The Foundr Podcast with Nathan Chan

Most of Foundr’s podcast episodes are one-on-one chats, usually focusing on a particular foundr or their business. This time around, we were fortunate enough to sit down, in person, with two startup icons, and explore some of the most important facets of running a business.

Oli Gardner and Ryan Deiss are both digital marketing pioneers who have grown their online businesses to millions in revenue. Gardner, the instructor of our Landing Page Formula course, co-founded landing page builder Unbounce in 2009. Deiss, a serial entrepreneur, founded DigitalMarketer in 2011.

Not surprisingly, this turned out to be a fascinating conversation, in which Gardner and Deiss share both similar and differing opinions on everything from branding to hiring.

For example, both founders insist that creating core values is an important business practice that will inform your branding and your decisions. “I have had more businesses come close to failure because of too much opportunity,” says Deiss, who adds that having a mission makes it easier to know when to say no.

In addition, as both Unbounce and DigitalMarketer grow, Gardner and Deiss have each honed their strategies for hiring top talent. The details might surprise you, as one of the two companies doesn’t even allow candidates to submit a resume (it’ll get thrown out).

Listen in as Gardner and Deiss join Foundr for this lively chat in Barcelona, where they share their hard-learned lessons from growing online businesses and the sacrifices they’ve made along the way.

Key Takeaways

  • How to build a great brand
  • The one thing that keeps your customers coming back again and again
  • Why creating core values for your company isn’t just a nice thing to do, but a necessity
  • The latest interaction and design trends—and which ones you should steer clear of
  • Why community is the new brand and how to build a community that boosts your business
  • The biggest opportunity in ecommerce right now
  • How to stay relevant in a changing content marketing landscape
  • Sure-fire tactics for hiring and vetting top talent
  • The big sacrifices they’ve had to make as founders
Direct download: FP230_Oli_Gardner_Ryan_Deiss.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:53am AEDT

NEW COURSE ALERT: Entrepreneur, we wanted you to be the first to know that we’ve collaborated with Arman Assadi to bring you our brand new copywriting course. Learn the copywriting secrets behind 11 seven-figure product launches, taught by Arman himself.

Arman’s broken it down into a 10-step framework that he’s proven with his clients time and time again. He’s even going to give you templates, formulas, and how-to guides so you can start converting customers like crazy.

If you’re tired of seeing ZERO sales for all the hard work you’ve put into your amazing product—then you NEED to learn the power of copywriting. We’re opening the doors to this course soon for a limited time only, and we want to see you there. Be sure to get on the FREE waitlist so you don’t miss it!

Key Takeaways

  • The “crisis of meaning” that drove Assadi to leave his job at Google, book a trip to Cuba, and pursue freedom as a solopreneur
  • How Assadi became a self-taught copywriter and began working with the likes of Neil Patel, Lewis Howes, Jason Silva, and Lori Harder
  • What you should (and shouldn’t) do if you want to find your unique voice as a copywriter
  • The key to writing high-converting copy and why every entrepreneur should learn the basics
  • The story behind Assadi’s latest business and how it created the most-funded planner in crowdfunding history: EVO Planner
  • What’s next for Project EVO and how it’s helping entrepreneurs and creatives find fulfillment in their work
Direct download: FP229_Arman_Assadi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:08am AEDT

Serial founder and VOIP pioneer Alex Mashinsky has founded eight companies and raised more than a billion dollars in collective funding since his entrepreneurial start in the 1990s—and he is showing no signs of slowing down. Mashinsky is the founder of Celsius, which allows users to earn interest on and borrow dollars against cryptocurrencies.

While Mashinsky wants his company to succeed, he sees much more at stake here than just his entrepreneurial resume.

Mashinsky is devoting his latest startup to taking on the world’s financial systems and driving the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies. Subverting the “big guys”  has been a common theme throughout Mashinsky’s career, starting with helping AT&T develop some of the first international VOIP systems, and now fighting to decentralize the world’s banking systems.

According to Mashinsky, “This is the biggest battle that I’ve fought in my life. I fought with the phone companies…in the 90s. This is 10 times worse.”

Listen in as Mashinsky reveals the details of his entrepreneurial journey's highs and lows, his dedication to educate the world about cryptocurrencies, and entrepreneurial lessons only an eight-time founder can teach.

Key Takeaways

  • How the 2008 recession took down his ride-share company (that was more popular than Uber at the time)
  • Why Mashinsky is so passionate about educating the world on cryptocurrencies
  • 4 entrepreneurial lessons to guide your business journey
  • The mindset shift that led Mashinsky to focus on mass adoption of cryptocurrencies
Direct download: FP228_Alex_Mashinsky.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:53am AEDT

Frank Body co-founder Erika Geraerts left her $20 million coffee scrub company to invent a new category within the beauty industry.

She's now on a mission to empower young girls everywhere to feel more comfortable with themselves. According to this forward-thinking founder, the world has enough makeup products, and what the industry really needs is better products with better brand messages.

Geraerts thinks makeup should be fun, not a necessity or a chore, which is one reason she called her company Fluff. But there's nothing frivolous about her approach to business. Geraerts is filling a void in the cosmetics industry and raising up the self-esteem of women globally in the process.

In this compelling video interview, Geraerts reveals why she decided to leave her booming skin care company, and what she sees on the horizon for Fluff. She also talks about her strict manufacturing process, her focus on sustainable products, her unique customer development process, and the distinct way the company creates online content.

Key Takeaways

  • How Geraerts chooses manufacturers to create her products
  • The company’s unique customer development process for finding out what types of products solve her customers’ problems
  • Why she won’t be focusing on traditional influencer marketing to promote her products
  • Fluff’s unique website launch strategy and how they work with their customers and freelancers to curate all of their content


Direct download: FP227_Erika_Geraerts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:14am AEDT


Bobbi Brown has spent her life helping people embrace who they are. Embracing herself—strengths and weaknesses—has also proven to be a powerful career strategy.

The veteran makeup artist and founder of the eponymous cosmetics line built her empire on the belief that people are most beautiful when they love who they are. This natural approach to makeup went against the over-the-top aesthetic of the 1980s—which, at the time, critics said would be her undoing—and people couldn’t get enough of her.

“My hope is to help women everywhere understand that being who you are is the secret to lasting beauty,” she writes in her book Pretty Powerful.

Powered by that philosophy, Brown became known as a makeup artist to the stars, touching up the faces of Carla Bruni, Katie Holmes, and Michelle Obama, to name a few. With characteristic warmth, she treats even the biggest of celebrities like old friends. A video for HELLO! Canada shows Brown in the back seat of an Uber with actress Meghan Markle, dishing out makeup tips and jamming to Biggie Smalls. As they part ways, Brown tells the now-Duchess of Sussex, “Text me later.”

Whether she’s getting celebrities ready for their close-ups or hobnobbing with the rich and famous in the Hamptons, Brown remains refreshingly down to earth. “One of my best attributes in life…is I'm incredibly naive,” she tells Foundr. “I think everything is going to work out.”

And for Brown, a lot of it has. She scored big with her first job out of college as a freelance makeup artist, catching the eye of Vogue, which hired her for a cover shoot with Naomi Campbell. In 1991, with just 10 lipstick shades, Brown launched a cosmetics line that she would sell to Estée Lauder four years later, and continue to work at for more than 20 years after that. When Brown stepped away in 2016, she left behind a billion-dollar company. And in the midst of all that, she met the man of her dreams, Steven Plofker, to whom she has been married for 30 years.

Yes, she has had an illustrious life and career. But one look at her latest projects makes it clear—Bobbi Brown is just getting started.

On Being Boss Again

When she left Bobbi Brown Cosmetics (which she calls her “first baby”), the beauty world was stunned. But the company was no longer in her direct control, and she was eager to be back at the helm.

“I realized that it was time for me to be the boss again because that's really what makes me happy,” she explains. “I like to be in charge, and I like to work with really fun, cool people to create things.”

And that’s exactly what she’s been doing. Her first project after leaving the company was to write and promote a book, Beauty From the Inside Out, a lifestyle guide that details recipes, nutrition recommendations, and confidence-boosting tips. This was a nod to Brown’s aspirations to broaden her scope from cosmetics to general health and wellness.

“I don't like a lot of makeup,” says Brown, who is an outspoken opponent of contouring, using darker shades to “reshape” parts of your face. “I don't believe women need a lot of makeup. And I think the healthier you are, the better you feel and the better you look.”

In 2017, Brown opened Just Bobbi lifestyle concept shops inside of Lord & Taylor department stores, where she curated her favorite wellness and beauty products for the public to peruse.

Earlier this year, she launched a line of wellness products, Evolution_18, on TV shopping network QVC. She also runs a film and TV studio, 18 Label Street, and her own line of eyewear, Bobbi Brown Eyewear.

And in an unexpected move, she partnered with her husband to breathe new life into a 1902 historic landmark and launch The George, a boutique hotel in their hometown of Montclair, New Jersey.

As if that weren’t enough, she’s got a podcast in the works.

With so many projects, how does she maintain her focus and a sense of cohesion? “It all works together for me,” Brown says, “because it's pretty much authentic, and it's marrying, finally, really what I believe in.”

Why She Never Wants to Build Another Billion-Dollar Brand

With Brown’s hard-earned success and elite status comes perhaps the greatest privilege any entrepreneur can obtain: the power to say no to otherwise enticing opportunities. She says many of her friends in venture capital have asked her, “How many millions do you want?” in an eager bid to invest in her projects—regardless of what those projects are.

“Look, it's very tempting,” Brown says of the investment offers. “But I don't want it.”

For entrepreneurs who have pounded down the doors of VCs hoping to snag just one investor, that outlook may be difficult to understand. But for Brown, it’s all about freedom.

“I don't want to have to report to anyone,” she says. “I don’t want to sit in meetings.”

While many tout the venture model of forgoing profitability now in order to borrow money, spend it on growth, and sell the company later, that’s not Brown’s style. If she were to sell 500 bottles of vitamins, for example, she says she would reinvest the profits by ordering 1,000 more bottles and keep growing incrementally from there.

“I'm very simple-minded,” she says. “I know it makes no sense, but I really do believe in making a profit.”

So, for now, she’s content to bootstrap, even if that means slower growth or a smaller business. “I never want another billion-dollar brand. … I never want to go that big again because the headaches that come with it are not worth the rewards.”

Reflecting on the expansion of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, she calls the first 15 to 17 years “amazing,” but says that as the company grew, her control over it diminished. “I'm not the boss anymore,” she says, “which is why I'm not there.”

Beauty, Glam, and Instagram

So if Brown is hesitant to grow her new businesses too big or too fast, and still wants to be able to call the shots, what is her plan for growth? A lot of it revolves around working her connections—especially the connection to her audience.

Back when Brown launched her career as a professional makeup artist, and even later as a cosmetics line founder, there was no such thing as social media or ecommerce. To get her products off the ground, she started mailing out lipsticks until one day, a New York department store agreed to carry them. In the digital age, when brands have direct access to consumers online, Brown is thriving.

“The internet is an amazing place for people to go on and really look and find the community they need,” she says. “Whatever you're going through, there is a support group for that. There are people teaching and empowering.”

