Joining me today is a founder who tried a bunch of ideas and finally found something that’s really working for him.
His name is Jeet Banerjee. He is the founder of Visionary Media Group, a publishing company that creates mobile apps, e-books, and courses.
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Jeet Banerjee, Visionary Media Group
Jeet Banerjee is the founder of Visionary Media Group, a publishing company that creates mobile apps, e-books, and courses.
Andrew: Hey, there freedom fighters. My name’s Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious up start and joining me today is a founder who tried a bunch of ideas and finally found something that’s really working for him. His name is Jeet Banerjee. He is the founder of Visionary Media Group, a publishing company that creates mobile apps, e- books, and courses, and guy who wears a really great shirt. Look at us. Perfectly matched.
This interview and the shirt that I’m wearing and everything else involved here is sponsored by Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. Later on I will tell you why if your entrepreneur who’s about to sell his company, or about to launch a company, or about to buy a company and you’re looking for a lawyer, Scott, is the guy to talk to. I’ll tell you why you should go to walkercorporatelaw.com later in the interview. First, I got to meet Jeet. Jeet, welcome.
Jeet: Hey, thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.
Andrew: I’m staring here at notes that my team put together about two years ago when we first talked about having you on. You did the pre interview with, Jeremy Weiss, about two years ago. Then we said, it’s a little too soon. Let’s not do the actual interview. How did you feel when we did that?
Jeet: I guess there was two feelings that I had. One, a little bit frustration because here I was thinking I got this interview wind up and ready to roll, and then to kind of just find out I was a little bit disappointed. It was a lot of motivation for me to be honest. It’s kind of like one of those things where I was said, okay, I’m not ready now, but the next time I’m ready I can kind of look back and say I’ve grown x amount.
That’s just kind of the way I treated it from there. To be back here today is just like a way to measure the achievement from that day to today. It’s pretty cool.
Andrew: It’s so cool for you to be on here. The company was, Scott Fuse, and we’ll talk more about that in a moment. You’re a guy who’s had outside motivation like this a lot. In fact, one of the things I remember from the pre interview is when you were a kid you asked you dad for Xbox. You wanted to pay Halo. Do you remember what he said to you?
Jeet: Yeah. He basically told me go get a job.
Andrew: He pushed you. Did you resent him at the time?
Jeet: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Until I kind of found my love for entrepreneurship I absolutely resented my parents for sending me out to work. I would come back home every day and just be so bitter towards them. It was crazy.
Andrew: What kind of work did they send you out to do?
Jeet: It was really up to me, but it was just the main idea was getting a job. The best job I thought I could get at that age was a minimum wage jobs. I was doing things like tutoring, coaching, assistant, door to door sales, telemarketing. Probably went through 12 or 13 jobs in two year. I did a little bit of everything.
Andrew: I remember doing telemarketing. I learned a lot from it. One of the best things I learned was assume the close. You’d really be on the phone and you’d say, buh, buh, buh, buh so, I’m going to sign you up now, okay. People would just go with it because you said it just like that. Was there something that you took away from either door to door sales, or telemarketing, or maybe even one of the other jobs that you still remember to this day and is helpful.
Jeet: Yeah, absolutely. I think from a lot of the business related jobs. I did sales. I did a little bit of project management [??] the telemarketing. I really learned how to communicate with other people effectively in the business world because this was a skill I never really learned.
When I talk to my friend it’s, like, hey, dude. What’s up? Want to go do this. Blah, blah, blah. In the business world it was completely different. When I entered entrepreneurship it wasn’t like I just learned this whole new language and learned this professionalism. I was kind of surrounded by it through these jobs. I kind of sub conscientiously picked up on it.
I kind of noticed when I became an entrepreneur, and it was really cool because here I was having these intellectual conversations with people without ever really having to think about it.
Andrew: I know what you mean. When you’re on the outside, or maybe even in schools preparing for business there’s this vision that the business world’s language is very stilted, very formal, always mister, always thank you. It’s not that. It’s much more casual than that, but not as casual as you talk to your friends.
Jeet: Yeah, exactly. That’s the toughest thing that I had to transition between.
Andrew: You also, I remember worked for your dad. He was someone who really wanted things done a certain way. Where was that? There’s somewhere in my notes where he asked you to redo invoices. You still remember what that is? What is that?
Jeet: Yeah, absolutely. He was basically [??] on the way the invoices were sent out. He would want them done before the first of the month, but he would want them dated on the first of the month. For some reason the stupid Quicken Book software would do it for the first one, but I’d have to change them on every single one.
