am not posting this for sympathy and this is not a sob story,” he wrote. “I just thought it was time some of you got to know ‘me.’”</p> <p>To get to know Pearce is to discover many unexpected facets. While he’s popular for his fitness empire, prior to all of that, he was a “nerd” who grew up in a small town in Australia and loved playing classical music. From what we’ve seen on social media, he can just as easily shred it on piano as he can in the gym. On his Facebook page, <strong><a href= "https://www.facebook.com/tobipearce11/videos/currently-im-a-little-debilitated-ive-got-a-moonboot-on-my-leg-from-a-full-ankle/1184247651707701/"> he posted a video</a></strong> of himself playing a complicated Chopin number, writing, “I used to be embarrassed to tell people I played piano as a kid because it wasn’t ‘cool’ or classical music made me a ‘nerd.’”</p> <p>Today, Pearce has plenty to be proud of. In addition to his upcoming wedding to Itsines, <strong><a href= "https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/06/kayla-itsines-sweat-app-will-rake-in-77-million-this-year/"> TechCrunch</a></strong> reports that the couple’s fitness company is on track to bring in $77 million in revenue this year.</p> <h3>From Classical Music to Fitness Classes</h3> <p>Pearce began his foray into fitness when he started working as a personal trainer to pay his way through college. He and Itsines met at a gym and began dating around 2012. Eventually, the pair became business partners, too, with Pearce taking over the marketing side, helping to promote Itsines’ popular Bikini Body Guides ebooks and grow her Instagram account (today she has more than 10 million followers).</p> <p>Not one to be easily satisfied, Pearce then set his sights on expanding the business “to kind of shake up the industry.” That’s when the Sweat platform was born.</p> <p>“My whole career and this particular field has always been about trying to push boundaries and kind of see how far we can move the dial and how big we can build things,” he says.</p> <p>Originally dubbed “Sweat With Kayla,” the Sweat app provides workout videos, meal plans, and progress-tracking tools to its subscribers, for $19.99 a month or $119.94 a year. It targets millennial women with programs from bikini body to post-pregnancy workouts and boasts well over a million monthly active users.</p> <h3>The Appeal of an App-Based Business</h3> <p>Moving from ebooks to a mobile app, what made Pearce choose a new platform for Sweat? As he tells Foundr, there were three main reasons:</p> <p>First, he wanted a better user experience. Originally, Itsines’ workouts were being shared through ebooks—not a very interactive platform. Pearce wanted a way to have more control over the user experience, including being able to gather user data to improve the product.</p> <p>Second, he wanted to meet the needs of millennials. Most of Sweat’s customers are in that age group, so Pearce knew that meant the content needed to be mobile-friendly.</p> <p>Finally, he wanted to be able to scale. To be able to make a real impact on the health and fitness industry, internationally, Pearce knew Sweat needed to switch business models.</p> <p>“The big move was, yeah sure, from ebooks and a website to an app,” he explains. “But it was also a huge migration from a single-purchase service into a subscription business. And subscription business economics are completely and fundamentally different to that of a traditional ecommerce business.”</p> <h3>Combating Churn With an Engaged Community</h3> <p>As with any subscription business, churn is always a concern. One way to combat the tendency for members to cancel their subscriptions is to cultivate an engaged community. For Pearce, this is a no-brainer: He’s seen how it works from his personal training days.</p> <p>When he was a personal trainer, he often picked up on the social habits of the people he was training. At 8:30 a.m., for example, a few women attended a 30-minute class with Pearce, while another group of women had coffee together downstairs awaiting their 9 a.m. slot. Once 9 rolled around, the groups would exchange spots, and by 9:30, when everyone was finished with training, they’d all go to the beach together.</p> <p>“Fitness actually brings people together,” Pearce says.</p> <p>But how can you recreate the social aspect of in-person fitness classes in a mobile app? The Sweat team knows people feel their best right after they’ve exercised, so within the app, users are prompted to invite their friends once they’ve finished a workout. They can even share their trophies and achievements, as part of what Sweat calls “social currency.”</p> <p>Beyond the friend-invite feature, Sweat has a community forum where members can share stories, find advice, and get motivated.</p> <p>“Not seeing much progress :( starting to panic,” wrote one bride-to-be on the <strong><a href= "https://forum.sweat.com/d/35440-not-seeing-much-progress-starting-to-panic"> Motivation & Encouragement forum</a></strong>.</p> <p>“There is such a difference between the two photos,” replied another member. “You’re definitely making progress so keep up the good work!”</p> <p>“There's all these different stories,” Pearce says of the forums. “But there's hundreds of thousands of women that can connect and relate with one another, and that really brings them together.”</p> <h3>On Chasing Growth Without Sacrificing Quality</h3> <p>While Pearce is aiming for growth, he’s not willing to do it at the cost of top quality and a strong brand. Sweat’s trainers, for instance, are carefully curated.</p> <p>“We're not really looking to have like a hundred or a thousand different trainers and programs,” Pearce says. “We're kind of looking to have best in house and best in class.”</p> <p>A prime example of this is <strong><a href= "https://www.instagram.com/kelseywells/?hl=en">Kelsey Wells</a></strong>, who joined the Sweat team over a year ago and leads the weight training and post-pregnancy programs. Beyond her finesse in the gym, she’s excelling on Instagram with 1.4 million followers. Her brand growth and depth have impressed Pearce, who says, “We'd much rather work with 10 people like her in their own specific categories than a thousand people that are just generalists.”</p> <p>With a team of talented trainers who are also Instagram rockstars, does Sweat have aspirations of acquiring influencers abroad to boost international growth? “There's definitely a potential for that,” Pearce says.</p> <h3>How a Fitness Power Couple Finds Work-Life Balance</h3> <p>Google “Tobi Pearce” and you’ll find plenty of headlines referring to him as “fiancé of Kayla Itsines.” From the start, he’s been comfortable doing the behind-the-scenes work while Itsines steps into the spotlight for the Sweat brand. As soon-to-be spouses and current business partners, how do they strike a healthy balance between work and personal life?</p> <p>“It has its testing moments, that's for sure,” says Pearce, adding that he’s obsessed with the business aspects while Itsines loves handling content creation and community interaction.</p> <p>“She’s able to switch off,” he says of his fiancée.</p> <p>Pearce, on the other hand, not so much. “I've always been probably a little bit too interested in ,” he says. “If I'm not talking about it, I'll be reading about it. If I'm not reading about it, I'll be listening to something about it or learning one way or another.”</p> <h3>Pumping Up Your Personal Brand</h3> <p>In recent years, a movement to build your “personal brand” apart from your company or product brand has taken hold of the entrepreneurial world. Big names like Gary Vaynerchuk and Neil Patel come to mind; both social media powerhouses use their personal brands to funnel clients into their consulting agencies.</p> <p>Sweat has a similar story. It began as Itsines’ personal brand, which Pearce helped grow into the formidable Instagram presence it is today. Recently, Forbes named Itsines as the top social media influencer in fitness. Many of her faithful fans have followed her to the Sweat app, too, where she leads high-intensity workouts based on her Bikini Body Guides.</p> <p>So what’s the secret to building a powerful personal brand? “Content and messaging are really king,” Pearce says. That means content that is high quality and messaging that creates interest.</p> <p>“There's so much crap on social media,” he adds.</p> <p>In the fitness sphere, he says it’s more than just looking good and posing for the camera. You need to create content in an intimate and authentic way. Just take a look at @kayla_itsines on Instagram. Instead of polished, picture-perfect content, it’s a mixture of motivational quotes, funny memes, before-and-after praise for her clients, and of course, workout videos—all with conversational captions where Itsines’ personality shines through.</p> <p>While Pearce is hesitant to give a one-size-fits-all strategy for growing your Instagram—”Every industry is different,” he warns—there is one Instagram tip he recommends for fitness brands: lay off the endorsements.</p> <p>“It's all well and good to sell a product or do endorsements, sure,” Pearce says. “But if that becomes everything that you do, it really becomes a bane of your existence and it's actually quite saturating for your personal brand. It's impossible for you to maintain credibility and authenticity as a brand if every second post that you do is talking about a new deal that you've done.”</p> <p>Instead, says Pearce, focus on what you’re good at. Let’s bring Gary Vee back into the discussion. Take a look at his social media accounts. How many times does he mention his agency?</p> <p>“I don't think I've ever actually seen him do that,” Pearce says. “The point that I'm making there is that if you do have a product, it's very often what you're trying to do is sell yourself and sell the opportunity, sell the dream. You're not really actually trying to sell the product itself because telling people to buy stuff is irritating.”</p> <p>The Sweat brand steers clear of hard sells. That’s no small feat in an industry that’s always pushing guarantees of six-pack abs, a celebrity body, or a nice rear-end. “We would never, ever do that,” Pearce says of his company, “because reality is that it instills the wrong cycle of mindset in consumers. It predicates the wrong perceived mindset before consuming a product and that only actually sets up consumers for failure.”</p> <h3>How to Sell Without Selling</h3> <p>If people hate being sold to, how do you get them to buy? Sweat focuses on the benefits, not the features. For instance, instead of promising you amazing abs, Sweat’s messaging would tell you how you’re going to feel more confident and develop better relationships by getting healthy with its app.</p> <p>“The best car salespeople are the ones who actually don't try to sell you anything, but they make you feel like you really want to buy the product,” Pearce explains. “They're telling you why this car's going to be perfect for your family. … They're not telling you that it's got 19-inch rims and blah, blah, blah.”</p> <p>For Sweat’s Instagram account, Pearce focuses on posting educational, credible content that adds value: healthy eating tips, user-generated content, and motivational quotes, with a few posts highlighting the Sweat app sprinkled in.</p> <p>“It pitches us as industry experts—which we rightfully are—but then it makes people turn to us when they do want to spend their money on a product that's actually going to help to solve these problems in their life, rather than going for the one that just says six-pack abs, because no one actually believes that crap.”</p> <p>And Pearce doesn’t get fixated on the one-off purchases; he’s looking to create long-term users and repeat buyers, which is something the Sweat platform is built to nurture. “They develop friendships with other members of our product and that builds our community.”</p> <h3>Working Out What’s Next</h3> <p>For the next year or two, Sweat will be focusing on reducing churn and improving the product, namely, getting more quality content and keeping users engaged.</p> <p>Long-term, though, Pearce hints at something more. He says there are three big pillars in the fitness industry: facilities (think studios and gyms), trainers and therapists, and content. “We obviously kind of only play in the content spectrum of that at the moment,” he says. “I think in the longer term, we'll probably, hopefully, get a chance to play in some of the other areas as well.”</p> <hr /> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How he met Instagram fitness influencer Kayla Itsines, who’s now his business partner and fiancée</li> <li>How he scaled the brand beyond Kayla’s Instagram account</li> <li>The advantages of developing a mobile app versus a strictly web-based platform</li> <li>The growth strategy that catapulted Sweat to about 30 million users in two and a half years</li> <li>What it’s like to run a business with your significant other and how to make it work</li> <li>Tips on growing a personal brand and becoming an influencer on Instagram</li> <li>How to promote your business on Instagram without being salesy</li> <li>His strategy for fostering a strong Sweat community and reducing churn</li> <li>What’s next for Sweat</li> </ul> <p> </p>
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233: How a Bootstrapped Ecommerce Company Took on Amazon, With Steve Traurig of Booktopia
<p>Steve was a guest of <a href="https://www.startcon.com/" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">StartCon</a>, Australia’s largest startup and growth conference. It was held over two days at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.</p> <h2>One For The Books</h2> <h3>The story of Booktopia, ‘Australia’s favorite bookstore,’ and how they’re conquering the competition—even Amazon.</h3> <p>Once upon a time, a programmer who got his start with IBM was given an enchanted opportunity to create a magical bookstore that would one day battle powerful giants. The magical power? With just a click of a button, Australians could have brand new books delivered within days to their doorsteps.</p> <p>And just like in most fairy tales, our hero and his friends stumbled upon the opportunity entirely by accident. “We literally fell into it,” says Steve Traurig.</p> <p>Traurig and his two brothers-in-law, Tony and Simon Nash, were running an online marketing consulting business when Angus & Robertson, the 130-year-old Australian bookseller, approached them and asked if they would be interested in getting into the book business. The pitch was a white label book retail website, meaning that everything from the website creation to the distribution would be handled by Angus & Robertson. All Traurig and company had to do was add their personal flair.</p> <p>But Booktopia, the company that arose from that project, would end up becoming something much bigger. Nearly 15 years after Traurig’s brother-in-law said he “wouldn’t mind giving that book thing a bit of a go,” Booktopia has served over 4.2 million Australians and is on track to bring in $115 million this year, making it the market leader in online book sales. Oh, and they now own Angus & Robertson.</p> <p>The journey from their very first book sale to squaring off against Amazon for online book supremacy in Australia was a chess game of strategic move after strategic move. Thanks to some shrewd decisions, including focusing on customer interaction and building their own ecommerce and fulfillment systems, Booktopia’s well on its way to happily ever after.</p> <h3>A White Label Bookshop, Transformed</h3> <p>In 2004, with only $10 a day to put toward advertising their new business, Traurig and the Nash brothers dove headfirst into the book world.</p> <p>“When we first started, we owned nothing,” Traurig says.</p> <p>When Booktopia first launched, Angus & Robertson created their website, managed their distribution and owned the brand. Traurig and his brothers-in-law were responsible only for marketing, so they created a few Google AdWords campaigns (one of which is still running today) and waited for their first books to sell. By the end of the first year, they were doing $100,000 in business a month.</p> <p>This worked beautifully for the trio and for Booktopia for three years, but in 2007, they had to confront the reality that what they were building, with revenue ever increasing, could all go away in an instant. They also realized that the fulfillment company was neither able to keep up with the growth they were experiencing, nor were they able to meet the expectations Traurig held.</p> <p>“We decided we had to go out on our own, because we were actually building a company of value,” he says, “and we realized that if you want to have something of value, you have to do it yourself.”</p> <p>Things were going well, and they realized that in the current setup, they didn’t really own anything of substance, should they ever want to sell.</p> <p>So they broke away from the fulfillment company and set out to turn Booktopia into something of their own. They set up their first warehouse, hired a warehouse manager, bought some shelves off eBay, and got to work building their own core systems.</p> <p>“Dealing with those sorts of numbers in databases, in the website, in the front end, in the backend, etc., the scale is beyond almost any other retail environment, and we had to make it all work,” he says. “We built the systems ourselves and that takes particular commitment and skill.”</p> <p>With all of the changes taking place, it would have been reasonable to see a marked customer drop off. Before the transfer, they did about 130 orders a day, but that number only dropped to about 110 a day, even after everything from their systems to their website changed.</p> <p>Through it all, the Booktopia customers remained loyal. In fact, the focus Booktopia places on the customer experience would come to define their brand.</p> <p>“It’s about the customer obsession,” Traurig says. “About putting yourself in the place of the customer.”</p> <p>When Traurig and his brothers took on the fulfillment side of the business, they began with only a single book on their physical shelves, but knew that building up their stock was the only way to give their customers the best experience.</p> <p>Instead of the long wait from the moment an order was placed until a supplier could deliver the order and then ship it off, all they had to do once they built up stock was grab an item from the shelf the moment the order came in and send it along.</p> <p>“That was essentially a business-changing experience, because the feedback we got from the customer was instantaneous,” he says.</p> <p>Customers responded with glee that their books arrived so quickly, inspiring them to remain loyal and recommend the bookseller to friends. Because of this organic growth, Booktopia has never needed to take on investors.</p> <p>Even without investors, they have consistently outmatched the competition and met their sales goals. In fact, they made the BRW Fast 100, Financial Review’s list of the fastest growing Australian brands, seven times between 2009 and 2016, the only company to do so.</p> <p>Traurig says that they have also built strong relationships with their banks, something he describes as a critical part of doing business. This gives them additional wiggle room if necessary, staving off a need for traditional investors.</p> <p>“A lot of startups, a lot of founders, think they immediately need to go out and grab someone else’s money and give away bits of the company,” he says. “There’s definitely merit in doing that for certain types of models. We chose to actually build a solid business organically and build it off the back of our customers and customer service.”</p> <p>And this approach has carried them through what could have been a business-ending battle.</p> <h3>Squaring Off Against a Giant</h3> <p>When Amazon announced that it would be launching in full in Australia at the end of 2017, Traurig wasn’t nervous. The institutions they worked with, however, had concerns.</p> <p>The gargantuan online retailer had generated $136 billion in revenue the year before, with all signs pointing to continued growth. So how was “Australia’s local bookstore” going to keep up?</p> <p>Well, according to Traurig, they had been keeping an eye on the behemoth from the very beginning and hadn’t let its success deter them.</p> <p>“From our point of view, when we started Booktopia, Amazon was shipping $100 million worth of books into Australia already, and we didn’t worry about that,” he says. “We were fearless.”</p> <p>They focused instead on their own business, and the most important asset: the customers.</p> <p>Due to its global nature and size, Amazon has an impersonal quality to it that Traurig says Booktopia always vowed to counter. For example, Booktopia’s website has the office’s physical address, email, and phone number on every single page, not only allowing but encouraging customers to reach out and share praise, complaints, and questions instantaneously. They wanted to be accessible and feel like a part of the community.</p> <p>To keep up with the emails and phone calls, they quickly hired their first customer service staff, a cheerful individual who still answers the questions of Booktopia customers today.</p> <p>Traurig says they take customer feedback extremely seriously and use it to inform their continued development. With a 20-person development team on the case, he says that Booktopia is always in pursuit of the best possible user experience, a quest that can only be completed through regular, honest feedback.</p> <p>Traurig says that this approach to customer service has been the key to keeping up with the competition.</p> <p>“All throughout our history, Amazon has been this massive company…but we were just focused on getting product to our customers.”</p> <p>And if winning 2016’s National Book Retailer of the Year and 2017’s National Bookstore of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards is any indication, Booktopia’s approach is working.</p> <h3>The Next Page</h3> <p>Today, Booktopia has over 6 million products available on their website with over 150,000 of those titles in stock in a 140,000 square-foot distribution center. They also acquired Angus & Robertson, along with its online store Bookworld, in 2015.</p> <p>“It’s a 130-year-old company that had a very, very good chance of disappearing completely,” Traurig says. “So for us, it was also an honor.” The company currently runs as its own business unit with independent marketing, branding and customer base.</p> <p>The founders also have high hopes for the company’s automated systems and distribution center. To demonstrate their capabilities, Booktopia acquired an online camera and optics company. In doing so, Traurig and his partners are hoping to show that their systems can handle more than a single type of product.</p> <p>So what’s next for Australia’s favorite bookstore?</p> <p>Although they ventured down the path of going public in 2016, they pulled the IPO just before launch, choosing to remain a private company. With Amazon looming, and after watching several other online companies attempt to go public and fail spectacularly, they decided to keep things as they were.</p> <p>While Traurig has a “never say never” mindset toward another try at going public, there are no plans to move in that direction for now.</p> <p>“Our customers have been our investors,” Traurig says. “What we’ve always chosen to do is delight the customer.”</p> <p>And in true fairytale fashion, delight them they will.</p> <h3>Steve Traurig’s Tips on Building a Sellable Company</h3> <p>While founders are still scaling the challenging mountains that come with launching a business, it might seem silly to think 500 steps ahead to the day they will be shaking hands on the sale of the company. But Steve Traurig believes building a company that will someday attract a buyer starts on day one, so he offered three tips to creating a company that will sell.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Make Sure Your Bookkeeping is Impeccable</strong></li> </ol> <p>“One of the things we’ve always done is make sure that our financials, our financial reporting and our accounting are top notch,” he says. As you might expect, well-kept books have always been a priority at Booktopia. From the very beginning, they sought financial advice when necessary and kept all of their books in perfect order. And because neither he nor his other co-founders had strength in bookkeeping, they always made it a number one priority to hire someone skilled.</p> <p>“It may just all look like a whole bunch of receipts and a pain the neck…but aim to set up solid financial management right at the beginning.”</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>Create as Many Original Things as You Can</strong></li> </ol> <p>In the beginning, Booktopia was a white label website, but when it started to flourish, Traurig and his partners realized they needed to make some changes. “If we wanted to sell it,” he says, “we had nothing to sell,” Traurig says. So they decided to build all of their own core systems to create something that would be attractive to eventual buyers. Traurig encourages founders to use as many original systems as possible and innovate wherever feasible. In doing so, the value of the company you may someday look to sell increases significantly.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>Demonstrate What You’ve Built</strong></li> </ol> <p>Now that you’ve created something original, it’s time to show what it can do! Perfect its intended capabilities and then push its limits. This is what Traurig says they are currently doing at Booktopia with their distribution systems. Because they created the automation used in the center, they decided to demonstrate to potential buyers that it could handle more than one product at a time, leading them to purchase a camera company. The only thing better than an innovative creation is one that can be used in more than one way. Traurig says that demonstrating this is a great way to build a sellable company.</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How this self-professed tech guy “fell into” starting an online bookstore that rivals Amazon</li> <li>How Booktopia has remained fully self-funded for 15 years</li> <li>Why they pulled an IPO just before it went live</li> <li>How he felt about Amazon coming to Australia</li> <li>For bootstrapped businesses, how to know when it’s time to build your own internal tools and handle shipping and fulfillment yourself</li> <li>The reasons behind the acquisitions Booktopia has made, particularly Angus & Robertson</li> <li>How Booktopia approaches Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)</li> </ul>
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232: Create a Company Culture That’s Healthy and Profitable, With David Heinemeier Hansson of Basecamp
<p>Eighteen years ago, David Heinemeier Hansson was a college student sitting in his little apartment in Copenhagen when he stumbled across a blog post by 37signals (which would later become Basecamp), a Chicago-based design company he had long admired.</p> <p>In the post, co-founder Jason Fried posted a question on some aspect of programming. Hansson knew the answer, so he contacted Fried. Several emails later, Fried was asking Hansson to work with him.</p> <p>“Jason decided it was easier just to hire me than to learn how to program,” Hansson says, “and that's how we started working together.”</p> <p>That was the beginning of a now-legendary tech startup team, and an illustrious career for Hansson. In Hansson’s early days at Basecamp, he famously created Ruby on Rails, an open-source web development framework once used by Twitter, and still in use by GitHub, Shopify, and many more.</p> <p>We were excited to talk shop with Hansson (often known as DHH) because, in an industry dominated by breakneck Silicon Valley culture, Basecamp stands out in many ways: It’s been profitable every year since its inception in 1999, it doesn’t chase growth, and it doesn’t even set numerical goals.</p> <p>With their latest book, <em>It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work</em>, Hansson and Fried are hoping to challenge the prevailing narrative about chaotic work culture by sharing the unique way they run their company.</p> <p>This is Part 2 of our Basecamp co-founder interviews. To hear Part 1, check out <a href= "https://foundr.com/jason-fried-basecamp/">our podcast interview with Basecamp co-founder Jason Fried</a>.</p> <h2 id="h.hh40jl14ezz7">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The blog post 18 years ago that brought Hansson together with co-founder Jason Fried, and what compelled Fried to hire him</li> <li>How Hansson invented revolutionary web development framework Ruby on Rails</li> <li>Why it’s never too late to learn how to program</li> <li>The story behind how Jeff Bezos bought a minority, no-control stake in Basecamp in 2006—and how Hansson feels about it today</li> <li>Basecamp’s philosophy on growth</li> <li>His latest book, <em>It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work</em>, and why he hopes to challenge the prevailing narrative about entrepreneurship and growth</li> <li>How Basecamp defines success, even though it doesn’t set goals</li> <li>The disadvantages of large companies</li> <li>How to maintain a strong company culture when your team is remote</li> </ul>
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231: How to Do Your Best Work by Working Less, With Jason Fried of Basecamp
<h2>Ditching Growth and Setting Up Camp</h2> <h3>How Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson turned their backs on lofty goals and created a profitable tech company quite unlike any other.</h3> <p>Growth is exciting. Sales boosts, climbing revenue, and eager investors are all signs of a happy, healthy company. Right?</p> <p>Basecamp founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson beg to differ. While they rejoice in revenue and profit as much as the next set of tech company founders, they define success a little differently.</p> <p>Instead of chasing arbitrary growth goals and deadlines, they simply aspire to do their very best work day in and day out.</p> <p>Instead of always expanding their line of software products, they double down to perfect the one they already have.</p> <p>Instead of scrambling to hire more people when revenue is climbing, they enact a hiring freeze so as to not lose sight of their mission.</p> <p>Critics might call their approach too timid. Others call them brilliant. Fried and Hansson don’t care much either way. They’ve followed the startup road less traveled and have pitched sturdy camp at the end of it—all while remaining profitable and highly respected.</p> <p>Today, Basecamp is one of the leading project management and team communications tools on the market, while boasting remarkable employee satisfaction. The duo also have a new book out explaining their unique take on startups and how they’ve found success.</p> <h2>Setting Up Camp</h2> <p>The origins of Basecamp date back to 1999, when Fried started 37Signals as a web design company. It’s since transitioned to a web development company, specializing in project management and team communication software, and became Basecamp in 2014.</p> <p>The transition to web development happened in the early 2000s, when young Danish developer Hansson responded to Fried’s blog query about PHP. Hansson had been a fan of 37Signals for years and jumped at the chance to help out. After a handful of emails, Fried decided it was easier to hire Hansson as a programmer than learn to code himself.</p> <p>The firm created Basecamp’s flagship software product in 2004 and drummed up 45 customers in its first year. The idea was simple, but met an important need in the modern workplace: It allowed for real-time, remote communication to help teams identify what needs to be done (and when) and work together smoothly and efficiently. In the following years, the pair saw their product achieve steady growth, which also caught the eye of venture capital and private equity firms.</p> <p>Even so, working with investors never made sense to Fried and Hansson. They didn't want to sell any control of Basecamp or be forced to exit their business on someone else’s timeline. But they did need money to continue developing Basecamp and its products.</p> <p>In 2006, the pair was approached by Jeff Bezos himself. In exchange for a yearly dividend payout (but without making any other demands or staking any other claims to the company), Bezos purchased a piece of ownership and became a member of Basecamp, LLC. This arrangement worked well for Fried and Hansson as they didn’t have to sell control of their business to raise money, and the purchase was a lucrative investment for Bezos.</p> <p>“[After Bezos’s investment], the appeal of selling the company subsided and allowed us to pursue our mission to build a wonderful company to work in for the long term,” Hansson said.</p> <p>Fried and Hansson maintain a fiscal relationship with Bezos, but that’s about it in terms of what they’ve taken from the richest man in the world. As for perspectives on growth, productivity, and culture, Basecamp has blazed a trail of its own.</p> <h2>It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work</h2> <p>Or does it? Fried and Hansson’s latest book introduces a new perspective on the modern-day entrepreneurial hustle. They published this book to “[send] out an alternative beacon,” Hansson says.</p> <p>The cover of It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work features a big red “X” crossing out words like "packed schedules,” "80-hour weeks," and "overflowing inboxes."</p> <p>Sadly, a lot of today’s business literature and role models celebrate crazy schedules, packed days, and little sleep. “[This has] been a predominant narrative for quite a long time,” Hansson says.</p> <p>Pushing back on the norm, It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work argues that this kind of lifestyle isn’t healthy, sustainable, or necessary. “You can do great work in a normal eight-hour day and 40-hour week,” Fried says.</p> <p>Basecamp’s culture and success is a testament to this ideal. The 20-year-old business has been profitable every single year since it started, and the company’s 50-plus employees work a totally normal schedule. “At Basecamp, it isn't crazy at work,” Hansson says. “Crazy at work should be an exception; it shouldn't be the norm, and certainly not be an aspiration.”</p> <h2>The (Mis)Guiding Principles of Goals and Growth</h2> <p>As of 2018, Basecamp has more than 100,000 companies utilizing its software. But unlike most tech companies, that number goal doesn’t dictate their work.</p> <p>“We have no interest in building [our] company to a certain amount of dollars or size,” Fried says.</p> <p>In Silicon Valley, businesses often feel the need to dominate industries and destroy the competition. Basecamp isn’t driven by those criteria, and they’re definitely not driven by constant growth or lofty goals. “We've always felt that we don't need to chase anything but profit and quality...and quality of life, for both our employees and customers,” Fried says.</p> <p>To Fried and Hansson, it’s much more about running a sound, sustainable, profitable business. Instead of prioritizing OKRs or various other acronyms, they simply focus on doing the very best work they can every day.</p> <p>“The idea that a goal should be driving you harder. ... I don't understand why that'd be,” Hansson says. “People forget that goals are figments of their imagination.”</p> <p>He explained that as a primary indicator of what success should look like, goals are not helpful. They’re arbitrary measures of success or failure…and falling short of one can make you feel bad when you shouldn’t.</p> <p>Moreover, goals are often determined by looking at others. “They become this death of enjoyment by comparison,” Hansson says.</p> <p>Basecamp does set a few loose, top-level goals, such as “build a good product,” “create a great place to work,” and “treat customers with dignity, honesty and kindness.”</p> <p>But what about specific metrics, like sales, retention rate, or customer success? “We can look at [those] numbers, like retention rate, renewal rate, etc., to see how well [Basecamp is] working,” Fried says. “But we don't have goals around those numbers.”</p> <p>To measure the success of their product, the team simply uses it themselves. They actually use it more than any other company. By employing their own product and improving it every day, they’re able to better understand their customer experience. And when it works better for them, it works better for their customers.</p> <p>“We judge our success by how we feel about our work, and the customer reaction and reviews,” Fried says. They ask themselves, “Are we proud of what we did today? Are we proud of the way we did it? And ultimately, do customers like the product?”</p> <h2>How Basecamp Approaches Success</h2> <p>Such a nebulous approach to growth and goals is sure to make employees feel adrift, right? One might think so, but the opposite is actually true for Basecamp employees, they say.<br /> “[We believe] work should be a pleasurable experience,” Hansson says. “Success to us means we set our own agenda, control our own destiny, and have a sense of independence,”</p> <p>There are very few meetings at Basecamp, and that’s not just because they are a mostly remote workforce. The company does have an office in Chicago, but even those who live nearby only come in a few days a week.</p> <p>“We’re a writing-heavy company,” Fried says. Instead of insisting on weekly stand-ups or organizing project check-ins, the pair encourages their employees to chronicle all updates, ideas, and thoughts. This gives employees a chance to ponder what they’ve read and formulate thoughtful responses—instead of presenting an immediate reply the way you’d expect in meetings and boardrooms.</p> <p>This notion of slow, delayed communication inherently pushes back on live chat, an up-and-coming trend in today’s tech companies.</p> <p>“The idea of chat as a primary means of communication inside of a company, I believe it to be a very toxic idea,” Fried says. He argues that outside of social communication and quick check-ins, keeping in touch with chat can cause a massive distraction for employees.</p> <p>“I think that, right now, chat is why work is more hectic for more people,” Fried says.</p> <p>Like they contend in It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work, Fried and Hansson don't expect, require, or support a culture that's “always on." They routinely monitor for “overwork,” and occasionally have to gently remind employees that late-night emails or mid-weekend product updates aren’t necessary. In fact, they’re frowned upon.</p> <p>We don't reward late, hard overwork,” Fried says. “We’d rather reward someone who works normal hours and gets a lot done…someone who protects and manages their time. There’s no celebration of long hours here”</p> <p>Basecamp hasn’t always been like this, though. Some of the values have been around since the beginning, but the company has spent the last 20 years constantly tweaking the way they work.</p> <p>One major change Fried and Hansson have made is the way Basecamp gets projects done. The company used to work with absolutely no deadlines, then started implementing three-month work periods. Today, they work within six-week cycles.</p> <p>The team doesn’t do anything they can’t complete in six weeks. When asked if that sort of deadline adds pressure, Hansson is quick to respond: “It could if you don't approach the idea of the budget as a tool. It’s there to shape your decisions and guide you. Budgets make it easier to say ‘no’ or ‘not right now.’”</p> <p>Fried and Hansson are less interested and impressed by the results of work done with unlimited resources or timeframes. In the past, working with no deadlines left each project open-ended. It was harder for developers to say “no” or know when to stop working.</p> <p>Each six-week time budget forces employees to make decisions and weigh tradeoffs. “That's what's enjoyable about product development,” Hansson says.</p> <p>By implementing changes such as these, Fried and Hansson have noticed that Basecamp has become a calmer company. While the pair conducts employee audits twice a year, they mostly take the pulse of employee success and satisfaction by staying close to each team, which isn’t hard given the company only has 53 employees.</p> <p>“We're constantly seeing [our employees’] work and talking to people,” Fried says. “We have a really good sense of how things are going. It’s pretty obvious when someone’s not doing well.”</p> <p>How does their remote culture affect this? It doesn’t. The team has a few in-person outings each year—when they gather everyone in their Chicago office—but even those are spent “reconnecting and recharging social batteries,” as Hansson explains.</p> <p>Basecamp’s culture is simply based on trust and harmony between words and actions.</p> <p>When asked about the challenge of building a culture with a remote workforce, Hansson says, “[That is] based on a misconception of what culture actually is. Our definition is that culture is repeatable actions, what you actually do.”</p> <p>Fried and Hansson do instill specific values and principles throughout the company, but Basecamp’s culture arises when they live up to those words. “Nothing transmits culture more than seeing actions, especially during hard times.”</p> <p>He also believes that a remote workforce is better situated to building a strong culture because such culture is derived even more explicitly from the actions you actually take and the shared writings you commit, given there’s no office or in-person meetings to do the work for you.</p> <p>The numbers behind Basecamp’s culture and employee satisfaction are off the charts. The industry average for employee turnover is about 18 months. Of the 53 employees currently at Basecamp, the average length of employment at Basecamp is 5.8 years. Eight employees have been there over 10 years, and almost half have been there over seven.</p> <p>“Basecamp employees stick around a long time, even in traditionally high-churn positions,” Hansson says.<br /> The company has recently enacted a hiring freeze, announced by Hansson in a post on their blog, Signal V. Noise, aptly titled, “Things are going so well we’re doing a hiring freeze.”</p> <p>In the spirit of constraints, they’ve capped their headcount and are doubling down on good, effective work.</p> <p>“We have no love for size,” Hansson says. “Big companies can’t solve small problems. The bigger they are, the more divorced and less able they are to relate [to customers]. More layers of management and indirection only harm empathy and kindness.”</p> <h2 id="h.1cojvzvd08xa">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How his latest book, <em>It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work</em>, is pushing back on Silicon Valley’s excessive work culture</li> <li>Why chasing growth in your business can blind you</li> <li>Why Basecamp doesn’t set OKRs, KPIs, or any goals of the sort</li> <li>How to know if you have the right people on your team</li> <li>How to ensure your remote team is doing their best work</li> <li>The evolution of Basecamp’s culture and work processes over time</li> <li>The difference between deadlines and “dreadlines”</li> <li>When Slack can be toxic to your company</li> <li>Why in-person communication isn’t as important as you think (and might even be detrimental)</li> <li>How to eliminate meetings once and for all</li> <li>The story behind selling a piece of ownership to Jeff Bezos</li> </ul>
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230: Startup Legends Talk Hiring, Branding, and Core Values, With Oli Gardner of Unbounce and Ryan Deiss of DigitalMarketer
<p>Most of Foundr’s podcast episodes are one-on-one chats, usually focusing on a particular foundr or their business. This time around, we were fortunate enough to sit down, in person, with two startup icons, and explore some of the most important facets of running a business.</p> <p>Oli Gardner and Ryan Deiss are both digital marketing pioneers who have grown their online businesses to millions in revenue. Gardner, the instructor of our <strong><a href= "https://foundr.com/funnelconversioncourse-waitlist">Landing Page Formula</a></strong> course, co-founded landing page builder Unbounce in 2009. Deiss, a serial entrepreneur, founded DigitalMarketer in 2011.</p> <p>Not surprisingly, this turned out to be a fascinating conversation, in which Gardner and Deiss share both similar and differing opinions on everything from branding to hiring.</p> <p>For example, both founders insist that creating core values is an important business practice that will inform your branding and your decisions. “I have had more businesses come close to failure because of too much opportunity,” says Deiss, who adds that having a mission makes it easier to know when to say no.</p> <p>In addition, as both Unbounce and DigitalMarketer grow, Gardner and Deiss have each honed their strategies for hiring top talent. The details might surprise you, as one of the two companies doesn’t even allow candidates to submit a resume (it’ll get thrown out).</p> <p>Listen in as Gardner and Deiss join Foundr for this lively chat in Barcelona, where they share their hard-learned lessons from growing online businesses and the sacrifices they’ve made along the way.</p> <h2 id="h.rx5q7frvokga">Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How to build a great brand</li> <li>The one thing that keeps your customers coming back again and again</li> <li>Why creating core values for your company isn’t just a nice thing to do, but a necessity</li> <li>The latest interaction and design trends—and which ones you should steer clear of</li> <li>Why community is the new brand and how to build a community that boosts your business</li> <li>The biggest opportunity in ecommerce right now</li> <li>How to stay relevant in a changing content marketing landscape</li> <li>Sure-fire tactics for hiring and vetting top talent</li> <li>The big sacrifices they’ve had to make as founders</li> </ul>
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229: Mastering Copywriting and Finding Your Flow With Arman Assadi of Project EVO
<p><strong>NEW COURSE ALERT:</strong> Entrepreneur, we wanted you to be the first to know that we’ve collaborated with Arman Assadi to bring you our <a href="https://foundr.com/copywriting" target= "_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>brand new copywriting course</strong></a>. Learn the copywriting secrets behind <em>11 seven-figure product launches</em>, taught by Arman himself.</p> <p>Arman’s broken it down into a 10-step framework that he’s proven with his clients time and time again. He’s even going to give you templates, formulas, and how-to guides so you can start converting customers like crazy.</p> <p>If you’re tired of seeing ZERO sales for all the hard work you’ve put into your amazing product—then you NEED to learn the power of copywriting. We’re opening the doors to this course soon for a limited time only, and we want to see you there. Be sure to <a href="https://foundr.com/copywriting" target="_blank" rel= "noopener"><strong>get on the FREE waitlist</strong></a> so you don’t miss it!</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The “crisis of meaning” that drove Assadi to leave his job at Google, book a trip to Cuba, and pursue freedom as a solopreneur</li> <li>How Assadi became a self-taught copywriter and began working with the likes of Neil Patel, Lewis Howes, Jason Silva, and Lori Harder</li> <li>What you should (and shouldn’t) do if you want to find your unique voice as a copywriter</li> <li>The key to writing high-converting copy and why every entrepreneur should learn the basics</li> <li>The story behind Assadi’s latest business and how it created the most-funded planner in crowdfunding history: EVO Planner</li> <li>What’s next for Project EVO and how it’s helping entrepreneurs and creatives find fulfillment in their work</li> </ul>
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228: A Serial Founder’s Fight for Mass Adoption of Cryptocurrencies, With Alex Mashinsky of Celsius
<p>Serial founder and VOIP pioneer Alex Mashinsky has founded eight companies and raised more than a billion dollars in collective funding since his entrepreneurial start in the 1990s—and he is showing no signs of slowing down. Mashinsky is the founder of Celsius, which allows users to earn interest on and borrow dollars against cryptocurrencies.</p> <p>While Mashinsky wants his company to succeed, he sees much more at stake here than just his entrepreneurial resume.</p> <p>Mashinsky is devoting his latest startup to taking on the world’s financial systems and driving the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies. Subverting the “big guys”  has been a common theme throughout Mashinsky’s career, starting with helping AT&T develop some of the first international VOIP systems, and now fighting to decentralize the world’s banking systems.</p> <p>According to Mashinsky, “This is the biggest battle that I’ve fought in my life. I fought with the phone companies…in the 90s. This is 10 times worse.”</p> <p>Listen in as Mashinsky reveals the details of his entrepreneurial journey's highs and lows, his dedication to educate the world about cryptocurrencies, and entrepreneurial lessons only an eight-time founder can teach.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How the 2008 recession took down his ride-share company (that was more popular than Uber at the time)</li> <li>Why Mashinsky is so passionate about educating the world on cryptocurrencies</li> <li>4 entrepreneurial lessons to guide your business journey</li> <li>The mindset shift that led Mashinsky to focus on mass adoption of cryptocurrencies</li> </ul>
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227: From a $20M Business to Starting Over With a New Vision, with Erika Geraerts of Fluff
<p>Frank Body co-founder Erika Geraerts left her $20 million coffee scrub company to invent a new category within the beauty industry.</p> <p>She's now on a mission to empower young girls everywhere to feel more comfortable with themselves. According to this forward-thinking founder, the world has enough makeup products, and what the industry really needs is better products with better brand messages.</p> <p>Geraerts thinks makeup should be fun, not a necessity or a chore, which is one reason she called her company Fluff. But there's nothing frivolous about her approach to business. Geraerts is filling a void in the cosmetics industry and raising up the self-esteem of women globally in the process.</p> <p>In this compelling video interview, Geraerts reveals why she decided to leave her booming skin care company, and what she sees on the horizon for Fluff. She also talks about her strict manufacturing process, her focus on sustainable products, her unique customer development process, and the distinct way the company creates online content.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Geraerts chooses manufacturers to create her products</li> <li>The company’s unique customer development process for finding out what types of products solve her customers’ problems</li> <li>Why she won’t be focusing on traditional influencer marketing to promote her products</li> <li>Fluff’s unique website launch strategy and how they work with their customers and freelancers to curate all of their content</li> </ul> <h2 id="transcript"> </h2>
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226: Why Makeup Mogul Bobbi Brown Never Wants to Build Another Billion-Dollar Brand
<h3> </h3> <p>Bobbi Brown has spent her life helping people embrace who they are. Embracing herself—strengths and weaknesses—has also proven to be a powerful career strategy.</p> <p>The veteran makeup artist and founder of the eponymous cosmetics line built her empire on the belief that people are most beautiful when they love who they are. This natural approach to makeup went against the over-the-top aesthetic of the 1980s—which, at the time, critics said would be her undoing—and people couldn’t get enough of her.</p> <p>“My hope is to help women everywhere understand that being who you are is the secret to lasting beauty,” she writes in her book <em>Pretty Powerful</em>.</p> <p>Powered by that philosophy, Brown became known as a makeup artist to the stars, touching up the faces of Carla Bruni, Katie Holmes, and Michelle Obama, to name a few. With characteristic warmth, she treats even the biggest of celebrities like old friends. A <strong><a href= "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmFL34ii-fk">video</a></strong> for <em>HELLO! Canada</em> shows Brown in the back seat of an Uber with actress Meghan Markle, dishing out makeup tips and jamming to Biggie Smalls. As they part ways, Brown tells the now-Duchess of Sussex, “Text me later.”</p> <p>Whether she’s getting celebrities ready for their close-ups or hobnobbing with the rich and famous in the Hamptons, Brown remains refreshingly down to earth. “One of my best attributes in life…is I'm incredibly naive,” she tells Foundr. “I think everything is going to work out.”</p> <p>And for Brown, a lot of it has. She scored big with her first job out of college as a freelance makeup artist, catching the eye of <em>Vogue</em>, which hired her for a <strong><a href= "https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/beauty/make-up-nails/news/a37765/bobbi-brown-25th-anniversary-10-facts-about-the-brand/"> cover shoot with Naomi Campbell</a></strong>. In 1991, with just 10 lipstick shades, Brown launched a cosmetics line that she would <strong><a href= "https://www.bobbibrowncosmetics.com/bobbis-history">sell to Estée Lauder</a></strong> four years later, and continue to work at for more than 20 years after that. When Brown <strong><a href= "https://www.forbes.com/sites/declaneytan/2016/12/20/bobbi-brown-cosmetics-founder-steps-down-from-company/#78e45f7356ee"> stepped away in 2016</a></strong>, she left behind a billion-dollar company. And in the midst of all that, she met the man of her dreams, Steven Plofker, to whom she has been married for 30 years.</p> <p>Yes, she has had an illustrious life and career. But one look at her latest projects makes it clear—Bobbi Brown is just getting started.</p> <h3>On Being Boss Again</h3> <p>When she left Bobbi Brown Cosmetics (which she calls her “first baby”), the beauty world was stunned. But the company was no longer in her direct control, and she was eager to be back at the helm.</p> <p>“I realized that it was time for me to be the boss again because that's really what makes me happy,” she explains. “I like to be in charge, and I like to work with really fun, cool people to create things.”</p> <p>And that’s exactly what she’s been doing. Her first project after leaving the company was to write and promote a book, Beauty From the Inside Out, a lifestyle guide that details recipes, nutrition recommendations, and confidence-boosting tips. This was a nod to Brown’s aspirations to broaden her scope from cosmetics to general health and wellness.</p> <p>“I don't like a lot of makeup,” says Brown, who is an outspoken opponent of contouring, using darker shades to “reshape” parts of your face. “I don't believe women need a lot of makeup. And I think the healthier you are, the better you feel and the better you look.”</p> <p>In 2017, Brown opened Just Bobbi lifestyle concept shops inside of Lord & Taylor department stores, where she curated her favorite wellness and beauty products for the public to peruse.</p> <p>Earlier this year, <strong><a href= "https://people.com/style/bobbi-brown-qvc-evolution-18-launch/#say-cheese"> she launched a line of wellness products</a></strong>, Evolution_18, on TV shopping network QVC. She also runs a film and TV studio, 18 Label Street, and her own line of eyewear, Bobbi Brown Eyewear.</p> <p>And in an unexpected move, she partnered with her husband to breathe new life into a 1902 historic landmark and launch The George, a boutique hotel in their hometown of Montclair, New Jersey.</p> <p>As if that weren’t enough, she’s got a podcast in the works.</p> <p>With so many projects, how does she maintain her focus and a sense of cohesion? “It all works together for me,” Brown says, “because it's pretty much authentic, and it's marrying, finally, really what I believe in.”</p> <h3>Why She Never Wants to Build Another Billion-Dollar Brand</h3> <p>With Brown’s hard-earned success and elite status comes perhaps the greatest privilege any entrepreneur can obtain: the power to say no to otherwise enticing opportunities. She says many of her friends in venture capital have asked her, “How many millions do you want?” in an eager bid to invest in her projects—regardless of what those projects are.</p> <p>“Look, it's very tempting,” Brown says of the investment offers. “But I don't want it.”</p> <p>For entrepreneurs who have pounded down the doors of VCs hoping to snag just one investor, that outlook may be difficult to understand. But for Brown, it’s all about freedom.</p> <p>“I don't want to have to report to anyone,” she says. “I don’t want to sit in meetings.”</p> <p>While many tout the venture model of forgoing profitability now in order to borrow money, spend it on growth, and sell the company later, that’s not Brown’s style. If she were to sell 500 bottles of vitamins, for example, she says she would reinvest the profits by ordering 1,000 more bottles and keep growing incrementally from there.</p> <p>“I'm very simple-minded,” she says. “I know it makes no sense, but I really do believe in making a profit.”</p> <p>So, for now, she’s content to bootstrap, even if that means slower growth or a smaller business. “I never want another billion-dollar brand. … I never want to go that big again because the headaches that come with it are not worth the rewards.”</p> <p>Reflecting on the expansion of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, she calls the first 15 to 17 years “amazing,” but says that as the company grew, her control over it diminished. “I'm not the boss anymore,” she says, “which is why I'm not there.”</p> <h3>Beauty, Glam, and Instagram</h3> <p>So if Brown is hesitant to grow her new businesses too big or too fast, and still wants to be able to call the shots, what is her plan for growth? A lot of it revolves around working her connections—especially the connection to her audience.</p> <p>Back when Brown launched her career as a professional makeup artist, and even later as a cosmetics line founder, there was no such thing as social media or ecommerce. To get her products off the ground, she started mailing out lipsticks until one day, a New York department store agreed to carry them. In the digital age, when brands have direct access to consumers online, Brown is thriving.</p> <p>“The internet is an amazing place for people to go on and really look and find the community they need,” she says. “Whatever you're going through, there is a support group for that. There are people teaching and empowering.”</p> <p>Brown is active on Instagram (in fact, she manages at least four accounts), where you can find anything from the announcement of her latest probiotic product to photos of her recent trip to Paris. On Facebook, she hosts a weekly <strong><a href= "https://www.facebook.com/bobbiunplugged/episodes/">live</a></strong> broadcast where she interviews everyone from Gary Vaynerchuk to her Aunt Alice. And the best part? These episodes don’t cost her a thing; they’re shot on her smartphone.</p> <p>“There are so many ways for people to start their own brands,” she says. “There's a lot to teach and a lot to learn.”</p> <h3>Making It Up as She Goes</h3> <p>By this point, Brown may seem unstoppable. But she’ll be the first to tell you that accepting her weaknesses has made her a stronger entrepreneur by forcing her to embrace her strengths, and get help with everything else. It’s similar to her approach to cosmetics. As a makeup artist, Brown <a href= "https://www.today.com/series/love-your-body/makeup-artist-bobbi-brown-aging-there-s-nothing-wrong-lines-t116166"> <strong>refuses to hide clients’ “flaws</strong>,”</a> preferring instead to accentuate their natural beauty.</p> <p>“It's such a sign of strength for someone to know what they're not good at,” she says. “And I think a lot of…people starting to be entrepreneurs think they could do everything, and you can't.”</p> <p>For instance, Brown doesn’t know how to type—but she’s written nine books. At times, she gave an assistant her handwritten notes and had them transfer them to digital; other times, she had writers interview her and take the information down for Brown to edit. “What you're not good at, find someone that is and tell them what to do.”</p> <p>Her sharp sense of self-awareness was honed from a young age. Growing up, she struggled in school and didn’t have access to tutoring. “Either my parents punished me or they said, ‘Oh well, she'll never be a secretary.’ They were right…because I dropped out of typing because I couldn't figure it out.”</p> <p>From those early experiences, she learned a valuable lesson. “I had to figure out, like, almost coping mechanisms. I don't know if I had learning disabilities. I wasn't good at something, but I knew I had to do this.”</p> <p>When conforming to convention didn’t work for her, Brown would develop her own distinct approach. For example, the first time she wrote a book, she followed the rules: write the book, edit it, then source the photos. But it was extremely difficult for her. So with her last couple of books, she did photo shoots first, then put the book together based on the photos, then had the writers write. “I drove my publishers crazy,” she says. But for her, it worked better.</p> <p>So if there’s something essential you don’t know how to do? “Figure it out,” Brown says. “That’s my only advice.”</p> <h3>Happiness Never Goes Out of Style</h3> <p>In many ways, Brown has been a contrarian in an industry that is notoriously cookie-cutter. And maybe that’s been the key to her success. While <strong><a href= "https://www.glamour.com/story/beauty-moments-that-changed-everything"> she used to compare herself</a></strong> to the supermodels she worked with, she’s learned to be comfortable in her own skin. When people told her things had to be done in a certain way, she forged ahead with her own process and succeeded. But even with her many accomplishments, Brown doesn’t subscribe to any notion of perfection or “having it all.”</p> <p>“I'm not tall and blond and athletic, which I always wanted to be,” she says. “I can't sing. I can't draw. But I have a sense of humor, and I have a lot of friends. I've been married 30 years…I have three amazing boys that I adore…and I've been able to be an entrepreneur.”</p> <p>“Is that having it all?” Brown says. “No—there’s no all. But I'm happy with what I have.”</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Why Brown never wants to create another billion-dollar brand</li> <li>Her philosophy on what makes entrepreneurs strong</li> <li>What she believes is the ultimate secret to lasting beauty</li> <li>How to accept your weaknesses as an entrepreneur and forge ahead in spite of them</li> </ul> <hr /> <div class="transcript"> </div>
