How To Build A Repeatable Flywheel To Grow Your Startup with Rand Fishkin

June 18, 2021 Gavin & Martine Hammar ft. Rand Fishkin Episode 5
How To Build A Repeatable Flywheel To Grow Your Startup with Rand Fishkin
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we're joined by Rand Fishkin for a candid discussion about his time at Moz, his biggest regret, and how it felt to start over with SparkToro. 

Rand also talks about:

  • How to build a repeatable flywheel to make marketing a competitive advantage
  • Why buying ads is just boulder-pushing
  • The importance of SEO (or lack thereof)
  • His advice on team building (or choosing not to)

Plus, Rand shares the unscalable tactics that he is using to fuel SparkToro's growth.

Rand Fishkin is co-founder and CEO of audience research startup SparkToro. He’s dedicated his professional life to helping people do better marketing through his writing, speaking, startups, and his book, Lost and Founder. When Rand’s not working, he’s usually cooking a fancy meal for the love of his life, author Geraldine DeRuiter. If you bribe him with great pasta or great cocktails, he’ll spill big tech’s dark secrets.

Martine Hammar  0:09  
So as you know, on unscalable, we like to speak to people who have adopted an unscalable approach to growing their businesses. So today, we're super excited to have our first ever guest on the show Rand Fishkin. Now, it's not every day you get to chat to an author of a book that you have on your bookshelf in your study. So Gavin, how did you manage to convince Rond to come on our podcast?

Unknown Speaker  0:31  
Yeah, it's it's pretty crazy. I mean, from my perspective, I thought if anyone believes in taking an unscalable approach to growing their business, that's Rand. I've obviously been super inspired by Rand for years from his days at Moz. And now, obviously, with spark Toro, actually, Martine, I'm not sure if I told you, but last year, when we're going through the whole acquisition process, and deciding whether I should sell or not, I was actually reading Rand's book, on my commute into the office. And one thing really resonated for me - Rand talks about how as a company grows, essentially, as a founder, you kind of move further away from what you'd love to do. So I found last year, as we grew sandable up to 50 employees, I was doing more with operational staff, the admin, you know, kind of recruiting that kind of thing. And that really had a profound impact on my decision, you know, I was I was driving and thinking about, should I shouldn't I sell? Is it the right time? Should I keep saying look, waiting for 30 years, 50 years, and that that chapter really resonated with me. So I felt I needed to have ran on the show. And I'll ask him a few questions about his perspective on kind of running a company as big as Moz. And then starting over, Saran say welcome to the show, and thanks for joining us.

Unknown Speaker  1:40  
My pleasure, Martine. Thanks for having me. Yeah, and it's it's so great to be here, Gavin. I'm, I'm really glad that I get to join us

Unknown Speaker  1:48  
Okay, so before we begin, we like to start every episode with quick icebreaker, we've got this box of cards. So I haven't chosen one. It's not pre selected. So you can actually choose to I'm gonna go from the front, the back of the middle. Where are you feeling? What do you feeling?

Martine Hammar  2:04  
middle middle, right. Let's go middle for sure. Okay. I'm just really glad to not be in the hot seat this time around. Oh, there we go. This is a good run. What's the most fun party you've ever attended?

Rand Fishkin  2:19  
Oh my gosh. What's the most fun party I've ever attended? Um,

okay. This is this is one of my absolute best memories. And it is it's a little bit food and family centric, which is unusual. But so Geraldine and I, my wife is Italian. So we flew to, I think Germany for a conference and then flew down to Naples, rented a car in Napoli and then drove out to kind of her family's ancestral village out in the middle of nowhere. What's what was called, I think it's called three gentle. And it's just like, you know, sitting up on a hill in the Abruzzi region. And it's, you know, two hours from anything. Like, there's one restaurant in the town, there's one bakery, the bakery is usually closed, the restaurants are was closed. So we're just like, by midday, we're starving. And, you know, finally we like go to her aunt's house. And her aunt has been making this her. This is Geraldine his great aunt. And she's been making fresh pasta all day, by hand. And it was still to this day. Absolutely. The greatest meal of my life. I think it was probably 4000 calories in total across like, eight courses. I don't know if you you know, if you've had like home cooked Italian meals, there's basic, you know, they bring out one thing. And then, you know, I, the foolish American was like, Okay, well, this must be dinner.