There was one night I was probably working till about 7:00, 7:30 at night. I do all the invoices. I’m putting them in and I look at the last one right before I’m about to seal the envelope. I look at the date and it’s the 28th. I’m going oh, crap. Then I go and I take to my dad and I’m, like, I think I might’ve messed up. I think they’re all the 28th. Can I still send them out? I got postage, sealed, everything done.
He’s, like, nope. I’m going home. I’m going to go get dinner. You’re going to stay here and you’re going to finish all these invoices all over again. That was the most miserable point of my life.
Andrew: So why did that . . . I understand why you’d be resentful of that. I understand why you’d be upset about that. Why are you okay with it now? What happened after you started your own business that made you okay with what your dad did?
Jeet: It’s just I kind of got to understand why it needed to be done a certain way and for minding my own business I kind of learned what it takes to run a successful business. So I kind of get the idea that you’ve got to be professional. You’ve got to keep being consistent and stuff like that. So kind of looking back if I had somebody working for me I might have made them do the same thing, just not that same night itself, maybe the next morning or something. But I would have been really picky as I am with my developers, designers. They would tell you I fixate on the pixels.
So I kind of understand when it’s something of your own and you really care about it, you’re going to put the effort in.
Andrew: Yeah, you know, I saw the stats of your personal blog, and I thought, “All right. Let’s go take a look,” and I expected, you know, that it was going to a regular, personal blog. But then I went to JeetEnergy.com, and it’s really well done. We’re not looking at something that looks like just a personal blog where you post a couple of articles about business. I’m looking at something where you really put energy into it, and I see how the attention to detail that your dad had now you have and you apply to your own stuff.
So you’re going through this and because you see what he’s making you do and because you see that there must be a better way for you to start companies early on, one of the first ones was JBMediaForce. What was JBMediaForce?
Jeet: So what we essentially did was we were multi-media agencies. We made websites, mobile applications, and did online marketing for other businesses. And so I wasn’t the one myself doing these skills. I had my . . . I started out outsourcing and actually I had my own back office in India. So that’s essentially what the company was.
Andrew: You just get clients and then you send that work to India. We’re talking about when you were a teenager essentially, right?
Jeet: Yeah, yeah. So I was still a senior in high school. I was 17-years- old. And, yeah, I would just pick up clients from my local area, and just pick a project, manage a project, do the marketing, and ship it off to India to get it designed and developed.
Andrew: When you say ship it off to India, I imagine like you have a whole back office in India, and you have a team of people who are working just for you. But having done these interviews and having been in business for a while my understanding is different. It’s you found someone online who is a development company that you just contracted work out to, right?
Jeet: So when I started out for about the first six months that’s what I did. I outsourced to other development firms, and I realized that they were very hard to hold them accountable. And it took a lot of work to get a project through, and I thought that I could be a lot more profitable and a lot better as a business if I started my own back office. So I literally had a manager there and my own team of employees that were on my payroll and on my staff that I eventually ended up hiring for after the first six months.
Andrew: How did you find a team of people in India?
Jeet: So what happened I would be working with many different people that I was outsourcing with. One person specifically that freelancer, and he was about to have a family, and he was about . . . He didn’t want to stick to that free lance life, he was looking for a settled job, and he was the one guy that I kind of trusted and he was there for me full time. So I kind of decided to team up with him and get him to be my manager and to kind of manage my whole back office in India, get me an office, get me people and all that good stuff. That’s really where the idea came from, and that’s how I got it done. So it’s all thanks to him.
Andrew: You know, I’m thinking about how much fun this must have been as a teenager to put this together. If you tell the average person as a kid that you’re going to start a business, they would say, “Ah, forget it. Go play. Go play baseball. Go have fun, and they’d push you off doing this. Meanwhile, this is fun in itself, and frankly I can’t say that this is any less fun than playing baseball or stick ball. I think it’s, frankly even more fun.
Jeet: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. I mean, like being able to build a business and do this stuff was probably like the most fun thing I was doing. This was what I would forward to as soon as I got home from school and my other friends were thinking about, “What movie should I go watch” or “Where should we go hang out?”
Andrew: I’m seeing the shadow over your shoulder. Do you want to move the camera so that if someone walks behind you we don’t get them on camera by accident?
Jeet: Yeah, perfect.
Andrew: All right. Cool. So you then have an idea for (?), the business that you talked to Jeremy about two years ago. Where did that idea come from?
Jeet: So it was something . . . So basically what I ended up happening was back in high school I had these aspirations of going to (?) University, always the top choices and stuff. I really did understand the college application process and how I could write a really good essay and stuff to get it. So about two weeks before my college apps were due, I went to my counselor and asked her to set up a meeting. And she set me up for a meeting, but the problem was the meeting was a month from that day. My college apps were due in two weeks.
