What would you do if you had a job and heard about an online business that was doing well?
Would you feel resentful? Or would you to learn as much as possible so you could build your own company?
Eddie Yoon heard about an online maid service on Reddit, so he contacted the founder asked for help. With what he learned, he created Amber Maids, a business that allows Californians to book cleaning people online.
This is part of my 10k series of interviews, with founders who tell the story of earning their first 10k in sales.
Eddie Yoon, Amber Maids
Eddie Yoon is the founder and CEO of Amber Maids which offers home cleaning services in California.
Andrew: Hey there freedom fighters. My name is Andrew. How does that work on mic? Not too bad. I am the founder of mixergy.com, and it is home of the ambitious upstart, like you! And, as an ambitious upstart, if you happened to have a job, and heard about an online business that was doing well, how would you feel? Would you get resentful, or would you be curious and want to learn as much as possible about that company?
Well, Eddie Yoon, who you’re about to meet, heard about an online maid service on Reddit, and he heard about how well it was doing. So he contacted a founder, and he asked for information, and he wanted to learn, and he asked for help, and he got it. Using what he learned, Eddie created Amber Maids. Amber Maids is a business that allows Californians to book cleaning people online.
I invited him here to tell the story of how he did it, and to make his interview part of my 10K series of interviews. Those are interviews with founders whose earnings are, actually who talk about the first $10,000 in sales, how they did it, and it’s all sponsored by Scott Edward Walker, the lawyer that startups trust. You can see him at Walker Corporate Law.
Eddie: Thanks for having me, Andrew.
Andrew: You were doing what when you saw this post? In investment banking?
Eddie: Okay. Yeah, I was thrown into investment banking right after college, so that wasn’t even the initial plan. Throughout college, I was actually pre-health, pre-dental, so halfway through college, my interests changed, and I’ve always been interested in business, but I really didn’t want to major in business because I knew that I could learn more from it just outside, just going online, just reading books on my own, and I kind of just wanted to get a degree that satisfied my parents. So…
Andrew: And then you got this job that must have made them happy, and while you were there, you were reading Reddit, and what was it about Rohan’s posts about his business that made you, that got you interested, and made you say, “I’ve got to talk to this guy?”
Eddie: Yes, so if we rewind a little bit before that, so, in the banking industry, there were a lot of deals that were being done where, a lot of people outside of business were creating, they were transforming from traditional to online businesses, and I saw how much money they generated, so I was trying to take a service industry, and I didn’t know back then that I was going to do cleaning.
So I wanted to take a service industry and transport it completely online. So while I was researching [??] on Google, I went through, past the first pages. Through ten pages, and I just randomly went and found a thread, that Rohan was, on Reddit, and I was reading through and I was like, hey, this guy is doing exactly what I want to do, and it’s funny because his story is exactly the same as mine. He came out of finance too. So I reached out to him, and I said hey. I really like your business model, and we kind of connected from there, and thankfully he helped me. So that was a really big shout out to him.
Andrew: That’s a pretty gutsy thing to do. To call someone who’s got a business similar to the one that you want to start and ask him for help. You’re essentially saying, help me compete with you. Was there any hesitation about that?
Eddie: No, because, see, the thing is, when you start talking to successful business owners, the funny thing is, a lot of them want to help you, and the cleaning industry is such a massive, it’s so massive. It generates billions of dollars per year that, besides the fact that I’m in California and he’s on the east coast. Even if we were in the same state, it wouldn’t even matter.
I’ve helped people who compete in the same industry that I do, and I’ve met a lot of services who are in the same industry, and we just help each other. Because sometimes we have too many customers that we can’t even fulfill on our own, so we just refer them to our friends, and there’s no problem with doing that. All of us just want to make more money.
Andrew: So you contact him. He already put a lot out on Reddit. He already said a lot in his Mixergy interview where he really got detailed. By talking to him on the phone, what did you learn from him that you might not have gotten otherwise?
Eddie: I learned, oh the biggest things I learned, probably what type of user experience would be the best for customers, and I think that’s what I was worried about, building a website. I have experience about what would work, such as what call to actions, what bullet points, what kind of phrases would work, which landing pages, but just seeing what he did, I kind of knew that oh, like that’s pretty much the layout that I need to do, and I’m not going to waste hundreds of dollars and a bunch of time testing landing pages. So that was huge because that kind of shortened the startup point from what could have taken maybe three to six months into literally less than a month.
Andrew: So the key was not refining a landing page and over-thinking the words that are on the page. That part’s already done. You’ve seen software companies do it and Rohan showed you how he did it. The hard part was, then, the customer experience. What did he tell you about the customer experience that was so difficult or so worth of attention?
Eddie: So many things. He kind of warned me about how many customer complaints would come in. I kind of knew it, but I think what he really taught me how to do is you have to really filter out your cleaners, and if you don’t filter out your cleaners very well, then you’re going to have a lot of customer complaints. There’s going to be a lot of refunds.
There could be legal issues just because the person is physically going into someone’s home, so on being on insurance. You really don’t want to deal with that. That’s kind of a given that you’re going to have that for your business but people get so picky with cleaning and sometimes, different cleaners get paired up with someone else. They might like certain teams. It’s just a really customer-centric business.
Andrew: But you’re saying it’s customer-centric but the focus, your focus, had to be — sorry. Even more to talking to customers, it seemed like you had to talk to cleaners and weed out the bad ones and figure out the good ones. That’s really where the heart of the business was.
