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Distribution vs Marketing

Distribution vs Marketing

Software Social 6 September 2022

Episode Description

Colleen's in go mode for Refine. 

Huge thanks to all of our listeners who’ve become Software Socialites and support our show! You can become a supporter for $10 a month or $100 a year at softwaresocial.dev/supporters

 

 

 


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Sales for Founders with Ben Orenstein, Co-Founder of Tuple

Follow Ben: https://twitter.com/r00k Check out Tuple: https://tuple.app Did your latest AWS bill give you a heart attack? CloudForecast sends you daily transparent reports that help you understand your AWS costs, find any overspends, and promote opportunities to save costs. CloudForecast takes complicated data and produces accurate, presentable reports so you can share stats quickly and make strategic decisions swiftly. With communication integrations like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and email to share insights, you can go from managing your AWS spend in hours to seconds. Start a 30-day free trial today! No credit card is required to get started at CloudForecast.io.

5 April 2022 53m and 24s


From Learning to Code to Llamas

From Learning to Code to Llamas

Follow Marie: https://twitter.com/threehourcoffee Check out Llama Life: https://twitter.com/llamalifeco Check out Marie's learn to code YouTube recommendations: JavaScript 30 by Wes Bos Dev Ed Traversy Media This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Flightcontrol. You can save up to 80% of your hosting costs by switching to Flightcontrol. Flightcontrol is a new deployment platform by the creator of Blitz.js that solves the age-old Heroku vs AWS tradeoff by bringing the Heroku-style developer experience natively to AWS. The beauty of Flightcontrol is that it doesn’t require any AWS skills, but since it deploys to your AWS account, you have the ability to inspect and tweak anything should the need arise. Flightcontrol works with any language or framework. It supports servers, static sites, and databases. Sign up at Flightcontrol.dev and use the code SoftwareSocial to get 20% off your first 3 months.

29 March 2022 51m and 59s


Less Codesy Stuff, More Salesy Stuff

Less Codesy Stuff, More Salesy Stuff

This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Flightcontrol. You can save up to 80% of your hosting costs by switching to Flightcontrol. Flightcontrol is a new deployment platform by the creator of Blitz.js that solves the age-old Heroku vs AWS tradeoff by bringing the Heroku-style developer experience natively to AWS. The beauty of Flightcontrol is that it doesn’t require any AWS skills, but since it deploys to your AWS account, you have the ability to inspect and tweak anything should the need arise. Flightcontrol works with any language or framework. It supports servers, static sites, and databases. Sign up at Flightcontrol.dev and use the code SoftwareSocial to get 20% off your first 3 months.

22 March 2022 31m and 1s


Raising a Business and Family with Anna Maste

Raising a Business and Family with Anna Maste

Follow Anna: https://twitter.com/skulegirl This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Flightcontrol. You can save up to 80% of your hosting costs by switching to Flightcontrol. Flightcontrol is a new deployment platform by the creator of Blitz.js that solves the age-old Heroku vs AWS tradeoff by bringing the Heroku-style developer experience natively to AWS. The beauty of Flightcontrol is that it doesn’t require any AWS skills, but since it deploys to your AWS account, you have the ability to inspect and tweak anything should the need arise. Flightcontrol works with any language or framework. It supports servers, static sites, and databases. Sign up at Flightcontrol.dev and use the code SoftwareSocial to get 20% off your first 3 months.

15 March 2022 38m and 38s


Finding Your Career Niche with Nate Berkopec

Finding Your Career Niche with Nate Berkopec

Nate's website: speedshop.co This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Flightcontrol. You can save up to 80% of your hosting costs by switching to Flightcontrol. Flightcontrol is a new deployment platform by the creator of Blitz.js that solves the age-old Heroku vs AWS tradeoff by bringing the Heroku-style developer experience natively to AWS. The beauty of Flightcontrol is that it doesn’t require any AWS skills, but since it deploys to your AWS account, you have the ability to inspect and tweak anything should the need arise. Flightcontrol works with any language or framework. It supports servers, static sites, and databases. Sign up at Flightcontrol.dev and use the code SoftwareSocial to get 20% off your first 3 months.

8 March 2022 32m and 41s


Special episode: Two additional ways you can help Ukraine

Special episode: Two additional ways you can help Ukraine

List of Ukrainian indie businesses/OSS contributors/creators to support: https://ukrainianweb.biz/ Donate to World Central Kitchen: https://donate.wck.org/ and let Michele know your donation is part of her matching campaign (michele@deployempathy.com) This is intended as *additional* help in addition to the many other places to donate to help Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, rather than instead of those efforts. Michele Hansen  0:00  Hey, everyone, it's Michele here with a, yeah, I guess a special message on the Ukraine situation. So, like everyone around the world, we have been horrified by what is going on there, and trying to do whatever we can to help. And so I just wanted to update you on two really quick things that that are ways that you can help as well. So the first one is, is pulling together a list of Ukrainian indie businesses. As we know, there's a lot of developers and designers and people in our community, not not not just in our sort of global human community, but really in our world and our community in Ukraine, and want to want to support them as much as we can. And so pulling together a list on Twitter, but also my friend, Matt Nunogawa, he turned this into a website now. So you can go to Ukrainian web dot biz, and you can see a list of all of these businesses created and run by Ukrainians. Everything from a, you know, open source contributors to figma icons to morning pages app, coming soon pages, builder, databases, test management systems, Mac utilities, like clean my Mac, data for SEO purposes. There's also a personal finance money tracker app called Five Cents, which the story of that one just really hit me particularly hard, because the the developer just launched it a month ago. And he posted an update on the other day that saying that, you know, his his his feed for the last month is all sort of our normal, you know, building public kind of updates when we've just launched something. And then he said that he had to stop working on it and spend his time trying to keep his family safe from the attacks. So, um, lots of good businesses here. I hope we can all help support them. And so that's Ukrainian web dot biz, but also if you if you have friends in Ukraine, I mean, so many of us have staff and contractors and everything else. And friends in Ukraine. So if you know if people who are creators are running a SAS are infoproducts, open source, you know what, whatever, right? Like, you know, definitely just reply to the tweet, and let's build that list.  The other thing is that so we on on behalf of Geocodio, we are are trying to raise $20,000 for World Central Kitchen. And so we will donate $10,000, we'll match $10,000. We've already donated $1,000. So this is on top of that, we're going to donate that $10,000 no matter what, but we would really love to make it more. And I'd love for you to help with that. Even if it's like five or $10 that that helps. Right World Central Kitchen is an amazing, nonprofit run by Chef Jose Andres who is a proud son of Washington, DC where I used to live, who goes around the world whenever there is a crisis to feed people. And his organization is truly wonderful. I volunteered with it myself during the US federal government shutdown couple of years ago when government employees you know, weren't getting paychecks and we're feeding them and so I've seen from my own eyes how wonderful giving of an organization it is, but also how well run it is. And Jose Andres himself is on the Polish border feeding people who are coming across.  Of course, there's many other ways to help as well. So I say this not as you should only help these efforts, but these are in addition to whatever else you might be doing. And yeah, so I hope you can help whether that's UkrainianWeb.biz or donating the World Central Kitchen and sending me receipts.  But also, if you have people in Ukraine that you're supporting your I know, Harris Kenny, for example of IntroCRM. He has a staff member in Ukraine who is working with a group to buy groceries for people in Kyiv that you can also reach out to him about, but like if you know of efforts going on please let me know happy to use whatever platform we have to, to share that and and try to help people.  So we'll be back to our normal programming this week. And sorry, next week. And yeah, thank you. Thank you for thank you for helping. Slava Ukraine.

2 March 2022 5m and 53s


The Business of This Podcast

The Business of This Podcast

This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Flightcontrol. You can save up to 80% of your hosting costs by switching to Flightcontrol. Flightcontrol is a new deployment platform by the creator of Blitz.js that solves the age-old Heroku vs AWS tradeoff by bringing the Heroku-style developer experience natively to AWS. The beauty of Flightcontrol is that it doesn’t require any AWS skills, but since it deploys to your AWS account, you have the ability to inspect and tweak anything should the need arise. Flightcontrol works with any language or framework. It supports servers, static sites, and databases. Sign up at Flightcontrol.dev and use the code SoftwareSocial to get 20% off your first 3 months.

1 March 2022 39m and 5s


How to Use Twitter Effectively (feat. Arvid Kahl)

How to Use Twitter Effectively (feat. Arvid Kahl)

Follow Arvid: https://twitter.com/arvidkahl Arvid's Twitter course: https://www.findyourfollowing.com/ This episode of Software Social is brought to you by TranslateCI. Translate CI is a tool for developers that helps you localize applications with high quality, human translations. It supports over 70 language pairs.  TranslateCI eliminates the need to work out of spreadsheets, hire translators and manually merge language files. Instead, with TranslateCI, you just use Git. Just connect your git repo and TranslateCI will pull out phrases and, after a professional translator translates everything, they will merge into your existing codebase with a pull request. And every time you push code to your git repository, TranslateCI will pull any new phrases out, translate them, and create a PR back.  See how you can turn translation from a hassle into a breeze at TranslateCI.com.

22 February 2022 36m and 54s


Workshopping Pay-As-You-Go Failed Payments

Workshopping Pay-As-You-Go Failed Payments

This episode of Software Social is brought to you by TranslateCI. Translate CI is a tool for developers that helps you localize applications with high quality, human translations. It supports over 70 language pairs.  TranslateCI eliminates the need to work out of spreadsheets, hire translators and manually merge language files. Instead, with TranslateCI, you just use Git. Just connect your git repo and TranslateCI will pull out phrases and, after a professional translator translates everything, they will merge into your existing codebase with a pull request. And every time you push code to your git repository, TranslateCI will pull any new phrases out, translate them, and create a PR back.  See how you can turn translation from a hassle into a breeze at TranslateCI.com.

15 February 2022 35m and 49s


Selling a Business and Scaling Another Amidst Tragedy

Selling a Business and Scaling Another Amidst Tragedy

Read the post Jesse mentions about his daughter Leia: https://jessehanley.com/blog/2021 Follow Jesse: https://twitter.com/jessethanley Check out Bento: https://bentonow.com/ This episode of Software Social is brought to you by TranslateCI. Translate CI is a tool for developers that helps you localize applications with high quality, human translations. It supports over 70 language pairs.  TranslateCI eliminates the need to work out of spreadsheets, hire translators and manually merge language files. Instead, with TranslateCI, you just use Git. Just connect your git repo and TranslateCI will pull out phrases and, after a professional translator translates everything, they will merge into your existing codebase with a pull request. And every time you push code to your git repository, TranslateCI will pull any new phrases out, translate them, and create a PR back.  See how you can turn translation from a hassle into a breeze at TranslateCI.com. Michele Hansen  0:03   Hey, welcome back to software social. Hey, everyone, just a quick note before today's episode. So today's episode is a continuation of the conversation that I had with Jesse last week. And it's quite a bit heavier than our episodes normally are. And I want to give you a heads up in case this is a sensitive topic for you. So as many of you may know, from following Jessie on Twitter, his first daughter was born last year, and she was born with trisomy 13, which is a usually fatal condition. And his daughter died soon after being born. And so we, we talked about that in any episode. And what it's like to be a founder throughout all of that. And I mean, it's, it's, it's certainly not a topic that we normally talk about here. But I think it's an it's an important one and in many ways I feel like this is maybe the most important episode we've ever done. Because you know, we are business people and but we are we are people right like all of those things are happening at the same time. And and people don't really talk about death nevermind death of a child. And so I feel like this is this is really important to talk about. At the same time. I also want to stress that it was fully Jesse's decision to talk about this, we. So we actually didn't plan out last week's episode. Colleen was sick, and I was supposed to be talking to a guest and they ended up having to reschedule which is totally fine. But then I needed somebody else to come on and had to record that day. And I was like, who I wanted to have on that is online right now. And reach out to Jesse and so he hopped on with 20 minutes notice, and he had published a blog post about this about a month back, but I wanted to leave it entirely up to him whether we talked about his daughter, Leah, and it didn't end up coming up in that conversation we had and it was really fun conversation. And then we kind of you know, we stopped recording and then Jesse was like, You know what, let's but let's talk about it. So, so that's what we dive into. And, and it was also important to to you know, Jesse and I talked about whether we should publish this episode and how we should publish it. And so it's important to him that there be this sort of content warning in advance knowing that many people do struggle with infertility and miscarriage and and the loss of a child. And it's also extremely important to me, I think, to both of us really to show that it's okay to be open about that. And that if you are open about it, you'll receive compassion and that it's okay to talk about it. So without further ado, here is the second part of my conversation with Jesse. You may remember we've recently had Jesse on talking about his incredibly fascinating background as a bodybuilder turn marketer turned developer who now runs a SAS called bento and lives in Japan and is if you missed that episode, go listen to it. It was so fun for me and so fascinating. He's incredible founder. But something really struck me from that conversation was how his life for the past like seven or eight years has just been a series of changing major stresses from working at the small company to moving abroad and starting an agency and then having to scale it down and then scaling it up and starting bento and everything else so much else going on. And so I have Jesse with us again today. And we're going to talk about we're like the personal side Jesse Hanley  5:30   of all of that. So welcome back, Jesse. Thanks. Good to come back. like that thread, the yeah, there, there is a lot of stresses, I think, especially towards like the end of last year, which we can go into last year, they had has been a pattern of that, there's also been a pattern of me, putting myself in those stresses or overreaching a lot. And then kind of, I don't know, not burning out, maybe burning out. But kind of like reaching the end of like, whatever amount of gas that I had in me for whatever that venture was, and then just trying to, you know, regain myself take a breather, and then kind of go back out there and overreach again, and I still don't really know. Maybe we can dig into it on this a little bit. But I still don't know really where that comes from. Basically, it's been present, I think, since after after school, you know, even like during the bodybuilding shows and stuff, that was a pretty insane thing to do at 1818. I think 19 was when I stepped on stage. But yeah, it's been, it's been interesting, but it's definitely been a pattern. It's been a pattern of constantly putting myself in, like difficult situations, burning out trying again, so a lot of stresses. Michele Hansen  6:56   It seems like you're either running like full health, like sprinting, or resting. Yes, that's exactly new. There's two Jessi modes. And most of those, it seems like have been sort of like work related. But but if you want to sort of start with it, I guess the end of last year, you had a major personal stress. Jesse Hanley  7:23   Yeah, around the star Molossia. Things were looking pretty, pretty great. Bento was like Stein to come into itself, the product was developing in a really good direction, like, we haven't really found in quite like product market fit. But the direction was going in a way where like, you're starting to click with people, mainly, we're going down the marketing automation route, which people are really excited about. And I felt my skills are getting better and like so from that business perspective, things are going good in terms of the agency, things are also going really good at that we like survived the pandemic. And we grew actually quite significantly over the pandemic, which was mostly related to having really good friends and people like, yeah, just basically doing all my work online as well, because all of our clients are either an E commerce or they're an affiliate. So as those industries boomed, we basically kept hiring writers to support those businesses. So that was pretty good. So the SATA last year, things were all looking good businesses, MRR all that stuff was nice, we're just moving into this, like, beautiful two story house in South Japan, right in the city, which, if you've been to Japan, or you know much about Japan, it's hard to find housing like we do. And the amazing thing was because the place was on the market for a bit, just because during COVID, or even the year before COVID, people weren't really moving. It's quite expensive to move in Japan. I think like all that for us to move from our apartment to this house. It was like, over over $10,000 that you don't really see back and that's just like key money and a whole bunch of stuff. So it's it's expensive. And but we did it we found this like beautiful house. It has a garden so like our dog and our cat. But don't tell the landlord like a dog and cat can like cat can roam the dog can play in the garden and stuff. Got really nice neighbors, all that kind of. It's like a really quiet, quite lovely Japanese life. So yeah, everything was looking really good. And then we found out that my wife, Mikayla was pregnant. And that was super exciting. It was, you know, we'll never will that kind of like thing I wrote in the blog post that I put up towards the end of the ICS that like nice kind of combination of like excitement and nerves, but around just excitement. So yeah, the start of the year was fun. The middle of the year was also fun. I started to have conversations with people about selling my business. One of those conversations kicked off incredibly fast with a client, previous client who wanted to buy the business Yeah. agents business, a previous client, I was with situations probably worth going to this story. A friend sent me a listing on Empire Flippers of a business at the same monthly revenue as me, and had $1 figure on it. And he goes, Oh, this is interesting, like, have a look at it. And we knew the guy who's listening it was and so it's just kind of like an internet class and B type stuff. And then, um, I saw the dollar value. And I was like, Oh, that's interesting. And I spoke to another friend and I, who I knew was kind of, he said, offhanded jokes, like, I'd love to have your business. And then one day, I was like, would you love to have? Would you love to have this business? He's like, What do you want to sell it for? And I just said, the number that was on, you know, the other person's listing. And he said, Yeah, I'm kind of like interested in that. And what was going through my head at the time is like, I kinda was feeling that running an agency, a growing software business, and having a child, the three of them couldn't exist. Arguably, starting a business and having a child can't really exist. But I know people that pull it off, and you put off your business. Yeah. So, you know, knowing stuff like that. I was like, I can do it with one. I don't think I can do it with two. Yeah. And also, because it's a people business, there was, um, you know, there's people's real lives, and I cared a lot about the team. And so I wanted the team to persist. And so I was kind of like looking for a new home. So I went to one friend, he went off, and he was really interested, and went back to the original person who sent me the listing that kind of gave me my sale price, which is kind of a weird way to go about it. I told him, I went, Oh, hey, like I spoke to such and such. They were interested, he replies, he goes, I'm interested, like, I can get an LOI on your desk. In 24 hours, I was like, Whoa, this is interesting. And that basically kicked off the sale process. And the two people, they ended up going on to acquire the business like the kindest people, and some of my like, kind of dearest online friends, plus our agency who had worked with them before, like, love them. And so it was, it was the perfect fit. So at that point in time, I've got an exit in a business for, for me, I was life changing someone money. With a great bio. I've got a software project I love. I have my wife who is pregnant. I mean, a lovely house. And it is summer, so it's very hot. And everything's nice. And then we end up going to I wonder if there's gonna be a one, it's gonna make me tear up? I don't know, we'll say we ended up going to the hospital. Well, actually, the clinic so in Japan, there's our clinics, and that kind of, I don't know, how to explain them, looking back at it, but clinics are basically hotels with doctors in them in Japan. Like, they do these extravagant meals and, you know, you get massages, and it's like a Michele Hansen  12:50   labor and delivery Hotel. Jesse Hanley  12:52   Yes, exactly. Sounds nice. Like, yeah, yeah, it is nice. But the dynamic is that if they notice a single complication, you get ejected immediately. And given that this was like our first experience with the, you know, the Japanese pregnancy healthcare system, I don't really know how to say it, but like that kind of funnel, kind of going down. It was very surprising. And, and then, like, one of the checkups, they're looking at the monitors. And I not the doctor, which I, which still ticks me off. I noticed like a black.on, like our child stomach. And I was like, what's that? That looks odd? And he goes, Yeah, that is that is odd. I'm gonna take photos, and then he takes photos and kind of looks at it. And over the next couple of visits. They write us a letter to go to the hospital, and then give us a deposit back. Which I remember sitting and going like, Makayla, why are they giving you money back? That's weird. And she goes, I don't know. But they're saying she speaks fluent Japanese. And so it's, you know, there's a lot of different ways. I know, Japanese communication is very different to Western communication. So on to it. Yeah, it's it's nuance. So they're giving us a refund, but not really saying anything, but there's so much implied in that. And so, and also my Japanese isn't good. So throughout all this, we had an English doctor which was nice to the clinic but throughout all this I'm kind of like reading the room, reading faces and trying to absorb energy and just quite a lot numbers open my wife's energy when she's actually known what's going on just awful. Anyway, we go we go to the hospital, and the doctor there who stayed our doctor throughout the whole thing. He was a man, she was just the greatest guy. He just be lined and found everything wrong with a child. And what's interesting is that like, when you detect one thing, and I think like this is an interesting thing as like, reflecting on myself and like how I looked at it is like Anytime that there was a problem that he would pick up, I'd be like, Oh, that's fixable in my head, like I was like, oh, that's fixable. Then as he gets like the fifth thing wrong. He's like, is is the fifth problem? You start going I think that's something bad. Yeah. So then we do the what is the MDS thesis? Yeah, amniocentesis? Yeah. Yep. Yep, that comes back with the diagnosis that like, I thought I was Trisomy 13. Now, also, this is going on, I'm doing due diligence in my business. I'm trying to sell my business, it's incredibly stressful, I find out my child has Trisomy 13, which is effectively like a death sentence. really brutal. And the kickoff is that were past the date, because we found out late because of the clinic, and I feel comfortable putting blame on the clinic. Because we're past the date in Japan where you can't abort. So regardless of the status, you have to carry full term no matter what. That's an awful that's all, you know, like, knowing that you have to let me just recenter myself. Yeah. Yeah, knowing that your wife has to essentially carry full term. And because the good thing is like you get you get closure. But it just sucks. Michele Hansen  16:29   What were the odds you were given of? You know, Jesse Hanley  16:33   survival? Yeah. It's it's like 90% die in seven days. Like that type of stats. It's brutal. Like yeah, it's it's, it's, it is a death sentence. What's kind of interesting is like, you turn on social media. So you look at Instagram and stuff. Make it Makayla was really different to me. She spent like a lot of time looking at stuff. I was trying to find answers, I realized they weren't no answers. So I kind of channeled my, my data a lot. Michele Hansen  17:06   It's okay, well, it's not, I mean, it's not okay. Jesse Hanley  17:12   I channeled my data a lot, and then allowed me to kind of like, get through it from like a stock pot, but didn't really process it. Like I kept trying to mimic him, which was good. Michele Hansen  17:22   But it sounds like that's like sort of, I mean, it's what you're trying to do right now, which is steel yourself up against the emotion because it's, I mean, it's unthinkably hard to know that your wife is carrying a child that is going to die. And then, of course, we all know that our children are going to die eventually, we simply just hope that's after we are so so right. But yeah, and then you have all of this business going on. And you're someone who like takes, it seems like you're as a person, you're someone who looks for stress almost and kind of enjoys it in a in a way. But it's all previously the stresses you took on in your life were all things that you opted into. Jesse Hanley  18:08   And yeah. Michele Hansen  18:11   And you chose the stress of being a parent. And but this was not the kind of stress that you signed up for, like you were blindsided by the stress versus all of your other stresses seemed to kind of build slowly and you had time to adjust to them. And you could you could, you know, you could pivot away from them. Would you were in the process of doing with your agency business at this time? And then you're just you just, I mean, your life was just hit by a train like, Jesse Hanley  18:45   Yeah, and you know, like, the interesting thing is, like, work work was work was my coping mechanisms. So like, for me, I just the bento product evolved, I think found product market fit, revenue was up, not gonna say my MRI numbers, but probably 3x What they were in a six month period, all whilst kopien like the graph is, looks like you know, those kind of hockey stick hockey stick meme Silicon Valley graphs, and that was cope if I'm going to be frank and the product was just evolving so fast and I had friends who didn't necessarily know what you're going through and then like they'll send me stuff that I like how you shipping stuff so fast. And it was just because like What else am I supposed to do it? Because you're you're walking this like bizarre march to the end. Because you know the outcome, right? Like most kids die at birth. If the if you want to extend their life, you have that option you have the optionality to but like, like what before you know it? I think it's more suffering for the parents. And, and with trisomy 13, that the children are non responsive. So they may be breathing, but, you know, nothing really else. So, yeah, you're walking this March. So it's like, you know, it's, it's, it's interesting, like I still remember getting like the often after the business transaction went through getting the lump sum, which was a goal since I was like 18. I, like wanted to hit a goal by the time I was 13. And the dollar amount hit my bank didn't, I felt really good, it was at the gym again, felt really good for about 30 seconds. And then I felt like shithouse which was this interesting, you know, hit a goal that I had my sights on for years, didn't really mean much. Michele Hansen  20:44   Like to hit that goal for an Gavai life changing amount of money. And I don't know, I imagine that that probably felt bitter. You know, like, I people say that money can't buy happiness. And it seems like an experience where you stared that in the face that money indeed, cannot buy happiness, no matter how much you have. Jesse Hanley  21:08   Those are console problems study on the happiness part, just console like sometimes money can solve so much problems. If I'm running into a Postgres issue at the moment with bento, which sometimes I am, I can throw more money at the problem, I can add more CPU, I can increase my storage, I can hire help. Can't do that here. So I think like for contacts, like when I'm 29 ACS, I think like the first time it was like a real, raw experience of like, no matter what I do, I can't solve this, like a con work my way into a solution. And I can't solve it with cash. And so really was the first proper instance where to kind of deal with that, which was just, yeah, super hard to kind of go through. Yeah, it's tricky. Tricky. Michele Hansen  22:05   you coped by just, I don't know, throwing yourself into something that was sort of predictable and comfortable. And Jesse Hanley  22:18   I could control it. Yeah. controllable. Yeah, I could make the graph go up. I could fix problems, I can make customers happy. But yeah, I mean, like, we went on trips and stuff, but they've got like, a kind of a sad cloud over them and stuff. So like, we tried to do stuff. And, you know, obviously, incredibly loving my wife and I were, you know, we love each other. So, we spent a lot of time just kind of like feeling emotions and stuff and just walking together. But then you do the birth? And then, you know, it goes away. It does. And yeah, and then you know, what's interesting, then you end up speed running the, it's probably a real weird stuff with social bond reflection, it's probably real weird kind of thread, and stuff to talk about. On the software, social Michele Hansen  23:11   is real life, right? Like, you're not just this robot that runs a company, right? Like, you're a person who also runs a company who also sold a company at the same time, like, like this, it like, you know, for us, I mean, the story of God is, like, inter intertwined with the fact that we couldn't afford daycare and that's why we had to start a business like there's no separating those two, like our our work and our lives are in so many ways one of the same and yes, so it's weird, but this is real. And I mean, I feel like I can hear how hard this was for you. Just alone and the way you talk about it because I noticed that you keep saying you when you mean I Are we you're saying you know you go through the pregnancy knowing what's going to happen and you go through this and like you're putting this linguistic difference Jesse Hanley  24:10   there great observation that's it and I Michele Hansen  24:13   don't know if you hear yourself doing that but it just it tells me how like, understandably how hard it is for you to I need to I guess we should let the story finish because you know, I've I know the story but maybe people listening don't so do you want to Jesse Hanley  24:32   Yeah, speed run through it because a little bit traumatic. So, Michele Hansen  24:36   yeah, yeah. Jesse Hanley  24:38   Yeah, he says, okay, yeah, so we ended up Makayla gives best to Leah. She passes away my arms. I was able to be there with her. Which beautiful bit? Yeah. Because COVID Right. Michele Hansen  24:54   So was Leah alive for Jesse Hanley  24:58   under 30 minutes or so? Yeah, but alive. And then and then she passed a doctor. If it was done during the day a doctor again, like I call it kind of like say enough good things about him. He was it he curated it in a way that I could be there with Mikayla, if it was during the day or any other time, he knew what outcome we wanted. And he knew. Yeah, he knew the outcome that we want to do. He wanted me to be there. And so he curated the delivery so that I could, so we're kind of like, indebted to him. And then you know, what, you go through the Japanese healthcare system, which is designed to give you closure in the in the fastest way possible. We met I think I wrote in like the post that I did the write up of like, we met this lady who we call the bones lady. So you know, we're in a room with our, you know, our child who's passed away. And this lady comes in starts commenting on our child's bones. She's like, Oh, she's got a long femur. And you just can't help but laugh. You're like, who? Who the hell is this lady? Who the hell is this lady? And I remember, like, the kid was like, Ah, she's talking about Leah's femur. Like, what he's like, again, okay, let's make fun. So she understands. But we don't know who she is. Like, even with Michaela, we don't actually know. She, she's, she's like asking about childbirth, we ended up finding out that she's basically like a salesperson for the crematorium, who's organizing the process. But just doing in a really bizarre way. Anyway, we made the bones lady, she got some details from us, we end up doing, like a ceremony with all the doctors which was quite beautiful. In the hospital, then they put us in a taxi with with Alia on my lap, and send us to the crematory with a taxi driver who's like, super eccentric, like making noises as he's taking turns because he's so excited to go to crematory the city commentary. Because it's like big and epic. And so for him, he's like, he's excited with devastate it. So just the whole thing is just bizarre. And then we get to the crematory, quite impressive. Never been on before. But you got a room you have time with your child. She gets taken away comes back, you're in a room. And we finally figured out what bones lady was about. And you know, you see your child's bones. And she was kind of asking like, did we want them crunched up in a certain way? It's just because in Japanese, you got to put them in a box, right? You got to put the ashes in a box, but the bones of that. So you got to put the bones in the boxes, just kind of asking. How big do you want the bones? It's just Michele Hansen  27:41   and you're doing all have these weird decisions in the middle of being like in extreme grief and shock. Jesse Hanley  27:47   Yeah, but you're you're just in shock. grief. You're giant. Michele Hansen  27:52   Yeah, it's just, yeah, you're running a pilot at this point? Jesse Hanley  27:56   Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you're like him. Like, if there is an opposite of flow, like an extreme opposite of flow, you're liking that, which I guess is a shock. So yeah, you are just focused on going from A to B to C, and you get home we've got, we walk up the road. Our neighbor sees us, she sees us with a box, she breaks down. We give her a hug on her hug. And then we go home, and we're done. And then we begin processing all whilst doing everything else that was going on in the sir. Yeah, it was. Hello, via Hello, hello over you. Michele Hansen  28:32   And then meanwhile, you've probably got you know, waking up to like customer emails to get through and like, every morning databases to keep going and like Postgres all of that. Jesse Hanley  28:47   Yeah, Michele Hansen  28:48   you're dealing with this just I mean crater in your life. Jesse Hanley  28:56   Yeah, and so that no, like, I don't think I It wasn't until I took Christmas off. To be frank like I like that whole year just been working, been working, been thinking been in shock. And so when I took the first week off during Christmas, because, you know, people aren't sending that much emails, they're away, which is nice. It was the first week that I could actually process which is when I like write up the post and I put on my side and stuff. I like relaunched my site on the cell and stuff which was quite fun. And then I just started writing is like, I just kind of wanted to document like the year and then kind of processor because I just really like hadn't done any processing at all. Also, something that I I realized was that when I did posts about it, particularly from men's, I would have a lot of men reach out to me. And that was interesting. Like, like, maybe honestly probably like 70 people a sir, I think probably reached out to me which I don't have a large audience. So I was kind of like, shocked that so many people had lost children had been dealing with infertility for like five years. And these were like, impressive business people that I like, admired. And and to find out that they had like, a beautiful family of four, and have lost three children. You know? Yeah, crazy. So, yeah, it was, it was interesting. Michele Hansen  30:29   I mean, I think, you know, we have another friend who, who lost a child last year. And I think our society doesn't really teach us how to, how to talk about that, and how to support people who are who are whether that's infertility or miscarriage, or, you know, or, you know, losing a child after they're born. Like, me that you had 70 people reach out, and I noticed that the reaction to that post where a lot of people saying, you know, nobody really talks about this, and we went through this, and I didn't know what to say, and I didn't even know how to talk about it. And I think what you did was so incredibly courageous and important for making it clear that it's okay to talk about this. Jesse Hanley  31:32   Yeah, thanks. I, cuz it is it is interesting, like, you'd have people then be like, I don't even like customers and stuff. They're like, I had no idea that you are like, you know, that maybe customers that like, would message me a lot, are like, really passionate, bent to customers. And like, they felt some sort of guilt, but kind of tried to tell them like, don't feel guilty. Like it was kind of like how I was coping. But I think like, what I'm realizing is that like, yeah, like, businesses and people, business, essentially, people and people are complex, and they have complex lives and stuff is either in their control or out of their control. And they're just kind of going through it. But I think, you know, online, you just kind of see like personalities, or you just see people being successful and stuff, and you don't really realize so much is going on behind the scenes. And it's not like you should know, like, you should know, but I think when you're going through stuff yourself, it's very helpful to know that, like, you know, you could look at other people's lives and kind of take their time horizon as your own, you know, like, for us, it's like, All right, we lost our first child, but like, you know, if we want, we can try again, and it looks like other people have, like, we've got some, some friends that have gone through, like the infertility process, and trying to resolve that for six years, seven years. And like, I've just become pregnant, you know, and, and seeing people's journeys on that. It's just stellar, just like so courageous. And, again, successful people, people that you admire, but they're going through these, like much larger battles behind the scenes, which kind of makes them all the more impressive, maybe. But also, yeah, it's just, it's, it's quite real, you know? Yeah. Michele Hansen  33:22   It seems like you've learned a lot about the, I don't know, the benefit, or of being open about this, like you talked about how you reacted initially, and really just trying to steel yourself against it. And I can almost hear that there was like this transformation. And you now have, you know, you said you go for walks, and you feel your feelings together. And you've talked to all the 70 other people who reached out to you. I guess it sounds like you've you've learned that maybe there's other ways to process the grief besides forgetting it happening and burying yourself in work. Jesse Hanley  34:09   Yeah, it's interesting. It has been really good talking about it. I think the reason I spoke about it as well as because Mikayla has always been phenomenal about talking about stuff publicly. So like when we kind of knew the diagnosis and stuff. After that was kind of confirmed we we started talking about it. So she started talking about it, and I think I I saw how she was processing stuff by like writing public things. And I just thought it was really impressive and like really courageous, but she she got a response from like, mostly women that were following her. And so I think I was kind of inspired by that. But then again, I saw her kind of healing from it, maybe I don't know it's a long journey to actually heal properly but it Yeah, processing, you'd have like healing properties of like talking about it publicly. And so by doing that myself, I definitely kind of felt that. And then it kind of was interesting after reading the posts that kind of draw a line in the sand for me that I could start healing. It also gave me permission to stand up for myself a little bit more like, and tell myself, I got to make sure that like, I look after myself this year. And so setting more boundaries on myself being more confident of saying no, when I know what my boundaries are, like, I've made a couple of decisions this year, around mostly around hiring like mostly about putting myself in stressful situations, again, I think like coming all the way back, when we were kind of talking about how I would constantly like select stresses, put myself into them, and just like, try and make it happen. Through going through all this stuff last year, I think I'm reflecting on that part of me, and I'm saying no to it more, there's been a couple of instances of stressful stuff that like I wanted to put myself into that I just kicked the can down the road for a year. And I think that's fine. Like a large ones like a database thing, like we were thinking about moving all of our data stuff to a single store or whatever, it doesn't really matter. But it's gonna be a lot stressful project who would take like a whole quarter to pull off? And would it be like a heroic effort by heroic effort by being call it and then I was just like, bugger, I'm gonna pay for Heroku enterprise upgrade, pay up front and not worry about it for 12 months, and decisions like that. A good. And I'm trying to make more of them. So I don't are even asking like, why am I doing this? Am I just like am I overreaching for the sake of overreaching, and I don't want to do that this year. So that's one part like giving my purse up self permission. Also, like for my customer base, we run like a lot of our customer support on Discord like a community channel, and telling people hey, I need to take this weekend off, or hey, you know, I'm overloaded. Do you mind just give me a bit of a pause in a public channel. People are super nice. And they're really understanding and they it's, it's a little bit better on that discord note, as well, I find that running a community based support people way more empathetic. You know, Hey, how are you? I got a question. If I was running in support event on email, I probably honestly would have just shut the business down. To be frank, you know, yeah, it's just like, I find that when I get support tickets on email, they're often ggressive if they don't know who I am. Whereas if they we encourage everyone to come to discord instead, when they see how many emojis people are using and our custom emojis and stuff way more friendlier, even if they don't know who I am. And so that was an interesting move by us last year, that has held incredibly well over the stressful period. And even now, so yeah, give myself permission to set up boundaries with customers and stuff. They'll be like, hey, like, I'm overloaded. Like, I don't want to build that feature, or I don't want to do that this quarter. Can we please wait, people like, Yeah, no worries. And a lot of them have read the stuff that I've put out. So they get it? Michele Hansen  38:19   Yeah, the boundaries are so important. And you know, something you just underscored there, which sort of, you know, so I talk a lot about how when we're, you know, understanding what a customer needs, there's, there's functional social and emotional reasons why they decide to choose a product or not choose it, or change products or whatever. And I feel like I sometimes get a little bit of pushback on like, emotional, as if there is emotion in business. But I think what you just said, right there of are we going to spend a quarter doing this database project. Or I can just use Heroku and delay this for 12 months. Like, that's partly a business decision. But that's a huge context of that is the emotional context of you imposing boundaries. Yeah, I mean, and, and deciding not only what the business needs, but also what you need as a person. And I, I doubt you got into this whole story with the Heroku enterprise sales person, right. But like, and you don't need, you know, you don't need to and they shouldn't pull it out. But like, there is that emotional context behind it. Like it's still there's a huge part of the purchase decision, like and to act like it isn't there and there's only Oh, well, we just need a database thing. And there's only this functional element to it is just completely missing all of the context. Jesse Hanley  39:49   No, I could not, I could not agree more. And like I love that you bring this stuff up. The emotional part is huge. I can like speak to it. outlinks for banter, but let's take the Heroku For instance, right, I also speed ran myself through this sales process. Because what I was doing by doing I was actually upgrading to the Heroku plan, you basically pay up front. And you know, I could I could haggle him down. But I was, I don't think I can say the rates because I find stuff that doesn't really matter, I paid double digit percent for premium support. Essentially, what that gives me a couple things takes me off the general population by going to enterprise, you go off their general population, like rails, so you don't get auto shutdown and all that kind of stuff, which I've seen friends, like it happened to them. So I actually saw a friend during Black Friday get taken offline on Heroku and be down 48 hours, because of it because of an automated glitch. Oh, and so I saw that, and I was like, that's never happening to me. Um, and another one was, they've got a, like, you know, after you pay for enterprise, that premium support thingy, blah, blah, blah, whatever that line item is, you get like one hour SLA whenever you want. Plus, you get to talk to like a database specialist. Whenever you want, you just raise a ticket. And so I was like, I need that, like, I want one out. If something goes wrong, I want one hour response times I like, I don't want to wait business hours, like my mental health is super important. And if I can pay, you know, double x percent for the bill, like that's why I was making the decision, you know? And to that effect, like, Was that a good decision? For me? Well, it was because I had a call last week with a guy called Jesse Soylent from Heroku lovely sky came on, he had a lovely big beard and amazing background that was animated. And I said, Hey, man, I'm really anxious about all these Postgres things. Like, I keep seeing all these, you know, things in my database, click, just go through everything. One by one, we sat down, he took an hour and a bit with me, went through every single thing 10 out, I had nothing to worry about. But because of everything that I went through last year, I like so many anxieties and like, manufactured stuff. And so by leaving on someone, even if it was paid, I was able to sleep well at night. And so, like, I may only have like one call this year, but Touchwood touch got a lot of wood in my house. So Touchwood there's nothing gonna nothing's gonna go wrong this year that I meet them again. But if however, many, you know 10,000 plus dollars, for this thing, for that one call, probably would be worth it for me. And so is entirely emotional on that side. And then bringing that to bento on a little less, you know, deep and introspective. People switch to bento, because they're emotionally unhappy with their other platforms, they dislike trip for whatever reason, or they don't like Clavijo, or, you know, a support person annoyed them in another tool, and they've got, you know, a boost of emotional energy to make this switch. And they connect with me, and they see that I'm excited about bringing them on board, and they know, they'll be able to talk to someone. And that's all emotional kind of transfer of energy, they're pulling on my energy to be excited and pumped, they know that I'm gonna, you know, well, hopefully, they'll see that I like, live up to my word, and I'm going to be there when they need me. And yeah, they're, you know, excited and happy to switch. And so, because it's a lot to switch to a CRM, like, it's a lot to move your email marketing price, not really a lot. But mentally, it's a lot, you got to change, you know, whatever codes, adding data into the system, and then you got to do your imports and stuff. But to get someone across the line, especially if they're spending like 500,000 bucks a month or more, it's purely emotional, to be frank, or its insecurities. You know, I'm a marketer, in a small Sass company. My boss is telling me to do email marketing, you know, between you and me, I don't really know what I'm doing. You know, there's a lot of I have a lot of those conversations and marketers that are in house that don't know what they're doing, they're nervous, and they can just talk to me, I've got access to a lot of sass companies. I've run, you know, email marketing for Sass companies, like I can help them I can talk to them. And so you know, their emotional energy there is that they're anxious, a little bit uncertain, they want a little bit of guidance. And you know, I can send templates and give them ideas and guides and stuff, and then they feel empowered and happy, and they become lifelong customers. So so much of the sales processes is emotional for a business like bento, but then there's also stuff which is finance. And I don't to be frank, I don't like those conversations. And those customers tend to just not be the best ones where they're coming over just for pricing reason or whatever. The best customers are generally the ones that are, you know, the summary of the nation. Yep. real frustration. Yeah, real anxiety, or something around the job to be done that there's just some uncertainty there and, and, you know, me and the team Scott ash, we can, like, basically help them and make sure that yeah, they feel confident, happy. And if they've got a question, they'll be heard and they'll get an answer straightaway. So yeah, Sales is a huge part of sales, I think. Michele Hansen  45:04   Yeah, I mean, we talked about that on the on the last episode you were on about the, that like rapport building with someone. And you know, I mean, that came up in the example customer interview that I did with one of Collins customers. So, you know, a much lower price SAS much sort of a lower hurdle to cross. But the person I interviewed Drew, you know, he said, you know, well, we're all junior developers, and we didn't really know what we were doing. And we're running into these problems with this other service. And all of a sudden, this one just worked and like, is impossible, but it was so easy, like, and, and, and, you know, because I think when we have issues with software, like we, sometimes we doubt whether it's us, like, I feel like at least once a week, there's a moment where I'm, like, struggling with something and I'm like, I swear I work in technology, why can't I figure this out? Right? Like, we blame ourselves for that. And then, and so recognizing that really, you know, you're basically selling sort of emotional relief. And, like, you bought peace of mind from Heroku. Which, like you said, he said, like that interview can be a headline, but like, it's, Jesse Hanley  46:15   like, you said that interview with like, cleans customer, I thought was kind of interesting, because like, there's so much there. There's, it's not just like ease of use of our product or getting set up. It's like, if they're working for, you know, a client, they've got deadlines, they don't want to be messing around with, you know, there's Michele Hansen  46:35   no stress there. Yeah, Jesse Hanley  46:37   yeah, even if it's small, and even if it's something that they don't want to waste time, because they got billable hours, they got other people's expectations, and if you can help someone solve that pot, and you generally win the sale, but I don't think people are necessarily mindful of that. They just kind of, I don't know, they look at people like numbers, you know, a person slides onto their calendar, and they're just trying to like, get through the transaction, the sales transaction. But if you can get away from that you can kind of like look more at the person. And actually deeply try and solve that problem. Not just kind of, like, take things in one ear and out the other. It's real, it's really hard to lose sales often, like a kind of, I think you can look at is look at your close rate. For me personally, I don't know how would be interesting. He also, if you get on a call with someone, do you like have any idea of what your close rate is? Like how many deals when you personally get on the phone with them that like become customers? Potentially longtime customers? Michele Hansen  47:37   I have no idea. I've never tracked that. Jesse Hanley  47:39   I would imagine a tie. I've got a feeling. Michele Hansen  47:43   Yeah, most like it's pretty rare that I yeah, I guess it's pretty rare that I have a conversation with someone like that, like there are very few let's put this way. The only way I would be able to track this is looking at my contracts folder and seeing which ones were only drafts and never made it forward. And I can only think of a handful. Yeah, in the last couple of years that are only drafts and I'm pretty much I'm pretty much always working on you know, a larger like negotiating a larger deal. It's it's pretty unusual for me to not have at least one going on at any given time. Jesse Hanley  48:26   Yeah, which is interesting. You know, like that's, that's as far as the sales things cuz I'm like, that's a really high close rate. But you're naturally curious. You're looking on the emotional side of things. I think during the sales engagements, you're deeply trying to help someone and so yeah, you come to a deal and you do actually probably resolve the problem that they are trying to do in the best way possible and it's hard to lose deals like that if you kind of have Michele Hansen  48:53   Yeah, you know to what you're saying earlier like about everything going on with Leah this year like you in some ways reacted to that by just trying not to feel the emotion at first, at first. And I wonder if people are afraid to recognize the emotion in a sales or business context because they don't want to feel the emotion right like if you don't know how to feel comfortable in your own body feeling stress and frustration nevermind crippling grief, or anger or guilt or blame or whatever all those things are like, if you are someone who runs away from their own emotions, then it makes sense to me that they would run away from other people's emotions in general. And to say that you have to recognize emotion even if that emotion is stress or frustration which are pretty mild compared to grief. No, they're all you know all emotions are valid right? Then it makes sense that they would avoid that element entirely and distress regard it as not being as relevant, as, you know, the functional elements of it like that, like that makes sense to me. Because, you know, even even digging to that level of Yeah, like, am I am I using this right? Like, and recognizing that someone's like feeling vulnerable or feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, like to be able to handle that carefully, especially in a sales setting and be like, Yeah, you know what, I think I think you got this, I think we got to kind of make some tweaks. And I think what we've got, like will work better, but like, you've got the pieces there, you know, like, reassuring them, right? Like, but if somebody's just been running away from their own emotions, then it's going to be really, really hard to handle that other person gently, which is what you need to do in a sale setting. And I think, you know, I think it sounds like to me with you, like you are really learning how to handle yourself gently. It sounds like you learn to handle customers gently first. And now you are applying that same empathy and gentleness and curiosity to you know, that you first learned with people who manage body building vitamin shops, to yourself and your personal life. Jesse Hanley  51:23   Huh? You can't. So good, good observations on this? Yeah. Yeah, I don't know. I'm now just thinking about about a lot of that. I agree. I think I agree. You do? Yeah, I think something that I was thinking was you're talking about that is like, when I do talk to customers. I am generally pretty honest of like, how I'm feeling at the time. So like, sometimes, like, I, I kind of balanced the thing of like professionalism and unprofessionalism. I can be very professional, but I still like, letting people know kind of where I'm out. And I've always done this just before this stuff last year, like, I feel like I've always kind of done that. Because it does kind of cut a lot of, I don't know, like, it breaks the ice, but it just just cuts a lot. And it's nice when you're just talking person, a person about something. Or you know, if you pick up on certain energy in a call, actually talking about that energy is quite interesting. Like I remember during a sales call with someone and they seemed to hate me. And I remember just being like, this person, like, they must hate me. They've just made me this good. rather cool. You know? And I was like, okay, like, um, you know, just wanted to ask, like, um, what I said, just want to ask, like, um, I, like, Am I doing everything? I say, got the perspective, but wasn't confrontational. It was like, like, you, you know, is everything okay? You're okay to kind of like chat today. Kind of like a soft eye Michele Hansen  53:04   check in, I refer to that book as, like, checking in with them being like, hey, like, is is, is now still a good time. And you don't necessarily say like, you seem super stressed. Should we reschedule? It's like, hey, like, is this is it still a good time right now like to talk about those like, solely fine if you want to, you know, like, just very casual, Jesse Hanley  53:27   which is confrontational trying to ask someone that right, because like they meet, but they never go. Michele Hansen  53:34   I don't know. I, I have had a few calls that stand out in my mind. Interesting, but only a few of the 1000s I've had, right? Like, Jesse Hanley  53:45   that part at that point is a numbers game. And if it's a handful, they might 1000s. And I think it's mostly safe to ask. If your tone of voice I think it's really important. So you're kind of always like, hey, like, just want to ask, like, is everything okay? Like, would you like to like I'm just getting a sense that like, you know, maybe something's off? Would you like to go see something else in the product? Or do you have something else that you got to do? Because, you know, blah, blah, blah? Yeah. And the person was just like, I go into a fight my boss. You had nothing to do with me. But yeah, so it was important for me to ask that question. So then I was like, ah, I'd like lost the sale. But they're like, I don't know if my boss about blah, blah, blah. I was like, Oh, what about No, like, like, we it was very interesting because it played into like a banjo thing. They're like, ah, like, we accidentally sent a buggy like an email to like all list with the wrong like a test subject line or whatever. And like, they're upset and I was like, I was like, well, we've got we have features that that help with that. But it was just interesting. Like they're in trouble. They were not like the happiest. They had made a couple of mistakes. And that was actually one of the reasons they were talking to us is because the boss saw that we had this particular feature and ended up being closed the deal they became a customer it was all good, but I think like Picking up on people's energies in calls, being kind, and asking client questions and seeing where people are at and you get a response, either positive or negative, and come and take it from there. But realizing that like, even in sales sales, you're working with real people with real lives and a real stressful stuff. And so, you know, from a sales perspective, or just like a human perspective, like ask questions that account and you know, like, proactively do that don't be afraid to because like, you can allow people to set up their own boundaries and stuff as well. I don't know if that makes sense. But Michele Hansen  55:34   I guess I mean, that really brings us full circle, right? You never know what's going on in someone's life and how they treat you and how they react to you, maybe four have absolutely nothing to do with you as a person, right? Like, there is so much going on behind the scenes that I'm, but we don't know about. And so, you know, be kind to each other, whether that's sales or personal life, and also be kind to ourselves. And that's a good place to end on. Jesse Hanley  56:07   Yeah, I agree. Well said, well said, this is a good chat. Michele Hansen  56:11   I will thank you so much for coming back on and for really baring your soul to us. I'm still just I'm in awe of the of how how you are willing to be so so vulnerable and public. You know, we as a sort of indie community, we talk a lot about building public but to me, I'm finding the people I am just just the most Admiral are the ones who are vulnerable in public and vulnerable for the benefit of other people. And you are in just such an example of that, and I'm so I'm so grateful for you. Jesse Hanley  56:48   And thanks for being there. When I could DM you questions and stuff like even prior to the diagnosis, it was really lovely to be able to chat to you about family stuff, which I remember as like our first call right, and left an imprint on me expat parents. Yes, it's being expat parents. And I was so excited. And I got to ask you all these questions, so I really appreciated being someone that I could DM out of the blue and talk to about family stuff, because it meant a lot at the time. Yeah. Michele Hansen  57:20   Well, I'm so grateful to be your internet friends, to the rest of my internet friends listening to this podcast. Thank you for listening, and we'll talk to you next week.

8 February 2022 57m and 31s


From Bodybuilder to SaaS Founder

From Bodybuilder to SaaS Founder

Follow Jesse: https://twitter.com/jessethanley Check out Bento: https://bentonow.com/ This episode of Software Social is brought to you by TranslateCI. Translate CI is a tool for developers that helps you localize applications with high quality, human translations. It supports over 70 language pairs.  TranslateCI eliminates the need to work out of spreadsheets, hire translators and manually merge language files. Instead, with TranslateCI, you just use Git. Just connect your git repo and TranslateCI will pull out phrases and, after a professional translator translates everything, they will merge into your existing codebase with a pull request. And every time you push code to your git repository, TranslateCI will pull any new phrases out, translate them, and create a PR back.  See how you can turn translation from a hassle into a breeze at TranslateCI.com. AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Michele Hansen  0:00   Hey everyone, I'm so excited. I have our friend Jesse Hanley from bento here with us today. Good, bro. So, Jesse, you have, you're such an interesting founder. So you were a digital nomad for a long time as a marketer, right? Um, and for the past four years, you have been running bento, which is like, it's like email automation, like, kind of like you like compete with like, drip, right? Jesse Hanley  0:31   Yeah, I mean, the easiest comparison for most people is like, customer IO and drip, those type of tools. But we've got a good product suite that also serves e comm. So if people are in E commerce, then there's another tool called Klaviyo. So kinda like a put ourselves in the middle of those two tools. But yeah, it's it's interesting bento has also been kind of like my passion project over the past like four years, which we can like, dig into a bit. But it's been all the things that I've wanted, as I've been working in marketing, and I just kind of like built the tools myself. Put them in a nice little package. And then yeah, no, I just flog them online. Michele Hansen  1:06   Yeah. Love that. So. So you were a nomad for a long time as a marketer, running this agency. And then you put down roots in Japan. Like last year, two years ago, Jesse Hanley  1:20   whenever a little bit before COVID. Like I, yeah, I made the decision to settle in, I met a friend down south, that friend is now my wife ran down south of Japan. And after like traveling for, I think, since 2015, or so, like, I'd spent half a year in Asia, half the year in Europe. And I was running all my stuff. And honestly, it's just it's not efficient. It's like quite a romantic lifestyle, because you're leaving out of hotels, and you're seeing cool parts of the world. But it's very fatiguing. And I think as my business is just starting to like kind of kick up just before COVID or the year before COVID. I, when I got the offer to move into this friend's apartment, I kind of just took it and it just felt like the right move at the time. And then then yeah, then the world shut down. Definitely was the right move, they're going to be locked in in Japan, because Japan is actually being quite nice during COVID to kind of like staying because I don't I love Asia, out of all the places I've been in the world. I love Asia as a region. And I really like Japan. So being kind of locked down here for the last two and a bit years is actually being quite nice. Michele Hansen  2:26   That's really interesting. I feel like there's this we kind of talked about this a little bit last week of like, there's this as you said, romantic vision of like, what being a nomad is like, and you know, for those of us who do run our own businesses, but like, have kids, that's kind of not something we I mean, I guess I do know some people who are nomads with kids, but it's a little more challenging, but like, I like I've heard that like, you know, moving from place to place, like there's all this like, mental overhead of like, you have to figure out like, where to buy groceries and where to live. And like all this kind of stuff that like living in one place, you don't really have to think about like, like, how was your experience of that. Um, Jesse Hanley  3:08   I mean, that's kind of like some of those problems like all the romantic problems. So like, not knowing where groceries are is like a fun Saturday adventure and like, knowing, you know, the good cafes, to work out is like another fun adventure or, you know, finding apartments can be an adventure, it could be like a horrible adventure. But it's, yeah, I don't know, moving around, it's, I don't know, all those problems, if you have the right perspective, are quite enjoyable. And they do kind of make things interesting, because when I was traveling, I was working Monday to Friday, 40 hours a week, if not sometimes, like, more, or sometimes less, just depending. And the way that I would do is just try and like live out my life normally. And then a lot of my exploring would be like on Saturdays and Sundays, and I would just go out and meet friends or whatever. But at the time, I was also trying to, you know, I was staying in apartments and staying in hotels. I did have a lot of friends that were also staying in hostels and stuff. But for me, it was really important that like, I tried to have as much of a stable life as I could. Yeah, it does get pretty expensive, though. Yeah, it was actually really offensive when I kind of look back on it, but it was worth it. And also, there was like a pretty interesting trade off a lot of the long term relationships and even like some of my best customers now all of them like I met on the road. And I reckon, yeah, I think about it. Like, I had a return from the people that I met on the road even though it's a really expensive way of life, if that makes sense. So, so yeah, you just meet a lot of communities like traveled around the US travel around Europe or Asia and you just meet so many wonderful, amazing humans that um, yeah, even during COVID and stuff like a lot of these humans were either clients, so we worked together or we did in our joint venture projects. Yeah, it made sense. For me at least Michele Hansen  5:00   Yeah, that's all it was like an investment in your I don't know, entrepreneur community, which I think for, it's like, it's so important, right? Because like most of us don't really know people in our normal daily lives who do this weird internet job thing. And having that community but also globally is I mean, it's so valuable. I mean, I mean, I'm here in Denmark, and you're in Japan. Like, I think that's that's Case in point enough. And so. So you started. Jesse Hanley  5:29   Yeah, sorry to interrupt you. But like on that note, we have like spoken a lot in Slack and stuff. And I think previous Jesse, like pre COVID, when I would have traveled to Europe, because we're chatting online, if your game like we probably would have met up or something. Because we have chatted a bit online, like it would have been easy for me to kind of go to Denmark and just kind of hang out. So that was how I was making a lot of relationships, I meet people online, meet people on Twitter or whatever, you chat. And you'd be like, alright, like, I mean, the country kind of close during a catch up, and then would kind of catch up that way. So a lot of my travels were guided, kind of like that, like I would meet people online, and then kind of catch up, which kind of sounds weird. Michele Hansen  6:11   Like, there is this kind of like quick, like fast friendships sort of quick intimacy that comes especially if it's like someone you've been tweeting with for like, a couple of years, like there was someone that I think I had met them, like, once at a conference, and we didn't even really talk that much. But then like, they they live like an hour from us. And so like, last year, I was like, hey, like, come to our house and like, hang out with us for the afternoon. Like, let's do the firepit. And like, let's like, you know, like, hang out. And it was so interesting, because it was like, Yeah, I hadn't really hung out with them or, you know, their, their wife before or the like. But it was like we had so much to talk about, and we're so comfortable with one another. Like, like, like I had that experience to at founder summit where there was people who I had never actually met before, but then like, I'm, you know, going to find a place at lunch or whatever. And I'm like, oh, like, there's Ellen crane from homeschool boss. And I was like, oh, there's Ellen like, and I just sit down and talk to her. And it was like, we had been friends for such a long time. Like there's just this it's it's I don't know, internet friends are awesome. Jesse Hanley  7:16   Yeah, I agree. I agree. Yeah, that sounds nice. That experience of like having friends over who you've met online. I've had that a couple times. It's it is the best. So, Michele Hansen  7:25   yeah. So okay, so you so your, your background as a marketer, right? Jesse Hanley  7:33   Kind of, um, so I, yeah, so after school, I was really into fitness. And I did a couple of bodybuilding shows. And so I was like, alright, what am I going to do? I don't have any idea about university. So I am going to just start working. So I started working as a personal trainer, and then I worked in retail. And then when I was in retail, I was bored, because I was in the CBD, like the centre of Sydney. And no one really buy supplements in the afternoon. And so I was like, Oh, I'm not gonna play video games in the store. So I might build them like an e commerce website. That sounds fun. So I like Magento. And I spun up like an instance and I got going actually start to make some sales. And then my boss was like, ah, do you want to come down to Canberra, which was about three hours out of Sydney, and I had no other plans. I was like, Yeah, I'll move down. So I packed up all my stuff moved down to Canberra. And then when I was in Canberra, I rocked up to the inquiry office, and the office is like a bond in a farm. And he's like, this is where all the magic happens. And it was literally like the dirtiest warehouse like I've seen. And I'm from that began this like pretty crazy journey of four years working with this guy on this kind of cluster of companies and I kind of did anything in tech related to these businesses. So did all the calm self taught myself SEO, the sites are doing like quite significant revenue. potluck, I think it's the past like a million a year. Just doing like econ Rev. And then we're also speeding up stores and gyms and distribution businesses, I got to kind of play in the full commerce stack. Whilst I'm kind of having like free rein on whatever I wanted to do. Like I taught myself email marketing, I taught myself SEO, I taught myself ads I taught myself, you know how to set up abandoned cart emails using a cart hook. Like I think I was one of Jordans like first customers. I think that's how I started like, talk to him on support and stuff. And then then after a while, things start to get stressful because we're importing heavily from the US and by the way, is this interesting to talk about. Michele Hansen  9:43   You are a former bodybuilder who's self taught themselves marketing and development and is a like Case in point of making your own luck. Yes, this is interesting. I'm just like sitting here wrapped listening. Okay, Jesse Hanley  9:59   okay. To continue, so, um, what it was like the business as it was kind of growing pretty rapidly. We were, it was a full male team of bodybuilders. So quite a lot of energy in that room. So like Michele Hansen  10:16   it builders, men, people probably taking testosterone. There is a lot of testosterone going on in this work environment. Jesse Hanley  10:24   Yes, yeah. And so you know, and there's, there's huge egos right. And my ego was also starting to get like, a little bit tainted. And I was like, All right, like, what's my future, as well. So I started thinking about this, whilst, whilst I'm thinking about my future, the businesses are growing, there was a macro trend happening. And that macro trend was that the Australian dollar was tanking against the US dollar, at a rate of margins. So we were making 30% margins, the US Dollar was essentially like, getting stronger against the Australian by about like, 30%. So we started losing a lot of our buying power. And then the, the, the CFO was also my roommate. And so he, he had all the things he's like, I don't like the looks of this, this isn't really looking to fab. And so we both kind of like, you know, looked at the painting on the wall, and we're like, what are we going to do? And so, I think I was up to the chapter in like, The Four Hour Workweek, where it's like, negotiate with your boss to leave and work remotely. Like that sounds smart. So um, I went at a gym session, I chatted to my boss and told him that I wanted to work remotely. And I don't know, he was such like, he was at the gym, most gracious guy at the Michele Hansen  11:39   gym. Or this is like you had your meeting like your heart to heart with him at like, Jesse Hanley  11:45   the business owned two gyms. So we, we would do gym sessions during the day is very, Michele Hansen  11:50   very, like you had your like, one on one with Him, basically, while you're like pumping iron, and you're like, I think I want to move to, you know, China or Japan or France or whatever. And like it was, Jesse Hanley  12:02   I want to move to Yeah, I remember like, he's like he's doing like tricep extensions. And I'm like, I'm telling him, I'm like, Hey, man, like, I want to work from my laptop from early. I can do my whole job online. He just looked at me and was like, like, like, just disappointed. And it was like, do I have I think he said something along the lines of, like, do I have an option or anything? And I was like, nah, this is what I wanted to. And then we just continued working out. And like, that face that Michele Hansen  12:33   disappointed face because he's like straining his muscles or because he's like, upset with what I'm saying. Jesse Hanley  12:38   Yeah, exactly. And, and then, like, that was kind of it. I basically booked my tickets, and then started working. And Michele Hansen  12:47   oh, wait. Okay, so sorry. I'm just gonna summarize. So you have this meeting with your boss, while working out and to ask him to if you can work from Thailand. And then He grunts at you. And then you packed up and did your job from Thailand? Jesse Hanley  13:08   Yeah, basically. Again, to like, summarize that period, I think like the years that I was in that business, well, by far the most formative, like the amount of freedom that he gave me. And it was just, it was the most unconventional business. The amount of freedom that he gave me and like the amount of decisions that I was making it like 1920 2122 was just like, was ridiculous. And also like the amount of we had like a whole warehouse of like pre workout supplements or just like caffeine. So we took a lot. We conceived a lot of caffeine to get the work done. So we definitely overworked and burning the midnight fuel. But I was young. So like I could, like I felt like I could do that. But yeah, it just kind of was a catalyst for really unconventional kind of growth. And there was like a pursuit of excellence in the business, which like I quite liked, we were always trying to do stuff better. We're always trying to look for stuff to do. And no one was really a slacker and like when issues would happen. Like we would order. You know, too many containers for the warehouse. So the whole thing would have to be like restocked and done. Didn't matter who you were you you pick up, you know, you'd roll up your sleeves and you'd repack the whole warehouse. And I think it just kind of taught me a lot and so then I ended up taking a lot of that energy, I think on the road with me, and probably still have like a lot of it today. So I do thank him in particular just for like the freedom that he gave me in a lot of the unconventional mentorship that I got. Michele Hansen  14:40   So What year was this that you have this pivotal workout meeting and move to Thailand. Jesse Hanley  14:51   I'm going to go to quickly get a nomad list. Let's scroll to the bottom. Ah 2015 I think 2014 was when Then when the negotiation happened, and then 2015 was, yeah, when I started traveling around. Michele Hansen  15:09   And so you move to Thailand. And then like, was T basically like, Was this your only client at the time? Like was your plan to? Yeah, guarding agency? Or was it just to like, work remote? Jesse Hanley  15:23   Yeah, it was, I am switching from employee to consultant. And I just have to get everything done that I was doing before that that was the only kind of negotiation. Michele Hansen  15:36   So then how did that grow into an agency? Jesse Hanley  15:40   How did that go into an agency? Um, Michele Hansen  15:44   like, what was the next evolution of that? Jesse Hanley  15:47   Well, I didn't really know. Like, what? Yeah, it's kind of interesting. So I think like, I felt that there was also like a little bit of risk. Like having one client, which was my boss, who I knew the CFO and I, like, knew that the finances weren't like looking too hot. So I started to kind of like mentally hedge a little bit. But I didn't really know like, what I could package my skills up as. So I think like, the first version of like, Jesse's work online was just like, kind of like a handyman. It was like, if I found an opportunity or something to work with, where I could apply the same skills that I was using in E commerce and stuff, then I basically sold them to people. So if people had met, someone had an e commerce website, or I met someone online, or I met someone in like a forum or something, I would basically just help out the website with whatever they needed. You know, set up abandoned carts, welcome sequences, learning copywriting, and a lot of this stuff I was learning on the job, as well. So I would take up work that maybe I wasn't really qualified for, but I knew I could work, I could figure it out, and then figure it out. And I really cared about clients, I really cared about what I was delivering. So I felt like I delivered Yeah, kind of good work in those early years. And then it kind of evolved from there. So I kind of started niching, because they'll stuff that I really enjoyed, I really enjoyed the SEO side, I really enjoyed paid marketing, and so focused on that and then started hiring help. Yeah, you're like deeper on Michele Hansen  17:20   it, like you did, like you didn't go to college, or university, as you would say, and so like, but it sounds like instead, you, you basically got paid to get this education. And it's, it's amazing, honestly. And that you somehow you convinced all of these people that you are capable of doing these things that you didn't know how to do, and then you just learned them on the job. Jesse Hanley  17:48   Yeah, a lot of that was also um, in the company that I worked for sales was actually a really heavy aspect of it. And so like, you know, trying to call up a bodybuilder in a retail store, and getting to buy a product to put on a shelf is a hard thing to do. And, and I would pick up the phone and call people at times, and I would pick up the phone and try and sell and I read sales books and all that. So like, the sales part, has served me probably better than any other skill as well. Upon reflecting on it now, I think the sales part was kind of key because I could I could sell people that I could go to help them. And then I would obsess about trying to actually deliver good products, and then they would recommend me to others. And then you put in the work from there. Michele Hansen  18:37   So let's do a little roleplay then I'm going to be pretend to be a running a bodybuilding store in rural Denmark, I will put on my best, tough guy voice. And you're going to call me and try to sell me some stuff because I'm really curious to hear like exactly how you would approach that pitch. Jesse Hanley  19:01   Yeah, sure. So like if I was calling you. So let's say I went bring bring, and and you picked up and you say, Hello. Yeah, so that and then I say, hey, like, you know, my name is Jesse. And I'm from such and such, let's say Jesse's distribution company, you'd probably hang up. What do you want? No, you just hang up. Frankie. Yeah. So then what? So then what I would probably do, and what we had was, we had sales reps that were actually physical in all their different states. And so what what we would do is build relationships with a lot of these retailers. So I would physically go into the store. And like introduce myself, maybe give them a whole bunch of free samples. And we would fly Michele Hansen  19:47   from where I guess you were in Australia at this point. Yeah. So you would fly from say, I don't know. Australia to like South Carolina or New York. Jesse Hanley  19:59   Yeah, to the actual physical locations. Oh, yeah, it says, visit them in the physical locations. So when I was selling, it was generally like, we knew who these people were. And so I knew a little bit of background about them. So there's a lot of personal chatter, getting to understand them. Mostly talking about personal stuff, to be frank or gossiping about the industry. And then the sales stuff is generally it's kind of like problem solving. So it's, what do you low wine? What are your margins like with this. So in supplements, generally, it's like a commodity business, you have a whole bunch of different protein powders, all the protein powders are often the same, most of them come from the same, like, if you follow the chain up, most of them come from a company called Glanbia, which is like in New Zealand. And, you know, all the whey protein comes like from a couple of main sources, they're just kind of like repackaged, and all that. And so often, you're trying to work out what are the margins, you're trying to work out how to incentivize the other person to pull your units off the shelf, because you kind of got a double problem there, you got to push your units on that, they have to do a purchase order, and physically put units on their shelf. And then you got to work out a way to get those things off the shelf. Because if they don't come off the shelf, after they've been put on, you may get a call later, and they're like, take your units back, they're going to expire or whatever. And you don't want that call. So you've a lot of it's like how to get the units on the shelf. That's going to be like margin, or net terms or stuff like that. And then how are you going to pull it off. And that's in quotes, marketing, but it's not really marketing, a lot of like distribution businesses that didn't really do well. Often thought they could like run ads in their stores or whatever to get units off the shelf. But it was never that it was always encouraging the manager in the store to kind of take a bias on your products versus others. And that's either better relationships, kickbacks, giving way more samples than all your other competitors. Because if they've got samples, they can give free samples to their customers, the customers try the product, they'll come back and they'll come like a free trial in a SAS. Like free trial, no credit card. So yeah, it is interesting, the sales process is relationship building, first and foremost, less kind of classical, like American sales, boiler room type stuff. Michele Hansen  22:19   I mean, honestly, the more I have learned about sales and done sales myself, the more I have realized that yeah, as you said that boiler room perspective on sales is like maybe that happens in a small percentage of cases. But what you just said of like, you know, building rapport and getting to know them as a person, you know, establishing yourself as a like, real human being who cares about them as a human being. And then and just being curious about what they're trying to do, and figuring out how you can solve a problem that they have. And being flexible with that, like, that is is what sales is it's not the like, you know, pounding on the table, like, kind of, you know, well, I hear you talking about bodybuilding. I said, the tough guy approach, right, like, of sales, like that's just, maybe some people do that, but most of the time, it's just just talking to people. With, Jesse Hanley  23:16   with with you, how much is your personality and like natural curiosity? And then like, how much is concentrated sales skill that you have acquired? And then I guess the third pillar would be like, experience just talking to a lot of people? Michele Hansen  23:37   That's a really interesting question. I've never I've never thought about that. Um, I think it's, it's like, I guess I have a natural amount of sort of, like curiosity and enthusiasm for people. And for businesses, like, sometimes I think I went to business school just to, like, get to do a lot of case studies and just really enjoying learning about businesses. Like, I remember when I was I so I had an early job that was also quite formative for me where it was like a 10 person agency. And I learned so much because I just could learn new things all the time. And it was wonderful. But I remember when I learned that he, like annual reports from companies were public. And I was like, like, you know, and I was like, Oh, what, like, you can get all of this information and it's just on the internet and it like it like, it almost feels like sort of acceptable voyeurism in a way to me like I just like love diving into a business. And so I'm so part of it is just that really natural enthusiasm and curiosity about people and in businesses. Like I just genuinely find it interesting. But then a lot of it is also it's very targeted, right? Because like, I could go off in a million directions without curiosity and it And it's a matter of like, knowing what's relevant and what's appropriate. And what is, you know, as you said, asking about, like, you know, what the margin they're getting from something is or, you know, what drives sales and knowing that that samples, like, really understanding what makes that business tick in a way that is relevant to what you can solve. Because I think there's, there's like so many, you know, every business has so many different problems, and you can't possibly know about all of them, and you can't possibly discuss all of them, and you can't possibly solve all of them. And so it's a matter of, okay, how do I pull out what they're trying to do that's like, kind of related to what we might be able to solve. And so it's, I guess, it's a combination of natural curiosity, but it's very, very steered, like I and I, and maybe I have a sort of natural inclination for understanding to steer my curiosity because like, like, I'm ADHD, like, I will bounce all over the walls if I don't steer myself. And that's something that I have had to learn how to do from a young age. Yeah, so but so I mean, I just like, I just love it when I get to dive into something. And but I think it's also a sales it's like, you know, you talk about like, building the personal relationship, like, you can't get too personal like, because like, people have their guard up. And it's like, so how do I respect? How do I respect their boundaries and make sure that we're not you know, from a business perspective, like they're not sharing too much. And like, there's this kind of dance to it that I think I really had to learn. It scared me at first. But I mean, no, I definitely would say I enjoy. I enjoy it quite a bit. Jesse Hanley  26:39   Yeah. Interesting. Oh, it's nice to talk about all that. It's a, I think, like, for me, personally, I think, the curiosity pot, I think I'm probably like, hit more heavily index than like the other ones. And I think if you know, your business, and like the problems that it solves quite well, then the curiosity, it just, I don't know it like scopes in a certain direction. So like, if I'm really curious, I'm generally curious about new people when I talk to them. And then just because I, I'm very fixated on problems that like mentors, also whatever, my curiosity just tends to follow a certain path. And the inevitable line is, like, using bento to solve a problem that they have will make their lives easier. And that's kind of like how I navigate sell stuff. I don't do prep at all. Do you prep conversations before them? Michele Hansen  27:26   Oh, a little bit. I mean, I mean, I make sure that I understand like, some stuff about the business, of course, like looking at their website, you know, sort of looking at as much information as I can about them also. So we we don't do any outbound sales. I don't know. Do you do outbound sales? All inbound? Yeah. Okay, so we're so we're all inbound to so it's like all, you know, people coming to us who are already interested in what we do. So I think that's where that like, combination of like SEO and sales comes in, because they're already looking for something that we do. But then, you know, try and, you know, if we have a call, or if it's, you know, over email, just trying to understand as much as I can. But I mean, a lot of times you walk into something blind, like, you know, I mean, I've had ones that reach out to me, and it's just like, from a Gmail address, and they don't tell me what their company name is beforehand. And I'm like, Alright, here we go. Like, you know, let's see, you know, like, how I approach that kind of a conversation is definitely a little bit more careful than I would if I have more information, I think, quite frankly, I think it's hard for me to tamp down my enthusiasm and bubbliness and like, you know, put on like my business, Michelle phase, because the way I talk to a friend or talk to somebody who I'm like, just having a social conversation with is like, it's just it's just, you know, it's a different mood, you know, a different different faces. Jesse Hanley  28:58   Interesting. Okay. Cool. Michele Hansen  29:03   Yeah, I mean, and so, so back on your story. So you had this so this was 2015 You're in Thailand, you're starting to get all these these clients diversifying away from that first client because of their their business. And then and then you had the idea to like roll up all these tools, but it basically sounds like you were building as you needed for your clients to like, roll them up into a SAS. Jesse Hanley  29:29   Yeah, so um, as I was, yeah. So to kind of like speed up the journey like to bento essentially, like I do consulting like one on one, I needed help. So I hired people online, built like a kind of full service agency found the full service kind of marketing agency to be quite stressful at certain point in time. So ended up downsizing, finding everyone that was in the team jobs within actual like clients, or, like, actually work because it was a stressful time and I worked really hard to find people jobs. So I could probably downsize. And then I had a core team of that could help me relaunch the agency as a product service. And we just basically did content marketing and leverage point was that we do content marketing by hiring writers in predominantly Macedonia, we had a really amazing, phenomenal team, and a really cool source of writers over there. And downsize the company by like, 90%, and then kind of rebuilt it from scratch. And whilst I was doing that, I was teaching myself Ruby and teaching myself how to code. So like, had always known a bit of code from like WordPress and Magento. So just like basic PHP stuff, or just like, you know, you install a plugin, it crashes the site, you got to get back up again. That kind of stuff. Michele Hansen  30:46   No, WordPress. Jesse Hanley  30:48   Yeah, yeah. Just just like, like WordPress handyman stuff. And then, uh, um, like I did, like, I did software stuffing in school, like, I, I've always loved computers. And, you know, could sling some HTML and CSS around. But I was really excited about, like, learning back end development, and like learning Ruby, and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, like, as I was kind of growing the agency, I taught myself Ruby and like Ruby on Rails, and then built a lot of, you know, shoddy products that you know, like to do your to do list and your Pinterest clone, I think I was the first app that I learned to build, which is like on one month rails. And then I, because I was doing so much SEO, I got a rank tracker, which kind of blew up on itself, because like, I didn't understand databases properly, like moderato wrong. It was a really fun project. And then eventually, like, I kind of had this like, idea of like, oh, I want to build something that just helps me with consulting, you know, wasn't around the agency, like I just wanted something that could at the time, it was people would do stuff on a website, and I just changed how the website behaves. You know, they've been to the website a couple times, say, welcome back. That kind of stuff. I just wanted to build that. Tried to go to myself, wasn't really too hard at it. And so, one year, I forget which year, I met with the lovely Andrew Cova in Tokyo. I had just prior to that, boy, all the assets of the defunct bento company in San Francisco. Do you listen to that, like what's the podcast was called, um, startups. Do you remember that startups podcast? Michele Hansen  32:39   Was that the one that came out of? That wasn't when they came out of the major thing? Right. Was that it? Jesse Hanley  32:44   Yeah, you know, like gimlet media and those like the StartUp podcast? Yeah. Yeah. Do you remember the like, featured the bento company on that? They did. No delivery stuff? Well, I think they did. Um, they went bankrupt. And then they listed all their social assets on websites on Flippa. And so I bought them Michele Hansen  33:07   that they probably had a lot of backlinks and stuff, right. Jesse Hanley  33:10   Like it did. Yeah, from pretty big VCs. Wow. Yeah. So it was a good it was a good asset. So got the domain got all the social links and stuff. And so I had that, and had a shoddy you know, version. But you know, I wasn't doing chaos. I was just doing everything right, then didn't really have something that took the anadrol that kind of like, totally my idea. And Andrew, at the time, like had the idea about bullet train, like he wanted to basically build like a Rails starter app. And Michele Hansen  33:41   he's the founder of turn buster. External, yeah. Excellent. And then he sold that right. Yeah. Jesse Hanley  33:49   Okay. And then, um, yeah. And so like, I met with him. And he's like, the nicest guy in the world. And I just, I've got so much admiration for him. And we're talking and he was getting excited about my idea. And I was getting excited about his idea. And I was like, Can I just become like the first customer? And then, and he's like, yes. And then I actually brought him on as the first engine, like consultant engineer for bento. So basically, like, I paid him for bullet train. And then he helped build bento on bullet train for me. So I took funds from the agency, and put them into Andrew to help me build bento. And that was like, the first couple years actually, was was doing that. And it was so great, because like, there's a large risk for me, because for me at the time, I was it was pretty expensive. And, you know, a good chunk of like cash flow, but it was like mentorship cuz I've never worked in a development company. Like I've never worked in a large company. I don't know software engineering practices, but I could just pay for that personal mentorship from Andrew. And so I could learn best practices from him. I could see how he does these migrations. I could see how he modeled out all the schemer for everything. You know, I could learn from him by essentially paying to build what I, what I wanted, and then over time, I would just take on stuff, I would take on responsibility, I would learn how to add a, you know, a column to a model myself, I would learn how sidekick worked and not add a new work or something, I would learn what a Ruby gem was and add new features. And just kept taking over the codebase bit by bit whilst also running the agency and doing consulting. And then, um, did that up until up until COVID, because I felt like I and Andrew had some other stuff. And then I think that that timeline is right up until COVID. And then I started just being like, Oh, I think I'm good from here. Like I felt my skills. Were starting to get pretty, pretty solid. So then basically took over the codebase and ran it from that brought on some help from a guy called colored. And then he helped build some of the more complex features out like a workflow automation stuff and all that kind of jazz, learn react off him. And then, yeah, and then me and call it a being just hacking like crazy the last couple of years. And then last year, I don't do me stop, but Laci salt sold the agency that I built. And then that gave me a very comfortable cash pile. And then maybe full time on to bento in June last year, June, July last year. Michele Hansen  36:25   Yeah, I feel like you're like this incredibly energetic piece of clay that is somehow infinitely malleable and full of like, oh, we'll do this over here. Okay, well, then we'll do this next thing. And then we'll do this next thing. And like just sort of building all of these things on top of each other all the time, and adding all of these skills all the time. Like, it's, it's pretty amazing. And like, as a, like a founder, personality is incredibly powerful. Jesse Hanley  36:57   Thank you, I don't know how to respond to that. This, this weird dynamics, though, like I play with that if I'm going to be like real Frank, like, I was always doing stuff, because I was always I never wanted to go home to not cause like, I didn't have good stuff at home, I just for some reason, didn't want to go back to Sydney. So like, I always wanted to keep traveling, I loved Asia, or I love to Europe, I like didn't want to go back home, essentially. And I love my family, I got a really, I've got a phenomenal relationship, both my dad and my mom, and my sister, he's now in Melbourne. But I think after like I left school in Sydney, like to go to Canberra, there was like no real reason, like, all my friends are abroad. And so, and I didn't kind of get that close University type thing going on. And so all my friends were abroad, and like I just didn't want to leave, you know, that I identity is maybe the word. And so I think I just worked really hard to keep going. And then also moving to Japan was I think a acknowledgment that like, maybe I need to slow down a little bit. Because I think I was kind of like burning out. Just working too much and kind of taking too much on which I still do in Japan, but it's a little bit easier to kind of get a grip on it. And kind of bounce back. But yeah, in terms of like learning stuff, and always doing new things. It was just because I just wanted to keep the adventure going. I wanted to kind of keep traveling, I wanted to keep doing cool stuff. And I could do cool stuff. I don't know. I could continue doing cool stuff. I do want to kind of go bust and then have to kind of go home. Does that make sense? Yeah, Michele Hansen  38:37   that does. And I mean, I feel like we could keep talking about this forever. Knowing that so many of our listeners listen to us while they are out running or walking the dog, their legs might be getting getting tired, or their dog might need some water. So I feel like I have to force myself to cut this off. But you're such a fascinating person. Like you should write a book someday. Like, I just I like your background is amazing. And just like how you have been able to build these businesses. And I feel like we even barely scratched the surface on what bento itself does. But suffice to say you are a wonderful human being and such an impressive founder. And people should totally like follow you on Twitter. You're always posting stuff about what you're working on. And oh, is that the dog in the background? Jesse Hanley  39:30   Yes, the dog I think is a postman coming. So maybe it's a good time to raise up. Well, Michele Hansen  39:37   we're dog pictures and code and founder stuff and Japan and everything else. Go check out Jesse Haney on Twitter. Thank you so much for doing this today. Seriously, so great to have you on. Jesse Hanley  39:53   Thanks so much for having me on. Thanks for being so nice. I was really good. Too super spontaneous as well, which is fun. Michele Hansen  39:59   Yeah. All right we'll talk to you or everybody else next week Ciao

1 February 2022 41m and 4s


Redefining Success with Chris Spagnuolo of Jetboost

Redefining Success with Chris Spagnuolo of Jetboost

Follow Chris: https://twitter.com/c_spags Check out JetBoost: https://www.jetboost.io/ Listen to Default Alive: https://www.defaultalive.fm/ This episode of Software Social is brought to you by TranslateCI. Translate CI is a tool for developers that helps you localize applications with high quality, human translations. It supports over 70 language pairs.  TranslateCI eliminates the need to work out of spreadsheets, hire translators and manually merge language files. Instead, with TranslateCI, you just use Git. Just connect your git repo and TranslateCI will pull out phrases and, after a professional translator translates everything, they will merge into your existing codebase with a pull request. And every time you push code to your git repository, TranslateCI will pull any new phrases out, translate them, and create a PR back.  See how you can turn translation from a hassle into a breeze at TranslateCI.com.

