You know how we’re always told that founders should talk to customers before building out their businesses. We have to make sure we’re building what people want, right?
Well today’s guest did that. And his company still failed.
I invited him here to understand why.
Adii Pienaar is the founder of PublicBeta which was an online learning community for entrepreneurs.
Adii Pienaar, Public Beta
Adii Pienaar is the founder of PublicBeta which was an online learning community for entrepreneurs.
Andrew: Hey there freedom fighters! Oh, did I just spit on myself? Adii, did you see that on your camera?
Adii: Actually, the resolution wasn’t that great.
Andrew: Oh, good, good, thank God for poor resolution in Skype. I am not yet ready for hi-def television. No wonder they’re not inviting me to be on CNBC. All right, we don’t edit it out. Joe, keep it in there because I’m going to keep on going. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the “Spitter” and founder of mixergy.com, and of course, that is home of the ambitious upstart.
In this interview, we’re going to talk about something we’re told to do all the time. You know how you and I as founders, we’re told that we need to talk to customers before building our products, before building our businesses? Well, today I’ve got an entrepreneur who did that. He checked in the see if people even care about what he’s about to build. Do they care passionately about it to fill out a form? Passionately about it to pay, etc? He did it all right, and he still failed. So I invited him here to understand why.
Adii Pienaar is an entrepreneur who has been on Mixergy before. He’s built a successful company before, he’s founder of WooThemes. I’m looking here at my headline from the interview with him from February 2010. The headline is “How WooThemes quietly built a $2 million per year business selling themes.” And now I invited him back here to talk about Pubic Beta, which was an online learning community for entrepreneurs.
I should say it’s all sponsored by Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. If you’re an entrepreneur, and you’re starting a company later on, I will tell you why you need to go check out WalkerCorporateLaw.com. Now I’ve got to welcome Adii. Adii, welcome back.
Adii: Thanks for having me, Andrew.
Andrew: Dude, I’m surprised you’re not ashamed. I’m surprised you’re not saying, “Hey, Andrew, you had me up there as a winner. Why do I want to come back here and do another interview and talk about my failure, and leave another Google hit out there that shows that I didn’t make it?” Why do you even want to do this? Why did you accept this interview request?
Adii: Yeah, so I think part of it is trying to almost re-do the whole journey, which probably means fail a couple of times and then actually succeed. Lucky for me, most of my little failures were kind of run side-by-side of WooThemes, which was a success. But, mostly just if I had to kind of re-trace the steps of the last year and the failures, the one thing I learned about myself and all entrepreneurs is there is so much stuff that entrepreneurs don’t share. Specifically, I think the mental and emotional challenges of actually being an entrepreneur, where it’s not necessarily about tactics like finding customers of like finding funding or building a product. It’s actually just about the other things. I learned a lot about myself in that regard in the last year.
Andrew: So it’s just a give back thing? “I learned so much about myself and I think it’s important for the world to understand what I learned, so they don’t make the same mistakes”? That’s what it is?
Adii: Well, if one can relate to that story, and they have gone through something similar, that obviously helps. For my side, I’m really passionate about kind of shining a spotlight and saying these things shouldn’t be swept under a rug. We should be very, very real about the challenges that entrepreneurs face in that regard.
Andrew: I agree. I think we absolutely need to, and I know one of the reasons why we don’t. One of the reasons is, when I first did that interview with you a few years ago where we talked about how you build a multi-million dollar company doing themes, it was a huge traffic magnet for me. People loved that interview; everyone wants to learn how to build a successful company. Entrepreneurs are almost afraid to hear about someone else’s failure so that it doesn’t rub off on them. So it doesn’t penetrate their psyche.
And by being that afraid, they lose out on the insights that come out of the other side of the coin. By learning from your experiences, they ignore that part of the entrepreneurship journey and they lose out on that knowledge. But, I guarantee you, as much as I love this interview, and I’m going to kick butt here today, and I know you are too, it’s not going to get as much traffic. You can see the first interview got 49 comments back when hardly anyone was on this site. I don’t know if we’ll get the same number. But, it’s important, for the few people who do listen; this is going to be life changing.
Andrew: How much money did you lose on the business?
Adii: Probably about 100k.
Andrew: Wow. All right. So the first thing that you launched, was it a full-blown product or something much simpler than that?
Adii: Yeah, it was something that looked like a product, but wasn’t a product at all. So, when I initially had that idea of building this learning community, I was in a weird space back then. I actually don’t know how I got there, but I was very, very risk adverse. The last couple of months leading up to it, I read a lot about you have to validate your ID; you have to kind of do everything in your power to make sure you’re not going down a bad path.
And when I started [Inaudible 00:05:00], that’s what I wanted to do. So, the first version of PublicBeta, if I remember correctly, cost $2000 or $3000. And it was just a WordPress site that essentially marketed the different courses that were available. And most of the work there, because it wasn’t a real product, most of the work actually went into getting the content rated, or at least agreed upon, which basically meant reaching out to my network, getting them to kind of commit to do a course with a title and description, which I kind of came up with.
And then we launched this site, and that was the first version of the site, which actually allowed me to sign up. And that was the very first product.
Andrew: I see. So the idea was you were going teach courses online by experts and sell those courses to an audience of entrepreneurs. Kind of similar to what Mixergy does, frankly.
Andrew: And where did the idea come to you?
Adii: It was something…when I exited WooThemes initially, the thought was do something that was closely kind of related to that. Kind of double down on the space there. Use the kind of brand equity and stuff that I thought.
Then I realized I actually wanted to do something new, and looking at new ideas, I realized that the one thing that I really, really enjoyed at that stage in my life was every week I wanted to call some clarity with other entrepreneurs.
And I can remember that feeling of after every one of those calls just feeling invigorated, refreshed and re-stimulated. So I had this idea that in terms of how to help other entrepreneurs, that I wanted PublicBeta to be that something.
To create something that where I might be fortunate in terms of all the entrepreneurs on my journey with WooThemes that helped me because I had hustled hard in terms of building those relationships. But I wanted to democratize that. And then where I just said it would help other entrepreneurs as well.
Andrew: All right. That makes a lot of sense. You were CEO of WooThemes at the time. Did you continue to be CEO when you launched the new business, or what was your agreement there?
Adii: I actually just stepped down as CEO at the end of May last year, and that was about two months before PublicBeta actually launched.
Andrew: Why? Why didn’t you do them concurrently?
Adii: Previously, I kind of broke my fingers doing that with the little side project. What I learned about myself there was that I’m almost too obsessive compulsive to be able to divide my attention between two gods, sort of two gods. And that’s how it felt in the past.
Andrew: What was the past business?
