How a podcast-lover who was terrified of investors built a multimillion dollar test-prep business – with Bhavin Parikh

In today’s interview, I want to find out how a podcast-lover, like me, ended up building a really successful test-prep business. And we’ll find out about how big it got and hear how he did it.

Bhavin Parikh is the co-founder of Magoosh. It’s an online education startup which seeks to make high quality education material accessible to everyone.

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About Bhavin Parikh

Bhavin Parikh is the co-founder of Magoosh, an online education startup which seeks to make high quality education material accessible to everyone.

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com. This is home of the ambitious upstart. And the place where entrepreneurs come to talk about how they built their businesses.

In today’s interview, I want to find out how a podcast lover, like me, ended up building a really successful test prep business. And we’ll find out about how big it got and hear how he did it. His name is Bhavin Parikh. He is the co-founder of Magoosh. It’s an online education startup which seeks to make high quality education material accessible to everyone.

This whole interview, this whole shebang, this whole conversation is sponsored by the man who’s paying me to talk. How great is that? His name is Scott Edward Walker. He is the entrepreneur’s lawyer. You can see him at Walker Corporate Law. But I’ll tell you more about him later. First, Bhavin, welcome.

Bhavin: Hey Andrew. Great to be here.

Andrew: Thanks for coming on.

Bhavin: Absolutely.

Andrew: So I clearly didn’t express enough about how big the business is. We’ll let that unfold in the interview. I didn’t express what’s different about Magoosh. We’ll let that unfold in the interview too. But I did start off with this podcast fandom that you and I both share. What’s it like for the people who love you? What’s it like for you wife to be exposed to this?

Bhavin: Yeah. It’s interesting. She gets very frustrated with me constantly listening to podcasts. So basically what happens is I’ll wake up in the morning, I’m in the shower, I take my Android phone and a small little speaker and I’m listening to Mixergy or this weekend’s startups.

And she’ll come in to brush her teeth and there’s just sound. And she’s just like, “This is ridiculous. I’m leaving and I deal with this when you’re done.” Or I’ll be cooking or doing the dishes and I have earphones in listening to podcasts and she’ll ask me question and I don’t hear her and she’s like, “Oh, you have your earphones in again” and it’s extremely frustrating.

That being said, I try to actually engage her in listening to the podcast, try to find some interesting ones, and then we can listen to them together while we’re cooking. Then it’s something we can share rather than something that I do that just frustrates her.

Andrew: I know what you mean. I’ve had the same situation. It was the one difficulty about moving in with my wife that I used to listen to podcast all the time on stereo. Any room that I was in, there’d be some podcast going and if not that, then I might have some music going.

But it’s hard when there’s someone else trying to brush their teeth or trying to make food or trying just to talk me, like you said, and I have my earphones in. I always have to say, “I’m sorry, hang on a second” and hit the button. But do you get anything out of it beyond entertainment?

Bhavin: Yeah. I get a ton of value. Inspiration is probably the first thing. I remember vividly, actually, and I have a pretty bad memory, so me, that’s impressive, listening to a specific Mixergy interview with Ryan Carson. It was in, I want to say, late 2011 where they are doing Tree House and video learning for developers and we were doing video leaning for test prep. So it’s very similar products. And they were doing one and a half or two million in [??] when he was on your show.

And for me, that was an inspiration because we viewed ourselves as slightly behind them but knew that was achievable. It’s just great to hear those stories where you feel like, Oh, that’s a company I look up to, a company I aspire to and we can get there. And then also just for motivation on a daily basis of little ideas. And I’m like, Oh, even a company that might be a few years behind us, I hear you or someone else interview them and come up with a specific idea of talking to customers more often.

It’s something we did in our early days that we forget to do as we’ve grown. And I tell our team, “We need to talk to customers.” And all of a sudden, they’ve scheduled 20 customer calls for the week and it’s amazing.

Andrew: Oh, that’s so cool.

Bhavin: Yeah.

Andrew: And I found it actually even more useful when I didn’t live here San Francisco. I moved here not too long ago. And I was living in Argentina or living Washington, D.C. and I wouldn’t have the kinds of conversations that I could listen to on a podcast.

Bhavin: Yeah. I was going to say, for me, it’s interesting, even though I live in the Bay area, I live in Berkeley, I don’t have that many of these conversations. I dread going across the Bay taking [??]. So it’s just a great opportunity for me to still be at home, still be with my wife, but feel like I’m totally connected to the entrepreneurial world. And it’s interesting because you and I’ve never talked before this interview. But I feel like I know you from all the interviews you’ve done. I’ve probably listened to well over 100.

Andrew: You know what? Actually, why don’t you come to my place, if for not a business conversation– we need to get into the actual interview here? But not this Sunday, come the following Saturday the 5th. Come with your wife, have brunch at our place. I’ll invite a couple of other friends over.

Bhavin: I’m almost positive it won’t work for her.

Andrew: Why not?

Bhavin: She and I met competitively, like Ultimate Frisbee. We both played in college, and now she plays on the best women’s team in the country.

Andrew: Really?

Bhavin: Ah, yeah. And so…

Andrew: What is it with competitive? You know what? So she’s going to be playing on the weekend. I heard when you were working at Deloitte your boss there said, “Would you work on a project?” And you said, “What? I can’t do it because of competitive Frisbee.”

Bhavin: Yes, yes. So I was working at Deloitte. We had consulting projects and a project manager had this project that was sort of going awry, and he wanted to bring me into get it on track and to hit the date. And you have a goal line date where you’re taking one enterprise application system and replacing it with another one.

That date that they wanted to go live was on Monday after one of our biggest tournaments. It was the regional tournament where if we finished first or second we’d make it to nationals. I lived in Philadelphia at the time. My then girlfriend, now wife, was in Hawaii in grad school. She was actually flying in.

Andrew: Mm-hmm. Give that audio a chance to catch up. Sorry, you were saying, “She was flying in.”

Bhavin: Yeah. She was flying in from Hawaii for the weekend for this tournament because we’re just fanatics about Ultimate. And so I told the project manager, “Look, I’m on vacation that Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Typically you work through the weekend before a goal like that. I can help you, but I’m not going to be around. It’s not negotiable.

So he told me, “If you get this ready by Thursday instead of the Monday that it’s supposed to be ready, I will buy you a ticket to Hawaii to visit her in the future. And so I basically worked my tail off for four weeks. I politicked with the clients to make sure they would stay late because a lot of them would normally leave at 5 p.m. And I convinced them to stay to 6:00 or 7:00 so that we could get the work done. Got it done and got to play in the tournament.

We qualified for nationals that year and got my free ticket to Hawaii.