Andrew: So now you got his feedback, you know what you want to do, you create a web page. How long does it take you to create a site?
Eddie: It took me — I designed it on Photoshop, the basic layout, and that took me maybe two, three days. I outsourced it on Freelancer, e-Lance, 99designs, I used all of them, chose someone within three days, and it took them, initial design, two weeks, and it was completed within a month.
Andrew: Ok. How much did it cost you to put this together?
Eddie: The entire layout for the website and everything, about $2,000.
Andrew: 2,000 bucks, including this video that you have with the cartoon.
Andrew: Explaining what the product is. Alright. So now you have a site, it’s time to get cleaning people, right?
Andrew: How do you get your cleaning people?
Eddie: Okay, this is the interesting part. Craigslist is the great freeway of doing it. So once you put up a listing on Craigslist, literally hundreds and hundreds of emails will come in. I got resumes from people who were never even cleaners, people who worked in different industries, and I easily filtered those out. Second thing I did was I went on professional- made company websites and I actually called the ones that had great reviews and then from there I can ask them if they wanted to get some extra business with my company.
Andrew: Oh, I see. So they would be your screeners essentially. You’d find the clients and pass it to them.
Eddie: Basically. Yeah.
Eddie: And then, the third way I did it was back from my college network at UCLA. I contacted my previous employers because I knew that they had cleaners and that was an easy thing. I didn’t even have to interview them because if my employers trusted them, then I automatically trusted them as well, and that’s another two or three teams already.
Andrew: Okay. And the people who came in on Craigslist, how did you screen them originally?
Eddie: You can pretty much easily screen them just from the body of the email, how they respond to you. So, the really quick thing I did was I set up a quick survey where they were linked to a survey website and they just had to answer a certain amount of questions. How many years they’ve worked, is transportation ok, do you have a partner, things like that. Surprisingly, less than 1% actually filled that survey out.
From there, I just generated and I called them and if they were able to have a good interview with me, then it worked out and if they passed that stage, then I met them in person, then if they passed that stage, I had them clean my home. So it’s just a series of steps and then from there, I got my first few teams.
Andrew: Okay. And how many teams — actually, at that point now, you’re ready to go get customers, or did you actually get customers before you fully locked in your teams?
Eddie: That’s the funny thing. So when the website actually went live, a few people already booked.
Andrew: Just getting the website live got people to book?
Eddie: Yeah. I have no idea. I didn’t even advertise at all, so something must have happened. I think it was maybe — they just somehow found it randomly, and a few people booked and I didn’t even have any teams so that’s when I started panicking, and it kind of forced me to get cleaners at the moment, because fortunately, they booked for the weekend.
So I had about three, four days to do it, and I barely made it, and I barely found a team that I trusted because, I mean, you want to make your first customer have a good experience just to make yourself feel good as well, so.
Andrew: So it’s an effective website, and still, you told Jeremy Weisz in your Mixergy pre-interview with him, that you thought the site was, here, let me quote you. “It looked terrible. It was just a WordPress theme.” What’s wrong with it? It looks like you did okay.
Eddie: Well, if you on way back time machine, Andrew, and you look at the very first iteration of it, it looks pretty bad.
Andrew: It was just an off the shelf theme.
Andrew: I can go back and do that, 2013. This is when you launched it, right?
Eddie: Uh huh.
Andrew: Let me have a look here, 2013. I see the first mention was March 13th. I’ll go to August. Actually, let’s go to April. Let’s go really early on and see what it looked like. I wish I could just show it to the audience, but while it’s loading up, where did you get your theme for it?
Andrew: So then what’s the problem? You just use a WordPress theme. This is before you went to 99 Designs, right?
Eddie: Um hmm.
Andrew: …and you got customers. So, maybe it was a little ugly, but it was effective, right?
Eddie: I think I got customers out of luck. So I was looking at the bounce rate of… because I kind of kept that website for a little bit, and the bounce rate was just really bad, so I knew that the time that they spent when they landed on the page was not converting that well.
Eddie: …and I was tracking that through Google Analytics. I really recommend a heat map for people who want to convert. Neil Patel has an amazing system, Crazy Egg. That’s a really big one if you want to [??] landing.
Andrew: Do you get a free Crazy Egg membership?
Eddie: Yeah. Um hmm. They give you free, I think one page heat map.
Andrew: Alright. So you’re in business. How did your first couple of jobs go?
Eddie: The first, fortunately, the first few months I only got two complaints out of maybe over the majority of it. So I really didn’t get that many complaints at all. The only complaints I got were ridiculous complaints.
Eddie: Like um, so most of my clients, because I’m based in LA, they’re actually, they’re coming from Malibu. So a lot of them are, they’re really rich. They’re professionals and they have a lot of, um, they’re well connected and one of the ladies requested that we groom her pet, and I was trying to tell her in the nicest way possible that there’s no way that we can have my cleaners go in there and take care of your pet, because that’s not our service.
We’re only a cleaning service. So she kind of got mad at me, but I just try to handle it as much as possible, and thankfully that was done, and I don’t think she’s a customer anymore, but I kind of don’t want those types of clients to be my customers, because, yeah.
Andrew: I get that.
Andrew: By the way, archive.org doesn’t have a really good snapshot of what your site looked like, but one of the things that I noticed on there is, I think, did you in the beginning have a Twitter account, but no phone number, and today there’s a phone number front and center right on, actually right at the top right section of your site?
Eddie: Um hmm.
