You’re about to meet an entrepreneur whose success I’m amazed by, but I don’t understand.
Garrett Gee created Scan,a simple iPhone and Android app that allows you to scan bar codes and QR codes. When you scan one of them it’ll show you relevant information.
In this interview you’ll hear how Garrett went from making $8/hr to $300/hr–just because he had the confidence to asked for it. Now his company has over $8M in funding and millions of downloads. Here’s how he’s doing it.
Garrett Gee, Scan
Garrett Gee is the founder of Scan, which allows users to benefit from mobile transaction technologies including mobile commerce, social media and lead generation and more.
Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. You’re about to meet an entrepreneur whose success I’m just amazed and inspired by. But, I have to admit, I don’t understand how did he do it.
Garrett Gee created a simple app that got millions of downloads and millions of dollars in funding. He’s the creator of Scan. Scan is a simple iPhone and Android app that allows you to scan bar codes and QR codes. When you scan one of them it’ll show you relevant information. If you scan a QR code his app will show you the website maybe that it points to. If you scan a bar code it’ll show you how to buy the product that the bar code is associated with.
I want to find out how this simple little app became such a big business, and I’m going to do this all thanks to Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. He is the startups’ lawyer. I’ll tell you more about him later. If you want to browse ahead, go to walkercorporatelaw.com. But, for now, Garrett, thanks for doing the interview.
Garrett: Yeah, of course. Excited to be chatting.
Andrew: Does it make you feel uncomfortable when I talk like this, when I say I don’t understand how this simple app got so many downloads?
Garrett: No. To be honest, it’s something I hear quite a bit. On the one hand I’m confident in myself, I’m confident in my team, and we’ve always had big ambitions. But, to be transparent with you, this is my personal first go at a startup [??]. For me, it’s also kind of every day brings new surprises that were a surprise to myself.
Andrew: How much money did you raise?
Garrett: To date we have raised about 8.7. We did a seed round of 1,700,000 about a year into the business. Then, about a year after that, not too long ago, we did a Series A of 7,000,000.
Andrew: And how many downloads of the app?
Garrett: To date, it’s a little over 58 million. I mean that’s across all platforms from iOS, Android, Windows devices, and then even on the Amazon Kindle.
Andrew: Okay. Unbelievable. You said it’s your first go. What were you doing just before this?
Garrett: I was in school at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. I guess you could say I was freelancing. I kind of feel weird saying that I was freelancing, because technically I was. I was doing design and development, mostly logos, branding within a lot of websites and mobile stuff for other people and was charging them for it.
In that sense I was doing freelance. But, really in my mind I was just trying to build my own skill set so that I could eventually build my own ideas. To me, it was more training, and so I could make money off it I was freelancing.
Andrew: You said you were charging for it. How much were you charging?
Garrett: When I started I charged what I thought was a lot, because all my buddies and classmates were making $8, $10 an hour at their student jobs. I was like how cool will I be if I can make double that. So I started by charging $16 an hour. I would be building somebody’s website, tell them I was charging $16 an hour, and they would basically treat me like a $16 an hour employee. They treated me very poorly.
Almost just as an experiment I started to charge more and more. The next client would ask me how much I charge, and I would tell them I charge $24. Then, later I would tell people I charge $60. It was interesting, because every time even though my skills, I guess, were getting a little better and better people treated me a lot better to the point where…
Then, just to push my limits, I said you know what I charge $150 an hour. People continually said oh wow you must be pretty good. We want to definitely work with you. Then, it got to the point where at charging $150 an hour I had more work than I could handle. Yet, I kind of have I guess what you’d call yes man syndrome where I have a hard time turning down opportunities.
Anyways, I didn’t know what to do. I came up with this scheme you know I’m just going to charge people so much money that they’ll turn me down. That way, I don’t have to say no to them. Anyways, I started saying to people that I charge $300 an hour. The reaction wasn’t oh that’s too expensive. The reaction was wow you must be very good. We definitely want to work with you.
So I did that for about a year until I felt like my skills were where they could be to pursue Scan and start working on my own thing.
Andrew: Would somebody please tell Scott Edward Walker that my rates now are $30,000 per episode. Please.
Garrett: You must be really good.
Andrew: Actually, $50,000. Let’s go even better.
Garrett: Yeah. I never reached the top. I’m curious to see how far I could have played it, because it just got far enough to the point where I was like you know what, I’m going to start working on my own thing.
Andrew: Were you someone who even as a kid was entrepreneurial and kept trying different things, and selling, and enjoyed that process, or were you more of an artist?
Garrett: Looking back, I was definitely entrepreneurial. I didn’t know what the word or term entrepreneurial was. But, yeah, I mean especially hearing from my parents and older siblings the many entrepreneurial stories that they would tell me about myself. But, as for myself I considered myself more of an artist or craftsman over a businessman or entrepreneur.
Andrew: What do you mean by artist or craftsman? How did that express itself when you were growing up?
Garrett: It was kind of like I always put the craft or the product first, whatever it was that I was working on, and money just kind of seemed to come my way. My older siblings would always make fun of me because I would be this, like, eight year old boy doing arts and crafts. In my mind I was doing arts and crafts and then trying to sell them and trying to run whatever business. In my mind it was arts and crafts. But, then they would see me and I would have, like, a wallet full of cash.
Andrew: I see.
Garrett: They seemed to know where it came from. I had the ability to attract money, but in my mind, again, it was more about what I was doing, whatever art…
Andrew: Garrett, what were you doing differently? Because I see a lot of people who are doing arts and crafts, and they don’t get paid. I see a lot of people who are struggling to charge, and they don’t get paid. You were doing something different. What did you do that allowed you to get paid even at an early age?
Garrett: I think one thing is confidence. I’ll see a lot of people, or I’ll work with a lot of people who, in my opinion, are far more talented than I am, far more whether it’s artistic, whatever it is. Yet, when I talk to them they don’t see it that way. They’re scared to put their art out in the world. They’re scared to charge for it, scared to ask people for money.
I don’t know if you’d call it foolishness or confidence, whatever it is, but I never really felt that hesitation. I was always naive or confident enough to ask someone hey, if you want my services or if you want this product, whatever it is, I want the big bucks.
Even when… One of the stories when I was little and having, like, rock sales in my neighborhood where little kids would come up to me and I was six to eight years old at the time. I was just selling rocks that were out of my back yard. They could find the exact same rocks in their back yard.
But, I was telling these kids you go home. You get your parents’ wallet, and you bring me back $20 if you want my best rock.
Andrew: You just had the confidence, the guts, to say that – the chutzpah.
Garrett: Yeah. I mean to me it wasn’t confidence. To me it was just the way things are. But, as I’ve met other people I’ve kind of realized that, their lack of confidence. And, a lot of times I wish they could see the potential and the value that I see inside them that they just haven’t seen yet.
Andrew: What were your parents like?
