SnapInspect: How To Find A Software Idea And Pre-Sell It Before It’s Built (Without Any Coding Skills Or Capital) – with Sam Ovens

Do you think you need an idea, coding skills or capital to start a successful business? If you do, you’re dead wrong.

Sam Ovens started his software company with no idea, no market knowledge, no coding skills or capital and he claims that having none of these is an advantage in business, not a disadvantage. He did it with guidance from TheFoundation.io, so I invited him to talk about his process.

In this interview you’ll discover:

– Why B2B is a safer bet than B2C for entrepreneurs looking to start a profitable business
– How to find a profitable niche (It’s so simple you’ll be surprised).
– How to extract an idea out of that niche. (Even if you have no knowledge in it).
– How to get your niche to design the perfect product for you. (Even if you know nothing about software or apps).
– How to pre-sell your product to 12 companies and collect the cash while it’s still an idea on paper. (With no website, no domain name, no business cards, no payment system, nothing).
– How to outsource all the development and get the perfect product at the lowest price.

These are all tactics that you can scribble down and implement yourself tomorrow. Grab a pen and a couple pieces of paper, hit play and ENJOY!

Watch the FULL program


About Sam Ovens

Sam Ovens is the Founder of SnapInspect, a software company that has a property inspection app for property management businesses.

You can add Sam Ovens on (LinkedIn, here) or on (Facebook, here).

Want the exact email and phone script Andrew & Sam talk about in the interview?

If enough people request it in the comments below, Sam will share the exact email template he used to find his idea, and… the word-for-word telephone script Sam used to call businesses and dig deeper on the phone. You can swipe these files verbatim and use them yourself. Just comment below.

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

Andrew: Coming up, today’s guest failed and then he did one thing differently and then he succeeded. I won’t tell you what that one thing is, but if you catch this interview all the way through the end you’ll know it for yourself, and if could have just as big an impact on your life. Also, notice the grin on today’s guest when he tells you how he got a high end develop shop to help him design the look, the feel, the features of his mobile app. You’ll understand why he’s grinning and then I want to know from you, is it something that you’d want to do to get your product developed? Finally how do you get strangers to tell you what to build for them and then to plunk down their credit cards and pay for it. All that and so much more is coming up.

Before we get started I want to congratulate Mixergy fan, Brad Mills, for creating this, Nuvia Cafe. He says he did it while listening to Mixergy interviews based on what he learned from those interviews. Can you imagine the first time by the way that an idea that he had became this box of coffee or this cup of coffee? That he could taste, that he could feel, that he could see out in the world? That’s what Mixergy’s about. Interviews for doers like Brad and you. By the way if you want to check out his website, it’s Nuviacafe.com, that’s where you can buy it.

And this whole thing is sponsored by Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. Do you need a lawyer who actually understands the startup world that you live in? Go to WalkerCorporateLaw.com. I’ve known Scott Edward Walker for years, so tell him you’re a friend of mine. It’s also sponsored by Shopify. Does anyone you know need a beautiful online store that increases sales and is easy to set up and manage? Send them to Shopify.com. It’s the platform that top online stores run on. All right, let’s get started.

Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart and after doing over 700 interviews with proven, successful entrepreneurs here on Mixergy there’s one big observation that I made. And that is, the people that want certain success, they do one thing. And I’ve been noticing it over and over in interviews. And that one thing is they find the pain. They talk to customers and they find the pain that’s so painful, that’s so serious, that customers are willing to, in fact they’re eager to pay for a solution for it.

And as you’ll see in today’s interview not only are they willing to pay for it, they’re willing to work with the founder to help build it and then after it’s built they’re eager to pay for it. And I’m so eager for you guys in the audience to see this, to see find the pain in action that I want to diversify my interviews a little bit. To not just do interviews with megahit companies but I want to do today’s interview so that you can see how a new entrepreneur finds the pain and how it leads to a turnaround for him.

Sam Ovens is the founder you’re about to meet. He’s the founder of SnapInspect, which makes software that allows property managers to inspect properties using their mobile phones. It even automatically creates beautiful inspection reports for them with one click. So, Sam, welcome.

Sam: Andrew.

Andrew: You had as I mentioned in the top of the interview a setback before as an entrepreneur. How much money did you invest in this previous company?

Sam: All of my money. It was, I think, ten thousand dollars.

Andrew: How much time did you invest in that company?

Sam: A solid 12 months.

Andrew: 12 months, $10,000, all of your money. How much revenue did you get from that business?

Sam: Nothing.

Andrew: Not a single customer?

Sam: Not a cent.

Andrew: Not a cent. I’ve asked entrepreneurs about this before. Some are willing to be open, some are not. I think you are. Tell me about what happens when your money’s going out the window and there’s no revenue coming in. Like what happens in your mind, what happens in your gut? What happens when you’re asleep at night for two hours?

Sam: It’s terrible like. It really is the only thing on your mind when you look at your account balance and it just goes down and down every day. And there’s nothing coming in, and you can’t even see a way of how some revenue is going to come in. And the expenses just keep coming, and it’s amazing how quickly you actually do run out of money. [??] went seriously [??]

Andrew: I know the feeling. Frankly, in the early days of Mixergy when I was just tossing money out the money. I think it was all end $300,000 that I wasted just going in the wrong direction with Mixergy. I was on vacation with Olivia in Europe trying to enjoy the vacation in Europe. But all I could think about is, “I’m losing so much money. Where’s my net worth going as a result of this?” I mean, we would be out by the beach or by a sunny countryside, and all I would be thinking is, “How much money am I losing?” You ever have that?

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: You can’t enjoy things in life. Good food doesn’t taste good anymore, because you’re so busy thinking. Did that happen to you or am I imposing my vision on your experience?

Sam: Yeah, and I was cutting all my personal expense. So like taking my girlfriend out for dinner, whereas that might only be $50 but, I wouldn’t do that, just so I would have money to spend in the company, and to think how many dinners and stuff, I was wasting. And that’s your human side of your life, and it was even having an impact on that.

Andrew: We’re going to get to this new business that you launched which is the reason that I invited you here to Mixergy. We’ll get to it in a moment but, when you were going through this did you feel, “You know what, I just don’t have it. I’m not worthy of success.” Or did you feel, “Hey, there’s some greatness inside me that I just haven’t figured out how to tap.” Which was it? What were you feeling about your own sense of self and your own abilities?

Sam: Before we actually launched it and before we had a proper conversation with a customer . . .

Andrew: I mean, the previous business that took 10,000 of your dollars?

Sam: Yeah. So before that, before we had any real experiences with a customer, I felt like I was incredible. And that this idea was all that. And then, it all went backwards as soon as I talked to someone real. And it just went down from there.

Andrew: Oh, wow, I see. Once you talked to a customer . . .

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: What was the product?

Sam: It was a website, and it was pretty much the opposite of how job websites were. So instead of people apply for jobs, you would put a profile up and say what you’re interested in and then companies would then search for you. A typical sort of like first business that I have no idea how I came up with that idea but . . .

Andrew: All right, I’m going to get back to exploring how you came up with that idea in a moment. Let’s go back not to this new business the one that you’re running now. Before you launched it how many customers would you say that you talked to, email, phone, etc?

Sam: OK. Probably around 30 to 40.

Andrew: 30 to 40 whereas the previous business where you talked to none.

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: Before you launched it, how much sales did you have?

Sam: About five and a bit thousand.

Andrew: A little over $5000 in sales where the customers paid you or/and committed to continuing to pay you once you lunched?

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: And this is before you had a product to hold to say, “This is what we’re paying for.”

Sam: Yes, and before I even knew how it was really going to work.

Andrew: OK. Are you a developer?

Sam: No.

Andrew: No. Did you have a best friend who’s a developer who’s going to build this for you?

Sam: No, but I sort of worked with the website before, which was nothing the same, but I had a little bit of experience.

Andrew: OK. A little bit of experience with web development, but not with mobile development, which is what it took to build this thing. All right, I want to find out how you went from where you were, a guy who spent $10,000 on a business that nobody, literally, nobody paid to buy from, to where you are now. A guy with a business where you have over 5,000 in sales before you even launch, where you talk to customers, you understand what they want you to build. Where you have, as I understand this, a dozen customers, a dozen spots sold before you even launched the business. And also maybe we can get into a little bit of how a guy who is not a developer could develop software. I think that’s also important.

All right, let’s go back and step by step by step understand how you did this. You said something very flattering to our producer when he asked you, what’s the first thing you said? You said, I wanted to reverse engineer. In fact, you tell it. The Groupon story. Why did Groupon factor into this, how did Groupon factor into this new mindset?

Sam: Well that was how I found Mixergy. I was struggling with my first company and I just couldn’t work out how to get customers. I thought that was supposed to be the easy part of business. So (?) been Googling all sorts of things and at the time Groupon was a big hit. So I had been Googling, how did Groupon gain traction? And I think those precise words or something very close was in the transcript of your interview. So I came to Mixergy through that, watched that interview. And then from there I guess I was hooked, that was my source of motivation and, that was my source of motivation and the first time I actually started to think, maybe I should learn from other successful people.

Andrew: I remember that interview. Andrew Mason told me when I asked him how he got the first users for Groupon, he said basically I went up and down in the building where I worked and I asked everybody to join this thing. And then from there, from that little niche, he grew Groupon to a deal site that covers the world right now.

You know, before we continue with the steps, and we’re going to go through very, very thoroughly, I think I’m going a little bit slowly on the intro, but it’s important. Because I want people to see what you’re able to do and what they more importantly can do once they understand this concept of talking to customers, of finding their pain, of getting them to buy. We’re going to step by step them through how to do this. But what I’m curious about is, why didn’t you think that sales was going to be tough? Why did you think, hey I’m going to build this thing and sales will naturally happen. Why didn’t you sweat the sales?