Brown is active on Instagram (in fact, she manages at least four accounts), where you can find anything from the announcement of her latest probiotic product to photos of her recent trip to Paris. On Facebook, she hosts a weekly live broadcast where she interviews everyone from Gary Vaynerchuk to her Aunt Alice. And the best part? These episodes don’t cost her a thing; they’re shot on her smartphone.

“There are so many ways for people to start their own brands,” she says. “There's a lot to teach and a lot to learn.”

Making It Up as She Goes

By this point, Brown may seem unstoppable. But she’ll be the first to tell you that accepting her weaknesses has made her a stronger entrepreneur by forcing her to embrace her strengths, and get help with everything else. It’s similar to her approach to cosmetics. As a makeup artist, Brown refuses to hide clients’ “flaws,” preferring instead to accentuate their natural beauty.

“It's such a sign of strength for someone to know what they're not good at,” she says. “And I think a lot of…people starting to be entrepreneurs think they could do everything, and you can't.”

For instance, Brown doesn’t know how to type—but she’s written nine books. At times, she gave an assistant her handwritten notes and had them transfer them to digital; other times, she had writers interview her and take the information down for Brown to edit. “What you're not good at, find someone that is and tell them what to do.”

Her sharp sense of self-awareness was honed from a young age. Growing up, she struggled in school and didn’t have access to tutoring. “Either my parents punished me or they said, ‘Oh well, she'll never be a secretary.’ They were right…because I dropped out of typing because I couldn't figure it out.”

From those early experiences, she learned a valuable lesson. “I had to figure out, like, almost coping mechanisms. I don't know if I had learning disabilities. I wasn't good at something, but I knew I had to do this.”

When conforming to convention didn’t work for her, Brown would develop her own distinct approach. For example, the first time she wrote a book, she followed the rules: write the book, edit it, then source the photos. But it was extremely difficult for her. So with her last couple of books, she did photo shoots first, then put the book together based on the photos, then had the writers write. “I drove my publishers crazy,” she says. But for her, it worked better.

So if there’s something essential you don’t know how to do? “Figure it out,” Brown says. “That’s my only advice.”

Happiness Never Goes Out of Style

In many ways, Brown has been a contrarian in an industry that is notoriously cookie-cutter. And maybe that’s been the key to her success. While she used to compare herself to the supermodels she worked with, she’s learned to be comfortable in her own skin. When people told her things had to be done in a certain way, she forged ahead with her own process and succeeded. But even with her many accomplishments, Brown doesn’t subscribe to any notion of perfection or “having it all.”

“I'm not tall and blond and athletic, which I always wanted to be,” she says. “I can't sing. I can't draw. But I have a sense of humor, and I have a lot of friends. I've been married 30 years…I have three amazing boys that I adore…and I've been able to be an entrepreneur.”

“Is that having it all?” Brown says. “No—there’s no all. But I'm happy with what I have.”

Key Takeaways

  • Why Brown never wants to create another billion-dollar brand
  • Her philosophy on what makes entrepreneurs strong
  • What she believes is the ultimate secret to lasting beauty
  • How to accept your weaknesses as an entrepreneur and forge ahead in spite of them

Direct download: FP226_Bobbi_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:15am AEDT

Welcome to part two of our two-part podcast series that’s shining the spotlight on successful entrepreneurs who hail right from our very own Foundr community!

If you haven’t listened to part one featuring Gavin Symes, you can check it out right here.

Today, we talk with Danielle Roberts and Shea Kucenski, courageous entrepreneurs who started a marketing agency while working full-time jobs. Roberts and Kucenski took all the action steps laid out in the Consulting Empire course and in two months took their business from slow and stagnant to closing 20% of all proposals, doubling their earnings, and reaching their first $10,000 month.

In this inspiring interview, you will hear about Roberts and Kucenski’s journey to success, how they overcame their perfectionism and fear of failure, and how they land high-paying clients while managing busy schedules.

We are extremely proud of Danielle and Shea’s achievements and we are happy to share their amazing story with you!

ATTENTION: If you want to learn how to start and scale a service-based business like Danielle and Shea, whether you are a consultant, coach, or freelancer, agency founder Sabri Suby reveals all of his golden strategies (the exact ones he used to scale from zero to $10 million) in our Consulting Empire online course.

We only open enrollment a couple of times a year for a limited time, and it's open for just one more day this week! Check out the Consulting Empire course before we close the doors again.

Key Takeaways

  • How to push past the fear of failure and start moving the needle for your client-services business
  • Roberts and Kucenski's main focus that helps them seal the deal when they prospect for clients
  • How they manage their busy schedules (they both have full-time jobs) and keep the business running smoothly
  • How to get started consulting or freelancing and get your first client
Direct download: FP225_Danielle_Roberts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:48am AEDT

The Foundr community is full of passionate people from all walks of life, in the trenches daily doing what it takes to make their startup dreams a reality. In this week’s podcast, we want to highlight one of these entrepreneurs we’re especially proud of—Gavin Symes of The Foundry Group.

In part one of this two-part podcast series, we talked with Consulting Empire student Gavin Symes, who advanced his business growth and management skills to create a profitable consulting business.

Symes took all the action steps laid out in the Consulting Empire course—from validating his service to developing a lead-gen machine—and built his consulting business from scratch. Three-and-a-half months into the course, he closed 10 clients and generated over $50,000 of monthly revenue. He plans on scaling to $1 million this year and then to $10 million in three years.

In this inspiring interview, you will hear about Symes’ own journey to success, the biggest problems most businesses face when scaling, and how to set up processes to overcome common business growth challenges.

We are extremely proud of Gavin’s achievements and we are happy to share his amazing story with you!

ATTENTION: If you want to learn how to start and scale a service-based business like Gavin, whether you are a consultant, coach or freelancer, agency founder Sabri Suby reveals all of his golden strategies (the exact ones he used to scale from zero to $10 million) in our Consulting Empire online course. We only open enrollment a couple of times a year for a limited time.  Get on the free VIP waitlist here to be one of the first we notify when we re-open!

Key Takeaways

  • The top problems most entrepreneurs face as they scale their businesses
  • The one thing that can derail your business if you let it (it has nothing to do with sales or customers)
  • The very first thing to do if you want to start a freelance or consulting business
  • How to create business playbooks to fast-track your growth
Direct download: FP224_Gavin_Symes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:49am AEDT

New to the US from Pakistan, Syed Balkhi was a lonely and isolated 12-year-old. Unable to speak English fluently, he took to communicating with new friends—computers—and quickly found comfort interacting with these non-human companions. Soon Balkhi was learning how to code and build websites, and that very same year he made his first dollar from a website he created.

Now 27, Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the first and largest WordPress resource website in the world, and co-founder of many accompanying businesses. He was also named a top entrepreneur under the age of 30 by the United Nations, his websites receive millions of monthly pageviews each month, and his software runs on nearly 8 million sites serving billions of monthly impressions.

Listen in as Balkhi takes you through the early years of his entrepreneurial journey and how, brick by brick, he built his empire.

Key Takeaways

  • How Balkhi decides which versions of existing software to acquire and improve
  • Why managing four products independently helps his team increase focus and output
  • How to build a business, one small step at a time
  • The key factor behind his companies' explosive growth
Direct download: FP223_Syed_Balkhi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:57am AEDT

 Tobi Skovron, Founder,

Dog toilets and co-working spaces? An unlikely pairing. But if you talk to Tobi Skovron, you'll find they have one thing in common—they inspired him to create two passion-filled businesses and realize his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.

Skovron walked away from a promising career in medicine to pursue entrepreneurship, even though he had no idea what business he wanted to run. It wasn’t until Skovron got a dog that he came upon an idea that would take Australia by storm—an indoor dog toilet called Pet Loo. Piggybacking off of the success in Australia, Skovron decided to expand into the US market. He quickly faced a lot of challenges, however, since he made the move right as the 2008 recession hit. Skovron lost half his money right away.

Starting over in Los Angeles, he realized the spare bedroom in his Venice Beach apartment was not the ideal environment for him to breathe life into his US expansion, so he joined a co-working space to rekindle his inspiration. There, Skovron realized a new passion for this collaborative environment, which ultimately led him to his next project.

Skovron sold Pet Loo and started, a hotel-like co-working environment that houses a curated community of passionate people. We here at Foundr have even used to shoot many of our course videos!

These days, Skovron's less interested in financial return, and more interested in providing quality experiences and fostering an environment of positivity and creativity. Listen in and get inspired by this journey from aspiring entrepreneur to two-time founder.

Key Takeaways

  • How the idea for Pet Loo became a reality (it was his wife's idea)
  • The 10-year journey of designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling Pet Loo
  • How Skovron’s love of the co-working landscape led to the creation of his second successful product
  • Why Skovron won’t scale his business for the sake of scaling
Direct download: FP222_Tobi_Skovron.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:09am AEDT

Welcome to our newest podcast format, video interviews! You can expect more of this format in the coming months. Subscribe to our YouTube channel here to be notified when we publish new videos.

Today I had the pleasure of sitting down with the co-founders of Quad Lock, a mounting device to securely attach your smartphone to your bike, car, motorcycle, arm or in any situation where you need a hands-free moment. These guys are killing it with $9 million in yearly earnings in only four years!

This was a phenomenal interview, as Peters and Ward gave us 45 minutes of pure gold on how they built a strong brand reputation and high-quality product, how they manufacture their products in China, how they got started as a simple Kickstarter project, and so much more.

They also discuss brand longevity, how to become trendsetters, and how they overcame their biggest scaling challenges. If you want to learn how to build a long-lasting brand and scale your physical-products business, this is an interview you don’t want to miss!

Key Takeaways

  • What you need to build a physical-products brand with a strong reputation
  • Why Kickstarter is a good way to introduce your brand to the market, as long as you do it right
  • How to get started and maintain manufacturing out of China
  • Quad Lock's biggest challenges around scaling, and how they have overcome them
  • Quad Lock’s philosophy on hiring A-players
Direct download: FP221_Quad_Lock.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:37am AEDT

Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg started their business as good friends on a couch, with nothing but their laptops and a healthy dose of hustle. Today, their millennial women-focused media company theSkimm serves seven million daily subscribers, employs 70 people, and boasts more than 30,000 enthusiastic brand ambassadors.

The company also just closed a round of Series C funding led by GV (formerly Google Ventures) and a group of mainly female investors—including the likes of Shonda Rhimes, Tyra Banks, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely.

Weisberg and Zakin have maintained a close friendship and strong collaboration throughout their six years in business. This dynamic forms the backbone of their company and sets the tone for daily operations, which is largely focused on supporting and empowering women.

In this interview, learn about the early days of theSkimm, the power of community and connection, and how the brand monetizes its content to build a sustainable media business.

The company publishes news that fits into the daily routines of its members, continually nodding to its mission statement of making it easier for people to live smarter, more connected lives. But if you ask us, these powerful founders are the smart ones, effectively proving the mantra, “We are all stronger when we work together.”

Key Takeaways

  • How and why they waited two and a half years to monetize their community of loyal followers
  • How they monetize their content with multiple income streams to build a sustainable, well-rounded business
  • Details of the Skimm’bassadors program and why it has grown so rapidly
  • Zakin and Weisberg’s top tips for growing a content-based business
Direct download: FP220_The_Skimm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:15am AEDT

Mike Michalowicz appeared to have everything an entrepreneur could want—big companies and lots of revenue coming in. But things aren’t always as they seem. As Michalowicz was high on fleeting indicators of success, his businesses were leaking profits. “I got caught up in the vanity metrics…how big my business was revenue-wise and how big my business was people-wise,” Michalowicz says.