Adii: The past business was called Radiate. Obviously, I don’t even know what it was.
Andrew: I see.
Adii: It became a black hole of money just down the drain because it didn’t have that leadership. I just didn’t have the kind of mental capacity. I didn’t have the time. We would feel neither the want nor the need to actually invest the same kind of leadership and vision into something on the side.
Andrew: I see. And so you said, “The only way that I’m going to actually turn this into something is if I focus on it obsessively.” Got it.
Andrew: Okay. And so you decided, “I’m going to quit.” Did you sell your shares in the company too?
Adii: Yeah. So that happened later the last year or so. I basically stepped down as CEO, and about three months down after that we started the negotiations of selling my shares back to the company.
Andrew: Based on what my team here and I have been looking at, it seems like you got less than a million dollars in cash from selling your shares of the business.
Adii: That’s probably not right.
Andrew: Really. Okay.
Adii: Yeah. I got a little more than that. I mean, ultimately, I can say, as these things go, it wasn’t an aggressive buyout in terms of an acquirer coming in, wanting to buy shares at ridiculous multiples. But I definitely got a very fair value for my shares in terms of the growth of the company, the company that we built together. Yeah, but it’s been more than that.
Andrew: Wow. All right. Did you do anything crazy like get it all in cash, throw it on the bed and jump on top of it, or was it just sitting in a bank account?
Adii: It’s sitting in a bank account. I think that’s a weird thing. Maybe if I were 21 and I didn’t have a wife and I didn’t have a kid, and I didn’t have a second one on the way, I would have probably done something crazy like that. I would have bought a new car, at least.
But I’ve mostly not spent much money. Most of it’s gone into, I would say, stable investments as far as the economics kind of dictates. It’s not even gone into start-ups and stuff like that. It’s just been mostly sitting there, waiting for me to actually apply them in new business, use it as to sort of soft fund a new business.
Andrew: I see. And so it went into PublicBeta, for example, right?
Adii: That was the first step, yeah. That took a bit of cash right from the start.
Andrew: I see. You have the experience. You have a genuine track record. You had a big following of people who wanted to learn from you, and so you launched this site-a simple WordPress site with a theme that you pay someone to customize for you, right?
Adii: It was a new theme. We actually did something from scratch.
Andrew: Oh, you did?
Andrew: Okay. So something from scratch, and then you said, “I have a few ideas for courses that will launch. Before we even have some customers, I’m going to create the courses.” Was that right?
Adii: Yeah, so we basically created outlines. I mean, that’s what we had. A course at that stage, our product was basically a title description, a kind of draft or a vague outline of what the course would actually look like.
Andrew: Did you create that before you created the landing page that I read about?
Andrew: Simultaneously. Okay. All right.
Adii: That was part of the whole strategies is to be able to pretend that there is actually a product where we had created the content.
Andrew: See that’s what I want to make sure to pay attention to was you created a landing page that pretended that this product existed, which is one of the things we’re supposed to do, right? To see if people react to it. If you say it’s fake then people are going to react differently than if you say, “Here it is. Do you want it?” Right? And the landing page said, as far as I can see, actually you tell me what it said. I have a few screenshots here, but I don’t know if they’re as accurate as your memory.
Adii: Are you talking about the homepage itself?
Andrew: Yeah, It looks like the homepage…yeah, what did the homepage say? What was the promise that you created with the language on the homepage?
Adii: Well, I can’t even remember, so…
Andrew: Even if you don’t remember the actual language, was it…? Here’s what I see, I think I see “We’re a community of entrepreneurs that help each other.”
Andrew: So the reason that I’m a little hesitant and say, “I think that’s what it was,” is…was the word “community” in there from the start? Or was it “courses for entrepreneurs” that was the emphasis? “Courses” or “community”?
Adii: Definitely community. And I could tell to you why. I had the idea that the content would always be a segue into [Inaudible 00:12:23] into being a learning community. At the time, I knew when I started I didn’t necessarily know what the business model around the community would be, whereas for the content the model around that was much easier. But I always knew the business, if it were to evolve and grow, that the community was going to be the important thing, not the content as much. That’s the reason I definitely pushed the community aspect from day one.
Andrew: I see. And then underneath I see “private community” one aspect, “exclusive content” another, and “we will help you grow as an entrepreneur.” I’m just looking at an old archived snapshot of that page, so I can’t exactly see what happens, but I do see that there’s a button that says, “Become a member.” When you launched this site originally, when people clicked “become a member,” what happened?
Adii: After you went to a sign-up page, same kind of signup page you would get on any sort of [Inaudible 00:13:15] app or purchasing any digital product. And you could basically get there from the homepage or from the…we had a library page that had all these courses with the titles and the description. Obviously, the other part, which was the social.
Andrew: Oh I see, so even though there was no content created, you still created the library of content that when people bought in, they supposedly could see, and of course it doesn’t exist. You didn’t have a community yet? All right. But you still let them sign up for the community. Great. This is everything that they tell us in the lean startup movement, in the new entrepreneurial movement, that you’re supposed to do. Did you also accept payment? That’s another thing that you’re supposed to do.
Adii: Yeah, so what we did is we actually ran it through a whole billing system, but we didn’t charge the actual customer or the actual person signing up. So we put through a zero-dollar kind of authorization, I think, is what essentially happened. Nobody got charged at that stage, but obviously the aim there was to kind of simulate a real-world producing, kind of a consensus almost. Often someone is actually willing to give me his or her credit card details. That was the important thing that I wanted to validate there. It wasn’t just signing up for a beta or something like that. I’m registering interest. There was actually, “I was willing to give this guy credit card details. I wanted what he had to offer.”
Andrew: Because if the landing page said, “Coming soon. Do you want to join?” then yeah, you’ll get people who are interested, but many of them are just lookie loos that want to see, “What is Adii going to do next?” But if you say, “You have to sign up by filling out this form and you have to give a credit card,” then you know you’re getting people who are really committed and what you wanted to see is are people encouraged by this, and inspired by this enough that they would want to put a credit card down to pay? It was more about that than it was about the money, which is why you didn’t charge anything.
Super. Everything looks great here. How many people did you get to fill out this process?
Adii: It was round about 80-odd people.
Andrew: Eighty people paid? Or went through the motions of paying?
Andrew: Great. So how did you get so many people when there wasn’t a product out there?
Adii: What I had done previously was build a mailing list of at least 2000 people prior to that. The bulk of it came from Beta List, initially. Just listing the little coming soon home page. That’s where those emails helped. Then I did a lot of writing in the months leading up to it.
Andrew: Writing on your personal blog?