Sam: Well, I really had no idea that any. I thought that hard part, I thought the idea was everything. So I thought you’ve just got to have like a new innovative idea where there’s no competitors and you’re the first. And I also thought that the development in getting the product built was the hard part. And once you’d done that and once you had a product with an awesome logo and beautiful design and absolutely no bugs then you launched and people just naturally thought it was amazing and would start using it.

Andrew: I see. Because you thought the idea was amazing of course the world would want to buy from you. Other people needed to sell but that’s because they didn’t have this revolution on their hands, this revolution in a business, right?

Sam: And their logo wasn’t as good as mine.

Andrew: And their logo wasn’t as good as yours? Seriously?

Sam: Yes, that’s what I tell myself.

Andrew: OK, all right.

Sam: I’m going to call them as typical mistakes. Sort of like your first time businessman. I think I spent 300 bucks and a good week’s (?) over the logo.

Andrew: Wow, I didn’t realize. You also think that, in fact you know, one of the people who you met through Mixergy is Dane, Dane Maxwell. You saw him in his interview look at entrepreneurship in a whole new way and you said, I want that guy to be my mentor. Right? In a lot of ways, we’ll get back to Dane in a moment, but a lot of what you’re going to show us here came directly from Dane. This is the way that he shows you to talk to customers and figure out what they want and then build the business, right?

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay, alright. I’m writing a note here to come back and talk about Dane. But I’m realizing that I didn’t get into the specific steps yet. And if I were in the audience I’d go, Andrew, come on, tell me what to do already. Enough with this back story. So let’s go right into it.

One of the first things you did was, you wanted to find the right market. How did you find the right market?

Sam: So I think I thought the right market would have some money to spend. Well first of all ideally business to business. So out of the consumer world, into the business to business world.

Andrew: Why business to business?

Sam: Pardon me?

Andrew: Why business to business? I’m trying to compare the way that you’re going about this with the typical approach and the typical approach might me “What do I use? What would I want? What would my friends enjoy?” Well, it’s that kind of thing. What would I want to see on everyone’s iPhone as I go into school or as I go into work? But you were thinking I want business. You have a whole other way of looking at what you’re going to go after. So let’s start with the business component of it. Why was going after business users more important to you than consumers?

Sam: So, I’ve been in the consumer world with my previous company and a customer can really be anybody and because that customer can be anybody, how do you target them? You can’t just call them. You can’t find their phone number on the internet, and you just certainly can’t approach them and say something. It’s very hard to find them. But in the business to business world most companies have their phone numbers listed, their physical address listed, even every employee in their company listed, especially in real estate. So you can just look at everyone and see the size of the deal, see exactly who the decision makers going to be, see what their phone number is, their email everything.

Andrew: I see. Right. Now you could, of course, go find consumers in the street. You can stand in the street, find consumers. Some of them will let you have a conversation with them and let you interview them and so on, but you just don’t want a random person. You want to focus on a niche that you can really enthusiastically satisfy and then build and build from there. So you’re right, if you want to focus on a niche you can find consumers as easily as you can find business and with businesses, as we’ll see, you’re able target much better. All right, so now you know businesses. How do you know which businesses to go into, because frankly, when I first heard that you were going after that you were creating inspection software I said “Inspection software? There’s a whole product for that?” So how did you know that real estate would be the niche that you were going to target?

Sam: So, yeah, like I said, the first thing I decided was business to business then I wanted to find a niche that was approachable on the phone or viable email so a niche that was typical for people to list their details and a niche that was big enough and had some money to spend in this type of economy.

Andrew: How do you know which niche has money to spend? How’d you figure that out?

Sam: I don’t know economically if this is correct, but what I did is I went to a job site, a job website and I looked at you can see number of jobs listed in each industry and I just looked at the ones with the biggest amounts, I looked at the industries that were hiring the most.

Andrew: Why?

Sam: Well, who’s going to be hiring if they’re broke?

Andrew: I see. Right. So it’s a great indicator of success, of ability to spend, if they’re hiring people then it means that their business is going well. Beyond real estate, what else did you see?

Sam: A lot of stuff.

Andrew: Can you give me one other one that we might not think of?

Sam: Lawyers, accountants, heaps. This one, I remember just making a list of all of these different niches and putting them up on my wall and the other reason I chose property management I guess was I just felt more comfortable approaching property managers compared to lawyers and accountants and stuff. I guess it was a confidence thing back then.

Andrew: All right. That makes sense. So let’s go on then to the next step. So the reason that it’s important for you to be able to approach these guys is because every part of this process basically is interacting with your future customer. So I understand now how you figured out real estate people. Let’s get to how you figured out what product and how you got them to pay for it. What’s the next step? After you knew that it was real estate people that you were going after, what do you do to figure out what to build for them?

Sam: So the strategy behind this is, you know, to find a business to business niche.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Sam: That contactable on the phone or via email, that list their details, and that have a burning problem. Like a problem that, you know it’s like, they wake up, you know, you want to find what business owner say wakes up in the morning, and you know, as soon as he opens his eyes he goes, inside his head he says “oh, like f**k” I’ve got to go into work and do X. And all of this is to find out what X is. And once you know what X is, you know that changes like everything. Especially if it’s business to business and they’ve got some money to spend. And you know X then you know that you’ve got the foundations of a very good business.

Andrew: All right. So,

Sam: Strategy sort of thing. So the actual tactic I used. I just went and googled property managers, went through one by one and just found a persons name in the email and copy pasted it into excel. And I got a list of 100 I think.

Andrew: 100 names and email addresses of people in the real estate field. Did you focus on a specific city so that you can talk to them one on one, or did you say anywhere is fine?

Sam: I just focused on my home country.

Andrew: Where are you, by the way?

Sam: New Zealand.

Andrew: New Zealand.

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: By the way, thank you. You told me before we started that it’s 3:00 a.m. where you are. I just have to thank you for going out of your way to do this interview with me. There’s no way that you’re going to get enough business from this interview for it to pay off. You’ve got a business to run, you’re at a critical point in your business, and as an entrepreneur you’re still willing to step aside for a moment, wake up in the middle of the night. Literally went to sleep, you woke up, and then you’re doing this interview so entrepreneurs in our audience can learn from your experience. I say thanks a lot in interviews but I should be saying it even more because it means so much to me. The people who do interviews on Mixergy, just thank you for going out of your way for doing so much just to help the audience. All right, so you said I’m only going to focus on property managers in New Zealand, in my home country, also in my home city too.

Sam: You know, I think it’s just a comfort and confidence thing.

Andrew: But did you also want them to be in your city so you could drive over and have a conversation one on one, or was that not important?

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: You did?

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay.

Sam: So I did most of them in my city but I did contact other people that weren’t in my city. But most of those 100 were in my city, yeah.

Andrew: Okay, so you got 100 of them, their email addresses are all in a list in excel, what email did you send them?

Sam: So, I basically – I remember like the subject line was “strange question.” You know, when one of those lands in your inbox you just have to open it. And it said basically like, hi, persons name, introduced myself. At that time I was still enrolled in university.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Sam: So I said I’m basically doing some research on the property management industry and I want to learn about the most painful problems you have as a property manager. And I’m happy to share my findings with you at the end. Pretty short, and then just said Sam and put a link to my LinkedIn profile to prove that it wasn’t a spam.

Andrew: I see.

Sam: And I put my university name there too.

Andrew: [laugh] that’s great.

Sam: Yeah, so.

Andrew: And you were in university at the time?

Sam: I wasn’t actually going to class but I was enrolled.

Andrew: Okay.

Sam: So it wasn’t a lie but, you know.

Andrew: I see. All right, so basically you’re saying I’m doing this research project, I’m trying to figure out what your biggest pain is, and if you tell me what it is I’ll show you my findings afterwards so you get to know what others in your industry are going through also, so there’s an incentive for them to give you an answer. There’s also the trust that comes from seeing that you’re on LinkedIn and looking at your background, and knowing that you’re associated with the college is also, I sure, helpful. All right, how many responses did you get back from the hundred emails that you sent out like that?

Sam: Twenty-five..

Andrew: Twenty-five strangers hit reply and told you about their pain?

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: OK. It was a great email and I actually have it copied and pasted here from what you gave our producer. If anyone in the audience wants it, just ask for it in the comments, and Jeremy, I’m sure will send you what he sent me. So if you guys are looking for the actual email, let me know. All right so 25 people responded to that email, what kind of answers did they give you?

Sam: Shitty ones.

Andrew: Really?

Sam: Well, you get the surface problems, right? Through something like that, you always get the surface problems, what’s at the top of their mind. They write it and hit enter. So, surface problems in their industry, which is [??] making sure their tenants pay their rents on time, or maintenance issues, which is like, “Someone left the tap running and now the house is flooded.” Typical sort of surface problems. Which was fine. And you’ve got to be, I remember trying to control myself to not jump at one of those surface problems and say, this is going to be my problem.

Andrew: So, this is something that I still don’t understand. Why not hear that someone was tell you, “You know what, I can’t get enough people to pay their rent.” Or, “I’ve got another customer who’s got a leaking sink.” Why not jump on those and say, “All right, I’ll come up with software that handles leaking sink report, or that makes it easy to find plumbers. Or, I’m going to come up with software that will just keep bugging renters until they pay.” Why are those surface problems, and why not solve them?