Andrew: [laughs] And it’s not just because of Frisbee. I think this shows the kind of person who you are. You had a friend when you were growing up who said to you, “You never fail at anything, right?” And so you should do what? He even gave you career advice back when you were a kid.

Bhavin: Yeah, yeah. So one of my best friends just told me that usually when you put your mind to something, you tend to succeed at it. He told me, “I’ve never really seen my fail, only when you don’t try.” And so he said I should be an entrepreneur because he’s like you’re probably going to do reasonable well at that or very well at that. And I think he always had a lot more confidence in me than I did.

It’s one of those things where I’m afraid to try new things often for fear of failure. And so I keep that with me, pushing myself to try new things.

Andrew: Why are you able to succeed when you set your mind to something where most people aren’t?

Bhavin: I actually don’t have a great answer for that. I think for me I just maniacally focus and basically I think everything is a puzzle or a problem, and I work at it and work at it until I feel like I’ve done well at it. But because I feel that I do typically well, I will admit that I’m very scared to try new things.

We didn’t really talk too much about the company, but when I started I was deathly afraid of fundraising, getting in front of investors, sharing our story. I didn’t really like public speaking. These are all things that I’ve gotten much, much better at over time, but trying something new is always difficult for me because I’ve set such high expectations of myself. And I know when I’m trying something new I’m not going to be very good.

Andrew: I see. And so it’s because you don’t start as many things and then you focus on the new things, and you’ll obsess about them.

Bhavin: Ah, yeah. And then I have people in my life who push me to try more things and I obsess about that. And I tend to [??],

Andrew: Who pushes you?

Bhavin: My wife. She encourages me to try new things. So my former co- founder at Magoosh, Hounsoo used to push me to try new things. He would sort of live outside his comfort zone, and so he always pushed me to try new things. My friend when I was growing up, he told me that I typically don’t fail at things. He always encourages me to try something new, whether it’s scuba diving, whatever it is, just, “I know you’re scared. I know you’re uncomfortable” or “You don’t want to do this or that but you should try it. You’ll probably be pretty good or you’ll survive.”

Andrew: You did have great co-founders. The first co-founder, as I understand it, was — am I pronouncing his name right? Pejman.

Bhavin: Yeah, Pejman.

Andrew: Pejman. How did you and Pejman meet and decide that you were going to go start this business?

Bhavin: Sure. We went to business school at Berkeley in 2008, and we met in the fall. So Pejman was a classmate along with me and Hounsoo. We were not part of the business yet. And Pejman came to us and we’d work together on a case study and he liked working with us, so he pitched this idea that he had been working on, which was for Magoosh, and it was people-power test run?

Andrew: What does that mean back then, when it was just in the idea stage?

Bhavin: Yeah. So he had actually spent time and money on it before coming to business school, so it was a little more than an idea, but in his mind it was a community of students who would upload test questions and answer each other’s questions. Not a forum necessarily, but more of an interface where you upload the question like it would look on the actual exam, on the actual GMAT or the SAT. And then, other students would answer it and it would track your metrics and what not.

Andrew: How much money did he spend getting this idea off the ground?

Bhavin: So he spent about roughly $10,000, but he did it with another friend of his, Vikram, so they were the original two co-founders. Vikram was not in business school with us, and they spent $10,000 and they both worked on it for maybe six months. And then they pitched me and Hounsoo on it.

We also felt the pain of preparing for the GMAT prior to coming to business school. We understood that their classes were very expensive and don’t always work, and then books just aren’t that effective. And so we wanted to bridge the gap with an online product, and at the time there weren’t that many around. And so we jumped onboard, and then we sort of had this launch, and we realized that no one was interested in what we spent money and time on.

Andrew: Why not?

Bhavin: Ah, so, it’s interesting. We put it up there and the feedback that we got, and a lot of this feedback came from our classmates who had just recently taken the GMAT, was, “I would never use a product where I can contribute content.” And so that was a really interesting insight and we heard that again and again and again. And what we found out is when you’re studying for these high-stakes tests like the GMAT, you need to do really well.

People want to learn from experts. People want to learn from someone who’s been tutoring this for ten or 15 years and knows the exam inside and out. And it’s not just about the money. I mean the $100 that you might pay for a product like this. While it could be significant, it’s a lot cheaper than other options, but it’s more about the time. If you’re going to invest three to six months studying for something, you want to know that it’s actually going to make a difference and that you hadn’t wasted that time.

And so that was some really interesting learning for us, and we realized, wow, we totally screwed this up. We could have learned this a lot earlier had we just started asking people, instead of building the whole thing sort of in stealth mode, and punching. I mean I don’t think we’d call it in stealth mode when we really talked too much about it. That was a major learning for us.

Andrew: I see the early version of the site was Magoosh is a destination to ask, answer, and discuss questions. Was a forum part of it at that point?

Bhavin: Under each question there was sort of a forum. But it wasn’t a separate forum, it was just discuss–

Andrew: Kind of like there might be under this interview a set of comments where people can post comments, read comments, answer comments, right? I intentionally by the way took a long time asking that question because your video froze, and I wanted to give it a chance to catch up. I see. All right. So you put all this time and effort into it, or frankly Pejman does. And it doesn’t work. What do you do?

Bhavin: Yeah. So it doesn’t work, and we’re sitting around, thinking now — we, Hounsoo and I read obsessively about the Lean Startup movement which was just starting back then. Steve Blank was actually teaching a class at Haas, which since we were first year’s we couldn’t get into. But we read all of his blog posts, we read Eric Ries’s stuff, and we read about this notion of an MVP, a minimum viable product, and so we started over.

And we surveyed our classmates, found out that, yes, indeed they will pay for a product where they’re learning from experts. And so we did two things: one is, try to find out if we could find any experts, and then the second is, build a site in PowerPoint [chuckle] so that we could test it with our classmates without spending any development time.

Andrew: Really? PowerPoint?

Bhavin: Yeah. so we used a combination of PowerPoint and Balsamiq, a mock- up tool, and we basically like create these little pages in PowerPoint and make it a clickable website, and then we would sit down with our classmates, who had recently taken the GMAT so they were great user- testers, and we would ask them to walk through the site and share their thoughts.

Andrew: Wait. So Balsamiq is what you would lay out, what you did the wire frame of the site in, and then PowerPoint is what you would use to make it function almost like a real website. So if someone clicked the button, it would go to another slide that would have a Balsamiq wire frame page on it, and look like it was the next step in the process. Do I have that right?

Bhavin: Yeah, that’s about right. And think in the very early version, we didn’t even use Balsamiq. We just laid out the pages in PowerPoint, we just found Balsamiq made it easier because they had some preset buttons and things that…

Andrew: Yeah.

Bhavin: …we could just drag and drop. But, yeah, you basically nailed it.

Andrew: What did you learn from them other than hey, they like experts?