Garrett: Complete opposites. From my mom’s side she’s very glitz, glamour. She was the host of a travel TV show travelling the world with her Louis Vuitton luggage. Very fancy when it comes to her lifestyle. That was half my life growing up.
The other half was the complete opposite end of things where my dad is reenacting Civil War scenes. He’s dressing up like a cowboy. He’s living in the middle of nowhere in a one bedroom restored pioneer cabin.
Garrett: Doesn’t know how to work a microwave to a TV. So, complete opposite ends of the scale.
Andrew: I’m guessing because you went to BU you grew up Mormon, too.
Garrett: Correct, yeah.
Andrew: Okay. And how did that influence you? I don’t…
Garrett: You mean from, like, a business perspective, or…
Andrew: In any way. I don’t really talk much about faith here. But, occasionally it comes up, so I just happened… I’m just curious.
Garrett: I think just from a broader perspective, and I don’t know if this is the case in every situation, but at least in my personal situation my faith does instill in me a lot of confidence.
Andrew: I see.
Garrett: Not so much I don’t know if I’d say confidence, but just kind of a knowledge of, like, who I am and what I stand for and what I want to achieve or what I’m capable of. That’s kind of it from a broad perspective.
But, then from kind of a more specific and also especially with business I mean… In the Mormon faith when a young man turns 19 he has the option to go serve, do 2 years of service in an unknown place. You don’t really know. You just volunteer, and if you volunteer then they send you somewhere.
In my case I got sent to a place called Vladivostok, Russia, the far eastern coast of Russia.
Garrett: And to try to learn the language in the freezing cold of eastern Russia, I mean, now I’m not really scared to talk to anybody. Because if you can talk to a Russian, not even knowing very well their own language enough, nothing really gets harder than that. And so ever since…
Andrew: How many converts did you make when you went to that part of Russia?
Garrett: So when you go out… half of it is just service, you know? Helping people any way you can. We taught in a free English club for people who wanted to learn English. And then half of it is proselytizing. Sharing, you know, your beliefs, your faith. And people… I mean, you know, we interacted with hundreds of people every day. As far as Russians that I met, got to know, and invited to join the Church, the Mormon Church, while I was out there for two years, there were 12 families and individuals.
Andrew: Oh, wow. That’s a lot. Because I do a little bit of reading about Mormonism, because I’m fascinated by it. And one of the things that I notice is it’s a very ineff-… the two years that you go away seems like a very inefficient way to spread the word and proselytize. But it seems like a very strong way to put confidence in the person who goes overseas. To instill the faith in the person who goes overseas.
That, yes, you’re going to help other people, but it feels like you help yourself so much more, and then what you take with you afterwards is the biggest impact. I could be wrong. But I feel like one of those commercials that they run, or some other campaign, can do more than get 12 families.
Garrett: [laughs] Yeah. If I could get families like I could get app downloads, I would have been a lot better missionary.
Garrett: Right? No, and you’re totally right. Sometimes it’s almost like an internal struggle when you’re a missionary. Because when you’re serving these people, it is very, like, internally rewarding and uplifting to serve these people, and you just hope that, you know, you want them to feel that same joy, because usually it’s the giver that’s feeling more joy than the person receiving the service. And so, yeah, you’re definitely right.
And then as far as, like, efficient, it’s really fun when you return from your mission to talk to your friends who also served around the world, and see, like, what it was like in Santiago, Chile. What it was like in Korea, you know? Because everybody’s having a different experience based on where they were around the world.
Andrew: So you come back, and you discovered this QR technology. And a lot of us noticed it, but you were fascinated by it in a different way. What did it make you start to think?
Garrett: I mean, so people see me today, you know, like, you’re a head of a software app company. Like, you must be very techie. And of course, like, I’ve definitely become a lot more techie since starting the company. But if you were to see me fresh off the mission, I mean, my life revolved around dating and sports, right? And really, like, nothing more.
So being non-techie… when I first came across the QR code, it was my… you know, I got my first smartphone, scanned a QR code, and I thought it was, like, black magic. I thought it was one of the coolest things I ever seen. How did that information on this printed material just get into my digital device. Like, that connection, to me, just blew my mind.
Garrett: So immediately, because it gave me that magical experience, I kind of had, like, a connection to this technology. So I hopped online and I started to research it. And as most people would see, QR codes kind of have a negative reputation. A negative connotation. And in my opinion, it was not the technology. Like, the technology worked. From my artistic point of view, or designer’s point of view, it was the way people were building products. People were using QR codes in the wrong way because people were building and designing the products in the wrong way.
So it kind of was like, in my mind, a Cinderella story, where I wanted to take this cool technology that had given me a magical experience, and I wanted to give it a fighting chance by designing a better website to create QR codes, and design a better app to scan them. Like, that was the very simple beginning. It was just me wanting to stick up for this technology.
Andrew: Okay. And did you have any sense of where the revenue would come from?
Garrett: [laughs] No. Again, like, just kind of my mindset. I believed if I could create something of value, it would pay off financially. That’s kind of my experience in the past. But it wasn’t my top goal or priority.
Andrew: T-shirts were part of the original plan. How did T-shirts fit in with your vision?
Garrett: I mean, so the first thing, I was like, okay, how can I use these in my own life? So I created T-shirts. I screen printed QR codes on them that linked to my Facebook. They were just statically linked to my Facebook. It said, “Friend me on Facebook.”
And because I had never done it before, basically I made every mistake you could when it comes to using QR codes. I made the QR code too big, because my Facebook URL at the time was so big. The QR code was very complicated and hard to scan. I made it too big on the T-shirt, so it was also hard to scan unless my posture was right and perfect.
Looking back, it was awesome because immediately I’d found a ton of things while building my own website and my own QR code generator that I could guide the user to help avoid those mistakes that I made.
Andrew: I see. I always assumed with QR codes that there was only one way to design one of these QR codes for each link that it’s connected to. But that’s not true at all. Right? You can do it in many different ways. In fact, on your site, on Scan.Me, if I create a QR code for my Facebook page, you even put the F in the center to signify that it’s a Facebook page.
Andrew: So, there is a lot of creativity. I see. When you were putting it on a T-shirt you learned to simply it. You learned what works and what doesn’t when people try to scan it.
Andrew: Were you building the app at the same time as the T-shirt?
Garrett: No. At first, I was just playing with QR code technology as a whole. That was kind of in the process. At first, I didn’t want to build those products. I just wanted to use the technology myself. Again, not being techie myself, I was getting frustrated. The screen printer who was going to make these T-shirts for me needed the QR code or the design in vector format. Well, none of the generators at the time would generate my code in anything but a PNG or a JPEG. I had to toss that PNG into Illustrator, and one square at a time create it myself.
