We found the lost Mixergy interview! – with Trevor Cornwell

I feel terrible about this. Somehow I lost an interview that I did over a year ago.

It’s with Trevor Cornwell, a man who could barely afford the money to FedEx a business plan to investors. Despite that, he built and sold jet company, SkyJet.com. He came to Mixergy to tell the story of how he did it.

We also talked about Appbackr, the crowdfunding marketplace for mobile apps.

Watch the FULL program

Trevor Cornwell, Appbackr

Trevor Cornwell is the founder of Appbackr, the crowdfunding marketplace for mobile apps.

 

Raw transcript

Mixergy's audio transcription is done by Speechpad

This is terrible. I don’t know how, but somehow I recorded an interview last year, almost exactly a year ago today, and didn’t even know that we didn’t publish it until now. Just found out this morning. The interview is with Trevor Cornwell, and I still think it holds up. The only thing that will be a little bit different is I’m going to look like I’ve got a baby face because I don’t have this beard. I didn’t back then.

And also it was done in the office that I had in Washington D.C. I’m now in San Francisco. I am so sorry, Trevor, for taking this long. I don’t know how I missed the fact that it wasn’t published on the site, and I’m looking forward to getting the feedback from everyone in the audience on whether you think this still holds up.

My goal is always to do interviews that will hold up not just a year later but a decade later. And the purpose is so that you have something that you can use for the rest of your life, not so that I have an excuse for taking a year to publish an interview. I am so sorry! And I’m also grateful to you for watching and to Scott Edward Walker or Walker Corporate Law for basically funding this whole shebang. I appreciate you doing it. Scott, you deserve better than this. Trevor, you deserve better than this. And to everyone in the audience, I think you still have a really good interview. Watch it and let me know yourself.

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy, home of the ambitious upstart and the place as you know where proven entrepreneurs come to tell the story of how they built, grew, and often sold their companies. In this interview, we’re going to find out how a guy who could barely afford the price of a FedEx envelope to ship out his business plan to investors, he could barely afford to do that, how did he end up building a hit charter jet company?

In 1997, Trevor Cornwell founded skyjet.com, an online air charter reservation service. He sold it about three years later. I invited him here to tell the story of how he did it, and I also want to find out about his latest company, Appbackr, the crowd funding marketplace for mobile apps that also will help you get more sales for your apps. And there’s so much going on there. If you’re in mobile apps, you’re going to want to find out about Appbackr in this interview.

Trevor, first of all, before we get into the struggles and how you figured out your business, how you grew it, how you sold it, let’s talk a little bit about the good times, the celebration. When you finally got to sell your company, an achievement that many entrepreneurs want, how did you celebrate?

Trevor: Yeah. I think when you go through the sale of a company or you go through all of the struggle of building something, there’s a moment somewhere along the way where you realize that you’ve achieved something, because there’s so much work and there’s so much to do in getting a company sold. I think for me it was Thanksgiving and my mom and brother live up in New York and I was able to fly them down and have a car service come and pick them up and make it a really special weekend.

And in the scheme of things, for some people that might be an ordinary thing. For other people, it may seem extravagant. For me it was just wonderful to have a little bit of something that I could share with my family. And that was one of those moments that made it all worthwhile.

Andrew: And how proud was your mom that you sold it? Or did she even feel it? Or was it to her just another business activity in my son’s life the way some moms feel?

Trevor: No. I think she was very proud. I think entrepreneurs can identify with this. You know, there’s something wonderful about starting your own business and printing your own business cards and you know, if you start your own company you get to be CEO usually. And getting an American Express card maybe that has your company name on it. All of those are wonderful moments. But there’s also something wonderful about the sense of belonging that comes in being acquired by a larger company.

A company that acquired Sky Jet was 90,000 employees. And you know, all of a sudden to have a business card with a logo and a name that you could go to talk to somebody else about and they would know the company name I think was wonderful. And so it was very concrete and complete, and I think she felt a real sense of joy about it.

Andrew: The idea came to you for this business while you were riding your bike to work one day?

Trevor: Yeah.

Andrew: What did you see? What were you doing by the way riding? What kind of, how long of a ride was it? And what did you see that made you say hey, this is a good idea?