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225: New Founders Doubled Business and Hit Their First $10K Month (Consulting Empire Spotlight: Part 2)
<p>Welcome to part two of our two-part podcast series that’s shining the spotlight on successful entrepreneurs who hail right from our very own Foundr community!</p> <p>If you haven’t listened to part one featuring Gavin Symes, you can check it out right <strong><a href= "https://foundr.com/consulting-empire-gavin-symes-the-foundry-group" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a></strong>.</p> <p>Today, we talk with Danielle Roberts and Shea Kucenski, courageous entrepreneurs who started a marketing agency while working full-time jobs. Roberts and Kucenski took all the action steps laid out in the <strong><a href= "http://foundr.com/consulting">Consulting Empire course</a></strong> and in two months took their business from slow and stagnant to closing 20% of all proposals, doubling their earnings, and reaching their first $10,000 month.</p> <p>In this inspiring interview, you will hear about Roberts and Kucenski’s journey to success, how they overcame their perfectionism and fear of failure, and how they land high-paying clients while managing busy schedules.</p> <p>We are extremely proud of Danielle and Shea’s achievements and we are happy to share their amazing story with you!</p> <p><strong>ATTENTION</strong>: If you want to learn how to start and scale a service-based business like Danielle and Shea, whether you are a consultant, coach, or freelancer, agency founder Sabri Suby reveals all of his golden strategies (the exact ones he used to scale from zero to $10 million) in our Consulting Empire online course.</p> <p>We only open enrollment a couple of times a year for a limited time, and it's open for just one more day this week! Check out the <strong><a href="http://foundr.com/consulting" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">Consulting Empire course</a></strong> before we close the doors again.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How to push past the fear of failure and start moving the needle for your client-services business</li> <li>Roberts and Kucenski's main focus that helps them seal the deal when they prospect for clients</li> <li>How they manage their busy schedules (they both have full-time jobs) and keep the business running smoothly</li> <li>How to get started consulting or freelancing and get your first client</li> </ul>
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224: Gavin Symes Scales His Consulting Business to $50K/Month in 3 Months (Consulting Empire Spotlight: Part 1)
<p>The Foundr community is full of passionate people from all walks of life, in the trenches daily doing what it takes to make their startup dreams a reality. In this week’s podcast, we want to highlight one of these entrepreneurs we’re especially proud of—Gavin Symes of <em>The Foundry Group.</em></p> <p>In part one of this two-part podcast series, we talked with Consulting Empire student Gavin Symes, who advanced his business growth and management skills to create a profitable consulting business.</p> <p>Symes took all the action steps laid out in the <strong><a href= "http://foundr.com/consulting" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">Consulting Empire course</a></strong>—from validating his service to developing a lead-gen machine—and built his consulting business from scratch. Three-and-a-half months into the course, he closed 10 clients and <strong>generated over $50,000 of monthly revenue</strong>. He plans on scaling to $1 million this year and then to $10 million in three years.</p> <p>In this inspiring interview, you will hear about Symes’ own journey to success, the biggest problems most businesses face when scaling, and how to set up processes to overcome common business growth challenges.</p> <p>We are extremely proud of Gavin’s achievements and we are happy to share his amazing story with you!</p> <p><strong>ATTENTION</strong>: If you want to learn how to start and scale a service-based business like Gavin, whether you are a consultant, coach or freelancer, agency founder Sabri Suby reveals all of his golden strategies (the exact ones he used to scale from zero to $10 million) in our Consulting Empire online course. We only open enrollment a couple of times a year for a limited time.  <strong><a href="https://foundr.com/consulting" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Get on the free VIP waitlist here</a></strong> to be one of the first we notify when we re-open!</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The top problems most entrepreneurs face as they scale their businesses</li> <li>The one thing that can derail your business if you let it (it has nothing to do with sales or customers)</li> <li>The very first thing to do if you want to start a freelance or consulting business</li> <li>How to create business playbooks to fast-track your growth</li> </ul>
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223: How WPBeginner’s Syed Balkhi Rocketed to Success, Aiding Millions of Wordpress Users
<p>New to the US from Pakistan, Syed Balkhi was a lonely and isolated 12-year-old. Unable to speak English fluently, he took to communicating with new friends—computers—and quickly found comfort interacting with these non-human companions. Soon Balkhi was learning how to code and build websites, and that very same year he made his first dollar from a website he created.</p> <p>Now 27, Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the first and largest WordPress resource website in the world, and co-founder of many accompanying businesses. He was also named a top entrepreneur under the age of 30 by the United Nations, his websites receive millions of monthly pageviews each month, and his software runs on nearly 8 million sites serving billions of monthly impressions.</p> <p>Listen in as Balkhi takes you through the early years of his entrepreneurial journey and how, brick by brick, he built his empire.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Balkhi decides which versions of existing software to acquire and improve</li> <li>Why managing four products independently helps his team increase focus and output</li> <li>How to build a business, one small step at a time</li> <li>The key factor behind his companies' explosive growth</li> </ul>
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222: From Canines to Co-Working: Tobi Skovron’s Journey to Creating Two Revolutionary Products
<p> Tobi Skovron, Founder, CreativeCubes.co</p> <p>Dog toilets and co-working spaces? An unlikely pairing. But if you talk to Tobi Skovron, you'll find they have one thing in common—they inspired him to create two passion-filled businesses and realize his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.</p> <p>Skovron walked away from a promising career in medicine to pursue entrepreneurship, even though he had no idea what business he wanted to run. It wasn’t until Skovron got a dog that he came upon an idea that would take Australia by storm—an indoor dog toilet called Pet Loo. Piggybacking off of the success in Australia, Skovron decided to expand into the US market. He quickly faced a lot of challenges, however, since he made the move right as the 2008 recession hit. Skovron lost half his money right away.</p> <p>Starting over in Los Angeles, he realized the spare bedroom in his Venice Beach apartment was not the ideal environment for him to breathe life into his US expansion, so he joined a co-working space to rekindle his inspiration. There, Skovron realized a new passion for this collaborative environment, which ultimately led him to his next project.</p> <p>Skovron sold Pet Loo and started CreativeCubes.co, a hotel-like co-working environment that houses a curated community of passionate people. We here at Foundr have even used CreativeCubes.co to shoot many of our course videos!</p> <p>These days, Skovron's less interested in financial return, and more interested in providing quality experiences and fostering an environment of positivity and creativity. Listen in and get inspired by this journey from aspiring entrepreneur to two-time founder.</p> <p>Key Takeaways</p> <ul> <li>How the idea for Pet Loo became a reality (it was his wife's idea)</li> <li>The 10-year journey of designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling Pet Loo</li> <li>How Skovron’s love of the co-working landscape led to the creation of his second successful product</li> <li>Why Skovron won’t scale his business for the sake of scaling</li> </ul>
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221: Zero to $9 Million in 4 years: How Chris Peters & Rob Ward Built Quad Lock From a Kickstarter Campaign
<p>Welcome to our newest podcast format, video interviews! You can expect more of this format in the coming months. <strong><a href= "https://www.youtube.com/foundr?sub_confirmation=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Subscribe to our YouTube channel here</a></strong> to be notified when we publish new videos.</p> <p>Today I had the pleasure of sitting down with the co-founders of Quad Lock, a mounting device to securely attach your smartphone to your bike, car, motorcycle, arm or in any situation where you need a hands-free moment. These guys are killing it with <strong>$9 million in yearly earnings in only four years</strong>!</p> <div><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/O2ScNJQ-EIA" width= "600" height="350" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen= "allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>This was a phenomenal interview, as Peters and Ward gave us 45 minutes of pure gold on how they built a strong brand reputation and high-quality product, how they manufacture their products in China, how they got started as a simple Kickstarter project, and so much more.</p> <p>They also discuss brand longevity, how to become trendsetters, and how they overcame their biggest scaling challenges. If you want to learn how to build a long-lasting brand and scale your physical-products business, this is an interview you don’t want to miss!</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>What you need to build a physical-products brand with a strong reputation</li> <li>Why Kickstarter is a good way to introduce your brand to the market, as long as you do it right</li> <li>How to get started and maintain manufacturing out of China</li> <li>Quad Lock's biggest challenges around scaling, and how they have overcome them</li> <li>Quad Lock’s philosophy on hiring A-players</li> </ul>
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220: Building Community as the Foundation for a Successful Content Business, With Carly Zakin & Danielle Weisberg of theSkimm
<p>Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg started their business as good friends on a couch, with nothing but their laptops and a healthy dose of hustle. Today, their millennial women-focused media company theSkimm serves seven million daily subscribers, employs 70 people, and boasts more than 30,000 enthusiastic brand ambassadors.</p> <p>The company also just closed a round of Series C funding led by GV (formerly Google Ventures) and a group of mainly female investors—including the likes of Shonda Rhimes, Tyra Banks, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely.</p> <p>Weisberg and Zakin have maintained a close friendship and strong collaboration throughout their six years in business. This dynamic forms the backbone of their company and sets the tone for daily operations, which is largely focused on supporting and empowering women.</p> <p>In this interview, learn about the early days of theSkimm, the power of community and connection, and how the brand monetizes its content to build a sustainable media business.</p> <p>The company publishes news that fits into the daily routines of its members, continually nodding to its mission statement of making it easier for people to live smarter, more connected lives. But if you ask us, these powerful founders are the smart ones, effectively proving the mantra, “We are all stronger when we work together.”</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How and why they waited two and a half years to monetize their community of loyal followers</li> <li>How they monetize their content with multiple income streams to build a sustainable, well-rounded business</li> <li>Details of the Skimm’bassadors program and why it has grown so rapidly</li> <li>Zakin and Weisberg’s top tips for growing a content-based business</li> </ul>
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219: From Bankrupt to Bestseller: How Mike Michalowicz Used His Own Failures to Empower Other Entrepreneurs
<p>Mike Michalowicz appeared to have everything an entrepreneur could want—big companies and lots of revenue coming in. But things aren’t always as they seem. As Michalowicz was high on fleeting indicators of success, his businesses were leaking profits. “I got caught up in the vanity metrics…how big my business was revenue-wise and how big my business was people-wise,” Michalowicz says.</p> <p>After feeling the sting of and two failed investments and losing millions, Michalowicz found himself struggling with depression—along with a realization that ignorance and arrogance were a deadly combination. Thankfully, with support from friends and a rekindling of his love of writing, Michalowicz was able to pull himself out of the ashes and rebuild his career—this time with heart and soul.</p> <p>Michalowicz used writing as a way to find solutions to all of the biggest challenges he faced as a founder. His books <em>Profit First</em>, <em>Pumpkin Plan</em>, and <em>Clockwork</em> tackle managing cash, business growth, and automating a company, respectively. His next book will focus on how entrepreneurs can serve a greater purpose and make an impact on the world.</p> <p>Listen in and get inspired as Michalowicz gets brutally honest about his own struggles, and shares years of lessons learned to empower other entrepreneurs.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The actions that led Michalowicz to lose millions and hit rock bottom</li> <li>How Michalowicz found his niche and rebuilt his career after 10 failed companies</li> <li>Why working too hard can signal a lack of efficiency</li> <li>How to manage cash and avoid spending money you don’t have</li> </ul>
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218: Slow Growth and Risk Aversion Wins the Entrepreneurial Race, With Aytekin Tank of JotForm
<p>“It took me 10 years [to create my own business], because I didn’t have the courage to start. But I still had this belief that one day I would start it.”</p> <p>Fortunately for Aytekin Tank and 3.7 million happy users, he ultimately did start that business—JotForm, a profitable online form builder that houses 12 million forms; integrates with Paypal, Salesforce, and Dropbox; and spans two continents.</p> <p>It took Tank a decade to build that business, but he couldn't care less. In an entrepreneurial climate where rapid growth and risk-taking are worn as badges of honor, Tank considers his slow growth the reason for his strong company culture and long-term success.</p> <p>Concerned that your wariness or risk aversion hinders your ability to become an entrepreneur? Listen in and get inspired by Tank’s journey. Anything is possible if you just take the plunge and then keep moving forward—no matter the pace.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Tank has been able to grow consistently even though he started with zero management experience</li> <li>The friendly company culture Tank built and why it has become so successful</li> <li>Why Tank believes his slow and steady approach to growth has led to so much success</li> <li>Tank’s three steps to slow and sustainable growth</li> </ul>
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217: Mastering the Messy Middle and Finishing Strong, With Scott Belsky of Behance
<p>Scott Belsky, Behance founder, investor, and author of the new book <em>The Messy Middle</em>, is a strong believer in putting in the hard work and then finishing strong. His nine-figure exit from Behance is a testament to this tenacity and determination.</p> <p>Behance came with its own set of challenges, but Belsky learned over the years that when it seems like things are falling apart, it could mean victory is right around the corner. Your near-meltdown might just be your “messy middle," and sometimes being successful simply means sticking together as a team long enough to figure it out. A labor of love will often work out in the end, even if it's not how you expect.</p> <p>In this thought-provoking interview, Belsky shares his own “messy middle" from his time with Behance, and some of his best wisdom on product-market fit, perseverance, and startup culture. We were thrilled to get the chance to talk to Scott. There’s a ton of gold in this interview, so don’t miss it!</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Two guiding principles on whether to stick it out or shut it down</li> <li>Why Belsky is wary of the MVP craze, and how to balance perfectionism with action</li> <li>Three tips for finding true product-market fit</li> <li>How to create a startup culture that attracts and retains the right people</li> <li>Why Belsky started Behance and what inspired his progress</li> </ul>
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216: The Art of Creating High-Converting Landing Pages, With Oli Gardner, Co-Founder of Unbounce
<p>“Ninety-eight percent of landing pages are just plain bad.”</p> <p>This is what Unbounce founder Oli Gardner declared when he began his public speaking circuit four years ago. A bold statement, but he would know.</p> <p>As co-founder of the landing page software builder, which pulls in $20 million in annual revenue, Gardner confidently claims he has seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet—nearly 100,000 to be exact. These days, he's leveraging his immense knowledge on the topic to help businesses drive more leads and revenue, through Unbounce and as a speaker.</p> <p>In this interview, learn about the history of Unbounce, Gardner’s top tips for becoming a better marketer, and his golden advice on how to create a landing page that gets his seal of approval.</p> <p><strong>ATTENTION</strong>: We are excited to announce that Oli has partnered with the Foundr School of Entrepreneurship to teach a powerful course, <strong><a href= "https://foundr.com/funnelconversioncourse-waitlist" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">Landing Page Formula</a></strong>. If you want to learn the principles of conversion-center design and get a step-by-step blueprint on how to construct a high-converting landing page (templates included), Oli reveals his proven framework in this in-depth course.  We only offer open enrollment a couple of times a year, for a limited time.<strong> <a href= "https://foundr.com/funnelconversioncourse-waitlist">Get on the FREE VIP waitlist here</a></strong> to be one of the first we notify when we open.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The history of Unbounce and how the company rose to prominence</li> <li>How to make a landing page that impresses Oli Gardner</li> <li>Gardner’s top three tips to becoming a better marketer</li> </ul>
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215: Navigating the Unpredictable Journey From Failure to Triumph, With Stuart McKeown, Co-Founder of Gleam
<p>Stuart McKeown started his entrepreneurial career as a college dropout, had a short-lived stint as a DJ, and then lost thousands of dollars on his first startup attempt. But he's nothing if not persistent. McKeown is now a growth marketing and list-building master and the co-founder of Gleam.io, a growth-focused platform used by more than 20,000 brands a month.</p> <p>The secret to McKeown’s success? He never believed failure was something to be feared, but rather a means to gather the information he needed to grow.</p> <p>In this interview, learn how McKeown overcame his setbacks to build a powerful platform and brand, how he establishes work/life balance for himself and his employees, and his top four tips for running a viral competition.</p> <p>McKeown may not have become a world famous DJ, but by staying true to himself and striking out fearlessly despite unforeseen obstacles, he has built a brand to be proud of—a gleaming beacon of success.</p> <p><strong>ATTENTION</strong>: We are also excited to announce that Stuart has partnered with Foundr to teach an epic course, <strong>List-Building Mastery</strong>. If you want a step-by-step strategy on how to explode your email list from scratch, get your first 10,000+ subscribers, and scale to 60,000 and more, Stuart reveals all of his proven strategies in this in-depth, tactical course. We only open enrollment a couple of times a year for a limited time. <strong><a href= "https://foundr.com/listbuildingcourse-waitlist" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Get on the FREE VIP waitlist here</a></strong> to be one of the first we notify when we open.</p> <p>Key Takeaways:</p> <ul> <li>Four tips for running a viral competition</li> <li>Why building a product that relies on someone else’s infrastructure can spell disaster</li> <li>McKeown’s low-key and casual philosophy on work/life balance</li> <li>How and why failure is necessary for success</li> </ul>
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214: Nailing Product-Market Fit and Building a Successful Startup, With Legendary VC and Wealthfront CEO Andy Rachleff
<p>Andy Rachleff is not just a product expert; he literally coined the term “product-market fit.”</p> <p>Wealthfront CEO, former VC backing companies such as eBay, Uber, and Twitter, and technology entrepreneurship instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Rachleff has a wealth of knowledge on creating and scaling powerful companies. I was excited to have the chance to pick his brain on everything from product-market fit, to how he started his company Wealthfront, to how he hires the best of the best to join his team.</p> <p>In this interview, you will gain access to a true master, who has enjoyed a long career of investing in legendary companies and now gives back to today’s entrepreneurs and investors. Rachleff started his company Wealthfront, an automated investment service that manages $11 billion in assets, as a way to perform a social good by democratizing sophisticated financial advice. In our discussion, he was kind enough to divulge some of his wins and losses and top lessons learned in his storied entrepreneurial career. Enjoy!</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How to know when you’ve reached product-market fit</li> <li>The process Rachleff follows every time he builds a new product</li> <li>How to know when it’s the right time to launch a new product (or let go of a failing one)</li> <li>How to maintain a close-knit startup culture as the company grows</li> <li>Why perseverance does not lead to success in technology (and what does)</li> <li>What type of people he looks for and the three biggest things that make people to want to join his team</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>Key Resources From Our Interview With Andy Rachleff</h2> <ul> <li>Follow Andy on <a href="https://twitter.com/arachleff" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">Twitter</a></li> <li>Learn more about Wealthfront <a href= "https://www.wealthfront.com/" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">here</a></li> </ul>
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213: Overcoming Depression and Starting Over: Behind the Scenes With Rand Fishkin, Moz Founder
<p>You may know former Moz CEO Rand Fishkin from his characteristic curly mustache, Whiteboard Friday videos, or his SEO mastery. But this interview isn’t about linking, Google rankings, or gray-hat practices. Or mustaches.</p> <p>In our chat with Fishkin, he opens up about his battle with depression and how it has shaped his past decisions and guided his current ventures. He sympathizes with the many entrepreneurs who have also succumbed to loneliness and wondered why their business success wasn’t enough to make them happy.</p> <p>Fishkin also talks about his new book, <em>Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World</em>. In it, he shares the conversations entrepreneurs have about their challenges and hardships, whether personal or in their businesses. Fishkin also shares details on his new software project and why he decided to venture into another startup.</p> <p>If you want to be inspired, encouraged, and take away some great advice from a long-time founder, don’t miss this interview. We hope you find it as moving as we did!</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Why striving to emulate Silicon Valley startup culture can negatively affect your business growth</li> <li>How and why Moz’s customer acquisition costs went down after laying off half of his marketing team</li> <li>How to know when to sacrifice profit for growth</li> <li>The dark side of entrepreneurial leadership</li> </ul>
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212: Behind the Scenes With 3 Start & Scale Ecommerce Success Stories
<p>We are always blown away by the success stories within the Foundr community, and we take every opportunity we can to shine the spotlight on them.</p> <p>In today's podcast, I am thrilled to present to you three of our Start & Scale ecommerce course students who are absolutely crushing it! I got to sit down with each one and ask them how they got started with their businesses, what challenges they faced, and what successes they are now enjoying.</p> <p>You will hear from:</p> <h2>Adam Hendle</h2> <p>Adam is the founder of men’s personal care product line, Ball Wash. Adam started his ecommerce journey only eight short months ago and has already made more than $1 million in revenue.</p> <h2>Shamanth Pereira</h2> <p>Shamanth is a busy mother who created a new leggings product, and put it to the test with a pre-sale Kickstarter campaign. In a short time, she received nearly £50,000 from more than 1,500 backers. Shamanth is in the process of fulfilling those orders and putting her shop online full time.</p> <h2>Monique and Chevalo Wilsondebriano</h2> <p>Monique and Chevalo run Charleston Gourmet Burger, which was already a $200,000-per-month business, but had yet to reach its potential in online sales. Their goal was turn their website into an online store so they could generate more sales. In two months, they earned nearly $22,000 and attracted 9,110 visits to their website.</p> <p>We couldn’t be happier for these guys and are proud to be part of their journeys. Please join me in congratulating them. Way to go!</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Go behind the scenes to learn how three ecommerce stores became successful</li> <li>Discover the two primary marketing channels Ball Wash leveraged that allowed them to scale so fast</li> <li>How Shamanth conceptualized and developed her winning product idea</li> <li>The learning curve for Chevalo and Monique as they transitioned their product to sell online</li> </ul>
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211: Contently’s Shane Snow on Building a Content Empire and Then Returning to His Writing Roots
<p>While he always had a passion for entrepreneurship, Shane Snow started his career as a freelance journalist, and during that time noticed how many of his peers were struggling to market themselves and find work. This frustration fueled his desire to develop the global content marketing platform, Contently. Contently is a unified content marketing solution for the world’s biggest enterprise brands, and it’s also a tremendous source of income for creative freelancers. By Snow’s best estimates, Contently has paid out more than $46 million (and counting) to freelancers around the globe.</p> <p>As successful as his time at Contently has been, Snow never stopped being a writer at heart, and now he's back at it. He recently hired a CMO for Contently and became “founder-at-large,” relieving himself of the day-to-day management and freeing up his time to reunite with his first career love.</p> <p>Today, you can find Snow promoting his soon-to-be-published book, <em>Dream Teams</em>, and otherwise sharing his expertise on team building and storytelling for founders. In this interview, Snow shares his journey to the top of the entrepreneurial mountain and back home again, along with his best advice learned from a seven-year reign at Contently.</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The two realizations Snow had that sparked the idea for Contently</li> <li>How Snow transitioned out of his role as founder and returned back to his former love of journalism</li> <li>Snow's counterintuitive advice on team building and how it relates to innovation</li> <li>One of the most important things we can do as leaders and team members to build relationships</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>Key Resources From Our Interview With Shane Snow</h2> <ul> <li>Find out more about Shane Snow <a href= "http://www.shanesnow.com/">here</a></li> <li>Follow Shane on <a href= "https://twitter.com/shanesnow">Twitter</a></li> <li>Learn more about <a href= "https://contently.com/">Contently</a></li> </ul>
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210: How to Create a Multimillion-Dollar Software Product the Market Actually Wants, With Crazy Egg’s Hiten Shah
<p>Hiten Shah has a killer track record when comes to creating software products. He and his co-founders have built several multimillion-dollar releases, including Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics, and many of their features were the first of their kind to hit the industry.</p> <p>It might seem like Shah has stumbled onto a secret formula for software-building success. But to him, it’s simply a matter of creating what his audience wants. Solving a problem is the biggest determinant of a software’s success, and Shah builds this methodology into every new piece he creates.</p> <p>In this informative interview, Shah shares the details behind his process, from planning the software build and ensuring a market fit, to hiring the right people to bring it to life. As an avid mentor and advisor, Shah also answers our own, real world questions about future software builds for Foundr. Listen in and get inspired!</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Learn about Shah’s newest software products to hit the market</li> <li>The secret to building a profitable software product (it starts long before the first line of code is written)</li> <li>How to avoid building something nobody wants</li> <li>When to hire internally and when to outsource when building a SaaS product</li> <li>Where most product managers go wrong during development</li> <li>How to prevent your software tool from getting too bloated and overcomplicated</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>Key Resources</h2> <ul> <li>Sign up for Shah's newsletter <a href= "http://producthabits.com">here</a></li> </ul>
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209: How Two Fintech Entrepreneurs Found Stable Ground in a Volatile Space, With CoinJar’s Asher Tan and Ryan Zhou
<p>It only took six hours for Asher Tan and Ryan Zhou to put together the incubator pitch for CoinJar, a vision for a next-gen personal finance account that would capitalize on the growing interest in bitcoin and other digital currencies.</p> <p>Five years later, <a href="https://www.coinjar.com.au/" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">CoinJar</a> is a leading digital currency platform in Australia and the self-proclaimed “fastest way to access your money from anywhere in the world.” CoinJar’s users can spend, send, and trade their bitcoins, dollars, and pounds globally.</p> <p>Despite the major challenges that come with scaling in a global market, the company has been profitable for the past three years. In this insightful interview, these brave founders share how they overcome scaling challenges, their next products to hit the market, and their top tips for entrepreneurs interested in creating fintech startups. Enjoy!</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The specific challenges that come with scaling in a volatile market</li> <li>Why prioritizing word-of-mouth marketing wins over other advertising channels in this industry</li> <li>The duo's next products to hit the market</li> <li>Tan and Zhou’s top tips for fintech startups</li> </ul>
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208: How a Charitable Mission and Influencer Marketing Sparked Massive Growth, With Griffin Thall of Pura Vida
<p>For Pura Vida co-founders Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman, a chance meeting with two Native jewelry artisans on a beach in Costa Rica sparked an idea that would forever change their lives. They're now running a rapidly growing brand that not only inspires tremendous customer loyalty, but also promotes products that give back in a big way.</p> <p>Pura Vida (which means “pure life” in Spanish) has grown rapidly since its inception, but this isn’t the brand’s most appealing aspect. Customers also love the company, because it has provided sustainable jobs to 350+ jewelry artisans worldwide, and donated more than $1.5 million to charities using proceeds from its products.</p> <p>In this inspiring interview, learn how Pura Vida has leveraged influencer marketing and social media to spread its brand message and create a global movement of loyal customers. Matching creative social strategies with a passionate mission has made this brand a massive success and we are proud to feature them. Way to go Pura Vida!</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The company's unique micro-infuencer marketing program that forms the backbone of their promotional marketing campaigns</li> <li>The monthly subscription club that is the fastest-growing part of the business</li> <li>The strategies behind the company’s high customer engagement</li> <li>How Pura Vida creates a culture and lasting experiences that contribute to customer loyalty</li> </ul>
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207: BigCommerce Co-Founder Talks Scaling to $100M While Minimizing Risk and Stress
<p>I’m excited to share a very special interview with you today! Mitchell Harper has been my long-time mentor and coach and a driving force behind Foundr’s success. I’m thrilled to share his story with you so you can glean some entrepreneurial gold from his experience.</p> <p>Harper started his entrepreneurial journey as a software developer, building games as early as 12 years old. He built his first businesses in his teens and sold his first company around the time he graduated high school.</p> <p>Partnering with another developer in 2003, Harper created Interspire, a suite of software tools for businesses, and grew it to $10 million in revenue in four years. The company eventually became BigCommerce, now one of the web's premier shopping cart platforms. BigCommerce has raised $250 million in its short lifetime, recently hit $100 million in annual recurring revenue, and the company is still growing.</p> <p>While his big career wins might suggest otherwise, Harper says he is risk-averse and doesn’t believe entrepreneurs need to be big risk takers to achieve high levels of success. He prefers taking the safe route and reveals his strategies for building high impact, low-risk businesses. In this inspiring interview, Harper also shares how he battled with depression and what his journey to wholeness taught him about work/life balance.</p> <p>I’m so privileged and lucky to have Mitch as a mentor and to introduce him to our Foundr family. Please listen in and get inspired by the man who has been an integral part of Foundr’s success!</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Why timing is critical when securing investors, from seizing the opportunity early on to waiting long enough to mitigate risk</li> <li>Mitch’s top book recommendation for entrepreneurs looking to raise capital</li> <li>Why entrepreneurs don’t need to “risk it all” to become successful</li> <li>Mitch’s battle with depression and how he altered his life to avoid burnout and achieve work/life balance</li> <li>The power of an A-player team to grow companies</li> </ul>
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206: From Animator to Tech Educator, Lynda Weinman Reflects on a $1.5B Exit and Her New Career
<p>Lynda Weinman sold her 20-year company Lynda.com to LinkedIn for $1.5 billion. What is she doing now? She is reinventing herself and enjoying her new role as a champion of independent film.</p> <p>Weinman is no stranger to the concept of reinvention. In fact, it's that very spirit of constant evolution that led her to become a trailblazer in the online education space, and to ultimately make a massive exit.</p> <p>Her journey started with a career in animation and special effects, of all things, and even included running a punk store on L.A.’s Sunset Strip. She continued to pivot, until her creative endeavors eventually led her to education, and a business model that allowed her to teach thousands of laypeople about complex tech topics.</p> <p>The company started as a brick-and-mortar classroom, but after the economic decline that followed the tragic terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Weinman was forced to take Lynda in a new direction. To weather the economic storm, she transitioned to the online subscription business model of Lynda.com.</p> <p>Lynda.com’s growth was slow going until social media gained ground in 2006, a movement that helped catapult her company's revenue to $40 million and beyond. Even though Weinman never thought about selling, when the offer came in, she knew she had to pull the trigger.</p> <p>Working relentlessly on Lynda for the past 20 years and now in her early 60s, Weinman has set her sights on a new course. She's now the president of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and invests in independent filmmakers using charitable grants. In this interview, Weinman shares the journey that led to her $1.5 billion exit, how and why she has continued reinventing herself, and her top advice for entrepreneurs.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The emotions that accompany the process of letting go of a 20-year company in three short months</li> <li>Why it may not be wise to focus on churn rate and what to focus on instead</li> <li>Why getting investors can be a wise choice if you are planning on selling your company</li> <li>Lynda Weinman’s three top tips for entrepreneurs</li> </ul>
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205: Finding a Mission and Making the World a Healthier Place, With Munjal Shah of Health IQ
<p>A health crisis that landed Munjal Shah in the ER turned out to be the catalyst for his next mission: making the world a healthier place.<br /> On the day Munjal Shah started running a 10K race back in 2010, he was on top of the world. Just the day before, he had sold his company to Google, marking his second successful exit.</p> <p>Then the chest pains started. Shah wound up in the ER, and while it didn’t end up being a heart attack, the incident was a sobering reminder that his own father had had one while in his 40s. It was a wake-up call for Shah, who was 37 at the time. He started focusing on his health, lost 40 pounds, and decided his next entrepreneurial endeavor would make the world a healthier place.</p> <p>“People always say, ‘Go find your mission,’” Shah says. He’s now the founder of a new and growing insurance startup called Health IQ, which encourages healthy behavior by taking a data-driven approach to its coverage. “I would say my mission found me.”</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The journey that led to two successful exits (one was with Google)</li> <li>The unconventional, non-scalable hiring methods that led Shah to build A-player teams</li> <li>How Shah discovered his mission and how this fuels his startup’s success</li> <li>Shah’s top advice for founders looking to raise a round of financing</li> <li>When and how to pivot: the key to Shah’s successful track record</li> <li>Shah’s top tips for busy entrepreneurs (it has nothing to do with meetings, investors, or customers)</li> </ul>
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204: Taking the Road Less Traveled to Build the Business of Your Dreams, With Mike Dillard of Self Made Man
<p>In business, in life, and even behind the wheel of his actual race car, Mike Dillard goes from zero to 60 in the blink of an eye.</p> <p>In stark contrast to his calm voice and introverted nature, Dillard is a pioneer willing to crash through boundaries and challenge common wisdom. He just prefers to do it through the written word, rather than grand speeches or face-to-face encounters.</p> <p>The core principle driving Dillard’s pedal-to-the-metal attitude? He deeply believes in the power of one person to change their community, their industry, and maybe even the world. “I approach life with a core belief that anyone can accomplish anything,” his website bio reads. “That not only can one man or woman make a difference, but that it’s one man or woman who always makes the difference.”</p> <h3>Key Takeaways</h3> <ul> <li>How Dillard leveraged his introverted nature to find success in an extrovert-driven world</li> <li>The biggest crash of Dillard’s career, which cost him $12 million in revenue overnight</li> <li>The one thing Dillard needs to build a business (it has nothing to do with money)</li> <li>The mission and purpose that has guided Dillard (through the bad times) to build the business of his dreams</li> </ul>
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203: The One-Two Punch for Sustainable, Consistent Startup Growth, With Dmitry Dragilev of JustReachOut
<p>Dmitry Dragilev has a typical entrepreneurial story, but maybe a little more extreme. Bored in his dead-end, corporate job, he was fearful of ending up like his older, unsatisfied peers. One day, Dragilev read in a magazine about what was going on in Silicon Valley, and up and quit.</p> <p>He sold everything he owned, hopped in his car, and made his way to California. Equipped only with a knowledge of coding and a drive to succeed, Dragilev had made a decision that changed the rest of his life.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways:</h2> <ul> <li>Dragilev's unique growth marketing approach for building sustainable, consistent traffic</li> <li>How to build quality relationships with journalists to increase your brand's exposure</li> <li>How Dragilev helped two companies skyrocket sales with two PR strategies</li> <li>The quick website fix that resulted in a two-second improvement in user session time</li> </ul>
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202: How Eric Siu Bought Single Grain for $2 and Turned it into a Marketing Powerhouse
<h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The Comeback Kid</span></h2> <p>In 2013, Eric Siu bought a failing SEO agency for two dollars. Today, he’s built it into a digital marketing powerhouse that serves giants of the tech industry.</p> <p>These days, Eric Siu rubs elbows with the internet marketing elite, hosting a popular podcast with online guru Neil Patel, and leading the successful agency Single Grain, which boasts clients like Uber, Amazon, and Salesforce.</p> <p>But go back about six years, and Eric Siu was just a 25-year-old new hire entrusted with the monumental task of saving a tanking company.</p> <p>“A month into it, the CEO pulls me aside,” Siu recalls, “and he's like, ‘Eric, you know, 48 people, their families, they're riding on your shoulders right now, and if you can't hit numbers in the next month, we're gonna have to let you go.’”</p> <p>Siu had taken a job leading the marketing for education startup Treehouse. He loved the product and the team, but he had no idea the revenues were stagnant. It hadn’t hit its numbers goals in the last two years, and when Siu came onboard, the company had only five or six months of cash left in the bank.</p> <p>“I was like, ‘Oh, man. We're gonna go down, and it's me that's kind of responsible for revenue growth because it's a subscription-based product.’”</p> <p>After seeing some traction on Treehouse’s YouTube account, Siu took a gamble and put all the company’s budget into YouTube advertising. This was 2012, and Facebook ads hadn’t quite taken off. And for Treehouse, which teaches video courses on coding and web design, YouTube was a natural fit. Siu began bidding on promising keywords, and the team created an inspirational video ad inspired by Apple’s slick aesthetic.</p> <p>“We just started cranking out a bunch of sign-ups that way,” Siu says. “The price point wasn't that bad, and so things started to really blow up there.”</p> <p>From there, Siu fired their PR agency and started working with one that was paid for performance. By the time he left Treehouse, Siu says he’d helped take the company from about 500 new subscribers a month to between 3,500 and 4,000. Now, Treehouse sees $15 million in annual revenue, according to a <a href= "https://mixergy.com/interviews/treehouse-with-ryan-carson/">March 2018 Mixergy interview</a> with CEO Ryan Carson. “So they're fantastic now,” Siu says. “They're just building on top of everything that they're doing.”</p> <p>That may sound like an exceptional comeback, but it was only the beginning for Siu. From there he embarked on a career of getting into tight spots, taking risks, sometimes failing, and then making comebacks, all culminating in the success of his digital marketing agency.</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Lose Money Now, Make Much More Later</span></h2> <p>It’s important to note that, while Treehouse was bringing in more customers, it wasn’t profitable in the short term. That gets to an important concept that Siu believes isn’t talked about enough, but has been an important one in his work to breathe new life into companies—the payback period.</p> <p>They payback period is the length of time required to recover the cost on an investment. According to Siu, mastering the payback period can mean the difference between a quick, small ROI, and building a company with a huge payday.</p> <p>For SaaS businesses, payback period tends to be long, with some companies not breaking even on an investment until 18 months out. But if they look at the long term, they know they can make back way more than that initial investment if they’re patient, understand the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer, and know their numbers well.</p> <p>In <a href= "http://marketingschool.io/the-difference-between-7-8-and-9-figure-businesses-ep-551/"> episode 551</a> of their Marketing School podcast, Siu and Patel talk about the difference between seven-figure versus nine-figure businesses. Seven-figure businesses want a return on investment right away. Nine-figure businesses, however, are willing to lose money at first because they know the lifetime value of their customers.</p> <p>Siu points to ClickFunnels as a great example of how understanding payback period can pay off in the long run. The marketing funnels software company is completely bootstrapped and reached <a href= "https://getlatka.com/blog/clickfunnels-reached-60m-arr-5x-ing-in-18-months"> $60 million</a> in annual recurring revenue in 2017.</p> <p>“The reason they're able to do that is because they have their numbers locked down,” he explains. “They are willing to perhaps even break even or lose money on the front end, right? So let's say when they first acquire an email or even a free trial in the beginning, they're going to lose money, but they know that their funnel in the backend is so locked down that they can upsell people on, you know, their mastermind or other bundles, things like that.”</p> <p>Siu gives a hypothetical example too: Let’s say it costs you $1,200 to acquire a customer who pays $100 a month. The payback period, then, is 12 months. But if you can find a way to increase that price to $300 a month, you’re looking at a payback period that takes one-third the time. With the extra cash from the monthly recurring revenue of that customer, you can reinvest in your company to grow it faster. That’s why Siu emphasizes the importance of getting your pricing right. In fact, he says if he could go back to his Treehouse days, he would increase prices.</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The Single Grain Salvage</span></h2> <p>Before he even hit the one-year mark with Treehouse, Siu set his sights on the next rescue mission: a failing SEO agency where Neil Patel was a partner. Armed with the marketing chops he honed at Treehouse, Siu was up for the challenge.</p> <p>“But going to a company that I thought had a lot of problems,” he says, “that I thought was a house of cards, that I thought was going to be in big trouble—that was a different challenge.”</p> <p>And even though he wasn’t thrilled to return to the agency world, the gamer in Siu saw it as a fun opportunity. “I thought the challenge of saving a stagnant company was really interesting because...I just see every challenge as, like, the game, right? It's just fun to play.”</p> <p>At the time, Single Grain was an SEO agency with four partners. When Siu came onboard, he says the company was doing about $1.1 million a year, relying completely on SEO services, mainly link building for clients. But then the Google Penguin update happened, decimating Single Grain’s efforts.</p> <p>“The work that the company was doing was no longer having an effect,” Siu says, “so customers just started churning left and right, and that's when we had to basically make a change. And that's when I popped in.”</p> <p>But Siu had his work cut out for him. This time around, it wasn’t just marketing. He was in charge of operations too, and the company needed to get some processes in place. “Basically, when I came in, everything was on fire.”</p> <p>Siu had to lay some people off because their roles were no longer relevant after the Google update. He then turned the company’s efforts to content marketing as the next logical step. Upon a recommendation, he hired a head of content marketing, which ended up being a mistake.</p> <p>“This person was actually really toxic and caused four of our clients to leave,” he says. After that, two employees quit and morale was low.</p> <p>Even though things had gone from bad to worse, Siu hung on.</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The $2 Buyout</span></h2> <p>So let’s take stock of just where Siu was at in 2013: He was hired to resuscitate a dying company, he had to lay off employees, he hired the wrong person for a key role, his employees’ morale was low, and oh yeah, he had to take out a personal loan just to make payroll.</p> <p>“I didn't know what the hell I was doing,” Siu says. “And I think a lot of times when it comes to business, or just when you're starting out, honestly, I think it's okay to say you don't know what you're doing.”</p> <p>And then, leadership started to cave. One of the partners admitted to Siu that he wanted out, and the other three agreed that the company was worth nothing. While this easily could’ve been the end of Single Grain, Siu had an idea.</p> <p>“I said, ‘Hey, guys, I will buy the company, I’ll take on the load, I'll put it on my shoulders, I'll see what I can do with it.’”</p> <p>He offered one dollar to Neil Patel and one dollar to another partner, for 10 percent of their shares in the company. The other two partners, he offered to pay with profits from the company.</p> <p>“So it's a buyout, but the contingency is if the company fails, I will owe nothing. So we signed that agreement, got it done, and it was off to the races,” Siu says.</p> <p>He had his work cut out for him, as the company was in the negative when Siu took over; plus, its source of leads, Neil Patel, was now gone.</p> <p>Meanwhile, as everything seemed to be falling apart, Siu continued to try to grow a podcast, <em>Growth Everywhere</em>, spending six hours a week recording and producing the episodes. One year into it, he was getting only nine downloads a day. But again, he powered through.</p> <p>“Here's the thing,” he says, “you just keep going, right?” Now <em>Growth Everywhere</em> gets up to 80,000 downloads a month. Plus, it turned out to be a great lead generator for Single Grain.</p> <p>Slowly but surely, Single Grain began gaining leads through organic search. Siu decided to refer those leads out and worked out referral deals with agencies, getting 25 to 30 percent of the lifetime of each customer. Siu says the referral income generated about $250,000 to $300,000 a year, but he wasn’t satisfied. “The kind of competitive spirit in me is like, ‘Okay, I wonder if we can build this thing up to be a paid advertising agency.’"</p> <p>So Single Grain started experimenting with taking on its own clients and noticed retention went up, and clients were happier. Traffic was coming in from the podcast, organic search, and speaking events. Today, the company has 34 people working at an office in downtown L.A. The Single Grain website has gone from 4,000 visitors a month to about 80,000, and Siu believes it will reach half a million fairly quickly.</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Content Marketing Is King</span></h2> <p>Take a look at Single Grain’s website, and you’ll see big client names such as Intuit, Amazon, and Salesforce. So what’s Siu’s secret for snagging premium clients? “Every single client that we have, whether it's a Uber or Lyft or TrustPilot, or whatever it is exactly, all came from content marketing.” In fact, up until recently, Single Grain didn’t even have an outbound team.</p> <p>In the past, Siu says people from his management team have challenged him on the amount spent on content marketing, asking to see the ROI. So he did a breakdown of each client to see where they came from: podcasts, organic search, relationships Siu built up with people, and speaking opportunities. “It was all basically content marketing.”</p> <p>When clients come through inbound or content marketing, Siu says, the sales cycle is much shorter than with outbound. Instead of waiting months for a deal to close, the time is cut down to weeks. In addition, the lifetime value of that client is longer, because after reading your blog posts, listening to your podcasts, and watching your videos, they feel like they know you. That leads to a longer-lasting relationship.</p> <p>Another note Siu adds about client acquisition is that it pays off to specialize. At first, Single Grain focused on paid advertising for SaaS and education companies. They were able to boost their prices based on their specialty and proven framework.</p> <p>“If anybody's trying to sell anything,” he explains, “when people ask you how you're different, the more you can niche down, at least in the very beginning, the more you can charge premium prices and the more you can focus in and maybe grow faster.”</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Smooth Operator</span></h2> <p>Most of the employees at Treehouse were remote, so when Siu took over Single Grain, shutting down the San Francisco office and transitioning to a remote company seemed like a no-brainer. But as Siu puts it, it’s one of the “massive mistakes” he made.</p> <p>Without having built up a rapport with his team and without understanding the relationships they had with each other, Siu says he shouldn’t have made an executive decision of that size, especially without asking for team input. “That totally devastated the culture, in my mind,” he says. “And I think when it comes to a services-based business, like this, where it requires a lot of creativity and collaboration, it's tough to have a completely remote atmosphere.”</p> <p>So Siu shifted to a hybrid method: He and the team work in the office three days a week and remotely two days a week. “I just know that when we're in the office…we can just get so much done that way.”</p> <p>To maximize productivity, Siu uses these two tools:</p> <ul> <li><strong><a href= "https://www.15five.com/">15Five </a></strong>is a performance-tracking software that allows continuous feedback among your teammates. Grounded in positive psychology, it lets you see how people are feeling on a scale of one to five. It also allows employees to set priorities, report what they did for the week, and give each other high fives. “We can see how engaged people are. And that's one of the main core drivers, because 15Five allows us to see, even if you're filling out a five every single week...we can see in your answers, we can read between the lines to see how you're really feeling.”</li> </ul> <ul> <li><a href="https://hubstaff.com/">Hubstaff</a> is a time-tracking software that takes screenshots of each employee’s computer at random. “So here's the thing,” Siu says, “I don't like time tracking. But as an agency, service-based business, you kind of have to track your time to see how profitable you are per account.” And though he sees Hubstaff’s features as a bit “big brothery,” Siu says, “I personally don't like that kind of stuff, but I think it's really important, especially if we have contractors, from time to time.”</li> </ul> <p>In addition to those tools, Single Grain has one-on-ones, as well as traction meetings with each team. “That's helped make us into a well-oiled machine,” Siu says, “and everyone's much happier now.”</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Eric Siu’s Tips for Hiring Great Talent</span></h2> <p>When it comes to tapping into new talent for the team, Siu’s got a process worked out for that too.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Establish core values.</strong> Even though people think it’s cliche, establishing what your company’s core values are before you begin hiring is essential.</li> <li><strong>Assign homework.</strong> For new hires, it’s important to assign a tryout exercise. “It shows at the end of the day how serious they are about doing it.” Single Grain uses an applicant tracking system called Workable, where people can comment on it.</li> <li><strong>Conduct one-way video interviews for more junior roles.</strong> Siu uses Spark Hire to conduct one-way recorded video interviews. “Because the thing is, with a lot of junior roles, you're going to get a lot of noise. Through a video interview, it's more asynchronous, so I can look at it whenever I want, or my team can. Or if it's a salesperson, we'll run them through a test called Objective Management Group, which has been fantastic.”</li> <li><strong>Own the hiring decision.</strong> Siu always makes sure to be at the tail end of the interview process. “So whether it's an intern or anybody else, even if it's a remote person, I get to talk to the person,” he says. “I get to make the final call. Because then I can kind of own the decision at the end and say, ‘Hey, it's ultimately my fault if something goes wrong.’”</li> <li><strong>Check those references!</strong> Yes, Single Grain does check references, and Siu judges the quality of the candidate based on this question: Are the first three references really excited about this person? Siu says he’s even been in a situation where he was about to make an offer but pulled it last minute because of the result of the reference checks. “We dig a little deeper, and we find out: can’t do it.”</li> </ol> <h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Leveling Up: What’s Next for Single Grain</span></h2> <p>Never one to slow down, Siu’s already working on his next big projects. Right now, Single Grain is working on a SaaS product called ClickFlow, which helps companies get more organic traffic by boosting organic click-through rates.</p> <p>On top of that, he’s writing a book, entitled <em>Leveling Up</em> as a nod to his competitive gaming days. “I just see this entire thing as a game,” he says. “Just plugging things together, making systems work, making it all happen.” Once the book is ready, he hopes he can use it to educate people on marketing and maybe even recruit talent to his agency or others. Siu also plans to do more live events and add an education component to his company.</p> <p>“I think it all kind of plugs in together,” he says. “And I think the ultimate goal is just to give back and invest in education, because that's what I love.”</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Key Takeaways:</span></h2> <ul> <li>What payback periods are and why understanding them is integral to scaling any business</li> <li>How Siu bought a failing company for $2 and turned it into a powerhouse digital marketing agency</li> <li>Siu’s most powerful strategy for snagging premium clients (it’s not a sales team)</li> <li>The top tools remote companies can use to maximize productivity</li> <li>Siu’s best tips for hiring great talent</li> </ul>