After feeling the sting of and two failed investments and losing millions, Michalowicz found himself struggling with depression—along with a realization that ignorance and arrogance were a deadly combination. Thankfully, with support from friends and a rekindling of his love of writing, Michalowicz was able to pull himself out of the ashes and rebuild his career—this time with heart and soul.

Michalowicz used writing as a way to find solutions to all of the biggest challenges he faced as a founder. His books Profit First, Pumpkin Plan, and Clockwork tackle managing cash, business growth, and automating a company, respectively. His next book will focus on how entrepreneurs can serve a greater purpose and make an impact on the world.

Listen in and get inspired as Michalowicz gets brutally honest about his own struggles, and shares years of lessons learned to empower other entrepreneurs.

Key Takeaways

  • The actions that led Michalowicz to lose millions and hit rock bottom
  • How Michalowicz found his niche and rebuilt his career after 10 failed companies
  • Why working too hard can signal a lack of efficiency
  • How to manage cash and avoid spending money you don’t have
Direct download: FP219_Mike_Michalowicz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:28am AEDT

“It took me 10 years [to create my own business], because I didn’t have the courage to start. But I still had this belief that one day I would start it.”

Fortunately for Aytekin Tank and 3.7 million happy users, he ultimately did start that business—JotForm, a profitable online form builder that houses 12 million forms; integrates with Paypal, Salesforce, and Dropbox; and spans two continents.

It took Tank a decade to build that business, but he couldn't care less. In an entrepreneurial climate where rapid growth and risk-taking are worn as badges of honor, Tank considers his slow growth the reason for his strong company culture and long-term success.

Concerned that your wariness or risk aversion hinders your ability to become an entrepreneur? Listen in and get inspired by Tank’s journey. Anything is possible if you just take the plunge and then keep moving forward—no matter the pace.

Key Takeaways

  • How Tank has been able to grow consistently even though he started with zero management experience
  • The friendly company culture Tank built and why it has become so successful
  • Why Tank believes his slow and steady approach to growth has led to so much success
  • Tank’s three steps to slow and sustainable growth
Direct download: FP218_Aytekin_Tank.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:49am AEDT

Scott Belsky, Behance founder, investor, and author of the new book The Messy Middle, is a strong believer in putting in the hard work and then finishing strong. His nine-figure exit from Behance is a testament to this tenacity and determination.

Behance came with its own set of challenges, but Belsky learned over the years that when it seems like things are falling apart, it could mean victory is right around the corner. Your near-meltdown might just be your “messy middle," and sometimes being successful simply means sticking together as a team long enough to figure it out. A labor of love will often work out in the end, even if it's not how you expect.

In this thought-provoking interview, Belsky shares his own “messy middle" from his time with Behance, and some of his best wisdom on product-market fit, perseverance, and startup culture. We were thrilled to get the chance to talk to Scott. There’s a ton of gold in this interview, so don’t miss it!

Key Takeaways

  • Two guiding principles on whether to stick it out or shut it down
  • Why Belsky is wary of the MVP craze, and how to balance perfectionism with action
  • Three tips for finding true product-market fit
  • How to create a startup culture that attracts and retains the right people
  • Why Belsky started Behance and what inspired his progress
Direct download: FP217_Scott_Belsky.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:58am AEDT

“Ninety-eight percent of landing pages are just plain bad.”

This is what Unbounce founder Oli Gardner declared when he began his public speaking circuit four years ago. A bold statement, but he would know.

As co-founder of the landing page software builder, which pulls in $20 million in annual revenue, Gardner confidently claims he has seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet—nearly 100,000 to be exact. These days, he's leveraging his immense knowledge on the topic to help businesses drive more leads and revenue, through Unbounce and as a speaker.

In this interview, learn about the history of Unbounce, Gardner’s top tips for becoming a better marketer, and his golden advice on how to create a landing page that gets his seal of approval.

ATTENTION: We are excited to announce that Oli has partnered with the Foundr School of Entrepreneurship to teach a powerful course, Landing Page Formula. If you want to learn the principles of conversion-center design and get a step-by-step blueprint on how to construct a high-converting landing page (templates included), Oli reveals his proven framework in this in-depth course.  We only offer open enrollment a couple of times a year, for a limited time. Get on the FREE VIP waitlist here to be one of the first we notify when we open.

Key Takeaways

  • The history of Unbounce and how the company rose to prominence
  • How to make a landing page that impresses Oli Gardner
  • Gardner’s top three tips to becoming a better marketer
Direct download: FP216_Oli_Gardner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:58am AEDT

Stuart McKeown started his entrepreneurial career as a college dropout, had a short-lived stint as a DJ, and then lost thousands of dollars on his first startup attempt. But he's nothing if not persistent. McKeown is now a growth marketing and list-building master and the co-founder of, a growth-focused platform used by more than 20,000 brands a month.

The secret to McKeown’s success? He never believed failure was something to be feared, but rather a means to gather the information he needed to grow.

In this interview, learn how McKeown overcame his setbacks to build a powerful platform and brand, how he establishes work/life balance for himself and his employees, and his top four tips for running a viral competition.

McKeown may not have become a world famous DJ, but by staying true to himself and striking out fearlessly despite unforeseen obstacles, he has built a brand to be proud of—a gleaming beacon of success.

ATTENTION: We are also excited to announce that Stuart has partnered with Foundr to teach an epic course, List-Building Mastery. If you want a step-by-step strategy on how to explode your email list from scratch, get your first 10,000+ subscribers, and scale to 60,000 and more, Stuart reveals all of his proven strategies in this in-depth, tactical course. We only open enrollment a couple of times a year for a limited time. Get on the FREE VIP waitlist here to be one of the first we notify when we open.

Key Takeaways:

  • Four tips for running a viral competition
  • Why building a product that relies on someone else’s infrastructure can spell disaster
  • McKeown’s low-key and casual philosophy on work/life balance
  • How and why failure is necessary for success
Direct download: FP215_Stuart_McKeown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:22am AEDT

Andy Rachleff is not just a product expert; he literally coined the term “product-market fit.”

Wealthfront CEO, former VC backing companies such as eBay, Uber, and Twitter, and technology entrepreneurship instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Rachleff has a wealth of knowledge on creating and scaling powerful companies. I was excited to have the chance to pick his brain on everything from product-market fit, to how he started his company Wealthfront, to how he hires the best of the best to join his team.

In this interview, you will gain access to a true master, who has enjoyed a long career of investing in legendary companies and now gives back to today’s entrepreneurs and investors. Rachleff started his company Wealthfront, an automated investment service that manages $11 billion in assets, as a way to perform a social good by democratizing sophisticated financial advice. In our discussion, he was kind enough to divulge some of his wins and losses and top lessons learned in his storied entrepreneurial career. Enjoy!

Key Takeaways

  • How to know when you’ve reached product-market fit
  • The process Rachleff follows every time he builds a new product
  • How to know when it’s the right time to launch a new product (or let go of a failing one)
  • How to maintain a close-knit startup culture as the company grows
  • Why perseverance does not lead to success in technology (and what does)
  • What type of people he looks for and the three biggest things that make people to want to join his team

Key Resources From Our Interview With Andy Rachleff

  • Follow Andy on Twitter
  • Learn more about Wealthfront here
Direct download: FP214_Andy_Rachleff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:40pm AEDT

You may know former Moz CEO Rand Fishkin from his characteristic curly mustache, Whiteboard Friday videos, or his SEO mastery. But this interview isn’t about linking, Google rankings, or gray-hat practices. Or mustaches.

In our chat with Fishkin, he opens up about his battle with depression and how it has shaped his past decisions and guided his current ventures. He sympathizes with the many entrepreneurs who have also succumbed to loneliness and wondered why their business success wasn’t enough to make them happy.

Fishkin also talks about his new book, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World. In it, he shares the conversations entrepreneurs have about their challenges and hardships, whether personal or in their businesses. Fishkin also shares details on his new software project and why he decided to venture into another startup.

If you want to be inspired, encouraged, and take away some great advice from a long-time founder, don’t miss this interview. We hope you find it as moving as we did!

Key Takeaways

  • Why striving to emulate Silicon Valley startup culture can negatively affect your business growth
  • How and why Moz’s customer acquisition costs went down after laying off half of his marketing team
  • How to know when to sacrifice profit for growth
  • The dark side of entrepreneurial leadership
Direct download: FP213_Rand_Fishkin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:26am AEDT

We are always blown away by the success stories within the Foundr community, and we take every opportunity we can to shine the spotlight on them.

In today's podcast, I am thrilled to present to you three of our Start & Scale ecommerce course students who are absolutely crushing it! I got to sit down with each one and ask them how they got started with their businesses, what challenges they faced, and what successes they are now enjoying.

You will hear from:

Adam Hendle

Adam is the founder of men’s personal care product line, Ball Wash. Adam started his ecommerce journey only eight short months ago and has already made more than $1 million in revenue.

Shamanth Pereira

Shamanth is a busy mother who created a new leggings product, and put it to the test with a pre-sale Kickstarter campaign. In a short time, she received nearly £50,000 from more than 1,500 backers. Shamanth is in the process of fulfilling those orders and putting her shop online full time.

Monique and Chevalo Wilsondebriano

Monique and Chevalo run Charleston Gourmet Burger, which was already a $200,000-per-month business, but had yet to reach its potential in online sales. Their goal was turn their website into an online store so they could generate more sales. In two months, they earned nearly $22,000 and attracted 9,110 visits to their website.

We couldn’t be happier for these guys and are proud to be part of their journeys. Please join me in congratulating them. Way to go!

Key Takeaways

  • Go behind the scenes to learn how three ecommerce stores became successful
  • Discover the two primary marketing channels Ball Wash leveraged that allowed them to scale so fast
  • How Shamanth conceptualized and developed her winning product idea
  • The learning curve for Chevalo and Monique as they transitioned their product to sell online
Direct download: FP212_SS_Student_Spotlight.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:36am AEDT

While he always had a passion for entrepreneurship, Shane Snow started his career as a freelance journalist, and during that time noticed how many of his peers were struggling to market themselves and find work. This frustration fueled his desire to develop the global content marketing platform, Contently. Contently is a unified content marketing solution for the world’s biggest enterprise brands, and it’s also a tremendous source of income for creative freelancers. By Snow’s best estimates, Contently has paid out more than $46 million (and counting) to freelancers around the globe.

As successful as his time at Contently has been, Snow never stopped being a writer at heart, and now he's back at it. He recently hired a CMO for Contently and became “founder-at-large,” relieving himself of the day-to-day management and freeing up his time to reunite with his first career love.

Today, you can find Snow promoting his soon-to-be-published book, Dream Teams, and otherwise sharing his expertise on team building and storytelling for founders. In this interview, Snow shares his journey to the top of the entrepreneurial mountain and back home again, along with his best advice learned from a seven-year reign at Contently.