Bhavin: Well, we learned a lot about interaction. I think in one of the early versions of the site we had three calls to action on the home page. So, three different things someone could do. In our user testing we found that was extremely confusing even though it made perfect sense to us.

We basically just kept iterating on the mock up and on the PowerPoint to a point where people would go through the flow, get our messaging, get the interaction, and they would say oh I would sign up for this. That took a while, but when we got to the point we were like all right, we got something here. Now we can start thinking about actually building the site.

Andrew: What year was this roughly?

Bhavin: This was in early 2009.

Andrew: 2009, and at the time it was just GMAT, no GRE.

Bhavin: Correct.

Andrew: Okay.

Bhavin: It was just GMAT. We were in business school. We had all just taken the GMAT, so we were just focusing on GMAT.

Andrew: I see. And, actually, I can see how the site evolved. It was just one big purple button on the site that said try a question.

Bhavin: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s what you wanted people to do. You got rid of everything except for that. You also have, if I’m looking at the right version of the site, you say seat plans and pricing. Why did you decide to charge right from the start?

Bhavin: We didn’t actually charge right from the start. That might’ve been a little later.

Andrew: Okay.

Bhavin: By the time we launched the site, it was summer of 2010. We launched with just one question and then collected email addresses.

Andrew: Oh, wait. If I click the button saying try a question, you just give me one test prep question and collect my email address. Then, you’d be able to follow up with me later on when the actual fully functioning product was launched?

Bhavin: It was something like that. In fact, I don’t think that try a question button even existed at that time.

Andrew: Okay.

Bhavin: I don’t know. It might’ve been even before that where it was just you go to the site. There’s one page. There’s a question. You answer the question. You see a video that shows you how to tackle the question. Then, we give you a box for an email address and say if you like this give us your email address.

Andrew: Okay. So that’s what you used to collect email addresses for people who would eventually become customers.

Bhavin: Correct. Then, as we started adding, say, a login and ten questions – and we just did this all in public, we’d just add these things – then people could sign up for free. Then, we left it for free for a few months.

This is June, July of 2009, summer of 2009. We were going to charge in August of 2009, but the payment part wasn’t built yet. So, we kept extending the free trial until the payment was ready. Then, we had several hundred customers who had tried it out for free, so we were ready to test payment.

Andrew: What did this first version cost you?

Bhavin: The first version… Oh…

Andrew: Sorry, I should call it actually…

Bhavin: …cost us…

Andrew: The first version was a $10,000 product that Pejman had put together. What did version 2.0 cost?

Bhavin: Probably another $10,000.

Andrew: Really? Why would it cost so much when you’re basically just hard coding the question in and collecting email addresses?

Bhavin: Good question. Sorry, I was thinking of the whole summer cost $10,000…

Andrew: So this was just one small iteration in a series of iterations that took a whole summer and cost $10,000.

Bhavin: Correct.

Andrew: Got it. And, by the end of the summer what did the product look like?

Bhavin: We had 200 questions for math, and each question had a video that explained how to tackle it. Then, there were some analytics.

Andrew: Interesting. You ask a question. You collect an email address. You iterate from that. What can you iterate based on people just answering one question or two questions?

Bhavin: We knew what… We had a vision of what the product was going to look like based on all of our user testing in early 2009. The reason we put it out there with one question was just to collect email addresses. But, the iteration wasn’t based on students’ feedback as much as it was based on the feedback we collected earlier in the year.

We just sort of built it in front of our customers. We knew exactly what it was going to look like based on the earlier set of feedback.

Andrew: Got it, okay.

Bhavin: So, we just built it…

Andrew: So it wasn’t so much about feedback to change the vision of the product. It wasn’t about launching in stages so that you can get feedback and change the whole vision of the product. It was launching in stages because that’s how long it took you to create each stage, and you figured let’s just release it when we create it.

Bhavin: Exactly, rather than wait three months and release something that was sort of more fully baked just in case there were any major issues. We had more confidence this time because we’d done a lot of testing before we started building. But, just in case there were any issues we figured hey, we’re just going to release… Every time we have something to release, we’re going to release it.

Andrew: Wow. That takes a little bit of guts, especially if you’re releasing for your friends, doesn’t it? Because they could judge it. They could feel like well this is all this guy’s working on.

Bhavin: It’s funny. You say that, and I’ve heard you ask other people that question. For us it was just like we messed up so badly the first time around by not asking anyone that it was painful enough that this just seemed like an obvious thing to do. It was one of those things where we would rather know it’s bad now, because it’s going to be painful to find out it’s bad later. We learned that lesson the hard way the first time around with the $10,000 version.

Andrew: You know, it seems like such a basic thing right now to say yeah, just release in stages. Yes, test. Yes, don’t wait until it’s finished and then release it.

But, I have to tell you, it wasn’t too long ago I was living in Washington D.C. On the floor that I was working on was an entrepreneur who took time out to build a test prep site. He was an incredibly good test prep teacher, and he decided he was going to create a membership site to teach prep online so he wouldn’t have to keep taking people in.

I would watch him spend nights and weekends away from his family building his site and getting it all up and running. I won’t say the name of the site, but last I looked I think it’s gone. Because he waited, I think, until it was all done to release it. In his mind anything less than great isn’t worth producing it.

I don’t want to speak for him, but as an outsider talking to him and getting to see his process that’s what it felt like. It seems like an obvious process, because I talk to the winners who make it work. It’s still so hard for most people to accept, and they don’t do it.

Bhavin: Yeah. That makes sense to me. I definitely don’t want to trivialize how, you know, normal it seems. For us I think the biggest thing was that we went through the pain ourselves of trying to build something that we thought people wanted, putting it out there, and people telling us there’s no way I’ll use this. We just learned from our own experience and then realized wow, the winners seem to do this. Maybe we should do it, too.

Andrew: I see. Yeah, I guess a kid who touches a hot stove is much less likely to do it again…

Bhavin: Exactly.

Andrew: …and will really internalize that lesson.

Usually at this point I would do the sponsorship spot for Scott Walker and talk about he’s the entrepreneur’s lawyer. I’m going to wait until we talk about some of the challenges that you had with structuring the business, considering you have co-founders and investors, and then we can talk about what you could’ve done differently or what advice you have for other people based on what worked for you. And, we’ll introduce Scott at that point.

For now, let’s continue with the story. Now you have something that works. When it’s time to charge, was it easy to get customers to pay for test prep?

Bhavin: No. They’re willing to try it for free. But, we started charging. We didn’t know what we were doing there, so we just threw up a price – I think 29 per month. You could get a discount maybe if you bought for three months. I don’t remember. It’s $29 which is extremely cheap for a GMAT prep site.