Trevor: So I lived in Washington DC on Capitol Hill, and I had an apartment that was $500 a month. And I had a friend of mine who was on the board of an organization called America’s Promise that General Powell was starting. And a part of it really was financial. I was getting paid $5,000 a month to work with this organization and I wasn’t quite ready to buy a car because I wanted to be able to start a business. I didn’t know what.

And on that eight mile bike ride every day, I passed National Airport, Reagan National Airport, and there were, I passed specifically by where all the private jets are. And the person who was backing General Powell’s organization had a jet and he flew from New Jersey down to Washington. And when there was an important meeting he’d put everybody on the plane and they’d go and do what they needed to do. And I thought, this is a great way to travel. And I would see his plane back and forth every day, you know, for days at a time.

And it started to occur to me that there was probably a more efficient way to be able to use those planes rather than just having them sit on the ground for days at a time. And it just stuck in my mind for some reason. I was almost nervous to talk about it because it seemed so exciting, the idea of almost a virtual airline centered around these business jets. And another part of the story was I was flying down to Dallas to visit a friend and picked up the Wall Street Journal and I read about Net Jets and some of these things. And I saw that it cost a million dollars or something around that to be able to own a fraction of a jet.

It started to occur to me that these planes that were sitting on the ground with the Internet, we would connect all of the information about where they are at any one time and really give people the same kind of experience that they receive when they buy an interest in a jet for a million bucks for nothing. I mean, they’d have to pay, of course, for the time for the jet, but they wouldn’t have to pay that up front million dollars to be able to participate in our program.

So, it came together again and again and again on that ride. And I’m one of those people that learn a lot by driving and by biking and getting a chance to sort of be in motion, but to have sort of clear focused time and it gave birth to Sky Jet.

Andrew: I see. And Net Jet, of course, owns, I think they own their own planes, right? And you said, I can’t afford to buy my own jets. These are just sitting there. I’ll use them when the owners aren’t using them and I’ll create my own version of Net Jet on other people’s planes and pay them for the right to use their jets.

Trevor: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And I mean, one absolutely, I couldn’t even imagine buying, you know, a plane. And what was really interesting to me, I mean, some of these things now we take for granted, but at the time what was really interesting to me about the internet was that it was able to consolidate information across broad geographies and that it didn’t increase the cost.

And then for many businesses, the cost of a phone call used to be one of its biggest costs. And all of a sudden with the internet, it didn’t matter how far away the information was from the source. And so I was even more bullish about the sort of business to business aspect of the internet than I was about the consumer facing aspect of it. And it seemed to me that if we created a database and we put in that database all of the information about when these jets were not flying, that there were enough duplicates of every type of aircraft in major markets that could allow somebody to pretty consistently be able to find the kind of plane that they were looking for and able to book it either online or through our reservation service.

Andrew: And you mentioned that you were working for Colin Powell. Actually, you were working for his non-profit.

Trevor: Yeah.

Andrew: And you’re a do-gooder, from what I’ve seen. You’re a guy who wanted to start a non-profit of your own right?

Trevor: Yeah.

Andrew: And in order to do it, you hustled and you did what to get the funding for it?

Trevor: Yeah, yeah. I started a not for profit called National Service League, and you know, I went out for funding from a variety of different sources. I mean, we did a mailing to foundations and I remember putting together a database of all the funders and having enough money to be able to mail everybody from A to M. I had to stop at M. And I got lots of very nice rejection letters. I got one that agreed to fund $5,000 from the Mary Reynolds Babcott Foundation. And I was so excited because at least it was something.

0And we got IBM to contribute, to loan us some computers in New York for part of the program. And some of the program took place in Eastern Europe. And I remember going to IBM there and saying that IBM in New York was supporting us and they agreed to give us computers. And you know, I think I learned the sort of, how NASCAR works from that – different logos and putting the up. And you know, it got us some credibility.

And you know, basically what you’re trying to do is get the little pieces of revenue that you need, whether it’s a not for profit or for profit until the time that you can find somebody that takes interest. And for me, that happened in a couple different forms in the not for profit. The, what’s called the charge d’affaires, the sort of deputy ambassador. Some people call it the working ambassador which is probably a little bit of a slight to ambassadors, took a real interest in what we were doing and held an event for us.

And then in New York, we had an event with Ted Sorenson who was a Ted Kennedy speech writer, and Jeff Greenfield who’s a journalist, and Joe Kline. And that got us that little bit of momentum. And I am driven, whether it’s not for profit or for profit, by ideas. That’s really sort of my passion.