Andrew: Why? Why did you decide to make that addition?
Eddie: Okay. So, because I was so new, I think, just putting the phone number on the home page makes it more credible and makes customers think like, hey, this is a real business. It’s probably a large business and it’s doing well. Little did they know that, that’s just the Google Voice number and it’s just transferring straight into my phone, so I still pick it up to this day.
A lot of people call off hours, just to see if I’m picking up. Some of them call really late, and I think they get really freaked out when I actually pick up, because they expect it to be like a voice message.
Eddie: But, I’m always there, so…
Andrew: So it’s reassuring to people who are online, but do you also get to close sales when people call you up?
Eddie: I do. So, the thing about when people call a business is, inherently, they are already set on making a deal, usually, most of the time, and that’s kind of where your sales person, your sales role comes out, and you kind of close the deal. You kind of say exactly what’s already on the website and what they’ve probably already seen, and they just really want to talk to a person and make sure that the cleaners are right and you’re a professional. I think that’s kind of their way of screening you, too.
Andrew: I see. Right. If you can talk to a human being…
Eddie: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Andrew: …then it feels like it’s a real company.
Andrew: Alright. So you launch, and people just start to find your site, even though you have a simple WordPress theme site. But that’s no way to continue growing the business. To get more customers, you started reaching out to bloggers. What kind of bloggers did you go after?
Eddie: Okay. So usually males do not order cleaning services. It’s the females that do it. [laughs] Because…
Andrew: In my house, it’s the exact opposite. Olivia does…
Eddie: Oh, it is?
Andrew: She does not like having someone come in and clean it. We should do it ourselves. I will immediately call up.
Eddie: Oh, wow. That’s really good. Wow. That’s a really good trait to have. [laughs] So a lot of girls do it just because guys get really lazy. So I thought, hey, why don’t I target the most popular bloggers, female bloggers and mom bloggers, in LA?
So I did a quick Google search of LA blogs, female blogs, women’s blogs. And I found all the backlinks and who they’re connected with. And I just reached out to them. I said, “Hey, I want to advertise my cleaning website and give your customers and your site visitors a discount. Would you be interested?”
From there, 8 out of 10 responded back, and I did deals with about three of them. And that’s how I generated a large majority of my first customers.
Andrew: What are the deals that you did with them? That you would give them a commission on every sale?
Eddie: Mm-hmm. So I paid… it actually came out to, “I’ll just give you a flat fee,” because I think they were generating enough income that they were okay with it. They just wanted to make sure that they were advertising a good company to their site visitors.
So I paid them a flat fee of anywhere from $200 to $400 just for an email advertisement, or just for a message straight to their customers. And from there, I said, hey, you’re a part of this website, or you follow this blogger. Here’s a free 20% discount on your first cleaning.
Andrew: Sorry. So it was just straight ad buys, essentially.
Eddie: Mm-hmm. Yeah. It was just ad buys.
Andrew: What are some of the sites where you bought it? I did a search for top women’s blogs in LA.
Andrew: And I see LA Magazine, I see “100 Woman Bloggers You Should Be Reading.” Was there one that you remember that stood out as especially effective?
Eddie: Mm-hmm. Peachtree.
Eddie: Peachtree is a pretty well-known blog in LA, and I think it first started out as an email network connection. And the owner started giving so much value to people who were part of the email chain that she created a website.
Eddie: And so it’s a pretty interesting story. So I reached out to her. I was actually connected with her through another friend of mine, and it worked out really, really well.
Andrew: How… what did you do next to get customers?
Eddie: What did I do next? Okay, so I actually tried to do Google AdWords for maybe about a week, and wasted a lot of money. Because one thing I found out was that the top maid companies are paying a ridiculous amount per click, and it turned out that they were paying maybe up to $10 per click. And at that point, I didn’t want to waste that much money, because even if I get a click, I probably won’t even get the customer. [laughs]
So I just decided to go straight to the middle man, and the middle man for home cleaners, or who are affiliated with home cleaning, are real estate agents.
Andrew: Oh really?
Andrew: So you started calling up real estate agents. Cold calling.
Eddie: Cold calling. Literally driving around the neighborhood seeing who had billboards, because they’re the people with the money to spend. Literally calling them right when I passed by their park bench, the bus stop, and being, like, “Hey, I can provide you a much cheaper service to clean your new homes to show to your customers. Let’s make a deal.”
So once I met with them, I got really lucky, and I got connected with a real estate agent who knows a lot of wealthy people in LA, towards the Bel Air area in LA. And he gave me so many customers that I literally don’t even do advertising for the website anymore.
Andrew: Because he’s sending you so much business.
Eddie: Because he’s sending me so much business from his clients who don’t care about the cost at all, and all of those clients have so many social groups that they’re just referring to their clients, and it got to the point where I got so many customers where I actually had to deny a good number of them because I just couldn’t handle the volume. This happened during the second and third month, and it just started to skyrocket from there.
Andrew: Second or third month. Alright, I have to break this all down. Why don’t we start with the fact that you called up strangers and you said “I only know you from a bus ad, but I’ve got this new business.” That’s a pretty gutsy thing to do. For entrepreneurs to call up and start to talk to strangers and pitch their business, I know because I’ve talked to them in private, they have a hard time doing it. Did you have at all any hesitation about it? Or did you feel ‘what if I’m not ready for them’, ‘who am I to talk to them’, any of that?