What we learned quickly is, one, price is a signal of quality. We found that out by talking to our customers, surveying them when they signed up for a trial but didn’t convert. They thought well this must not be any good, you’re only charging $29.

The other thing is we learned a monthly subscription doesn’t really work for test prep because you have a fixed end date. So you have a fixed date at which you’re going to take the test. People are used to paying for a class or for a book, and they pay one time and now you commit.

The monthly notion, because there’s a fixed end date, didn’t make sense to the students. They were just like well, why wouldn’t I just wait until the last month and try to cram – which is bad for them and bad for us because we want them to improve their scores using Magoosh.

So we were able to get a few paying customers. I think in the first month we got ten, and one of them was my cousin. It’s one of those things, and he’s not even studying for the GMAT. He just wanted to give us money.

We realized wow, building the product was hard, but getting people to pay for the product felt much, much harder. That was actually a turning point in terms of the team. There were four of us. There was me, Pejman, and Hounsoo, all in business school, and then there was Vikram – Pejman’s friend – who was not in business school.

Pejman was really interested in product, so even though he was one of the original co-founders he realized we were sort of at a point where iterating on the product wasn’t going to help us get more customers. We couldn’t even figure out how to get traffic to the site.

Maybe this is something, again, that feels obvious to me now, but building a great product doesn’t mean that the traffic will just come. Pejman realized that, so he decided he wanted to move on from Magoosh because he wanted to build up his product skills and plan on getting a real job after business school, a real job that pays money.

Then, it was me, Hounsoo, and Vikram. Vikram was working in India, and Hounsoo didn’t really have much of a relationship with him. So, it was just tough to make that work. Having co-founders is sort of like being married, and you really just need to have complete trust and faith and alignment with your co-founders, and it just wasn’t there with Vikram.

And so we just ended up parting ways. This is actually a time where we realized we totally screwed up, how we split the equity. We had got to a point where we split it nearly a quarter each, and now we have two people who are leaving. And that was going to be a problem.

Andrew: So how do you do that when someone leaves before the company really takes off, but he is the original founder. He has about a quarter of the business. What do you do?

Bhavin: So we didn’t know anything about vesting. We didn’t realize that founders or any employees should vest over four years, typically equity over four years. And so we had to educate ourselves. We talked to lawyers then, but we’d already signed the paperwork that said all of us were fully vested, even though we barely sort of worked on the business.

And so it was a long discussion and negotiation and with Pejman it was a little easier because we were on very good terms. We were very close. He was physically located here, and he was going to continue helping in an advisory role. But with Vikram we were sort of parting ways to a greater degree.

It was just a lot of phone calls because he’s in India, we’re in Berkeley talking about, “Hey, we screwed up how we formed the company and if we’d done it right you would have gotten “this much” not 25% but “this much”. We tried to share articles with him to show him that typically this is how vesting is done and just have those conversations.

I will say emotionally I know it was tough for him. It was tough for us, but he was really reasonable about it. And after many conversations we got to a point where he still owns a part of the company which is great, but it’s more reflective of what he would have owned if he had been on a vesting schedule.

Andrew: Okay.

Bhavin: And that was a painful lesson, and luckily we were able to come out the other side okay.

Andrew: What a tough conversation to have all the way around? So I’m guessing then that your advice will get into the sponsorship spot right now. Scott Edward Walker, he’s the entrepreneur’s lawyer. You see already if you’re listening to me and you’ve heard other interviews that entrepreneurs have different legal needs than the average entrepreneur or actually the average business owner because of issues like this.

If you have co-founders, they’ll do things that are pushing the boundaries and you’ll have bigger companies sue you. You have issues that other business people don’t have, and that’s why Scott Edward Walker specializes in entrepreneurs, in our tech space, so he can understand all these issues and help advise you, help your business. If you need a lawyer, check out WalkerCorporateLaw.com.

I’ve got to ask you though. Based on your experience I might want to have a vesting schedule, but it sounds like a pain in the butt to go, and you’re just starting to kick off the idea, to go a lawyer and to say, “Andrew needs to vest over four years, and his co-founder needs to invest over two. It’s so many things to deal with when you still haven’t even figured out the product.

Bhavin: Yeah, it is.

Andrew: It’s a sign up of a pre-nup on the first date is what it feels like.

Bhavin: It is and it’s so worth it [laughs]. It’s one of those things where we were lucky. We, like I said, maintained a good relationship. I still speak to him occasionally, and Pejman is still actually on our board which is a separate issue but great. He’s great. But it’s one of those things where it feels like signing up a pre-nup on the first date or feels like a lot of overhead, but you want to plan for what’s going to happen if you’re successful.

And you don’t want to put something in place that’s sort of irreversible or very difficult to reverse in your early days. And so our approach to the decision making was always if it’s easily reversible just make the decision and move forward. So that’s probably true with a lot of product decisions, a lot of marketing decisions. Worse thing that happens is you do something wrong, you fix it.

But with legal decisions they’re never easily reversible. And so in those cases I recommend using someone like Scott. We use Legal Zoom and educate ourselves in the [??]

Andrew: You used Legal Zoom in order to split up or in order to do vesting?

Bhavin: To do equity. There’s no vestings.

Andrew: Okay. This is afterward. There’s no vesting to this day?

Bhavin: No, no, there is. Now there is. We did all of our incorporation with like a real law firm.

Andrew: Gotcha. Okay. I was going to say because you have 500 Startups is one of your investors. They want to make sure that everything is [??]

Bhavin: How we’re all set. So in our early days we used Legal Zoom and didn’t educate ourselves, and that’s how we got ourselves in a position with four co-founders, no vesting. After that we ended up working with one of the larger law firms.

Andrew: You can give the name. I don’t want to because Scott’s a sponsor for us to censor ourselves.

Bhavin: Yes. I mean, so we worked with Wilson Soncini, but our partner there is now working at another firm and we went with him which is why I didn’t give the name.

Andrew: Oh, got you, Okay.

Bhavin: Not because of Scott. I mean, the great thing about working with these large law firms is they give us deferred fees so we have like $25k in deferred fees until we reach some kind of milestone.

Andrew: You got the product. It’s time to go and get customers. This is where the business starts to become different from what you guys imagined, right? It’s not about creating a product, it’s about getting the audience and then building the product for them.

To do that, as I understand it, you went out to Google AdWorks, Facebook, bloggers. What worked best for you in those early days, for getting the users?

Bhavin: Early days was bloggers, definitively. We would find bloggers who were in our industry so in our case that would be Admissions consultants, people who helped people get into business school because they weren’t direct competitors.

We talked to the same customers so we would reach out to them, ask the to review our product or promote it and they would and a lot of them were just, you know, one off individuals and they would write about us and then we would get some customers and so that was a good way to sort of start.