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201: Zero to $10 Million in 4 Years: How King Kong’s Sabri Suby Went from Work-at-Home Consultant to Booming Agency Founder
<p>To Sabri Suby, business is a jungle and only the strong survive. To be successful, you need to dominate the digital landscape and crush the competition into a fine powder. That fierce attitude has served Suby, and his clients, very well over the years.</p> <p>Suby is the founder of <strong><a href= "https://kingkong.com.au/">King Kong</a></strong>, the fastest-growing digital marketing agency in Australia. Last year, King Kong raked in $7 million in revenue from its digital marketing campaigns, over $200 million in sales for its clients, and this year, is aiming to top that.</p> <p>Hustling since he was a teen, Suby learned how to sell early on. Making a whole lot of cold calls over the course of his life, he never let up. Starting King Kong in his bedroom on his girlfriend's laptop, Suby preferred to jump into the trenches and get his hands dirty instead of wasting time reading business books and attending events. That unrelenting approach definitely paid off.</p> <p>Listen in as Suby discusses why his agency scaled to millions in revenue so quickly, how to dominate direct response marketing, and why a service-based business should be the top choice for entrepreneurs.</p> <p><strong>ATTENTION</strong>: Suby has partnered with Foundr to teach an epic new course, "Consulting Empire.” If you want to learn how to start and scale a service-based business, whether you are a consultant, coach or freelancer, Suby reveals all of his golden strategies (the exact ones he used to scale from zero to $10 million) in this new course. It’s just about ready so <strong><a href="https://foundr.com/consulting">get on the free VIP waitlist here</a></strong> to be one of the first we notify when it launches!</p>
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200: Foundr’s Story: How a Humble Side Project Became a Global Brand, with CEO Nathan Chan [Special 200th Episode]
<p>I refuse to lose.”</p> <p>It's the mantra that has guided Foundr CEO Nathan Chan through the highs and lows of becoming an entrepreneur. It helped him resist the naysayers, and confront deep insecurities and self-doubt, to build the business he fell in love with right away. That sense of determination and drive continues to fuel Foundr’s big goal of impacting tens of millions of entrepreneurs around the globe with world-class resources and training.</p> <p>In this inspiring interview, Nathan gets up close and personal and takes us behind the scenes of what it was like starting Foundr—the good and not so good—and the many lessons he learned along the way. Interviewed by Dave Hobson, our head of product and business development and one of the first to join the Foundr team, the two reminisce about the early days, the first goals the company set, and the memorable moments that transformed the company from a side hustle to global presence.</p> <p>Pull up a chair and a drink (Does Nathan prefer wine or beer? Find out in this interview!) and learn more about Foundr, how the company started, and where it is headed in the near future. Nathan shares it all in this special 200<sup>th</sup> podcast episode. We promise you this is an interview that will inspire you for many years to come.</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Nathan transitioned from his day job to full-time entrepreneur and why the timing was critical to his success</li> <li>What separates the entrepreneurial success stories from those who never make it happen</li> <li>How to minimize risk where you can while still making huge strides for your business</li> <li>The importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses and getting the right advice from mentors. This is one of the keys to Foundr’s growth.</li> </ul>
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199: From Passion To Profit: How Payal Kadakia Turned Her Love of Dance into a Global Enterprise
<p>As a lifelong, accomplished dancer, Payal Kadakia never thought she would become an entrepreneur. But it was that very love of dance that compelled her to help others pursue or rekindle their own passions.</p> <p>Driven by a strong desire to create something with potential to change people's lives, Kadakia created <a href= "https://classpass.com/">ClassPass</a>, a platform that helps fitness and dance enthusiasts find and book classes in 8,500 studios in 50 cities around the world. Kadakia has appeared on prominent lists such as <em>Fortune</em>’s Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs and <em>Marie Claire</em>’s Most Influential Women in America, and ClassPass has been ranked among the fastest-growing technology companies in North America.</p> <p>It may sound like Kadakia effortlessly glided from performing arts to business, but her seven-year journey was full of setbacks. She overcame several problems and had to pivot twice to stay afloat and then thrive.</p> <p>In this interview, Kadakia explains how she turned her personal passion into a successful business, including the importance of partnerships and how being “mission-obsessed” instead of “product-obsessed” fueled her growth. She also discusses the power of purpose in entrepreneurship and the principles of real perseverance.</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How passion and success are closely related and how entrepreneurs can connect the two</li> <li>Why having heart and soul in business is crucial for problem-solving</li> <li>The partnership model that made ClassPass so successful</li> <li>Why the size of your company doesn’t matter if you follow your mission</li> </ul>
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198: How This Breakdancer Built a 6-Figure Instagram Business and Travels the World for Free (Instagram Domination Student Spotlight)
<p>In today’s podcast, we are shining the spotlight on one of our successful Instagram Domination students, Zach Benson. This driven entrepreneur is in the trenches daily doing what it takes to make his startup dreams (and travel dreams) a reality. And he’s done a great job. We couldn’t be prouder!</p> <p>Benson was a former professional breakdancer who suffered an injury that ended his dance career. Looking for a “plan B,” he turned to Instagram and joined the <strong><a href= "https://foundr.com/igdomination">Instagram Domination course</a></strong> to learn how to build his personal travel pages and drive valuable traffic. He’s done so well, that in the last 18 months, 170 exotic hotels have given him free stays in exchange for exposure to his network, and he is on track to hit $1 million in revenue.</p> <p>But, the real magic happened when Benson partnered with a few Instagram Domination students and started an agency to help people grow and manage their Instagram accounts. The agency, <a href= "https://assistagram.us/"><strong>Assistagram</strong></a>, has worked with high-profile clients such as The Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton and currently services 50 other companies.</p> <p>Benson is grateful to the Instagram Domination community for allowing him to connect with like-minded people and create a thriving business fueled by his passions for travel and social media. We are so happy for him and the success he has achieved. Way to go, Zach!</p> <h2><strong>Key Takeaways</strong></h2> <ul> <li>How to build Instagram fan pages quickly to drive traffic to your company website</li> <li>Why Instagram is still powerful even with the recent algorithm changes</li> <li>What kind of content to post if you want to build brand awareness and grow your following</li> </ul>
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197: Technology and Tacos—From Fired Facebook Employee to Eight-Figure Founder, With Noah Kagan of Sumo
<p>At 24 years of age Noah Kagan got tired of being fired. After getting the boot from Facebook and other companies, Kagan decided to create his own job and live life by his own rules. Those rules included posting taco-loving blogs, shooting over-the-top YouTube vids and creating <a href= "http://www.sumo.com"><strong>Sumo</strong></a>, an eight-figure global company that empowers business owners to grow their brands using cool, geeky software tools.</p> <p>Kagan likes to make business exciting and embraces the madness of entrepreneurial life. But aside from his contagious energy, he has a lot of knowledge and loves to help entrepreneurs. In this interview, he shares the lessons he learned building an eight-figure company and his top tips for hiring and maintaining A-player teams.</p> <p>Kagan also stresses the importance of building relationships in this “era of Tinder-ization,” and teaches entrepreneurs how to set and track intentional goals to drive companies forward. Throw back a few (drinks or tacos) and listen in as Kagan shares his life and business adventures and helps entrepreneurs build and market profitable businesses.</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The underestimated importance of relationship building in today’s market</li> <li>How to create and keep a team of innovative employees who are team players</li> <li>Why some vanity metrics, although exciting, can be a time and talent suck</li> <li>How to set long and short-term goals that advance businesses</li> </ul>
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196: Fueling Massive Growth by Adopting a Culture of Experimentation, With Dan Siroker Of Optimizely
<p>Dan Siroker has always believed in the power of data and experimentation. A former project manager at Google and director of analytics under President Barack Obama, Siroker believes that experimentation should be one of the highest-order cultural values of an organization. To that end, Siroker co-founded <a href= "https://www.optimizely.com/"><strong>Optimizely</strong></a>, a globally adopted software tool that enables businesses to experiment and fine-tune their businesses based on data.</p> <p>From product development to front-end conversions, Siroker believes that a culture of experimentation should start from the top and trickle to the bottom, fueling growth on a large scale. Otherwise, organizations that are too afraid of risk and intolerant of failure end up undermining their ability to innovate.</p> <p>In this interview, Siroker shares his strong belief in the power of experimentation, and how startups can use data to their advantage, now more than ever. He also shares one of the biggest lessons he's learned in his entrepreneurial career, and how he is building a 100-year legacy with his company.</p>
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195: From Pro Skateboarder to Running a Brand-Building Empire, With Rob Dyrdek of Dyrdek Machine
<p>Growing up as a fanatical skateboarder first in Ohio and then moving to California as a teen to pursue skating professionally, many of his friends and fellow skateboarders were older than him and running their own businesses.</p> <p>From a very young age, he was steeped in skateboarding’s DIY culture, always on the lookout for the next frontier in the sport, or scrappy new brand to emerge from the scene. From skate shops to clothing companies, Dyrdek was exposed to a variety of entrepreneurial ventures early in life.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The core traits Dyrdek looks for when investing in businesses and entrepreneurs</li> <li>What his “core to more” philosophy is and how it contributes to a company’s longevity</li> <li>Dyrdek’s many business successes (and failures) and what he learned from each</li> </ul>
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194: From Zero To $20 Million, A Story Of Courage And Relentless Discipline, with Steve McLeod of Fire And Safety Australia
<p>Former firefighter Steve McLeod turned his passion for helping people into a nationwide business, scaling his <strong><a href= "https://www.fireandsafetyaustralia.com.au/" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">Fire and Safety Australia</a></strong> company to eight figures in 10 years. In addition to running a profitable company, McLeod also empowers entrepreneurs by teaching them how to become more courageous and run goal-focused businesses that never give up.</p> <p>According to McLeod, it takes courage to protect and serve, especially when danger could be present at every turn. But it takes another kind of courage to withstand the pressures of entrepreneurship to build and scale a $20 million dollar company.</p> <p>In this inspiring interview, McLeod discusses his latest book, <em><strong><a href="https://www.courageforprofit.com/" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">Courage for Profit</a></strong></em>, and reveals some of the gold he has learned from his own struggles, successes, and failures. He outlines the key principles entrepreneurs need to embody if they want to scale their businesses. We salute McLeod for his passion for serving and helping people. Way to go!</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The 4-part formula that fueled McLeod’s massive success</li> <li>The red-green-yellow matrix system for smashing goals (you've probably never heard this before)</li> <li>The key to being super-focused, even if you struggle with constant distractions</li> <li>The two most important things you need to know to scale your company</li> <li>How to hire and keep the employees who will drive your business forward</li> </ul>
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193: The Power of Empathy in Workplace Leadership, With Gary Muller of The Mill House Inn
<p>Gary Muller’s company is thriving. His Mill House Inn in East Hampton, New York has been in business for 20 years and recognized by Travel + Leisure and the Travel Channel, highly rated by Zagat, and featured in other prominent publications. His properties have welcomed celebrities and prominent people from all over the world.</p> <p>If you ask Muller the secret to his success, he'll likely tell you that his family is largely responsible. "Family" is how Muller describes his employees at the inn, and he believes all leaders should treat team members as such, displaying empathy, instilling trust, and creating an environment where going “above and beyond” is a daily occurrence.</p> <p>Muller is in the people-helping business. Whether that means serving his cherished guests or connecting with his work family, his care for other people runs throughout his unique leadership style. Learn how Muller has grown such a loyal and dedicated team, and how he fosters a work culture that has led to massive business success.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The most important trait to look for in a potential hire (it has nothing to do with skills)</li> <li>When it’s time to let people go, even if it pains you to do so</li> <li>The difference between leadership and management, and how one is critical to growing a business</li> <li>How to ensure your team is doing their best work, without micromanaging</li> </ul>
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192: Best of Foundr: Gary Vee, Tony Robbins, and More Talk Hustle, Mindset, and GSD (Foundr 5th Birthday Special Episode)
<p>Welcome back to our “Best of Foundr” podcast series!</p> <p>To celebrate Foundr’s 5th birthday, we put together a series of special edition podcast episodes that feature the best snippets from our most popular episodes. We pulled out the gems from each of your favorite interviews and compiled them into a three-week series of pure content gold.</p> <p>This week we are focusing on hustle, motivation, mindset, and getting things done! In this episode, we have one of my heroes and the king of hustle, Gary Vee. We also have memory and productivity wizard Jim Kwik, morning routine master Hal Elrod, and the mindset king himself, Tony Robbins!</p> <p>While I have loved the releases in this special birthday series so far, I have to say, we saved some of the best for last. In this episode, you will be challenged and motivated to seriously move to the next level!</p>
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191: Best of Foundr: 4 Superstars on Investing, Sales, And Scaling Your Business (Foundr 5th Birthday Special Episode)
<p>Welcome to our special “Best of Foundr” edition of the podcast!</p> <p>To celebrate Foundr’s 5th birthday, we put together a series of special edition podcast episodes that feature the best snippets from our most popular episodes. We pulled out the gems from each of your favorite interviews and compiled them into a three-week series of pure content gold.</p> <p>This is the second week of our three-part series.  Last week, we heard from four successful entrepreneurs on <strong><a href= "https://foundr.com/foundr-5th-birthday-best-of-podcast/">how to build an epic online presence</a></strong>.</p> <p>This week we are focusing on investing, sales, and scaling your business. You will be learning from two masters of sales, Ben Chaib and Matthew Kimberley; from the shark himself, Robert Herjavec, on investing and scaling your business; and lastly from Mr. E-Myth himself, Michael Gerber, on setting your business up to scale.</p> <p>These are some of my personal favorites that have had a huge influence on how Foundr is run today! Enjoy listening to the best of the best!</p>
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190: Best of Foundr: 4 Superstars on Building An Epic Online Presence (Foundr 5th Birthday Special Episode)
<p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Welcome to our special “Best of Foundr” edition of the podcast!</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">To celebrate Foundr’s 5<sup>th</sup> birthday, we put together a series of special edition podcast episodes that feature the best snippets from our most popular episodes. We pulled out the gems from each of your favorite interviews and compiled them into a three-week series of pure content gold.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">This week we are focusing on how to create an online presence with content marketing and Instagram. We are featuring some serious advice from our conversations with Gretta Rose van Riel, queen of Instagram and Influencer marketing; Darren Rowse, the OG of the blogging world; Deonna Monique, Instagram millionaire; and content king Derek Flanzraich, founder of Greatist.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Enjoy listening to the best of the best!</span></p> <h2><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Key Takeaways</span></h2> <ul> <li><span style="font-size: 10pt;">The influencer marketing strategies behind Gretta van Riel’s multimillion-dollar ecommerce brands</span></li> <li><span style="font-size: 10pt;">How to build a successful content-based business with Darren Rowse</span></li> <li><span style="font-size: 10pt;">The branding and traffic strategies behind Greatist’s massive success</span></li> <li><span style="font-size: 10pt;">How to use Instagram to generate millions of dollars in your niche with Deonna Monique</span></li> </ul>
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189: Foundr Community Member Shifts His Business Into High Gear With Help From Mentors [Foundr’s 5th Birthday Special Episode]
<p>Welcome to Foundr's fifth birthday celebration!</p> <p>Over the past five years, we’ve been blessed to interact with an awesome community of passionate entrepreneurs who are making it happen and turning their dreams into reality. We want to honor these inspiring entrepreneurs in our community by sharing their stories and highlighting their successes.</p> <p>In today's special episode, we talk with Austin Peterson, a rising entrepreneur who is working in the trenches daily to build his vintage truck restoration business <strong><a href= "https://blackdogtraders.com/">Black Dog Traders</a></strong>.</p> <p>Austin reached out to me for advice in early 2017, and it's been amazing to watch him build his business to new heights. In this episode, we're airing a one-on-one coaching session with Austin and mentor David Brim, founder of <strong><a href= "http://www.tomcar.com.au/">Tomcar Australia</a></strong>, who is helping him take his business to the next level.</p> <p>In this episode, get the inside scoop on the advice that is helping Peterson optimize his production, streamline his processes, and continue to scale his company in the coming year.</p> <p>Well done Austin! We look forward to your continued success!</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways:</h2> <ul> <li>David Brim’s advice on how to optimize production and streamline processes</li> <li>How Tomcar acquires leads and funnels them through its sales process</li> <li>Why offering too many product options can hinder a sale</li> <li>When and how to outsource to speed up your results</li> </ul>
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188: Stop Trying And Start Crushing It: Our In-Depth Interview With Gary Vee
<p>“I’m not crippled with being perfect. I’m crippled with not doing,” Gary Vaynerchuk says, and that about sums up the philosophy that propels him ahead in life and business—avoiding hesitation and seizing the moment at all costs.</p> <p>To many, Vaynerchuck (aka Gary Vee) needs no introduction. He’s a serial entrepreneur, four-time <em>New York Times-</em>bestselling author, venture capitalist, popular podcast host, and sought-after public speaker serving an audience of millions. And he's showing no signs of slowing down.</p> <p>How does this guy accomplish so much? Vaynerchuk doesn’t agonize or hesitate when starting something new. He dives in voraciously, working his tail off and learning as he goes. He also never aspires to "have it all." Too often, entrepreneurs strive for some lofty material goal as the finish line, but for Vaynerchuk, having it all begins on the first day we embark on our entrepreneurial journeys. The reward is in the process itself.</p> <p>In this interview, Vaynerchuk shares tidbits from his new book <em><a href= "https://www.amazon.com/Crushing-Great-Entrepreneurs-Business-Influence/dp/0062674676/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=6SCXX3DVVWET0FSTEWS0"> Crushing It!</a></em> (an updated version of his 2009 bestseller), unpacks epic branding and marketing tips that have led to his success, and reveals his personal philosophy on GSD.</p> <p>Gary Vee wants aspiring entrepreneurs to crush it with him. Are you on board? Listen in and get inspired.</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>What it really means to “have it all,” and why you may already have it</li> <li>Why <em>trying</em> instead of <em>doing</em> leads to stagnation</li> <li>Why all businesses need to be media producers, regardless of their business models</li> <li>Insights on the personal vs. professional brand debate and how to decide what's best for you</li> <li>Why omni-channel branding draws more people to your company</li> </ul>
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187: Fighting Global Poverty by Breaking Entrepreneurial Rules, With Jacqueline Novogratz of Acumen
<p><strong>Key Takeaways</strong></p> <p>- Acumen's trailblazing vision on global poverty eradication<br /> - Why it's better to invest in people first, then ideas<br /> - The companies Acumen has invested in and the depth of impact they have made<br /> - Key advice from Novogratz to anyone interested in pursuing social entrepreneurship</p>
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186: TaskRabbit Was Ahead of its Time, But Leah Busque’s Vision and Persistence Made it a Game-Changer
<h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">No Task Too Big</span></h2> <p>Leah Busque launched TaskRabbit and became a pioneer in the sharing economy. Now she wants to empower other founders as she transitions to venture capital.</p> <p>Picture this: You’re sitting at home on a February night in Boston, where winter temperatures dip well below freezing, and it’s snowing outside—not exactly a good time to find out your hundred-pound Labrador retriever is out of dog food.</p> <p>So what do you do? Do you don your boots and trek through the snow in pursuit of kibble? Do you ask your spouse to do it? To a 28-year-old Leah Busque, the solution should have been simple: Why not hire someone in the area to run that errand for you?</p> <p>“[My husband and I] were certain that there was someone in our neighborhood that'd be willing to help us out,” Busque recalls. “Maybe even someone at the store at that very moment, and it was just a matter of connecting with them.”</p> <p>After some geeky brainstorming with her husband, Busque grabbed her iPhone—it had come out a few months before—and bought the first domain that came to mind: RunMyErrand.com. Four months after that, she left her job as a software engineer at IBM and locked herself in her house for 10 weeks to build the first version of the site, all because a service she wanted didn’t yet exist. Thanks to Busque’s creativity and persistence, now it does—TaskRabbit.</p> <h3>Think Big, Start Small: From Back Bay to the Bay Area</h3> <p>In September 2008, RunMyErrand launched in the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown, where Busque was living at the time.</p> <p>“I was very targeted,” she says. “[I] really wanted to focus on one geography and create a peer-to-peer-network in that geography that was liquid, that would have high supply and high demand … and from there it just really started to snowball.”</p> <p>Word traveled fast. People in Charlestown started telling those in Beacon Hill about this new service that let you hire locals to run your errands. Word traveled from Beacon Hill to the residents of Back Bay and Cambridge. Soon enough, Busque was recruiting Taskers from all over the city of Boston.</p> <p>By the summer of 2009, Busque was invited to participate in an incubator program run by Facebook, leading her to change the name from RunMyErrand to TaskRabbit before launching in her second market—San Francisco.</p> <h3>A Pioneer in the Peer-to-Peer Sharing Economy</h3> <p>Here’s how TaskRabbit works:</p> <p>First, you post a task on the platform (mobile or web), such as, “I need help mounting a 32-inch flat screen TV on my wall.” Next, you get matched with vetted Taskers in your area, and you can view their ratings and hourly rates. Then, your chosen Tasker shows up, completes the task, and gets paid securely via the app. A simple enough idea for any smartphone user today, but you have to remember that TaskRabbit launched in 2008; most people were still rocking flip phones, and the term “sharing economy” hadn’t yet made it into the consumer vernacular.</p> <p>“These technologies were so new and so emerging, it wasn't an obvious thing to be able to utilize your mobile device to connect with people in real time,” Busque explains.</p> <p>“Certainly, no one was going to jump into a stranger's car off the street and grab a ride with Lyft or with Uber. And so the consumer mindset was completely different. Trust was a big barrier. Letting a stranger into your home to hang shelves, or hang curtains, or clean your house—these were all very big decisions that the consumer was making.”</p> <p>It’s been almost a decade since TaskRabbit’s inception, and the company’s come a long way from that neighborhood in Boston.</p> <p>The service has expanded to about 40 markets (including London), raised more than $50 million in venture funding, and last year was acquired by Swedish furniture giant Ikea.</p> <p>According to Busque, TaskRabbit gets more than 15,000 applications every month from people who want to be Taskers. And on the buyer side of that marketplace, people have hired Taskers to do errands as varied as waiting in line at a store, rushing a passport to the airport, and even retrieving keys from the bottom of a lake.</p> <h3>Knowing When to Quit, and When to Keep Going</h3> <p>As an entrepreneur, it’s important to know when to quit. Failing to realize an idea is a dud can lead to overspending and wasted time. So we had to ask Busque, especially given the novelty of the idea when it first launched: Did she ever feel like giving up?</p> <p>“I’m not someone who gives up,” Busque says. “I’m not someone who quits.”</p> <p>Given the dismal economy during TaskRabbit’s early days, one would have understood if she had. When Busque launched the first version of the site in September 2008, subprime lending had tanked the housing market and the stock market was crashing, ushering in the Great Recession—not exactly the best time to be quitting a steady job, or starting a business, or seeking investors. But still, Busque pressed on, choosing to bootstrap her startup for almost a year.</p> <p>“We had a mortgage on our house and we had bills to pay,” Busque recalls. “We basically did the math and thought, 'We've got about six months where I don't need to work. I don't need to take a salary to kinda make ends meet.'”</p> <p>When six months came and went and TaskRabbit still didn’t have an investor, it must have been difficult not to close up shop right then and there.</p> <p>“We were so close though; I felt like I was on the brink of something every day. I thought, ‘I just need 24 more hours, 48 more hours, one more week.’ And so every day was a question [of], ‘Should we keep going? Should we call it?’”</p> <p>Thankfully, Busque didn’t call it quits. In December 2008, three months after she had missed her self-imposed deadline to raise funding, Busque closed her first angel round of $150,000. That funding was enough to carry her fledgling business through to the end of 2009, when she raised a seed round of $1 million.</p> <p>As an entrepreneur, it’s just as important to know when to keep going as it is to know when to quit.</p> <h3>Before You Automate, Do it Manually</h3> <p>As Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham says, “Do things that don’t scale.” In his famous 2013 essay on this principle, Graham writes, “Startups take off because the founders make them take off.”</p> <p>“I definitely had to do things that weren't going to scale over the long term,” Busque says.</p> <p>In the early days, for example, Busque could often be found zipping around Boston on her little Honda scooter, completing tasks on her own. “I still am the master TaskRabbit,” she laughs.</p> <p>That firsthand experience as a Tasker proved invaluable, as Busque got to know her customers and gained a deeper understanding of how her service fit into the marketplace. That willingness to dive in and get her hands dirty proved to be a hallmark strategy for the founder.</p> <p>“Even as the company developed … I would say one strategy I used that worked pretty well was figuring out how to do things manually first, to really, really understand what to build, how to make it more efficient, and then start to automate layers on top of it over time.”</p> <p>Take TaskRabbit’s application process, for example. The first version involved an online application, an in-person interview (to start the site, Busque conducted 30 interviews herself over coffee in Boston), and a background check. In total, that highly manual process took three to five days.</p> <p>“But the time we spent,” Busque says, “for instance, doing in-person interviews, really helped us to understand what was important in finding the right Taskers, in the highest quality, most consistent Taskers. And so we then, from those in-person interviews, would figure out what questions we needed to ask, what the indicators were early that this Tasker was going to perform well on the platform.”</p> <p>Now? Every piece of that process is automated, and a Tasker can be onboarded in a matter of hours, not days.</p> <h3>How to Get Comfortable With Competition</h3> <p>Every founder knows that sinking feeling of learning a new business similar to yours is entering the marketplace. Maybe it’s why entrepreneurs are notorious for guarding their ideas with intensity, fearing one slip-up will allow a competitor to crush everything they’ve built.</p> <p>But the fact is, if you’ve got a good idea, someone else is either already doing it, or will be doing it soon.</p> <p>After nearly a decade in business, TaskRabbit has seen its fair share of competitors. At first, this rattled Busque’s nerves. “I remember early on stressing out a lot about the competition, but I think what I learned over time was that I just needed to stay focused on what we were building.”</p> <p>What inspired her shift from flustered to focused was seeing so many competitors rush in and then quickly fizzle out.</p> <p>“I would see competitors come out of the gate, raise multi-millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars, and burn through it in 18 to 24 months. And so after that happened a couple of times, I just realized that I was going to play a long game.”</p> <p>What was TaskRabbit’s competitive edge? “From day one, we were producing revenue,” Busque says. “From day one, we had positive operating margins. So for every job that went through the site, we were always making money on it. And we had to be very disciplined about how to build a platform that operated that way.”</p> <p>She also thinks that too many of her competitors caved to marketplace and investor pressures, something she as a startup founder was not immune to.</p> <p>“I remember getting a lot of pressure even from my investors at one point in the company's life cycle about growth, about the competitive landscape, pressure to move faster, to copy whatever it was that they were doing, but I knew my business better than anyone.”</p> <h3>Repeat After Her: ‘This Is Not Rocket Science’</h3> <p>Many aspiring entrepreneurs let what they don’t know become a stumbling block to launching their businesses. But for Busque, what she didn’t know, she knew she could figure out. She recalls a conversation she had with herself just before leaving her job at IBM to pursue TaskRabbit:</p> <p>“I was thinking about all the things that I didn't know how to do. I was thinking, ‘All I know how to do is build this product. I’m a coder; I know how to code. I don't know how to raise money from investors, I don't know how to hire, I don't know how to fire, I don't know how to build a financial model.’ And then I realized that, to me it sounds funny, but I remember saying to myself: ‘This is not rocket science. … Just go figure it out.’”</p> <p>Busque cites confidence as a key requirement for every successful entrepreneur. “As an entrepreneur, you're doing something that no one's ever done before, and you're going to have to innovate and build new things in new ways.”</p> <p>Another key entrepreneurial quality? Adaptability. And having gone from engineer to entrepreneur to investor, Busque clearly has that in spades. Though she studied at a women’s liberal arts college, she works in the mostly male tech industry. Though she’s highly analytical and majored in math and computer science, she appreciates the arts and minored in dance.</p> <p>“The appreciation of those other aspects has really aided me in being able to adapt, and learn quickly, and jump into new situations, and have the confidence that I'm going to be able to figure out and learn whatever I need to as fast as I need to.”</p> <h3>From Founder to Investor</h3> <p>In 2016, Busque stepped down as CEO of TaskRabbit, and in September 2017, the company was sold to Ikea. (Interestingly, in a TEDx Talk six years prior to the acquisition, Busque said the most popular task posted on the platform was Ikea furniture assembly.)</p> <p>“TaskRabbit is my first baby, my first child,” she says. “The one thing that you would hope for your child or for your company is that it has a full life, right? And is happy, and grows up, and moves on from you. And so I feel very fortunate that I got to be on that journey and see that happen all the way through.”</p> <p>Even after the acquisition, Busque has her feet firmly planted in the startup world. She serves as executive chairwoman at TaskRabbit and has transitioned into the role of investor as general partner at Fuel Capital, a seed-stage venture fund in San Francisco. It’s a natural transition, given her background as the founder of a venture-funded startup.</p> <p>“Building things has always been my passion,” she says. “I love the early stages of a company, when there is a seemingly impossible-yet-pressing problem to solve. I couldn’t be more excited to work closely with early-stage founders and their teams as they take on world-changing ideas—much like I did during my early days at TaskRabbit.”</p> <p>Given her years of experience building a peer-to-peer marketplace, Busque as an investor has chosen to focus on consumer businesses and marketplaces.</p> <p>“I’ve also focused my attention on meeting and supporting the ‘outsiders,’” she says, such as women founders, those who don’t fit the typical mold, and those who aren’t based in Silicon Valley. “It’s been awesome to meet so many awesome entrepreneurs who don’t look like the typical founder. … I certainly didn’t!”</p> <p>Her new role and focus couldn’t come at a better time. According to the Crunchbase “Women in Venture” report, in 2017, only 6 percent of all seed dollars went to female-only-founded startups, while male-only-founded startups received 83 percent of all seed dollars. Those figures have remained remarkably static since 2012.</p> <p>Busque’s first investments reflect the type of impact she hopes to make. Werk is a women-founded career platform helping women find flexible job opportunities. Feather is a Brooklyn-based startup that provides affordable furniture rental with quick delivery.</p> <p>“As I thought about what I wanted to do next, I just started getting pulled in the direction of venture from a lot of different angles,” Busque says, “from investors that I highly respect, from friends that were in the industry, and so I made the decision that I wanted to do investing full time as the next stage of my career.”</p> <p>And if the previous stage of her career is any indication, there’s no task too big for Busque.</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Key Takeaways:</span></h2> <ul> <li>The two traits Busque says all entrepreneurs need to have to be successful (it has nothing to do with skills or industry knowledge)</li> <li>The stumbling block that keeps many aspiring entrepreneurs from launching businesses</li> <li>How Busque eventually got comfortable with competitors entering her space</li> <li>Why Busque's "never quit" attitude was the key driver of TaskRabbit's early success</li> </ul> <p> </p>
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185: How Defying Silicon Valley Culture Landed 400K Clients, with Melody McCloskey of StyleSeat
<p>Melody McCloskey is the founder of StyleSeat, a San Francisco-based SaaS company that has raised $40 million in funding, powers billions in transactions and is recognized in 82% of American cities. StyleSeat provides tools for beauty professionals, which lets them run their entire business with just one piece of software.</p> <p>If StyleSeat sounds like your typical booming, industry-disrupting tech startup, don't be fooled. McCloskey is dedicated to running her company in very atypical ways, and in today's interview, she shares how bucking Silicon Valley norms can help you achieve tremendous success—on your own terms.</p> <p>For example, her startup is led overwhelmingly by women, a rarity in an industry with persistent gender gaps. The company has also chosen to stop raising money, and without a marketing or sales team, it barely invests in marketing.</p> <p>McCloskey loves what she does and her business decisions are not solely driven by a pursuit of revenue and growth like many of her peers. Her goal is to empower female business owners with amazing products so they can do what they love as well. When they win, she wins.</p> <p>Check out the interview to learn McCloskey's unique approaches to funding, growth, and staffing, along with other priceless lessons.</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Why McCloskey, against popular opinion, is not interested in raising any more money</li> <li>The primary engine behind StyleSeat's exponential growth</li> <li>Why the startup walked away from a billion-dollar business model</li> <li>Why McCloskey keeps her team smaller than most comparable startups</li> </ul>
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184: The Unconventional Approach That Built an Online Education Empire of 3M Students, With Ajit Nawalkha of Mindvalley
<p>Unlike most entrepreneurs, Ajit Nawalkha doesn't focus on profit, revenue, sales, or customer surveys to grow his company. He's also been known to abandon some of his products, even when they're highly profitable, if they don't align with his vision. An unconventional approach, to be sure, but his personal development school <a href= "http://www.mindvalley.com/">Mindvalley</a> has more than <em>3 million students </em>and counting.</p> <p>So what <em>does</em> Nawalkha focus on? His mission is to create life-changing experiences for his customers, and does so by bringing them instruction from some of the most powerful speakers of our time.</p> <p>Nawalkha’s main goal is not to develop products, but to create "heart-centered experiences." And he believes this is the key to Mindvalley’s success in its quest to move their business—and all of humanity—forward. In this unique interview, you will learn exactly how Mindvalley creates these amazing client experiences, and its unconventional philosophy for measuring success.</p> <p>Nawalkha and Mindvalley have risen to the top by focusing not on conventional indicators of growth, but on making the world a better place—one client experience at a time.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>How Mindvalley validates its products and finds out what its customers want (without using surveys)</li> <li>Mindvalley’s secret sauce to creating amazing experiences for its clients</li> <li>What many new entrepreneurs get wrong that limits their ability to grow and scale</li> <li>How Mindvalley measures success (it has nothing to do with revenue and churn rate)</li> </ul>
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183: Husband-and-Wife Founders Share Two Decade's Worth of Game-Changing Entrepreneurial Advice
<h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Lessons learned from more than 20 years of experience as entrepreneurs</li> <li>The defining action that tripled their conversions and led to the sale of their first company</li> <li>The one marketing strategy that has allowed them to massively scale their business (it has nothing to do with social media or advertising)</li> <li>How to hire trusted C-level executives to take the load off your shoulders as you grow</li> </ul>
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182: Eric Ries on Pioneering the Lean Startup Movement and How to Grow Any Company to Scale
<h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The hard-earned lessons Ries learned that ultimately led to the creation of his renowned book, <em>The Lean Startup</em>, and ushered in a worldwide movement</li> <li>How to hire and assign managers successfully</li> <li>How to create a product your customers will love (Hint: it starts with your product owner)</li> <li>The downfall of many leaders who want innovation and change but do not see it happen in their organ</li> </ul>
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181: Running a 7-Figure Business On 5.5 Hours a Day, With Ari Meisel of Less Doing
<p>Entrepreneurs find inspiration in all sorts of places. But for Ari Meisel, founder, bestselling author, and productivity expert, desperation was the driving force behind the launch of his successful company, <a href="https://go.lessdoing.com/home">Less Doing</a>. That same desperation led him to breakthroughs in productivity that changed his life.</p> <p>At just 23 years old, Meisel was enjoying a thriving real estate career, but after suffering some major business blows and landing $3 million in debt, the stress overwhelmed him and he was diagnosed with debilitating Crohn’s disease. Managing the disease crippled Meisel’s ability to work regularly. Some days he was unable to work longer than an hour.</p> <p>During this difficult experience, Meisel realized he needed to devise a way to accomplish more work in the limited time he had. Through a long process of experimentation, Ari developed his Less Doing, More Living productivity system, which allowed him the time he needed both to build a new business and improve his health.</p> <p>A devoted husband, father of five, and dedicated businessman, Meisel now helps individuals and businesses around the world become more effective—all while working only 5 ½ hours a day. He's also recently teamed up with Foundr to teach his <strong><a href= "https://productivitymachine.co/">Less Doing, More Living system</a></strong> to our awesome community.</p> <p>In this inspiring interview, learn the secrets behind Meisel’s airtight productivity system and discover how you can also become a productivity master and optimize, automate, and outsource your life and business.</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>Ari’s 15-minute outsourcing rule that frees you up to focus on growing your business</li> <li>How saying no to new opportunities can grow your business more than saying yes</li> <li>The power of using machine learning to slash your work time and automate systems</li> <li>Why working more hours does not always translate into getting more work done</li> </ul>
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180: How a Made-Up Idea for a Business Became the Second-Largest Expense Reporting Company, with Expensify’s David Barrett
<p>What if you could stumble upon a game-changing idea without spending time and money on validation, industry research, or prototypes? And then grow this idea into the second largest company in your niche? It’s not common, but that's what happened to today’s podcast guest, David Barrett.</p> <p>Barrett is the founder of <strong><a href= "https://www.expensify.com/">Expensify</a></strong>, the second largest expense-reporting company in the world. But in its early stages, Barrett knew nothing about the space, nor was he particularly interested in it. In fact, he completely made up the Expensify idea as a decoy to get some funding for another endeavor, since banks weren’t interested in his “real” business idea.</p> <p>But the decoy picked up steam as he pitched it, and before Barrett knew it, he was sitting on a potential goldmine. People were talking more about his fictitious business idea than they were his original idea. And Expensify was born.</p> <p>Keeping with Barrett's unconventional approach to startups, Expensify’s massive growth has also been atypical. Barrett has not spent a dime on advertising, outbound sales calls, or salespeople. The software essentially sells itself.</p> <p>In this packed interview, learn exactly how Barrett grew his company and how his unique business sales model and contrarian style disrupted the space. David Barrett is a true example of how challenging the status quo and disrupting common ideas can lead to avenues of massive growth and potential.</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The sales model that allowed Barrett to scale his company without paying for customer acquisition</li> <li>Why profit should not come at the sacrifice of growth and how the two can coexist</li> <li>The misguided business advice that almost everyone follows, but leads to failure</li> <li>The most important factor to building an A-player team</li> <li>Why reinventing the wheel with your business can limit your potential</li> </ul>
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179: How Kiva's Jessica Jackley Turned a Simple Idea into $1B in Microloans
<p>Jessica Jackley, co-founder of the game-changing microlending site Kiva, never played the typical role from entrepreneurial stories we're accustomed to hearing. She didn't start a business as a kid, and never dreamed of making millions. Jackley considered entrepreneurship a greedy venture, in fact, and she wanted to be one of the good guys.</p> <p>But things quickly shifted for Jackley while she was in East Africa doing survey work for a nonprofit. Inspired by her work there with microfinancing, Jackley thought up the idea for Kiva, and wanted to spread it to other countries. Kiva would be a business, but one seeking to make a social impact.</p> <p>In 2009, as an experiment, Kiva launched its first pilot round of loans. Fast forward 12 years later, and the company has issued more than $1 billion in microloans to 2.6 million borrowers in 84 countries.</p> <p>Jackley didn’t stop there. After Kiva, she went on to become an accomplished investor, entrepreneur, and the author of <em>Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least</em>. She currently teaches social entrepreneurship at USC.</p> <p>Throughout her experiences, Jackley discovered how entrepreneurship and social change could not only coexist, but come together to create a huge global impact.</p> <p>Inspired to follow in Jackley’s footsteps? Well, don’t be. Jackley doesn’t want you to replicate what she did. She urges entrepreneurs to play by their own rules, define business with their own ideas, and never ask for permission. She believes these principles have always been the key to her success, and she outlines them in detail in this inspiring interview.</p> <h2><strong>Key Takeaways</strong></h2> <ul> <li>How and why hesitant entrepreneurs often cripple themselves</li> <li>Why naiveté can be a strong entrepreneurial trait</li> <li>The strategies Kiva used to build early-stage momentum and achieve massive exposure in its first three months</li> <li>The reason Jackley decided to close her latest business venture, Profounder, and pursue a different path</li> </ul>
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178: How 17-year-old Justin Kemperman and Brandon Monaghan Scaled to $500K in 3 Months (Start & Scale Student Spotlight – Part 3)
<p>Welcome to the final installment of our three-part podcast series that’s shining the spotlight on successful entrepreneurs who hail right from our very own Foundr community! These passionate people are in the trenches daily doing what it takes to make their startup dreams a reality.</p> <p>If you haven’t listened to parts one and two, featuring Gamal Codner and Shannon Willougby, you can check them out right <a href= "https://foundr.com/start-and-scale-gamal-codner-fresh-heritage/"><strong>here</strong></a> and <strong><a href= "https://foundr.com/start-and-scale-shannon-willoughby-azaromatherapy/"> here</a></strong>.</p> <p>Today, we talk with Brandon Monaghan and Justin Kemperman, superstar entrepreneurs (one hasn’t graduated high school yet!) who developed a stellar brand and scaled their ecommerce business to half a million in sales in just 10 short weeks.</p> <p>After joining our Start & Scale ecommerce course, they realized they didn’t need to reinvent the wheel to make money in ecommerce. They just needed to improve upon an existing product and build a powerful brand around it.</p> <p>And, that’s exactly what they did. Their company, The Urban Lash, scaled so quickly that they didn’t have enough inventory to supply orders. They kept on growing, and Brandon and Justin recently sold their business for a nice profit and are ready to start the process all over again.</p> <p>In this power-packed interview, we go behind the scenes with Justin and Brandon and learn exactly how they scaled their business so quickly, what principles guided their growth, and what they have planned for the future. We are extremely proud of these guys and how rapidly they grew their ecommerce business. Way to go!</p> <p>Key Takeaways:</p> <ul> <li>The steps they took to rebrand an existing product and blow it up to $500k in sales</li> <li>The two strategies that created so much growth in such a short time</li> <li>The advertising strategy that allowed them to scale week after week and remain profitable</li> <li>The influencer marketing tactics they used to catapult their brand</li> </ul>