Sam: So, at that point they were surface problems, and if I had just taken my findings from their email and run, I wouldn’t know the ins and outs of the problem, and I wouldn’t know how serious it was, and what it means to them, and how pain- I didn’t have a deep enough understanding of how bad the problem was. I hadn’t heard someone almost be in tears about it, you know.

Andrew: I see. You know what, if you were to ask me right now, “Andrew, what’s your biggest problem?” I would point to that piece of equipment that I left out, this lighting equipment that I left out there for the interview, and that would be my biggest frustration, and frankly if you came back anytime after today and asked me what’s my biggest frustration, that wouldn’t register at all. So I see what you mean. You want to know, is this an ongoing problem?

Sam: Yep.

Andrew: Is this a frustration that they really care about, or do they only care about it this second and they’ll forget about it. Do you also want to know, is there as solution for this problem already out in the market, or is that not important to you? While you answer that, I’m going to get rid of this thing.

Sam: So, yes, with [??] they already have software in place to handle [??], but certain [??] keep happening, because software can only do so much in getting a tenant to pay their rent on time. It can’t completely get rid of that problem. So they’re already using software and the software does a very good job, but there’s still that piece of human error that they can’t fix. So if I come into their niche I’m just going to be another me-too, and the real frustration that they’re experiencing, they’re still going to experience it with me too. So I’m not really solving the problem. I’m more just jumping in and doing what a lot of other dudes are doing.

Andrew: I see. OK. So you got 25 responses, a lot of surface answers in there. What do you do next with those 25 people?

Sam: I only replied back, and said basically, “Thanks for that, you sound like you know your industry very well. I’d love to give you a call and chat to you a bit more. Can you let me know a time that suits?” [??] Yeah, that was [??]

Andrew: OK. And of the 25 people who you sent that second email to, how many responded and said, “Yeah, I’ll help you out?”

Sam: This is just typical conversion stuff. It was 12 I think, yeah, 12.

Andrew: So 12 people. One of the reasons why I say that is, I recently recorded a course for Mixergy Premium with Jason Evanish of KISSmetrics. His whole job is to make the kind of calls that your talking about with potential customers for KISSmetrics, and with existing customers so that they can figure out what to build for new customers, and of course, how to improve the product for existing ones. And he told me that he had these doubts about his way of doing this because, I think the number that he got back was on 20% said, yes, they would talk to him. He said, “What am I doing wrong. Do people do not want this? Am I bothering people? Am I getting in their way?” And it wasn’t until he talked to Heaton Shaw, the founder of KISSmetrics, that he understood that this is pretty typical numbers. And that boost your confidence as a person who’s putting himself out there, who’s potentially talking to customers. Well, anyway, this is fairly typical and so I want the audience to hear that so if they duplicate what you’re doing, and they don’t get 100% response, or maybe the first person that they reach out to says, no, they’ll understand. It doesn’t mean they’re on the wrong track. All right, so 12 people responded back. They said, yes, they wanted to have phone calls. What did you learn in the phone calls that you didn’t learn in the phone calls?

Sam: So much. Like, I can’t even tell you how much more I learned on the phone. I guess to listen to how humans behave too. When you’re talking to someone on the phone and you’re interested, well, if you talk to anyone, and you’re interested in them and their problems and their life, and it’s all about them, and you’re not saying anything about yourself. People just open up, and they feel important. And some of these phone calls, which I thought the person the other end couldn’t wait to hang up on me. I thought that’s what was going to happen. Some of these calls ran over an hour in the middle of someone’s working day. So they just stopped what they were doing in the office and talked to a strange question email sender guy for over an hour. And just told me all of their problems with emotion too.

Andrew: You know what, I know what the audience wants next is they want to hear what kind of questions do you ask. And they also want to know how you break down all this information that you’re getting from so many people and make it into something useful, actionable. Because it feels like you’re going to get flooded with data, but I think it’s important to break away from what they want for a moment and talk about what they’re going to need and that is the difficulty of making phone calls. You worked with Dane, and so did other people who work with Dane, other new entrepreneurs, and you were all basically following this process that Dane Maxwell laid out for you guys of making potential phone calls. He told me that some people had challenges doing that. Talk about what you saw your peers go through as they had to make phone calls.

Sam: Myself too. I knew what I had to do, and even after I had the emails, even after . . . I could have called them first, but it was more a comfort thing to do the email first and then to get their approval to call them at this particular time. All of this stuff was procrastination to avoid getting on the phone.

Andrew: So you’re saying even the first email could have been, “I’m doing this research project. Can I call you about it and I’ll give you the results afterwards?” That might have been even better.

Sam: Or I could have just called them straightaway without ever sending an email.

Andrew: I see. So what’s going on in your head? What do you notice in your peers’ heads as your wrestling with whether to pick up the phone and call or do something else. What is it that you’re thinking? What is it that you’re experiencing? What are you feeling?

Sam: I would say it’s less what you’re thinking and more the emotions that just run with beginning entrepreneurs, and having to talk to a potential customer. It’s the fear of rejection. It’s that feeling that’s you know, not so much in your consciousness but like it’s just a feeling of being scared and trying to do everything to avoid that particular thing.

Andrew: So I’m concerned that someone in the audience that hears that will hear you say feeling scared, will hear you say worry about being rejected and they’ll think to themselves, I’m not scared. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m risking everything, of course I’m not scared. I’m not afraid of rejection, I know that you’re going to get rejected more than you’re going to do well. I know that even Babe Ruth didn’t have a thousand batting average, and so on. And the reason that we don’t identify with what you’re saying is because that’s not real to us. I think what’s real to us are the rationalizations that we make. And if you’ve expressed those rationalizations that you’ve made, or that you saw other people make, we’ll start to see our own rationalization and say, oh yeah that’s not really true. I don’t really have to take out the garbage right now. I can make a phone call and take out the garbage tomorrow and leave the place stinky. Or I don’t really have to clean up my office one more time. I do have to make this phone call and cleaning up the office is a rationalization. So what’s a big rationalization that you saw other entrepreneurs have, make?

Sam: The things beginning entrepreneurs will do to avoid talking to a customer is insane. Thinking they need a website. Thinking they need an e- mail with their domain name after the x sign. Thinking they need a signature at the end of their e-mail. A business card just in case someone says, oh can you come over. The list goes on and on and I see it every single day.

Andrew: What’s another one? You know what, you’re right. I hadn’t thought of the need for a domain or an e-mail address or their own website. But now that you’ve mentioned it I’m starting to realize, yeah of course a lot of people have said that. And I can see other people feeling that the person they’re calling wouldn’t trust that their a real business because they don’t have this. They might come across as a fraud. What else? What other rationalizations are there?

Sam: The biggest one. The biggest one, the product. So going back to my first business. I had a domain name, I had business cards, I had a brochure, I had a website, I had the entire product polished. It looked amazing. Everything. I had literally everything you could have. I had the e- mail signature. Everything was there. Before I went and talked to the customer. And the truth is, and in my case it’s true. And honestly I’ve noticed now that in every other successful business this has happened in some shape or form too, is that they talk to the customer first before even having a domain. Nothing, no money spent. You know I used my Gmail account. I had no footer. I had literally nothing. When I made the calls they were from my cell phone. I didn’t even have a land line. And you, most entrepreneurs procrastinate about, it’s not going to look professional. And you hear them say things like, well what if someone wants to buy it and I don’t have it? So I better build it just in case that happens.

Andrew: So you did what just in case? Oh I better build it just in case it happens.

Sam: What a terrible thing, right? Building something can cost tens of thousands and take a year or six months or whatever. Just so you can make that sort of thing work in your mind. It’s really screwed up. And I seriously see that every day with new entrepreneurs.

Andrew: And the reason that you see if every day with new entrepreneurs is because you have this peer group that Dane set up for you guys where you talk and, I guess it’s a Facebook group?

Sam: We use Hipchat.

Andrew: Oh, Hipchat. So you’re talking to other guys who are going through this. You’re talking to Dane. And now through Mixergy, hopefully some people will contact you and get to know you. And if you have time you’ll be able to help them also and hear their issues. All right, so this is a big problem. I’m not, I don’t want to minimize it by moving onto the next set of questions, and, but I. Well I know it’s a big problem because I talked to Dane. And I don’t know how much time he has to spend on this when he talks to entrepreneurs. I always thought it would just be, hey, give somebody a system and they’re ready to go, they can handle it. But in talking to him and talking to other entrepreneurs I see that it is a big problem.

So I’m not minimizing it I just need to move on with the rest of this part of this interview and hopefully we can find other people who can come on and do interviews here at Mixergy and talk about the mental side, the head part of being in business. Of recognizing your own insecurities, accepting that they’re insecurities and then dealing with them instead of doing what we mostly do which is we pretend it’s not there and call ourselves, we’re too big. We pretend we’re he-men and of course we all have this stuff going on in our heads.

Sam: That was honestly my biggest breakthrough.

Andrew: What was that?

Sam: Is realizing that not everything is logic. And that everything really is based on emotion. And learning my own reasons why I was scared of things. And you know that’s a whole other story but that was massive, more so then knowing the system.

Andrew: Knowing that even you, a person who’s logical, a person who over your shoulder has got a board, a white, that’s not a white board but a bulletin board of some kind. So you like to think in an organized way. Even as organized as you are you also are guided by your own emotions.

Sam: Yeah. And so are CEOs of million dollar companies and everyone else in the world.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s a tough realization to have, but it’s an important one. It’s a tough one to get to have. To get to a, it’s tough to get to a point where you can open yourself up to that reality. So now you’ve got them on the phone. What questions are you asking them?