25 January 2022 32m and 19s


January Blues and easy wins

January Blues and easy wins

This episode of Software Social is brought to you by TranslateCI. Translate CI is a tool for developers that helps you localize applications with high quality, human translations. It supports over 70 language pairs.  TranslateCI eliminates the need to work out of spreadsheets, hire translators and manually merge language files. Instead, with TranslateCI, you just use Git. Just connect your git repo and TranslateCI will pull out phrases and, after a professional translator translates everything, they will merge into your existing codebase with a pull request. And every time you push code to your git repository, TranslateCI will pull any new phrases out, translate them, and create a PR back.  See how you can turn translation from a hassle into a breeze at TranslateCI.com.

18 January 2022 31m and 6s


Learning How to Interview Customers: A Conversation with Jonathan Markwell

Learning How to Interview Customers: A Conversation with Jonathan Markwell

Listen to Empathy Deployed! https://empathydeployed.com/ Follow Jonathan! https://twitter.com/jot This episode of Software Social is brought to you by TranslateCI. Translate CI is a tool for developers that helps you localize applications with high quality, human translations. It supports over 70 language pairs.  TranslateCI eliminates the need to work out of spreadsheets, hire translators and manually merge language files. Instead, with TranslateCI, you just use Git. Just connect your git repo and TranslateCI will pull out phrases and, after a professional translator translates everything, they will merge into your existing codebase with a pull request. And every time you push code to your git repository, TranslateCI will pull any new phrases out, translate them, and create a PR back.  See how you can turn translation from a hassle into a breeze at TranslateCI.com. AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Michele Hansen  0:01   Hey, everyone, I am super excited to have a guest with me today. Jonathan Mark Well, he is a strategy consultant, and also the host of empathy deployed a new podcast about customer interviews, or rather, I should say of customer interviews. So he's doing example, customer interviews, so you get to be along for the ride as he improves his customer interviewing skill. He is also a longtime listener of this show, and was one of the people I interviewed about my book when I was drafting it. So you could sort of say this is a new episode. It's like longtime listener first time caller, sort of episode. So welcome, Jonathan. Jonathan Markwell  1:49   Thank you, Michelle. It's great to be on. Yep. It's wonderful to, to join you after, after listening for so long. Michele Hansen  1:58   I'm really excited to have you. And, you know, so one thing that we have talked about a lot, and it was a very big focus for you is the podcast that you're doing. But I think if you if you could kind of pull us back to like, how did you even get interested in the concept of customer interviewing? And like, like, how did you start working with that in your work with with your clients? Jonathan Markwell  2:28   Um, I think, you know, I've been aware of interviewing customers for many, many years, maybe 15. I actually did a postgraduate degree I didn't finish, but it was in human centered computer systems. And so an element of the user or customer research would have been customer interviews, or the star I think was quite different from, from from, from your style. And, and so it's kind of in the back of my mind, but it's not, it's nothing, something I've been particularly comfortable with. So admittedly just avoided it a lot. But then, as I've worked with more and more software businesses, I found actually some of the the biggest aha moments for us. In the end, the biggest chunks of progression that those businesses have made are actually as a result of what we're effectively customer interviews, although accidental ones. And so the more I realized that actually, maybe if we were doing this more formal and more systematically, like I probably know, we should have been doing all along, we might have, you know, made may progress significantly faster, and spent a lot less money, figuring out how to make these different businesses work. Michele Hansen  3:53   Yeah, it sounds like you sort of had these moments where things kind of sort of unexpectedly learned things that were helpful to you. And you kind of became hungry to get more of that. Jonathan Markwell  4:08   Yeah, yeah, hungry. But then still not. Not enough to get into the habit of really doing it. Every every time the opportunity came up, where it's like, you know, maybe if we did lots of customer interviews here, we might get us past this, this problem that we that we currently have. And I you know, I guess it's sort of only from listening to the, this, this podcast, and subsequently reading drafts of your, your book that I'm like, you know, it really, it's not that hard. I just need to get into the habit of doing it. I mean, not to say it's not hard. It's just that come on, John, you need to do Just get in the habit of doing it and learn this stuff. Because all the materials that you've got no excuse now, it's all laid out in front of yours is the is the how you can do it. And, and by doing it often, maybe I'll be more comfortable doing it when I need to do it. Michele Hansen  5:19   So I'm curious, so when. So So you started listening to the podcast, you sort of heard me extolling the virtues of talking to customers as I am wanting to do. And so from that point where you started reading the newsletter in the draft, like, like, at what point did you start interviewing people again? Jonathan Markwell  5:44   I'm not sure I know, I, it was definitely earlier this year, I need to look at my calendar. I didn't do very many. But I did a few here and there, using the the some of the early interview scripts that that you shared. And, and there were people that I already knew, but I really wanted to dig into some of the their approaches to solving their problems, which are customer interviews, things be very simple to fit fit well, with, they weren't my customers, they're people that I was interested in, if there was a product, maybe for them that I could help them with. So it's kind of like I used it, use it there. And then it wasn't until I had one client where that I started working with earlier this year, to May, June time where it was like, you know, to really understand what's happening here with this, you know, pretty successful, profitable product, but there's not growing so well, we need to need to really understand customers and start talking to them more. So then we got a bit more rigorous. And, and we interviewed over the course of a month, I think six or seven people. Michele Hansen  7:04   So what were some learnings that came out of those interviews. Jonathan Markwell  7:11   The I think the main thing, I did most of these interviews with the founder of that product on the call with me, so he was observing. And the best part of it was really him hearing firsthand just how happy his customers were with, with the product. And so you know, not having much of that feedback loop. Because it's a developer tool that he provides great support for, and as a lot of conversation with people via chat, and email, but very rarely. voice or video communication. And so hearing that those those people read it get a lot of value out of that it was a great product, I knew it to be as well, because I happened to be a customer of his in in the past. That was as pretty wonderful. And then hearing how they described the situation that they were in without the tool before and the experience that they went through to, to come to the conclusion that they needed his product and the you know, in settled on it long, long term. Michele Hansen  8:33   You know, I think when you're like when you have a product like this can be one of the most sort of rewarding parts about doing interviews is you know, you get a lot of support requests every day, you're used to hearing about bugs, you're used to hearing what feature requests and all these kinds of things. And rarely do you get an email and sometimes it had does happen but rarely do you get an email from someone that's simply just them effusively praising the product and talking about what they use before and how this is so much better than what they were doing before. And, and I think for us, who are you know, founders who were, you know, wearing a lot of hats ourselves, it can just be just so motivating, to too, and rewarding to hear wow, like, we really are helping people and they, what they were doing before does sound terrible. And now this is easy for them. And they're grateful to us. And then it kind of takes you out of that mindset of just sort of, you know, seeing an endless parade of, you know, help tickets or GitHub issues or whatever that is. It's being like, hey, like, No, we're really making a difference for people. Jonathan Markwell  9:45   Definitely. Yeah, and I, you know, I know and I, people that have worked in businesses that are much closer to people. My agencies are where there's a high touch, sell. So much of the energy that they speak People get is from that interaction with with customers and feeling that that loop. And it's yeah, it's strange that so many of us that are more working in very low touch sales or self service situations where often the customers don't want to get on the phone that you miss out on that, that whole back and forth. And, and don't get that benefit. Michele Hansen  10:27   Absolutely. So let's fast forward a little bit to your podcast because I'm really curious about, you know, sort of the caveat of your, or another caveat with the conceit of your podcast, rather, is that you are learning alongside the listener, which I love. And, and so I'm curious. So you so you've done about, you've done it, you've done a handful of episodes at this point. And I'm curious what you feel like you have learned and what you've noticed, in how you do interviews in that time? Jonathan Markwell  11:06   Um, good question. All right, it's, yes, it's good to take an opportunity to reflect on that, I guess. portion of the people I've interviewed I know quite well. So I started off with people that I knew quite well. And and so I found it really insightful learning things about that. I've known them for years, and yet I learned about how they making some of their decisions, and they're quite different from what I what I had guessed, or I expected to learn from them by going so deep into one particular topic and, and really listening. The there's also a bit of a strangeness around these, this particular approach to customer interviews, I feel quite different always. Because I know that there's going to be other people listening and the other the other people involved do so I'm not quite as relaxed. As, as I am, or I have been in other customer interviews that are just being recorded for, for me, and people know, well, to listen to take notes on afterwards. But yeah, I just, I love the fact that I just, I'm learning new things about people that I wasn't expecting to learn from, from each episode. And as I listen more critically, to my, to myself, I guess in these when I'm listening back, so I do, I'm doing all the editing myself, and I'm listening back, I'm very lightly editing really, I've had to take my dog out a few times who goes berserk. No one's at the door. But I guess I'm listening just as much more so to my approach to interviewing with these ones than I have with previous customer interviews. And so I'm kind of more kicking myself about things that I didn't ask. And hopefully, you're getting better at remembering some of the things to add in later. Also, realizing that I I'm using maybe some things as a bit of a crutch. And I've had I've had some feedback from people that maybe I I'm using the same response very often and it might not be helpful, helping people open up as much as, as, as they as they might if I tried a little bit harder with my responses or made them feel a bit more natural. Michele Hansen  13:52   What is that response that you tend to fall back on? Jonathan Markwell  13:57   I think it's, um, that makes sense. Michele Hansen  14:00   I mean, it's one of my books. That's sort of a Yeah. Jonathan Markwell  14:06   Yeah, so I, but I've had a specific as far as you know, if you said this in that situation, then you might, they might have opened up a little bit more. And I've actually, I've printed out I don't have them here now. But the I have a sort of crib sheet for each episode where I've sort of made a very big font, a lot of the affirmation or responses that you suggested in their in the book, and that one is the top of the list and his biggest because it's the shortest phrase, I think. So it's so easy to go to is like, say that to keep the conversation going. And, you know, the the conversation does continue and they've you know, I'm yet to hit the the the challenge that I know clean spoke about a lot where the conversation just just feels like it's ended after, after 10 minutes, I've experienced that once with a with a customer where it wasn't really set up so well as a customer interview. But I've, I've not experienced it on the podcast yet fortunately. Michele Hansen  15:16   I think it's interesting. I mean, you're doing this in public, which, you know, is so vulnerable of you to do that, and opening yourself up to other people saying, Hey, you keep repeating that. But I think it's so valuable, because, you know, when I was learning to interview I had, you know, people I was working with, who were very experienced in this, to give me that nudge to have like, hey, like, maybe tried to say this instead, next time, like, it's so valuable to have that. And you're kind of turning that on its head a little bit by having an audience that is telling you like, hey, so you said, that makes sense. So can we turn to this other thing? Maybe you should have said, Yeah, I can see why you would do that that way. And then let it hang. Right. Like, you're still getting those nudges, but you're kind of getting it publicly. And and I think it's really interesting, because because I, I wonder if you're helping listeners realize what phrases they might say, often, when they're talking to people, and maybe as you said earlier, you know, you're kind of a little bit more nervous, because it's in public. And so you're just kind of jumping to that first, easiest, sort of most convenient phrase, when otherwise you might be a bit more natural. Jonathan Markwell  16:39   I'd say. Definitely, like, I, one of the reasons that I really felt that I need to make this podcast and I made it happen is that every time I thought about it, it's like, it's a podcast, I wish I was I've been listening to for the last 10 years, and I wish I'd been recording for the last two. And I just know that, you know, even if no one listened to it, I would, you know, I have more insight. And I'd be better at doing this thing that I find quite, quite awkward. And you know, 10 years ago, me or 15 years ago, me if I had this to listen to I would have you know, hopefully, yeah, gain gained from it both in terms of understanding good and bad ways of, of interviewing customers, but also having lots of insights into some real situations, which maybe I could kind of build products for, or explored more deeply. Michele Hansen  17:34   Now worst case scenario, you have an audience of one person, which is yourself, and you're getting something out of it no matter what. Yeah. I'm curious have you interviewed your own customers or your because your clients customers? Because Because you work with a probably like a handful of different small companies, right, like in this sort of indie SAS business kind of space? Like, have you interviewed their customers? Since you started the podcast? Jonathan Markwell  18:06   Yes, I've interviewed the good to my clients, I've done it we've so one I've already mentioned. And another, less formally, so it's more that we've got an opportunity to talk to someone who may become a customer who is a customer, and I tried to make it more of a customer interview than a sales conversation, because I think there's more to gain from it. And everyone's happy to sort of have me lead in and do that for most of the conversation, which has been helpful to, to understand. You know, what, what they're what they're looking for. Yeah, and I haven't someone asked me this recently. It's interesting, because the sixth episode of my podcast, I'm being interviewed by someone who's interested in my experience of interviewing people, so it's a very meta episode. So this came up a little bit in, in that episode, which is that I realize I've not yet not yet formally customer interviewed my clients, or members of my co working space, which is a sort of side business that I run into is a co working community in Brighton, but I've not actually used it in those two situations. Yet, I have more informal conversations with them and, and I work so closely with the clients in particular that I'm not it might be a bit awkward. I mean, yeah, I don't, but maybe I should do that and, and put myself through that situation even though it's a bit too from, from what I've usually use customer interviews for, in the past, I should say two or three of the people I've interviewed are actually members of the co working space. It's just I've been interviewing them about their use of other products rather than them. Their use of the of the co working space. Michele Hansen  20:17   In the hardly 20 minutes, we've been talking, I feel like I've heard you mentioned in different ways three or four different times this fear of something being awkward. And it sounds like that's pretty front of mind for you, when when you're having these conversations, or whether it's an interview or even something else. Jonathan Markwell  20:42   Yeah, it's not my preference to talk to people, I guess. And I, I kind of, I like burying my head in code. Like, I will spend days at a time doing that. And you know, making conversations happen on a one to one basis with people I just, for some reason, struggle with, and I've heard other people say, say similar things. And it may be an element of my own neurodiversity, or divergence, which is, it makes me feel that way. Or it might be the weird experience of the last couple of years. But I'm, I'm, I, a lot of people say that I'm someone that has quite a wide network. And I'm known by lots of people. And so therefore I must communicate and talk to lots of people and be able to feel very comfortable doing that. But I've, I've compact my way to doing it by organizing events or, or running a co working space. And that means that mostly people come to me asking me questions, and that starts a conversation. And, you know, it's always easier if it's over a few drinks or something like that, that can take the edge off of a more relaxed conversation. But when it's when it's for mine is picking up the phone, or organising a zoom call with someone, it's just not something that that comes naturally to me or something that I look forward to doing. I'm even guilty of that with family. To be honest. I'm very bad at speaking to family regularly. Yeah, usually the conversations are started by them, rather than me going, going out to them. Michele Hansen  22:35   I think it's very normal, you know, to feel this awkwardness. And, you know, I'm just thinking back how, you know, it takes inertia to start interviewing customers, it feels it to everybody, regardless of how much they like talking to people, it feels like strange and very different. At first, because it's not really a conversation, and you really have to be convinced that like, it's something that's worth doing. And I'm all the more struck by, you know, now more deeply understanding your sort of your perspective on on having conversations with people in general, that is, it's really quite remarkable that it must, it must have taken so much inertia have been those insights you got from those accidental interviews that you did, those must have been so compelling, in order for you to take on this effort of learning how to interview them and dealing with that awkwardness like that the the risk reward ratio there like it must have been like the, the reward of it right like must have been that great that you were willing to deal with all that and then now on top of all of that, you have a podcast about doing this and I'm just sitting here kind of like amazed and in awe of the transformation that you have gone through and how much you have stepped outside of your comfort zone and and really pushed you're pushed yourself to do this despite it feeling so against your sort of, you know, normal habits and perspective on talking to other people. It's just it's, it's remarkable and I don't know if you have stopped to really appreciate yourself for, for that transformation that you've gone through. Jonathan Markwell  24:51   I mean, it's very, it's very kind to say I mean, you know, the probably quite selfish forces. Well, here I've, I've, we talk about the pull towards doing it. Like, I've tried other approaches to research, and I guess maybe I'm not as good as other people at detecting strong signals of sort of a willingness for, for someone, you know, a demand for a product or service from, from, from reading, research or, or doing all the other work that is required to really understand an audience that way. I mean, I've learned from people that are absolutely brilliant at this, like Alex Hillman, and ABI and taking their course was a huge, you know, leap for me, in my understanding of how people understanding how people view the world, and how they may become customers have a product or want a product, or you have a willingness to pay for something. And that actually really helped were identify a problem, and one of the businesses I worked with, but it was ultimately a customer interview. So it's the combination of the two that actually brought out because the audience that we were working with, we didn't really find them hanging out online and, and talking about this problem online. And it was when we went into an office of a few customers of a CRM that we had built, and talk to them about it, and really listen not to the people that we'd sold to, but the people that were being asked to use this tool that they told us, you know, we really want the reports that come out the other end, we don't want to do all the the building of you know, creating this, doing this whole workflow in the CRM to get there. And that's the the quick reflection, it took a bit more to really under understand that. But that turned a business that had 10 customers that were hardly using the product, and was probably going to churn soon. And we're really hard to onboard into a business that now has 1800 customers paying between $99.04 $199 a month. So you know, pretty solid business with 1010 employees as well, high profit, high margin, you know, the self service, wonderful SAS that any indie hacker would love, love to have. And so that there's, that's a pool, for me is the, you know, if you, if you can understand a problem that an audience are having, and really find that, you know, have those moments where you can see, that's actually what their problem is, it's not what you thought it was, that can just be so transformational, and can be very financially rewarding. And also, you actually just get to help out to people in a way they want to be helped, rather than trying to give them something you think they they want. Michele Hansen  28:03   You know, sort of it's sort of ironic, right? Because you said that business is a self serve SAS with over 1000 customers. And, you know, I think that is the indie hacker dream. And, but the irony of that dream is that in order to build a business that people intuitively understand, they sign up for it without talking to you, they have minimal support requests, they just pay you every month, right? You actually need to get out and really talk to some customers, and it doesn't have to be all of them. But in order to build that kind of a business where people can just use it and pay you and not need to talk to you. Right? Like, you really need to understand what is it they're trying to do, and especially in those early days figuring out like, what are the friction points? And what do they really want to do? And and so you need to make this investment and, and, and talking to people. But you can still have a business later on where you don't have to talk to them all that much. Jonathan Markwell  29:10   Yeah, yep, definitely. It's yeah. So it's an in pursuit of the dream of having the wonderful kind of product business that, that I think many people listening to this podcast would want. That, you know, doing some of that talking thing and the high touch stuff, which is what you don't want to be doing long time is the way to get there. Yeah. Michele Hansen  29:34   So I'm curious, we've talked a lot about your podcast and your journey with customer interviewing. What questions do you have for me? Jonathan Markwell  29:43   So very hopeful that I could get get more of your impression on the on the podcast and my approach to to interviewing and I'm trying to phrase this right. Because I know that you you don't want to be The police have of how people do customer interviews. But why Michele Hansen  30:05   did you the police? Roll? I'm going, Jonathan Markwell  30:09   but But I'm curious as to how, you know, there's some standout moments in some of the episodes that you listened to so far where you would have you would have done it differently, or you would suggest I could try it differently next time. In a similar situation. Michele Hansen  30:27   I think I mean, there's always so many different directions you can go in, right. And I think you're the I think about your podcast is that you're not really interviewing anyone with an agenda, right? So you know, you interviewed someone about? They were like, they're a customer of a VPN service. Is that right? remember which one? And you know, if I'm thinking about creating a VPN, or I already run that company, that's the one he uses, right, like my perspective on what I want out of that interview, and the questions I'm going to ask are going to be very different. And how you steer that conversation. And so I wouldn't say that you've done anything wrong. And, you know, there's a lot of cases where you ask the question that I really wanted to know the answer to, and it's so it's always like, really exciting, because then it's like, oh, yeah, I really, I was hoping he was gonna dig on it. And then he did, yes. And I am I am interested in sort of understanding, you know, I think what that journey has, like been like for you, and, and it sounds like you have been getting that feedback from listeners of, hey, you know, you were saying that phrase a lot. And, you know, try this again, or, you know, try this other thing. Um, you know, I've given you some feedback on audio quality and whatnot. But I think that's, you know, that's very normal, especially for the early days of any podcast, I mean, this podcast, like, I didn't have a proper mic for like, the first two months, because I didn't know if anyone was gonna listen. And then it turned out people did. So I got a real mic. So thank you for suffering through that with me. You know, cuz I guess you're you're also you're learning customer interviewing, you're also learning how to, like, run a podcast as well. So it's like, you're, you're learning to separate skills at the same time? Jonathan Markwell  32:28   Yes, it's been pretty painful. I mean, I, I knew audio was a challenge. And so I got recommendations for the kit very early on, and got myself a decent mic. But the my main failure point actually on on there, so if anyone else is starting a podcast with guests on his, like, briefly, guests, make sure you know, figure out a checklist for them to, to, to make sure their audio is as good as possible, like, make sure they're wearing headphones, and little things like that, because most of the people I've interviewed haven't been on podcast before. And they don't have any, any any professional kit for, for doing audio recording. So they need a little bit more help. And that's helpful customer interview, as well. I've had some customer interviews, which where the audio quality has been really bad, and I haven't, which has made it difficult, after the fact, take notes and things and, and so that that sort of briefing might help with in those situations as well. Michele Hansen  33:30   Yeah, I mean, I think that's kind of a sort of a trade off to you know, doing it as a podcast, right is because I've definitely had customer interviews where people are doing the dishes, they're eating, they're driving, like they're. So there was one customer interview where someone was in a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean, and I was like, Is this still a good time to talk? They're like, yeah, sure, it's fine. We're just we're pulling into port. So I got like, 45 minutes to kill, like, no worries, like, and I was like, okay, like, and you know, the kind of signal kept going in and out and like, that's, like, that's authentic. Right? Like, like, background noise is authentic. And distractions are authentic. And that's what you might experience but for a podcast, you know, you need it to be as as quiet as possible. And so I think that's kind of a, like a challenge of, you know, of how authentic do you make it right? Like, you know, in a movie, you'd never see anyone going or talking about going to the bathroom, right? Even though that's part of everyday life. And so it's sort of like that, it's like, okay, well, if they had their air conditioner running in the background, like, that's authentic, and I was genuinely having trouble hearing them, but like, how much of that authenticity do we put the audience there? Jonathan Markwell  34:50   Yeah. Yeah. So same with edit. So I'd be interested to hear what your your thoughts on this is like It's quite common I think in podcasts now especially, it's fairly easy with tools like descript to remove arms and ORs. From a from a podcast, it makes all this sound smarter and I know I an awful lot. There we go. So I kind of I was messing around editing early on, I think you should I take these out, I went and did a version that was taken out, but it just felt so unnatural. I probably went too far with it. And I'm not a professional editor. So I'm not sure if I should do that with these interviews or not my just gonna give them a very light touch. So far, yeah, I Michele Hansen  35:38   think on that I would I would err on the side of not editing and not editing out the hums and ahhs because they are authentic. And also, I think I think you sent me two versions of one of those early episodes. And when it was edited to remove the pauses and remove the arms and ahhs like, there were points where it almost sounded like you were interrupting the other person and I was listening to and I was like, that just doesn't sound like how he talks and how he would run an interview. And nevermind, that's also like in an interview, like the pausing is really important. Like, you know, if we had edited out the hums and ahhs and pauses in the sample interview, I don't think people would have quite grasped how important not pausing is, right, like the pausing is almost a, you know, a form of speech in an interview, because you need to let things hang. Um, and so, I would, I would veer on the side of not editing, even someone's dog barking in the background like that, that happens. And, I mean, even I mean for this podcast, right? Like we we were editing out hums and ahhs for a little bit, and then we kind of stopped because it's like, you know, people are listening, because they want to hear a conversation between people who are two people who enjoy talking to each other. And in any normal conversation, there's going to be pauses, we're gonna say like, and, and, and all those other things like, exactly right there, you know. But I think there's sort of this. For you, I feel this like push and pull between authenticity and listen ability. And like, where is that line? Jonathan Markwell  37:30   Yeah, I think I'm currently have the conclusion that I'm going to keep it very light. And I'm not, I'm not expecting anyone to really listen to every single episode, it's more of one to dip into where there's an a person that's in a role that you're interested in hearing from or we're talking about a software product that you're interested in hearing a perspective on, and you might dip in and out of it. So I'm just going to keep going and not really expect people to be listening to every single episode, as I do, because it's maybe it isn't an easy listening podcast, like many others. Michele Hansen  38:08   So if people do want to listen, where should they go? Jonathan Markwell  38:12   So you can search in your favorite podcasting app for empathy deployed, or visit empathy. deployed.com. Michele Hansen  38:23   Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming by today. I really appreciate it. And I'm really excited for the wonderful resource you were creating with the podcast. Jonathan Markwell  38:39   Thank you for inviting me on. Thank you, thank you for all the things that you've been doing over the last year that's inspired me ultimately to do this and been so supportive of me doing it and even provided the name for the for the podcast. So thank you. Yeah, Michele Hansen  38:55   I guess we should make it clear that I endorse you using a similar name to my, to my book, but I think I mean, I did that that's one thing that people kept asking for was more customer interview examples. And even you reached out to me asking for that. And I was like, That's a great idea. But I don't have time, you should do it. And then a few weeks later, you're like, Okay, maybe. Well, awesome. Thank you so much, Jonathan. It's been it's been really great chatting with you and excited for more episodes of empathy deployed. Thank you.

11 January 2022 39m and 35s


From Side Project to $6M ARR

From Side Project to $6M ARR

Colleen and Michele chat with Nick Zadrozny, Founder and CEO of Bonsai.

4 January 2022 42m and 58s


It's Been a Year

It's Been a Year

Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Colleen Schnettler  0:02   Hey, Colleen, hey, Michelle. Good morning. Michele Hansen  0:43   It's been a year. Oh, Colleen Schnettler  0:45   it has been a year. Yes. Michele Hansen  0:48   2020. Part Two. Okay. 2021. Part two is coming to a close Colleen Schnettler  0:56   eye. That is hard to believe, isn't it? Michele Hansen  0:59   Yeah. And so I thought maybe this would be a good time to reflect on the year that has been and think about the year to come. Colleen Schnettler  1:13   I love this idea. Wow, that's so cool that we've been doing the podcast long enough that we can have a yearly reflection. We've been doing it more than a year. I know as to how a year and a half. I love it. Michele Hansen  1:26   No. So okay, so let's start out with simple file upload. And I feel like it's been a while since we've like actually talked about simple file upload. So you know, as, again, if this was a professionally edited, produced podcast, this is where the heart noises would be. Coleen, can you take us back to where you were in January of 2021. With your business, Colleen Schnettler  1:55   so in January of 2021. So in January of 2021, simple file upload was in alpha, I believe in the Heroku add on store. And so that means it was not yet available for sale. You have to get 100 users, maybe it's beta, you have to get 100 users of your product in the app store before you're allowed to list it for sale. I've my years Right, right. Yeah, yeah, no, that was okay. It was that was 2020 2020. I launched it. Yep. It was January Michele Hansen  2:35   of 2020. That it was in beta. Colleen Schnettler  2:38   Right. It December, January, it was in beta. Right? Yeah, because I have the date as of February 4 2021, I was able to make it available for sale. So the product has been available for sale since February of 2021. Wow. And this is December. And since that time, it has grown to I'm not 1200 MRR, which is very exciting. And it has been a I mean, this year has been a wild ride professionally if I look back on it, because launch simple file upload. Learned a lot while doing that. And almost even bigger than that in August of 2021. I quit my job to join the Hammerstone team. And you took Michele Hansen  3:25   a job and then you quite registered like because you were clear Soltan starting out the year. Okay, the next couple years like, Colleen Schnettler  3:33   yeah, I basically went on this roller coaster up, I'd been consulting for years, then one of the companies I consulted for for years, convinced me to come on full time with them. And I had every intention of that being like a long term gig. It's a wonderful company. And then I think I announced on Twitter or on the podcast that I took a job and I got inundated with offers, which was pretty cool. And good to know if you're job hunting, you should probably hunt before you just take one. But then a couple months later, I had this really unique opportunity to join Hammerstone Hammerstone stone is the company co founded with my buddies, Aaron and Shawn that's building the Query Builder component and get paid to build that out and keep the IP so I had to quit the full time job in order to do Hammerstone full time and right now I'm doing Hammerstone full time paid. Yeah, so that's what that's what's going on. Michele Hansen  4:40   I mean, that's a such a journey for you to go from consulting. And then like this sort of like how much consulting do I need to do like and there's kind of period of time where you're trying to go kind of full time or, like more time on simple file upload. Then kind of Just life necessitated taking a job. Colleen Schnettler  5:05   Yeah, I think that's accurate. And I think a lot of people who are trying to build their own businesses can appreciate this. Like, I am super, super excited for those people that can go all in on their business. But I have a lot of bills. And I moved. Oh, I also moved from Virginia to California this year, gradually, Geez, what a year, man. Yeah, so I think the decision thing for me was I launched simple file upload, and the consulting the thing about what I was doing with consulting as I had more than one client, so it was just this incredible overhead of context switching. And the full time job offered me the opportunity, I had negotiated a four day workweek. So it had offered me offered me the opportunity to only have the two things I was working on. And that would have worked out great. I think, if I had stayed there, that would have been, that would have been a great choice, too. But the Hammerstone opportunity just felt too exciting and too big. It's literally exactly what I want to do to turn down. And so I want to say join them in August, and I've been working full time for the client that is funding the development of the product, it actually gives me less time on simple file upload, which is a constant, again, everyone with a job and a side project can appreciate this. It's like a constant balance, trying to find the time for all the things I want to do. But if you think about Michelle, if we go back to 2020, I don't have any products, and I have so many products, like I don't even have time for the ball. Like it's amazing, right? multiple things, right? So it's been, it's been really, really, really exciting and spectacular. And one of our friends, Pete, he's written a couple books. And he uses this phrase, expanding your luck surface area. And the concept is, like, really successful guys will always say, Oh, I just got lucky. How many times have you met someone who's running a, you know, half 1,000,002 million ARR business? It's like, Oh, we got really lucky. It's like, Yeah, but luck played a part. But this concept, I really love this concept of luck, surface area. Luck played apart, but you did all the things to position yourself to take advantage of the opportunity when it presented itself. Yeah. And so all these things we do honestly, like the podcast and launching products, and speaking at conferences, all of those things, I think, really increase the luck surface area. And so I feel incredibly lucky. But also, I also took a lot of steps to put myself in the position Hammerstone, I think is going to be the thing, Michelle, like, it's we feel the poll. I mean, it is exciting. So, you know, we feel the poll, Michele Hansen  7:53   that's interesting, like so, I mean, being on something that's like moving and people are like customers are really excited about it. I guess how do you like contrast that with the response that you get from simple file upload? Like, does that feel like a contrast? Colleen Schnettler  8:11   Oh, yeah. And I think simple file upload meets a very pressing need people have on Heroku. But outside of that, it feels like pushing, right? Like it feels like and this is this is part of growing a business like I'm not, you know, it is what it is. But it feels like, there's a lot of competitors out there. And I have to convince people to go with me, small solo business vers go with, you know, Cloudflare images, or, you know, file stack or some huge company that has servers or they're just at their disposal. And so it feels like a lot of hustle. And I don't I mean, it's a great all of it is a great learning experience. But Hammerstone I mean, people are basically asking us, they are asking to pay us for this thing that is not even done. Like, yeah, Michele Hansen  9:01   like banging down the door. I mean, there have product market fit there. But it's like, it's like very clear that like it's going to happen. Colleen Schnettler  9:11   I mean, our Early Access, based on a couple tweets my co founder sent out, we have like 200 people on an early access list. Based on we don't even have a landing page for this thing. Like it's amazing. It's really exciting. So it's been really I think Justin Jackson has this great article, I think it was this week, he sent it out, although I don't know if everyone got it this week, but it was basically about like, your market is going to determine your success. Like you can have one person who's hustling. It's not necessarily it's not just how hard you work, like you can work really hard. But it's also your market is going to determine your success. And so I don't know it just feels like so many exciting things have happened to me this year is what I'm trying to say So and I think like the Hammerstone thing wouldn't have happened if simple file upload hadn't happened. Right? So these things compound when you think about like, getting you're putting yourself out there and and, you know, the luck going back to the whole luck surface area thing. Michele Hansen  10:17   Yeah, I mean, I think that makes a lot of sense. And like the whole thing about market like, I feel like that's that's something that that Justin hits on a lot and and valuably, so because, you know, there's a quote from a famous investor that I forget who it is. But it's, you know, if maybe it's Paul Graham, when a you know, a good product meets a bad market market wins when a good team meets a bad market market wins when a bad product meets a good market market wins. And I mean, you guys have like, you know, wind is in your sails, and you are just flying along. Colleen Schnettler  10:59   Yeah, it's, it's pretty exciting. And just to clarify, I am still, I still love working on simple file upload, simple file upload is so much fun for me, because there's such a tight feedback loop. Hammerstone is still in this phase, at least the stuff I'm working on where it's big, and it's it's kind of, it's not, it's not done, right. So it kind of feels like a slog, because it's just kind of brute force and getting the work done. Simple file upload is a joy, because every time a customer emails me a question, like I can iterate and improve it. And so I still I didn't mean to I'm not sunsetting it or anything, like I'm still way into it. And I still feel like there's a way to do both right now. Yeah, I just, it's fun, like people are engaging more, I think, if you go back to founders comp, which was in October, my I was I came out of that really excited. And my goal for simple file upload was to really push to see if I could grow it a little bit. And I had hoped to get to 1500 by the end of the year, and I'm at 1200. So that's fine, right? Like it is what it is. But I think a lot more people are engaging with me than in the beginning. Remember the beginning, I couldn't get anyone to talk to me. Mm hmm. I feel like a lot more people are talking to me now. And so I have all kinds of ideas with what I want to do with it. And so yeah, I'm just over overflowing with ideas right now. So it's cool. I think it's Michele Hansen  12:29   valuable as entrepreneurs to also have like a, like a safe little sandbox to play in to experiment where, you know, if, if you want to try something, you can, there's nobody telling you, you can't there's nobody's job relying on you, no, you're not doing it, of course, you have customers and you're responsible to them. So you can't, you know, just decide to take down your infrastructure for no reason. But like, if you want to cut the prices, 50% like, you can do that, if you want to raise him 50% You can also do that, like and you can just kind of, like learn as an entrepreneur. I mean, that's how I, I kind of loved having a full time job and a side project for a period of time because it was it was just like my safe little playground. And I think it was really, really valuable to have it as just a side project and not intending to go full time on it, because it just took that pressure off it and it made it a joy to just learn how to run a business without that fear of, you know, this has to pay for our mortgage, and like all of that kind of stuff going into that which just adds a lot of pressure when you're already when you're learning a new skill and outside your comfort zone. Like having financial pressure on top of that is really for a lot of people not very helpful mentally, like it can drive you but it's it's it's a lot of pressure. Colleen Schnettler  14:00   Yeah, I think that's a good way to describe it for me like it's a nice side income right now. And I am learning I mean that is what's so cool is tight feedback loop and I'm learning so much how to talk to customers, I made this change to my onboarding email which seems to have made a huge difference. So stop me if I told you this but my onboarding email used to be asking questions and now it's so it used to be can you tell me why you're using simple file upload and I changed it to be quick tips to help you get started fast or something like that. And that seems to really have made a difference so all these little things I'm learning that I can apply elsewhere have been really fun like I'm really enjoying it. Michele Hansen  14:44   So we talked a little bit about at founder summit of like whether you sell the business or not. We didn't I feel like that conversation was that that was a pretty strong no that you that you really enjoy it as at you know, as this little playground So I'm curious, like, as you think about this coming year, and you know, bearing in mind that humans are famously bad at predictions, and this year had so many twists and turns that you did not expect going into the year. Colleen Schnettler  15:18   Oh my gosh, right here. I Michele Hansen  15:19   mean, not not like you set a goal or almost like, like, do you have like an intention that you would want to set for the year of like? Like, what do you mean, it's a big question, but like, what do you want out of? Colleen Schnettler  15:34   out of it? Yeah, that's a fair. Michele Hansen  15:37   Sorry, is, you know, your is your founder journey? Like, is that taking you more towards Hammerstone? Is that in like, less simple file upload? And I don't I I'm starting to answer my own question. So like, just, Colleen Schnettler  15:58   yeah, I understand. So yeah, right. The end of the year, let's look forward, oh, this will be fun, because then we can look at the end of next year and be like, Oh, how well did we align? Okay, so we're going into what? 2022? That's crazy. Okay. So my vision for 2022 would be, I am getting paid by the client to develop this, this Hammerstone product, and we agreed that I'd go until August, I'm sure that can go plus or minus either side, they're pretty flexible. So my vision for 2022 would be early 2022. We're going to start launching hammers stone in Laravel. We're gonna see what the responses there and kind of see what the support burden is. And I will finish out the rails component. While I do that, I still want to put time and effort into simple file upload. I want to get it to I just want to see what does it take to grow it to 2k? Like, can I get to 2k? What does that even look like? What I do? I'm not I mean, I think I want to see you know, what it's capable of? And yeah, if someone wants to give me $200,000 for it, I'll sell it today. But I think just FYI, I'm open to that. But I think realistic or open first. I think realistically, I have a product now I did the first thing is so many people at founder Summit. Okay, I don't know if you remember this at founder Summit, we were on the bus to go to the balloon. And one of the gentlemen on the bus named Matt was talking about how he's in the market to buy a SAS and someone was trying to sell him their SAS and they kept telling him it had really low MRR, like maybe 500 bucks. And they kept telling him, oh, there's all these opportunities to grow it like, you know, you can grow it this way. And he was like, Look, if that but but it had been like this way for like four or five years. And it just been sitting at two to 500 MRR and he said something that has stuck with me. And he said, Okay, if they can really, if there's really opportunity to grow it, why haven't they done it in the five years they've had this thing? And he said it in a way that made me think, Oh, you can just you can do things to grow your SAS like, it won't. I don't know it, it was this point that like, I have control to some degree over whether this thing grows or not. And so I want to put in the work to see I mean, maybe I'll I'll timebox that maybe I'll put in the work until I think in February, it will be a good review point because it'll be a year old. If I put in the work, what happens? Can I grow this? Can I learn how to use Google Analytics and which I don't still don't know how to use? Um, can I learn how to write better copy? Can I learn how to make landing pages that appeal to my users, like, there's so much marketing, I mean, simple file upload is a it's kind of like a playground where I can learn all this marketing stuff. And that'll help me in all products. But I think my goal would be, you know, Hammerstone is going to launch in the in the spring. And then I should be done in the summer. And then we'll be doing the rails launch and rails onboarding. So I think the preponderance of my time will be on Hammerstone. But I don't know about simple file upload. I don't know if I'll sell it. I don't know if I'll continue to grow it. But I'm not going to grow. I'm not going to sell it before February, so reevaluate in February. So I have no idea what it looks like. Yeah, but I think I think the idea would be to focus more on Hammerstone and grow Hammerstone to support me, so I don't have to consult anymore. That would be pretty sweet. Michele Hansen  19:32   I think it's also worth like reminding that when you launch simple file upload, you wanted to have a product. Oh, yeah. You also like you also did not want to be a solo founder like you have always wanted to be part of a team and I think that's something that drove you to take that job was being part of a team and why you had considered previous job offers. Colleen Schnettler  19:56   Yes, I was lonely. Absolutely. Yeah, very social person. And so I was absolutely lonely. Michele Hansen  20:03   Yeah. And so I think it would make sense if like, you know, Hammerstone becomes, you know, the the focus and the thing that you really want to go for but and simple file upload is just this, you know, cool thing you have on the side. And when you have time you learn, you know, new marketing skills to make it grow a little bit, but like, it doesn't like, it doesn't have to be the thing. Colleen Schnettler  20:28   Oh, yeah, I don't I don't know, with my current time and energies. I don't think it will be. I mean, I don't see this thing getting to 10 km RR in the next year, right. Like, I just don't I don't think that's the thing I think camera showed is going to be the thing. And this will be the side project that, you know, I can continue to dabble in, or I can sell or whatever. But you're right. I just wanted to have a product. I mean, if you look back at this year, it's amazing how far I've come. Absolutely. Yeah. So that's a my self. Oh, totally. I totally am. I'm really happy with with the growth. And the stuff that I did this year for sure. So let's talk about your year in review. Michele Hansen  21:15   Gosh, okay. January 2021. Um, I mean, I guess the point to start, there is really in February, when I started writing the newsletter book, whatever I called Colleen Schnettler  21:29   February, so good month for us. Michele Hansen  21:33   Yeah, right, we have a lot like, we should go back and listen to those episodes. They're probably Colleen Schnettler  21:37   I know, we totally should. Michele Hansen  21:41   So, so yeah, so I started writing the book, as a newsletter, I didn't really know what was gonna go. totally consumed my spring launched it in July. It's crazy. And like, I'd say, there was like, you know, in the beginning, it was like, you know, 9010, like, mostly geocode do and then just a little bit of book and then towards, like, May in June, it was like 7525. And then I feel like August to October was like, almost 5050. But I think as we kind of close out on the year, and all that I'm really realizing that, you know, so like, I wrote a book, but I don't want to be a writer. I am a software entrepreneur who happened to write a book, and not a software entrepreneur who became a writer. And I think that's an important difference. And I feel like I've been struggling with this a lot of like, should I do more books stuff? Like, should I do like paid workshops and courses? And, like, should I go, you know, like, give workshops at companies? And like, Should I do a mini book that's like the how to talk to people talk things should I do podcast should I do like, or like, you know, have a podcast for the book, like showed you all this other stuff. And I could, but I just, I don't want to, and I really miss, like, my company. Like, I really miss I like, you know, working on JUCO do stuff and just find myself really missing like SEO Marketing, rather than like Info Product Marketing. I miss working synchronously with Mateus. Because I feel like so often we're kind of working in the same office, but not actually working together, because my head is elsewhere on books, stuff and whatnot. And, you know, even if there's no pressure to, like, sell more like, like, I feel like, and maybe this is a voice in my head or from other people, or I don't really know where it comes from, but it's like people like, you know, it's like, you wrote a good book that accomplish the goals, I had to teach entrepreneurs how to understand their customers, and, you know, you know, teach them that everyone has a capacity for empathy, and that they should, you know, they could have more empathy for other people and for themselves and teach them how to do that. And like get accomplished that and yet I find myself, you know, refreshing sales reports and being like, am I going to feel like I accomplished what I set out to do when I sell 500 copies or 1000 copies or 10,000 copies and and no, because the book already accomplished what I set out for it to do. It's a all in one place. I can send other founders to learn how to understand their customers and hopefully to learn more about you know, having empathy for others in themselves. I think I'll still do podcasts about the book, but I think going into To 2022 I would like to do more geocoded stuff and less book stuff. Colleen Schnettler  25:08   Okay, that sounds like a very, it sounds like something you've thought about quite a lot. Michele Hansen  25:17   Yeah, it's it's been on my mind. I've been intending to journal about it. I didn't actually journal about it. Colleen Schnettler  25:23   Oh, God. Michele Hansen  25:25   Like, I should know this. And I, I did open my journal like once. Last week, no, twice. No, I opened it twice. Okay. And then I just have I've had a lot of things I've intended to journal about. And then Colleen Schnettler  25:42   I thought about Yeah, like, in my head Michele Hansen  25:43   kind of like drafting that in my head. That's like, I don't know is, you know, I feel like I'm sort of at a crossroads of like, do I want to lean more into this, like writers stuff? And like, right? I just sat answers, just no. Adults, could Colleen Schnettler  26:02   you figure that out. I mean, Michele Hansen  26:03   like, I liked writing the book, I had so much fun. writing it as a newsletter, especially and getting feedback as I went, and then like, interviewing all the people who are reading it, like, that was awesome. Like, I love the writing process, even the really hard parts where I felt like I was doing major surgery on it every weekend, like completely rewriting it, like, but all of the, the work of being an independent writer, like, you know, and I feel like I sound like you're, you know, sort of a very typical indie hacker when I'm like, Oh, I liked you know, creating the thing, but I don't like, like, Yes, I know, I hear that, thank you. But I don't know, I don't have to sell it, like I don't, you know, it's gonna, if it's a good book, people are gonna recommend it. Like, I'll still go on podcasts, like, I'm still gonna talk about it. But that's basically the only thing I found that doesn't really drain me. Like, I feel like I died a little bit inside when I was sending those emails Black Friday week about Lady sale. Like, it's just me, like, it's not that it's not like, that's a valid marketing approach. And it works for a lot of people, but it's just, you know, we like we kind of talked a little bit about, like, founder business fit. Yes, and I've sort of been mulling over this idea about founder marketing fit, which is that, you know, we design our businesses, right, you know, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, but fundamentally, every decision you make is a design decision in the business. And, you know, it has to be a type of business that that suits you and how you want to work and what you're good at, and, but also how you market it, that has to fit with you too. And like, for some people, you know, sending out like, sales emails, and having a cohort come in, like, whether it's for software or for a course or whatnot. Like, that's how they want to do things. And that really fits with how they like to work. For other people like me, that's like, I really like talking to people and then looking at analytics, and then writing stuff related to what people need. And then like selling that way, and actually, you know, doing active sales, negotiating with people, I enjoy all of that. And I feel like with God, I have a really, really good founder, marketing fit, like, the way we market the product works. And I feel good about it, and it plays to my skill set. And I'm always improving that skill set, but like, it's, it's very much in my wheelhouse. And I just feel like the way of promoting a book and it's just not a fit for me. Like it's just not. And, you know, I could promote it in other ways. Like, um I don't, I'm just I'm just so drained. Like, by so much of it. Like, the only thing that feels drained me is like, you know, talking to people on podcasts. Colleen Schnettler  29:16   Okay, so I felt this way about the book for a while, it feels like you're asking permission to not market it. Michele Hansen  29:22   Yeah. Because I feel like to me, like you know, there was there was this point when I was still in the drafting phase when somebody who had who had bought the preorder of it you know, made a comment I think on like LinkedIn or something that like, the book was not only helping them understand their customers better, but also helping them understand how to be a better coworker and spouse. And like, that was the moment when I knew I was like, Okay, this book has achieved what I hoped it would achieve. And then some like my like, wildest dream goal here. And now I just need to ship it. But to me like the book is a success, if I have one person have that response to it, like, I don't need to have a million people read this book, I don't even need to have 10,000 Read it, right? Like it's and it's also like this is, this is a long term asset, right? Like it's not going to expire. You know, it's sold almost 1000 copies in its first year, which is apparently a lot better than, than most books both published and self published. Like this is a long term thing, I can't exhaust myself on it now doing all sorts of things that I don't need to do that don't feel natural or like a fit to me. But just success is just not the number of copies sold. And it's not like anybody is asking for how many I've sold. But I'm like, oh, like spilled in public thing. I should be posting like a numbers update every so often. And I do that. And then I find myself like checking the sales reports every day, and I feel so drained. And it's just like, it's just, that's just not success to me. Like I just don't. I just don't, I just don't care about like, that was just not I didn't write it to make money or to sell a certain number of copies. I feel like I've kind of been stuffing down my own feelings about what success for the book looks like. Colleen Schnettler  31:38   Right? So my thought here is, why are we even talking about it anymore? don't market it. Just let it be? Oh, no, no, that that's the right thing. Right. Like I said, Okay, well do what you feel comfortable with. I'm you know, podcast. So Michele Hansen  31:53   booked on a bunch of podcasts like, Yeah, I kind of kind of like take like a month off from doing that. Okay, but like, I like doing that. Um, but even like writing the newsletter, like, has felt like a burden. And I think it's because I've been doing all this. I've been doing all this talking about talking to customers, but I haven't had time to actually talk to customers. Yeah, I feel like I have anything to say at this point. I mean, and the point of the book was to get everything in my head out. Right, I did that. And so now I don't really? I don't know I, at least for right now. I feel like I don't have anything else. Colleen Schnettler  32:34   Yeah, well, I think that okay, so you know me very well. I am a pretty logical person. Don't read horoscopes don't go to psychics, not really into that touchy feely stuff. And I am a firm believer, despite all of that, this is totally out of line with my personality. I'm a, I'm an I'm a firm believer of like going with your energy. So if you are dreading it every time you send out a Black Friday email, I mean, you you've learned this about yourself, you know that that's not the right thing to do. So I for you, and your, you know, because you have income from another source, you can totally do that you are in no way dependent on this book income. I think it's great that you've kind of discovered this about yourself and made this decision. And you're just going to do the things that, you know, bring you energy and you love which it sounds like is the podcast promoting and just let the other stuff go turn off the notifications? Who cares? Michele Hansen  33:25   Yeah. You know, I think for like, for me, like, my theme of 2021 was the phrase soul nourishing, and I love that doing things that I felt really, really nourished my soul whether that's conversations with people who have similar values, or ideas or dreams, or writing the book, and kind of fulfilling that lifelong dream of writing a book was one of them. I don't know what 2022 is going to be, but I feel like it needs to be not just my soul getting nourished because as we've talked about, I've neglected a lot of other areas of I don't I don't know the word I'm looking for here but like, there needs to be a sort of overall wellness. Focus, I think a little bit more of a holistic, nourishing. Okay, going on. And that includes kind of like, yeah, you're such a California girl, respecting my energy, you know, Colleen Schnettler  34:43   I know right? Come over, I'll give you an SAE Bowl trophy for breakfast now. I didn't even know what else it was before I moved here. Now I'm like, Oh, I buy that shit at Costco. Michele Hansen  34:53   Yes, I'm gonna show up and you're gonna give me like crystals and essential oils. Yeah, no, no, no, no, no, no, no Yeah, I know, I, you know, it took me like a couple of months for that phrase like Soul nourishing to kind of crystallize in my head and be driving me. So it's gonna take me time for whatever this new phrase is going to be. But like, I'm very much in my head, like, like I like I went to get a massage a couple weeks ago because like, I need to work on my stress, I need to lower my stress levels, I need to go get a massage. And the massage therapist was like, I need to get you out of your head and into your body because you are so much in your head. Yeah. And and so, I don't know. I don't know. I'll let you know when I figure Colleen Schnettler  35:38   out what Yeah, report back. But so for you 2020 To tell us more about Michele Hansen  35:43   to like I was so outside my comfort zone this year between being in a country and writing a book and promoting a book and like, all these other things, like I'm so far outside my comfort zone that I really just want like, comfort and coziness in my life. Like I want yeah, I want it to be calm and peaceful and quiet. Like I find myself missing quietness. Colleen Schnettler  36:15   And so you think for you that you don't know what that looks like, but you think that probably means more time on geocodes to working with your husband. And just chill out? Like you're kind of acclimating you've been there a year now. How long have you lived there? Gosh, when did you go here a year and a half? Michele Hansen  36:32   Like, yeah, Colleen Schnettler  36:33   the podcast. I can always no, that's because we're not Michele Hansen  36:36   talking to each other. It's like, we need a weekly appointment to make sure we talk to each other. Let's make it a public appointment. Like, Colleen Schnettler  36:44   uh, but I Yeah, okay. I know, you're talking about calm over there. And I have, for whatever reason, something you said just started all these ideas going off into my head that I'm really excited about all of a sudden. So. Yes. 2020 To be a calm year for Michelle 2023 I mean, refer to comfortingly. arity Yeah. push really hard for a yearly arity. No, I totally get that. I think, right, you worked. I mean, you hustled like, whoa, this year. So maybe this 2022 is a year where you relax into what you have built and grown for yourself. I mean, Michele Hansen  37:27   and I also, you know, did expand my luck surface area to quote peeking again. And, you know, so that means, you know, maybe there will be conference talk opportunities or other podcasts or something like, I'm open to that. It's just, I'm just Yeah, I'm just so tired. And, you know, I like, I like giving talks, but I'm not gonna, like hustle and create this, like workshop package that I can sell to companies. Colleen Schnettler  38:00   Yeah, you know what? I'm not gonna do. Okay, can I say something? Because I want to get it on record. Okay. So, earlier, you said that you were looking, you know, how drainie I'm sorry, how the marketing for the book is really draining, and you want to do things that really, you know, bring you energy. Okay, this is only 2021. So I'm thinking like, 2025 and I know, I brought this up a few times. However, now that I have a business that looks like it's gonna be really successful. Dude, we are so starting an incubator. Like we're gonna have our own venture fund, and then we're going to help people build businesses. 2025 You heard it here first. Michele Hansen  38:39   I don't know if it's a venture fund or like, it's like our own on profit income. I don't know what it looks like or something. There's gonna be a software social something. Colleen Schnettler  38:51   I feel like this is gonna happen. Like you talking about your energy levels. That's Michele Hansen  38:55   taken but software social something is Yeah. Gonna have coming at some points Colleen Schnettler  39:03   in the next 10 years. The future in the future. Yeah. Okay. I know, I brought it up before I just when you were talking about excitement. I was like, Oh, dude, this is this is something we're gonna maybe do someday. That'll be a good retirement job for me. Yeah, totally. Right. I mean, maybe it'll be years 20 years. I don't know. Someday. So that sounds good, though. I mean, that sounds like for you. Michele Hansen  39:29   In my backyard those are my retirement you drink gin. Yeah, like dreamed about making a little like, gin distillery My oh my gosh, are so funny on our farms smell like they smell like apricots when you bolt them. And then I'm like, Oh, Nick, amazing. Like pine. Apricot. Gin. So I don't make it now. But that's again, retirement dream Colleen Schnettler  39:48   retirement dream. Yeah, so it sounds like to sum up your money 52 Oh my gosh, to submit for 2022 It sounds like you are looking for a year of finding balance. Yeah, and all the things balance. I think I am looking for another hustle year. So 2022 is going to be another I know 2021 was a hustle year for me with Hammerstone launching and simplify, upload kind of not sure what I'm going to do with that. But 2022 for me is another hustle year I think Michele Hansen  40:26   2020 was like a hustle year for you as much as like a ping pong year because I feel like all over the place kind of all over the place like both like physically and yeah, work wise. And like, I would love to see you really, really grow into this role of being a founder of Hammerstone. And like, and, and bringing that to life and helping that blossom and really leaning into that because I think you have so much more to discover about yourself as a founder. Colleen Schnettler  41:04   Yeah, totally agree. I love it. Michele Hansen  41:06   Cheers to 2022 Cheers to Colleen Schnettler  41:09   2022 Oh, my goodness. All right, well, I guess that will wrap up this week's episode of the software, social podcast, Happy New Year to all of you. We'd love to hear what your goals are for 2022. Or if you want to hit us with the 2021 recap. That's always fun. We love to hear everyone's stories. You can reach us on Twitter at software slash pod. Talk to you next year. It's no my favorite joke. Remember when you were a kid and used to make that joke? Like like talk to you next year? It's still a great joke. Okay,

28 December 2021 41m and 44s


Enterprise Sales as an Indie SaaS featuring Josh Ho, Founder of ReferralRock

Enterprise Sales as an Indie SaaS featuring Josh Ho, Founder of ReferralRock

Follow Josh! https://twitter.com/jlogic Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com Michele Hansen  0:36   Hey, everyone, welcome back to software social, Colleen and I have a friend joining us today. We have Josh whoa here with us. Josh is founder of Referral Rock, which is referral software. They've been around since 2015. Also in the north, a million air club and have 16 employees. And Josh is also co host of the podcast searching for SAS, which actually kind of a similar concept to our show with a sort of an experienced entrepreneur and then somebody who's transitioning from consulting. So welcome, Josh. Josh Ho  1:20   Hey, thanks for having me. Yeah, we're been a longtime listener and obviously have known you too for a while and are definitely our podcast that Nate and I have or was totally inspired by you guys. So it is extremely similar. But we've sort of diverged and done different things since then. But the concept was, Michele Hansen  1:39   so we're so excited to have you here. So about Gosh, what was this like a month or so ago when we were chatting with Twitter on everyone about like, what, what should we even talk about on this show? And what do you find interesting. And something that came up was people were interested to hear more about some of the challenges and struggles and operations of running a larger business. And so we're gonna kind of dive into one of those areas today, which is something that I spend a lot of my time on actually more time than I do customer research, which is sales. And we're specifically going to talk about enterprise sales, since I feel like that can be kind of this like, I don't know, sort of like a scary topic for people to think about. And so we thought it'd be kind of interesting to sort of talk about how you do sales, how we do them. And then Coleen can kind of ask us questions about it. That sounds good. So too, so I guess I'll kick us off calm? Or do you? Do you have a question you want to start with? No, go ahead. Um, so can you just like, give us a sense, like, in a, like, like, how does an enterprise deal for you usually starts? Like, are you guys doing cold outreach at all? Josh Ho  3:08   No, we don't do any cold outreach. And maybe it'd be helpful. How do you define enterprise sales? Because I want to make sure we're talking about the same thing as well. Are you talking like, like, sighs of customer size of kind of deal or, because like, we do all kinds of sales, and I would segment a certain area that I consider more enterprise than our some of our other types of sales as a SaaS business that has, like, the two three plan. Normal thing on the pricing page plus the Michele Hansen  3:38   Yeah, I guess I define it and skipping to define it, because people define it really different ways. For me, it's when there's a custom contract involved, which usually means it's at least $10,000 a year, but usually a lot more. I know, you know, if you're talking, you know, venture back startup, like enterprise deal is like, you know, minimum 50 100 $200,000. We're not usually in that range. Most of our what I what I term an enterprise agreement, which is, you know, when you're dealing with, you know, five different departments on the customer side, they're a huge company, you're doing extended contract negotiation, like there's, you know, it's not just somebody goes to the website, clicks it and buys it, and then they use it. Right, there's more involved on our side. And usually those are in that 10 to 50,000 range for us for annual revenue. Josh Ho  4:42   Okay, yeah, yeah. So when I classified that so it is that ask us where it's outside normal rails have the quick, you know, click to buy. Michele Hansen  4:51   Yeah, like not self service. Basically, there's something special that has to go on Josh Ho  5:00   Sure. So yeah, to answer your first question we, we don't do outbound. So we do all inbound, we have a strong SEO footprint. So we a lot of inbound requests that fall into two camps, we usually take them if you these are, quote unquote, are like lead magnets, you can either sign up for an account, or you can request a demo, at this point in our lifecycle. We are we attract people onto our site. And then essentially, there's like a 5050 split, we kind of, we have a philosophy on it now, which is saying, like, let a buyer by how they want to buy. Because you typically see product lead growth, like everyone funneling people to, you know, trials or to sign up. But we try to clearly say you have two paths. Because once someone determines that they do want to talk to someone, you know, it can easily get into the enterprise space, or it might just be like you were saying, a person that requires more of a relationship based sale, where they are talking to their internal champions they need to convince, they still need to go through procurement and all of those things. So for today, we can mostly talk about once they get into that demo track for us. And what happens is they can for us, some of those customers can fit into a standard offering. So like our, it might be an $800, or the $1,200 a month type of thing, usually paid annually. And on the first level, we sort of try to standard out bits of it, where it's like, and we can probably get into more detail of this. So is it our contract? Or is it their contract? That's like usually the first type of thing. And usually, if it's a scoped plan, we try to keep them. And in a regular price plan that isn't like, Hey, I have, you know, I have a million people I want to add to your form versus the 50,000, or the 100,000 kind of ones that are Michele Hansen  7:00   a little interesting. So you actually you will start out at the point of using their contract because like, I mean, yeah. Okay, okay. I'm gonna start like, I mean, yeah, sort of count the number of times we have relented and use the customers contract with an extensive, you know, Addendum and scope of work on our side. Yeah. Josh Ho  7:27   Right. Yeah, we try to keep them on rails of our stuff as much as possible, right, like whether, like first level one is just click checks to our checkbox, the checkbox that says I, your terms of service, on our website, level two is our standard contract. And then level three is like, they might have some alterations, our standard contract to which we already know, in scope, like, these are the things we're willing to bend on. So it's almost you have to build in or you know, what stuff you're going to be like, yeah, we'll give you that one type of things. And then yeah, level, I think I was on level three, level four is, okay, bear contract, but it is, like you, that has only happened a handful of times over the course of our of our existence, we and we fight like a lot, try to keep it in our other stuff, just to make it faster, because we don't have a large team, we don't have a I don't want to waste, you know, half of their contract on lawyers to try to get this out or get myself into into trouble agreeing to something that I clearly don't know. And I might have to use a lawyer just Michele Hansen  8:42   it sounds like our sales, and like purchasing process is like really, really similar. Right? Because like, we are also entirely SEO based, we don't do any outreach. Everything is in its entirely inbound. And then yeah, that first level is, you know, can they can they click to accept the terms on the website and use an off the shelf plan and you know, pay with a credit card, like, great. And then you kind of go to the next level of okay, maybe they need the contract, but they don't need any modifications, but are okay, they need a contract, but then they do need not modifications. And then yeah, getting sort of more complex as you go. Which I feel I don't know how common that is, like, I feel like it's maybe sort of a I mean, it's definitely a very, like company, one style approach where we're trying to make the process as efficient as possible. And where our goal is not, you know, maximizing the revenue from every customer but it's like, how can we you know, get people to something that works for them. That doesn't take up too much time and resources on our end so that we can you know, get more customers it's very much sort of playing a volume game, rather than one where you're, you're trying to maximize revenue per customer. Josh Ho  9:56   Yeah, I agree with that. It's just I even though we are You know, what it was for 16 people or so or more than 15 At this point, it's mostly because it's a diversity of skill sets versus necessarily like, Hey, I've got like all these people working for me, it's, it's because we have like a customer success area, we have people dedicated to content marketing we have, we do have salespeople. And we do have, you know, developers and product managers and QA, things like that. So there is it's more of, for us that size of companies stuff is more about like, clearly dividing roles and actually having some specialists because I can't, in the early days, I was doing it all and then way our business scaled was through, okay, I need to add add people to this. We aren't as as I would say, like I know your API based types of things, but there's, and there's probably an immediacy to the value someone can get with using your service. For us, it takes more onboarding, it takes people to set up a campaign set up a referral program, set up their rewards, all of those pieces require a lot more hand holding. And some people come in thinking, Oh, I'm just gonna click this and start and it's like, well, Oh, you want to set a reward, oh, the reward, your good rewards actually, like resonate well with your customers. So it may not be $5 off or a, you know, or like a discount or something like that. But it might be like a mug, it might be swag. So it's like helping people kind of understand how to use it. So there's like a longer track in there. That requires more people to be involved. So we've tried to keep it as tight as possible back to like, the contract and everything, knowing we're building a SAS and building it for the long haul. I'd say right now, it's everything about like, how can we scale it? How do we make it less complicated to then as we do add customers, we don't necessarily have to add staff in addition to it. So we've been pretty diligent on forcing forcing functions into our contract. Oh, that's great. You want to throw money at us? But you know what? That's not what we do. We don't do custom damn sure you get there's no custom def. Oh, we had this we can add on. Yep, exactly. So it's like we push back hard. And I'd rather continue to build a product. This from Shopify as approach to if you've ever heard, there's a great podcast they did a while back that I listened to, like, they only recently got socked to, like only, like, within the past year or two. And I was like, blown away by everything that especially from an enterprise standpoint, because they, but their philosophy was like, okay, great, we're just gonna keep building the better product and to make it so that the internal champions like we're the only option for them. So it's like, they could jump through hurdles over SOC to over contracts over things like that, because they just made a strong feel like you know, what, we're making a, almost a philosophical decision that we're not going to jump through your hoops, you're going to jump through ours. And we will sacrifice the dollars that could come in, and that's okay. And it took them I don't know, however many years before, they actually got, like, soku compliance, and it was like, they only did that last year. And, like, I'm considering that, but I don't really want to at all, like that just seems like a big waste of time or a big like, headache. And I'm like, well, could we pull that off to where our stuff is so good, or is so much aligned that the Intel champion is going to battle? Lawyers inside battle their bosses and things like that. So that, oh, just make an exception for us. When Michele Hansen  13:42   sock two has come up, we have been able to, you know, have have the champions help us get around it. Whether that's because the so it's funny, sometimes you see those things? Like, it's a really hard requirement. You're you then you just are like, Yeah, we don't have that and they're like, Colleen Schnettler  14:00   Wow, your sales process as it sounded like it was like early days, Michele Hansen  14:03   clearly a no go without socks, you know, you're saying it's not important, or what it actually is important. So, um, Josh Ho  14:12   if I go back all the way down, I was doing that it was started out with me having no idea what sales was. So it started out with me just thinking I was all I was doing was helping people on like chat support, and then I'd be just frustrated and annoyed because they would it would just I'd be sitting there like typing back and forth. And I'd be typing while they're typing. And you're just like, I just want to show you versus trying to have this asynchronous chat conversation. So it started with me just being like, do you want just share, do a screen share? I think this is pre dated zoom a bit like where's zoom was prevalent. It might have been like, oh, let's do a WebEx or something I don't remember. But we'd get on a call and then I'd basically kind of help them. So that was like very early. stage one, just still having people coming in bounce using the app. And once I started talking to people kind of got, oh, there's a lot of other questions. And they also figured out, they did need the manual help. And it wasn't just something that they could just sign up the app for so. And quickly after I realized how many more people were buying after I talked to them, and I'm like, oh, that's, that's interesting. Now, they actually know more about what we do, and how to set it up. And all of these things, and oh, lo and behold, it's like, half of the people bought, it's like, Oh, I gotta talk to more people, it just kind of was this natural, ergo, I want more sales, I should talk to more people. So that was that that base level finding. And then I went through trials of trying to find salespeople, I won't divulge too far into that side of the story. But eventually, we I found someone that joined me, and this is like, after post revenue, we were doing well enough to pay for itself and, and pay for a couple people. And I brought someone on slowly to like, slot into that into that spot. So I had a an early I would call him like a partner. Now, not quite if you go by strict definitions of founder, you know, he probably joined about two years after I started. So this was 2017. And he kind of took that over and level one was just slotting in and doing what I was doing. And then taking it further because he could be full time on it. So he was doing that he split up our customer success area, because naturally once people bought that it's like, okay, they need onboarding and support and all of these pieces. And then over time, we grew that to, to have, you know, like two salespeople under him as the inbound engine kept going, as we kept building out more SEO and trying to what I call, like being in the conversation, I think you and I have talked about that before from a marketing standpoint. And now, if we're speeding up now, tour now, like we talked about that whole, like letting buyers buy how they want to buy, and we started as our product approved, we could start steering more people directly to that, to that split between start in the product or start to talk to someone. And since then, we have also added another layer of type of salesperson where we've pulled from our CS team who is extremely experienced with onboarding. And actually just from a resource constrained perspective, we're like, Hey, these are really helpful people that know a ton about programs. So instead of a typical salesperson trying to get someone over the line, we're like, Hey, we're gonna do these demos, we're going to do these like one quick call consultation, almost like back to the roots of where I started, and then not any follow up, or just doing very more follow up. And we call that like our, like buyer assist process versus like a sales driven process. So tracking back when we had the sales one with two salespeople. That was like a traditional commission based model, like, like you have a salary and you have some commission, but over the past year, we have spun up a new like that, that middle area where we have a CS person that just does group calls just as really helpful. And, and has maybe one call with people and and and some follow up. Colleen Schnettler  18:26   Nice. So this is a little off topic, but I'm intensely curious about what you're you have 16 full time employees. So the transition, where were you at your developer? Josh Ho  18:40   Ah, yes, I was I started I built like the initial versions. Yeah. So I come from a development background and started with that. So how Colleen Schnettler  18:49   did you learn how to manage hire, even like salary? Like how was that building it out? I mean, what was that transition, like for you going from software to people business stuff? Josh Ho  19:03   Well, I did have a tip into kind of some business stuff previous to starting for rock. So I did have like some software consulting businesses with just just myself not large. I had maybe like two people, maybe two other developers working for me. So there's kind of that I could do my taxes, I can do all those things. So it's, you know, those those I do refer back. And then even pre, the consulting, I was a developer at another company and then worked my way up into be like to manage manage developers. I think the last role I had that was not paid by myself was technically I think I was the Director of Technical Operations at a benefits administration company that we built software for it was like a first step there. So I kind of worked my way over more towards the business side after after, like leading the dev teams and different stuff like that. So So anyway, if that helps, Colleen Schnettler  20:02   just like, it just seems like a big transition. Josh Ho  20:05   Yeah, I mean, I guess there was a lot, I'm probably, whenever people see me or meet me, it's like, I'm probably, you know, I'm older than I look with my Asian jeans, I suppose. But there's a lot of that. And then also, we've grown organically, right? So it wasn't like, boom, all of a sudden, two years into referral rock, I have six people it was, you know, people, if you talk to other founders that have been through this, it's, it's like, okay, first you are managing two or three people that were extensions of yourself. And then, you know, the next big step is like, Okay, how do I now perform this magic trick to where we have, like two people working in an area and person's like, kind of the lead and not really a team? It's like, where do you go from this flat structure into sort of a more hierarchical structure to where you have managers or you have leaders, and all of that has just taken time. And each, even each department or area that I've talked about, had gone through different parts of that, like, marketing was pretty much like me and one other person for a really long time. And then, like, I talked about how the sales and customer success area grew. And that one, you know, we sometimes we had to push forward to grow out of needing redundancy, and like coverage of time and things like that. And then, you know, another area for Dev was like me bringing on a tech lead. But that was actually I brought on my first developer, because I brought on a first developer under me who was just helping me execute. And then later on, I brought in a tech lead to kind of start managing the team and build out kind of more of the like, get to handle more developers to manage the other developers to put some actual structure in place versus, you know, me just get a push. Michele Hansen  21:55   I have a question about something you mentioned earlier. So you mentioned how when you first started trying to hire someone to do sales, it sounds like it was a little bit rocky and took you some time to hire that the the person who ended up becoming a partner and becoming a really good fit. And I feel like it's worth drilling in on that, because I learned recently that that's a very common experience. I was talking to Harris, Kenny, and well, I don't know if it was at founder summit or is on Twitter, it all blends together at this point. But um, you know, he runs a sort of sales as a service kind of thing. And he was saying how most of his clients have several failed sales hires before they come to him. But it's like, it's like really hard to hire a good salesperson. And, you know, I recognize that you may not you may not want to dive too much into that sort of the specific situations of what happened with the people that didn't work out. But I'm curious, like, you know, is there anything you wish you had known about hiring your first sales person? That, you know, the the that took you some fits and starts to figure out that maybe you wouldn't have had to go through that if you had known it? Josh Ho  23:16   Sure. I mean, that I'm perfectly happy to talk about it. I just feel like this is one of those topics I've talked about a lot in the past, but obviously on this podcast, but perfectly happy to dive in. What the first subtracting back in that part of the story. It was like after me. And that was the whole like, I didn't think what I was doing with sales. I just thought I was just being helpful. And I had that mindset of like, oh, like, like, the guy at the car dealership. That's like a sales guy. I've worked in organizations that have used, you know, that have had salespeople, and it was like, they go to conferences, they do this Patagonia, you know, this, like, like, Yeah, I'm not, I'm not a salesperson. I'm just like, I'm just like, I just built the product. And I'm helping people like that's and and so my first hire for that sales role. Pre the one I found that I said, that had worked out very well, was a person that looked and talked to like a salesperson, and, you know, they're like, Yeah, I could sell anything like I sell to SMBs. I think, if I recall her previous work was she would do SMB sales, she would go to restaurants and like, go to the restaurants and talk to them and build relationship Build, Build candor, build rapport, and, and you know, sell the product. So that was like her tact. And I was like, Okay, great. Let's that's your real salesperson. Let's give you a shot. So I like redirected all the demo requests to her. And I recorded myself doing some and then I kind of handed it off to her. And honestly, like, it was just what I realized what I didn't realize was how large gap it was in terms of her needing to understand the product to relate it to customers and all of these things. It was like, oh, okay, you, you really don't know much about the product. And I tried to explain it to her. And we went through all of these types of things. So, one, she was a traditional kind of salesperson now, could she have been successful if he had the right, like onboarding in place, or it wasn't just like, hey, you're just gonna slot in replace me, and this is what I did. So kind of just do what I did, or go do your thing. And it, there was like a large gap. And that was probably the biggest mistake. for her and for myself, just not knowing, like, just what that what, where, where the transition point really was. And then, when I did find the other person, it was more of the entrepreneurial type of person. His name is Mike. Oh, by the way, I don't. It's easier to probably say names since this person in that person. So Micah, who's still with me, you know, he came in and the biggest thing he kind of joked about was like, it's funny, if you ever meet him, he doesn't have like, much of a, like an ego, per se. But one of the first statements he said, he's like, I could do everything you could do. But Sal, oh, no, sorry, but Bill, but write code. And I'm like, okay, like, all right, like, let's say, you know, here's, here's the challenge, you know, go ahead and just hear some recordings and go wild. And the biggest thing he could do was be consultative and be adapting to the customers. And that also, that first thing of like, he knew he didn't know and would happily be like, I don't know, let me find out. And those were some of like, the early parts of the trades that he was just looking to relate to the customers look to bridge that gap between them. And I think the biggest challenge is like, that's not what I look for initially, like the whole thing. The other salesperson, I was like, she sounds like a salesperson, she's done a sales job. And coming into that realization that, like his approach was much like mine approach. And I was like, Oh, this is selling, this is like consultative selling, this is different. This isn't ramming something down someone's throat, and all these things, and this can work. And this can scale outside. It Michele Hansen  27:18   sounds like it was important for you to realize that you the salesperson, I mean, in talking about our business is to like the salesperson not only needs to align with how you conceptualize sales, even if you don't have a particularly strong sales, you know, strategy or philosophy yourself, right. But also that you know, how your business is set up, right? Like a business that's very SEO based, that's entirely inbound is a very different business where then one where you've got to go out like pounding the pavement. And it sounds like the approach of mica is really one that just kind of jived more with the business model, as it already was, rather than kind of pivoting to more of an outbound approach. And and it being difficult for you as a manager to like really support that person in that role, too, because it because it just kind of wasn't aligned with with how you thought about just the concept of selling in general. Josh Ho  28:19   Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I think it makes me like what as you're saying, it was like, I didn't know that. How important that the alignment needed to be at that time, because I thought sales was this black box, and I need a black box. Right. And so I think, once I did come to terms with what I was, what I was doing, is is a way of selling and again, that mica was in alignment from a like a cultural standpoint, from an approach standpoint, all of those things, then it kind of that was more important than the actual like, what, what I've been done the things I didn't know that I thought I didn't know if that made sense. Michele Hansen  29:03   Well, thank you so much for coming by today. Josh. It's been really interesting talking to you about scaling up sales. We kind of set this up that like Coleen could ask questions and then we just talked together. But if if anyone has questions about for either of us about doing sales, feel free to reach out to us on Twitter. Now we'll talk to you again next week.