Martine Hammar  4:00  
Oh, that was only the beginning and past. This is not today, isn't it?

Unknown Speaker  4:07  
creamy, really. And then there's Gandhi. And then there's and then there's a fruit coarse, and then there's coffee. And then there's dessert. And then there's the cure. And there's little things that come with the coffee and the cure. And before the premium there's aperitivo and after the aperitivo there's, you know, the the like appetiser course, oh my god. It's just just incredible. And of course, I'm at the same time. I'm trying to listen to all these stories in Italian between, probably, you know about a dozen members of Geraldine his extended family. That's my kind of party. Go at 2pm and eat dinner until 10pm. I'm in I love it.

Unknown Speaker  4:51  
Cool. So as I mentioned, I've sold my business after 12 years of running sandable and one of the reasons was to start a new startup, you know, it kind of had Again, to be a founder, again, entrepreneur. And I realised my superpower has always been citing companies coming up with ideas being more creative. And actually, your book vendor realised just how grateful I am to be a fully bootstrapped, founder, you know, sendible, our profits were literally seven figures with 40% margins when I sold. So it was very, very hard to let go of the company at the time. But now I've suddenly gone from being a CEO of 50 people to nothing like hero to zero. And I actually felt I feel like it should be a sequel to your book, kind of lost and found out after you sell a business, like how it feels off to setting up you know, kind of a really successful company, and how lost you feel after that happens. So studying again, is really scary. And I want to know, like, how you feel, how you how you found kind of starting over, going from a CEO to as a founder again, and how you dealt with that kind of shift in mindset?

Unknown Speaker  5:52  
Yeah, oh, it's heavy, it is so heavy, it's like an intensely emotional and mentally taxing process, especially So, you know, Mars was, was my only startup. I mean, technically, I also founded inbound.org, with dark mansion, you know, we, that wasn't, that was like a side project type of thing. And so Mas, you know, I've been there 17 years, when I left, basically, my entire adult life, I dropped out of college started working at this company, you know, as deep in debt, my mom and I, like, found a way to turn it into a, you know, consultancy, that can survive, and then it started growing. And then we built software. And then we raised venture and like this, you know, this business had grown. You know, I mean, for the seven years, I was CEO was 100%, year over year, just right, all the way up to, you know, 30 million in revenue and, and profitable and then and then, like, after step, Tony, growth started to slow 50% 20%, like, 10% 4%. Right, just, you know, I think mas is like eating it out around 50 million still growing. Yeah, I mean, you know, throwing off 5 million in profit every year, whatever. So like, you know, a nice business, for sure, if it's privately owned, but as a venture backed business, it's just completely doesn't fit, the model doesn't work. And then, you know, I, there's all these things that come with it, right, like I had, you know, I had a nice salary I was making $200,000 a year, that's, you know, that's a tonne of money for most Americans. It I was, I had a, you know, an executive assistant who worked for me and took care of all these things. I had a team who would do things. There was a lot of deep unhappiness and stress. But it was also very secure, like health care is covered, right? Like, all these things. And so then, yeah, I'm signing my mas severance agreement. And, you know, a lot of my, all the people in my network all my, you know, founder friends, right, folks like yourself, Martine and Gavin, they're like, oh, Randy, you got to take some time off and like, explore and, and I'm like, what, what do you what do you what world do you live in? Like, I may own whatever, you know, $50 million of wealth on paper, but until somebody buys it, you know, it's not it's not worth anything. Right. So the day after I left Moz, I started spark Toro, because I needed health care. Right. And like, I got, you know, my wife and I need to be covered. We can't have this thing, right. So I had to work out all the mechanics of like, you know, starting the company right away, and then getting that kicked off and starting to pay myself basically minimum wage, you know, in order to qualify for health care under the plans and whatnot. And yeah, thank goodness for Obamacare. Because if it wasn't for that, I mean, I would have been doomed. I couldn't have I don't even know what I would have done. I could just would have been on tenable, but we, yeah, we managed to kind of get it off the ground. And then I raised some money from angel investors, just like, friends and that sort of thing. But yeah, Gavin, you asked about, like, the mental side of it. And that what you I think what I experienced most was like a sense of deep relief that I got to own and control my destiny, again, that I could really influence the journey, because those last few years at Moz. You know, I just, every day I disagreed with things. I was like, No, this is not how we should be doing. No, we shouldn't be employing this person. No, we shouldn't be making these strategic decisions. And so now I got to make all those decisions again. And also, that means success or failure hinges entirely on you. You cannot blame anyone else if things don't go amazingly well. Right. So, you know, I go from a world where I'm sort of like, you know, I would do things differently. And this isn't going well but you know, I hey, you know, I What can I do to Oh I have to do everything. Like, I'm, I'm vacuuming the office and, and I'm also making the coffee. And I'm also, you know, getting the customers and raising the money and finding the health care and getting the accountant and finding my co founder, all of it.