That was check one. If I create a generator, I’m going to make sure it automatically delivers you a vector file. I just played around with QR codes, but it was quite quickly that I decided, “You know what? I’m just going to try to build this myself.” That’s when the frustration came, because it really burdened me to have an idea in my mind and not be able to build it myself. Immediately, that’s when I started to – I guess you could say freelance – to try to teach myself how to code, as well as design in Photoshop, Illustrator, and whatnot.
Andrew: I’m on your site right now, and I just created a QR code for Mixergy. How do I get to… Oh, I see. I have to log in in order to download it in a vector format.
Andrew: Got it. Okay. I see where you’re going with this. What’s the next step, then?
Garrett: The next step for scan?
Garrett: It started as something very simple, but very quickly we started to see adaption and growth.
Andrew: When you say “we,” it’s because you got together with people from BYU and you got them to be co-founders. They are the “we?”
Garrett: Correct. I started working on it myself for a while. Then, I met two guys on the BYU campus, and they kind of had the reputation on campus as the best of the best. I was a freshman at the time, and I think both of them were seniors. People would tell me, “Yeah, you can go to those guys for advice, but don’t ever try to team up with them.” They’re either too busy, or they’re too far along. They wouldn’t team up with you.
But as soon as somebody told me that, that basically locked my sights on them, like, “Yep. Those are my guys. That’s who I want to work with.” So, I started a process of courting them and trying to woo them and persuade them to…
Andrew: How did you woo them?
Garrett: I mean, not directly. I don’t even know if they knew what my intentions were, but I was everything from simply taking them out to lunch and whatever. Then, I was also like, “Hey, I just designed these business cards for you. Feel free to use them if you want.” You know? Or, “Hey, I saw that you’re working on this site. Would you like me to design the logo for that site?” Anything I could do to develop a personal relationship, then also a working relationship, so they could see my skills and my value.
Honestly, it was maybe five to eight months of that, and I finally said, “Hey, there’s this project I’m working on. I was wondering if you guys would like to…” Then, immediately they said, “Finally, you’re asking us. We’ve been waiting for you. Let’s do this.”
Andrew: Wow. What do they bring to the business? What skills?
Garrett: They’re both developers. My specialty would be in design, and they’re both developers. From the early on days, Kirk, my one co-founder, was always working on the web side of things, and then was doing everything on the mobile side of things.
Andrew: Okay. How does Kirk pronounce his last name? Is it Wemet [?]?
Garrett: Yeah, Wemet.
Andrew: Wemet. And Ben Turley.
Andrew: All right. So, you were saying… Actually, why don’t we continue from there? How long did it take you to build the first version of the site and the app?
Garrett: When we started working on it, it wasn’t too long. It was less than six months, maybe even closer to three months, that it took before we launched version one of the website and the app. And I think it was within the same week that we launched those two products.
Andrew: And you went iOS first.
Garrett: Yup. We just had a simple website that did nothing but generate codes, and then the app was just on iOS, and it nothing but scan QR codes.
Andrew: That’s it?
Garrett: Yeah. Nothing else. [laughs]
Garrett: I don’t even think it had a history yet.
Andrew: How’d you get your first 12 users?
Garrett: On the app, the first 12 users came when I saw… and, like, this goes to this being my first go at any sort of venture.
Garrett: And I hope I never lose this. Like, luckily for me it’s still exciting every time we release any new feature or product. But man, when I saw our app in the app store and downloaded it, that was, like, a magical, magical moment for me, to see something that was in my mind, and it was just a dream, and now it’s live on my iPhone. Like, I couldn’t believe it.
So I took that excitement, and there was a party that night on campus, and I was literally up on the table telling everybody at the party, like, “You need to download my new app.” And, you know, I think I got about 12 people to download it that night. So I thought those were our first 12 users. I thought we were off to a great start.
Garrett: [??] on our first night, and we were bound for glory. Anyways, we get together the next day — Ben, Kirk, and myself — and we got about 2,000 that first day.
Andrew: So how? How do you get 2,000 so quickly?
Garrett: So I think Apple does a really good job. Like, if you’re a brand- new app, they’ll give you a little bit of, like, I don’t know, like, free exposure, bump, whatever you want to call it, so that you at least have the chance to succeed. And it’s my opinion that you need to be ready and you need to put your best foot forward, because you can either use that for better or for worse.
At some companies, they’ll push out the app even though it’s not quite ready just so it can, like, simmer in the app store, and then they’re going to try to improve it. And to me, I think that’s actually a mistake, because when Apple gives you that first little bit of help, you need to take advantage of that, you know, and get as many downloads as possible so that you can continue to ride that wave and make it into the new and noteworthy, and you can, you know, work your way up the rankings. Because if you immediately, in Apple’s algorithms or however they do it, get branded as a, you know, “who cares” app, then it’s just really hard to work your way out of that hole.
Andrew: And this… I don’t think Apple does this anymore. But back then, they used to say… they used to have for each category a “what’s new” section that was constantly updated, right? And so it was top free, top paid, and what’s new for each category. And that’s where you rose up for utilities.
Garrett: Yeah. And I think one key thing that we did very well from the beginning was understanding where our downloads would be coming from.
Garrett: Because if you’re a game, or if you’re a social app, or something of the sort, you need to build in, like, that social aspect. You need to build in that reality into the app. And then you need to be highly ranked in order to be discovered. For us, we understood that most of our downloads would come when somebody out in the wild saw either a QR code or a bar code, wanted to scan that, and then would go to their smartphone searching for some sort of app that could scan it.
And even though there were hundreds… I mean, there’s a little over 300 apps in the app store when we… that did scanning when we launched our app. But they were… I mean, they were called “Red Laser,” “Shop Savvy,” “Enigma,” “Picado,” stuff like that. And nobody’s going to see a QR code and, off the top of their head, decide, “I’m going to search for Enigma.”
So, you know, we were fortunate enough to name our app “Scan,” and the business it was registered under was “QR Code City.” So whether people were searching “bar code,” “QR code,” or “scan,” we showed up above these people who had older and more popular apps than us. And so we kind of… we knew our game. We knew what we were playing, you know, and we focused on that.
Andrew: Could you put your Skype on “do not disturb,” just so it doesn’t make that noise when your friends come up? The way to do that is top left of your screen, go to the green bubble and select “do not disturb.”
While you’re doing that, I’ll show, this is what it looks like in the app store, right there, that…
Garrett: There it is.
Andrew: It’s called right now “Scan QR Code and Bar Code Reader.” And so that’s one of the things that you did. The other thing I noticed is the icon like that. Is that part of the plan also, to have an icon like that?
Garrett: So we… the icon’s been an interesting. story Initially, the icon looked more like it showed a QR code and a bar code, and it had a red laser scanning through it.