Andrew: How did you even get them to write about you? You were just a brand new site, there were tons of test prep sites. They get solicited all the time for people to write about them. What worked best?

Bhavin: What worked best is that we had an MBA.Berkley.edu email address.

Andrew: Oh, really?

Bhavin: Yes. And it’s funny because I know there’s sort of an ocean of MBA’s as entrepreneurs as being maybe not a great thing, I mean, we fight that battle sometimes. But having, first we were in the gmax space, we’re in the MBA space to begin with and now we’re reaching out to people from one of the top 10 Business schools in the country.

And so from their perspective it’s a student reaching out from one of these schools. Yes, I’d love to help and we used that to our advantage. We would not send emails from our Magoosh.com email address because then we’re just another company.

Andrew: If you’re [??] students who are building this thing and people want to support students, you know, I wish I’d kept my NYU email address because of that. There’s so many things that you get access to if you still have your old school email address.

Bhavin: Yes, yes. In our case, I can no longer send emails from that Berkeley email address. At this point it’s fine. The people in the space know us well enough that they’re happy to work with us. But in the early days it was instrumental.

Andrew: I think I can find a way to send an email addresses from my Gmail address that look like they come from [??]. There are ways to hack that system but I understand.

All right. I get now how you were able to use what you had. That gets you only so far. What’s the next step? Was this where you decided to go to search engine optimization?

Bhavin: No, not yet. I mean, we tried but we had no idea what we were doing.

Andrew: Okay.

Bhavin: For us it was actually forming a critical distribution partnership which isn’t I take a great way to scale a business but it’s a great way to gather early customers. And so for us it was with Beat the GMAT U interview that Eric Ries and he had reached out to us. It was sort of fortuitous. He was applying to Berkley, its BA Program at the time. He had not gone to business school and doing his startup full time.

So we were able to talk with him both about the MBA program and also about our business and he wanted to partner with us and promote our product as a co-branded product to their community. And he had a community of people who were taking the GMAT or studying for the MBA and it was much further along than our business was because he’d been working on it for I think 3 years at the time.

Andrew: And so you co-branded. It was his brand on your product?

Bhavin: Yes, his brand on our product powered by Magoosh and we started selling it to his community.

Andrew: And how well did that work?

Bhavin: So it worked reasonably well in terms of giving us some more data and feedback but it sort of missed all expectations from what he and I and [??] expected. You know, you do this math where you say okay, this site gets x visitors per month and I say x only because I’m not sure I’m allowed to share. It’s his site.

Andrew: Let’s suppose it’s like 100,000 a month. I don’t know what the number is.

Bhavin: Sure. Let’s say it’s 100,000 a month. So we do this math to say okay, if 1% of that 100,000 buys, so 100 visitors buy our $100 product, we’re going to make $100,000 a month. And we’re like oh, this is amazing, we don’t have investors yet.

At this time it’s just me and [??], Eric’s just running the GMAT with two other people and so the thought was wow, we’re just going to blow this up, right? if you do the math that way. And that’s how we all did the math early and the reality was it was 10% of what we thought it was going to be.

Andrew: Oh, wow. And with that, disappointment?

Bhavin: Yeah. And what we didn’t realize is that you make the funnel sound so simple in your head. You’re like, Visitor, some paying — some percentage of paying customers. But in reality, there were so many drop-off points. It’s visitor of his community, to visitor of the co-branded product, to people who go into the trial, to people who pay, and people drop off at every step along the way. And so, it’s tough.

And then on top of that, like I mentioned earlier, people who were studying for these tests– it’s not the money but it’s about the time. And so even though they had a brand, they did not have a brand that showed that they were experts in this base. They had a brand of a community.

And so people didn’t necessarily trust the product yet, because they said, “Well, how many other people have proved their scores?” and my answer was, not many. And so building in test prep is critical because you need people to trust you with their time.

Andrew: I see. Okay. So that didn’t work, but then what did you try next?

Bhavin: So it didn’t work to the scale we wanted it to work. However, it worked in that we were still making enough money every month, that we– Hounsoo and I decided we wanted to fundraise, raise some internal investments so that we could grow the company even more. And so we used that as part of our fundraising story, like, “Hey, we’re getting some decent revenues, more than most companies you’re going to see.’

Andrew: I see. So we have a little bit of an attraction. If you help fund us, then we’ll be able to get more. What did you tell them you were going to do with the money?

Bhavin: Hire some people, and do some marketing, and probably some vague stuff that I don’t exactly remember but in reality we didn’t know [chuckle].

Andrew: Okay.

Bhavin: I mean, the thought was we knew we needed to get customers, but we’re not as sophisticated about marketing as we are today. We didn’t know what we know today. And it was more of, “Hey, we’ll figure it out. Look it where we’ve got to, and just trust us to figure it out.”

Now I actually had a really hard time saying that, because as we talked about earlier, this would be a challenge for me, getting some money from someone else, and just saying, “Trust us” is not really something I’m comfortable with. But Hounsoo had much more confidence in us as a team and just more confidence in the vision. He’s like, we’re definitely going to figure this out.

Andrew: What was the vision that you had that was different because there were test prep sites already out there. There was… who was that massively multi-player online test prep — I forget the name of the guy who created that website. But there were tons of people experimenting in this space. What did you have that they didn’t have?

Bhavin: From a vision standpoint, what we saw in a lot of these other companies was they were technology-heavy companies. A lot of engineers, outsourced their content creation, and we always believed from an education standpoint, that it’s the content that matters. People come for the content, and we [technically] just need to craft a good experience.

So the analogy I’ll draw is I don’t come to Mixergy because the site’s well- designed or because you have amazing technology. I come because the interviews are compelling. And so from our standpoint, we were going to hire the best teachers we can find, and we are going to make the content as strong as possible because we believe that’s what would result in students improving their scores.

Andrew: I see. Well, they might for heavy gamification, with crowd- sourcing, you realize that’s not what people want. They don’t want crowd, they want really well-done questions–

Bhavin: Yes.

Andrew — by experts. Got it. Okay. So that was a much different vision. And did investors buy into that vision, or did they tell you, “Hey, we’re in the tech space, so you better throw in some tech.”

Bhavin: VCs weren’t huge fans of that. But Intel investors liked it, mainly because we were already making roughly $10,000 a month, so from their perspective, well, we’re probably not going to go out of business [chuckle] so they are, at least, going to get their money back,

And the economics of angel investing is different, They’re investing their own money, they don’t need to see a 30X return, if they get a 5X return that’s good. So they bought into us, they bought into the vision, and we were able to raise a seed round, the funding.

Andrew: Okay. I just found the name of the site. It was Grockit. They were going to do peer-to-peer learning. Do you remember the first investor, the first person to say yes?