Adii: Yeah, on my personal blog. Just kind of loads of links back to and references to this thing that I was building, so I got to about 2000 e-mails on the list prior to launch. That obviously helped and definitely gave it that little bump in initial sign- ups.
Andrew: BetaList.com is a site where people who are interested in upcoming products go to find out about them. You listed your product on there and that’s where you got some traffic. I know that you even did an interview with Beta List, right? They do Mixergy-style interviews. Did that help at all for getting traffic?
Adii: Yeah, a little bit. All of those little things helped. I’d say the bulk of it definitely. I got about 800 e-mail addresses within the first two or three weeks just from Beta List.
Andrew: I see.
Adii: That was a fantastic, kind of scattered source of leads, but at least it was leads that definitely helped build a mailing list initially.
Andrew: So far, we are getting good validation. You’re going into the start-up community, that’s what Beta List reaches, and you are saying, “This is what I’m creating. Is anyone interested?”
People are saying, “Yes, I’m interested,” and they are coming in and filling out the process and paying. Incredible. Great. What did you do with those people once they were on the list? You didn’t charge them, but you did want to learn a little bit about them. How did you do that?
Adii: The first thing we did that kind of stepped on a few people’s toes, was we kept up this spiel for about the first week before anyone knew. As soon as you completed sign up, you got a number in the queue.
Andrew: Did everybody get an e-mail saying, “You’re number 2,000″?
Adii: No. What we did that kept it dynamic was we essentially imported the 2000-odd people on the mailing list as users within the WordPress system, which was just the user account within WordPress. So again, it was kind of superficially…it wasn’t entirely the truth, but it wasn’t the untruth, either.
Andrew: No, it’s not untrue at all. What you are saying is that you adding them in WordPress users, WordPress automatically puts a number next to everyone, and so you are able to say you are number whatever-it-is. That’s not untruth. That’s actually a very simple solution for a tough problem of figuring out how you assign a number. All right. Great.
Adii: So the WordPress experience from all those years of working definitely helped there. So we did that. For a week after that, I didn’t reach out to those people. Then thereafter, we actually started telling people that there wasn’t actually any content. Just for anyone that is listening or watching now, to understand why there wasn’t any content, the content had a very big cost to it. We are talking about $3,000 to get these videos professionally produced. And that’s about a half an hour of content at that price, which meant to do the 40 courses that we promised to do up front, quick math we are talking another $150k.
Andrew: Why? Why didn’t you say, “Hey, you know what? Screw it. I know I love design. I’m great at design. I’ll put a nice bumper before and after the course and the content will be what we create that is great, and later on we will spend the money on making it look more polished”?
Adii: At that stage, I think it was part of the business model. For me, I wanted something that was high fidelity, but also more condensed, so within 15-20 minutes, or maybe a half an hour. Half an hour is kind of the cut-off in terms of putting a course together. I wanted something that’s very actionable in a short space of time. Something that’s not too long; something that’s not a narrative. Actionable, that’s the best word I have. The production value was differentiator from what was out there on the Web, at that stage at least. So that was part of it. As I said, I wasn’t willing to front that amount of capital in something that I didn’t know would have legs or the extent to which it had legs.
Andrew: I see. So if I say, “Hey Adii, why didn’t you make it a lot uglier at first and just launch it,” you say, “No, that’s not the vision here, and I want to see if people are buying into the vision. I’m not looking to sacrifice my vision; I’m looking to validate my vision, or invalidate it.”
Adii: So that’s part of the consideration. So the content itself can come from [iLauncher] so if you take someone, you’re good friends of mine are [Inaudible 00:20:42], for example. He committed to doing a course on idea validation. So now I’m dealing with someone that’s already super-busy, already has too many things to do with life. He’s volunteered his time to help me out to teach other entrepreneurs, but obviously you have two to three hours at once, in one slot.
It’s good he can sit down with a cameraman and actually get this thing shot right. So I wanted to maximize that opportunity and that goodwill that 40 entrepreneurs showed by volunteering their time, and basically getting the whole thing done right there and then, because I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go back and redo those initial videos, if that makes sense.
Andrew: Okay. All right. So you’re putting people on the list, you’re thinking about whether they want this new video concept badly enough to pay for it. You’re also starting to have a conversation with them, right? How did you talk to them?
Adii: So about a week or so afterwards, we started reaching out to customers and having good customer interviews and voice calls, which was a new thing for me, by the way. I hate any kind of phone, and I’ve never done that. That’s the thing. With WooThemes, I never did that. We never did those kinds of customer interviews. Things were much more organic and different.
So I started talking to people, and that’s what I’ve heard so many times in the interviews and in the calls we had. We had this focus on the community, and what people wanted was that, yes, the content would have been great, but they could mostly scratch of itch elsewhere; that’s what they felt. But the thing that they felt they missed out on was that community and accountability of having like-minded peers around you and specifically supports them emotional and mental support. This kind of confirmed, so I had about 15-20 calls where the same kind of themes came through.
Andrew: Did they say over and over, “We want community?” How do they express themselves? No one says, “I want community.”
Adii: So they expressed it as accountability and emotional support. Those were the two main things…
Andrew: They said, “I want accountability from other people.”
Adii: Yeah, well, they said they struggle with accountability, they struggle with the emotional aspects of being an entrepreneur and many of these people were solo farmers. There’s something else I can mention as well. These people kind of sit at home in front of a computer all day, working away, hustling away and building a thing.
Adii: But that doesn’t leave space to gauge support from other like- minded entrepreneurs on a wide variety of things. That’s a good tactical approach. Well, what happens is that it’s easier to get tactical support in terms of the A, B and C, “What should I do next,” kind of thing.
Andrew: I see. Okay. All right. That makes sense. So now you’re really learning what they want. What does that say to you about this vision for a beautifully designed course with top guy, Hiten Shah? Is it as important anymore, or do you decide, “You know, I should back-burner that?”
Adii: So we completely back burner that. So we started that stage, made two full-time hires to start building the product, which at that stage, is this kind of hybrid between a community with a built-in accountability tracker almost, like goal-tracking almost, but in a peer-to-peer way. We even called it at that stage, that picot, I had illusions of grandeur and we even started calling it “RunKeeper for Entrepreneurs,” which made so much sense. I mean, that’s the kind of stuff that I think VCs kind of eat up, right?
Andrew: RunKeeper is a really successful, not just mobile app, but a community for athletes. I use RunKeeper every time when I go for a run, and it does keep me accountable, it keeps track of how many runs I’ve done, and so on, and if I add a friend on it, then we can keep each other accountable. I get it. All right. So you’re thinking venture capitalist also. Is that a problem that you’re thinking venture capitalist at this point?