Unknown Speaker  10:21  
So, if you could have done one thing different than all those years ago, what do you think you would have done differently?

Unknown Speaker  10:28  
I would not have stepped down as CEO. I think I did not realise how how much the dynamic would change I, I sort of thought that I would continue to have a lot of influence and control over direction and strategy and those kinds of things. And that, yeah, that sort of changed much more rapidly than I was expecting. And in in ways that made me very frustrated. And, yeah, from there, you know, lots of decisions. I think that that harm the company's potential, but I mean, Moses, like Moses, fine, right? It's like a successful company is still growing just not very fast. Obviously, it's profitable and employs lots of people. It has, I don't know, 4030 40,000 customers, whatever it is, right. And great, but, you know, that's not going to get it to, you know, how does it get five to 7x? Its returns on the 30 million that was invested?

Unknown Speaker  11:30  
I don't know. I don't know.

Unknown Speaker  11:34  
So what are your thoughts on kind of raising capital versus bootstrapping?

Unknown Speaker  11:39  
I am really, really grateful that I was able to raise money because, you know, if we, I mean, if I had had to solely bootstrap, I think I would have had to start maybe as a consultant again, or like services, right? I, you know, I just needed revenue coming in faster. So the, the ability to go raise some money in this very unique structure for spark Toro, to an LLC, my investors own, you know, units of distribution, we all participate in profit sharing. It's not at all like venture. They have to pay ordinary income tax on it. Which, which, like, that's like the thing that most investors are just allergic to a higher tax rate, I'd rather die. You know, I don't know what it is. Americans are obsessed with low taxes. They're just weird. And so yeah, I had to find I had to find investors who were like, wait, I can make profit every year. And you don't have to be a unicorn for me to make money. And all I have to do is pay, you know, 35% tax instead of 15%. Sure, sounds good. Sign me up. And thankfully, I had a lot of people like that in my network who were not as sort of tax obsessed. And yeah, that enabled, you know, that enabled us to cover healthcare that enabled me to recruit Casey, and bring them onto the team, it gave us about 18 months to build our product before we launched, which was absolutely essential, because there's a very experimental product. I don't know if you've played with spark Toro, but it's like, it's in a sector that didn't really exist. And it does something that weirdly didn't exist before. And so we didn't even know if it was going to work. When we had the idea. were like, Well, alright, we're gonna have to do all this crawling and indexing and build this thing and then build a search system. And then, you know, launch it, and let's see if the data is any good. And I think it was probably, like nine months before we even could run the very first search to see if it returned useful data. Well. Wow.

Unknown Speaker  13:39  
It's still it's still you in Casey, Casey, in the business at the moment. So have you recruited Anyone else? And what are your thoughts on like, building a team versus outsourcing?