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177: How Shannon Willoughby Turned Her Passion Into a $30K/Month Business (Start & Scale Student Spotlight – Part 2)
<p>Welcome to part two of our three-part podcast series that's shining the spotlight on successful entrepreneurs who hail right from our very own Foundr community! These passionate people are in the trenches daily doing what it takes to make their startup dreams a reality.</p> <p>If you haven't listened to part one, featuring Gamal Codner, you can check it out right <a href= "https://foundr.com/start-and-scale-gamal-codner-fresh-heritage/">here</a>.</p> <p>Today, we talk with Shannon Willoughby, a courageous entrepreneur who started from zero and scaled her ecommerce business to $30,000+ per month and growing. Using the principles she learned in our <strong><a href= "https://foundr.com/ecommerce">Start & Scale ecommerce course</a></strong>, Shannon was able to surpass $250,000 in sales since starting her <strong><a href= "https://www.nzaromatherapy.com/">aromatherapy business</a></strong> just four months ago.</p> <p>This episode is packed with advice on how anyone can scale a profitable ecommerce business, but it's also an inspiring story. Not only did Shannon build a business from zero, she's also recovered from two strokes and won the New Zealand rugby National Championship.</p> <p>Her “never die” attitude will have you dreaming bigger than ever. Learn the strategies that led to Shannon’s success and how to follow in her footsteps. We are extremely proud to share her story with you!</p> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The one avoidable mistake Shannon made that slowed her progress and how she turned it around</li> <li>How passion and personal experience plays into business success</li> <li>The most important factor that fueled Shannon’s early success (it’s super easy to replicate)</li> <li>The pre-business step all ecommerce shop owners should take to ensure people will buy their product</li> </ul>
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176: Gamal Codner Scales His Ecommerce Business to $60K/month In 3 Months (Start & Scale Student Spotlight - Part 1)
<p>The Foundr community is full of passionate people from all walks of life, in the trenches daily doing what it takes to make their startup dreams a reality. In this week's podcast, we want to shine the spotlight on one of these rising entrepreneurs who we're especially proud of—Gamal Codner of <a href= "https://www.freshheritage.com/">Fresh Heritage</a>.</p> <p>In part one of a three-part Start & Scale podcast series, we talked with this corporate-sales-guy-turned-ecommerce-entrepreneur, who overcame some difficult setbacks to scale his business to incredible success. Codner is a student of our <a href= "https://foundr.com/ecommerce">Start & Scale ecommerce course</a>, and was able to leverage the principles he learned in the course to grow his physical products business by 30X in just three months.</p> <p>Before becoming a Start & Scale student, Codner left his corporate sales job to become a successful affiliate marketer. He then joined an accelerator program and decided to create his own ecommerce business. Codner was having some success but it wasn’t until he joined Start & Scale that he was able to use the principles we teach in the course to catapult his business revenue from <em>$2,000 to $60,000 per month</em>.</p> <p>In this rare interview with an up-and-coming member of the Foundr community, we learn the exact strategies Codner used to create products his audience loves, and take his business to the next level. We are extremely proud of Gamal’s achievements and we are happy to share his inspiring story with you!</p> <hr /> <h2>Key Takeaways</h2> <ul> <li>The one thing you <em>must</em> <em>have</em> to scale your ecommerce business</li> <li>How new ecommerce entrepreneurs can get their products in front of large audiences quickly</li> <li>Codner’s newest content marketing strategy, and how it will help him reach greater heights next year</li> <li>A low-risk strategy to testing new products before you launch them full throttle</li> <li>The one low-cost strategy Codner wished he had used during the initial stages of his business</li> </ul>
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175: How a Navy Seal-Turned-Entrepreneur Scaled His Company From Zero To 8 Figures
<p>As a former Navy Seal, Brandon Webb is no stranger to life’s roller coaster of adversities and triumphs. In the military, pressure is a constant, and learning how to withstand and thrive under that pressure has made Webb a victor in his own battles, whether in business or everyday life.</p> <p>In this interview with Foundr, Webb shares the story of how he lost millions in his first failed startup and turned his misfortune around to build and scale his eight-figure media and ecommerce business, <a href="https://hurricane.media/">Hurricane Group, Inc</a>. He shares exactly what the turning point was that gave him a burst of forward momentum and the realizations that led to his success.</p> <p>Webb’s astonishing accomplishments have been shaped by the principles he's mastered to overcome adversity, maintain laser-sharp focus, and make better decisions under pressure. He discusses how learning the necessary principles of FOCUS have helped help him create attainable, actionable goals that influenced outcomes and have helped him win in life and business.</p> <p>As a <em>New York Times-</em>bestselling author, Webb also takes you behind the cover of his new book, <em><a href= "http://brandontylerwebb.com/">Total Focus: Make Better Decisions Under Pressure</a></em>, where he discusses how to approach the challenges and complexities of growing a startup using the indispensable life skills and principles he learned as a Navy Seal.</p> <p>Key Takeaways</p> <ul> <li>Why saying no to some irresistible opportunities can save your business.</li> <li>How to figure out the delicate balance between doing too much and doing just enough to move the needle</li> <li>Why raising money can sometimes bury you deeper into a hole of failure</li> <li>The one thing all young entrepreneurs should know to avoid an insecure financial future</li> <li>The single trait an entrepreneur needs to get investors to fork over their money</li> <li>Webb’s personal and business goal-setting strategies that have led him to winning in business and life.</li> <li>And more!</li> </ul>
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174: How to Start a Social Change Movement with 100 Million People, with Ben Rattray of Change.org
<p>Anyone, technically, can build a business. But it takes real skill to convert an audience into die-hard followers who will stick with you no matter what. Ben Rattray is an expert at doing just that, now at the helm of one of the largest online communities in the world, not to mention a major force for social change.</p> <p>Rattray is the founder of <a href="http://change.org" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">Change.org</a>, one of the world's biggest social enterprises with over 100 million users spread across 196 countries, empowering everyday people to create and join social causes. In 2012, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world, according to <em>Time</em> magazine, and he's partnered with titans ranging from Virgin to Amnesty International.</p> <p>But before it became the massive vehicle for online activism it is today, Change.org looked <em>very</em> different. In fact, it actually wasn't until 2011 that Change.org became the online petition platform we all know and love today.</p> <p>Like most entrepreneurs, Rattray had to go through a few pivots before finally developing a model that actually worked. While most entrepreneurs can only afford to pivot maybe once or twice, if they're lucky, Rattray had the power of community behind him. And that power can take you a long way.</p> <p>Rattray did what most others could not, he managed to not only build a huge community that loved what he was doing, but he was also able to keep them loyal to his brand even while undergoing multiple changes. You don't have to be in social enterprise to understand the magnitude of such an accomplishment, and just how valuable it can be to any business.</p> <p>Luckily for our listeners, Rattray knows exactly how to do it.</p> <p>In this episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why a name is everything. Rattray goes into detail about how to find the right name for your company</li> <li>Why you always need to find investment <em>before</em> you launch</li> <li>How to take advantage of upsells and cross-sells to increase your bottom line</li> <li>Pivoting and changing your business model</li> <li>The how-to guide for mobilizing your community using content</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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173: How to Predict The Future with Kevin Kelly
<p>If you don't know Kevin Kelly's name, you undoubtedly know his work. Staying mostly behind the scenes, Kelly has quietly influenced the world as we know it, from pop culture to how we interact with digital technology.</p> <p>He launched and built up one of the most influential media brands in the world, with a devoted audience of millions—a brand that's published, and even launched the careers of Pulitzer Prize winners, presidents, filmmakers, and of course, billionaire entrepreneurs.</p> <p>Kelly is co-founder of the one-and-only <em><a href= "http://wired.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Wired</a></em> magazine.</p> <p>In his time as editor-in-chief at <em>Wired,</em> Kelly was a pioneer of helping the world understand and interact with the internet and digital technology at large, as their role in our lives exploded. Since then, he's gone on to publish multiple books and launch multiple successful businesses. Throughout this interview, though, one theme persists:</p> <p>Kelly is a true futurist.</p> <p>Not only have many of his predictions about the future come true, from crowdfunding to wearable technology, but his keen ability to hack into these cultures early on, before they've hit the mainstream, has been the key to his success.</p> <p>Luckily for our listeners, Kelly reveals in this sweeping interview his methodology for culture-hacking and how he's just so darn good at predicting the future.</p> <p>In this episode, you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>Kelly's method for culture-hacking an audience and building a worldwide brand</li> <li>The future of print media, and how digital entrepreneurs can take advantage of it</li> <li>A rare behind-the-scenes look at the history of <em>Wired</em></li> <li>The true meaning of "a thousand true fans" and what it means for entrepreneurs</li> <li>How to package every product "like a magazine"</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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172: Finding A-Grade Talent on a Bootstrapped Budget with Cyan Ta'eed of Envato
<p>For any startup to be successful, it's going to need an amazing team. It's why Fortune 500 companies are willing to pay their executives so much, and invest millions of dollars into finding and hiring the right people.</p> <p>For the founders of startups, though, especially those that are bootstrapping, there's barely enough money to pay themselves, let alone hire anyone anyone else. The challenge of finding the right person to bring onto your team becomes that much harder.</p> <p>It's a position most founders find themselves in when they need to start bringing on new staff, and Cyan Ta'eed was no exception.</p> <p>In the beginning of <strong><a href="http://envato.com" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">Envato</a></strong>, one of the world's leading digital marketplaces with over 1.5 million active customers, it was just Ta'eed and her two other co-founders. It was a 100% bootstrapped operation, and still is today, and for a while, the three-person team was enough. But they soon quickly realized that if they were to grow any further, they needed to grow their team.</p> <p>"We couldn't offer above market, because so many startups who had taken funding to get these amazing, sort of, guns. These people who can command these incredibly high salaries," Ta'eed says. "So instead we would look for people with great potential, people who were entrepreneurial themselves, people who we knew could take the ball and run with it."</p> <p>Ta'eed hit the pavement and began the seemingly impossible task of finding that unicorn who's driven, entrepreneurial, and a problem-solver. In the end, though, she found a system that made finding and hiring exceptional talent, exceptionally easy.</p> <p>In this interview you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>Where to look for when hunting for A-grade talent</li> <li>How to know whether your new employee is really going to help you grow</li> <li>What a highly effective founding team should look like</li> <li>How to juggle building multiple products without losing focus</li> <li>How Ta'eed disrupts an entire industry</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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171: Shark Tank's Janine Allis Shares Her Secrets for Growing a Startup With Zero Funding
<p>Despite being a prolific investor as one of the judges on Australia's <em>Shark Tank</em>, Janine Allis would rather sell her family home than seek investor funding. How do we know? Well, that's precisely what she did to start her own business.</p> <p>Allis started her first business while on maternity leave, and it was then, like so many entrepreneurs, when she realized she didn't want to live by someone else's rules anymore. The result was <strong><a href="http://boostjuice.com.au">Boost Juice</a></strong><em>, </em>a retail empire that stretches over 500 stores across the globe, making it the largest and most profitable juice bar chain in the world.</p> <p>While Allis certainly isn't entirely against the idea of taking investor money, she does caution entrepreneurs that raising capital should never be the first goal. And she has some indispensable advice on how to avoid the common money traps so many entrepreneurs fall into.</p> <p>The most important stake any entrepreneur has in their own company is their equity and the passion they have for their own project. Bringing on investors not only means that you'll lose out on some of your equity, but it also means that you may have to make room for someone else's passion and vision for the company. And, most of the time, investors are more interested in the bottom line as opposed to the founder's ideas.</p> <p>"I'm a firm believer that you only ever ask for money when you don't need it," Allis says.</p> <p>She has seen firsthand how many entrepreneurs get caught up attempting to solve all their problems by throwing everything they have into fundraising—a Hail Mary pass that, more often than not, ends up hurting a business in the long run.</p> <p>To help you avoid that common pitfall, Allis has some choice pieces of advice that you <em>need</em> to hear.</p> <p>In this episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>The simple solution to avoiding the money trap and investors</li> <li>Expert advice on how to build your business to grow as fast as possible</li> <li>Her secrets to building a killer brand that connects with millions</li> <li>What to expect when dealing with investors, and how to know if one is right for you</li> <li>How to have it all as an entrepreneur. No concessions, and no compromises</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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170: Building a Multimillion-Dollar Startup on Amazon Sales, with Jungle Scout’s Greg Mercer
<p>Greg Mercer built an entire lifestyle business without having to build his own products, distribution network, or even an online store.</p> <p>Instead of creating his first business from scratch, Mercer took advantage of the tools around him and started selling products on Amazon. It worked, to the point that he and his wife were both able to quit their jobs and start traveling the world. He had achieved the dream that so many of us are working toward, all by cleverly riffing on an industry giant.</p> <p>Within two weeks, though, he was bored. Fortunately for us, Mercer's next project is helping others find similar success.</p> <p>Selling everything from wrist braces to cages for tomato plants, Mercer realized he had stumbled upon a proven formula. A formula he could use over and over again that allowed him to find products people wanted, sell them on Amazon, and turn a significant profit. The next step was obvious.</p> <p>Mercer built a tool called <a href= "http://junglescout.com">Jungle Scout</a>, which allows other ecommerce entrepreneurs to find opportunities to make money on Amazon. Despite having limited himself to a budget of only a thousand dollars, having absolutely no coding or technical experience, or any experience in the software business, Mercer hacked together Jungle Scout, his first bona fide startup.</p> <p>After starting out as a complete novice, Mercer began learning on the job, and despite encountering some classic hurdles and mistakes, has found himself at the head of a fast-growing company.</p> <p>In this episode, you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>Mercer's strategy that anyone can use to make a profit on Amazon</li> <li>What every ecommerce entrepreneur should be aware of when selling online</li> <li>How to build a SaaS from scratch, with no tech skills</li> <li>What to watch out for in ecommerce opportunities</li> <li>How to build and manage a remote team that actually works</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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169: Billionaire Business Lessons with Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban
<p>Mark Cuban is a very busy man. As one of the star judges of the hit show <em>Shark Tank</em>, Cuban has invested in nearly a hundred different startups that have appeared on the program. That's not even mentioning the investments he makes outside of the show, and the dozens of other businesses he's founded or manages himself.</p> <p>So how does a single person manage to keep so many plates spinning at the same time?</p> <p>His secret: Hiring the <em>right</em> people.</p> <p>Cuban is always making sure he has the best people staffing the hundred-plus businesses he's involved in. And while hiring seems like a pretty basic business practice, finding the right talent is a true art, and one that Cuban has mastered.</p> <p>It's a process of finding the right person, putting them in the right environment, and then continuing to build their personal growth and passion about the job they're doing. And in Cuban's case, multiplying the process for a thousand-plus employees.</p> <p>That may sound hard, but Cuban says the one skill every founder and entrepreneur needs to master if they want to become a <em>billionaire</em> businessman, is knowing how to be a leader. If you don't know how to recruit and manage people, you're just not going to make it very far.</p> <p>It can take decades of trial and error to figure out how to deal with the thousands of different personalities out there, and knowing what to prioritize at any given time. But Cuban has figured it out, and he's sharing his secrets with us here.</p> <p>In this episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>The art of finding and nurturing the talent in your team</li> <li>How to deal with problem employees, without just firing them</li> <li>Whether mentors really matter—when you need them, and when you don't</li> <li>How Mark Cuban manages a thousand-plus employees</li> <li>The surprising reason you <em>shouldn't</em> be looking for invesment</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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168: How Owning Less Can Reward You With More. Redefining Success With Joshua Fields Millburn
<p>Often as entrepreneurs, we envision success as owning more objects, like a fancy watch, a big house, or a fast car. But what if there were a more authentic, more enriching version of success? One that involves <em>less</em>?</p> <p>That's the question that Joshua Fields Millburn seeks to answer, as one half of the duo who call themselves The Minimalists. Millburn and partner Ryan Nicodemus have built an entire brand around how to live a better life by having less.</p> <p>Millburn runs a website with an annual audience of more than 4 million readers, hosts one of the most listened to podcasts in the world, has published multiple best-selling books, and has even produced and filmed a critically acclaimed documentary. In this episode of the podcast, Millburn gives us the crash course on redefining success, and otherwise decluttering and streamlining your life.</p> <p>Millburn first adopted the minimalist lifestyle after spending years climbing the corporate ladder. By the time he was in his late 20s, he realized he wasn't happy, despite having everything that he thought he wanted.</p> <p>"I always felt I was one promotion away in my career from being happy. But of course, I had all these other things that came with that ostensible success like stress, and anxiety, and discontent, and overwhelm, and of course a boatload of debt," Millburn says.</p> <p>He says that too many entrepreneurs get caught up in the idea of constantly wanting to achieve the next goal, and the one after that, and so on so forth. But rarely do they ever take a moment to think about <em>why</em> they're working so hard, and to what end.</p> <p>According to Millburn, the key to achieving happiness is to pursue <em>meaning</em> over anything else. And to do that you must first ask yourself, "How can my life be better with less?"</p> <p>In this episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>What the minimalist lifestyle is and how to start living it today</li> <li>The key to finding things that give value to your life</li> <li>Balancing the hunger entrepreneurs have with the minimalist lifestyle</li> <li>What it means to give yourself permission to be happy</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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167: How Entrepreneurs Can Change the World, with Leila Janah of Samasource
<p>Great entrepreneurs have that rare ability to take risks that others find crazy, coupled with a single-minded determination that allows them to bring their visions to life. But some of us want to do much more with that talent than simply create a profitable company. Some of us want to change the world for the better.</p> <p>If that sounds like you, you're going to want to hear what <a href= "https://www.samasource.org/">Samasource</a> founder Leila Janah has to say in this episode, as that's exactly what she's done during her incredible career.</p> <p>Janah runs one of the most influential social enterprises around, responsible for raising over 30,000 people around the world up from poverty, and rebuilding entire communities.</p> <p>Rather than the typical charity model of distributing donations to make an impact, Janah realized early on that in order to combat global poverty, she needed to come up with a more innovative solution. She decided to build a social enterprise that operates like a business, but in service of reducing poverty.</p> <p>Janah focused on empowering poverty stricken communities in India, Haiti, Uganda, and more, contacting companies like Google and Microsoft that were looking to outsource their work, and training individuals with the skills they needed to complete that work.</p> <p>This revolutionary business model has changed the way people think of success when it comes to social enterprises. Janah has shown what happens when you use the powers of entrepreneurship for something other than just profit, and the world is so much better of for it.</p> <p>In this episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>The role of the entrepreneur when it comes to social enterprises</li> <li>Keys to leading and managing a global enterprise with thousands of employees</li> <li>How to pitch your social enterprise to investors and secure funding</li> <li>Why every business should be looking to make a difference in the world</li> <li>The skills that every entrepreneur needs to succeed, no matter what industry you're in</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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166: How to Build a Billion Dollar Mobile Gaming Company From Scratch, with Holly Liu of Kabam
<p>Ask yourself, just how many hours have you sunk into that palm-sized rectangle of plastic, metal, and glass known as the smartphone?</p> <p>As the co-founder of Kabam, one of the world's leading companies in mobile games, Holly Liu might be able to provide an answer to that, and it would likely be a huge number. But luckily for us, and our listeners, she's far more interested in talking about how she managed to build a billion-dollar company from scratch by giving away her products for free.</p> <p>If you don't know Kabam already, you've probably heard of the company's hugely popular games, such as <em>Kingdoms of Camelot</em>, <em>The Godfather</em>, and Marvel's <em>Contest of Champions,</em> just to name a few. Each one operates on a "freemium" model, where users can download and play games for free.</p> <p>This might sound crazy, but it's actually a ludicrously lucrative business model, with Kabam making the bulk of their revenue through in-game currency and advertising revenue. <em>Kingdoms of Camelot</em> alone has, to date, grossed over $250 million.</p> <p>The secret behind Liu's success is simple, she just asks herself:</p> <p>"Where are the people?"</p> <p>That question led to Kabam's successful pivot into building a Facebook game and tapping into the power of viral marketing, to even partnering with the major studios in Hollywood to build games for upcoming movies and franchises.</p> <p>For Liu, there's so much more to surviving in the mobile gaming industry than building a successful product, especially when great products exist on almost every corner. It takes an equal amount of dedication to marketing, finding the right partnerships, and, as always, understanding where your customers are.</p> <p>In this episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>What opportunities lie within the mobile gaming industry</li> <li>How to take your business where the customers are</li> <li>How to pivot when your first, second, and even third ideas fail</li> <li>What goes into making a product as viral as possible</li> <li>Why you should look to grow your company through the power of partnerships</li> <li>How to make being social your competitive advantage</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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165: Marketing Guru Neil Patel on Why Building a Personal Brand Was His Biggest Mistake
<p>After 16 years in the game, Patel has established himself as one of the most prolific marketers in the world. Hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs eagerly await his latest blog post, video, or product.</p> <p>And yet, Patel says, more than anything, he deeply regrets building a personal brand. Pretty shocking, considering the majority of Patel's businesses have been built off the back of his personal brand and status as an influencer.</p> <p>"If I had to do it all over again I wouldn't build a personal brand, it was the biggest mistake of my career. I built a personal brand by accident," Patel says.</p> <p>For all the benefits and advantages Patel's personal brand has brought him, he also feels that it's seriously held him back in other areas he wants to pursue. While it's brought him more clients as a consultant, that very same notoriety has made it difficult for him to even build businesses without encountering problems.</p> <p>But, like any other entrepreneur, Patel isn't stuck on what might have been. He's here to talk with us about what he's doing now, and how he manages to wield the double-edged sword of having millions of people recognize his name as an entrepreneur and a marketer.</p> <p>In this episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>Simple marketing hacks that anyone can use right now</li> <li>Why building a personal brand can hold you back as much as it can provide opportunities for success</li> <li>A behind-the-scenes look at what Patel is working on right now and his past businesses</li> <li>The astoundingly simple way to create content that drive you traffic, qualify leads, and boost your SEO</li> <li>What most people get wrong about content marketing according to Patel</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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164: Why You Need More Swiss Army Knives and Paratroopers on Your Startup Team, says Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite
<p>What separates the companies that make millions of dollars from those that never make it?</p> <p>It's not the vision, or the product, or even the founder, it's the <em>people</em>. You can't build a successful business, let alone grow it, without having the right people by your side.</p> <p>It's a lesson that Ryan Holmes, CEO and founder of <a href= "http://hootsuite.com" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">Hootsuite</a>, is intimately familiar with. Today, Holmes finds himself at the helm of one of the fastest-growing companies around. Hootsuite is a mega-popular social media tool that boasts over 16 million customers and 5 million messages powered by its service every single day. As of 2013, Hootsuite has raised an impressive $165 million in funding from some of the biggest VC firms in the world and continued to dominate the social media landscape.</p> <p>In this episode, Holmes advises founders that when it comes to finding your first batch of employees, you're looking for the "Swiss Army knives" and "paratroopers" of the world. People who have the ability to take the smallest instruction and make their own way. It can be tempting to want to hire specialists in the early days, but as Holmes explains, they're more likely to hold your business back in the early days.</p> <p>Finding the right people is as much about timing as it is finding the right skillset. And according to Holmes, the number one reason Hootsuite managed to grow so fast is that he had the right people by his side from day one.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why having first-mover advantage means nothing in the startup world</li> <li>What the number one focus of any startup should be in the early stages</li> <li>Building virality into your product. Why, and most importantly, how.</li> <li>Where to find and deploy the "shock troops" of your team</li> <li>Why you should actually stay away from Silicon Valley when looking for A-players</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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163: How to Create One of The Most Visited Websites in the World With Steve Huffman of Reddit
<p>Change is inevitable in the startup world, and only the best entrepreneurs stay on top of the game by evolving with it. Steve Huffman, co-founder and CEO of Reddit, knows this all too well, and in this episode of the podcast, Huffman explains how he's ushering the social media giant to the next level.</p> <p>Huffman was there in the very beginning, when he and roommate Alexis Ohanian first pitched the idea for Reddit to Y Combinator, and he's at the helm again today as the company strives to reach new heights.</p> <p>On the surface, nothing much has changed about Reddit since it was first created in their college dorm room 12 years ago. The layout, font, and even the logo remain relatively the same. But over the years, it's grown into a massive and highly influential web of online communities.</p> <p>Today, Reddit is one of the largest websites in the word, with over 250 million active users and 300 million visitors a month. Beyond boasting impressive traffic numbers and a $1.8 billion valuation, Reddit is home to over half a million active online communities, where users can find anything from a laugh to help with addiction or relationships. The company's now making some serious changes under the hood, even to its appearance.</p> <p>How things have changed.</p> <p>"It's important to realize that there was never a point in which there was an idea for Reddit the way it exists today. There was just the idea we started with, to build a place where people can find interesting stuff every day. Not anything in particular, just interesting stuff," Huffman says.</p> <p>In the early days, no one really knew what they were doing, and Reddit has experienced numerous stumbles and challenges along the way. But Huffman's managed to stay on top, and he's learned a tremendous amount along the way. He shares with us what it was like to create one of the largest sensations of the internet, and how to stay ahead in an ever-changing industry.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why you should focus on content instead of marketing</li> <li>The difference between customers and users, and why you need to know what separates the two</li> <li>How to build an online community that rivals the population of most countries</li> <li>Picking your battles—when to take a step back and when to step up</li> <li>What Huffman's</li> </ul>
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162: Investors, Crowdfunding, or Shark Tank? Maneesh Sethi's Done It All and Reveals His Funding Strategies
<p>"How can I solve a problem in the fastest way?"</p> <p>It's a question that Maneesh Sethi asks himself almost every day, and it's been the main driver behind who he is as a person, and as an entrepreneur. You see, Sethi lives a life of what you might call extreme productivity, and he wants to help you do the same.</p> <p>The question has manifested in a variety of ways throughout Sethi's life, including starting his own productivity blog, <a href="http://hackthesystem.com/" target="_blank" rel= "noopener"><em>Hack the System</em></a><em>, </em>where he examines how people can be more productive and focused in their lives by looking for unconventional solutions. Then there was the time he paid someone to follow him around and slap him in the face every time he was being unproductive.</p> <p>Sethi's latest endeavor is par for the course in his never-ending quest to become as productive as he possibly can. As the founder and CEO of <a href="https://pavlok.com/" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">Pavlok</a>, a wearable device designed to help you build better habits by literally shocking the bad ones out of you, Sethi is determined to help people transforms their lives. Even if it means giving them a zap every now and then.</p> <p>Sethi knows a thing or two about the power of a little negative reinforcement, as evidenced by the aforementioned slapping, and the way having your back against the wall can bring out your best ideas.</p> <p>"Our company has been a consistent sufferer of almost-death, followed by me figuring out something to help us survive, followed by learning a lot from that experience," Sethi says.</p> <p>To save his company from bankruptcy, Sethi has turned to investors, crowdfunding, and even appeared on the hit show <em>Shark Tank</em> to keep his company alive. Through it all, he's developed a knack for finding the best way out, no matter what life throws at him.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Fool-proof tactics on how to become more focused and increase your overall productivity</li> <li>How to build and successfully iterate a physical product for market</li> <li>What to do if you find yourself on national TV</li> <li>Where to go when you need funding for your idea, Sethi's answer might surprise you!</li> <li>How making more sales can actually bankrupt your business, and Sethi's solution</li> <li>Hacks to supercharge your crowdfunding gain and blow past your fundraising goal</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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161: How Jodie Fox Turned Her Passion for Shoes Into a Successful Online Business in 2 Months
<p>Jodie Fox <em>loves</em> her shoes.</p> <p>But unlike your average shoe lover, Fox was able to turn that love first into a living room-based passion project, and then a multimillion-dollar online business. She's the co-founder and CEO of <a href="https://www.shoesofprey.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Shoes of Prey,</a> a popular online store that allows customers to design and customize their own shoes.</p> <p>Shoes of Prey recently raised $25 million in funding as part of its Series B round, and while that's impressive enough on its own, Fox managed to validate, launch, and break even on her very first business within <em>two</em> months. That's mind-bogglingly fast, even by startup standards.</p> <p>The former lawyer also skilfully scaled her business with a powerful mix of influencer marketing and deals with wholesale giants like Nordstrom, to the point that over 5 million shoes have been designed on the platform. Not bad for a first-time entrepreneur.</p> <p>"I think a founder's job when you start a business is just to do everything that you haven't hired anyone to do just yet," Fox says.</p> <p>Together with her co-founders, Fox followed her passion, validated her idea, built her first online store, and from there the wins kept on coming.</p> <p>We are very lucky to have the opportunity to interview her and receive step-by-step instructions on how this first-time entrepreneur managed to build herself a worldwide business with million of customers at lightning-fast speeds.</p> <p>In this episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why you need to tap into the power of micro-influencers to quickly grow your brand</li> <li>How to ink deals with the top brands in your niche</li> <li>Exactly when to look for funding, and when to keep on bootstrapping</li> <li>How to conceive, validate, and launch your idea in as fast as two months</li> <li>What holds most online businesses back from being successful, and how to overcome them</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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160: The Not-So Obvious, But Ridiculously Successful Strategy on Building a Business with Brian Clark of Copyblogger
<p>"The truth is I didn't like working for somebody else."</p> <p>Most entrepreneurs start their own business because they want to take charge of their own destiny, and for Brian Clark, the CEO and founder of <a href="http://rainmakerdigital.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rainmaker Digital</a>, Copyblogger, StudioPress, and the Rainmaker Platform, his story doesn't start off any different. It doesn't matter if you haven't heard of Clark before, but if you've been anywhere near the startup space in the past 15 years or so, you've undoubtedly felt his influence.</p> <p>With his first successful business he stuck with what he knew, taking his four years of experience in law and starting his own small law firm. He quickly set himself apart from the rest of the competition with his natural marketing instincts and his ability to build an audience.</p> <p>"What most young attorneys can't do is develop clients, and I figured out how to do that. And in that moment an entrepreneur was born. I was just so amazed that I could develop a business by myself with just an email newsletter. No one understood what I was doing at the time, they thought I was crazy, but it worked!" Clark says.</p> <p>A few years, and a couple more businesses later, Clark began working on a small blog that would come to be known as Copyblogger, one of the most influential content marketing blogs in the industry. Some of the world's top content marketers can fondly remember turning to Copyblogger early in their careers to learn how to write better headlines and become better writers.</p> <p>Clark helped blaze the trail for this new style of marketing, and to this day, he's still pushing the boundaries of what is possible.</p> <p>While most people are still trying to figure out whether to focus on building the perfect product or growing their audience, Clark has devised a strategy that's allowed him to do both at the same time, all while growing his multiple businesses at warp speed.</p> <p>It should really come as no surprise that, here at Foundr, much of our own business model and content marketing efforts have been directly inspired by Clark and his successes. This is why we're very excited to present to you this eye-opening interview with the one and only Brian Clark.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The chicken or the egg? Settling the startup debate between which comes first: building the perfect product <em>or</em> building your audience</li> <li>What are you good at? How Clark finds co-founders who complement his strengths and weaknesses</li> <li>The unique business model of combining content, SaaS, digital and physical products for maximum profit</li> <li>Clark's step-by-step instructions on how to build the perfect product</li> <li>Why people aren't paying attention to your brand and what you can do about it</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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159: A Lifelong Founder Teaches Critical Lessons for New Entrepreneurs on Products, Investors, and Selling with Jonathan Siegel
<p>Jonathan Siegel has started close to a dozen different companies—some have been hugely successful, others didn't quite go as planned, and for one, he sold his shares after a falling out with his co-founders. Siegel has been a serial startup founder since he was just 12 years old. Now at 40, he has seen it all, and he's sharing his lessons—on products, investors, and selling a business—with Foundr.</p> <p>"It doesn't feel like a job, as much as it just feels like I'm getting paid to do something for fun," Siegel says, about his love for the entrepreneurial life.</p> <p>Siegel has had a knack for entrepreneurship since he was putting together and selling computers all the way back in 1989. From there, he's had a lifelong passion for creating something <em>new</em> every chance he got. Whether it was starting his own businesses, constantly creating new products, or building products for other people.</p> <p>For Siegel, entrepreneurship isn't so much a money-making exercise or a career, but a lifestyle that constantly allows him to strive forward and look into the future.</p> <p>"If you do something as a creative outlet, the amount of money is not the goal. And I don't believe that every entrepreneur is running around thinking about how much money they have in their accounts. I think that every entrepreneur runs around thinking, 'Hey I want to bring this thing to life. I want to create something bigger than myself. I want to see the thing that I create influence other people in the way that they work and the way that they live,'" Siegel says.</p> <p>This passion has helped Siegel learn many valuable lessons on his own journey, not just about himself, but about what entrepreneurship is all about.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to turn entrepreneurship from a career to a creative outlet</li> <li>Understanding the difference between a startup that's successful on paper, and one that works in real life</li> <li>How to handle disputes between co-founders</li> <li>Why it's so important to understand your motivation as an entrepreneur</li> <li>The lifecycle of building companies that you intend to sell</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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158: How to Build a Worldwide Iconic Brand with Brian Smith of UGG
<p>In the late 1970s, Brian Smith was a young Australian surfer looking for the next big thing. Little did he know that while flipping through a magazine, he would stumble upon an idea that would grow into one of the world's most iconic brands. With more than $1 billion in sales worldwide, you can find the <a href="http://www.ugg.com/">UGG</a> brand in millions of households.</p> <p>What does it take to build such an iconic brand?</p> <p>Smith openly admits that, at the time, he had no idea. He struggled to get people interested in his product, and even when they were interested, he found it difficult to turn them into customers. In fact, after his first season of sales, Smith had sold only 28 pairs of boots. The outlook was not good for his fledgling brand.</p> <p>While many entrepreneurs would become disheartened and give up, Smith realized that no company becomes successful overnight.</p> <p>"You can't give birth to adults," Smith says.</p> <p>Smith believed that every successful business in the world has to go through a period of infancy, where almost nothing happens, and only then can you start getting the traction and momentum you need to explode your business.</p> <p>For UGG, that infancy stage would go on for another four years until that lightbulb moment came and Smith figure out what he had to do. What happened next turned sales from only $15,000 to $200,000 almost overnight.</p> <p>In the years that followed, Smith would find his sheepskin boots on the feet of young surfers, snowboarders, and eventually A-list celebrities.</p> <p>In this episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>The stages of building a global brand and how to move through each one as quickly as possible</li> <li>When to hold em' and when to fold em', Smith details how to recognize when the moment is right to sell your business</li> <li>How to use grassroots events to build your early customer base</li> <li>Why the most important element of your brand is not what you think</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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157: Grow to 400,000 Users In Just Three Years by Mastering B2B Sales With Andrew Barnes of GO1
<p>Andrew Barnes's company  <a href= "https://www.go1.com/">GO1</a> is a Y-Combinator alum that's raised over $4 million in funding, grown to over 400,000 users, and is currently the world's largest onboarding, compliance, and professional development learning platform. If that weren't impressive enough, Barnes hit those benchmarks in under three years. The secret weapon? An airtight B2B, or business to business, sales process.</p> <p>In our interview with Barnes, he shares with us how the Australian-startup-that-could found its path to achieving explosive growth and influence, eventually ranked as one of the 100 most disruptive startups in the world. He also tells us how he and his team mastered B2B sales, a huge arena of entrepreneurship today.</p> <p>"I remember in YC we were up late just basically cold-calling trying to generate interest and see whether they'd take us, we'd try Google Adwords and spent a fortune on that, we tried a whole host of different options. And what we eventually stumbled on is a model with sales development reps that identify people that match our criteria," Barnes says.</p> <p>Then it's just a matter of knowing the right person to contact, what to say, and when to say it. It's a process that Barnes has mapped out to a T, with a ton of little tricks and hacks along the way to get the job done. Barnes, much to our benefit, shares this sales process to Foundr and our audience, along with the many lessons he's learned as a lifelong digital entrepreneur.</p> <p>In this episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>One simple hack to turn your cold calls into success stories</li> <li>How to find and secure high-profile investors for your startup, locally and internationally</li> <li>How to find A-players for your team no matter where you are</li> <li>The keys to running a distributed team and keeping everyone on track</li> <li>Why doing less can actually make you a better entrepreneur</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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156: Lessons Learnt From Building a $300 Million Dollar Business From the Original #GirlBoss Sophia Amoruso
<p>Sophia Amoruso was a community college dropout, working a variety of odd jobs to support herself, when she set up a humble eBay store called Nasty Gal Vintage. The rapid growth that followed has become the stuff of startup legend, and in this episode of the podcast, Amoruso shares what she learned from the roller-coaster ride of Nasty Gal, and tells us about her new endeavor, Girlboss Media.</p> <p>Over the course of a decade, Amoruso had a meteoric rise, during which she became the head of a retail empire, and was named one of the richest self-made women by Forbes in 2016. She also became a symbol of brash millennial entrepreneurs and a trailblazing icon for female entrepreneurs especially, following the release of her <em>New York Times</em> bestseller <em>#GirlBoss</em>.</p> <p>Then, the same year Netflix developed a scripted comedy loosely based on the book, Nasty Gal found itself filing for bankruptcy. In those 10 years, Amoruso had bigger highs and lows than many entrepreneurs experience in a lifetime, but the story isn't over yet.</p> <p>Today, Amoruso has moved on and is working on continuing the momentum of her book and the devoted following she built around her story. Nasty Gal Media is as focused as ever on helping women around the world launch their entrepreneurial careers.</p> <p>We were very fortunate to be able to interview Amoruso amid her hectic schedule of growing a new business. She shared with us the many lessons she's learned from her exciting and colorful career, along with fascinating insight into what makes a brand explode, and how to come out on top in today's tumultuous startup world.</p> <p><strong>In this week's episode you will learn:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Amoruso's guide to creating a brand that leaves a mark on customers and investors alike</li> <li>Key lessons learned from the rise and fall of a nine-figure business</li> <li>Customer services mistakes that can kill any business</li> <li>How to create products that are inherently sharable and immediately recognizable</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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155: Everything You Know About Content Marketing is Wrong, with Des Traynor of Intercom
<p>In 2011, four lads from Dublin were running a successful business that let programers and engineers know when a user encountered a problem with their program. The problem was that none of them were particularly interested in the world of programming errors.</p> <p>Instead, they found their passions centered on why it was so difficult for online businesses to talk to customers. They didn't know it at the time, but they were about to reinvent the concept of content marketing.</p> <p>So Des Traynor and his three co-founders sold their successful business, packed their bags, and moved to sunny California.</p> <p>"We were four Irish founders and basically our previous company, we had already done the bootstrapping thing. ... When we were going through this change of business and this change of approach, we said, 'What's the opposite of running a bootstrapped business off the north side of Dublin?' Well that's come to Silicon Valley and raise a million dollars, and that's what we did," Traynor says.</p> <p>It turned out to be the right move, as the company that now known as <a href= "https://www.intercom.com">Intercom</a> raised more than $160 million in the past six years, building a customer base of over 17,000 customers, and making over $50 million in revenue. Their mission was simple: to make online businesses feel less like talking to a robot and feel more personal instead.</p> <p>The solution to that was to help businesses talk to their customers through their own websites and apps instead of the usual mish-mash of emails, texts, and phone calls. Intercom built its reputation and customer base through the power of content marketing, but in a way that might surprise you.</p> <p>Instead of following the traditional strategy of hiring a content team, focusing on SEO and backlinks, and churning out at as much content as possible, Intercom went in the completely opposite direction and developed a unique content strategy that led their business to go viral within the startup community, while building a beloved brand.</p> <p>"We're not one of those people that do all that black hat stuff. I really, really hate that. We had a recommendation recently to go post on discussions.apple.com and write a piece that links back to your site, and it was just so puke-worthy. I could never get excited about gamifying the Google algorithm and building the business on such a messy, fragile house of cards," Traynor says.</p> <p>Traynor goes in-depth with us in this episode about why the conventional content marketing strategy doesn't work anymore, and how to really get your message across.</p> <p><strong>In this week's episode you will learn:</strong></p> <ul> <li>How to move quickly and stay lean while managing an international team</li> <li>Where to find top-tier talent for your startup, no matter where you are</li> <li>A sly way to make your business go viral</li> <li>No to SEO! The biggest mistakes marketers make when using SEO</li> <li>Why you <em>don't</em> need a content marketing team to get half a million page views per post</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul>
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154: A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Marketing Strategies of Multi-million Dollar Companies with Clate Mask of Infusionsoft
<p>Every entrepreneur at some point faces the dilemma of simply not being able to pour any more hours of work into their company. As a result, they get stuck.</p> <p>That's where Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft, comes in. In the 10 years <a href= "http://infusionsoft.com">Infusionsoft</a> has been operating, Mask has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs use the power of email marketing to double their growth, triple their leads, even quadruple overall revenue.</p> <p>For Mask, automated email marketing is the secret weapon for any business that's trying to scale. In today's podcast episode, he dishes on how to do it right.</p> <p>"What happens in an entrepreneurial business, when you're running a small company, it's very, very difficult to follow up effectively with all your leads and customers, and things slip through the cracks," he says. "You're wearing 10 different hats trying to run the business, and ... you just can't keep it all straight when the business starts to grow and when you start to have some success."</p> <p>At that point, you can either hire more people to handle the workload, which can be costly, or learn how to automate your business.</p> <p>Mask has helped Infusionsoft's 125,000-plus users create their own automation campaigns by mapping out customer lifecycles, and pinpointing the best times and messages to engage customers and get as much of a return as possible.</p> <p>In this week's episode, Mask tells us what the marketing strategies of his best users look like, and how you can incorporate them into your own business.</p> <h3><strong>In this episode you will learn:</strong></h3> <ul> <li>The one thing that most business owners don't recognize is stopping them from growing</li> <li>A battle-tested, tried and true guide to getting the biggest return possible on every single customer</li> <li>The three most critical points in the customer lifecycle and why ignoring them puts your business at risk</li> <li>An exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the email marketing strategies of Infusionsoft's top clients</li> <li>How to combine automation and authenticity into one winning combination</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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153: How to Survive Entrepreneurial Failure with Steve Olsher of liquor.com
<p>In his lifetime as an entrepreneur, Steve Olsher has crashed, burned, and reinvented himself in the face of tremendous failure. But for Olsher, there was never any other path. If you can relate, he's got some indispensable wisdom to offer.</p> <p>"I've been an entrepreneur pretty much since I've been old enough to pick up a rake and move some leaves around, or grab a shovel and do some snow-shoveling and clear some sidewalks, driveways, that sort of thing. We're all naturally wired to excel in very specific ways, and for me, I've always just been wired to rub a couple of dimes together to make that quarter," Olsher says.</p> <p>Olsher has spent his entire life as an entrepreneur, and with it has experienced all the highs and lows, from starting a widely successful business that was prepared to go public within a year, to losing it all and walking away from a company he spent nine years of his life building.</p> <p>But if success is defined by how well you can bounce back from failure, Olsher is one of the most successful people on the planet. Taking the knocks in stride, and embracing the lessons they taught him, Olsher went on to pursue other entrepreneurial ventures over the next six years, before reclaiming his original business and domain name, <a href= "http://liquor.com">Liquor.com</a>, and building his business from the ground up again.</p> <p>In the years since, Olsher has distilled a lifetime of experience and lessons into helping others figure out what their passion and their purpose are. Today, he is now a <em>New York Times-</em>bestselling author, and is all about helping people reinvent themselves into who they truly want to be.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Hard truths you need to know when bringing on investors</li> <li>The importance of needing good advisors and mentors you can turn to when you need it</li> <li>When you should and shouldn't listen to your gut as an entrepreneur</li> <li>How to find out what your "what" is, and how to figure out what your purpose is</li> <li>Where to find your winning business idea</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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152: How to Build a Business You Care About More Than Paying Your Own Bills with Adam Braun of MissionU