21 December 2021 30m and 5s


Marketing for SaaS Founders with Corey Haines of Swipe Files

Marketing for SaaS Founders with Corey Haines of Swipe Files

Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com

13 December 2021 54m and 54s


Using Atomic Habits to Get Through Burnout

Using Atomic Habits to Get Through Burnout

Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com Michele Hansen  Hey, Colleen,  Colleen Schnettler good morning, Michelle. Michele Hansen  0:45   How are you? Colleen Schnettler  0:47   I'm doing great. How are you? Michele Hansen  0:49   I am I'm working working through stuff. Colleen Schnettler  0:52   Okay, can I start with the funny story? Sure. Our listeners. Okay. So if you listen to our podcast about Michelle's burnout, you might remember that I suggested some very dramatic things, like quit your job or move to a different country. So the next morning, Michelle texted me and told me she went for a walk. I made me laugh, because I was like, yes, you know, that's a good first step going for a walk. Michele Hansen  1:22   Yes, I actually, I did go for a walk that day, because it was sunny for once in Scandinavia in the wintertime. So you got to take advantage of that. So yeah, so I, I just want to start by saying I like I've gotten so much support from so many people and so many stories from people about their burnout, or their spouses burnout, or just feeling really, really supported and appreciating it. So much. How much other people have been sharing with me and how vulnerable they have been with me. It's been, it's been kind of amazing, I guess I didn't really know what to expect, going going into it, like recorded that episode. And I was kind of like, ah, like, I don't have any advice for people like is, right, is that going to be like useful for people. And it turns out, I guess, sort of just feeling seen, and knowing that other people go through it was helpful. And I think for me, like, just saying, like, sort of raising my hand and saying I have a problem, like, for me is often the first step in getting through it. Like, absolutely, um, so so that was really helpful for me. And just being open about it, and then all of the support from people. As has kind of given me like a little bit of motion on it. I mean, so many people reached out to me offering to, like, have a phone call or something about it. And, um, I haven't taken anyone, because, like, I don't have enough time. But I really appreciate it. And I'm just kind of like, I don't know, I'm like marinating and everyone's stories, like, like, I kind of feel like, I don't know if you ever do this, but like, you know, you get like a steak and then you put it in the fridge with salt on it, and for a couple of days, and then it gets really tender. And I feel like I'm just a piece of steak sitting in the fridge. And like every story and and sort of encouraging word people have sent to me as sort of, you know, their each one little piece of Maldon salt that's just kind of working its way in and tenderizing me and this is a little bit of a weird metaphor, but like people who take their seriously know what I'm talking about. Like, I'm just kind of, you know, I'm sort of like, yeah, I don't know, something marinating is like totally the wrong word for that. But you know, I'm just kind of absorbing, I guess all of that. Okay. Um, that's great. And yes, I have started to try to try to make some changes, but I think something that really helps crystallize for me, in hearing so many stories about burnout was like, there's kind of it feels like there's kind of like two different categories of burnout. There's like, work burnout, and then there's life burnouts. Okay. And work burnout is, you know, that's like your, your burnout from your work situation, right. And then life is like, you know, everything else going on, right? I have life burnout. It turns out and so that has been helpful for me in framing this because then it's kind of like a sort of, like, it feels like sort of like the first direction sign. You know, it's like, do I turn left? Do I turn right? Is it work burnout, is it life burnout, okay, now we know which way to go. Okay. And then that's like a, you know, sort of like another step to go down. like researching how people get through this. So I think that that was really key and helped me start, I think start even just like thinking about changes to make, because it's one, it's like everything possibly that you have going on that you might need to change. Like, that's a little bit overwhelming. But at least knowing which domain to think about is helpful, I think. Colleen Schnettler  5:27   So how do you know it's life burnout and not work burnout, what's the distinguishing characteristics? Michele Hansen  5:32   So I think it's that, you know, for me, like, like, I really enjoy work to the point where, like, you know, most of my life, I have found work easier than life, quite frankly, like, I tend to escape into work or school or, you know, whatever that is. And I think actually, the, the fact that I was like, one of my initial stressors couple weeks ago was like, I don't have enough time to work was not actually a sign that I was burning out from work, it was a sign that I was going into one of my oldest tried and true stress responses, which is trying to disappear into work. And then the fact that I didn't have enough time to do so was stressing me out. And that like that that outlet was not available. So it's not that I didn't have enough time to work. It's that like, I didn't have enough time to neglect the rest of my life and just disappear into work. Colleen Schnettler  6:40   Okay, I understand, I think, did we Michele Hansen  6:43   did we ever talk about like the four archetypes of like, stress and trauma responses, we were talking about that. Okay, so we're talking about that. So there's like four main categories of these. And it's just worth sort of noting and it's like, not any of them are better or worse than others. It's just intended to be descriptive, and like, help you understand how you respond to stressful situations. And so the first one is anger, which is, you know, respond with anger, whether that's verbally or physically, you know, with violence against yourself against other people, against objects, right. And so like, if something really stressful happens, and you really want to punch a pillow, or a punching bag, like anger might be one of your primary stress, or trauma responses, most people are a combination of a couple. The next one is flight, which is you are leaving the situation that can that that can be physically or it can also be sort of mentally, but that often takes the form of workaholism so disappearing into work. Hello, me raising hand. Um, that can be exercise, like, so I was a competitive gymnast growing up. So that's also in the flight response. You know, it can be physically moving places, like, you know, like, when, like, COVID got really bad, I decided to move country. So that is also a flight response. Like, hello, all the bells are going off here. Right? Um, so that's like the flight response. I think especially like, in our community, like, I come across a lot of people with the like, workaholic flight response. And the thing like, is like, though, the thing about flight responses is that like, they can often be sort of extreme versions of healthy behaviors, or like socially rewarded behaviors, which makes them really hard to identify. Because, of course, you should exercise a lot like, oh, like having a good career and being ambitious. Like, that's a good thing. Right? So, like it kind of, yep, but at least you know, everything is bad and extremes, right? You know, even you know, anger is healthy. But having too much of it and hurting other people is not working is you know, we all need to work but like doing it to the point where it's how you deal with life is not there's a freeze response, which is I sort of think of that as the like hiding under a blanket watching Netflix for 12 hours and just being unable to move kind of a response. Like this is a reaction I heard from actually quite a few friends after January 6, they were like I was just like frozen for days. Like, like you just use completely like withdraw. And so maybe that's like, you get home from work and you just play video games for eight hours and you can't do anything else like playing video games is healthy. Everybody loves watching Netflix, including me. Okay, I know that I seem like totally like Little Miss, like Type A overachiever, but I do watch Netflix. Thank you very much. I'm currently rewatching our way through Parks and Rec and it is such a delight. Okay. So there's the freeze response. And then there's also the fawn response, which is basically when things are really bad for you, you go into the mode of like trying to rescue or help other people. And also that you try to like appease other people. So it's very much like the people pleasing response. So fights, flights, freeze, and fawn. Those are these four main stress and trauma responses. And I think it's really helpful to understand those like four main categories, because when we're talking about burnout, like how you experience the burnout seems like, like those kind of those themes come through quite a bit. And also how you deal with burnout is very different. And so like, for me, like, as a sort of person who's sort of primarily in that flight response category, like, for me, trying to all of a sudden start exercising and like signing up for a 10k like, would not actually really be very healthy or productive for me, because that's just furthering myself in that stress response category. And, and like that would just lend itself to more extremism in that same type of thing, if that makes sense. And so that was really how I identified like, this is actually, this is not a work problem, but the existence of me being like, I don't have enough time to work and like feeling stressed about that. And like, wanting to work like this is a sign that I'm falling into one of my, my oldest stress reaction paths. Like that was those that was really helpful for me. Um, and then so kind of taking some time to think about things and made a couple of like, really small changes you had recommended to me atomic habits, like probably a bunch of times, and it's one of those books, I feel like everybody is like, oh my god, it's so amazing. And like, so then I didn't read it, because like, I felt like I'd read it because of everybody else had told me about it's kind of like, it's not the same way I feel about avatar. Like, I feel like everybody raved about avatar. And then I was like, I feel like I've seen this movie. Everybody's talking about it. Like, can we just please stop talking about this thing? Because like, all I've heard about is this is avatar. I don't know. Did you ever see Avatar? Do you know what I mean? Colleen Schnettler  12:08   I did I know exactly what you mean. I was not impressed. I didn't see it till later till everyone was talking about it. So I agree. By the time I saw it, I was like, Michele Hansen  12:17   so I kind of like had that. I was like, okay, everyone's been raving about atomic habits. Like, you know, I've read so many like blog posts to talk about it. And people do these homework essays. And I like felt like I had the gist of it. Um, but you recommended it. So I was like, Okay, fine. I'll get it. I think I bought it like a couple of months ago. And it was just sitting on my shelf collecting dust. And then we started like, getting kind of like tightening things up a little bit for like, getting ready to put Christmas stuff out. And I like saw it in my pile of books to be read, which, well, there's actually multiple of those piles in my house. But um, I was like, You know what, Colleen recommended that book to me. I should like, I should really read it. And I'm so glad I did. Like I am eating my previous words about No, I was so glad to read it. Kind of interesting, because I feel like you have said how you don't read self help books. But this is totally a self help book. It's like a self help book for people who don't read self help books. Colleen Schnettler  13:12   I know. And that's the only book I've ever recommended to you. It was so good. It's like a self help book. But it's like so practical. Like some of the things you're just like, oh, this is like a practical thing. Like the habit chaining is so obvious in retrospect, but like, had never occurred to me how I could, you know, change the habit chaining and the identity stuff I really enjoyed too. So I'm glad that I'm glad that you're Are you finished? Did you read? Oh, Michele Hansen  13:37   yeah. Yeah, I finished it today. I'm glad you enjoy me when I sink my teeth into a book. I finished it in like three days. Like, yeah, you just read it. I just Yeah, I just Yeah. So um, so one thing that I really enjoyed from it was this. And I'm going to see if I can find the exact phrasing here. He has his I think it's action versus motion. Colleen Schnettler  14:02   Yeah, I think I remember that. Yeah. And actually, Michele Hansen  14:04   I thought of you as I was reading that. So let me just find the exact. You're like, oh, I have done it. I'm Colleen Schnettler  14:10   like, so excited. Well, I read it. It's one of those books that I actually like, bought on Kindle and then bought the freaking book because I liked it so much. Michele Hansen  14:17   Oh my god. So I'm reading another book on burnout. It's called what is it called by yourself? The effing lilies, which is like, yeah, no, that's actually a title. And it's like so is this woman like talking about her her path through burnout and her like her burnout is very different. Like the beginning of the book, like starts with her, like, you know, waking up hungover after her 25th birthday and like, kind of, you know, she's smoking too much and going out too much and like drunk dialing her therapist and I'm like, Okay, we're in very different parts of our lives and like I had a two year old at that point in my life and was definitely not doing that. But I think her her ways of going through are actually really similar. Like her tactics like They both like both her and James clear want you to journal and I'm like, I don't journal. I know, your journal this morning pages thing. I'm like maybe like I bought my journal, I don't know. But anyway, it's actually been really good, but I was reading it on Kindle and I was like, I need the paper version of this book so I can like highlight it. So. Okay, so James clear on motion versus action from atomic habits. So, quote, I refer to this as the difference between being in motion and taking action. The two ideas sound similar, but they're not the same. When you're in motion, you're planning and strategizing, and learning. Those are all good things, but they don't produce a result. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will deliver an outcome. If I outlined 20 ideas for articles I want to write that's motion. If I actually sit down and write an article, that's action. So attendees, yeah, sometimes motion is useful, but it will never produce an outcome by itself. It doesn't matter how many times you talk to the personal trainer, that motion itself will never get you in shape. So I think like as I was thinking about this, and he has a really great story in here, too, about like photography students, and how there was this professor who said, Okay, this group, you have to take as many pictures as possible by the end of the semester, and your grade is based on how many pictures you take. And this other group is you only have to take one perfect picture and turn that in the end of the semester. And the group that produced the best work was the group that just produced a ton of pictures, because they just kept doing things like they were constantly in action of doing things. And as you know, as I say, as somebody who feels like they have been marinating for the past two weeks, and you know, covered in salt, Colleen Schnettler  16:50   salt. Michele Hansen  16:54   I'm, like, I actually, so I was like you don't I have to start doing this as I read this book, because I can't just like wait until I'm done to start doing and I think this is what I really liked about this book is it's like, do a really small thing, if, you know, we talked about how, like I have allowed my physical health to deteriorate with all this. And it's like, okay, it's not I want to start working out or I want to work or join a gym or whatever that is, it's like, you have to switch the identity, as you mentioned from I want to start doing this to I am someone who does this. And then how can you do really small things every day, that prove to yourself that you do that, so that you build that identity. So he's like, just do a two minute habit, every day of whatever that thing is. But then also do the thing that you really uniquely enjoy and is easy for you that isn't for other people. And so for me, that was like, Okay, it's not that, like I want to start working out again, it's like, so that identity should have to do has to be I am a fit person, I guess. Or like I am a person who works out every day. And then so like I you know, I did a handstand for like, two minutes earlier today. And like, that's something that's very easy and fun for me, but makes me feel like oh, yeah, I guess I did some sort of workout today, even if it was really short. Um, so I've like started on these little habits. And I feel like I'm probably still in burnout. But at least now I'm doing things. You know, like, it just sort of got me it was reading atomic habits really helped me kind of like, okay, what are like small things I can do. As he says that, they're not going to make me 100% better, they're not going to take me from burnout to not burn out or whatever the opposite of burnout is. But they're going to make me 1% better. So like doing a handstand that makes me 1% better. That really probably only applies to me, you know, and everybody else that's going to be something different. Um, I've also started like plugging in my phone after dinner, downstairs in the office and making it unavailable so that I can't end up like aimlessly like scrolling Twitter or Instagram or whatever, like later on at night and like staying up too late at night. Um, my phone is still accessible to me, but it's downstairs in the office and stays plugged in. Like because I don't need it as an alarm clock because we got one of those like, Sun lamps that like wakes you up with sunlight because you know, hashtag Scandinavian winter you don't have this problem in California. We don't have enough I Colleen Schnettler  19:37   don't wake up without an alarm. Because there's so much sunlight. That Michele Hansen  19:41   sounds just lovely. Um, yes, we get, you know, just a little sprinkling of sunlight if that a day. Sometimes it's just gray. So I also got better D vitamins. Apparently they're more effective if you take vitamin K too with them or something and not better medical advice. That's just what I read on the internet. So I started doing that, too. I'm just like, you know, lots of little things. Um, I also like I got permission from my, my Danish school to only go into the class once a week and do self study at home the other day of the week. Ooh, that sounds like a big one. Yeah, so like, I was really nervous to talk to the head, the head of the school. And that's also something that like, you know, for anyone else, listening who's going through burnout, like, you're probably not feeling burned out with Danish school being a contributor to it, if you are, though, seriously, reach out to me, because we probably want to comment. Um, but yeah, just like reducing that to like, one day a week. And I was, like, Look, I've proven that I'm a good student, like, it's so much easier for me to like, if this is a six hour or five, six hour class, like, I would rather do one hour, every night. And I have my eight year old correct my spelling and pronunciation, like what she loves, then, like, have to be here in a class all day, like it just for my schedule, like, then I have four days, one day of class, and, and decided that I'm going to book a massage for myself after I go to the class to nice, um, which is, I think something else from atomic habits is like, if you have to do something you don't enjoy, like, schedule in a reward afterwards, so you know, and it took me like, a lot of research to actually like, find like to get a massage, because when you're, I don't know, expat, or in a new place. Like, everything is just, you know, you don't have those go twos for anything. So I'm just trying to make and that's not like a huge difference, because I was like, What should I drop out of that? Like, you know, like, do I take all these things? And do I get rid of them, right, like, and you know, because some people are, like, I was burned out. And so I went to Bali for three months. And then like, that sounds like it really worked for you. And it was awesome. And sitting on a beach for three months. Sounds amazing. But like, I have a family, I have a life like I like I like that's just that's just not an option for me. Um, and so there were some people I was kind of, like, DMing, with who were kind of like, you know, here's how I worked through it. Like, I didn't quit my job, like I, you know, I didn't move I didn't, you know, change anything about my life. I just kind of got through it with the existing structure of my life, that was really helpful for me to hear that, like, you don't have to just kind of walk away from everything in your life in order to burnout because, like, especially like, I feel like you read like burnout stories from like, for lack of a better way of putting it like San Francisco types that's like, I, you know, sold my company quit my job, and like, you know, lived in a camper van for six months. And I'm like, That's awesome. That That sounds like that was amazing, and helped you. That's just not my life. Like, I just like, That also sounds like flight response to me, which as we have discussed, probably not something I should do more, I need to do like, a moderate, like moderate things like going for a walk and yeah, getting sunlight. And, you know, kind of pulling back on things where I can and also like, recognizing, like, when am I falling into patterns that are not good for me and and whether that's like big things like throwing myself way too much into work or like small things like being on my phone way too much. I haven't done the habit inventory that I read a long time ago, I haven't done that. It's like you have to like list out all of the habits that you do and whether they're a good habit, a neutral habit or a negative one. So like, for me, like a bad habit is like waking up in the morning and, you know, checking my email and Twitter and intercom and everything else for like 20 minutes before I get out of bed. That was a bad habit. Like, maybe for some people, it's neutral. But like for me, like that was kind of just like the note I started my day out on. And it's probably better for my mental health. If I start the day with like five minutes of like, cuddling with my dog, right, like, right, that's probably much better than seeing, you know, whatever is waiting for me in my inbox. And so it's like going through all of those, um, I had kind of like, that feels this feels like a slippery slope into journaling. So Colleen Schnettler  24:41   I mean, I cannot get I can't get so Michele Hansen  24:43   resistant to journaling. Colleen Schnettler  24:46   Like our job is in my nightstand. Like by my bed. I have like eight journals. They all have like three pages filled in. Because every year I'm like, Oh, this is the year I'm going to start journaling. Yeah, I've just accepted that about myself that it's just not my jam. I love Michele Hansen  25:02   buying journals. And I know they're like, especially like the rifle paper ones like I'm a little bit obsessed. Colleen Schnettler  25:09   Really nice but not Yeah, Michele Hansen  25:12   so I but of course I have bought more journals and I don't have any morning pages thing like if there's anybody listening who does morning pages, which is the thing it's like you're supposed to like write when you wake up in the morning, you're supposed to write three pages. Now James clear is like, you should just write a sentence or like just write like anything and mourning pages is like you get up write three pages. Is there anyone with kids? Who does that? And like, how do you fit it into your life, like, and some people like to wake up at 530. And that's what I turned on them. Like, again, that sounds lovely. But like, every hour of sleep, I can get like, I'm going to take it like I am not going to like get up at 530 and light a candle and do yoga and don't like I'm sorry, that is just not me. Colleen Schnettler  26:01   What is the benefit? What is the purported benefit of these morning pages? Michele Hansen  26:04   So the by the I think Lily's book talks a lot about, okay, um, which is that it's sort of like a space to completely let your mind empty out. And it's kind of, you know, you know, how I talked about, like, customer interviews are where you're just there to listen to them without any judgement, and whatever they want to say, you know, you know, sort of on the topic, you know, is welcome, and you're not, you're just not judging anything they say, and it's just about their experience, and you're kind of you're holding space for them. And their experience is basically like doing that for yourself. Oh, my God, I have to do this. I can't like preach that you should do that to other people. And then not even. And that self empathy is important than than not hold space for myself. Goddamnit Ah, Colleen Schnettler  26:56   let me know how it goes. I probably don't Michele Hansen  26:57   want to turn it. Well, I have to wait at least like a week or a week and a half for all these pretty new journals. I ordered to arrive. Right, right. Colleen Schnettler  27:06   Yeah, right. Yeah. Like, Michele Hansen  27:08   yeah, report, and then I'm going away for Christmas. So like, realistically? Oh, my goodness. Yeah. Colleen Schnettler  27:16   So Okay, but seriously, Michele Hansen  27:18   if you journal, and you're listening, and you have to somehow make this work in your life, like, I want to know, like details. Not that like I do it every day. Like when, like, how do you fit in? Yes, I need specifics and logistics and details. Okay, sorry. You're gonna say something galling. Colleen Schnettler  27:35   Okay, so let's go back to this and your burnout. So all of the stories, the majority of the stories I have heard are also those I couldn't work for six months after burnout. So do you feel with with the small steps that you're taking to try and kind of recover from burnout within the construct of your life? How are you feeling? It's been what, two weeks? I mean, Michele Hansen  27:57   yeah, I still feel like I'm just kind of, I still feel like I'm in it. I feel like I have a little bit of motion because of the book. Okay, but, um, I don't know, I still feel like there's a lot of stuff that is not working. And you know, like so like that founder summit thing, for example, like that, that wheel thing we talked about where it's like, you rate your life for, you know, career and spiritual and physical, social emotional, there was like some other category there of like, how your life is going and all those different areas. And it was like, if there's anything below, like a four, you really need to focus on that. So I gave myself you know, I think physical was pretty low. But then also social was pretty low. Like, my family is wonderful. And I love them. I don't have any friends here, though. And like, so I think I also gave that one a pretty low rating, but like, I'm in another country. It's COVID. II, Europe is like terrible with COVID right now, I don't know if you've heard like, so that one almost like I didn't even like, it really occurred to me that I could do something about that. Because it's like, at least like physical it's like, okay, I can like do handstands and like workout every day. But like, I can't, like, go out and somehow, like, have all of my best friends here. Like, right, like, that doesn't really happen. So I think that is part of it. Like not having like a, as much of a support system as I used to, like, you know, can't just roll up to your house and like, hang out, right, like so I think that, that that that's going to be a bigger challenge that I need to work through. I mean, I think the social part is a challenge for a lot of people right now and like not feeling supported, like even if you are in your community like I think just With the pandemic, like so many people are burned out for various reasons. And I think something I have been thinking through, like, why did it get to this point, and I think part of me, like didn't really feel entitled to burnout. You know, like, you're still, you know, knowing people in the medical field, like with everything they have dealt with over the past two years, like, there is serious burnout in the medical field right now. And I think seeing that, and and, you know, being very close to people in that field, who are burned out from that, like, I guess I just, I didn't feel entitled to it. Or like, you know, there's people who scaled companies to like, 1000s of employees and billions of dollars in revenue, and like, they get burned out. And it was like, This feels like something that is for other people. And part of it was like, Yes, I'm special. It's not gonna happen to me, but also part of that feeling was, Who am I to think that I get to say that I'm feeling this way? Right? Like, does that make sense? Like, is this a feeling I am entitled to is this like, like, have I earned this title of being burned out? Which is kind of a ridiculous thing to say, now that I've actually verbalized it. But yeah, I think that was contributing to it too, because I kept denying that it was going on, because I didn't feel like I deserved it. Interesting. And so I think kind of the last two weeks has been really important for me, and that not only accepting that I have burnout, but also accepting that Colleen Schnettler  31:32   it's Michele Hansen  31:35   it's something that I'm allowed to feel or allowed to describe myself as I guess, if that makes any sense. I think that's when it makes total sense. Sort of. Yeah. Yeah. Colleen Schnettler  31:46   It's like, and I think that's, you know, that goes to a lot of other things. But like, You were absolutely entitled, you have, you know, to feel to feel that and to have your own problems. It's kind of like when your kid breaks his arm. Are you supposed to say Oh, it's fine, because other kids have cancer? Right? Like it's, it's Yeah, cuz daddy upset because your kid broke his arm, like it's, it's, it's relative. Sure. And it helps you keep it in perspective. But again, it is still a very real and very pressing problem. Michele Hansen  32:14   I heard this very, in articulately if amusingly phrased once as someone else's suck does not make your suck, suck any less. Colleen Schnettler  32:25   That's terrible. But yes, exactly. Michele Hansen  32:28   Right. All problems are valid. Colleen Schnettler  32:31   And all problems are valid. Yeah, see, we can again, but yeah, absolutely real, and you're feeling it? And you're in it? Michele Hansen  32:39   Yeah. So I think that's the, I guess that's kind of how I'm feeling. I still, I still feel like a steak sitting in the fridge covered in salt. Just kind of kind of absorbing and tenderizing and whatnot. But I think atomic habits is like, it's helping me with it just just kind of giving I think the idea that I you know, I tend to do think everything like, you know, totally balls to the wall, right? Like the idea of doing something and doing it 1% better. Like I tend to do things like okay, how do I do this is like significantly better. And that was also part of that activity. We did it founder Summit, it wasn't trying to go from two to 10. In the next 90 days, it's tried to go to two to four. Right? Like, how do you get slightly marginally better? And I guess allowing myself to adjust my expectations down and say, and it just give me like ideas of okay, what can I What are little things I can do 1% Better that are, you know, are gonna are going to help me through this. Colleen Schnettler  33:56   Okay, yeah, great. Sounds like a good, a good way to approach it with everything you have going on. Yeah, I've Michele Hansen  34:03   gotten a ton of other book recommendations, but haven't gotten to any of them except this one. So I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna keep reading. But again, you know, I think talking about that motion versus action, like, it's important that I don't just like sit here and read and write, don't be stressed out and still be burned out. Like, I need to do stuff and just do lots of stuff. And maybe some of its gonna work and maybe some of it isn't, but it's all, you know, action. It's all, you know, maybe helping, it's better than nothing. So and I think that applies a lot to like, business. I just feel like it's really similar to the situation you were in a year and a half ago, where you were just reading about starting a software company and reading and researching and talking to people but not doing a lot of action on doing Colleen Schnettler  34:56   it. That park that part have the book really spoke to me and I think I don't regret the path I took at all. Because even though when I finally when I launched something I kind of did it wrong, because I just launched it to launch it that motion or wait, that would be action. That was that was me moving from motion to action. And it was awesome. So I mean for me that I totally agree. And I love that, that distinction he makes between motion and action. Michele Hansen  35:24   Did you read atomic habits around that time that you made that mental shift? Colleen Schnettler  35:28   Maybe? I mean, I read it a couple years ago, so it might that that might have been part of it. Yeah, that might have been then. Interesting. Michele Hansen  35:41   Well, I think that will wrap us up for today. I will continue working on these these 1% habits and if anyone journals or also if you've used atomic habits to you know get through burnout or stress. Definitely would love to talk to you. Thanks for listening

7 December 2021 36m and 7s


Solving Your Spouse's Problem: A Conversation with Jordan O'Connor, Founder of Closet Tools

Solving Your Spouse's Problem: A Conversation with Jordan O'Connor, Founder of Closet Tools

Follow Jordan! https://twitter.com/jdnoc Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Colleen Schnettler  0:02   Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs. But a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care. And Hey check it is here to help. Hey check it is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool. It goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users a happy experience. It includes AI generated SEO data, accessibility scanning, and site speed checks, with suggestions on how to improve and a number of various other tools to help you start a free trial today at Hey, check it.com Welcome back to the software social podcast. I'm your host today, Colleen. Today I am super excited to have a special guest on the pod. Jordan O'Connor, the founder of closet tools is today's guest. Thanks for showing up today. Jordan, I appreciate it.  Jordan O'Connor  0:56   Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.  Colleen Schnettler  0:58   So I specifically wanted to ask you here because your Indie hackers interviews was one of my favorites. And I'm sure you hear that a lot. Do you hear that? A lot?  Jordan O'Connor  1:07   I've heard it a few times.  Colleen Schnettler  1:08   Yeah. Yeah. So for those who have not heard your Indie hackers interview, could you tell us a little bit about what closet tools is?  Jordan O'Connor  1:17   Yeah, so closet tools, I started closet tools almost almost four years ago now. It's basically an automation. It's software automation for Poshmark. So Poshmark is a retail selling platform. So it started out as mostly just people selling used women's clothes, it was mostly women selling used clothes on there. And the way they built the platform is more like social media than it is like, you know, like, you know, like what you would think of ecommerce is like a storefront or something like that. And so the way to get exposure to your closet, your profile, you have to do things like sharing and liking and commenting and all these different social engagement signals. And that's how you get exposure. That's how you get followers. That's how you get, you know, eyeballs on your stuff, so that you can sell stuff. And so that takes a ton of time. And my particular customer, which would be like a reseller, they don't really have time to be on social media all day engaging and stuff like that, like they just want to sell clothes. Most of them sell on eBay, they sell, you know, on their own storefront. So they just want to sell stuff. And so that's what causes tools does, it does a lot of those engagement things for them, it'll share their items throughout the day, it'll automatically respond to different events that happen if somebody likes an item, it'll automatically send that person an offer with a discount stuff like that. So it kind of automates a little bit of the sales process for them. So yeah, Colleen Schnettler  2:46   so Poshmark is like eBay, but fancy, right, like higher high end. Jordan O'Connor  2:52   It's no, it's definitely it's definitely I would say it's not that eBay is high end, but Poshmark scales, low end to high end, you can you know, you can find, you know, you can find like really nice purses or whatever on there and stuff. Or you can buy, you know, a $5 You know, screenprint t shirt, like you can buy, you know, anything you want on there, most of the appeal is that most of the items on there are like used. So you're getting get a discount on some item that's lightly used that you would normally pay a lot more for. So that's kind of, you know, the the corner of the market that they tackled, there's also a lot of new items on there and things like that, too. So, but yeah, the thing that's weird about it. So like you have like a closet, it literally is like like Instagram, so you have your closet, and it has like all the images of like your items and stuff that you're selling. And each post has, you know, a common section, people can like it, they can share it themselves to their followers. And when you share to your followers, your item, they're basically when you share to your followers, that item shows up in their main feed. So like you can go into the app and you can like search specifically for like, hey, I want like Nike shoes, or whatever. And then I'll just come up with Nike shoes. But if you just kind of like go into the app, and you have like the main feed, just like any social media platform, whatever people are sharing is what's going to show up there. And so if you're not constantly sharing, then you're not going to show up in that main feed, and people aren't going to randomly stumble onto your profile. But you literally have to physically click like two buttons for every item you want to share. And a lot of my customers are actual, you know that this is their business and they have 2000 3000 4000 items. And it would take them an hour or two just to go through and click click, click, click click. So it and that could be time there's been doing other things like even literally just like packaging items to sell send out and stuff like that. So So yeah, it saves them a ton of time, and it ends up making them more money in the long run just because you know it's doing things for them. So it's pretty, it's a win win. It's pretty cool. Colleen Schnettler  4:48   So how did you get that idea? Were you selling stuff on? Poshmark? Jordan O'Connor  4:52   Yeah, so my wife started selling things on Poshmark at the time. We kind of need some extra income and she was like no One of her friends actually introduced her to Poshmark. And so she jumped on and she was starting to sell stuff. But then right away, I kind of was like, Whoa, you're spending a lot of time, you know, night sharing and doing a bunch of stuff on there. I was like, and it was right around the time I was kind of learning web development, things like that. I had already knew how to code and stuff. But I had never really done much web development. And I said, Hey, I think I can write like a little script that kind of like automates that for you. Like, you just press a button, and it just rifled through and shares all of your stuff. And so that's what I did. And so that's how I made the first, you know, like, kind of the first version. And for a while, I just, um, let her and her friends use it. And they thought it was awesome there was that it was really cool. And all it was was a bookmarklet. So like in, you know, browsers, you can just embed JavaScript code right in the bookmark, and you just click it and execute it. And it just like, yeah, you went through, it wasn't smart, or anything, had no GUI or anything like that. I just did it. And they thought it was great. And they were doing well with it. And then I blogged about it on my personal blog. And over the course of like, six months, I started getting like a hand few handful of emails from people saying, like, Hey, I found this, you know, this thing that you posted, like, how do I use it? Like, how do I get it working, because I want to use it. And even still, at that time, I had no intention of like selling it, or like making a business out of it or anything like that. So it was like, I was just trying to be helpful. I was like, Yeah, sure. This is how you use it, you just let you set it up. And so yeah, it wasn't, like I said, it was like six, between like six to 10 months before I was like, Oh, I can actually probably, you know, make a front end for this actually build some more features and make it a little smarter and actually sell less so. Colleen Schnettler  6:33   So was this your first business idea? Jordan O'Connor  6:37   Well, um, it was, it's my first like software business idea I had for a while before that, I was I knew I wanted to kind of break free of employment, I wanted to do my own thing. So I had already learned. I learned web development, I learn how to make websites, I learned SEO and I learned marketing, copywriting sales, I kind of like went down this like course track of just like, take a course learn a skill, do it for some people to practice it. And then I kind of like nail down all these things. Yeah, and the first product idea I had actually, it was related to my wife as well, she does art she does like water coloring and hand lettering, things like that. My idea was to make a black paper notebook. And at the time, none existed and none existed with any kind of like premium features. Any of the ones that exist over like, you know, construction paper or something like that was this like awful for artists. And, and that actually would have done really well. But I didn't really have the capital upfront to actually invest in, you know, a physical product. So I ran a Kickstarter, and I think I needed like 13k. And I got like, 11k I ran, I ran probably like, I don't know, I was like $1,500. In Facebook ads, I had a couple months where I was like doing Instagram stuff, and actually learned a ton from that. And I'm kind of glad it didn't work out. Because I feel like what I do now is a lot more. I don't know, it's just more the way I would like to do things. But I learned a ton from that. And that was kind of the first thing I didn't. So the closet tools, like the first thing that I made for my wife was kind of right on the heels of that. And so like it just kind of switched over from there. But yeah, I was trying a whole bunch of stuff even before that, what I was doing when I was doing take taking the courses and learning things as I was actually trying to make, like just do freelancing basically where like, I would learn SEO, and it's like, hey, I'll go out and like do SEO for people. But then it would always get this weird feeling where like, yeah, you know, like, especially with like SEO, like, if you compare some of the like the value that you can actually get out of it. It's like ridiculous. And I'm like, why would I do this for somebody else, I got to figure out how to do this for myself. And so that was I kind of kept doing that. And then I got to the point where I was like, Okay, I'm gonna actually do this, I'm gonna pull all my skills together and actually build something. So yeah. Colleen Schnettler  8:55   So I'm really curious about this. I didn't realize when you said freelancing, I just assumed you were doing it as a developer. So you like, took an SEO course. And you're like, hey, let's see if I learned something. And you freelanced as an SEO you who are an engineer, freelance as an SEO consultant. That's right. Yeah, I Jordan O'Connor  9:14   mean, I didn't. Yeah, I wasn't like, I was mostly just trying to get something to work. So like, I was just, you know, trying to do it. And also, I kind of just for some reason, I had this mindset of like, I need to practice this stuff. I need to actually get out there and do this stuff, if I really want to know it. So you know, I wasn't really like charging a lot or anything. Sometimes. Sometimes it was like, Hey, I just want to do this for you. And so, so yeah, it wasn't like I was trying to like establish myself as a freelancer, but it was more like, I want to try this. And if the freelance thing works, and it takes off, and this is good, then that's fine. If it doesn't, I'm going to learn these skills and I'm going to you know, use them later on kind of thing. So, but yeah, I was doing that for a while. And yeah, like I made a whole logistics trucking app. front end back end for a friend of mine, and he still uses it today for his trucking company. And so yeah, I did a whole, I did a whole bunch of stuff. Before I really got before I discovered that I wanted to make a product instead of like doing a service. And that was mostly just based on like personality, a lot of times, what would happen is I would start doing the work, and then they would have their opinions and their thoughts about how things should be. And I would be like, No, I'm kind of the expert. I think I know, I think I know what to do here. And they would, they would always contradict, and I just didn't really feel like messing with that. So I was like, the only way I'm gonna make money is if I if I can make a thing and sell it. And if people don't want it, then they don't have to pay for it. And then I don't have to deal with them, you know, in their opinions and stuff. So yeah, yeah. So that way, so I had to go on that journey too. So yeah, a lot a little a lot a little journeys. It was a Yeah, it was a couple years of just just doing stuff, just taking action, and then kind of landed on closet tools. Colleen Schnettler  10:59   I think that's so important. You said it was a couple years. Like I feel like we have this perception in the indie space. There's so much information. I you know, I launched my first product in February, and I feel this hard like, some guys like I made $100,000 In three months. And I'm like, What did you make? I love so I love that you I feel like a lot of your messaging from the podcast and your Twitter is you are like, hey, yeah, this thing was super successful really quickly. But I had five years of background that helped me build up the business to what it is. Jordan O'Connor  11:31   Yeah, yeah, I think I, I don't know. Yeah, I always, um, I always like to try to optimize for long term results. And a lot of those people are just, you know, really optimized on short term results, it is like this, like, oh, I made this much in one month. But then if you talk to them six months later, they haven't made anything more, it just, they had this little spike, they went up on Product Hunt or something, and, you know, whatever. And so like, to me that, you know, with a with a wife and kids, that's not really sustainable, like you can't just have a spike, and then like, kind of live off that for you know, the rest, you know, so I had to find something that was very stable and sustainable, and then actually grow over time. And I don't, I don't really know why I had that perspective, early on, I think it might may be just a personality thing. But I think optimizing for long term and actually developing great foundational skills, and then building on that organically over time, is so much better, long term, because then you build something that is just growing, you know, on its own. And you don't really have to do too much to it to make it you know, to force things to happen to you know, make it seem like you're making a ton of money or something like that. Colleen Schnettler  12:41   So the skills you were talking about, like you said, you spent a lot of time in SEO, and you learned how to do Facebook ads. So he said, so So were there any other like pivotal skills, you think that really helped you see this opportunity and capitalize on it. Jordan O'Connor  12:57   Trying to think of the different courses that I took, I think there was really it, it was web development, SEO, and then Facebook ads, Facebook ads was unique, because it taught a lot about sales without teaching sales. It was like it was it was like, you know, because you know, a lot of Facebook ads is mostly just like copywriting expertise, because you're trying to just get something really catchy. But most it was always this weird thing. For each space. It was always interesting, because like the web development course was like you're trying to teach web developers that want to get a job. So that was like the outcome of the course. But then like SEO, it was like, we're gonna teach you SEO, so you can start an SEO agency. And then like, the Facebook ads, it was like, oh, like you can use Facebook ads to sell someone else's product and get like, you know, affiliate revenue or something like that. So the outcome was always different than what I wanted. But I picked up the skills, you know, throughout that. And so because of that, I think I was able to glean a little bit of a different perspective on it. So like with the Facebook ads, I wasn't just trying to optimize my ROI, or I guess, what would you call it Roa? You know, ad spend. So, like, I wasn't trying to do that, I was trying to learn how to make really great, you know, copy and actually sell something to somebody that just saw it for the first time. And they're like, and when they see it, they're like, Oh, this is something I need. And same thing with SEO, I wasn't trying to build a big agency, I was trying to figure out the most optimal way to do SEO correctly so that I could just get organic traffic over time. And same for web development. I was just learning how to make websites, you know, for myself to make my own business not to you know, do it for other people. So yeah, so I mean, I think those are the foundational skills I think those three and then combined with writing over time over the course of the the whole well now it's been like, you know, five years ish, six years and I've been kind of doing that So I've been writing the entire time, I used to write a lot more personally back then. But it was more rambling, it was more like, this is what I think I want to do. And I'm learning this thing. And this is you know, so it's kind of documenting the journey, but also documenting some of my thoughts and emotions around what I was doing. But I think over time, I kind of honed and honed in on a good skill of writing. And I think writing effectively, is one of the best ways to save time in the future, especially when you make a product. You know, if you write really good documentation, if you're really good at communicating via text to your customers, if you're really good at copywriting and selling on your website, then you have to do less one on one sales and saves you time so that you can do other things. So I think writing is like huge. So I think those are kind of like my bundle of skills that I at least I do. And I advocate for other people have different personalities, some people really like going and doing one on one sales, I don't really like doing that. I've never asked a single person to use Clausa tools individually, you know, like they come to my website, they see whether or not they want to have, you know, want to use it. And you know, that's it. I don't have to talk to anybody or anything like that. So. So yeah, Colleen Schnettler  16:10   that's really interesting. You mentioned writing. So I was at founder summit last week in Mexico City. And we had a whole workshop on writing. So tell me, do you think the thing that I think I struggle with a lot is, it's like when you have such limited time, and you have children? So you understand? What what is the best way to use that time? So tell me, do you think your personal blog helped you become a better writer and communicator and was worth the time that you put into it? Jordan O'Connor  16:36   I do. I do. I think, um, I think it was a combination of that. And Twitter. For me. Twitter is interesting, because a Twitter is more where I used to kind of test writing, where it's like testing for feedback on writing. And especially in regards to like context and nuance because Twitter has absolutely zero context and nuance and most tweets. So if you can write in a way that has enough context and nuance where people get it and it clicks with them, then that's effective writing, because you can write very simple, clear small statements that actually contain enough information for people to like, get something out of it. And so I think that actually was really helpful for effective writing, but then having the blog to document the journey along the way, really helped me refine my thoughts, and then also keep my thoughts in line with like, Okay, this is a long term vision, this is what I'm actually doing. This is what I'm working on, here's how I'm actually progressing towards the goal. And so I think the personal writing, yeah, is more about like staying on track. And Twitter was more about writing effectively, and, you know, writing in a way that, you know, helps people understand, you know, what you're saying better with with a limited amount of text. So, but yeah, I think, yeah, I think writing is super crucial. And I think writing is, you know, just so foundational, even for any other form of content creation, you know, it most of the things can start with effective writing, if you have an effective, you know, piece of writing, you can make a movie out of it, you can make a video out of it, you can make an image out of it, you know, you can make a podcast out of it, you know, there's a lot of different things you can make out of text. Whereas the opposite isn't exactly true. Like if you, if you have a video, it might not end up being a great text piece, you know, like, it doesn't always go the opposite direction. Like even the transcript for this podcast isn't really ultimately that valuable, like you people still have to read through an hour long of text. Whereas if you have effective writing, like you can have just one idea, and you can make a whole hour long podcast episode on that one idea. So that's why I think I think writing is really, really foundational. I think it's, I think it's great. Colleen Schnettler  18:49   Yeah, that makes that makes sense. So, when you started closet tools, tell me what was going on in your life at the time. Jordan O'Connor  18:59   Um, quite a lot. So um, when I started closet tools, I actually was getting to the point so so if we backtrack a little bit, I, I went to RMIT college up here in New York, for electrical engineering. So I graduated as an electrical engineer, and I started working and I was making decent income was like 80k years, something like that. But right around the time I got hired on I got married, and then about and then we got and then we actually quickly had our first son, which was like, not really planned, but it wasn't like the biggest deal we were like, Yeah, we plan on having kids anyways or like whatever. But it kind of financially things kind of just kept eating away. And so like once I started to start paying student loans and then like I had a kid coming and there was just like all these expenses piling up and my income wasn't really like scaling to that like it was just fixed. So like more and more things are eating away my income and I have like no spare income to do anything with My wife, we had always planned on her staying home with the kids. And you know, like, now we're doing homeschooling and things like that. So that was always the plan. So I was like, I need to figure out something here to like, actually make more money. And so when I started closet tools, that was actually the last thing I was gonna try, it was either that or like, pick up a second job somewhere, like, do something to like, kind of just expand a little bit, so that I'm not in student loan debt for the next, you know, 45 years of my life or whatever. You know, like, that's, I just didn't want that at all. And so, so yeah, so that was like, kind of going on. So I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, I had some urgency to be like, Okay, I need to make something that works. And so I think that's partially why I went with closet tools, because I knew something was working. My wife really liked it, her friends really liked it, I was getting emails about it. So like, it was like this thing, where it's like, okay, I have all these signals that like, this thing is probably gonna, at least, you know, do something I can make, that my intention was to make $1,000 a month, I was like, hey, like, if this thing makes $1,000 a month, great, like, you know, help, you know, pay some bills, you know, and I can like, catch up on some stuff. And like, maybe, you know, it, put some, you know, put some money into savings and stuff like that. So, so yeah, it was a really, really a pretty desperate point in my life. But it was, it was, I was very stubborn, though. Because I really wanted something that I wanted, I didn't really want to, I didn't really want to get a second job. I didn't want to just like make money to make money. I wanted to do something on my own terms, where like, I had the freedom and flexibility to still spend time with my kids and my wife, you know, still come home in the evenings and have, you know, the time together with my family still do things outside of work and things like that. So it was like, I was very, it was a it was a pretty like urgent time. But I also was very picky and stubborn. So like, you know, you know, somebody might say, Hey, you could have just been less stubborn, and you wouldn't have had any of those issues. But like, if I was less stubborn, then I wouldn't have what I had now. So. So I don't know. So it was a little bit of a balance of that. And I think that's partially why it took a little bit longer to get to a point where something happened, that actually worked out really well, because I had to put all those pieces together to make something that worked for me personally. Colleen Schnettler  22:06   Yeah. So and that that makes sense. So when you were like, What was your day to day like? So you had a full time job? You're married? You have a baby? Like, how did you do that? Jordan O'Connor  22:19   Yeah, so I started right before my first son was born, I started getting up really early. At that time, it was actually really crazy. And I don't know, when I was younger than so like, I had some energy. Now I can't do this, but I was getting up, I was going to bed or like, you know, 1011 I was getting up to like for, like, you know, like, that's it. And so but what I would do is I would actually just work on side stuff, all morning until my day job. And so like, the earlier I could get up, the more I could spend time on that. And the reason why I did that there's a few reasons why I like getting up in the morning. I still do it actually, I get up at five every day. Yeah, there's actually a lot of reasons when you have kids. Nobody's awake. So nobody's like, you know, there's, there's not that like, you know, like, the family is like always distracting. And because they're always distracting, but there's no chance of a distraction, like people are sleeping, they're definitely sleeping, everybody always sleeps until like this time. So like, you know, there's no chance of distraction. So you can enter into work and get focused and understand that like, Okay, I have this block of time, that's, you know, undistracted. The other thing is, like, if you work in the evenings, typically you're pretty tired by the end of the day. And you're also just kind of, you're basically saving your worst amount of energy for this thing that you actually want to be doing. Whereas in the morning, you're pretty fresh, usually, I mean, as long as you just look good, you feel pretty good. You're pretty, you know, your heads, and you know, pretty, like, I'm pretty focused, you're not distracted by a bunch of things, you're not like responding to emails, or whatever your day job is and stuff. So like, to that morning time is pretty free to like, focus and do good work on whatever you want to do. And so that's what I did I for, you know, for the first couple years, I spent a couple months, you know, on each of those different kind of core skills that I learned web development, SEO, you know, Facebook ads, and things like that, you know, I would just take those first couple hours a day, whether it was like taking a course or it was doing the actual work for somebody to practice or doing the work for myself, or it was personal writing, you know, so like, it was like that. So really, I built most of everything in those couple hours every morning. And so that, that to me, like I was able to get a lot of work done in those couple hours a lot more than I was even able to get done like a day job. And so for me, that's kind of how I've modeled even causal is now like, I don't spend more than I don't know, maybe like three, probably four Max hours a day on it. You know, just because you don't really need that much time. In a day to be that productive, you know, the eight hour workday for you know, most jobs is mostly so that you have a window of time, if you want to reach out to like a customer or you want to, you know, be available for a customer to call you or like to reach out to a different company or stuff like that, like there's a window where you like you can do that. It's not actually like you need eight hours to get effective work done. I don't even think you can do Ultra focus work for eight hours, like maybe four hours max, before you're pretty burnt out. So So yeah, so that's, that's how I did it. So I say it all, you know, I used all of my creative energy in the morning to like, do that. And then I just kind of coasted at my day job. I mean, I basically, I got to the point where like, I did really well there. So I worked at Corning, and they make they make advanced optics, which one of the products you make is like a lithography stack. So it's like a stack of lenses that like Intel would use to image their processors. And it's pretty complicated. I didn't actually know anything about the optics, I wasn't an optical engineer, those guys are like nuts. So, but um, I was like in the testing department. So like, I would build systems that would test the quality of the optics. So I did like lasers, and I moved motors to like, move the lenses and stuff. So like, I got to the point where I had like really good autonomy in that position, because like I kind of had done all the things I needed to do at least one. So like most projects I was doing, I was reusing old things that I already did. So then they would still give me the same timeline on a project, they'd be like, hey, we need this piece of software and this like thing done in like a month. And I'd be like, cool, and it would only take me like a week. So then sometimes I did actually have time at work to you know, to do like causal stuff into like, you know, like, if something was broken, I could actually fix it right then. Yeah. And you know, as long as I was writing code, it looked like it was working. So like, nobody really questioned it. So. So yeah, it was, you know, I, but I came to my management at some point. And it was like, annual review. And they're like, oh, yeah, you're doing good. Like, is there? Like, you know, is there anything that you you know, like, do you want to, like, go big? Or like, what do you what do you want to do here, I'm like, I want to be like, really low key, like, I don't want to do you know, I don't want to be the super save the company, dude. You know, like, I just want to like show up, you know, you give me my work, I'll do my work. And then I'm gonna go home to my family. So I kind of had this like, this vibe of like, almost like a little bit untouchable, where like, you could send me stuff and like, I'll do great work. But you're not going to like make me stay over time and like, do all this bunch of crazy stuff. And like, I'm going to do things at my pace. I'm going to do it, you know, so it's like a little bit of a, so he was just kind of like that. And so yeah, so I don't and I don't know, I don't know if that's actually advice to like anybody else that wants to, you know, do their own thing if that's what they should do. I have no idea. But I know for me, like energy wise, I didn't have the energy to do all that in the morning, and then go to work and then be like, you know, crazy and do a bunch of crazy stuff. So I had to balance it a little bit. Colleen Schnettler  28:06   Yeah, I am a morning person. So you're speaking my language here. But I have not tried 4am That's pretty intense. Jordan O'Connor  28:13   Yeah, don't do for now. I do five at least Yeah. So yeah. So Colleen Schnettler  28:16   so when you were building the business, though, so you would do like four to eight and then drive. That's back in the olden days when we the drive to work. Work like eight to five? Jordan O'Connor  28:28   Yep, yeah, yeah, that's what I would do. And I did it day in day out. And so I did that for close to two years before. Well, I did that. I guess I did that for like a total of three years. So I did that for like a year. And then I kind of want to start a closet tools. I worked a job for almost, it was like a year and a half that I worked at job and did closet tools at the same time. Okay, so So yeah, so yeah, yeah, that's, that's just what I did. And looking back, it was really crazy. But it Yeah, it worked. You know, so yeah. Colleen Schnettler  29:04   Yeah, I love your point, too, about like your project, getting your best energy in the morning, as opposed to keeping your project till you know, seven to 10pm at night kind of deal. So, it sounds like with closet tools. There was a real poll from your customers. Like you knew you were onto something because people were cold. outreaching to you. Jordan O'Connor  29:24   Mm hmm. Yeah, so um, yeah, I don't know if you want me to just elaborate that. Yeah, Colleen Schnettler  29:30   go for it. So Jordan O'Connor  29:31   basically, what happened is, I you know, I started learning the SEO stuff. So I had already kind of, you know, SEO optimized my personal blog. So when I wrote about this, you know, this topic on my personal blog, I titled it like, you know, like Poshmark automation or something like that. And I just had some instructions on how to you know, how to run this script on your own browser. And so, you know, a lot of those Poshmark related keywords were pretty easy to rank for. And my site had a little bit of a already, so it was pretty simple. But so like, because I had tapped into SEO vein, I already had that, you know, like kind of that in to be able to get people to see what I was building. And then my personal website just has my email and stuff. So like they were able to just email me or whatever. And so, but from there when I actually started closet tools, I actually went on Reddit, I went to the Poshmark subreddit. And I said, Hey, I have this free script. You can you can try it and keep it you all you have to do is sign up on this email list. And you can use this thing. And then what I want from you is I want to get feedback as to what you want built around this thing, like what other features would you want? How would you use this? You know what, you know, what things do you want to see that can help you sell more stuff? And so that's what I did. And I got around like 200 signups in like a day or two. Wow, for that free script. Yeah. And so and that was kind of the the start of everything. And so then what I did was, it was like, I did that post got the 200 signups people tried out the script. And then like a week later, I sent out an email to that list saying, like, Hey, give me some feedback. What do you want to see, and then I got a bunch of emails. And then I spent the next like, four weeks building out some of those features. And then I spent like, the majority of that time just integrating stripe, because I had no idea how to do it at the time. So I had to figure all that out. And then and then and then I lost it like a month later. And I had 10 paying customers right out of the gate. So it was like 300. MRR, like the gate basically. So yeah, so So the initial start wasn't based on SEO was based on Reddit. But I also got banned from that subreddit because they don't like the self promotion and stuff. So it was like kind of this one shot thing where I was like, I'm going for it. I'm gonna sell this thing, and it worked. So then from there, from there, I started writing content. And you know, the SEO, traffic started to take off more. And that's how I've basically built it to where it is now. So Colleen Schnettler  32:06   yeah, and word of mouth to probably I mean, people love to the product. It sounds like Jordan O'Connor  32:10   Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, yeah. So I say SEO, SEO is the only thing I had control over that, you know, did that. But certainly, yeah, word of mouth, everybody. You know, a lot of my customers have another friend that used it, and they refer to it and stuff like that. And then later later on, probably about two years, and I created a referral program, which is interesting, because like the referral program itself hasn't been like a, like a smashing success. I think it's brought in, I don't know, I think it's like 15k over, you know, a year or two, but like, the whole gross I've made like, I don't know, like 900k. So like, it's not like this huge percentage. But it did bring in a lot of word of mouth. But then also what happened is it brought in a lot of backlinks, which reinforced a lot of my SEO because when people posted their affiliate link, it just linked back to the website. So it was kind of this like a little it was more about the SEO engine for me rather than it was like, you know, the referral program. So yeah, but it also gave a reason for people to you know, talk about it, because they could get, you know, a kickback or whatever. So, Colleen Schnettler  33:14   right. So it sounds like that was a win win, even if it wasn't a huge, like windfall. So let's talk about what your life looks like now that you know you are successful. Your business this is not that you weren't before. I'm just saying like Jordan O'Connor  33:29   even that I am now I don't know. Yeah, that's what it's all relative. I guess Colleen Schnettler  33:33   it's it is all relative. That is true. So when you're building the business, you had these super long days. What do you do now? What is your day look like now? Jordan O'Connor  33:42   Yeah. So now we have three kids. We have another one on the way actually, congratulations. Yeah, thanks. Yeah. So February, that'll be you know, I'll be it'll be, it'll be interesting to see how much work I get done. But, so actually, now, like, we have a pretty strict schedule, now, we just kind of came up with it, we've over the course of like, the last year or two, we've been trying to come up with a schedule that works for both of us. And most of it centers around, like, my wife wants to feel put together and like, you know, like she has the house under control and like the kids under control and like you know, like that is gonna run smoothly. And, and but then for me, like, you know, like coming fresh out of like, you know what I was doing before I was like, oh, like I need like that whole morning to just do my best work and then like, you know, free food so but that didn't really work out for her too well, because like she would get up with the kids and the whole day was basically a mess from the start because it's like you're you get up and kids are demanding a bunch of stuff and you're just like, I don't know what I'm doing like, and so now I take the kids as soon as they wake up so I get up at five and I work for I work I kind of I don't know I go back and forth and what I use my morning time for now. And I think if I ever built a future business, I would take them out in time and do that. But now I use, I work from five to seven, and my daughter wakes up at seven, she, we have her train with a light that turns green at seven. So we have that, yeah, she would get up, like, you know, super early if she if she could. So she gets up at seven. And then so I have kids from seven to 10, I take care of breakfast, getting them dressed, and then I just kind of keep things picked up so that the house is at least, you know, in put together a little bit, and then my wife gets up around like seven or eight. But then she has time to, like, take a shower and like get breakfast, she can read, she can write, you know, she has achieved as a journal, she does like the bullet journaling. So she plans out today, you know, so like she has time to, like get put together. And that mostly like for our marriage has like been really awesome. Because it's like, it's just it, she's, she feels good. She comes into the day, the kids are already fed, they're kind of in good shape. And she comes down and it's like, okay, it's go time, like, you know, like, let's, you know, then she does school with the kids. And she you know, she takes him out to programs and stuff like that. So like, she has her, you know, a schedule and stuff that she does with them. And then so then that's when I work is like 10, like around 10am I start working. And then I go off at like three, you know, three or four. And then we kind of just tag team for the rest of the evening. So yeah, so I've worked, I actually end up getting, you know, like seven hours of working every day, so but those first two hours are kind of like free time or like personal time. Like if I have a personal project I want to work on or something like that. I'll do it during that time. So yeah, Colleen Schnettler  36:41   that sounds wonderful. So what I'm trying to get out here, Jordan, this is the real question. Were the two to three years of the 12 to 15 hours a day worth it to live the life you're living now. Jordan O'Connor  36:57   Yeah. Oh, yeah. 100%. And I think the interesting thing is, I don't think I would have been able to do it now. It would, it would have been really hard. Right? Like, like, back then, you know, when I first started, we had no kids, but then like, we had one kid. But like, you know, even before they start walking and stuff, they're not really like that much work, you know, it's only when they become toddlers is when Okay, somebody's got to be hands on all the time with at least the kids. Yeah. So. So I had your head, that window of opportunity were like, Okay, I have, you know, I can do this, I can put on a lot of hours. Whereas now, I probably couldn't even put in that many hours without some serious strain on, you know, like the marriage and just like our health and things like that. But yeah, I mean, I think it was worth it, I think, um, you know, you kind of have, you know, those those choices in life, it's like, whether you're going to go for it, and you're going to do the thing, or you're just going to sit back and let life happen to you. And so I was like, Hey, I'm going to I'm going to go for it. I'm going to get control of you know, my finances and control over my time and control over my future. And so I did what I had to do to get there, you know, some people start in a different place, and it's easier for them. So people start in a way worse place, and it's a lot harder for them. So yeah, but yeah, I think I think ultimately, it was worth it for sure. Colleen Schnettler  38:15   So you kind of made a joke earlier, like 30 seconds ago, when I said you're objectively successful. So I have met a lot of people like who are, are making quite a lot of money with their side projects, not side projects with their businesses. And you know, I've talked to people who are making, you know, $50,000 a month who still feel like they need to push, push, push, because it's not good enough. Where do you fall in that spectrum? Jordan O'Connor  38:38   Um, I'm definitely not pushing, I'm not pushing very hard at all. Um, I think, I don't know, I think most of most of my focus right now is on minimizing everything else. So that I can maintain this lifestyle, basically forever, because like, right now, honestly, if anything changed, it would only be for the worse, like, this is kind of like almost as good as it gets. I have like, almost unlimited free time, I get to work on something I want to work on. You know, like my family is well provided for, like, we can kind of schedule our day, however we want it. So those are like, like, there's really no downside. So mostly for me, it's like, okay, like, how can we, you know, get rid of, you know, some of this lingering debt quicker? How can we pay off the house quicker? You know, how can we make sure that you know, like, we're investing and actually growing our wealth, you know, in the background, while we're, you know, in while I'm working so that in the future, you know, if you know, this whole thing blows up, I have, you know, some options and things like that. So, I think for me, that's more of my focus rather than like trying to like, you know, scale closet tools and maximize it and, you know, make a ton of money. You know, I think ultimately, you know, I, I could just go that route and do that. But I think when I have the you know, the three young kids we have a five year old a three year old and One year old. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So, yeah. So like when they're all young, you know, I want to be there with them. Yeah, I think once they get a little older, you know, they can get a little more autonomous, you know, they kind of can entertain themselves, you know, they have things they want to do. And they can go do that. But for now, like, they're super young, like, I don't, you know, I want to be there I want to be hands on. So I don't want to be like, you know, business dad that was never home, you know, like, off doing his thing. You know, I'd rather I'd rather have a balance of like, okay, like, yeah, I make a decent amount of money. But I also get to spend a lot of time with my kids. So like, why would I try to change that balance, you know, to, you know, for the worse, so. So yeah. Colleen Schnettler  40:37   Yeah, that makes that makes total sense. And that's awesome. You're able to do that. Right. I mean, that's, that's amazing. So, yeah, Jordan O'Connor  40:45   that's pretty fortunate. Colleen Schnettler  40:46   Another question I had for you, I either saw this on indie hackers or Twitter, but you had, it was something like never take other people's advice when you are trying to build a business. Do you remember that? Jordan O'Connor  40:57   Um, yeah, I can I can align with that. If I said that. I think you did. It definitely. Sounds like something I would have said. Yeah, I think um, yeah, advice is always so contextual. You know, like, even my advice right now. Like, like I was talking about, like, when, you know, I told my boss, like, Hey, I don't want to be the go to guy. Like, I don't know, if that's the right advice for somebody, maybe that's maybe they need to go hard. You know, maybe they're super lazy, and they need to go harder, or something like that. You know, for me, I was a good employee that wanted to take a little bit of a break, you know, so like, yeah, you know, but you know, so like, you know, people have different, you know, financial situations, they have different family situations that have different health situations, even have different personalities, like I was talking about earlier, where like, some people really want to do like one on one sales, and they really like talking to people and they really like, you know, like, being outgoing and stuff. Like, I don't really like that. So I have to build something totally different. That aligns with me. So like, I run a totally email based business, I don't actually do any calls with anybody. And if you want customer support, you email me like, that's it. Like, I don't have a phone number or anything like that. Yeah. So but for other people, like, you know, they want to be on the phone all day, they want to talk to people, you know, they want to do stuff like that. So, so yeah, I think a lot of a lot of business advice is very, very contextual. And I think until you actually dive in and figure out what works for you, then you're not really going to know what the best advice is, or what advice actually sticks. Because I think, even to a lot of advice, you know, people mean, well, and it does really work for them. But just because it works for them doesn't actually mean it's going to work for you, too. You know, and so like for me early on, like when, when I was taking those courses, you know, a lot of those people were pitching, you know, the the freelancing in the agency style stuff. And so like, I tried it, but like, it didn't work for me, like I was awful at it, like I was terrible at that part of stuff, like I had the great skills, but like dealing with people and like, you know, all that stuff. terrible at it. So like, I was like, I can't make this work, I have to do something different. And so that's how I, you know, got on the, and actually, it was interesting indie hackers launched. I'm trying to think it was about like, a few months before I launched closet tools. It was like, right around that time. So it's actually pretty fortunate because it was cool to, you know, see a group of people kind of doing the same thing that I was wanting to do. You gave me a little bit of confidence to kind of do that. So yeah. But anyways, yeah. So that I think that advice is is I think it most advice is, I don't know, it's mostly worthless. I do think it's interesting to hear people's stories. And as long as they give enough context, like I try to give a lot of context about like, my family, and like, what my financial situation was like, because like, that's the stuff that really matters. Because like, anyway, anybody could be like, oh, yeah, like, learn these skills, and then build a business and you'll make a ton of money. But like, you know, if you don't have the means to actually do that, then how are you? You know, how can you even, you know, attempt to do that? And so yeah, so I think if you can give them enough context, I think some advice can be helpful, or at least helpful enough to where they can be like, Oh, that doesn't even apply to me. You know, like, I you know, like, for me, I see a lot of advice from people that have like, no kids, and they don't like they're not married, they have no kids. And it's like, this doesn't even like you can't do that. Right. Like, I can't do that at all. So yeah, so I think that's important, for sure. Colleen Schnettler  44:18   So what's next for you? Jordan O'Connor  44:21   Um, I don't really know, I'm trying to figure it out. I think, um, I never saw clauses was as a long term thing, but it's sticking around a lot longer than I thought it was actually gonna stick around. So just kind of hanging out there. You know, I still actually I still build and continue to grow with it, you know, I still, you know, add features to it. And I still do marketing and things like that. But I don't know, I think I think I like I enjoy writing a lot. So I would like to do some sort of writing thing. I am writing a, an SEO sales book called rank to sell. So I'm working on that. Not that I think that that's going to be like my full time thing like Oh, I'm an author now. Because I think, you know, my code is pretty valuable, too. So, um, so yeah, I mean, some kind of hybrid of writing and code. In the future. I'm definitely on board with building more simple SAS products I have no, you know, I would like to do that, even in the same niche, you know, I can serve the same customer set with some different types of tools. And so, there's a lot of different platforms that these retailers sell on. So. So yeah, I mean, honestly, it's just kind of iterative stuff. It's not like anything like, oh, you know, I'm, you know, switching my whole life over to like something else. It's mostly like, hey, like, I'm here. How can I, you know, how can I invest a little more? How can I, you know, add a little more, you know, financial stability, a little more income, or, you know, another product or something, just something a little bit more iterative. And just kind of, like, keep the thing going, basically, it's kind of that's, that's mostly what it is. So, I've been thinking a lot lately about, like, some kind of business that I can get my kids involved in, but I haven't really come up with anything yet. I think it would be super cool to like, have them, you know, work on something with me, but I don't know. That's, that's honestly, that's kind of the dream for me is like, that would be cool. You know, but I don't know. I don't know what that is yet. Colleen Schnettler  46:09   Yeah, that would be cool. Wonderful. Well, Jordan, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your story with us. And, you know, teaching us about some of the things that helped you grow closet tools. I really appreciate having you. Jordan O'Connor  46:26   Yeah, sure. Yeah. Thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun. Colleen Schnettler  46:29   And that will wrap up this week's episode of the software social podcast. Thank you so much for listening. You can find us on Twitter at software social pod