Garrett: And that, at the time, was unique. Nobody really had an icon that looked like that. And we basically wanted to teach the untrained user what the app did, before they read anything just immediately when they saw it, Unfortunately, there were a lot of apps immediately as we started to pick up in popularity started to, to the “T” copy our icon. We’re growing so quickly and doing so well, we really didn’t mind but once we started, I think it was just recently when we passed about 50 million downloads that we wanted to diversify, really set ourselves apart as a brand; and that’s when we switched to that more branded red icon [??].
Andrew: I see, but the idea was to always give an icon that showed what the product does; not a logo, not an interesting design, but something that says very clearly, this is what we do.
Garrett: Exactly, and some people, some brands done a very good job with their unique names, “Instagram” it doesn’t really tell you what Instagram does, but it works for them as a brand; if people come to me with advice just my personal opinion is, if you’re a new app and you’re just starting from ground zero a good strategy is to simply name your app. whatever it does, and design the icon to show exactly what it does; that’s a good beginning strategy that you can then build a brand off of as you grow in popularity, as beginners it really helped us.
Andrew: Alright, so what so what we’re saying is yes, talking to your friends got you some users but not very much; but Apple’s original help where it was highlighting you, gave you a push and being very clear of what your product does and using the name that people search for that helped you get more traffic and more users.
Andrew: I’m looking at an earlier version of your site, before we continue with the story and understand how you got more users; I’m looking at an earlier version of your site, Scan makes it…here’s the tag or the sentence here at the top; Scan makes it simple to create beautiful UR code experiences. What does that mean, beautiful art code experiences, will the app. allow to me to make QR codes or allow me to use the QR codes?
Garrett: This is speaking specifically about the website; when I mentioned that UR codes had a bad reputation and that people were using them poorly, a QR code is a QR code; but a lot of people did as far as making mistakes is that they would make it as when you would scan the QR code it just went to their home page or even worse, if you scanned their QR code it went to none friendly mobile content, whatever it was. In our opinion, a QR code should be treated like just an action button. A code of action that is hopefully needed and in one tap you can gain value from that experience.
Andrew: I see.
Garrett: We were saying with that tag name not only are we going to give you a QR code that works at its best, but we’re also going to help you to developed or create the experience behind the QR code that will bring the user as much value as quickly as possible.
Andrew: Okay. Alright, so now we are at 2,000 users; what do you do to get the next group of users?
Garrett: So, we being poor college students and we had this growing app. We had a lot of opportunities and we had a lot of people reach out to us saying, “Hey, we saw you had this quickly growing app.” We market apps, and you put in this much money and we grantee you this many downloads. Some were alright, some were really good, if you put in 5,000 dollars, in this week we will get you 10,000 downloads, but we just not afford it at the time.
So, in our opinion was to try and create something so valuable and so impressive it would market itself, then hopefully one day when we can make money off of it we could do some marketing. Anyways, the app. continued to grow and grow from 2,000 downloads a day to four to five to 10,000 downloads and then it started to get picked up by a lot of blogs calling it, ” The fastest of all the QR code scanners.” any time that anybody said that here’s the best utility apps that you should have or if you needed a QR code scanner this is the one to pick.
But none of those were paid features; they just kind of came about organically. It continued to grow that way on its own that we passed 83,000 downloads a day, I just remember that number specifically, because in my math there’s a little over 83,000 seconds in a day, so I put that number marker in my mind waiting for the day when we were getting more than one download a second.
Andrew: [??] Eighty-three, the name, the logo you had at the time, from blogs starting to pick it up; did you do anything…I know later on you had P.R. person, but early on did you do anything to get all these blogs to write about you?
Garrett: No, not early on, we probably waited a few months, and definitely passed our first million downloads before I reached out to any sort of bloggers.
Andrew: We talked about the benefit of having a name like Scan. When someone types in “Scan QR,” you guys come up much more naturally than Red Laser, for example, might.
Andrew: What about the downside? Which is, for me, when I was searching for your company, I couldn’t type “scan” into the search. Into Google. I had to type in “scan” and your name, for example, to get… to find any articles about the company.
Garrett: Yeah. And, I mean, that’s just kind of like… there are, you know, pros and cons to anything, and that was something we’re willing to fight that, like, uphill battle. Because, yeah, definitely hard to take a word as generic as “scan,” especially since it’s, like, legally not trademarkable.
Garrett: But how sweet will it be if something as generic as “scan” is, you know, branded well enough that we own, you know, that word in the future. So we’re definitely not there yet, but that’ll be pretty awesome if we can get there.
Andrew: So I’ll talk a little bit about Scott Edward Walker. WalkerCorporateLaw.com is the site. In fact, instead of me talking about him, do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs about how to pick a lawyer, or about when to pick a lawyer?
Garrett: So I’m pretty biased on this [laughs] topic.
Garrett: Where I think because there’s so many failures in the start-up world, and because it’s so easy to get distracted or spend a lot of money on the legal side of things…
Garrett: …I think you just need to push as far ahead, and kind of get as far along as you can, and it’ll kind of come about naturally and organically. At least that was the case for us, where we had built the app, we started meeting with investors, we were, like, days away from closing our funding when we first started working with lawyers on our side.
Garrett: And because of that, you know, we were able to immediately hook up with some really top-notch lawyers that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, because we were far enough along.
Andrew: I see. I see. Alright. And so why don’t you… it sounds like you’re happy with that process, and you’d recommend it.
Garrett: Yeah. I mean, it’s the only thing that I’ve experienced. We’ve only done this one time, and that’s how it panned out, and we’ve been really happy…
Garrett: …with our lawyers. And, you know, they continually save us and, you know, advise us.
Andrew: What do you mean? How have they saved you?
Garrett: Oh, just from, like, [laughs] silly mistakes. I don’t even know if I can say anything off the top of my head. But, yeah, but there’s been multiple times where, like, “Oh, no, no, no, you don’t want to do that,” you know? Just simple rookie mistakes that first-timers are bound to make every day.
Andrew: All right. Let me just do the app real quick here. This is what it looks like on my phone. Oh, dude! Did you see how fast that went? And it took directly…
Garrett: It’s fast. [laughs]
Andrew: That’s the thing I like about it, actually. Let me do it one more time. Let’s see if I can actually hide…
Garrett: Slow it up?
Andrew: I’m going to hide the QR code on my screen with my hand. So now you can see, right underneath there is my… this is you somewhere on the screen, underneath here.
Andrew: And then it went.
Andrew: So it is. It’s really quick.
Andrew: All right. So let’s continue, then, with how you got more users. What’s the next step? What allowed you to… I guess it was going to bloggers directly, was the next step for getting traffic, right? For getting downloads.
Garrett: Mm-hmm. And when I… you mentioned we worked with a PR team.
Garrett: And it’s… we’ve done that once upon a time for about a week, we tried that. And I think highly of PR people, and I think highly of that PR group. But again, it was not for me personally. Because what I learned was I had more confidence than the PR people I was working with.