Sam: So your strategy is basically to find out their biggest problem and also their most painful one and make sure it’s not just a one off and it’s something that is going to constantly keep them up at night. And it’s not just something they’re experiencing this week. The tactics to achieve that are, I find it very important to understand the strategy of something first and being, you can create infinite tactics below that. And so me telling the tactics now, you know people don’t have to copy them precisely. It’s more if they can understand the strategy and they can come up with their own tactics. It’s really important to not just be one of those people that just focuses on tactics and follows that. Because you have to adapt. Especially on the phone I remember people having a list of say twenty questions that could help get to this problem, and then ask the first question and then get the start of a good conversation going and then feel like they had to get to the next question. And I’d lose that depth that they were gaining. Just because they thought they had to get through the tactics. Do you know what I mean?

Andrew: I know exactly what you mean, yes, yeah. Obviously, I’ve seen bad interviewers do that where they have to go through all ten questions that they’ve submitted to the guest beforehand or else they feel like they’re cheating the guest and they also feel like they’re not doing a thorough job. But here I can see how it’s even more troubling because you’re after someone’s serious pain. And if you’re trying to get through your series of questions and if after the first one they’re basically crying, you don’t want to interrupt that crying session. You want to let it unfold so you can understand what’s behind it, so that you can understand where they are. Do I have that right?

Sam: Yes, you have that right.

Andrew: So what are the ways that you did it now that you’ve got this understanding down?

Sam: So, I started to ask questions like, walk me through your typical sort of day. And they would tell me and I would sort of, they’d say you know I come into the office and then I do this and this and this. And I’d say, okay you know like, what part of that do you dread doing the most. And you know they’d say something. And usually after a couple of questions and maybe ten, fifteen minutes in you’ve got a list of say four problems. And then I found this extremely helpful was to go, okay, so you told me that you had, and I repeated back to them what they told me. And they, the feeling, you could just hear it in their voice like Holy Shit, someone understands me. So I repeated it back and they were like, yes. And I was okay I want you to seriously think about this.

Out of those four things what is the most painful one, if you had to pick one, what’s the worst? And so after I’d found their problems I made them write them. And I don’t personally think they ever thought about that. And that no one had, because they had to rid, the phone was silent for like 20 seconds or something while they actually thought to themselves like what is my biggest problem out of those four? And then they told me it was, yeah, they told me and to me that sounded like I’d kind of hit something. Because you could almost feel over the phone that they’d come to a realization too.

Andrew: Suddenly like a business therapist.

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: So that also answers the second question that I had earlier which is, when you have all of these frustrations and all of this data, how do you make sense of it? And the way you make sense of it is having them all rank it so you know what their top problem is. And then did you start to see a pattern emerge from that or was it still a collection of different problems that each person had something different from the next?

Sam: Yeah, so, on first call, that was my first call by the way, which was crazy. And that call wrapped up and then I jumped on another one. And it didn’t come as easy them saying it on their own, but I could, it was one of their problems and if I probed enough that that problem would come out. And I think it was only after four calls that I was like, okay this is common across all, not all, but it’s common across property managers. You know, they hate this problem.

Andrew: They hate what? What’s the problem as they’ve described it to you?

Sam: Property inspections. So at the moment they organize a schedule with outlook or a physical calendar. Then they print off a check list. Then they navigate their route for the day. So they’ve got five properties to inspect, they’ve got to work out the best way around town.

Andrew: You mean like using Google Maps. They plot them all on there and they figured out what’s the most efficient way to go do this? Okay.

Sam: Yeah. Then they’d start, they’d drive there and they’d go through the property and they’d check everything off. And then they have a digital camera too and they take photos or the house or the property. And then they collect all of that stuff and at the end of the day they drive back to the office, put their notes there, you know plug their digital camera into their computer, upload all the photos to their computer, then work out what photos are from what property. What photos from each property relate to what room? They open up Microsoft Word, put their header and footer in there and then start to type up the reports like one by one. And then they, you know what Word’s like, trying to format a photo and get it positioned right and then they have to send the reports to the owners. So that’s the process. And I’m pretty sure even if you’re not a property manager you can tell that that sucks.

Andrew: Yeah, and now that you describe it, absolutely. And then the report that they send over is probably going to be pretty ugly, stretched kind of. Every time someone tries to resize in Word it feels to me, at least non techies, it feels to me that if you make it wider you should also make it taller. Keep the aspect ratio the same or else the place looks weird? So I don’t know if they have those problems but they have problems like that as they’re putting it in word. And that’s why that sentence that I read in the intro, it even automatically creates beautiful inspection reports with one click. That’s why that’s so significant.

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: That your software does that. Okay, so I see now how you can see their pain and their frustration in that and how you can say to yourself, hmm, software would work to make that simpler. So is, the next thing you do as I understand from your conversation with Jeremy our producer is, you diagrammed the solution for them. So now that you’ve (?) the problem and the step by step and you had a vision for what you could do, how did you diagram it?

Sam: So, I had this problem, and it reminds me, when you’re on the phone, I wasn’t just looking for any problem. I was kind of angling towards problems that could be solved with software, because that’s what I wanted out of the core. So come to here I’d found a problem that could potentially be solved with software but I could kind of imagine how you could have an app where you could do the photos and the checking off with. And to be honest I didn’t even know if it was possible to build it. But I drew it anyway. I got out some paper and I started drawing like how it would work. And you know, I just kept drawing until I found something that would solve the problem. And then when I had that all drawn up I was like, I called the customer, well they weren’t a customer.

I called the people back and said, you know, it was a series of calling and sending e-mails with these ugly sketches of a could be software product attached and getting feedback. And at first they were like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, like, it would have to do this. And you know, here comes your product, from the mouth of the customer. That’s when you know that you’re building something good, when they’re actually telling you that you’ve got it wrong and it needs to do this. So I made them sort of do that, being careful of course not to let it, a lot of what they’d drawn, I just.

Andrew: What’s one thing they told you about the product when they saw the sketch that you wouldn’t have known without them? How did they help shape it? Do you have a specific?

Sam: Specific.

Andrew: Here’s one that I got from your conversation with Jeremy. They didn’t want to have to type a lot on their phones. They wanted auto complete in certain. So you said, oh I can give you auto complete so you don’t have to do much typing. Is that a good example?

Sam: Yeah, so, you got it. They said I would hate to have to type in all these comments with my thumb, I hate texting and that would suck. That’s what they told me. I came up with the auto text thing based on the problem that they told me, to solve that. So I think again it’s important not to let your customers tell you the feature, but more to tell you the problem at the moment, and then work out how to solve that. Because if you give them reins of your product, I did give them reins of it for a while, and it just started to become like a spaceship. I had to start ripping stuff away and I realized I was making that classic mistake of just letting them do whatever they wanted. But lucky it was only at paper at the time.

Andrew: All right, so you’re showing them the sketches, they’re giving you a little bit of feedback on features that they need or on solutions that they need. You’re improving the sketches. You finally get them to say, this is exactly what I need, I want this. At that point do you say, would you pay?

Sam: Well, not right at that point. And I definitely didn’t say it like that. I said, like I just kept going back and forth. And remember at this point in time I’d actually met up with these people for coffee and stuff. There was a good relationship there. And the communications had included meeting up, calling and e-mail and so they, yeah, it got to the point where they were like, yes, I want this. This would do it. And I was like, awesome, finally I’ve got that. So I went away and I worked out how much I’d have to charge for it to make a good business for myself out of it, and it sounds kind of selfish, but if you’re going to, if this is going to be what you do, you’ve got to make sure that it can make enough money to satisfy you.

Andrew: So how much money did you estimate that it would cost to build it? I know things change as you build out, but what was the original estimate?

Sam: The original estimate was $6,000.

Andrew: OK. And how many customers would you need to close to earn $6,000?

Sam: Probably, I had 12, 15.

Andrew: Oh, 15 you’d need to close to get to $6,000?

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: OK. All right.

Sam: That was on top of the whole development cost right? But that’s not what you’re trying to do here. You’re not trying to cover your whole development cost. That’s not the reason why you’re (?). The reason why you work out your pricing and you come back to them is because that’s what you’re going to have to sell if for to make a profit in the long run. It’s not as short term as “I just need to cover my development costs”. So I didn’t mind putting in my own money to get it developed provided that all (?) was would people pay for this?

Andrew: I see.

Sam: That was the most important thing. You can have everything else, but if someone won’t pull out their credit card and give you the money you haven’t did shit.

Andrew: I see.

Sam: You need money, yeah.

Andrew: So, at what point did you get them to pay you? Did you get them to pay before you built it?

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: OK.

Sam: So, again, it’s very tempting, just human nature to think “OK, I’ll just go build it and then when I’ve got it and it’s all shiny I can then get someone to pay for it”.

Andrew: It’s hard to get somebody to pay for something you haven’t built yet.

Sam: Surprisingly not.

Andrew: So how did you do it?

Sam: I went back and this is the (?) that I’m thinking about charging for this and I had worked it out just the tiers, again, printed on paper, nothing fancy and they sort of looked at it and they were like “Yeah, it looks fine”. They weren’t ecstatic about it , but there wasn’t any major objections and I said basically “I’m going to have to dedicate a lot of my time to get this product built and I’m going to have to invest a lot of my own money in it and it’s going to be a massive thing for me, so I need to have some sort of cash flow from this to make it all work. So this is the pricing I’m thinking”. They looked at it and said “Yeah, looks fine” and I said “So I’m willing to offer you 10% off for life and I’ll never change the pricing on you. I will always leave it at what’s on this paper minus 10% if you join now and pay three months in advance”. Yeah, surprising, but not so surprising now when you think back, but people took it.

Andrew: (?)?

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: All right.