30 November 2021 46m and 40s


So This Is Burnout

So This Is Burnout

Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Colleen Schnettler  0:00   Good morning, Michelle. Hey, Colleen, it's early here in California. But I am here for you. Michele Hansen  0:42   It's late here in Denmark, it is dark. It is not even five. Unknown Speaker  0:47   My goodness. Colleen Schnettler  0:48   So I think this week, I would like to talk to something I talk about something a little more serious. And I want to talk about you. Because you have been going through some stuff. Michele Hansen  1:02   Yeah, I have. It kind of occurred to me this week that I I don't I don't know, I might be going through burnouts. Or at least I have, like, way too much stress. Like, like, I feel like I'm DDoSing myself. Colleen Schnettler  1:22   I love that line, by the way. So first of all, I guess your best friend and podcast host has been telling you this for like eight months. Michele Hansen  1:33   Like, we're like you're gonna burn out. I'm like, I'm fine. And then our friends of ours were like, you know, after like, I launched something like, you know, especially infoproduct people, they're like, I went through like a depression after that I really burned out like, and I was like, I hear you but like, I'm special. I'm not gonna that's not gonna happen to me. You know, all think we're special. We all think we're special. And we all are special. But there are also things that everyone goes through. Um, yeah, I have so much going on in my life right now. And, and I think this, I mean, I Okay, so you've known this for a long time. But like, I I think it really started to become apparent to me that like, given everything I'm doing I have really like down prioritized taking care of myself. That was something I got really thinking about at founder Summit. And it's not just like a work life balance problem or a, you know, need to like join a gym problem. Like, I think it's like, bigger than that. But I don't really know, like, how do you unburn out? How do you do though? Colleen Schnettler  2:43   Let's take a step back. When you say you haven't deprioritize taking care of yourself, what did you use to do that? You don't do like you have stopped doing over the past year. And like what led to that. I'm curious how you got to where you are. Michele Hansen  3:00   I mean, so I really don't first of all, like I really don't work out as much like and I used to be someone who was like super active, like, I used to run to work, bike to work, play tennis, do gymnastics, soccer on top of that, like super, super active and have really become less active. And I don't know if that's the pandemic or like moving countries and my habits like change, you know, you have to establish entirely new habits. As I was talking to people about it founder summit who are nomads, they were saying that they didn't realize until COVID and they were forced to stay in one place. how stressful it had been to like, move places every couple of months and have to like refigure it all over again. Like oh, like where's the grocery store that I like? And like, can I get the food I like and you know, where's the gym that I like? Where can I work? Like all those kinds of like basic everyday questions become sort of stressful. Like I definitely feel like that like I didn't go to the dentist for 18 months. Mostly because it's like so like hack I have a package I've been trying to mail for three months and I'm just so overwhelmed by the idea of like figuring out the Danish postal system that it's still sitting at my desk. So like basic everyday things become really overwhelming when you're abroad. Yeah, I think like one of my habits changed but then I think I just have so much going on also that like you know I think the great thing about working for yourself is like if you want to take an hour lunch break and read a book like you can do that but like I have been feeling like I don't even have time to eat I don't have time to make myself healthy food like the idea of just like even cooking a piece of salmon or whatever like seems overwhelming and so like I have really allowed my health to like totally slip because I just feel like I don't have time for it but I also don't have those like sort of habit triggers I guess that I used to have you know if I was in my environment I was in you know, do Two years ago, for sure. And I think with everything that I have going on, that's like become really acute. Colleen Schnettler  5:09   So and you would lump. I mean, that's your physical health. But also you said you don't read books for pleasure. I mean, I think that's what you just said. So that's not that's your whole, not just do it like I do. Okay. Yeah. I mean, have you also, like, what about your, your mental health are you also are you still not having time to do the things you used to love that brought you joy. Michele Hansen  5:33   So I differentiate that, and I think this is like I've been, you know, so I'm obviously not an expert in this, I'm just somebody who's going through differentiating between burnout and depression, where, like, I actually feel like my mental health is pretty good. Like I've done I've done a lot of work on my mental health the past couple of years. Um, and, you know, depression is like, when you try to, you know, you try to get the energy to do the things that you liked, and then you don't get any enjoyment out of it, it's like the dopamine just doesn't even fire. Or if it does, it only lasts for a second. So whereas you know, a non depressed person, maybe you can go for a walk, and, and then you or you see a friend, and it kind of brightens you for the rest of the day, and at least helps you get through it. You know, when I've gone through depression, it's like, that enjoyment you get from that, like, you get like 30 seconds of enjoyment out of it, and then it's just gone. And you even feel worse than you did before, because you were expecting to make you feel good. And then it didn't, and then it just like spirals. I'm not in that state right now. It's more just like this constant feeling of stress. And like, I don't have enough time for anything. And feeling exhausted by that constant stress. But it's also not anxiety, either. Because an idea I guess I'm not I don't really know how to explain this. But like it's, it's not like worrying. And it's not like a tension, or No, I don't, I don't know how to explain it. But yeah, it's kind of it's gotten me to Google X. It's like, I don't know what this feeling is. And then I kind of, you know, I mentioned it to some friends of ours. And they're like, that's, that's the burnout. We were telling you was going to happen. And I'm like, oh, and then I'm like, so like, what is like the plan to like, get out of this? Like, is there like, what does your schedule look like when you were getting out of burnout? They're like, yeah, that's kind of like, you're trying to, like, make a schedule of it. Like, right. And one of our friends was, like, I Googled, you know, how to be a type B personality when I was going through. Unknown Speaker  7:49   It's amazing. Michele Hansen  7:51   Um, yeah, but I think it's kind of it's kind of weird. I was like, I don't even talk about this on the podcast, because it's like, I don't have a solution here. You know, I almost feel like, you know, I should have some sort of solution to give people but I don't I'm just kind of stuck in the middle of it. And, and just sort of talking it out, because I also, I don't, I feel like if people heard met, people mentioned, like having burnout, but like, and I guess if people know of like a good podcast or blog posts on the experience of burnout and how someone got through it, I would really love to read that. Because I feel like we don't really talk about it enough. So I'm kind of, I guess, trying to talk about it as a way of giving visibility to this thing that it turns out, a lot of my entrepreneur friends have gone through. Colleen Schnettler  8:46   Yeah, well, I think it's, I mean, as much as you're comfortable, I think it's good that you're talking about it. I you know, the one of the things. One of my takeaways from founder summit was I actually talked to quite a few people who went through massive burnout. And it seems to be just something that happens to us in our field in modern day, a lot, probably because we can work anywhere at any time. So we could theoretically be working all the time. But also, I, again, I think it's I'm sure it's a very personal journey to get out of it. But I feel like you need to take like, a month off. Let's talk about that. Michele Hansen  9:26   Yeah, and I think that's really where I'm struggling because I feel like I can't and but I'm also sort of, you know, somebody who's drowning and like, people are saying, hey, stop flailing. And I'm like, no, no, no, no, no, that like, and that just makes me panic even more. But like, so where I, you know, the stuff I have going on, like, you know, so we have to co do and like, I want to stress that like, I still really enjoy working on geocode do and I think actually Mateus and I were talking about this last night, and he's like, you know, we've been running this for almost eight years. And he's like, I'm even still surprised that we still find it interesting, we still find it challenging, we still enjoy working on it we enjoy the customers we work with, we enjoy, you know, helping them and like, it's still a problem we're really, like, excited about solving. And, you know, it does not feel like a drag. And so like, so I have to do going on. Of course, there's this podcast and all of my book stuff and like, and that's a joy. But also, I've been putting pressure on myself to sell it when I don't really have to, like, you know, like that. Like, there's not like I purposely didn't pitch it to a publisher, I purposefully didn't want someone telling me, you need to sell this many books, and you need to go out on this book tour and like, do all these things like I wanted that, you know, that decision for myself of how much time I spent on it. But now I'm in this situation where I feel like I have to justify all the time I spent on it some spending all this time promoting it. So Colleen Schnettler  10:56   let's go back. So yeah, so my my business partners, you haven't even gotten through the whole list. But sure, yeah. Okay, so let's go back a little bit. So my business partner Sean has, in the past experienced incredible, massive burnout. And one of the things he said to you yesterday was, like, the number one symptom of burnout is thinking, you can't work less. Like, there's no way around it, I can't solve this problem, because I cannot work less. So I challenge that, first of all, okay, but I don't know if we're here to problem solve, or if we're just here to talk. So Michele Hansen  11:32   we're kind of a mix of both. But I mean, so I think so here, let me get through the full list of things. Colleen Schnettler  11:36   Okay, keep going. So just to go do, Michele Hansen  11:38   there is what I term my extracurriculars, which is the book like this podcast being on other podcasts, like, you know, the fun business stuff. Um, and then there's also I'm in Danish class all day, Monday and Friday. Right. And then also, I have a family and, you know, another stressors on top of that is, you know, I'm in a foreign country, and, you know, again, talking to people founder Summit, you know, talking to other people who moved abroad, during the pandemic, there was a universal Zero out of 10, do not recommend on that. And then also, you know, we're in a pandemic, so like, there's all sorts of reasons to be burned out. But then the reason why I feel like I can't do less is because like, just I mean, quite frankly, like, for immigration reasons, like I have to be in Danish class, and I have to be working full time. And so I'm squeezing in basically, a full work week, you know, on the edges on Monday and Friday, and then working as much as I can, to say, Wednesday, Thursday, plus, you know, like, replying, the email, you know, when I wake up in the morning, and you know, at night, you know, normal entrepreneur, lack of boundaries with email stuff. And so like, that's why I feel like I can't work less because like, my life necessitate necessitates that I'm in language school twice a week, which feels like a part time job. And then, like, just for legal immigration reasons, like I have to be working full time at the same time. So I feel kind of backed into a corner almost. And then so then, like, the last thing to let go, because obviously, I can't drop family off of that. I guess one benefit of being somewhere where I don't really have a lot of friends in daily life is it like social is, you know, there's, there's zero there. So there's really nothing to drop. But I'm like this, doing this podcast and the book and everything. Like, that's the easiest stuff to fall back on. But that's the thing I like, really enjoying. And so I guess I could sensibly work less and not do this, but like, I quite enjoy this. And like, I enjoy talking to people on their podcasts. And I enjoy doing stuff about my book, and I enjoy talking to you and doing this podcast. And so like, so the only thing I'm left with is, you know, the taking away the thing I enjoy the most and I, you know, like, I wish I could only be in Danish class one hour a week, but that's just not an option. And I think that's the thing. That's the biggest drag on myself. But also there's just the general I mean, stress of the pandemic, right, like, you know, you've probably heard that Europe, several European countries are locking down again, like so it's like, are we facing another lockdown, where I have to balance between working and feeling like a bad parent, because I'm like, you know, balancing homeschooling and working and everything. And so that's like, even stressing me out even more because it's like, Oh, my God, I have to get even more out of each day when I already feel like I'm getting trying to get so much out of each day. And I think just all of that is just kind of making me feel just sort of stressed and exhausted. Just like Colleen Schnettler  14:57   that's a lot. I mean, especially the foreign country. To me, we move to California. And it's so annoying slash stressful. Find a new doctors and dentists. And we're in the same country, they still speak English, Michele Hansen  15:08   they tend you're in like constant sunlight. Oh, that makes a Colleen Schnettler  15:12   huge difference. By the way, everyone should move to California, because I'm happy every day because the sun is shining every day. But no, that's a lot, Michelle. I mean, you end this has been so prolonged for you, right? Because it was the pandemic, and then you move to a foreign country. That was that was a lot to take on at once you left your friends you left, you know, the place where you were comfortable and you loved you left the language. You left the healthcare system, like everything that that was really American healthcare system you Michele Hansen  15:42   like it's, it's terrible, but at least at least they knew how it worked. Yeah, at least you know how to go to the doctor, I could go to the doctor and feel confident I could communicate with the brain. But I wasn't like going, like practicing, you know? How to say, you know, yes, sure. I floss my teeth. You know? Colleen Schnettler  16:03   The change over the past? Gosh, is it been two, three years now? How long has this pandemic been going on? The, the amount of stress you have taken on is tremendous. And I feel for you, because it's just it sounds really, really hard. Michele Hansen  16:29   And everybody who said they went through burnout, like they're like, the thing I did was, you know, I fired all my clients, and I didn't work for two months. Yeah, or I didn't work for a year, like I just lived on savings for a year. And I'm like, I don't feel I can do that. And like also, like people, like, you know, I traveled or whatever. And it's like, I have a family. So I can't just like do nothing all day. Like, even if I wanted to, like I have responsibilities like that, you know, do not change regardless of how I'm feeling. And then, like, legally, I have to be working. And so I feel I mean, I don't know, Colleen Schnettler  17:10   it sounds to me like you feel stuck, or trapped. Yeah. And the situation super Michele Hansen  17:14   stuck. And I don't know how to get unstuck. Colleen Schnettler  17:19   So it seems like the first step is decrease your stress level. Yes. I mean, here's the thing, you're in the middle of it. And so don't freak out. But let's just let's just think outside the box. Okay. So you're in the middle of this super, super high, intense, stressful situation. But I'm going to still say that a lot of it is of your own making. And yeah. And I understand that you don't want to give up the book promo, or you don't want to do our podcast less because these are things you really enjoy. But your health, you know, has to be your happiness. That should be number one. Michele Hansen  18:02   But like why do I take away the things that make me happy? Oh, I Colleen Schnettler  18:06   didn't say take them away. You aren't ready for Collins great ideas. Oh, God, what is Collins great ideas. Okay, so I'm just gonna throw these things out there not to scare you. Just to and I don't want you to problem solve or tell me why you can't do them. Just to show you that. Like, there are options even if they seem absolutely crazy. Okay, Michele Hansen  18:28   are you ready? Okay, okay, I will I will play along. Okay, just play along with Romani. Okay, Colleen Schnettler  18:33   you could move back to the United States. Now listen, one, okay, could sell geocoder do and take two years off and you don't work at all. You could hire someone to be you. And I know the onboarding of that you had you don't want it. You've told me a million times. I know you don't want to hire someone. But if you could get a system in place where you only work, you don't have to work on geocode do you'd still be working full time in the eyes of the Danish government? But you yourself wouldn't have to be managing the contracts and putting in the hours. There's like they don't you know as long as you're they think you're working ish. The full I have to Michele Hansen  19:12   be working. Hello. Danish government people listening. Colleen Schnettler  19:17   I wait. I mean, I would be working because you would be managing okay, you would be working. Because you would be managing a person who was doing the things for you? What if you just stopped doing what would happen? If you did nothing for God? Oh, except like legally required things like, like, you What if you just on your website, you go to your website today? You say we are not taking any more customers for six months. Shut it down. I mean, don't shut it down. But like, what if you were just like, No, no one else gets to come on six months. I mean, there's options. I know these sound crazy to you. Okay, no idea. Okay. I'm just trying to I'm just like trying to help you see that, like, roll their eyes. Unknown Speaker  19:57   You're like, I see it. See? Colleen Schnettler  20:03   You and I know you love promote. And so then of course, then there's the smaller things, but I don't think not like depending on your, your rate of promoting the book. Yeah, you could just totally stop again, it's a book, it's not going to go anywhere, totally stop for six months. Right? All this stuff will be here, once you are recovered, but your health and your happiness that is your life, this is your life. And Michelle, you have made it. And you, you're so stressed. And that makes me sad. Michele Hansen  20:36   You know, I remember I always remember hearing, you know, money doesn't buy happiness when I was a kid. And, you know, he always interpreted that to mean Oh, yeah, you can't just you know, I don't know, go buy yourself something and then feel happy. And they don't tell you how bitter it is, when you're in a situation that can't be solved by money. Colleen Schnettler  21:02   Yeah, that's intense, Michele Hansen  21:05   even when you could have it and, you know, I mean, money by as, you know, therapy and coaches and, you know, help with cleaning the house and or, you know, employees for that matter. You know, whatever else, but you know, money truly doesn't buy happiness. And that is a bitter pill to swallow. Colleen Schnettler  21:25   Yeah. Yeah. And there's a lot of other small things you can do, which may help but they might just be bandaids. And so I really think you need to take a good look at like you, you're so happy in in what you have built with your husband, the work your work environment, and what you are building with the book like, but it doesn't seem right now. And it's been this way for a while, right? This hasn't been a month, this hasn't been two months, it's been this way for a while where it doesn't seem like it's bringing you overall happiness to the extent maybe you thought it would, and it might just be have too much going on. But like, I'm worried about you. That's there. I said it. Michele Hansen  22:09   I think the fact that I have so much going on right now is like bringing these other issues to the fore like we have talked in the past about how I really struggled with work life balance, and like, if like, like I really love working on giuoco do and both of us like we're not selling the business, we we both really enjoy working on it and working on it together. Like, but if I could work 12 hour days on do co do and book stuff like I would do that and be totally happy to do that. Yes, I could blame this on Okay, the extra stress of spending 10 hours a week in language school is like, really adding a lot of stress to this. But I don't think that gets to the bottom, like, like, I don't think I'm being honest with myself. If I say that, that is the problem like that is just like the straw that's breaking the camel's back here. That's, like I struggle with work boundaries. I struggle with, you know, prioritizing myself, like, and giving myself a break and feeling like I deserve a break. Like I think this is this conversation here is like, I don't feel like I can take a break. I don't feel like I deserve a break. I don't feel like it's something that's available to me. Um, I definitely consider myself a recovering workaholic and somebody who wrapped up way too much of their self worth and self identity in work. Which is not as bad as it used to be but like, like, I feel like those things are the real issues and like you know, we kind of talked about how doing that exercise at like well that exercise at founder summit, but also like when it comes to like business like I'm like super competent, and like confident and and like I just make decisions and I feel very self assured and I find it easy to move forward. You tend to like doubt yourself and do a lot of research and feel stuck and like really struggle with that but like when it comes to taking care of yourself and your work life balance and your social life and your your health and everything like you are like so decisive and confident and just make decisions and implement things and do things. And I'm like totally the opposite. Like we're completely opposite. Unknown Speaker  24:38   Yep. On these two things, Michele Hansen  24:40   and you're like, you have to have better work life balance and I'm like, like, how, how do like what's like, I don't know what that means. Like, I think I need to read a book on how to relax like, you know, like, Where where is this guide? Where is this schedule of like, Unknown Speaker  24:59   I can Please be the episode of this. I need to read a book about how to relax. Please title the episode like, that's amazing. Michele Hansen  25:07   Seriously, like, I feel like if you ever got to a point where like you were like I'm too stressed out, like you would immediately cut back on working and feel no guilt or shame or reservations and like just make it work. Colleen Schnettler  25:21   Yeah, absolutely. I think maybe my I mean, I think my experience is a lot different from yours being a military spouse with three kids. If I can't, I have to take care. I mean, they're older now. But like when they were little, like if I wasn't healthy, mentally, physically, whatever, I could not care for all these little people. And so I think part of it is I learned that years ago, like, if I don't have my shit in order, this whole thing falls apart. Because Nick was gone all the time. My husband, you know, he travels a lot for a long, long, long period of time. So I have learned over the years how important it is to prioritize myself really. And it's my life. Right? Let's get back to that. Like, this is your life. Like, how do you want to live it? I mean, right. Not the way you're living it right now. Not with this incredibly burdening like anvil of stress on your shoulders. Michele Hansen  26:19   Yeah, I mean, I feel I like something you said to me at founder Summit, one of our I don't know if this was our debrief knife, when we we ordered guacamole at midnight, I did some self pampering so good. That like you're like, you know, I met all these people who are super successful, and their businesses are where I want to be. And they're, like, I'm happier than them. Like, they're all miserable. Like, Unknown Speaker  26:47   I'm a little embarrassed that you shared that on the podcast, but I did. So we can love you all, thank you for chatting with me. Because not all of your character. Michele Hansen  26:59   Not all of them were miserable. But like they had a lot of, you know, business problems. And it created a lot of like, personal problems, and you didn't want to have those problems, like the stress of managing employees and just, you know, all this other stuff like, but like, you know, you're saying how like your work life balance is really good. Your family life is really good. Like, you've talked about how you're hesitant to work more because you don't want to disrupt how good your personal and then like family life is. And like Yeah, I like I just, I don't even I don't even know how to wrap my head around that. So that's it my family life is bad, or I don't like them. Like I do. Like it's just I don't know, like, it's Unknown Speaker  27:48   a lot. You're like, well, I you know, Michele Hansen  27:51   what if there's nights when you know, Nick wanted to hang out, and then I'm working and I'm like, What is this world where like, the default is not like, one of your like, is that what you thought? Like I said, your laptop? Like what is that? Like, I was just like, that's like so normal for us that like, you know, one of us has some sort of work to do we have to do all the time. Like and we're better than we used to be but like Yeah, and like, I don't know, hanging out with your spouse. Like I just I don't I don't even know like I don't know. i Our marriage is so funny. Our marriage is very different. Um, I just really I don't know, I feel very stuck. And I feel like all these solutions everyone is giving me I'm still like, Well, that was work wouldn't work because this and this wouldn't work. Isn't that like, I'm still I don't know what yeah, that but I'm being very obstinate. I'm not being very, very compliance person to be helped. Colleen Schnettler  28:53   That's what I think that was Shawn's point about, like, when you say I cannot change anything, that's when you know, you need to change something. Michele Hansen  29:00   Yeah. Yeah. Colleen Schnettler  29:04   Yeah, yeah. And it's a whole mindset shift. So actually, I was talking to my other business parent, partner Aaron about this yesterday. And I said that same thing where I was like, I feel like I'm happier than most people. And he was like, Why do you think that is? And I had a couple I had many reasons, but like one of them to like, again, as, like we, as a military spouse, like our friends actually die. I mean, that's like, in real life, like people die. Close friends of ours have died. And I think, you know, when that happens, like my good friend down the street is a widow. She was widowed at 29 with two kids. That really gives you perspective. I mean, you know what I mean? Like, I think that really, really helps. I think I'm really good at keeping perspective because I live in this world that is so much more dangerous than everyone else's world. It's like what is really important. You get one life, you don't know how long it's going to be. How do you want to spend it? Michele Hansen  29:57   It sounds like you take that perspective. Not as you know that your problems don't matter because you're not dead, or that your spouse isn't dead, it's more, which I think is often how that comes across. But it's more so that being surrounded by death, or having it, surrounded by it, but yeah, that was a little. Having it, having it be this kind of looming part of the community kind of like having having it be a presence in the community in a way that it's really not in mind. Like, it forces you to reevaluate those things, and to not take your time for granted. Which, you know, I mean, like, I mean, and, and I don't know, and he's also sort of an ADHD person thing, where, like, we struggle with the concept of time, and like, there's these great talks about how like, ADHD is this disorder of how you perceive time, and like, Hmm, you know, we let things expand to the amount of time allotted, and then some and so we need, like, deadlines for this stuff, like, and so if I feel like there's no deadline on me feeling better, or prioritizing myself, or whatever it is, like I just, I will just fill that time with other things because, and it has been externally set deadline to like, if I make up my own deadline, like, I will blow through it, like, it just, it's like, it doesn't exist, because I know it's made up, like I like outsmart the deadline, like, to my own detriment. Um, you know, but that doesn't, that time doesn't last forever. And it sounds like you get reminders that, you know, none of us are guaranteed any amount of time. Colleen Schnettler  31:38   So, and to be fair, like, on the other side of that coin, I sometimes I'm not, I want to say convinced, but I am sometimes concerned that like all of my businesses will not be successful, because I'm not willing to sacrifice everything else in my life. And, you know, so there's two sides to that, right? Like, I might always have a SAS that makes $1,000 a month and just hang out here, because I'm not willing to work 8090 100 hours a week to make it happen. So you know, trade offs, but Michele Hansen  32:10   I also I don't feel like I'm sacrificing everything because I still do have like, like, family life is also something I'm not going to sacrifice because I think it's something that I did in the past. And now I don't you know, I mean, like today's like, kind of a totally packed day for me, schedule wise. And I was like, you know, tonight, I'm just gonna, like, put our daughter to bed and probably, like, fall asleep with her. Like, but you know, we had Colleen Schnettler  32:41   her, but it is 530 Your time right now already. So, you know, I have something after that. Right. And you're going to do another podcast as soon as we get off this podcast. So and I know a lot of that is timezone stuff. But Michele Hansen  32:53   which suck. I hate them. Yeah. Like not being able to do anything with customers until like 8am at the earliest, or at sorry, like 2pm if they're an early riser, usually 3pm Six, if it's California, like, yeah, that is Colleen Schnettler  33:11   rough. Okay, so let's go back. Let's circle back circle back to you. Because we got a little distracted. And how we get the circle back. I know we're running out of time to solve all your problems. So in 30 minutes, Unknown Speaker  33:30   I think we have five minutes left till your next podcast. Colleen Schnettler  33:35   But seriously, like, what what is your? I'm so happy. Okay, so when you brought this up yesterday with our group, I was so happy to see that, because it showed me that you were fine. You were finally seeing it. And so what is your plan? Michele Hansen  33:52   Dude, I don't have one. I we I'm stuck in the middle of this like, Colleen Schnettler  33:56   so you don't know. You're still young? No idea, I think. Yeah. Michele Hansen  34:00   I mean, I was like, trying this week. I was like, maybe I can like, you know, dude, you could do stuff like Tuesday, Wednesday, and then do extracurricular stuff Thursday, but then it kind of ended up meshing together. And I'm like, actually, I really need to, like, sequester myself and like, get several focused hours of work done on like, Monday afternoons, like, I don't know, that just sounds like more like planning and scheduling. And when it does sound like that sounds like you know, sort of optimizing within the current bounds rather than like actually stepping back and taking time to like, reflect and focus on myself, which is just I think that's the bigger thing is I don't know how to do that. Like, well, and I was like, should I hire a coach, but then I was like, I feel like I don't have time for more meetings. Like, you know, it's just like a coach. I Colleen Schnettler  34:51   hire a relaxing coach. How do I relax, coach? Yeah, I think you're right, like trying to over optimize your schedule is not the solution. You have to fundamentally changed the box, right? And I know Michele Hansen  35:02   the paradigm is wrong. And I'm just working within the current paradigm because I don't know anything else. I just got it. It's not working. Colleen Schnettler  35:11   Right? Like, I know those ideas I threw out, I know you're not going to sell the company or hire someone or move to the United States. But my point is like, you could I mean, there are other options that are available to me. So try to think outside the box because you have to change the box because the box is not working for you. Yeah. Michele Hansen  35:31   Yeah. Well, that's a lot for me to, Unknown Speaker  35:37   you're gonna think about it. You promise? Michele Hansen  35:39   I'm gonna think about it. I'm gonna buy some books about stuff. I don't know. I don't know. Unknown Speaker  35:52   Okay, I was giving myself Michele Hansen  35:53   homework not the solution, either. Unknown Speaker  35:55   That's not not the solution is read a book about how to relax, read a book about how to stop writing Michele Hansen  36:02   about relaxing, right? Like, it's not like, relaxing without meditating. Like, Colleen Schnettler  36:06   it's not the right word. You know, Michele Hansen  36:08   I already meditate anyway. Like, it's not like it's, yeah, it's I don't know, I don't know what it like, I don't know anybody listening. You've gone through burnout. You have some the, I feel like at this point, I less need like solutions from people. And I more need, like, hope thinking about it, if that makes sense. Like framing a problem. Right? Yeah. So anyway, if anyone's gone through this, like, let me know, and you want to, you know, DM with me or something about it, and, or you have a book that like really helped you when you went through it. I feel like burnout is I've gathered that's very different for everyone. And the solutions are very different from everyone. So think I'm intentionally not asking for solutions, because that needs to be something that I figure out, right? Otherwise, because I'm just gonna sit here. Yeah, no, it's gonna work. That's gonna work and then I'm not gonna do what the problem, right? I need to I don't know. I need to think different think outside the box. You did new box. Colleen Schnettler  37:13   You need a new box. Okay, well, I wish you luck. Keep me posted on how it goes. And I think with that, we will wrap up this week's episode of the software Show podcast. Please reach out to Michelle on Twitter. If you have any advice or you yourself have gone through burnout. I think those would be welcome conversations. And let us know what you thought of the show. We're at software slash pod till next week. Michele Hansen  37:40   This episode was also brought to you by tele tele is a browser based screen recorder. For videos that showcase your work and share your knowledge. You can capture your screen, camera and present slides. You can also customize your videos with backgrounds layouts and other video clips. Tella makes it easy to record updates for your teammates, launch videos for your followers and demos for your customers. Record your next product demo with tele visit tele.tv/software Social to get 30% off tele pro Michele Hansen This episode was also brought to you by Tella. Tella is a browser-based screen recorder for videos that showcase your work and share your knowledge. You can capture your screen, camera, and present slides. You can also customise your videos with backgrounds, layouts, and other video clips. Tella makes it easy to record updates for your team mates, launch videos for your followers, and demos for your customers. Record your next product demo with Tella. Visit tella.tv/softwaresocial to get 30% off Tella Pro

23 November 2021 39m and 7s


Using Jobs to Be Done to Build a Whiteboard That Does Math: A Conversation with Matt Wensing, Founder of Summit

Using Jobs to Be Done to Build a Whiteboard That Does Math: A Conversation with Matt Wensing, Founder of Summit

Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Michele Hansen  0:00   Hey, welcome back to software social, I am super excited to have a guest with me this week. It is Matt wensing, who is founder of Summit, which is a tool for financial modeling. Previously, he was founder of risk pulse, which was acquired in 2019, which was an enterprise SAS. I'm also the co host of out of beta. Matt, welcome. Thanks, Michelle. Matt Wensing  0:31   I'm really excited to be here, too. I'm a listener. And I just love it. So this is fun. Michele Hansen  0:37   So I have been wanting to talk to you for a really long time. And there is one tweet that you sent out in particular, that made me really want to talk to you. So in January, you tweeted out some notes you had taken from customer research that you did for Summit. And you were working with what the jobs to be done world calls the forces diagram, which is basically this diagram we use to show the different pushes and pulls and anxieties and habits people have around the tools they use, and why they might be looking for something new, but also why they might stay with what they're doing right now. And I am so curious to hear kind of like how this came about, and how you have been using customer research as you explore summits. So can you kind of like take us back in time to when you first started researching Summit? Matt Wensing  1:52   Yeah, absolutely. So it's funny that there's actually an overlap here between even knowing what jobs be done enforces progress is and that initial research. So I attend the business of software conference each year in the States, so there's one in Europe and the States, but every October, in Boston, folks get together, at least pretty COVID and cross fingers soon. And Bob molesta is a regular speaker there as well, who is not sure the godfather of the forces of progress framework in a lot of ways. And I just remember being this is probably Oh, man, time's flying, right. So let's just say five years ago, I wanted to say three and like now, it's not three, it's probably five years ago, I listened to him interview, an audience member, kind of a mock customer interview, live about purchasing a car. And the way that they were able to take a dialogue and really parse it into a framework that you could then take away from that, and then keep doing that with more and more conversation. It just was like, Okay, this is definitely a tool that I need to add to my tool belt like this is, this is amazing. What's interesting is then fast forward into Summit, like by that time in the history of my previous company, I was doing sales, enterprise sales, mostly it wasn't doing a lot of customer research, at least in terms of the early sort of genesis of the product. So I don't know that I got to use it a lot. Back then it was mostly just listening to like we did do enterprise deals where there were custom features involved. But really, I got to use it fresh, you know, when you're second time founder, a lot of times you're like, Oh, I'm gonna do this the right way, this time around and actually use more tools and framework things I've learned. And forces progress is one of those. So I wanted to build this tool to do financial modeling. But that is such an ambiguous target that I knew I needed to figure out the value proposition. What does that really mean? What do people want? So funny enough, I gave a talk at business a software as a lightning talk in 2019. And I kind of use that as a launching point. I didn't frame it as, hey, I'm selling a product. I didn't even have a product. I had a little prototype, basically. But I use that talk to share. Really, the problem, socialize the problem space, if you will talk about, hey, this is this is a challenge, isn't it? Like this is a pain. Here's a little tool I made to kind of deal with that pain. And I really tried to draw some business lessons out of it. But really, at that same time, I started to have conversations with potential customers and prospects. And as they talked to me, I started cataloger file their feedback into these different kind of buckets, right, kind of the tool that I had learned previously and yeah, I just kind of did that every you know a few months would kind of refresh my understanding of what they were saying and built up this. This list organized list of feedback which I guess I'll put a bow on it and say it really think helped me understand the product strategy, like what did the product strategy need to be, for me to go into this space that was otherwise very nebulous? Like, how do I have opinion? Like what should my opinions be about the tool and what it needs to do? Right? Michele Hansen  5:19   Mm hmm. It's really it's really interesting that you use basically that talk as sort of a, I guess, sort of, in a way, sort of what Patrick McKenzie would call a friend catcher, to attract people to you to talk about the problem. But then because you had that experience with the forces of progress and with seeing Bob Maestas speak who, by the way, his his book, demand side sales actually has real customer interviews in it that are all broken down by the forces. And it's like, it's so good, like it should be on everybody's shelf. And then, but you you were able to process that. And I think that's so important, because sometimes there can can feel like there's this gap between for people who are new to research of how do I go from talking to people to actually designing value? And how do I figure out okay, I've talked to these people, I know what these problems are, I know what I'm interested in. But then what is the product? And it sounds like you were able to bridge that? So I'm curious if you can kind of dive into when you went from this point of understanding the problem space socializing the problem space, you kind of had a prototype, but like, how did the prototype sort of snowball with that? And how did you figure out where it was valuable? Matt Wensing  6:48   Yeah, so to put a timeline on this, this was, what you're describing now is essentially the journey from late 20, October 2019, through probably April, May of this year, so you know, almost almost two years, essentially. And during that time, I've released multiple versions of the products, really knowing that this was not going to be it. Now I'm a developer, a full stack developer who can build full, I can build applications top to bottom, not as strong as they used to be on the front end, but like it works. And what I was essentially trying to do was understand, okay, so there are few risks of the business. And funnily enough, Patrick McKenzie was one of the first people I pinged about this idea, because was his work at stripe Atlas and stripe. And just in general, I knew that he would have interesting opinion. And his thoughts were okay, financial modeling is interesting. But it sounds like it could be transactional, like, somebody has a need, they do it. And then they're gone. And I knew I wanted to build a SAS. And so that was like, Okay, that's a great point. Because a lot of times, the use cases that would come up when I talked to people were, oh, yeah, I have this investor meeting, or Oh, yeah, I have this fundraiser. Oh, yeah, I need to figure this thing out. And it sounded like it had a pretty finite shelf life of utility. People come they use it, then they go away. I was like, okay, that's not a great recurring revenue business, you know, because it sounds like something you could just sell for $50 one time, and then people don't ever need to keep paying you anything. So I recognize that pretty early on that engagement was a key risk to the business being a sustaining recurring revenue model. And engagement is tricky, because as much as you want to do, you know, mock ups and kind of smoke tests and things that are not you don't want to over invest in engineering, it's very hard to de risk engagements with a paper mock up or a screenshot or a prototype, like, how do you know that they're gonna come back to it unless they actually get to use something. So I basically spent those 18 to 24 months, releasing, what I knew were really technically debt laden, let's put it that way versions of the product, where all I cared was that the front end was communicating what I wanted it to like, this is what this is, this is what this does for you. If you click this button, this happens, and it works, how it works less important. So I built a lot of basically throw away versions of the product, which was expensive, but I felt like it was the key to knowing would people actually come back and reuse it? And I guess let's pause there. That was my approach. And that was why I took that approach to de risking or, or getting more valuable feedback from people than just like, a conversation or interview right? And then I think I paired that with, do you use Excel to use sheets, you know, how do you do this today? But I learned, I just want to point out, I learned from both the usage of the early versions and the customer conversations. Michele Hansen  10:12   I love how you underscored there, how the customers intrinsic behavior and their intrinsic needs, drive usage of the product, like there's only so many sort of engagement hacks that you can do to make someone come back to a product. But like, if they only need to raise money every 18 months, then there's nothing that you can do that will make them come back daily or weekly, because their fundamental underlying need for the product is infrequent. And I'm reminded of the pain and frequency framework from Dez trainer, which, you know, he said, you know, that that most, you know, painful and frequent is sort of the best quadrant to be in, because people have an underlying need for something and they're annoyed by it. But infrequent and painful, can be kind of a danger zone, it can be a space for good products, you know, I think, you know, I sort of think of like buying a house and getting a mortgage is very expensive. And it's so complicated. And it's, you know, expensive to get it wrong, but it's very infrequent. But other things that are infrequent and painful, you know, can maybe not be a great business, which it sounds like you had some indications that the underlying need for this, what you were originally thinking would not be frequent and and therefore people would not have a subscription. And so rather than staying with that, and going down the path, and then a year from now being like oh my god, I have this churn problem. How do I keep people to stay around? You pivoted towards something that was more frequent. Matt Wensing  11:58   Yeah, that's exactly right. So I often use the metaphor for the first version as like, because I didn't know what else to build. So I just bought, I just built, I built the version that I knew people would use at least that first time, right? Because then I knew it was gonna fail. I felt like it was gonna fail. But I was like, okay, but I have to figure out the bridge from here to there. Like, I have to take a step. And so I'm going to give them at least gonna give them that initial thing and then just see, will they tell me like, you know, what else would be great is if, you know, like, what else could I learn by doing this? And so I built kind of that coin operated version, I call it like a vending machine for a financial forecast. Because my original thought was, yeah, people need a forecast. That was the value proposition, how fast can I get them a forecast that that works. And people use that. But then again, it was the churn problem, it was the going away, it was the it was hard to build, you know, that raving fan base, that you need to get something off the ground? Because it just wasn't sustainable. So I realized that to build a SAS in this space, I was going to have to figure out what did they do regularly? You know, like, Okay, if you only close your books once a month, or even your maybe you don't even do that, because you have a bookkeeper or accountant that does that for you. If you only raise money every 18 months, like what is it that you do? That's close to this that is more frequent? And that's really how I got drawn into more of the modeling space meaning like, Okay, but what, tell me about what you do regularly, and if you look at what these founders made, if I would just have them, show me what you made, show me what you made, I basically got into this thing of like, you are spending time somewhere. Where is that? What are you doing, right? And they would show me, the spreadsheets that they were making, that were very ephemeral, like they were very, they were throwaway products, if you will, they would make this like, I gotta figure out if I can afford this higher. And so they would just come into a G sheet G sheets, not new, right? Create a little spreadsheet and then use it for like a day, and then go away. But then it's like, well, how many of these do you have? Say, Oh, well, I mean, I probably do that, you know, once a once every other week, once a week, twice a month, like sometimes multiple times. And I'm like, wait a minute. So you don't build like a giant, you know, official forecast all the time. But you are using spreadsheets a lot. And you are doing things with money in spreadsheets a lot. Like Tell me about that. And that started to inform our strategy of Wait a minute, you know, there's really two customers here are two potential users. There's the CFO, if you will, or the analyst who builds those. That's the founder, even if it's a founder that's a hat they were where they do it like every once in a while I have to get serious about finance and do this proper thing. And then there's the non CFO founder, I just need something to solve my question or answer my question, person persona, who actually kind of does this work that they don't show to anyone else? They're really embarrassed. They know it's not, you know, they know it's not. Right, like with a capital R, right. But they're doing it a lot. Like they're doing this to make all the little decisions about pricing and metrics and goals. And how much can I afford to pay this person, like, I'm like, wait a minute. Turns out, you're actually doing a lot of modeling, you just don't talk about it. And you don't, you don't show it to anybody because you're embarrassed, right? It's this like dirty little secret almost that you have that you build these things and make decisions. Because of course, you use numbers, nobody doesn't use numbers, but like, you just don't call this some financial model. So that was a key insight, realizing that there were these two personas that were actually living within the same person. And they had compartmentalize those very cleanly, but I was much more interested suddenly in the other person, right. Michele Hansen  16:13   That's so interesting. Like, you know that what you just showed there is, I think it's such a key, a key point and activity based design, which is the idea that we're designing for activities that people do and not for a specific person. And so in my book, for example, I talk about, you know, everything is a process, and everything is an activity. And the activity of you know, for example, one person might both have a Carraig pod coffee machine, and have a French press. But they use the Carib pod coffee machine when they're trying to get the kids to school in the morning, and they're rushed, and they're doing a million other things. And they use the French press on the weekend when they have a friend over to chat. And to them. Those are two very different activities that they're doing. But they're being done by the same person. And so if you design for the person, that wouldn't make sense to you that they would own both, and would try to pigeonhole them into one. But really, they're a person who's doing many different activities with many different goals. And so you have this one activity where I need to create financial models for official purposes, to share them with other people, maybe for compliance reasons, maybe for sort of me in my official capacity reasons where other people are reviewing this. And then there's also this activity of, I need to make a decision that involves numbers. And it's basically this sort of like there's the official activity. And then there's the back of the envelopes activity, which is where this kind of I've heard people describe summit as like a whiteboard that does math. Yes. And that is also where that activity comes in. And that's more so replacing those those millions of spreadsheets and which other really fascinating about this is that so often is the core thing and jobs to be done. So often the competitors to a product is not actually another piece of software or another product product. It's somebody doing it. It's them making a spreadsheet. It's something in Google Docs, it's like them doing it by hand like that is as much a competitor as another piece of software. It's like, there's so many pieces. Yes, this is great. Matt Wensing  18:37   Oh, yeah. And that's why, you know, I try to explain, like, this is such a journey, because you, we joke within the company, like, gosh, we did you know, we were so dumb a week ago, like how we thought we were so smart, but we knew nothing. And when I started this journey, you know, you just so in the dark, and then you take these steps and you realize, wait a minute, wait a minute. And so it is kind of a weird thing that you have this perennial sort of optimism as a founder that there's something here and you can you want to figure out that if you're wrong, you're wrong, but at the same time, people are not telling you. You know, and this is the thing I think so key like this is a skill to develop is people are not what people don't say is as important as what they do say and like learning to find out that wait a minute, we were we were standing in this room, if you will, in your mind talking about financial modeling. And here I am thinking that this is where the gold is, you know, this is trying to get all my answers. And you're telling me next door you've got like 12 spreadsheets with numbers and money in them and you're you didn't tell me about like, how did I How was I so close but yet like you didn't you know, like if I had just if I had given up them right. I would have missed the room that actually had all the gold in it right? But it was literally connected but in their mind at what it was a different room. It's like oh, you're asking Give me about this. But, you know, you're not asking about that. And so that's what's so kind of vexing for like, in hindsight, I just laugh because stumbling across the actual value is is something that you, you partly luck part skill and getting people to. And really I'll cut my rambling short by saying I think observation is more powerful in those cases than just question and answer because the real key for me was when I said, Show me, show me what you have today. And they had to, you know, at that point, they couldn't say, like, Why have nothing. But they did have to say, Oh, well, let me open up the store over here and show you what I have today, because I haven't been through a fundraiser, and I haven't, whatever, but I've got something. And it's only when I said, Show me that I got to see like, wait a minute, there's this whole other room here, that is exactly where I want to be. So we pivoted our strategy towards that other space. And it's been very fruitful. Michele Hansen  21:12   And there's two really important skills for entrepreneurs there, that you just sort of, underscored without really stating them outright, that I want to, I want to hone in on for a second. The first one was basically thinking about how much of an idiot you were a week ago, and thinking about that, and not being embarrassed about it, but kind of being like, delighted that you have learned something, and that you have added to your understanding of customers. And, and kind of being able to like, not laugh at yourself, but almost sort of look at it with like this, this sort of it's almost a pride in a way of being like, man, I was such an idiot six months ago, like, and it's kind of delightful to have those moments of realizing how much you didn't know, but to be delighted by that, and not be embarrassed by that. And kind of as a company being able to say, like, Yeah, we had no idea we're doing. And now we six months from now, we're also gonna say we, you know, we don't know what we're doing. Right? Like, but you know, we are aware of that. And then also the curiosity, the combination of that approach to learning and being excited by learning and looking for surprises, and then allowing yourself to be curious when you talk to the customers, and not just accepting what they're saying at face value. But saying, Well, can you? What's what's in this closet over here, like, and just, but like, you can only get to that point if you have really built trust with them. Because as you said earlier, they were embarrassed by doing this back of the envelope math, they were embarrassed by their legions of spreadsheets of whether they can hire people because it wasn't real official forecasts done by a BI team, like maybe they they're so small, they don't even have a BI team. Right? Like, exactly. So. And so they don't want to show this anyway. But when you did the interviews, they trusted you enough, which tells me that the way you ran the interviews was when you ran them really well, because they were willing to let you in and poke into what you thought was a little closet. But it turned out they were like pulling out a books and a book. And then the whole bookcase like turns around. And it's like their secret lair full of spreadsheets. Matt Wensing  23:36   Exactly, exactly. Was that they had made like yesterday, and then this one from today and that one from a week ago. And I'm like, wait a minute, you're not just doing this, like once every you're doing this, like, this is enough, guys, this is enough, you know? And like, what if you actually enjoy doing this? Like, oh, wow, you know, and so then it was like the opportunity to switch that negative emotion to a positive one and say, let's change embarrassment to fun and joy and just, let's embrace the informality of it by letting you do it this way. But we're going to level you up like we're going to make it better and faster and take out the tedium. So that's where I went back into my forces of progress. And I said, Okay, for this non CFO founder, what are their thoughts? And you know, they say stuff like, I'm embarrassed by my spreadsheet. I'm not very good at this, Michele Hansen  24:29   right. Also, their spreadsheet, like they love playing in the spreadsheet. They Matt Wensing  24:33   do love to play exactly. So they like the act of playing with it, right? It's almost like a child who's like, I love to finger paint and create things. But then it's like the kid who's embarrassed to show his parents or teacher whomever like well, you know, this is just for me. And so it was a very, like private activity. And so I was like, wait a minute, so this is an opportunity to say, Don't worry, we've got your back. Like, we'll make sure the math is right. We'll run the team will do the tedious parts for you. We'll make it look really well designed without you having to do the work of making it look professional. And we'll even help you use smarter, you know, building blocks to do this work. So you might not, you still might not use it to do that fundraiser, get that for an evaluation or whatever, like, you're still gonna have to create a spreadsheet, perhaps, for all those little decisions. Like, that's where summit wants to start, like, we want to be your tool for that, right? And I think over time, we can grow into the, oh, hey, you're really, you're really skilled at Excel? Are you really good at G sheets, and you have total, you are like, really confident and proud of your work? We'll get to you, but like this, then give us that shape of adoption that that's okay. Like, there's enough people. And in fact, there's more people. It's a bigger market of people who are a little bit embarrassed, a little shy and a little inexperienced, frankly, with this stuff than the other one. And oh, gosh, guess what team? Like, the feature requirements are completely different. Like, instead of having to build the enterprise, incredible version, that's going to win people away who are like veterans, right? We get to start with, like, the people who need the simplest things, you know, like that was the other exciting part is that, wow, you're just doing addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, basically, right? Like, okay, great. You know, I don't have to like, cuz I will say, you know, I don't want to leave this part out, like there was a pivotal moment in those 18 months where I was, hadn't decided yet that this is where we were going to go. And I found myself torn, trying to build more and more sophisticated tools and analysis for that really confident diehard user. And they were so demanding, and so exacting, and I was just barely getting, like, I'd say a b plus, with them. And it was causing me to almost have to go, Okay, this is going to end up being a consulting business, if I'm not careful, because I'm going to end up having to do a lot of bespoke work a lot of custom work for them, I'm going to end up, you know, having to get into the models that mean, I have to become a data scientist, like it was just so intense, that I realized, okay, this is not the business I want to build either like, this is just a bad fit from a, you know, I want a high margin, self serve SAS business. And I might come back to y'all. But this is not where I'm going to start. I can't I can't start here, because there's only one of me. At that point, there was one of me so. So I made the decision, then, okay, we're going all in on the other side. And that also allowed us to say, wait a minute, you know, all these opinions, we were baking into the product, all these best practices, all these things, we kind of need to like, lower that not come across as so proper and formal and the right way to do things, you know, you can only do things the right way, right? We actually need to be more invited, it changed our whole brand, right? We went through a rebrand where we said, instead of being serious and professional and discipline looking like Wall Street kind of style branding, you know, traditional financial branding, we actually said, what if we were playful and inviting and inclusive, and, you know, just warm and friendly with our branding, that would actually resonate more with these people who treat this stuff as their playground, right, like you said, and so it didn't just affect your product strategy, you know, really changed our whole positioning and brand identity, once we realized that this was the this was the side of the person we wanted to go after. Right? Michele Hansen  28:48   Hmm. It's so interesting that there were multiple inflection points there. Were you really stopped to think like, is this the business we should build? Whether that's from a product perspective? Or from a, you know, like a business perspective? Like, is this the business I want to be in? And when those points came? In sounds like you were quite reflective about them. And, you know, you know what, when you're at that point where you realized, you know, that, you know, that people were not doing the modeling, you initially thought they were on the frequency that you hoped they would be. You could have been threatened by that discovery. And you could have decided to, you know, give up or dig your heels in on it. And you didn't, and I think that it's such an important mental shift that needs to happen in order to really do customer research well, is to be open to what you're going to hear and to follow it wherever it's going to take you. And so you initially thought You were building a serious financial modeling tool for, you know, say startups, CFOs, and founders that is polished and professional, and they can give it to their boards or whatever. Yep. And, and then it turns out, you're actually making this fun private playground for them to make decisions in, in a way that helps them do it faster, and maybe doesn't use all of the skills they have about, you know, you know, decision support systems they learned in business school, but instead, it's somewhere that's like, safe. And yeah, for them. That's a very different business than you thought you were building. And you allowed yourself to be, you know, sort of led by the customer, still applying your own, you know, analysis on top of that, still asking yourself, you know, of all of these different directions that customers leading me in, or I could allow them to lead me in, you know, are those businesses I want to be in? Are those products I want to build? Is that is that the future I want for myself and for this company? And you allow that answer to be No, right? You didn't just force yourself into it. But you said, No, and we're going to do something else. Because there's something else that's interesting here, like there's still something here. Yeah. And maybe that's not it, but there's something else, but allowing yourself to sort of just just sort of to go with it, but still be steering it at the same time. And I don't I don't know if I'm quite conceptualizing that very well. Matt Wensing  31:40   No, yeah, it describes, you know, basically describes, I would say, December of 2020, in January 2021, where we just realized that I realized that this was not the right segments, this is not the right value prop for the right, you know, hats that people were wearing. And we were able to charge more money, but it wasn't going to grow the way I wanted to. So we rebuilt the darn thing, again, for hopefully the last time in April, May and June of this year, and then release the beta version in July. And it's really exciting. Now we've had three months of growth, we've had three months of consecutive growth, which had never happened before. Right. So revenue up each month, and retention. So we've actually had negative net negative retention each month, which has never happened before, either. So it turns out these people love it, it's doing what they want to the prices, right? And there's a lot of them. So I'm like, This is great. You know, you know, we have that we have a business and I will come it's funny, full circle, we now have some of our users who are founders, saying, hey, one of them, it blew my mind, he shared a screenshot of a zoom call with his board, where he did show summit on the call, which he never would have done with the G sheet that he created. Right. But because it looks like rigor, it looks rigorous. It's actually doing justice to his thoughts. Like he's a super smart person. But I think the problem before was like a mismatch between, you know, the tools that he had to express his logic and his thinking and his, his conceptual gifts, right, like, very, very talented, but like, you put them in front of a spreadsheet, and he would, you know, that just wasn't his native tongue. Right. It wasn't where he wanted wasn't the right tool for him to express those thoughts. Now that he and they have that they are starting to share them more on tweets, and with board meetings and like, which is great for us. But I think it's a testament to the fact that they're proud of their work now. Right. And that's really exciting for us. So yeah, it's it's a journey. Michele Hansen  34:01   It sounds like it has been, I mean, an incredible journey so far. I'm I'm super excited to see where this takes you. i You know, I've had a little bit of experience with with you know, with working with analysts myself, because I used to work in sort of the the financial space and I definitely knew a lot of people who love their spreadsheets and, you know, like genuinely reveled in making discounted cash flows and excel and very proud of your macros. Yeah, thing. And, yeah, yeah. Like, just like, and I mean, I feel like I have a little bit of that where I like, you know, genuinely enjoy, like playing in a spreadsheet. Yeah. And it's been so cool to see everything that you're sharing about different kinds of things that you could do with it, but also people doing it for their own personal budgeting and like, you know, founders, like founder financial situations are always so like weird and different and like, figuring out whether, you know, can I? Can I do this? Can I send my kid to this school? Can I, you know, can I buy a house, you know, all of those sorts of different things. Um, really, really exciting stuff. And, and, you know, I noticed you tweeted recently that you feel like you're getting to that, that point where it's really, it's really starting to take off and have that. You know, you know, you feel like you have found the product, you have discovered the products, which is the hardest part, and that you're getting those rabid fans. And actually, I told you this already, but I was at a wedding a couple of weeks ago. And these table I was sitting at like the, you know, there are two guys who work in finance sitting across the table from me. And like one of them was like telling them like about summit and how awesome it was and how he had to get access to it and all this like stuff you've built with it, you know, and I was on the other side of this huge table, and I wasn't really part of that conversation. But I was like, What are they talking about what they think I think, you know, wow, like, Oh, my God, like the internet in real life happening at this table at wedding. Matt Wensing  36:12   Founders delight right there. Yeah, yeah. Michele Hansen  36:16   But I think there's, I think we're gonna be hearing a lot more of people using summit and stuff so you can do with it. It has been an absolute delight talking to you today. Thank you so much for giving us some insights into your customer research and product discovery process. I really appreciate. Matt Wensing  36:38   You're welcome. Thanks for having me, Michelle. Michele Hansen This episode was also brought to you by Tella. Tella is a browser-based screen recorder for videos that showcase your work and share your knowledge. You can capture your screen, camera, and present slides. You can also customise your videos with backgrounds, layouts, and other video clips. Tella makes it easy to record updates for your team mates, launch videos for your followers, and demos for your customers. Record your next product demo with Tella. Visit tella.tv/softwaresocial to get 30% off Tella Pro

16 November 2021 38m and 2s


Founder Summit Takeaways

Founder Summit Takeaways

Follow the speakers we mentioned! David Sherry: https://twitter.com/_brandswell Itamar Marani: https://twitter.com/itamarmarani Colleen Schnettler  0:00   Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT  Michele Hansen  0:35   Hey, Colleen. Colleen Schnettler  0:37   Good morning, Michelle. Michele Hansen  0:39   It's so nice to see your face again, after seeing it in person. Last off at founder Summit. Colleen Schnettler  0:45   I know that was such a wonderful trip. And just amazing that we got to spend that time together. Michele Hansen  0:51   I keep thinking about how awesome it was like, I feel like they've set the bar really, really high for conferences in general as but especially post COVID. Colleen Schnettler  1:04   Yeah, I also think I will be impressed if they can replicate that experience next year, because everyone I know now wants to go. And I think part of what made that conference so special was that there were it was capped at 150 people. And I'm sure they're gonna get a flood of applicants to go next year. So I don't know what they're going to do how they're going to handle that. Michele Hansen  1:28   Yeah, actually, so Tyler tweet that he was like, oh, like, what if we did this in other cities? Oh, like to a year? Yeah. And I was like, Oh, that would be really cool. Yeah, good. Maybe we should talk about like, what made it so awesome. And like, kind of what are like, what are takeaways from it? Colleen Schnettler  1:44   Oh, yeah, girl, I have so many takeaways, all the takeaways. Okay. What were what? What would you lead with? What made it so special for you? Besides me? Of course. It's too easy. Michele Hansen  2:01   You know, so I mean, yeah, this is really hard thing to like, summarize. So I think it was, I mean, it was just so nice being in the same place with other people who are doing the same thing. You know, I think we've talked about how, you know, we initially connected one of the reasons was like, You're the only person I knew in my regular everyday life, who also did this, like weird internet business thing. And there's just like, aren't that many people in this world doing that. So it's just like, so nice to be around other people who are doing this. And you're not only not only do you feel normal, but like, it's such a good environment for like, throwing around ideas. And like, there was at one point when we were talking about, like, multiples for SaaS companies like making a couple $1,000 a month at one point, like on a on the bus to do the hot air balloon ride over to t Wuhan like, and I hope I'm pronouncing that right. I'm practicing so much. And we're like, you know what, we should just like, ask the bus, like this bus full of people would know the answer to this question and have a perspective on this. And like, and so that was really, really awesome. And I feel like there's so many people who introduce themselves. And then and then we like, you know, I'm so and so Oh, and I'm so and so on Twitter, and I'm like, oh my god, like, I've been tweeting with you for the past, you know, like, couple of years, and I finally meeting you in person. And. And so that was really awesome. And I mean, just getting so many ideas going about things. And also, you know, we had talked on our meta episode about how I want to talk more about negotiation, because that's something I do a lot of, and sales, but don't really talk about. And then a speaker was sick on the second day, and Tyler was like, Hey, can anybody give a talk this afternoon? And like, fill the spot and I was like, Yep, alright, I can do negotiation, talk and workshop. And, and, you know, just kind of kind of jumped at it. And it was, it was super fun. And I think I think the big thing I'm really thinking about that, you know, that activity did was like the, the, the, like the wheel where you had to, like rate different areas over your life from like, one to 10 like how they're going. So there was I think it was like occupational fulfillments like one to 10 which is work, right work. Yep. spiritual, emotional, environmental. Physical. Did I already say social? I don't think so. Social. Yeah, there was like five or six different things. Yeah, that's Colleen Schnettler  4:49   six. Um, Michele Hansen  4:52   and I think we both had really interesting results from that. Like they're very different like ours were like, Oh, yes, opposite one. And yeah, and really thinking about how like, you know, I like I gave like physical health like a one on that, right. And the goal of this activity was, you know, you give each area a score of one to 10. And then you set a goal of getting up to spots in the next 90 days. So not going from one to 10, which is often how I two things, just like totally like, balls to the wall focusing on something. But going, you know, from like, one to three, and so it's like, how can you have a plan to go from one to three or three to five? Or, or what have you in the next 90 days. And I remember you saying, when I was writing the book, you were like, Dude, you're like, moving so fast, like you're gonna run headfirst into a wall. And I did, and I haven't talked about that too much, but kind of like privately, I've talked to some people who definitely had this had a similar feeling after launching things. Yeah. Um, and yeah, just really, really thinking. I mean, like, literally even like today, like I got hiccups. 30 seconds before we got on recording, and I was doing literally everything I could to get them to go away, rather than being like, hey, maybe let's record another day instead, right? Like I make work happen no matter what. Even if it's at the the sacrifice of my physical health. And so I think that's something you know, I really need to focus on and I think, something Natalie from wild bit said on stage was like, you know, if the founder isn't happy, if the founder isn't healthy, then the company can't flourish. And so I think that's, that's, I mean, that's something I really, really need to work on. And it's like, kind of like work related, but it's like, it's not, but it also like it is in every sense of the word. So I think that's kind of been a thing I'm thinking about, but I don't I still don't really know exactly where I go with that. Colleen Schnettler  7:07   Like actionable steps. That's what you're still trying to figure out. Because if you want a warning, pretty bad, so Michele Hansen  7:12   yeah, it is. Yeah. I mean, I did order atomic habits, which is like one of those books that like I've never read before, never read a tie. No, it's like one of those books. I feel like that. And like Ray Dalio, his book, or like, books that everybody around me read and like, told me about, and I read about, so I felt like I read them. But I didn't, you know, like, I just didn't feel like I needed to, because it just everybody read it. And I'm like, No, I should probably like, sit down and think about like, not doing a whole scale turnaround, which is like, normally how I approach anything, and it's like, just just just way over the top. Yeah, um, but how, you know, how can I make small changes so that I don't get exhausted and like, move on to something else? And then then, which then exhaust me and then move on to something else? Like, it's, I see a pattern here. So, um, yeah, and I think I also thought, you know, a lot of people, even if they were in different groups really struggling with the idea of like, work life balance, and how do you, you know, how do you make it so that work doesn't become too much of your identity? And how, when when you really love what you do, like, it's really hard to pull yourself away from it, too, Colleen Schnettler  8:28   right? Yeah. Michele Hansen  8:32   I don't know. So I don't really have like, I'm just kind of all that's just still really marinating in my head. But it really, really got me going. And I think I really, really needed that push to like, um, I don't know, like, I guess like, prioritize my myself a bit. Colleen Schnettler  8:52   Sounds great. I mean, it sounds like that. It's funny sometimes to how you you've probably heard that from me or your spouse or your other friends. But there was something about the environment where everyone was sharing and being open and vulnerable in that big group that I felt really helped some of those points hit home because you saw so many people in the same situation you were in. Michele Hansen  9:13   Mm hm. And I mean, you're so like, you were totally opposite because oh, I have like a 10 for occupational like I feel like you know, for me, like this is exactly where I want to be like, last week I spoken in Mexico City twice. This week I spoke in Copenhagen I'm you know, like, like, this is just sort of in like the business is good. Like everything is really good there. But like you for occupational like I think you had like a 10 or a nine for physical health. But then you are much lower on occupational and that was the group that you were in. Colleen Schnettler  9:49   Absolutely. Yep. I think something you mentioned to me, which I think is true and was kind of cemented meeting so many founders is like I'm pretty good at taking care of myself socially. mentally, physically, I prioritize that. And so yeah, all that stuff was good for me. But yeah, my occupational score was lower. So my goal is to get that score, what do you say to two or three in the next 90 days? Michele Hansen  10:17   I'm just curious, what did you give yourself for occupational, Colleen Schnettler  10:20   I honestly don't remember probably like a seven. I love what I do. So I don't think I mean, I think if I was still working a full time job that I didn't enjoy, it would have been much lower. I love what I do with occupational in terms of like my job. So it was still a high score. But I think I what I really took away from the conferences is I was challenged in a way I haven't been challenged in a long time. And by that, I have a lot going on as to you as everyone. And I'm doing really, really well one of the executive coaches there who I was talking with, she described it as an avalanche of abundance, which is like a great problem to have, right? Like, I'm not gonna complain about it. It's an amazing problem to have. And I have all the things and I'm very happy. But I think I haven't really pushed it all on the business stuff. I've just kind of been resting, but I'm not tired. I'm ready to push. Does that make any sense? I guess what I'm trying to say is, I could be trying a lot harder. That's it. That's what I'm trying to say. Yeah, I think so I think that I'm not really trying. And I'm telling myself, I'm trying, but I'm not. So I'm going to start trying. Michele Hansen  11:40   So what is trying look like to you. There's a couple of really specific things. I Colleen Schnettler  11:45   think there's a lot of personal stuff wrapped up in here too. Like something I took away was like identity. For example, I have this, this interesting. You and Rosie talked about identity on the podcast. Mine's a little different in that my children get out of school 230 In the afternoon, I thought I was going to try you know, I'll pick them up at 230 will come home and they'll do their homework. And I'll continue to work. And that that set up like from a very practical perspective, like what can I practically do in the next 90 days, that setup is not working because I hate stopping work at 2pm in the afternoon. Like that's just, you know, you're in the middle of something, I pick them up, and they need to be supervised, like they can't just be free. We don't have a backyard here. So they need to be supervised wherever they are. We live in California, so I want them to be outside. So it wasn't that I was picking them up and having super quality time with them. It was I was picking them up. We were going to the playground and I was just hanging out of the playground. Mm hmm. Like, very practically speaking. So practically speaking, that doesn't have to be me, that can be another person doing that. And so I can get more of a deep work in my work day. And so I hired after school childcare, I found a nanny. She's lovely. She's already started on Monday, and this week has been really great. Michele Hansen  13:04   Oh my god. Amazing. Yeah, Colleen Schnettler  13:06   it's like, it's amazing. And the thing is, I you know, I was really worried about upsetting the balance of my happy family life, children marriage with working more. But that's a fake fear. Because, first of all, if if something starts to get gnarly, and I start to upset the balance, I can always change what I'm doing. And second of all, the kids are at the age, as I said, where they just want to play in the playground. They're not we're not like having some amazing bonding experience after school, or give them a snack, we go to the playground. Michele Hansen  13:38   Does anyone have amazing bonding experiences after school? Like our like, our daughter gets home and she's just so tired. Like that, even like playing a board game is like, Yeah, but Colleen Schnettler  13:49   just want to do they? I mean, my kids just want to play with their friends, right? Yeah, I want to do their thing. So. So the two very actionable things, I feel like I'm ready to push again, I think when I was learning to code, building up my kind of reputation as a Rails developer, you and I talked a little bit about this offline. Like, I worked all the time, and it was hard. And then I rested for like four years, like I just it was it was worth it that year to however it was probably two years of like, really intense work was worth it to have the four or five years of just getting paid a lot of money and doing good work, but like mostly being chill. And I feel like I'm ready to push again, is what I'm trying to say with all these words. And to do that, I see that as working. You know, I'm at my desk seven early, like I get here early. So working a long day, and then I'm picking two nights a week to work and I'm going to set those up with my spouse beforehand. So there's no there's no bitterness, or upsetness. Or I'm like, Oh, I got to work tonight. Oh, I got to work tonight. And he wants to hang out. So we've set aside two nights a week I'm going to work and we're going to do this for a month or two and see, see if I can move the needle on things. Just kind of like test it out. Yeah, right. Right. I mean, it's my life. I can Do whatever I want. So I'm going to try it out. I'm going to try I think I've been scared to try. That's the truth. I've been scared to try. Why have I been scared to try? I'm not quite sure. But it doesn't matter. That's what I've, so I'm going to change that up. And commit to working more. That's my goal. Michele Hansen  15:19   Feel like one of the talks that you I think you may be said was the best one that I actually missed? was one on fear. Colleen Schnettler  15:29   Right? Love this one. Do that a little bit? Yes, I'd love to. Okay, so this is a tomorrow's talk. Yeah, he is an executive coach. And he talked about so and I don't like personal development, like, I don't read self help books. Like I kind of roll my eyes at that whole area of study. So I just we're Michele Hansen  15:53   so opposite. Like, I have like piles of like, books on on your, you're talking to the person with piles of books on like, empathy and boundaries. And like, all these kinds of Colleen Schnettler  16:08   read that I read your book, because I love you. But generally speaking, that's not my jam. So, so I went into this talk with low expectations, not that I thought he would be, you know, not a good speaker, but just like, Okay, I'm not gonna get anything out of this. And, you know, he talked about fear, which everyone talks about, but I thought he was gonna get up there and say, Oh, you have a fear of failure. Yeah, everyone has a fear of failure. We get it. That is not what he said. He got up there. And he talked about three fears. The first core fear being uncertainty. And as founders that's applicable to us, because we become control freaks. And we won't hire. Oh, I'm giving you eyeballs. Michele Hansen  16:49   I see. I see those eyeballs. I, I, hey, you know, whatever. What are the breakthroughs I had, I'm just just saying this in David's workshop on we should really use people's last names because they're so good. Yes. Um, but now if you like, you know, us know them. So anyway, so, um, David's workshop on, like, personal mission statements, but you also don't believe. And I was like, I've had a personal mission statement for 15 years, but also apparently never told anyone. But like doing that exercise with him, where I crystallize the thought that I am building a business, not an organization. And at this point in my life, I don't have the mental energy to run an organization. I love running a business, but dealing with like, people, politics and all that, like I mean, a lot of the stuff that like Rosie talked about, about hiring and people management, like I just I mean, with just managing, like the people in my own house is kind of the level of management that I'm like capable of. Anyway, yes. Not hiring. So that was the fear of uncertainty. Colleen Schnettler  18:03   Well, I mean, there were other things in that, but just generally, with what we do. There's so much uncertainty, and that is also a core fear. So that's something you really have to learn to manage. And I think what you just said about David, David, David's workshop is really good. Because you, you realize that for yourself. And you've kind of always known that, but I don't know if you verbalized it or crystallize it before, in that knowing Michele Hansen  18:26   that way. That workshop was awesome. Like, yeah, Colleen Schnettler  18:29   I loved David's to David sherry. Yeah, everyone. Yes. I love Dave. Oh, Michele Hansen  18:34   good. Yeah, it was basically like, people who are familiar with jobs to be done or who Google things about jobs to be done. The there's like the forces diagram working through the different like, pushes and pulls and anxieties and fears that someone has that keeps them in, in a situation from switching products. We basically applied that to like, our professional lives. And our companies. And it was yeah, Colleen Schnettler  19:01   it was it was really good. Like I was also Pooh poohing the mission statement thing, but it was, Michele Hansen  19:06   it was really, it totally called you out. In front Colleen Schnettler  19:10   of everyone. Thanks. It's fine. We were like a group of friends. By that point. It didn't feel awkward. It was yeah, it was so intimate. Okay, it was so intimate. Yeah. Okay, so the second fear. So this is Itamar. His second fear was worthlessness, which is a second core fear which I think we can all kind of imposter syndrome. And I'm not good enough. And I think we can all identify with that on some level. And the third core fear was abandonment, which is what will people think if I fail, and then he talked a little bit about the ways that we we try to deal with these fears without actually dealing with them, which is obviously a big one is numbing agents and vices, whether that's Twitter or buying things or alcohol or whatever, procrastination And he also talked about the motivation fallacy where if you don't actually handle these fears, you'll like so many of us have gotten in this spurt will actually basically just describe this, but it's like, I'm gonna get it before I am every day. And that's cyclical, like you can't do that forever. So you can do pushes, but eventually that motivation is going to wane. Unless you handle, you know, the, the root of some of these fears. So the solution of this is to minimize your fear and internal resistance. And a lot of people don't do this, because they're unaware that they even have those fears. And that's kind of where I was coming from. Like, he said, these things. I was like, oh, yeah, that that all makes total sense. But I was kind of unaware that those were going on subconsciously. Michele Hansen  20:42   Are there any of those fears that you feel like you really identify with as it relates to this whole? Colleen Schnettler  20:50   I think I mean, I think for me, part of the reason I haven't really wanted to push is like I said, like, I'm very blessed in my, my life is really good right now. So I don't want to do anything that upsets the balance of the happiness that I feel right now. But I think a lot of that too, might be abandonment, and it's not abandonment in this great big, like, I don't care what the internet people think of me. But you know, of my family. Like if I'm going to work more, how is that? What, what are what's going to happen with my relationship with my husband and my children? And those are the most important things. So I think that might have been a core fear for me. Yeah. Oh, man, all of them. Michelle, like and I don't even think I would have been like, I don't have any fears. I'm fine. Before this talk. Uncertainty. That's a big one, too. Because, as you know, as independent as entrepreneurs, we are constantly uncertainty. I mean, it's constant uncertainty, right? Every day, like, what should I do? I don't know what to do. Is this gonna work? Is this gonna work? I have no idea. I have no one to ask. So that's a stressful thing. Like it's not a bad thing. But it is. It's kind of a constant stress. Like, I don't know if this is gonna work. Yeah. So yeah, I took away from it. And I was I was feeling it. I was digging it. It sounds Michele Hansen  22:03   like it was an awesome talk. And I feel like I joined everyone else who wished that they had been at founder summit and having a little bit of FOMO, about missing that. But at the same time, it was like right after my, basically spur of the moment negotiations workshop that I had, like, maybe 20 minutes to plan out in my head during lunch. And I had so much adrenaline after that, that I got through the next talk, which was a great panel on sales for founders. But I like I had so much adrenaline I couldn't sit still. And I was like, I just like I have I have to go like walk like I need to like walk back to the hotel. And I ended up like walking back with some other some other people. And it was like a half hour walk. And I just like really needed that because I was like, jumping out of my skin with energy. Colleen Schnettler  22:57   Yeah, well, you did a great job. I loved your negotiation talk. I learned a lot out of that, too. I don't know if I told you that. Oh, yeah. So it was interesting, because you set us up to do the sample negotiation. It's one thing to talk about negotiation, I think it's another thing to do it. So what's give a quick read, I'll give a quick recap, you basically set us up where we were the person who lived under the person who was a piano player, and the piano player wanted to play his piano every night at 10pm. And we had little children, and we wanted him not to play his piano every night at 10pm. And so I'm talking to the person I'm paired up with. And he's talking about playing his piano. And I immediately just got so angry, and like, I'm not really an angry person. And I like in my head, like, I can see I can see my my mental energy, like rolling my eyes, like, oh my god, he was pretending to be like, 20 right? He was not actually 20 But um, you know, just mentally rolling my eyes like, oh my god, millennials. Give me a break. Stop playing your piano. You're such a anyway. Yeah. So that was really enlightening for me. Because I think I pride myself on like, being very good at having self awareness about my emotions and controlling my emotions. And like, I could not I almost rolled my eyes at him. So Michele Hansen  24:15   yeah, the the, the sort of setup was it was actually that that activity, we did it in my Danish class. And I was like, this is a great negotiation. Like, it wasn't the purpose of it. But it was, you know, you have one person who's a music student who can, because of their schedule, they can only practice at 10 o'clock at night. But per the apartment building rules, they don't have to be quiet until 11. And then you were the parent whose children are getting woken up. And then you you all had to like talk through it. It was it was really fun. And I think after that I had a couple people be like, oh, like, is this your next book? And like, I'm Colleen Schnettler  24:53   like, no, because I'm taking care of my personal health. Not ready to write another book, but okay, that was not Michele Hansen  24:59   the end. answer I gave you like, maybe should have been, why not? No. I mean, like, I started working with teaching people about customer interviews and customer research, like, four years ago, like, because like my friends and I ran a job speed on meetup in DC. And I started talking to other founders about it and stuff like that. So I like before I ever sat down to write, I not only had, you know, years of like, personal experience with it, and personal learning and learning from other people and whatnot, but also years of, of, of learning how to teach other people about it, and what are the common hiccups with it? hiccups? And you know, what, like, like, what resonates with people like all that kind of stuff? Well, before I ever sat down to write, versus like, I don't think I'm nearly the same level of, of expertise in negotiating. Like, I have a lot of practice in it. I've taken classes on it. Like, I guess that was, I don't know, I guess, like 334 years ago now. But like, that was the first time I have ever attempted to teach anyone else about negotiating. Colleen Schnettler  26:19   And what great, did a great job, Michele Hansen  26:21   thank you. Um, but I think I think I need to like a lot, a lot more time before I even get the point of of like thinking about whether that's a book or whatnot, though I am like, I did talk to other people there, who are also interested in like enterprise sales and negotiating and stuff like that. And so we actually will have some people on in the coming months, who will, we'll kind of like, talk more about that stuff. Because I think that's a big part of kind of going from, you know, the sort of stage you're in which I feel like is sort of like the under 10k a month, Mr. Phase, going 10 to 20 is really like for me, it was a lot about learning how to do sales, and definitely going from like, 20 to 50. Like you. I don't think I would have gotten to that point. Had I not had a better understanding of sales and negotiating. Yeah. So, so, yeah, I'm gonna I'm going to talk more about that. But But no, like, no book yet. I still haven't even hit your like, 20 podcast goal for promoting deploy empathy, like you're doing? Well, Colleen Schnettler  27:35   I think you have been on quite a lot. 10 or so. Okay. 12 I Michele Hansen  27:40   think I just recorded another one. The other day, I think, yeah, I just did one yesterday. And then I have two scheduled. Nice, I need to like have a spreadsheet and keep track. Colleen Schnettler  27:57   Yeah, Michele Hansen  27:59   um, you could do that. I could. Yeah. That would make sense. It's getting weirdly hard to track how many books I've sold, because like amazon online will only show me 90 days at a time. So I can't just go and like see all that's weird sold. Like I maybe again, if somebody like knows about this, like, let me know. But I'm in like the KDP reports dashboard. And then the reports beta and like, I sneak looks like I might need to like do it manually? Or at least like by month. And then. Yeah, so I don't I don't know. I'm also starting to give some more like, like, sort of private workshops with the book, like, I'm going to be speaking to an MBA class tomorrow online. And a friend asked me if like, I would speak to their marketing team, like do like a workshop. So we'll kind of see how that goes. I don't think I want to go too much in that direction. Like I don't want to be like, you know, selling like a day long workshop thing. Like we've talked about how I really don't want to do consulting, Colleen Schnettler  29:05   right? You have mentioned that a few times. Michele Hansen  29:10   But like maybe doing a workshop and you know, then they buy like 50 copies of the book. You know, I guess I'm cool with that. Colleen Schnettler  29:15   Yeah, seems like a good use of your time. If you enjoy it. Michele Hansen  29:19   Yeah, but I think I you know, I think for me, the big thing is like what does balance even mean? I mean, I I don't know. Colleen Schnettler  29:29   Yeah, I understand the question. But I think it's James clear has this really interesting thing about the how balance isn't a real before burners theory, the downside of work life balance. Have you seen this? Michele Hansen  29:44   Oh, that sounds familiar that like you have one burner going and then you can't have Okay, Colleen Schnettler  29:49   ready? Here it goes. four burners like your stove. The first burner represents your family, the second burners, your friends, the third burners, your health, and the fourth burner is your work. The four burners theory says that in order to be successful, you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful, you have to cut off to anyway, here's a whole article about it. It's an interesting, interesting idea. But the idea is there isn't a real thing such as balance, there are times where you shift your focus. Like, for example, you this would be a good time for you to shift your focus from work, because you've been working so much for 610 years, to maybe health or whatever it would be right. And maybe it's time for me to shift my focus back to work. But the idea is, it's like, you really can't have balance. It's a lie. You can just have, you know, areas that are shifting and priorities. I can't have everything on five. Right, right, exactly. You can't have everything on five. Yeah. It's kind of interesting. And it kind of makes us all of us who are so hard trying to find balance a little bit better, because you're like, oh, okay, this sounds about right. This seems reasonable. Michele Hansen  30:56   Yeah, I guess. I mean, he's the habits guy, right. Like he's the habits guy. Yeah. So I guess I need to finally read that book. So yeah, so So that's our 90 day plan. Right? So you're gonna Yeah, you've got my herd nanny now. I mean, always, you've got your plan in action. Colleen Schnettler  31:17   I'm an act and I'm gonna Michele Hansen  31:19   continue marinating. Oh, my God, it sounds like you. You were like, I'm gonna read more about this and think more. Like, I was like, I'm gonna do this now. Already done. I did it before I talked to you. Yeah, happening? Colleen Schnettler  31:38   I know, right? It's good, though, right? Because we both have, it's good, I guess. Yeah, I'm already in action. I've already posted more content. And I am making a video tutorial page. And I'm doing all kinds of things. And oh, the only thing I really got out of it, Michelle was a real focus, thinking more long term. So I think one of the things is we met a lot of people who have been running their businesses. I mean, I know you're kind of in this group. But I've been running their businesses for many, many years. And there were many people I met who aren't really trying to have some big exit, like they want to build a sustainable business that they can work on for as long as they want. And so that really helped me focus in terms of like thinking about where I want to spend my time and my energy and what I want my long term outlook from, like, for my career to look like? So I found that to be really beneficial. Michele Hansen  32:33   Was there any, like insights that you feel like are? Yeah, I think his point, Colleen Schnettler  32:39   what I found is, so I told you, I'm going to I'm really gonna push on simple file upvote, simple file upload for the next three months, simple file up vote, that sounds interesting. For the next couple months to kind of see what I can do with that if I really work at it. But I think long term, I am more interested in pursuing the opportunity, like really leaning into what to the Hammerstone team. Because when I think of the long term business I want to build, I can't think of anything better than doing really technically challenging work with my friends. Like I love as we've talked about when I joined Hammerstone, like I love having co workers or co founders. And that's really where I want to go. Right now I'm doing okay, splitting my time. But that's not sustainable in the long term. So I'm not sure what that looks like in a year. But it looks like my focus being more on Hammerstone. I think Michele Hansen  33:29   something else we talked about was, you know, the fact that you like you guys are funded for a year. And like the fact that you are funded for a year made you feel like you can take a year to get some stuff done, and how you can get more than that done in a year, too. Colleen Schnettler  33:51   So Jimmy from banal got up there talking about this was a founder summit about how to sell something that doesn't exist. Now his product is very specific, and it was very targeted was, you know, targeted to a very specific group of people. But I am not doing so I don't have the rails component for this query builder that I'm building with Hammerstone. But I also haven't really been doing anything to get the word out about it. And so yeah, we're funded for a year and I feel like the work is filling the time allotted. And the work doesn't necessarily need to fill the time allotted. I think I could be a little more efficient and a little more focused. Not that I'm not focused just there's more I could be doing on the Hammerstone side that I'm not and so it really kind of opened my eyes to like there's a lot of other opportunities here. You could get a content machine going now even if you can't sell it for six months, I could be writing articles about all this really interesting sequel stuff I'm doing whatever it may be point being like there's there's things I can put in place earlier. You know, as as I build this component, Michele Hansen  34:52   you know, hearing you talk about like it being time to push it almost. I feel like you're conceptualizing it as like this, like, switch, you can flick, like that, like, Okay, now like now you're gonna push like, do you feel like that is? How it's gonna work? So I Colleen Schnettler  35:15   don't know, but a little bit like, let's go back to simple file. I've been a little bit mopey about it, what should I do? What should I do on Monday? Like, I know exactly what to do, right? It's like, I haven't been really trusting my own intuition here. I've been asking for permission or advice. And these are all good things. Advice is good. But why am I asking people for? Like, I want someone to say that's a good idea. Colleen, you should do that. No, I don't need it. It's my business. I get to do whatever the hell I want with it. So, you know, people like you shouldn't do this. You shouldn't. Um, I Okay. I appreciate everyone's advice, and I solicit it. But also, I think I you know, I just really, it's a very small product still, like, I'm just going to go with my gut. And I'm just going to do what I think is best. And I haven't really been doing that, because I have been so careful about overworking myself, I guess. Michele Hansen  36:06   And so I feel like that that I mean, that comes back to that like fear that we talked about, like waiting for somebody else. To say that your plan of action. Your idea is your decision. Good was a good one. Yes. subjective opinion, to massage your fear. That yes, it was totally and is that like, you know, uncertainty about the about the decision or all these other things? I don't know. Colleen Schnettler  36:36   Yeah, no, totally. I think for me, I'm really worried about making a decision that is going to be a waste of time. That's what it's about. Because my time feels so So, so limited. So I'm like, should I write this article? Is this article worth writing? Like, if it's gonna take me three hours to write it? Is that going to be worth it? Right, I just wrote the freakin article on the airplane home for Mexico. Oh, while I was stuck in DFW for 12 hours and then and then flew to a different city and then bus to my city that I actually live in the graveyard. Michele Hansen  37:03   Both took both of us 14 hours to get home yet I went across like, two continents. Oh my goodness. But also it was a bazillion times worth it to travel 14 hours to and from to be there. Colleen Schnettler  37:18   And I think something else. Speaking of founders comp, being amazing. The quality of everything was just so much better than your typical tech conference. Oh Michele Hansen  37:26   my god. Yeah, Colleen Schnettler  37:27   everything was better. Michele Hansen  37:28   The food was amazing. The venue like I loved how I mean, you were saying how like a lot of conferences, you're just in the hotel. And we were like, out and about in the city like everything all over the city. And it was such a cool city too. And I feel like we really got to experience like culture and and just in a way that yeah, you're you're not just like stuck in a hotel ballroom for three days. Colleen Schnettler  37:51   Like, okay, so this is not a dig because I love rails comp. But I remember it was the last rails comp I went to before COVID. They're like, Oh, it's in Minneapolis. Minneapolis is a great city, blah, blah, blah, literally, you stay in the hotel, and then you walk through the breezeway to the ballroom, you never go outside, ever. And point being like yeah, of course, you can go outside but, but all of the activities are like you you never leave it you don't ever have to leave the hotel. And so I loved how founders comp really made an effort to get local venues, support, you know, local businesses, and actually see Mexico City loved it. Michele Hansen  38:29   I I really, really hope they have it in Mexico City next year. Like dude, Colleen Schnettler  38:33   I hope we get to again get in because there's going to be freaking every one is going to want to go it's going to add the fight to the death and who gets to go. Geez. Michele Hansen  38:45   Well, I think I think that about wraps up our recap, though. I feel like we're gonna be talking about this. And like, Oh, yes. So many learning summit for a long time. Yeah, so many learning, and also having people come on the show who we met at founder Summit, and no, and no three founders Summit, too. Because there's also the the online community, which you should totally be in a mastermind group, by the way. Colleen Schnettler  39:13   Yeah, I'm thinking about that. Like, I, I think that's probably a valuable thing. I'll probably do that. And I Michele Hansen  39:18   think that would help with you're like, Should I do this? And then people are like, yeah, and you're like, Yeah, okay. Colleen Schnettler  39:26   I feel like a lot of this is just trusting your gut, which I'm usually pretty good at. But like, with the business since it's all new, like I just haven't really just been doing what I think is best. Like I said, I've been asking permission just to random people, which is kind of weird, because I don't want to make a huge misstep. But the truth is, all of these things, none of them are going to be huge missteps and they can all be changed if it's a bad decision. So so that's really this week. I've been crushing some life, but by work work, is what I mean by that. Like, I've just been like, I've been I've just been like really crushing it and it feels great. So Michele Hansen  39:58   it's awesome. Awesome well so next week I interviewed Matt wensing was super fun so then we will chat again in two weeks Colleen Schnettler  40:12   sounds great talk to you then