And when I said, “Hey, we’re going to announce our seed round of funding, and I want to be in this publication with this writer, and this publication with this writer,” they’re like, “Oh, yeah, those are the top dogs. Like, you’re not worthy of that yet. Wait off, hold off a little bit, and you’ll, you know, maybe someday in the future you can ride with them. But for now, these are who you should go after.”
And to me, I was like, “Well, why shouldn’t we go for the best?” Like, it just didn’t make sense to me. And so, anyways, I ended up disobeying them, kind of working outside of help, and getting those people who I wanted, and getting, you know, in my mind, like, the biggest publications for my favorite writers. And anyways, so that was the last time we worked with a PR group. And ever since then, I’ve just done it myself.
Andrew: I’m just searching our internal database to see how we discovered you, to see if maybe your PR firm happened to contact us, or you. But now, it’s Alex Champagne who was searching around for interesting entrepreneurs who’ve gone far and did something that other entrepreneurs want to learn from and came across your name on October 2. The PR firm. One of the things that you wanted, I know, was to get into Tech Crunch.
Andrew: It seems like a natural to get into Tech Crunch, isn’t it? If you’ve built an app that got a million downloads, wasn’t that enough?
Garrett: Yeah. If you … this was me. This being my first go and me not knowing really anything about the tech space, when I started hearing from investors, and I didn’t know what an investor was, I didn’t know how to work with investors, and somebody had told me, “Well, there’s blog called Tech Crunch, and if you read Tech Crunch, you’ll read about other companies that got funded for how much, what they’re doing and basically just learn the gist of the ecosystem in this space.
I started reading Tech Crunch. There was one writer, Alexia, who I connected with better, everything she would write. For me, I saw her as one of my mentors even though she didn’t know I existed, to help teach me about this space, being a very novice beginner.
Anyways, it almost became a personal dream and mission for me. How cool will it be if I create a company and app or do anything worthy of Alexia writing a story and it going in Tech Crunch? That, to me, was going to be awesome. When the PR team started working with us and I was like, “Oh, sweet, it’s the PR time. I want to be in Tech Crunch, and I want Alexia to write my story.” They’re “Oh, she just got promoted, so that’s probably not going to happen, but how about these people?” I was like, “I don’t know who those people are. I want Alexia.” That’s when that began.
Andrew: Did you get her?
Garrett: I remember it was the day before our story was supposed to go live. The story was going to go live at midnight. I had an interview lined up with Sarah Perez [SP]. Nothing against Sarah Perez, I’d never met her, but I just wanted Alexia to write my story.
Andrew: That was a dream. You built this thing up with a vision.
Garrett: Yes. The PR group had lined up the interview with Sarah Perez. I’m like, “Look, I realize you put a lot of effort to this. I’m sorry, but I want to cancel on Sarah so I can do an interview with Alexia. They’re like, “Oh, that’s a huge mistake. You hired us to advise you, and we are advising you, do not cancel on Sarah.” I was like, “You know, let me think about it.”
I called them right back, and I remember I said, “Look, at the end of this day I’m either going to write about this in my journal or I’m not. I’m going to be pretty let down if I don’t get Alexia writing about this, and I’m not going to want to record this day in my journal. If this all goes to pot, I will take the bad, my bad, but I’m not going to let this go to pot. Just trust me on this one.”
Anyways, I felt bad. I could tell how stressful it was for them because we hired them. Anyways, we canceled on her. It was 3 p.m., then it was 4 p.m. Everybody was stressing out in the office. Finally, because I’d been pestering her through email, Facebook, Twitter, whatever, Alexia finally messaged me on Facebook and said, “If you have five minutes and you can get down to the Tech Crunch office in 10 minutes”–oh, because one of my demands was I also wanted the interview in person–she said, “Then I will interview you.”
I burst out of our San Francisco office as soon as I saw that message, hopped on my bike and was yelling at Suri [SP] like, “Where’s the Tech Crunch office? Take me to their office.” I was running red lights, got to the Tech Crunch office just in enough time to find Alexia finishing up one of the stories she was working on.
I don’t know what inspired me to do this, but as soon as she was like, “Okay, tell me more about your company. Tell me what you’re here for,” immediately I felt inspired to not talk about my business, not talk about my story, not talk about my funding but to ask her a few questions and make that short time that I had with her one on one more about her. Anyways, I basically just told her how much I’d learned from her, how much I appreciated her writing and really what she had done, how it had affected and influenced my personal life.
Anyways, we talked about that for maybe 15 minutes and talked about her for about 15 minutes and then we left and she’s like, “Hey, really enjoyed chatting with you. If you want me to write a story about your company, I’d be happy to. Just call me later tonight.”
Andrew: Oh, wow.
Garrett: It was cool. I went back and told the PR team, and they thought I was lying. They thought Alexia was lying and that she would never write the story about us but I was confident. I thought it would happen. Sure enough, an hour before midnight, she calls me. We have about an hour discussion, and then the story went live one minute before midnight about our funding on Tech Crunch written by Alexia.
Andrew: I’m looking at the article that you wrote. Look at the first sentence though. The most impressive thing about Scan is that it, as a humble QR code app, has raised over $1.7 million. So she’s basically saying that this little app got so much. I’m bothered by that.
Garrett: And she did. I know who we are. I realize our uphill battle. I realized I called negative things that people could say about our business, true and untrue. We realize that, but we also know what we’re working towards what we want to accomplish. Anyways, so we know Alexia put out that story. It was basically how I wanted it crafted. It included a video. It included a lot of images which most. . .
Andrew: A lot of images.
Garrett: So being a designer, I wanted a lot of images in it. When she tweeted about it, she tweeted it from Tech Crunch’s account, but then also her personal account. And then came the haters where everybody was why the heck was Alexis writing about this startup. Why is she writing about a seed round? Why is she writing about a stupid QR code product?
That’s when I knew we had done our job. When the haters come, you’ve done a good job. Anything, whether people love you or hate you, if somebody is that passionate about it, you’re doing something right.
Andrew: I’m looking at the haters right here. One person, I guess, the CEO of Mobile Ads had comments on that original Tech Crunch article. He said, “Just wondering what is the revenue model for Scan.me?” At the time there was no revenue. You were giving away the app for free. The app that I just showed everyone cost me what? Three bucks or so. At the time it was for free. What was the revenue model at the time?
Garrett: So the history of the revenue model was this. I remember when our app first went live and my co-founder, Kirk, who’s definitely more, I don’t want to say money driven, but money minded, money savvy, more than I am said, “Hey, let’s set some goals. Maybe by the end of this year we could have one million downloads and make $5,000. And I was like, “Well, that’s not going to be like my personal motivation, but I’m not one to shoot down dreams. So I’m confident that we could somehow make $5,000 off this app and one million downloads.