Unknown Speaker  13:48  

Unknown Speaker  13:51  
I think I'm maybe more allergic and Casey is to to building a team after our experiences. So Casey, Mike, my co founder, he's on the engineering side or technical side, in case he worked at Moz with me for you know, a number of years he was a he was a parole officer at Michigan before that, I could just go wild career change. But had as many Americans do have became very quickly disenchanted with the American justice system. And and just how biassed and problematic that is, anyway, so he you know, he started doing web design, this kind of stuff came to Moz worked with me for a few years, went off to what was he at HubSpot? Wistia ookla. So, you know, he worked at tech companies big and small, funded and not funded. And both of us came to spark Toro with this mentality of let's keep the team as tiny as possible and use contractors, consultants, agencies for everything. So we you know, we got a contractor for our you know, for our design and art, we got contractors for you know, we have an accountant who does all our stuff, a tax tax person who does all our tax stuff. Personal and and business wise, we had consultants to help us with our onboarding structure and our conversion rate optimization and our beta launch and testing. And it's been great, right? You sort of you get the very best people at the top of their game who start working instantly. There's no ramp up time. And when your budget, you know, if you can't afford them anymore, there's no hard feelings, right? There's no like, Oh, my God, I have to lay this person off. You're just like, well, I won't renew my contract next month. No problem. That's fine. Right? consultants and agencies are used to that, right? Oh, I don't have any more work for that person. I don't have to invent jobs for them to do. But just don't do it. Right. They work for somebody else for a while. It's great. We really love this model, it makes for a tonne of freedom and flexibility. The management overhead is incredibly low working with a consultant or an agency, right, who are used to working with clients, instead of you know, hiring someone on board and in the in the United States to healthcare. Like, holy crap. Do you know how much help? I'm sure you do? Because sendible probably employed some Americans, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it is. I mean, Casey and I are paying like, yeah, we pay nothing. Yeah. We're paying like, $45,000 a year for just the two of us for like, Oh, my God. Yeah. That's crazy. Like, you know, we got to have basically, whatever 100 customers 100 spark Toro customers every month are just covering healthcare for us. Yeah, I mean, that the stress of you know, what, what, what often happens in a company environment. And we went through this, gosh, I went through this with so many people on the team, right, as you, you have someone who's underperforming and you try to figure out, okay, is that because of their role? and responsibility? Is it because of their skill set that needs to be upgraded? Is it because of the management leadership? team, right? And so you look for try and figure out all these factors, and, you know, and eventually, you probably come to the place of like, okay, maybe they're not the right fit for the team. But you know, like, let's give them another three months, see if we can upgrade these things. And we'll do skip levels. And we'll do you know, all this coaching and maybe we can invest in a mentorship programme, gotta yada and then those three months come and go, and they're not quite right. Alright, we'll give them one more month, they're still not performing. Okay, we're gonna let them go. Now, we'll put out a job description for their job. Now we'll spend three to six months hiring for that position. Okay, we finally got someone who's a match. Now it's three months of onboarding until they're sort of performing and to get, oh my god, you've lost a year or 18 months? Because it developed in your feed your time? Yeah, I mean, you you hire a consultant, the first week, they don't deliver what they said they're gonna deliver you like by hire another consultant. It's amazing. So I, I don't care if there are, you know, if they're technically whatever the I don't know, the hourly wage equivalent is 50 bucks an hour for an in house person versus 300. For outsourced I don't care, I'll happily pay that. $300.

Unknown Speaker  18:09  
That's, that's my sense, right. And it's very tough to, you know, when you hire a consultant, especially in places like marketing and conversion rate optimization, and, you know, whatever, email authoring, onboarding, like all these sorts of skills around these complex marketing and sales, funnel stuff, and SAS onboarding stuff, oh, my God, I mean, the quality of work that those people do on day one, with their experience load and their whole team, incredible, just incredible, versus, you know, hiring someone and then basically, you're trying to train them up. Which means if you don't have skills that are better than the best consultants out there, how are you going to get that person? You know, up to up to speed? It's pretty tough.