Sam: Yeah, human nature would mean before you asked for that you’d need the payment system right, or a business bank account or something to accept credit cards. Well shit, I didn’t have any of that. They said “Can you send me through the paperwork?” and I was like “Shit, I don’t have any paperwork”. At that point I didn’t even have a domain name and this product didn’t have a name, remember. It was just a drawing. No name, no logo, nothing, and I had no paperwork. I just said… I just gave them my personal account number, which was like a tertiary account. And I was just like, “This is my account number, but can you just put the money in and use this reference.” And people were like, “Yeah, sure.” Paid the money, and then, I was like, “OK. I’ve really got a solid foundation for something here.”

Andrew: I imagine at this point people must be thinking, “That sounds outrageous. He just gave them the account number and money comes. What’s Andrew trying to sell?” But, I’ve got to tell you, when you’re thinking of a business expense, how much were you charging a month?

Sam: Like 150. I think.

Andrew: 150 bucks.

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: It’s nothing compared to some of the problems that we deal with and some of the expenses that we deal with. Amazon S3, just to host some of our video files on Mixergy must cost over $600 a month. That’s like a nothing part of the business. It’s invisible to the audience. I remember someone called me up, an entrepreneur. And he said, “I’ve got this solution to a problem that you posted online, if I create it . . . ” I sent the money before he even had a chance to really describe the solution. I just Paypaled it over to him. It was 100 or so dollars. It’s nothing when you consider that it’s a business problem, and business have huge expenses, and if you can freaking solve one of our big problems we’re going to have a lot of revenue, or a big reduction in our expenses as a result of it.

Sam: What about the pain?

Andrew: Right. If it’s a huge enough pain . . .

Sam: Yeah. Someone doesn’t care if the produce is on paper without a name, a domain, anything. And you give them your personal account number. All the other stuff, all the things that entrepreneurs obsess about, like polish and getting everything right. None of that stuff matters, when you get the actual basics right, you can get away with the scrappiest of all things, if you just get the basics right.

Andrew: And yet, it wasn’t enough for you. You knew their problem. They’re willing to pay. You still, because of your feelings about the past failure said, “I’m not yet on solid ground.” And you decided to do one other thing, what’s that? To confirm that you were going to build something that would actually produce revenue.

Sam: Yeah. So, I’m really glad I did this, and I would do this again. Because, in my mind, I was sort of thing, “Well, I’ve built a really good relationship with these people. And they designed it with me.” It could have felt like their baby, because it was something that they’d had their hands on. And I was like, “Sure, I closed the deal, but is this going to work with other people?” Because they’re not going to have their hands on the product and they’re not going to have this sort of relationship with me. So I thought, so there’s only one way. And I thought, “I’ve got to try to sell this thing to someone I’ve got no relationship with.” And so, I just found some phone numbers, and pretty much called someone and said, “My name is Sam, ‘I’ve got a new . . .” It’s kind of lying, but I literally pitched it like I had it ready to go. And I saw what happened.

And, we’d have a conversation, and I got the same objections I get today. The sales conversation goes exactly the same, and having that conversation, you can have the conversation before you have the product. And it’s like, “This is the most important thing in the world.” It needs to be so clear. When I started my first company I did everything and then talked to a customer. But really, you can have the exact same conversation at the very beginning.

Andrew: Before you even build it. Do you tell them, “I’m about to build it.” Or did you say, “I’ve got this product.”

Sam: I said, I had it. Well, I didn’t say I had it, I said, “We’ve basically got this new product that does.”

Andrew: Got it.

Sam: Then when I actually got towards the end of the call and people were like, “Yeah, let’s do it. This sounds really good.” And they asked how much it cost, everything. And they were happy with it. Not as easy as that, there was actually some salesmanship involved. And, then I had to say that, well, I didn’t have it. I said it was in development. And it was due to be released at this time. And they said, they’re kind of like, “Oh, you pitched me, and it’s not eve build?” I made them the same offer.

Andrew: You said, “When I build it, I’ll give you 10% off if you buy it now.”

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: And they said, “Yes.” Some of them did.

Sam: Yeah. Not all, but a good percentage. Enough for me to think, “This is the exact . . .” I had the exact sales conversation. The real . . .

Andrew: What are the objections that you said that they brought up.

Sam: What’s a typical thing? “I don’t have enough time to implement something like this.”

Andrew: And what’s your answer to that?

Sam: Back then it wasn’t as good as it is now. But back then, I was kind of like, “Well, are you sure? The whole benefit you’re going to get from this product is saving a whole lot of time. Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.” And they were like, “Well, we’re trying to get this done, trying set up this new office.” And I’m like, “OK, OK, so if you revolved this out, it would probably take you a day to implement, and then it’s going to save you this much time. You’re going to get these things faster.” Just basically trying to do that.

Andrew: I get what you’re saying. And this point now, you understand what their concerns are, you have answers for how to counter their concerns. You’re always going to have objections. There’s never going to be a perfect product where people say, “Yeah, I’m jumping in.” Your goal is to come up with responses that explain your product better and assuage their worries. But you found something that worked. It was time to develop. I want to get to a couple of other things. When you developed it, to show the developers you used Key-Noteopia[SP], which is a design product that makes it easy for non-designers to designers what they want. Especially, for mobile devices. But what’s more important, looking at me notes here is, you talked to high end developers, but you wanted to hire cheaper developers. I see the big smile. Tell the audience what your process was, and why you did that.

Sam: No offense to the developers that are listening t this. But I went to a really good, like a top of the line software company in my own country. And showed them what I needed build, and they, because we’re both from the same country, English is our proper language, and they’re very smart, and they know exactly how to do it. And they put together the whole feature list, the whole proposal for something like this. Exactly how it would need to be built.

Andrew: They said, “If you hire us, this is what it will look like. These are the features we’ll build in. This is how . . .” I see you’re eyes are lighting up as I say it. OK. And what did you do with that proposal?

Sam: So that proposal came back, and that was 110 grand.

Andrew: $100,000 to build this thing.

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: OK.

Sam: So then I used that proposal to send to development companies in India, without the price on it, of course, and say, “Hey, I need to get this done. This is one proposal. Can you give me a quote on it?” And let everyone fight for it, pretty much just price shopping and got it down to the cheapest one, pretty much. Yeah.

Andrew: OK. And that’s how you had it built. I don’t want to get too much into that because that’s a whole other conversation in itself and, frankly, we have programs on how to find developers and how to work with them and get the product built. What I think was especially unique about your business is the way that you figured out what the business should be. And already this business is more successful than your last one.

Speaking of your last one, I want to come back to that now, now that we understand this process. If you would have done this process all over for your previous business, what’s one mistake that you made that you think customers would have quickly shot you down for? What’s one big mistake that you didn’t notice back then?

Sam: This is my first ever business, right?

Andrew: The $10,000 loss business, the one that was a big pain.

Sam: Yeah. Well, I never really had any customers. What do you mean?

Andrew: What I mean is, I guess you did talk to customers after you launched it. When you talked to customers, what did they tell you was bad, was dopey, was a mistake about your business? What did they tell you they didn’t like that you could have heard beforehand and avoided?

Sam: So just the fact that they didn’t really need it.

Andrew: That’s a good point. It’s not necessarily any one feature, it’s just that we don’t need this.

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: This doesn’t solve a problem for us.

Sam: Exactly. It’s not about features or anything. That was the truth. They just didn’t need it. Like, it wasn’t high on their priority list at all. To be honest, the thought wasn’t even really in their mind. There was no desire for it. There was no need. There was definitely no pain. It was a nothing.

Andrew: All right. That’s a good place to leave it, a before and after right there if I ever saw one. First of all, if they want follow-up with you and they want to say thank you, where’s a good place for them to go?

Sam: I don’t know. Just in the comments or they can send me an e-mail.

Andrew: What’s your e-mail address?

Sam: Sam@samovens.com.

Andrew: Sam@samovens.com. And of course I always urge entrepreneurs to talk to past guests so that they can get to know them, first of all, just because it’s a nice thing to do but also because we need these relationships as entrepreneurs. I talk to Dane every once in awhile to just help him think through my ideas. I remember the first call that I made to him where we talked about some random thing and then through the conversation I opened up about this observation about “find the pain” is this big thing that I’ve noticed in interviews and having a conversation with him helped me. So it helps us, I think, as entrepreneurs to have other people who get our space and get our world to help us think through our ideas and to clarify them.

Dane also has a group that you are a part of. If someone else wants to join the group, do you know where they go for that?

Sam: Yeah. So it’s thefoundation.io.

Andrew: Yeah, I’m looking actually right now on my iPad. Yes. Thefoundation.io. Look at this, he’s got my photo up on the page. Of course I gave him a testimonial. Dane’s incredibly helpful. So thefoundation.io, if anyone else wants to be a part of this, Dane’s the guy who’s your mentor, who helped walk you through this process. Are you still able to talk to Dane now that you’re done?

Sam: Yes. We’re good friends now.

Andrew: Yeah, done, I should say, with the program. He’s got this program where he walks entrepreneurs through this process where he introduces them to each other, where he helps them and they help each other out. So if you had an issue with him today, like, I don’t know, “That Andrew really ripped me a new one in the interview,” could you email him? How would you contact him?

Sam: I could just give him a call.

Andrew: You’ve got his cell phone and you would just call him up and say, “Dane, I’ve got this problem with Andrew,” or, “Dane, I need to find more customers,” and he’d talk to you and help you out with it.

Sam: Yeah, definitely.

Andrew: OK.

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. I don’t get a commission, by the way, for talking about this. You don’t get a commission for talking about it but Dane’s a good friend who’s helped us out and so I want to say, I keep looking at the iPad just to make sure that the top level domain is right, that’s it’s thefoundation.io and not dot something else. So it’s thefoundation.io.