So I ended up having to do it on my own, frustrated, and didn’t get the results that I was looking for. And that always kind of bugged me, and during my first year of college my childhood friend he was going through the same process and applying to college. And he was asking me the same exact question that I had on my mind back then and I couldn’t help him. And we just started searching online and seeing if there was anything that we can do to really make this project happen or make it a success. And we figured out that there was a huge gap in the market. That’s when we said, “You know what? Why not us be the people that solve it?”
Andrew: And I looked at the site going all the way back to the beginning on the internet archive. Do you remember what that first version looked like?
Jeet: Unfortunately, yes.
Andrew: How would you describe it?
Jeet: I think at that time we weren’t really sure. We were kind of doing too much at once. And I think the lesson that we learned over time was that you have to focus on that one thing and do that one thing very well for people. When we first started out we had eight or nine different tools and things that we were helping people with. And we weren’t doing that one thing really, really well. So I think we were very confused about what direction and paths to take.
Andrew: I see that. I see from November 17th, 2012, the tool, it was features galore was the headline of the list of features. College calculator, college insider which offered detailed information about colleges. There was also college tracker. There was salary projections. There was college recommendations. There was my college planner. But you know what? Not bad. Not an ugly looking site. You were using a lot of, I don’t know what to call it. Not clip arts, but like 3D clip art essentially. It looked okay. It worked. And all of these tools, where did you get them? Where did you get the college calculator? How were you able to add the college insider?
Jeet: Absolutely, so for the college calculator, this is like our secret sauce. That one tool that separates from everyone else. This allows the student to instantly calculate their odds of admission into any university. So we actually ended up getting a patent on there which is still pending. So we have all these crazy algorithms. We got all the data from the universities themselves.
So we found out which universities at the end of each rolling admissions year release data about the students that got accepted, rejected, and wait- listed. We gathered all this data, created an algorithm, all through Excel, processed all this stuff, and basically came up with this whole tool to work. What happened early on in the company, we were fortunate enough to find another development team that liked our vision to come on board for equity.
So they kind of took care of the all the development while we kind of took care of all the content creation, marketing, and business development stuff. The stuff like the college insider and other tools we just kind of aggregated a bunch of stuff from the internet just using Google and different platforms and sites. Just kind of collaborating all this data into one platform.
Andrew: I see. And this is the kind of thing that you guys spent months personally doing. Why then add all the other tools if that’s the one thing? Why bury it in a list of features galore?
Jeet: That was the big thing. We spent three months just doing the college changes, all that data. Then we kind of looked at the site after the developer did it and we were like, “Dang. This looks really empty.” And we were kind of looking at how all these other sites are always doing 10 to 12 different things. And the big thing that we didn’t comprehend was that they were a lot farther along in their business creation process than we were. So we just said, “Oh my God. This is going to look too empty. We’ve got to fill it up.” So then we started coming up with more and more tools and ideas that we could put together. So that’s where we started getting confused and kind of falling astray.
Andrew: I see. And that college calculator is something that you could just find online essentially, right? And just build into your site.
Andrew: It’s not a unique thing to you. Okay, so before I get into then what happened with that business, what went well, what challenges you had. I have to say that if anyone is out there listening and needs a lawyer, my sponsor Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. Why do I recommend Scott? Because he doesn’t price you out the way that so many other lawyers do. They want to charge, frankly they don’t even want to charge. I remember talking to a law firm here in Silicon Valley. I said, “How do you work with companies like mine?” And the guys that I spoke with told me about a department in their firm that essentially takes equity.
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On the other hand you have lawyers who don’t have any experience in the startup world who really can’t get you the right equity structure, can’t prepare you for raising money, can’t prepare you for everything that’s going to come down the line if the business does well. So you can’t use either of those. Who do you go with?
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Andrew: One of the things you did well was getting users. How many users did you get, Jeet?
Jeet: Until this date we have over 60 thousand users on our platform.
Andrew: 60 thousand users meaning 60 thousand hits on the site over the years?
Jeet: No, not 60 thousand hits, but 60 thousand people that have used our program once and given our email, address and all that information. So actual users in our database.
Andrew: I’ve gone through your form. We’re not talking about just giving my email list and address type of form. We’re talking about that started off asking me what my background was, how many college credits I had, about my ethnicity, asked me about all kinds of things, and then at the end took my name, email address, and not just my name and email, but more information than that. That’s pretty intense to get 60 thousand people to do it.
What did you do? What’s one thing that worked especially well for you getting all those users in to go through that process?
Jeet: Absolutely. The biggest thing that we did was that we knew the college admissions market was big, something that students understood and people knew. We wanted to find a way to collaborate with all the other businesses and web sites out there to successfully use traffic or their brand to benefit us. Obviously if you are going to use their benefit you have to give them some kind of benefit. So we took a strong strategy on partnering with as many people in the space as we could. And that was our biggest thing propelled us to get all these users.