Unknown Speaker  18:57  
So I'm curious with Spark, Tara, how much focus are you putting on SEO this time? versus like brand building brand awareness, that

Unknown Speaker  19:04  
kind of thing? Very little, to be honest, very, very little. The biggest thing that I care about SEO wise is that more and more people every month search for spark Toro. And that branded search is our is our sort of dominant win. I really, you know, I look at a lot of examples out there of what's been successful for other businesses that are sort of building new categories. And it is not ranking for whatever hundreds or 1000s of keyword phrases that people search for that are semi related to the business. It is they win on brand. And then years later, they start to dominate the rest of their category once they've built up, built up that all those brands signals with Google and you know, a really nice traffic engine around it. And so that has been my priority with spark Toro is just how do we tell the story of what the company does and The problem it solves and who it can solve it for, get people to understand the data set, get people to understand this, this sort of new way of doing market research. And then in the in the far flung future, I can imagine, you know, I don't know, sometime in the next couple of years, three years, maybe we hire an agency to do a tonne of, you know, content and SEO for us. That will prop the you know, I think the other problem, Gavin, I'm sure you saw this, like with, with some of the features and sort of ways that sendible would help is there's not necessarily people who are going out and searching for a solution to that problem. They don't know about the problem, they don't know about your solution to it. And so, you know, a Mas, lots of people search for SEO Software, keyword research tools, you know, whatever link building, all that kind of stuff. And those are very good predictors that SEO that Moz is SEO Software was a good match for them. With spark Toro, when someone's you know, what are they going to search for? Show me which podcasts my audience listens to so I can go target them on those podcasts? It's interesting. Nobody's searching for that. Yeah. People don't even know people don't even think, oh, podcast marketing, I should do that. Right. Yeah, they don't know they have the problem. So you have to market Selenium very different way. Right. The marketing is essentially, who's my audience? Where do they hang out and spend time? How do I go tell the story there? It's much more like Airbnb. Right? Then like we work we work as essentially competing for whatever commercial office space in all these cities, you know, temp office space, whatever. Airbnb is like, Hey, don't you want to let strangers come live in your house for a while? Wait, what? I don't want that. Right. But then but then 10 years after it launches people like, Yeah, I do want to have strangers come. It's brilliant.

Unknown Speaker  21:58  
So one of our one of our kind of favourite topics to talk about ads. So we wanted to know what kind of your thoughts on on how ads are becoming, we all care. So we believe that they're becoming far less effective. These days, people are using ad blockers. And we've always just kind of had this belief that trust is the number one currency these days. So I don't want to give you my views necessarily. I wanted to hear what your views are. Well, how do you feel, but ads currently?