All right, Sam. Thank you for doing this interview.

Sam: No problem.

Andrew: Cool. How many interviews, by the way, have you watched? Mixergy interviews?

Sam: I couldn’t give you a number but more than 100.

Andrew: One hundred. You’ve heard me in the past say, “After you build your business, come back here and teach others”?

Sam: Yeah.

Andrew: How does it feel now that you have that opportunity to come here and, I think, you did a great job helping other entrepreneurs understand this process but how did it feel from your point of view?

Sam: Just weird being on the other side because I’ve seen your face and I’ve heard your voice and I’ve seen those books in the background so many times that I never imagined being the dude on the other side of the computer. It’s a bit weird, but no, I feel good.

Andrew: Well, thank you for doing this and I’ll say the same thing to the audience: use what you’ve learned in this interview and other interviews, build up that business and then I hope that you’ll come back here and do an interview with me where you get to be as useful for other entrepreneurs as you’ve noticed Sam be here today.

So thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. Bye.

 

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Sponsors I mentioned

Walker Corporate Law – Scott Edward Walker is the lawyer entrepreneurs turn to when they want to raise money or sell their companies, but if you’re just getting started, his firm will help you launch properly. Watch this video to learn about him.

Grasshopper – Don’t make the mistake of comparing Grasshopper with other phone services. Check out their features and you’ll see why Grasshopper isn’t just a phone number, it’s the virtual phone system that entrepreneurs (like me) love.

Shopify – Remember the interview I did about how the founder of DODOCase sold about $1 mil worth of iPad cases in a few months? He used Shopify. It’s dead simple and very effective. To get a longer free trial, use this code: Mixergy

Startup Spotlight

Nuvia Cafe – I want to congratulate Mixergy fan Brad Mills for creating Nuvia Cafe. He says he did it while listening to Mixergy interviews. Can you imagine the first time his idea became an actual box of coffee? That’s what Mixergy is about. Interviewers for doers like Brad and you. If you want to check out his web site, it’s NuviaCafe.com.

Share

  • Jared

    Excellent interview Andrew and Sam. I loved at the beginning when Sam said he spent everything he had, $10k, on the failed business and then Andrew talked about pouring $300k into Mixergy and feeling like it might have been wasted. To me, that puts Sam’s ideas and struggles into my playground and makes it so real. The $300k losses or stories of millions of dollars are great and inspirational but I can’t feel those emotions because I am not there yet. $10k, that I can feel. I also loved seeing the stark contrast in Sam’s new startup philosophy stemming from Dane’s mentorship. It amazes me that simply applying a new mindset from Dane had such a dramatic impact for someone that was disciplined enough to implement the advice. Great interview Sam and Andrew!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/JordanPEvans Jordan Evans

    +1 Great Interview.  Thanks for diving into the emotional challenges that keep us from succeeding and talking directly to a customer.

    My summary of the process Sam described-

    Find an audience
    Discover their pains
    Validate product by testing the features with target audience
    ASK them to pay for it
    Validate further by asking others to pay
    Get it built- shop around for quotes

    also- would love to see the email template

  • ProgressionMurph

    Watching it now and was waiting in Anticipation.  Thanks Andrew!

  • Kal

    One of the best interviews. Thanks Andrew and Sam. I am always amazed how Andrew manages to ask the right questions! There is a lot to valuable information in this interview. wish it was continued one more hour and talked about the software project outsourcing. Loved the trick about getting the proposal made from the software firm. I am a Developer and its kind of scary to know that I can’t get away with talking to customers and making cold calls if I want to be a real entrepreneur.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. This is one of my best interviews.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danemaxwell Dane Maxwell

    Hey Sam, I’d like to see that PDF transcript :-) 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=603888153 Josh Winkles

    This interview was phenomenal. I’ve watched a lot of Mixergy interviews and I am a HUGE FAN. I liked the change from the big successes that we all know and see Sam’s raw honesty and admitting when he didn’t know or where he screwed up as well as Andrew’s frankness and relentlessly asking the hard questions. What a great dynamic. 

    I would also love to hear what emails and questions Sam used when talking to potential companies. As a newbie learning about finding the pain and preselling, that would be very helpful.

  • Benabdallah Tarik

    Hi Andrew,
    Great Interview as usual.
    Can you send me the email you talked about?
    Thanks

  • Liz Froment

    Wow this was great. It’s funny because the steps that Sam details make such sense, but very few people ever do it that way. I took multiple pages of notes, this has been so helpful. Thanks guys! 

  • David Busuttil

    I only landed on Mixergy yesterday and I’m already hooked. 

    This interview was very informative. I loved every second of it. Hearing Sam describing how from nothing he manage to acquire an audience, get information about what they want, sell a product which did not exist, and finally develop the product was fascinating. It is a roadmap for anyone out there.Would love to see the email and transcript as well! ;) Keep up the good work Andrew & Sam!

  • Naveen Dittakavi

    Me too. I’d love to see the e-mails and follow up e-mails that Sam sent to his prospective clients. The transcripts can be very helpful to me as my biggest bottleneck is as he described, reaching out to prospective customers. -Naveen Dittakavi

  • Jones_michele

    This was a great interview

  • Sam Ovens

    Thank you Jared.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks David.

    Everything comes back to the basics. I still find myself drifting off on tangents, obsessing about things that aren’t important. Often they are things I’ve created in my own mind to avoid the important.

    It takes discipline to stick to the basics.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the interview.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Liz!

  • Sam Ovens

    Hi Benabdallah, If enough people ask for it here in the comments I will share the exact email template and the phone script Andrew and I were discussing.

  • Sam Ovens

    Hi Naveen, If enough people ask for it here in the comments I will share the exact email template and the phone script Andrew and I were discussing.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Kal!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Jordan!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Josh!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thank you

  • http://www.facebook.com/irish.ramul Irish Johnathan Ramul

    Hey Sam, can you tell me what are the three things that keep you awake at night in your business (not your non existent personal life please) ? I can build it for you and you if you pay now, I will give you 40% off. I have education in Computer Science from MIT. (actually I just went to the MIT open courseware website and saw 10 mins of video of a professor drawing some funny lines)

  • http://www.facebook.com/irish.ramul Irish Johnathan Ramul

    Andrew – same question to you bro. You and Olivia rock!

  • http://www.facebook.com/irish.ramul Irish Johnathan Ramul

    Hey sam, stop being a tight arse and paste that puppy here.

  • http://www.JiansNet.com/ Jian

    Thanks so much Andrew and Sam. Can I have a copy of the email Sam sent out too?

  • Alexandros

    Great interview! Can I get the email too?

  • Paul Beauchemin

    That Sam really wants to make you beg for the information :)
    He’s spent too many hours reading copy writing to give it up so easily haha

  • http://pazaricha.com/ Paz Aricha

    Fantastic interview Andrew and Sam!
    I really loved how you got into specifics.

    The tip Sam gave us about learning the strategy as opposed to the tactics is simply brilliant, So thanks for that Sam! :)

    And a BIG +1 for that Email and Phone call transcript Sam did with his potential market, I would be SO happy if you could share it with us.

    Thanks,
    Paz.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andydrish Andy Drish

    “When a business owner wakes up in the morning and thinks ‘Awwhhh… I have to do X today.’

    When you discover what X is, everything changes.”

    So true. Brilliant interview guys.

  • Ronald Cordero

    Great Interview! Can I get a copy of the email? Thanks in advance

  • http://www.facebook.com/iamJustinHubbard Justin Hubbard

    I would love to get a copy of that email :)

  • http://www.myreviewline.com/ JeffreyHerrera

    Sam, I’d definitely be interested in seeing what you used. By the way great job and it was great to hear your story. Unfortunately I also make many of those same mistakes. I’m working towards correcting them. Thanks Sam and Andrew!

  • Miss Krizia

    I’d love to get the email Sam sent to the property managers!

  • Miss Krizia

     I agree with Jared!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tristan-Pereida-Rice/528301063 Tristan Pereida-Rice

    Seriously guys … this interview is up there with my all-time Mixergy faves, and like Sam, I’ve watched a few over the years :)

    Great work through-and-through … kudos goes to Andrew for asking the questions that actually matter while not breaking that connection and relationship with the guest, and Sam for being so f*cking honest and cool about the emotional pain and suffering we have all felt at one point or another.

    I’m also curious to see how many of us beg for this email transcript.

  • Roshan

    I would like to see the transcripts, too. I think it would be super helpful. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathan.leaders Nathan Leaders

    I’d like the email Sam originally sent please.

  • Miss Krizia

    Dane – I have a feeling you might already have a copy ;-)

  • Amir Khella

    Awesome job, Sam (and great interview, Andrew).

    And I am thrilled that Keynotopia helped you with your idea!

  • David C

    Awesome interview. Let’s get those templates! So inspiring! 

  • Sam Ovens

    Spot on Andy.

    You can not create desire in a market. You can only harness existing desire.

    Trying to create desire is like trying to fight the stock market or swim against a strong current. You must ride the market and you must swim with the current.

    This is why finding “X” is crucially important.

    -Sam

  • http://www.facebook.com/iamJustinHubbard Justin Hubbard

    Fantastic Interview! This interview has resonated with me more than any other I’ve watched to date. I’m currently struggling with my business in the same way Same did with his first and hopefully don’t fall into the pit so thanks to your story Sam, I’ll be focusing on surveying potential clients and finding out what the root of their problems are.

    Again, terrific interview Sam and Andrew!

  • Sam Ovens

    Hey Amir,

    I did not give Keynotopia enough credit in the Interview but it was the tool I used to build the mock up of my app and it also helped in closing some deals early on before I had the product.