Andrew: When you say partnership, you mean them sending people to you?
Jeet: Yes, in a way. The biggest thing we did was to create a widget of our CallChances [SP] tool just like we did with our YouTube vid [SP] tool, copy and paste on any site in less than 30 seconds. We developed that and we started working with many big web sites like Veritas [SP] Prep, Find the best, 24 hundred experts, all these web sites that were getting high school and community college students on a regular basis. And we told them this is a great way for you to bring in more leads because you’re going to know your student’s SAT scores, and you’re going to get their email address. What more can we do for you?
And for us we’re getting that visibility and we’re getting users. That’s how we positioned ourselves and did these partnerships across the board.
Andrew: I’m looking at one right now that you sent me before we started. VeritasPrep.com [SP]. It’s a box on their site that says to their users, “Calculate your chances of getting admitted to the colleges that you want.” From there people can search for the colleges they want. I’ll type in Harvard University. I’ll click on that. It asks what type of student I am. I’ll say I’m a high school student. And it goes on from there.
As I fill this out I’m giving a lot of information about myself, like my siblings attending college, for example. Who gets that data?
Jeet: All that data comes to us. The only data that goes to Veritas would be specifics, like an SAT score or ACT score, name and email address. Certain companies will ask us for specific data, and as long as it’s not too personal we’ll share that data with them.
Andrew: Got you. So the advantage for you is that you get all these people using your tool and using your database. The advantage for them is that they get to give their audience a tool and collect contact information on the people who use it.
Great. So that’s worked really well for you. What about monetization?
Jeet: That’s probably been one of the biggest struggles for us from day one. That’s one of the biggest mistakes we made when we launched the business. We fell in love with the idea and the product, but we totally forgot that this was going to be a business. So we launched without any monetization strategy, or anything like that. We ended up getting 12,000 users after just 2 weeks of launching in beta. And that was a big wake-up call for us because we were having to pay these bills for server cost and we weren’t bringing a single dollar in.
For the last year and a half we’ve tested different models, trying to nail down what’s going to work and what’s not going to work. We sold some data helping colleges recruit prospective students but we didn’t like that aspect of the business because we felt like we were compromising the value of our users. We didn’t want to do that.
Andrew: There’s also, frankly, not that much money in it, if you’re just selling the data.
Jeet: There is, but the data happened to be sold to the wrong people which was kind of like our conflict…
Andrew: Who’s the wrong people?
Jeet: So there’s a lot of for profit universities that will pay a lot of money for data. I’m talking hundreds of dollars. And the thing is they do a lot of unethical things with that data that we have a problem with.
Andrew: For example?
Jeet: For example they will completely blast that person with information. Spam them by phone calls. We’ve had people that get ten phone calls a day from them. Completely spam their email boxes. Send them mail. Take that information and post it other places online. On forums, stuff like that. That’s the biggest stuff.
Andrew: I’m looking at one of the versions of your site where you said, “Let’s try selling it directly to users.” So you had a basic plan that was free, premium for $29.95, and ultimate for $59.95. How did charging high school students actually work for you?
Jeet: It worked fairly well for us, but the big problem that we came across was that we started losing partnerships. So it was kind of that two sided thing because now our partners weren’t getting as much data and that was a problem to them. While we were making a little bit of money. So that’s kind of what ended up happening. We had this kind of conflict there as well.
Andrew: You mean not enough data was coming, not enough customers were going through this?
Jeet: Exactly. Because on a daily basis let’s say that Veritas Prep they get like a hundred students coming through. Now that conversion rate from getting a hundred emails and SAT scores dropped to like three for them. So it was like a drastic drop because we were charging.
Andrew: I see. I thought you were selling on the back end after someone filled out the Veritas Prep form that you were selling them via email. But no, you were selling within that widget.
Jeet: Yeah, exactly. The widget structure was a little bit different back then. We’ve made some modifications, but the biggest thing that we were charging for was the college admissions calculator which is the one that requests all that data and all that information. And the free package was really just like basic data that you could find anywhere. Like the salary projections and stuff like that.
Andrew: I see. And were college student, I keep saying college students. Were high school students really willing to pay?
Jeet: Yeah. We had to really shift. So instead of charging high school students, we had to shift the focus to the parents. And when we deliver the product to the parents they were definitely paying. They looked at it as not a big expense. But the students, there was a huge drop off because I feel like students aren’t going to pull out their own credit card and pay. And a lot of them also felt too lazy to go ask their parents. So there was a huge disconnect there.