Key Takeaways

  • The two realizations Snow had that sparked the idea for Contently
  • How Snow transitioned out of his role as founder and returned back to his former love of journalism
  • Snow's counterintuitive advice on team building and how it relates to innovation
  • One of the most important things we can do as leaders and team members to build relationships

Key Resources From Our Interview With Shane Snow

Direct download: FP211_Shane_Snow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:52pm AEDT

Hiten Shah has a killer track record when comes to creating software products. He and his co-founders have built several multimillion-dollar releases, including Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics, and many of their features were the first of their kind to hit the industry.

It might seem like Shah has stumbled onto a secret formula for software-building success. But to him, it’s simply a matter of creating what his audience wants. Solving a problem is the biggest determinant of a software’s success, and Shah builds this methodology into every new piece he creates.

In this informative interview, Shah shares the details behind his process, from planning the software build and ensuring a market fit, to hiring the right people to bring it to life. As an avid mentor and advisor, Shah also answers our own, real world questions about future software builds for Foundr. Listen in and get inspired!

Key Takeaways

  • Learn about Shah’s newest software products to hit the market
  • The secret to building a profitable software product (it starts long before the first line of code is written)
  • How to avoid building something nobody wants
  • When to hire internally and when to outsource when building a SaaS product
  • Where most product managers go wrong during development
  • How to prevent your software tool from getting too bloated and overcomplicated

Key Resources

  • Sign up for Shah's newsletter here
Direct download: FP210_Hiten_Shah.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:47am AEDT

It only took six hours for Asher Tan and Ryan Zhou to put together the incubator pitch for CoinJar, a vision for a next-gen personal finance account that would capitalize on the growing interest in bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Five years later, CoinJar is a leading digital currency platform in Australia and the self-proclaimed “fastest way to access your money from anywhere in the world.” CoinJar’s users can spend, send, and trade their bitcoins, dollars, and pounds globally.

Despite the major challenges that come with scaling in a global market, the company has been profitable for the past three years. In this insightful interview, these brave founders share how they overcome scaling challenges, their next products to hit the market, and their top tips for entrepreneurs interested in creating fintech startups. Enjoy!

Key Takeaways

  • The specific challenges that come with scaling in a volatile market
  • Why prioritizing word-of-mouth marketing wins over other advertising channels in this industry
  • The duo's next products to hit the market
  • Tan and Zhou’s top tips for fintech startups
Direct download: FP209_Tan_Zhou.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:17am AEDT

For Pura Vida co-founders Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman, a chance meeting with two Native jewelry artisans on a beach in Costa Rica sparked an idea that would forever change their lives. They're now running a rapidly growing brand that not only inspires tremendous customer loyalty, but also promotes products that give back in a big way.

Pura Vida (which means “pure life” in Spanish) has grown rapidly since its inception, but this isn’t the brand’s most appealing aspect. Customers also love the company, because it has provided sustainable jobs to 350+ jewelry artisans worldwide, and donated more than $1.5 million to charities using proceeds from its products.

In this inspiring interview, learn how Pura Vida has leveraged influencer marketing and social media to spread its brand message and create a global movement of loyal customers. Matching creative social strategies with a passionate mission has made this brand a massive success and we are proud to feature them. Way to go Pura Vida!

Key Takeaways

  • The company's unique micro-infuencer marketing program that forms the backbone of their promotional marketing campaigns
  • The monthly subscription club that is the fastest-growing part of the business
  • The strategies behind the company’s high customer engagement
  • How Pura Vida creates a culture and lasting experiences that contribute to customer loyalty
Direct download: FP208_Griffin_Thall.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am AEDT

I’m excited to share a very special interview with you today! Mitchell Harper has been my long-time mentor and coach and a driving force behind Foundr’s success. I’m thrilled to share his story with you so you can glean some entrepreneurial gold from his experience.

Harper started his entrepreneurial journey as a software developer, building games as early as 12 years old. He built his first businesses in his teens and sold his first company around the time he graduated high school.

Partnering with another developer in 2003, Harper created Interspire, a suite of software tools for businesses, and grew it to $10 million in revenue in four years. The company eventually became BigCommerce, now one of the web's premier shopping cart platforms. BigCommerce has raised $250 million in its short lifetime, recently hit $100 million in annual recurring revenue, and the company is still growing.

While his big career wins might suggest otherwise, Harper says he is risk-averse and doesn’t believe entrepreneurs need to be big risk takers to achieve high levels of success. He prefers taking the safe route and reveals his strategies for building high impact, low-risk businesses. In this inspiring interview, Harper also shares how he battled with depression and what his journey to wholeness taught him about work/life balance.

I’m so privileged and lucky to have Mitch as a mentor and to introduce him to our Foundr family. Please listen in and get inspired by the man who has been an integral part of Foundr’s success!

Key Takeaways

  • Why timing is critical when securing investors, from seizing the opportunity early on to waiting long enough to mitigate risk
  • Mitch’s top book recommendation for entrepreneurs looking to raise capital
  • Why entrepreneurs don’t need to “risk it all” to become successful
  • Mitch’s battle with depression and how he altered his life to avoid burnout and achieve work/life balance
  • The power of an A-player team to grow companies
Direct download: FP207_Mitch_Harper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am AEDT

Lynda Weinman sold her 20-year company to LinkedIn for $1.5 billion. What is she doing now? She is reinventing herself and enjoying her new role as a champion of independent film.

Weinman is no stranger to the concept of reinvention. In fact, it's that very spirit of constant evolution that led her to become a trailblazer in the online education space, and to ultimately make a massive exit.

Her journey started with a career in animation and special effects, of all things, and even included running a punk store on L.A.’s Sunset Strip. She continued to pivot, until her creative endeavors eventually led her to education, and a business model that allowed her to teach thousands of laypeople about complex tech topics.

The company started as a brick-and-mortar classroom, but after the economic decline that followed the tragic terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Weinman was forced to take Lynda in a new direction. To weather the economic storm, she transitioned to the online subscription business model of’s growth was slow going until social media gained ground in 2006, a movement that helped catapult her company's revenue to $40 million and beyond. Even though Weinman never thought about selling, when the offer came in, she knew she had to pull the trigger.

Working relentlessly on Lynda for the past 20 years and now in her early 60s, Weinman has set her sights on a new course. She's now the president of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and invests in independent filmmakers using charitable grants. In this interview, Weinman shares the journey that led to her $1.5 billion exit, how and why she has continued reinventing herself, and her top advice for entrepreneurs.

Key Takeaways

  • The emotions that accompany the process of letting go of a 20-year company in three short months
  • Why it may not be wise to focus on churn rate and what to focus on instead
  • Why getting investors can be a wise choice if you are planning on selling your company
  • Lynda Weinman’s three top tips for entrepreneurs
Direct download: FP206_Lynda_Weinman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:41pm AEDT

A health crisis that landed Munjal Shah in the ER turned out to be the catalyst for his next mission: making the world a healthier place.
On the day Munjal Shah started running a 10K race back in 2010, he was on top of the world. Just the day before, he had sold his company to Google, marking his second successful exit.

Then the chest pains started. Shah wound up in the ER, and while it didn’t end up being a heart attack, the incident was a sobering reminder that his own father had had one while in his 40s. It was a wake-up call for Shah, who was 37 at the time. He started focusing on his health, lost 40 pounds, and decided his next entrepreneurial endeavor would make the world a healthier place.

“People always say, ‘Go find your mission,’” Shah says. He’s now the founder of a new and growing insurance startup called Health IQ, which encourages healthy behavior by taking a data-driven approach to its coverage. “I would say my mission found me.”

Key Takeaways

  • The journey that led to two successful exits (one was with Google)
  • The unconventional, non-scalable hiring methods that led Shah to build A-player teams
  • How Shah discovered his mission and how this fuels his startup’s success
  • Shah’s top advice for founders looking to raise a round of financing
  • When and how to pivot: the key to Shah’s successful track record
  • Shah’s top tips for busy entrepreneurs (it has nothing to do with meetings, investors, or customers)
Direct download: FP205_Munjal_Shah.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:55pm AEDT

In business, in life, and even behind the wheel of his actual race car, Mike Dillard goes from zero to 60 in the blink of an eye.

In stark contrast to his calm voice and introverted nature, Dillard is a pioneer willing to crash through boundaries and challenge common wisdom. He just prefers to do it through the written word, rather than grand speeches or face-to-face encounters.

The core principle driving Dillard’s pedal-to-the-metal attitude? He deeply believes in the power of one person to change their community, their industry, and maybe even the world. “I approach life with a core belief that anyone can accomplish anything,” his website bio reads. “That not only can one man or woman make a difference, but that it’s one man or woman who always makes the difference.”

Key Takeaways

  • How Dillard leveraged his introverted nature to find success in an extrovert-driven world
  • The biggest crash of Dillard’s career, which cost him $12 million in revenue overnight
  • The one thing Dillard needs to build a business (it has nothing to do with money)
  • The mission and purpose that has guided Dillard (through the bad times) to build the business of his dreams
Direct download: FP204_Mike_Dillard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:03pm AEDT

Dmitry Dragilev has a typical entrepreneurial story, but maybe a little more extreme. Bored in his dead-end, corporate job, he was fearful of ending up like his older, unsatisfied peers. One day, Dragilev read in a magazine about what was going on in Silicon Valley, and up and quit.

He sold everything he owned, hopped in his car, and made his way to California. Equipped only with a knowledge of coding and a drive to succeed, Dragilev had made a decision that changed the rest of his life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dragilev's unique growth marketing approach for building sustainable, consistent traffic
  • How to build quality relationships with journalists to increase your brand's exposure
  • How Dragilev helped two companies skyrocket sales with two PR strategies
  • The quick website fix that resulted in a two-second improvement in user session time
Direct download: FP203_Dmitry_Dragilev.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37am AEDT

The Comeback Kid

In 2013, Eric Siu bought a failing SEO agency for two dollars. Today, he’s built it into a digital marketing powerhouse that serves giants of the tech industry.

These days, Eric Siu rubs elbows with the internet marketing elite, hosting a popular podcast with online guru Neil Patel, and leading the successful agency Single Grain, which boasts clients like Uber, Amazon, and Salesforce.

But go back about six years, and Eric Siu was just a 25-year-old new hire entrusted with the monumental task of saving a tanking company.

“A month into it, the CEO pulls me aside,” Siu recalls, “and he's like, ‘Eric, you know, 48 people, their families, they're riding on your shoulders right now, and if you can't hit numbers in the next month, we're gonna have to let you go.’”

Siu had taken a job leading the marketing for education startup Treehouse. He loved the product and the team, but he had no idea the revenues were stagnant. It hadn’t hit its numbers goals in the last two years, and when Siu came onboard, the company had only five or six months of cash left in the bank.

“I was like, ‘Oh, man. We're gonna go down, and it's me that's kind of responsible for revenue growth because it's a subscription-based product.’”

After seeing some traction on Treehouse’s YouTube account, Siu took a gamble and put all the company’s budget into YouTube advertising. This was 2012, and Facebook ads hadn’t quite taken off. And for Treehouse, which teaches video courses on coding and web design, YouTube was a natural fit. Siu began bidding on promising keywords, and the team created an inspirational video ad inspired by Apple’s slick aesthetic.

“We just started cranking out a bunch of sign-ups that way,” Siu says. “The price point wasn't that bad, and so things started to really blow up there.”