<p>Getting rich is for amateurs. A real entrepreneur, one with serious guts and vision, wants to make the world a better place.</p> <p>If that's you, it's time to enter the world of social enterprise—business that seeks to make both a profit and a positive impact, on anything from education to world hunger. This is a tall order, but it's possible and an increasingly popular form of entrepreneurship. So today's podcast is going to show you exactly how to make money, while also making a difference.</p> <p>Unlike your traditional businesses, social enterprises have a much harder time securing funding and even staff. The legal frameworks and business models can also be much trickier. Lucky for us, we were able to sit down with Adam Braun, founder of <a href="http://pencilsofpromise.com">Pencils of Promise</a> and <a href="http://missionu.com">MissionU</a>. He shared with us how he managed to raise over $50 million in contributions, build hundreds of schools, and grow a worldwide staff of more than 125 employees as a social enterprise.</p> <p>As he turned 25, Braun only had $25 in his bank account, but was still determined to build a school for the less fortunate. Before crowdsourcing was even a thing, Braun turned to strangers to help him fund his first project. He used social media and event marketing to attract people to his cause, relying on influencer and word-of-mouth to secure the funding he needed.</p> <p>"You start scrappy and understand that maybe one day you'll have the resources to hire full-time staff and work with capital at hand, but most people don't start that way, and I certainly didn't," Braun says.</p> <p>Starting with this grassroots marketing strategy and an all-volunteer staff, he built Pencils of Promise into a huge success. Today, more than 400 schools have been built as a result, and Braun's turned his sights to education in the United States with his new project MissionU.</p> <p>In this episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to use event marketing to build your brand and attract investors</li> <li>What makes a story "newsworthy" and how to use it to build an audience</li> <li>Braun's methodology for attracting A-players to work toward his vision</li> <li>Social media marketing tactics to reach your target audience without paid advertising</li> <li>The right way to go about asking for money, whether it's for crowdfunding or from investors</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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151: How to Build a Cult Following Tribe Resulting in 10's of Millions of Annual Recurring Revenue Russell Brunson
<p>Russell Brunson knows a ton about building effective marketing funnels. It's a skill he learned after spending nearly 10 years making money online by building funnels for all sorts of things, from potato guns to coupons. Now as the CEO and co-founder of <a href="http://clickfunnels.com">ClickFunnels</a>, Brunson heads one of the fastest-growing bootstrapped companies in the world.</p> <p>"We're growing faster than any VC-backed company that I know of, and we do it because we had to do it smarter, and we do it through the funnels that we practice and we preach, and it works," Brunson says.</p> <p>In a mere two-and-a-half years Brunson has grown ClickFunnels to more than 36,000 active customers and, even more impressively, he's been able to turn those customers into a passionate community of evangelists loyal to the brand. He's since taken his talent and knowledge for building effective sales funnels and has distilled it all into an incredibly easy tool that anyone can use, as well as a number of bestselling books.</p> <p>But it hasn't been an easy road and it's taken a heap of knowhow, expertise, and foresight to get there. Luckily for us, he's sharing his best advice with the Foundr audience.</p> <p>In this week's episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>The key to building an effective sales funnel</li> <li>How to inspire and build a community around your brand</li> <li>What qualities you need to be a leader who inspires</li> <li>Why the best way to understand your market is to be your own customer</li> <li>How to find and keep A-players on your team</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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150: Becoming Masterful with Money with Tony Robbins
<p>Tony Robbins advises billion-dollar CEOs, celebrities, even heads of state, but today, he's going to show <em>you</em> how to become a master of money.</p> <p>The <em>New York Times-</em>bestselling author has once again topped the charts with his latest book <em><a href= "https://www.unshakeable.com/">Unshakeable</a></em>, and to date, the world-renowned speaker has inspired tens of millions of people all over the globe. Successful people from Bill Clinton to Oprah have sung his praises, and he's had sit downs with the likes of Nelson Mandela.</p> <p>What you might not know, however, is that before it all, Tony was a penniless kid growing up in Azusa, California. After leaving home at 17, Robbins decided to skip college so he could start working, which at first meant sweeping the floors as a janitor. But he constantly strove to continue learning and feed his voracious curiosity.</p> <p>Every millionaire finds their start somewhere, and for Robbins it was in the pages of endless books that he found himself glued to. He was determined to be a millionaire, and he wasn't going to let a lack of formal education be a barrier, eventually working his way to the top.</p> <p>Today, he's the one writing the books, sharing all the wisdom he's collected over all those years. And his latest topic of obsession is finance—how to master money and become truly free from worries about wealth.</p> <p>Robbins has decades of experience in business and investing himself, but in recent years, he's been questioning the world's greatest financial minds to get to the bottom of that question. Many of the answers are in his new book, but fortunately for Foundr fans, Tony Robbins joins us today to share some of his most important lessons.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The secret to living well, no matter how much money you have</li> <li>How to spot a million-dollar opportunity</li> <li>The simple strategy that has led Robbins, and millions of his followers, to financial freedom</li> <li>Financial advice specifically targeted at startup founders</li> <li>Hidden principles of finance Robbins has discovered in his research</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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149: How to Use Influencer Marketing to Generate Millions with Gretta Rose van Riel of SkinnyMeTea
<p>In 2012, Gretta Rose van Riel, like most aspiring entrepreneurs, found herself spending all of her free time building a business. It was nothing more than a passion project at the time, something to do in her spare time when she wasn't working at her day job.</p> <p>Despite the fact that she had no real plans to become a full-time entrepreneur with her own business, it wasn't long before that passion project grew into something bigger. She soon knew that this was something she just had to devote all of her time and energy to.</p> <p>"Basically, I had an idea that resonated with me so strongly, I just knew that it was something that I had to pursue," van Riel says.</p> <p>The result was a multimillion-dollar ecommerce business called <a href="https://www.skinnymetea.com.au/">SkinnyMe Tea</a>, the world's first teatox using the natural benefits of tea to help you achieve your health, fitness, and nutrition goals. That alone is impressive enough, but what really separates van Riel from the rest of the pack is that she didn't just build one multimillion-dollar business, she's built <em>many</em>.</p> <p>In five years, Van Riel has transformed herself from just another employee to serial entrepreneur, with multiple ecommerce businesses under her belt. She's effectively cracked the code on how to successfully build a business online, including coming up with the perfect idea, the best way to market it, and how to rapidly scale.</p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to build an incredibly loyal customer base through social media</li> <li>The easiest way to hack into the power of influencer marketing to build your brand</li> <li>Gretta's method to developing the perfect product from idea, to validation, to selling</li> <li>Why Instagram should be your number one channel for customers and sales</li> <li>The foolproof marketing formula guaranteed to double your revenue</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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148: How to Build a Successful E-commerce Business - The Foundr Incubator (Business Breakdown) with Tom Bilyeu of Quest Nutrition & Jake Mckeon of Coconutbowls.com
<p>In this very special episode of the Foundr Podcast, we answer all the questions you've ever had about building an ecommerce business and more!</p> <p>The first installment in what we're calling the Foundr Incubator series, we recorded a live coaching session between one ambitious Foundr community member and the head of a billion-dollar company.</p> <p>We organized a call with Jake McKeon, the up-and-coming founder of multiple ecommerce businesses, to receive one-on-one coaching from Tom Bilyeu, co-founder of unicorn startup Quest Nutrition. Like so many other entrepreneurs out there, McKeon was doing well, but looking to grow and not sure how. That's where Bilyeu, with his years of experience and wisdom, stepped in.</p> <p>The result is a fascinating and honest conversation in which Jake asks just about every question an entrepreneur might have about how to grow, how to market yourself, and generally how to take an online business to the next level. Tom doesn't hold back and answers all of these questions and more, sharing his insights on what it takes to create a successful ecommerce business and a thriving community around your brand.</p> <p>This is an episode you definitely do not want to miss, with so much gold being shared that you can't help but feel empowered and inspired after listening.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to stay relevant in your market and stay ahead of the competition</li> <li>Why you need influencers on your side and how to find them</li> <li>The metrics you need to focus on to grow your sales</li> <li>Where to find A-players when you're growing your team</li> <li>The three things you need to focus on to build a successful e-commerce business</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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147: Lessons from the Master Growth Hacker of Dropbox, LogmeIn, Eventbrite & Many more with Sean Ellis of Growthhackers.com
<p>Sean Ellis is not just another marketer. In fact, he's something entirely different. He's the world's first growth hacker.</p> <p>Originally selling advertising in the print industry in Budapest, Ellis found his calling when a friend began building a new company on this relatively new thing called the internet. Despite not knowing that much about it, Ellis immediately recognized the opportunities that online marketing presented.</p> <p>"Nobody knew much about the internet at the time. But because I was selling advertising, I really liked the idea of being able to target specific ad messages to specific people," Ellis says.</p> <p>In the years that followed, Ellis continued to stay ahead of the curve. While the rest of the world was still trying to grow their startups the traditional way, by pounding the pavement and paying for advertising with little understanding of the results they were getting, Ellis was already breaking the rules and experimenting with every possibility that the internet offered.</p> <p>Instead of just focusing on marketing as something separate from the product that was being built, Ellis wanted to experiment and see if he could combine both product and marketing together. The result was a method he called "growth hacking," a term he coined in 2010 that would come to revolutionize how startups looked at marketing, and eventually become the name of his company <a href="http://growthhackers.com">Growth Hackers</a>.</p> <p>He tested his methodology over the years and played a key role in successfully growing companies like Dropbox, Lookout, and Xobni, eventually becoming the go-to guy in all of Silicon Valley for startups looking to grow as fast as possible. Today, you'll be hard pressed to find anyone with more experience, knowledge, or passion about the power of growth hacking.</p> <p>In this week's episode, you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>The definition of growth hacking</li> <li>Ellis's early experiments with growth hacking and how they still work today</li> <li>A behind-the-scenes look at what powered the rise of companies like Dropbox and Lookout</li> <li>The framework Ellis uses for growing any business</li> <li>How to identify the right strategies for you to become a fast-growth startup</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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146: How to Secure Guest Posts on Big Publications (Time, Fast Company, Huffington Post & Many More!) with Daniel DiPiazza of Rich20something.com
<p>At 20 years old, Daniel DiPiazza was comfortable.</p> <p>He wasn't making millions of dollars at his hourly wage job, but he wasn't struggling for money either. Like a lot of people in their early 20s, he just didn't know what he wanted to do. While the life he led was fine, it was a never ending cycle of making enough money to pay the bills, and that was about it. It wasn't exciting, more than anything it was dissatisfying, and after a few years, DiPiazza found himself restless and wanting more out of life.</p> <p>"It got to this point where I showed up at work one day and I was intensely irritated. It wasn't anything specifically that happened that day, it was just a culmination of a few years of doing things that were just ... very annoying. I made a decision that day that I was going to make a change," DiPiazza says.</p> <p>From that point on, it was like a switch had been flipped inside him. Instead of looking at all the things that held him back, DiPiazza began looking for opportunities. If no one was going to give him a job doing what he wanted, the next logical step was to simply find a way to give himself a job where he could follow his passion.</p> <p>It started simply enough, with a little freelancing on the side helping college students prepare for their exams, which soon grew into a self-perpetuating machine that eventually led to owning his own company, <a href= "http://rich20something.com/">Rich20Something</a>.</p> <p>Today DiPiazza is a bestselling author and uses his own experience to inspire others in his generation, teaching them how they too can build their own businesses and start carving that bit of financial freedom and independence for themselves. Not bad for a kid who had no idea what he was doing in his early 20s.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The best content marketing tactics to use to promote yourself</li> <li>How to never run out of clients as a freelancer</li> <li>Where to go to start skilling yourself up as an entrepreneur</li> <li>How to come up with and validate your business ideas with a few simple steps</li> <li>Strategies to build up your personal brand and influence</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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145: The Importance of Building a Culture for Growth with Mike McDerment of Freshbooks
<p>One of the best ways for an entrepreneur to come up with a great business idea is by scratching their own itch. If something's giving you trouble, it's likely that other people out there are feeling the same way.</p> <p>That's how it all started for Mike McDerment, back when he created <a href="http://freshbooks.com/foundrmag">FreshBooks</a>. At the time, McDerment wasn't looking to create a new business, or invent some sort of revolutionary product to sell. He was just trying to solve his own problem—he was tired of using Microsoft Excel as a way to create and send invoices to clients.</p> <p>It originally started off as simple digital product to make his own life easier, but it wasn't long before others started taking an interest in McDerment's new tool. Instead of selling a complete software package, the common approach at the time, McDerment decided to try out a new business model that was relatively unheard of at the time.</p> <p>"The truth is, we were SaaS before there was SaaS. We were cloud before there was cloud," he says.</p> <p>While most people were selling software as licenses, McDerment was determined to build a product that would guarantee a predictable, recurring revenue. It was a new idea, and one that many consultants and others in their space advised against. And it's true that things didn't look great for McDerment and his co-founders after two years of developing and selling the product.</p> <p>"We had only 10 paying customers paying about 10 dollars a month each. To be making a hundred dollars month after that many human years of effort is by all accounts a failure. And we stuck with it because we really loved what we were doing and our customers were telling us that it was great. It was a little more colorful in the early days," McDerment says.</p> <p>Refusing to give up, McDerment and his co-founders pushed on, and in the years since, they've served more than 10 million customers, and grown into a company with over 250 employees. Today, FreshBooks is one of the most widely used and preferred methods of accounting and invoicing for small businesses everywhere, and it all began with a simple idea, the passion to never give up, and some interesting strategies for growth.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why you shouldn't necessarily follow best practices</li> <li>How to grow and adapt as a leader</li> <li>Why the best leaders never need to have all the answers</li> <li>The importance of instilling the right values within your team and company culture</li> <li>What "guardrails" you need in order to have your company grow as fast as possible</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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144: Body Language Hacks with Vanessa Van Edwards from the Science of People
<p>Many of us have a secret desire to make a living by following our passions, but not all of us have a passion quite like Vanessa Van Edwards'. Back in college, she loved reading academic and scientific journals. She tore through them.</p> <p>That might lead you to believe that she wanted to become an academic or work in a lab somewhere, but Van Edwards also had the soul of an entrepreneur. Even as a young adult, she had several successful businesses under her belt. Listening to that entrepreneurial spirit within her, she wondered if there was a way to link up her two loves—business and science.</p> <p>"All these researchers spend years and years doing this research, and they publish 20-page papers and they get read by, if they're lucky, a hundred people. And I wondered, is there a way to make a business out of this science research? Is there a way to turn science into business?" Van Edwards says.</p> <p>In 2012, she started the <a href= "http://www.scienceofpeople.com/">Science of People</a>, a human behavior research lab dedicated to understanding the science behind what makes people tick. Whether it's unraveling the building blocks of a charismatic personality, decoding body language, or just delving deeper into the psychology of relationships, she built a business around her passion for science, with a focus on translating dense academic language into something that everyone can understand.</p> <p>In her writing, including her latest book, Van Edwards takes the latest research and uses it to explain how to read faster, make excellent small talk, and easily capture the attention of an entire room of people with nothing but your words.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to use content marketing as a way to validate your business idea</li> <li>What qualities make a person a charismatic</li> <li>How to connect with influencers and get the "yes" you want</li> <li>Hacks to improve your networking, communication, and leadership</li> <li>Tricks to dealing with difficult people and how to spot them a mile away</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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143: How to Learn Faster & Unlock Your Superpower with Jim Kwik
<p>When Jim Kwik was in kindergarten, he suffered a terrible fall that resulted in head trauma and a brain injury. This would come to define the rest of Kwik's early life as he grew up suffering from learning difficulties. He constantly struggled to keep up with the rest of his peers and never quite found the ability to focus enough and learn fast enough, all of which was exacerbated by the fact that he didn't even have a fully functioning memory.</p> <p>"I was the boy with the broken brain," Kwik says.</p> <p>And yet, today Kwik is considered an expert on memory, learning, and the brain. He teaches thousands of people how they can hack their brains, just like he has with his own, in order to drastically expand their potential to learn and process new information. Kwik can count some of the most influential people in the world as his students, including Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson, and Oprah Winfrey, just to name a few.</p> <p>"Every single person can also do it, you just weren't taught how. If anything, you were taught a lie, a lie that your intelligence, your potential, your memory, is fixed like your shoe size. And we know from just the past couple of decades of research in the brain sciences that's just not true," Kwik says.</p> <p>So how did the boy with the broken brain become the master of memory?</p> <p>While most people spend their lives being told <em>what</em> to learn, Kwik has spent the majority of his life finding out everything he can about <em>how</em> to learn.</p> <p>Kwik has devoted countless hours over years of study into how exactly the human brain works and all the different ways you can teach yourself to not only have a better memory, but to read faster, learn faster, and in general turn your brain into a superpower.</p> <p>In this week's episode, you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why the power of your mind is the most important weapon as an entrepreneur</li> <li>How to stop being a passive learner and start being an active learner</li> <li>How to unlock your brain's vast potential for memory</li> <li>How the most influential people in the world use their brains</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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142: The Breakdown of How Gerard Adams Sold EliteDaily.com for $50 million
<p>At 18, Gerard Adams dropped out of college after one semester. That semester was all it took to confirm what Adams knew all along. Like all entrepreneurs, he just wasn't built to follow the rules. The idea of getting a degree, to eventually get a job, to eventually retire, wasn't going to be the life for him.</p> <p>"That's when I made the decision to ... really put the pressure on myself to learn how to build businesses on my own," Adams says.</p> <p>While most people would go out and look for mentors by joining a community of some sort, Adams brought the community to him. In order to pursue his interest in investing and stocks, Adams built an online community for stock traders and investors, growing it to more than 10,000 active voices, and allowing him to learn from the best of the best.</p> <p>From there, he had his share of wins and losses, from getting a job where he helped build a company to 18,000 shareholders, to having the product demonstration fail in a live demonstration. He then built his own marketing agency and started generating hundreds of thousands of dollars, which he then invested heavily into the stock market, only for the 2008 recession to hit.</p> <p>No matter what, though, Adams was always learning.</p> <p>Taking everything that he learned from his experiences, together with his co-founder, Adams built <a href= "http://elitedaily.com">Elite Daily</a>, a news site for millennials, a place where Generation Y could be given a voice to talk about everything from economics to health. Over the next three-and-a-half years, they grew their Wordpress site to a company with more than 200 employees, with 80 million unique visitors to the site per month, and 80 to 100 articles a day. The eventually sold Elite Daily to the Daily Mail for $50 million.</p> <p>That was two years ago, and since then Adams has invested in multiple startups and mentored many young entrepreneurs by sharing his years of experience.</p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The blessing and the curse of raising capital and what it means</li> <li>Adams' amazing story of going from college dropout to the voice of a generation</li> <li>What it takes to build a media company that reaches millions</li> <li>How to judge a company through brand equity versus revenue</li> <li>The true cost of being a founder and what it means to be a leader who inspires</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul> <p><strong>This podcast episode was brought to you by <a href= "http://freshbooks.com/foundrmag" target= "_blank">FreshBooks</a></strong>.</p> <p>When it comes to finding the perfect service to help you manage and track your invoices, time, and expenses, you can’t overlook <a href= "http://freshbooks.com/foundrmag">FreshBooks</a>. Designed for small businesses and entrepreneurs who don’t need full-blown, double-entry programming, but still want to keep their finances in check, you can’t go back once you start using it!</p>
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141: Managing People as a Fast Growth Startup with Katelyn Gleason of Eligible.com
<p>At 23, Katelyn Gleason faced, like many people in their early 20s, an existential crisis. She just didn't know what she wanted to do.</p> <p>"I started thinking about jobs. I was like 'God if I'm going to have to do this for the rest of my life it better be something I really care about, that can be my life's work, that I can really invest all of my time and all my energy into,'" Gleason says.</p> <p>Her first step was to start reading the biographies of some of the greatest individuals in human history—Marie Curie, Jane Austen, Abraham Lincoln, anything she could get her hands on. Gleason's goal was to learn as much as she could about these great people and how they managed to leave such a large legacy and imprint on humankind today.</p> <p>It wasn't long before Gleason found herself immersed in the world of healthcare, technology, and startups. It was there she found her purpose. Gleason noticed a problem in the medical industry that no one seemed to be talking about or trying to solve. Doctors and patients alike were getting bogged down with paperwork that was often confusing, and as a result, many were dealing with huge costs simply by filling out the wrong forms.</p> <p>The next nine months were spent at her kitchen table, furiously working on a solution to this problem. That solution would end up becoming <a href="http://eligible.com">Eligible</a>, a medical billing startup designed to make it as simple as possible for doctors and insurance companies to work together and save everyone money, patients, doctors, insurance companies alike.</p> <p>As a two-time alumni of Y-Combinator, Gleason led Eligible from quietly testing and validating its product to becoming an explosive fast-growth company. Today, Eligible processes 14 million transactions per month, with a projected 50 million transactions by the end of the year, and has raised more than $25 million in funding.</p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Every step you need to take as the founder of a startup, from validating to raising capital</li> <li>How to gain proof of concept as quickly as possible</li> <li>Where to find co-founders to complement your own skills and talents</li> <li>What strategies you can use to build a fast-growth company</li> <li>How to manage the people around you and keep them focused on your goal</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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140: Explosive Startup Growth with Andy Fang of Doordash
<p>If it seems like entrepreneurs are getting younger every year, it's because they are. More millennials are turning toward entrepreneurship as a fulfilling career choice, passing on the traditional route of finding employment with some company.</p> <p>As the co-founder of <a href="http://doordash.com">DoorDash</a>, Andy Fang is no different, part of the new school of entrepreneurs getting into the startup world while still in college. In 2013, Fang and his three co-founders were still students in Stanford when they had an idea—to create an on-demand delivery service in their area for restaurants that didn't have their own.</p> <p>It wasn't long after that DoorDash found itself backed by Y Combinator, and has since expanded to several major cities within the US and Canada, recently raising $127 million in funding. Not bad for a student entrepreneur who was once the only delivery driver the company had.</p> <p>DoorDash is but one of many startups in an ever-growing food delivery market. In order to stay one step ahead of the competition at all times, Fang has had to learn how to adapt quickly to challenges thrown his way, and how to prioritize growth at all times.</p> <p>In this week's episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to put together a team of co-founders based on mutual trust and respect</li> <li>The key to adapting quickly and executing even faster</li> <li>Why it's so important to have a clear vision and the guts to stick to it</li> <li>The logistics behind running a food-based startup</li> <li>Challenges and solutions when it comes to expanding and entering new markets</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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139: How to Become a Master Networker to Increase Your Income, Happiness and Startup Success
<p>Jordan Harbinger is one of the most influential people in entrepreneurship today, thanks to his popular podcast <a href="https://theartofcharm.com/">The Art of Charm</a>. His show recently hit its 10th anniversary, and Harbinger has interviewed some of the greatest minds and personalities in the startup space and more.</p> <p>Starting off as a law school graduate who landed a job as a financial attorney on Wall Street, it didn't take long for Harbinger to become quickly disillusioned with the life that being a big shot attorney offered. Within a year, he left his job to work full-time the Art of Charm podcast, but not before taking with him some key lessons from his stint on Wall Street.</p> <p>During that time, Harbinger learned of "the third path" to success that no one seemed to talk about. The one that wasn't about working long hours, or even being the smartest person in the room, but instead was all about networking. He found that the key to success was all about sharpening your social skills in order to develop the key relationships you need in order to succeed.</p> <p>That lesson turned Harbinger's life around and opened up a whole world of possibilities that he never thought possible.</p> <p>In this week's episode:</p> <ul> <li>How to develop and master the social skills you need to succeed</li> <li>The competitive advantage behind networking and building relationships</li> <li>Why podcasting changed the game and how you can harness its power</li> <li>How to become a highly influential person</li> <li>The secret to creating a successful podcast</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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138: The Power of Community & Free Challenges with Jen Hansard & Jadah Selnah of Simple Green Smoothies
<p>The inspiring story behind <a href= "http://simplegreensmoothies.com/" target="_blank">Simple Green Smoothies</a> started on a playground, with two mothers watching their kids play together.</p> <p>At the time, Jen Hansard and Jadah Sellner were both first-time mothers, and they shared a desire to get back into the workforce. But they decided they were going to do it on their own terms and by following their passions.</p> <p>In 2007, they officially made the jump from being playdate partners to professional collaborators when they began working together on a parenting blog. Not long after they were working on more projects together, with Simple Green Smoothies being one of them.</p> <p>What initially started off as a side-hustle turned into a full-fledged business, getting some serious traction after they discovered Instagram in 2012. Through a mixture of follower challenges, influencer marketing, and a whole ton of heart, they started building a multimillion-dollar business.</p> <p>Their key tactic? Focusing on community, first and foremost.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We listen to our community, we poll them all the time asking, 'What do you want from us?' 'What do you need?' 'What’s your biggest struggle right now?'," Hansard says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Find ways to really nurture that tribe and get to know them, just like you would in a real romantic relationship, so that you can serve them to the best of your ability," Sellner says.</span></p> <p>From being stay-at-home mothers working multiple jobs in order to keep their families afloat, to being the co-founders of a multimillion-dollar business with thousands of customers, the story of Simple Green Smoothies is a must-listen for any entrepreneur.</p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why it's all about building a community first</li> <li>How to reach out to influencers to help promote your product</li> <li>What social media platform you should use and how to figure out what works for you</li> <li>How to generate new leads by providing a free experience</li> <li>Why you need to focus on one core message when you're just starting out</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul> <p><strong>This podcast episode was brought to you by <a href= "https://www.siteground.com/" target= "_blank">SiteGround</a>.</strong></p> <p>Thinking about building your own website? Get started with the best web-hosting service around with <a href= "https://www.siteground.com/" target="_blank">SiteGround</a>, with their 24/7 support, unbreakable security, and dedication to providing the best experience possible for you and your audience. You can't go wrong with SiteGround.</p>
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137: How to Build a Large Startup NOT in Silicon Valley with Girish Mathrubootham of Freshdesk
<p>Back in 2010, Girish Mathrubootham was a pretty successful tech guy, having risen up the ranks of a company to VP of Product Management. But that didn't mean he was immune to bad customer service.</p> <p>After spending months and months going back and forth with a company on an insurance claim, in the end, all that was achieved was Mathrubootham feeling helpless and frustrated. He took to a popular online forum to air his frustrations, and that was when he got his first taste of what it means to harness social power. His post went viral, with others airing their own frustrations at the same company, to the point where the president of the company stepped in to personally apologize to Mathrubootham.</p> <p>He began to understand just how antiquated the systems for customer service were, and just how important social media had become in giving a voice to customers who previously had nowhere else to go. He realized that modern companies needed a help desk that not only tracked complaints through traditional channels like email and phone, but also those that came through on social media channels.</p> <p>The result was <a href= "https://freshdesk.com">Freshdesk</a>, a company that now employs more than 950 people around the world, and has raised more than $150 million in capital from top VC firms. One more super-impressive thing about the story of Freshdesk—it started out as a tiny company based in India, and Mathrubootham had to overcome the challenge of gaining a foothold in the US.</p> <p>That seven-year journey had its own share of setbacks, but Mathrubootham has managed to rise above each one that the cutthroat tech world has thrown his way, through a mixture of knowing exactly the right kind of person to hire and his own tenacity and savvy for PR.</p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What it means to truly harness social power</li> <li>What to look out for when you're studying your competitors</li> <li>How to turn an attack into the best PR move you'll ever make</li> <li>The key to raising millions of dollars from the top VR firms in Silicon Valley</li> <li>Why you need to hire based on potential and not on academic credentials</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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136: The Power of Building the Best Product in Your Market with Tenko Nikolov of Siteground
<p>For as long as he can remember, Tenko Nikolov has been obsessed with computers. From his very first computer at the age of 7, he fell in love with the simple green and black screen and was fascinated with all that this technology could offer.</p> <p>Of course, he also got into some trouble, even accidentally hacking into a large US corporation's network with a friend at the age of 13. After a few days of fun messing with their systems and bragging to their friends, the duo eventually sent an email to the company letting them know what they did and how they did it.</p> <p>The next few days were agonizing as they waited for a response, petrified that an FBI agent would be showing up to his doorstep in Bulgaria. To his surprise, however, the company reached out, thanked them for finding a security loophole and even asked them how much they'd like to be paid for finding it in the first place.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I realized that I can actually be paid for the thing that I love to do most," Nikolov says.</span></p> <p>Instead of asking for payment, Nikolov asked for his own server that he could play around with. After getting his first taste of entrepreneurship, he began seeing how far he could push the limits of computer technology. Looking back at it now, Nikolov pinpoints this as the exact moment that led him to develop <a href= "https://www.siteground.com/">SiteGround</a>, a web-hosting server and provider.</p> <p>But what makes SiteGround stand out from the thousands of competitors out there, is Nikolov's dedication to innovating.</p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to build a product that not only learns from its customers, but also continuously improves</li> <li>When to give up on perfection and focus instead on shipping</li> <li>How to survive as a bootstrapped company for 13 years straight</li> <li>How to read the trends and stay one step ahead of your competitors</li> <li>What it takes to go from a company that nobody's ever heard of to a major player in your industry</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul> <p><strong>This podcast episode was brought to you by <a href= "http://freshbooks.com/foundrmag" target= "_blank">FreshBooks</a></strong>.</p> <p>When it comes to finding the perfect service to help you manage and track your invoices, time, and expenses, you can’t overlook <a href= "http://freshbooks.com/foundrmag">FreshBooks</a>. Designed for small businesses and entrepreneurs who don’t need full-blown, double-entry programming, but still want to keep their finances in check, you can’t go back once you start using it!</p>
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135: How to Fight Global Poverty with Technology with Leila Janah of Sama Group
<p>A lot of people can recognize an opportunity, but what separates an entrepreneur from the rest of us is the ambition and courage to seize on that opportunity.</p> <p>The opportunity Leila Janah recognized was enormous. Lucky for her, and the rest of us, she had the ambition to match it. Her goal? Fighting world poverty.</p> <p>Ever since founding <a href= "https://www.samasource.org/">Samasource</a> in 2008, Janah has impacted the lives of more than 30,000 people, raising thousands up from the poorest parts in India, Haiti, Uganda, and more. Janah has been internationally recognized for her work, with accolades coming from the world's most prestigious universities and publications like the <em>New York Times</em>, <em>Fortune</em>, and <em>Entrepreneur</em>.</p> <p>The opportunity Janah saw was a simple one. There was a trend in the globalizing economy of companies looking to outsource their work, and she wanted to tap into that trend by giving people living in extreme poverty the training and skills needed to fill these jobs. With the idea that by providing people with the right skills could help them rise out of poverty, Janah managed to pioneer a unique and inspiring social enterprise.</p> <p>In taking on such a massive problem, Janah has faced virtually every hurdle that can be faced in her eight-year journey as a social entrepreneur, and it looks like nothing is going to keep that bold ambition in check.</p> <p>In this week's episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>The business of tackling the world's largest problems</li> <li>How to find and instill passion into the people who work around you</li> <li>The strategy of divide and conquer when it comes to nonprofits</li> <li>How to keep it simple with project management and personal goals</li> <li>What you can accomplish as a social entrepreneur if you put your mind to it</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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134: A Blueprint on How to Become a Sales Master with Matthew Kimberley
<p>At his very core, <a href= "http://www.matthewkimberley.com/">Matthew Kimberley</a> is a salesman.</p> <p>Whether it's something he was born with, or a trait he picked up while growing up, Kimberley understands the art of the sale. Starting at the young age of 13, Kimberley took to the street as a young street performer. Juggling his way into his first few dollars, and finding within himself that perfect combination of charm, drive, and ambition that make up the best salespeople.</p> <p>Fast forward to his 20s, Kimberley had built himself an highly lucrative company earning a cool 7-figures a year, and yet, he was unhappy. He just didn't believe in what he was doing, and couldn't find the passion to keep on going. Taking a step back as a founder, he went back to what he knew best: selling.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I realized what I liked to do is sell and teach people how to sell. So what I did was become a self-employed sales trainer, and I haven’t looked back since.”</span></p> <p>To Kimberley, there is no other skill that is as important as knowing how to sell.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Here’s why sales are important. When you can sell, you don’t need any other skills. When you can sell, you don’t need to be a creator. When you can sell, you don’t need to be a manager. When you can sell, you don’t need to be a writer, you don’t need to be a speaker, you don’t need to be a talker, you don’t have to have a business idea. You don’t have to be a particularly good executor. You don’t have to be good at doing anything, other than asking, persuading, convincing,” Kimberley says.</span></p> <p>Today, Kimberley has honed his skills to the point of being one of the go-to gurus when it comes to the art of selling. He's taught hundreds of people and businesses how to not only grow, but double and even triple their profit margins by teaching them his practical system on how to sell hard, and sell fast.</p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Kimberley's 16 principles of professional persuasion</li> <li>The best place to learn and hone your skills as a salesperson</li> <li>Why learning how to sell is the most important skill for an entrepreneur</li> <li>How to follow your passion while maximizing your profits</li> <li>The importance of having a mentor and where to find one</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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133: Building a Fertile Future For All Women with Piraye Beim of Celmatix
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The phrase “game-changing” gets bandied about a lot in entrepreneurial circles. And certainly, in this era of landmark technological change, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to people and products that have changed the way we live.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We’re about to introduce you to a woman who raises that bar to life-changing. Someone who is paving the way for millions of women to have more personalized, accurate fertility care. One who has truly moved the medical sciences needle. (Pun intended).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Piraye Beim, is indeed a rare woman. A mother to two, soon-to-be three, a world-leading genetic scientist and Founder/CEO at</span> <a href= "http://celmatix.com/"><em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Celmatix</span></em></a> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">– the New York biotech firm putting big data through its paces with some remarkable results.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since launching in 2009,</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Celmatix</span></em> <span style="font-weight: 400;">has released two world-first products. The first is</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Polaris,</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">a cloud-based platform that uses big data to optimize the treatment of fertility patients. Its creation was what Beim refers to as a “happy accident” on the way to solving their number one goal –  building the first genetic test for reproductive health.</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Fertilome</span></em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">, the realization of that mission, was released early this year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Today,</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Celmatix</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">are well on their way to empowering an entire generation of women to proactively manage their fertility. And Piraye Beim is just getting started.</span></p> <p>In this week's episode:</p> <ul> <li>How critical it is to your success to be a part of a shared community</li> <li>What the business of medicine is like</li> <li>The importance of understanding the story of your customers</li> <li>How Piraye settles the debate between growth and profitability</li> <li>How to find the time to be both a parent and a game-changing entrepreneur</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul> <p><strong>This podcast episode was brought to you by <a href= "https://www.pipedrive.com/">Pipedrive</a>.</strong></p> <p>Made by marketers for marketers and with over 30,000 users worldwide, <a href= "https://www.pipedrive.com/">Pipedrive</a> is one of the best CRM tools in the business. Keep track of all your sales, customers, and leads with their incredibly intuitive dashboard and simple design. Don't try any other CRM tool until you've used Pipedrive first!</p>
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132: The Importance of Leadership for a Fast Growth Company with Timo Rein of Pipedrive
<p>Before heading to San Fransisco to devote himself fully as the CEO of the wildly popular customer relationship management (CRM) tool <a href="http://pipedrive.com">Pipedrive</a>, Timo Rein was a sales consultant back in his home country of Estonia. With a knack for making sales and closing deals, Rein found himself successfully working as one of the best salesmen in his country for over 12 years.</p> <p>Despite loving the industry he was in, Rein knew that there was much more he could offer the world beyond just one-on-one consultation and training sessions. There had to be a way for him to apply his years of experience and distill them into a product that could help thousands of salespeople he knew must be frustrated with the exact problems he was facing.</p> <p>In Rein's own words:</p> <p>"We should either find a product like this, or build a product like this. We didn't find exactly what we were looking for so we decided to build it."</p> <p>Leaving the company that he called home for 12 years, he began to build his very first tech product.</p> <p>The product that would become known as Pipedrive struck a chord. Ever since launching in 2010, Pipedrive has grown to more than 30,000 customers who can be found on every continent on the globe, and impressively raised $9 million in its first round of funding.</p> <p>Rein shows no sign of stopping as he seeks to continue to grow Pipedrive in his own impressive fashion.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to choose between building a service-based or a product-based business</li> <li>Rein's own tips on how to improve your own sales regardless of the niche</li> <li>How to find and develop your own leadership style</li> <li>What types of people you need around you to launch and grow a successful startup</li> <li>The key to continue moving quickly and efficiently as you grow</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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131: Running 4000+ People Events & Building a Fast Growth Media Company with Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner
<p>After being unceremoniously tossed out of the corporate world 20 years ago, Michael Stelzner took a chance and turned toward entrepreneurship. In the years that followed, Stelzner began building a reputation as an influencer with a huge network of writers and marketers.</p> <p>It all culminated in 2009 when, after noticing more and more people talking about social media, he decided to run an experimental project: see if he could build a following by creating a blog with detailed articles about social media. Grabbing the name <a href="http://socialmediaexaminer.com" target= "_blank">Social Media Examiner</a>, he got to work.</p> <p>His goal was simple. Instead of being one of the hundreds of bloggers already out there writing about what they didn't like about social media or simply covering the latest news in that industry, Stelzner wanted to create a blog where he would get the best writers to craft articles that would help the average person and marketer understand <em>how to use</em> social media.</p> <p>To say that his experiment paid off would be an understatement. Social Media Examiner is one of the biggest business blogs in the world, and is widely considered <em>the</em> authority on all things social media.</p> <p>Beyond having an incredibly successful blog, Stelzner has expanded the brand to include a top-ranking podcast and an annual event that attracts the best marketers and entrepreneurs in the world.</p> <p>Seven years into his entrepreneurial journey, Stelzner helms one of the fastest-growing and most respected media companies on the planet.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">His secrets to success? A powerful mixture of marketing know-how, a strong business model, and understanding how to get the most out of your network.</span></p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to land interviews with some of the biggest names in your industry</li> <li>The value in giving away your best stuff for free</li> <li>What it takes to become the most influential authority in your space</li> <li>How to market effectively and connect with thousands of people</li> <li>The magic behind networking and how to harness it</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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130: How to Start a Social Enterprise with Scott Harrison of charity: water
<p>For the past 10 years, Scott Harrison has made charity his business, and he's managed to raise $250 million and bring clean drinking water in people in more than 24 countries since he began his nonprofit <a href= "https://www.charitywater.org/">charity: water</a>.</p> <p>Ever since learning the majority of diseases suffered by the poor were caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, he has made it his life's mission to bring clean drinking water to those who need it the most. It's been an amazing journey since he first started and his organization has not only affected millions of lives around the world, but he's also inspired hundreds of others to take the path of social entrepreneurship.</p> <p>But in the beginning, there really weren't many social enterprises quite like charity: water.</p> <p>"My advice to people is 'go find someone who's doing what you want to do and join them instead of starting something.' In my case, I just couldn't find anyone else doing what I wanted to do, doing what I had the vision for," says Harrison.</p> <p>Sleeping on the floor of a friend's closet and using the living room as an office, Harrison began to build something that would offer a solution to what he considered the greatest problem facing the world. Taking it upon himself to build an organization that he could believe in, Harrison created a fresh take on how nonprofits could run and worked to rebuild trust in the power of charity.</p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The art of storytelling and why it's so important for any social enterprise</li> <li>How to craft a story that everyone can relate to</li> <li>How to build and run a worldwide enterprise through nonprofit philosophies</li> <li>How to inspire and build a team of thousands of volunteers who believe in your vision</li> <li>How to build a brand that inspires</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul> <p><strong>This podcast episode was brought to you by <a href= "http://infusionsoftnow.com/foundr" target= "_blank">Infusionsoft</a></strong></p> <p>Anyone looking for the gold standard in sales and marketing solutions should turn to <a href= "http://infusionsoftnow.com/foundr">Infusionsoft</a>. The complete package for small businesses of all types, save yourself some time and let Infusionsoft do all the work for you by automating huge parts of your business.</p>
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129: How Lootcrate Became the No.1 Fastest Growing Company in America with Matthew Arevalo
<p>Many of us have been to one of those startup events where you're divided up into teams and have to whip up a company in the span of a weekend. You make great connections and have some fun, but typically the business idea you were working on for past 48 hours is gone by the time your head hits the pillow.</p> <p>But Matthew Arevalo and his new friend, and soon-to-be co-founder, realized they were onto something special. While most people went back to their daily lives, Arevalo began dedicating all of his time and energy into this new business. The result was a company called <a href="http://lootcrate.com">Loot Crate</a>, a subscription service that ships a mystery box of items made for geeks by geeks.</p> <p>"Subscription boxes had been around, and had existed in the past. But a lot of the focus had been on sampling. It had been on trying to get samples of products into a box and get them out to folks," says Arevalo. "Loot Crate really was the first company to work directly and say, 'We're going to put full-sized apparel, figures, collectibles, and items that pop culture fans gravitate towards and have an emotional connection to.'"</p> <p>Since that fateful weekend in 2012, the fledgling startup has grown into a powerhouse company with more than 650,000 subscribers, making it the fastest-growing company in the US.</p> <p>But earning such an accolade took a lot of experimenting, perseverance, and a couple of setbacks along the way, all of which Arevalo was more than happy to share with the Foundr audience.</p> <p>In this week's episode, you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>The secret to tapping into a niche and creating a true emotional connection with your audience</li> <li>What your number one focus should be in the early stage of a fast-growing startup</li> <li>Why it's important to always be looking for feedback from your customers</li> <li>How to turn failure into a learning experience</li> <li>The difference between running a physical business and a digital one</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul> <p><strong>This podcast episode was brought to you by <a href= "http://freshdesk.com" target="_blank">Fresh Desk</a>.</strong></p> <p>Make bad customer service a thing of the past with <a href= "http://freshdesk.com">Fresh Desk</a>. Whether it's with their live chat feature, their easy-to-use ticketing system, or their multi-channel customer support system, treat your customer to an experience like no other and keep them coming back.</p>
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128: The Godfather of Blogging Shares How to Create Content People Love - Darren Rowse of Problogger