Adii: Because it contradicted everything that at least I knew about myself and the way I thought about business. And at that stage, that was the thing I started aiming for, to build this thing to get VCs interested. That’s the first time or first pivot point where I felt I lost the plot and insight. That wasn’t the company I set out to build, and that definitely convoluted the strategy, the roadmap and everything.
Andrew: I see. No customer was saying to you, “Adii, what I really need is Run Keeper for my business.” It was your understanding of what venture capitalists wanted.
Adii: Well, yes and no. What I’m saying is that I think there was a way. The customers wanted this community thing, and I think we were onto something with this goal tracking. I actually think anyone that wants to build it, there is still plenty of space still to do it but the business model changes inherently there.
It’s much easier to sell something tangible like content, where as now I’m going into the kind of fluffy side of entrepreneurship where I’m talking about emotional supports and accountability and stuff. And my perception…and that’s where we launched a little MVP, little WordPress site to kind of validate this. There was interaction, but then [sunning] gets harder.
So, that’s the typical kind of thing, idea in my mind at least where having to venture back and being able to build a product for a year for two is great because it all comes to a point where it is valuable and you can start charging for it. But again, that completely contradicts my mindset about bootstrapping, charging. From day one, as soon as possible start investing this massive amounts of money into building a product and then eventually kind of adding revenue to it.
Andrew: So, Adii, actually this is the part I don’t understand because it seems like a great idea. Frankly, I hear from the Mixergy audience all the time; they want accountability. They want goal setting, right? So, you built that product for them already. Are you saying that you needed more time to get it right or…?
Adii: Yeah. Yeah. So, we both kind of MVP of that and there was traction. I think that’s the thing people should know. There was definitely traction and then we got derailed further, both me personally, and I’m happy to get into that. I made a bad hire in terms of product development that further derailed things.
Andrew: What’s the bad hire?
Adii: It was just a bad kind of judgment call on my part in terms of someone that I entrusted to develop the product and it didn’t work out.
Andrew: The person couldn’t develop the product that you wanted?
Adii: Skills and character, I think.
Andrew: What do you mean by character?
Adii: Just alignment with the way I work. It isn’t criticism of the individual itself. It just wasn’t a fit in terms of how things were supposed to work out. At that stage, once you’ve invested in someone, even if at that stage it was only a month or two, it’s hard in terms of saying you call it quits and you figure something out. I looked to make good money off a bad, bad stage. So, what I should have done was call it quits and…
Andrew: Hire someone else.
Andrew: So that’s one thing. I made a promise to the audience that as they listen to this, even though it’s not like the super inspiring story of the guy who went from nothing to making millions a year and has a Ferrari and sleeps on dollar bills, even though they don’t get that story, I want to make sure they get what they need, which is learning from your experiences so that they don’t make the same mistakes.
And so they build better companies and hopefully come back and send you thank you notes in the future and say, “Adii, because of you, this is what I was able to do.” And so one thing we’ve learned is if it’s not a good fit, especially when you’re in the early stage of a fast growing company, you’ve got to cut ties and start with someone else. What about on hiring? When you’re trying to hire a developer, do you have any advice for how to hire so that we get the right fit?
Adii: Definitely. That’s the thing. As I said, I made a bad judgment call. I very much believe-and I think this is the most fail proof or fool proof way to do it-is to hire people with enough skills. So, skills definitely being secondary, most people, especially technical people. We’re talking early versions, and it’s not the most technical thing in the world, like building and app for Facebook.
Most people technically should be able to execute in that, but people having that alignment in personality, characteristics, passion, that’s the stuff I’m looking at. That’s where I’ve had most success in WooThemes as well. There was a larger overlap of those individuals we hired. That’s where we hire the most successful individuals.
Andrew: I see. You also say that if you’re building something where you’re charging quickly, it changes the way that you build your product. How?
Adii: I think to some extent it’s much easier whilst bootstrapping is discipline, but having that constraint means priorities become much easier. So you have two parties there. One is I build stuff for new customers, and one is I build stuff to retain my existing customers. And especially the latter is, when I figure out, once I find a paying a customer, they’ll pay you. It’s like, “Adii, I’m not going to continue paying you because you don’t have X.”
And if 50% of those people return to you because of X, it’s an easy decision. So, you simply use the revenue you have to just kind of fuel that next stage without having to make those [Inaudible 00:31:20] guess about what people want. And my caution there is I know I can go ask anyone what they want me to build. The problem is, my opinion, the feedback that you get from people who won’t pay is actually worth jack shit. Like when they’re not paying you it’s not from a valid source.
Andrew: Do you go back to people who weren’t paying you and get their feedback?
Andrew: You did stick with your paying customers. And they’re the ones you are building for because they are the ones who are showing they are willing to pay.
Andrew: All right. You told April Dykman in our Mixergy pre-interview that you are tracking metrics geared towards fundraising, not customer acquisition. What were those metrics starting to become for you?
Adii: It was all around engagement. So, at that stage literally pushing engage metrics. So, if [Inaudible 00:32:10] stuff like logging in multiple times a day kind of showed that this was a crutch people were using on a daily basis. This was a fraction, so questions answered, questions we received from within the community. And eventually [Inaudible 00:32:32] got up to very MVP-ish was the goal tracking. So, people would be setting goals and completing goals. Obviously in a public environment those, from the top of my head, were the kinds of metrics.
Andrew: Did you keep track of that metric? How close they got to the goal?
Adii: Well, not how close they got to it. We would just have a very binary unit as a goal.
Andrew: Got it. So, was that a metric you were keeping track of?
Andrew: I see. And that you should have been keeping track of.
Andrew: Okay. But what you shouldn’t have is, you’re saying, is how often they’re logging in. That’s not that important?
Adii: That was part of it, yes. So it was all those things. And again, from a bootstrapping mindset where the metrics we are tracking went from revenue to something I can gauge was a very big shift, at least in mentality and mindset of how to build a business.
Andrew: I see. And if you could do it over again, you wouldn’t be focusing on engagement. You’d focus on paying customers. Am I getting more paying customers with this feature? That’s the metric that you need to focus on when you’re in the hustle stage?
Adii: Yes. And the thing I can add here-a caveat to that-is I think the latter is fine. Again, it’s fine to build that kind of engagement that will come to me, but it’s a big, foundation- level decision you make at that stage. And now I know in hindsight that’s one that doesn’t sit overly well with me. I’m much more of a bootstrapper than I’ll ever be a venture-backed entrepreneur.
Andrew: And that’s what people admire about you. That’s why people want to be part of the community. They want to see how a guy who has no resources can build something from scratch. And that’s what you did with WooThemes.