From there, Siu fired their PR agency and started working with one that was paid for performance. By the time he left Treehouse, Siu says he’d helped take the company from about 500 new subscribers a month to between 3,500 and 4,000. Now, Treehouse sees $15 million in annual revenue, according to a March 2018 Mixergy interview with CEO Ryan Carson. “So they're fantastic now,” Siu says. “They're just building on top of everything that they're doing.”

That may sound like an exceptional comeback, but it was only the beginning for Siu. From there he embarked on a career of getting into tight spots, taking risks, sometimes failing, and then making comebacks, all culminating in the success of his digital marketing agency.

Lose Money Now, Make Much More Later

It’s important to note that, while Treehouse was bringing in more customers, it wasn’t profitable in the short term. That gets to an important concept that Siu believes isn’t talked about enough, but has been an important one in his work to breathe new life into companies—the payback period.

They payback period is the length of time required to recover the cost on an investment. According to Siu, mastering the payback period can mean the difference between a quick, small ROI, and building a company with a huge payday.

For SaaS businesses, payback period tends to be long, with some companies not breaking even on an investment until 18 months out. But if they look at the long term, they know they can make back way more than that initial investment if they’re patient, understand the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer, and know their numbers well.

In episode 551 of their Marketing School podcast, Siu and Patel talk about the difference between seven-figure versus nine-figure businesses. Seven-figure businesses want a return on investment right away. Nine-figure businesses, however, are willing to lose money at first because they know the lifetime value of their customers.

Siu points to ClickFunnels as a great example of how understanding payback period can pay off in the long run. The marketing funnels software company is completely bootstrapped and reached $60 million in annual recurring revenue in 2017.

“The reason they're able to do that is because they have their numbers locked down,” he explains. “They are willing to perhaps even break even or lose money on the front end, right? So let's say when they first acquire an email or even a free trial in the beginning, they're going to lose money, but they know that their funnel in the backend is so locked down that they can upsell people on, you know, their mastermind or other bundles, things like that.”

Siu gives a hypothetical example too: Let’s say it costs you $1,200 to acquire a customer who pays $100 a month. The payback period, then, is 12 months. But if you can find a way to increase that price to $300 a month, you’re looking at a payback period that takes one-third the time. With the extra cash from the monthly recurring revenue of that customer, you can reinvest in your company to grow it faster. That’s why Siu emphasizes the importance of getting your pricing right. In fact, he says if he could go back to his Treehouse days, he would increase prices.

The Single Grain Salvage

Before he even hit the one-year mark with Treehouse, Siu set his sights on the next rescue mission: a failing SEO agency where Neil Patel was a partner. Armed with the marketing chops he honed at Treehouse, Siu was up for the challenge.

“But going to a company that I thought had a lot of problems,” he says, “that I thought was a house of cards, that I thought was going to be in big trouble—that was a different challenge.”

And even though he wasn’t thrilled to return to the agency world, the gamer in Siu saw it as a fun opportunity. “I thought the challenge of saving a stagnant company was really interesting because...I just see every challenge as, like, the game, right? It's just fun to play.”

At the time, Single Grain was an SEO agency with four partners. When Siu came onboard, he says the company was doing about $1.1 million a year, relying completely on SEO services, mainly link building for clients. But then the Google Penguin update happened, decimating Single Grain’s efforts.

“The work that the company was doing was no longer having an effect,” Siu says, “so customers just started churning left and right, and that's when we had to basically make a change. And that's when I popped in.”

But Siu had his work cut out for him. This time around, it wasn’t just marketing. He was in charge of operations too, and the company needed to get some processes in place. “Basically, when I came in, everything was on fire.”

Siu had to lay some people off because their roles were no longer relevant after the Google update. He then turned the company’s efforts to content marketing as the next logical step. Upon a recommendation, he hired a head of content marketing, which ended up being a mistake.

“This person was actually really toxic and caused four of our clients to leave,” he says. After that, two employees quit and morale was low.

Even though things had gone from bad to worse, Siu hung on.

The $2 Buyout

So let’s take stock of just where Siu was at in 2013: He was hired to resuscitate a dying company, he had to lay off employees, he hired the wrong person for a key role, his employees’ morale was low, and oh yeah, he had to take out a personal loan just to make payroll.

“I didn't know what the hell I was doing,” Siu says. “And I think a lot of times when it comes to business, or just when you're starting out, honestly, I think it's okay to say you don't know what you're doing.”

And then, leadership started to cave. One of the partners admitted to Siu that he wanted out, and the other three agreed that the company was worth nothing. While this easily could’ve been the end of Single Grain, Siu had an idea.

“I said, ‘Hey, guys, I will buy the company, I’ll take on the load, I'll put it on my shoulders, I'll see what I can do with it.’”

He offered one dollar to Neil Patel and one dollar to another partner, for 10 percent of their shares in the company. The other two partners, he offered to pay with profits from the company.

“So it's a buyout, but the contingency is if the company fails, I will owe nothing. So we signed that agreement, got it done, and it was off to the races,” Siu says.

He had his work cut out for him, as the company was in the negative when Siu took over; plus, its source of leads, Neil Patel, was now gone.

Meanwhile, as everything seemed to be falling apart, Siu continued to try to grow a podcast, Growth Everywhere, spending six hours a week recording and producing the episodes. One year into it, he was getting only nine downloads a day. But again, he powered through.

“Here's the thing,” he says, “you just keep going, right?” Now Growth Everywhere gets up to 80,000 downloads a month. Plus, it turned out to be a great lead generator for Single Grain.

Slowly but surely, Single Grain began gaining leads through organic search. Siu decided to refer those leads out and worked out referral deals with agencies, getting 25 to 30 percent of the lifetime of each customer. Siu says the referral income generated about $250,000 to $300,000 a year, but he wasn’t satisfied. “The kind of competitive spirit in me is like, ‘Okay, I wonder if we can build this thing up to be a paid advertising agency.’"

So Single Grain started experimenting with taking on its own clients and noticed retention went up, and clients were happier. Traffic was coming in from the podcast, organic search, and speaking events. Today, the company has 34 people working at an office in downtown L.A. The Single Grain website has gone from 4,000 visitors a month to about 80,000, and Siu believes it will reach half a million fairly quickly.

Content Marketing Is King

Take a look at Single Grain’s website, and you’ll see big client names such as Intuit, Amazon, and Salesforce. So what’s Siu’s secret for snagging premium clients? “Every single client that we have, whether it's a Uber or Lyft or TrustPilot, or whatever it is exactly, all came from content marketing.” In fact, up until recently, Single Grain didn’t even have an outbound team.

In the past, Siu says people from his management team have challenged him on the amount spent on content marketing, asking to see the ROI. So he did a breakdown of each client to see where they came from: podcasts, organic search, relationships Siu built up with people, and speaking opportunities. “It was all basically content marketing.”

When clients come through inbound or content marketing, Siu says, the sales cycle is much shorter than with outbound. Instead of waiting months for a deal to close, the time is cut down to weeks. In addition, the lifetime value of that client is longer, because after reading your blog posts, listening to your podcasts, and watching your videos, they feel like they know you. That leads to a longer-lasting relationship.

Another note Siu adds about client acquisition is that it pays off to specialize. At first, Single Grain focused on paid advertising for SaaS and education companies. They were able to boost their prices based on their specialty and proven framework.

“If anybody's trying to sell anything,” he explains, “when people ask you how you're different, the more you can niche down, at least in the very beginning, the more you can charge premium prices and the more you can focus in and maybe grow faster.”

Smooth Operator

Most of the employees at Treehouse were remote, so when Siu took over Single Grain, shutting down the San Francisco office and transitioning to a remote company seemed like a no-brainer. But as Siu puts it, it’s one of the “massive mistakes” he made.

Without having built up a rapport with his team and without understanding the relationships they had with each other, Siu says he shouldn’t have made an executive decision of that size, especially without asking for team input. “That totally devastated the culture, in my mind,” he says. “And I think when it comes to a services-based business, like this, where it requires a lot of creativity and collaboration, it's tough to have a completely remote atmosphere.”

So Siu shifted to a hybrid method: He and the team work in the office three days a week and remotely two days a week. “I just know that when we're in the office…we can just get so much done that way.”

To maximize productivity, Siu uses these two tools:

  • 15Five is a performance-tracking software that allows continuous feedback among your teammates. Grounded in positive psychology, it lets you see how people are feeling on a scale of one to five. It also allows employees to set priorities, report what they did for the week, and give each other high fives. “We can see how engaged people are. And that's one of the main core drivers, because 15Five allows us to see, even if you're filling out a five every single week...we can see in your answers, we can read between the lines to see how you're really feeling.”
  • Hubstaff is a time-tracking software that takes screenshots of each employee’s computer at random. “So here's the thing,” Siu says, “I don't like time tracking. But as an agency, service-based business, you kind of have to track your time to see how profitable you are per account.” And though he sees Hubstaff’s features as a bit “big brothery,” Siu says, “I personally don't like that kind of stuff, but I think it's really important, especially if we have contractors, from time to time.”

In addition to those tools, Single Grain has one-on-ones, as well as traction meetings with each team. “That's helped make us into a well-oiled machine,” Siu says, “and everyone's much happier now.”

Eric Siu’s Tips for Hiring Great Talent

When it comes to tapping into new talent for the team, Siu’s got a process worked out for that too.

  1. Establish core values. Even though people think it’s cliche, establishing what your company’s core values are before you begin hiring is essential.
  2. Assign homework. For new hires, it’s important to assign a tryout exercise. “It shows at the end of the day how serious they are about doing it.” Single Grain uses an applicant tracking system called Workable, where people can comment on it.
  3. Conduct one-way video interviews for more junior roles. Siu uses Spark Hire to conduct one-way recorded video interviews. “Because the thing is, with a lot of junior roles, you're going to get a lot of noise. Through a video interview, it's more asynchronous, so I can look at it whenever I want, or my team can. Or if it's a salesperson, we'll run them through a test called Objective Management Group, which has been fantastic.”
  4. Own the hiring decision. Siu always makes sure to be at the tail end of the interview process. “So whether it's an intern or anybody else, even if it's a remote person, I get to talk to the person,” he says. “I get to make the final call. Because then I can kind of own the decision at the end and say, ‘Hey, it's ultimately my fault if something goes wrong.’”
  5. Check those references! Yes, Single Grain does check references, and Siu judges the quality of the candidate based on this question: Are the first three references really excited about this person? Siu says he’s even been in a situation where he was about to make an offer but pulled it last minute because of the result of the reference checks. “We dig a little deeper, and we find out: can’t do it.”

Leveling Up: What’s Next for Single Grain

Never one to slow down, Siu’s already working on his next big projects. Right now, Single Grain is working on a SaaS product called ClickFlow, which helps companies get more organic traffic by boosting organic click-through rates.

On top of that, he’s writing a book, entitled Leveling Up as a nod to his competitive gaming days. “I just see this entire thing as a game,” he says. “Just plugging things together, making systems work, making it all happen.” Once the book is ready, he hopes he can use it to educate people on marketing and maybe even recruit talent to his agency or others. Siu also plans to do more live events and add an education component to his company.

“I think it all kind of plugs in together,” he says. “And I think the ultimate goal is just to give back and invest in education, because that's what I love.”