Andrew: You were launching several startups. Jeremy in the pre-interview asked you about what your biggest challenges were. And you said balancing stat views with school with these other startups. Why launch so many startups?
Jeet: The biggest thing that I like to say is that I believe that impatience is a virtue for me. So I’m a very impatient person and that’s also kind of one of the things that has helped me get this far. So when I have an idea and I just sit on it and I don’t do anything with it, it literally drives me insane. Like I can’t sleep at night and I go through this whole withdrawal phase. So that’s the biggest thing for me. If I have an idea I have to put it out in the market and I have to see how people react to it and that’s what really kept me pushing.
Andrew: What are some of the other ideas? I said at the top of the interview that you’re a founder, here I’m reading it, who tried a bunch of ideas before finally finding something that works and produces revenue. What are some of them? Can you toss some ideas out?
Jeet: Yeah, absolutely. So one idea I had was trying to revolutionize the market for search engine optimization. So what I wanted to do was instead of like ranking a person’s website on search engines, I wanted them to create a listing or profile on a page almost like a yelp listing and rank that listing on the search engines. So this would solve a huge barrier which was on page optimization costs thousands of dollars and we would kind of just avoid that whole step and only have to worry about off page optimization.
So that was one big idea that I had and launched and failed and learned a lot from. Another idea I had was about two or three years ago a basketball memes were a huge thing. I wanted to launch a site almost like 9gag or something but just filled with sports memes. So I launched that, but I just didn’t have the time to pursue it. That was actually was doing fairly well, but it was just too much work. So those are a couple of ideas I’ve had.
Andrew: All right. Then you, actually before we go into then what happened, stat views. How much revenue were you able to pull out of the business?
Jeet: Up until this day we’ve probably pulled in total of all of our efforts probably about 15 to 20 thousand dollars.
Andrew: Did you have any investors in the business or was it just you guys?
Jeet: It’s just been us. So we’ve never raised money or anything like that.
Andrew: Okay. And then how did you come up with your current idea?
Jeet: Yeah, absolutely. So it kind of came from the idea that I have so many ideas that I don’t know what to do with so I thought instead of like trying to create a business from scratch for every single idea what if I can come up with more passive income style ideas that can maybe make residual income. Serve a market or a need and be very successful. So that’s really where I came up with the concept and that’s when I decided, you know what? I love digital products. I can come up with a ton of ideas. Just imagine when I felt like three or 400 ideas. So why not try testing some things and putting them into market and see how I can make them passive.
Andrew: And if you have an idea just create an app, put it out there, and see if anyone wants it. If you have an idea for an e-book, create the e- book, et cetera.
Andrew: What’s the first product that you created?
Jeet: So the first product that we created was actually a course which actually ended up doing very well. It was basically like a blueprint step by step guide on how to build a business and I based this course on Udemi (sp). I just wanted to share how I go through the process of building a business, validating models, and kind of doing everything step by step, finding developers, whatever it needs. And that was the first product we launched.
Andrew: I’m doing research here while we’re talking (?) this computer and then this lower part of the computer. The thing though I’m wondering is you were struggling. You didn’t have it figured out. What gives you the right now to create a course and charge other people to learn from you how to build a business when you fully hadn’t figured out how to build a business?
Jeet: Yeah, absolutely. So the biggest thing that I had was I would get a lot, like my personal website. I would get a lot of emails from people asking me specific questions about a business and I felt like I had some answers to some questions like if someone obviously asks me how do I create an investor deck (?) and raise money from an investor. That’s something that I could probably help them with just because I’ve done that myself. I’ve gone through the process, but I haven’t been able to successfully raise money.
But there was a lot of other questions, simple things like I have an idea, what do I do now? And I felt like I had that part really well nailed down, or how to get people on equity to work for you or join your team. So I felt like I had those basic things where I could help someone turn an idea into income. And that’s really why I decided to put out a course.
Andrew: How much money does a Udemi course do?
Jeet: So off the top of my head I don’t have the exact statistic, but I know it’s probably done about 40 to $50,000.
Andrew: It’s something about their platform. I was, I think, the first person to put a course on there just because I wanted to help a buddy of mine, Guy Byani (sp) who was running that company at the time. And I still get checks actually it’s not checks it’s wires. They go into my books and I have an account just for them called affiliates. I don’t really have affiliates, so I just list them as an affiliate because they’re selling my stuff. And the revenue keeps coming in. I can’t believe that their platform works so well.
Jeet: Yeah, absolutely. That was one of the greatest things for us was initially I used my own network and email list and stuff to put the product out. I got probably a thousand or so subscribers myself. And after I did that they were literally putting me on all their email blasts on their featured courses and stuff like that. So that’s been amazing for me.