Speaking of WooThemes, we’re roughly at the stage where you go back to the WooThemes team and you say, “I’m going to cash out.” Was that an easy process? Was it like selling stock on the market? No, of course not. What was it like?
Adii: No. A divorce. That’s definitely what it felt like. Yeah. I think a lot has been said about cofounder relationships, and I think the one thing that I’ve learned is no cofounder relationship is ever perfect. And what [Inaudible 00:34:46] that process inherently and naturally shines the spotlight on all the shittiest things without ever taking in, or remembering all the good stuff that was there. The ultimate good thing was that together we built this massive, massive business that we’re now quibbling about terms of valuation and kind of the semantics around that. The emotional strain, I mean, the process back and forth, it can last for months…
Andrew: How are you…
Adii: That felt like divorce.
Andrew: I know you’re not going to tell me about how Magnus was shitty or Mark was crappy. How about you? What part is the jerky part of your personality that came through because of the sale?
Adii: The part that wants the best for your family. I mean it’s the part…
Andrew: The part that just needs money right now. I see. And, you can’t wait for them to take a long time. And, you can’t be nice and accept half of what you deserve. I see.
Adii: Exactly. That’s the thing. There was a weird thing. This other thing I can say publicly is money is a weird thing for me. Because money doesn’t motivate me. Getting double amount of money from a sale like that wasn’t going to motivate me. But, if we felt a responsibility…I still feel that responsibility today to extract fair value in relation to…
Andrew: So, it’s not about the money…
Adii: …my family and for the future.
Andrew: …it’s about the fairness.
Adii: Well, the fairness, but that has a monetary component. I mean the way to measure that ultimately is in dollars. As I said, I was definitely aware of what this would mean for my family. Not just kind of saying, “You know what? Let’s not quibble about this. Whatever you guys say is fine. I’ll walk away,” and now that was it. I definitely felt like I had a responsibility to my family to extract maximum fair value from…
Andrew: How long did it take you to separate from WooThemes? How many months of negotiating?
Adii: Three to four months.
Andrew: Three to four. All right, that’s not bad.
Adii: Yeah. Well, if you say so. I mean, it felt like…
Andrew: It did? It could be so much more…
Adii: …[Inaudible 00 37:02]…
Andrew: …for people.
Adii: …experience to me.
Andrew: But it sounds like that was even tougher, too. Wow. You go from one business to the other with a little bit of overlap. That overlap is you trying to figure out a new business, talk to customers, figure out whom you’re going to hire, and get a divorce, not from one person but from two people.
Andrew: That’s intense. Why don’t I take a moment here in this minute of intensity and say that, look, if you out there are an entrepreneur and you need a lawyer, especially if you’re feeling especially cuddly and cozy with your cofounder, think about a lawyer who’s going to help preserve your relationship long term.
That lawyer, I believe, is Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. He will help you not just set up your company right but also set up your relationship with your cofounders right, so if you ever do need a divorce it’s like a prenuptial agreement so that you know what happens in the case of a divorce. But, hopefully, you will not go through that.
And, what’s more important is when it’s time for you to raise money you’re not going to have this crappy company that makes no sense to investors. You’re going to have a company that’s ready to take on investment.
More importantly, if you’re already at the stage where you’re ready to buy a company, you want a lawyer who’s done it multiple times. You want a lawyer who’s ready to take you to the next level, whatever that is for you as an entrepreneur, and who’s not going to say, “Hey, you know what, I’m going to learn with you because I’ve never done it before.” You want a lawyer who’s done it so many times that many of the top entrepreneurs in the tech space and the startup space already know, like, and recommend him. That lawyer, of course, is Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law.
If you want to find out more about him go to walkercorporatelaw.com. But, before I end the sponsorship spot, Adii, do you have any advice as an entrepreneur who’s been through so much for other entrepreneurs who need lawyers? Any legal advice at all? It doesn’t even have to be about Scott Edward Walker.
Adii: Spend the money.
Andrew: Spend a little bit of money on it.
Adii: Yeah. I mean my wife’s an attorney. I will add that I don’t love lawyers at all. But, the experience definitely…I wish as a company we’d probably spent more time and money on it initially. I think that would’ve definitely helped. So, yeah, spend the money. I know it’s not fun money to spend-it never is- but it’s definitely worthwhile in the long term.
Andrew: You know what? People showed me what Scott charges. I thought it was going to be so expensive to set things up right. I said, “Who has that kind of money or the time?” I saw their bills. It’s not that high. It’s really much more reasonable than we expect.
Okay. Now you’re continuing. I talked about all this stuff that’s now on your shoulders, and it’s actually starting to seep out. You actually had…Where is it in my notes here? You had a conversation with someone on your team about a couple of new features. The woman on your team asked you a simple question. Your reaction was? You’re smiling. You know what I’m talking about.
Adii: Yeah, totally. I can remember the conversation, and I didn’t tell her this, obviously. But, in my head I wanted to mute Skype and I wanted to say, “Fuck, I can’t make any more decisions.” That’s literally how it felt. I literally felt like, “Why are you asking me this question? Why do you want me to even consider this kind of feature that you’re not definitely…”
Now I know you have a name for that, which is decision fatigue, but that’s definitely what it felt like, just like in that split second that she asked me the question that sent me over the edge.
Andrew: “One more decision. I can’t make any more decisions. I’m so tired of this. You guys need to do this for you.” I’m surprised that you’re actually able to hold back and not just let that loose by accident.
Adii: Yeah. So that’s where that kind of almost ended, another kind of perspective. That’s where it started kind of a new journey for me in terms of kind of dealing with that attitude that I suddenly found myself in. I almost lost…it definitely [Inaudible 00:40:59] to the people around me-my wife, my family, closest friends. I myself think as entrepreneurs, we’re trained to bullshit everyone, mostly ourselves.
Andrew: What do you mean by train to bullshit everyone? How?
Adii: So as a founder, and later on as CEO, you always [Inaudible 00:41:20] for all stakeholders, so when things go bad, you’re the one downplaying it or tackling it yourself because it shouldn’t go to the team or you shouldn’t worry or whatever. Back home, you don’t tell your wife that you’re struggling at work because you don’t want her to necessarily worry about paying bills and that kind of thing. So you become like the sole conduit for all those kinds of things.
And the emotional and mental challenge of figuring out to go about things, I do think that we bullshit. We say things. We kind of over-exaggerate minor victories or we completely ignore the failures or challenges or stumbling blocks along the way because we want to give people positive and optimistic news and feedback all the time.