Key Takeaways:

  • What payback periods are and why understanding them is integral to scaling any business
  • How Siu bought a failing company for $2 and turned it into a powerhouse digital marketing agency
  • Siu’s most powerful strategy for snagging premium clients (it’s not a sales team)
  • The top tools remote companies can use to maximize productivity
  • Siu’s best tips for hiring great talent
Direct download: FP202_Eric_Siu.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:57am AEDT

To Sabri Suby, business is a jungle and only the strong survive. To be successful, you need to dominate the digital landscape and crush the competition into a fine powder. That fierce attitude has served Suby, and his clients, very well over the years.

Suby is the founder of King Kong, the fastest-growing digital marketing agency in Australia. Last year, King Kong raked in $7 million in revenue from its digital marketing campaigns, over $200 million in sales for its clients, and this year, is aiming to top that.

Hustling since he was a teen, Suby learned how to sell early on. Making a whole lot of cold calls over the course of his life, he never let up. Starting King Kong in his bedroom on his girlfriend's laptop, Suby preferred to jump into the trenches and get his hands dirty instead of wasting time reading business books and attending events. That unrelenting approach definitely paid off.

Listen in as Suby discusses why his agency scaled to millions in revenue so quickly, how to dominate direct response marketing, and why a service-based business should be the top choice for entrepreneurs.

ATTENTION: Suby has partnered with Foundr to teach an epic new course, "Consulting Empire.” If you want to learn how to start and scale a service-based business, whether you are a consultant, coach or freelancer, Suby reveals all of his golden strategies (the exact ones he used to scale from zero to $10 million) in this new course. It’s just about ready so get on the free VIP waitlist here to be one of the first we notify when it launches!

Direct download: FP201_Sabri_Suby.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:39am AEDT

I refuse to lose.”

It's the mantra that has guided Foundr CEO Nathan Chan through the highs and lows of becoming an entrepreneur. It helped him resist the naysayers, and confront deep insecurities and self-doubt, to build the business he fell in love with right away. That sense of determination and drive continues to fuel Foundr’s big goal of impacting tens of millions of entrepreneurs around the globe with world-class resources and training.

In this inspiring interview, Nathan gets up close and personal and takes us behind the scenes of what it was like starting Foundr—the good and not so good—and the many lessons he learned along the way. Interviewed by Dave Hobson, our head of product and business development and one of the first to join the Foundr team, the two reminisce about the early days, the first goals the company set, and the memorable moments that transformed the company from a side hustle to global presence.

Pull up a chair and a drink (Does Nathan prefer wine or beer? Find out in this interview!) and learn more about Foundr, how the company started, and where it is headed in the near future. Nathan shares it all in this special 200th podcast episode. We promise you this is an interview that will inspire you for many years to come.

Key Takeaways

  • How Nathan transitioned from his day job to full-time entrepreneur and why the timing was critical to his success
  • What separates the entrepreneurial success stories from those who never make it happen
  • How to minimize risk where you can while still making huge strides for your business
  • The importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses and getting the right advice from mentors. This is one of the keys to Foundr’s growth.
Direct download: FP200_David__Nathan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01am AEDT

As a lifelong, accomplished dancer, Payal Kadakia never thought she would become an entrepreneur. But it was that very love of dance that compelled her to help others pursue or rekindle their own passions.

Driven by a strong desire to create something with potential to change people's lives, Kadakia created ClassPass, a platform that helps fitness and dance enthusiasts find and book classes in 8,500 studios in 50 cities around the world. Kadakia has appeared on prominent lists such as Fortune’s Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs and Marie Claire’s Most Influential Women in America, and ClassPass has been ranked among the fastest-growing technology companies in North America.

It may sound like Kadakia effortlessly glided from performing arts to business, but her seven-year journey was full of setbacks. She overcame several problems and had to pivot twice to stay afloat and then thrive.

In this interview, Kadakia explains how she turned her personal passion into a successful business, including the importance of partnerships and how being “mission-obsessed” instead of “product-obsessed” fueled her growth. She also discusses the power of purpose in entrepreneurship and the principles of real perseverance.

Key Takeaways

  • How passion and success are closely related and how entrepreneurs can connect the two
  • Why having heart and soul in business is crucial for problem-solving
  • The partnership model that made ClassPass so successful
  • Why the size of your company doesn’t matter if you follow your mission
Direct download: FP199_Payal_Kadakia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:26am AEDT

In today’s podcast, we are shining the spotlight on one of our successful Instagram Domination students, Zach Benson. This driven entrepreneur is in the trenches daily doing what it takes to make his startup dreams (and travel dreams) a reality. And he’s done a great job. We couldn’t be prouder!

Benson was a former professional breakdancer who suffered an injury that ended his dance career. Looking for a “plan B,” he turned to Instagram and joined the Instagram Domination course to learn how to build his personal travel pages and drive valuable traffic. He’s done so well, that in the last 18 months, 170 exotic hotels have given him free stays in exchange for exposure to his network, and he is on track to hit $1 million in revenue.

But, the real magic happened when Benson partnered with a few Instagram Domination students and started an agency to help people grow and manage their Instagram accounts. The agency, Assistagram, has worked with high-profile clients such as The Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton and currently services 50 other companies.

Benson is grateful to the Instagram Domination community for allowing him to connect with like-minded people and create a thriving business fueled by his passions for travel and social media. We are so happy for him and the success he has achieved. Way to go, Zach!

Key Takeaways

  • How to build Instagram fan pages quickly to drive traffic to your company website
  • Why Instagram is still powerful even with the recent algorithm changes
  • What kind of content to post if you want to build brand awareness and grow your following
Direct download: FP198_Zach_Benson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:35am AEDT

At 24 years of age Noah Kagan got tired of being fired. After getting the boot from Facebook and other companies, Kagan decided to create his own job and live life by his own rules. Those rules included posting taco-loving blogs, shooting over-the-top YouTube vids and creating Sumo, an eight-figure global company that empowers business owners to grow their brands using cool, geeky software tools.

Kagan likes to make business exciting and embraces the madness of entrepreneurial life. But aside from his contagious energy, he has a lot of knowledge and loves to help entrepreneurs. In this interview, he shares the lessons he learned building an eight-figure company and his top tips for hiring and maintaining A-player teams.

Kagan also stresses the importance of building relationships in this “era of Tinder-ization,” and teaches entrepreneurs how to set and track intentional goals to drive companies forward. Throw back a few (drinks or tacos) and listen in as Kagan shares his life and business adventures and helps entrepreneurs build and market profitable businesses.

Key Takeaways

  • The underestimated importance of relationship building in today’s market
  • How to create and keep a team of innovative employees who are team players
  • Why some vanity metrics, although exciting, can be a time and talent suck
  • How to set long and short-term goals that advance businesses
Direct download: FP197_Noah_Kagan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04am AEDT

Dan Siroker has always believed in the power of data and experimentation. A former project manager at Google and director of analytics under President Barack Obama, Siroker believes that experimentation should be one of the highest-order cultural values of an organization. To that end, Siroker co-founded Optimizely, a globally adopted software tool that enables businesses to experiment and fine-tune their businesses based on data.

From product development to front-end conversions, Siroker believes that a culture of experimentation should start from the top and trickle to the bottom, fueling growth on a large scale. Otherwise, organizations that are too afraid of risk and intolerant of failure end up undermining their ability to innovate.

In this interview, Siroker shares his strong belief in the power of experimentation, and how startups can use data to their advantage, now more than ever. He also shares one of the biggest lessons he's learned in his entrepreneurial career, and how he is building a 100-year legacy with his company.

Direct download: FP196_Dan_Siroker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:17am AEDT

Growing up as a fanatical skateboarder first in Ohio and then moving to California as a teen to pursue skating professionally, many of his friends and fellow skateboarders were older than him and running their own businesses.

From a very young age, he was steeped in skateboarding’s DIY culture, always on the lookout for the next frontier in the sport, or scrappy new brand to emerge from the scene. From skate shops to clothing companies, Dyrdek was exposed to a variety of entrepreneurial ventures early in life.

Key Takeaways

  • The core traits Dyrdek looks for when investing in businesses and entrepreneurs
  • What his “core to more” philosophy is and how it contributes to a company’s longevity
  • Dyrdek’s many business successes (and failures) and what he learned from each
Direct download: FP195_Rob_Dyrdek.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:24am AEDT

Former firefighter Steve McLeod turned his passion for helping people into a nationwide business, scaling his Fire and Safety Australia company to eight figures in 10 years. In addition to running a profitable company, McLeod also empowers entrepreneurs by teaching them how to become more courageous and run goal-focused businesses that never give up.

According to McLeod, it takes courage to protect and serve, especially when danger could be present at every turn. But it takes another kind of courage to withstand the pressures of entrepreneurship to build and scale a $20 million dollar company.

In this inspiring interview, McLeod discusses his latest book, Courage for Profit, and reveals some of the gold he has learned from his own struggles, successes, and failures. He outlines the key principles entrepreneurs need to embody if they want to scale their businesses. We salute McLeod for his passion for serving and helping people. Way to go!

Key Takeaways

  • The 4-part formula that fueled McLeod’s massive success
  • The red-green-yellow matrix system for smashing goals (you've probably never heard this before)
  • The key to being super-focused, even if you struggle with constant distractions
  • The two most important things you need to know to scale your company
  • How to hire and keep the employees who will drive your business forward
Direct download: FP194_Steve_McLeod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:49am AEDT

Gary Muller’s company is thriving. His Mill House Inn in East Hampton, New York has been in business for 20 years and recognized by Travel + Leisure and the Travel Channel, highly rated by Zagat, and featured in other prominent publications. His properties have welcomed celebrities and prominent people from all over the world.

If you ask Muller the secret to his success, he'll likely tell you that his family is largely responsible. "Family" is how Muller describes his employees at the inn, and he believes all leaders should treat team members as such, displaying empathy, instilling trust, and creating an environment where going “above and beyond” is a daily occurrence.

Muller is in the people-helping business. Whether that means serving his cherished guests or connecting with his work family, his care for other people runs throughout his unique leadership style. Learn how Muller has grown such a loyal and dedicated team, and how he fosters a work culture that has led to massive business success.

Key Takeaways

  • The most important trait to look for in a potential hire (it has nothing to do with skills)
  • When it’s time to let people go, even if it pains you to do so
  • The difference between leadership and management, and how one is critical to growing a business
  • How to ensure your team is doing their best work, without micromanaging
Direct download: FP193_Gary_Muller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:08am AEDT

Welcome back to our “Best of Foundr” podcast series!

To celebrate Foundr’s 5th birthday, we put together a series of special edition podcast episodes that feature the best snippets from our most popular episodes. We pulled out the gems from each of your favorite interviews and compiled them into a three-week series of pure content gold.

This week we are focusing on hustle, motivation, mindset, and getting things done! In this episode, we have one of my heroes and the king of hustle, Gary Vee. We also have memory and productivity wizard Jim Kwik, morning routine master Hal Elrod, and the mindset king himself, Tony Robbins!

While I have loved the releases in this special birthday series so far, I have to say, we saved some of the best for last. In this episode, you will be challenged and motivated to seriously move to the next level!

Direct download: FP192_5th_Birthday.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am AEDT

Welcome to our special “Best of Foundr” edition of the podcast!