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The internet marketing scene is not exactly known for being grounded and humble. It's often as bombastic and self-inflated as a hip-hop rap battle. That’s why it comes as such a surprise to find that Darren Rowse, one of the world’s most successful bloggers, is so …</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">normal</span></em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">His down-to-earth nature is only the first thing that will surprise you. The second is where he's from—Rowse isn’t from Silicon Valley, or even the United States as many assume. Rather, he hails from from Melbourne in Australia’s southeastern corner.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rowse currently has two active blogs. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">ProBlogger needs little introduction, as it’s been the internet’s go-to place for everything blog-related for more than a decade now</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">. And his second blog, Digital Photography School, has long been a content darling of photographers worldwide. Both of these blogs boast readerships so large, they put national media outlets to shame. In the words of Ron Burgundy, he’s kind of a big deal.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Before every second person decided to set up a space to blog about their special interests, however mundane, there was Darren Rowse. </span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">He planted his flag deep into blogging soil before any of us knew it was a thing, and has since grown to become one of the world's leading authorities on blogging. A</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">s one of the world’s premiere bloggers, he’s breathing the rarefied air that comes with 5 million-plus monthly readers.</span></p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The secrets behind effective content marketing and how it can improve your business</li> <li>How to understand who your reader is and what kind of content they're looking for</li> <li>Why you need to network and the best way to do it</li> <li>What the best practices for SEO are</li> <li>The key to growing a business beyond yourself</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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127: The Psychological Triggers to Make Someone Buy with Sean D'Souza of Psychotactics
<p>If you're interesting in learning how to market more effectively and land more sales, a quick Google search will bring up thousands of results, each one promising that their specific tip will be the one that changes your business forever. The trouble is sorting the wheat from the chaff. What's the stuff that'll actually work for you, and what's the stuff that's just clickbait?</p> <p>According to Sean D'Souza, the secret to marketing is actually surprisingly easy to understand. At their very core, all marketing strategies follow the exact same model, D'Souza says. He has cracked the code, and he can prove it.</p> <p>"What I do is I break down things into little pieces, and when I break them down into little pieces it becomes scientific. That's really what science is. Science is taking something very complex and breaking them down into little pieces and reconstructing it so that anyone can do it," D'Souza says.</p> <p>Originally working as a freelance cartoonist, D'Souza somehow found himself indulging his talent for marketing and understanding consumer psychology by helping out others with their marketing efforts. It wasn't long before he started writing about his own experiences with marketing and slowly but surely, he began to gather an audience hungry to learn more.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The psychological triggers behind turning someone from a prospect and into a customer</li> <li>Why growing your company might not be the best move</li> <li>Sean's most effective marketing tactics and strategies</li> <li>The myth behind innate talent and why it's all about the hustle</li> <li>What the perfect marketer look and sounds like</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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126: Learn How Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan Quit Her Job to Launch One of America's Fastest-Growing Businesses
<p>There are many reasons people choose to become entrepreneurs. Some want to make money, others want the freedom of owning their own businesses, and some, like <a href= "http://foundrmag.com/kamakshi-sivaramakrishnan-drawbridge/" target="_blank">Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan</a>, want to make an impact. For Sivaramakrishnan, a self-described accidental entrepreneur, she never intended to become the founder of one of the fastest-growing companies in the world. It just so happened to be that it was only by doing so could she affect the change she wanted to see in the world.</p> <p>Originally intending to pursue a career in academia, by the time Sivaramakrishnan graduated from Stanford with a PhD in information theory, she realized that this was merely a milestone on a journey to something greater. After graduating she headed for Silicon Valley and found herself one of the original engineers of a soon-to-be successful startup.</p> <p>"I felt like here was a place where I could create an impact," Sivaramakrishnan says.</p> <p>By the time that startup was acquired by Google in 2009, Sivaramakrishnan had developed a taste for the intricacies of the startup world and soon began her own venture called <a href= "http://drawbridge.com" target="_blank">Drawbridge</a>. The company was all about helping other companies of all kinds understand their customers and their buying habits across multiple devices.</p> <p>Impressively, since she's launched, Drawbridge now has over 150 employees and is considered one of the fastest-growing companies in the world. Growing by almost 2000% in just the past year alone, in regards to size and the amount of revenue it generates.</p> <p>Not bad for an accidental entrepreneur.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Where mobile advertising is at now, and what the future holds</li> <li>How to find data solutions to marketing problems</li> <li>Why it's so important to find people who share your vision</li> <li>Who you need to hire as your company starts to grow</li> <li>The unavoidable, and the avoidable, pitfalls of running a fast-growing startup</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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125: How to Build a Distributed Team for Fast Growth with Wade Foster of Zapier
<p>You can't talk about fast-growing SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) companies without mentioning <a href="http://zapier.com" target= "_blank">Zapier</a>. In about five years, they've amassed a customer base of over 1.5 million registered users, and grown their team from just three founders to 60 people. But perhaps what's most impressive and unique about Zapier, is the fact that those 60 people can be found all over the world.</p> <p>While Wade Foster and his co-founders reside in San Fransisco, he is quick to mention that does not mean Zapier's headquarters are in San Fransisco. Not just employees, but also members of the executive team can be found on almost every continent, working remotely. Zapier is living proof that entrepreneurs and startups are no longer strictly bound by location, and that there is a whole world of talent out there.</p> <p>"The internet feels like our true home," Foster says.</p> <p>You might think that having such a team would be a detriment to a fast-growth company but, according to Foster, having such a large, distributed team is precisely the reason behind Zapier's impressive success. When it comes to managing and leading such a scattered team, all while building a fast-growing SaaS company, Foster is a master.</p> <p>In this week's episode you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to validate your idea and find your first customer at the same time</li> <li>The pros and cons of managing a distributed team of over 60 people</li> <li>What a high-performing distributed team looks like</li> <li>Keys to building a B2B company as quickly as possible</li> <li>Wade's favorite apps and tools</li> <li>& so much more!</li> </ul> <p><strong>This podcast episode was brought to you by <a href= "http://infusionsoft.com" target= "_blank">Infusionsoft</a></strong></p> <p>Anyone looking for the gold standard in sales and marketing solutions should turn to <a href="http://infusionsoft.com" target="_blank">Infusionsoft</a>. The complete package for small businesses of all types, save yourself some time and let Infusionsoft do all the work for you by automating huge parts of your business.</p>
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124: What it Takes to Grow Multiple 7 Figure Online Businesses with Sol Orwell
<p>Over the past 20 years or so, the common understanding of what an "entrepreneur" is has undergone some massive changes.</p> <p>It used to be that an entrepreneur was someone who wore a proper suit, courted investors over fancy lunches and dinners, and ultimately cornered entire industries. Then the term started to shift.</p> <p>These days when you think of an entrepreneur, you're more likely to conjure some hip whiz kid, much more likely to wear jeans and a hoodie than a suit. The attitude has changed as well, with entrepreneurs these days less concerned about building Fortune 500 businesses, and instead wanting to take on creative pursuits that can fuel their lifestyles of travel, leisure, and adventure.</p> <p>You'd be hard-pressed to find a person who fits that 21st century entrepreneur archetype better than Sol Orwell. At only 32, he has already bought and sold multiple online businesses, co-founded a 7-figure business by the name of <a href= "http://examine.com">Examine.com</a>, and finds himself globetrotting three to four months out of the year for fun. So how does he do it?</p> <p>Orwell is no stranger to the entrepreneurship life, having started his first online business of buying and selling virtual currency at the age of 14. Ever since, he's been in love with starting businesses, and everything that the online world can offer. As a tried and true digital nomad, Orwell knows exactly what it takes to build up the perfect business for anyone wanting to be a lifestyle entrepreneur.</p> <p>In this week's episode:</p> <ul> <li>How to find your niche in the online world</li> <li>The importance of putting the business first before your ego</li> <li>Why building evergreen content will always work better than anything viral</li> <li>Orwell's no-nonsense guide to building a self-sustaining online business</li> <li>The wonders of building a segmented audience and why you need to do it right now</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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123: Startup Growth Pains, Marketing Strategies, Buying & Selling Companies with Wil Schroter
<p>Wil Schroter never set out to become an entrepreneur. In fact, he didn't have that much interest in business in the first place. But in 1995, he found himself in the office of his college guidance counselor saying that he was dropping out to start an internet company.</p> <p>The question she asked wasn't why Schroter was quitting college, but what was this "internet" he was talking about.</p> <p>A 19 years old, Schroter was one of the first handful of people in the world building successful businesses based on this world-changing piece of technology. While dropping out of college to pursue a career in entrepreneurship is pretty run-of-the-mill today, back in 1995 it was practically unheard of. Everyone around Schroter told him it was insane, that it'd be suicide, that he'd never make it.</p> <p>Fast forward a little over 20 years, he now finds himself as the founder of several multimillion-dollar companies, including <a href="http://fundable.com">Fundable</a>, the world's largest business crowdfunding platform, and the internationally renowned startup launchpad <a href="http://startups.co">startups.co</a>. It's been a successful journey since that guidance counselor's office.</p> <p>Throughout his entrepreneurial career, Schroter has not only witnessed, but also participated in many of the world-changing impacts the internet has had. He's pretty much seen it all.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to survive a business with less than zero business experience</li> <li>The things you need to know on how to close more deals</li> <li>Learn how to build a community</li> <li>How to deal with growth pains effectively</li> <li>Tips on what it takes to build a successful company</li> <li>& more!</li> </ul>
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122: How Timbuktu Labs Created the Most Successful Publishing Kickstarter Campaign in History (Crowdfunding Series Part 6)
<p>After working in the children's media industry for over five years, there was something that was bothering Francesca Cavallo. She found herself asking the question: "Why does almost every princess in every classical fairy tale needs a prince to save her?"</p> <p>It was something she didn't particularly care for. But the reality was that there just weren't that many fairy tales where the princess was the hero, and not just the damsel-in-distress. So Cavallo did what any other entrepreneur would do in her situation. If there wasn't a solution to the problem, then she was going to create one.</p> <p>The result was a book called <a href= "https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/timbuktu/good-night-stories-for-rebel-girls-100-tales-to-dr" target="_blank"><em>Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls</em></a>, a collection of 100 stories about great female artists, athletes, politicians, and scientists. Instead of hearing fairy tales like <em>Cinderella</em> or <em>Sleeping Beauty</em>, children everywhere could instead listen to the stories of extraordinary women like Frida Kahlo, Elizabeth the First, and Serena Williams.</p> <p>In order to bring her idea into reality, Cavallo, co-founder of <a href="http://www.timbuktu.me/">Timbuktu Labs</a>, took to Kickstarter to reach her goal of $40,000 in order to print the first 1,000 copies.</p> <p>The book was a smash hit. Within 24 hours, Cavallo's campaign raised half of its goal, and by the end of the month she had raised over $650,000 in funds and was the creator of the most successful publishing campaign in Kickstarter history.</p> <p>It was a dream come true, but it was far from being a lucky break. Months before the campaign even started, Cavallo had begun planning. In our interview, she walks us through step-by-step how she engineered the massive success of one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns to date.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to validate your idea before you even try crowdfunding</li> <li>Why the video is the most important part of any crowdfunding campaign</li> <li>How to establish trust in both your campaign and yourself</li> <li>The tools you can use to ensure your campaign's success</li> <li>Step-by-step instructions for what to do before, during, and after your crowdfunding campaign</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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121: How Willi Footwear Raised $36,232 to End Flip Flop Blowouts (Crowdfunding Series Part 5)
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A unique product snags attention. A boring product does not.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brad Munro says crowdfunding is most successful when you have the former—something innovative like Willi Footwear’s improved flip flops.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The kind of people that are contributing to your crowdfunding campaign, especially if they’re buying a product, they’re doing so because they can’t buy it anywhere else,” he says. “They’re not going to jump on and grab something that they can go down to the shop and get, that’s just as good or the exact same thing.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But they didn't rely on their product's uniqueness. By shoveling time into their campaign, both the preparation and execution, the team at Willi Footwear was able to integrate consistent messaging with outreach to people they knew, which earned them the money they needed to ensure the success of their fledgling company.</span></p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why Indiegogo might be a better platform for crowdfunders</li> <li>How to strike the right tone for your campaign video</li> <li>What connections you can immediately leverage to ensure your campaign is a success</li> <li>The elements behind a high-converting project page</li> <li>What you need to start planning for once you decide to start crowdfunding</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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120: The Master of Systems (Michael Gerber) Shares How to Scale Your Business
<p>Thirty years ago, Michael Gerber released a book called <em><a href= "https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Most-Businesses-Dont-About/dp/0887303625">The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About it</a>.</em></p> <p>It carried within it lessons on what it means to be an entrepreneur, the importance of systems in building a scalable business, even the different types of people who start their own businesses. It laid out the common pitfalls that happen to most novice entrepreneurs and gave practical advice on how to avoid them.</p> <p>The best-selling book has since inspired millions of people to start their own businesses, and is still considered to be a must-read for entrepreneurs everywhere. Startup thought leaders like Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin have heaped praise on the lessons outlined in this book.</p> <p>But before Gerber began changing the lives of a whole generation of business owners, he explains, he never intended to become an entrepreneur. It was only through a chance meeting with a distraught business owner that Gerber found himself with his first client and in the position to help someone grow a business.</p> <p>"I discovered something I'd never known before, and that is the conclusion I've come to over the years—that despite the obvious differences between industries, between vertical markets, between kinds of companies, what I began to discover was that from a business development perspective, they're not different at all."</p> <p>Despite all the technological changes that have happened since that first client, Gerber asserts that the key principles behind building a business have remained the same.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What exactly it is that makes an entrepreneur different from everyone else</li> <li>How to be a dreamer, a thinker, a storyteller, and a leader</li> <li>The difference between strategic and tactical thinking, and which one you should be doing</li> <li>Why everyone should start thinking about building a business</li> <li>How to make your business unique, even if your product isn't</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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119: How Who Gives a Crap Raised $66,000 by Sitting on a Toilet (Crowdfunding Series Part 4)
<p>Simon Griffiths sat down for what he believed in and, it turned out, parking it on a toilet was an epic marketing win for a good cause.</p> <p>Griffiths and the team behind Who Gives a Crap toilet paper employed a clever stunt in which they livestreamed their co-founder sitting on a toilet until they reached their crowdfunding goal, and it worked. The company gives half of its profits to charity to increase access to toilets and sanitation in developing countries.</p> <p>But it takes more than a good cause and a good marketing ploy to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. The team also relied on thorough preparation and consistent messaging to blow away their goal.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Griffiths and his co-founder Jehan Ratnatunga did a first take on their video in January 2012, hoping to launch soon after. But they realized that it wasn’t quite what they wanted, so they went back and tried again, even taking the time to get advice from an ad firm in Melbourne.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The video wasn’t the only thing they had to prepare. The team wanted to be sure that their campaign would be a coherent, quality whole, and if that meant delaying the launch so that they would have time to refine things, that was OK.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We thought we’d go live in February or March, and then it just kept on getting continuously pushed back, and then it wasn’t until July that the campaign did go live,” Griffiths says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They were only working on the campaign part-time during the preparation phase, and it ended up taking six months for all of their ideas to come together in a way that they were happy with. Preparing an effective campaign isn’t like heating up a microwave dinner. It’s more like cooking a multi-course feast. It takes time.</span></p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What makes your campaign newsworthy and why people should care</li> <li>How to make your campaign as shareable as possible</li> <li>Why the first 24 hours are the most important in any crowdfunding campaign</li> <li>Kickstarter or Indiegogo. How to pick the one that works for you</li> <li>How to keep your message consistent across every media channels</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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118: How Canary Raised 20x it's $100,000 Goal on Indiegogo (Crowdfunding Series Part 3)
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Canary team didn’t start their company with crowdfunding. In fact, they had been working on the idea for roughly a year before turning to Indiegogo.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We decided that crowdfunding would be a great way for us to validate the market a little bit,” says Jon Troutman, co-founder of the company, which offers networked home security systems.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It took the team about a month and a half to plan and prepare the campaign, but Troutman notes that they had already developed a voice for their brand and a story for their product. They didn’t devote as much time to preparation as some campaigns because they could already picture the puzzle. They just had to fit the pieces together.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And getting users involved in the process would be key to doing so. After working on Canary for a whole year, they needed an outside view. “What we’re building is so much about filling a need for people, that it felt weird to go too far into product development without bringing more people into the process,” Troutman says.</span></p> <p>One of the great things about crowdfunding is that it lets the market decide in real time whether or not to validate your idea. In Canary’s case, it did.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The right way to communicate your message to your audience</li> <li>Where to go when you're looking for expert help</li> <li>How to analyse the competition and what you can learn from doing so</li> <li>What questions you need to ask yourself before you launch your campaign</li> <li>How much time you need to devote to your campaign in order for it to be successful</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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117: How the Oto-Tip Campaign Raised $77,000 to Disrupt the Cotton Swab Industry (Crowdfunding Series Part 2)
<p>A team of doctors and engineers wanted a safer alternative to Q-Tips, so they created it. By understanding where potential users were coming from and staying on point with the idea that their product could alleviate those pains, the Oto-Tip gained the funding it needed to go big.</p> <p>The lesson from Oto-Tip is, before you start any crowdfunding campaign, you must know how your project will improve people’s lives, and you must explain it in a way that resonates emotionally with potential backers. In this week's episode, Lily Truong, co-founder of Oto-Tip and manager of its crowdfunding campaign, explains how they did it.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“My key question I wanted to ask myself was … ‘Why would someone need this? Why would backers resonate with the story? What pain point are you really solving?’” Crowdfunding campaigns can reach their goals when they offer a clear way to deal with common struggles people experience.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the case of Truong’s campaign, Q-tips, cotton swabs, ear sticks, they all shove wax deeper into your ear, make you itch, and can even puncture your eardrum. The Oto-Tip offers another, far less irritating approach to earwax.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It all goes back to that pitch: Look, there’s a problem, but here’s a way to fix it. Find out how your own campaign can tap into people’s emotions and offer a solution.</span></p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The importance of getting feedback before you even entertain the thought of crowdfunding something</li> <li>How to figure out the best media platforms to reach your audience</li> <li>Why you need a strong story and how to create one that works for you</li> <li>The good, the bad, and the ugly when working with PR firms</li> <li>Awesome hacks you can do with LinkedIn to boost your Kickstarter campaign</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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116: How Eskil Nordhaug Raised $123,000 to Change Mobile Video (Crowdfunding Series Part 1)
<p>The problem Eskil Nordhaug wanted to solve for people was simple. Videos taken with smartphones or small cameras are notoriously shaky.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So he simply looked at the needs. He asked himself what it would take to build a company selling a mechanical video stabilizer that exceeded expectations—the kind of product consumers needed, the amount of money he would need, the coverage help press outlets needed, the info his project page would need.</span><strong> </strong></p> <p>The result was StayblCam, and it was precisely this needs-focused approach that led to a smash-hit Kickstarter campaign and the successful company that followed.</p> <p>Nordhaug says that the same principle can guide the way for any great crowdfunding campaign. “The most successful ones, generally speaking, are the ones that, there’s a need for it,” he says. “It solves a problem. It’s not just some fancy, weird thing that’s made for the sake of being made.”</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Crowdfunding appeals to ordinary people with limited funds, so they can’t back every project that breezes by. When people see your product, you don’t want them to shrug and think it’s neat. You want them to whip out their credit card and ask, “When can I get one?” If your product solves a problem that’s long-pestered people, they’re likely to do that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Don’t make something that people will want in on—make something that people need in on. Nordhaug shared with Foundr this golden piece of advice, and so many more related to running a successful fundraising campaign.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s about creating value for users,” Nordhaug says.</span></p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why you need to start working on your campaign months before you even launch</li> <li>The correct way to figure out what funding goal you should aim for</li> <li>The best way to contact press outlets and start getting media mentions</li> <li>Paids ads. How and why you should use them</li> <li>What a great Kickstarter landing page looks like</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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115: How to Build a Millennial Brand with 10M Monthly Visitors with Derek Flanzraich from greatist.com
<p>There's a common thread in a lot of entrepreneurs' stories: They were facing a problem, couldn't find the solution they were looking for, so went ahead and built it themselves.</p> <p>That's exactly what Derek Flanzraich did when he started <a href="http://greatist.com">Greatist</a>, a digital media startup that's all about health and fitness, without all the fluff and in-your-face marketing. As someone who has struggled with his weight his entire life, Flanzraich wanted to find a brand that would talk to him on a personal level and not as another client.</p> <p>Frustrated by the fact that the world was becoming more health conscious, yet at the time seemed to be more interested in shaming those who wanted to get in shape, Flanzraich set out to stake his own claim in an oversaturated market. The key difference, though, was that instead of making his audience feel bad, he would make them feel welcome.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It wasn't actually about the quality of what we're doing, which we felt that was gonna be best in class or whatever. It was actually the voice that really stuck out," Flanzraich says.</span></p> <p>It was a simple change in language, but its message connected with an underserved audience that would eventually translate into 10 million unique visitors every month.</p> <p>In an era where it seems like every media company is striving for page views above all else, and pumping out nothing but clickbait articles with little substance in order to attract them, Greatist takes a different approach.</p> <p>"We don't think quantity is a metric that matters. Just like I don't think, increasingly, uniques and page views is a metric that matters. All of these things can be gained and aren't inherently valuable on their own," he says.</p> <p>Greatist is now one of the world's most trusted brands when it comes to anything about health, fitness, and happiness. It's commitment to keeping a friendly and personal tone in all of its content has resonated with millennials throughout the world. With such a commitment to quality over quantity over everything else, Flanzraich has built from the ground up the kind of branding and engagement that most companies would kill for.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why you'll never be ready to be an entrepreneur, and why that's okay</li> <li>How to find a voice and tone that resonates with your audience</li> <li>How to calculate your long-term brand value</li> <li>Flanzraich's unique approach to content and how it holds up against the SEO-focused practices of others</li> <li>What it means to build a powerhouse brand and how to do it</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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114: What it Takes to Build America's Largest Wine Brand (Barefoot Wine) with Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey
<p>When you think about wine, you most likely imagine stern-faced sommeliers, or parties where tuxedos and hors d'oeuvres on silver platters are the norm.</p> <p>Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey do not fit the stereotype. You probably wouldn't even expect them to be wine-lovers, let alone the co-founders of <a href="https://www.barefootwine.com/" target= "_blank">Barefoot Wine</a>, the largest wine brand in the world. But according to them, the reason they're so successful is precisely because they knew nothing about the industry going in.</p> <p>Houlihan and Harvey never planned on going into the wine business, but when the opportunity presented itself, they jumped on it.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"If we had known then what we know now, there would be no Barefoot Wine. It's now the largest wine brand in the world, but it would not exist if we had a clue," Houlihan says.</span></p> <p>Not having a clue turned out to be their secret ingredient. Instead of being influenced by years of tradition and trying to fit the mold of the wine industry, they decided to do something different and make wine fun and accessible to the average person.</p> <p>Despite the backlash and criticism they received, despite the fact that they had no established brand or marketing presence, they found a strategy that led them to become one of the fastest-growing wine brands in the nation. To make it even more impressive, it was all achieved without paid advertising.</p> <p>"It was by contributing to the community, by supporting the same issues that our shoppers were interested in, that we were able to sell our product. Because we weren't paying for advertising, this became our form of advertising. It's what we called 'Worthy Cause Marketing,' and that's what we used throughout the nation when we started to spread the word and grow and expand," Harvey says.</p> <p>Barefoot Wine has come a long way since its inception in 1986, when Houlihan and Harvey naively thought they would make a profit within four years. Now they're a little older and a little wiser, but they still possess that lively spark that led them to create one of the most popular wine brands in the world.</p> <p>In this episode, you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why ignorance and naiveté might be your strongest weapons in disrupting an industry</li> <li>What "Worthy Cause Marketing" is and how you can use it to build your brand</li> <li>The painful lessons in logistics and distribution Houlihan and Harvey had to learn from selling a physical product</li> <li>Where to go to learn the lessons you need to succeed</li> <li>How to stay true to your vision and not let anyone else hold you back</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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113: Learn How to Build the Largest Car Company in The World with Robin Chase of Zipcar
<p>When <a href="http://zipcar.com">Zipcar</a> first started it was nothing more than a green Volkswagen beetle named "Betsy." It was parked outside of Robin Chase's house and the key was hidden underneath a pillow on her porch. Inside the glove box was a piece of paper where you would write down the time you rented the car and the time you brought it back. That was it.</p> <p>These days, Zipcar is the largest car sharing service in the world, with more than 13,000 cars spread across almost every major city in the world.</p> <p>The first time Chase encountered her idea with Zipcar was when her co-founder came back from a vacation in Berlin. Among her many stories about her vacation, she told Chase about a peculiar business she had witnessed where she saw multiple people sharing a single car. Taken with the idea, Chase immediately began setting out to build a better version.</p> <p>"It's an idea that we didn't even invent. We just executed it way better than other people," Chase says.</p> <p>Zipcar launched within six months, with a founder who was a mother of three and had no technical experience. It was 1996, when the internet was still new and very different from what we know today. Nevertheless, Chase was determined to make her startup a reality.</p> <p>We had the pleasure to speak with Robin Chase about her incredible journey as an entrepreneur, a disruptor and a world-changer, and all the lessons she learned in her inspiring career.</p> <p>In this interview, you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What it means to create a true minimum viable product to validate your idea</li> <li>Why the best ideas come from solving your own problems</li> <li>Advice on who to hire when you're a struggling startup</li> <li>What qualities you should be looking for when bringing in new people to your team</li> <li>The importance of user feedback and always listening to your customer</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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112: The Crazy Origin Story of Couchsurfing.com with Casey Fenton
<p>Casey Fenton, like many of us in our 20s, wasn't entirely sure where he would go in life.</p> <p>Growing up in a small town in Maine, he started to think about this entire world that existed beyond the borders of his hometown, and all the experiences he had yet to have. One thing he knew for sure was that his small hometown wasn't going to be offering him any of the new experiences he was looking for.</p> <p>"That got me to start buying random plane tickets to anywhere in the world," he says.</p> <p>From there it was traveling from place to place, mingling with locals and getting a backstage pass to the world's greatest cities. It was then that Fenton formed an idea for a business that would end up spanning the globe.</p> <p>Today, <a href="http://couchsurfing.com" target= "_blank">Couchsurfing.com</a> has more than 10 million members in over 20,000 cities around the world. When it launched in 2003, Couchsurfing was a revolutionary concept. It was one of the first businesses to truly harness the power of a sharing economy. Instead of spending money at hotels and backpacker hostels, travelers were instead offered a choice to stay in the homes of hospitable locals free of charge.</p> <p>Since then, Fenton's business model has been replicated a thousand times over by the likes of Uber and Airbnb, just to name a few.</p> <p>We had the chance to talk with Fenton about his entrepreneurial journey, starting with being a backpacker to becoming the founder of a multimillion-dollar company with a reach that spans every corner of the globe.</p> <p>In this interview you'll learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to go through the hardships of starting your own business</li> <li>How to figure out which tasks to delegate and which tasks you need to prioritize as a leader</li> <li>Tips on creating and maintaining a massive and engaged community</li> <li>How to build an international reputation that people trust</li> <li>The most powerful drivers that'll get you to scale your business</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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111: Why You Should Never Give up on Your Dreams as an Entrepreneur with Eugene Woo of Venngage
<p>For most entrepreneurs, the real test isn't whether or not you can grow a successful business, but how well you can bounce back from failure. For some, this will prove to be too much and they'll hang up the gloves and never try again. For the true entrepreneurs, though, they'll find a way to jump back into the ring no matter what.</p> <p>That is exactly what Eugene Woo, co-founder of <a href= "http://venngage.com" target="_blank">Venngage</a>, did.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I had like a taste of failure, but I still went ahead anyway and did it again,” Woo says.</span></p> <p>After his first startup went under, Woo found himself back in the corporate world feeling like a failure. Despite it all though, he dusted himself off, took it all as a learning experience and refused to give up.</p> <p>Armed with nothing but a nagging idea about helping job applicants by turning their resumes into beautiful infographics, Woo went ahead and pitched his idea at Startup Weekend in Toronto and, to his surprise, he won. One thing led to another and he found himself quitting his job once again to work on his startup full time.</p> <p>The startup known as <a href="http://Visiualize.me" target= "_blank">Visiualize.me</a> blew up, getting featured in places like <em>Mashable</em> and <em>Tech Crunch</em> and gaining more than 200,000 signups before the product was even properly released.</p> <p>But, once again, it was anything but smooth sailing for Woo.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I made a lot of the classic mistakes. One of the main ones was I started a company with people I didn’t know very well.”</span></p> <p>Within a few months, founders started leaving the company, with one even refusing to turn up to an interview with Y Combinator and leaving shortly after. Stung by failure again, Woo didn't know what to do and ended up selling his company. Despite it all, he knew he had a good idea on his hands. He charged right back into the startup world, this time with Venngage, a tool that allows you to easily make your own infographics, and armed with lessons he learned from his previous failures, he was determined to make Venngage a success.</p> <p>Today, Venngage has tripled in size with over a thousand new leads to their site every day, and over half a million users per month.</p> <p>We talk with Woo about the invaluable lessons he learned on his journey to success and ask him to share his best advice on how entrepreneurs can overcome their fear of failure, and the best marketing tactics to quickly grow your startup.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to know when to give up or keep on going with your startup</li> <li>Why so many startups are doing content marketing wrong</li> <li>The secret to getting your company to start ranking high in SEO as soon as possible</li> <li>How and why you should do blogger outreach</li> <li>What the most important metrics are for growing your brand's exposure and visibility</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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110: The Secret to Creating & Mastering Content at Scale with Sujan Patel of ContentMarketer.io
<p>Every morning of every day, Sujan Patel starts his day by getting out all of his creative energy onto paper.</p> <p>The process is relatively simple. He starts by recording himself talking about whatever topic he wants to write about as a way to order his thoughts. He'll then send this recording to a transcriptionist and when he gets it back he'll spend around an hour cranking out a 1,500-2,000 word blog post. For Sujan, this is the secret to being one of the world's best and most prolific content marketers today.</p> <p>Just 10 years ago, content marketing just wasn't a thing. Sure, blogs existed but they were rarely used in marketing. Today, content marketing is one of the go-to strategies for businesses everywhere. But with everyone eagerly jumping onto the content marketing bandwagon, simply having a high-quality blog just doesn't cut it anymore.</p> <p>In order to really harness the power of content marketing and see some tangible results, you're going to need a little out-of-the-box thinking.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Everyone's writing content for their customers, their existing customers, or who they think their customers are. What I like to do is, I don't even talk about any of that stuff. I talk about content circles. And what a content circles is, is [the] content that circles your industry."</span></p> <p>As the founder of <a href="http://ContentMarketer.io" target= "_blank">ContentMarketer.io</a>, the ultimate tool for content marketers, Sujan is one of the most knowledgable people around, and he shared a ton of his wisdom on the subject with us.</p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The best way to generate ideas for articles that your audience will love</li> <li>Just why content marketing is so powerful and why everyone is using it</li> <li>How to create content that generates you leads and customers</li> <li>What to do when you find yourself with writer's block</li> <li>How you too can start writing for places like Forbes, Inc. and Fast Company</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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109: Inside the Mind of the Elvis of Advertising - Alex Bogusky
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">During a creative career filled with awards and recognition, it took Alex Bogusky a while to realize that none of it mattered unless he loved the work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“You could win the Grand Prix at Cannes—the next day you’re going to go into your office and look at the same dude across the office and try to think of something. It doesn’t feel any better; it didn’t make you any smarter; it doesn’t make anything any easier,” Bogusky says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He did, in fact, win the most prestigious award at Cannes Advertising. Actually, under his leadership, the firm Crispin Porter + Bogusky won in all five categories, and became the world’s most awarded advertising agency. Bogusky himself was named Creative Director of the Decade by</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Adweek</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">magazine, and</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Fast Company</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">has called him both the Steve Jobs and the Elvis of advertising.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Looking over his many endeavors, Bogusky is a hard person to pin down. There’s a friendly, surfery quality about him, but he’s also gained a reputation as a perfectionist and ferocious supervisor. He’s worked for both car companies and Al Gore’s climate change initiative. He’s overseen iconic ad campaigns for junk food, and the most successful youth-focused anti-smoking campaign in U.S. history. Having left the agency six years ago, he’s now focusing on work with a social responsibility component, supporting multiple creative agencies and a startup accelerator.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But for all of the goals he’s achieved, Bogusky says the happiness he’s found in his career comes from loving the journey—that practice of sitting down with other people and thinking really hard to solve a problem.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’ve found that I had to learn to love the process and forget all the goals. Because the goals, as you achieved them, they didn’t really change anything.”</span></p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to embrace change and use it to fuel your creativity</li> <li>Why you need to listen to voices outside your startup and what it could mean for you</li> <li>When and where advertising and branding comes in for a business</li> <li>How to find opportunities to upset the status quo</li> <li>How you can start loving the journey regardless of its highs and lows</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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108: The Key Elements to Building a Successful Media Company (The Next Web) with Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The future of media, if not the present, probably looks a lot like <a href= "http://thenextweb.com">The Next Web</a>, which is odd considering co-founder Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten says it’s not even really a media company.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Next Web instead thinks of itself as a tech company, firing on multiple cylinders at once, including international conferences, ecommerce, online courses, and of course, one of the most influential and trafficked news sites on the web. Soon they’re even opening up a brick and mortar space in Amsterdam that will serve as hub for technology startups.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“For some people it’s sort of weird, ‘What, you’ve got a conference and a website and now you’re opening a space? That’s a totally different thing,’” Veldhuijzen van Zanten told</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Foundr</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">(we’ll just call him Boris from now on).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“For us, it’s a logical next step, instead of losing focus or branching out into different areas. They’re all connected by the brand and a curiosity in technology and the future of technology.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Next Web actually started as a conference host. Its annual event in Amsterdam draws some 20,000 international attendees.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, the company is probably best known for its tech news site. That branch of the business is staggering, drawing up to 8 million visitors a month. But with its conferences expanding, its growing online marketplace, and Boris and his partners always looking for the next opportunity, the most impressive thing about The Next Web is how it merges such a wide range of services to meet the needs of its loyal community. And they do it all with a relatively small staff and a squad of remote contributors.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Everything is part of a circle that is growing stronger over time,” Boris says. “Part of our revenue comes from advertising on the sites with all the traffic we have, an important part is the conference, and now the ecommerce part is growing stronger.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Next could be research, consulting, video, anything within reason that the people who have come to love and trust the company might want. And that’s the secret to The Next Web’s success. It’s not a company that makes a product—it’s a network of people.</span></p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The subtle details behind what makes a great event that everyone loves</li> <li>How to conduct the best interviews with notable influencers</li> <li>Boris's number one tip on generating amazing content</li> <li>The tools that every startup should start using</li> <li>The key to keeping everyone in your company aligned to the same vision</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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107: Mastering PR & Why Ego is Your Worst Enemy with Ryan Holiday
<p>No one ever "gives" an entrepreneur a job, they make one for themselves.</p> <p>Entrepreneurs don't ask for permission, they just do. And no one exemplifies this better than <a href="http://ryanholiday.net" target="_blank">Ryan Holiday</a> who has made an entire career out of refusing to play by the rules.</p> <p>As a writer he started off by dropping out of college to apprentice under Robert Greene as a research assistant. To date he's published 5 bestselling books, his first book now being taught in colleges around the world. As a marketer he got his first job as the Director of Marketing at American Apparel by starting off as a marketing consultant and catching the eye of founder Dov Charney.</p> <p>Today, he works as a world-renowned media strategist he can count among his list of clients the likes of Tim Ferriss, Tucker Max and Linkin Park just to name a few. So how did he manage to achieve so much all before turning 30?</p> <p>For Holiday it's a mastery of two things: the media and your own self-development.</p> <p>"<span style="font-weight: 400;">I found that the more that I go out and learn stuff on my own, the more opportunities I create through me, then the better I am at my job," he said.</span></p> <p>We speak with Ryan as where we talk everything from his process to media strategy to his advice on how to always keep learning in order to be successful.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The secret to getting driving attention to your business with social proof</li> <li>How to pitch journalists, bloggers and reports from major media channels</li> <li>The importance of self-reflection and humility in order to succeed</li> <li>What works and doesn't work when it comes to successful PR</li> <li>Where to go and what to do when you need a mentor</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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106: Giving People The Power to Fund Anything with James Beshara of Tilt
<p>In 2012 James Beshara and his co-founder officially launched <a href="http://tilt.com" target="_blank">Tilt</a>, a platform that aimed to make crowdfunding not only more personal but to make the process as easy as possible. But if you ask the Y-Combinator alum himself, he'll say that Tilt was created years before it even launched.</p> <p>Originally starting off as an offshoot of an earlier startup that he was working on, he soon found himself working on Tilt more and more. It was then he realised he was onto something.</p> <p>"<span style="font-weight: 400;">For every young entrepreneur out there, starting, or building, or founding something. It always sounds like it just starts one day in February or starts one afternoon when you get hit with inspiration. When in truth I think it is the amalgamation</span><strong> </strong><span style= "font-weight: 400;">of just always starting things, doing things, trying out ideas and one of them just starts to get pulled from you, and you start to spend more time on it."</span></p> <p>Ever since it's inception Tilt has been on a tear.</p> <p>In just four short years Tilt is now valued at $500 million and has crowdfunded some of the world's most memorable campaigns in recent memory. Like sending the Jamaican bobsled team to the Sochi Olympics to raising over $180 thousand for several campaigns providing relief to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.</p> <p>Along the way though James has learnt some very valuable lessons on what it means to be the CEO and co-founder of a fast-growing startup. We chat with James today and he reveals his personal methods and strategies on how to build a startup that not only scales, but scales quick.</p> <p> </p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The importance of waiting for the right co-founder</li> <li>How to get out of your own head and move fast, all while developing the best product possible</li> <li>Why the smartest people in the room might not necessarily give you the best advice</li> <li>How to design and build a product to grow as fast as possible</li> <li>The two key things every entrepreneurs needs to focus on if they want to succeed</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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105: Disrupting the Transportation Industry with Millions of Users in 4 years with Polina Raygorodskaya from Wanderu
<p>Something that most entrepreneurs struggle with the most is coming up with an idea for a startup. They'll study business forecasts and look at unique trends trying to find the next big thing. What most entrepreneurs forget though is that the most disruptive startups in the world were created to solve a single problem.</p> <p>Which is what exactly Polina Raygorodskaya was looking to do when she founded <a href="http://wanderu.com" target= "_blank">Wanderu</a>, a platform that allows you to find, compare and book bus and train tickets anywhere within the United States. In just 4 years Wanderu have grown their database to over 5 million users. It turns out there were other people that were facing the same problem as Polina.</p> <p>A long time entrepreneur Polina came across the idea for WanderU while constantly commuting back and forth in New York. Often having to travel by bus or train she quickly found out, to her surprise, that there was no single database to allow commuters to easily find and book bus and train tickets.</p> <p>Sensing a startup opportunity she closed down her PR firm and began to build Wanderu.</p> <p>Despite having little experience in the travel industry Polina was undeterred and together with her co-founder they built North America's leading ground travel search platform. Today, Wanderu is now partnered and works together with the leaders of their industry like Greyhound, Megabus, and Peter Pan Bus just to name a few.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Tips on how to get started in the travel industry, even if you don't have any experience</li> <li>Importance of finding the right team that shares your vision</li> <li>How to find and connect with the best advisers and influencers to help you build your startup</li> <li>When to sacrifice profit for growth</li> <li>Secrets to creating a valuable network that'll sustain your business in the long run</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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104: How to Use Webinars to Grow & Scale Your Startup with Dave Hobson
<p>There are no shortcuts when it comes to good online marketing, something that Dave Hobson knows all too well.</p> <p>As the resident expert on all things marketing at Foundr we give you a very special episode today about Dave from how he came to be at Foundr to his thoughts on successful online marketing.</p> <p>Funnily enough, it is entirely possible that Foundr would not be around if Dave had not cold-called Nathan nearly four years ago. At the time Nathan had only just started Foundr and Dave was at a job where he had to cold-call people and try to make a sale over the phone. Instead of making the sale the founder of Foundr and Dave got to chatting and they eventually became friends.</p> <p>In order to understand why Foundr may have never existed without Dave Hobson you first must understand his role at Foundr. Essentially he's Nathan right-hand man, the go-to guy whenever a discussion needs to be had about marketing, strategy or the future of Foundr. Even before he started officially working at Foundr, Dave has always been in the background helping Foundr out with his advice.</p> <p>Today we're very lucky to count him as one of our own and as Foundr's Business Development and Product manager.</p> <p>In today's episode we show you a little of what's going on behind-the-scenes at Foundr, but more importantly we have Dave divulge the tactics and strategies behind one of our best sale channels: webinars.</p> <p>Webinars are an amazing tool and they've become a staple in the online marketing world and no one knows that better than Dave Hobson, who knows all the ins and out behind what makes a successful webinar.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Dave's story and how he came to work at Foundr</li> <li>Why webinars are so powerful and why almost every business in the world can use them</li> <li>All the tools you'll need to start doing a successful webinar</li> <li>The structure every great webinar needs if you want to make sales</li> <li>How to choose the right webinar topic for you and your audience</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul> <p>If you want to learn more about webinars, then check out our FREE guide on webinars at <a href= "https://foundrmag.com/webinarguide">https://foundrmag.com/webinarguide</a>!!</p>
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103: Growing a Unicorn Company 57,000% in three years with Tom Bilyeu of Quest Nutrition