Anyways, we got the first million downloads in about three months but wanting to somehow make $5,000 turn into raising $1.7 million. And our investors that we raised that seed round from were smart enough themselves that they would ask me. . . They would straight up ask me pitches in the meeting like “How do you plan to make money” and with most of them my honest answer was, “Well, you can see the potential behind this. I don’t need to fool you with whatever financial projections. You’re smart enough to see the potential behind what we’re doing financially.”
Andrew: You had no answer. You were. . .
Garrett: Yeah. We’d see the potential in it. We saw the potential in it at that time, but that basically puts the ball in the investor’s court, like “Are you smart enough to see how this app could make money?”
Andrew: Charles River Ventures, they let you get away with that as an answer.
Andrew: Yeah. They did.
Garrett: Yeah. This was the thing. When we raised money, I had a bad. . . People told me a lot of negative things about investors and basically they told me I should never work with them. And I was like, “Well, let me go form my own opinion about them, but I am going to be careful.”
Knowing how my mind works, if somebody only wants to invest in us because of our financial projections and our market research and whatever hubbub numbers, made up numbers, then I don’t really want to work with them. Because if somebody like me for my numbers, numbers in any business, successful or not, are going to go up and down. And I didn’t want their emotions or their feelings about me to go up and down with my numbers.
So if I make the pitch totally about my team and vision, then they’re going to be in this for the long run if they like me. And, of course, that turned away a lot of investors. You know, people think it’s cool because we raised a lot of money from very high quality investors, but they don’t see the 48 investors who laughed me out of their office because I didn’t have any financial projections for them.
Andrew: What do you say to someone who’s listening here and says, “This guy just lucked out. It all happened so easily I don’t see any challenges. He wants something, he just gets it. He’s not making an effort really. He got a million downloads in months. That’s not possible.” What do you say about that?
Garrett: Are we lucky? No. Are we blessed? Yes. Are we working our tails off? Yes. We’re working as hard as we possibly can. When I see and I talk to other startups, rather founders trying to raise money or basically duplicate what we’ve done I realized how fortunate and blessed we are. But, again, people only see the positive for the most part. People see the 12 investors that invested in our seed round. They see all the positive stuff coming out…
Andrew: What don’t they see, then?
Garrett: What they don’t see is I was taking ten meetings a day for three weeks or so. That equals a lot more than 12 investors. I had to go through a lot of people saying no, saying that I wasn’t good enough, that my company wasn’t good enough, that QR codes are dead.
Every time it hurt. As confident as I am, any time you have an investor that knows the space better than you and says no this is not going to make it, that hurts. It’s really hard to then suck it up, put on a good face again because you’ve got a meeting in ten minutes and to do that time after time. But…
Andrew: What didn’t they get, these people who, when you talked to them with all their experience they said QR codes are dead? Mark Cuban said that to you, and we’ll get to that in a moment. What were they all missing that you understood, that Google Ventures understood, that CRV understood when they invested?
Garrett: I think it’s me and my team. If somebody says no to QR codes or whatever idea, a lot of people can make up whatever excuse that they don’t want to invest or work with you.
But, in my opinion it’s all about the person. It’s all about the individual or the team. So, I would say Google said yes, and maybe they like QR codes, maybe they don’t. But, they saw the potential in me and my team and how if QR codes are going to die that doesn’t matter. Garrett and his team, they’re going to do whatever necessary to make their company a success.
Andrew: I see.
Garrett: Because they liked us they were willing to work with us. That’s why I think I did take it so personal when people would say no. Because I’m like look, I don’t even hear whatever excuse you’re making. I understand that you just don’t want to work with me.
Andrew: How did you meet Mark Cuban and have him tell you publicly QR codes are dead?
Garrett: Mark Cuban and I met for our first time on the ABC TV show ‘Shark Tank.’ I mean that was the first time we had met, and I haven’t talked to him since.
Andrew: I see. Why go on ‘Shark Tank?’
Garrett: When the opportunity came to be on ‘Shark Tank’ and kind of pursue that option I remember we reached out to our investors and said hey we’re considering going on this TV show. I’m sure you’ve seen it, heard of it, whatever.
It was interesting. It was about 50/50 split of our investors being like yeah it sounds cool, good luck to you, trying to get on show.
Then, the other half of the investors being like no, there are so many unknowns as far as what it could do to your reputation, it could… You know, they edit it however they want to. You never know how it’s going to turn out.
Anyways, being the yes man that I am I just… Part of it was I wanted the experience. How fun to have the opportunity to be on prime time television. I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity. The other was I had confidence that, look, they can edit it however they want, but if I represent myself and the company well enough it should come out positively.
From a cash point of view we didn’t need the investment of the sharks. We had just raised our 7,000,000 Series A. However, I did research each of the investors or sharks and see the other added value they could bring into the company and definitely wanted to work with any single one of them going into the show.
Andrew: I’m looking here on this screen. Jason Del Rey wrote an article for AllThingsD about what the value of being on ‘Shark Tank’ is for an app maker. For you, what was that big value?
Garrett: One of the bigger results of it was it immediately bumped us into the number one spot in paid utilities.
Andrew: That’s what he said. That was huge for you guys just on that level alone. Did ‘Shark Tank’ take a piece of your business because you went on the show?
Garrett: No. I’m not sure the specifics on this. But, as far as I understand ‘Shark Tank’ used to…
Garrett: …in previous seasons take a percentage of every company whether they did a deal or not. In the fifth season, the season I participated in, they made it clear beforehand that that had been done away with and there was basically no risk by coming on this show.
Andrew: Kevin O’Leary said he was apparently underwhelmed by the startup’s 15,000,000 app downloads because it was free and there was no revenue with it. You started charging. At the time that this post went up on AllThingsD it was $1.99. When I bought it it was $2.99. What made you decide to start charging for your app instead of continuing and maybe running ads or something?
Garrett: We’ve always wanted to… Like, I personally respect an app that is a paid app more than a free app. I just think more people make such quality things that they need to benefit from it. Then, on the other hand, people need to be more willing to pay for quality things. So, just understanding that there’s definitely two mindsets in the world.
The idea wasn’t, “Let’s just make our app paid,” and nothing more. The idea was, “Let’s make the best app possible, make it paid, but then also have a free version of lesser quality that is just for the other half of the world.” The other mindset, you could say.
Andrew: I’m looking to see how the free app is doing. It’s not competing as strongly with other apps, is it?
Garrett: Yeah. It’s brand new. It’s maybe a month old now. [crosstalk]
Andrew: Oh, I see. You started charging for the existing one, and then you created a different version that now had to fight in the app store.
Garrett: Exactly. The one that’s currently paid is our older existing app.
Andrew: Got it.
Garrett: That was the scary thing. We were a top app. We were always top ten, bouncing between one and ten in our category for the free section. It was scary knowing when we switched that to paid; it would totally drop off the charts and not be seen.