Bhavin: Yeah. So the person to say yes was– his name is Michael Berolzheimer, of now Bee Partners. We met him because he was a Haas business school alum, and we built a relationship with him for 18 months. He saw us working on the company, while we were in business school, because he stayed engaged with entrepreneurs in business school, and so, he just believed in us. That was it. He saw all the progress we made over many years.

There’s the famous Mark Suster blog post of “Lines, Not Dots.” We were a very long line that was going up and to the right at a trajectory that he was comfortable with, so he invested. Or, he was the first one to say yes.

Then, Mitch Kapor of Kapor Capital, creator, I think, of Lotus the spreadsheet, he loves the education space. Everyone told us we need to get connected to him. We got connected to him. He saw that we had a completed product that was generating revenue which was better than a lot of the deals he was seeing. He loved our vision of making education more accessible. They do a lot of nonprofit work in the education space, too. So, he also said yes.

Michael and Mitch co-led our seed round. Then, after getting them in it was a little easier to get other folks in.

Andrew: Why 500 Startups, then?

Bhavin: That actually came much later. We were trying to raise 750,000. We raised 500,000 in spring of 2011. It was about May. Then, we decided hey, our lease is about to start on the office. Some of our hires that were going to start working full time were going to graduate school, our interns. Like, we need to get off the road, stop fundraising. We need to get in the office and start working. So we just stopped raising at 500,000.

Andrew: I see.

Bhavin: Then, the following year I wanted to raise a little bit more money because I was worried. We were three months away from running out of cash. I thought wow, it’d be really great to have an extra 250K in the bank.

That’s when we started fundraising again. Basically, what happened is during that process we got in the middle of fundraising, in the middle of raising that 250K, we ended up getting to cash flow positive – which was, like, not expected. Then, we had raised 200 of the 250, so there was 50K open.

I got an intro to 500 and I was like look, we’re not really raising any more. We don’t need the money. But, you know, I know you guys have an amazing network of entrepreneurs. I’d consider letting you invest. They said yeah, we’d love to be in if you’ll have us…

Andrew: Who’s the person who you talked to at 500?

Bhavin: Christine Tsai.

Andrew: Okay.

Bhavin: Yeah.

Andrew: Actually, Chris who?

Bhavin: Christine.

Andrew: Oh, Christine. Oh, yeah, cool. I think I interviewed her at Launch Fest for Jason Calacanis’ conference.

Bhavin: Yeah, she’s fantastic.

Andrew: Yeah.

Bhavin: So it was an interesting conversation. I realized that I was lucky enough to have sort of the power position, if you will because at that point we were doing fine in revenue…

Andrew: So how did you get to cash flow positive, then?

Bhavin: Yeah. I jumped over a lot. Basically, after we raised money in 2011 we figured out sort of an SEO strategy. I know SEO has such a negative connotation, but really what we did is one of our first hires was an expert. We were starting to shift more towards GRE. He would write an article every single day about the GRE for our blog.

Andrew: Okay.

Bhavin: Then, I would look at Google Analytics. I would figure out what people are searching and then tell him hey, your article is getting searched with these keywords. Why don’t you try writing an article with those key words. I have a really great example, actually.

Andrew: Okay.

Bhavin: The GRE was changing in August of 2011, massive changes. So, he was writing about those changes. He wrote an article titled ‘Will the New GRE Be More Difficult?’ It was our best performing article. But, when I looked in Google Analytics I saw that everyone who’s finding this article is actually searching for ‘new GRE harder’ or ‘is the new GRE hard.’ They weren’t using the word ‘difficult.’

So I asked him to write another post that was more comprehensive that said “Will the New GRE Be Harder.” He wrote that post, and the traffic to that post sort of five or ten X’d the traffic to the other post.

Andrew: Wow.

Bhavin: That’s when we came up with our SEO strategy, which is write a bunch of content, look at analytics, figure out what people are searching for, and then write for that. But, it’s really high quality content. Because this guy Chris who writes our articles has been tutoring this exam for over ten years. He knows it inside and out.

It’s not just some cheap simple content. It’s really high quality content that builds a relationship with our visitors.

Andrew: This is Chris Lele?

Bhavin: Chris Lele, yeah.

Andrew: Lele. What about the part where oDesk came in to help out, where you used oDesk? Do you know what I’m talking about? Let me see here. I’m going to look at my research. I should’ve done that before firing off that question.

Here, oDesk for building links. Can you talk about that?

Bhavin: Oh, yeah. That was before this. That was when we didn’t know what good SEO was and we would hire oDesk to build links and they would…

Andrew: Meaning go out to people and say will you link to us with GMAT or test prep.

Bhavin: Right. Or, go to forums and throw links in places. We realized that was a… We didn’t know anything about SEO. We didn’t realize that was a bad practice. And, it just felt wrong. It felt a little spammy, so…

Andrew: It’s what people were saying to do, but, yeah, it is spammy today, especially. It’s a problem.

Bhavin: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: But…

Bhavin: So we actually went back and tried to get rid of all those links later. Now we use oDesk in a very different way.

Andrew: How?

Bhavin: Chris will write these articles. He’ll throw them in a Dropbox folder. Just to save him time or save our team time so that they don’t have to upload them to WordPress, we have someone from oDesk who’s in the Philippines who uploads all of those into WordPress for us.

I mean, we’re writing so much content now. Today we have four or five different blogs for different exams. We have four people who write content. So, we just have some people at oDesk who take care of that manual processing which just makes life a lot easier for our team.

Andrew: Where’d you learn how to do good SEO, the kind that actually got you traffic?

Bhavin: Obsessively reading at the time SEOmoz’s blog, now moz.com.

Andrew: Okay. Is that the best source?

Bhavin: At the time it was. It was just reading every article on their blog. Now, since inbound.org came about, so it’s more of like a hacker’s news for marketers, that’s, I would say, a better source in that you can get crowd voted content. Not everything on moz was fantastic, but a lot of it was. I especially read everything that Rand wrote. That’s how we learned how to do marketing.

Andrew: Really.

Bhavin: I can credit him for a lot of sort of our success. I mean he doesn’t know that, but at some point I’ll meet him and let him know.

Andrew: Yeah, you’ve got to tell him that happened. I think he’d be really proud of that.

Bhavin: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. Then, you build it up. I see. Those old links didn’t really help out that much. They were kind of spammy. But, that’s one of the ways that you met Eric Bond, because he ran that forum.

Bhavin: Yeah. I mean in the early days we met Eric Bond, because he discovered us as we were… Actually, not through those links, but because we were partnering with the other bloggers in the admissions space.

Andrew: Yeah.

Bhavin: Eric was really well known in the space, so I think he just discovered us by looking around and seeing that we existed.