  • Aaron Moss

    Amazing interview! It makes so much sense but gets neglected too often. You need to build relationships of trust with your potential customers. I’m sure that part of the reason they were willing to help and buy the product in advance is because you spent the time really trying to understand their pain and presented the app as a solution to the problem. Too often entrepreneurs put out products that nobody really wants.

  • Alex

    Way to go Sam! Your interview definitely lends credit to the quality of Dane’s teaching and your own persistence and drive to create a successful business. Also as someone who’s invested money into a failed business I can relate to your story. Oh and those emails you sent would be sure interesting to read.

  • David Busuttil

    Sticking to the basics is the key. As you mentioned, it’s not easy.

    In the interview you mentioned that you outsourced the development of the app to India. How do you go about updating the software? Have you built a relationship with this company since then?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kmcdermaid Kyle McDermaid

    So inspirational. I met Sam through The Foundation and Andrew did a great job of capturing his calm, frank, and really thoughtful personality. Sam you really have stolen Dane’s brain and done amazing things with his mindset/tactics. Great interview guys!

  • philippevdhd

    First of all, I would like to say that I absolutely loved this interview.

    I’ve been thinking about starting a company for a while now. I’ve been coming up with a couple of potential ideas (just as Andrew said, ideas that I would use myself). But this interview has put things really into perspective for me.

    I recently graduated from college and instead of looking for a job, I’m going to go through your process for a while to see if I can find a burning problem that some people have. At the very least, I will get some experience in sales so it will never be a waste of time.

    So thanks a lot Andrew and Sam. If I succeed in finding a burning problem and solving it, you’ll definitely hear more from me to thank you again :).

    P.S. : I would love a copy of the phone and email template! Highly appreciated.

  • http://pazaricha.com/ Paz Aricha

    We want it please :)
    how much is enough people sam?

  • Prasanna

    Thanks Andrew and Sam for the great interview. I learned a lot from this interview, specially the importance of being very clear about the exact problem your business is trying to solve. I would like to get the email template.

  • TaphaNgum

    This is a GOLDMINE of an interview!

  • matejch

    I’d also like that template :) Thanks.

  • Miss Krizia

    Andrew – you may not know this, but Sam’s interview (and thanks Sam sharing) gave me a lot of hope & faith … two things I really need right now! Being and entrepreneur is a full contact sport and just like at the Olympics … even when you train and train for hours and think the gold is yours …. stuff happens and you don’t even make it on the podium … yet you have to keep going to prepare for the next Olympics in 4 years. 

    Sam’s interviewed renewed my faith. Words aren’t enough to say thank you to both of you!

    Krizia

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. What’s your biggest takeaway?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    What’s your X?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Why do you want it to be PDF instead of what’s on the post now?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Good call. I hate doing work to get more content on the site and then discovering that nobody cares about it.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. And every one of your bullet points was covered in deep depth. Like the point about how to find the target audience. Didn’t you love how he talked about looking at the help wanted ads to see who was advertising heavily because it meant their business was growing and they could afford to buy what he builds?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks!

    By the way, I’m curious about why people are asking for a pdf, instead of the current text transcript. Why do you prefer it?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Yeah, I’m glad he said that too.

    I focus heavily on tactics in our courses because I want people to know what to do when they’re done, but Sam illustrated why people who run through tactics without understanding the big idea fail, even when they’re ‘doing all the right things.’

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Glad you found us, David!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Yeah. The approach most people think of is, “Hey, I have a great idea!” Instead of, “Hmm. I wonder what other people need.”

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I’m glad it did, because many of us love your work and want to see you do more of it.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Good point. Thanks for calling that out.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Please tell me what you end up doing. Keep me updated.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    And he did it at such an early time in the morning.

    Thanks, Kyle.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Glad there’s a demand for it. Thanks for asking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tina.lum.9 Tina Lum

    Hey Sam,

    Listening to your interview, it felt like de-ja vu for me. We went through a similar path – from B2C and now we’re B2B. We are alot smarter now and am speaking to customers first. I’ll love to get a copy of your email and phone pitch just to compare with mine. Thanks a bunch@samovens:disqus

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508713432 Gregory Ranger

    Thank you Andrew & Sam (&Dane) for this awesome interview!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508713432 Gregory Ranger

    My biggest takeway was that you need to validate & talk with customers first, before building a website (or a product) for it.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    How have your calls gone? What’s the hardest part?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks, Aaron

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Why not calls, Justin? How’d you decided to do surveys?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Yeah. Thanks for asking for them.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Amir, I have to have you on Mixergy. Look for an email about it.

  • TaphaNgum

    There are A LOT. But probably the main one is how to approach talking to customers. I always hear the advice, ‘Talk To Customers ™’ but this interview really broke it down and showed me how to think about it.

    The rationalizations passage was really insightful too! We’re ALL guilty of doing it! :).

  • Rex Rodenbaugh

    I would like to get a copy of the email that was initially sent to those 100 property managers. This is really great information! Thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.gorecki Matt Gorecki

    One of the best interviews on Mixergy. Fantastic work, Sam.

  • Sam Ovens

    I love it how you picked up on how everyone says – “Talk To Customers”. But nobody actually says how, or what you should be looking for or how to do it. Hopefully I shed some light on this for you!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Jeffrey.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thank you Tristan.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Paz.

  • TaphaNgum

    You definitely did mate. Thanks for doing the interview!

  • Sam Ovens

    Since then I’ve hired a full time developer and he makes the updates. The outsourced team was used to get the first product to market and to get enough customers to make a profit.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Rex.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Tina, glad to hear that you’re enjoying the b2b move.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks! Remember to take some action while there is more steam in your boiler – it wont last forever and the results you get from the action you take today will keep fuelling you.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks! If you can understand your customers problem and put a pin on it better than they can they will consciously believe that you have the solution. It’s amazing when you make the shift from product and features to problems and benefits.

  • Sam Ovens

    Awesome! Love to hear how everything goes with you. Be sure to update Andrew and I both.

  • Sam Ovens

    Cheers Kyle!

  • Sam Ovens

    Cheers Aaron. I’ve felt that pain…

  • Sam Ovens

    Haha you got it Paul!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Matt!

  • Sam Ovens

    Absolutely! That one take away will be the difference between a business that fails and one that profits. Thanks!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Alex!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Justin!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks! It’s coming soon

  • Sam Ovens

    It’s coming soon

  • Sam Ovens

    Dane I’d be happy to send you one!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks! It’s coming soon

  • Dan Corkill

    Rocking Mixergy interviews at 3am like a boss!

  • Laura Berthiaume

    Sam did an excellent job taking Dane’s info from the first course and putting it into action. It really shows in this interview. Nice job Sam!

  • Tope

    Sometimes, the best interviews are not the ones with the runaway successes with numbers in the millions but stuff like this with numbers that everyone can relate to. :)
    That’s a customer pain point for right there, Andrew.

    Thanks for taking the time, Sam. Great interview.

  • Tope

    Andrew, it could be because of the “takeaway” possibility. People can download it and save it into Dropbox to read later offline

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Ronald. It’s coming soon.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Ronald! I learned from business owners in the 6-7 figure range that bootstrapped. I’d definitely recommend learning from the smaller profitable guys over the big guys. You dont need to know how to hire, manage a team, recruit and set culture when you don’t have a customer or a product.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Laura! Looking forward to seeing you kick ass in your niche!

  • Sam Ovens

    Cheers Dan!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Rex. It’s coming soon.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks. It’s coming soon.

  • Sam Ovens

    It’s on its way Nathan.

  • Sam Ovens

    It’s on its way Justin.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Alexandros, it’s on its way.

  • David

    I find myself doing this now. I’m basically at the same exact stage Sam was at: procrastinating when it comes reaching out to potential customers and finding every reason in the world not to take the first step. It was great to hear that it’s common for conversion rates to be relatively low when reaching out to people (makes sense that complete strangers aren’t always going to want to talk to you). That really help put things into perspective. Thanks to Sam and Andrew for a great interview!

  • Dane Maxwell

    Sam, it is a proud moment for me to watch you here. And to think about where your mindset was one year ago… f’n crazy. You are a rocketship mate :-)

  • Dane Maxwell

    Hah! Caught me :-)

  • Shawn Gorham

    I was literally getting ideas while listening…I NEED those email templates…I am sending out 100 emails tonight.

  • Alex Kelly

    Awesome interview Sam! Really inspiring! Can I get that email?

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Alex. It’s on its way

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Shawn. It’s on its way

  • SHAWN GORHAM

    I am exploding with ideas AFTER watching that interview. Can I get the email templates? Sending out 100 emails tonight…I have an idea thanks to you.

  • mbmo

    Mr. Ovens, I love it bro. You sir are going to kill it…
    Matthias

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Matthias!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Shawn! It’s on its way.

  • mbmo

    I think you created lots of Sam ‘monsters’ that are going to take over the software world :) Power to the people that talk & listen to customers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Castellano/100000164029539 Christopher Castellano

    Andrew at the end of the interview you mentioned, Mixergy has programs on how to find developers and how to work with them and get the product built. I was wondering which ones are you referring to?

  • akrur

    great interview sam…honest and transparent replies..can i have the e-mail template too?

  • jasimq

    Great interview guys! Sam, I have a few questions:

    1. How did you let the people know that you are looking for a problem to solve for them? Did you hint it in your initial conversations?

    2. During the design stage, do you let people know that you are talking to others with the same/similar problems too?

    Andrew, the emails would be nice.