Unknown Speaker  22:29  
So let's see, personally, like almost every consumer, I think that ads aren't that effective on me. And statistically speaking, as a marketer, I understand that ads are ludicrously effective. I just don't understand how or why. Right, like, what i what i want to believe is, you know, oh, this this ad, that's, that's never gonna work. Who does that work on that's not effective? And then I look at the statistics behind advertising like all well, I am wrong, you know, I, I was incorrect. Now, what is absolutely true for every marketer who comes across this problem? And is that in the overwhelming majority of sectors? advertising alone is a big waste of money until and unless you have built up brand loyalty, trust and knowledge in your space. Right. So like, I don't know jeans company, you've never heard of advertises on some billboard, or advertises in your Instagram feed or, you know, shows up in the Google ads, you're just going to ignore them, you're going to click on the one that you know, but then like, you're walking through, I don't know, a mall and you see that jeans come in, you're like, Oh, I guess they're I guess they're a real company. Or you go to Nordstrom and like, you see that brand again, you're like, Oh, yeah, I heard of them somewhere. And, and then, you know, you see the Instagram out again, a few months later, and then you I don't know, here an ad for them on the radio or a podcast, and then you hear a friend talk about it. And then the Instagram ad works really well. Because you have heard you've been exposed them and you're like, yeah, yeah, you know what, let me let me try them out. And yeah, it's it's right. It's grown on your opinion. What a tonne of marketers, especially startup marketers, early stage marketers, tend not to understand is that long journey of brand awareness and the impact that you know what, it's almost like compounding interest, you know, you put money in the bank, the 3% interest rate seems like nothing but then 10 years later, you're like, Hey, I got some money. That's kind of nice, right? Let's say you know, whatever stock investing or all these kinds of things, and brand investments are the same way. If someone hears about you And that message is consistent and you're consistently saying, we make jeans for. I don't know, you know, for summer, we have summer weight jeans, you know, they're very materials light. The denim isn't too thick. You don't get too sweaty and I mean, yeah. And then you know, one summer like, Huh, you know, I do kind of want to wear jeans to that restaurant. I do wish was that jeans company that does the lightweight thing that I can't remember their name. A couple weeks later, oh, Instagram ad. That's the one click. Right. And what's hap, like, what's what's actually happened is a tonne of brand touches over a long period of time. You know, look ad blockers, they, they don't tend to work in your apps, right. And that's where a tonne of ads are happening. YouTube's ads are rarely blocked, Facebook's ads are rarely blocked. ad blockers are installed by a pretty consistent, you know, like the same sort of 10 to 15% of population. There's a lot of people who just they don't use them. It's you know, that everyone was like, oh, they're gonna grow like crazy. Yeah, they didn't really grow all that crazily. You know, there's a lot of preventative tactics that that people are taking on that and a lot of ad funded sites still. But should you if you can do marketing of other kinds first and get people to know about you, and position yourself through sources they trust, your ads are going to work way better.

Unknown Speaker  26:31  
In terms of marketing flywheel. Yeah. So do you use hub spots definition? Or do you have your own definition?

Unknown Speaker  26:36  
Sure, sure. So when I think of a flywheel, right, what I it's essentially this this big contraption from the industrial age, right where you store energy by by having a, you know, a giant mechanical wheel that spins around on inertia, and you store electricity in it, and then you can sort of put friction against it to draw that electricity off. And the concept is that it's really hard to get that wheel spinning initially. But once it starts going, it's very low friction, it scales with decreasing friction and get gets inertia going. And, oh, man, that's the beautiful thing, right? If you if you can pull it off incredible. And so my model my mental model for a flywheel is that it works in two ways. A marketing flywheel specifically works, it can work in two ways. It can work either that you, every time you do your marketing thing, whatever that thing is, you know, guest on a podcast, sponsor a webinar, the speaker at an event, publish a blog post, send a tweet, send a tweet. So anytime you do any of those marketing things, either the next time you do it, it's easier. Taste takes less effort for you to do it. Or the next time you do it. It's more effective, right, the input stays the same, but the output increases or the input decreases and the output stays the same. That if you can get that going over time, again, you get that compound interest, where like the for you know, I published a blog post. I have one subscriber it did nothing. I published another blog post. Hey, hey, I got one more subscriber. Okay, that that's to next week, another blog post 20 weeks from now. All right, we got 150 subscribers, three years from now. Oh, my God. We have 30,000 subscribers to our blog. This is almost literally the numbers that mas had, like when I first when I started blogging, right? It's just boop boop boop boop every night took me the same amount of work to blog, right, every blog post took the same. But every new subscriber meant more people reading every post, which meant more output per same input. Those blog posts started ranking for more keywords, more people started following our social channels, more people on our email newsletter, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, right? The audience grows and grows and grows. This is really hard to do with ads alone. This is why I don't love the advertising only model it just you know that every input, Google wants to basically be like, same output, right, Facebook say? Or, ideally, hey, that they look like they're being really successful with their ads. Well, we better charge them more. Let's take more of that margin. Wall Street wants to see growth from us. So you're gonna pay more? Yeah. So that's how I think of the marketing flywheel. I'm not sure if that's what HubSpot thinks of it is.