Andrew: Okay. So, SEO, content creation, that’s what got you users in the door. How were you able to convert those visitors who came in from Google just looking for an article about whether the new test is harder or more difficult than the last one? How’d you convert those people into paying students?

Bhavin: Yeah, it wasn’t easy. Basically, then we started measuring how many people would go from the blog to the product and trying to get that percentage as high as possible. Then, we started running A/B tests on our home page. Should we have seat plans and pricing versus try a one week trial? We ran what kind of messaging should we have. We did a lot of that kind of stuff.

Basically, what we also learned is that as hard as it was, it wasn’t as hard as we thought. Because people trusted us so much from reading Chris Lele’s blog articles that they were like wow, Magoosh really knows what it’s talking about when it comes to the GRE. So, yeah, I can trust them and buy the product.

Then, we have a seven day money back guarantee for any reason, just other hurdles that help students actually make the purchase decision.

Andrew: What did you use to keep track of where the hits were going, how they converted into free trials, how those free trials converted into orders?

Bhavin: A Google spreadsheet.

Andrew: Really? So, it was just on a spreadsheet. How many hits did we get today on the blog? Great. How many of those ended up, doing what? Giving us their email address, or going over to the home page? What was the next step?

Bhavin: Yeah. It was blog to home page to trial to paying customer.

Andrew: Got you. And, every day someone would go in and put in the numbers. Then, you’d look and see how do we make it better.

Bhavin: Maybe every week.

Andrew: Every week.

Bhavin: Even at the scale we’re at today, we’re almost 20 employees, we still use a Google spreadsheet. We do some of that weekly and some of that monthly.

Andrew: You know what? I think I might be overthinking it. Because I’ve been looking for software that will make it easier to track it all.

There’s something that’s really good for tracking hits the site. There’s something really good for tracking email addresses. There’s something really good, you know, like all those elements. But, to find one thing that brings it all together is really tough.

Bhavin: Yeah, I agree. It was tough and we were just like forget it. It’s just easier for us to have a fine grained control. So, we’d look in analytics to see how many visitors we were getting. We’d look in our system to see how many emails we’re getting. We just said let’s just use a spreadsheet until it stops working.

Andrew: Okay. And, you hire someone, I guess someone on oDesk, or a virtual assistant, to go plug in the numbers?

Bhavin: No. We actually… I started by plugging in the numbers myself. Then, as we hired our marketing team someone on the team plugs in the numbers. Part of that’s because there’s an element of plugging in the numbers that makes you question are we plugging in the right numbers.

I want that critical thinking to stay in house. If you outsource something like that to oDesk they’re just going to plug in the same numbers over and over again, and you’re never going to critically think about well are we even thinking about the funnel in the right way.

Andrew: What do you mean?

Bhavin: As an example, you might say hey, how many visits did we get to the home page, in the blog, and then to the home page, and then into the trial, and then paying customers. But, you might’ve actually missed a step, or you might forget about another funnel altogether.

So as an example, we have mobile apps. There are people who come in from mobile app to trial to paying. Because we’re the ones plugging in those numbers it’s a little extra work for us, but then we think about oh, wait, we’re missing an entire group of people. Oh, we should add that funnel. Or, something anomalous happened this week. Like, maybe the numbers are off. I should look into that.

Andrew: Right. I know what you mean.

Bhavin: And you can do that later. You know, you can certainly do that when you get the data, but when you get the data you’re more just in consuming mode. But, when you’re putting it in you’re in critical thinking mode.

Andrew: I should say this to anyone who’s listening and is really excited about the content marketing aspect of this conversation and wants maybe something more in depth. Where we just spent an hour talking about the right way to think about content marketing, how to get distribution for it, what to write about. What are those images that help with content marketing?

I have one of the best people ever come to Mixergy to teach how to do this. You know him, Leo from Buffer, Leo Widrich. He is amazing. I’ve heard several entrepreneurs say that in one on one conversations he helped them.

I emailed Leo and I said would you please teach me what you did at Buffer. He came in. He taught a course about content marketing. It is fantastic. Not because I’m fantastic. Not because the design of the site is fantastic, but because Leo is amazing. He taught that process, and I really urge anyone who’s listening to this to go and watch him teach his content marketing, content creation as a way of doing marketing on Mixergy.

The other thing that I recommend as a follow up to this conversation is if you’re thinking about a funnel and you want to understand what to measure, how to think about structuring your funnel, the guy who I think is the ultimate when it comes to doing this and to teaching it is Juan Martitegui. He does funnels for Mindvalley Hispano. Mindvalley is fantastic at creating their funnels.

I asked him to come and teach what he does and how they do it. He did it in a way that’s clear, that you can see works incredibly well for his company over at Mindvalley. I urge you to watch that.

Both of those are available on Mixergy. If you’re not a premium member you should sign up so you can watch the full program. Just go to mixergypremium.com. Sign up.

You are nodding. Why?

Bhavin: I’m a premium member.

Andrew: Thank you.

Bhavin: I watched Leo’s interview, which is funny. Because I talk to Joel the CEO of Buffer quite a bit. We talk a lot about company culture and growth, and compete on revenue and things like that.

It was awesome to hear Leo interview with you. I think there’s different types of content marketing. They do it exceptionally, exceptionally well. I think that, you know, he’s a great, great entrepreneur and a great, great content marketer.

Andrew: And he really has built it up. By the way, thank you so much for being a premium member. Whenever I searched for you to prep for this interview I would see the premium member registration, and I just keep thinking I’ve got to thank you.

Because, frankly, this is the way that I grow Mixergy. This is the way that I get feedback of whether the courses are right. This is what allows me to hire a researcher to tell me where your traffic is coming from, to help me prep, to do a pre-interview with you.

I think of you as not just a premium member but as my venture capitalist, and I really appreciate you doing this. I’m glad that you’re getting as much out of it as I know the rest of the community is getting out of having you be a member. Thank you.

Bhavin: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a fantastic value. I’d encourage anyone who’s an aspiring entrepreneur to sign up. There’s so much value to be had.

Andrew: Thank you. It’s mixergypremium.com. I hope you guys all join. And, more than that, use what you’ve learned to build a successful company, like Magoosh, and then come back here and talk about how you did it.

Hey, speaking of revenue, you and Leo compete on revenue. Where’s your revenue right now with Magoosh?

Bhavin: Yeah. I haven’t disclosed it. But, I’ll let people just sort of back into it. We’re about 20 people. We have been cash flow positive every month pretty much since May of 2012.

Andrew: Okay.

Bhavin: Someone could probably ballpark and figure out how much we do.

Andrew: And it’s… I see. That makes sense. Do you remember when you brought in the first million dollars in sales?…

Bhavin: No.

Andrew: No, that wasn’t a mark for you?