9 November 2021 40m and 13s


A Conversation with Kevin Sahin, Co-Founder of ScrapingBee

A Conversation with Kevin Sahin, Co-Founder of ScrapingBee

Follow Kevin! https://twitter.com/SahinKevin Check out ScrapingBee: https://www.scrapingbee.com/ AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Colleen Schnettler  0:00  This episode of Software Social is sponsored by Hey Check It. Does your website performance keep you up at night? The creators behind Hey Check It started it for this very reason—peace of mind about their sites and the sites they manage. Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and suggestion tool focused on SEO, accessibility, uptime, site speed and content. It includes AI-generated SEO, data, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of other tools. If you're managing multiple websites, check their agency plans with public facing dashboards to meet your clients' needs. Start a free trial today at HeyCheckIt.com Michele Hansen  0:39   Hey, welcome back to Software Social. We're doing another interview this week. I am so excited to have Kevin Sahin with me. He is co-founder of ScrapingBee. Kevin, welcome to software social. Kevin Sahin  0:57   Well, thank you, Michele, I'm excited to be here. Michele Hansen  1:01   So this kind of came about because I was on Twitter, as I often am. And I noticed, I think it was actually someone tweeted about MicroConf Europe, which I had been really wanting to go to, but conflicted with a friend's wedding. So we couldn't go. So I was just sort of following and watching everything unfold on Twitter and tweeted about how peer your co founder was, was giving a talk. And he mentioned how scraping DEA offered free API credits to customers who are willing to jump on a 15 minute call with them. And you guys ask them questions like, what else have you tried, and my interest immediately perked up. And really wanted to talk to you about those calls you had and what you learned from them, and what that added for the business. But before we jump into that, perhaps you should say for a moment, just what scraping be. Is and, and whatnot. And? Kevin Sahin  2:09   Sure. So um, so basically scraping the is an API for web scraping. When you are extracting data from the web, you often have the two same problems, which are, there are more and more websites that are using JavaScript frameworks like Vue js, react, etc. And so you have to render the page inside a web browser. And this is kind of, it's a pain to manage, especially at scale. Because you have to, you know, there are lots of DevOps skills that you need. You need big servers, you need lots of things. And it's really handy to have, you know, a headless browser accessible with a simple API call. The other thing that you have to do when you scrape the web at scale, is to manage proxies. So you can you probably need proxies for many different reasons. For example, let's say that you are extracting data from ecommerce website. Well, most ecommerce websites are internationalized, meaning that if you access the website from an IP address in Europe, you will have the prices in euro if you access the IP address or the website from an IP address in the US you will have prices in dollars. So you need some kind of proxy management system. The other thing is IP rate limit. Some websites are limiting the number of pages you can access per day from a single IP address if you need to access more pages, you need more IP addresses etc, etc. And so we bundled this inside a single API which is scraping Michele Hansen  4:04   so I love how you're solving that because we have felt that pain personally. So I've kind of talked a little bit in the past about how my husband dies first project that was what so the one well, not at first, but the one right before geocoder that basically funded Juco was this mobile app called what's open nearby where you could open it up and see grocery stores convenience stores and coffee shops that were open near you. And how we ran that in the back end was we had a ton of scrapers running of like grocery store, you know Starbucks, whatever like their websites, scraping the hours off of them and we like just all the time there's issues you know, the parsers breaking or you get blocked or actually the the sort of recent side project we did Keren, which allowed people to get an alert when a grocery pick slot opened up on a on a grocery stores website because of COVID and everything that was also powered by scrapers basically and the back end. And so I have I have personally felt the pain of, you know, the impacts when when when, you know, scraping goes wrong or you know it can get frustrating at times. Kevin Sahin  5:29   Yeah, that's I mean, there are the, the story behind scraping is that we, we personally experienced some of those frustrations, because p&i like before launching scraping beam, we started our career in two different startups that were heavily relying on web scraping. In the business, I was working on a startup in France, which is kind of a mix between mint.com in the US and plaid.com. So for those who don't know, it's a bank account aggregation software's sublet, that comm is an API that allows third party to access your bank account. And means that comm is a bank account aggregation, personal finance management app. And so at this startup, I was really exposed to all of these issues. And Param, he was working for a real estate startup, a real estate data startup in France. And so there will relying on scraping lots of real estate portals. So we both, you know, experienced lots of these issues regarding how to handle headless browsers, how to handle proxies, how to, you know, handle blocks, etc, etc. So that was something we, we knew a little about, Michele Hansen  7:16   I love how you started with a pain that you had. But also as, as you've run the business, you're also actively reaching out to your customers to understand what they were trying to do, what problems they were having, and how they were solving those problems. So I wonder if you can kind of take us back to when you like, how did those emails come about where you were reaching out to people like, like, what what kind of prompted that? Kevin Sahin  7:47   Yeah. So that we quickly realized that we really knew when I say that we knew a little about it, it's not an a few million. Because we really knew a little about the different web scraping use cases each time. I mean, from the beginning, when we launched the API we like from day one, I'd say, we realized that some users, we're scraping, have had some use cases that we never imagined. So we quickly realized that we had to get them on the phone and knew more about about it, understand their businesses, what kind of data they they needed, what frequency for what we use case, etc, etc. But the problem that we had is that at the beginning, so we had we had the banner on the dashboard, covering that, if they had any question, they could schedule a call with me. But nobody was scheduling any call. So maybe, maybe the banner was wasn't, I mean, the copy wasn't great, maybe. The CTA wasn't clear, I don't know. But the fact is, nobody was getting any call with me. And we also had an email sequence where we, we had a few links to my county. But it wasn't working. I mean, sometimes we had a trial scheduling a call, but it was not very, not a lot. And and then we we had this idea of offering more 10x more free API calls. Then the trial offered. And then instantly, we started to get a lot of calls. So many that I had to, you know, delete some availability in my week, because I was just doing calls every day all day. And, and it was great because we will learn so much we, I mean, we will learn so many different use cases that we never thought about. For example, I don't know, we, we, we had so many diverse people. So for example, university researchers that were scraping the web for all kinds of research projects. We had government agencies that were scraping the web, to automate automatically detect security frauds. That's all those kinds of use cases we could never invented them, we like, I don't see any other way we could have learned all of this, then, you know, calling our customers and, and developing a relationship with them. And by the way, this, I mean, there are many benefits to these calls. It's not just about, you know, discovering their needs, but it's also building relationships, especially when you are one month old startup. Because, you know, it's really hard to sell your product, especially with enterprise customers, you know, government agencies, universities, etc, etc. When you say, yeah, we were launched a month ago, there's a bit of a trust issue. And developing the relationship, a relationship with them, really helped. Like, in the seven months, after our launch, we signed a big enterprise customer. And I think that we never could have done this without, you know, having them on the call. It also helped in many other ways. For example, I mentioned the the, the university researchers, we granted them free credits to the API for their research project. And like a few weeks or months later, they mentioned us in the University website, which is great for many reason for SEO for authority, etc, etc. So, I mean, there was like, it took me a lot of time to take these calls, but the, the benefits is a like, it's really worth it. And I'm glad we did. Michele Hansen  13:44   It's so interesting how you say that you You not only learn so much about why people need something like scraping be in the first place. But it also built this trust with your customers when you're very you're very new company, and they really didn't have a lot of reason to to trust you. And even though the purpose of them maybe was not, you know, making these sales, it really led to them down the road. All because you took 15 minutes to understand what they were trying to do and what they had been using before. Kevin Sahin  14:23   Yeah. Most of the time, it was more than 15 minutes, by the way. Like, especially when the conversation was getting technical. Because even those scraping visas, simple REST API, there's a whole you know that they often needed. Advice advices about how to implement it on their side. Meaning how to you know Do the scraping pipeline, the scheduling, the data storage, the error monitoring, the maintenance of the scrapers how to what kind of libraries they could use, etc, etc. So I, we we spent a lot of time with this. Sometimes this was a bit too much like, for example, when you spend one hour advising the technical team of your prospect and that that at the end, they don't end up being a customer. It's a bit frustrating. But at the same time, it was really I mean, it was a as a two months old startup, it's a really competitive advantage, I'd say that to be able to take the time to really advise and guide the prospect in the implementation. So and it really helped us to sign the first customers. Michele Hansen  16:24   I'm curious, do you remember the exact questions that you asked people? Kevin Sahin  16:30   Yes, I remember. It's not. I didn't ask a lot. But I was asking them about their, what their company is doing. What? Why they want to scrape data? I mean, is it part? Is it something that is part of their core product core business? Or is it some side thing? The, the the kind of website that they needed to extract data from the frequency? And why like, what did they tried so far? Why did it didn't it worked? Why are your other looking for another solution? Etc, etc. So that, like these five questions, or the most important one, I think Michele Hansen  17:35   it sounds like those questions came out of your own genuine curiosity, because you had some awareness of the some some things people might do with scraping from your own experiences. But you were aware that that was not the whole universe of things that people might possibly do. And so you genuinely did not know what the other things people why people might be doing it and what else they might be doing. Kevin Sahin  18:03   Yeah, exactly. And, and we were pretty lucky to realize this early. Because, you know, you're always tempted to just see things through your own experience. But we, as I said, early on, we, we realized all those kind of use cases we had no idea about. And so we got pretty curious about it pretty early. Michele Hansen  18:43   And in so many ways, that reminds me of how I got interested in customer research in the beginning, too, because when we launched geocode, do you know it? I mean, so it came out of our own needs, actually, because that that app I mentioned finding grocery store hours, it would show people a map, and we needed coordinates in order to show that map. And, and so it came out of our own need there. But we're not, you know, neither of us has a background in geography or geographic data analysis, GIS, any of that stuff. And when we launched and people were, you know, reaching out to us, and they're asking for us to do things, we would ask them why because we genuinely did not know because we were not do geographic information systems, people. We weren't steeped in this world. So it was as much about how do we expand our product? As you know, but what why do you want to do it in the first place? Because I just I just don't know. And following that curiosity, yeah. Kevin Sahin  19:48   And so um, the geocode IO, you launched this how many years ago, Michele Hansen  19:58   we launched in January of 2014. So we are Coming up on eight years this January. Wow, congrats. almost a decade of, you know, a couple more years. But yeah, it's kind of wild. snuck up on me. Kevin Sahin  20:17   That's a that's cool. And so how did you when you launched in 2014? What, how did you get your first customers. Michele Hansen  20:34   So we were our first customer for that app, because the app was making about like three or $400 a month in ad revenue. And basically, the idea of do codea was that, you know, we could basically if we released it as an API and threw a wall in front of it, maybe other people would pay to keep the server's going for it. And then we would, we could still keep our app going, and then not basically not be paying for for this geocoding API, rather than paying you know, a major provider, you know, 10s of 1000s of dollars a year, which we didn't. So we had, you know, two little digitalocean droplets that it was running on for 20 bucks a month. And that was our goal was to make 20 bucks a month. So we then, you know, put it on, you know, we talked talked to some other friends who are developers and had them test it out, and then put it on Hacker News. And that was how we got that initial wave of feedback, we had 1000s of signups. Most I mean, that traffic doesn't stick around, like, you look at analytics graph, and it's just like, you just we basically have to filter out our launch, because it's just, it totally breaks the graph. And but we made, we ended up making $31 that month, that that first month, Kevin Sahin  21:55   sorry, trade paid for the Digital Ocean droplet, Michele Hansen  21:59   we were over the moon, because we had made more money than we spent on it. And to us, that was a wild success. Kevin Sahin  22:10   And so how did you like, after this initial hack on your success? How did you continue to, you know, acquire customers and develop the company. Michele Hansen  22:25   So I think in the early days, it was a lot of, you know, when people expressed that they had problems that we solved, trying to be there, so I spent hours, you know, replying to stuff on Stack Overflow. And, you know, whenever something came up on Hacker News, someone asking about geocoding, whatever, we would always like pop in there, or on Twitter, or just kind of trying to be in the places where people were already looking for something like this. Of course, we had we had a website, but I don't, it wasn't super built out, you know, with, you know, case studies and example customers and testimonials and, you know, stuff like that, basically, it's for like documentation for for a long time. But um, yeah, I basically spent a lot of time on StackOverflow trying to sort of, you know, neutrally, like reply to questions and kind of, yeah, keep people coming to us, Kevin Sahin  23:33   and how, like, how did he did evolve? Like, right now, where, where does your customer are coming from? Michele Hansen  23:43   That's a really good question. Because I don't always know. We don't do a ton with analytics. But pretty much we're very SEO based. So it's still that idea that someone is already frustrated. They're already trying to find something for geocoding. Or for you know, they need you need mentioned academic researchers. So we have a lot of customers who are academic researchers, because in the US, in order to connect to any government datasets, you need this thing called a FIPS code. And you can only get that FIPS code if you have the coordinates for the address. And then the government data will be at that FIPS code level, which is basically sort of like the block. So for example, if a researcher is they know they need FIPS codes to connect to some data, there'll be googling it and so is to have tons and tons of landing pages showing people how you need to convert addresses to FIPS codes. Here's how you can do with our API. Here's how you can upload a spreadsheet. You know, if you need congressional districts, here's how you can do it. If you need time zones, here's how you can do it. And it's very content driven. On the SEO side, we we still do a little bit of replying to stuff on StackOverflow I don't think I've done that for months if not, you know like not really Really anymore? Um, pretty much it's it's about, you know, being there when someone is already looking for something. Kevin Sahin  25:08   No, we that's something that we, we also did in the beginning of scraping be. We answered Korra questions, not a lot, not a lot of Stack Overflow but a little bit, and then on forums on Twitter and indie hackers, etc, etc. And just like you like now most of our customers are coming from SEO, I'd say 90%. And we've been really focusing on that, since the beginning, we launched the blog, and even before the product was launched, so I think that our first blog was in May 2019. And we launched in August 2019. So you really treated SEO as a, like our main acquisition channel, Michele Hansen  26:17   and seems like you guys are, I don't know if you're quite like freemium. But you I noticed on your site that it says you can get started with 1000, free API calls, no credit card required. You know, in many ways, I feel like, you know, I think I think it's, you know, freemium is not a pricing model. It's a marketing tactic. And I very much feel like, you know, that combination of SEO and freemium is a huge part of why we have been able to attract customers, because people can try it out without, you know, without having to talk to us first, they can see if this is the product they need, and then they're like, okay, like, we're ready to ready to sign up, and you don't feel like you don't have to sell as hard when you have that combination of SEO and freemium, because people can just figure out for themselves if it's what they need. Kevin Sahin  27:22   Yeah, exactly. And there is only one thing that is very specific to API's. It's that in many companies, and so I learned this with the customer interviews, the developers do not necessarily have access to the company credit cards. And having a free trial without credit card is really something that can boost the activation. Because if the developer has to ask is n plus one or n plus two for a credit card? And maybe he's like, it's going to bother the developer, he's not even going to try the service, or it's going to slow things down because he needs the approval, etc. So having the free credits on the trial is really something that helped us. And I don't I don't see any, I mean, I see many drawbacks of not having it. I don't see many benefits of having, you know, a credit card. They will follow the trail when you're doing when you have an API business. Michele Hansen  28:45   Yeah, exactly. And then you know, the developers they can they're trying to get their work done. They can try it out for themselves, see if it works. And then if it is something that's going to work for them, then like they're the one selling your product within the company. You don't have to be emailing all the CTOs and directors and everything being like, Hello, we're scraping me and this is what we do. Like, it's already there. Developers within the company who are like, hey, like, we've got this project. We've got this deadline, I need to use this thing. I already tried it. It works like can you like, like, yeah, give me the card. Let's go. Let's get this over with. Exactly. Yeah. And I'm curious when you did those calls, you said you gave them free API credits? How many did you give them for those calls? Kevin Sahin  29:28   How many API credits Yeah, I mean, it was at least 10,000 acre grades, sometimes even more, depending on there. So the thing you have to keep in mind is that one API creates isn't equal to one API call. Because the the cost of the API call is depending on the parameters that you use with your API call, and it can cost up to 25 API credits per call, so it goes up quickly. Michele Hansen  29:59   Yeah. So but so basically, I'm just wondering what the, the cost to that, uh, you know, there's the cost of those interviews, but also basically like, you know, because sometimes, you know, often recommend if you're doing call somebody know, give them a 10 or $25. Amazon gift card, and I'm just kind of curious like what that Kevin Sahin  30:20   wasn't? It was not much, I'd say, but I don't have a precise figure to give you I don't know, but probably less than $1 per per 10,000. I mean, they don't even they don't like most of them didn't use the whole 10,000 free credit. So I don't think but not much. So these Michele Hansen  30:48   customer interviews cost you maybe less than $1. Yeah, each, which actually wasn't a cash outlay, because you're just giving them credits. Half an hour, maybe an hour of your time, depending on how technical their questions were. But down the line could lead to these enterprise sales. And the customers really trusting you in a way that they maybe would not have had you not spent this time and given them those credits. Kevin Sahin  31:19   Yeah, I can't even give you a precise numbers. The first month in August 2019, we signed our first enterprise customer for seven or $800, a month after one of those calls. Michele Hansen  31:37   Wow. Do you know how many of these calls you did? You mean, you mentioned you to them over 18 months? But I'm curious if you have a Kevin Sahin  31:44   I did a lot in the beginning, I'd say probably 200, something like that. Michele Hansen  31:55   And I'm curious, you know, you said you you did this for? Like, are you still doing these calls? Or? Kevin Sahin  32:01   I am but so right now, we don't offer free credits anymore. We just have some links in our email sequences. And on the website. If for the trial, period, when customers have questions that cannot be answered, with our knowledge base or recommendation. And now I would say that maybe I have four or five calls per week. Maximum. Michele Hansen  32:38   Yeah, that's, that's awesome. Yeah, I'm still sort of, you know, the the calls came about because you were just you were curious about why does anyone need this thing we made this very similar to us. And I'm curious of, you know, as as, as you were, maybe thinking about doing that, like, like, the questions you asked, you know, are very much, you know, sort of quintessential jobs to be done questions. And I'm curious, what kind of understanding you had of customer research. Before you started doing this? Kevin Sahin  33:25   I would say zero. Michele Hansen  33:30   facet came out organically. Kevin Sahin  33:33   Yeah. I mean, no, I, like, I probably read a few blog posts about how to do customer interviews. It's just not like it was a, you know, a bit of both customer interviews and sales call. So but I mean, I'm not I'm not a salesperson. I don't, I was just, you know, trying to see if, what the customer problems were and if scraping me was a good fit to solve these problems. And if it was, then I would honestly, tell them told them that I thought scripting was the best solution for them. And if it wasn't, then I just told them to. I mean, actually, I told them what if scripting wasn't the solution, I often told them what the solution was. So if I had to refer them to a specific software or consultant or whatever, I did it. And yeah, dog came, I'd say, semi organically. I had some notions about the customer. interviews and sales gold that no experience at all. Michele Hansen  35:05   Fascinating you just kind of dove like head, you know, sort of headfirst into it. And I mean, it seems like it's really helped your your business and help you understand like, like why people need scraping and how you can help them and lead to these enterprise customers and you guys are in tiny seed like Kevin Sahin  35:30   yeah, definitely it really helped. Michele Hansen  35:33   That's awesome. Cool. So I'm curious, you had mentioned that you also had some questions about geocoding. And I wanted to make sure we got time to get Yeah, so Kevin Sahin  35:45   So I'm curious about the letter. So first of all, where are you based? Michele Hansen  35:50   So we are in Denmark now. But when we launched geocode, do we live? Actually, we lived in Washington, DC. We lived in Arlington, Virginia, which is just outside DC until July of 2020. So so now we're in Denmark. Kevin Sahin  36:07   Alright, that's cool. And yeah, so the question I had is, you know, the usual what, what led you to? to geocode? So you've answered this a little bit, but what what were you doing before? How did you find the date? You know, did you did some consulting on the side? Was it a side project, etc, etc. Found the stories, always fascinating. Michele Hansen  36:37   Yeah, so um, so I kind of mentioned a little bit. So we had this mobile app, which is making a couple 100 bucks a month in ad revenue. This is like 2012 2013. And we need a geocoding for it. And we ran into a point where we basically couldn't use Google anymore, because they didn't have pay as you go at the time, it was either 2500 for free per day, or enterprise contract, and we just needed 5000. So we had to, basically sort of rolled our own geo coder that was very rudimentary. And we kind of talked about this problem that we had, you know, not being able to store the data and whatnot. And, you know, developer friends had the same problem, made an API, put it on Hacker News, $31, the first month kind of vary, and got tons of feedback from people ask them, you know, why they wanted to do what they needed to do. So started, you know, adding those features as people needed them, like a big thing for us early on was was the ability to upload a spreadsheet. And I think we made our first sort of, you know, higher end sale, May of 2014. So a couple months after, and that was, I mean, that wasn't really adding that that we called the unlimited plan, which at the time was 750 a month was huge part of our growth. But so from that, the beginning as a side project, and it stayed a side project until I went full time, which is October of 2017. So currently celebrating my four year full time anniversary. I was I was a product manager before Okay, yeah, yeah, I was I was specifically like in Well, I was a first I was an operations manager that I was a technical project manager do work managing like WordPress website, builds that agency. And then I really wanted to to like dig my teeth into things. So I transitioned into being a product manager, which led into then doing product development, which is sort of where my heart is, which is how I got into customer research to is doing product development and launching a lot of stuff that didn't work out just like learning that you really need to talk to prospects and if you want something to succeed, learn that the hard way. me so I went full time 2017 and then my husband he and we're like, oh, you know, if I go full time, like it's gonna you know, maybe take some of the load off and make things a little easier. Except you know, I was full time so then our response to our customer response times got better, you know, and we actually grew more and so we're like, Okay, well now husband needs to go full time. And this is February of 2018. And he went to his boss and was like, you know, it's time for me to go full time on this thing. And his boss was like, No, and we're like, this is an interesting negotiating position to be in so he ended up going part time part salary but keeping health insurance which in the US is huge. And, but he eventually went full time by September of 2018, because I mean, basically the more we worked on it, the more you know, the better the product. Got. Yeah. And? Kevin Sahin  40:02   And yeah, did you? Do you have any employees? Michele Hansen  40:08   No, I have a VA, but we don't have any employees. Kevin Sahin  40:12   Okay, so you are very lean? Yeah, yeah, we Michele Hansen  40:15   we focus a lot on, you know, automating as many things as we can. And I think that's one reason, you know, we talking earlier about, you know, SEO and free tier and not having to, you know, sort of, you know, do cold outreach and reach out to companies. You know, partly it's because, you know, that's kind of the sort of workflow I like, when I'm starting up with a product, I like to be able to test it out, see if it works, not have to talk to anybody, like I hate when I have to have a demo to figure out if something is what I needed to do. But also, because we just don't have the time to be, you know, reaching out to people and pitching them, because it's just the two of us, but and that's also, like, a conscious decision on our part, like, we could hire another rep, or we could hire, you know, a salesperson or whatever. But we also just, we, we kind of like how calm it is with just the two of us. So So Kevin Sahin  41:06   you said, Yeah, so basically, you plan to stay just the two of you and not hire in the future. Michele Hansen  41:15   Yeah, that's the plan. Kevin Sahin  41:17   Okay. That's, I mean, there are many founders that, like, this situation that don't really like to manage employees, etc, etc. So that's great, that's working for you. Michele Hansen  41:37   I'm a very, I'm just very product driven. Like, that's what I really love doing is, is product work. And I also I do enjoy, like, sales work, too. So like my time, you know, my sort of favorite things to work on are both product and, you know, customer research and whatnot. And then also doing, like sales and negotiations. And, and yeah, if we had employees, you know, I would be spending time managing employees. And I just, I don't know, I just that that's just not really where my, my heart is. It's not in being a manager, it definitely is for some people. But Kevin Sahin  42:20   yeah, I can relate to Michele Hansen  42:21   that. Yeah. Kevin Sahin  42:25   Yeah, that's, I mean, that's, I don't have much experience managing employees. But for our blog, I worked with a lot of freelancers, you know, different kind of freelancers, constants, writers, editors, some Freelancer to help me with the SEO link builders, etc, etc. And I mean, it's really hard to hire, to manage to keep employees motivated. I mean, it's, it's pretty hard. Michele Hansen  43:10   Yeah, it's a lot of time. And, you know, I think from my own experiences, and you know, those of you know, people I know, like, having a manager who doesn't love being a manager, who, you know, doesn't love, like developing people, and helping them grow, and all that kind of stuff, like, there are people who genuinely love that those people should be managers, those of us who, you know, are a little bit more reluctant on it and enjoy other things. I think it's okay, if we allow ourselves to, to not be managers. And, you know, I sometimes think that there's this, this assumption that, that, that you have to grow and that you have to hire in order to grow. Is this sort of this baked in assumption, and I think there's a little bit of like, judgment sometimes around companies that don't hire because people like, oh, like, you're not a real company, if you don't have any employees or whatnot. I reject that. Like, I think if you can find a way to run a company, and it's successful and gives you the life you want, and for some people that involves employees, and some people it doesn't, and that's Yeah, exactly. And some people you know, it involves, like, I think, I guess, you know, my, my VA is is is you know, a contractor, like a lot of people have a lot of contractors working with them. But you know, having that responsibility also of covering someone's paycheck can, you know, can lend a lot of stress to running a business and some people like that stress and some people don't and I don't understand that like that. Yeah, I think that that sort of leadership component of it is is challenging and I sort of, you know, I asked myself, like whether I feel like at some point I could want to be a leader like that with employees. But quite frankly, I don't feel ready. You know, maybe in another season of life, I will be but at this point, you know, yeah. Kevin Sahin  45:25   Yeah. I mean, I, as I say, I totally relate to this, because it's, I mean, for me personally, I don't I don't think I totally agree with you with the fact that there is this assumption of growth and hiring and, and even sometimes raising funds, like, you have to you have to grow, you have to raise fund you have to hire, it's kind of, you know, a vanity metric in the startup ecosystem, how many employees do you have? To try etc. And, I mean, many companies that I mean, either don't hire at all or hire just, you know, a really small team, and that are doing totally fine, where the founders are happy, the employees are happy, everyone's happy. And, yeah, it's. And on the other side, there are many companies raising funds, hiring, and growing like crazy, whether founders are not happy at all, and stressed and Michele Hansen  46:43   yeah, I think, you know, that's something we, as founders, we have the decision to run our businesses in a way that, you know, to design the business. Right. And, and, you know, and for me, part of, you know, designing that business is it's, you know, setting it up in a way that, that we're running it in a way that we enjoy, and we enjoy working together. And it sounds like you and I really like working together, too. Kevin Sahin  47:12   Yeah. I mean, we've been, we've been, so we know each other since high school. So we, we've been working on many project, back in high school, and then side projects in college and the beginning of our career together. So yeah, it's been. And that's was the, it was great, because when we founded the company, we had this whole history of working together, of knowing how to talk to each other to, you know, divide the work based on, you know, what we are good at what we'd like to do, etc, etc. So it was pretty, I'd say, you know, a fluid, the work relationship. Michele Hansen  48:09   Sounds like you learned a lot from that that first side project you did together with him about how you can work together. I'm curious what that project was. Kevin Sahin  48:19   There were many projects, I'd say the most. The biggest one with a Chrome extension that we launched. I don't remember the year 2016, I'd say or 17. It was called shop tourist, it was a Chrome extension that could where users could save products on ecommerce websites that they were interested to buy. And our we had some scrapers in the backend that would refresh the price every day. And if the price dropped it send an email with a note with the with an alert that said, Hey, this product dropped 25% this night. You can buy it here. And then there was some affiliated links on the email. And like, we, we had some pretty good success marketing it on Reddit. Like we launched the we posted a Reddit post one day and it got 1000s of upvotes. And we like to overnight we got a few 1000 users on the app. And yeah, and the funny thing is that we realized Is that some customers? No, it was not customers, some users sorry. were added adding hundreds of products on their list. And we, we told ourselves, it's kind of strange, because why would I mean, unless it's, you know, the person is on the buying spree or is a has a buying problem. It's kind of weird to save, you know, hundreds of products with different variations of the same. I don't know, a T shirt or whatever. And so we realized that it was ecommerce owners that were monitoring their competitors, with our app, and they were doing it because our app was free. There were some b2b SaaS that were doing it, but it was very expensive. And so we saw an opportunity there. And we launched our first real company, pricing, but and it was a price monitoring app for ecommerce owner. And we did this in 2018. And it was a failure, we managed to get it from zero to 500, or 1000, in monthly recurring revenue. But we failed to grow it from there. And we knew nothing about marketing to ecommerce owners, or to ecommerce in general, except the previous experience we had with this little side project. And so we, we managed to sell it to one of the biggest player in this field, which which is priced to spy.com. And it's funded, what would become scraping be later. And the great thing about this failure is that with pricing, but we we had to scrape a lot of websites. So no, we had these those problems about JavaScript rendering, headless browsers, proxies, etc. So we like, we knew exactly that one, like this one kind of use case for scraping me. Michele Hansen  52:48   So interesting. And I feel like I hear so many similarities in our stories, but something that stands out to me not only how you were, you were able, you know that so that pricing bot, you know, ostensibly failed. But you were able to carry through that expertise you built in building scrapers, and understanding how difficult that can be and the problems with that. But what also carried through is I'm struck by how it seems you have this curiosity about user behavior. And you know, people were doing something and you're and you're like, Oh, that's interesting, why are they adding hundreds of products all of a sudden, and you allowed yourself to follow that, and I think that's such, like, such a great quality, and a founder to not only notice when something is strange, you know, but but follow it, you know, you could have shut your brain off that like, Oh, these people probably just have a spending problem and basically judge, right? And you could have just sort of left it at that. But instead of stopping at judgment, you instead be like, I wonder why they're doing it and follow that thread, you know, follow this sort of cookie crumbs and figure it out. Oh, it's because they're doing this ecommerce thing. Okay, well, maybe we can like pivot into doing that and then it didn't really work out but you got acquired and then you're able to use that funds to start scraping be but you had that understanding of your own use cases for scraping. And again, you were like, Why do people need this? Let me go figure it out. And you just allow yourself to follow that curiosity. And I I just love that. Kevin Sahin  54:33   Yeah, I mean, that was um, it was really a great experience. I mean, the the like, even though it was hard, you know, to fail, and both p&i we didn't. Like we had to fund the business ourselves. So it was a very hard Financially but the experience the learnings were really worth it. Michele Hansen  55:06   Yeah. It sounds like it. I feel like I could talk to you all day about this. This has been so much fun. Um, thank you so much for for coming on. I I know from this conversation that this is not going to be the last time I talked to you. So So this has been really enjoyable. Kevin Sahin  55:33   Thank you. Yeah, same for me. Thank you a lot. And maybe see you next time. I still have many questions around the geo coder, yo. And I'd like to, I'd love to talk more about it. Michele Hansen  55:52   Yeah. Hey, I'm always always happy to talk about your cardio. Cool. So if people want to know more about you keep up with what you're doing on Skype and BMI and whatnot. Where should they go? Kevin Sahin  56:03   They can go to my Twitter. It's @SahinKevin. And yeah. Michele Hansen  56:12   Awesome. Well, if you enjoyed listening to this episode, please like Kevin, and I know. And you can find us on Twitter at @softwaresocpod. Thanks. Thanks, Michele.

2 November 2021 56m and 26s


A Conversation with Rosie Sherry

A Conversation with Rosie Sherry

Follow Rosie! https://twitter.com/rosiesherry Check out Rosieland: https://rosie.land/ Michele Hansen  0:01  This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Reform. As a business owner, you need forms all the time for lead capture, user feedback, SaaS onboarding, job applications, early access signups, and many other types of forms. Here's how Reform is different: - Your brand shines through, not Reform's - It's accessible out-of-the-box ... And there are no silly design gimmicks, like frustrating customers by only showing one question at a time Join indie businesses like Fathom Analytics and SavvyCal and try out Reform. Software Social listeners get 1 month for free by going to reform.app/social and using the promo code "social" on checkout. Hey, welcome back to software social. I am so excited this week to have with us the woman the myth, the legend, Rosie Sherry. Hello. So excited to have you. So you were I founder of Ministry of Testing, lead community at Indie Hackers, which is probably how many people listening know you, currently leading community for Orbit. Also have your own thing going on Rosieland, which is a community about community. So excited to talk to you. Rosie Sherry  1:30   Thank you, thank you. It's good to be here. Michele Hansen  1:33   So I want I want to start out with something something I noticed when I think about your background is how you've kind of gone between being a founder yourself, and intentionally working for other people also having sort of other things going on. And, you know, on the show in the past, we've kind of talked a little bit about how sometimes there's this perception that there's this sort of like staircase of an entrepreneurs career where you start out working for other people, and then maybe you have an info product, and then maybe you do consulting, and then you do an info product, and then you have a SAS and then I don't know, and it's like this sort of like staircase. And there's this sort of like implied increase in virtue throughout all of that. And then if you're taking backwards steps, that's seen as like, literally like a step backwards. And it's like this ladder rather than being this kind of what I'm more see in people's actual careers, which is kind of moving between different things as their interests lead them and as their life leads them. I feel like I see that in your career. And I'm kind of curious how you think about these shifts you've made between working for yourself and working for other people? And like, like, kind of all of that. Rosie Sherry  2:45   Yeah, it's kind of like steps going up and down, right? Or going up and down or left, I guess, an elevator? Yeah, I mean, I have like, no idea what I'm doing. But I guess like, I kind of go with the flow. When I when I stepped back from Ministry of testing, I had been doing that for 10 years. And I thought, like, as I was stepping back, I thought I'd never work for someone else's, like my plan was to take some time off and just like, take it easy for it. And just, I don't know, see what I wanted to do. And I knew I kind of wanted to, like focus in on community, but I wasn't sure how. And then, like, the opportunity with indie hackers came up. And I was like, Oh, you know, this could be fun. This could be interesting. I think I could learn a lot from how courtland has built community there. It's similar to ministry testing, in some ways, but yet, it's, it's really different. So I kind of just jumped on that, like, you know, earlier, earlier than I had planned. I was I was a contractor there for the whole time. And I was there for two years as a contractor. And basically, we just kept renewing the contract, like every three to six months. So it wasn't like it was the plan, stay there. And apparently surprised that I stayed there for two years, I thought I wouldn't last I thought I wouldn't be able to kind of work for someone else after like doing my own thing for 10 years. That was interesting. There's a lot of benefit, especially, I think, perhaps more these days where everything just seems I just feel like there's so much opportunity out there. And there's a lot of things that I didn't like about running a business. I didn't necessarily want to manage people, I didn't want to do the accounts, I didn't want to worry about money or worry about, you know, the future of, of the business. So yeah, I mean, this, you know, loads of things about running a business that I think people try to glorify, they try to hide, they try to not talk about it. But you know, it can be stressful. And I think my realization after running the Ministry of testing, is actually I don't, I don't want to run a company and employ people. I don't want to be responsible for someone's wages at the point of life that I that I am in at the moment. might might change over time, but right now Yeah, I'd rather like I guess, do something more for me something more, you know, focusing on, like my interest in things that that I need. And yeah, and I guess like contracting, bringing home a paycheck, that's great. But you know, for me, it's been, you know, it was great, I saved up a bunch of money, I didn't actually spend any of the money that I made in the hackers. So that was like a nice, consistent income for me to like, you know, get our family more and more of a safety net. Now, my Uber and I never, ever considered working for a startup people have it. Yeah, it's, it's new. For me, it's different from me. But this negative, there's a lot of pros as well. So I try to kind of be mindful of all of that. And, you know, there's days, I just want to pack it all in and say, I can't be bothered, I should just go back to being independent. But there are other days where I'm just like, no, this is actually really good. I'm enjoying what I'm doing this, you know, there's a great team that I'm working with. And again, you know, I get paid well, I don't have to worry about money, I don't have to invoice people the money every month in my bank account. And I'm like, Oh, this is nice. This is, you know, this nice not just to show up and do the work. Michele Hansen  6:11   You mentioned how it was stressful, being responsible for people's paychecks. And I totally relate to that. I think it's one of the reasons why we haven't really, you know, formally hired here, right? Like, I have a VA, but you strike me as someone who you know, and this comes through so much in your work for indie hackers in your work on community who like deeply cares about other people, and supporting them and encouraging them and helping them reach their goals, and you know, and be that person they want to be. And I wonder if that almost made it harder to be running a company and responsible for people's income when you felt so responsible for those outcomes and really invested in them as people? Rosie Sherry  6:57   Yeah, I mean, it's actually interesting, because I still own in ministry, testing, or co owner, when you're founded, you kind of like, I guess, the foundation of everything that comes later, to a certain extent. So like, the fact that I worked when I wanted, the fact that I had five kids, the fact that I just like took time off when I needed to the fact that I defined, you know, decided my own hours, all of those things, ended up becoming how things were done administrator testing, and it's become more apparent, I guess, as the team, I think about eight or nine people at the moment, at first, you know, I was only one with kids. And, you know, I was very much family friendly person, I would support, you know, everything about me is like, we need to live our own lives as well. We need to have flexibility, you know, work shouldn't stop us having having a family and doing things that we want to do. And at first, it was like, just me it was kids. But then like, as the years have gone, I think last year, there were three new babies born within the company, and as a team with like nine people that's like, oh, wow, how are we gonna manage this as like, as a company, even though it's not my responsibility anymore. There's a CEO running it. But he very much took on the philosophy of like, well, this is how Rosie has always done it. So this is what everybody else gets to do as well. So we let the mothers choose what they want to do. We let them you know, take the time off that they need to take time off, and have a say, and there's no there's no judgment for any of it. And we listen, and we care and we try to make good decisions, even even if it costs us money, right. And like, as a small company, and you have three of your people off on maternity leave is a big kind of hit. But it's not something that feels wrong, it very much feels right and like allowing everybody just to choose the time that they have off and pay in the world. And you know, making sure that they get a fair deal when they're often on maternity leave is to me, you know, I couldn't do it any other way. Because it would feel hypocritical. And for me, it's just like, I can't have once that rule to me and like different set of rules for For everyone else, even if I never took maternity leave properly. I believe like, you know, everybody else should have had that right to do that. I guess. Michele Hansen  9:20   It sounds like a bit like Golden Rule management, like treating others as how you would want to be treated. Rosie Sherry  9:26   Yeah, I don't understand why companies can't do that. can't comprehend it. And it's probably why I haven't. It took me I guess it's probably why it took me a long time to actually end up working for other people. Because without listen to the pandemic, because just like nobody was truly flexible enough in their thinking about how people showed up for work. And I've been working from home all this time on my own rolls, and then the pandemic comes along and I'm just like, still working the same way that I was working before. This ain't nothing changed for me day to day, but for everyone else. Or, you know, like a huge majority of people, life change and companies rethought their processes and what was acceptable and what wasn't acceptable. And the fact that we can all work from home now I think is is great, but at the same time is unlike Well, why couldn't we do this before we could have. But companies, you know, I guess like it wasn't urgent enough to think of our needs until the pandemic came along. Michele Hansen  10:26   And, you know, you mentioned how your life didn't change all that much with the pandemic. Yeah, I want to detour for a second because I understand that so you have five children, and you unschool them and it would just be interesting for a moment just to talk about not only what does that look like but also you know, you mentioned your whole life didn't change much. And I'm kind of curious what does that home life look like between you and your husband with this sort of unschooling elements layering on top of also like your, your work life? Like how does all of that work together? Rosie Sherry  11:02   Yeah, it's tough. I think like unschooling, I think the toughest part about unschooling, I think is, or even homeschooling is about making that kind of adjustment to life, like trying to instead of like, you know, if if kids go to school, you know, you have the six, eight hour block of time to kind of get work done and you can plan things around that with unschooling is like, well, you kind of have to plan for your kids. And then you have to plan your work around your kids, and you have to juggle things. With me, it's with my husband, we like have equal share on like, the kids in the house. And I just think that's the hardest part is like most people, probably, I guess I feel I feel privileged to be able to do that at the moment. But like, I guess, like, the thing I do is like, we're having this chat for me, it's in the morning. And that's like, not my normal schedule. So the like, normally like I'm online from midday till eight, and I'm with my kids from when they wake up until midday. And then at midday, me my husband swapped over. And that's those are the, that's the deal we have right now, to make things work. And so, in the morning, I would normally take my kids to a class that they have or a group that they go to, and it works, I guess, to try and to split that time, it changes all the time as as my work changes, or as my husband's work changes, we find ways to adapt and I guess that's the magic of unschooling, I guess like unschooling is like, we're always, I guess, we're always looking for things that our kids want to do to keep them active. So every day, especially our younger ones, who are between the age of three and 10. You know, getting them out out the house once a day is like basically our goal. And that happens in different ways at the moment, except for school, beach school, art class, sports, or football. And then other days that we hire, or we pay a friend to take them out for the day. She's like a single mom, and appreciates extra bit bit of income. It's tough, it really is tough. And it's like we have to say no to things a lot of the time, but I think at the same time, I think like the pandemic has kind of worked in my favor as well. Now that everyone's online, I feel like what's the right word? I guess previous to the pandemic, I felt like I was only one needing to have the flexibility. But I think like these days, it's it's more more acceptable. I guess, everyone's more accommodating, like having kids in the background is okay. Pre pandemic, that was not okay. You know, stuff like that, you know, despite COVID I appreciate how the world has changed. We feel it feels weird. I don't know. What do you think it feels? It feels weird to? Yeah, to say that. But I think you know, actually, there's been positives from COVID. Michele Hansen  13:57   I think it's forced us to reevaluate things and maybe shifts that were happening very slowly, like you mentioned, you know, more work from home and maybe more flexibility shifts that were happening very, very slowly, or only in very specific corners of the economy were kind of thrust on everyone all at once, which was both traumatic and also sped up things that needed to happen to at the same time at great cost to everyone involved, Beto as you said, like, you know that it's acceptable to have children in the background or even a dog barking, like I remember two years ago, you know, before COVID, and I was having a call and my dog barked in the back because the mailman was there or whatever. Like, I always felt so embarrassed on the call. And, you know, I remember sometimes, you know, the people, you know, whoever I was having a, you know, customers having call with, or one of them being like, Oh yeah, you know, we have a dog friendly office too. And I was just like, Yeah, like, dog friendly office, you know, that whole thing of like being a really small company and not wanting? Yes, I'm actually like working from home like that being kind of like something to be sheepish about, you know, like that you were working from home because it was like, What? Like, can you not afford an office? Are you not legit enough to have an office? Like, do you not like it used to prompt so many questions, most of them not very, like, positively reflecting on the company. But then all of a sudden, you know, so many of us, you know, who were lucky enough to be working from home, everybody was working from home, everybody, you know, had kids in the background dogs in the background cats on their keyboard, like, you know, and we all just had to learn how to be a little bit more understanding with one another. Rosie Sherry  15:41   Well, human right, I think like, we, we've learnt to appreciate and see that we all live in different circumstances, and we should adapt to that, and we should make sure it's okay. You know, almost like, I guess, like, the whole diversity movement, I guess, in the past few years is, you know, crept up. And, you know, to me, this is also like, part of it is like, we're all human, we're all people, we have different circumstances, that the sooner we can make that, okay for everyone to just like, be who they are opt in, opt out things, be able to, you know, not have shame for, for whatever it might be, I think like, the better the quicker, we can just like, move on and like, kind of focus on our work and get and get things done. Michele Hansen  16:38   Using shame, just there kind of reminded me of what we sort of started this conversation with, which is, you know, in your career, you have sort of intentionally and consciously moved between contracting and, and being a founder and working for other people. And when people come to a situation where they realize that maybe consulting isn't working for them, or they're trying to get their own SAS off the ground, and it's not working, and the finances are tight, and they're thinking about, you know, going out and getting a job. Yeah, it seems like people often feel a lot of shame around that. And then that feels like failure to them. And I think what your story shows that, you know, it's not linear. And, and I'm just kind of curious what you would say to someone who is kind of maybe at that point, who is wondering, you know, just, you know, that thing, things aren't, things aren't working, or the finances aren't there. And they've they've got to go back and, you know, get a job, like, what would you say to them? Rosie Sherry  17:56   I definitely felt this, like in the indie in the indie world, like, being immersed in that world. And, you know, people want to make it they want to be full time, indie hackers. And it almost becomes, like, a thing of like, what if you're not a full time indie hacker, then, like, you know, you're not a success really are there's only one way. And, you know, I almost, you know, thought that, you know, I thought even just like working in India, because I thought I wouldn't last I thought, you know, people, you know, I wouldn't make an impact. I wouldn't enjoy working with courtland, or all that kind of stuff. And even even when I joined indie hackers, the opportunity came up as a result of courtland looking for some social media help. And I was just like, at that point, I was just looking for something else to do. And like when I reached out to him, he was like, Yeah, but you're overqualified for this. I was like, Yeah, I know. But I'm, you know, I'm still like, yeah, I could do it. And, you know, I, I personally felt like I could learn from indie hackers. And that role ended up being more like of a community manager community lead role that he that he offered me. But did I feel shame, like doing that a little bit, but at the same time, as I, it doesn't matter, you know, I need to, you know, I really wanted just to have an excuse to do something else. And so yeah, I work for CEO, founder to social media and community manager, which is a step back, right? You know, on paper, it's a step back. But actually what it did for me was was huge, is like, before I joined India, because no one in the indie world really knew who I was. There's a few people here in there. But what it did for me was was massive. So I say I think a lot of the time choices, I guess, perhaps is that it's not all about money. It's not all about job titles. And we can dismiss job titles is not important. That's, you know, I think sometimes they can be but I think I think, if we think about, or like, the way I think about it is like, well, I want to do stuff, I want to learn stuff, and I want to work on things I care about. And does it matter if it's starting your own thing? or working for someone else? I don't think it really does. I think, at least for me, it's like, you know, five, finding, finding the right people to work with is, is key. And yeah, I mean, there's a lot of jobs that I'm sure would be sucky. And I see I definitely see people struggle, working for companies and being like, part indie part, like, working for companies. So yeah, I don't think like anything is necessarily Perfect. Perfect solution. But I guess it's like more about like, finding your fit what's right for you? How do you get to do the work that you do? Enjoy? How are you growing personally? And, like all, but I think I'm growing a lot personally. And also in, in my, I guess, desire to kind of impact the community world, I think I'm doing that. And I get access to stuff that I wouldn't, if I was trying to do all, all of that kind of stuff on my own. So yeah, there's definitely like, the pros and cons. So yeah, but but it's easy to think because when I joined, obey, it was at the back of my mind is that oh, my God, what will people think? I've been indie for, for 15 years. You know, should I actually take this job? Is it is it in conflict with, with who I am? Those are all that was definitely in the back of my mind, I can't, I won't lie about that. Yeah, I was nervous about announcing that. I'm not sure what people would think. But I think, at the end of the day is like, I'm still sticking to, to who I am, I'm still sticking to my values, I'm still pushing for the things that are important to me in all of it. And if I don't get those, and it's going to become a problem. You know, say, I'm still being me, in every, every space that I show up. And, and that's what's important to me, is that, and if I can't get that, then that's where it becomes a problem. For me, I think, Patrick, my boss, Michele Hansen  22:52   I noticed that you just said how you had this conflict around identity. And I feel like that's running undercurrent of a lot of time when people are having this struggle, is identifying as a founder, and all of the things that come with it, identifying as an indie hacker, identifying as someone who, you know, runs their own things and whatnot, and shifting identity into something else into, into, you know, who am I if I am not somebody who runs their own company? What does that say about me? Just who am I as as a person, I think in a world where we wrap up so much of our identity and what we do for work. That's a, that's a massive and can be quite a, you know, debilitating sort of shift and psychological process to go through. And yet what I also heard you say several times throughout the, the conversation is a reason why you took the job with indie hackers, or the contract with indie hackers, is because you wanted to learn and, and I wonder if that transition is a little bit smoother. When you think of, you know, there's you have this identity as an indie hacker, as a founder, you also have an identity as someone who likes to do other things. And one of those, I think, for you that really comes through is somebody who's curious, and who likes to learn and letting another identity almost kind of supplant that, that founder, one that's sort of, you know, taking a backseat. Rosie Sherry  24:40   Yeah, it's interesting. It actually brings me back to like minister testing and like when I stepped back, it was like, Oh my god, like, Who am I? Who am I going to be now I've been this testing person, this person, leading the testing community for so long. I'm almost leaving behind. And much of that, obviously they I still keep in touch with people, but I'm not in that world anymore. Yeah, it was, it was hard, it's hard to shift away from that and to figure out how to how to kind of redefine your life and who you want to be. And how do you get people to, I guess, to see that to know that and, and yeah, it's, it's tough and I guess like, right now with the indie stuff like, you know, I do Rosi land stuff on the side. But even that, I feel like oh, you know, I see a lot of the indie stuff happening, I still keep an eye on indie hackers. But, you know, at the same time I miss in the hacking as well, I don't do nearly as much as I would love. And, you know, I struggle with that. So it's like, how much of these different people can I be? How do I? How do I separate that? Do I need to separate that? And I mean, I was I was employed over it was no full well, knowing that I had all this stuff on the side. And that that had to continue to exist when I joined over it. But yeah, I feel like I definitely feel less a part of the indie world. Because just because I don't have the time to spend in it. And that makes me feel sad. Definitely sad. And I want to do more, but I can't just because because of time. But yeah, I don't even know where I'm going with this. But this constant shift of identity moving on, almost like shedding skin. All right, is that I shed my skin from history testing. I'm shedding my skin a bit from indie hackers, but not quite. And, you know, moving through life, I think, like, I think we almost become different people as we grow up. I mean, I think I'm in my early 40s now, and am I the same person? I was 10 years ago. So yes, but no. And that's okay. Yeah, I don't even know where I'm going. But yeah. Michele Hansen  27:31   It's interesting you say that I love how you dove into the identity shifts of that. And you're like, so even though you're no longer with, you know, indie hackers proper. I still think of you as the mama bear. The indie world is my head but like that's, that's it's you know, Rosie, Sherry mama bear of the indie hackers. Rosie Sherry  27:59   Well, I like that. I'll have to put that on my Twitter. But it's interesting, right? People will always remember you for different things. So there'll be people from the testing community who will always remember me for ministry testing, and things I did, and nothing will probably change as much in a ton of indie hackers out there will remember me as being the mom of their I love it. Yeah, and like, the more I do all of it, orbit, the more people associated me not with being indie, but being more all about community. And that's okay, as well. Right? And what does it mean is that, I don't know. But But I think like, I mean, you know, I guess it goes back to trends, life, the world changing, no one has careers for life anymore. And this is you know, probably I guess a proof of it is like, let's, you know, change as we grow, let's be okay with, like, actually discovering things. As we learn about ourselves, and as we learn about the world around us, and, and adapt and we should Yeah, I think we should all be able to do that and make make it feel okay. And make it you know, not not feel like step backwards, is you know, it's not a step backwards. It's just like, as you as an individual, you you're doing what's what's right for you at any point in your life. And that's, you know, that's okay. Michele Hansen  29:45   I'm reminded of the Walt Whitman, quote, I contain multitudes and, and I feel like what you're saying is, is about that we have many different identities and even the identities of us in other people's minds may be different than what we think of ourselves as or reflects a version of us in the past. And, you know, you're that that identity that you had as a founder, the identity you had, as the community person for indie hackers. As rosy land, as community person at orbit, like, all of those are valid, and they all exist, regardless of you know, what you're currently we're doing. And I feel like, what you're saying is, you don't really have to choose one, you know, you can still you can still have all of those pieces and so many more pieces of yourself. And, and it's okay to shift and change and grow. Rosie Sherry  30:54   No, think like, as as, I guess, like an unschooling approach to things we encourage, everything we do is like child led learning. And, like, I live that, that same philosophy in life is like, you know, I think like, like, as I get older, I just, I just can't spend any time on anything I don't enjoy. And then when I look at my kids, I'm like, why should they have to spend any time on the things that they don't enjoy, we should, like, you know, focus, focus all our energy as much as is possible to do the things that we love, because that's, that's like a really special place to be. And, like, at the moment, like, like, you know, I've been working for 23 years of my life, when I started out, working. Man, it was just like, a different place. And like, where I am, now, I'm like, this is just such a better place to be doing work that, that I love that I appreciate that, that, you know, I believe I can have impact on. And if I look back at myself, like 20 years ago, and see see where I am now, I say, I would have like, I guess, never, never imagined that this kind of life is possible. The life I had then was about working in jobs that I didn't really enjoy that much, or for companies that I wasn't really, that interested in what they were doing. And now it's like, everything's flipped to like, I'm working for a company that I believe in what they're doing, I enjoy the day to day work, we're aligned in the things that we want to do. And that's just like, Whoa, you know, how, you know, how great is that, to be a part of that. And regardless of the outcome, whether, you know, I continue to rise up in the company where they continue to get pay raises, whether whether orbit ends up, you know, growing massively in IPO, and that that doesn't matter. To me, it's like what matters is, you know, being able to do do what I love, right now. Michele Hansen  33:22   Follow the things you love, even if those things take you from entrepreneurship, to working for other people and changing your identity. And, yeah, Rosie Sherry  33:34   I look at Patrick, my, one of the cofounders I see some of the things that he has to do as a founder. And I'm like, I'm so glad I'm not doing that. And like I can see it as the founders because like, not not to the same extent, you know, they've raised money, it's a different game. But you know, that the same principles applies, like, I don't have to do any of that stuff. And I'm very happy about that. Michele Hansen  34:03   It sounds like you're in a good place. Now. I want I want to thank you for for joining us today. You know, we again, in this sort of indie world, we talk a lot about building in public and you know, I talked about writing in public. But something I am really valuing lately is when people are willing to be vulnerable in public. And I feel so much from that of that from you. And not only in on on Twitter, and your support of other people, but also here today. And, and I have a feeling that your story today is it's gonna make somebody at least one person feel feel less alone and feel feel better about their journey. Hopefully you know, less shame about Going from entrepreneurship to employment? Rosie Sherry  35:06   I hope so. I hope so. I try. I think it's, it's hard, I guess. I mean, I don't know what your experiences but like women in tech when in business, whether it's like, I guess it's hard to stand up to certain things and be open about the challenges that we have. And so yeah, I try my best, I think my confidence increases over time. I will say, I don't give a damn anymore, like what people think. I don't know if that comes of age. But like, you know, I definitely wasn't this open about everything before. So, yeah, part of me like does it to, to help other people see, I think it's important, like, who I am a woman, five kids on schooling. I kind of want to show people that. Yeah, yes, I'm a bit obsessive with the things that I want to do. I'm, like, you know, switched on, like, all the time, pretty much. But But I spend lots of time with my kids as well, you know, I managed to make it work. And I guess that my hope is that in time, like more people can be like this, if that's what they choose, you know, if they, if they can see the possibility. You know, it's done me a lot of good. And I guess, like, there must be more people out there that want something like this. And for them to be able to see an example. I guess is, is what's in the back of my mind when I tweet when I write when I do my things? Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you. Yeah, Michele Hansen  36:59   thank you so much for yesterday. I've really enjoyed this conversation. Rosie Sherry  37:05   Thank you, Michelle. I appreciate catching up. Michele Hansen  37:08   If you enjoyed this episode, please let Rosie and I know on Twitter. You can find us at software social pot. Thanks

26 October 2021 37m and 17s


Getting Meta

Getting Meta

MIchele: This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Reform. As a business owner, you need forms all the time for lead capture, user feedback, SaaS onboarding, job applications, early access signups, and many other types of forms. Here's how Reform is different: - Your brand shines through, not Reform's - It's accessible out-of-the-box ... And there are no silly design gimmicks, like frustrating customers by only showing one question at a time Join indie businesses like Fathom Analytics and SavvyCal and try out Reform. Software Social listeners get 1 month for free by going to reform.app/social and using the promo code "social" on checkout. Colleen: Hello, Michelle.  MIchele: I feel like it's been awhile. Colleen: It has been a while. It's been a few weeks. I  MIchele: Yeah. But like, so we haven't really liked formally talked or not formally, but, you know, but we have been like, I feel like we have been talking constantly about this podcast for the past couple of weeks at the same time. Colleen: I would agree. There's been a lot of discussion about that.  MIchele: And we've been meaning to do like kind of a catch-up episode for a while too. And so it kind of felt this kind of feels like a good time to sort of pause and have a little bit of a meta episode where we sort of, I guess, talk about where we've come from and why w why do we do this in the first place and, and where are we going? Colleen: Okay. I like it.  MIchele: So let's let's rewind. So if, if this were a fancy produced podcast, this is when you would insert harp noises. So just imagine that there's a harp playing in your head. So let's rewind back to July of 20, 20, Colleen. What were you doing in July of 2020? Colleen: Oh, geez. Well, let's see July. So we were a couple months into the pandemic. I believe I was working a full-time job and I had a desire, a strong desire to launch a product.  MIchele: Were you consulting full time for one client or I thought you were consulting. Colleen: Maybe I was still, yeah. Good thing. We have MIchele: I feel like you can  Colleen: to.  MIchele: I feel like I remember sometime I think it was right around when COVID was heading. And I feel like I remember standing on your, like your like porch or your steps like talking through whether you should take a job and like, yeah. Like that was like right around that time. But, and I think you didn't.  Colleen: I think  MIchele: And I,  Colleen: The first time they offered it to me, I think I said,  MIchele: And then I think you were consulting,  Colleen: I believe you're correct. I believe I was consulting for one client. So it was kind of that cadence of a more permanent job. But at that time I was not a quote full-time employee. I had not launched a  MIchele: I think you're like compromise with them. Was that like you would work for them. Four days a week as a consultant, and then you would get one day a week to work on like your stuff. But actually it had been like that for a while. Like, I feel like you would have this sort of, this is my phrasing here, this like Friday fun day where you got to just like do your own projects for a while. Colleen: Yeah. that sounds right.  MIchele: Yeah. Yeah. But that was very much, I mean, now looking back on it, I guess that was like, The end of what I term your wandering through the forest period. Wondering.  you know, you know, if this was, if this is frozen too, for all the parents out there, this is when your power ballad of lost in the woods is playing. Colleen: Lost in the woods. Yes. would be my lost in the woods. Power ballad period. Indeed. Agree.  MIchele: It was a pivotal moment. And then I think. I don't know if it was like August. Oh, so of 2020 that you were kind of on, I mean, I guess we could listen to our own show and figure this out. Again, this worry, fancy produced podcast with harp noises. We would know that and there would be a clip of it right now. But I think it was like in August that you were like F like, I need to just. Decide, unlike one of these things. Cause like we had been meeting for a while. So like just context is like we were, we were meeting up every week for coffee for a long time. At a, so we used to live in the same place. We now live on opposite sides of the world, but we used to live in the same place, like a neighborhood over you were the only person I had ever like met in my daily life who was also doing this weird internet. Business thing who was like in that world. And also like our kids went to the same school and we lived like two minutes from each other and it was like just perfect. Yeah. So, and then we started meeting up at a coffee shop called Northside social, which is actually how we ended up getting the name for this show. And the show basically was, you know, I moved to Denmark to Denmark. then for us this year, you moved to California. So now we're really all over the place to keep us talking to each other, to keep those conversations happening. for a long time, we had been meeting up and you were playing around with like all of these different ideas and, and playing as like you were, you were taking it very seriously. Like it wasn't play. There was some con like there's like a content analytics idea. I feel like, like, there's a one point. It was like, you were thinking about some sort of like, Competitor to H refs that was like for SEO consultants to like measure the value of their work. There was the, the, there was the stay at home moms doing babysitting and daycare for other the childcare thing. And then, but like, so August of 2020, I feel like there was kind of this moment in early. Like I just gotta like pick something and go for it. And it's going to be this file upload thing, which annoys me. Colleen: that's, that's pretty accurate. And I remember. Why was it in that stage of back to lost in the woods? It felt like every time we met, you would draw me that pain frequency graph. And, and I just, I was like, I don't know, like I just don't know where any of these ideas fall on the pain frequency graph. So I'm going to take what feels like the smallest lift, which is a JavaScript widget, right. Something I feel like I can make in a constrained period of time. And I'm just going to do. I'm going to do everything wrong, but I'm just going to do it. MIchele: And then you did it and then so  Colleen: yeah, But we launched the podcast before I had a product. So part of the McColl was like, oh man, now I'm telling the world about this. So I better freaking do it like a podcast with never having launched a product would not be.  MIchele: And so then last fall to goes through. You building it and balancing that with consulting and with parenting too, was all of the like, cause I guess your kids were in school, like part like the whole co COVID school, like  Colleen: some COVID school, situation.  MIchele: And then, I think it was, was it December that simple file upload. I remember you gave me that you gave me like a walkthrough of it in like September or October of last year, but then it was available in the Heroku marketplace and alpha in like October or so November. And then it went into beta in November, December, right?  Colleen: Betas when you can start charging. Oh no. You're right. Cause You have to do out. No,  MIchele: had to get like a.  Colleen: So you have to do alpha and then you have to do beta.  MIchele: it's like one thing where you had to get like 10 people, then you had to get a hundred or something. Colleen: yeah, that's right. So Alpha's 10 people. Beta's a hundred. And then after beta, you going to general availability. So I think that timeline sounds a bit. MIchele: So then you went into beta in December, and then you went into general availability in February, which is when you bought yourself a $20 bagel. Colleen: Yes. I was still a good bagel. I still think about it.  MIchele: And then at some point last spring, you got to this point where you were at like a thousand dollars MRR for like a couple of months there, but, you know, life and everything is kinda kinda happening and whatnot, and you needed more than that. And so you decided to take a full-time job. But then you took the full-time job and people are like, calling's on the market. Like what? Hold on a minute. Like, and then like a bazillion people sent you job offers, including like your dream job of being a founder with people. So now you are, so it was a, we started this, this podcast, you were a consultant and not founder of anything. And now you are no longer a consultant and you are a founder of two things. Colleen: Yes, it sounds so ridiculous when you, when you timeline  MIchele: That's pretty amazing. You've had quite a  Colleen: of  MIchele: 14 months. 15 months.  Colleen: man. I didn't think I did anything during COVID either, but apparently I'm kicking ass over here.  MIchele: Yes, you are. Colleen: Oh yes. So I did end up at one point taking a full-time job and then kind of, as you described. A lot of opportunities came my way. So I left it to do the, to join hammer stone and we're funded for about a year. So that's super exciting. So Yeah. I'm doing all the things, huh? Cool. You know, it's, it's funny in retrospect because you're like, man, I haven't made any progress, but if You really look back a lot has MIchele: You really have. Yeah.  Colleen: Yeah.  MIchele: Yeah. Colleen: So, that's my backstory. Let's talk about your backstory. MIchele: So, okay. All right. So I told you a story. Okay. So now you tell my story. Okay.  Colleen: Do I get to tell your  MIchele: You do. Okay. Okay. But wait, hold on. Here's okay. This is Anne again, insert the harp noises. Okay. Calling. Colleen: Duh. Okay. So as you said, we were meeting and you guys were going to go to Denmark for a month.  MIchele: Well, well, okay. Well, the original idea was that we would go to the Denmark for the summers and then COVID happened. And then we're like, if we can get to Denmark, we should just stay there for like a year. So, so I think like the last time I actually physically saw you. I was like may of 2020. Cause I feel like I dropped some baked goods off of your house. Colleen: That was yes, but that was pandemic had started, so we couldn't hug  MIchele: right, right. Oh my God. I get to hug you at founder summit.  Colleen: I'm so, oh my gosh. I'm so excited. I get to see you in one week. Oh, Okay. Continue on.  MIchele: Oh wait, no, you're telling this story. Colleen: Oh, right. I get to tell it. Okay. So you were going to go to Denmark for a year and you got there and it was such a good fit for your family. You decided you're going to stay for 10 years, which is a  MIchele: Oh, yeah, that was, yeah.  Colleen: in the United States. You basically decided you were going to stay for a while. And so we started the podcast and I think. What's really important for people to know. about you is you and your partner founded geocoded, which is a very successful SAS, which we don't talk about as much as we should. Why don't we talk about it more  MIchele: I don't know. I feel,  Colleen: so successful, it just runs itself.  MIchele: it doesn't run  Colleen: You should brag. We need to talk more about geocoding on this show, but it does. Are you comfortable giving some kind of lower limit of what kind of revenue it  MIchele: Yeah. I mean, I feel like I have to give like something just so, yeah. I think in the book, you know, we Mathias and I agreed that we can say that we are over a million in annual revenue, which kind of seems to be like a, a key metric for people. You know, people talk about, you know you know, every SAS, founder you know, knows what, what the number 83,333 means which is multiply that by multiply that by 12 and that's a million dollars in annual revenue. So so you were we're north of that mark, but that's as much as we're comfortable saying. Colleen: Got it. So point being you and your, and it's just the two of you, which is really kind of spectacular. So you have basically already achieved the sass dream before we even started the podcast. Like you're living the SAS dream and, and I think that's important for people to know. So you're in a totally different stage of your company in terms of, if you want to hire, if you don't want to hire. Ha, you know, day-to-day operations expanding to new markets, that kind of stuff. And, and so I think we started as a very, very, I mean, we're obviously very, very good friends, but we also started as a very mentor mentee dynamic on the podcast  MIchele: Yeah, I guess so.  Colleen: and Yeah. I think so, like I was being, I was like whining about how hard it was and you're like, yeah, You should talk to people. My favorite dynamic though, is what I'm like. Don't you want to sell it for like $10 million? And you're like, no, I don't want to start over. It was hard starting over.  MIchele: This is the podcast you come to for encouragement. Colleen: Right. Starting from the beginning. Sucks, man. Why would I sell my business? It's my favorite one. Anyway, so we have a bit of a dynamic. I feel like where I'm like, okay. What should you do to optimize for your happiness, where you are, and you're trying to help me get off the ground, especially when we started. And now, I mean, you've learned so much, you guys have had geocode you've been full time for six  MIchele: four years  Colleen: It's okay. But the  MIchele: company's been around. It'll be eight years in January,  Colleen: a lot of MIchele: wild. Colleen: And so through, I think through our conversations and the feedback we got from, we mostly engage with people on Twitter. So the feedback we got from Twitter, we started talking more and more about customer interviews, which is such a hard thing for developers. And you have this depth of knowledge in that field based on running your own business and previous jobs you've had. And somehow you wrote a book and like five months, like one day we were like, you should write a book and then you just wrote one. That's how I remember it going. No, you started a newsletter first. So you started the newsletter, right? And then you basically, I mean, the way you churned out content was just. It was mind blowing to me like it was, what did you say? Like you had everything in your brain and you just needed to get It  MIchele: It was like cleaning my mental attic.  Colleen: It was like twice a week. You were sending these  MIchele: It was actually more than that. And people were like, please stop sending them, like I'm buried. And I was  like,  Colleen: can't read them. I used to have to flag them to be like, read later. I don't have time to read these 5,000 words today. So you brain dumped into a newsletter and you turned that brain dump into a book, which gosh, when did you publish the book? So the newsletter started in like end of February. And  okay. February 20, 21.  MIchele: And then the pre-order went live in July. No. Like early June. And then the book was basically done by early July, but then there was like all of the, like not book stuff to do. It's like, kind of like when you build a SAS and you're like, oh wait, oh, I need to do like billing and like user account management and like, like set up emails, like all that kind of stuff. It was like, I had like buy an ESPN and all that stuff. And like, you know, you need a cover. So you need a cover. It's annoying, but books need  With one of the listeners of this podcast, Damien like was like, Hey Aman, do you need help with that? And I was like, I don't know how to do graphics. So so it was like July 20. Ah, 24, I think is what it says on Amazon. That it like went live that you could, you could buy it. Yeah, Colleen: And this is October and you're basically crushing all of these records in terms of business books. You've sold many copies, it's been wildly successful. And you're now doing an audio podcast as a companion to the book? Yes. Okay.  MIchele: Yeah. I know I am.  Colleen: of quiet. I was like, you're right.  MIchele: episode. Yes. Yes. Colleen: So somehow you are living in a foreign country where you're just learning the language. You have a child, you have a business that does over a million dollars. ARR.  MIchele: Yeah. Colleen: fine. It's totally normal. You know, it's someone said to me, okay, I have to tell you this, Michelle, someone who listens to our podcast, who I will not name was like, this person likes to watch like trashy TV on Netflix. And this person was like, I don't think Michelle would watch this. I bet she stays up all night reading business books. It's like, I think she does. MIchele: I Colleen: I'm like over here watching the vampire diaries or something and you're like reading customer books.  MIchele: I do watch TV. I will have, you know, Colleen, I do watch telephone. Colleen: Sure you do. No one believes you. You're like I watched five minutes on Saturday. MIchele: I watched Ted lasso every week. But now that the season is over, I will be reading more books. You know what, something, you know, you mentioned that, you know, we have this the early days, like the sort of mentee mentor kind of dynamic, but I think another dynamic that stands out to me is. For me, I feel like in so many ways you have been my cheerleader and you have really pushed me, especially when it comes to the book and been so encouraging. And you know, and I'll be like, oh, I don't know if I should do this. I don't know if it's going to work. And you're like, it's obviously going to work. Like, why are you even questioning? Like, I like your perception of me is just like, so wildly different than my own perception of like my own abilities. That, that, like, I feel like you're, you're like, you know, one of my biggest supporters and have been so enthusiastic for me as I went through that transition. Cause I feel like, I feel like launching an info product is very different than launching a SAS and going into this, you know, I feel, I feel very confident as a SAS business owner, like. know, I, of course there's things I don't know, and I'm learning all the time, but like, I feel like I know how to figure those things out. feel confident in my abilities to run that business. And I thought that I was just confident as a business person in general. And then I started writing a book and I learned that I have no confidence when it comes to writing a book and launching an info product and felt just completely like a fish out of water and sort of constantly questioning the approach to it and marketing it. Cause it's just like, everything is just so different and it was so many new. Skills that I, or things I hadn't really done in a long time or hadn't just, or just different. And and I feel like you have just kind of been the one, like standing in my corner being like, yeah, like you can, you can do that. Like you can figure this out. Like you know, just kind of keeping me. Colleen: oh, that's great to hear. I'm glad. I'm glad. I have been there for you. I really appreciate you sharing that with me. Cause that means a lot to me. Cause sometimes I feel like I don't bring as much, I mean, outside of our friendship. Right. Which obviously we're like best friends, but sometimes I feel like in our podcast and like our business relationship, if you want to call it that I don't bring as much to the table. So I'm glad to hear that.  MIchele: Yeah. I feel, I feel just as much, I don't think mentored is. Word, because that implies somebody who has like, done that specific thing before. But I do feel like I have gotten so much guidance from you and encouragement and you, you have really been a force in my life for, for helping to make that happen. And.  Colleen: that's awesome.  MIchele: Yeah. You know, on a sort of related to that, like I've had people, I think it was be like tweeted out. Like I wonder if you know Michelle and Colleen, like talk to each other outside of the podcast? Yes. If anyone else was like wondering, and we don't have that same dynamic, I think in our like personal life. But like we're in like a group chat with like other friends of ours. She is so funny thing, like how, when we met it turned out that like one of our best friends was your study buddy in college. And you guys hadn't seen each other in 10 years and I like met you for the first time. Cause some other friends we knew through this, like, you know, Indy like SAS business world connected us when you moved. To Arlington, where we used to live and I added you on Facebook. And I was like, wait, how do you know him? And you were like, we went to college together. How do you know him? And I was like, what? Like mutual best friend. This is weird. Okay. This is great. That was wild. I mean, because we were really, I was really good friends with that person in college. Hadn't taught, literally hadn't even thought about him in 10 years and you're like, oh, they're our best friends. I was like, what? It's like the stars aligned there. That was so wild.  Yeah, so, and ho, ho. Yeah. So, so now here we are. So we've been doing a lot of thinking about this podcast and, you know, as I thought about it, You know, an original reason for the show. And especially for me was, you know, to keep us talking to each other, like, and, you know, I had just moved to another country where I didn't have any friends. And. You know, talking to you every, it was, you know, like I needed to schedule something to like force me to, to talk to people, you know, of course I'm on Twitter all the time, which I think is also related to like being in another country and, and not sort of physically having friends nearby, but of course, with COVID for like long time, you know, that's, that's kind of everybody's in that position to less so than it was. But and so that was a big thing for me. Andy still valuing that. And then also kind of feeling like, I think, I guess I just, as this has like grown and it's not just us, like I remember in the beginning, like you were like, you should like get a mic. And I was like, we don't even know if anyone is going to listen to this, except our husbands. Like, I'm not going to buy a mic, like. Colleen: a Mike. I remember you saying that you're like. I don't need a mic. I was like, I think so. I feel like you should get one.  MIchele: And so I love talking to you and something else we have also talked about is that we also love talking to other entrepreneurs and like other people who are doing this like weird internet business thing. And so like you went in a couple weeks ago, you were, you were. Telling me that I had to listen to the episode with Nadia from story graph. And so I did, I did listen to that and I loved it. Like I was listening to it. And first of all, like this, like she's such a compelling speaker. Like I, and like I kept expecting to hear like the, how I built this, like music chime in. Cause I was like totally enraptured in it in the same way that I am with w with how I built this. But also you're a great interviewer. And I was like, I like listened to that. And I was like, I want to listen to more of the show. Like I liked the show, like, how do I get more of this? And, and it was like kind of fun that it was like our show, but I didn't know what was going to happen in it. And like you and I would like, she would be talking and I would like have this question in my head. And like, you would ask that question. And I was like, oh my God. Like it was so fun for me to listen to it. And so we've kind of been talked about like bringing more friends and people onto the show more. But I think also to kind of give ourselves a break too, a little bit. So we're both not in front of the mic ever. Like we're still talking regularly, but recording every week for a year and a half  does  Colleen: we've done this every  MIchele: Yeah. We haven't missed a  Colleen: is a lot.  MIchele: I'm very proud of  Colleen: There's a couple of things I wanted to talk to you about this. I love having guests on, and I think having a podcast, like what's the point in having a popular podcast? If you can't talk to people, you internet stock. I mean, that sounded really creepy, but I mean like all the people you follow on Twitter that are like,  MIchele: people who are doing cool things that you like talking to.  Colleen: Right. So I love having a podcast cause both I've had two guests on and I cold DMD. Both of them, Derek and Nadia. And presumably they didn't ignore me because I had a podcast. I mean, I'm sure  MIchele: Yeah. It's like an excuse to get interesting people to talk to you. Colleen: So yeah, it's an excuse to get interesting people to talk to you. But there's two things. I just like, if we go this direction, I just want to like be mindful and put out there. I, this might be all in my head, but I am curious to see if like there's a power dynamic with you. and I, that, like, you're kind of, I mean, you are objectively more successful in this field than I am. So like both times I invited a guest on, I was very clear that you would not be there. And I'm just wondering if like, people are going to be like, Oh, I don't want to be on software show, show Michelle's now. MIchele: I don't think so. Colleen: I don't think so. but I'm just letting you know. I mean, since we're gonna, you know, just chat on this podcast now that is something that's in my head that I'm like a little bit nervous about that someone's going to be like, oh, is Michelle going to be there? And it'd be like, no, and they're gonna be like, oh yeah, I'm not available. Has not happened to me. MIchele: I'm glad you shared that with me. Cause yeah, I, I, yeah. And when you get like a really famous, famous, again, not no one knows these people outside our little circle, like we say, famous,  famous or  whatnot,  Colleen: Very specific indie, SAS,  MIchele: niche famous.  Colleen: each famous.  MIchele: If you were listening and you were hyper niche famous. Colleen: niece famous.  MIchele: But also if you're not hyper niche famous, like that is, I think something like with guests we have had on the past too, was like, there was a very intentional, like this person, like more people should know about the work this person is doing. Like they are not like they do not, there are not enough people in the community who know about this person and what they're doing and what they've done. And like this person we're interviewing should have more internet. Colleen: Yeah. So I guess for me, that is just something I want to like be, I don't know. I'm sure it won't be a problem. I'm just telling you. That's like one of the things that's in my head, like you're going to get the. Higher. I don't even know how to say this without sounding terrible. So I just won't that there'll be a kind of an incongruity and people who want to speak to you versus people who want to speak to me. So I'm just throwing that out there as something to like, it's probably not a thing it's probably just in my head, but MIchele: I'm glad you've let it out of your head and it's not going to like sit there and fester. I really hope that doesn't happen. But you know, if you, if, if you have that fear, I'm, I'm glad you said it rather than holding it in. Colleen: Yeah. And there's some people you're going to have on that. Like, and this is weird too. Like there's some people you're going to have on that I'd really like to meet. So then if we both do it, but we only both do it for some guests, is that. If I'm like, you're, you're gonna, you're like, oh, I'm having XYZ person on. I'm like, oh, I really want to meet X, Y, Z person. I want to do it with you. I don't know. These are MIchele: I don't think. Yeah. I think sometimes we'll do it together and like, I think there'll be some times also it's like a mutual friend of ours too, where like, it  really. You know, but also like if it's both of us on like, you know, we don't both have to be asking the same amount of questions. Like it could be, you know, 80, 21 of us, like that's, that's also fine. And I think just kind of communicating about who we're inviting on and, and being. Being very intentional about it, but also at the same time, like I've, so I've basically a hazard sort of talked about this as we're basically get to like run a test for the next couple of months and for the most part. So this is so people kind of know what's happening. We're going to basically alternate weeks with interviews with people we think are interesting doing interesting things and then. And then Michelle and Colleen week for the Mo for the most part, like there might be like holiday weeks or something where like, you know, we have, we're not going to like record on Christmas. So we needs record, you know, record in advance and it's kind of easier to do that with interviews and stuff. But I think we're going to try that out for like the next like couple of months. I mean, also the next couple of months for me are going to be kind of. Really busy and I'm like, you know, so you gave me this challenge of being on, oh, I always want to say it's 10 podcasts, but I know it's 20,  Colleen: definitely. It was definitely 20.  MIchele: this challenge of being on yes. 20 podcasts to promote the book. And oh, I don't think I haven't made it to 10 yet. Getting there. But I'm going to be on like a bunch of bulkheads. And honestly, I just like, I can't listen to myself talk like all the time. So. I'm going to need, you know, a break some weeks and you're going to need it, like, cause you're now a founder of two companies. It's a lot  like any, you have life going on too. And we're going to founder summit and I'm giving like I'm giving three talks in the next couple of weeks. Two of which are in person, which is, I just don't even know how to comprehend that. So things are going to be busy. But I think, you know, kind of want to, I think we've said this a couple of times at sometimes we. Lean on the social side of software, social, like this is the podcast about software. That's not actually about software. Like and I think kind of, you know, we've sort of like, I think about our show. I'm sorry. I'm totally rambling, but I'm going to keep rambling. So I think about our show  Colleen: You can do whatever you  MIchele: more ha so excellent. Well, first of all, I mean, I love interviewing people, right? Like I interviewed two people, four episodes that are coming up and I like, you can probably hear that I'm a little bit froggy right now. I, you know, I did those interviews and it was so much fun. And afterwards Mathias is like, you are so energized, like way more than you have been at any point this week. Like, and I was so excited and, you know, I was thinking about it and I was like, okay, this is probably a surprise to no one except me that I love interviewing people, apparently who would have thought. Colleen: Who would've thought.  MIchele: But I like it was so jazzed by it. I really, really enjoyed it. Like just genuinely genuinely enjoyed that. And kind of the way that I feel like I think about our show is, I don't know if you ever listened to car talk I used to.  Which you know, so it was like at this NPR show where national public radio, where, you know, these two funny guys from Cambridge, Massachusetts would, you know, people would call in these two brothers and they would talk about their car problems. Now I listened to this show every week for a. You know, a good amount of my life through my child and Dean and even college years. I can't tell you anything about cars but it was fun. And, you know, listening to people who like talking to each other is enjoyable, no matter what they're talking about. And so I think that's kind of how I think about these, like our show, but also the interviews is like, just listening to people who like talking to each other. It's just kind of enjoyable to sort of almost get to be a part of that conversation in a way.  Colleen: Yeah. MIchele: I don't know.  Colleen: agree. I love it. I love this idea. I think it's gonna work out. I think we'll see how it goes. I think the plan to do it for a couple of months. Another thing that we talked about a little. Is, I feel like this podcast was becoming started to feel like a chore and it felt like a chore because I felt like I had to always have like some really exciting update or some really awesome thing that was happening to me. That was so wonderful. And like for four months, not four months for like four weeks. I didn't touch simple file upload. So I felt like I was coming on here every week with like, eh, I didn't do anything or just widening or whatever. And I feel like there was an, a little bit of pressure as we get more listeners to perform. And so like, I'm just going to put that aside, like, cause I, it was funny. About two or three weeks ago, we were very seriously, like, should we keep doing this? Should we not? And I went and had lunch with, and I was like, I don't have anything to say on the podcast. And that I wouldn't have had lunch with my buddy. And I like talked his ear off for like two hours. And it was about all that. It wasn't about, it was about all the things I used to talk to you about on the podcast that I feel like, I mean, borings, I don't know. if it's boring, but like stuff everyone's dealing with. Like, what am I supposed to about childcare? And the context switching is killing me. That's what stuff you and I used to talk about and I kind of accidentally stopped talking about it. Cause it felt like we were just like, your book is doing so amazing and my product is doing so amazing. And I, I felt pressured to always. You know, be like, everything is so wonderful. So I'm going to let that go and just go back to what we used to be, which as I'm showing right now is just chatting like we're together. Right. And again, just rambling. So I feel like for me, that was part of the problem is I felt like I always had to perform, like I had to be a certain role, like, and I'm not, you know, that added stress to the situation.  MIchele: I think, I felt, I felt that too. Because I felt like the book was the most interesting thing going on. You know, the thing about having a mature SAS is that. It's boring. Like the boring, this is a feature like, you know, there there's no, there's no surprises in the monthly revenue and that's like a ma it's like an amazing kind of boring. But like I was like, do people really want to hear about me? You know, reconciling invoices and like negotiating contracts and like going back and forth on whether we should do like SOC two or not. And like that's boring. And, and then I like kind of like w when we were in the middle of this, like, should we, should we keep doing the podcast conversation tweeted out? Like, why do you listen to this show? And, and really appreciate everybody who replied to that. And, but some of those things where like, you know, someone was like, oh, like I miss you guys talking about work-life balance. And S and I was like, people don't really want to hear me talk about, like, to do it SOC two and a bunch of people like, no, actually yes, yes, please. Like, please, can you please talk about that? Like, we do want to hear about that. So, cause I started to feel like the problems or sort. Considerations that a, that a mature SAS might have, like, would not be relevant because a lot of people were listening for your story. And that, like, the geocoder story was not very interesting. And like, I was tired of telling it, I thought everybody else was tired of hearing it. And then people were like, no, actually we want to hear about you. And I was like, Oh, okay. Like, it doesn't have to be like, like, I feel like we had these sort of like story arcs in a way of the show. Like very unintentionally, like last fall was like last fall. And like the winter was like your journey into launching simple file upload. And then this spring and summer, it was with the book. And I think maybe we got, like, I think we, maybe we started to feel like we had to have like, Some sort of a story arc,  Colleen: Yes. Totally  MIchele: but then like sometimes the story is just like, you know, what do I, what do I do about context switching? Or I like, you know, I don't know. I spent my week negotiating enterprise deals. Like, do we want to talk about that? Like, I love negotiate. Like this, the thing that you talked about, like, you know, the, the customer research thing, like I'm now known as a customer research Person. But I feel like negotiating is something that I spend a ton of time doing and like sales. And I was like, I actually never talk about that on the podcast,  like  Colleen: No, you never  MIchele: ever, and people also don't really know how to do sales, so maybe I should talk about that. I think, I think this kind of like thinking about. Content. Like I remember in the beginning, remember the beginning, how we had this, like, notion of like all the stuff we would talk about. And then we would like each come in with it, like for like, like each week we'd each have something where you're going to talk about. And we were going to be like 15 minutes each, but then we, like, I mean, we're totally doing it today, but like we found that we were basically like talking in paragraphs, like at one another. And it wasn't really a conversation because we were so like rehearsing what we were saying. So then we could just kind of follow the. Stories that emerged. But I think what I really enjoyed about your interview with Nadia was that like, you're just kind of following her story. And I got to like, sort of, I don't know, get like a pony ride on your back and like, be like, along for the ride of like figuring out where Nadia story was going. And like, that was like that, that was really fun for me. And to listen to that awesome. Well, is that a good place to wrap up for this  I guess so. I mean, I think I want to say that I hope people will kind of like chime in, like we do really genuinely love it when you tweet stuff at us about the episodes and what you're thinking about. And like, especially since it's just Colleen and I are talking to each other right now, like having that. I mean, you all know that I'm somebody who likes feedback. But both of us really value that I think. And that's really something that keeps us going is knowing that I don't know, I don't get any satisfaction of seeing like numbers and a dashboard. Transistor has a very nice dashboard with lots of numbers that our advertisers appreciate. But I don't really get anything out of that. What makes me feel like, you know, this is. Having an impact is like people telling us, you know,  Colleen: Yeah,  MIchele: I don't know how you think  Colleen: you, it was interesting because. Right before you sent that tweet out, what was that two weeks ago about what do you like about the podcast? That's where you were seriously thinking about, maybe we shouldn't do it or something. And then all of the responses were all the reasons we started the podcast and I was like, oh, okay, cool. Rock on. We're doing what we set out to do.  MIchele: yeah. So, so yeah, we're gonna mix things up a little bit, but hopefully I think get back a little bit closer to, to what we wanted out of this and what we were doing in the beginning, which I think is to, I don't know, kind of show what it's like to start a SAS, you know, bumps and all, and now it's going to be, you know, running, running. But also talking to other people who have done the same thing too, but I think, you know, something we really learned from Adam's episode a couple of weeks ago is that I really need to tell the stories of. And, and Cam's episode to really tell the stories of, yeah, this kinda isn't working, like, you know, that there's a place for the podcasts talking about successes. Like I think we all need that for encouragement and motivation. And it's just, I think so good for the community to tell the success stories. But most people are not succeeding. And even if you are. It's can still be lonely and hard and there's stuff that you don't know how to do. And we've, I think that's something we both struggled with is like doing everything, you know, yourself or close to it with one or two other people. It means you've got to learn a lot of new stuff all the time and that gets exhausting. And so, you know, to the extent we can kind of telling those stories and sort of in a way that, you know, are, and the way that we started out meeting in a coffee shop, sort of. Almost making the podcast itself, that coffee shop where we're kind of converging people regardless of what their situation currently is. So yeah, I think I, I think I have said a lot. Colleen: I'm here for it. This is what I want to get back to where we just kind of chat.  MIchele: Yeah. I think me to be too right.  Well, so we're off to founder summit and I'm so excited  Colleen: So  MIchele: seeing you in person, like the first time in forever. Yeah, it'd be since ma like me standing on your doorstep with baked goods and may of 2020, maybe it was June. I feel like maybe I saw you in June before I left. I feel like I did. Yeah. I feel like it did. And, then we're gonna have, we're gonna, we're going to have some interviews that I did spring excited about those. Those were so fun. and then yeah, we'll be back,