Unknown Speaker  29:36  
I think it's similar. I don't know what the definition of HubSpot is either. But I think something we spoke about in the last episode was about how you should pay attention to your smaller customers. Because they they spread the word of mouth the awareness. So it's this compound effect of kind of spending time with smaller customers, they become your promoters introduce other customers to you. And the more customers you can delight, the more they refer other customers to essentially yeah Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  30:02  
yeah. Did you find with sendible that you're smaller and midsize customers, agencies, consultants, whatever, that they were, essentially, like, more likely to be vocal about their love for your product. And then like big company, you know, big companies enterprise company joins, no one will say shit about. They're like, Yeah, what do we use for social media? We can't talk about that. Huh? 100% Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  30:27  
so for us we have we have tonnes of agencies, agencies who want to keep obviously the tools they use close them so they will share what tools they use. But then we have loads of freelancers and influences as well he sandable so if you can find those influences with the biggest followings get them to share the love of the products, that kind of thing. Suddenly, you have this again, that's flywheel effect. Yeah, they're writing about sandable recording videos. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  30:50  
And delight them as much as possible. As nice as Yeah, yeah, that's it. Yeah. I

Unknown Speaker  30:55  
mean, I think the really interesting thing, and this is like, it's like a language problem that we have in marketing universe, where when people when marketers hear the word influencer they think of one thing only half naked person on Instagram with six pack abs. This was like, Oh, I do lots of push ups or I don't know, probably they use weights or whatever. But you know, like, and they're like, how do we? How much do we have to pay that person to pose with our product in front of their whatever beach? And that is a mind numbingly dumb way to think of influence. Right. And so, as we as we started spark Toro, which is, which helps you find what I call sources of influence, because I can't call them influencers anymore, because we don't help you find six pack abs dudes on Instagram, right, like the I think that language has actually shrunk the awareness and the thoughtfulness around who in my market influences the rest of my market. What are the you know, what are the podcasts they listen to? What are the blogs they read? What are the industry newsletters, they subscribe to? What are the events that they go to? And no one, no one is like, Oh, well, this event is an influencer, or that email newsletter is an influencer or that podcast host is an influencer. That language has been broken by sort of this this trend around what an influencer is, you have to be on it. Instagram or YouTube basically exchange. Tick Tock. Yeah. So I don't know. Like, I think this is one of those really frustrating things where seven years ago, eight years ago, I could have said, Oh, spark Toro is an influencing influence marketing tool. And now I can't say that because that means something different. Yeah. It really is really fascinating how language, you know, can change the direction of like an industry like that. Yeah. I am so so curious. Right about this. Like, process with with sendible. Right. You left the company sold it now. And you're not involved at all?

Unknown Speaker  33:14  
So I'm with the company for six months? Six months? Three months left? Yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker  33:18  
Got it. Got it. And do you? Yeah. I mean, do you know what you're going to do after that? Do you like have ideas and plans? do you have? I don't know if you have a non compete. I know with Moz I had to sign a non compete, for example, when I left as part of my severance. Yeah, and that experience is always fascinating to me, right? Because it's so I don't know. I don't know. If you like stare at the next six months. You're like, Okay, I'm excited to do these things. And then oh, my God, the universe opens up and it feels like both a weight lifted and a new weight put on. Right, because you can do anything. Oh, God, anything. Anything is so big. Yeah. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  34:01  
I mean, yeah, to be honest, I was working on something last year. So during COVID, I saw this big gap in the market opportunity. I bought something and a few people started using it and said, How can I use this thing? So there's like a little side project, right? I haven't haven't coded in a long time. I've been a CEO, you know, however many years so I started coding again, both as a product, people loved it. That also made me realise maybe it is a good time to sell the company. This thing has got some traction, you know, on the side, but I had no time to actually focus on it. So I'm pretty excited about it. And I think just to your point about categories, I believe you have to create a category these days stand out and position yourself in the market. So I'm going to create a new category which this product will kind of swept the space.