Andrew: Yeah, and frankly, I don’t know the alternative. I’ve talked to other entrepreneurs who say you need to level with people. Does someone really want to come into work hearing all of your problems? And then if they do come in to work hearing all your problems, they want to start giving you feedback and advice, but they’re not in a position to give you helpful feedback and advice. So now you’re getting tons of different feedback, tons of different advice from lots of people, and you have to figure out what to do without hurting their feelings while you’re trying to run your company and deal with other problems.
Adii: Exactly. And so the weird thing there was-and this is probably the saving grace, at least in terms of keeping me standing-is about two and a half years ago now I joined an organization called EO: Entrepreneurs Organization. And I essentially kind of have a monthly mastermind group with seven entrepreneurs locally. We meet for five hours, and I could take these things to them, and that definitely helped.
So in terms of . . . I agree. I don’t necessarily think you should level. You shouldn’t necessarily level completely with your spouse or partner. You shouldn’t go back to the team because you don’t necessarily want them to stress. I definitely felt that I could take this to this group of friends that I kind of built through this organization where they could understand. The amazing thing is, in the organization, the protocol is not to give advice at all. It’s just experience sharing and validation. I always left those meetings feeling like I’m not going crazy.
The irony of it all is that was a big part of what I wanted PublicBeta to be, was that kind of space for entrepreneurs to feel like, “I’m not going crazy. I’m hustling. I’m struggling. I can kind of stay optimistic and positive in terms of those challenges.”
Andrew: I see. You shouldn’t have to tell everybody but you should have someone that you can talk to about this.
Andrew: All right. So I see the stress, and I see that that’s becoming a problem. I see that you’re serving almost two masters at the same time: your community and their current need. At the same time venture capitalists and their potential needs. What’s happening though to the product?
Adii: At that stage? I eventually let the individual go, the product and the bad hire earlier. I kind of went back to what I know best, which was to hack it together myself, which was kind of a crazy scary to think about that. Basically, I let all of my technical skills slide whilst focusing on the business side of WooThemes all those years.
Andrew: You were loading up the community features of the site.
Adii: Yeah, so that was the last product. That product never shipped because that kind of…doing that phase of the product development, that’s where I had the conversation when I told you about the additional features that I had to consider. Yeah. And then all through that, after that, I had this epiphany that I couldn’t take anymore. We actually shut the business down. I made the decision to shut it down completely and shut down the product. At that stage, there were paying customers, about 70- odd on monthly subscriptions. We refunded them for the last month that they paid for and just closed the business.
Andrew: I see. So you let go of people and said, “I can’t handle it anymore,” and it wasn’t so much the customer development/customer interview process that failed. It was you that was so burnt out from years of WooThemes, from figuring out this new thing, from not taking a break, from going through a business divorce and you just said, “I have to take a pause.”
Adii: Yes, totally. I think the biggest mistake that I can kind of smile about is not listening to my wife. The odd thing about all of it is we actually agreed that when I eventually left WooThemes, which was always the plan in the longer term, that I would actually take a break, whether it is for a month, six months, a year, whatever the case was, that I would take a break before starting something new. At that stage, I just realized that’s what I should have done. I should have taken a break, rebooted, refreshed and tackled this new startup with that renewed energy.
Andrew: I do see how the product shifted. Where before there was a link to the library, and a description of the content that was to come later on. I am looking at November 29th, 2013 screenshot there says, “Does the startup rollercoaster suck at times? Don’t worry; it does for everyone. PublicBeta is a community of like- minded entrepreneurs that helps you make progress on your goals, and overcome challenges and emotions that you encounter on this rollercoaster ride.”
I don’t see anywhere in this homepage screen shot where you talk about the content. I do see where you just talk about goals and the screenshot is a place for people to chat and talk about it. That’s where the product evolved, and that’s where you were doing great. You just didn’t have the energy to keep moving.
Adii: Yeah. As context there, I think all those shifts, the pivots in terms of products, having that illusion of grandeur, considering holding something that’s venture-backed when that wasn’t the initial plan. Those are all kind of the natural challenges that most entrepreneurs face. We don’t necessarily know what’s a month or six or two years down the line. We just adapt to those things. As those small forks in the road [came up], and I reached them, I just didn’t have the energy and the passion, I think, ultimately, to figure out a way past those.
Andrew: Would keeping it simpler had helped early on so that it doesn’t take up so much time, or is it naturally going to have to take up a lot of time?
Adii: Yeah. So it comes back to not trying not to serve two gods at one time. Personally, I think I’m too obsessive compulsive to do something half-assed. Slow doesn’t work for me in that sense. Plus, trying to both rest or take a break and slowly start building a new thing, those two things are at odds. It is a perfect environment to feel conflicted and not know where the parts are, and have it spill over between these two things. Ultimately, what happened was neither of those could succeed. You wouldn’t be able to take a break nor would this new thing be likely to succeed.
Andrew: How did you feel about making customer calls? After you started doing them, did it get better?
Adii: The calls themselves, yeah. That’s the thing. The interesting thing about Public Beta was I definitely set out to apply all the new knowledge that I have learned over the years with stuff that I either read about or we just learned form making mistakes and figuring out a better way. Having these customer interviews with customers was something that I challenged myself to do.
I mean, I enjoyed them, ultimately. It’s not something that I want to wake up every day and do, necessarily. In that sense, I definitely felt that Public Beta was probably a better challenge that I found stimulates new skills and that I could apply, and the opportunity to apply those skills in a real life environment. So yeah, I learned a lot from doing it.
Andrew: Adii, when I do interviews with people who talk about the customer interview process where you need to interview your customers, and then build product for them and so on, sometimes I worry that I make it sound too easy, and it really isn’t so easy. Where are the hard parts of it that we need to be aware of?
Adii: I think the hard part is listening-really listening-and being aware of any biases. My bias, as I mentioned, was my experience within EO and my own mastermind group. I knew how that valuable that was. So the more people said “community,” the more I heard that, and I went back to my own bias and my own experience in that regard.
So I think the key challenges, and I probably don’t have a real answer in terms of…I think the key challenge is if I had been a better listener, if I had it distilled down to an absolute T what the customers wanted, whether I would have changed the decisions back then. But I think that’s the real challenge there, is really hearing what people want and being able to shift that around in terms of how that should influence your next couple of steps. But that’s, I think, the biggest challenge.
Andrew: I see. So you’re saying maybe they didn’t really want a community, maybe they didn’t need the goal setting button on the left where they type in their goal and it’s a…maybe all they wanted was a simple chat place. Maybe if I just even gave them Facebook as a community, as opposed to even a WordPress based community that I’ve built from scratch, that would’ve been simpler. But your bias was-and we all have it-to say, “I can code it.”