But, going back to what I said earlier, we understood that our game wasn’t a game of ranking high. Our game was a game of discoverability, and we weren’t going to hurt anything on discoverability when somebody would search for an app similar to ours. Luckily, it wasn’t long before we made the switch to pay that we were on Shark Tank and bumped back up into the high ranking.
Andrew: After the 1.7 that we talked about, you raised another 7-million dollars. We’ll talk about one of the reasons why I think you were able to raise so much. But here’s the rumor, I think, that’s out there. You took some money off the table.
Andrew: You were able to put some of that money in your pocket and some in the company’s pocket so that you had some personal financial safety.
Garrett: Uh-huh. So, you’re saying when we raised this series A of $7 million…
Garrett: I’m sorry. I’m just not fully understanding this. When we raised the…
Andrew: Did any of that money go to you in exchange for your shares? Did any of that money go directly to you? Or did it all go to the company?
Garrett: OK. Yeah. I’m getting you better now. When we raised our series A, the lead investor who came in wanted to own as much of the company as possible. They offered not only us founders, but every existing investor from the seed round, saying, “Hey, we want to buy up as much equity as possible at this price. Who’s willing to sell?”
To my surprise, I thought wow. Investors who believed in us at the seed round stage now have the opportunity to make three extra turn on their investment. To me, being a rookie, I thought that was awesome. I was like, “Yeah. Who’s going to take it?” [laughs] Nobody did. Everybody was pretty confident, saying, “Hey, we like what you’re doing. We’re confident that you’re going to be a lot bigger than you are currently. We would like to keep our ownership in your company.”
Then, for us founders, they made the same deal. “We want to buy up as much equity as you’re willing to give up.” They gave us a range of options. All three of us said, “Whatever we do, let’s do it together for the same amount.” So, we did – just a very small chunk – sell equity in return for cash.
Andrew: That’s what I meant. Okay. Did it give you any personal safety? Do you feel more comfortable now?
Garrett: All three of us co-founders are young enough that we don’t really need a lot of money to live comfortably.
Andrew: I know. I see the shoes you went on Shark Tank with. That’s not going to cost a ton of money.
Garrett: [laughs] Those are not expensive, and the fact that I wear them every day… [laughs] But it did. I would sound probably ungrateful if I didn’t say that yeah, that money definitely changed and influenced our lives, and added security.
And that’s another thing. When I talk about confidence and I meet other founders, I say, “You’re worth a lot more than you’re treating yourself. Your life can be better. Your life can be easier.” It’s not all about taking risks. The risks should be changing the world or not, and not whether or not you’re going to be able to put food on your table.
Andrew: I see. Yeah.
Garrett: Pay yourself enough that you don’t have to think about that, so that all of your efforts and brain power can go towards changing the world.
Andrew: So far, I’ve talked a lot about you, a little bit about your co- founders. But there’s a whole team behind Scan. One day, though, in order to get to here, you had to experience this thing where one day you walked into the office and you just weren’t excited. And that helped us get to where we are today. Why weren’t you excited that day?
Garrett: I remember I walked into the office, and somebody was like, “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here.” I think I had been out for the weekend or something like that.
Garrett: And we were working all day, every day. And so I had been gone maybe two or three days. I came back to the office, and somebody said, “I’m so glad you’re back. Everybody works so much harder when you’re around.”
Garrett: And I’m sure they just meant that as a compliment, but to me, that was just heartbreaking. I’m like, “No. Tell me I didn’t, you know, hire people that work harder only if I’m around, you know? Tell me I didn’t hire people that are employees, or see this as a job.”
And that’s kind of when it hit me. So I got together with my co-founders and said, “Look, what do you guys think? Is this a problem?” And we realized, like, we had… we were building a business. We had hired… I think we were between 12 to 16 people, if you include contractors. Really great people. Really great employees. But we realized, like, we felt like we were coming out of start-up mode too early, and we still needed to build our founding team. We still needed people of founder quality or founder mindsets.
And so what we did is we basically made a list of who in this company requires a manager, requires a boss, something of the sort, and unfortunately, like, every single person on that list, although they were great employees, needed some sort of boss. And I, being the head of the company…
I do, I feel personally responsible for this, that I had to let go of those people. Because if I were a better boss, or if I were a manager, they would still be with the company, because of how great they were. But because I wasn’t there personally, and because the company wasn’t quite ready for that stage, we ended up letting go of every single person but one person. So we went from a company of 12 to 16 to a company of three co-founders plus one other. So we were four. And that all happened in one horrible, very long weekend for me.
Andrew: When you were thinking about doing it, there was something in your mind that made you say, “Maybe not. Maybe here’s the danger.” What was that thing that made you recon-… what was the big obstacle that you were looking at to doing this big move?
Garrett: I mean, the first big obstacle was just how much I cared about those people. Fortunately and unfortunately, every single one of those people, I considered a very close friend. A lot of them were from Utah before we had made the move to San Francisco. And so that was really hard.
And then the other thing was I knew how it would look from an outsider’s point of view. I knew what it would do to the reputation of the company, the people inside the company. I knew how much it would worry the investors to see that one of their portfolio companies just, you know, downsized so greatly. And that’s just the way things go. And I knew it was for the good of the company, and there was no… you know, negative intentions. But I just knew how it would be perceived.
Andrew: What about the risk that maybe some of these people are going to take your passwords and do bad things with them, or get revenge somehow? I mean, you’re an early company. You must have given them a lot of access.
Garrett: Yeah. I… [laughs] looking back, I think my co-founders must have taken care of that side of things a lot better. I myself… and I think my co-founders are always watching my back and helping protect me, because they realize how naive and trusting I am. But I do. I run my life just 110% on trust. And so that didn’t even cross my mind until you mentioned it just now.
Andrew: You know what? I… one of the things that I was doing right now, you might have noticed my eyes move around the screen. I went to GlassDoor.com and said, “Let me type in ScanQR and see if anyone was upset.” I don’t see anything here.
Andrew: There’s some companies, I do that search, ooh, it’s painful.
Garrett: Some of the people were… they weren’t upset when it happened. When it happened, they understood why. But some of them did realize, like, wow, they had a really good opportunity. Like, had they been maybe a little more proactive or, you know, whatever the circumstance. A lot of them saw how cool of a situation they were in with Scan. And so since then, unfortunately, some of them had hard feelings, I think mostly towards me personally. But I understand where they’re coming from and, like, why it is that way.
Andrew: You know, the other thing that I looked up. Everyone else who talked about you wrote about your Guinness Book record for Tetris.
Andrew: I am such a cynic when it comes… I think it’s because there are so many liars out there that we have to screen before they do this interview. There are so many other interview programs that have liars on with their lies, and they’re all excited about them.
So what I’ve started doing now is just going to research all these little facts. But I couldn’t find anything on Guinness Book of World Records about you. It’s not your fault, and I’ll tell you why I know that it’s not your fault. I went into the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s GuinnessWorldRecords.com. I found the person who has the most recent record I could find for Tetris. I typed their name into the search box at the top, and that person didn’t show up on the site. So, it’s Guinness’ search that stinks. They need to check out on Swiftype.