To celebrate Foundr’s 5th birthday, we put together a series of special edition podcast episodes that feature the best snippets from our most popular episodes. We pulled out the gems from each of your favorite interviews and compiled them into a three-week series of pure content gold.

This is the second week of our three-part series.  Last week, we heard from four successful entrepreneurs on how to build an epic online presence.

This week we are focusing on investing, sales, and scaling your business. You will be learning from two masters of sales, Ben Chaib and Matthew Kimberley; from the shark himself, Robert Herjavec, on investing and scaling your business; and lastly from Mr. E-Myth himself, Michael Gerber, on setting your business up to scale.

These are some of my personal favorites that have had a huge influence on how Foundr is run today! Enjoy listening to the best of the best!

Direct download: FP191_5th_Birthday.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:52am AEDT

Welcome to our special “Best of Foundr” edition of the podcast!

To celebrate Foundr’s 5th birthday, we put together a series of special edition podcast episodes that feature the best snippets from our most popular episodes. We pulled out the gems from each of your favorite interviews and compiled them into a three-week series of pure content gold.

This week we are focusing on how to create an online presence with content marketing and Instagram. We are featuring some serious advice from our conversations with Gretta Rose van Riel, queen of Instagram and Influencer marketing; Darren Rowse, the OG of the blogging world; Deonna Monique, Instagram millionaire; and content king Derek Flanzraich, founder of Greatist.

Enjoy listening to the best of the best!

Key Takeaways

  • The influencer marketing strategies behind Gretta van Riel’s multimillion-dollar ecommerce brands
  • How to build a successful content-based business with Darren Rowse
  • The branding and traffic strategies behind Greatist’s massive success
  • How to use Instagram to generate millions of dollars in your niche with Deonna Monique
Direct download: FP190_5th_Birthday.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:29am AEDT

Welcome to Foundr's fifth birthday celebration!

Over the past five years, we’ve been blessed to interact with an awesome community of passionate entrepreneurs who are making it happen and turning their dreams into reality. We want to honor these inspiring entrepreneurs in our community by sharing their stories and highlighting their successes.

In today's special episode, we talk with Austin Peterson, a rising entrepreneur who is working in the trenches daily to build his vintage truck restoration business Black Dog Traders.

Austin reached out to me for advice in early 2017, and it's been amazing to watch him build his business to new heights. In this episode, we're airing a one-on-one coaching session with Austin and mentor David Brim, founder of Tomcar Australia, who is helping him take his business to the next level.

In this episode, get the inside scoop on the advice that is helping Peterson optimize his production, streamline his processes, and continue to scale his company in the coming year.

Well done Austin! We look forward to your continued success!

Key Takeaways:

  • David Brim’s advice on how to optimize production and streamline processes
  • How Tomcar acquires leads and funnels them through its sales process
  • Why offering too many product options can hinder a sale
  • When and how to outsource to speed up your results
Direct download: FP189_David_Brim_Austin_Peterson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:38am AEDT

“I’m not crippled with being perfect. I’m crippled with not doing,” Gary Vaynerchuk says, and that about sums up the philosophy that propels him ahead in life and business—avoiding hesitation and seizing the moment at all costs.

To many, Vaynerchuck (aka Gary Vee) needs no introduction. He’s a serial entrepreneur, four-time New York Times-bestselling author, venture capitalist, popular podcast host, and sought-after public speaker serving an audience of millions. And he's showing no signs of slowing down.

How does this guy accomplish so much? Vaynerchuk doesn’t agonize or hesitate when starting something new. He dives in voraciously, working his tail off and learning as he goes. He also never aspires to "have it all." Too often, entrepreneurs strive for some lofty material goal as the finish line, but for Vaynerchuk, having it all begins on the first day we embark on our entrepreneurial journeys. The reward is in the process itself.

In this interview, Vaynerchuk shares tidbits from his new book Crushing It! (an updated version of his 2009 bestseller), unpacks epic branding and marketing tips that have led to his success, and reveals his personal philosophy on GSD.

Gary Vee wants aspiring entrepreneurs to crush it with him. Are you on board? Listen in and get inspired.

Key Takeaways

  • What it really means to “have it all,” and why you may already have it
  • Why trying instead of doing leads to stagnation
  • Why all businesses need to be media producers, regardless of their business models
  • Insights on the personal vs. professional brand debate and how to decide what's best for you
  • Why omni-channel branding draws more people to your company
Direct download: FP188_Gary_Vee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24am AEDT

Key Takeaways

- Acumen's trailblazing vision on global poverty eradication
- Why it's better to invest in people first, then ideas
- The companies Acumen has invested in and the depth of impact they have made
- Key advice from Novogratz to anyone interested in pursuing social entrepreneurship

Direct download: FP187_Jacqueline_Novogratz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:39am AEDT

No Task Too Big

Leah Busque launched TaskRabbit and became a pioneer in the sharing economy. Now she wants to empower other founders as she transitions to venture capital.

Picture this: You’re sitting at home on a February night in Boston, where winter temperatures dip well below freezing, and it’s snowing outside—not exactly a good time to find out your hundred-pound Labrador retriever is out of dog food.

So what do you do? Do you don your boots and trek through the snow in pursuit of kibble? Do you ask your spouse to do it? To a 28-year-old Leah Busque, the solution should have been simple: Why not hire someone in the area to run that errand for you?

“[My husband and I] were certain that there was someone in our neighborhood that'd be willing to help us out,” Busque recalls. “Maybe even someone at the store at that very moment, and it was just a matter of connecting with them.”

After some geeky brainstorming with her husband, Busque grabbed her iPhone—it had come out a few months before—and bought the first domain that came to mind: Four months after that, she left her job as a software engineer at IBM and locked herself in her house for 10 weeks to build the first version of the site, all because a service she wanted didn’t yet exist. Thanks to Busque’s creativity and persistence, now it does—TaskRabbit.

Think Big, Start Small: From Back Bay to the Bay Area

In September 2008, RunMyErrand launched in the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown, where Busque was living at the time.

“I was very targeted,” she says. “[I] really wanted to focus on one geography and create a peer-to-peer-network in that geography that was liquid, that would have high supply and high demand … and from there it just really started to snowball.”

Word traveled fast. People in Charlestown started telling those in Beacon Hill about this new service that let you hire locals to run your errands. Word traveled from Beacon Hill to the residents of Back Bay and Cambridge. Soon enough, Busque was recruiting Taskers from all over the city of Boston.

By the summer of 2009, Busque was invited to participate in an incubator program run by Facebook, leading her to change the name from RunMyErrand to TaskRabbit before launching in her second market—San Francisco.

A Pioneer in the Peer-to-Peer Sharing Economy

Here’s how TaskRabbit works:

First, you post a task on the platform (mobile or web), such as, “I need help mounting a 32-inch flat screen TV on my wall.” Next, you get matched with vetted Taskers in your area, and you can view their ratings and hourly rates. Then, your chosen Tasker shows up, completes the task, and gets paid securely via the app. A simple enough idea for any smartphone user today, but you have to remember that TaskRabbit launched in 2008; most people were still rocking flip phones, and the term “sharing economy” hadn’t yet made it into the consumer vernacular.

“These technologies were so new and so emerging, it wasn't an obvious thing to be able to utilize your mobile device to connect with people in real time,” Busque explains.

“Certainly, no one was going to jump into a stranger's car off the street and grab a ride with Lyft or with Uber. And so the consumer mindset was completely different. Trust was a big barrier. Letting a stranger into your home to hang shelves, or hang curtains, or clean your house—these were all very big decisions that the consumer was making.”

It’s been almost a decade since TaskRabbit’s inception, and the company’s come a long way from that neighborhood in Boston.

The service has expanded to about 40 markets (including London), raised more than $50 million in venture funding, and last year was acquired by Swedish furniture giant Ikea.

According to Busque, TaskRabbit gets more than 15,000 applications every month from people who want to be Taskers. And on the buyer side of that marketplace, people have hired Taskers to do errands as varied as waiting in line at a store, rushing a passport to the airport, and even retrieving keys from the bottom of a lake.

Knowing When to Quit, and When to Keep Going

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to know when to quit. Failing to realize an idea is a dud can lead to overspending and wasted time. So we had to ask Busque, especially given the novelty of the idea when it first launched: Did she ever feel like giving up?

“I’m not someone who gives up,” Busque says. “I’m not someone who quits.”

Given the dismal economy during TaskRabbit’s early days, one would have understood if she had. When Busque launched the first version of the site in September 2008, subprime lending had tanked the housing market and the stock market was crashing, ushering in the Great Recession—not exactly the best time to be quitting a steady job, or starting a business, or seeking investors. But still, Busque pressed on, choosing to bootstrap her startup for almost a year.

“We had a mortgage on our house and we had bills to pay,” Busque recalls. “We basically did the math and thought, 'We've got about six months where I don't need to work. I don't need to take a salary to kinda make ends meet.'”

When six months came and went and TaskRabbit still didn’t have an investor, it must have been difficult not to close up shop right then and there.

“We were so close though; I felt like I was on the brink of something every day. I thought, ‘I just need 24 more hours, 48 more hours, one more week.’ And so every day was a question [of], ‘Should we keep going? Should we call it?’”

Thankfully, Busque didn’t call it quits. In December 2008, three months after she had missed her self-imposed deadline to raise funding, Busque closed her first angel round of $150,000. That funding was enough to carry her fledgling business through to the end of 2009, when she raised a seed round of $1 million.

As an entrepreneur, it’s just as important to know when to keep going as it is to know when to quit.

Before You Automate, Do it Manually

As Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham says, “Do things that don’t scale.” In his famous 2013 essay on this principle, Graham writes, “Startups take off because the founders make them take off.”

“I definitely had to do things that weren't going to scale over the long term,” Busque says.

In the early days, for example, Busque could often be found zipping around Boston on her little Honda scooter, completing tasks on her own. “I still am the master TaskRabbit,” she laughs.

That firsthand experience as a Tasker proved invaluable, as Busque got to know her customers and gained a deeper understanding of how her service fit into the marketplace. That willingness to dive in and get her hands dirty proved to be a hallmark strategy for the founder.

“Even as the company developed … I would say one strategy I used that worked pretty well was figuring out how to do things manually first, to really, really understand what to build, how to make it more efficient, and then start to automate layers on top of it over time.”

Take TaskRabbit’s application process, for example. The first version involved an online application, an in-person interview (to start the site, Busque conducted 30 interviews herself over coffee in Boston), and a background check. In total, that highly manual process took three to five days.

“But the time we spent,” Busque says, “for instance, doing in-person interviews, really helped us to understand what was important in finding the right Taskers, in the highest quality, most consistent Taskers. And so we then, from those in-person interviews, would figure out what questions we needed to ask, what the indicators were early that this Tasker was going to perform well on the platform.”

Now? Every piece of that process is automated, and a Tasker can be onboarded in a matter of hours, not days.

How to Get Comfortable With Competition

Every founder knows that sinking feeling of learning a new business similar to yours is entering the marketplace. Maybe it’s why entrepreneurs are notorious for guarding their ideas with intensity, fearing one slip-up will allow a competitor to crush everything they’ve built.

But the fact is, if you’ve got a good idea, someone else is either already doing it, or will be doing it soon.