Andrew: Got it. By the way, I’m shifting in my seat a lot, I should say why. So, if you look right over there, you can see the power, right?
Andrew: Which is a little distracting in the interview, so I’ve started to lift up the camera. But if I lift up the camera, I need to not keep my chair down here, which is what might be comfortable to work in, because I look smaller on camera, so I have to go higher. The problem with going up higher is now my thighs touch the desk.
But I’m working on design. Unlike you, I don’t gravitate towards design naturally. So I’m working on it. One new addition today is I have a t-shirt on underneath this, because when I wear my regular shirt, apparently my chest hair bleeds through and Olivia can see it. She said, “You’ve got to put…”
This is what I came in to work with, this shirt. It looks pretty nice, but apparently it’s a little thin, so Olivia said, “Put on a t-shirt underneath,” so I have it. But this t-shirt goes all the way down to here. Should I show you?
Adii: Yeah, go for it.
Andrew: I have so much chest hair. I think I’m going to lose listeners over this. I’d be so disgusted. I’d go, “This is a little too…” Look. There it is right there. So now I’m…
Adii: I wouldn’t be too concerned about listeners, though. I would be concerned about whoever from CNBC is watching this.
Andrew: CNBC is never going to have me on. First of all, I spit at the top of this interview. Second, I shift. Can you imagine if you’re listening to Larry King or someone and all he’s doing…Actually, I believe he does. I believe he does and the editor shifts away.
Adii: Did he do it on day one, though, hen he was trying to make a name for himself.
Andrew: Oh, when he was trying to make a name for himself he was drunk on New York Radio. You can listen to him ramble on for a while. There are people who email me all the time his drunk recordings, because he was drunk on camera.
Adii: Then you have a future.
Andrew: There’s hope for me, yes. I’m preparing for it. I’m wearing this. I’m going to start to look a little bit better. I should start asking more intelligent questions, too. Actually, no, my questioning, I think is where I really put a lot of my emphasis. It’s the design that now I need to step up a notch, and I am.
All right. What about this? Is it possible that because you got more than a million dollars that you just didn’t need it as much? You just suddenly had some money; you have to go and use it. It is.
Adii: Yeah. There are multiple things. I think what many people don’t consider…I’ve definitely felt the second time in terms of starting up was harder. Both having that money, so being able to self-fund the business. Also, the interesting thing that Hiten Shah told me in conversation, he said “Adii, realize there’s a big difference between bootstrapping and self-funding a business.” That stage, for me, was one in the same thing. So having that money on me, it really takes certain pressures off of it. The thing that I struggled personally with, at that stage, was having that space both in funding and experience, and knowing where the pitfalls were, those kinds of things, I was fearful of the fact that I could never go back to the point where literally hustling to save my life. That survival instinct, that thing that I had when I started up initially when I didn’t have much to use but also don’t want to fail.
Andrew: You said, “I don’t ever want to go back to that hustle. And if it means that I take a gamble by paying for salary for someone for too long and I don’t get it back, I’m not willing to do it. That going back to that hustle where I need to make the bills, never again.”
Adii: Not the hustle, necessarily. In building a new product right now, I can tell you, I have that hustle back. What I’m saying is, with PublicBeta, I was fearful that I would have that hustle anymore.
Adii: It was just too adventurous. And, yes, what you’re saying there is there’s a part of me that said, “The success I had has built a certain [Inaudible 00:55:15], if I can call it that, for myself and my family.” And I knew I wouldn’t compromise on that. That’s where the risk adversity comes in, in terms of just saying that I can take all the money that I made from WooThemes and just risk it on something. I wouldn’t want to do that, because I wouldn’t go back to 10 steps again.
Andrew: I think that there might be a difference between bootstrapping and self-funding. We connect them both the same. As long as you’re not taking out that money, you’re technically bootstrapping your company, but it’s different if you’re putting money into the business than if you’re not at all. I found for myself, when I bootstrapped the first version of Mixergy, which was an invitation site, I was self-funding it. I had cash. I had to spend hundreds of thousands-$300,000, I think it was-on the business.
That’s a mistake. Putting my own money into the business is a big mistake, because, unlike an investor who puts money in, I don’t have to justify myself to myself, as I would to an investor. Unlike officially, truly bootstrapping, I don’t have to justify myself to my customers and say, “Do you like this enough to pay for me to go build it, or to continue it?” That in- between place of self-funding, I think, is very dangerous, and I know for me it was very dangerous.
Adii: I totally agree. That’s why anyone that asks me what I think about bootstrapping, I absolutely love bootstrapping. Bootstrapping is ultimately a discipline, and a kind of vehicle, more than it’s a source of funding. I completely agree. I think it’s possible to bootstrap whether you’re self-funding or venture-backed, or neither of the two. But I couldn’t, at that stage of PublicBeta. I confused those two things. I did the same thing as you did. Because of the luxury I was afforded, the space I was afforded, I ignored a lot of signals that probably should not have been ignored.
Andrew: I remember Hiten telling me this, and other entrepreneurs saying this: “If you are going to talk to your customers, don’t build out what they want. Build out the simplest version of what you think can satisfy what they need and what their problem is.” If you’re spending money on developers, maybe that doesn’t push you to create the simplest version. Is that right?
Adii: Yes, certainly. I think it ultimately was…again, building out the simplest version is sometimes very easy to say. It’s possible to do that for validation purposes. But in terms of actually selling something that’s very simple, especially where…again, it is something very interesting to note, I think. PublicBeta, in its later versions, was much more vital than it ever was a [painkiller]. That means, if you have a very simple version, people just don’t pay for that. The urgency, because it’s not that big a [Inaudible 00:57:54].
Andrew: Ah. “I’m not going to pay just to chat with people, but I am going to pay for a really good solution to a problem.” I see. If you had just said, “Hey, doesn’t the rollercoaster of startups suck at times? Do you want to pay to chat with other people?” it wouldn’t have gone over as well. I get that.
Andrew: What about getting leads? You can only do one interview on, what was it, Beta List, which we talked about, that sent you some traffic? Your list, I thought, was in the hundreds of thousands, but it’s a personal, private mailing list, which has, what, 3000 people today. That also is harder when you’re starting out, isn’t it?
Adii: Yes, totally. I can say that’s probably one of my biggest regrets in terms of exiting from WooThemes, is not having that conduit that you suddenly have. I think when I left WooThemes, the email addresses list was over half a million people. Not having that foundation, that kind of obvious channel to do things or to build a new business, or new products, was a challenge. Again, that’s a [Inaudible 00:58:53] change.