19 October 2021 43m and 16s


Deploy Empathy Audiobook Podcast Preview

Deploy Empathy Audiobook Podcast Preview

Go to deployempathy.com to buy the audiobook private podcast, physical book, or ebook! This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Reform. As a business owner, you need forms all the time for lead capture, user feedback, SaaS onboarding, job applications, early access signups, and many other types of forms. Here's how Reform is different: - Your brand shines through, not Reform's - It's accessible out-of-the-box ... And there are no silly design gimmicks, like frustrating customers by only showing one question at a time Join indie businesses like Fathom Analytics and SavvyCal and try out Reform. Software Social listeners get 1 month for free by going to reform.app/social and using the promo code "social" on checkout. AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Michele Hansen  0:01   Hey, everyone, Michele here. Colleen is at a conference this week. So doing something a little bit different this week and wanted to give you a preview of the audio book podcast for Deploy Empathy. So as I've kind of mentioned on previous episodes, I am releasing the audio book every week as a podcast as I record it. Part of the idea of this was kind of to sort of sort of do like I did with the newsletter with the book and sort of you know, do it and you know, sort of chapters at a at a time. And so I didn't have to spend you know, two weeks recording which is just, I didn't didn't really have two weeks, you know, of full workdays to sort of lock myself in a closet and record it. So this is allowing me to record it as I have time. Which is kind of a challenge as I say this right now, my desk is literally surrounded and pillows from the last time I recorded which was like two weeks ago. So So yeah, it's been it's been kind of an interesting challenge. But I have been enjoying it. And it's also allowed me to get feedback on it as well. This is my first time recording an audio book. So if anything sounds weird, or whatnot, like people can, you know, give me feedback, and I get a chance to re record as I go. So, so yeah, so it started in I want to say the end of August. And currently, it's on Part Six, which is the how to talk so people will talk section of the book, which is maybe my favorite section of the book. I admit I was a little bit nervous going into recording these chapters because the tone of voice is so important. And I wanted to make sure that I got that right. And I think I got a little bit in my head about that. But I think it I think it came out Okay, so I think I think I'm happy with it. But so yeah, so So this week you're gonna get a chance to preview the the the private podcast, there are still spots in it if you want to join so it's limited to 500 people and right now I think there's about a little under 200 so there's quite a few spots left if you wanted to, to join along, but also you know what, once the full thing is recorded, which I don't really I guess it'll be sort of end of the year early next year. You know, it'll also be available as a regular audio book not quite sure what I'm going to do with the podcast I'm actually kind of curious to hear if people want that to stick around or whatnot. I don't I wonder if it makes it more digestible to get through but maybe that value is on the you know that it's coming out every week, right now. So yeah, hope you enjoy and Colleen and I will be next back next week. Part Six, how to talk So people will talk. This is the most important part of this book. The tactics you'll learn build toward one goal, creating a bubble of suspended judgment, where the person feels comfortable being open. Throughout this part, you'll also find ways to practice these skills before using them in customer conversations. We'll go into each of these in depth one, use a gentle tone of voice to validate them. Three, leave pauses for them to fill for, mirror and summarize their words. Five, don't interrupt, six, use simple wording. Seven asked for clarification, even when you don't need it. Eight. Don't explain anything. Nine. Don't negate them in any way. And let them be the expert. Love it. Use their words and pronunciation 12 asked about time and money already spent. Lastly, you'll learn how to pull it all together by picturing yourself as a rubber duck. Trust me, it'll take you some time and some practice. But I think you'll notice a difference even in your personal life. By using these phrases and tactics. I want you to make me a promise, you'll only use what I'm about to teach you for good, you won't be manipulative, and you won't use what people say against them. deploying the tactics in this chapter can make someone open up to you much more than they otherwise would. Someone's confidence is a sacred gift. And it should be handled gently, respectfully and ethically. That respect should continue after the interview to I expect you to carry through the empathy you build for the customer well beyond the interview, and use empathy as part of your decision making process. Before we get into the tactics and phrases, it's important to understand just how much these tactics can transform a conversation. I got my start doing proper customer interviews in the personal finance industry. In America, people are generally very private about their personal finance decisions and situations. It's an extremely delicate topic. And because of this, I had to learn interviewing in a rigorous way. I didn't realize how much the techniques outlined in this chapter had woven themselves into my everyday conversation habits until I was at the grocery store a few years ago, I was in line with a dozen items and notice that the cashier hugged the woman in front of me, and they interacted with one another in a heartfelt way. I must have just finished an interview because I found myself asking the cashier about it. me with a smile. Oh, I noticed you hugged her. Is that your sister? cashier? No, she's just a longtime customer. I've worked here for a long time. me. Oh, you have? cashier? Yeah, almost 20 years. I'm due to retire soon. Companies changed a lot in that time. me. Oh hasn't. cashier proceeds to tell me about how the store chain was bought out by another chain 10 years ago, how they changed the retirement plan how she's worried about having enough income from Social Security, her 401k her old pension and retirement and how she's making extra 401k contributions. This was all in the span of less than five minutes. As she rang up the dozen or so items I had in my basket. It's important to note that this cashier wasn't just a particularly chatty person. This was my local grocery store. And I had been there a few times per week. For several years at this point. I'd been in this woman's line many many times. And we had never had more than a simple polite conversation about the weather, or how busy the store was that day. I went home and told a former co worker about it and joked Do I have Tell me about your retirement planning written on my forehead. I was amazed that a stranger had told me that kind of information in such a short amount of time. My former co worker pointed out that it was a sign of just how much interview skills had worked themselves into my everyday conversation style. And how I become so much more effective at digging into the heart of an issue without too much effort. For someone who's only negative mark in their first professional performance review was that I was abrasive and was diagnosed with a DD it'll 11 years old, it came as quite a shock to realize I now had an active listening conversation style without even realizing it. That experience taught me how we need to be careful with these skills, and to know when to hit the brakes. It's a person's decision what to reveal. But I always keep that story in mind and remind myself to back off or shift topics. When it seems like someone is on the verge of saying too much. It's possible to make someone too comfortable and safe. It's always okay to say thank you for telling me that I was wondering if we could go back to something you said earlier. I'm curious about something else. It also reminded me of how so many people don't have people in their lives who will just listen to them. Especially about things that are processes or tasks they complete daily or goals that are top of mind. The cashier at the grocery store clearly spent a lot of time thinking and worrying about the different sources of Income she'd have in retirement and whether they would be enough, but maybe didn't have anyone who would listen to her talk about that. I find that once you build trust with someone and show them that you're willing to listen, they will talk. Because no one has ever cared about that part of their daily life before. Maybe they grew up to a co worker about how long something takes, but they've probably never sat down and had someone genuinely ask them what they think about creating server uptime reports or following up on invoices, they've probably never really talked through where they spend a lot of time the tools they use, and so forth. They've probably never had anyone care enough to try to make it better for them. Just being a presence who's willing to listen is more powerful than people realize how customer interviews differ from other kinds of interviews. If you're already familiar with other kinds of interviewing, it might be interesting for you to read with an eye for how this kind of interviewing differs, journalistic interviewing, motivational interviewing and a negotiation based interview all bears similarities to user interviewing, yet they also have significant differences. The first professional interview I ever did was the summer I was interning at the Washington bureau of a British newspaper. the BP oil spill had happened a few months earlier. And my boss asked me to interview someone thinking back that was a very different interview from the customer interviews I started doing years later, in that BP oil spill interview, I was digging for information and I was looking for specific quotes that could be used in an article I already knew about the oil spill, so I wasn't looking to learn their perspective on it. Instead, I needed them to say specific things and say them in a quotable way. Customer interviews by contrast, are all about diving into how the other person perceives an experience and intentionally suspending the desire to validate your own ideas. Later, after the interview has finished, you can analyze the interview and see what opportunities might exist. We'll talk about that more in Part Eight analyzing interviews. Chapter 25 use a gentle tone of voice. In Chris Voss, his book never split the difference. He suggests using a late night DJ voice in negotiations. You're listening to wb mt 88.3 FM therapists will often speak in soft slow voices as a method of CO regulation to calm their patients. These techniques help put the other person at ease and create an environment where they feel safe. These techniques apply when you're talking to customers to a customer interviews should be conducted in the most harmless voice you can possibly muster. Imagine you're asking a treasured older family member about a photo of themselves as a young person. There might be a gentle, friendly tone of voice, a softness to your tone, genuine judgment free curiosity. Or perhaps picture that a close friend has come to you experiencing a personal crisis in the middle of the night. You would listen to them calmly and just try to figure out what was going on. You probably wouldn't start offering ideas or solutions to their problem and would focus on helping them get back to a clear state of mind. use that same gentleness in your customer interviews. It's important to note though, that you cannot be condescending. I purposefully do not say to speak to them like you would a child because people have very different ways of talking to children. Think of your customer as someone you respect and you can learn from because you should and you can. Why did you do it that way set in a medium volume voice with emphasis on certain words could make it sound accusatory and put them on the defensive versus will lead you to do it like that. And a gentle, unassuming, curious voice will help them open up. Try this now. The next time a friend or family member comes to you with a problem. Intentionally use the gentlest voice you can muster when you talk to them. The next time use your normal approach. Notice whether the person reacts differently. Chapter 26 validate them. books on product development often talk about validation, validating ideas, validating prototypes, validating business models. This chapter is about an entirely different kind of validation. It's a pivotal part of getting someone to open up to you. This chapter is about what psychologists and therapists describe as validating statements. These are specific phrases you can use to show someone that you're engaged with what they're saying. It's okay to have trepidation about what you would say in an interview, and how you would come up with follow up questions. Yet most of what you say during an interview aren't questions at all. Instead, you use validating statement It's that shows someone you're open to what they're saying and are listening. Your goal is for them to talk as much as possible. And you as little aim for the interviewee to do 90% of the talking in the interview. In a customer interview, you use validation, even when you don't necessarily agree with what they say. Or even if what they say sounds absurd to you. It does not mean that you agree with them. It is instead a way of recognizing that what they think and do is valid from their perspective. You cannot break that bubble of trust ever, even when something wacky cans, which I can. In a memorable interview years ago, the interviewee suddenly said, Sorry, I'm eating a case of beer right now, about 45 minutes into the phone call. Mind you, this person had given zero previous indications that they were eating. My research partner, the unflappable research expert, Dr. Helen fake, just rolled with it and said, Oh, you're fine. Notice what she said there. She didn't say no worries or not a problem or don't worry about it, all of which either hinge on negating a negative word, worries problem, and thus leave the negative word in the person's mind. Or invalidating instead told him he was fine. Not, that's fine, which is abstract. But explicitly putting the interviewee as the subject. And that saying that he is fine, which validated his state as a person. It was subtle yet next level of conversational jujitsu that will start to come naturally to you, the more you practice this, you also cannot say that you agree with them, or congratulate them, or do anything that implies that you have an opinion. Even if it's a positive opinion, this is probably one of the strangest parts of how to make an interview flow. And for many people, it runs counter to their built in instincts to be positive and encouraging. The person you're interviewing may ask you if you agree, and you need to purposely find a way to make that question go away. I can see where you're coming from on that. Can you tell me rather than Yeah, I agree. agreeing or disagreeing will remind them that you're a human being with opinions and judgments, and the trust will start to melt away, you almost want them to forget that you're a person. For example, when I was interviewing people about their finances, they would admit to doing things that a financial planner or portfolio manager would never endorse, even though we knew that we couldn't correct them. We also couldn't agree with them, either. We were searching for their internal logic and thought processes. And if we were introduced outside information, or agree or disagree with them, they would have shifted into trying to impress us and holding back information, examples of validating statements. That makes sense. I can see why you would do it that way. I'm interested to hear more about how you came to doing it that way. Would you be able to walk me through the context behind that? I can see what you're saying. It sounds like that's frustrating. That sounds like that's time consuming. It sounds like that's challenging. Sounds like you think that could be improved? Can you help me understand What went through your mind? When? Can you tell me more about? It makes sense. You think that? It makes sense? You do it that way? Sounds like there are several steps involved. I'm curious, can you walk me through them? Sounds like a lot goes into that. When using validating phrases, I encourage you to use the word think instead of feel. Some people I've noticed will find it insulting to say that they feel a certain way. But think is interpreted as more neutral and factual. For example, you feel the process is complicated. Versus you think the process is complicated, or better. The process is complicated. And remember, most people like to think their job is challenging. years ago, I heard someone talk about their recent move to LA. their spouse was in the entertainment industry and this person was not. And they kept finding themselves struggling to make conversation at cocktail parties. But eventually they learned a trick. Whenever someone said what they did, they replied with that sounds challenging. Even if the person's job sounded easy or boring. People would open up because it felt like a compliment. And it would lead to an interesting conversation about the things that person did at work. What that person found was that encouraging someone to keep talking requires Turning the conversation back over to them. Rather than offering your own ideas. Try this now. The next time a friend or family member shares a problem with you and does not explicitly ask you for advice, say that makes sense or another one of the validating statements mentioned previously, rather than offering a solution. Sometimes people say I just don't know what to do, which sounds like an invitation to offer a solution but may not be. If that happens, ask them about what they've already tried. Chapter 27 leave pauses for them to fill. Several years ago, I was sitting in the audience at the DC tech meetup. I was there to support a friend who was giving a presentation. And something one of the panelists said stuck with me and it's something I remind myself about during every customer interview. Radio producer melody Kramer was asked what she had learned while working for Terry Gross host of the long running NPR interview show fresh air. She said that Terry Gross his interview strategy is to ask a question and then to wait and wait and wait at least three long beats until it is uncomfortable. Quote, the other person will fill the silence and what they fill it with will often be the most interesting part of the interview. I remember Cramer quoting gross as saying this tactic of saying something and then waiting at least three beats for the other person to fill it is something that I use in every single interview often multiple times. The length of what feels like a long pause varies from person to person. The research of linguist Dr. Deborah Tannen, shows that people from different American regions tend to have different conversation styles. A coordinator her research, people from the northeastern us may talk over one another to show engagement. While California and may wait for a pause to jump in. People from different continents can have different conversation styles to people from East Asia may wait for an even longer pause and could interpret what seems like a suitable pause to the California as an interruption. A three beat pause may seem long disarm and normal to others. I encourage you to experiment with us and add an extra two to three beats on top of whatever is normal for you. In addition to pauses, I also encourage you to notice whether you provide prompts and additional questions. What do you do if the other person doesn't respond right away? Imagine you're trying to figure out what kind of delivery to order for dinner with a friend or spouse. Do you say Where should we order takeout from and let it hang? Perhaps you had possible answers like where should we order takeout from? Should we get pizza? Chinese sushi? One of the ways people make a typical conversation flow is by adding these sorts of little prompting words, when someone doesn't reply immediately. Maybe the prompting is an offering answers like above. And it's just a rephrase without offering an answer like where should we order takeout from? Do you wanna? while adding gesticulation. In an interview, you need to avoid prompting as best as you can, lest you influence the person's answer. When you ask a question, you need to let it hang and let the customer fill the silence. So can you tell me why you even needed a product like your product in the first place? And wait? Don't prompt. If they don't reply right away? Don't say was it for use case one, or maybe use case two? Just wait. I know how hard this is. In fact, there's a point in the example customer interview where I slipped up and prompted cool was there, or is there anything else? Did you have any other questions or? Drew  24:10   No, I think that's everything I have. Michele Hansen  24:14   Now, sometimes it might get truly awkward. The person you're interviewing may not respond. If they say, Are you still there? You can gently bring the conversation back to focus on them and say something that elevates what they've already said like, Yeah, I was just giving you a moment to think. Oh, I was just jotting down what you just said that seemed important. And then rephrase what you'd like them to expand on. Yes, I'm still here. Do you want to come back to that later? Oh, we just sounded like you're about to say something. If anything too long pauses and the interviewers phrases the follow, make the customer feel even more important and reinforce that they are in the dominant role in this conference. It puts them in the role of teacher which marketing psychology expert Dr. Robert Steele, Dini, has identified as a powerful way of influencing another person's behavior. You want them to teach you about their view of the process. And this sort of almost differential treatment through pauses, helps elevate them into that teaching position. To get the answers you need about the customers process, you need to create a safe judgment free environment, you need to hand the stage entirely over to the customer, and talk as little as possible. And leaving silences without prompting is one of the ways you can do that. Try this now. The next time you're having an everyday conversation, not a tense conversation, not appointed conversation. Notice whether you ask a question and wait. Chapter 28 mirror and summarize their words. I have a friend who used that a parrot named Steve. I remember listening amused as he told me about the conversations he had with Steve. This was years before I learned about active listening. And now it makes more sense to me why parrots are great conversationalist, even though their vocabulary is limited. What parents do is repeat words back at people and repeating words back at someone and rephrasing what they've said, as the magical power of encouraging them to elaborate. It's a tactic that therapists and negotiators use all the time. CHAPTER TWO OF never split the difference by Chris Voss is a deep dive on mirroring. And you can also learn about it and nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Consider this excerpt from the example interview, I wasn't Drew  26:44   really seriously considering anything that had a paywall on it was I wasn't sure that it would ever pay itself back off. I knew there were other options out there that would either require moving our storage and our database altogether, which didn't really seem appealing, or having two different services, one to manage each. But then the storage still being just as complicated only somewhere else. Michele Hansen  27:07   It sounds like you had a lot of things you were trying to like wave back and forth about whether you should sort of try to plunge forward with this thing that was already being very frustrating. Or then all of the the negative effects of switching and all the complications that that would introduce. Drew  27:23   I really didn't want to spend a whole lot of time investing, you know, building up a new infrastructure for a new product for new servers to handle this one thing that I think the most frustrating part was that it worked in now it doesn't. Michele Hansen  27:36   You'll notice there aren't any question marks and what I said as a follow up. I rephrased what he said as a statement, which then prompted him to expand on it. This is a combination of two conversation tactics, mirroring and summarizing, mirroring is repeating what someone has said. And summarizing is when you rephrase what they have said, and sometimes label their feelings, you can hear another example of mirroring in the sample interview, he describes himself running into a lot of walls, jumping through a lot of hoops. And that phrasing is mirrored back for elaboration. Drew  28:10   And Firebase Storage just did not work as easily. As it was we found ourselves running into a lot of walls, jumping through a lot of hoops just to make the simplest things work. Michele Hansen  28:22   Can you tell me a little bit more about those hoops and walls that you ran into? negotiation expert Chris Voss notes that it's important to say it rather than I, when summarizing, it sounds like is more neutral, then I'm hearing that since in the second one, you're centering yourself as the subject, but the first phrase centers the situation. For example, if your spouse or roommate comes home seeming frazzled, man, what a day, I had, like 10 calls today. You mirroring. You had 10 calls today. The other person? Yeah, and then my last one didn't even show up and I'd had to cut the previous call short to make it. If I'd known they weren't going to show up. I could have gotten this thing sorted out and then I wouldn't have to work tonight. You summarizing and labeling. Sounds like you had a lot of calls today. And because someone didn't show up, you're feeling frustrated that you have to finish your work tonight. Notice that none of these follow ups or questions? Oh, are you talking to new clients? The clarifications are simple restatements of what the person has said without added editorial zation of the events. Try this now. When a friend or family member says something to you about their day, try stating back at them what they've said. Then try summarizing what they've said as a statement. Sometimes a gentle upward tone implies interest more depending on the person

12 October 2021 29m and 49s


To Freemium, or Not to Freemium

To Freemium, or Not to Freemium

Michele Hansen  0:01 This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Reform. As a business owner, you need forms all the time for lead capture, user feedback, SaaS onboarding, job applications, early access signups, and many other types of forms. Here's how Reform is different: - Your brand shines through, not Reform's - It's accessible out-of-the-box ... And there are no silly design gimmicks, like frustrating customers by only showing one question at a time Join indie businesses like Fathom Analytics and SavvyCal and try out Reform. Software Social listeners get 1 month for free by going to reform.app/social and using the promo code "social" on checkout. Colleen:  So Michelle, last time we spoke, you were rapidly approaching selling 500 books. So we'd love an update on the status of the book. Michele: Drum roll, please. As of today 567 copies,  Colleen: Wow. That's amazing. Congratulations. Michele: I'm, I'm pretty pretty excited about.  Colleen: Yeah. That's spectacular. Michele: So I was thinking about this and, and talking about it with some friends because on my trip to the us last week and you know, talking to people about it and I realized like, why, why was the number 500? So big to me and I think it's because when I first started writing this, like, you know, the newsletter and everything else, I was like, okay, only the people on the newsletter are the only ones who are ever going to buy this book. Right? Like, you know, worst case scenario, I'm writing this just to have a central place to send people when they ask me about doing customer research. And then as I sort of I don't know, admitted to myself that it was becoming a book then I was like, So only the people on this list are going to buy it. Maybe like a quarter of them are like half, you know, that's like, it's going to sell like 5,000 copies, maybe like 200, like lifetime, like ever. But it's really only going to be people who have heard me talk about it, like, you know, who are basically doing this because I have implored them to do so, you know? Cause I've been like, it's been really helpful for geocoding, so you should do it and they're taking my word for it. But 500 or 567, you know, that's like way more than, you know, the 30 odd newsletter readers that I interviewed as part of the writing process. That's more people than subscribed to the newsletter. That's I guess about as many people listened to this podcast, as of right now on a, on a weekly basis, that's this way more than I thought. And that's only in the first two months And I mean, I feel like I keep quoting him so much that we really need to have him on, or just get a clip of him saying it. But as our friend, Mike Buck B says that is stranger money. That is people who don't know me, who don't care about me, who, you know, aren't just buying the book to be nice. Because they're my friend, right? Like that's people who recommended it to other people who were bought it because somebody recommended it to them. And that kind of feels like massive validation for like the concept of customer research to me, when, you know, I feel like there's all these stereotypes about, you know, developers not wanting to talk to people. And there's so many old school ways of doing business where people think that the only ideas come from, you know, sort of inside the building or that they're above talking to customers. Right? Like it feels like repudiation of all of that for the concept.  Colleen: You've definitely reached outside your one degree of separation network  Michele: Yeah.  Colleen: in terms of the reach the book has had. Michele: Yeah. That's super. I don't know. I guess when you set your expectations very low, you're always going to be pleasantly surprised. So I feel like, even when I had five people subscribing to the newsletter even I was like, wow. Even my friends are tolerating me on, like, that was even a surprise. So, so yeah. Yeah.  Colleen: It's amazing. I don't know if you've had a chance yet to listen to the podcast with Nadia, but she talked about, she was on last week. I had her on while you were out. She did three months of customer research. So for three months. So before she built her alpha. I interviewed customers for three months. I was like, yes, that's amazing. And she talked a lot about how that was. So she's been incredibly successful. She has 500,000 users and she talked about how that was the critical, like the critical piece to her building. Her business was taking that time out. And of course this is before your book existed, but like taking that time out to do that customer research, and she used this term called synthesis, which I loved. So she would do. was like, she had read your book, even though your book didn't exist, she would videotape her customer interviews and then she would go back and she would said, and then I would go back and I would, I would, I think she said she would synthesize them, but basically what she meant is she would watch the whole interview over and really try to absorb and hear what they were saying. It was really, it was fascinating. But to your point, the importance of customer research is becoming more and more evident. To all of us, especially developers who just want to build buildings and not. Michele: I mean, I guess I want to clarify that, like, I, you know, I didn't invent any of this stuff. You know, it's been around  for  yeah,  Colleen: feel like, sorry to interrupt. I feel like the key is there's a hole, there's a hole in the market because we don't know how to do  Michele: yeah.  Colleen: mean that, that's the thing we know this is a thing we know this is important, but most of the. I don't know, literally what do you do? And I think your book meets such a need, cause it's like, literally, if you don't know what to say, say these words here are the words you can say when you get confused or lost or scared, Michele: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, it's like, there's a, there's an amazing, wonderful body of. Work on, on customer research and yes. So I always, I, I hear what you're saying. I always want to be very clear, like I did not invent this concept. And I've referenced a lot of that in the book and I'm more so I guess I'm, I'm re phrasing it and sort of, I'm reminded of a quote from GOTA that I'm going to garble, which is basically that all brilliant thoughts have already been thoughts and. Merely have to rethink them in our, our own experience and our own words. And I guess that's sort of what I have tried to do is to, to Yeah, Bring my own kind of voice and perspective to it for, for that, for that level of, of here is if you, if you truly do not know what to say, then here's what you can say. I mean rides we've went what Sean did too. Didn't he say that he did like hundreds of hours of research before  Colleen: lot. I  Michele: he launched his stuff to,  Colleen: my head, but it was quite a lot of hours. Michele: I wonder how you feel about hearing that, because you have said a couple of times in the past, how you wished you could just. I don't know if you wished it, but like you, you felt like you needed to like go in a cave for like three months and then just research. And I have been like, no, like do it alongside, which are already doing, like, you don't have to go quote unquote in the cave, you know, to to, to figure this out and see, but it sounds like you were her story left a really strong impression on you. And I'm curious how that changes your.  Colleen: so her story left a really strong impression on me because she literally is taking on Amazon as a solo FA oh, she has a co-founder now, but as a solo founder. So I think the reason Nadia story resonated was because she. Found the problem that everyone said cannot be solved and she's trying to solve it. So to me, that's really inspiring and it was the problem everyone said can not be solved. And so on her quest to figure out how to solve it. She had to talk to so many people. I feel like my problem is a little bit smaller, which is fine. And I do think for what I'm building, which is like really just a widget when push comes to shove, you know Doing the customer research alongside the development has been good because I can iterate quickly. And there's a certain amount of validation that comes with making money from a product Michele: But it sounds like from Nadia, you really admire her. I guess her tenacity and her courage.  Colleen: I literally cannot believe it. This is the most amazing thing she basically, and I think really her success, which is something we don't talk about as much. I think her success comes from, she described it like founder product fit, like she loves to read. And for those who didn't hear the podcast, she is the founder of story graph, which is basically good reads, but a million times better, they have over half a million. Users . They've been featured in famous publications. They're basically on track to kill , good reads. It's it's really fascinating to watch her journey. And I think the thing that inspires me so much is. This problem was just seemed like impossible. Like everyone's like, yeah, good reads kinds of sucks, but I don't know. I don't know how you would solve that. It's too hard. Right? It's too hard. And she just went for it with, and the reason she went forward is because she realized early, she loved books. She loved the space and she just was so, so, so, so, so excited to work in this space. So she actually found like founder product fit before she found. Product market fit, which is interesting, but the founder product fit is what kept her going, you know, through the early, the first year, which sounds like it was pretty challenging. Michele: Yeah. So as someone who loves customer research and reads a lot of books, it sounds like I should listen to this episode. you said it was on software social last week, right? And  Colleen: totally was. You would love it. Michele: yeah, That's I mean, yeah, I've, I've, I feel like I've heard a lot of people talk about founder market fit, which is, which is really interesting because like, when I think about that term, You know, so for, from one perspective, like it's really important that you're, you're passionate about the space that that you're solving for. But then there's kind of a point where like being too passionate about it and knowing too much about it is almost a hindrance because people come in with a lot of biases about what the solutions should be. And I tend to think more about it, you know, being passionate about. The customer in that space and having empathy for the customer in that space, you know, and, and it's not just being passionate about the concept of books, but the reader experience of books, which is the customer of books, which are, and those are, those are two very different things.  Colleen: right. Yep. And that's exactly, I think why she spound so much success because she was so focused on the customer, the reader of books. Michele: I'm curious, like how you, you mentioned how you think about, you know, integrating customer research with simple file upload has customer research really come up with hammers?  Colleen: Not yet. I need to talk to my people about this, because this is an interesting thing because Aaron has been doing so much work to kind of be out there and be visible in the layer of L space. So, so we've had like the informal, like, this is great. We totally want this kind of messages, but I wouldn't say that we've done any in-depth customer research yet. Michele: Yeah. I mean, that's also a case where, you know, being one of the customers is really helpful because if you, if you are like, Aaron is like, so in tune with the customers and really one of them that you're releasing things that they're really excited about because you're really excited about it. Like that can play out pretty well. I think in many cases, that's where we come from with, with um, But, you know, to edit at a certain point, like, like how far does that get you?  Colleen: right. So speaking of customer research,  Michele: Always speaking of customers.  Colleen: We're always speaking of customer research. So one of the things that has been one of the things that has been so great about simple file upload is I have zero support requests. It is apparently easily actually that easy to use because no one ever emails me. Great. Right? No one ever emails me. So two weeks ago, We did another round of, will you talk with me emails with the Amazon gift card as incentive. And we got exactly zero responses. So people are actively using it, but again, it's only 2025. I have 2025 paid users. So I want to do something. I have a plan and I think what I should do is I should add additional pricing. And the re the reason I think this is, if you think about how Heroku works typically. So for example, paper, paper trail, which is a law. App is really popular on Heroku. And what they do is there's a free tier, but you're limited you're log limited. So then there's like, then they have all these itty-bitty tiers, then it's like, oh, here's my $15 tier. And then I get however much luggage storage I get, and here's my $30 tier X amount of log storage. So what, what happens to me, literally, every app, you sign up for the free tier and then you upgrade when you need it. Sentry I believe is the same way. Sentry gives you a free tier and then when you need more error reporting or logging or whatever you upgrade. So I think I should offer a free tier and a $15 tier on Heroku. Michele: So, I don't know if you heard my little keyboard strokes there, but I was pulling up your current page on the Heroku marketplace. And just for context, most of your customers are still coming from Heroku. Is that right?  Colleen: It's interesting most are coming. I think the split is yeah, probably two thirds are coming from Heroku, but the interesting thing is my non Heroku customers are like more excited.  Michele: Hm.  Colleen: that's kind of an interesting, like there, they talk to me a little bit more, but that's a whole nother thing. We are not going to have time to talk about. I kind of think it was a mistake to release this, not a mistake, but I released it. I did Heroku and then I released it out into the world. And I did that because I thought. My people were going to be front end developers who don't use Heroku, so they wouldn't have to deal with AWS. And that has not proven to be true. So that's a whole different thing. So, so, and now we have to now, Michelle, I feel like I'm trying to get out of that place where I feel like I don't have enough time, but I feel like I don't have enough time because now I have to maintain two completely independent billing sets. Because Heroku is deal is totally different than how you do Stripe. And that is a lot, every time I want to make a change, it's a huge deal.  Okay. But that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about this pricing plan on  Michele: oh, there's like so many things in there. I want to dive into,  Colleen: right. So many things.  Michele: Oh, hold on a minute. Let's can we, we pull this back for a second. How many hours a week are you working on this Right now  Colleen: Right now I'm doing about one day a week, which is, you know, eight hours, maybe  Michele: Okay. Okay. And we don't want to spend all of those eight to 10 hours dealing with billing.  Colleen: right? That's the problem. Yeah. That was in  Michele: And I feel, I mean like months ago, I mean, even like a year ago now we were kinda going through like, should you do free tier, should you do free trials? Should you do just pay like, w like, should you do pay as you go, should you do a monthly, like all, like, there's kind of, it's kind of mind boggling, like how many different permutations of a pricing model you could go with. And so I'm looking at the plans right now. So you. Just as it stands right now. And this is, is, is, is it the same on Heroku as on non Heroku? Like is, the  Colleen: it is it  Michele: Okay. So basic is $35 a month. Pro is $80 a month and then custom is two 50 and then need a larger plan. Let our customer success team help our customer success team of Colleen.  Colleen: I've Colleen. Michele: And so what you're saying or. You think that does your, your hypothesis here is that if you add a free tier, then you will get more signup. That will then convert into paid plans, which means that your hypothesis of why more of the original Heroku users when you were in alpha and beta did not convert into paying users is because your free, your subscription plans were too high. Does all of that sound correct.  Colleen: That sounds correct. Michele: And your basis for this hypothesis is other services that you have looked at.  Colleen: correct. I feel like I need a free plan, like a free tier and it would be super low storage, so you can try it out. You can get, you know, do that and then maybe like a 15 or $19 tier. Michele: So by super low storage, are you talking like one. Like basically they can  like, oh wait, like  Colleen: megs, like, like five  Michele: so they can like upload like Yeah. like five files and then be like, Hey boss, lady, give me the P card so we can subscribe to this. Colleen: Yeah. Cause I think the problem is, I mean, I know I like to do this. I don't really know if you're looking at this. You want to try it out and right now you have no way. To on Heroku. Cause there's no free trial on Heroku. Like you have no real way to try it out on Heroku. So if I did a plan that was like, like seriously, like super low storage. So it's maybe the equivalent of five to 10 files. If you like it you'll upgrade because you'll need more storage. And then if you don't like it, you know, and you got to try it and maybe I'll get more people to talk to. Michele: So I think that makes sense. I don't think adding another basic plan makes sense. Those feel like the workflow that you're describing. I feel like adding another basic plan. Does not help you because adding, so what you described is basically what you're trying to do is a kind of, what we do basically is selling into teams without actually you know, having to cold email them and be like, Hey, developer needs this. They found a thing by Googling. They can try it out for free. Then they get permission to pay for it from somebody without ever talking to you. Amazing sales process. It's hours. Love it. But then adding a $15 a month plan feels like going for a customer segment that has lower usage and is more price sensitive. And I feel like that. Th that feels like it's solving a different sales process and a different customer type that's, you know, doesn't have as high usage doesn't have as high of a propensity to. pay. And it sounds like the customer you're going after really should not blink at $35 a month or even 50 or a hundred dollars.  Colleen: right. Yeah, that's true. That's a good point. Michele: I mean, you could always add the free plan and then see, are there people being like, wow, like this five files to, you know, 30 gigs, like that's a big jump. Like we, we only need 10, but right. now you're not hearing from anybody. And your problem is volume  of, you know, you need bodies basically. So I feel like if you were to launch those two at the same time, you would be muddling your results. And I use results sort of broadly because there's not enough volume here to really get a, you know, sort of a statistically significant result or, you know, anything out of that data. But it sounds like you need more people coming in and you need like something to see if that.  Colleen: Yeah, but the idea behind this would be it's very similar. It's very common for Heroku and literally there's again, so many features I could build one to build. I don't know which way to focus my  energies. I just can't stop with the features.  Michele: can't stop. Won't stop.  Colleen: right. If I could talk to more people like, I really I've let go. You remember, in the beginning I wanted to resize images on demand. I don't think anyone cares about that anymore. Now.  Michele: But you didn't add it.  Colleen: I did not add  Michele: Yay. You didn't  spend time on  something. People didn't Colleen: People don't care about  Michele: that's a win  Colleen: that's a win I, my new hypothesis, however, is that people would like, some people would like the option to edit the images after they've been uploaded, like in the widget, which would be super cool. But I, again, no one has asked for that. I  Michele: I was just going to say, has anyone asked you this or do you just think, it's cool?  Colleen: I just think it's cool. Michele: That's okay. You're allowed that. Let's just do.  Colleen: I just  Michele: Recognize that, but so did you say that it's like common on Heroku for people to offer a super low like testing plan basically?  Colleen: well, I don't know if it's yeah. I mean like if you look at would people expect that?  yeah, I think, I mean, that would be super low, but like century, paper trail, those are the two I use and. That's pretty normal to be like, oh, you have this amount, which is really not much. I should see how much they give you. Okay. So paper trail, see paper trail free $8 a month, $16 a month, $30 a month, $33 a month. 65. I mean, they have like the, the, you know, the difference is so small, but for example, Paper trail gives you the free plan is two days of search duration, which is like hardly 10, 10 megs log volume per day. The next one is seven days of search duration at $8 a month. And I think century might be the same. So I think it's pretty common to have kind of like a staging plan. I could name it dev. I mean, it would be like named dev yeah. Centuries the same way. Only they go from free to $29 a month and you get 5,000 errors per month for free 30 days, a long history. And then if you jump up to their next tier, you get 50,000 errors per month. So I  Michele: Yeah, I think that would make sense, like a dev plan that's free. That's I think also naming a dev makes it very, rather than like naming it dev rather than naming it. He makes it clear that it's just for  Colleen: Just, yeah, like this is a super small thing you have here. So yeah, I think, I think that's what I'd like. I think that would help me get more Heroku people in the door. I mean, I know it well because when it was free, I got signups like crazy. So I know it'll help me get more Heroku people and it'll be interesting to see what kind of conversion rate I get with Heroku. Once I get that set up. Michele: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that will be interesting.  So,  Colleen: I, God,  Michele: oh no, you go ahead.  Colleen: I don't have great metrics yet though, either. So I've been trying to like, get those set up too. So it just feels like there's a lot to do right now. Michele: Did you feel good about it?  Colleen: What do you mean? Do I feel good  Michele: Like, I feel like last time we kind of talked about this, like you were feeling like working on. Hammer stone was taking some of the pressure off of you and you kind of had some space to explore and let simple file upload blossom a little bit on its own, sort of without the pressure of replacing your, your full-time income right away.  Colleen: That's true, but I don't really feel like it's blossoming fast enough, like, right. Like I just can't I'm like, I don't feel like, I think so I've been pretty flat on MRR, but it's actually really good because I had a couple people that were paying me $250 a month and they have all left because I never used it. It was weird. So the people I have now. Our higher quality customers, I think less likely to churn because they're actively using it. So I have more customers now, lower price point actively using it, which is good.  Yeah. I guess I just feel, I mean, I know everyone feels this always, but like, I just want more time to do all the things I want to do. Michele: You know, it's not a fun place to be in where your revenue is flat, but the fact that it's flat says something about the business that people are paying every month. It's not declining. You lost some of the, the, the big what do we call them? The, the whale customers. Right. But. It's still, it's still coming in every month and okay. So maybe it was blooming and then the flower pedals froze a little bit and they've paused. But I think that, I think this idea for adding a dev plan is as really interesting, I'm excited to see where that goes.  Colleen: Yeah, I am too. I think it feels good to like, be able to continue to do things, to move the product forward. And I think this is better than building new features because I  Michele: Yes.  Colleen: will like, this is definitely  Michele: Seriously, like the, I mean like thinking back on like geocoding, like our big revenue jumps did not come from new features. They came from pricing  Colleen: pricing changes. Yeah. Yeah, I I think this will be good. Cause if I can get more people to talk to me, then I can get a better sense of what is important to people  I mean, that's really, the goal is I can't make the product better unless I talk to people. And that's what you've been saying for almost a year. What's it been like seven months, a hundred percent true. Michele: Well, it sounds like you have your work cut out for you for this week. Yeah, it'll be interesting. Yeah. That's that, that'd be interesting to see how this goes. Good chat.  Colleen: Oh,  Michele: Good chat. We'll talk to you next week.

5 October 2021 27m and 44s


Taking on Amazon...and winning?

Taking on Amazon...and winning?

Michele Hansen  0:01 This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Reform. As a business owner, you need forms all the time for lead capture, user feedback, SaaS onboarding, job applications, early access signups, and many other types of forms. Here's how Reform is different: - Your brand shines through, not Reform's - It's accessible out-of-the-box ... And there are no silly design gimmicks, like frustrating customers by only showing one question at a time Join indie businesses like Fathom Analytics and SavvyCal and try out Reform. Software Social listeners get 1 month for free by going to reform.app/social and using the promo code "social" on checkout. Colleen: Welcome back software, social listeners, Colleen here, and I am super excited to bring you a special guest today. Today on the podcast we have Nadia the founder of story graph. Story graph is a site that helps you track your reading and choose your neck next book based on your mood, mood, and your favorite topics and themes. Nadia, thank you so much for coming on. Nadia: Thank you so much for inviting me.  Colleen: I would love to start with a little bit about your background. You are an economist by trade, right? Nadia: Right. So my degree was philosophy politics and economics, and I focused, I focused mainly on the economic side, I was moving to the math mathematical side of things and I was heading into investment banking, post university.  Colleen: Wow. Nadia: Yeah. And I was just lucky with the people I met in my final year of uni. I'd done a summer internship in the banking world and I was just very, not very enthused with it. It just felt, I felt like there was more to life and I'm in my final year of uni, I met so many young entrepreneurs and people running social enterprises and charities, and I just felt like I've always felt entrepreneurial. And I just thought, you know, I want to go into that feels more like. And I'd also started a creative writing online publication called the story graph.  Colleen: Oh, I didn't know that. Nadia: yeah. That had given me the first taste of running my own thing. And so I, yeah, and I was lucky to meet people who were in the tech space as well. And that's when I started to be familiar with, oh, maybe I should learn how to code. And yeah, essentially, I, I got, I want a couple of places on coding courses and that's how I got into software post universe.  Colleen: So, did you go work at all in investment banking or did you go right from college or university to learning how to code?  Nadia: So I had a graduate offer for bank and I turned that down and then I wasn't sure what I was going to do. And I'd applied for this entrepreneurship scheme and it got to the final round. And I remembered that when I was filling out the form, there was a checkbox that said we may be piloting a new coding course for women. Do you want to be considered for this? And I was just like, why not check the box? I wasn't really interested. And I thought, why not? You know? And so when I remember I got the call from the, one of the people who run the program and they said, we've got good news and bad news. And I was like, I immediately knew I didn't get into the main program. So I said, well, what's the, what's the bad news. And I was like, yeah, you didn't quite make it. And I was like, Okay. what's the good news. And she said we're going to give you, we're going to do this program. It's called code first girls, and we're going to give you a place. And I remember at the time I was just so disappointed and not getting a place in this entrepreneurship program because it was meant to be my ticket out of not going into the bank. That I just thought, what do I want with this coding course? And then I remember thinking about it and realizing that I was also. Like the next day, I was offered a summer internship at my college at Oxford where I was. And so I thought, you know what, I'm going to come to work at Oxford for a bit after uni, I'm going to travel to London twice a week. I was from London, but I was at, I was in Oxford and and I'm going to learn to code and then figure it out from there. And it's so, I'm so glad I did that. And then while I was. Twice a week coding course, I saw a tweet saying we're doing a competition for someone to win a free place at makers academy, which was a new software boot camp in London at the time. And I had a taste of this coding thing. I saw how powerful. It was. And so I said, I'm going to apply for this scholarship free place. And I got the scholarship. And so then I did a three month bootcamp at the beginning of 2014, immediately after. Well, at the end of 2013, rather immediately after the two months that I spent at Oxford traveling twice a week to do the part-time cutting costs. So that's how I  Colleen: Wow. Nadia: into software from being like all along since I was like 12, 13, I was going down the investment banking.  Colleen: Wow. Did you get pushback from yourself or from your family to have invested so much time at Oxford? No less. And then be like, I'm going to go do this coding bootcamp. Nadia: Yes. So it was actually quite funny. I come from a poor background and I remember that, you know, the reason why I was going down the investment banking route since I was young is because when I was at school, you know, it was always this typical doctor, lawyer and your banker or something like that. And I remember we had this day where you could go with your parents or a parent to work with them. And I remember trying to go with my dad who's an accountant or like, um, my mom worked for herself at home and, and my dad was like, no, you should find someone who acts in a bank or something like that. And so I went with my best friend at the time her dad worked at. And, you know, when you're 14, everything looks so amazing. And like I, so I remember going and seeing the trading floor and seeing all these, like men and women dressed up in their suits and carrying their blackberries. And I remember at the time thinking I want to be like them. And it wasn't until I was doing the internship when I was in between my second and third year of uni that I was just disillusioned. And I was like, oh, like, this is not very fulfilling. This is not like, I feel like there's more I can do and give. And, and so that's when I got disillusioned when I was like about 18 and I was thinking. This isn't really exciting. I'm not sure of the value that I'm bringing while doing this work. And I also just thought there must be more cause I was working so hard at, it was quite academic. I was working so hard at my studies and I thought, is this it? And so when this whole entrepreneurship software thing came up, it was very, yeah, it was so much more appealing and.  Colleen: Wow. So after you did the bootcamp, did you then get a job, your rails background, right?  Nadia: Ruby Rails So back then the, the main focus was Ruby rails and it was funny because I went to that was this jobs, fair tech jobs fair. And it was during during the course, the point of the courses you do the 12 weeks, and then they help you get a job. And I just thought I didn't plan to get a job. I just said, let me go to this job fair and see what's out there. Even when I started the bootcamp in my mind, I still thought, oh, I'm going to be an entrepreneur. I didn't know what that meant. I was just like, I'm going to be an entrepreneur. But you know, since I'll know about coding, I'll know how to talk to developers. Like I had just, you know, stereotypes in my head of, you know, developers, don't talk to people, and I can never be a good developer anyway, cause I'm starting, you know, 19. But  Colleen: at like 32  Nadia: like 21, rather. Exactly, exactly. But I honestly thought, I thought that was it. So when I went to this fair, like I, for the first few weeks, I honestly thought, yeah, it's just going to help me be a better entrepreneur, but then I realized, no, this festival, I love, I, I enjoyed it. And I was pretty good at it. I wasn't amazing, but you know, I could do it and I saw how powerful it was because I said to myself, you know, I also started to think about what being an entrepreneur meant. And I realized how empty that was. Without an idea something. that I was keen to work on, or that was useful. And so I said to myself, well, you know, if you focus in on this coding thing, then if you do have a great idea, you can build a prototype yourself. You don't have to hire anyone. You don't have to rely on anyone. But you know, if you don't have a great idea or whatever, you're working on, doesn't work out, then you have a skill that people always need and will pay for. And so that's when I kind of like a month into the bootcamp, I kind of made that switch of, I need to go all in on this software thing. I should work as a software developer for a while. And yeah, I, when I went to this fair, I ended up, I didn't know how well known or big the company pivotal was pivotal labs at the time, but I got talking  Colleen: Oh, yeah. Nadia: Yeah. I just went there. I was trying to find my way out and I saw this one, man. I kept on getting lost. And so I, I asked for directions out because I kept on going the wrong way. And as I was going to the exit, there was this one table that was very empty, but it was one, there was no one else there, apart from the people who are monitoring that table. And I just thought pivotal. That was one of the companies that I like. I'd when I was looking at the list of companies the night before I'd listed it out. Why not just stop by? And anyway, long story short is I was invited to come in and then more and. I just got put into the interview process without realizing I did the proper interview process that everyone else did, but essentially the boss of the London office, his name is JB Stedman. He said, come in for a chat. We were really close to makers academy. And so we organized this tack a couple of weeks later. And what I didn't know was that was the first round of their full interview process that their famous parent interview that.  Colleen: Right.  Nadia: so after that I got, yeah. Yeah. So in a way it was good. I didn't know Cause it wasn't, I wasn't nervous or anything like that. I just was like, Oh, this is fun. I'm doing this, this, this pairing big. And and so when I went back to the office, after the fair and I said, oh, I I'm going to speak to the person who runs this office of this company called pivotal. Well, the makers academy, people were like, what? Oh my gosh, this is amazing. We, we, a lot of our practices that we follow here have been inspired by pivotal. This is great. And so, yeah, before I finished the bootcamp, I had had a job lined up at pivotal and I worked there for a year and a half after the boot camp.  Colleen: Okay. Wow. That's pretty spectacular. It's pretty cool. Right. To go right from your bootcamp to such a good job. So then what happened? So were you just like, what was your next step in this journey? Nadia: I'm someone who always has side projects. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are like this. I think you're the same. I always had something on the side that I. Even if I even didn't find time to work on it, I just have ideas in my head. So I was always kind of hacking away and it got to a point after about a year, I started to feel like, okay, I want to do my own thing now. I think I got a bit tired of just being moved from project to project. Not, you know, not being able to like really craft a own a product and like see it through. And I also felt like, I know this is, this comes with, you know, working in different companies. There were times where I just felt like, you know, oh, I'm, I'm just like a book, a bit ability sort of tool. And I'm just like, I'm a resource, basically. It got to a point where I felt like, you know, We're trying to, Pivotal's trying to be as biddable as possible and where does not you're fit. And, you know, I also ended up getting, and I loved, I loved overall. I loved my time at pivotal, but I remember I worked. I was, even though I was pivotal labs employee, I worked on cloud Foundry that platform as a service for a really long time. So that's like, you know, cloud platforms, distributed systems. That side of things. And I felt like I was losing touch with my web and app development skills. I went into a niche, basically. I went from Ruby, veils, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, all that stuff to basically working with like distributed systems. And I remember moving from Ruby to go and it was all super interesting, but I just felt like it was such a niche. And I was also worried about losing the skills that would enable me to kind of. The like flexible when I was trying to implement my own ideas later. And so those things meant that I actually ended up there was another colleague there who he was always, always hacking around on projects too. And we got talking and then we started hacking around on different side projects. And at one point we got a good contract to do a little contract and we decided it was like a six month contract. And we thought, well, if we do this contract, we will then have enough money to. Do our own product afterwards. And so after a year and a half, we both handed in a resignation and then went and ran this business  Colleen: And were you also at some point a co-founder on code newbies. Nadia: Yes. So this, this could be a very long story, but the summary is that business I left, it just didn't work out the partnership. Wasn't Right. We didn't have any product ideas that were inspiring. And we ended up running out of money and being staffed on a banking project. We have to take a banking project and. Really good money. But I just wasn't fulfilled. And I just saw this world where wait, I quit. I turned down my banking job all these years ago to go into software and entrepreneurship. And now here I am and I was co-founder of this company, but I felt like I'd become a glorified consultant on this. Bank where like it wasn't, it just wasn't the most fun felt very undervalued. And I just felt like I was wasting my potential. I just wasn't super happy. And so I quit that business without knowing what I was going to do. But because, yeah, but because my co-founder and I, from that business, we didn't, we were just saving our money. We would just saving the money we were earning because we weren't gonna invest it in our own product. And so when I left. I took half of that money. I got half of that money, which essentially equated to five years of runway for me.  Colleen: Nice. Nadia: And so, but I didn't know what I was going to do. And so Saron who runs code newbie was like, come and be my co-founder code newbie. And I was like, really, are you sure? And so in the end I decided to give it a go and I was on the verge of moving to the states to do this thing for. But in the end, ultimately it didn't work out. And Saron decided that it wasn't the Right. direction, that code was going in. And so that after a year I was kind of like, you know, left in the lurch and like, again, uncertain with four years of runway. Colleen: Right. Nadia: And so I was like, well, I still, if we, as a runway and I couldn't offer having a year of dislike doing, you know, doing it was, it wasn't kind of my own thing, but being like a co-founder or something and trying to take something off the ground, I just thought, you know what I'm going to, and I'd had two kind of partnerships that didn't work out or companies that didn't work out. And I was like, you know what, I'm just going to start something by myself. Now I've got four years of runway. And actually, I didn't even say I'm going to start a company. I just. You know, I have all these side projects that I haven't really been able to focus on in the last three, four years because of work and just other hobbies and things that I get up to outside of work. And so I said to myself, so it was January, 2019, and I said to myself, I'm going to take the two. Side projects that I'm most excited about, and I'm just going to spend January hacking away on them. I'm not going to put any expectations. I'm not going to put any pressure on it. I'm just going to work. You know, I was like I said, I got four years, so was going to work on these two and I had two apps. So one of them was a running app and it auto-generated running routes for you. So you would give your starting point and you would say, I want to run five kilometers, or I know in the states it's more miles, isn't it. Like I wasn't gonna run like.  Colleen: Yeah. Nadia: Three miles. And it would basically give you a running rate that started and ended where you were. And this was inspired by the fact that I used to, I don't want as much now because I do other things, but I used to run and I. I, when I figured out what 5k route was, or a 10 K route was, I would just do the same route and I would get like bored of it. And so this was a way to help me, you know, find new routes or when I was traveling for conferences, you know, it would be a way to go on a run in an unfamiliar place. So anyway, that was one app that I was going to work on in January. And the second one was reading lists app where essentially. It was only meant to be a companion app to good reads. Cause I, I had been using good reads for eight years at this 0.7, eight years. But there was no way to create private lists or less that you shared with a select few friends that you could then track your progress through. So say you you, you had a subject matter you wanted to delve into. So you put together a reading lesson and you would have a progress bar or, you know, I have a friend who, whenever she writes a book really highly. Those books. I would want to collect them in the less than see, you know, these 20 books. How many of them have I read that kind of thing? And so I was like, I'm going to spend January of 2019 just working ping-ponging between these two apps. And so I got to like, I dunno, it would have been January 1st or January 2nd maybe. And I said, wait, which 1:00 AM I going to start with? And I said, let me start with the reading app. And essentially I have never picked up the running up. I have done. Since from then to now, I've just been working on the meeting up and it's grown into a story graph.  Colleen: Wow. So, wow. There's so much in that that I want to talk about. Okay. So let's start with, you started working on the reading app and you never pivoted to the running app because you were having so much fun or like what, what made you see that this had potential. Nadia: Okay. So this is what it was, you know, how I, because this was a side project I'd had for years. So actually had a backlog with a friend set up in an old pivotal tracker. And so again, because this wasn't a, this is going to be a business. This is just a side project. I just spent a week. Yeah. I think it was a week just hacking through or working my way through the backlog. I wasn't worried about customer research or anything like that. And I just had so much fun. Like I felt so alive and you know, they talk about the founder Porter. Yes. this was the first time I was like, oh, like I need to work on books and reading. It was like the first time I felt alive, like Really? like super passionate. And so at this point I had this feeling like I need to build something to do to do with books. And so at that point, I then said, let me show you this prototype that I've built to. And so I got, you know, I did cause I know the importance of customer research. I'm always trying to talk to customers. And so when I decided I'm going to be serious about this, we'll see, basically see if there's a need for something in this space. I was like, okay, let me do a customer research interview a customer research round and see if there's something here. So I, I lined up five people and I, I also about their reading and then I showed them this Demo that I'd built. And essentially after those interviews, I realized that I had to stop that app. It wasn't compelling or exciting enough. There was a lot of this is cool. Yeah. I guess, I guess I would use it for this. Yeah. So I immediately was like, okay. Nope. So at that point I said to myself, okay, this feeling of when. On a book's product is super exciting, but this is not it. And so I put that aside and I spent the next three months distinct customer interviews. So I didn't cause I was like, I don't. Yeah. I was like, I don't want to build. Something that people don't use or don't need. Like, I was like, if I, so I just started doing custom interviews. So the first round the hypothesis was, is there, is there any pain, but it was, it was more research gathering. It was like, are there any pain points in the book space? So then off that round, I think I discovered, okay. People still find it hard to get consistent high quality recommendations from one source. You know, people would often have, you know, one or two trusted friends. If you didn't have any people in your network who ranked than it was even harder, you know, you might have some. Articles or like bloggers that you followed, but it was a lot harder. And so I was like, wow. Okay. Recommendations. Cause this is still just me on my own, like trying to figure stuff out. And so then, then I started doing more research, being like, okay, what is not working with current recommendation systems? How are people currently trying to find books? And that's when I ended up on the whole mood. Aspect. I would, I would see, I started to get involved in the books community on Instagram as well. And I started to see the language that people were using. They will say, I've just read this book. It made me feel this way. What other books like will evoke similar feelings or I'm a mood reader seeing this a lot. I'm a mood reader. And so that's when I said, okay, there's something in this mood space. And so then I started to go down that route and essentially it was three months of customer research until I felt like I had enough of a concept for an alpha. And the alpha was just a straight up personal recommendation service, nothing else.  Colleen: So how many people do you think you spoke to during those three months of customer research? Like ballpark? Nadia: so let's think of, so maybe about it, wasn't like actually that many, so probably if I did it. Maybe full five rounds and maybe five, five to eight and eight. So maybe, I dunno, maybe in about 30 to 50, because, you know, I would, I would, I was quite strict with, I'm not going to do anything until I've done the customer research. So say I had a round of five to eight people. They could be spread out over a week or two weeks, and then I would do my synthesis. And so I didn't try. And like, so even though it was like three months, It wasn't like every single day I was talking to a lot of people. Cause I also didn't want to feed back overload if you know what I mean?  Colleen: Yes, you said, and then you do your synthesis. What does that mean? Nadia: So that, that's a way of basically drawing out learnings from the, from the research. So essentially It's a basic, Yeah. it's a way of like doing the analysis and then figuring out what's next. So for me, Yeah. I do. I do it. I mean, you could do it in many different ways. One of my most common ways is to get like a virtual. The sticky board with post-it notes and draw out the key points and what I, what I do by the way is I record the interviews, video, record them and watch them back. Cause that means particularly because I'm doing them by myself. So too, it means that I have. Write down what I think I heard as opposed to writing down what they actually said. So I try when I'm interviewing by myself, I recalled, I always ask permission and I record the interviews and then I watched them back and take I take down what they say, bullet points. And then I group up across the different people. I grew up. The them into themes. And then I'm able to see, ah, people keep talking about, they can't find recommendations. People keep talking about how they don't trust the ratings on good reads or like you would see patterns and that's what would help drive that would that's what would help figure out what the hypothesis or the question was going to be for the next round?  Colleen: Okay. And you also said you got involved in an Instagram book, books space. What is that? How so two questions around that. What does that mean? And how, like what pointed you in that direction? Nadia: So they could have books to grab it's the books community on Instagram, and it's called books to go out.  Colleen: didn't know about that. Nadia: And I think when I had said to one of my friends that. I was. Looking in the, you know, I was excited about an idea in the books and meeting space. She said, do you know about the books community on Instagram? And I just thought I was like, No. I don't know. And she essentially, I learned about, oh, that was the other thing I did. You know, the three months of research, it was also not only did I do customer interviews. I also went to lots of industry events, like publishing events. I saw panels and to learn more about the industry and see if there were pain points on the, on the publishing side or the authors. And so it was mentioned in a couple of talks, then there's books to Graham growing community of Bookstagram 30 million posts on this hashtag. So I just started looking through that tag and seeing different accounts and just seeing what they were posting, what they were talking about, what they were complaining about. So there was lots of complaints of being in reading slumps and saying, I just can't, there's all these books. I have all these books at home, but none of them are appealing to me. And, and I was, and this was when I started to move towards, like, if I could, you know, build something that could help someone say, oh, this is actually the perfect book for you right now, given your mood and giving your reading tests. That would be amazing. And so that's the kind of my customer research was just kind of trying to figure out if that was a compelling, useful, valuable product.  Colleen: This fascinates me so much, because that is such a hard problem. Like Amazon can't solve that problem with all of their engineers and data scientist. Nadia: So it's funny. You said that cause as you, so I'm still working. I, at this point and I definitely had people say to me, like peep up, maybe other founders who tried it or other, other people who'd worked in this space. And there was definitely a lot of. Good luck. It's basically impossible. And there's Amazon and, you know, I just, it was that founder product fit thing is probably the reason why I continued to during those times where I was like, you know, is this city a, I. Am I, you know, going down a path, that's just not worth it. Well, I just couldn't let it go. So I just said to myself, don't don't think about Amazon. And I also was like, don't think about good reads. Don't think about what's out there. Just you focus on the next step each time. So that's why the customer research rounds were very grounding because I just said to myself, I'm not thinking about what I'm trying to build or this big, amazing product I'm going to build or that kind of thing. And I'm going up against Amazon. I didn't even think like that. I just said, just follow. Follow the comms, follow the little nuggets and just take each today. And like, even sometimes I have to remind myself of that. Like now I have to be like, just take each day, Nadia, you know, keep going, just follow, just follow what the customers are telling you and what, you know, the pain points you see. And if I had focused on, if I said at the beginning, Yeah. I'm going to take on Amazon. I'm going to build an amazing recommendation algorithm and. It's going to be the best. I think I would have very quickly probably lost confidence and said, no, I can't, I can't do this. Although I don't like saying I can't do anything, but you know what I mean?  Colleen: Yes. I know what you mean. Yeah. Like that, coupled with the fact that you're selling to customers, like the number one piece of advice I always got was like never sell directly to consumers ever. Nadia: Ah, so funny you say that because when I was reading about entrepreneurship while at uni and all that and even, you know, talking with entrepreneurs, I, I always had the thing of like, you want to get into a B2B space. It's like a lot better. You can charge more. And so again, when I was thinking about, I want to be an entrepreneur. I was always thinking, I was always trying to gravitate towards B2B ideas and it was so funny. Cause I had this moment when story guff started picking up and I was thinking about the business model and all that. And I was thinking, oh, I'm in exactly the kind of business that I didn't want to do in terms of like the financial and also just daily dealing with customers is hard and it, you know, it can be very it's, you know, it's tough. And so it's, so yeah. it's definitely a hard business to be in.  Colleen: Yeah. So you said that one of the things you, one of the tactics you use to kind of deal with that is focus on one day at a time and focus on your customers. Has there been any points on this journey when you just want to quit? Like, it's just feels too hard, especially by yourself. Like weren't you so lonely in the beginning? Nadia: Oh, yes. Like, you know, I was and Luckily because I live, I live by myself as well. So luckily pivotal was super friendly and I was still able to just go in and use a desk in the office. So once or twice a week, I would go in and you know, just be able to work with old, alongside old friends. So that was super helpful. But the thing is, I definitely had moments of particularly when I was pre-product. I definitely had. Of Dao or CA you know, is this, do I have the skillset to even build something that would be compelling enough? Within a reasonable timeframe? Like I said, I really think I was just lucky with that. I didn't have anything else that I would rather go and do at that, at that point in time, you know, I didn't want to get a job. I didn't have any other grand idea. And up until that point, nothing else had gotten me that excited from a product perspective, then the area of books. And so that is what, even in the moment. Where I thought, you know, I'd hit a dead end or there was one customer research round where I was, it was, I was essentially trying to test for product market fit and the results were basically like, your product is a nice to have. And I remember it being so deflating and being like, oh, do I just stop here now? This isn't it. This is never going to be more than a nice to have. And you can't build a business on a nice. to have. Yeah. I just think it was, I just couldn't let it go. I think there was, that was kind of a gut instinct thing as well. That just kept on driving me through, I guess. And I think the other thing is even when I had those moments, like when I was when I had the alpha and the beta, there were always some people who are super excited even. Yeah, And so. I would I would see an email from them or, you know, they would respond to, you know, my newsletter that I do. And it would always, there'd always be something that would just say, there's something here. Keep going. Whether it was happened to be something from a customer or just an internal kind of feeling like I'm like, no, you haven't. As long as there was something that I could do as in whether it was a customer reset round to find the answers or you haven't implemented the things that you've learned from the customer reset around. It was, there was always just, I dunno, something that just kept me going and to say, okay, just do this next step before you, you know, pack it in and just do this now.  Colleen: So you did three months ish of customer research, and then you did an alpha and then what did you do from there? Nadia: So it got to the point where I realized I had, like, I think I onboarded two rounds of people onto the alpha and again, talking, I would let people use it. And then I would kind of do, I can't remember whether I did video customer research or email. Well survey, but long story short is the, it got to the point where the feedback was pointing in one direction. And that was, this recommendation looks awesome and looks perfect for me, but I'm not going to read it until I finished the book I'm currently meeting and the other five books. On my shelf. So it got to the point where, okay, this product is, is never going to be, it's not very useful. Cause the, the real pain point is not necessarily finding new books. It's choosing your next book. That, that's what he is. Like people say, I've got all these books at home and this one now just goes into the list. So that's what I kind of pivoted the product to. Okay. Definitely. Sometimes people need new books, but a lot of the time they just. Pointing in the Right. direction for books already on their radar, or they know the kind of things they want to read about, but there's like 50 of them. So how do we help them choose the best one for them? And so that's when I shut down the alpha, because it was a lot of work. Cause I was personally recommending books to people doing research and recommending  Colleen: wait, what? Wait, can  Nadia: Yeah. That was the alpha.  Colleen: You were, you were personally like, oh, they like these books. They'd probably like this one.  Nadia: I had a survey. Yeah, I did a survey, so they had like a profile and then, and then they filled out a form on the, on the, on the, on this website. And then I think they ha I had a deadline. You'll get it within this much time. And then they got an email saying your recommendations ready? And it was, it wasn't very manual,  Colleen: That is impressive. Nadia: yeah. So it got to the point where I said, I've learned enough from this alpha, so I'm going to shut it down and I'm going to. Three months building a Bita. Cause I'd done enough research by this point that I could put together a backlog. And actually that's when I started my newsletter because I said to myself, it's just me. At home, I'm now going to get heads down and build this Bita. And I'm worried about losing momentum from like all the people who've spoken to me in my research rounds and been excited. I'm worried I wanted some form of accountability or some form of like, Okay. if people are expecting a newsletter, an email from me every week, I've got to have something interesting to say every week. And so I, I started the newsletter. I think it must have been June of 2019. When I started building the Bita and I think, I think the first issue is called, like building a Bita. And so, yeah, and so then I just spent two or three months building the spitter, which was a more fully fledged product where you could track books, you wanted to read and you could filter by mood and pace and all the dimensions that I learnt from my months of research, the people were really looking for when they were trying to find books.  Colleen: So almost six months from of customer research and playing with ideas and testing product before you launched the beta. Okay. And then is that what your product is now? That's that was about two years ago now.  Nadia: That code base is the one that's currently now live.  Colleen: Okay. And what did you find when you launched that? How did that go? Nadia: So originally I launched it private, or I call it concierge, beta. I was manually onboarding  Colleen: I like  Nadia: Yeah. I was like, who wants to be part of my concierge? It's Bita. And I made, I made it sound fancy. And then, because I was, I was manually onboarding people. So I was manually adding in every single book in the, in the database. I.  Colleen: Okay. Nadia: I had to I remember people had to fill out a form and one of the, one of the fields was, so how many books do you have in your good reads library? And I sent you, you appointed people who had like 300 books or something. And so,  Colleen: You don't make you don't pass the test. Nadia: yeah. And so I Yeah. I just onboarded people and then there was an ASP. Of the product where, because every time I onboarded a new person, a bunch of new books got added to the product. And then I had these filter menus where you could filter by a genre or the mood or pace. And so I realized, wait, I don't peep, anyone could find this useful for book discovery. And so then I made the beat of public in September and. Yeah, initial feedback was kind of like, Okay. this is interesting. And that's when I realized that I needed to be very much more intentional about intentional, about who my customer was at that time, because I kind of said everyone come. And so I realized that when people were saying, Hmm, it doesn't really work for me. I realized, wait, they're not my customer for the beater. So even though, you know how they say, like, you know, when you start a product. You wouldn't have a clear definition of who your customer is, and it's better to go more niche because you can expand out later. And so I realized, even though in my mind, I was like, this could be for everybody. This will be for everybody. I was like, no, at this stage of the product, you can't pretend to cater to everybody. You have to filter like out. And so I remember starting with like avid mood readers. It was like, you read. And you're always reading multiple books and you, you stop and start books because you're, you're, you're maybe not in the mood for it now. And that was super helpful on in boarding people who've really felt like the product resonated with them. Cause they, they felt, you know, there was a lot of finally a product for us mood readers like that. That was the original. And then as the, you know, the product developed, it's kind of now expanded to be. But I also had a hypothesis as well, which was kind of underlying everything, which was. You know, sometimes they say like, what do you believe that not necessarily everyone believes, and this is not like some wacky idea, but I got, I came to the viewpoint. That really everyone's a mood reader. But even though, you know, I would have some people say I'm not a motivator at all. Like, I, I just, you know, I stick to this list and I read it and that's it. But my like hypothesis was, I think everyone is on the scale of mood reading. Cause there are some times when you don't like a book and maybe if you'd picked it up at another time it might have worked for you or like in a different context. There are some books that will never work for you. They're just not for you. But I do think that everyone has an element of mood reading in them. And so when I really, when I realized that that was it, I became a lot more comfortable with specifying this niche early on, because I knew that, you know, eventually the product would hopefully develop into something that had wider than.  Colleen: Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, I, I feel that way sometimes, right? Like, I wouldn't say I'm a mood reader, but there's, I have multiple books and sometimes I'm like, oh, I don't feel like reading this one tonight. So that was 2019 and cents, right? September, 2019. So since then you have hired a co-founder Nadia: Yeah, I wouldn't. Yeah. W yeah. So  Colleen: as hired, not the right word.  Nadia: I was going to say, no, no, no, it's not Brought on Yay. I will say, because I say it's funny because I, I never even, we have someone who also works for us. Part-time and actually she, Abby came first before Rob did. But, but even though, yes, technically it's like, I'm in charge. I never see it that way. You know what I mean? It's very much like, even with Abby, I'm like, oh, we're all colleagues working together. But, but yeah, so first actually came Abby, so it got to the point where one day it was while I was still doing the Bita. I don't know how this got someone did a tweet about the story graph, the Bita. I remember seeing my Twitter notifications blowing up at essentially Scott Hanselman, who has like a quarter of a million Twitter followers or more retweeted this tweet. And I remember being like, no, not now need this. I need this exposure later. So I had a flood of users and a flood of requests to like add new books and, and add books that fit this category and that category. And so I just said to myself, wow, I can either build the product. I can spend days doing these manual. Requests for people. And so that's when I was like, I need help. And so actually two years ago, tomorrow, exactly because I, I reached out to Abby on the 22nd of September, 2019. And he started on the 23rd of September, I believe. And I remember this because my birthday's on the 24th. So I remember on boarding her and saying, just so you know, I'm not doing any work tomorrow. Cause that's my bad. So he's had two year anniversary tomorrow. So two years ago I said, I need help. I reached out to her, I'd met her. She was a well-known books to grammar and she was just going freelance. It worked out so well and she reads a lot. So, you know, she had a wide breadth of knowledge in this. And I just reached out to her and I said, I need help. Is this something you're interested in? So she came on board and she started helping do a lot of admin and just tidying up of book data and just helping me do just manual requests for people to import them. And then later that year it was, it was the one's husband who actually saw something on Twitter. We got. I spoke about how I was doing spending hours manually entering books and adding in the moves and the pace, all that kind of stuff. And he said, oh, I've been learning machine learning. I know promises, but maybe I can. Help automate this for you. And Yeah. like within two weeks he had some amazing first version and essentially since then, he's just, Yeah. he's just been working on it. And I think four months after he first reached out, he'd quit his job and doing full time. And I remember being like, whoa, like I have no money for you like to see, you know? And so, yeah, no, he just goes through equity and we've been working ever since. Yeah, he will be two years in February, two years full time. So yeah, Colleen: So when you hired Abby, she was freelancer. So were you paying her out of pocket because you weren't charging yet at that point, Nadia: so actively I, it was mostly I'll put on. It was mostly out of pocket. Cause I was mainly putting money into the company, but I did run a paid B2 program because when I sh yes, when I shut down the alpha product, I still bought in those personal recommendations to the Bita. But I was like, you know, I can't just be doing this. I didn't want to just offer this to everyone. It D like it wouldn't scale. And it was a lot of time. And so I said, Pitched this paid beta program where you could pay five bucks a month and you would get a personal recommendation a month. And also you will. I think, I can't remember if you, I think you access to some extra features, but there's also a monthly call with me. Well, there are two monthly calls with me, a group call and also a one-on-one call. And this was just basically having invested beta testers who were always testing out the product. The group who was great, cause people were bouncing ideas off one another and then the one-on-one call. There's nothing like a one-on-one call just to get the real, honest feedback and really understand how people use the product. Some of that money basically went into paying API, but ultimately, yeah. it was still, I still needed to, it was it that wasn't enough that could maybe cover a few months and then it was Yeah. Money that I'd put into the company. And then when Bob joined, he started putting in money into the company.  Colleen: So it's been two years. How many users do you have now? Nadia: So we have, well, we're close to half a million registered users, registered users active is about in the, in the two quarter of a million to 300,000 mark at the minute. But I'm looking at it cause you know, my birthday is three days and I'm like, Ooh, we're 4k off of half a million registered users. So maybe it will be a birthday present. So yeah, we So That's how many registered users we have. So we have hundreds of thousands of users like active users. And we have we have, you know, thousands of thousands of users who hit the site or the app every day, every day we have like about over 20 million pages a month at this point. So. Yeah, it's going well. And we're trying to, you know, we're doing our plus plan, so we're, we're on the path to profitability as well. So we've got over two, we've got 2,140 ish paying customers and we have a monthly pan and annual plan and essentially people get extra features. And so we're about basically at the break even point now. And if the trajectory continues, we'll be able to be profitable. So we're hoping that that continues. And also that our costs, we can, we re we're paying close attention to our costs right now and how, because we've not operated at this scale before. And so we're trying to figure out, make sure things are optimized. Cause we don't want to Walden, which it keeps growing the costs grow a lot bigger than our subscription fees come in. Cause that wouldn't be sustainable. So that's our main focus. My main focus Right. now is the profitablity.  Colleen: And you guys decided to charge the users,  Nadia: So it's funny. Yes. I was going to say, it's funny, you make that point because when I originally I was going down this route of a book site cause I've always, you know, entrepreneurship is always like, you want to get to profitability or earning money as soon as possible. And so my original thing was okay, I'm going to be taught. Doing publishers or authors something along those lines. And I remember I actually got, I was thinking like, you know, publishers, they want to advertise, or they want to, you know, the, the, the main way was like advertisers put their, have their books. Be highlighted amongst others. And I remember that one of the things I learned from customer research was that people didn't trust certain recommendations from certain places because they said it's always the biggest publishes. It's always the same books. It's always the publishers with money. And so I said, well, I never want to have the recommendations be tainted by who like the publishers that have the most money. And so people don't trust them. I want them to. The best book for you. And so I kind of went off that track and then there was also a whole world around like data and like anonymized data, but trends and things like that. But I was like, you know, people, that's a very, I don't know if I want to go down the route of like data, like reports in terms of like, you know, what people searching for looking for. Cause I know that's something publishers would be interested in too, but I know that, you know, like people like. I wanted to make sure that we run, I ran a high trust, like product and company. And I also got some advice from a mentor that basically said the best company can get. Can get, gives so much value to the users directly that the users want to pay. And so I always said to myself, okay, let's test this. Can we build something? Even though it's very, it seems very unlikely. People don't believe it's possible because it's a book's website. Good reads is completely free for users. I was like, can we like, let's just test it. So we, in October of 2020. The years are all messed up because of, you know, the pandemic. So I'm just in my mind, I'm like last year, the year before last,  Colleen: who knows. Nadia: so Octavia. Totally. It must've been, we just put up a page cause we were out costs were going up cause we were probing and we were like, okay, we need to start thinking about how, you know, what I feel like financially, we're fine. So I, you know, I had the few years still and, and what was fine. And so it was more that we're like, if we're going to make this as longterm sustainable business, we need to start thinking about profitability from that.  Colleen: Yeah, Nadia: And so we just put up a page, a pre-order we said story golf plus coming next year, I said early 20, 21 purposefully gave myself some room. And we just said, these are the features we're getting, just sketch them out. Didn't exist. $30. Pre-order it's going to be $50 and we had 1400 people pay.  Colleen: Wow. Nadia: and so we were like, right, okay. Let's build this past thing. Colleen: Yeah. Nadia: Yeah. And so we it got to the point where, because we will, we officially launched January of this year Colleen: Okay. Nadia: It got off the launch. I was like, right, okay. Now we need to launch the plus plan because we have all this money that people have paid us and they want that. Extra fetus. And so we spent, yes, I remember we eventually got it out just the end of February, beginning of March, if you were in the states, it was, it was February where I was, it was the 1st of March, early hours of the morning and yeah, the plus plan launched. And so, Yeah. we've been, we had a kind of it wasn't uptake. Super great originally. And then we've just been again, I've been just doing customer research. So I've, I've been speaking to the people who use the product every day, finding what is it that makes them keep coming back? Because the product wasn't designed to be used every day, but I would see people tweeting and saying things like, I love story golf. I use it every day. It's like, I need to talk to these people using the product every day. Even I don't use it every day. What are you doing? And so I learned, Okay. These are the most avid readers. So that updating something every day, and then they're looking at their stats, they all love stats. So then it was like, Okay. how do I, we enhance the stats piece and what do we give the most? Active users also tended to be paying members. So how can we enhance the stats for them? And it was like, I was going down that route. So I've been involving the pro plus product. And also, yeah, just like just trying to continually improve the product, making it more visible. So some people, you know, we had so many people originally say, I didn't even know that was plus. So now I then spent time adding little badges around the site. There's a plus feature here, or, you know, unlock this plus feature. If you, if you if you, if you're interested in like more advanced stats or if you want a special type of similar books, that's more focused on your preferences. You know, little tips around the product in a way that's, hopefully we're trying to get the balance between. What people love about our product Right. now is there are no ads or anything it's very clean and quiet. And so I didn't want to have suddenly big banners everywhere saying plus plus plus, but enough that people noticed it and you existed. And so things like getting an email when your free trial expires, like little things I've been doing and we've seen we've just seen like the uptake growing grow. And yeah, we recently, we recently released a very powerful feature, which. It's up next to suggestions and essentially we recommend. From your two weed pile. And we give you a reason why, so we basically help you pick up. We basically give you specific suggestions from books. You've already said you want to meet and help you choose what you read next. So we'll say maybe this one, because you a similar user to you enjoyed this one, or if you want something similar to the last book. Maybe this one, or if you're doing a reading goal and you're behind his like a short one to pick up. So this has been a very, this is added a lot of value to our paying members because it's just helped them actually work through rather than just adding a bunch of books that they want to read, help them actually read them. And that, that's just an amazing when we get that feedback, when people are saying, wow, you're actually helping me read books that I've wanted to read for ages or cleared books on my bookshelf. It's such an amazing feeling to know we're actually helping enhance reader's lives in This  Colleen: This whole story is utterly amazing to me. It's like, you guys were never in a box. Like the rest of us are trying to get out of our box and you're like, I was never in a box. I'm going to do exactly what I want. You know, I think because like, I live very heavily in that indie SAS world. So I listened to a lot of indie hackers. And if you listen to indie hackers, 9.5 out of 10 people, Cortland has on our developers making tools for other developers. Right. Like, we were all really tightly coupled and what you have done, like you did everything. I don't want to say wrong. That's not the right word, but like you did everything we've always been told not to do. Right. You're like, don't care about your rules. I'm just going to do it because I love it. And I'm passionate about it. And I don't know. It's just so exciting for me to see you take this like really hard problem that no one thought they could solve and trying to. And now you guys are having so much success. Like that's so awesome. Nadia: Oh, thank you so much. I mean, I think I see what you're saying in terms of, it's not the it's like what you said, cause they say, you know, build for. What you know, and so that whole pattern of developers building for developers and, or even what you said, the bef what we spoke about before the whole business to business thing, as being a smart way, it's easy to kind of figure out what your price, much easier to figure out pricing and to also, you know, like, know who you're going to speak to and selling to companies, that kind of stuff is a lot, there's a lot more. Over a playbook, I would say like every, every place is still different, but there's a lot more of a, a playbook and it's a lot easier to, I think, get to that profit profitability piece sooner. But I would say the one thing that I just think is just, if, if, if you do like you just have to do it. It's the customer research like that is the thing that. Like you said, this is just such a big, huge space and it's a really hard problem. And you know, we've done a good job of solving it so far. We've we've got, we could take what we've currently got and make it miles better. Like even though people love it already and think it's great. We have got like a bigger vision with it and lots more we want to do, but just because we just stay to stick with that customer reset. Really, you know, having a good process around it and being not shying away from it as well, and also not cutting corners with it. So there'll be times when I would do a recession. I'm like, no, you have to find the time to watch them back and do the synthesis, Nadia. Don't just, you know, like anecdotally be like, oh Yeah, people generally think this like actually do the research, you know? And you know, I'll always find. Some new pattern or something, even if it was just confirming something, I had kind of guessed, but just, you know, seeing it and having the confidence to say, okay, this is what's going on right now. I just think that has been the, a big part of us doing well so far, I would say so far because you know, you never know with stuff like this. Right. You know, hoping those plus numbers still keep going up, hoping people still keep loving the product. You know, it's, it's a. Even though. yeah, We're two years in and we're doing, going well, I'm almost at half a million. I still, you still have the thing of like, you know, this could all fall apart or like just stop working. You can start plateauing or, yeah. So when we were trying to keep that in mind to just keep the stay focused.  Colleen: What is your long-term vision for your life and story graph? Nadia: Okay. I would love. So we're not. So we want to stay in D our dream is to stay an independent company that's possible. So Robin, I can have our salaries and we can invest back in the product, whether that's hiring a handful of people or hiring people who work with us on a short-term basis to, to help where we need like methods, design stuff, perhaps, or, you know product overview or accessibility. That's something that I've been, you know, It's trying to always improve on all different facets of the product. But essentially, Yeah. I just want to build a product that is it's known as a really excellent tool for tracking your reading and choosing our next book. It's basically known as I would love the product to be essentially seen as like your best friend that like, no. All about your reading, but also knows about all the books in the world. So you just trust them. And it's just the, it's just a joy to use. And if that brings joy to readers, avid readers, it enhances their lives. And also inspires people who don't read or maybe used to read, to pick up a book and get into a meeting. And then we're bringing so much value that we can stay profitable and independent and running from several, several years to come. That would be absolutely incorrect.  Colleen: Wow. Wonderful. Well, Nadia, thank you so much for coming on software social today and sharing with us your adventures in building story graph, Nadia: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so honored to have been invited.  Colleen: that's going to wrap up today's episode. Please check us out on Twitter and we'd love to hear your feedback. Thanks.

