Foundr Magazine Podcast | Learn From Successful Founders & Proven Entrepreneurs, The Ultimate StartUp Podcast For Business

You can't talk about fast-growing SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) companies without mentioning Zapier. In about five years, they've amassed a customer base of over 1.5 million registered users, and grown their team from just three founders to 60 people. But perhaps what's most impressive and unique about Zapier, is the fact that those 60 people can be found all over the world.

While Wade Foster and his co-founders reside in San Fransisco, he is quick to mention that does not mean Zapier's headquarters are in San Fransisco. Not just employees, but also members of the executive team can be found on almost every continent, working remotely. Zapier is living proof that entrepreneurs and startups are no longer strictly bound by location, and that there is a whole world of talent out there.

"The internet feels like our true home," Foster says.

You might think that having such a team would be a detriment to a fast-growth company but, according to Foster, having such a large, distributed team is precisely the reason behind Zapier's impressive success. When it comes to managing and leading such a scattered team, all while building a fast-growing SaaS company, Foster is a master.

In this week's episode you'll learn:

  • How to validate your idea and find your first customer at the same time
  • The pros and cons of managing a distributed team of over 60 people
  • What a high-performing distributed team looks like
  • Keys to building a B2B company as quickly as possible
  • Wade's favorite apps and tools
  • & so much more!

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Direct download: FP125_Wade_Foster.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09am AEDT

Over the past 20 years or so, the common understanding of what an "entrepreneur" is has undergone some massive changes.

It used to be that an entrepreneur was someone who wore a proper suit, courted investors over fancy lunches and dinners, and ultimately cornered entire industries. Then the term started to shift.

These days when you think of an entrepreneur, you're more likely to conjure some hip whiz kid, much more likely to wear jeans and a hoodie than a suit. The attitude has changed as well, with entrepreneurs these days less concerned about building Fortune 500 businesses, and instead wanting to take on creative pursuits that can fuel their lifestyles of travel, leisure, and adventure.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a person who fits that 21st century entrepreneur archetype better than Sol Orwell. At only 32, he has already bought and sold multiple online businesses, co-founded a 7-figure business by the name of Examine.com, and finds himself globetrotting three to four months out of the year for fun. So how does he do it?

Orwell is no stranger to the entrepreneurship life, having started his first online business of buying and selling virtual currency at the age of 14. Ever since, he's been in love with starting businesses, and everything that the online world can offer. As a tried and true digital nomad, Orwell knows exactly what it takes to build up the perfect business for anyone wanting to be a lifestyle entrepreneur.

In this week's episode:

  • How to find your niche in the online world
  • The importance of putting the business first before your ego
  • Why building evergreen content will always work better than anything viral
  • Orwell's no-nonsense guide to building a self-sustaining online business
  • The wonders of building a segmented audience and why you need to do it right now
  • & much more!
Direct download: FP124_Sol_Orwell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55am AEDT

Wil Schroter never set out to become an entrepreneur. In fact, he didn't have that much interest in business in the first place. But in 1995, he found himself in the office of his college guidance counselor saying that he was dropping out to start an internet company.

The question she asked wasn't why Schroter was quitting college, but what was this "internet" he was talking about.

A 19 years old, Schroter was one of the first handful of people in the world building successful businesses based on this world-changing piece of technology. While dropping out of college to pursue a career in entrepreneurship is pretty run-of-the-mill today, back in 1995 it was practically unheard of. Everyone around Schroter told him it was insane, that it'd be suicide, that he'd never make it.

Fast forward a little over 20 years, he now finds himself as the founder of several multimillion-dollar companies, including Fundable, the world's largest business crowdfunding platform, and the internationally renowned startup launchpad startups.co. It's been a successful journey since that guidance counselor's office.

Throughout his entrepreneurial career, Schroter has not only witnessed, but also participated in many of the world-changing impacts the internet has had. He's pretty much seen it all.

In this episode you will learn:

  • How to survive a business with less than zero business experience
  • The things you need to know on how to close more deals
  • Learn how to build a community
  • How to deal with growth pains effectively
  • Tips on what it takes to build a successful company
  • & more!
Direct download: FP123_Wil_Schroter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06am AEDT

After working in the children's media industry for over five years, there was something that was bothering Francesca Cavallo. She found herself asking the question: "Why does almost every princess in every classical fairy tale needs a prince to save her?"

It was something she didn't particularly care for. But the reality was that there just weren't that many fairy tales where the princess was the hero, and not just the damsel-in-distress. So Cavallo did what any other entrepreneur would do in her situation. If there wasn't a solution to the problem, then she was going to create one.

The result was a book called Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a collection of 100 stories about great female artists, athletes, politicians, and scientists. Instead of hearing fairy tales like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, children everywhere could instead listen to the stories of extraordinary women like Frida Kahlo, Elizabeth the First, and Serena Williams.