But then again, that’s where the hustle comes from. That’s the adrenaline and the challenge that comes with building a new business, opening up new channels of finding the customer that finds the product helpful. I wasn’t actually concerned about…from the get-go, we had about [Inaudible 00:59:13] in recurring revenue within the first couple of weeks.
Andrew: How much money was recurring?
Interview: About $2500.
Andrew: Two and a half? That’s pretty damn good.
Interview: Yeah. In terms of recurring business, in light of trying to start having that kind of revenue, that’s nice traction just there. That’s not to say it’s a million-dollar idea, but it’s starting nicely [Inaudible 00:59:37].
Andrew: Here’s what I think. I think you were on track. I think the fact that you got about $2500 a month in recurring revenue is proof that you were on track. Could you have kept the product simpler? Absolutely. Could you have maybe hired someone a little bit later, after you understood the product, or maybe found someone who was more in line with you, who could keep shifting and building the product as you need? Absolutely.
You would have probably done all of that, and you could have built it from, if you got to $2500 so quickly, to maybe $10,000 fairly quickly, and broken even, and continued the product. I think this process would have worked for you, except that you were burnt out, that you didn’t take a break; you didn’t listen to your wife. Right? So, if we were to learn…
Andrew: …a big lesson from this, it’s yes, this customer interviewing process does work. It will take some time, but it will work if you focus on keeping it simple enough that you can maintain it long enough to see it through. You’re going to be okay. And, take some time so you don’t burn out.
Adii: Yeah, and I think ultimately… I mean this sounds narcissistic, but I think in every business the entrepreneur is the most important person in that business. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, whatever that means, if you’re not taking care of yourself…I think all this kind of bullshit of being able to push yourself for weeks on end and doing 16-hour days, then after that taking a break, I don’t think that works.
I think it’s a consistent kind of thing on a daily basis. Whether it’s meditation or exercise, whether it’s peer group, whatever it is, you have to take care of yourself holistically. Otherwise, I think most people eventually just run out of steam.
Andrew: All right. If anyone wants to follow up and do… I’m going to ask you one more question here that’s a little bit personal. But, it’s important, and I think you’re cool with me asking it.
If anyone wants to follow up on this, we do at Mixergy create courses. I do not have anywhere near the slickness of Adii-or that he was aspiring to. Frankly, you saw my chest hair. You can see I don’t even trim that. And, I should. I should. I trimmed my beard this morning. I should’ve just moved the clippers down and trimmed the chest hair, look a little nicer. So, I don’t even have that. But, what I do have is people who are entrepreneurs who we grill before we even bring on to teach their courses. One of the people who’s on is, we mentioned Hiten Shah.
Hiten Shah created KISSmetrics, and he got help from a guy named Jason Evanish, who did customer interviews with potential customers that Hiten Shah wanted to have on KISSmetrics. He asked them what their problems were. He figured out their needs. Then, KISSmetrics built small solutions to satisfy those needs. Then, they went back and they asked more questions. They did this whole process that Adii went through, and we explain it in this course on Mixergy.
So, do a search for… I was going to say Evanish. But, frankly, if you do a search for Evanish you’re going to misspell it. Let me see how to spell Evanish. Do I even know it?
Adii: It’s Evanish, isn’t it?
Andrew: Is it Evanish?
Adii: With an “I.” I think so.
Andrew: Oh, did I…
Adii: That’s how…
Andrew: Have I been saying his name wrong?
Adii: …[Inaudible 01:02:24]…
Andrew: I really want to work with the guy even more.
Andrew: Evanish? I say Evanosh. You’re right, it’s spelled Evanish. Jason Evanish. E-V-A-N-I-S-H. See? Never going to make it on CNBC. Jason Evanish. Anyway, he did a really great course where he broke down that process.
Cindy Alvarez, who worked with Hiten Shah, did the exact same thing. Not the exact same thing. Also broke down this process. I urge you, if you’re on Mixergy right now, type in Cindy Alvarez or Jason Evanish and check out those courses. If you’re not part of Mixergy Premium, sign up already. I think you’re really going to love it and you’re going to say to me “Andrew, why are you charging so little for it when these two courses are so fantastic?” What you will not, unfortunately, get is community, and I know that’s something that we need to add. I just don’t know how to do it.
All right, here’s the thing. The final part, Adii. I am looking at your interview here. The whole team apparently is involved in recruiting you. You must’ve gotten 50 emails from Andrea over the last few months. It took us four months and 21 days to get you to record today. Is that because you’re taking a break, or is that because you just don’t like us and you finally accepted only because Andrea would’ve hustled until you got here?
Adii: Yeah, well…
Andrew: What’s going on here, seriously?
Adii: Initially, it was totally a break. When Andrea first reached out, I was in the middle of taking a break just rebooting myself. I only started working again full time on a new product about two months ago. So, yeah, that was the only reason. I promise, I would not leave you in the lurch and not be on Mixergy.
Andrew: There was no embarrassment in the whole process? There was no, “Hey, come on guys, you really want me to talk about this? How about waiting until my next business succeeds, and then having me on? Then, as part of the conversation, we could talk about how there was this one business at one point that didn’t do so well.” Was that part of it?
Adii: That’s part of the strategy, the more publicity I get, so in a year’s time you’re going to contact me again and say, “Adii, please come on board and chat about the new business, what you’ve done there.” It’s all just strategic on my part.
Andrew: All right. I do think it’s important to leave what Tim Sykes says are breadcrumbs. He said, “Look, if all I do,” Tim Sykes said, “are interviews on Mixergy when things go great, I’m going to look like a liar. But, if every once in a while when things aren’t going well I come back and I do an interview, even if it doesn’t get me anything in the moment, when people go and do some research they can see oh, yeah, there was this period where he didn’t do so well. And, he talked about it openly. And, I learned a lot from it.”
And, it’s not just, “Hey, look at me, I’m doing great, look at me, I’m doing great.” But, here are the ups and downs of a guy who’s working like everyone else, but he’s delivering exceptional results unlike anyone else. Let’s learn what he did.
I’m looking forward to having you back on here, and Andrea will start hounding you right now. We don’t expect you to even do the interview now. We’re going to start with the anticipation that a year from now we’ll finally get you back on. And, whether it is a year from now, or five years from now, or 10 years from now, or even 10 days from now, I’m looking forward to it.
I love the way you break down what you’ve done, and I’ve learned so much from you over the years. It’s an honor to have you on here in good times and bad. Thanks for doing this interview.
Adii: Listen, thanks for having me, Andrew.
Andrew: All right, if you guys want to follow up or find a way to say thank you, Adii, I think his personal site is just adii.me. Right?
Adii: Yeah, that’s it.
Andrew: Great site. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye guys.