28 September 2021 53m and 27s


Software Social University?

Software Social University?

Michele Hansen  0:01  This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Reform. As a business owner, you need forms all the time for lead capture, user feedback, SaaS onboarding, job applications, early access signups, and many other types of forms. Here's how Reform is different: - Your brand shines through, not Reform's - It's accessible out-of-the-box ... And there are no silly design gimmicks, like frustrating customers by only showing one question at a time Join indie businesses like Fathom Analytics and SavvyCal and try out Reform. Software Social listeners get 1 month for free by going to reform.app/social and using the promo code "social" on checkout. Colleen Schnettler  0:51   So Michelle, how are things going with your book tour? Michele Hansen  0:54   So the book tour itself is going well, I did indie hackers build your SAS searching for SAS one end product? I just recorded another one. yesterday. No, no, no, today? No, that was I feel like I'm doing a lot with it. Because that's what says because I had I love it. Let's see yesterday, no Tuesday, I did a session with founder summit. And then I also had a call with someone about being on their podcast yesterday. That'll be in November, and then I've scheduled another one for October. And then I did another group session today. And then yeah, actually, it was when I got off of that and Mateus was like, you know what you just did? And I was like, What? Like, he was like, you just did consulting? And I was like, No, I did. Like cuz it was Yeah. No, I did. I was like, it wasn't personalized. It was just like a workshop and people asked like questions, like, I just, I just talked about the book. And I was like, No, it wasn't he was like, yeah, it wasn't like that. No, it wasn't. Um, yeah, I think I actually kind of need to like, Cool it a bit on the promotion stuff. Like dude, like, this week, I spent like two days this week, creating a Google Sheets plugin for geocoder Oh, it was so nice to like, be playing around with spreadsheet functions again, like, after doing all this like writing and then talking about this stuff I wrote like, it was very comfortable. It was much more comfortable than talking about. Colleen Schnettler  2:42   Like, I don't know, it was your happy was when you went Excel. Michele Hansen  2:46   It really is. Um, but actually, so I have another spreadsheet that doesn't have any fun functions in it is the number of books I have sold, adding up, you know. Okay. For 490 400 Colleen Schnettler  3:03   my gosh, that's amazing. Michele Hansen  3:07   I know, it's so close to 500. And it's been so close to 100 500 for like days. And like, the other day, I was like, maybe I'm, like, tapped out the market for this at 490. Like, that's really good. Like the average book sells like 300. So like, that's really good. Um, and, yeah, so so I'm going to do like, I'm going to be on some other podcasts and whatnot. And like, I remember seeing once. Rob Fitzpatrick once, I think actually, it's in his new book. He has a graph of the revenue of the mom test and like, the growth of that book is I mean, a case in compounding. Colleen Schnettler  3:52   Okay, so, right. So Michele Hansen  3:54   you know, it's not all like in the beginning, and like, there's really positive signs, like people are recommending to other people, people are writing reviews, like, so. So yeah, I feel good. But man, I really want to get to 500. I don't know, I haven't been thinking about the numbers very much. I mean, it's only six but like, I really, I really want to get to 500. I don't know why, like it's like getting to like, you know, 1000 or what it like that's that's not even like remotely like a possibility to me, like I don't even really think about it. But now it's like so close. And like that would be so awesome. Colleen Schnettler  4:25   I wager a guess that by the time this podcast airs on Tuesday, you will be at 500. Michele Hansen  4:31   That's only six more books. Maybe Maybe. And by the way, if people want a free copy of this of the book, so if you are listening, when it comes out on on Tuesday or Wednesday, transistor.fm is running a little giveaway on their Twitter account. I think Justin saw my like, I think 490 is all I'm ever gonna sell. Okay. And I was like, no. So they're giving away five copies of the book. You just have to go retweet the tweets about the book. So yeah, nice. Yeah. If you just go to the deploy wonderful, Colleen Schnettler  5:05   that'll help expand your reach. Michele Hansen  5:07   Yeah, it was interesting hearing that I was like helping you interview people on podcast. I'm like, Yeah, I guess you could. I mean, it doesn't have to just be for. for customers. Colleen Schnettler  5:19   Anyway, oh, yeah, your book applies to so much. So that's where the, Michele Hansen  5:23   that's that's where the book is. But I gotta say, I think I think I need to give myself a little break on promotion. Otherwise, I'm gonna, I'm gonna burn out on that Colleen Schnettler  5:33   for right now. Yeah, I was thinking about that when you were talking about like, how you're hitting it so hard. I was like, wait, Isn't this what happened with writing the book? And then afterwards, you're like, Michele Hansen  5:43   Yes, I have a pattern. Yes. way overboard. And then I exhaust myself. Colleen Schnettler  5:53   So maybe we should approach it like a marathon instead of a sprint? Yeah, Michele Hansen  5:57   I think so. I haven't scheduled anything for next week. So I don't have anything scheduled until the first week of October. So okay. Yeah, kind of just, yeah. So so you know, hopefully by the, you know, yeah. Bye. By the time I'm on again, because I'm off next week. I vacation. Yeah. Oh my god, dude, I'm going to American, I'm so excited. So happy for you. Okay, um, I can't wait to just go to Target and Trader Joe's anyway. Colleen Schnettler  6:34   So if you're not have target, and then we do not Michele Hansen  6:36   have target, we have a story that's inspired by target or like more like, inspired by Walmart. But like, it's just like, there's just nothing like getting a Starbucks and walking around target. You know, it's just true story. Anyway, um, what's going on with you? Colleen Schnettler  6:52   So I did quite a bit of work on simple file uploads. Since we last talked, I actually spent a good chunk of time doing some technical work, some cleanup work that needed to be done. But I have gotten the demo on my homepage. Oh, it's really exciting. Yeah, Michele Hansen  7:10   the like, code pen demo thing that we've been talking about for a while, right? Correct. Colleen Schnettler  7:15   Okay, instead of putting a code pen up, I actually just put a drop zone. So you can literally, if you go into my site, it just says drop a file to try it. And you can drop a file. Wait, so that is something I know. Right? So that's something I've been talking about doing for a long time, which I finally got done. So that's exciting. Yeah. And there was some other stuff with like the log on flow, that wasn't really quite correct. It wasn't wrong, it just wasn't really right. So I just spent a lot of time kind of getting that cleaned up. Oh, and the API for deleting events. So that was a real hustle for me, because I have someone who reached out to me, and they were like, Hey, we totally want to use your thing. But we have to be able to delete files, you know, from our software, not from the dashboard. And so that external forcing function of this potential customer just made me do it. And so I have that done. So I Oh, I feel now that I have like a completely functioning piece of software. Did they buy it? So that's exciting? Not yet. They claim that they're going to start their project like next month? I don't know if they will or won't, but we'd have developed kind of like, relatively frequent ish email communication and stuff. So I think it'll be good. Either way, it forced me to kind of do it. So I'm happy to have that because that is something I really wanted to do. Because I wanted to make sure I had that before I allow multiple uploads. So the question now Oh, and we had a huge I mean, a huge spike. We don't the site doesn't get tons and tons of visitors. But we had a huge spike in visitors because we're actually publishing content. Oh, yeah. So like things are I'm doing things. So that's exciting to get the documentation stuff Michele Hansen  9:03   done that we talked about. Colleen Schnettler  9:05   So I decided that it wasn't worth my time to completely rip out the documentation and redo it. So but I did go in there and try to take what I had, which as your to your point, I think last week or two weeks ago, is you said, you know, it's fine. It kind of looks like a readme like it's not beautiful, but it's functional. So I tried to make it more functional by adding more documentation. And then I hired a developer to write a blog post, I shouldn't say almost more like a tutorial, how to use this in react. So his article is up. So I've been putting a lot of content on the site the past week. Michele Hansen  9:41   You are on fire. Colleen Schnettler  9:44   I know girl, I'm feeling good. I mean, part of it is like hiring my own sister has been so good for me because she can call me on my bullshit, because she works for me, but she's also like my best friend. So she's like, just stop whining and just do it. I'm like, okay, I joke like she's part marketing expert part like life coach, like, Michele Hansen  10:06   it sounds like you've got the fire under you now. Colleen Schnettler  10:11   I do. I mean, I have not seen. Okay, so it's only been a week right. So we've seen an increase in the ticket people coming to the site. I have not seen any kind of great increase in signups signups are still. Well, actually, I have not seen a great increase in signups. But what I have seen is my file uploader hit 10,000 files uploaded this week, like people are using, right. Right. So what has happened is remember the beginning I was really concerned because all these people were signing up and then like 30% of the people were using it. So all those non users have turned. So the people who are paying me now are actually using it actively. So that's good. Yeah, that's really good. Yeah. So I'm not seeing an increase my MRR still bouncing around 1000. Again, nothing to sneeze at. Like, it's a good number. But I haven't seen any kind of great jumps. But I think part of that is because the people who aren't using it have left and then the people who are using it, you know, the people who have signed up or actually committed to using it. Michele Hansen  11:14   Right. But new people have not come in that have replaced the people have checked who have turned Colleen Schnettler  11:20   right, not really like a couple. But you know, at one point, I had three people paying me 250 bucks a month. Like That was pretty awesome that now I only have one person Michele Hansen  11:28   is that is that the the whale that we talked about that like wasn't using it and wasn't Replying to Your Yeah. Colleen Schnettler  11:33   So I've had three of those people come in and come out. One is still there. Again, not using it not responding to emails. But I'm not trying to hassle them. So Alright, if that's what you wanted? Yeah. So I'm trying to figure out so I'm fit. I mean, the energy there is really good. And I feel like I've made a lot of I've done a lot of things. I haven't seen yet. The the response from that from a revenue standpoint, but I feel like if I just keep pushing in this direction, I'll get there. So I'm trying to decide what to do next. So why for so long, I had this list of things. And every time we talked, I felt like getting advice from you on what to do next wasn't really useful, because I hadn't even done the other things I was supposed to do. But now I have done the other things. So I'm trying to decide if you should focus on other ways to use it. So now that I have an API for deletion, I can open up multiple file uploads, which is kind of cool. I already do it for a client, like on the on the download secretly because I control their site, but I could. So I could write more content, showing people how to actually use it and like, and kind of go in that direction. Or I could make the UI more flashy and add a, like an image modifier editing tool, which would be kind of cool. Or I could, I don't know, that's what I got right now. Michele Hansen  12:58   What are you? What are your customers Asia do Colleen Schnettler  13:01   my customer search. So we are trying to do another round of customer interviews. So I did, we offered a $25 amazon gift card. And we're going around to everyone who's actively using it to see if anyone wants to talk to us. So we are doing that we are trying to do and that was another thing. Like I'm kind of proud of myself, just because when we moved here, our schedule is so variable, I couldn't really get like solid work hours like this is when I can work. But we did send out those emails requesting customer interviews. So that is on the docket. Michele Hansen  13:34   Because like I could sit here and be like, Oh, yeah, like that sounds good. But like, Don't listen to me. Like I don't I don't know, like, you know, I have a question for you. That's kind of kind of a different topic, but I feel like you are so you're so enthusiastic right now. And I have to wonder whether working on stuff for your like, quote, unquote, day job, which was you know, the consulting before and then was the other company and now and now is Hammerstone like, like, I kind of have to wonder if like working on stuff during like work is like Colleen Schnettler  14:15   if Michele Hansen  14:16   if that is working on something you're excited about during the day is energizing you for your side project because I just feel like the energy that I am hearing from you is like so much more than it has been before. Like you're just like, Colleen Schnettler  14:35   I fired up. I totally am Michelle, I someone had you know, all those there's always tweets like oh, all the things, the best decisions I've ever made in my life or you know, all that stuff. I saw one the other day and it was the two most important decisions you're going to make in your life are who you marry and what you do for a living. And I can tell I mean I'm literally for the first time in ever I'm in my late 30s first time in ever doing exactly what I have always wanted to do. And it's amazing. I mean, and the coolest thing is like the Hammerstone stuff. So I'm working on that I'm working with people I think are awesome. I go to sleep, and I wake up and my business partner has like, done this amazing stuff because he's just like cranking out code like a rock star. And I'm like, oh, Aaron's like, oh, while you were sleeping. I made this totally amazing thing. I'm like, glad I partnered with you, buddy. Because you know, what's up? Michele Hansen  15:32   Every day, Aaron has like some new like, thing. And yeah, who is he? When do you sleep? Like what he was? Was twins. Yeah, like newborn twins. Like not just twins, but like not like, born like, I mean, I guess babies do some kind of sleep a lot at weird times. Oh, gee, I don't know. And he has been jaw. There's also like, there's kind of the like, we want we launched you akoto when Sophie was four months old. And I feel like there was like this, we got this, like motivation from it. Because it was like, you know, she would go to bed at like seven or 730. And then, you know, we knew she was gonna wake up at like, midnight or two or whatever. But it was like, Oh, my God, we finally have two hours to ourselves. Let's use it as productively as possible. Like this thing I've been thinking about this whole time while I was changing diapers, I can do it now. Like, and it was weirdly motivating, and also incredibly exhausting, and a blur, but I don't know. Yeah, yeah. Aaron, like, dude, you're a machine? Colleen Schnettler  16:34   Yeah, it's so impressive. I think part of that too, might be you know, with that thing, if you only have three hours to do something like, you get that thing done in three hours. versus if you give yourself 30 days to do it. It'll take you 30 days. Yeah. But I think for me, I mean, my journey, you know, has been from a job, I didn't really like to all kinds of bouncing around doing different things, to learning how to code years ago, always the goal when I was learning how to code was to get to where I am right now. And I'm finally here. And it is super awesomely exciting. Like, I'm literally working with someone I have wanted to not, I mean, also Aaron, but like, not just him, working with someone I've always wanted to work with on something that's exciting. And it's like our business, I can't imagine a better knock on wood. I can't imagine a better work scenario for me. And I think that energy that comes from that scenario, absolutely bleeds into simple file upload, like, honestly, you know, a couple weeks ago, I was like, I should just sell it and be done with it. Like I was just kind of over it. And then hiring my sister really helped because she's really excited. And like, just having a higher level of energy in general, for this thing. It's been really fun. You know, Michele Hansen  17:50   I feel like I've heard you talk a little bit about how when you were first starting out, and then working as an engineer, like electrical engineer, rather. And you were like talking to people at work about how like, you know, they had all these like hopes and dreams when they got out of college. And then like, those things never happened. And then they were it was 30 years later, and they were just miserable. And you were like, Oh my god, I'm not like, I can't do that. And I like I wonder what was the moment when you realized that? Like, your solution to that was like learning how to code like, what made that happen? And but like, inspired you to not only realize that it was possible, but like, but then you acted on it, like? Colleen Schnettler  18:45   Well, I think part of it for me is I worked for a big, firm, a big company. And via I mean, that wasn't just like one of the middle managers that was like, all of the middle managers, right? Clearly these guys, they had started at 23 or 22, because they wanted to pay off college loans. They started working, it was a very comfortable job, right? They paid us well, we don't want to say we didn't work that hard, but we really didn't work hard. It was a lot of very bureaucratic, right, like lots of meetings, lots of organizing. And you know, before they know it, before they knew it, these guys were comfortable. And then they got married and they had kids and you know, most of them, their spouse stayed home. So then they felt that they were in this position where they were totally stuck. And they I mean, 30 years, I'm not exaggerating, like these guys had been there for 30 years. And they kind of it was just like this pervasive energy of like, real like, you know, the whole energy was just kind of like, everyone was just kind of bummed about their situation like no, it was sad, but they were definitely, like, felt the weight of this really boring job they'd done for 30 years. And so for me, it was really hard because like, again, it's so comfortable like they loved me. They paid me well. didn't have to, you know, wasn't all that stressful. But like my first of all, it wasn't hard at all, like your brain when you don't get to think or you don't get to be like, in you intellectually stimulated. It's just like murrah, blah, blah, blah. And I didn't know if I could, I mean, what I'm doing now has always been the dream. I couldn't see that eight years ago. Like, if you had told me I'd be doing what I did eight, I'd be here. Eight years ago, I would have been like, there's no way like, it felt like a freakin mountain to climb. I mean, like, it would never, I would never ever get there. And, I mean, I think a lot of it was just like, you know, obviously, all the work I put in seeing it as a vision I could reach and the community I was part of, and, you know, the communities I built along the way, but I couldn't see it. I mean, that's why, you know, I kind of make that parallel sometimes with what I'm doing now. Because like, back then I couldn't see I could not, couldn't see it. Like, just, I'm still amazed. And I can't see myself, my friend the other day, who has a business said, Oh, I think it's way easier to go from 1k to 5k. And I was like, I can't even see that right now. Like, that feels like a million dollars to me. And he's like, Oh, it's way easier to go from one to 5k than zero to 1k. And I was like, Really? So? I don't know. I mean, yeah, there's a lot there. Yeah, I Michele Hansen  21:23   was thinking about the other day, cuz I was talking to someone who, who has had a hard life, but it turned out that they, you know, I was talking to them about what they do. And you know, they're, and, and they, and they're like, Oh, you know, but I kind of know how to edit videos, and, you know, do some graphic design and stuff. And I was like, dude, like, if you have a little bit of technical competency, and like turnout, they've done like little bit of like Python stuff. I was like, run with that. But I realized, like, I didn't actually know where to, like, send them. Like I told him about, like, indie hackers and you know, other stuff. And I was, but I was like, I was like, I don't actually know, like, where to send you to, like, learn how to like code or like, no code. Like, I think I said, I told him about bubble. And like, I mean, it was worth the reason why like we do this podcast in the first place is to kind of like, demystify this whole thing about like running your own little internet company, which is still a weird job. And, like, show people that it's possible, I guess, um, and that, you know, they don't have to be in a dead end job or selling leggings as you are. Colleen Schnettler  22:38   Yeah, we watched the die. Michele Hansen  22:40   Lula documentary, we started it. I thought of you the whole time. Yeah, I really, I didn't even know where to send them. And it just got me thinking about your story. And it's like, you're in a dead end job. Like, not only like, like, what? I don't know, like, what was that? Like? What inspired you to be like, yeah, I have to do something about it. And here's what I'm gonna do. Colleen Schnettler  23:08   So I think for me, it was a lot of things happened at once. But it was I was at a dead end job where I had some real jerks that I worked with. And it was like, I don't have to put up with this. Like, I'm out. Yeah. And so then it was, it went when I decided to go back to work. They want to be back. I mean, they want to take me back with no, no interviews, like no hard shit, like, just come on back. And man, that was tempting, because the money is so good, was good. But I saw those guys, those guys were always in my mind, like the guys who never took a shot. And I was like, I'm not gonna, I'm not going to be that person who never takes a shot. But to your friends point. This is what is so hard about making this kind of career change. There is no roadmap. I mean, the reason people wanted to sell leggings is because they tell you what to do. Trying to like start a career in tech. There's literally no roadmap. There's no you. It's like, overwhelmingly hard. Not only everyone's like, oh, there's tons of resources on the internet. That doesn't help. There's too many resources on the internet. There needs to be a framework where it's like, here is where you go, this is what you need to do. Here are the steps. Yeah, because no one, everyone's journey is different. And there aren't any steps. And so what happens I see this all the time, because I mentor, some people that are trying to get into software, and they are totally lost, just like I was because there's no roadmap. There's no steps, like what do you do next? Like, sure, no code, what the heck do I make with a no code tool? Like what should I do? What are people going to pay for? How do I find those people? Like, it just feels like so nebulous? And I think that's why although you hear all these great success stories, I think that's why making the transition is so hard. And for me, I took a ridiculous pay cut for four years before I've now exceed my previous income but significant exceed. But, I mean, that was years. I mean, there was probably three to four years where I had taken this, I mean, you know, ridiculous paycut to rebuild, and not everyone makes it on the rebuilding stage, like, there's just so many stages, you can get stuck, and you just can't. It's just not it's just not knowing the path forward, like now that I'm speaking this to you, that would be useful to people like, Michele Hansen  25:37   where do you do? Yeah, like, Colleen Schnettler  25:38   Where do you think I'm thinking? Michele Hansen  25:40   Like, there's Okay, there's like, there's programming courses, you know, there's 30 by 500. Like, there's kind of all you know, there, there's zero to some, you know, our recalls book, but like, I mean, it's almost like, you know, there's so many things that go into it, and it's so nebulous, it's almost like you should be able to, like, go to college for starting an internet business, except you can't, because there's so many things that go into it. And like, so when you were so like you so so so let me understand this correctly. So you worked the dead end job. And then you quit, and you stayed home with your kids for a while. And then you went back to work. And then you did. So you didn't, and you decided you weren't going to go back there. And basically, it sounds like the real, like, the light bulb for you that you weren't going to do that was you know, your own self worth. It sounds like, um, and that you just couldn't do that to yourself. And you felt like you deserved better. But then so when you went back to work, did you get an engineering job? Like it like an electrical engineering job? And then like, did you learn to code at night or something? Like, how did you tackle this? Colleen Schnettler  26:56   Yeah, so I never went back to work. So the first thing I did back what this 10 years ago now, I wrote an iOS app. Because this was back in the day when people were making millions of dollars off of stupid iOS. Michele Hansen  27:07   Yeah, I was coming up in that era. And I think the most we ever made was 400 bucks a month. Colleen Schnettler  27:13   Right? This was maybe 11 1011 years ago. So I wrote an iOS app. And, you know, totally taught from scratch, there was only like one tutorial site at the time, all of this other stuff, treehouse, and all this stuff didn't exist. There was this guy, I think his name is Ray wonderlic. He had this iOS. And this was before Swift. So this is like Objective C days. I wrote an iOS app. I got it in the App Store. I made $65. And I realized I could make money on the internet. And then I was like, oh, okay, there's something here. This iOS stuff, though, is not the path because not only would I have to learn Objective C, that's decent, I then would have to learn all of these other things about like, building and selling an iOS app. And that is way too overwhelming. In the beginning, trying to learn how to code and learn how to run a business, these are not the same skill set, like learning these at the same time, when you come from a baseline of zero, I do not think it's a good idea. I kind of feel like you should pick one or the other. So being technical minded, I picked learning to code. So I literally started listening to every inspirational learning to code podcast I could find. And in one of the podcast, it was one of those real tech bro guys who's like, you could do it kinda like Gary, Gary, what's his name? It wasn't Gary, what's his name, but it was someone like that. Who was like you can do it, you know, you can start internet business. All you got to do is learn Ruby on Rails. So I was like, cool. So I started, what was the resource Back then, I think I got a book on Ruby on Rails and started building some apps. And I'm still, you know, I'm doing this at night, right? Because I still have the kids, I have three little kids at home, or maybe two at the time, I guess I only have two at the time. And then from there, Women Who Code had a bounty bug program, so they would pay you $75 to solve issues. And this was like, tremendous for me, because the $75 that doesn't sound like a lot now. Right? That was huge. Because that could pay for babysitting for like, hour. Yeah. So I mean, it would take me under these things would take me like 15 hours, I had no idea what I was doing. I mean, like, but that was tremendous. For me also finding social groups, like I got involved in some open source. And the social groups are tremendous. And by social, I mean, you know, on Slack, and from there, and from there, I ended up getting a job as a Rails developer. So it felt like clawing my way through a path that did not exist is what it felt like, right? There was no like, as an engineer previously, it was like, go to college get a job. There was no you know, the path was very clear. Where's the path here? It was like I started contributing this open source. I got so overwhelmed. I just stopped And like six months later, one of the guys just reached out to me individually and said, Hey, I see you took this issue on six months ago and you haven't solved it. Do you need help? And I was like, Yes, I need all the help. Like, I am so confused. I didn't know what I'm doing. So that guy who don't know don't keep in touch with no idea where he is in the world, but like, he was tremendous in helping me not to quit. Isn't that amazing hack someone that you Michele Hansen  30:26   don't know, over the internet just like shows up and is like, Hello, can I help you? And then you don't even keep in touch with this person or know them. But they had this like, massive v here without this influence on your life? Colleen Schnettler  30:41   I should, I should hunt him down. Be like, Hey, remember me? Michele Hansen  30:48   It's amazing. Colleen Schnettler  30:49   Yeah, it is. It is amazing. But I also think like, to this point, to your friend's point, and to me, like trying to get help my sister figure out what she wants to do for remote business. There's no path. I mean, it's so hard because you don't know what to do. Like people can work hard, I think motivated people. Absolutely. There's so many people who could change their career trajectories, because people will work hard for what they want. But when you don't know which vector Yeah, you know which direction to apply the work. You just spin around in circles, like I would love for there to be a better way to help people start internet businesses, because from our perspective, having done this for like, you know, eight years now, or whatever, it's like, oh, you just do this thing? And no, if you don't know what to do, just start with something. It's so even, I mean, everything is hard in the beginning, right? Like, how do you send emails? Michele Hansen  31:45   Like I we still don't send emails, so I don't know if I like we technically have tools. Colleen Schnettler  31:53   I think you could think of like now that I'm talking to you about this, like a fully encompassing course, Oh, my gosh, great new idea. Here, were to build out a Michele Hansen  32:02   course or something for like, for your, you know, learn to code instead of selling leggings, like you like that. Like, like that is like I feel like that is your like life's mission is to help. Colleen Schnettler  32:13   I know, right? All about going down. But here's the thing is, this is kind of my life mission. Yeah, but But the thing that I think I thought I'd make a course to teach people how to be a Rails developer. The thing is, it's really hard to learn software, well, like it's not going to happen. And here's my new thought, Oh, my gosh, it's just coming to me, you're not gonna learn software? Well, in six months, especially if you have, you know, if you're working during the day, you're just not this is not, you're not going to become a good rails developer in six months. So originally, I thought, my way was to help people learn to code. But I think what makes more sense, is actually to help people learn using probably no code tools, how to build online businesses, because that more aligns with the demographic of people I'm trying to help. Not how to learn to code, but like, how do you like cuz, you know, the joke is, every military spouse is a photographer, it's like the most prevalent, it's a very prevalent occupation. But teach these help these people learn how to like, build a site and send emails and use a no code tools. So they can you know, accept payments on their website and like basic stuff, so that people who want online businesses can still pursue what their individual passion is, because I'm finding like, I push people to try learn to code, a lot of people don't want to learn to code that's not their jam. Michele Hansen  33:36   You know, it reminds me of the something we say a lot. And then the sort of jobs to be done world is that nobody wants a quarter inch drill. They want a quarter inch hole so they can put a nail in it so they can hang a picture on their wall, right? Like learning Ruby on Rails like is not the end goal. The end goal is hanging the picture on the wall, which is building the business. Colleen Schnettler  34:02   Right? And if you want to have a real business, you got to know how to use the internet's Michele Hansen  34:10   how to use the internet. I think my university like nothing, I think I looked into like, like, oh, like, Can I take like an HTML or like, whatever, like class, and there was literally class that was like, This is the internet, you will learn how to use a browser and I was like, and then then, and then everything else was like C Programming. I was like, This is not looking good. Like Colleen Schnettler  34:34   Yeah, Michelle. Think about this, though. You're absolutely right. Like, I approached it incorrectly thinking oh, I need to teach the world how to code. Well doesn't want to learn how to code world wants to make money doing something they're already passionate about, whether that is selling something they make or whether that is being a photographer or you know, running a home catering business. But that's what we could do. We could To help teach people how I mean, you could have a course. Okay, I have to learn I'm sure you know, no code. That's the whole point is it's not that painful, right? You could have a course that basically walked someone through how to use no code tools to set up a website where you can do things like accept money, and do things like send automated emails. Dude, Michele Hansen  35:23   Do either of us know how to use the new code stuff? Colleen Schnettler  35:27   No. Okay. But yeah, Unknown Speaker  35:29   I mean, we don't have time right now. Michele Hansen  35:31   When we put ourselves through, which is how to use No, you know, what I just realized? Is that like, you came into this conversation, like fired up, and then somehow you were even more fired up right now. And I didn't think that was possible. Colleen Schnettler  35:47   I love this though. I feel like I'm adding shalon Pauline University. We don't have time for it now. But we're so first social University. Oh, my gosh, that's coming. Michele Hansen  36:02   Um, well, before we get more, you know, ideas out there. Maybe we should wrap up also, for apparently a lot of people listen to this podcast while running. And I have been tagged in the fact that we're usually around 30 minutes is like people like great, I can go out and like, I know how long of a run that is. So we're already five minutes over, we usually plan for it. So. Colleen Schnettler  36:26   Alright, guys, it's because of all my great ideas. Well, I Michele Hansen  36:29   so I will see you in two weeks. So yes, yes, I will be drinking started wandering through target next week. So but I know Colleen has exciting plans and then we'll we'll talk to you later.

21 September 2021 36m and 47s


A Tour Through Struggle: Cam Sloan, Founder of Hopscotch Product Tours

A Tour Through Struggle: Cam Sloan, Founder of Hopscotch Product Tours

Send Cam some love and support! https://twitter.com/SloanCam Check out Hopscotch: https://hopscotch.club/ Michele Hansen  0:01  This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Reform. As a business owner, you need forms all the time for lead capture, user feedback, SaaS onboarding, job applications, early access signups, and many other types of forms. Here's how Reform is different: - Your brand shines through, not Reform's - It's accessible out-of-the-box ... And there are no silly design gimmicks, like frustrating customers by only showing one question at a time Join indie businesses like Fathom Analytics and SavvyCal and try out Reform. Software Social listeners get 1 month for free by going to reform.app/social and using the promo code "social" on checkout. Michele Hansen  0:01   So today, I'm so excited we have a friend joining us, Cam Sloane. Hello, Cam. So we invited you on today because you had tweeted the other day about how you're kind of feeling stuck right now. And we're like, you know what? Maybe we like we can chat about it and help you get unstuck. Cam Sloan  1:17   Yeah, that was, I guess, shout out to Aaron Francis, who kind of like just was like, Hey, bring him on. And, and I was like, Yeah, let's do it. That'd be awesome. And I think that, you know, just speaking that tweet, it really seemed to resonate with a lot of other people, like other founders who are trying to do this. And because I had an outpouring of, you know, comments and support, and DMS, from people I don't know, and people that I do know and invite stuff like this show and stuff to just like, it's amazing, the community that has reached out to kind of say, like, well, all sorts of things I'm sure we'll get into today. So it's been really nice to it's always nice to have that because sometimes you're just going at this and you feel like super alone. So for context, I just feel kind of stuck in like, you know, do I keep going do I switch to something else? Or do I? You know, yeah, like, I've contemplated like just doing contract work. And you know, just make money that way, because it's a bit easier. So all sorts of stuff that is going through my head over the past few months? Because it's just slow, slow going. Colleen Schnettler  2:32   Yeah, Cam to get us started. Could you give us a little background about your product? And how long you've been working on it? Cam Sloan  2:40   Yeah, definitely. That would be helpful for listeners. So yeah, I am working on hopscotch. It's a user onboarding tool, specifically focusing on product tours, and kind of in app messaging and guides to kind of, you know, when a user signs up for your product, sometimes you want to kind of hold their hand a bit to show them what their next step should be, in order to help prevent them from churning by actually showing them to the thing that they want to do. And so yeah, I mean, product tours, to be honest, like, it's not the right fit for every every business. But sometimes, there are really good use cases, like if you have a complex product that has, like you get in like a CRM, or like an analytics tool that has like 10 options on the top menu and 10 on the side, and your users just get dumped, or, you know, Landon, this page with no idea what to do next, then a really good way to show them is to guide them, you know, and kind of say, you know, here's, here's what your next step should be, so that you can see value out of the product. So I've been working on this for, I mean, about a year since the inception of like, actually like the idea, but really kind of steadily since January of this year in 2021. And kind of focusing most of my time on it. Because outside of that I do freelancing contract work for you know, larger companies just doing web development work for them. And that kind of helps me to stay self funded to do my projects like this and, and hopefully grow my own software business. Michele Hansen  4:28   Yeah, so. So I kind of want to propose a structure for this conversation. So I've mentioned a little bit in my book, how the sort of core questions that you're trying to answer when you talk to a customer can also be used when maybe you're helping somebody think through something, which are what are they trying to do overall? Why? What are the steps in that process they're going through what if they already Tried, and where are they stuck? And so I feel like you've kind of you've started to give us a little bit of overview on the what you're trying to do. And why. I'm curious what led you to be interested in building an onboarding tool? Cam Sloan  5:23   Yeah. So the, you know, like, as I don't know, if you did this as well, when you were coming up with, you know, what business to go into you like make a list, you're trying to make a list of ideas, and like, most of them are pretty terrible. And, like, I had maybe 50 ideas. And this was kind of one of them that I didn't really think too much about until I actually I met someone who I, who wanted to hire me to build to work on their software company, and just doing web development for them. And we actually ended up, I didn't work for him, it wasn't the right fit for taking on that contract. But we ended up like really getting along well, kind of both having founder ambitions. And he was almost like, in the position that I'm at right now where he was feeling a bit stuck. And so we ended up saying, Hey, we should like try and work on something together. And, and we were thrown, like, what ideas have you been having, and, and we both checked kind of our lists. And, and this was one of them. So for him, he was actually experiencing, like, the pain point more than I had previously. So really, he was searching around for tools. And like came across intercom product tours and other app cues and realizing like, you know, he's a bootstrap founder cannot justify the price at like, $300 plus a month, and was looking for a tool that was maybe affordable that that could get them up and running. And we kind of ran with that together. In like, just real quick summary. Like he ended up going and building another business. So I kept going on hopscotch. And, yeah, like, as soon as I dove into the problem, like I really enjoyed it, both technically, because like you're you're kind of embedding your yourself into another SAS product by default, like by the definition of what these tools do. And so there's a lot of like, really interesting technical learnings that I've had to had to go through with that, like anytime you're dealing with like widget, embed scripts and other people's code, it's, it's a lot of interesting stuff on the technical side. But then also just realizing like that, there's a lot of interesting stuff in the human and business side of this as well. Like, I started soaking in resources from Samuel Kulik, and like the user less team and, you know, anywhere that I could find people who are talking about onboarding and realizing like how crucial it can be to a business's success. Because, you know, if you can reduce that initial churn in the first month or two, then then it can have a wild impact on the like, lifetime value of customers and how your product retains users. And so it just kept me interested From then on, which is why I didn't like end up going work on something else. After, after he, like my co founder went to do something else. Michele Hansen  8:23   So let's talk a little bit about where you are now. So you launched in April. Is that right? Cam Sloan  8:30   or me? Yeah. So I think so. Time is a blur? Yeah, like I because I've kind of been doing, like, I did a lot of stuff with early access of just onboarding one on one, like people who are signing up for the early access list. And at one point, I kind of let people sign up on their own, which April sounds, it might be even a bit early, it might have been just a couple months ago that I finally made it so that people could self sign up. And so, yeah, I think a lot of the customers I was speaking to back in April, and May and June, like I was kind of doing just they would express interest, find the landing page, and then we would jump on a demo call. And and some of them would, you know, try the product, others would just kind of like ghost off and and so that's kind of where, yeah, like I probably had about 40 conversations, demo calls and stuff. And you know, I'm setting with just a handful of like really just one main customer that is like paying me and has the product installed. And I've like kind of done a white glove service to help them get up and running with it. And then I have a couple like I don't know, like almost just like friends and family supporters or like people who have like paid but not activated. And so I don't like really even count towards the bottom line. They're like There's not a lot that I can gain from, from them, except they're $20 a month. Michele Hansen  10:07   So, what's your revenue out? Right now? If you're comfortable saying that, Cam Sloan  10:11   yeah, I'm at like 150 MRR Michele Hansen  10:14   and what are your expenses to keep it running? Cam Sloan  10:18   A pretty low. Yeah, like, I'm paying like 20 bucks a month for server costs and, and then it's really just a matter of like, I am trying to pay, you know, just paying my rent and stuff out of savings. And like all of that I have, like, the way that I kind of manage my cash flow there is just by doing a certain amount of freelance per year and then saying, I have to make this much. And then that kind of floats me on that side of things. And so yeah, it's it's like really quite inexpensive to keep it operating like this. But I have thought, like, I have quite a bit of cash in the business bank account from doing the contract and freelancing. There's about 100 and 120k. there that is kind of, you know, just setting as runway, but I have also considered like, should I be deploying this more effectively? Like, if I'm ready to work on this business? Like, which, I guess is a big question mark, like, do I keep going or not? But like, do I want to invest more in, I don't know, maybe trying some ads, or trying to hire someone to help with the content and things that I'm not doing. So hopefully, that gives a bit of a picture of the financials and stuff. Colleen Schnettler  11:38   Can we go back to the 40 onboarding calls you did? and talk a little bit more about that? I'm really curious. So you actually got on the phone with 40 people who organically reached out to you? Cam Sloan  11:51   Yeah, I would say, you know, somewhere in that range, because I had about 100 people on my, like, early access list. Well, this was over the course of several months. And so as they were joining, I would kind of do the playbook of like, you know, as soon as they sign up, or maybe a day or two later, sometimes depending how much like I was working on product, or if I was in learning mode at the time, I would, you know, jump onto calls with them, I did come out with like, a really early version of this product and sent it to like a handful of customers, and then you know, got feedback, like, oh, but it doesn't do this. And so I go back to product mode and, and rebuild and say like, here we go. But then, you know, maybe there were other other issues that it wasn't solving, like a huge part of that just felt like, maybe it wasn't a huge pain point. Because I actually went back to a lot of these, like, people and I plan to go back and even speak to, like, send some more follow up emails, because just this week, I sent about five or six of them. So yeah, where I guess I'm, I've been speaking with, you know, quite a few customers that would be requesting these features. And then I would, you know, go off take maybe a week or whatever it took to go and build the smallest version of that come back. And, and sometimes that was not really enough for they would just kind of ghost at that point. And, and just, you know, it. I know, it felt like the right thing to be it felt like the right approach and like learn from the people who are going to be our customers and you know, go build what they asked for. But then, but then didn't really see results from it, I do think still like most of what they requested and was like super reasonable and like did improve the product to where it is. Today, like where I think that people signing up today like have a much more useful product because it can do you know, an example of that would be like segmenting your product tours to only show certain ones to certain demographics of users. Like if you have a new user that is, I don't know, an agency versus a small business owner, they may have more, they might have a better understanding of tooling in general. And so they you would just show a different thing. So you want to do segmenting within the app. And so that was something that I really do feel helped with making the product better, but then yeah, it still didn't like end up driving those conversions in the way that I was hoping for. Michele Hansen  14:29   Yeah. Did any of those people you talked like you said those were onboarding calls so had those people paid for the product? Cam Sloan  14:37   And maybe I just like misspoke. It was more like demo calls I guess of like, you know, just people who had signed up for they would sign up for fill out the Early Access form. Tell me about like their use case. And then I would go and speak with them but you know, to be also just like, I don't know, just Be critical on that point. It's like a lot of these people who are signing up probably, were just following my journey of me building in public on Twitter and like, may not be like the ideal customer profile, either I have found that like, initially I thought hopscotch might be a great use are a great fit for, like, really small companies like originally was targeting like other solo founders, indie hacker types that, like, you know, to get them a tool that they could afford that they could use for doing onboarding, but really, like, you're not feeling the pains yet of having to manually onboard like hundreds of customers at that scale. And so where I'm now more leaning towards is like trying to target more companies that are kind of in the I don't know, maybe like two to three employee to 10 Plus, like 1015 employees, so they still, like feel the pains of like, apt uses too expensive, but they actually have like employees and revenue, and are probably feeling some of the customer, some of the pains of trying to manually onboard so many users. So I think it has, like, these conversations have been helpful to like, guide me slowly to where I need to be. It's, it's just slow moving still. And like, now I don't see as many people filling that pipeline by default, because I'm not really tweeting a lot. And so it's like, Okay, I got to go and like, chase my, you know, hunt my food, for lack of a better term, and like, go and, you know, either do some, you know, founder sales, like going and prospecting and doing cold outreach, or, you know, trying to work the SEO game. And, and this is kind of like, where I fall and get a little bit stuck of like, not knowing the next best steps, because they're, like, so many ways that I could go with this. And none of them show like immediate returns. And so and so I kind of get a little bit deflated, even, like, if you spend a week writing out two or three articles, or, you know, Docs or blog post type things, or like you go and fill out a bunch of Korra answers. And then there's not necessarily going to be immediate returns, these things kind of prove themselves over like 612 months. And and that can just be hard compared to I don't know, I'm sure you both can really have like, you know, going in coding a feature. And then you see that returns, like it works right there. So yeah, it's just, I feel like that's been the tricky part of where I'm at now. Michele Hansen  17:32   Yeah, it can be really hard when you're at the point of making content investments, and you know, that it's gonna take months or years to pay off. But, like, investing in general, like, my head waiting for that payoff, and being patient is so hard. Cam Sloan  17:54   Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think that's what, like, I noticed yesterday with so many founders resonating on the same points, and some of them getting through to the other side was really inspirational like to read about and hear that, like, yeah, they just, you know, keep, there's like an element of keep plugging away. But there's also like, you can keep plugging away doing the wrong thing, forever. And, and I am like, really trying to like, since day one, I've tried to avoid like sinking many years into a startup that's not going to ever see traction. And I've always been like, at a certain point, I just want to have like a cut off trigger, like wearing like a kill switch, where I'm like, if I'm not making this much MRR that or you know, have this much act like engagement in the product, then like, I should maybe switch to something that is a bit easier to get people activated. I'm still not convinced that that's not true. Like, there's been a lot of encouragement to just keep going. But I do think that this is a bit of a slow moving industry, it may be a bit more of a vitamin versus painkiller type of thing in for some people, or at least that's the way they see it. Because when I reach back out to some of those leads, and asked, you know, how did you end up solving this problem? Like, which competitor? Did you end up going with? They like, so far the answers have been nothing like we are still like just thinking about this problem. And we'd be happy to you know, some of them are like, Yeah, let's do another demo call or let's do another, you know, something like let's talk about it again and reopen the conversation. And that's since April, however many months that is like five months or something like going by without actually moving on the problem. And so that could be just the again, the customer like that type of customer or it could just be the way that people buy in the space. It's a bit of You know, kind of, it's one of those things that's like sitting in the background, we should improve user onboarding, but then a lot of people don't because like, but they don't really realize that there's like this whole element of churn and like, and like, the bottom line is so closely tied to user onboarding, and improving that experience, that there's a disconnect there. So. Michele Hansen  20:25   So let's talk for a second about what is working. I'm really curious about this customer that you have at $99 a month, you said, and I have a couple of questions about them. First of all, is this somebody who knew you from Twitter? Or is this as our friend, Mike buckbee calls and I believe I quoted him on this last week. And Mike, you're getting quoted again this week? stranger money. So good. Cam Sloan  20:54   I think it's like I it stranger money, like I know this person. Yeah. Okay. And I don't remember exactly how they like came into the waiting list, but they did like, stumble on there. But they were really looking for like, yeah, some managed service, kind of white glove service there. So I've been helping a lot to do the implementation and planning there, as well, which is important to know, it's like, not just by my SAS, like, pay me 99 a month, it's like quite a bit of hands on work for for it as well. Colleen Schnettler  21:27   Oh, that's interesting. I Michele Hansen  21:27   noticed. Yeah. And I noticed in the end, all the people kind of chiming in on the thread and offering support and advice and whatnot, that I'm Jesse from bento jumped in. And he made the suggestion, I'm just gonna read it, throw a managed account offering 899 and see how many deals you can close with that I have a feeling many people would rather you do everything for them versus do DIY, at 49 to 99. It was a huge unlock when we were stagnant at bento, so much learning. And I was curious about your thoughts on that? Cam Sloan  22:04   Yeah, I mean, I can see a lot of value in that approach, because you're learning about the problem by actually implementing but you know, trying to solve it for them as almost like putting yourself in the consultants, shoes, I guess, part of like, part of even why I've been, I don't know, like, it's kind of been draining to do that a bit from this other for this customer. But again, I'm only charging 99 a month. And so there's not like the return on on all those hours invested. But it has proven to give me some better learning and understanding of like, how people want to think through this problem, and how to solve it for them. Yeah, and I do think like, yeah, if I'm gonna be justifying outbound sales, if that's like long term approach to this business, then you need to put a higher price point on it, which like kind of goes and partially removes, like, why I started this business in the first place, which is like to make a lower cost solution that like, you know, can be more affordable for people to get into. So yeah, it's been a bit. Like, I like the idea. And then I just don't know that I want to run that kind of business long term of like having to basically do a productized service. Colleen Schnettler  23:29   So what I'm trying to understand with this one client that you have is the time you're spending with them. Is that making it more hands off in the future? Like, are you working on integration pieces that makes them like kind of will streamline it for your future clients? Cam Sloan  23:46   Yeah, like, for us, a lot of this has been for learnings like I kind of agreed to take it on, so that I could, you know, write some better documentation out of it, like, realize what questions they have been having in the process and what we need to do to implement. So it will both be like product improvements that come out of it, you know, like just yeah, tweaks to the product, when I'm implementing for them. But also, oh, what questions Am I asking the client? And and then turning those into like help Docs or articles that maybe can help other people get up and running? Like, what do I need? What information do I need about my customer to like, make a product tour that is going to be effective? Or what do I need to know about my product and the like, audience that I'm serving to, to know if I need to implement a product or not. So I'm taking kind of those notes along the way, using it as a learning opportunity. Hence, not really like charging a premium. I was kind of just like, well, I get to learn a lot from this experience as well. But the I did say like after this initial implementation, I'm handing this back off to you and your team will have to run with it. So it's yeah I'm not like signing on for a forever job at 99 a month. And I Deeley not doing that for each customer. Yeah. Colleen Schnettler  25:08   So does this customer fit into your theory that you need to go after slightly bigger companies? Two to three, what do you say three to 10? employees with pretty significant revenue? Cam Sloan  25:19   Yeah, I would say they operate mostly like with, yeah, contractors and freelancers helping them out, but they are Yeah, kind of in that range of company size. Definitely not the, you know, initial indie hacker audience, which I think Yeah, like, is an easy thing to learn, like we like, like, indie hackers don't have a ton of capital to be throwing at tools, and they would rather go build things themselves or spend like, a week like, making their own solutions. And, and it doesn't, yeah, it's just I think not having the access to the capital is like, is a big challenge there. So yeah, I've definitely learned to like, a bit about Yeah, maybe I should follow this. larger company size, at least, that's kind of where I'm at. Like, I don't know, if I want to, I don't know if maybe that ideal customer is actually a bit bigger than even what I said, maybe it's, you know, 20 plus employees. I've definitely had some companies reach out that were like 500 employees, but they tend to have much larger expectations, like, want to do NPS scores, they want to do surveys through these tools, they want to have the tours, they want to do checklist, like there's a lot of product gap, like there's a lot of big gap in what the product offers now that they kind of want a whole suite, because they're kind of nearing on like, enterprise, or like really like the larger business. So I'm trying to, like fit into this kind of smaller area where people might not have like such high expectations or like needs out of a product. And really, they're just trying to focus on this one part, which is like activation. And they can use another tool if they need to do like, survey and feedback type of stuff. Michele Hansen  27:09   Like our sponsor this month reform, for example. Love it. There we go, Peter, um, I'm interested. So you mentioned you know, you have other customers who are mostly sort of friends and family and like, indie hacker money, and as you've kind of alluded to, basically this sort of irony of, you know, indie hacker world is basically that usually, we're like, we're not very good customers for each other, for the most part. But a very good peer group community. But I'm curious, this 99 a month customer, you did 30 demo calls, you probably learned a lot about what people were trying to solve within onboarding, like what their products were like, and, you know, these things about company size, and the sort of sort of corporate demographic questions basically, but also the activity they're trying to solve and, and how complicated their products are, and and what the, you know, basically, what the cost is to them of having a poorly on boarded user. And so I'm kind of curious, like, Do you notice any differences in the kind of product or those sort of goals or whatnot, that your $99 a month customer is trying to do? That those other customers are not, that might be a clue for you on the sort of customer that you should focus on from a sort of activity based perspective? Cam Sloan  28:55   Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, yeah, the biggest learning I've had there is, you know, when you go into their product, there are multiple use cases for it, you may sign up for one thing or another, like you're not necessarily doing. It's not like hopscotch where you come in, and the single thing that you would like, use this product towards, but you come in, and there's a suite of products. And so when you have like this complex product that has multiple offerings, then you may want to guide the user to the next step. A good example of this would be like wave accounting software, but they also do so they have like, receipt tracking, they have employee like compensation, and they have invoices and all these things. And maybe you sign up and you only want one of those things like you may not need to know about every single part of that product and you may feel a bit overwhelmed when you come into a dashboard that has like 10 different options. Like completely different use cases. And that's where I'm finding that there's some, some good opportunity there to help, like with a product tour. And so for example, like this customer that I've on boarded, part of what we did is hooking to their onboarding survey to say, like, What are you trying to do with this product, which I think is really helpful for them segmenting what you're going to show them in a tour. And so, you know, if there so it's like an SEO platform, I won't get into too much more, I don't want to like, you know, just yeah, Michele Hansen  30:37   that's fine. Yeah. But it's a it's a, it's a product that has basically multiple, different products within it that somebody has purchased. And maybe they know they need one of those but and they don't know what these other things are, that they're either they are paying for or the company would like them to start paying for. And so the value that you're providing to them in this in this case, is basically helping to introduce the customer to these other products and reduce, reduce sort of overwhelm that the customer might be feeling about coming into a complicated product. And the other the friends and family product, like those ones, were they more like single products without multiple products within them. Cam Sloan  31:26   Yeah, yeah, more like single products, and actually just a quite a slight tweak on on the other one, because like, what users will actually do is come into this product, they'll sign up, and then they are, they may know what they want to do. But because there are so many options, they don't know what the next step would be to get to it. So instead of showing them the other options that they don't need, I'm actually guiding them more towards the one that they signed up and expressed interest for. So if they say like I need, you know, I'm interested in link building, whereas this other person might be interested in local SEO, then you want to guide them to that next part of the product that's going to be relevant to that so that they can take the next steps and see value out of the product there. And then going to your other point of introducing them to the other parts, like that is a great thing to do, like over time as people use like one part of the product, and then they come back to it, you can kind of use progressive disclosure to show things over time, Hey, did you know about this feature, hey, this, like, you know, and kind of like when you have software like figma, that maybe gives you a tip every week or something? And it's just like, Oh, I didn't know I could do that. But like, it kind of does some feature discovery is what it's called. And you can help users discover new features or features that they are not actively using. So So yeah, those are a couple use cases that that customers is using. So Colleen Schnettler  32:52   ultimately, your product is about user retention, that's the value you're providing to your customer. Cam Sloan  32:59   Yeah, I would say, kind of on the activation side, as well, where you're really trying to get them from, like, there's there's a couple elements, you know, but the very first, like the core part of the star is getting them activated and getting them to take that next step once they come into your product that's going to help them to get to the outcome that they want and what and so asking yourself, what is the like, what is the thing that your customer is coming in here to do, and then making sure that you can guide them right to that next step is like, is crucial. And so that that is more in like the activation world, and then retention, it can play a role in as well. But because if you don't activate them, they're not going to stick around as well. But yeah, there are also some other things that you could do like email drip campaigns. And like, yeah, like kind of knowledge draw, like kind of an email campaign that educates your users on how to do what they want to do. Like it makes us really well with that to kind of retain them. Yeah. Colleen Schnettler  34:06   Right. So ultimately, though, when you say activation they've presumably like if I'm a user, I've already signed up for someone service because I wanted so when you sell it to the person I'm you know, assigned up with, you're selling it as we will reduce your churn, because they need to activate because if they don't activate, they're going to churn because they're not going to see value. Okay. Cam Sloan  34:27   Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it's definitely like tied into that, I guess. You know, there are just some tools like I forget as it turnkey, is like one that is like specifically focused on like, the customers who are maybe about to churn out and then keeping them around or giving them offers. So this is like primarily, I guess there because there's a spectrum of like, you know, from activation to like retention that you may find custom like that you want to focus on within that whole experience, but yeah, but Like, it all kind of adds up, it all plays really like, together in, in giving a good experience to users that's gonna keep them around. And yeah, you're right like to really what I want to do is like help help my customers to show the value of the product to keep their customers around and get them, you know, activated and using it, versus maybe getting dropped into a product that is just so overwhelming, like Michelle said earlier where they don't know what the next steps should be. Yeah, I feel like that's, that's pretty much it. Michele Hansen  35:39   So I used to work on a couple of products that had that we actually used hopscotch style tours for. And basically, the reason why we use to hopscotch it was I think we use a survey that then directed them into the proper hopscotch sequence was because the products were incredibly complicated. And we had limited ability to make those products less complicated. So it was a very painful problem for me as a product manager, who was tasked with driving retention metrics, but could not solve the foundational problems. And so we use hopscotch as a way to try to like, basically overcome the fact that the product is complicated. And kind of thinking about that, and thinking about what Colleen just said, of like, you know, what is the pain that you are solving for people, I just pulled up your website, and nudge your users to the aha moment. I like it, it's positive. But if you show that to me, when I was a product manager, you know, five or six years ago, that would not have been the problem I would have expressed to you. Right, like, reduce your churn, like, you know, your product is complicated. Your users don't have to be overwhelmed, like get them through it virt more trial, that type of thing, convert more trials, like what is that goal that someone is trying to drive that relates to what you're solving, or that's reducing churn, increasing activation, like, you know, stop losing users, because they're confused. Like, that's the problem. you're solving that people have value in their products, but because for whatever reason, whether those reasons are in their control or not, the products are complicated. And their users are, you know, their users thought there was value in it, but then they get to it, and they can't get the value back. And so like there's this mismatch, and speak to the pain, I'm not like, I'm not seeing I'm not seeing pain on your landing page. Cam Sloan  38:04   Yeah, I think in that the h1 doesn't fully address it. It's something that Yeah, like, the thread yesterday, and everyone reaching out after like, definitely gave me so many ideas of like, where to go, and what to focus on improving for hopscotch. Like, there's a lot. There's a lot, it's not like, I'm coming here, and like, I'm all out of ideas now. Like, there's nothing more that can be done. Like, there's so much more that could be done to improve the state. And so it's been like, what do I choose from that? But that's a pretty like, yeah, a no brainer, is like the positioning of it, and kind of better. Focusing on the outcomes. I think you're like, absolutely, right there. I have, like, let's see, I, because there were, I don't know, 20 people that sent me, like, it was so great yesterday, like 20 people sent me DMS, and like, had like, great conversations with some other founders. And then and then I had some other people that kind of just commented and offered their suggestions as well. And I've been trying to just, like, go through that and, like make a list of like points of like, what I could explore and take away from that, like so that it's not all just like me airing my grievances and Twitter, which actually like go and take something away from from it. And, you know, there there was, I guess some of the pieces in there include, like, what you just said is like really like, you know, you should be focusing on the outcomes more like and someone suggested like, you know, increased child conversions, improved feature adoption. And so there's more that I could do to like really? Yeah, like reduce churn to make that clear. I think there's a positioning element and and just like communication element that could be improved upon. There's also just like, number of people aren't are not coming through like there's not enough people that are Coming through my site and through the signup flow to even make, like, great. I don't know, decisions based on like data driven decisions, you know, it's if I, if we're picking it into this, like one or two customers kind of thing, it's like you need more people trying this, you need more people activating. And so finding ways that I can do that through, you know, people have given some great recommendations of like, how I can go ahead and like build like a sales campaign, or use AdWords and SEO tactics to kind of like, grow this, I guess a lot of it ends up like there's a ton of things that I have taken from that. From from that thread of like, good ideas, and now it's like deciding which things that I can do. And I think it will come down to like evaluating which are the easy ones that I can like make changes to right now really quickly like this, on a playing with the communication and wording on the on the site. And then some of it will be more like long term investment. Other things might be more immediate, like running some AdWords tests, like $10 a day and just like trying out some different headlines to see what grabs people and then using the learnings from that to maybe further update, like what my content game will be, or what my you know, what my wording on the website should be like, based on what people click on those ads has, like it's been, it's been really nice to get some of that information. And then and then other people even mentioned about the pricing, maybe not being accessible. But again, I have to take that with a grain of salt. But there's, you know, people who are saying the jump from a free tier to $50 a month, and then $100 a month is too large. And so maybe there could be a price in between that, that becomes more accessible if I am trying to target like, smaller businesses as well. And then there's like the other advice, which is go and add a price deer on the other side, that is like $800 a month and you know, do manage services. So that's Yeah, there's just been almost it's been overwhelming, like, get all this new knowledge and information overnight. Michele Hansen  42:25   It totally makes sense that you're, you're you're swimming in ideas right now. And, yeah, I sort of just added one to that pile there. And I always I'm almost reminded of kind of the situation that Coleen was in after she first started doing user interviews where like, there was like, so many ideas coming at her from customers, and she was having so many ideas. And then it was like, where do I go from here? Cam Sloan  43:04   Yeah, I remember hearing like those episodes. And when you did, like the live, you know, customer call, where Michelle interviewed your customer. And and then yeah, a lot of trying to figure out what the next step should be. It does feel a lot like that. Like, there's so many paths to go down. What's the right one? And I think, you know, a big part of it has even just been like, does it make sense to keep going down pass like down these paths at all, or try some, like, again, like, try a whole new thing. And I think that's why I was like, was then maybe am scared to even go forward with some of this stuff is like, does it make sense to keep investing the time in, in what I'm building now? if, you know, is it gonna help me see returns in a year or two years time, versus switching to something else? It seems like a lot of people think that it's definitely a good idea to keep going. And, and so I'm leaning towards that, I still think I want to have like, some kill switch, like, you know, to avoid running three years without any revenue kind of thing. And I need to see some positive signals at some point. But yeah, that's kind of kind of where I'm at. But it has given me a bit more hope of like, this is a normal feeling cam like you are allowed to feel deflated, you're allowed to feel like you don't have like, you don't aren't great at sales and marketing just by default, you know, you have to work towards those and put a lot of work in and so it's okay to feel like this and it's okay to like. Like, it's not just that the product is bad or that the market isn't there. It's just this is a part of the process. So just coming to terms with that. has been really helpful over the past day and gives me a bit more. I don't know, just like, like, a bit more of my like, desire to keep going. Colleen Schnettler  45:13   Alex Hellman has a great article on this. It's about, it's about all of the developers who take his course and how when they get to the marketing course, they all freak out. Because when someone is excellent in their field, starting over is so hard. So there's a lot of things I feel like I heard you say today, and one of them, is it, I wanted to ask you, is it that you just don't want to do marketing? Because you're convinced it's going to fail? Or, I mean, what what is your thought, like, all of this? Or do you feel like you should be making more revenue now and you're frustrated? And that's where this is coming from? Cam Sloan  45:53   I think, you know, I think that it's like it's a mix of like, Yeah, well, the marketing, see fruits at the end of like, of all that investment, because because just you know, going through 4050 calls and and then only coming out with like one customer that I'm basically doing it all for them at the end, like is that the type of business that I want to be growing? Like, do I want to do a sales driven and like hands on business versus something more like, you know, seeing what Peter has done with reform of like, really, people are signing up and get going themselves, maybe you have to have like higher numbers, but like, it's more. I don't know, like, it's, it lends itself better to self signup, and self serve, where you can do a bit more product lead, you still have to do marketing, but like, the way that the business operates, is not like hiring a sales team. It's investing in content and other other parts of the business, which is more maybe the type of business so it's been that like, question mark, about the business in general? Like, is that kind of where I want to go with it? And, yeah, I mean, there are all sorts of fears in there. I think a lot of it is also just a fear of like, yeah, it like, do I know what I'm doing. And I actually, I worked in marketing for five years, believe it or not as, like, scary as like, I worked in music marketing, for concerts, it was a much different thing. And this was like, six or so years ago. And so it's a much different beast, but then SAS marketing. But yeah, like, even with that experience, it's still just scary to go out on your own. And like, I don't know, just feel you feel back at square one again. So yeah. Michele Hansen  47:39   Yeah, I mean, towards us that I think that's a totally normal feeling. And this feeling of like struggling and like, this isn't working. And then also you get some more ideas. And you're like, Okay, wait, where? Where do I go? Like, what do I do next? And, you know, I noticed, like, you posted that thread. And I'm guessing that you woke up that morning, not not feeling so great. Yeah, you're right. And I wonder how you felt waking up this morning. After getting all of that support, Cam Sloan  48:19   today has been much different, like it's been, it's always like, Man, it's so amazing to see that people are gonna be there to lift you up when you're like feeling a bit down, I think. I don't know. I've had I've, like, wrote tweets like that, and then deleted them because like, it's very personal and just like very open and you know, you're like, our potential customers gonna read this think less of me for like, running a business then not knowing what I'm doing. You know, there's all all sorts of like, fear in that. And what I'm realizing is, like, there's been a lot of appreciation for this open approach. So I, I wake up the next day with like, just feeling very grateful to have like that, knowing that maybe I need to, like, yeah, rely on community more and maybe get more involved with like, talking to other founders a bit and ideating with them, because working alone is very challenging to like, be in your own head all the time and see, you know, things moving so slowly. But yeah, at the same time, like the next day, having 100 people reach out and I'll give you like many ideas has been overwhelming at the same time. For like, what to do next. But I guess like the core of what my challenge was, or is is not so much like what to do next, because all of these ideas, I'll put them in a list and work through them one by one. That's the only way to get things done. It's like one thing at a time. But yeah, just like knowing it's more figuring out, like the conviction around like Emma is this the type of business I want to keep working Because in a couple years, the efforts hopefully will, yeah, show fruits for the labor. And then also I keep using that term, which I've never used before. Like, I don't know why everything's bearing fruits today, but but you know, like that kind of thing of just like, really? Like, will this be the business that I want to build? And I'm making sure that I'm doing that. And I think that's been a big part of the fear that I have of, of moving forward. So I don't have an answer to that yet. But I do have a lot of people who have been like really kind of offering advice. And so I think there's still some chewing on this idea to be done. Yeah. Michele Hansen  50:39   And I think that question of, is this the business I want to build? I think that's that's a question that only you can answer. Cam Sloan  50:48   Exactly. Yeah. I've i that is one thing I've noticed, like as much advice as you soak in or people give you, you know, they could all be right, like in their own ways, but then it comes down to like a deeply personal decision on like, what, like how you want to approach things. So T, B, D. Michele Hansen  51:10   I guess that's a good point for us to wrap up today. Cam. Thank you so much for your vulnerability, both here. And on Twitter. You know, I'm reminded of something I heard. Nicole Baldy new co founder of webinar ninja say on her podcast recently, Nicole and Kate can relate, which is true vulnerability is when there is personal risk involved. And I think your tweet and thread about that really shows like there was that risk involved, and you took it and and people jumped in to help. And I think that's what's so amazing about our community. But so I encourage people to follow along with cam. You are at Sloan cam on Twitter. Your product is hopscotch dot club. Thank you so much for coming on cam. Cam Sloan  52:14   Thank you both for having me. It was such a pleasure. I love the podcast. And you know, I'm always listening and tuning in and love following along your stories, because it's really it's encouraging as well to just you know, hear what you're both, you know, working on and so that always helps me feel a little less like it's just me and having, you know, some help on the way. So thanks so much. Michele Hansen  52:39   All right. Well, Colleen, talk to you next week. Colleen Schnettler  52:42   Bye.