Eddie: Yeah, I did. I’m not a natural phone talker but I think just doing it on the first try, because it’s really rare for you to get a deal on the first time on the phone cold-calling. And it’s usually not recommended for things like this, but I think the real estate agents were really impressed when they found out what type of service I run and most of all how young I was.
That was a bigger thing. They kind of wanted to work with someone who is young and who didn’t really have such a focus purely on money, more like “Let’s make a long-term relationship and then let’s make this work for both of us.”‘
Andrew: Well then get yourself to make the call, was there anything that you did to get over the hesitation? Because you said you had some of that. What did you do when you were just staring at a number trying to will yourself to pick it up, pick up the phone and call them.
Eddie: First I actually thought of just hiring someone on craigslist who had a really good speaking voice and have them call for me.
Andrew: Yep, I’ve done that. Not that I hired them, but I’ve looked for excuses to get out, okay.
Eddie: And I realized that would just limit me as a person. Because I think the best things to do when you’re starting your own business is you need to take action and you need to connect with your customers, your clients, anyone that’s affiliated with your business because if you can’t do it now then how’re you going to talk to people when you’re doing board meetings later, how’re you going to talk to people when you have an even bigger deal?
You’re going to be so nervous, you’re going to stutter, it’s just going to fail. I considered it a hazing experience and I was okay with people who literally just picked up the phone, I said maybe three words they hung up, I tried calling them again. I got rejected so many times. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a magical phone caller, I called these people and they’re like “Hey, Great, let’s do it now,” No. I called hundreds of people, maybe from there only twenty people we talked again, and from there less than three people were still in business.
Andrew: What’s your background? What were you doing before investment banking? Did you have another company that you started, it seems like a lot of this has come together for you. What was the other company? You’re nodding.
Eddie: Oh man, this goes way back. Back when I was a kid I’ve always loved the internet, it’s like when your parents take you to the library a lot of kids go to the books section where you read Goosebumps, Boxcar Children, Mavis Beacon [sp]. I did those things, but another thing is I went into the magazine section, and I think I saw a Forbes magazine that had the headline “Toys.com”, or all of these domains selling for millions of dollars, and this was late-’90’s so this was when the dot-com industry was surging.
So I read all these articles and I kept on reading them “like hey, The Internet is definitely the place I want to be.” The next thing I did from there is, I was huge on music and Napster, I pulled up a GeoCities website and linked it to Napster as a supplementary custom website. This was sometime in middle-school, and that went on for a few months it failed…
Andrew: What do you mean you linked it to Napster, what’s the money involved in linking a GeoCities site to Napster?
Eddie: Because I wanted to get the customer information, because my goal from there was to sell them Tower Records CD’s. That was actually my secret goal.
Andrew: Oh I see, so if they enter in their name and email address then they would get access to this great site, or software called Napster and once they did that, you just linked them over to Napster. But you had their contact information, you knew they were into music, and you thought you would market to them. I see. That’s interesting. And what would you market to them?
Eddie: Then I marketed them Tower Records deals. [laughs] Where I would get…
Andrew: How effective was that?
Eddie: It could have been so big. But it failed because people started giving false information, and I knew that there were so many fake emails coming in. And it just died. Also, because…
Andrew: Yeah. [??] does not need Napster five times.
Eddie: Exactly. And also because Tower Records died.
Eddie: And I wasn’t smart. [laughs] So there…
Andrew: But people who are stealing music are not likely to buy anything from Tower Records.
Eddie: Yup, so there it goes. [laughs]
Eddie: That was the big flaw.
Andrew: The other thing that I’m wondering, going back to where you were with your phone calls. You’re making these calls. Real estate agents only… are they hiring you to clean up the houses that they’re about to sell, or are they also recommending you to past clients to use your people on an ongoing basis?
Eddie: So the first thing that I pitched to them was I would gladly give you guys a deal if you buy three months, six months, one year. And you can add it as a supplementary package to your homeowner’s as free home cleaning. So they could buy a year’s worth of home cleaning from me at a discounted price, and offer that as an incentive bonus to any new customers who want to rent or buy the home.
Andrew: Oh, I see. Alright. That’s clever. And that was your idea?
Eddie: Yeah. I actually read that… a user suggested that on Reddit, and I was like, hey, I’m going to actually do that.
Eddie: Because that’s a really good idea. And I don’t think anyone there actually followed through, but I was like, I think that’s the thing. And then from there, all the real estate agents actually started to refer me to other real estate agents, their past customers who were looking for home cleaning, and essentially anyone. Just because real estate agents, they’re so good at socializing, talking, that who knows who else they told. But I know it was 80% from them why the business even prospered.
Andrew: You said about two, three months for this thing to take off. How much money would you say you were generating at that point? The two or three month period.
Eddie: Oh, the two, three month period, I was generating… I would say over five figures.
Andrew: Over five figures. That’s great. How much of that goes to your cleaning people?
Eddie: I treat my cleaners very well. So they get… it used to be 65%. I’ve actually recently changed it, and they’re getting 85%.
Andrew: All right, well, that gives us a sense, then, of what your revenue was. What about the cleaners, then? Were they as good as you expected when you screened them so thoroughly? You told us that you went on Craigslist and hired very few people, and made them jump through hoops before they got hired. You told us you went to your past bosses. How’d they work out?
Eddie: One of my first cleaners, they were the greatest ones, and they’re still with me. Fortunately, it turned out really well, because they had past experience, and that’s the biggest thing. They used to work for Molly Maids, which is one of the biggest industries, and they kind of branched off and did their own independent things.