Bhavin: I mean, it was but like I said earlier, I just don’t have the memory for those kinds of things. I mean, it’s one of those things as an entrepreneur that you’re never happy, I mean, I’m very happy all the time, but you’re never satisfied because you’re always just thinking ahead, you’re thinking oh, we got say $10K in revenue, $20K in revenue and then you’re like when am I going to get to $50? When am I going to get to $100?

And so it’s rare. You step back and say oh, we’re doing what we set out to do right now, thinking about how are we going to get 10% of people who take these exams, like the GMAT to pay for our product to help them and right now we get about 3% of them, which is, I know that’s fantastic but…

Andrew: Wait, wait. 3% of the people who take TestPrep?

Bhavin: Who take the GMAT or the GRE.

Andrew: Who take the GMAT or the GRE, 3% of them will take your Test prep.

Bhavin: Yes.

Andrew: That’s amazing.

Bhavin: Yes, yes. I think it’s awesome but, like I said…

Andrew: It’s not enough.

Bhavin: It’s not enough and the other thing is we get feedback today and it’s frustrating to me which is wish I heard about you earlier or you need to advertise more and I’m like ah, how do we get in front of these students because just advertising works so much simple.

So we create mobile apps, we have YouTube videos, we do content marketing, we do affiliate, we do Google AdWorks, we do so many marketing channels, we keep expanding and just trying to get in front of people faster and trying to get referral programs and evangelists and everything.

Andrew: I don’t want to end this interview without asking you about your co- founder Hounsoo.

Bhavin: Yes, so I talked about him a bit but basically in December of 2011 he was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. [??] at the time he was active, he was generally a fit guy, he didn’t smoke, sort of this freak thing and so he stepped away from the business starting January 2012 and that was the time where we also [??] we were going to run out of money.

And it was really interesting in that his attitude was hey, I don’t want to talk about my cancer with you. I want to talk about Magoosh and I want to talk about how to support you as your leading this team and making sure the business stays alive. And I was just blown away because that was his personality and then his cancer got worst and it was looking promising at first but there were complications and he fought it and fought it.

And then in March of 2013, so about a year ago March 4th, 2013, he passed away, just a few weeks after his 35th birthday and it was tragic obviously for everyone in the new family, it was tragic for business classmates he was engaged.

So that was rough and we created a followship in his honor through the Business school to support entrepreneurs so that they could work on their startups between their first and second year of Business School, which is what Hounsoo and I did. But we did it with the support of my fiancee and his family but we wanted to support other entrepreneurs, you know, just pay for rent and food so that they could work on their companies instead of getting like a consulting internship over the summer.

Andrew: How do people find out about that?

Bhavin: If they go to hansooleefellowship.org it talks about his story and it talks about the fellowship and if people feel compelled to donate they’re welcome to it. It’s interesting. One of my friends from Business School who’s entrepreneur cold email Brad Felt, when Hounsoo passed away Brad donated a sizable amount, had never met Hounsoo and then wrote a very short blog post about it and that was amazing, that was amazing to see how people who didn’t know him were willing to donate.

Andrew: I’m looking at your blog right now where I see your post about his passing. It’s sad. He was a young guy. I see the group of you guys in your Magoosh t-shirts all hanging out and to think that he didn’t even smoke stinks because it makes me feel like there’s no clear cause and effect in life, you know? I can’t say well, I’m not smoking, I’ll be ok. I’m running into work so I’ll be ok.

Bhavin: Right, right. It’s tough and I think it was sort of a wakeup call for me and for a lot of our friends.

Andrew: So how did it change you?

Bhavin: It just made me appreciate I think every day more, think about spending time with family, spending time with my wife more, doing the things that I want to do knowing that life can be taken from us at any moment. The one thing is Hounsoo was always one of those guys who lived their life with no regrets. He would push himself outside of his comfort zone.

He started Magoosh because he knew he wanted to start an education company. He did it with a big vision in mind and so for me I might be a little more tentative, a little more timid in general but Aunt Sue’s friendship, and then his passing both serve as an example that I need to step outside and do the things that I would regret if life were taken from me.

And one of those is building Magoosh. You know, when we started the company, you might think, “Oh you could sell it for a few million, move on to the next thing,” and now it’s all about the mission and the impact. And it’s how do we change education and level the playing field. And give people who don’t have access, access. And not so much worry about the outcome or the exit because, you know, it’s like you’re taking from me, I don’t care about that. I only care about how many people have I helped.

Andrew: What’s the legacy that you left after you passed? Are people going to continue to say because of Megoosh I was able to go to a school that I couldn’t have gotten into otherwise. And here i am doing …

Bhavin: Exactly and to honor Aunt Sue’s memory from a legacy perspective because this was really, he was the C.E.O. I stepped into that role after he stopped working but he was the visionary. And his fiance sent me a letter, or a partially written email after his passing that he had wrote for me that talked about how he just saw this company being something massive and how he knew I was the right guy to do it. And how I need to have more faith in myself. And all these things. It was, you know, inspiring.

Andrew: What a guy. And what a story you guys started together, thank you so much for coming here and talking about how you did it. I know you got ultimate Frisbee but at some point I hope I get to see you in person.

Bhavin: Yeah definitely, I would love to meet up in person.

Andrew: All right, and if you guys watched this and got anything out of it, please find a way to say thank you. What is a good way to connect with you?

Bhavin: They can, two ways. You can tweet at me at bkpurik, that’s my last name. Or email me at bvin@megoosh.com and I try to be as responsive as possible. Usually don’t miss an email but it might be a few weeks, in some cases. But I try to be really responsive.

Andrew: You know in the past i used to say if a guest is giving his email, giving his twitter address, you don’t want to tweet at him. It’s just not right or it’s just not a personal connection they are just blowing you off. And then I would, I was at launch fest, and what’s his name? Shoot. The guy who founded the founder institute. I’ve known him forever I can’t think of his name right now…

Bhavin: Was that Dale…

Andrew: Yes Dale Ressy [SP]. Dale was there at the party at the conference and he shown his wife the tweets that went online about him. And I realize if you send me an email I’m not showing anyone. I may feel overburdened and fine, terrific, it’s a good way to connect with me. But when you send me a nice tweet I show it to people. And even if I don’t show it to people others see it and so I feel even more grateful that its public.

So I’ll tell you guys this you have Bhavin’s both email address and twitter account. Do not discount the twitter account but however way you do it there, twitter, email, ultimate Frisbee, anything, find a way to say thank you if you got anything out of it. Because frankly it’s the right thing to do. And I will do it right now. Thank you so much for teaching here on Mixergy.

Bhavin: Yeah thanks for having me. It’s been awesome.

Andrew: It’s been great to meet you thank you all for being a part of it, thanks guys!

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