<p>The term "unicorn company" describes a startup valued at over $1 billion that managed to get there in a relatively short period of time. Usually when we talk about unicorn companies, we're dealing with Silicon Valley and the cutting edge of the tech scene. Companies that are disruptive in the sense that they've created something totally new.</p> <p>Rarely, however, do we find a unicorn company that started out in an overcrowded and declining market. Yet somehow, despite the odds, Tom Bilyeu, co-founder of <a href= "http://www.questnutrition.com/">Quest Nutrition</a>, turned a fledgling startup into a powerhouse in just six years.</p> <p>When Quest Nutrition first hit the scene with their protein bars, they were told by almost every expert in the space that it was insane and that it was guaranteed to fail. Yet Bilyeu and his co-founders persevered and tackled the problem in a way that no one else had thought of before.</p> <p>First they focused on their customers, to empower them and actually help them make healthy and positive changes in their lives. In short, they treated their customers differently than their competitors.</p> <p>The result was explosive, growing by 57,000% in their first three years and cracking the $1 billion mark three years later.</p> <p>We were lucky to sit down with Bilyeu and have him give us the breakdown and strategy behind Quest Nutrition and how they became the unicorn company they are today.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The challenges of managing a hyper-growth company and how to overcome them</li> <li>How to navigate the classic entrepreneurial debate of profit vs. growth</li> <li>Why you need to evangelize to your customer whenever you can</li> <li>How to build brand loyalty and have your audience believe in your vision</li> <li>How to crack the notoriously difficult and crowded health and nutrition market</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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102: How to Get up Early and Overcome Extreme Adversity with Hal Elrod
<p>When Hal Elrod was 19 he was involved in a car accident with a drunk driver that left him with brain damage, 11 broken bones, and doctors telling him that he'd never walk again. While many people would understandably give into grief or anger or any other whirlwind of emotions that come after such a traumatic event, Elrod instead made the conscious choice to be at peace with himself.</p> <p>He knew there was nothing he could control about his situation, but he could control how the situation affected him. While he accepted the fact that he might never be able to use his legs again and was at peace with it, he was also determined to find a way to walk again.</p> <p>“I’m going accept the worst-case scenario, while I focus on the best case scenario.”</p> <p>Three weeks later, defying all odds and expectations, he began to walk again.</p> <p>Since then, he's called upon his life story and lessons he's learned along the way to become a highly sought-after motivational speaker and bestselling author of the book <em><a href="http://www.miraclemorning.com/">The Miracle Morning</a></em>. Through his book, Elrod has touched the lives of millions of people with his simple philosophy and has guided them to become more productive, happier, less stressed, and at peace with themselves.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How you too can start becoming a better entrepreneur, and a better person overall, every single morning</li> <li>Why the most successful people in the world take their mornings very seriously</li> <li>When to accept the worst and how to turn that into a weapon</li> <li>What your potential is and how to reach it</li> <li>What it truly means to put mind over matter and how to do it</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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101: How to Build a Service Based Business Empire with Brian Scudamore
<p>Brian Scudamore of <a href="http://www.o2ebrands.com/">O2E brands</a> knew all along that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. Relying on that sense of determination, he's built up a sprawling multimillion-dollar business empire, with franchises all over the world. But it all began with junk.</p> <p>To be specific, it all started in a McDonalds drive-thru, with Scudamore sitting in his car trying to figure out how he would pay for college. What he saw was an old pick-up truck filled to the brim with junk, and he immediately knew that this would be his ticket to chase his entrepreneurial dream.</p> <p>"A week later, I had a business hauling away junk, and that was the way into my job and a career path that's now been 27 years of pure entrepreneurial passion," he says.</p> <p>The first business he founded was <a href= "http://www.1800gotjunk.com/">1-800-Got-Junk</a>, which has since turned into multiple franchises all around the world and spun off into three more business in the home services niche. Altogether they generate a revenue of $250 million per year!</p> <p>But it hasn't been smooth sailing over the past 27 years, with many ups and downs along the way and some valuable lessons learned. We're very lucky to learn those lessons directly from Brian today through this week's podcast episode.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to get your first round of customers within your first day of business</li> <li>The secrets to building a successful international franchise</li> <li>What the franchise business model looks like and how you can make it work for you</li> <li>Why you need to always hire for culture and fit rather than skill</li> <li>Traps and pitfalls to look out for when running such a large international conglomerate</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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100: 100th Episode Switch up! Nathan Chan of Foundr Magazine is interviewed by Dan Norris on the Future of Foundr, Lessons Learned & the Direction of The Company
<p>On November 9, 2013, I  released the first episode of the Foundr Podcast. It was with Fabio Rosati, then-CEO of Elance. To be completely honest, I wasn't quite sure what I was trying to achieve by releasing a podcast. At the time, it was just another way for us to give to our community, by releasing the audio of our interviews for free.</p> <p>Fast-forward to today and I can't believe we're at our 100th episode! It's flown by and so much has changed since. But the entire time I've kept in mind this piece of advice from my friend Daniel DiPiazza:</p> <p>"Keep producing content on a consistent basis every single week, keep getting next-level epic interviews, and people will come.”</p> <p>He was totally right. In the years since that first episode, we've managed to become one of the top 10 podcasts for business, we have over 70,000 downloads a month, and it's done wonders for our business.</p> <p>So to mark this occasion, we decided to do something a little different in this episode. Instead of me asking all the questions, I'll be the one getting interviewed for a change! My good friend Dan Norris of WP Curve took over as host, and we took a look back at how Foundr started three years ago and how far we've come since then.</p> <p>I'm going to share with you the story behind Foundr, how it all started, and the strategies I used to start the company on the path it's on today. I also took a crack at some predictions about where we'll be by our 200th episode.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The story behind Foundr and how it all started</li> <li>Who my biggest sources of inspiration are and how they shaped Foundr's vision</li> <li>My strategy for pitching and landing interviews with the best entrepreneurs in the world</li> <li>Why you need to focus on design if you want to be successful</li> <li>What's going on behind-the-scenes at Foundr and what's coming next!</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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99: Building a Product that People LOVE with Janna Bastow of ProdPad
<p>As much as entrepreneurs can go on extolling the virtues of a great marketing strategy or knowing your target customer, at the end of the day, it's all about having something worth selling. No matter how great your advertising campaign may be, if you don't have something that people want to buy then you simply don't have a business.</p> <p>And yet, entrepreneurs all too often tend to gloss over this fact. They'll focus on everything else, but somehow forget to question whether or not their product is a winner, or even if it's a good idea in the first place.</p> <p>This is where Janna Bastow of ProdPad steps in, because she, more than anyone else in the world, knows exactly why effective product management is so instrumental to your startup's success.</p> <p>For Bastow, effective product management is when you're able to find that delicate balance between what's technically feasible, valuable for the customer, and profitable for the business, and define a roadmap on that basis.</p> <p>Ever since launching ProdPad in 2012, a tool that lets startup teams formally gather ideas, pick out the best ones and turn them into profitable products, Bastow has helped hundreds of startups and entrepreneurs in finding out what their perfect product is. More than anyone else, she knows how just difficult this process can be and why you shouldn't take it for granted.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What a product manager is and why you need one as part of your startup</li> <li>The best way to talk to customers and figure out what they actually want</li> <li>Step-by-step instructions on how to design a product roadmap</li> <li>Why you need a user story and what it means</li> <li>How to manage a remote team as a bootstrapped startup</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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98: Robert Herjevac - Lessons on Selling, Investing, Marketing & Building Your Company
<p>Today you might recognize Robert Herjavec as "the nice shark" on ABC's <em>Shark Tank</em>. With a pleasant smile and a reassuring tone of voice, he may seem like an odd fit in the highly competitive world of business and investing.</p> <p>But don't let that fool you, because behind those kind eyes lies a strength of character and iron will that every great entrepreneur needs to achieve success.</p> <p>When Herjavec was a young man, he actually wanted to be a filmmaker. In fact, he was a producer for the Winter Olympics in Canada in 1984 while only 22 years old. It was a promising start to his dream of moving to Hollywood and becoming a big-time director. The trouble was, no one was hiring.</p> <p>With a degree in English literature, a passion for filmmaking, and zero experience or knowledge in computer science, it might seem odd that he would eventually go on to found the Herjavec Group in 2003, one of the top cybersecurity firms in the world. The company grew from $400K to a whopping $140 million in sales annually in just over 12 years.</p> <p>So how did he do it?</p> <p>He literally called up the head of the company and, despite having no background in the field whatsoever, offered to work for them for free. With nothing but grit he managed to work his way up the ladder and, despite some setbacks here and there, become the success story he is today.</p> <p>When not focusing on his own business, Herjavec is all about buying, selling, investing and building great startups, subjects we were very lucky to talk to him about.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Tips and advice from the Shark himself on how to pitch to potential investors</li> <li>Different ways to build a company culture that's always striving for greatness</li> <li>How to scale your business quickly without sacrificing quality</li> <li>What goes into selling and how to create a story that will get people hooked</li> <li>Why you need to focus on growth as a business</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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97: Learn Step by Step How to Build & Sell Your Company From Scratch with Nathan Latka
<p>When you think of the word "entrepreneur," the image you're likely to conjure up in your head is one of a fast-talking, brash millennial with personality and ego to spare. That's exactly the kind of entrepreneur Nathan Latka is.</p> <p>At only 26 years old, Latka has managed to do more in five years as an entrepreneur than most people double his age!</p> <p>While there may be entrepreneurs out there who wring their hands and refuse to make a move until everything is perfect, Latka instead drives forward like a runaway train and grabs each and every opportunity that comes his way.</p> <p>This attitude is perfectly showcased when, as a college student, Latka began his first multimillion-dollar business in his dorm room ... while in his underwear. Despite knowing nothing about coding, he began cold-calling and began pre-selling Facebook fan pages at $7,000 a pop. When it came time to deliver the goods he took to YouTube, taught himself everything he needed to know, and started making money.</p> <p>Before you knew it he had a multimillion-dollar business called Heyo which allowed it's users to create sophisticated Facebook marketing campaigns with an incredibly easy-to-understand interface. Despite having absolutely no experience or knowledge in the area or the startup space, this architecture student doubled down on his hustle and achieved what most entrepreneurs would kill for.</p> <p>It's this attitude, along with some slick marketing chops, that has allowed Latka to achieve all the success he has today.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to start thinking more creatively as an entrepreneur</li> <li>The best way you can attract and work with top-level influencers</li> <li>Different ways you can start selling even if you have no product</li> <li>The power of the webinar and how to harness it</li> <li>His personal growth hacking techniques and sales process</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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96: How to Build a House Hold Well Known Brand (The North Face) with Hap Klopp
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the late 1960s, when Kenneth "Hap" Klopp traded in his corporate aspirations for the life of an entrepreneur, the support network for such endeavors was not nearly what it is today. But Klopp knew he had what it took to run a successful company, and he was right.</span></p> <p>After taking over from co-founders Douglas and Susie Tompkins in 1968, Klopp spent the following 20 years as CEO using pre-Internet disruption and brand-building wizardry to turn The North Face into a global outdoor gear brand. Under his leadership, the company played a role in the growth of the outdoor recreation industry itself, and his journey as an entrepreneur is full of timeless wisdom that only comes from decades in the trenches.</p> <p>Klopp got his start when he took over the family business, following the death of his father, while finishing his undergraduate degree at Stanford. He then went on to complete his MBA while orchestrating the sale of the company. After graduation, he went out to interview for positions, only to find that no one was willing to hire him to run something—they all wanted him to start at the bottom and work his way up— which sounded pretty boring.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hap’s focus was on consumer goods, marketing, sales and branding, which landed him an interview at Proctor and Gamble. During the course of the interview, he was introduced to the corporate mores that have pushed so many of us to pursue the life of an entrepreneur. In short, P&G expected each employee to wear a white shirt and tie every day, to refrain from the use of nicknames and to dutifully mind their post until an opportunity for advancement was presented. It was settled, Klopp</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> was not cut out to work for anyone else.</span><span style= "font-weight: 400;"> “I didn’t want any part of it…I didn’t fit into to it.” </span></p> <p>As we know, it’s not enough to simply want to break free from the corporate world—you must have a plan or at least a product. Klopp decided to pursue his passion for the great outdoors and acquired The North Face, at the time just two stores in Northern California beloved by a devoted niche of climbers and otherwise outdoorsy folks.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The importance of making quality a part of your brand</li> <li>How to grow and manage a team of over a thousand employees</li> <li>How to use the power of storytelling</li> <li>How to build your brand into a globally recognized one</li> <li>How to overcome the challenges that life throws at you</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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95: What Makes or Breaks a Startup with Jessica Livingston of Y Combinator
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Dubbed "the world's most powerful startup incubator" by</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Fast Company</span></em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">, Y Combinator (YC) has been plucking startups from garages, dorm rooms, coffee shops, and assorted founder hangouts for over a decade.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With a combined valuation of more than $65 billion among its alumni, a list that reads like a who’s who of startup fame—think AirBNB, Reddit, Dropbox, Instacart, Scribd, Weebly—YC has become a Silicon Valley institution. It is described as an elite founders boot camp, a place where ideas are incubated, annihilated, refined, and polished for a period of three months, ready to be served up to a bevy of hungry investors.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As co-founder of this entrepreneurial playground, Jessica Livingston has seen it all: the tears, the tantrums, and the triumphs, while getting a bird’s eye view of some of the startup world’s biggest success stories.</span></p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to close the gap between a failed startup and a wildly successful one</li> <li>What Y Combinator is looking for when they take on new startups</li> <li>The exact process that Y Combinator puts startups through in order to ensure success</li> <li>The key traits and qualities shared by every successful founder</li> <li>What signs to look out for that your startup may be doomed</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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94: Building a Multi-Million Dollar Business Around Your Hobby with Alborz Fallah
<p>All entrepreneurs and startups are underdogs in one way or another. After all, in order to be an entrepreneur you're already going against the grain, and in order to be successful you must be willing to challenge the status quo no matter how large or small.</p> <p>But it's not everyday you find someone who manages to completely disrupt a billion-dollar industry with nothing more than a blog, some hustle, and a keen sense for marketing.</p> <p>In this modern day tale of David and Goliath, we speak with Alborz Fallah, who armed only with a blog managed to take on the centuries-old automotive industry and come out on top. Today his blog brings in millions of dollars in advertising revenue and challenges some of the biggest media companies in the world.</p> <p>But it didn't happen overnight. It took some grit and a great understanding of marketing and branding to get to where he is today. Something that he readily shares with us in today's interview.</p> <p>In this week's episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Tips on finding the right audience and niche for your product</li> <li>All you'll ever need to know on how to successfully build your brand through trust and customer satisfaction</li> <li>What it means to have a good reputation in your industry</li> <li>Where to go when you're looking for resources to grow your company</li> <li>The best way to foster your brand's community</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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93: Founder of AOL Steve Case Reveals How he Became a Billionaire & Changed The Internet as We Know it Today
<p>To be a great entrepreneur, you need to have a great vision. Case in point:</p> <p>Back in the 80s, we were just entering the internet age. At the time, it didn't really exist beyond a few government think tanks and laboratories, and we were only just beginning to understand what was possible. It was during that time that massive companies like IBM, Sears, Microsoft and Citigroup began investing millions of dollars into figuring out this internet business.</p> <p>Despite all of the competition, in 1985, Steve Case and the team behind a fledgling startup named AOL rolled up their sleeves and helped shaped the internet into what we know it as today.</p> <p>"When we started AOL in the United States, only 3% of people were online and those 3% were online only one hour a week. So it really was early days in terms of, it was still a niche hobbyist kind of market. I believed that someday it'd be a mass market, someday it'd be a mainstream market, someday it'd change how people got information, communicate, bought products and so forth."</p> <p>It was that vision that they were building something for tomorrow that turned AOL from a small startup into the giant we know it as today.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why focusing on community is the best move a startup can make</li> <li>How to build for the future instead of building for what's happening today</li> <li>What it means to develop curiosity and why you need it to be a successful entrepreneur</li> <li>Exclusive insight into the early days of AOL and how they built a global brand</li> <li>How Steve judges a startup's disruptive potential when looking to invest</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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92: A Mastery Lesson on the Process of Selling ANYTHING! with Ben Chaib
<p>One of the greatest misconceptions you'll encounter in the startup world is the one about age. You'll hear would-be entrepreneurs constantly telling themselves that they're too young, or that they're too old, or that they're just waiting for that right moment to finally become an entrepreneur.</p> <p>That's ridiculous.</p> <p>There is no perfect moment waiting around the corner for you, because the perfect moment only comes to those who actually go out there and create it.</p> <p>Ben Chaib, founder of Sell and Succeed, is the perfect example of that. After working in the corporate world for 25 years, he decided that enough was enough. He had the skills and ability to generate millions in revenue, but he wasn't getting the return that we wanted. So he set out and created his own business, and today he's consulting hundreds of other aspiring entrepreneurs on how to market for success.</p> <p>"<span class="s1">We are great at doing things for others, but we are not great at doing it for ourselves. B</span><span class= "s1">ut we deserve it more than others," he says.</span></p> <p>While relatively new to entrepreneurship, Ben is no slouch when it comes to knowing how to make a business work.</p> <p>In our interview with Ben, we get invaluable insight from one of the top business coaches in the world as he breaks down his sales process and shows us what it means to be a great marketer.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Ben's 8-step process of marketing and making sales</li> <li>The advantages of having a business coach and good mentors to help you start your own business</li> <li>Tips on how to make a sales process that is authentically you</li> <li>How to find clients and target audiences through Facebook marketing</li> <li>Why you need to get your customers to connect and feel comfortable talking about their business with you</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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91: How to Rapidly Boost Conversions and Stop Losing Customers with Brian Moran of SamCart
<p>As the dominance of technology keeps on gaining steam, some non-techy, would-be entrepreneurs are made to feel discouraged. How can they compete with all the slick coders starting businesses in this virtual world?</p> <p>That didn’t stop non-coder Brian Moran from making serious money online, and ultimately making it big in the competitive niche of Software as a Service (SaaS).</p> <p>No programming geek, Moran was a marketing major, but primarily a baseball player, in college. He had hoped to continue his baseball career after graduating, but an injury forced him out of the ballpark and into the office.</p> <p>His office job was stable, well-paid, low-stress … and intolerable.</p> <p>“I was just bored out of my mind. I was getting paid well, great benefits, I had just gotten married,” says Moran. “But someone else was controlling every aspect of my life.”</p> <p>Six years and a newborn later, Moran is now the founder of the successful SamCart checkout service, which counts <em>Foundr</em> as one of its many customers. In the time between, Moran was consistently hitting it out of the park with multiple online businesses.</p> <p>Get ready, Moran’s story isn’t your average ball game.</p> <div class= "wpb_text_column wpb_content_element vc_custom_1462867942529"> <div class="wpb_wrapper"> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> </div> </div> <div class="q_icon_list"> <ul> <li>How to build a SaaS company even if you don't have the technical skills</li> <li>The 7 key elements of a checkout page that actually converts</li> <li>Brian's marketing tactics that's led him to build multiple successful companies</li> <li>What you need to make it as an SaaS startup</li> <li>How to reduce churn and create loyal customers for life</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul> </div>
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90: Bootstrapping Vs Raising Capital with Ankur Nagpal of Teachable
<p>The closest thing Ankur Nagpal has ever had to a job was a summer internship at Amazon when he was 18. Ever since then, he's been his own boss at companies that he's built. Outside of that brief fling as an employee, Nagpal has wholly dedicated his life to being a serial entrepreneur.</p> <p>In his early years as an entrepreneur, he entered the highly competitive startup scene in Silicon Valley as a very successful Facebook app developer. Only he didn't make individual apps. Instead what he was selling was the platform that everyone used to create their own apps. From there, he bowed out with a cool seven figures to his name when that company had run its course.</p> <p>Just as the real winners of the gold rush weren't those who found gold but the entrepreneurs who sold the tools, Nagpal has made a living as the one people turn to when they're looking for development tools.</p> <p>Fast-forward to today and he is now the founder and CEO of Teachable, a business that teaches and trains other entrepreneurs on how to create their own online courses with his easy-to-use platform and teaching methods. What once started as a fun side project has now turned into a multimillion-dollar business with more than a million students!</p> <p>With years of experience in the startup capital of the world, Ankur lets us in on how he became the powerhouse entrepreneur he is today.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What to do to turn your side project into business succcess</li> <li>The things you need to know about creating a successful online course</li> <li>How to create a successful business based on empowering others</li> <li>Tips to finding paying customers if you've just launched</li> <li>Where to go to find the best investor for you and what that means</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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89: The Power of Vulnerability as an Entrepreneur with Brene Brown
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brene Brown was a meandering youth in her 20s, doing more traveling and bartending than she was building a business or focusing on school. As a result, she didn't graduate college until she was 30. Nonetheless, after finishing her bachelor’s in social work, she quickly gained her masters and PhD and started a career as an academic at the University of Houston.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But something was rustling beneath the surface for Brown—being a quiet academic and publishing papers wasn’t enough for her. That something was entrepreneurship. Brene Brown started publishing books and doing talks and coaching for executives and successful entrepreneurs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But Brown is best known for her unique message, calling for entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs alike to open their hearts and minds to vulnerability. What many avoid and even look down upon, Brene Brown insists is a key to success, real intimacy, and happiness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brown is a thought leader of our time. In an entrepreneurship community dominated by masculine values and "tough guy" attitudes, she breaks the noise with her message to accept and even embrace discomfort. And she isn’t just preaching: throughout her works, and her now-famous TEDx talk, Brown exposes her own vulnerability. This refreshing, data-based take on life and success has resonated with millions of people who have watched her TED Talk, and the many successful entrepreneurs she currently works with. It also informs the way she runs her own business and was in full display during her interview with Foundr.</span></p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Why vulnerability doesn't have to be a weakness and how you can turn it into your strongest weapon</li> <li>Where to find the strength to get back up when you've fallen further than ever before</li> <li>The right way to deal with all the pressures of being an entrepreneur</li> <li>How to take the data you have and turn it into a profitable business</li> <li>What it truly means to be vulnerable</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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88: How 5x Founder David Cancel Builds & Sells Companies at Record Speeds - Founder of Drift
<p>As the son of hardworking immigrants, David Cancel saw his parents working seven days a week to support their family. As an adult, he realized that not all people worked the way his parents did, which sparked in him a desire to make a living without getting a “job.”</p> <p>Cancel always knew that he wanted to be an entrepreneur, even if he wasn’t quite sure what that meant. As a kid, he found that flipping through the pages of <em>Inc. Magazine</em> and other early entrepreneurial publications didn’t offer much insight. He saw ads for get-rich-quick schemes and stories of businessmen who had reached amazing heights. Although he wasn’t quite sure what it meant to be an entrepreneur, he knew he wanted in.</p> <p>The term “serial entrepreneur” gets thrown around a lot, but few have lived a life that defines it as well as David Cancel. Building and selling companies has become a way of life; his obsessions around ideas or problems quickly snowball into companies. He has started and exited five companies in the past 16 years and is currently an advisor, investor, and/or consultant to several more, including BigCommerce, HelpScout, Rapportive, and Yieldbot.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What it takes to create a successful product</li> <li>How to listen to your customer and what you can learn from it</li> <li>What kind of feedback you should listen to and what you should ignore</li> <li>The secret to iterating effectively and how you can start improving your own products</li> <li>Where to find the right audience and what it means to serve them</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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87: What it Takes to Sell Your Company to Amazon for $970m with Justin Kan from Twitch.tv
<p>Justin Kan doesn’t come off as the type who lives for the spotlight. Which is funny, because at one point he live-streamed his life, 24/7 for the whole world to see, for months.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That may seem like an unlikely path to a billion-dollar sale, but in fact, the early experiment in the world of live video got Kan and his partner Emmett Shear part of the way there. That unconventional level of dedication and curiosity is a testament to how these two have been willing to dive into the opportunities before them, leading them through a flurry of tech business successes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kan’s CV speaks for itself: He co-founded hit companies Twitch, Justin.tv, Socialcam, Exec, and is now a partner at startup incubator Y Combinator, which invests millions annually into tech companies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A native of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Kan was not an obvious candidate for someone who would succeed in tech. He has a certain natural charisma, but studied physics and philosophy at Yale, neither of which is necessarily a match for a career in startups. However, he received a crash course in entrepreneurship from an early age by watching his mother run her own real estate business, and it seems to have stuck.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">From there, Kan experienced his share of losses and ridiculously spectacular wins, developing a series of products that define the chapters of his fascinating career in tech startups.</span></p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The exact process of coming up with, developing and selling your startup idea</li> <li>When to pivot and the signs to look out for</li> <li>What startup accelerators like Y Combinator are looking out for</li> <li>How to hustle harder than everyone else around you and gain the competitive advantage</li> <li>Why you should bet on the founders and not the startup itself and the wins that come with it</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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86: The Secret on How Triple Your Leads, and Close 90% of Sales with Gary Tramer of LeadChat
<p>From a very young age, it was clear that selling was encoded in Gary Tramer’s DNA.</p> <p>His aptitude for sales emerged early when he was a scrappy little kid riding his bike around the neighborhood with his friends. He and his gang would steal their neighbors’ plants, re-pot them into yogurt containers, and sell them back to the same neighbors. With the money they made, Tramer and company would indulge in Fizz Wiz, Warheads, and other junk from the candy shop.</p> <blockquote> <p>“We were crafting our humble entrepreneurial beginnings,” Tramer says.</p> </blockquote> <p>From these humble beginnings, Tramer has evolved to start and run several successful sales-focused businesses, up to today’s LeadChat company, where revenues reach over $1 million. He’s become a true master, with roots in face-to-face selling that he adapted and scaled up using cutting-edge digital tools. And he dished all of his secrets for us in this interview.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>From start to finish, what goes into making and closing leads</li> <li>Dozens of helpful tools you can start using today for your own sales strategy</li> <li>The different ways you can test your ads without breaking the bank</li> <li>The process of utilizing traditional marketing techniques in a digital setting</li> <li>What it takes to train your salespeople with no experience into becoming absolute sales machines</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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85: Creating a $100m+ Marketplace that Dominates Your Industry with Martin Hosking of Redbubble
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Lean Startup” has become a popular concept in the world of entrepreneurship. All founders and founders-to-be have phrases like “pivot” and “fail fast” on the tips of their tongues.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But for Martin Hosking, lean isn’t just a fashionable trend. He’s lived it. And after applying and experiencing lean methods over decades of launching and running tech startups, the methodology has gained a more sophisticated meaning in Hosking’s mind. It is not just a clever strategy for testing markets, but rather staying nimble to truly fulfill the needs of the customer, something that drives him today.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“What I really like about lean is it puts the customer at the center,” Hosking says, adding a caveat. “You need to have lean, but you need to have a good strategic orientation. The customer doesn’t always know what they want."</span></p> <p>Hosking’s nuanced understanding of lean startup methodology highlights the deep expertise he’s developed over the course his career. And it’s paid off. After experiencing more than his share of 1990s dot-com boom and bust, Hosking is now CEO of Redbubble, an Etsy-like online marketplace for artists that’s become highly successful.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But as any successful entrepreneur will tell you, it’s not just smarts and experience that get you there.</span></p> <p>Passion is the vital ingredient that needs to be present to keep a company going during the hard times and bring it out of the shadows to phenomenal success. It’s a kind of passion that can’t be reeled in or held back. It comes out immediately when you meet a true entrepreneur. Martin Hosking is a prime example; the passion and dedication he has for his work spills out from his fast and excited manner of speaking.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What it really means to go lean and how to get there</li> <li>The secrets to developing a passionate group of users</li> <li>How to be prepared when the unexpected arises</li> <li>The processes that Martin goes through in order to make sure that his business is always running in top shape</li> <li>What goes into building a successful online business</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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84: How to Build a Successful Business without Startup Funding with Rob Walling of Drip
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As a full time software developer working for a large company, Rob Walling dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur – and more than a decade later he has obtained serial entrepreneur status.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rob Walling is many things…as a serial entrepreneur he has been at the helm of several tech companies including Drip, Micropreneur, HitTail and DotNetNovice. His personal brand is supported by regular posts to his blog which he forayed into a book, </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Start Small and Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup. </span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">In his spare time, he wears the hat of a podcaster, conference host, teacher, angel investor and audio book junkie.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When the entrepreneurial itch first infiltrated Rob’s being, he left his full time job and began consulting and freelancing. The move was great at first but he soon found that freelancing and consulting was a lot like working for someone else – which was seriously uncool.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">His new dream was products – build something that people will buy on his own terms without the watchful gaze of a boss. But, it didn’t work like that…instead; Rob’s second transition came when he acquired a small software application and tasted true freedom. As Rob puts it, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">“My goal was to cobble together enough of a portfolio so that I could stop consulting.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">His acquisitions ran the gamut from a site that sold beach towels (but ranked high on Google) to a book on bonsai trees but eventually, he was able to give up consulting completely. He developed a strategy built on incremental progress - a solid stair stepping approach that has made every acquisition, his biggest acquisition.</span></p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What to do when you want to bootstrap and how to make it work</li> <li>The secrets to keeping yourself in check and managing expectations</li> <li>The secrets to self-confidence in the startup world</li> <li>How to build yourself a top mastermind group</li> <li>What it takes to ensure that you have a proven product that people will love</li> <li>&  much more!</li> </ul>
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83: From Bankruptcy to $20m exit with Tim Fargo of Tweet Jukebox
<p>It's not easy to admit when you're wrong, but you'll rarely find a better time than when you're filing for personal bankruptcy.</p> <p>That's what Tim Fargo of Tweet Jukebox had to do when he was a young man in 1991 and found himself a little too in over his head. But today he's the founder of one of the most exciting and innovative social media automation engines in the world, right after selling his previous company for $20 million.</p> <p>So how does someone go from bankruptcy to $20 million?</p> <p>Well, you do it by paying attention and learning from your mistakes, which is exactly why Tim is where he is today. He's experienced both the lowest and highest points any entrepreneur can go through and he's walked away from a better businessman and all the wiser for it.</p> <p>We're very lucky to share with you today this episode of the Foundr podcast, in which he talks openly about the lessons he's learned throughout his career and all the different pitfalls and traps you need to avoid.</p> <p>If you ever wanted to learn from someone with over 25 years of highs and lows in the world of entrepreneurship, you don't want to miss this one.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What it's like to file for bankruptcy and how to recover from it</li> <li>The do's and dont's of cash flow management</li> <li>How to keep yourself in check and on the right track when starting a business</li> <li>The key steps to growing your business rapidly</li> <li>What you can learn from going broke</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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82: The Secrets to Success & Hustle with Gary Vaynerchuk of Vayner Media
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gary Vaynerchuk is a</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">bona fide</span></em> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Internet celebrity. At last count, he was sitting pretty at 1.21 million Twitter followers, and 226,000 Instagram followers. He’s appeared in the</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wall Street Journal</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Time Magazine</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, on</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Late Night with Jimmy Fallon</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Conan O’Brien</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ellen</span></em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">, CNN, and MSNBC. He’s now the CEO of VaynerMedia, a digital agency with more than 600 staff. Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur, investor,</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">New York Times</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">best-selling author, speaker, and, hailing from greater New York City, a fervent Jets fan.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But his success all started with Wine Library TV, a video blog he started when YouTube was still a 1-year-old Internet debutante. From the start of his career, Vaynerchuk has mastered social media to draw attention to his online persona GaryVee, and since then has leveraged his fame to build success with over a decade of shrewd planning and execution. But there’s one secret to success that Vaynerchuk always comes back to.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The reason that I’m speaking to you is that I’ve worked harder than you.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These brazen words were uttered by Vaynerchuk during one of his many training videos. While it’s impossible to know just how true that is, this is a belief central to Vaynerchuk’s life. Hard work is everything.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When discussing his success, the word hustle frequently bobs to the surface. “My hustle is better than everybody else’s,” he says, “so I have to bet on it. I bet on my strengths.” And despite living in an age of lifehacks and shortcuts, Vaynerchuk remains a staunch advocate of simple hard work. Armed with little more than his ball-of-fire personality and a will to succeed, he’s built an attention-hungry business empire worth millions.</span></p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The best strategies to leverage social media for your business</li> <li>What to look out for when it comes to creating the perfect social media strategy</li> <li>The secrets to creating valuable content and why it works</li> <li>How to take care of your employees and build long-lasting and loyal relationships</li> <li>The secrets behind each social media platform and how to take advantage of each one</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul> <p><strong>This podcast episode was brought to you by <a href= "http://freshbooks.com/foundrmag" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">FreshBooks</a></strong>.</p> <p>When it comes to finding the perfect service to help you manage and track your invoices, time and expenses then you can't go past FreshBooks. Designed for the small businesses and entrepreneurs who don't need full-blown double-entry programming but still want to keep their finances in check, you can't go back once you start using it!</p> <p>Better yet, FreshBooks is offering <a href= "http://freshbooks.com/foundrmag" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a month of unrestricted use to all of Foundr listeners ­ totally free right now</a> and you don’t need a credit card for the trial!</p> <p>To claim your free month, go to <a href= "http://freshbooks.com/foundrmag" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">FreshBooks.com/FoundrMag</a> and enter FoundrMag in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section to get started today!</p>
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81: 15 Million+ Followers on Instagram & Counting! Interview with The Instagram Queen Gretta Rose van Riel
<div class= "wpb_text_column wpb_content_element vc_custom_1456985215914"> <div class="wpb_wrapper"> <p>Every day there’s an entrepreneur out there who believes that they’ve found the golden ticket. The one idea that is so revolutionary that it’s going to change the landscape of their niche and bring them a huge success.</p> <p>Unfortunately, no matter how great of an idea it may be, nothing happens unless you have a brilliant plan to execute it.</p> <p>So where to start in this crazy startup world?</p> <p>Well, according to Gretta Rose Van Riel, it starts off with finding not just the right product idea but the <em>perfect</em> one. By using a bit of research, and a little bit more patience, she was able to find the type of product that took her to over 600k in revenue in just under a year!</p> <p>By utilizing Instagram she managed to spread her brand’s message and exposure, growing to over 15 million followers in just a few years! It is very rare you’ll find anyone else as savvy as the founder of SkinnyMe Tea when it comes to the world of e-commerce.</p> <p>In this interview with Foundr Gretta breaks down for us the nitty gritty details of the e-commerce world and shows us just what it takes to make it as a 21st-century entrepreneur.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> </div> </div> <div class="q_icon_list"> <ul> <li>Learn the easiest and cheapest way to build a website for your business</li> </ul> </div> <div class="q_icon_list"> <ul> <li>Important Insights on how to use Instagram to help start, grow and build up your brand account</li> </ul> </div> <div class="q_icon_list"> <ul> <li>Learn how to identify trends and physical products that you can successfully sell online</li> </ul> </div> <div class="q_icon_list"> <ul> <li>How to get your perfect funnel for you to start selling immediately</li> </ul> </div> <div class="q_icon_list"> <ul> <li>The do's and don'ts of E-commerce</li> </ul> </div> <div class="q_icon_list"> <p>& much more!</p> </div>
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80: How to Explode Your Local Business Using Instagram with Ramy Georgy
<p>One type of entrepreneur we don't give enough credit to is the local business owner. While it seems that everyone in the startup world these days is trying to come up with the latest app, or next revolutionary SaaS, we often forget about that entrepreneur looking to create something on the ground.</p> <p>One of the biggest struggles for local business owners is finding a way to get their business out there. When you're running a brick-and-mortar business it can often feel like your options are limited when it comes to marketing and brand exposure.</p> <p>Ramy Georgy is about to change to way you think about local business.</p> <p>Ramy is a local dentist in Foundr's home base of Melbourne, Australia and today he runs one of Australia's most recognized and sought-after teeth-whitening clinics. The most impressive part? He achieved all of this within his first year of operation.</p> <p>By thinking creatively and using the power of Instagram and celebrity influence, Ramy has managed to turn his local business into an international one, proving once and for all that traditional and digital businesses don't have to live in separate worlds. In fact, when used together, you can produce some phenomenal results.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How Instagram works in turning your followers into actual clients for a local business</li> <li>Tips on how to sell your local product and increase your business internationally at the same</li> <li>The importance of having influencers on your side when taking on the global market</li> <li>Ways to start a business and be recognized in the dental industry</li> <li>Tips on choosing the right influencers to work with</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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79: How to use Instagram to Generate Millions of Dollars in Your Niche with Deonna Monique
<p>One common trait among successful entrepreneurs is a sense of urgency—spotting a need and responding without hesitation in order to address and capitalize on it, even when that means taking a risk.</p> <p>Deonna Monique is a prime example. As a consumer of hair extensions, she had long struggled with finding the right product, and what she saw as a lack of authenticity in the market. But when she realized through social media that the problem was much bigger than her own, she started a company.</p> <p>“I thought I was on to something,” Monique tells Foundr. “So a week after I opened my business, I quit my job. I just went for it.”</p> <p>Despite some serious tests of faith along the way, Monique stuck with her company Boho Exotic Studio, and ended up earning seven figures in that first year, she says. Now approaching three years in business, and she has a strong foothold, all with her chief channel of marketing being social media platforms like Instagram.</p> <p>Monique’s lack of hesitation, no-nonsense approach to connecting with her customers, and faith in the quality of her product and service, have added up to a stunningly fast ascent, all in the face of serious business and personal hurdles.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to let your customer be the face of your company</li> <li>What to do when it feels like you've hit rock bottom as an entrepreneur</li> <li>The best ways to hack social media marketing to further your brand and grow your audience</li> <li>The perils and benefits of diving straight into building a business as a new entrepreneur</li> <li>The importance of looking past all the doubters and believing in yourself and your dreams</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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78: Dominating Your Customer Acquisition Channel (SEO) with Raj Sheth
<p>No matter how you crunch the numbers, starting your own business is expensive.</p> <p>In fact one of the first crossroads moments you'll encounter as an entrepreneur, among many, is trying to figure where you're going to get that funding. Do you self-invest and bootstrap it? Or do you start talking to investors?</p> <p>Raj Sheth goes deep on that issue in our interview today, as he openly talks about how he and his co-founders funded their way to the top with Recruiterbox.</p> <p>Nearly five years since its launch, Recruiterbox is used by more than 1,500 customers, with next-level businesses like Groupon, Couchsurfing, and Crunchbase praising the SaaS that Sheth has created.</p> <p>In one of our most insightful interviews to date, Sheth talks about the lessons he's learned throughout his entrepreneurial journey, from being the founder of two failed startups, to using SEO as a source of customer acquisition.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Bootstrapping 101: How to start a software business on a tight budget</li> <li>The importance of having a well-rounded founding team</li> <li>Do's and don'ts of building any kind of software product</li> <li>Top strategies on how to utilise SEO with the right kind of content</li> <li>What to do to get your name out there and have top-level influencers and companies use your platform</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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77: How to Own Your Story & Level Up Your Life with Steve Kamb
<p>In just a few short years Steve Kamb has successfully created a multimillion dollar business by orchestrating one of the most intriguing communities online.</p> <p>As the founder of Nerd Fitness Kamb has positively influenced and empowered thousands of people in the world into living a healthier lifestyle. By looking past the stereotypes and the norm, Kamb has managed to break through the highly competitive fitness market and find a niche that was looking for the answer that only he could provide.</p> <p>However the key to his success?</p> <p>Being able to speak the language of his target market, in this case geeks and nerds. The average joes and desk jockeys who want to look like Captain America but aren't sure where to start.</p> <p>By putting his community first and realising that there's more to fitness than the latest bodyweight exercise, or the different flavours of protein, Kamb has managed to gamify fitness and, in doing so, win the loyalty of every member of his community.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to start a multimillion dollar business in the online fitness industry</li> <li>Strategies on writing successful articles to target a specific market of readers and culture</li> <li>Not only the importance of an engaged community but the secrets to building one</li> <li>Ideas on how to start on writing and publishing your own self-help book</li> <li>Important health tips for the busy entrepreneur</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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76: 8 Million Users, $233m Valuation & Rockstar Investors all in 2 Years? The Canva Story with Melanie Perkins
<p>Finding the right startup idea is difficult even for lifelong entrepreneurs. But when it comes down to it, the best approach is to take a long hard look at what you're passionate about and try to figure out a way to share that with the world.</p> <p>By sharing her passion for graphic design to anyone who was interested, Melanie Perkins was able to become a certified tour de force in the entrepreneurial world.</p> <p>Seemingly coming out of nowhere, in just under two years her company has grown to 8 million users, is now valued at $233 million dollars, and has the backing of heavyweight investors like Guy Kawasaki, Bill Tai, and Lars Rasmussen, just to name a few.</p> <p>As the CEO and founder of Canva, Perkins knew that everyone had a little bit of an artist's streak inside them. The trouble was, the tools to bring that out were either too expensive or too clunky to learn. So she did what every good entrepreneur does. She made a product that took the complex and made it simple.</p> <p>Responding to the rapid expansion of social media and the growing importance of being able to communicate visually, Perkins has made it possible for anyone to pick up her product and start making visually striking images.</p> <p>With an eye for even loftier heights along with her keen eye for design, Perkins shares with us her lessons on how to turn your passion into a multi-million dollar success story.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The tools that you need to kickstart your own graphics design company</li> <li>The importance of finding and empowering the right people on your team for maximum results</li> <li>Why you need to fundamentally believe in what you're trying to achieve with your startup</li> <li>How to get people to use your platform and software in a crowded market</li> <li>What you need to do develop your team's focus, decision making, and leadership skills so your business works for you</li> <li>& much more.</li> </ul> <p> </p>
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75: How to Build & Grow A Successful Blog for Your Startup with Yaro Starak
<p>For some, being an entrepreneur is the only life to live, and it means essentially not having a job. For others, working for yourself, always hustling and without a dependable paycheck, sounds insane.</p> <p>Today's guest is firmly in the former camp, and very proud to say that he's never had a job in his life. There have been some part-time gigs, some casual work here and there, but Yaro Starak has only ever seen one side of the fence, and it's always been green.</p> <p>While there are those out there who will insist that you're unlikely to turn your passion or hobby into a successful business, they've never met Starak, the quintessential lifestyle entrepreneur. Armed with a truly entrepreneurial spirit, Starak has managed to turn almost each and every one of his hobbies into an immensely profitable business.</p> <p>While it may be impressive to say that you've made it big in the e-commerce field, it's truly impressive if you can say you've been doing it for <em>more than 10 years</em>!</p> <p>As one of the original dot-com entrepreneurs, Starak has made a living working from nothing but just a laptop and an Internet connection. While others crashed when the market folded, Starak simply adapted.</p> <p>But the one constant throughout his experiences with e-commerce has been the power of blogging. With his blog, Starak has generated millions of dollars in revenue whether sitting at home or traveling the world.</p> <p>And here's how he did it.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Everything you ever needed to know about the importance and power behind blogging in the e-commerce world</li> <li>What to look for when you want to capitalize on any niche</li> <li>How to quickly grow and monetize your email list</li> <li>The ins and outs of internet marketing and how to crush it</li> <li>Secrets being building an epic sales funnel online</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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74: Building one of the Largest Adventure Travel Companies in the World with Darrell Wade from Intrepid Travel