After nearly a decade in business, TaskRabbit has seen its fair share of competitors. At first, this rattled Busque’s nerves. “I remember early on stressing out a lot about the competition, but I think what I learned over time was that I just needed to stay focused on what we were building.”

What inspired her shift from flustered to focused was seeing so many competitors rush in and then quickly fizzle out.

“I would see competitors come out of the gate, raise multi-millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars, and burn through it in 18 to 24 months. And so after that happened a couple of times, I just realized that I was going to play a long game.”

What was TaskRabbit’s competitive edge? “From day one, we were producing revenue,” Busque says. “From day one, we had positive operating margins. So for every job that went through the site, we were always making money on it. And we had to be very disciplined about how to build a platform that operated that way.”

She also thinks that too many of her competitors caved to marketplace and investor pressures, something she as a startup founder was not immune to.

“I remember getting a lot of pressure even from my investors at one point in the company's life cycle about growth, about the competitive landscape, pressure to move faster, to copy whatever it was that they were doing, but I knew my business better than anyone.”

Repeat After Her: ‘This Is Not Rocket Science’

Many aspiring entrepreneurs let what they don’t know become a stumbling block to launching their businesses. But for Busque, what she didn’t know, she knew she could figure out. She recalls a conversation she had with herself just before leaving her job at IBM to pursue TaskRabbit:

“I was thinking about all the things that I didn't know how to do. I was thinking, ‘All I know how to do is build this product. I’m a coder; I know how to code. I don't know how to raise money from investors, I don't know how to hire, I don't know how to fire, I don't know how to build a financial model.’ And then I realized that, to me it sounds funny, but I remember saying to myself: ‘This is not rocket science. … Just go figure it out.’”

Busque cites confidence as a key requirement for every successful entrepreneur. “As an entrepreneur, you're doing something that no one's ever done before, and you're going to have to innovate and build new things in new ways.”

Another key entrepreneurial quality? Adaptability. And having gone from engineer to entrepreneur to investor, Busque clearly has that in spades. Though she studied at a women’s liberal arts college, she works in the mostly male tech industry. Though she’s highly analytical and majored in math and computer science, she appreciates the arts and minored in dance.

“The appreciation of those other aspects has really aided me in being able to adapt, and learn quickly, and jump into new situations, and have the confidence that I'm going to be able to figure out and learn whatever I need to as fast as I need to.”

From Founder to Investor

In 2016, Busque stepped down as CEO of TaskRabbit, and in September 2017, the company was sold to Ikea. (Interestingly, in a TEDx Talk six years prior to the acquisition, Busque said the most popular task posted on the platform was Ikea furniture assembly.)

“TaskRabbit is my first baby, my first child,” she says. “The one thing that you would hope for your child or for your company is that it has a full life, right? And is happy, and grows up, and moves on from you. And so I feel very fortunate that I got to be on that journey and see that happen all the way through.”

Even after the acquisition, Busque has her feet firmly planted in the startup world. She serves as executive chairwoman at TaskRabbit and has transitioned into the role of investor as general partner at Fuel Capital, a seed-stage venture fund in San Francisco. It’s a natural transition, given her background as the founder of a venture-funded startup.

“Building things has always been my passion,” she says. “I love the early stages of a company, when there is a seemingly impossible-yet-pressing problem to solve. I couldn’t be more excited to work closely with early-stage founders and their teams as they take on world-changing ideas—much like I did during my early days at TaskRabbit.”

Given her years of experience building a peer-to-peer marketplace, Busque as an investor has chosen to focus on consumer businesses and marketplaces.

“I’ve also focused my attention on meeting and supporting the ‘outsiders,’” she says, such as women founders, those who don’t fit the typical mold, and those who aren’t based in Silicon Valley. “It’s been awesome to meet so many awesome entrepreneurs who don’t look like the typical founder. … I certainly didn’t!”

Her new role and focus couldn’t come at a better time. According to the Crunchbase “Women in Venture” report, in 2017, only 6 percent of all seed dollars went to female-only-founded startups, while male-only-founded startups received 83 percent of all seed dollars. Those figures have remained remarkably static since 2012.

Busque’s first investments reflect the type of impact she hopes to make. Werk is a women-founded career platform helping women find flexible job opportunities. Feather is a Brooklyn-based startup that provides affordable furniture rental with quick delivery.

“As I thought about what I wanted to do next, I just started getting pulled in the direction of venture from a lot of different angles,” Busque says, “from investors that I highly respect, from friends that were in the industry, and so I made the decision that I wanted to do investing full time as the next stage of my career.”

And if the previous stage of her career is any indication, there’s no task too big for Busque.

Key Takeaways:

  • The two traits Busque says all entrepreneurs need to have to be successful (it has nothing to do with skills or industry knowledge)
  • The stumbling block that keeps many aspiring entrepreneurs from launching businesses
  • How Busque eventually got comfortable with competitors entering her space
  • Why Busque's "never quit" attitude was the key driver of TaskRabbit's early success


Direct download: FP186_Leah_Busque.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:41am AEDT

Melody McCloskey is the founder of StyleSeat, a San Francisco-based SaaS company that has raised $40 million in funding, powers billions in transactions and is recognized in 82% of American cities. StyleSeat provides tools for beauty professionals, which lets them run their entire business with just one piece of software.

If StyleSeat sounds like your typical booming, industry-disrupting tech startup, don't be fooled. McCloskey is dedicated to running her company in very atypical ways, and in today's interview, she shares how bucking Silicon Valley norms can help you achieve tremendous success—on your own terms.

For example, her startup is led overwhelmingly by women, a rarity in an industry with persistent gender gaps. The company has also chosen to stop raising money, and without a marketing or sales team, it barely invests in marketing.

McCloskey loves what she does and her business decisions are not solely driven by a pursuit of revenue and growth like many of her peers. Her goal is to empower female business owners with amazing products so they can do what they love as well. When they win, she wins.

Check out the interview to learn McCloskey's unique approaches to funding, growth, and staffing, along with other priceless lessons.

Key Takeaways

  • Why McCloskey, against popular opinion, is not interested in raising any more money
  • The primary engine behind StyleSeat's exponential growth
  • Why the startup walked away from a billion-dollar business model
  • Why McCloskey keeps her team smaller than most comparable startups
Direct download: FP185_Melody_McCloskey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:17pm AEDT

Unlike most entrepreneurs, Ajit Nawalkha doesn't focus on profit, revenue, sales, or customer surveys to grow his company. He's also been known to abandon some of his products, even when they're highly profitable, if they don't align with his vision. An unconventional approach, to be sure, but his personal development school Mindvalley has more than 3 million students and counting.

So what does Nawalkha focus on? His mission is to create life-changing experiences for his customers, and does so by bringing them instruction from some of the most powerful speakers of our time.

Nawalkha’s main goal is not to develop products, but to create "heart-centered experiences." And he believes this is the key to Mindvalley’s success in its quest to move their business—and all of humanity—forward. In this unique interview, you will learn exactly how Mindvalley creates these amazing client experiences, and its unconventional philosophy for measuring success.

Nawalkha and Mindvalley have risen to the top by focusing not on conventional indicators of growth, but on making the world a better place—one client experience at a time.

Key Takeaways

  • How Mindvalley validates its products and finds out what its customers want (without using surveys)
  • Mindvalley’s secret sauce to creating amazing experiences for its clients
  • What many new entrepreneurs get wrong that limits their ability to grow and scale
  • How Mindvalley measures success (it has nothing to do with revenue and churn rate)
Direct download: FP184_Ajit_Nawalkha.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:17am AEDT

Key Takeaways

  • Lessons learned from more than 20 years of experience as entrepreneurs
  • The defining action that tripled their conversions and led to the sale of their first company
  • The one marketing strategy that has allowed them to massively scale their business (it has nothing to do with social media or advertising)
  • How to hire trusted C-level executives to take the load off your shoulders as you grow
Direct download: FP183_DelmaGrant_Dunoon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:20am AEDT

Key Takeaways

  • The hard-earned lessons Ries learned that ultimately led to the creation of his renowned book, The Lean Startup, and ushered in a worldwide movement
  • How to hire and assign managers successfully
  • How to create a product your customers will love (Hint: it starts with your product owner)
  • The downfall of many leaders who want innovation and change but do not see it happen in their organ
Direct download: FP182_Eric_Ries.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:28pm AEDT

Entrepreneurs find inspiration in all sorts of places. But for Ari Meisel, founder, bestselling author, and productivity expert, desperation was the driving force behind the launch of his successful company, Less Doing. That same desperation led him to breakthroughs in productivity that changed his life.

At just 23 years old, Meisel was enjoying a thriving real estate career, but after suffering some major business blows and landing $3 million in debt, the stress overwhelmed him and he was diagnosed with debilitating Crohn’s disease. Managing the disease crippled Meisel’s ability to work regularly. Some days he was unable to work longer than an hour.

During this difficult experience, Meisel realized he needed to devise a way to accomplish more work in the limited time he had. Through a long process of experimentation, Ari developed his Less Doing, More Living productivity system, which allowed him the time he needed both to build a new business and improve his health.

A devoted husband, father of five, and dedicated businessman, Meisel now helps individuals and businesses around the world become more effective—all while working only 5 ½ hours a day. He's also recently teamed up with Foundr to teach his Less Doing, More Living system to our awesome community.

In this inspiring interview, learn the secrets behind Meisel’s airtight productivity system and discover how you can also become a productivity master and optimize, automate, and outsource your life and business.

Key Takeaways

  • Ari’s 15-minute outsourcing rule that frees you up to focus on growing your business
  • How saying no to new opportunities can grow your business more than saying yes
  • The power of using machine learning to slash your work time and automate systems
  • Why working more hours does not always translate into getting more work done
Direct download: FP181_Ari_Meisel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:03pm AEDT

What if you could stumble upon a game-changing idea without spending time and money on validation, industry research, or prototypes? And then grow this idea into the second largest company in your niche? It’s not common, but that's what happened to today’s podcast guest, David Barrett.

Barrett is the founder of Expensify, the second largest expense-reporting company in the world. But in its early stages, Barrett knew nothing about the space, nor was he particularly interested in it. In fact, he completely made up the Expensify idea as a decoy to get some funding for another endeavor, since banks weren’t interested in his “real” business idea.

But the decoy picked up steam as he pitched it, and before Barrett knew it, he was sitting on a potential goldmine. People were talking more about his fictitious business idea than they were his original idea. And Expensify was born.

Keeping with Barrett's unconventional approach to startups, Expensify’s massive growth has also been atypical. Barrett has not spent a dime on advertising, outbound sales calls, or salespeople. The software essentially sells itself.

In this packed interview, learn exactly how Barrett grew his company and how his unique business sales model and contrarian style disrupted the space. David Barrett is a true example of how challenging the status quo and disrupting common ideas can lead to avenues of massive growth and potential.

Key Takeaways

  • The sales model that allowed Barrett to scale his company without paying for customer acquisition
  • Why profit should not come at the sacrifice of growth and how the two can coexist
  • The misguided business advice that almost everyone follows, but leads to failure
  • The most important factor to building an A-player team
  • Why reinventing the wheel with your business can limit your potential
Direct download: FP180_David_Barrett.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:22am AEDT