Andrew: Yeah, when you’re talking about passive income that to me is one of the most passive things I’ve done. I just gave them a course that was already part of Mixergy Premium. I said, “Here, you can use this in any way you want to experiment.” I think I said, “I don’t even need the revenue” but they worked by sending me the revenue. I just wanted to help out a friend because I get so much help from people who I’ve interviewed, and I see how powerful that is.
All right. So that’s continuing to do well for you. We also talked about some of the apps that you’ve created. What’s the Minecraft app?
Jeet: Yeah, absolutely. So basically there’s a game called Minecraft that kids are in love with. One of the first things that you can do in the Minecraft is you can do a lot of customization. And one of the things you can do is customize your whole world. And what we did is we created an app where people can go in and download different customizations for the world which are known as texture packs. We kind of made it accessible within a mobile application, and that’s been one of our most successful apps to date.
Andrew: Who created the app for you?
Jeet: So I actually have a development team right now that I’m working with on my own back office in India for this company, so I have a team of developers that basically do our projects and all of our in-house ideas.
Andrew: And they just work only for you.
Jeet: Only for me, yeah.
Andrew: What does it cost to have a team of four people in India?
Jeet: This team is costing me just a salary of about $1200, and for electronics, office supplies and all that stuff probably rounds off at about $1800 to two grand.
Andrew: Eighteen hundred to two grand a month?
Andrew: Four developers who will create your iPhone app ideas. If you come up with an idea right now, like you know what? Mixergy needs a podcast catcher (?) or something that sells past episodes, you can put it in their hands and they could put it together for you in how long?
Jeet: That would really be up to them, but probably something like that would take five or six days.
Andrew: How do you get a development team like that? Are you Indian?
Jeet: Yeah, I am Indian so that is a benefit and I can speak the language. There’s a lot of (?) that that helps with and just for running my very first company I made so many contacts and so many connections there in India that I can literally just go on my site and talk to a couple of people and be able to get my own back office team together. And I’ve got all these people that do staffing and all that good stuff.
Andrew: And it’s an actual office full of people that work with you.
Jeet: Yeah . . .
Andrew: And you send them checks week after week?
Jeet: Month after month I just do a wire transfer.
Andrew: And that’s it. Even if you don’t have much work that month, or there’s extra work, you’re obligated to pay them for that month.
Jeet: Exactly. They come in Monday through Friday, 10 to 7. Sometimes they come in on Saturdays if the work isn’t finished. And that’s about it.
Andrew: So if someone is listening to us and is not an Indian with connections going all the way back to school, how do they duplicate something like this?
Jeet: The biggest thing is that you can find a lot of IT staffing and sourcing companies just by doing a Google search. Pick a city like Mumbai or Delhi. All cities are getting good now. I personally do it in Calcutta because my family often goes there and visits. So if I need something done it’s easier, you go online, pick a city, then search on Google for a different staffing or sourcing company.
You talk to them and say, “I need three guys,” or “I need four guys with [??] skills.” And they’ll put it all together for you, put a package in. When you deal with those king of companies it’s a little bit higher because they charge a premium on top. But for me I’ve done it almost direct where my middlemen are taking very little cuts.
Andrew: I see. And the office space, what does that cost you?
Jeet: The office space with all the electricity, the tea, everything is $700 to $800 a month.
Andrew: Seven to eight hundred, including tea? You have to also pay for tea?
Jeet: Yes, I do have to pay for tea.
Andrew: So in addition to the $2,000 for them, for their salaries and computers, you also have to pay about $800 a month.
Jeet: The 2,000 if for their salaries, and for all the monthly expenses, including rent. And if I [??] and buy computers, that’s totally separate.
Andrew: I’m looking at the texture packs for Minecraft page on iTunes and the ratings are pretty low. Is that because you have a team of people who are getting paid just a few hundred bucks a month?
Jeet: No, because typically that’s a going rate in India. If I were to go out and hire, if you were to compare their salaries to the average salaries it’s surprisingly higher for doing Objective-C programming or being a designer or whatever the case is. So I’m actually paying them above average by India standards.
Andrew: So then why is it that the rating is low on this one?
Jeet: For this app, specifically, to install a texture pack isn’t as easy as it may seem. A lot of the Minecraft game has some very basic principles of programming and coding, so it is a great thing for kids to use because they can learn a lot of those skills early on. But one of the challenges with the texture pack is that it’s a 10 or 11 step process to install them in the game.
A lot of the kids that download the app don’t realize this until after they’ve downloaded it. So a lot of the bad reviews come as a result of that. And we’ve been releasing updates and different fixes trying to solve that problem by putting up videos. We’ve created a handbook guide and this kind of thing we’re adding to help end that problem.