<p>Anyone can have a great idea, any entrepreneur can get lucky and make it big, but it takes something really special to turn your startup into something that <em>lasts</em>.</p> <p>For the past 27 years that's exactly what Darrell Wade has done with IntrepidTravel. It all started in 1988 when two friends went on a trip to Africa and came back with an idea, something that would revolutionize the travel industry forever.</p> <p>Despite the lack of confidence from the banks and everyone telling them otherwise, Wade and his cofounder knew that there was a market being underserviced out there. So channeling his own passion for traveling, he created a startup where, for more than four years, his salary was only a third of his previous job.</p> <p>Since then, IntrepidTravel has turned into a $300 million business and has successfully transported 350,000 travelers around the globe in the previous year alone!</p> <p>Despite hardships, Wade vigorously reinvested back into his business, focusing on building the best product he could possibly offer, and creating a company with staying power to support it all.</p> <p>Today IntrepidTravel is one of the premiere travel agencies in the world and it all started with a passion and desire to change.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">How to start a business in the travel industry</span></p> </li> <li> <p class="p1">How to make your business grow on a tight budget and learn about the risks that you have to take for your startup travelling business</p> </li> <li> <p class="p2">The advantages of re-investing to make your business grow</p> </li> <li> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Unique ideas and Actions items to get a lot of travellers book with your agency</span></p> </li> <li> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The importance of mutual respect when it comes to leadership and your organization</span></p> </li> <li> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">How to identify the leverage points where you can scale up in your business</span></p> </li> <li><span class="s1">& much more!</span></li> </ul>
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73: How to Build a Super Successful Online Business with John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire
<p>There is a quintessential moment that every entrepreneur will face at some point in his or her life. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re running, or what kind of niche you’re in, there's a particular experience unique to those who dare to try their hands at entrepreneurship.</p> <p>It’s the moment when you look in the mirror and realize that you’re not happy doing whatever it is you’re doing. You decide that the system doesn’t work for you, so instead you’re going to go out there and create something for yourself.</p> <p>For John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire, that didn’t happen until he was 32 years old.</p> <p>“I gave myself my own job and that's what I kind of love about it, because I've been asking, begging, pleading for jobs really for the first 32 years of my life,” Dumas says. “I said, ‘You know what? It's time to get out there and create my own job, a job that I want, that I'm actually excited and passionate about.’”</p> <p>You’ll likely know Dumas as the founder and host of Entrepreneur on Fire, a podcast in which, for the past four years, he’s been interviewing the top entrepreneurs in the world and in the process building a multimillion dollar business.</p> <p>Today, Entrepreneur on Fire boasts 1.3 million listens a month, making it one of the most popular business podcasts in the world. But it took more than 10 years of trial and error for Dumas to get to where he is today.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to create a business podcast from scratch.</li> <li>The importance of seeking out courses and communities that will teach you what you want to learn.</li> <li>Learn how to take methods and strategies from experienced entrepreneurs and learn what works for you.</li> <li>Why it is good to be authentic and transparent as possible to your podcast audience.</li> <li>Learn about the marketing concept on how to build and retain a loyal audience and following.</li> </ul>
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72: Internet Marketing Mastery with Los Silva
<p>Carlos "Los" Silva is rightfully considered today one of the top business marketing trainers in the world.</p> <p>After a 10-year entrepreneurial journey, he finds himself at the helm of multiple, million-dollar businesses that aim to teach other entrepreneurs different ways they can achieve startup success. His advice is sought after by master entrepreneurs in their own right, with his client list boasting names like Disney, Ryan Deiss, Kent Clothier, and many more.</p> <p>Which is why we're super excited to be sharing this interview with you today, and delivering his secrets on Internet marketing and what it takes to build a local customer base and successful startup.</p> <p>And alas, Foundr family, this will be our final post for 2015 as we head into the holidays. We'll be taking a much-needed break during the next week to spend some precious time with our own families, and we hope you do the same. We'll be back in a week with more amazing content.</p> <p>See you all in 2016, and until then, enjoy the interview!</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How E-commerce helps on your startup and how to identify opportunities on the e-commerce space.</li> <li>Why social media plays a huge role in selling your digital products.</li> <li>The different tools that you need to help grow your business online.</li> <li>The importance of building good relationships and business partnerships that can help support your system.</li> <li>The process to increase your email list and get more people to join your webinar and Techniques in Educating buyers about your products.</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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71: Mastering Social Media & Evangelism with Guy Kawasaki
<p>During one of Guy Kawasaki’s first marketing assignments in the early 1980s, he would knock on the doors of startup software companies across Silicon Valley armed with a stack of non-disclosure agreements and a prototype computer in a bag. “We would say, ‘If you sign this, we’ll show you what’s in the bag,’” he says. The prototype, Kawasaki explains, was a top-secret project that, if knowledge of it was widespread, would cannibalize sales of their main computer hardware product. It’s name? Macintosh—a project run by a team of developers at Apple, headed up by Jef Raskin and a then 29-year-old Steve Jobs. As far as marketing a computer is concerned, “it was hand-to-hand combat.”</p> <p>Of course, Kawasaki was successful in his efforts marketing the Macintosh, and the rest is history. Today, Guy Kawasaki is a famed tech startup guru who notoriously spearheaded the marketing cause for Apple in 1984, before going on to work on a number of startups, a venture capital firm, and a stint at Google.</p> <p>It’s a title that stands out because when you think evangelist, the image that often pops into mind is that of a middle-aged man with slick hair, a pink suit and a Texan accent on late-night television, prancing about on a stage and shouting about the bible. In Kawasaki’s case, that couldn’t be further from the mark.</p> <p>At 61, Guy Kawasaki comes off as a truly decent human being, affable, humble and easy-going. The sort of guy you’d be happy chatting with at a friend’s barbecue for hours without having to fake a bathroom visit to get away.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to inspire and convert your audience.</li> <li>Learn the importance of Visual Marketing.</li> <li>The importance of building your brand's social media platform.</li> <li>Techniques on how you can evangelize for your startup without a huge budget.</li> <li>Learn about the Two simple ‘tests’ to apply to any content your company shares on social media to ensure that it has maximum traction online and has the maximum benefit for your business.</li> </ul>
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70: How to Manufacture a Disruptive Product (Without Selling a Kidney) with Lisa Fetterman of Nomiku
<p>There’s a simple rule that all entrepreneurs live by: Aim for disruptive change. Everything you need to know about being an entrepreneur lies in that beautifully simple rule. Yet, as many entrepreneurs will tell you, it’s easier said than done.</p> <p>But that’s exactly what Lisa Q. Fetterman went ahead and did as the co-founder and CEO of Nomiku.</p> <p>Nomiku takes it name from “nomikuii” a Japanese word which means to eat and drink- a perfect name for the revolutionary kitchen appliance that’s finding homes in professional and personal kitchens worldwide, creating disruptive change as it simplifies the science of gastronomy for food-lovers everywhere.</p> <p>Lamenting the fact that she couldn’t create restaurant quality food at home because of the lack of a sous vide machine, she sought to change that.</p> <p>Ever since that simple idea in 2010, Nomiku has amassed over $1 million between their two Kickstarter campaigns. Gaining the distinction of having raised the highest amount of money for any product within their category with just their first campaign alone, they raised nearly $600,000 within 30 days. They then went on to break their own record by raising $750,000 with their next project. Today the Nomiku sees itself in kitchens from the White House to Michelin starred restaurants around the world.</p> <p>Nomiku is an entrepreneurial success story that can only exist within the 21st century. Fetterman has tapped into the power of hackerspaces, accelerator programs and crowdfunding in order to be invited to the White House as a “White House Honored Maker”, listed on Zagat’s 2014 “30 under 30”, and listed again as “30 under 30” in 2015, this time on Forbes.</p> <ul> <li>Why it's important to love what you do.</li> <li>How to utilize social media, blogger and word-of-mouth to generate buzz and excitement for your product.</li> <li>The important strategies in launching a crowdfunding campaign.</li> <li>The resources that you need when investors aren't listening.</li> <li>How to have a product development strategy to overcome the struggles of manufacturing.</li> </ul>
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69: How to Launch Your Startup in 7 Days and Build a $1m Business with Dan Norris of WPCurve
<p>Building a startup is hard, from generating an idea, to developing an MVP, to launching a product, and eventually growing a business. It's just really hard.</p> <p>But what if I told you that it's entirely possible to launch a startup in 7 days and build a profitable business almost instantaneously? Sounds crazy right?</p> <p>Well tell that to Dan Norriss of WP Curve who went ahead and did just that.</p> <p>After seven years of trying his hand at various business, it wasn't until 2013 that Dan struck gold with WP Curve. A worldwide team of Wordpress developers providing constant support for small business of every kind 24/7. Today he impressively manages a worldwide team and just started his craft beer brewery, and there's no sign of slowing down.</p> <p>He shares with us the lessons he's learned through his career as a serial entrepreneur and as an award-winning content marketer. Teaching us everything from the importance of content marketing in today's world of startups to managing a remote team and what it's like to be in the modern tech industry.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">How to start your own website from scratch</span></p> </li> <li> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The importance of getting all the opportunities to get press release in launching your ideas</span></p> </li> <li> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">How to manage a huge remote team around the world using different online tools</span></p> </li> <li> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">What content marketing is and how to build and grow a business with it</span></p> </li> <li> <p class="p1">Why you should be producing awesome evergreen content</p> </li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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68: Building The Best Workplace in The World with Vishen Lakhiani of Mindvalley
<p>How can you attract top talent, and create a workforce that goes the extra mile for the company? The answer – surprisingly – isn’t salary, perks or bonuses. It’s culture.</p> <p>Making the effort to build and invest in a positive business culture can drain time, resources and money. But research suggests that the ROI on a happy workforce can be measured in dollars as well as satisfied, secure staff.</p> <p>According to The Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, good culture-building activities successfully cultivate a companywide commitment to satisfying customers. Other benefits include enhanced performance, reduced staff turnover, increased job satisfaction, greater employee engagement, fewer errors and enviable status as a workplace of choice.</p> <p>The jury is officially in: happy and healthy employees cost companies less. A 2011 academic study through the London School of Economics found that for costs spent promoting well-being in the workplace represented a substantial annual return on investment of more than 9 to 1, with increased productivity and reduced absenteeism. And it doesn’t just happen. If you’re a business owner, creating culture is up to you, with former MIT professor Edgar Schein once commenting that the only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture.</p> <p>So how do you create a good workplace culture? CEO of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani, is the man officially standing at the intersection of mindfulness and business and has workplace culture down to a fine art.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to turn the power of meditation into your superpower</li> <li>What it takes to build a great company culture and keep top talent</li> <li>The benefits of having a great looking office and how it can double your employee's performance</li> <li>How to strip back the perks but still keep an amazing company culture</li> <li>The process Vishen uses when it comes to hiring A-players</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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67: The Secret to Getting Ridiculous Amounts of Press for Your Business with Scott Jordan of SCOTTeVEST
<p>Scott Jordan is no wall flower. He is a force to be reckoned with – and when he became frustrated with carrying devices and wanted something better than a man bag or a fanny pack he quit his job as a lawyer at a startup and launched SCOTTeVEST– a travel clothier that specializes in multi-pocket clothing specifically built around the tech gear we all carry.</p> <p>That decision, fourteen years ago, was made based on a philosophy that has guided much of his entrepreneurial journey – anything worth doing is worth doing now.</p> <p>Scott Jordan’s first product, the eVest 1.0, has morphed into a full line of clothing for men and women and a company that has landed on Inc.’s Fastest Growing Companies List three consecutive years. With global sales exceeding $10 million and Board of Advisors that includes Steve Wozniak (yes, the Steve Wozniak) and Kenneth “Hap” Klopp (co-founder of North Face), SCOTTeVEST has traversed the startup desert and reached the land milk and money.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to use the power of storytelling to sell a product no one's ever heard of</li> <li>The power of PR and spin, how to make the best out of a bad situation and come out on top</li> <li>What is controversy and why it isn't always a bad thing</li> <li>Answer to the question of whether or not you should bootstrap or go after investors</li> <li>The strategies that Scott used to get his name and his business on the map</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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66: How to Raise Capital for Your Startup with Brad Feld of Techstars & Foundry Group
<p>However great it is, entrepreneurship is hard. It can mean disappointment. It can mean exhaustion. It can mean frustration. It can mean failure. Starting a business is less smooth sailing and more stormy seas, often with waves of worry even as you tack toward horizons glowing with promise.</p> <p>“If you’re obsessed about this product that you want to bring to life, this business that you want to create, you’ll get through it,” Feld says. “If you’re not, you won’t.”</p> <p>He would know. Feld has been open about grappling with depression and dealing with the difficulties of a demanding job, yet he’s worked obsessively over dozens of years to get to where he is today.</p> <p>In 1987, he built a profitable software consulting company. Six years later, he sold it. He soon began investing money in other startups, a path that would lead him to co-found two venture capital firms, including Foundry Group, where he works today. He also co-founded Techstars, a massive startup accelerator.</p> <p>Feld has heard pitch after pitch—both successful and not. He has invested in company after company—including Harmonix, Zynga, and Fitbit. Pair those facts with his first-hand experience running a business, and it becomes clear that Feld knows how to get things done.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What makes, and breaks, an true entrepreneur</li> <li>The importance of finding balance when it comes to work and your personal life</li> <li>What to do when you hit those roadblocks and feel like giving up</li> <li>The key to rockstar pitches and how to impress investors</li> <li>How to blend short-term and long-term thinking in order to become a successful entrepreneur</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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65: How to Write Copy That Converts Like Crazy with Joanna Wiebe
<p>Joanna Wiebe isn't someone that's focused on money, a statement that some of entrepreneurs would be horrified by. However what she is passionate about is words, the power of them, and their ability to inspire, convince, and persuade.</p> <p>It's this passion for writing that has led her to create one of the most premiere copywriting services in the world where her skill as a wordsmith is sought after by hundreds of businesses. She doesn't do this by making good copy, she does it by making GREAT copy.</p> <p>If you've ever wanted to learn how to separate yourself from the pack and have your voice get noticed then you need yourself some great copy.</p> <p>Which is why you'll absolutely love this episode where Joanna takes us through the ins and outs of how to make great copy, and how you can use it to convert like crazy.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>The building blocks of what makes great copy</li> <li>How to use the power of words to instantly grab someone's interest, turn then into a friend, and make them a customer</li> <li>The power of using the right words, how to find out what your customers are saying and take advantage of it</li> <li>Why you the last thing you want to be is just like everyone else</li> <li>A full breakdown of how Foundr's own copy stacks up from the master!</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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64: 8 Startups, 4 IPO's, Lost $35m of Investors Money to Paying Them Back $1b Each! Startup Lessons From Steve Blank
<p>If you’re new to the startup space, Steve Blank is the biggest name in tech you haven’t heard of. A serial entrepreneur turned educator, in entrepreneurial circles he’s referred to as one of the “Godfathers of Silicon Valley.” A master of the startup, he was involved in or founded ’s started eight venture-backed Silicon Valley companies, including software company E.piphany, which alone raised $66 million prior to going public in 1999, before being acquired by a larger corporation for $329 million in 2005. Basically, he’s a Silicon Valley pioneer who was killing it in the startup space when the rest of us were watching Muppet Babies.</p> <p>Drop his name around the offices of Facebook, Apple, Google, et cetera, and you’ll get knowing and approving nods. Follow him around Palo Alto and you’ll see him get asked for autographs. It seems in the way startups operate today, everyone owes a debt to this man. If you’ve heard of the Lean Startup, you’re familiar with his work already.</p> <p>Today, Blank actively lectures at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and the joint Berkeley/Columbia MBA program, NYU and UCSF, as well as the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, through the Innovation Corps program he developed. The Harvard Business Review named him one of 12 Masters of Innovation in 2012. CNBC recognized him as one of the 11 Notable Entrepreneurs Teaching the Next Generation. In 2013, Forbes listed Blank as one of the 30 most influential people in Tech. Blank’s books, blog, and interviews are often featured in world news publications such as The New York Times, Forbes, Inc, TechCrunch, and The Wall Street Journal. His teaching commonly focuses on the Customer Development methodology that he developed throughout his accolade-rich career.</p> <p>His 2003 book The Four Steps to the Epiphany launched the Lean Startup movement. And a decade later, the sequel The Startup’s Owner’s Manual cemented his place on all entrepreneurial required reading lists. Not bad for a man who’s technically been retired for over a decade.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What it takes to become an entrepreneur, all without going to business school!</li> <li>The secrets to building a fully-functioning lean startup</li> <li>What it takes to become a leading player in Silicon Valley</li> <li>The unexpected highs and lows of entrepreneurship, the harsh truths, and positive realities</li> <li>What it takes to get ahead, and stay ahead</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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63: The Secret Weapon to Success is No Longer a Secret with Tony Stubblebine from Coach.me
<p>Tony Stubblebine was not one of those 22-year-old tech startup CEOs, wearing hoodies and distributing profane business cards. He got his start as a sharp programmer, working alongside people like Ev Williams and Biz Stone, and has been steadily climbing his way up the ladder since.</p> <p>The path to becoming a successful CEO involved a lot of growth and personal development for him, almost like an athlete in training. One thing he could have used much earlier is a good coach.</p> <p>“I didn’t get my first coach until it was way too late. Why didn’t I have an exec coach grooming me to be an executive, to be a CEO?”</p> <p>Follow Stubblebine's journey as he took, what others perceived to be, his weaknesses and turned them into strengths that made him a force to be reckoned with.</p> <p>Stubblebine shows just what it takes to become a great leader and a CEO of a multimillion dollar business.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>A full breakdown of all the elements that make up a great leader and CEO</li> <li>The secrets to utilizing meditation in order to stay grounded and tackle any and all challenges</li> <li>Why you don't need to be a jerk, and there's nothing wrong with being the 'nice guy'</li> <li>The process of building a great product that drives social change</li> <li>How to bring out that 'elite performance' mindset from yourself and achieve it</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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62: The $100 Million Dollar Man, Chris Strode from Invoice2go
<p>All the most successful ideas in the world were when entrepreneurs realized that there was something about their current life that they wished could be done a little easier. The only difference between entrepreneurs and regular people though, is instead of just complaining, they go ahead and built it.</p> <p> </p> <p>For founder Chris Strode it all began because he wanted make the lives of small business owners a little easier back in 2002. Today Invoice2go is one of the highest grossing business app on the market, and the number one invoicing app worldwide for small businesses.</p> <p> </p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Exactly what it takes to bootstrap your way to $100 Million</li> <li>How to create a brilliant product by identifying a personal problem</li> <li>The importance of finding, and defining, your perfect customer</li> <li>How to grow a business as a one-man startup</li> <li>The key to persevering when the odds seem stacked against you</li> </ul>
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61: The Power of Email Marketing Automation & Why You're Missing Out Big Time if You Don't Have it in Your Business with Micah Mitchell
<p>Today's episode is a little different than most, but as always it is one not to be missed.</p> <p> </p> <p>If you've ever wondered how to harness the power of Email Marketing, this one will not only be an massive eye opener of what's possible, but also a sure fire way for you to quickly understand what you need to do, to sell your products/services on automation with Email Marketing.</p> <p> </p> <p>We sit down with Micah Mitchell who is an Infusionsoft master, co-founder of a popular Membership SaaS (Memberium), and also knows a lot about creating and profiting with online courses.</p> <p> </p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What is Email Automation and how it can EXPLODE your business</li> <li>How to create profitable online courses</li> <li>An intro into how to nurture leads, and convert prospective customers into sales with Email marketing</li> <li>How membership sites work and how you can tap into this multi-billion dollar educational industry</li> <li>Email Marketing and funnels</li> <li>What to do when someone steals your business idea</li> <li>What is Fear/Loss/ & Greed when nurturing leads</li> <li>How to create a profitable SaaS</li> <li>& So much more!</li> </ul> <p> </p>
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60: How to Become Financially Free with Tony Robbins
<p>Tony Robbins talks fast. Conversing with him is like riding Space Mountain: You get in, you hang on, and before you know it, it’s over and you’re left feeling bewildered, slightly euphoric, and wanting to smooth your hair.</p> <p>Robbins has become a household name as the man who popularized life coaching. Imagine your client list including Oprah, Princess Diana, and Bill Clinton—all before you hit your mid- 30s. He’s spoken to more than 50 million people in 100 countries. To call Tony Robbins just a self-help guru would be like calling Muhammad Ali just a boxer. It doesn’t quite cut it. He is a force of nature, an industry, and a global brand. His advice is still sought by the likes of professional athletes, CEOs, movie stars, rappers and world leaders.</p> <p>When Foundr interrupted Robbins’ schedule for an interview, he was 40 miles from the Arctic Circle, racing Lamborghinis across a frozen ice lake. As you do. “I was eaten up by my crazy schedule, going to 15 countries a year, so I decided, ‘I’m going to find a little time to play,’ and this was on my list. So it’s nice to be able to experience it.”</p> <p>It’s a fitting vacation. Robbins is best known for his high-intensity seminars. To say he’s bursting with enthusiasm is an understatement. It seems as though he’s sitting atop an erupting volcano of energy and optimism. His voice is booming, with its trademark rasp. He makes each point with the force of an artillery bombardment.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to deduce your market to the metrics that matter</li> <li>The steps you need to take in order to be financially free</li> <li>Turning past pain into pure motivation and a hunger for success</li> <li>Tony's ethos in living for impact, and how the money will follow</li> <li>How to serve your client in the best possible way</li> <li>& more more!</li> </ul>
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59: How to Create an EPIC Physical Product (PAX) which is sold over 500,000+ times with James Monsees
<p>PAX Labs is changing the way we look at smoking. The beautiful elegance of the product is restoring luxury to the vaping world. But, developing a product that essentially sold itself for the first two years required an innovative approach to need finding.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What goes into developing a product so innovative that it is its own category</li> <li>The T-Shaped principle when it comes to building an effective and harmonious team</li> <li>How to use personal experience to develop a product that achieves immediate market response</li> <li>Secrets in finding that sweet spot between the product and market to achieve epic growth</li> <li>The "lights out" approach to mass-producing with affordability, scalability, and expertise</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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58: 1 Billion YouTube Views & Counting With Michelle Phan
<p>Michelle Phan wears many hats. Or more perhaps more aptly; lipstick hues. </p> <p>YouTube pioneer, mega brand boardroom heavyweight, company founder, creative director, global beauty queen. </p> <p>Phan has makeup tricks that will make your eyes pop. But the numbers behind her success could make them water. Approaching 8 million YouTube followers, 1.1 billion video views, and over 1 million subscribers to her online beauty community and sampling service, ipsy.</p> <p>Not bad for a 28-year-old who started touting the perfect pout online as a hobby during university. </p> <p>But don’t be mistaken, Phan’s success is not a story of luck but one of awesome internet savvy, authenticity and getting there first to opportunity.</p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>How to develop fresh angles and stories that your audience will love</li> <li>Key tips on developing your own personal brand</li> <li>The importance of good storytelling, whether it's video, audio, or written</li> <li>How to stay creative and be constantly inspired</li> <li>What exactly YouTube is for marketers and the best way to utilise it</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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57: How to Make Your App go Viral with Rameet Chawla
<p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;">Founder of Fueled and the Fueled Collective, Rameet Chawla, explains what it takes to consistently build the finest mobile apps, defines the Viral Coefficient and reveals how his need to be creative and independent lead him to leave the world of corporate finance to create a job for himself, which started by building his dream company.</p> <p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;">In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;"><span style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif;"><span style="font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;">What goes into making and developing the right MVP</span></span></li> <li style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;"><span style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif;"><span style="font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;">The secrets to getting the best kind of user feedback, when to listen, and when not to listen</span></span></li> <li style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;"><span style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif;"><span style="font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;">How to develop the right technological triggers needed to click with users</span></span></li> <li style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;"><span style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif;"><span style="font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;">The right and wrong way to network and build professional relationships</span></span></li> <li style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;"><span style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif;"><span style="font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;">The analytics tools and metrics that Ramee relies on to track the success of his apps</span></span></li> <li style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;"><span style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif;"><span style="font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px;">& much more!</span></span></li> </ul>
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56: The Foundr Incubator (Business Breakdown) with Derric Haynie & Mathew Michalewicz
<p style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">A couple of months ago we sent an invitation to all the readers of our weekly newsletter. We asked if there was anyone who would like to have a one-on-one with tried and true entrepreneurial professionals.</span></p> <p style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">Out of the hundreds of responses we received we picked out Derric Haynie former professional poker player and today the founder and CEO of Splash. An online marketing consultancy based in San Diego.</span></p> <p style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">He sat down with Foundr’s own CEO, Nathan Chan, and Mathew Michalewicz, author of <em style= "border: 0px; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; background: transparent;">Life in Half a Second</em> and entrepreneurial genius to talk strategy. You might remember <a style= "border: 0px; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #303030; text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer; background: transparent;" href= "http://foundrmag.com/fp017-the-science-of-success-how-to-become-a-super-successful-entrepreneur-before-its-too-late-with-matthew-michalewicz/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">our previous interview with Matthew</a> where we talked about the science of success, and his journey in building 4 incredibly successful businesses.</span></p> <p style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">What happened was a full breakdown of Derric Haynie’s business, his goals, what he wanted to achieve, and the steps he needed to take in order to get there.</span></p> <p style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">There has never been an episode before where we’ve given away so much actionable advice and strategy, invaluable guidance, and lessons in entrepreneurship.</span></p> <p style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">We’ve also included a special deal for the first 50 listeners of this episode! If you wish to access it go to - <a href="http://www.foundrmag.com/mattm" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">www.foundrmag.com/mattm</a></span></p> <p style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">This is an episode you definitely don’t want to miss.</span></p> <p style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">In this interview you will learn:</span></p> <ul> <li style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">Invaluable insight on how to exponentially scale your business with the goals pyramid</span></li> <li style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">The best way to pitch potential clients and investors</span></li> <li style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">How to generate the right leads</span></li> <li style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">The steps you can take today to become a successful entrepreneur</span></li> <li style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">Multiple marketing strategies for online, cold calls and emails, referrals</span></li> <li style= "border: 0px; margin: 20px 0px 22px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: 0px; color: #5b5e61; font-family: 'Droid Serif', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 33px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> <span style="font-size: 10pt;">& much more!</span></li> </ul>
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55: Branding 101 and What it Means to Lose it All with Daymond John of Fubu
<p>In the 1990s, the FUBU brand was everywhere, including on the backs of A-List celebrities like Will Smith, Janet Jackson, and LL Cool J. Like most trends, it seemed to come out of nowhere.</p> <p>But in the case of FUBU, it sort of did. When Daymond John started the company with his longtime friends, they only had about 10 shirts. They’d sneak into a hip hop video set, put a shirt on one rapper, then take the shirt back and go do the same at another video set.</p> <p>“Before you knew it people started to think of us as a huge clothing company, when we literally still had 10 shirts in a basement,” says John, now a celebrity investor on the hit reality show Shark Tank. </p> <p>Daymond John’s talent for building hype didn’t hurt, but that was only the beginning. While today John can regularly be seen on TV in flawless suits, closing six-figure deals, the rise of his game-changing streetwear company was a tumultuous one. The branding icon gained his financial chops the hard way, with lots of stumbles, and a constant learning process that continues today.</p> <p> </p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>Marketing hacks to grow your business</li> <li>The key components of what makes a successful business</li> <li>How to bring confidence to the table when negotiating</li> <li>The importance of education and mentorship</li> <li>How to build an unwavering drive to succeed</li> <li>& much more!</li> </ul>
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54: What I Learnt From Interviewing Richard Branson
<p>In this weeks episode, Nathan goes through in detail the steps he took to interview Sir Richard Branson for a Foundr Magazine front cover story and what he learnt from the whole process.</p> <p> </p> <p>If you would like to check this interview out, you can download Foundr Magazine on any Tablet or Mobile device on the iTunes and Android stores.</p> <p> </p> <p><a href="http://www.foundrmag.com/itunes">iTunes - www.foundrmag.com/itunes</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.foundrmag.com/android">Android - www.foundrmag.com/android</a></p> <p> </p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <p> </p> <p>- The key things Nathan took away from Interviewing Richard Branson</p> <p>- How to get in touch with hard to reach people</p> <p>- The secret strategy to convince influencers to be interviewed for your magazine / show</p> <p>- Why this interview was game changing for Foundr Magazine</p> <p>- & So Much More!</p>
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53: From Monk to Transforming the Lives of Millions Through Meditation, The Headspace Story with Andy Puddicombe
<p>The trials of starting a business—even if you forget, for a moment, the typical travails of day-to-day living—often overwhelm entrepreneurs. Late nights, endless work, big choices, and extreme uncertainty can swirl together to form a raging twister that ravages the landscape of life, shredding business hopes and ideas along the way. But the forecast is much better for some, including Andy Puddicombe.</p> <p>Puddicombe is one of the minds behind Headspace, a guided meditation app that’s reaching new users every day. He can also say something that few entrepreneurs can: he’s rarely overwhelmed.</p> <p>In this episode you will learn:</p> <ul> <li>What is Mindful Meditation and how to use it effectively</li> <li>The importance of when, and when not, to listen to customer feedback</li> <li>How to improve your product by living in the present</li> <li>How Andy inspires and leads a worldwide movement for meditation and peace</li> <li>Key tips on how to avoid burnout</li> <li>& So much more!</li> </ul>
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52: $20m in Sales in 1 Year Using Instagram? - The Frank Body Story
<p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto;"><span style="mso-ascii-font-family: Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-hansi-font-family: Cambria; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-AU;">Two years ago, the owner of a local coffee shop, Steve Rowley, was asked by a regular customer for coffee grounds to be used as an exfoliate. This simple act was the catalyst for a brand that has experienced amazing growth driven heavily by Instagram.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto;"><span style="mso-ascii-font-family: Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-hansi-font-family: Cambria; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-AU;">Frank Body creates coffee scrubs formulated with minerals and essential oils and is set to bring in more than $20 million this year. The Frank Body founding team included Bree Johnson, Erika Geraerts and Jess Hatzis of Willow & Blake.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto;"> </p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto;"><span lang="EN-US">In this episode you will learn:</span></p> <ul> <li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto;"><span lang="EN-US">How to find your voice and personify your brand</span></li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto;"><span lang="EN-US">How to turn influencers into brand ambassadors</span></li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto;"><span lang="EN-US">Key tips on speaking to your target market</span></li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto;"><span lang="EN-US">The best ways to generate content for Instagram</span></li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto;"><span lang="EN-US">Hacks to scale your business to epic proportions</span></li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto;">& much more!</li> </ul>
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51: How to Start Your Own Social Enterprise and Make a Big Impact with StartSomeGood's founder Tom Dawkins
<p class="p1"><span class="s1">He was told it couldn’t be done. Social good was meant for nonprofits. Businesses were for making money. But Tom Dawkins always felt like there was a puzzle to be solved, that he could put the pieces together and run a profitable business that created change in the world.</span></p> <p> </p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">A serial entrepreneur from a young age, Dawkins worked in both nonprofits and tech startups before finally  solving it. The result was StartSomeGood, a crowd-funding platform for anyone—nonprofit, for profit, or individual—with an idea to make positive change in the world.</span></p> <p class="p1"> </p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">In this episode you will learn:</span></p> <p class="p1"> </p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- How to start your own social enterprise</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- How to measure your impact and why</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- The true definition of social entrepreneurship</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- How find a problem that needs solving</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- Budgeting 101 with a for profit social enterprise</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- & So much more!</span></p> <p class="p1"> </p>
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50: An Inside Look Into Foundr's EPIC Design with Karan Jain Behind The Scenes with Foundr Magazine's Art Director
<p>In this episode we go behind the curtain and shine the spotlight on someone part of the Foundr Magazine team that is an absolute superstar designer, entrepreneur and ruckas maker.</p> <p> </p> <p>Enter Karan Jain.</p> <p> </p> <p>You wouldn't probably know this, but Foundr Magazine wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for Karan. <br /><br />Karan taught me the power of design and branding. This bold move that we've made with the level of Foundr's design has allowed to build great reputation in the entrepreneurial space. Not just as brand itself, but also as an influencer in the entrepreneurial space.</p> <p> </p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <p> </p> <p>- What it takes to have epic design and branding in your startup</p> <p>- The untold foundr story you wouldn't know</p> <p>- Behind the scenes on the creation process of Foundr Magazine</p> <p>- Key lessons from Karan on how to choose a design agency</p> <p>- & So much more!</p>
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49: Changing the World (Wide Web) with Dan Tocchini founder of the Grid.io
<p class="p1"><span class="s1">Dan Tocchini wants to change how we use the web. His website design startup The Grid have had almost 50,000 founding members and they might just pull it off.</span></p> <p class="p1">For all of the advances in how we use the Internet in recent years, the options for the average person who needs to make a website can still be simultaneously dizzying and uninspiring. It usually comes down to either paying someone a bunch of money, learning to do it yourself, or buying a template.</p> <p class="p2"> </p> <p class="p1">Dan Tocchini wants to change that. His startup The Grid poses the questions: What if having your own unique website was as easy as posting to Facebook? What if you could just supply the content, and a program just did the rest for you?</p> <p class="p2"> </p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The answer he and his team came up with is an automated alternative to services like Wordpress or Squarespace. And if Tocchini’s right, it might just change how people view the web. While the company hasn’t gone live yet, the team has racked up two hit Kickstarters, two rounds of funding, more than 31,000 preorders, and an offer from Facebook (they turned it down).</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">So what’s all the fuss about? Well, the corners of the Internet that are thriving these days have developed fancy algorithms and design features that make it as simple as possible to connect and share information (think of the curated Facebook feed or Twitter’s 140 characters). They take the flurry of anxiety-inducing decisions away from the average person (see Barry Schwartz’s <a href="http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice?language=en"><span class="s2">The Paradox of Choice</span></a>). But website creation has been sort of left behind, Tocchini says, and relatively few Internet users have their own sites. For those who do, it’s kind of a pain.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">“Websites are like the atomic building block of the web, and they’ve been completely ignored by the big tech companies,” Tocchini says.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">He thinks the web can do better. His team has spent the past few years creating a platform that starts with content and uses software to automatically turn it into a website. Think of it as having your own web designer that makes all of the decisions for you, except that web designer is artificial intelligence.</span></p> <p class="p1"> </p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">If you would like to becoming a founding member of the grid, make sure you go to <a href="https://thegrid.io/">https://thegrid.io/</a> to sign up now :)</span></p> <p class="p1"> </p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">In this interview you will learn:</span></p> <p class="p1"> </p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- Why you would turn down a buyout offer from facebook</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- Leadership 101</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- How to come up with an epic idea</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- How Dan's vision is going to revolutionize the web</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- The problem with websites right now and how the Grid plans to solve this massive problem</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- What it truly takes to become a successful entrepreneur</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">- & So much more</span></p> <p class="p1">   </p>
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48: How to Make $1m in 1 Week Online, The Secrets of a Product Launch with Ed Dale
<p>It is with great pleasure we bring you this interview with the one and only Ed Dale.</p> <p> </p> <p>If it wasn't for this man, Foundr wouldn't exist. I've been lucky enough to learn a lot of my marketing and online business chops from Ed Dale, so I thought what better reason to bring him on the show to share with us the infamous secrets to doing a $1 million launch.</p> <p> </p> <p>Ed Dale is the creator of The Challenge and co-founder of MagCast. He's helped over 300,000 entrepreneurs start online businesses and is a world re-knowned online marketer.</p> <p> </p> <p>The best place to find Ed is at eddale.co</p> <p> </p> <p>In this interview you will learn:</p> <p> </p> <p>- The processes that Ed goes through to prepare for a $1m launch</p> <p>- What is good will, and why it matters when it comes to doing a $1m launch</p> <p>- The secrets to getting other people to promote your products/services when it comes to getting affiliates</p> <p>- What it takes to create a successful digital product</p> <p>- & So much more!</p>
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47: The Art of Asking with Amanda Palmer
<p class="p1">In business, in music, or in life, there are few people you will meet as unapologetically honest as Amanda Palmer.</p> <p class="p1">A lifelong nonconformist, Palmer has evolved from living statue to award-winning musician—as one half of cabaret rock duo Dresden Dolls and soon to hit the stage opening for Morrissey and Blondie—from TED-talker to esteemed author<span class= "s1">,</span> and now thought leader<span class="s1">.</span></p> <p class="p1">Palmer’s Twitter bio colorfully advertises a performer, writer, giver, taker, yeller, listener, love-lover and rule-hater to her one million-plus follower base. And from our own conversation with Palmer, all of these qualities seem fairly apt. </p> <p class="p1">But there’s one thing this self-account fails to capture, and that is how authentic she is. Palmer has built legions of passionate fans—and certainly her share of detractors—by having a unique voice that is louder than her music ever could be. And by simply asking. </p> <p class="p1">And the answer for many is a loud and resounding YES.</p> <p class="p1"><strong>Ask, Don’t Tell</strong></p> <p class="p1">Being a born storyteller has perhaps taken Palmer in directions even she did not foresee. As an arts graduate Palmer began her professional life as the Eight-Foot Bride on the streets of Cambridge, Mass. During this time she honed a deep curiosity for genuine human connection that has been the underlying theme of all her achievements. </p> <p class="p1">It is this story that Palmer shared on the global TED stage in 2013, when she spoke of the profound encounters she experienced with people from all walks, often people who Palmer sensed were very alone. In her recollection, they would momentarily enjoy very intense eye contact and “fall in love a bit.”</p> <p> </p> <p class="p1">In seeking this connection with others, Palmer and her Dresden Dolls bandmate Brian Viglione made a habit of always spending time “signing and hugging” with fans after each concert, and from here, the story takes off. In the past decade<span class= "s1">,</span> Palmer has couch surfed the globe several times, sourced music, food, instruments and a hundred other forms of support from her loyal fan base, crowdfunded a cool $1.1 million to produce an album<span class="s1">,</span> and whipped up a good deal of controversy along the way.</p> <p class="p1"> </p> <p class="p1">In this interview you will learn:</p> <p class="p1"> </p> <p class="p1">- How to embrace your audience</p> <p class="p1">- How to endure criticism and become a revolutionary in your industry</p> <p class="p1">- The importance of asking for help</p> <p class="p1">- How to build an extremely strong community</p> <p class="p1">- Breaking the rules and why they were created</p> <p class="p1">- & So much more</p>
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46: Seth Godin on Why You Shouldn't do What You're Told
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mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Calibri; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;} </style> <![endif]--> <!--StartFragment--> <!--EndFragment--></p> <p>Marketing guru and multiple New York Times bestselling author Seth Godin explains why you should focus less on doing what you're told and more on doing work that's worth doing. In order to take advantage of the unique opportunuties afforded by our times, some rules just have to be broken.</p> <p>Some people just get it. They grasp the spirit of the times in ways that ordinary people don't. They understand the patterns and progression of history, and can interpret current events and trends with rare wisdom and insight. Seth Godin is one such person.</p> <p>You might say his knowledge about the world of business borders on the prophetic. You could also safely say Seth Goden is a man who sees the world not for what it is, but for what it could be. He's in the business of change: predicting it, implementing it, and watching it unfold.</p> <p>You've probably seen his TED talks, his books, his blog, his podcast; he's the one of those characters who are grounded, yet somehow still larger than life. For those late to the Godin party, he's a marketing guru, founder of Squidoo.com and world-renowned author of 17 business bestsellers including Linchpin, Unleashing the Ideavirus, Tribes, and Purple Cow. For a man who understands tribes, he has proved time and again that he can walk the talk, building, in the process, a legion of raving fans-people who thrive on his entertaining blend of business and sociology.</p> <p> </p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%;">In this interview you will learn:</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%;"> </p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%;">- How to when to ship a project and when its ready to be released into the world   </p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%;">- Why perfect doesn't exist</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%;">- The best analogy we have ever heard for good marketing</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%;">- Seth's failures</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%;">- Why it's YOUR turn! </p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%;">- The importance of blogging every day</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%;">- & So MUCH MORE!</p>
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45: Our Top 7 Instagram Hacks To Generate 100's of Thousands of Followers
<p>So we've decided to mix things up a little with this podcast episode.</p> <p> </p> <p>This one is a short bite-sized episode, detailing our top 7 hacks for Instagram. You're probably not aware, but in the past 8 months we've been quietly building up a very strong community on <a href="instagram.com/foundrmagazine">Instagram</a>, and within the space of 8 months our Instagram account is 197,000+ followers from the time of writing this.</p> <p> </p> <p>So often our community is asking us how we did it, so I wanted to share with you our top tips and tricks on how to gain a massive following on Instagram fast.</p> <p><br />In this episode you will learn the following tips:</p> <p> </p> <p>- The importance of posting content regularly</p> <p>- How to create epic content and why</p> <p>- Why you should have a CTA (call to action after every post)</p> <p>- The importance of optimizing your bio and account</p> <p>- How to use hashtags and a secret hack to increase your engagement in 30 seconds</p> <p>- What an S4S is, and why it's super important</p> <p>- Why you should be commenting on other pages.</p> <p> </p> <p>If you would like to learn more on how to take advantage of Instagram for your business make sure you sign up to find out more about our course that we're launching soon called 'Instagram Domination'. You can do so here - <a href="http://www.foundrmag.com/getig" target="_blank">www.foundrmag.com/getig</a></p>
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44: How to Become a Lifestyle Entrepreneur & The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
<p>If, like me, you think the job Lifestyle Entrepreneur seems completely made up, you’d be right.</p> <p>Lewis Howes’ title, like everything else about his career, is completely self-styled and made into reality on his own terms.</p> <p>The popular School of Greatness podcast host, who is also an accomplished author and former Arena League football player, quite possibly achieves more before breakfast than most of us do in a week. And it’s all because he took the time to design the life he really wanted. In part, the job description includes overseeing his <a href="https://theschoolofgreatness.leadpages.net/sogaoptin/">School of Greatness Academy</a>, a resource for entrepreneurs that gives people access to tools, a community, and accountability coaching to bring their business and lifestyle to the next level.</p> <p>We sat down with this marketing guru, lifestyle coach and all-round nice guy to learn how he went from couch-surfing to being one of the most sought after online thought-leaders. We also picked up a bunch of e