14 September 2021 52m and 45s


Just Tell People About The Thing You Made

Just Tell People About The Thing You Made

Listen to the latest from Michele's podcast book tour! Searching for SaaS: https://searchingforsaas.com/podcast/ep25-local-restaurant-app-to-geocoding-as-a-service-michele-hansen-from-geocodio/ One Knight In Product: https://www.oneknightinproduct.com/michele-hansen/ Indie Hackers: https://www.indiehackers.com/podcast/224-michele-hansen Michele Hansen  0:01  This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Reform. As a business owner, you need forms all the time for lead capture, user feedback, SaaS onboarding, job applications, early access signups, and many other types of forms. Here's how Reform is different: - Your brand shines through, not Reform's - It's accessible out-of-the-box ... And there are no silly design gimmicks, like frustrating customers by only showing one question at a time Join indie businesses like Fathom Analytics and SavvyCal and try out Reform. Software Social listeners get 1 month for free by going to reform.app/social and using the promo code "social" on checkout. Hey, Colleen, Colleen Schnettler  0:51   hey, Michelle. Michele Hansen  0:54   How are you? Colleen Schnettler  0:56   I'm good. I'm good. How about you? Michele Hansen  0:58   How goes week three now of doing Hammerstone and simple file upload. Colleen Schnettler  1:08   It's going well, today, I'm going to dedicate most of the day to simple file uploads. So I'm pretty excited about that. I'm finally back into my theoretical four days client work one day, my own thing and never really works out that way. Because I make myself way too available. But I have a lot of plans. But I do want to talk to you about something. Okay. I am I have not had any new signups in six weeks. Oh, yeah. I mean, I'm not in the pit of despair, because I'm just generally pretty happy about everything else. But I haven't been really on top of I know, six weeks. Right. That's really. I mean, I Michele Hansen  1:54   I hate to say it, but that does give me a little bit of like trough of sorrow vibes. Colleen Schnettler  1:58   Yeah. I mean, I honestly, I hadn't even really noticed, which is a different a different thing. Has anybody been canceled? I don't know. Because I, yeah, so I don't track that as well as I should. And I think with everything that's been going on, I have been so busy that I haven't. Honestly, I've just been letting it run itself. I checked my email every day, but no one ever emails me, which is nice, by the way. So I hadn't checked it in a while a and I checked it in preparation to do this podcast with you. And I was like, Oh, crap. I haven't had a sign up since July. This is September 2. Michele Hansen  2:39   So have I mean, has your revenue gone down? Like? Colleen Schnettler  2:44   No, actually, it hasn't. So I've been pretty consistent. So without doing a full churn analysis, I don't think people are churning. But they're not signing up. Okay, that's not okay. Let me stop. That's not entirely true. People are putting their email address in and then bouncing. So people are still finding my website. But yeah, Michele Hansen  3:12   I feel like it was like the people who are paying you is that mostly people from Heroku? or from your website? Colleen Schnettler  3:19   It's mostly people from Heroku. Michele Hansen  3:21   So are you still getting that like you had this problem where people were like, signing up on Heroku, but then not actually activating it? And like starting to use it, like, Are people still doing that first step on Heroku. Colleen Schnettler  3:37   So people are using it. I actually had one person respond with what he's doing. So that was cool. In terms of like a new signup. So people are using it that sign up on Heroku, which is good. It's just a lack of new signups is really confusing to me. Michele Hansen  3:55   Did you ever get that work done on the homepage like and Roku site like we were talking about the code pen and improving the documentation? And like, did did all that happen? Colleen Schnettler  4:10   So I have a whole list of great things I'm going to do so what I have done this week last week is I actually started writing a piece of I wrote an article right, it didn't take that long. I should have what it doesn't matter what I should have done. I did it. So that's good. So I have seen on Google Analytics said that is getting a decent amount of traffic. Today, literally today. I'm going to get that freakin try it now on the homepage. That is my plan to do that today. Nice. I'm speaking it into existence. The documentation is a whole different animal because I don't think I mean, I really need to redo the documentation. But that's like a whole thing. Like it's not I need to add some things. I think I need to take it in baby steps because I added some things to the tech side that are not reflected in the documentation that are kind of cool. So I think, but of course, instead of just adding that to my existing documentation, which I don't really like the way it presents, like, I just don't like the way it looks. I want to tear that all down and make a new app just for documentation, which I will do someday, but Michele Hansen  5:17   so it kind of sounds like you need to put away your laundry. But you don't want to do that. So instead, you're going to completely build yourself a new closet, but Colleen Schnettler  5:26   my closets gonna be so pretty, and so organized. Michele Hansen  5:33   Yeah, I'm sensing a theme where like, you have a task that you don't want to do, or it seems overwhelming to you or you don't feel like it plays into your strengths. And so your way to do it is to make it something that is one of your strengths, which is actually just throwing more hurdles in front of you actually doing the task. Colleen Schnettler  6:00   Oh, yeah, totally. I mean, that's, like, it's funny, because before we got on this podcast, my plan was still to rewrite the whole documentation and make it its own site, blah, blah, blah. And as soon as I spoke those words to you, as I do, I've really is that really a super high priority, like, the higher priority should be getting the fact that like, I emit events on, you know, successful uploads, that's cool. People can use that. It's literally nowhere in my documentation that I do that. So I'm probably the priority should just be getting it out there with what I have. And then someday, when I have more time, I can rewrite the whole documentation site. Michele Hansen  6:39   This is your problem with the documentation that it's ugly, or that people email you telling you that it's janky. And, like, difficult to use documentation specifically, or is it just an eyesore? It's Colleen Schnettler  6:53   a it's an eyesore. I don't like the way it looks. I don't like the way I navigate with tabs. I don't like the tabs. Like I think you can still find everything no one has emailed me saying I don't understand how to use this. Hold on. Michele Hansen  7:05   I need to like I'm I'm pulling look at it. So now Colleen Schnettler  7:08   Yeah, pull it up. Okay, so if you go to simple file, upload.com, and then click on Doc's documentation, Michele Hansen  7:15   you got that calm, like, Colleen Schnettler  7:17   I know, I win it names. So if you look at it, I was like so I also bought unrelated simple file. Wait, what did I buy? I bought simple image upload calm. Hmm, I haven't done anything with it. I just snagged it. I was like, okay, that seems like what I should have. Okay, so look at this documentation page. Like, I just don't like the way it looks. Michele Hansen  7:40   I mean, it's not the ugliest thing I've ever seen. Like, it's basic, but like, Colleen Schnettler  7:45   it's fine. I mean, Michele Hansen  7:47   it like has a little bit of an old school README file vibe, but totally does. That's not a bad thing. Because that's how documentation was distributed for, like 20 years. And it's still sometimes distributed that way. Yeah. I mean, the other thing is, is like, I think it's okay to like, give yourself that space to be like, you know, like, this is ugly, and I hate it. I'm throw the content in there now. But also, when it comes time to build the documentation, like, there's so many tools for this, like, Don't design your own documentation to you know, like, like, if you're going to build yourself a new closet for all this, like at least buy one from IKEA, and then you just have to assemble it, like, don't go actually go out and buy the two by fours. And you know, like, Colleen Schnettler  8:42   do yeah, you're doing, I don't actually know what tools are out there to build documentation. So what do you guys use? Do you remember? Cuz I know you're right. This has got to be a thing. Like, you're absolutely right. I Michele Hansen  8:57   think I know someone who, like just bought a documentation tool. Colleen Schnettler  9:02   This is interesting. Michele Hansen  9:04   Because, like it definitely I don't I don't remember what the name is of the thing that we use. But we've actually we've actually had people reach out to us saying that they really liked our documentation and wanted to know where we got it from. Like, I think we just got it somewhere. Well, Colleen Schnettler  9:19   this is an interesting thing. I didn't actually I didn't even think about that. But absolutely, you're right, I should there's there's a better way to solve this problem than me. Does that make rewriting this whole thing? So what you're looking at now, the here's the real reason I want to redo it. What you're looking at now comes through the application page, and the application app does not use tailwind. My. My marketing site does use tailwind so that my thought would be to rewrite all of this documentation, put it on the marketing site Michele Hansen  9:52   using tailwind because would you design it yourself with like tailwind elements or would you grab a template from tailwind. Colleen Schnettler  10:01   Oh, totally. I pay for whatever that thing is with tailwind where I can just copy the code and put it on. I bought that. Yeah. Michele Hansen  10:09   But it's worth it. It was totally worth anything is worth it. Totally Great. So yeah, there's I don't know, I don't know, read me.io. Right. Like there's all sorts of, is that what we use? That kind of looks like our docks? Colleen Schnettler  10:23   See, I didn't know that. I Michele Hansen  10:24   don't know. I don't think I'll have to ask Mateus. Right. Colleen Schnettler  10:28   So this is this is a good point, though. I should, because I don't need API documentation too. So I need to think about, yeah, readme.io has a whole documentation tab. Ooh, this looks fun. Oh, all right. I'm totally gonna check this out after the podcast, maybe that is the right answer. Michele Hansen  10:46   I don't know how much it costs. But yeah, Colleen Schnettler  10:49   well, it's gonna be cheaper than five hours of my time. Right. Right. Like, there's no way it cost that money, your Michele Hansen  10:55   time is not free. And this is See See, this is I always say that, like, you know, I studied economics and undergrad. And I'm always like, Oh, you know, it was interesting, but it doesn't really relate. But here is where it does. Because, yeah, opportunity cost is a very real cost. And that is a perfect distillation of it that your time is worth more than spending five hours rolling your own documentation. thing when this is like already a solved problem. Colleen Schnettler  11:31   You're absolutely right. 100% agree with that. You're right. I didn't think about it that way. But that is a true statement. Michele Hansen  11:39   But first, I'd really just like tell people about the stuff you may Colleen Schnettler  11:44   think. Okay, so like, let's get actionable. Because AI, today is my day to work on simple file. So I think the first step, okay, I don't love the documentation I have, but I need to get the information out there. So the first step is just add something that's set like this things that people can use, like these event callbacks, or emitting events, like, that's useful information. So I'm just add it, you know, just adding it'll take all of 15 minutes. And like, I don't want to, you know, Michele Hansen  12:11   I don't want to be like standing on my, like, high horse here that like, you know, oh, we tell users everything we do, because actually, something we were just talking about this week was like, oh, like, we need to, like, send out an email to people and like, tell them about the features we've added because we basically stopped sending product updates, email, like, we never so. And then also like MailChimp shut down their pay as you go at one point. And, and then we're like, migrating and all this stuff. And I think we sent out like one email since then. But like, we were just talking about this the other day, that's like, oh, like we added support for like, geocoding a county, like if you know, you like have like a street address plus, like Montgomery County, Maryland, for example, like in places that like, use the county rather than the city name. We haven't told anyone about it, because we haven't sent any product updates, email, and God knows how long so I'm all this is to say that I am. I also need to take my own advice. And maybe other people too, maybe there's somebody out there, you know, just tell people about the thing you made. The thing you made? Yeah. Just tell them. Don't Don't think about you know, marketing stuff and ads and get all in your head about that. Just tell people. Yeah, even if it's a plain text email, just tell them just Just tell me advice I'm trying to give myself and I'm, I am trying to manifest it into existence that we will do that whole step to send out an email to get people to opt in. And then after that, we send out an email that tells them with the stuff we did, maybe that can be one email. Colleen Schnettler  14:42   Yes. So people tell people got it. I like it. That's good advice, your marketing advice. That's my marketing advice for the day I get to tell people. Yeah, so that's kind of what's up with me. I'm going to try And get those things implemented today. So hopefully that'll move the needle a little bit on signups. It was Yeah, it's definitely been a very trough of sorrow six weeks though I was like, Wow, that's a long time. eek. Michele Hansen  15:13   So I mean, there's the reason why there is that product lifecycle, like chart that has the trough of sorrow on it is because the trough of sorrow is normal. Colleen Schnettler  15:27   is normal. Oh, okay. This will be interesting. Michele Hansen  15:31   Yeah, yeah. There's like this whole image that's like the I didn't know that. Okay. Yeah. No, I when I said trough of sorrow, I was referencing something. Okay. I'll have to, I'll have to find it and send it to you. And also put it in the show notes. So everybody else who's like, What is she talking about? And then like five products, people listening are like, Oh, my God, I know that. I forget where it comes from. I think it might be like, it might have been a business of software talk at one point. That Colleen Schnettler  15:57   Okay, oh, no, Michele Hansen  15:58   I think it might be the constant contact. Founder person. Colleen Schnettler  16:03   Has she interested in her? I don't know. Okay. Michele Hansen  16:07   Yeah, I'm gonna find it. It'll be in the show notes. So listening does not have to, like wonder Colleen Schnettler  16:13   what it was to go dig through the internet to try and find it Michele Hansen  16:16   like normal to have, you know, periods when you're like, Okay, like, nothing happened. I mean, granted, you said that you kind of weren't really doing anything with it. So the fact that your revenue didn't like crater even though you basically didn't touch it for six weeks, like, that's awesome. Colleen Schnettler  16:36   Yeah, that's super awesome. Like, Michele Hansen  16:39   again, you know, to our conversations of like, if you ever wanted to sell this thing, like the fact that you didn't touch it for six weeks, and it kept making money. huge selling point. Colleen Schnettler  16:48   Yeah, yeah, it's super. so far. It's been super low touch, which is awesome. It's so funny, because years and years ago, I used to obsessively read. Do you know, Pat Flynn is smart, passive income guy? No. Okay. He's got this whole empire built about trying to teach people how to build passive income on the internet. Okay. And I used to obsessively read his blog. I mean, we're talking like 10 years ago. And here I am with kind of sort of passive income ish. And that's kind of cool. Yeah, you did anyway. So, yeah. Tell me about how things are going with the book and your podcast tour. Michele Hansen  17:26   Oh, so they're going so I think you had challenged me to be on 10-20 I feel like it was 20. I feel like Colleen Schnettler  17:37   I mean, it's been a while, but I feel like it was more than 10. Michele Hansen  17:41   So okay, so I have been on a couple at this point. So I was working, I was on searching for SaaS with Josh and Nate which sweet By the way, so of like people like our dynamic of like, you know, somebody like who has a SaaS and then somebody who's like trying to start one and like different phases, you would totally love searching for SaaS, because Josh has been running his business for, like, quite a long time, referral rock, has employees like, and then Nate is kind of has like consulting and is trying to figure out a SaaS. So I was on searching for SaaS, they were my first one. Um, and I'm so glad I did one with like, friends, because I was so nervous about the whole like, and I'm promoting a book, but it feels like self promotion, and I just just like is uncomfortable for me. So. So so I'm really glad I did it with them first, and then I recorded another one. That's actually they told me was not going to be out for another three or four months. So we'll hear about that one when it comes out. Is Colleen Schnettler  18:45   that a secret? Michele Hansen  18:47   No. I mean, I just, I'll just tweet about it when it like comes out. But that counts, right? That's two. Yeah. And then I was on one night in product with Jason Knight, which came out a couple like, yeah, a couple days ago. That was super fun. Because that's like a podcast for product people. And we like really like dove deep on some of the different books and the differences and like, my fears around like people using this to like manipulate others was really it was really good. Um, so that's three and then I was on indie hackers, that that just came out. So that was kind of fun. I feel like I feel like I don't know like, I feel like it is like so legit. Like I don't know, it was kind of it was kind of wild. Indie hackers. Yeah. Being on the indie now. Colleen Schnettler  19:46   Did you talk about Geocodio or do you talk about the book or both? Michele Hansen  19:49   we talked about Geocodio a little bit but mostly about the book. Just kind of Geocodio as background. Colleen Schnettler  19:58   Okay. Yeah. Oh yeah, getting on Indie hackers that's basically making it. Like, that's amazing. Michele Hansen  20:05   Yeah. Like, can I be like, starstruck at myself for like, Colleen Schnettler  20:09   yes, you totally can. Like, I just think like, that's like, you know, that's like my life goal. No, that's not really a life goal. But I'm like, someday I will be on indie hackers. Someday Courtland will ask. I know, if I just take a couple more years. No, I love that podcast. I think that's wonderful. And yeah, yeah. Now you're kind of famous like, totally. Once you're an indie hackers, you've made it. Michele Hansen  20:33   I know, you're so funny. So like, I you're talking about this a little bit when when we add Adam on a few weeks ago that like, you know, I for a long time, like, like, so I didn't know that this whole community existed and that I knew about it, but I didn't feel like, feel like I was like, legit enough to like, be there, which was not true and was just my own imposter syndrome speaking. But for years, I had this like, sort of self policy that I would only go to conferences if I was speaking at them, because then people would come up to me and have something to talk about. Otherwise, I would be like standing in the corner, like not talking to anyone and like feeling like super out of it. Um, and so now I'm like, Okay, you know what, like, now if I like, go to something like, I feel like there's a good chance that like, one person, like, knows me, and we'll have something to talk about. Colleen Schnettler  21:29   Yeah. Yeah, that's great. I mean, that's a benefit of sharing your work, I think the way you have been. Yeah, Michele Hansen  21:38   yeah. So um, okay, so wait, so I lost count. Okay, so searching first as you're coming out in a couple of months. And Indie Hackers. Oh, wait, I think I forgot one. No, no, that's four. And then I recorded one yesterday. So that's five and then I am recording another one. today. So Wow, six. And then I'm scheduling another one. like trying to get that one on the calendar. Um, that person is also on pacific time like you and dude, it is so hard for me to schedule things with pacific time. Like, yeah, that nine hour time difference is required at the top planning. So I guess that's that's six I have either recorded or in the hopper. And I think there was more people who reach out to me, but I think they DMed me and I need to like, cuts through the jungle morass that is my DMs. Colleen Schnettler  22:48   That's great. I mean, honestly, 10 would it be spectacular? Colleen said, I have really 20. I know, now that I'm actually thinking through the logistics? That seems like a lot. Let me out of this. That's really great. So my next question would be, have you seen any, any impact yet of being on these podcasts? In terms of sales or community engagement or anything like that? Michele Hansen  23:15   Yeah, I mean, I guess the the biggest bump was definitely product times. Um, like, I think I saw like that day, like, I sold like 20 something. Or like, almost 30 copies, I think out of, I don't know, because I'm probably at like 350 now, or no, actually, it's more than that. Almost 400. So, oh, wait, maybe I'll be at almost 500 soon. That would be fun. Yeah. So So yeah, so there was definitely a little bump out of that. I did look this up for Josh and Nate from Searching for SaaS. And I sold three copies a day that one came out. So they were pretty pumped about that. I mean, I think it's the kind of thing where, like, not everybody, like listens to a podcast on the day. It comes. Yeah. Like, I was, like a regular listener of us. And like, they were like three episodes behind, because, you know, you've listened to it whenever you can. And there's other stuff going on. So in many ways, it's like, it's not really for the immediate hit of that in the same way that say like product time was, Colleen Schnettler  24:27   um, yes, yeah, yeah, long game. Michele Hansen  24:30   The long game there we go. Looking for. Um, so I mean, I guess we'll see. Right, because it's like, this is you know, this is not a like Big Bang. Launch. Right. Like, this is like the the book is hopefully designed or like written in a way, you know, to be a book that people recommend to other people they buy for their team. Like it's not like it's not particularly timely or relevant to like current events? So it's okay, if it doesn't, you know, sell like a bajillion copies in the first two months. Like, that's totally fine. You know, it's funny I was I was, I came across a tweet by our mutual friend, Mike Buckbee this morning, saying that, you know, validation for something is when you're getting stranger money. Like people who don't know you, they're not your friends. They're not the people that follow you. They're just like people who, you know, come across it for a reason. And then they buy it, and they're happy with it. And the book is definitely getting stranger money. So Colleen Schnettler  25:42   wonderful. Michele Hansen  25:43   Yeah. So So I so I think that's kind of a sign that it's, it was like, I mean, it was actually getting that in the presale. So. So I think that's a sign that, you know, things are in the right track, but it's just like, this is gonna be a slow burn. Colleen Schnettler  25:59   Yes. Michele Hansen  26:00   Yeah. So I mean, I'm happy with things, you know, again, like considering that, I think it was like most self published books only sell like 250 copies lifetime. And then most published books sell 300 copies their first year. Um, I've already, like smashed that. So anything on top of that, basically, is gravy. And but again, like those numbers, like are kind of like I look at that I'm like, Yeah, cool. Okay, like, but mostly, it's like, people tweet out, like, somebody tweeted out this morning that, like, they had their first customer interview, and it was delightful. And they learned so much. And like, they had scheduled it for 15 minutes. But at the customer's insistence, it went on for almost an hour. And they learned so much. And it was like, and I was like yes. Okay, like this. Okay, the book did what it was supposed to do like that. Yeah, that is what makes it feel like a success more than Yeah, Colleen Schnettler  26:49   that's anything that's really cool. Well, in the money. I mean, you know, I was thinking about, like, what motivates you Because for me, I want life changing money, you could get life changing money, any, anytime you want it like you You, you could just snap your fingers because you have a successful business. So that's something that I assume does not motivate you, because you kind of already have it. And so you know, when I think about the book, and like how you've been motivated, it really feels like helping people like really literally helping people learn how to be empathetic is what has driven this passion project for you. Michele Hansen  27:27   Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, it's been a very, like, personal sort of mission, because it's not just about talking to customers like, and, and I guess what I mean, so one of them's actually this will be coming out the same day. So I guess I can talk about it. But I was talking about this a lot with Justin Jackson, on on Build Your SaaS about how, like, he was reading the book, and it made him realize like, oh, wow, like, I can actually use this in my personal life too. And like, it's like, not just a business book. And I was, you know, saying to him how, like, I think I've told you how, you know, people don't put be more empathetic on their daily to do lists, but they put, write the landing page, improve the documentation, get more sales, like, stop churn, figure out if people can use the thing I bill, like, that's the stuff that ends up on your to do list, and you can use empathy to solve those problems. And then in the course of doing that, you realize that you can transfer some of these skills to your personal life as well. Then it's like a double win. Colleen Schnettler  28:38   Wow. Yeah. So the other day, my 10 year old asked me what empathy was, and I literally handed him your book. Like, read this book. Michele Hansen  28:48   Let me guys this because this is the question that I get from children and adults, but children generally their first question, why is there a duck on the cover? Colleen Schnettler  28:58   He totally asked that. Yeah. Michele Hansen  29:03   Love it. Love it. Well, you know, you can tell him that he will find out when he gets to let me just flip through it here. I believe it's chapter 34. Um, you know, never accused me of burying the lede here. To get 138 pages, you will discover why there is a duck on the cover. It has been fun talking to you, as always, you too. Colleen Schnettler  29:45   I'll talk to you next week. All right.

7 September 2021 29m and 11s


Everything Is Happening

Everything Is Happening

Michele Hansen  0:00   Hey, welcome back to Software Social. This episode of Software Social is sponsored by Noko. https://nokotime.com/ When you’re bootstrapping on the side, every free moment counts. But do you really know how you’re spending those moments? Which days you're most productive? If your product have time sinks that just don’t pay? Here's one way to find out: Noko is a time tracker designed to help you learn from the time you track.  And Noko makes it frictionless to give yourself good data, too — you can even log time directly from your Github commit messages.  Try Noko today and save 15% off every plan, forever. Visit  Nokotime.com/SocialPod to start making your time work for you. Colleen Schnettler  0:52   Michele, it's so good to talk to you. So I have been following some of the things you've been tweeting about recently, and I saw that you did a Product Hunt launch for the book. Michele Hansen  1:05   Yeah. Colleen Schnettler  1:06   Tell us about that was quite a roller coaster. Yeah, I am fascinated. I want to hear all about it.  Michele Hansen  1:14   So um, gosh, I don't even I don't even know where to start. Because it was it was kind of it was kind of a spur of the moment thing. Like I've been planning to do a Product Hunt launch for a long time, but I didn't really know exactly when. And I think it was a we've talked about how my, like, original deadline for the book was before I started Danish language classes, right. I feel like we I don't know. But yeah, okay. So I actually started them last Monday. So you know, even though like, when I finished my MBA, I was like, I am done with school forever, like, never again. And you know, here I am again. Um, so I started Monday of this week. And so the 20th I was like, I saw I was starting, you know, the in a couple of days. And I was like, You know what, I just need to do this. Now I want to get this launch done. Before I'm like thinking about school again, cuz I'm not gonna have as much time. So that's basically like, why I did it on Friday morning. Now, apparently, when you launch on product time, you're supposed to get someone like, well known to basically hunt the product for you and submit it for you. And then I guess it notifies all of that person's followers, and then it helps with your ranking and stuff like that. I did not do that. I just submitted it myself. Colleen Schnettler  2:46   Wait, okay. pause, pause, pause. Okay, so let's back up a little bit. So you were on Friday morning, you woke up and you're like, I should put the book on Product Hunt today? Is that like, what happened? No. No, I Michele Hansen  2:57   needed to send out a newsletter that morning. Because I had I had something I wanted to send out. And I was like, you know, why don't I just throw it up on product time. Like, let's just get that over with and do it and like, so like, I just like wrote up a post, I took a couple of screenshots of like the book and the table of contents. And like, I like put it up, like, apparently people hire like consultants and pay them like 1000s of dollars to try to get a good ranking on on product ton. And they spend all this time recruiting someone to hunt it for them. And like there's this whole, like product launch a Product Hunt launch strategy that I was completely oblivious to. So Colleen Schnettler  3:37   yeah, I've heard that. That's a hole that if you there's like so many articles about how to properly do product on and there's consultants, yes. Okay, so tell us what you did. Yeah, Michele Hansen  3:47   I guess it didn't. I don't know. I it didn't occur to me to research it first. Because I don't know. I just didn't so I just threw it up there. And then I sent it out to the newsletter and was like, hey, like, you know, Product Hunt today. And so it was like going pretty well. Like I sent it out like first thing in the morning European time. And by like lunchtime or so here it had like 30 or 40 upvotes which was like way more than most of the other products on the homepage. And I started being like in the people started being like I can't find your product like I searched for it. It doesn't show up like it's not on the homepage like like she usually like reach out to them or something because something is wrong. And this is somebody on Twitter who jumped in and they're like, Oh, they shadow ban info products, because there's so many of them that they shadow ban them by defaults, if you're submitting it and you're not like a you know a sort of name brand person submitting it. Colleen Schnettler  4:47   What is shadow ban mean? Michele Hansen  4:48   Oh, so shot. Shadow banning is when you post it and it looks normal to you and you can send people the link, but it doesn't show up on the homepage and it doesn't show up in search. Colleen Schnettler  5:00   Oh, wow. Michele Hansen  5:01   So basically you don't know you're banned from the homepage. So, so weird, but I guess there's like so many that I currently the logic is that there's so many info products that like, they basically want to cut down on the number of them going to the front page of product on. So and then I kind of like started tweeting about this and I'm not really sure what happened. But I like reached out to their support on their website and on Twitter. And then I think some other people also backchannel that to community people at Product Hunt. And then yeah, it was on the the front page. Like it just appeared at number four. And it was like, Oh, this is kind of fun. Like, we went from being like, completely invisible and thinking this was a huge waste of time. to like, now it's ranked number four. That's pretty amazing. And I just woke up and did this this morning. Like, this is fun. And that's all and then it kind of just kept going. Wonderful. Yeah. And I was actually I was getting like, last minute, like, you know, sort of, like, play by play advice from Arvid call in my DMS. I'm like, okay, like, here's what you do, like, make sure you reply to everybody, like, you know, all this stuff. And I was like, okay, okay, okay. Like, I was like, such like totally green at this. Um, and, yeah, it was it was wild. And then it ended up going up to number one. And oh, that's exciting day. And I just checked it a 512 up votes. Colleen Schnettler  6:36   That's amazing. Wild. Michele Hansen  6:40   Super wild. I've never really done a, like a Product Hunt launch. Like, we I mean, we didn't launch geocoder one Product Hunt. Like we actually launched before Product Hunt had their show h n launch, which when geocoder launched a show h n launch was like, what a Product Hunt launches now. I guess. Yeah. It was so funny. I remember coming across it in our refers for geocoder to and I was like, What is this product on thing and like, signed up? Um, so yeah, anyway, so that was, that was pretty crazy. Um, that's Colleen Schnettler  7:20   really cool. Yeah, it Michele Hansen  7:21   was it the whole thing about it, like, not showing up and like what was wrong and like, all these people kind of like rallying around it too. And like so many people tweeting out the the posts and commenting and like, I just felt like I was collectively being lifted up by people all over the world simultaneously. And it was, it was lovely. It was pretty, it was pretty surreal. It was it is Colleen Schnettler  7:49   as bad. It's awesome. So have you seen the Product Hunt success? increase the number of sales of the book? Michele Hansen  8:00   Yeah, so I actually did get a little bit of a nice little bump out of it. So I learned later that the benefit of being number one on product one is not only are you number one that day, but you're also number one in the newsletter. And so you get another bump after that. Okay, cool. And so if I just pull up the numbers really quick. So the the total have sold 344 individual copies, which excludes a bulk portfolio wide purchase that a fund made. So okay, so it's been 180 on Amazon 160 PDF copies total, including the pre order. And then for audio book only pre sell copy, so 344 total. And so of all of that, so 23 of those PDF copies are from since the Product Hunt, launch, and then 59 print copies since the product launch. Colleen Schnettler  9:11   Wow. Yeah, Michele Hansen  9:12   so it's a pretty good bump. Colleen Schnettler  9:14   Yeah, that's great. Yeah. So how are you feeling about the whole feeling good, like Michele Hansen  9:18   I'm starting to come across like podcasts of people talking about it or blog post they wrote about it, or people tweeting out like, I'm reading the book, I'm ready to do a practice interview, like who wants to pair up with me like, all that kind of stuff. But just that just gives me warm fuzzies when when I come across that kind of thing, and Colleen Schnettler  9:42   I love it. Michele Hansen  9:43   Like for so many years, I you know, I tried to write blog posts, and most of the time they would just like land with a thought like there was a couple that did okay, but most of time I would like I would fuss over them and have friends edit them and like, then they would just go nowhere. And so it's still like kind of bewildering and surreal to have people like, be excited about something that I wrote because I'm so used to just like being nothing. Um, so all of this is just this really delightfully surreal. Colleen Schnettler  10:27   I love that. Do you think it's better, you didn't actually know you were doing Product Hunt wrong, because you would have not launched it, if you had realized how some people do it. Michele Hansen  10:37   I think it might have been sort of intimidating to look at. It's like, oh, like, shoot, like, people hire consultants for this. And like, there's, they're like, producing videos for it. Like they have, like, this whole, like, strategy around it, like, but I think it also goes to show like, you know, I mean, the, the real power of building in public or writing in public, and, you know, like, the people in the community were part of this from the very beginning. And, you know, so No, I did not pay a consultant 20 $500 to get to the top of product and like, the book got there, because everyone's been a part of this process. And contributing to it from the very beginning. It was on the strength of community. It's, there's, it's pretty, it's funny, I've had people like DM me now. Like, oh, like, what's your advice for getting to the top of product? And I'm like to Don't ask me. Like, dude, like, don't do what I did. Like that was apparently wrong. Yeah, I mean, I'm sure there's people who have written guides about this, and everything. Colleen Schnettler  12:04   Oh, yeah. They're all over the I like someone recommended Product Hunt to me once. And I was like, Oh, okay. And I don't use Product Hunt. Like, I don't even think I'm on it. And so I googled it. And it was like, Oh, my gosh, there's so much information, how to do a Product Hunt, it needs to be Tuesday at 4pm. Because that is the optimal time. Like, it was a whole thing. And I was like, so this is so wonderful that it's worked out for you. And I also saw you are going to start your private podcast. Michele Hansen  12:30   Oh, yeah. The first chapter already went out. Colleen Schnettler  12:35   Sweet. Yeah, Michele Hansen  12:36   I think I'm gonna roll them up like so I was kind of trying to like couple weeks ago, we're talking like, should we do one chapter a week or like, do like two different drops a week because there's 50 chapters in the book. And so we did that, then it would take a whole year to get that book, which seems very long time, it's very long. So it seems excessive. So this week, I dropped the the title and the chapter one as two separate episodes on the same day. But I think for next week, what I'm going to do is I've rolled up several chapters, and basically all drop, do one like episode a week, that is multiple chapters, with a goal of that episode being 15 to like 25 minutes. So it might be like chapters 234. And then the next one might be chapter five, and six, depending on how long those chapters are, because some of the chapters are pretty short. So Colleen Schnettler  13:37   yeah, that makes sense. And try to make it like Michele Hansen  13:39   normal. Normal podcast length, but more on like, walk the dog a little bit longer length rather than run three miles. Length if you run at my speed, which is not fast, depending on Yeah, so uh, yeah. So yeah, I think I'm gonna do that. So then it'll go a bit faster. But I don't want I mean, I don't want to like drag the whole thing and I already recorded like 18 chapters, I think. Wow. Yeah. So I'm going to do another recording day in a couple couple weeks. Maybe next week. Maybe I should do another one. I like surrounded my desk and pillows and like put a blanket gonna ask on my Yeah, I totally did a pillow for it. The NPR pillow for it. Yeah. of like, just surrounding my desk and pillows to improve the sound quality. And yeah, putting a blanket over my desk. So I feel like it should, you know, it should it should sound good. I don't want it to sound you know, homegrown and, or Yeah, you know, like I want it to sound Good question like people should pay for it. Yeah. So Colleen Schnettler  15:04   yeah, totally. That makes sense. Yeah, it's well, that's really exciting. Um, you've had a really exciting couple weeks, Michele Hansen  15:10   I've been talking to you a couple of weeks, and you have been doing seriously exciting, as we talked about a couple weeks ago. So you are now my cool kid friend, I moved to California and joined a startup. And totally, Colleen Schnettler  15:21   it was crazy. I can't even tell you like, everything just went crazy. But it is super exciting. And I think something that has not been well communicated is we are basically being funded because we are being paid to me really, to build out this product. And so and we get to keep the IP. So this is really exciting for me. I can't think of what else I would rather do with my life. Besides, you know, normal life stuff with do with my career, then build a business with people I like, like, that's my whole life goal right there. Michele Hansen  15:57   That sounds amazing. Colleen Schnettler  15:59   It is. Yeah. So I'm super pumped. It is a lot of stuff of new stuff. But it's a really cool opportunity. The guys that I'm partnering with are great. I've known them for years. And I finally get co founders, which I'm super happy about because doing it alone is lonely. Michele Hansen  16:17   So I feel like we should back up. Yeah, that's a very basic question. So So a couple of months ago, you took a job? Do you? Do you still have that job? Colleen Schnettler  16:33   I do not. Okay. Michele Hansen  16:35   So this is what we were talking about in decisions dishes and was should you? So you have you have that had that job? And then should you continue doing simple file upload? And how does this whole Hammerstone thing fit into it? And one of those options there we did not talk about was like, quit the full time job and like go whole hog and jump in headfirst on Hammerstone. So let's like, Colleen Schnettler  17:07   yeah, it was, I mean, I just everything went a little bit crazy. I announced that I took that job. And maybe part of this is building in public. or part of this is just the market right now. And I am not kidding you. Within a week I had three other people offering me jobs. Like they're like, Oh, I didn't know you were taking a job. So everything got a little crazy. When I took that job, I had every intention of being with that company for years. It was a great company. I love the people. I love their mission. But this opportunity came up to do really exciting work as part of this startup. And I had to choose because there was no way this startup stuff is full time. I mean, there's no way I could do both. So I unfortunately had to quit the job I had for what a month, maybe two months, and go all in with the startup. So it's very exciting. But it was a lot of stuff. Michele Hansen  18:04   Yeah, I mean, that must have been so much to go through in such a short amount of time. And then you're I mean, you're a very you're he You're a very reliable person who can be taken at their word and sticks to it. And yeah, for you to walk away from something after a month. I imagine that was very difficult for you. And also that shows just how excited you are about Hammerstone. Colleen Schnettler  18:42   Yeah, and I think it was really hard. It was a really hard conversation to have with my boss, who was super amazing and gracious. But it was just an opportunity. I couldn't turn down. It was so I mean, and it's high risk, high reward, right like this could burn out. And I could just be back in regular consulting land. But you know, when you're basically offered to be funded for something, but like, I don't know, that's literally what I want to do. So I couldn't turn it down. Yes, it was really hard, Michelle, because I think especially with what I do, like my business is built on relationships. And my reputation is the most important thing I have in this business as a software developer. And so I absolutely need to be very careful of that and how I handle these kinds of situations. And so that's why it was so hard to make this decision. But ultimately, the opportunities with Hammerstone are just and the problem space is really exciting. From a developer perspective, like the problem space we're working on. It's really cool. It's just really intellectually intriguing. So that coupled with like the equity it was, yeah, I mean, it was hard decision, but I think I made the right one. If I'm crying on the podcast in six months, it means I did it. Just kidding. As a joke. I made a terrible mistake. know if I made a mistake or not. But I got to go all in like, I'm in a position where I can go all in. Because you know, we have health really because we have health coverage through my spouse's job. So, man, it was tough though, because I took the full time job with every plan to stay there for years, and this opportunity came up and it was just like, I cannot This is literally what I want to do is build businesses with my friends, period. Unknown Speaker  20:25   Yeah. So Michele Hansen  20:27   yeah, so there's two things I want to dive into there. The first is, yeah, like, what's so exciting about it? And what Hammerstone? Like, does and what you're gonna be doing for it? And then the second one, and I think I want to start there is is the funding side just to sort of, sort of distill that a little bit? So if I understand correctly, so there's the Hammerstone team, which is you, Aaron and Shawn, right? Correct. Correct. And then hit Hammerstone has a client that themselves has a client, then that that second level clients is paying your clients for Hammerstone, to build their thing into client number one's app? And then you get to keep the IP from that, is that? Right? That's, Colleen Schnettler  21:38   that's, that's kind of right. Yeah, that's kind of right. So basically, you Michele Hansen  21:43   know, if I dive I follow that fully, but okay. Colleen Schnettler  21:47   So I think, yeah, so basically, we have a client, that's a pretty big client, and then there's a middle layer, and then there's, well, really, there's the client, then there's Hammerstone, then there's me. So we're still we were separated as three layers. And so now I'm joining Hammerstone. So it's actually there's one less layer in there. So it's just, it's just the client to Hammerstone. And so the client has agreed to basically fund the development of this piece of software, the software is a query builder. And that sounds so exciting. Like when I say Query Builder, people are like, what I don't get the big deal. But the nuance and like, the power of what we're doing with this query builder is really cool. It's just, it's such a constant problem, like everyone I have ever worked for basic, smart queries are really tough, you're usually putting scopes on the model, and you're trying to chain those scopes together, oh, here, they want this here, they want this. So we're basically trying to extrapolate all of that away, pull all of that out of your model, and allow you to define these queries in a filter. And we're going to provide both the front end and the back end interface. And it's, I mean, again, we need to work on messaging because no one is excited when I tell them what it is. But once you see it in practice, you're like, Oh, this is amazing. So Michele Hansen  23:12   that's kind of the product. Can we back up for a hot second? And I want you to assume that I don't know anything about web development. Colleen, okay. Yeah, what's the Query Builder? Colleen Schnettler  23:27   So, Michelle, what is your favorite online shop? store to buy clothes or shoes or whatever you're into? Michele Hansen  23:34   j crew. Colleen Schnettler  23:36   Okay, so if you want to go to the J crew website, and you want a V neck sweater in orange in stock in your size available at your store, tall order, that's a query. Okay, right. I mean, a lot of places kit. That's like a search, which is funny. Yes. Which is funny, because that's how I described it to my husband. I was like, show me the Nike website. And let me show you how we're gonna make Nike better, because that's his favorite shop. Got it. Okay. Um, so, you know, traditional, I don't want to get to it's like a search. Michele Hansen  24:10   So are you like competing with like, like, algolia or Colleen Schnettler  24:15   so it's actually no, because we're, it's actually how you build up. So we actually build up the SQL, so you'd still use a like, you could still use like, this client is using Postgres timescale dB. So you could still use a different service for for your database, but we're actually building up this performance sequel in so it's at the model layer, but it extrapolates the the querying the scoping, we call it scoping and rails, I don't know what people call it another languages out of the models, so it like extrapolates all of that away. So it but it builds it The cool thing is like it provides both the front end component and the back end component. So ideally, it will be a drop in piece of software, but you as a developer Like, okay, so I have a client, they do real estate, right. And so they have this huge problem with search because people want this super specific things that they want to search. And this is a constant problem. tuning the searches to be exactly what people want to find. But for example, they don't want you to be able to search based on I don't know, like what on who the agent is, let's say that's just an example. So this query builder is actually a drop in software component that I can put in the app. But I as the developer, when I integrate it can also say, Do not let them search by listing agent only allow them to search by this, this and this. So it gives, it's just really powerful. And where it really shines is like in relationship building, because that is always a problem, right? When you have to reach through all these tables. And then if you have these huge SQL tables, like trying to join these tables is a problem. So we're trying to fix all those problems. It's a really interesting problem space for me, because our client is like big data. And not I haven't worked with like super billions and billions of records. So I haven't worked with that kind of big data before. So it's gonna be really exciting. Michele Hansen  26:06   You're really excited about this. Colleen Schnettler  26:09   I know this is like, honestly, this is what it came down to with, like jabber, jabber about SQL. But I think when it came down to making this decision, which was super hard, because my job was so wonderful. It came down to this is literally what's gonna what's hap what happened. So the Hammerstone guys, were gonna hire someone to take over for me. And then I just couldn't let it go. I was like, Oh, well, can I like I just because the, to me, the problem space is fascinating. They were like, they were going to hire someone. And they're like, Well, you know, you could mentor him or whatever. And I was like, yeah, and then we should redesign it to do this. And we should redesign it to do this, and I just wouldn't let it go. And I think to me, that was a indication that the problem space was so fascinating for me, and I just really, really want to solve the problem. You know, when you get a problem in your head like that, and you're like, this is amazing. I must spend Well, yeah, of course you do you. This is like I'm speaking Michelle. Right. Michele Hansen  27:04   Yeah, I know a little bit about what it is like to Colleen Schnettler  27:08   to become obsessed with some Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So it's a huge change. Who knows if I made the right decision, but I made the decision that that I think is the right decision. I guess that's all that matters. But it's been a it's been a roller coaster of what? A couple three weeks here. Michele Hansen  27:26   So yeah, so what does this mean for a simple file upload? Colleen Schnettler  27:30   So simple, but it's still rockin and rollin? I think. So although i've you know, I'm working full time for these new guys, but it's gonna be kind of the same dear deal, wolf were full time is 32 hours per week. So I should still have that extra day per week to work on simple file upload. And I'll be honest, like now that I'm settled, I feel like a lot of energy for simple file upload. Like I feel I actually wrote a piece of content finally didn't take that long. I know, right. But um, I feel good about it, it's still not going to be super fast. But I feel good about putting energy into it and putting time into it and making it you know, keeping it where it was going to be, which was, you know, eight to 10 hours a week. Michele Hansen  28:16   Do you feel less pressure with simple file upload? No. Colleen Schnettler  28:21   Yeah, I do. I think I mean, if I had not that I would want to pick one to succeed. But I am super pumped to have co founders. I mean, I'm super pumped. The Hammerstone team is so great, because I'm going to do the real stuff. Aaron is like a layer of Bal Laravel. Laravel. Michele Hansen  28:40   Yeah. superstar, right. Yeah, he's like, really light stuff. People are like, super Hammerstone Yeah, okay. Okay. I thought but yeah. Colleen Schnettler  28:51   Okay. Yeah. So he, so he's kind of, you know, doing great things in the Laravel. World, he did torchlight. And he's trying to do some other things just to get our reputation out there as like a company that makes really quality software components. And then we have Shawn, who's our front end guy. And Sean also has a lot more experience from a marketing and success standpoint, if you will, because Shawn, in the past, has had a product that has been his only, you know, has supported his family. And so he's been there so he can actually see past that, which is really an interesting perspective. Aaron, and I is relatively, you know, we both have mildly successful products, but like, we're both kind of new to this. And so we're approaching it in different ways. So Shawn is like Yeah, sure. I think we can get to, you know, 200k or whatever. How do you get past your network? And Aaron and I don't have never gotten to 200k with a product so we can't even conceptualize that. Right. So I think we're gonna be a really good team. Michele Hansen  29:50   You I feel like what I'm hearing is like you sound really fulfilled by this hair. We're stone work. And I think for a long time, simple file upload came out of that desire to be fulfilled where client work was, like paying the bills, but not necessarily super soul nourishing for you. And then you took the job. And it was, you know, it was you had all intentions of staying there. And making that work and, and everything else. But it did not feel like a calling for you. Which, you know, for the vast majority of people, their day job is not their calling, or something that's fulfilling, and that's perfectly fine. Um, but I feel and then it shifted that that simple file upload was then like your source of like, personal fulfillment. But I feel like now I'm hearing you sound super fulfilled by the Hammerstone work. And that kind of takes some of the financial and emotional pressure off of the work that you do with simple file upload. Colleen Schnettler  31:07   Yeah, I think that's an accurate assessment, I think, yeah, simple file upload definitely fulfill that need when I was working clients. Yeah, I think I think you're right, like, it's really exciting to see where this is gonna go. Michele Hansen  31:21   And I'm super pumped you because we don't do side projects just for the money. Right? Like, you know, very often they come out of that, like, it's certainly, you know, I've talked a lot about how do cardio certainly did. But then we've also talked about how, you know, the book for me was like, you know, it was not for money. And it was not because it was a good decision with my time it was because I enjoyed it. And I needed it myself. And I think sometimes that's a really good space for side projects to be in where sometimes you just need an outlet for fun. And, gosh, I guess given this last year, when you're stuck in your house, and you can't really go do a lot of fun outside your house, like, you know, side projects can fill that need, you know, in the same way that we talked about, you know, when you're interviewing someone looking for the, the functional purpose of why they bought something, but then also the emotional and social purposes. And, and I guess I you know, in for me coming off of everything with with Product Hunt, and all of that community support, like I'm really thinking about those social and emotional components of launching things. And I hear you talking about Hammerstone. And I hear that fulfillment, and I think you have said maybe three times in the last half hour, how excited you are to finally have co founders like that loneliness and struggle and having to figure everything out on your own has been a running theme for you with simple fileupload. Colleen Schnettler  33:08   Yes, so I've basically figured out the rest of my life, because I'm now I'm wise. So I'm going to tell you, by my life, I mean your life to Okay, so you're absolutely right. Like, I kind of came to this realization. So this was a hard decision like agonizing, actually. And when it came down to it, when you're financially stable enough that you can make these kinds of decisions. As I think I said earlier, running a business with my friends, literally, if I could do that the rest of my career I'm in. So I think I've mentioned before, that when we started this podcast, I said, Michelle is gonna write a book, and I'm gonna launch a product and you were like, man, it is never gonna happen. Michele Hansen  33:48   Okay, so now you are actually like a clip of that, like, do we have a recording of that somewhere? Or is that I don't like the two of us talking about it. And like, I don't know. Colleen Schnettler  33:57   I know, like, I would love to go back. I've actually started listening to some of our all of our podcasts, which is amazing, by the way, kind of go back and listen to them, but I haven't come across it yet. But so Hammerstone is hopefully going to make me a ton of money. It's gonna be super fun. We'll do it for five years ish. And then you and I are going to start a business where we help people, women specifically start their own businesses. Oh, yeah. So you and I are definitely gonna start a business someday. It's like five to 10 years in the future. And it's gonna be an altruistic business. And we're gonna figure that out. But that is my life plan for us. You're welcome. For my life plan. Unknown Speaker  34:38   You know, I feel like I'm here. Michele Hansen  34:40   I feel like you like it. You like kind of dropped the idea of like software Social Fund, like a couple of months ago, like casually, and yeah, um, you know, something that I'm really intrigued by. So there's this guy Nick ramza in Maine who runs a nonprofit called Tor. labs, where he teaches people in rural Maine, how to have an online business. And it's a nonprofits. And these people are like making real money, real jobs, like, huge impact in their own lives. Actually, I've been meaning to have phone call with him. Hi, Nick. Um, so I mean, that's that's kind of the thing I feel like I think about, I don't think I would limit it to just women. Um, no, like, doesn't have to be evil. Yeah, yeah. But, um, but I love that if like doing an incubator, as a, like, a nonprofit or a, like, some sort of public benefit instead. But, but then of course, then you have to deal with like donor fundraising, and you still have to deal with investors, it's just donors and like, this, this is not happening anytime soon, because Colleen Schnettler  36:01   they do not think about this. We're not doing these Michele Hansen  36:06   years. Also, don't tempt us and send us offers to fund it either. Just like just not just know applications and just like, just just forget we, but Colleen Schnettler  36:18   okay, I just wanted to get that on record. Because I see that as our future. Like, that's what I are apparently very Michele Hansen  36:24   good at predicting the future. So like, when you say go buy here stocks and bet on some sports games, and heck, yeah, Colleen Schnettler  36:32   sure, sure. Unknown Speaker  36:35   So, anyway, well, that's fine. We're gonna wrap Michele Hansen  36:38   up today with the conclusion that Colleen is apparently Nostradamus and things are things are. Things are happening in a way that I feel like all of it, you know, they say that there's times when nothing happens, and then there's times when everything happens. And I feel like both of us are in this time where everything happens. Like in the past month, I have launched a book and it is number one on product time and you have actually taken one job and quit it and then taken another job that you are super pumped about everything is happening and who knows what's going to happen in the future.

31 August 2021 37m and 21s


Struggle and Sponsors: A Conversation with Adam Hill, Creator of Django Unicorn

Struggle and Sponsors: A Conversation with Adam Hill, Creator of Django Unicorn

Check out Django Unicorn! https://www.django-unicorn.com/ Follow Adam on Twitter: https://twitter.com/adamghill Michele Hansen  0:00  Hey, welcome back to Software Social. This episode of Software Social is sponsored by Noko. https://nokotime.com/ When you’re bootstrapping on the side, every free moment counts. But do you really know how you’re spending those moments? Which days you're most productive? If your product have time sinks that just don’t pay? Here's one way to find out: Noko is a time tracker designed to help you learn from the time you track.  And Noko makes it frictionless to give yourself good data, too — you can even log time directly from your Github commit messages.  Try Noko today and save 15% off every plan, forever. Visit  Nokotime.com/SocialPod to start making your time work for you. Hey, everyone, welcome back to software social. So as you heard last week, Colleen joined the Hammerstone team. And she also just started a job recently. And she just moved California. So Colleen has a lot going on this week. And so for the benefit of her mental health, we decided that she should just take the week off. And I'm super excited because that meant that I got to bring a friend on the show this week. So I have Adam hill with us, Adam and I actually used to work together. He was the CTO at a place I used to work at. And he also has some projects going. So welcome, Adam. Hey, it's been a long time since we've caught. Yeah, it's weird. I should do this more often. No, no, when we had I had Murray pulling on a couple of weeks ago, the notion expert. And we like had that exact same conversation at the beginning of it was like, This is so weird. I talked to you online all the time. But we haven't actually spoken in a very long time. Adam Hill  2:04   Right. talking over Twitter is a little bit different than hearing someone's voice. Michele Hansen  2:08   Yeah. Yeah, it is. So so actually speaking of one of those conversations we are having so we were talking the other day about podcasts, and you were kind of thinking about maybe you start your own show or whatnot. But you said something in particular that I wanted to talk about? Because I think it is I think it's will strike a chord with a lot of people. And you said, I'm tired of hearing podcasts from people who don't struggle. Adam Hill  2:41   Yes. Oh, all right. So no offense to you. And thank Colleen, because I think you guys do a great job of talking through the things that you're, you know, having problems with. And maybe this is just the podcast that I tend to listen to. But there seem to be a couple of categories. There's like, advice, podcasts, there are interview podcasts. And then there are kind of like two co founders, like talking through their last week sort of podcasts. And the advice podcasts seem to be more like, I'm an expert, I know what I'm doing. Here's 10 ways to get more traffic to your landing page, or whatever. The interview podcasts are more like, I just made a million dollars in the last year, like, asked me how I did it. And then the two co founders on a journey. Maybe that's the closest to like, these are the things that we're working through. And I'm having trouble with this or that. But even like, even Colleen, she's making $1,000 a month, which to me is like, That's crazy. Like that's, that's, you know, she's like having so much success. And, you know, maybe some of this is sort of like, everything is relative. I'm, I've tried a bunch of little side projects and startups over the years, and I've never gotten to $1,000 a month, but like, maybe she's looking at you and being like, well, Michelle is like Michelle and Mathias are supporting their family, you know, on their startup. So like, maybe it's just everyone is able to look at someone who is above them, quote, unquote, and see someone who is like, doing more of what they want to be doing. Michele Hansen  4:40   I think what you're saying is is something that a lot of people feel, and I think that there's kind of this undercurrent of loneliness to a certain extent behind the sort of indie hacker indie SAS kind of world where you know if it's just your one person And working on something or maybe you have a co founder, like me, like, don't really have a lot of people in your daily life to talk to you about these kinds of things. And we're already sort of a lonely pursuit to like, try to start your own SAS on the weekend to then like, hear other people who are doing it, but to hear that they're like having the success that that seems elusive to you. Like that could reinforce that kind of feeling of loneliness. And I could understand how that might make you want to, you know, scream at your phone that like $1,000 is actually amazing. What are you talking about? Adam Hill  5:40   Yeah. Yeah. I mean, like, Can you talk a little bit about, you know, I assume that it was very helpful for you and Mateus to be working on things together throughout the years, like when you were starting geocodes Oh, so like, was that your sort of like support system? Because there was no mic or cough at that point. And there was, you know, indie hackers, I don't think was around. Yeah. Can you just elaborate on on how that worked for you? Michele Hansen  6:08   You know, we actually, we didn't go to micro conference till 2019. And we didn't go for so long. Because we didn't feel like legit enough to be there. Like, and I guess I didn't know that. Like the micro con growth side was a thing. But still, like, we didn't feel like we were, like, legit enough to be there even after we had gone full time. Adam Hill  6:35   So when did you go full time? Was it 2017? So you didn't think that you belong to that community? Michele Hansen  6:44   No, it existed really like so I remember actually, when I was when we started it like the only people we I don't think we knew anyone with side projects, really. And like we had friends were developers. And like, they gave us feedback on it. But like we didn't really know any, like, we knew people who were like freelance developers, who were like, you know, contracting, but like we didn't, I didn't know anybody who had like, started their own SAS and then ran it as like a one two person show. But so when I went full time in 2017, I remember really wanting community. And I actually started a meetup for like, people to work together from Whole Foods, I think, in DC. Yeah. Well, like it. Yeah, it was, I think I did like three, two or three times, like the first time nobody showed up. The second time. This, like other woman, who was a marketing consultant showed up and like, that was cool. And then we like sat next to each other at a table at Whole Foods. Yeah, didn't really talk. And I guess it was fine. And then and then the last time this like, got older guy showed up on like, pitched me how he could like we needed to get our business into China and how. And it was like, I don't know. And after that, I was like, this may, I don't know, maybe this isn't gonna work. And I shut down. And then I actually joined a co working space for I remember half a year but actually only went for like, the first three months, because then I really wanted to, like meet people and like, make friends and find other people in a similar situation. And like going to a co working space in DC there just really wasn't anybody doing that. Like, it wasn't 1776, right? No, it was actually so Okay, so, so context for the people who are not from DC. So 1776 I don't even know if it still exists, but it was like this, like, incubators, slash like co working space in downtown dc 1776 is actually where we did our buco to prototype testing. So we had friends who had a start up at 1776. And one day Mateus, like, you know, went there with his laptop and had people play around with the API and like, try to break it and you know, doing all the stuff about authentication and whatnot, that was actually at 1776. But I think they take a percentage of the company if you want to go work there, or they used to, I don't I don't I haven't really followed it and the last couple of years. Um, but yeah, and then and actually wasn't really until I kind of found the whole community on Twitter and like the whole micro content kind of world that I felt like I had, like community of people, but even then, if you find that community like it can be hard to feel like you are, like fit in like because I feel like people are super welcoming, but like I didn't know that from the outside. And then yeah, and then we kind of like showed up and then and then like we You start talking to people and everything and we like we kind of are like, Whoa, like, you know, we're not legit. And then you talk to people I was laughing Yeah, yeah, you know, in no revenue, like, you know, over a million, you know, like, and they're like, what, where have you been like you just came out of nowhere? Like you're like, Okay, I guess we could, I guess I guess we didn't have to have this like imposter syndrome about it for like, five years Adam Hill  10:26   isn't gonna say imposter syndrome. I mean, that's what it sounds like. And I, we have a mutual friend, person who we used to work with, who has their own other startup, I went to lunch with him the other day. And you know, he's doing really well. And I was like, you could be talking about, you know, how well you're doing more if you want it to as sort of like content marketing or sharing, you know, your journey. And he doesn't really want to. So, I mean, that's interesting, because you said that you hadn't heard about micro comm for a long time. So I listened to startups for the rest of us which podcast for probably like 10 years, and sort of followed that journey. And then that podcast turned into micro Comm. And then it turned into tiny seed. So it's been fun to watch. That community is sort of like morph and change over time. Michele Hansen  11:35   But we just kind of turned this about, like how I didn't feel included for a long time. But I think what we were intending to talk about was how you feel sort of alienated hearing about other people's success. And I recognize this is somewhat uncomfortable to talk about. But I also think it's important to talk about because I so many people feel this way, and not just about trying to launch a SAS but in general, like when you are struggling with something and all you see are examples of success. It is profoundly alienating and discouraging. And I think people think they're being motivating be like, look at me, I made, you know, like $10 million, or whatever, like last year and like, here's how you can do it by my course. Like, like those people have good intentions. But I think as as you know, like if you're in that position of being like, yeah, like my revenue is zero, and it has been zero for five years now. And I've watched 10 things like and you're like, what am I doing wrong? Is it me, like all these other people having success? Like, you know, it's like watching all of your friends get a boyfriend or girlfriend in high school, and you're like, what am I doing wrong? Adam Hill  12:44   I think that, especially with some of the interview podcasts, the people who come on to talk are people who are, you know, successful in somewhere or other? Do you remember, there used to be a website when the.com boom, and bust was happening called f company? Um, I kind of want like a, like, what were the biggest mistakes that I made in my company or startup, I think that would be instructive and sort of helpful to show like, maybe that vulnerability of like, you are struggling with this thing. And, or I messed up this thing. And here are sort of maybe some takeaways or lessons from it. I think that would be sort of interesting, Michele Hansen  13:45   huh? Yeah, I think people talking more about the, I think in the way that I think I'm quoting someone here that, you know, success is always contextually specific, like the specific resources and constraints and incentives and whatnot, that lead someone to be successful or not always, you know, immediately applicable to someone else, especially if they're in a different situation. I think it's also the success, the same for failure. And now, of course, it may be very, very difficult for someone who has had a failure to do that kind of analysis, but also breaking down those other things. Because then if you read that and be like, oh, like, they didn't have this resource that I have, like, maybe I could make this work, and I could overcome that. Is that kind of what you're thinking? Adam Hill  14:36   Yeah, I think so. So sometimes, there'll be like a post mortem, when a startup goes away. They're always really interesting for me to read through. And I just wonder if, you know, basically, those are sort of like, there's one of them because then everything goes away after that. And, you know, it might be useful to sort of had a catalogue of those things. I don't know, I'm sort of just thinking off the top of my head, Michele Hansen  15:14   it's almost like the inverse of, you know, say like, you know, indie hackers, for example, they do a lot of highlighting of people who have been successful and can inspire others. And there's, there's a place for that, and I almost was, what you're saying is like an inverse of that, that's like, here's my failure, or, like, here's my side project that I launched two years ago, and doesn't have any revenue, or, you know, it's been stuck at 300 MRR for a year, like, and here's what I think I'm doing wrong. And I'm gonna requires this like level of vulnerability that I think would take a lot for people to be willing to do that. And maybe they would want to do it anonymously. But then again, if they're on the show, and people are listening, then it's like, maybe marketing for their things. So I you know, but I think there really is something there because we all have more failures than successes. Like I think that's normal. It's also normal to like, hide the failures under the rug and be like, Oh, no, look at my successes look great. This was amazing, isn't it? Um, you know, like, I've watched stuff that failed. Like, I've like we've botched launches, like, like we've had, you know, customers wanting to, like, burn us down at points, like, maybe not for Juho do but like for other things like, absolutely. Like, it's, it's totally normal. In some ways, it's one of the reasons why I think I, you know, I'm, I want to hold on to God as long as I can, because like, starting a business is really hard. And like having to do it all over again. You know, the, the chance of failure is, is much higher. So I'm sorry, if you listen to this show for inspiration, because you're not getting it. You know, so I think is maybe enough on failure. I do want to talk about what you have launched, though, because you have done some really cool stuff. And I don't think you give yourself enough credit for it. So was it last year or the year before you launched Django unicorn, which is basically like Laravel Livewire for Django. Adam Hill  17:37   Yeah, I think it was last year. And actually, I think it was a tweet that you responded to. I was like, I think I said something about, I wish you know, Laravel Livewire was for Django. And I think you said, Why don't you or something like that, so terrible. So thank you, I guess. Um, but yeah, so it is, um, it's a, it's basically a full stack framework for Django. So if listeners have ever used any, like front end framework, like view or react, they know that you basically, you have like your front end part of your website, and then you have the back end, and they sort of have to talk to each other. What, there's a couple of these out there, there's Phoenix Live View, and there's Laravel Livewire, and there's Django unicorn. And they basically let you build the interactive front end website easier, without having to basically build both pieces separately, and then connect them. It enables the nice user experience, quicker than having to build both pieces at the at the same time. So it's been a fun project. One thing that might be interesting about it is that it's all open source. But I have GitHub sponsors enabled on it. And so I do have a bunch of sponsors on it. Well, 10 ish, which for me is like more than a handful. That's awesome. So I don't know how you how you, you know, rank open source projects, but there's around 700 stars on GitHub, and nine to 10 sponsors. So for me, that's like, crazy successful. People are using it in production. So now it's, you know, responding to issues and bugs and trying to add features when I have time. But yeah, it's been It's been really fun to build it sort of, if you've heard of like the I didn't think about this at the time. But if you think about like the stair step approach where you like, you have like a small, little product, usually it's like a WordPress theme or a plugin for Shopify or something. Sometimes it's good to like, get your feet wet with that little thing before you like try to do like a SaaS product. It's been fun to sort of like, I have a whole marketing site for which we can sort of talking about marketing to developers, maybe if that's interesting, because I've sort of thought about that a bunch. But um, yeah, it's different than, you know, making a b2c startup for, you know, latitude and longitude, coordinates or, or whatever. Yeah, it's a, it's a whole different beast, I guess. Michele Hansen  20:59   Yeah, I find the business model of open source really, really interesting. Because it's so different than, like, what we do, like we just sell to businesses who need what we need. And then that's kind of like it, like, we just have to be there when they're searching for it. And so you have I mean, sponsors on the project. I mean, it sounds like it is it is, like pretty successful. So to all of our talk about failure early on, and imposter syndrome, I feel like there's maybe a little bit that going on here, but I think it's like, so what do you want to like? Like, do with it? Like you mentioned that you're doing support? And like you're trying to add features when you have time? Like? Where do you want it to go? Adam Hill  21:48   Yeah, that's a good question. Because I, I don't have a great answer for you. I think, you know, I'm maybe being naive, or like, super altruistic, but I really like the Django ecosystem, and Python. And sort of, I wanted to put something out there that people used and let them move faster and build things quicker, without a lot of pain and struggle. That was my initial goal. I enabled sponsors, sort of on a lark, because, well, it was the pandemic, and I had a lot of time. So I put a lot of time and effort into building out this framework, and then also all the documentation and marketing site. And so, you know, my initial goal was basically if I could pay my hosting fees, on Heroku, then it was a, you know, that was gonna be a win. And so I got that, which is great. It is interesting. So it's sort of like what I was talking about before where there's like, always someone sort of ahead of you that you kind of like look up to, um, I don't know if you know, the developer who does Livewire in Laravel. It's Caleb porzio. He is making a living off of Livewire and another JavaScript framework called Alpine. And so I kind of look to him as like, Oh, that's sort of That's crazy. He has enough sponsors where he can basically, you know, work on that full time. I don't know, that's not really my goal. But it's interesting to look at sort of the tactics that he is using to get that many sponsors and sort of do the things that make sense for unicorn as well. Michele Hansen  23:53   Yeah, it seems like there's a couple different paths, you can go on with a product that is that is open source. You know, so I guess there's there's this sponsors approach. There's like people who sell courses and books on top of it like thing like tailwind, for example. I think the more like, classical example is like consulting services using it. And then there's kind of also like, what, what Hammerstone is doing, which Colleen is working on now, where I believe it's something like the back end is open, but the front end is not. And it's also there's also like, you can have sort of, like productized services on top of it. To where there's, there's like a, you know, like, I mean, a lot of Laravel stuff is like, there's there's a product that's, you know, that makes it easy to do all of those things. And so it's kind of interesting, I think about the different options like you could go down. Adam Hill  24:49   It sounds like for Hammerstone. They also have a client who is sort of paying them to develop the thing and then to develop refine And then they'll be able to keep that IP. That's Yeah. From the last podcast. Michele Hansen  25:07   Yeah. Adam Hill  25:07   So yeah, so that's really interesting as well. So I know for, for Livewire, Caleb wrote a long article, which basically detailed all the things all of his sort of like, ways that he got more sponsors. So one of them was he gated screencasts for like how to use the product. So there was some of the like, elementary ways to use Livewire are free, and then for more advanced things they were yet to sponsor. And then he also did sort of a sponsor where model sort of like shareware where if you were a sponsor, you got access to a certain, you know, library or some code. And then once it hit a set number of sponsors, he then just open source that. So yeah, the sort of making money off of open source has all these different sort of approaches, which I think is really interesting. And sort of, you know, one of the things that I've kind of liked about this product or project is, I sort of, because I've been a developer for so long, I feel like I know how they think. And I'm scratching my own itch. So like, both of those things, make it a little bit easier to, you know, market. Michele Hansen  26:42   I wonder, like, do you intend to waste like, like, I feel like this plays into incentives a lot. And it's where we started do Cody from place off, but like, from our conversations about it, it seems like you basically want to keep this as a, a side project. Like, it's, you know, it's sort of as much for you know, like, having extra money on the side is always great, like, you know, when we started to akoto, it actually came out of like, to be able to afford daycare, which, you know, context for the non Americans listening. daycare is like $25,000 a year and costs more than public college tuition in the majority of states. And yeah, so we're like, like, we can't just like magically start making $25,000 more from our jobs, we've got to get something going. And so it was, like, always intended to be a side project. And I, and I feel like I hear that from you. And I think one of the, the other benefits of that, aside from the extra money is kind of like giving yourself like a playground or like a sandbox to like play in outside of work that's like, just for your own enjoyment. And just as you said, like, doing something to help other people to make things easier for them. Adam Hill  28:02   Yeah, so. So for some context, I guess, like, I really like my day job, like, I don't ever want to leave, I know a lot of sort of bootstrappers, or whatever you call these people. You know, they want to, you know, escape the nine to five, and they, they don't want a boss and whatever the other, you know, sort of reasons for for pursuing this path. But it is mostly a hobby for me, it's something for me to do, like you said outside of work, work on different things that I wouldn't get to do in my day job. So that has been most of my side projects have sort of scratched that itch. So my incentives are pretty minimal. And I do think about that a lot. I think one thing that is interesting for startups, or for side projects, is that once you charge people, you get feedback from the marketplace. It sounds like a level of Michele Hansen  29:17   responsibility or obligation comes into that, like, you know, I've heard like Taylor, Hartwell and Adam wathan, like, talking about how mean people can be in GitHub issues and like really demanding and like, you know, if somebody sponsors you them feeling entitled to you building every feature they asked for, and replying to things right away and like paying customers has its own stresses, but also like having not paying customers or even like spot like that, that creates its own set of stresses as well. And you know, to You're saying about incentives? Like, I wouldn't say that you have no incentives you actually have, if you have a day job, you have incentives for an extremely low support volume, because you can't reply to anything between nine and five. And you probably don't want to spend all day Saturday and Sunday going through support tickets, because like, you've got a family, you want to do other things in your life. And as I mean, it's, it's a lot to think about. Adam Hill  30:26   Yeah, I mean, I think one thing I think about is like, Why do I keep trying to do this? Because like, um, you know, it's, so when we started working, I was the CTO for a little while, at the same time, I had co founded a startup on the side. So that was sort of crazy, crazy time. And I a small child at the time, the two other co founders wanted to go full time. And, and I didn't, so we sort of split at some point. But even that, which was sort of like, more of a real startup, like, over the years, I have done side projects. And, and I just, I do wonder about sort of the psychology of like people who just keep trying over and over and over again, even if it doesn't really work out, like, I'm not trying to make a ton of money off of this. So that's not my incentive, it's more like, I just want to see how far I can go and how much I can do. And I do think that charging people sort of gives you a really like, clear answer of this is something that someone finds useful or not. Michele Hansen  31:58   And then how you kind of work that in with the sort of multiple options available for an open source project. I mean, it's kind of in a way, like SAS is like, so much more straightforward. It's like you have pay as you go, you have a subscription, like maybe you have a, you know, you pay for onboarding services, or integration fees, and then you play as a tutor on top of that, like, there's not really as many things have, like, you know, like pay for this ebook about how to use this project, or, as you mentioned, with live wire, having screencasts about how to use it, or gatekeeping, you know, specific features like for so there's some of that in SAS, but like, it's very different dynamics. And do you feel excited by those options? Or do you feel decision fatigue, and kind of not sure where to go with all of that, Adam Hill  32:50   I think I have a few things in my head of these are things I could I could do. There's a little bit of decision fatigue, I have done some screencasts. But I find it takes a really long time for me to do them. I know you've done a conference talk before. But like, I also did a conference talk per Django unicorn. And I spent so much time preparing for it and doing the slides and running through it over and over again. And a screencast isn't that much time, but it's similar, where I sort of like, need to figure out a script and write all the code and plan everything out. So getting motivated to do that is a little tricky. So other than that, though, there are a couple other ways that I could monetize Django unicorn. But I do feel like, I want to try more of a SaaS product, just to sort of not diversify my income because there's very little income, but like, sort of try something new. I do wonder if the side projects are a way to just try a lot of different things and see, you know, see what I can learn along the way. Michele Hansen  34:19   I guess it kind of comes back to what you were saying about you were sort of like why am I doing this in the first place? Adam Hill  34:26   Yeah, I you know, I don't have a good answer for that because I I asked them myself a lot. I look at it as a hobby. And you know, I I'm curious how you how you looked at geocode do at the beginning like you said it was to pay your their daycare bills, but at some point it pay the daycare bills and then sort of how did you think about it from that point on? Michele Hansen  34:56   Well, then it went on to paying off my student loans. There's just more and more things that are paid off. More American, like financial debt obligations. Yes, that's basically the story. Um, no, I mean, you know, I'm personally very motivated by like financial security. But no, it was always like, it was a hobby, until it got to the point where it was like, No, this is actually serious. And like, this is actually you know, this is this is this is a business, I can trust that the revenue isn't going to disappear overnight, like like this, this other part that people don't really talk about is like, there's this first stage of like, nothing is working. Everyone is having success, but me. Okay, cool. We're having our hosting costs, awesome. And then like, kind of growing it a little bit like this is working, having fun throwing pasta at the wall, you know, unlike it work, like you can try something and if it doesn't work, like there's very little consequences for it at that stage. And you can, you have a lot more freedom to explore and for decision making, which is something that I really valued from it. But then there's kind of the stage when you have legit revenue, feeling like this could go away overnight, like a big competitor could come in, release something, and everybody's gonna switch and my revenue was gone. And like, basically, like I like I like, where I didn't trust the revenue, if that makes sense like that. I mean, the revenue is, I'm totally like anthropomorphizing it here. But trusting that it would be there, that you could rely on it. Like that took me a very, very long time, I probably I waited a lot longer to go full time, I think then other people might, especially people who are super eager to not have a boss anymore, and whatnot, because I was so afraid of that. And also, because, you know, in the US, when you fall, you fall hard, there is no floor, basically, to how far or how far you fall. And, you know, just based on my life experience and whatnot, that was something I was terrified of. And, but it took me a long time to really trust the revenue. And so it was like part, I think it was like it was a hobby, and it was my fun place to explore, where I got to make all the decisions. And I was the one doing the roadmap and is doing all these different things. And you know, I'm ADHD, so I love that I have to switch between, like all of these different things all the time. And we're all these different hats, because then I don't get bored. But I think saying I was a side project for so long, because it was a hobby, I think that would be lying to myself, because there's that other reason that I just didn't trust that it wasn't going away. Adam Hill  37:56   So you've talked about not having, you know, other employees or anything, but can you talk about sort of, you could have had sort of a contractor who would help out with parts of geocode do. And that would have been a less final decision, I guess, then not getting a full time job again. Michele Hansen  38:27   Oh, you mean like before I went full time, like hiring a contractor to work? Yeah, I never even considered that. I mean, it was just earlier this year that I even got a VA, like I had never occurred to me. I mean, even now, like the I don't, we don't plan to hire anyone full time. And for some reasons, it would be nice. But in other ways, like I like I don't feel capable of like fully managing and like taking on the hopes and dreams of another person. Like, I feel like I'm treading water at doing that as a parent. And so I questioned my ability to do that with an employee and give them the amount of attention that they deserve. And then also provide a career path of advancement for them. Like I take it very seriously that it's not just a year of employment for someone, it's, you know, if things work out 510 20 years, and we're I can't be certain that this company would never grow to be more than, you know, three people or whatever, like and then there's the co founders running it, like there's always a ceiling for those people and, like I would almost feel bad like bringing someone on to a company that I knew that they couldn't advance that or run like I feel guilty about that. Like it feels like wrong to me, even though I know there are people who like don't want to run a company would be very happy with that. Like, like to me like I can't like I just can't get over that. So, um, but yeah, I'm taking baby steps with VA, to talk to me again in five years, when maybe we have hired a part time support person or something. Adam Hill  40:14   Yeah, I mean, I hear you on on the full time employee. I that sounds daunting. And, you know, there's payroll, and there's taxes, and there's, you know, all of that, at least in the States. There's, you know, human Michele Hansen  40:28   side, though, that's the part that, you know, I don't know, I guess I don't believe in myself as a manager. So I know we can execute, need to Adam Hill  40:41   get over your imposter syndrome syndrome. Michelle, and you can do anything. I don't know where I was going with that. Well, that's why I brought up, you know, contractor or, you know, a va or a part time, you know, support person. But that all makes sense, because you are less invested in in helping that person grow. Because, you know, they're not actually a full time employee. Michele Hansen  41:08   Yeah, I don't. I don't know. I think I have to dive deeper. And figured that I think this might be one of the rawest interviews we have ever done on my side, and probably on the interviewee side. So maybe this is a good time to end it for today. Sounds good. Thank you so much for listening. Adam, thank you so much for being on today and talking about struggle, which, again, as you said, I think is a really common feeling. And people just don't talk about it. So maybe we're changing that a little bit. If anyone listening would be interested in a podcast where people talk about stuff they did that failed, maybe let Adam know. And who knows? Oh, gosh, I was on it, right? Because there's a difference between like, wanting to listen to a show like that, and getting to a fly on the wall of other people's feathers. But actually then offering your own up, like, there's a difference there. And if you would be the ladder, maybe let Adam know, because this could be interesting. I'm Adam, if people want to keep in touch with you. And learn more about Django unicorn, where should they go? Adam Hill  42:29   Sure. So um, I'm on Twitter, and I tweet occasionally, every couple of days, probably So, but they can reach out to me there I am. Adam g Hill, on Twitter, and on GitHub. Michele Hansen  42:44   And what about Django unicorn? Where can they find that? Adam Hill  42:45   That's on Twitter as well, Django unicorn. All one word. And if you go there, you can find it on GitHub. Michele Hansen  42:55   Awesome. We'll also put those links in the description for today's show. Adam, thank you so much for coming on. Thanks. And Colleen, we'll be back next week. So we'll talk to you soon.

24 August 2021 42m and 57s


Decisions, Decisions Part 2: Colleen Takes the Plunge

Decisions, Decisions Part 2: Colleen Takes the Plunge

Check out Hammerstone! http://hammerstone.dev/ Michele Hansen  0:00    Hey, welcome back to Software Social. This episode of Software Social is sponsored by Noko. https://nokotime.com/ When you’re bootstrapping on the side, every free moment counts. But do you really know how you’re spending those moments? Which days you're most productive? If your product have time sinks that just don’t pay? Here's one way to find out: Noko is a time tracker designed to help you learn from the time you track.  And Noko makes it frictionless to give yourself good data, too — you can even log time directly from your Github commit messages.  Try Noko today and save 15% off every plan, forever. Visit  Nokotime.com/SocialPod to start making your time work for you. Hey, everyone. So you may remember a couple of weeks ago, Colleen was facing a big decision about whether she should join an exciting project that some of her friends had started. So I'm here to tell you today that Colleen did decide to join that project. And we thought that you should hear about it from her and the team she's joining. So she is joining Hammerstone with our friends, Aaron and Sean. And you may remember Shawn from our episode a few months ago, where he was helping me learn how to market a book. So we thought we would let you listen to the episode that Colleen did on the Hammerstone podcast recently, where she's talking about joining the team. And after you listen, make sure to go subscribe to the Hammerstone podcast to get more updates about that really exciting project. Unknown Speaker  1:54   All right, we are recording. And we have three people here with us today. So the third person you want to introduce yourself. Colleen Schnettler  2:03   Hello, everyone. My name is Colleen and I have been working for Shawn and Aaron for about six months now. And this is my debut appearance on the Hammerstone podcast. Unknown Speaker  2:14   Welcome to the show. Thanks. So Colleen has been working, she said for us. But now Colleen is working with us. Colleen is a part of the Hammerstone team now. She's the third partner. Colleen Schnettler  2:29   Yes, I am super pumped. Super excited to join the team. Unknown Speaker  2:34   Yeah, so I guess we've been talking about this client for like, a year or more. And we've mentioned Colleen several times, I don't think it's been a secret. And she's the one that's been doing. She's the one that's been doing the rails side of the Refine product. And so, Shawn and Colleen have been working on this client for a long time. And the client has kind of been like, hey, what if we just keep doing this for a long, long time, we're like, great, we, that sounds good to us. And so Colleen is gonna continue working. But this client for they just, they just love Colleen, they just can't, they can't get enough of you. So, yeah, she's coming on as a partner and Hammerstone and she's gonna own the rails side of things. And I own the Laravel side of things. And Sean owns basically everything else. Kind of kind of a huge change, you know, in a whirlwind the past couple of weeks, but welcome. Colleen Schnettler  3:41   Thanks. Unknown Speaker  3:43   Yes, super cool. So speaking of owning all the other things, actually, can you guys hear me the sound just cut out weirdly for a second? We're good. You're okay. Yep. Yeah, so we, since there's three of us now, Aaron, and I have been, as I put it on the call with the lawyer yesterday, just yoloing it for the last year with our sort of like, operating agreement. So we got to hammer that out, you know, and actually do that properly given there's three of us, and that's an extra level of complication. So, the, the thing that we talked about with the lawyer, which I wanted to bring up with you guys was so first of all, I brought on my lawyer, Dalia who's awesome, and the best lawyer that I know. And I was like, Oh, yeah, I definitely want dahlias represent Hammerstone that Dalia immediately brought up that it's a conflict of interest of her because she's representing me. I'm planning for aliens. And I was like, Oh, well, I'll just find another lawyer for planning for aliens. And that's when I realized like last night, I was like, do I want to do that? Like it's, I want Dalia to represent Hammerstone but I also like kind of still want to have Dalia around for other shit for me. So I think that she had mentioned this as a possibility where like, she could represent us both. And then if there's a conflict of interest step aside, and it would go to me by default, I think is what she said. And then Hammerstone would have to find another lawyer. How does that sound to you guys? Colleen Schnettler  5:18   Yeah, so what I took from that conversation was exactly that, like, she can represent you, she can represent Hammerstone. But if the three of us as Hammerstone have a problem, she would then have to step back and then all of us would, like, if we're at the point where we all need our own attorneys, like something has gone terribly wrong, right? Like, we're probably just gonna want to Anyway, when we're talking about attorneys, that's all we're talking about is these horrible situations, right. So that is what we're talking about right now is a horrible situation that, you know, potentially could happen in the future. Get it? I'm not putting anything out of possibility. Like, I'm fine with that. I don't know, she had said something about how someone has to wait, like waive the conflict of interest. So you can ask her what that means. But I mean, I have no issues with this, because I just, I know, no one ever sees themselves in these situations, but I just cannot imagine a situation where that would happen. And if it did, then, I mean, you're so far gone by that point that, you know, I'm okay. Unknown Speaker  6:29   Yeah, I think I think I understand the same thing. So she'll represent planning for aliens, which is your holding Corporation. Shawn, shall represent planning fo