One of the biggest questions that you should ask service people is, hey, how many other clients do you have? Because if you get a sense of a number that they’re busy, that’s a good thing, because that means that they’re quality, and they have their customers that they service.
Eddie: All of the female ones were generally very good. I tried hiring male cleaners. I hate to say it, but male cleaners are not as good as females, and I don’t know why. I think that’s just for a variety of reasons.
Andrew: When someone didn’t do a good job, what did that mean? Were they stealing? Were they missing a corner? What does it mean?
Eddie: They weren’t stealing or doing anything like that. They were just half-assing it. And I would usually call the customers just to get feedback from them. A lot of the times, they don’t know, but I had them clean a lot of my friends, so I could tell just from the feedback what type of cleaning solutions they’re using, what supplies they were using, how much time they were spending in each room. And from there… yeah.
Andrew: I see the cleverness of all this, and I see how it works out, but if you’re turning away business, it means that you don’t have enough cleaners. If you don’t have enough cleaners, it means that is a really tough aspect of the business. Where’s the difficulty in finding cleaners, and finding the right ones? I shouldn’t keep banging on the table as I talk. I don’t think the audience knows what that noise is.
Eddie: The biggest difficulty… that is the difficulty, right there. It’s…
Andrew: Finding them.
Eddie: Finding good cleaners. That is the number one problem with this type of business because if they’re that good, they’re probably already too busy. If they’re that good, they’re probably hired by someone else who gives them full-time jobs. So it’s just my job to find the diamonds in the rough.
And luckily, I’ve had two, three teams who are amazing, and they’ve never had a customer complain over the past year, actually. Yeah.
Andrew: Wow. Let me see what else I want to talk to you about. Actually, before I continue with this, there’s a box here. You just sent this. It came in four, five minutes before [inaudible 00:43].
Eddie: Oh, you got it. Nice.
Andrew: Yeah. You sent me coffee.
Andrew: Which I appreciate. And you said… I’m not going to read the whole thing here. Let’s make sure there’s no address on this. Oh, good, there’s only my address, and I kind of like when people come to visit me. Right? Yeah, here. This is my address. People can come. But you said that you’ve been listening since… here, can I read the whole thing?
Eddie: Oh, yeah, yeah. Sure.
Andrew: “Andrew, I want to send you a nice coffee along… I want to send a nice coffee out to you. I know it’s chilly up in San Francisco right now” — which it is — “so I thought this might help out.” I’ve got news for you: even in the heat of Mexico when we were there, I was drinking coffee every morning. I love it.
Andrew: “Really appreciate you doing the interview with me, and the headset.” I sent you a headset.
Andrew: You’re sounding so freaking good today.
Eddie: Thank you.
Andrew: I’m experimenting.
Eddie: I feel like I’m on…
Andrew: Go ahead.
Eddie: I feel like I’m on Sports Center right now.
Andrew: You know, it does feel a little bit big, and I would hesitate to… I would have hesitated to send it out to more people, because it looks so big. But I’m looking at the levels here, and you’re coming across so well. You’re sounding good to me, but really, the meter here does not lie. That is a good mic.
Andrew: So I’m glad that we did that. And the reason that I sent it over is because there was so much fan noise from your computer.
Andrew: And so if this helps you, I think we’re going to have to send this out to every guest, or at least give them an option. But actually, let me put it out to the audience. If you’re listening, how does Eddie sound to you? Is this a sound that’s better than usual, or am I just imagining it? Would you want me to send this out to other interviewees? Let me know.
And you’re saying I’ve been an inspiration to you since 2012, and I continue to motivate you with interviews. Let’s stay connected. Of course we’ll stay connected.
How have you been using Mixergy interviews? I see that you’re learning from [inaudible 02:27]. How has Mixergy been helpful?
Eddie: Oh, man. I’ve been watching Mixergy since 2012, and I forgot how I found the website. I think I was looking up entrepreneur interviews. Like, that literal, that exact phrase. And then I found Andrew Warner. And then I started back-checking Andrew Warner, and I was like, holy crap, this guy’s a baller. [laughs]
So I read that entire backstory, and I was like, hey, this is exactly the industry that I love. Tech industry. The people he interviews. Startup people. So many industries. It’s not just one niche. There’s so many. That I was just really inspired by everything. I watched everything.
I think one that really stood out to me was the one called Brazz, or something. The guy from Australia who had motorcycles. And he had a subscription model.
Andrew: Oh, yeah. Brap.
Eddie: Yeah, Brap. That was one of my favorite ones from way back then. And from there, I just kept on watching. I remember the guy who had the wedding ring in the candle, the fireworks, yeah. There’s just too many. It’s great.
Andrew: Actually, is it Brap or Brop? Let me see. Site: Mixergy… Brap, yeah, good. Brad Smith.
Andrew: And that candle interview? That one’s doing still well to this day. The guy… for the audience…
Andrew: That’s a guy who sells candles, and inside the candle, somewhere buried inside, is a ring. And you won’t get to the ring until you burn the candle all the way to the bottom. And some of the rings… they’re all nice. They all are interesting to get. They’re all, like, a free prize inside. But some of them are really expensive. And so people love the fact that they can go through these candles and discover something, and so it leads to a lot of sales for him. That was a great interview.
Andrew: I’m glad that you listen. You’ve been listening to hundreds of interviews. I should say to the audience: if you’re into interviews like this with successful entrepreneurs who tell their stories, sometimes hugely successful. Sometimes we only cover… actually, this is a new thing for me, to cover only the first $10,000. But I try to cover every kind of entrepreneur that I think will help you, give you insight so that you can go out there and build your own company.