In order to bring her idea into reality, Cavallo, co-founder of Timbuktu Labs, took to Kickstarter to reach her goal of $40,000 in order to print the first 1,000 copies.

The book was a smash hit. Within 24 hours, Cavallo's campaign raised half of its goal, and by the end of the month she had raised over $650,000 in funds and was the creator of the most successful publishing campaign in Kickstarter history.

It was a dream come true, but it was far from being a lucky break. Months before the campaign even started, Cavallo had begun planning. In our interview, she walks us through step-by-step how she engineered the massive success of one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns to date.

In this episode you will learn:

  • How to validate your idea before you even try crowdfunding
  • Why the video is the most important part of any crowdfunding campaign
  • How to establish trust in both your campaign and yourself
  • The tools you can use to ensure your campaign's success
  • Step-by-step instructions for what to do before, during, and after your crowdfunding campaign
  • & much more!
Direct download: FP122_Francesca_Cavallo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:47am AEDT

A unique product snags attention. A boring product does not.

Brad Munro says crowdfunding is most successful when you have the former—something innovative like Willi Footwear’s improved flip flops.

“The kind of people that are contributing to your crowdfunding campaign, especially if they’re buying a product, they’re doing so because they can’t buy it anywhere else,” he says. “They’re not going to jump on and grab something that they can go down to the shop and get, that’s just as good or the exact same thing.”

But they didn't rely on their product's uniqueness. By shoveling time into their campaign, both the preparation and execution, the team at Willi Footwear was able to integrate consistent messaging with outreach to people they knew, which earned them the money they needed to ensure the success of their fledgling company.

In this episode you will learn:

  • Why Indiegogo might be a better platform for crowdfunders
  • How to strike the right tone for your campaign video
  • What connections you can immediately leverage to ensure your campaign is a success
  • The elements behind a high-converting project page
  • What you need to start planning for once you decide to start crowdfunding
  • & much more!
Direct download: FP121_Brad_Munro.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:11am AEDT

Thirty years ago, Michael Gerber released a book called The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About it.

It carried within it lessons on what it means to be an entrepreneur, the importance of systems in building a scalable business, even the different types of people who start their own businesses. It laid out the common pitfalls that happen to most novice entrepreneurs and gave practical advice on how to avoid them.

The best-selling book has since inspired millions of people to start their own businesses, and is still considered to be a must-read for entrepreneurs everywhere. Startup thought leaders like Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin have heaped praise on the lessons outlined in this book.

But before Gerber began changing the lives of a whole generation of business owners, he explains, he never intended to become an entrepreneur. It was only through a chance meeting with a distraught business owner that Gerber found himself with his first client and in the position to help someone grow a business.

"I discovered something I'd never known before, and that is the conclusion I've come to over the years—that despite the obvious differences between industries, between vertical markets, between kinds of companies, what I began to discover was that from a business development perspective, they're not different at all."

Despite all the technological changes that have happened since that first client, Gerber asserts that the key principles behind building a business have remained the same.

In this episode you will learn:

  • What exactly it is that makes an entrepreneur different from everyone else
  • How to be a dreamer, a thinker, a storyteller, and a leader
  • The difference between strategic and tactical thinking, and which one you should be doing
  • Why everyone should start thinking about building a business
  • How to make your business unique, even if your product isn't
  • & much more!
Direct download: FP120_Michael_Gerber.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:16am AEDT

Simon Griffiths sat down for what he believed in and, it turned out, parking it on a toilet was an epic marketing win for a good cause.

Griffiths and the team behind Who Gives a Crap toilet paper employed a clever stunt in which they livestreamed their co-founder sitting on a toilet until they reached their crowdfunding goal, and it worked. The company gives half of its profits to charity to increase access to toilets and sanitation in developing countries.

But it takes more than a good cause and a good marketing ploy to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. The team also relied on thorough preparation and consistent messaging to blow away their goal.

Griffiths and his co-founder Jehan Ratnatunga did a first take on their video in January 2012, hoping to launch soon after. But they realized that it wasn’t quite what they wanted, so they went back and tried again, even taking the time to get advice from an ad firm in Melbourne.

The video wasn’t the only thing they had to prepare. The team wanted to be sure that their campaign would be a coherent, quality whole, and if that meant delaying the launch so that they would have time to refine things, that was OK.

“We thought we’d go live in February or March, and then it just kept on getting continuously pushed back, and then it wasn’t until July that the campaign did go live,” Griffiths says.

They were only working on the campaign part-time during the preparation phase, and it ended up taking six months for all of their ideas to come together in a way that they were happy with. Preparing an effective campaign isn’t like heating up a microwave dinner. It’s more like cooking a multi-course feast. It takes time.