So I couldn’t check anything out. I couldn’t find out anything about it. What is this Tetris record?
Garrett: I was 13 years old, and I was playing for a club soccer team. We would do a lot of tournaments around the nation, which meant we had a lot of really long road trips. I just got into Tetris obsessively. I honestly think the way my mind works is very similar to whoever created Tetris, because I could seriously play with my eyes close. I got so obsessed with it. I sat at a very high score, in my opinion, and my buddies were all freaking out about it. They took pictures of it, and basically that was that until about a year later.
One of my buddies bugged me to the point where we submitted it online. In the mail, I get a certificate saying, “You are the world’s record holder.” So, I go to the store to see the current book, look in the book, and my name’s not in it. But that was last year’s. Then, the next year’s book comes out. I look in that book and I’m not in it. I contact them, and they let me know that not every record makes it into the actual printed publication book. So, I basically let that be that.
The only proof I would have is the picture taken of the actual Game Boy screen and the certificate. Unless my mom made that certificate and mailed it to ourselves, that would be the only proof I have as well.
Andrew: So, you come across as just this very casual person. In this interview, I think a lot of people are coming away with this feeling that either you’re hiding something – because you clearly have achieved a lot, and we’re not seeing the struggle – or they’re saying, “This is a guy who’s just an easygoing person, but underneath all the hard work is happening.” I’m trying to figure you out, too.
Here’s what I think I’ve figured out about you. You’re just obsessive and comfortable with it. No, tenacious is the word. And you’re comfortable with the whole process. I might be tenacious, and I’m constantly uncomfortable. I’m tenacious, I will look up your Guinness World Records, and I won’t be comfortable in doing it. I’ll go, “God damn it. I can’t ever find… If there’s a mistake here, I’m going to be so upset. This has to be the best interview ever.”
So, I’m tenacious, but I have this inner energy. You might be the same way, but I think you’ll have more fun with the process. Am I analyzing you right?
Garrett: I would agree with that. I think the positive side to the way I’ve done things is I enjoy the process, I don’t let anything stress me too much, and it is fun. It is naturally in me to obsess or be tenacious about things. That’s the positive side of things. I love it. I love every part of my life, whether it be playing for my college soccer team, my family and friends inside of things, or the business. I love every single part of it.
One of the harder things that I kind of struggled with, and I didn’t really expect getting into this – and maybe you’ve seen the same thing – but there’s kind of a lonely side to being this way. Seeing how much hard work pays off and how much joy it brings me, I want that for other people. But when I’m up late at night alone, or if I… You know, just basically feeling like you care more about things than anybody else around you can kind of be disappointing or lonely. Part of it is just because you feel lonely, and part of it is because you want the goodness in your life for other people. So, that’s been one of the harder things that I’ve just always struggled with.
Andrew: I know what you mean. It stinks when you’re the person who cares the most, and sometimes it feels like no one cares at all, which is not true. They just don’t care as much as you do, because it’s impossible to care to this level.
Garrett: Hopefully this isn’t too much of a tangent, but I do a yearly trip to Tahiti. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet. There’s no service out there, so I have no choice but to disconnect. I always make a point of bringing out really close friends or family with me. A lot of people will say, “Oh, my gosh. You’re so lucky. You get to go on these trips to Tahiti.” I don’t necessarily say this to them, but my thought is always the same. I say why don’t you do it, why don’t you care a little bit more about your life, work a little bit harder, and then enjoy it a little bit more.
Andrew: I know what you mean. You know what? There’s so much else that I want to talk about. I think at some point we need to end it, so I’ll end it here.
The final thing that I will say is the cool new product that you guys are coming out with is Scan to Pay. I think I’d be a terrible interviewer here if I didn’t let you say something about it. Because I think that’s one of the reasons why investors were so excited to partner with you. Am I right?
Andrew: What is Scan to Pay?
Garrett: I mean you could call it a mobile wallet in a way. We store your personal or payment information within our app so that you can purchase a product or make a payment, any sort of transaction, by quickly and easily scanning a QR code.
You see a QR code. Scan it. Enter in your four digit PIN to confirm. That quickly and easily you’ve made a payment without pulling out cash, without pulling out a credit card, without any hardware being needed. A very cool new way to take or accept payments in an easier way.
But, to be honest, we purposely didn’t brand it as a mobile wallet so far because of how kind of loud and noisy that is in the startup, in the tech world right now. It’s a lot easier for people to digest and download oh, this is a scanner. This is a QR code reader. Everybody could use one of those. I’m going to download it.
If from the beginning we would’ve said we’re building a mobile wallet but we’re not quite there yet then people would say well I might download you some day but not quite yet. Let’s get in people’s phones with something simple yet valuable and work our way towards something a lot more meaningful and powerful.
That’s kind of the outlook now. Right now Scan To Pay is in beta. We’re working with a lot of nonprofits and charities to see if we can increase their rate of donations by putting QR codes onto their mailers, posters, flyers, wherever it is, at their events, so that people can easily scan a QR code, select a donation amount, and that quickly and easily they’ve made that donation. That’s kind of the stage we’re at right now – beta testing that with a few chosen charities and nonprofits.
Andrew: I can see that. I could see walking into a store and just scanning a price tag and being able to pay right there by scanning that price tag.
Or, even in these interviews where I say guys if you like this interview and you want more go to mixergypremium.com. Sign up. We have hundreds of well researched interviews with entrepreneurs who’ll teach you how they built their businesses and help you build yours. Inspiring stories that let you learn along the way.
I could say all that, and then there’d be a QR code right on the screen. If they just hit the QR code they could pay right away.
Garrett: Yeah. They don’t need to fill out any form. They don’t need to do anything. The app knows who they are. That quickly it’s done.
Andrew: You’ve listened to my interviews. You now got to do one. What do you think now that you’ve seen it from both sides?
Garrett: I think you’re fantastic. I was really excited about this, one, because everything you’ve done is of high quality, but then also I mean it’s been similar to what my experience was with Alexia. I think there are people who’s mind kind of works in a similar wavelength or style as yours. Anyways, any time you’d interview someone you’d ask the question that was on the tip of my tongue. They would say something, and I’d be like oh what about. Then, you’d ask the question and it’s like perfect.
Andrew: I love hearing that.
Garrett: So, I was very excited to chat with you.
Andrew: Thank you. Check out the site scan.me to create your own QR code, to download the app, and to just check out the business and get a sense of how they did it. Keep following them. I think we’re going to see Garrett’s name in the news a lot over the coming years. Just keep an eye out and see what he does and how he keeps grabbing the world’s attention and growing his business.
Garrett, thank you so much for being a part of it.
Garrett: Yeah, thank you.
Andrew: Thank you all. Bye.