Andrew: I’m looking at some of the others. Here are some of the others. You have, “Blueprints and ideas for Minecraft, Shift Codes for BroadLands 2 game, Updates and News for Minecraft, Card Maker and Creator for Pokemon, RedStone Guide. None of them have a lot of ratings or are especially loved by people. You’re just putting stuff out there.
Jeet: Yes. Our biggest strength is looking through the top charts at what apps are doing well and seeing what is missing in the app from reading the reviews. So we’re trying to capitalize on what better apps are missing. Then we plug those things into our apps and publish them.
Andrew: Pretty clever. I’ve seen people do really well with it. I don’t mean to put you down for it. I’m just curious what the process is that you can make money with apps that don’t have 5-star ratings and don’t have huge download numbers. And you can it sounds like.
Andrew: All the apps put together, roughly how much revenue did they make this year.
Jeet: So all the apps put together for this year so far, we’re in June, probably about 50 thousand.
Andrew: Fifty thousand. And the strategy is, take a look at the charts, see what’s doing well, find some piece of it that’s missing and that becomes your app.
Jeet: Exactly. We take 3 different strategies. One is that we have an idea that we really love, we’re passionate about. An example of that would be a swear jar app. Because one of my team members was talking about a physical swear jar at his house and every time his cusses his kid dings it. So we thought why not create an app out of it. That would be awesome. We have those kind of ideas that we don’t know if they’ll work or not, but we just like them.
We have the others where we go through the top charts and we look at what we can do to improve on existing apps. The third thing that we’re just starting is where we’re starting to buy a lot of pre made apps, or templates, like, source codes and kind of reskimming them and doing a complete spin off in a different market or in a different theme.
Andrew: For example.
Jeet: One that we just bought is like a Pac Man style game and one that we’re working on, reskimming it is [??] the coins, like, the [??], like, [??] internet famous. We’re trying to break the same Pac Man style app, but with the [??] dog and [??] coins and then biting all the [??]
Andrew: Gotcha. The dog is biting the coin. You’re basically playing Pac Man with a twist. I get it. Would you charge for something like that, or offer it for free?
Jeet: We do a lot of testing, but initially we’re going to launch it for free. Then kind of have some [??] purchases and see how that does. Then we’re also going to test simultaneously when we run a page for let’s say two weeks and compare the numbers. Whichever ends up doing better is what we’ll probably stick with long term.
Andrew: You know what I dig about you? Most people over think things compared to you. You just say, hey, you know what, I need an iPhone app. I’m not going to learn how to develop apps myself. I’m not going to try to create the most polished thing out there. I’m not trying to compete with the [??] of the world. I’m just going to put it out there.
I’ll have a couple of guys put it together and I’ll get some revenue from it and I’ll improve over time, but I’m going to get my stuff out there. Do I have it right? That is your strength?
Jeet: Yeah. That’s absolutely my best strength. I think just being very patient and wanting things done right away. That helps me a lot because I’m able to put something out on the market. Over time I’m able to learn how can I improve this? How can I make it better because I’ve come to an understanding no matter how much of a perfectionist you are there’s no such thing as perfect. You can always do better. [??]
Andrew: I’m looking at your site right now. There’s on the shop section there’s the course, books, everything else, under everything else is coming soon. I like this approach. Just put stuff out there. You’ll improve over time, but don’t hold back for too long.
I’m not putting it down when I ask, what about the concern that five years from now when people say, what kind of quality does Jeet create? If they come across the old iPhone apps that you put together that have these bad ratings some of them. Oh, swear jar actually has very high ratings, but if they come across some of the ones that have low ratings aren’t you worried that they’re going to look at you and say, this guys just a scammer. He’s just putting crap out in the world without any concern for quality.
Jeet: I’m not [??]. My big thing is that I’d rather have something out in the market and then improve those ratings, or improve on those things and make them better over time because each time you get a review you get a chance to kind of break it down and see what can I do better now. How can I continue to improve these apps?
The biggest misconception that people might have is we just take these apps and just put them out on the market once and that’s it. The one thing that we do is we’re constantly updating these apps and putting in better versions over time to kind of counter those reviews and hopefully to make it the best possible product.
Andrew: All right. Shop . . . but it seems like it’s more than that because some things you’re not going to ever improve. Frankly, this interview is going to live forever. People will come back and look at the transcript. They’re going to study you and they’re going to say, oh, you know what? He has these apps that have one star. People aren’t happy with them. There are all these issues. He’s launching so much. Maybe he doesn’t have quality.
This is going to stay out there. It seems like you’ve somehow made peace with that. How do make peace with that?