    – jasim

  • http://www.facebook.com/nic.meyer.319 Nic Meyer

    Great interview! It’s so inspiring seeing someone who is just a normal guy creating value like that. I’d definitely like to see the email templates and the phone scripts. Sam, you did an amazing job. You really have inspired me to continue down my own path to freedom. Andrew, thank you for Mixergy. This is a great resource. Best of luck to the both of you. Hopefully we’ll see a follow-up interview in a year or two…right after I get done with my own interview on Mixergy.
    Thanks again for all that you guys do! Keep up the great work!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tristan-Pereida-Rice/528301063 Tristan Pereida-Rice

    I’d just like the absorb the info any way I can, PDF or not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TyBrandner Ty Brandner

    Would love a copy of the email and tele script. Great interview.

  • http://www.bidsketch.com Ruben

    Excellent interview! Love the level of detail Sam was able to go into about the typical day for his customer. Being able to know your customer that well is extremely helpful in so many ways.

    I helped out in Dane’s software roundtable a bit and watching these guys do customer development through cold calling was impressive. They worked their ass off to a level that most people won’t. It was immediately obvious that their effort paid off (when I saw some of the copywriting they came up with) but it’s great to continue to see the pay off like in Sam’s case.

  • Mitesh

    Sam I’ve sent you a facebook friend request

  • Lloyd

    Personally I’m able to throw my PDF’s in a Dropbox folder and read/study them later every free minute I get.

  • Sam Ovens

    Jasim,

    1). I focused solely on the problems. I diverted the conversation quickly from problems I could not solve and focussed on problems I could solve.

    2). Yes i did. I said I was talking to other property managers about the product design.

    Email templates coming soon.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Ruben! We should catch up again soon it’s been a while

  • Sam Ovens

    lloyd we’ll get you a PDF

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks, it’s coming soon.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Nic, I will definitely be coming back on in a year or 2 to discuss my progress.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thank you Akrur. Templates coming soon.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks David. Go pick up the phone now and make some calls!

  • Jeff

    Great interview. I would love to see the email and scripts Sam used. Always love the great content on the site. Sam you are a great inspiration.

  • http://www.facebook.com/angelokh Angelo K. Huang

    Great Great one. Sam, I have been in my own project for few months. Start to roll out to a private beta testing. In my case, the potential client is eCommerce company and the potential users will be their customers. How could I start asking for questions and understand if they are willing to partner with us for a tool that can benefit their customers and bring more referrals to their business. If you don’t mind, could I send you the private email? Can I have your phone call script and email template too? Thanks.

  • Tony R.

    Sick interview Sam! Keep up the great work..!

  • yagudaev

    Excellent interview :)!

    I was at an event known as Startup Weekend (http://startupweekend.org/), where we work on a startup over a 54 hour period from idea to product and customers. What Sam described with having a product not being important is absolutely true. As a developer, I never before had that realization happen to me. It was always about the product first and formost, nothing matters more. Well it is not. It is a big part, but fully developing the idea and validating that it is viable is the most important thing. It does not matter how well you execute if you do all of the wrong things. It was a great lesson to learn, and I am glad I learned it over a weekend instead of 12 months (sorry Sam :)).

    Andrew, we need a Mixergy T-Shirt. I have been telling a lot of people about mixergy, having a t-shirt would be even cooler ;).

  • http://twitter.com/nagar Andrea Nagar

    I’d love to see the emails, too.

  • http://twitter.com/nagar Andrea Nagar

    Thanks for this great interview. It’s interesting to see how to process has been been divided in actionable chunks. It’s really enlightening. I’m a developer myself and I wonder how you’d manage the software once you have it done. I mean there’s always the need to change and fix things. Do you outsource that, too? How? I see you don’t always get quick replies when you are dealing with an outsourced them and sometimes you need to change things fast.

  • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

    @samovens:disqus thanks for doing the interview with @AndrewWarner:disqus. I am curious please can you share the exact email and phone script that you talked about during the interview? Also I love how you got detailed Software Proposals from established Software Development firms and then used it to get affordable quotes from Indian Software developers.

    After listening to this interview, I think Dane’s course will be great for creating the software based on a real burning need of a target market and then combining Clay Collins interactive offer course once the product is made might really help to launch the product and gain even more users. What do you think about this suggestion?

  • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

    @AndrewWarner:disqus by the way I think this might be one of your interviews with the most comments (<<<— correct me if I am wrong), if this is the case, it says that the audience (<<<— we, I) need more interviews like this. Cheers!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sabarehmani Saba Rehmani

    I’ll second Dane’s comment — 1. This was an AMAZING interview
    2. So proud of you (and thanks for encouraging, inspiring and advising us throughout your journey). 3. You are indeed a rocketship ;-) CONGRATS!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Carter.Johnson291 Carter Johnson

    Great interview! Thanks Andrew and Sam…Any suggestions with deciding a price point? How did you decide $150/mo (or ideal profit margin) after you new your cost to build and your break even? Also, love the part of going to high end developers first and then taking that to lower end developers for price shopping!

  • Jimmy Moncrief

    AWESOME Interview!!!!!
    Loved all of the details!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Jimmy!

  • Sam Ovens

    Carter. Never price based on cost. I found out what their time was worth to them, how much I could save them and priced on 10% of value. Never price on cost – always price 10% of value.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Saba! You’re kicking ass also, keep at it.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Owen!

  • Sam Ovens

    Andrea, outsourced teams were used to get version 1.0 to market and to get paid. Once i had some money coming in the door I hired a local developer to do bug fixes and new features. Outsourced teams are perfect for getting the first product – not so perfect for ongoing development.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Tony!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks Jeff!

  • Hajijah Sperrer

    Loved the interview guys! Excellent questions and resonate with us viewers. Please do share with the rest of us on the exact email template and the phone script, if it’s not too late. We’ll be deeply grateful! (And Andrew, your future food will taste awesome! ;)) Thanks very much again for this interview!

  • Martin L

    Hey Sam. So do I get it right if your math is something like;

    A Realtor makes $X/year or about $Y/hour, And since your software will save them Z hours of work per month you are charging them (Z * Y) * 0.1 = 150 bucks per month.

    And thanks a lot for the interview both Andrew and Sam.

  • jevy11

    This was an extraordinary interview. Even as an extraverted guy, I found this tough. I found 4 phone numbers and called them up. Two answered. One coffee appointment booked. Nice!

    I admit, I’m more comfortable emailing 100 people than calling any of them up. I feel if they say “yes, I can give you 20 mins” in an email then at least I have permission and don’t feel like I’m interrupting. @samovens:disqus You were really thinking phoning is your preferred method over emailing. Whatcha think?

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks!

  • Sam Ovens

    Yea, it’s not a rigid formula but just a base idea for how to price products and services. Build products that solve painful problems and provide real benefits. Price on value.

  • Sam Ovens

    Angleo, just call them up and tell them what you’re doing. Nothing needs to be too fancy, just be open and see what their thoughts are.

  • Dane Maxwell

    Yes Carter and Martin… 10% of value is one method we use in http://TheFoundation.io … there are 5 or 6 price anchors we use to derive a price. One example is how much money they lose by not having the product… if you can quantify that… it creates pain.

  • Martin L

    Thanks for the reply. Sweet and simple advice. :)

  • Martin L

    Hello Dane. Thank you for expanding on that a bit. Actually checked out your website just after I watched the interview with Sam. And needless to say my email is in your list now. :) I like what you talk about alot. After I watched the interview and checked out the video on thefoundation.io, I went to bed and read “Nail it then Scale it”. Their message is really confirming what you are talking about and I have nothing more to say than… I’m sold. Hopefully I will build up the courage to start mailing and calling people soon, finding their pains. I’ve read “The Lean Startup” as well and it’s essentially the same message I guess. I sent in my application to your program just now!

  • Sam Ovens

    You already made 4 phone calls and booked 1 appointment? That is bad ass!

    I had confidence issues calling people cold so I did the email first to break the ice and get permission – then I called.

    When they’re expecting a call and you’ve already broken the ice and established some credibility and purpose it’s a much better conversation.

    I’m so happy that you took action so fast! Money loves speed and if you keep taking action like that good things will come!

  • Sam Ovens

    Christopher, try Googling; “Mixergy hiring a developer”

    I got some good results:-

    https://www.google.com/search?q=mixergy+hiring+a+developer&sugexp=chrome,mod=3&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

  • Sam Ovens

    I’m only just warming up Dane. Looking forward to kicking ass with you

  • Pattabhi

    This is like the product co-creation we heard earlier and this validates the very concept. BTW, can I also get the email templates please.

  • jevy11

    Thanks for responding to all these comments. It’s very encouraging.

  • China puma

    Great interview. Thank. Andrew I wish you more fortune and achieve your dreams faster.

  • Alex Foo

    Awesome job Sam! So cool to see a Roundtabler made it to the end with a shipped product. Those cold contacts aren’t easy in the mind and the emotions to start and deal with. it’s a real mindjob getting past “rejections” – and getting to the core X pain that can be solved with software. Makes me wanna start anew again.

  • Niels

    THIS. WAS. AWESOME!
    One of the best Mixergy interviews ever, and I’ve listened to more than my fair share.

    My favorite parts:
    1. Using job listing sites to figure out which market segments have extra cash to spend
    2. Build a deep understanding of the problem first. (As a developer, I have a tendency to jump to solution too quickly. I think Sam has an advantage at this stage.)
    3. Selling it before you build it. That blew my mind.

    I’m learning SO much by listening to Mixergy. Thanks a million Andrew and Sam!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thank you Neils.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thank you Alex.

  • Sam Ovens

    Thanks!

  • Sam Ovens

    Thank you!

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