Unknown Speaker  34:48  
Yeah, I absolutely will. And and of course, Martine Gavin you like like if if you need something for me, you have my support. I got your back. I love I love folks trying to help you. This way, I think that's just Yeah, very, very meaningful. And, man, it would be, you know, it's just, it's what I want to see more of in the world. I want to see more bootstrapped and like, you know, zebra and indie style startups instead of like, you know, venture backed startups are like, Hey, you know, we're at what are 10 million arr. And we need to get to 100 in the next couple years, blah, blah, blah, do you want to come? Like join our board? Be an advisor? Just? No, no, I don't. Yeah, I recognise that you're offering to pay a lot. Like I appreciate that you, you know, came to me and also, you know, it's not that I don't want you to succeed in particular, but I don't want more companies like you to be in the market. Right? I want I want more competition from lots of small and medium businesses, not a few companies that sort of when the whole pie or die trying like those monopolies do not excite me. Yeah, you. You know, you mentioned in our in our email Chow, you're talking about Dharmesh from HubSpot, who's like kind of a, you know, a friend and, and colleague and, yeah, he and I have this like, different perspective, or he's like, I, I want to fund and see those, you know, rocket ship companies, because I think they inspire more entrepreneurs, and they inspire like, more market growth. And I have this like, ah, I don't, I don't know if they do. Like, I trust you, man. But also, I am nervous about that. Like, I'm, I'm nervous about what happens when a big player comes into a space and sucks all the oxygen out of the room and all the opportunity. I google has done that in so many spaces,

Unknown Speaker  36:42  
and it happens in retail all the time. And also, yes, small little independence versus the big chains. Yeah. Yeah, I was just I was just thinking, as you were talking, it kind of reminds me of like, whose words you guys got are going to resonate more the, you know, the kind of artists whose whose music is produced for them. And they're told to sing these these words, basically, versus the person who writes and sings then and stuff. You know, what's going to resonate more? Yeah. Martin, I

Unknown Speaker  37:12  
love that. You said that. Because I, I think that many of us are artists trapped in entrepreneurial bodies. So what we really do want to do create art, right? We want we want to see this, this vision, this thing exists, we want to help this problem be solved in this beautiful and unique, special way. And look, and we are, you know, we are cognizant of the capitalist system that we live in and have the power of having financial freedom and independence. So we try and align that right, we try to align our art with it with the financial side. And oftentimes it corrupts it but when it doesn't, so beautiful. So beautiful. When you can have this like, well, I always wanted this, let me let me see if I can make make that and have my art exists in the world. I want sendible to help these people. I wanted to help them in this way. I wanted to do this for them.

Unknown Speaker  38:11  
So cool, right? That's crazy. Because I guess when I started all those years ago, I believed just like like Mark Zuckerberg raise funding to start Facebook, you have to raise funding to start a company. That's the mindset I had back then you know how thoughts that's the only way you can grow something. So I was I was just naive, I guess. And I at the time, actually, I gave away 10% of the company for nothing. I kind of made a mistake. And I was looking for these these two. Actually, I had a boss at the time working for the software consulting firm. And they said for you to keep your job. Give us half your company. Well, we'll let you kind of work on sandable one day a week, we'll take half help you with kind of hosting introductions, networking, etc. Nothing materialised. But I was able to negotiate it down to 10%. And then after I realised I was trying to keep me in the job and kind of run the development operation and kind of just quit my job. I quit my job, I had six months of savings. And I ended up just trying to make this thing successful. Like how could I turn nothing into a profitable business because back then I had like $40 a month in MRR basically when I quit my job, and I had to buy back the 10% all my savings into buying back the 10% of the company. And I had literally had Yeah, six months to make this thing profitable. So I kind of it was a bit of like desperation. Yeah, can you turn this thing into a business from just a hobby or a side project? And yeah, just so glad I did. And it was honestly,

Unknown Speaker  39:34  
I was just about to say that said, quit your job. Enough Enough. Like I got to a point where I was like, I don't actually care where we get the money from like we were newlyweds. Also, we've been married like a month. We were I was just enough enough. Just figure it like we'll figure it out. You know? I feel like this is this is real love. Right? I think Yeah. Well and like, yeah,

Transcribed by https://otter.ai