And in addition to the interviews, we also have what we call courses, where entrepreneurs and authors come to teach one thing that you’ll need to know well, that you’ll need to master as an entrepreneur. It’s maybe how to test your idea. It’s maybe how to find an idea for your business.
It’s maybe how to get the first few hits to your site. The first few customers. All that and so much more, it’s available to you. If you join Mixergy Premium right now, you will get it. I guarantee you’ll love it, and I urge you to check out MixergyPremium.com. Go sign up.
And by the way, and thank you again for this coffee. I’ve never had upgraded coffee before. Bulletproof coffee. I’m looking forward to trying it. This is the coffee that Dave Ashbridge did. And shame on me for not having tried it, and the guy’s an interviewee, too.
Andrew: All right. Continuing on with your story now. I see where you’re starting to get customers. I see where the struggle is. How are you loving this, though? How are you liking being in the maid business?
Eddie: It’s so random. Like, if you told me in 2012 that I would be on Mixergy for a maid company, I would probably be like, “No, that is not going to be how… I’m going to be on Mixergy, but…” The maid industry is so… it’s challenging, and I think that’s the thing that I love about it, just because it’s so customer oriented.
And I love getting emails and calls from customers saying, like, “Wow, you did such an amazing job.” Like, “Thank you so much for doing this after the party,” or, “You came just in time.” That I love so much more than whatever dollars or the revenue that I get from it.
Andrew: I get that. But do you like the actual maid part of it? Do you like interacting with maids? Do you like the customers that you talk to? I mean, aside from the woman who asked you to groom her pet. [laughs] Is this just, like, people who you’re passionate about, or does this feel a little bit off, a little bit different?
Eddie: I feel a little bit off, just because I’m not 100% as passionate as I was before. And it’s definitely not my final thing that I’m going to do. And just because I know that, I’m not as passionate as I am. I definitely want to create other companies with different models serving different industries, as well.
Andrew: I know what you mean. That it’s not people who you hate. You know, if you have bad customers who you hate being around, it’s easy. “I’m out of here.”
Andrew: If you have people who you love, who you just can’t wait to be a part of, that’s also an easy decision. But that in between spot feels like where you are right now.
Andrew: Let’s continue, then, with the story. One of the challenges that you had had to do with someone who worked for Apple.
Andrew: What happened there?
Eddie: Oh, that kills me. I forgot about that one. I tried to brainwash it from my mind. Okay, so one client who was in LA… and I just randomly looked him up on LinkedIn, just because…
Andrew: And we won’t give away his name.
Eddie: No, no, I won’t give the name. It turned out… and I never do back checks, but it turned out that he was a pretty high-level executive at Apple. So he was just down here for a business meeting, and I think this was just his second home, or his vacation home. And I was like, “Oh, I’m going to kill this, and I’m going to become, like, a lot bigger, and have more networks.”
So the day comes, and my cleaners don’t even show up. So I called them, and there’s so many complications, and they’re really late. He was really nice about it. We rescheduled. Turns out that he just didn’t like the service at all.
And I should have sent my other team, but I did it to the male team. And after that one, I gave them another chance, but then they screwed up again, and then I just had to let them go.
But that, oh, that kills me. That kills me.
Andrew: I get that.
Eddie: Yeah. [laughs]
Andrew: And the part that kills you is you like this customer, you respect what he does, and you wanted to really please him. And because of a bad service, you ended up losing him.
Eddie: Yeah. The worst part is because it was because of the service. Like, there could have been any other complaint. Like, “Oh, you guys are too expensive,” or, “I’m going to move to another area.” It was just purely he called me and he said, “Look, it sucked.”
Eddie: [laughs] That is literally what he said. But he said it in a nice way after that, but, oh man, I was like, “Oh, God, I’m so sorry.” So I gave him a refund, but, I mean, I lost the customer. So it’s terrible.
Andrew: I’m on your site, and I see that you offer a 200% guarantee.
Andrew: Not 100% money back, but 200%, meaning what?
Eddie: Meaning if you’re not happy with the first cleaning, we’ll come back and do it again free of charge. If you’re still not happy after the second cleaning, I’ll just give you a refund and there’ll be no questions asked.
Andrew: How… that’s a great guarantee, because I can see that it gives people a lot of confidence. But it’s also a scary one.
Eddie: It is scary.
Andrew: How has it worked?
Eddie: It’s actually worked really well.
Eddie: In the past year that I’ve done it, only two people have ever used it.
Eddie: Two people. Yeah. So…
Andrew: Two people have asked you to come back and clean. Anyone ask you to clean and then give your money back?
Eddie: Both of the people, I had to give their money back.
Andrew: Oh, so you cleaned them twice and gave them their money back.
Eddie: Yeah. I just gave them their money back, because I had a feeling that these were customers who are just… they wouldn’t be happy in any other way, so I didn’t want to deal with them after. So I just counted it as a loss.
Andrew: What about the fact that you donate some of your money to charity. Who do you donate to and how effective has it been?
Eddie: Oh, yeah. I actually recently started doing this. So the past last month, I started to donate to World Food Program, WFP.org. I really like the message that they do. It’s to fight world hunger. And I just really wanted to find a legitimate charity, just because so many out there, they don’t follow through. They exaggerate their goals and their missions.