Jeet: The biggest thing for me is I’m not out there . . . some people are either going to love me, or some people are either going to hate me. At the end of the day that’s just what it is. I kind of try to do things for myself and what’s going to make me happy and what my team believes in, and stuff like that.
In terms of the apps, if there’s bad reviews, or if there’s problems with it, for our first go we do our best. As long as we know that as a team I’m absolutely happy with it. Now, if I look back on my team, or I look back on the work and somebody says, well, I didn’t do my best on it, then that’s something that I’m going to have trouble living with. I’m not going to be happy with. As long as we give it our first best effort and we continue to do that I’m absolutely satisfied with that.
Andrew: I used to be the opposite. I used to say if I’m going to record an interview, if I’m going to put something out on the internet where, basically, everything lives forever, it better be really good. Problem was I could never product that way. The really good launch never was working for me. I would just get in my own head, waste a lot of time, procrastinate, work really hard, but never ever get real results.
It didn’t work for me. Finally, I decided I’m going to launch quickly. I’ll put these interviews out there. If someone goes back in time and sees back in 2008 in was a crappy interviewer, didn’t know how to ask questions, said something goofy, so be it. I will over time improve. Even if interviews don’t work for me I’ll improve in something else.
I thought maybe that’s just me, but as I do interviews with people like you and I do research by going back in time, all the time I come across websites and videos and products that people created that are not that great, but they are their earlier work. One of the best things that I saw was, Andrew Mason, the founder of Groupon, look in the video and describe one of his favorite TV shows.
I think there was one of him just being goofy on a video that he put on YouTube. I think there were comments of his that I saw where people hated his previous business and he was in the comments just responding and taking ownership of that hate and saying I’ll figure out a way to improve it.
I see that from many entrepreneurs and I realize it’s not just me. That is the way the people whose products we admire today started out by putting stuff out there, improving. All right. We talked about the course. We talked about the software. We didn’t talk about these books. Millionaire Habits, and, Limitless Thinking. Limitless Thinking, is you talking about what?
Jeet: The idea for, Limitless Thinking, really came about I did my Ted x talk. The biggest thing that I would get from my personal brand is people would sending me emails all the time, like, I have this amazing idea, but I can’t do this, or I have this problem in my life.
What I kind of wanted to show people is that all these things that people perceive as a problem aren’t really a problem. What I like to share in the story is how I really got started and how I was able to kind of get everything I have today. The fact is when I started I was still in high school so, I technically didn’t even have my degree.
I had no experience besides working minimum wage jobs. I had no money. It was so sad that when I first created my first company I had all this money sitting on PayPal and I couldn’t access it because I wasn’t 18 yet. I literally had to wait eight months. I had a countdown in my room on when I could access money on PayPal.
That’s kind of what I try to show people. Just firsthand my story of how I started with nothing and I came to have what I have today with hopes of inspiring people to kind of take that leap forward.
Andrew: What do you have today? What size revenue is this business doing?
Jeet: This year we on pace to do half a million dollars in revenue. Yeah.
Andrew: So far we’re about half way through the year.
Jeet: So far we’re at about 200,000.
Andrew: 200,000 from selling these digital projects that we talked about.
Jeet: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: All right. Business owned 100% by you?
Jeet: No. I have another co-founder so, that’s 50/50. Then we have a team that we pay salaries and stuff to, so, yeah.
Andrew: I did see shadows over your shoulder earlier. Who else is in the place that you’re in?
Jeet: It’s my girlfriend, actually, Fatima. She was actually here.
Andrew: Is that who the business is named after, or is it the original, Fatima? The software . . . not the business, but when I looked at the software on, where is it, the apps on iTunes, I saw, Fatima.
Jeet: Oh, yeah, yeah. It’s the developer is under her name. [??]
Andrew: Oh, okay. Why under her name?
Jeet: She’s actually my co-founder in the business, as well. We’re eventually going to kind of diversify. Put it under [??] and put out some under my name and her name. She’s just lucky number one.
Andrew: And, Jonathan Fenwick, who’s he?
Jeet: Jonathan Fenwin?
Andrew: Fenwick, or maybe I’m looking at the wrong things. Swear jar app by Idea Basin. That’s not you guys. That’s someone else who has [??]
Jeet: No, that’s not us. That might be a competitor app.
Andrew: I see. Okay. All right. If people want to follow up with you what’s the best place for them to go?
Jeet: My personal website is By The Best. That’s my projects, blog. links, all that good stuff. That’s jeetbanerjee.com.
Andrew: How do you spell . . . here I’ll do it. J-E-E-T-B-A-N-E-R-J-E- E.com.
Andrew: There it is. Thank you so much for doing this. Everyone else, thank you all for being a part of this interview. Bye.
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