In this episode you will learn:

  • What makes your campaign newsworthy and why people should care
  • How to make your campaign as shareable as possible
  • Why the first 24 hours are the most important in any crowdfunding campaign
  • Kickstarter or Indiegogo. How to pick the one that works for you
  • How to keep your message consistent across every media channels
  • & much more!
Direct download: FP119_Simon_Griff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:38pm AEDT

The Canary team didn’t start their company with crowdfunding. In fact, they had been working on the idea for roughly a year before turning to Indiegogo.

“We decided that crowdfunding would be a great way for us to validate the market a little bit,” says Jon Troutman, co-founder of the company, which offers networked home security systems.

It took the team about a month and a half to plan and prepare the campaign, but Troutman notes that they had already developed a voice for their brand and a story for their product. They didn’t devote as much time to preparation as some campaigns because they could already picture the puzzle. They just had to fit the pieces together.

And getting users involved in the process would be key to doing so. After working on Canary for a whole year, they needed an outside view. “What we’re building is so much about filling a need for people, that it felt weird to go too far into product development without bringing more people into the process,” Troutman says.

One of the great things about crowdfunding is that it lets the market decide in real time whether or not to validate your idea. In Canary’s case, it did.

In this episode you will learn:

  • The right way to communicate your message to your audience
  • Where to go when you're looking for expert help
  • How to analyse the competition and what you can learn from doing so
  • What questions you need to ask yourself before you launch your campaign
  • How much time you need to devote to your campaign in order for it to be successful
  • & much more!
Direct download: FP118_Jon_Troutman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:59am AEDT

A team of doctors and engineers wanted a safer alternative to Q-Tips, so they created it. By understanding where potential users were coming from and staying on point with the idea that their product could alleviate those pains, the Oto-Tip gained the funding it needed to go big.

The lesson from Oto-Tip is, before you start any crowdfunding campaign, you must know how your project will improve people’s lives, and you must explain it in a way that resonates emotionally with potential backers. In this week's episode, Lily Truong, co-founder of Oto-Tip and manager of its crowdfunding campaign, explains how they did it.

“My key question I wanted to ask myself was … ‘Why would someone need this? Why would backers resonate with the story? What pain point are you really solving?’” Crowdfunding campaigns can reach their goals when they offer a clear way to deal with common struggles people experience.

In the case of Truong’s campaign, Q-tips, cotton swabs, ear sticks, they all shove wax deeper into your ear, make you itch, and can even puncture your eardrum. The Oto-Tip offers another, far less irritating approach to earwax.

It all goes back to that pitch: Look, there’s a problem, but here’s a way to fix it. Find out how your own campaign can tap into people’s emotions and offer a solution.

In this episode you will learn:

  • The importance of getting feedback before you even entertain the thought of crowdfunding something
  • How to figure out the best media platforms to reach your audience
  • Why you need a strong story and how to create one that works for you
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly when working with PR firms
  • Awesome hacks you can do with LinkedIn to boost your Kickstarter campaign
  • & much more!
Direct download: FP117_Lily_Truong.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:26am AEDT

The problem Eskil Nordhaug wanted to solve for people was simple. Videos taken with smartphones or small cameras are notoriously shaky.

So he simply looked at the needs. He asked himself what it would take to build a company selling a mechanical video stabilizer that exceeded expectations—the kind of product consumers needed, the amount of money he would need, the coverage help press outlets needed, the info his project page would need. 

The result was StayblCam, and it was precisely this needs-focused approach that led to a smash-hit Kickstarter campaign and the successful company that followed.

Nordhaug says that the same principle can guide the way for any great crowdfunding campaign. “The most successful ones, generally speaking, are the ones that, there’s a need for it,” he says. “It solves a problem. It’s not just some fancy, weird thing that’s made for the sake of being made.”

Crowdfunding appeals to ordinary people with limited funds, so they can’t back every project that breezes by. When people see your product, you don’t want them to shrug and think it’s neat. You want them to whip out their credit card and ask, “When can I get one?” If your product solves a problem that’s long-pestered people, they’re likely to do that.

Don’t make something that people will want in on—make something that people need in on. Nordhaug shared with Foundr this golden piece of advice, and so many more related to running a successful fundraising campaign.

“It’s about creating value for users,” Nordhaug says.

In this episode you will learn:

  • Why you need to start working on your campaign months before you even launch
  • The correct way to figure out what funding goal you should aim for
  • The best way to contact press outlets and start getting media mentions
  • Paids ads. How and why you should use them
  • What a great Kickstarter landing page looks like
  • & much more!
Direct download: FP116_Eskil_Nordhaug.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:57am AEDT