I just really love the mission they set forth. Helping third world countries. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And I just decided to give them 1% of my revenue each month.
Andrew: Does it help your business?
Eddie: Maybe it helps my business. I still have to put on the website that we support this charity. But even more so than the business, I think just personally, it just makes me feel good. Just because the business is generating a lot of money, and I’d rather have that 1% go to someone who really needs it, instead of me just using it to buy a steak dinner, or just to buy extra things that I really don’t need, and someone else needs them so much more than me.
Andrew: All right. I want to do a quick plug for Scott here, and then I’m… I have to ask you these questions that, when Jeremy finished the pre- interview with you, he said, “What question didn’t I ask you?” And you came up with something so good that I’ve got to come back and ask you.
But first, my sponsor is Scott Edward Walker. He pays me to drink out of this mug. I might be the only human being on the planet who gets paid to drink. That’s why I like coffee so much. I get paid to drink it.
Instead of me doing a plug for Scott — and I could do tons of them — maybe I could ask you, Eddie. As an entrepreneur, has there been one piece of legal advice that you wish you had before?
Eddie: Yes. The best piece of legal advice as a start-up person is you need to make sure that you have a lawyer that specializes in entrepreneurial matters.
Eddie: Because a lot of lawyers out there don’t specialize in start-ups. They don’t understand the business. They don’t understand your mindset. If you have someone like Scott Edward Walker who knows your mission, knows what type of revenue that you want to generate, how much that he should take.
A lot of lawyers out there, they try to overcharge you a lot, and that’s the biggest thing. They try to give you deals that will not benefit you in the long run. You definitely need someone who… there’s so many simple questions, like, “Should it be an LLC? Should it be an S-corp? C-corp?” Only a business lawyer would really know that. So…
Andrew: I had one who… I had a great lawyer. I wanted an insertion order so that I could sell ads on my site. The lawyer wrote up this 20-page document that was appropriate for magazine companies. He didn’t understand that we were an Internet company.
Eddie: [laughs] Okay.
Andrew: And I didn’t understand that a great lawyer doesn’t mean the same thing in all industries.
Andrew: You know? For the magazine industry, he could have been perfect. And there’s a reason why he’s in this huge firm that’s been around forever. He helps these older companies.
Eddie: Yeah. I know.
Andrew: He wasn’t the right person for me. Scott is the entrepreneur’s lawyer. He works with companies like ours. Go to WalkerCorporateLaw.com. And even if you don’t, just really be aware, and get someone who knows your space, not someone who just happens to be a lawyer.
Andrew: Here is one of the things that you said… where is that. Okay. Some national company threatened you.
Eddie: Oh, yeah. Oh, man.
Andrew: Speaking of lawyers. I used to get threatened with lawsuits all the time. I mean, we had… at the previous company, we had tens of millions of subscribers, tons of advertisers. And people would think that they could just throw around a lawsuit like it’s nothing. I mean, I guess some people have lawyers on retainer, and others just like to threaten.
Anyway, so I felt I had… I mean, I’d see people who were afraid of lawsuits. I used to think you’re not really in business unless you get sued. You have to really be prepared, at least to be threatened to be sued. So it’s such a part of business. Anyway, I’m taking us off of your story. What was your story?
Eddie: Yeah. So this happened in the first two months of the business. I don’t want to say the name of them, but I think everyone will know when I say it’s a top three company. There’s only about three. You could do a quick Google search. It’s one of those three. It was a regional manager, so I was generating probably… I think I was because I was taking its customers in a certain region of LA. It’s not all of LA. Just a certain region. The west side.
And the west side manager, they called me saying, like, “Hey, you guys need to stop. Like, cease and desist.” Like, they literally sent me a letter telling me that I’m illegally operating in that area, which I just laughed at. It doesn’t make sense at all. I gave it to my lawyer, and he just laughed at it.
But yeah, that kind of… initially it scared me, because if we were to go to a lengthier battle if I did something, then they could easily probably just topple me, just because…
Andrew: They had more money than you.
Eddie: And time.
Andrew: They had more money to waste.
Andrew: They had more time. They had more experience. So what do you do with someone like that? How do you get them to back off?
Eddie: Oh, I just literally spoke with them again and I said, “Hey, like, what’s the problem?” And I started calling them first now. And when I started contacting them first to say, like, “Hey, what’s up there?” or, “What’s the deal about this?” They slowly started to back up, just because they knew that their only complaint was because there was competition in the area. So…
Andrew: So just talking to them got them to back off?
Eddie: Yeah. I just talked with them. And I had my lawyer send them a letter to their lawyer saying, like, “We don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t make any sense.” Once that happened, we never got a response from them, never got a phone call, and haven’t worried about it since.
Andrew: Maybe I should be learning from these bigger companies…
Andrew: …and start sending out threatening legal letters to everyone. You know, imagine if someone started an interview site, and I sent them a letter saying, “No, I am the entrepreneur interview guy! You can’t do it!”
Andrew: “Search Google and you’ll see.” [laughs] I bet some people would be threatened and walk away.
Andrew: But mostly in our space, people would end up posting it on Reddit. Maybe that’s not a bad idea, too.
Andrew: Get them to all post it on Reddit. [laughs] And get them to all hate me, but send me links.
Andrew: Okay… actually, before I get to the last shocking thing that happened, I want to ask about revenues. What do you feel comfortable saying? And I see all of your revenues here.
Eddie: Mm-hmm. Revenues… I would just say that they’re easily over five figures. So they’re in the low fives. I’ll say that.
Andrew: Low fives.
Andrew: And it’s profitable every month?
Eddie: Yup. It’s been profitable since the first month. Yeah.
Andrew: How long did it take you to get to $10,000 in revenue?
Eddie: Exactly 97 days.
Andrew: You remember that it was 97 days. How do you know that?
Eddie: Oh, okay. I remember this because when I stopped working and I quit my job, I gave myself literally 100 days on a calendar to start a business that was profitable. So that was my goal. I gave myself 100 days, and each day I would mark it off. So I made sure that I never wasted a day, because if I wasted a day, that’s already one day gone.
And I think it’s because I set that deadline that this company even formed. I really think that if I didn’t have a calendar that said I have 100 days to do this, I have 10 days to make this, and I have a week to make certain things, certain deadlines, there is no way this company would be formed this fast.
Andrew: So 97 days to not just get to profitability, but get to $10,000 in sales.
Eddie: $10,000 in sales.
Andrew: Wow. And so here is the surprising part.
Andrew: You’re now… you got a job.
Eddie: Why? So now I work in digital marketing, which is what I realized that I love so much from this company. So the things that I was doing with this company was I was helping create the website. I did Photoshop with it. I did online ads. I…
Andrew: You mean Amber Maids.
Andrew: That’s the part that you loved at Amber Maids.
Eddie: I interacted with people on Twitter. All of the online marketing aspect of it, through emails, everything. I realized that that’s what I’m best at, and that’s what I love to do. I got the opportunity to work in a company that gave me essentially unlimited revenue to test in the online world, to kind of revamp their online marketing campaigns.
And I said, hey, this is something that can never happen again. And I’m still so young. I’m only 24. That it would just be a cop-out for myself if I just stopped after this company, just because I know that I could do so much more, and I still have so many more goals to accomplish.
Andrew: Yeah. I think that more entrepreneurs should consider getting a job at some point in their lives. This idea that you’re an entrepreneur and you should never get a job, I get it, but I think it’s wrong. I remember struggling to figure out what I was going to do and feeling like a failure all the time, because sometimes you just get stuck.
And then I ended up going to work for Paul Cevarra [SP], who worked on Wall Street, who was this guy who totally got my mindset. He read Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends and Influence People”. We bonded at work about that. I didn’t know anyone who read that book or even cared about it the way that he did. But suddenly there was another person in the world like that.
And he would set these goals, and I would get all driven to be as goal- oriented as he was, and he introduced me to books and CDs and all kinds of stuff. And I got clear direction, and I knew exactly what I needed to do. Then I’d go and do it and I’d do it better than he expected, and then he would be amazed. All that stuff really built me up, and then he became a friend that was at my wedding a few years ago.
Andrew: I think working for the right person is the key. So if we say, “I’ll never get a job,” it should be, “I’ll never get a job with the wrong person.”
Andrew: I’ll never get a job just for money. So the company that you work for–did we say it? did you even say the name?
Eddie: I didn’t say the name. It’s called CyberActive.
Andrew: Okay. And you do it just for them, or can people hire you through them?
Eddie: No, I do it just for them, but I still do small things on the side. Just client work. I love talking with small business owners who are just starting out who need help in social media, who need help with websites. It’s shocking how many people are hindered from starting a business because they don’t understand the core of those things, so just helping them go through those and then preparing them for that. That’s a treat for me too, because I understand their struggles.
Andrew: Amber Maids. I’ve got the revenue here in my research. Are you close to doing there, to doing that a month still, while it’s running? You are.
Eddie: Yeah, I am.
Andrew: So it’s still profitable. Those are still roughly the numbers?
Eddie: Those are still roughly…
Andrew: So you can live off of that.
Eddie: I could, yeah. I guess I could.
Andrew: Okay. Alright. Congratulations on the success. One of the cool things that I used to dream of is now happening. Just like you used to say, “One day I’d like to be on Mixergy,” I used to say when I started out, “I would love for the people who are listening to listen to these interviews, to use what they learn, to go out there and build a successful company and come back and do an interview. I used to put that out there in the interviews, put that out there in the universe, put that out there as my goal, and here it is. It’s happening.
I’m so proud that you’re on here, and I’m looking forward to…there’s someone out there who listened to this interview all the way, the kind of person that’s going to send you an email afterwards, the way that you sent Rohan an email.
Who’s going to use something that they learned here or in another interview, who’s going to business, and–maybe months from now, maybe days from now, maybe years from now, maybe decades from now–I hope to be on here for decade–will send me an email saying, “Andrew, I am ready.” We do that interview, and I can’t wait for that to happen.
This is, I say, the circle of Mixergy. You learn, you do, you come back and you teach so other people can learn, do and come back and teach. Eddie, thank you so much for being a part of it.
Eddie; Thank you.
Eddie: I really had fun. Thanks so much, Andrew.
Andrew: Thank you for being here. If anyone wants to connect with you, what’s a good way for them to do it?
Eddie: Okay. My personal email firstname.lastname@example.org. I recently got more active in Twitter. It’s just my name with an underscore at the end. So just feel free. I always respond. I always check it. So cool.
Andrew: I hope you guys do it.
Andrew: Thank you for being time. Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. Bye, guys.
Walker Corporate Law – Scott Edward Walker is the lawyer entrepreneurs turn to when they want to raise money or sell their companies, but if you’re just getting started, his firm will help you launch properly. Watch this video to learn about him.