And what eventually attracted me to doing a for profit company was the idea that with a for profit, you have a chance to be able to get investors and you’re able to iterate and it gives you the chance to go quarter to quarter, which is sometimes stressful but at least there’s the opportunity to build wealth for people while you’re pivoting to what is hopefully a successful business model.

Andrew: Alright, so I’ve got a sense of who you are, a do-gooder, who’s willing to send out cold call letters to strangers, as many as you could afford, from A to N in this case, to make your idea happen. And then once you make it happen you just parlay what you got to get it bigger and bigger and bigger. And here you are now, sitting on this great idea – jets are just, you know, sitting on the runway.

Why not use them to build a business to allow other people to, sorry, why not allow other people to use them? Build a business that lets them share those jets? So now, it’s a big idea. What do you do first to get this off the ground?

Trevor: Yeah. So, either the first thing that I think happens a lot of times in building something is you need to get some validation. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs are concerned about, well if I share my idea will somebody take it? So, I learned in the jet business that there were really sort of five major markets, New York being sort of the biggest one for business jets. And so I thought, I’ve got to win New York, but I didn’t have my pitch down right.

So I rented a car and I drove sort of as far away from New York as I could in a car. So I went up to places like Binghamton, three to four to five hours away, and met with these very small operators of jets and I told them about the idea. And they didn’t say no. And that gave me some courage and confidence and I eventually went down to New York and New Jersey and met with some operators. And they said, yeah, sounds like a good idea. And…

Andrew: Sorry, did those early conversations, I want to continue what you’re saying but I’m curious about if those early conversations outside of New York City helped improve your pitch, helped improve your confidence, helped improve the product. What did it do for you?

Trevor: Yeah. I think it helped with all of those things. I mean, I think it definitely helped in terms of my confidence. I mean, I came out of you know, those areas feeling like yeah, there’s an idea, and yes there’s something that can end up with a yes at the end of it. And it’s a real challenge to go, as an entrepreneur, to take something which is an idea to something which is a product that you can actually sell to somebody. I think I definitely got that out of it. It informed me a lot also about what people would do and what they wouldn’t do.

And somebody, a lawyer, once said to me that you know, startups spend a lot of time reading their own mail. And it’s true. You’re rolling this big ball up a hill, and people are saying no all the time and you have to become very strong willed about whatever you’re doing. But at the same time, you have to listen to people. And it’s hard to know which percentage of people to listen to, or which are the right ones that are going to give you advice that really matters.

And customers are the best to give you advice. I mean, they’re better than the investor who puts money into your business. They’re better than you know, your friend. They’re better than, you know, boyfriend, girlfriend.

Andrew: Why?

Trevor: And I got a lot of really, really great advice and it really did shape the product. And what they told me was, “We’ll give you the information about it but we’re not necessarily going to use the Internet to do it. You’re going to have to make it really, really easy.” I mean today I think people probably would give us the data about when the jet wasn’t flying via the internet or would use an API or something.

But I think then they told us that they’re willing to participate but they’re not willing to change their behavior. And I think that’s been one of my biggest lessons, as somebody who tries to innovate, that you can do that but you have to make it really, really easy for people.

Andrew: Like how? If it’s not for the internet, if not through the internet, how else could they tell you, “We’ve got a jet on the ground. It’s not going to be used for the next three days. You can offer it up to your customers.” How would they communicate that to you?

Trevor: Yeah, so, one of the great things about things about having Skyjet is it’s an industry that is not very technology oriented. And for them, and probably for a lot of people today, maybe we use Evernote but a lot of people use a pad and paper and a pencil and they’re sticking Post-It notes up. So it was important to map into the way that they worked. So for the bigger operators, we just called them and collected the information and input it into the system ourselves.

And I think now we would be able to find APIs that would do the same thing. But it was a very, very good lesson that just because something sounds great, and is better for them, doesn’t mean that somebody’s going to sign up for it. That you need to really, you need to listen to them and help them to get over the hump. Once they started doing it and they started to see a benefit from it and that we weren’t going to go away in two weeks, then it became easier and easier to get them to map into our existing technology.

Andrew: You know what? I asked, as you were telling that story, I was kind of butting in and asking, “Why are customer’s better than investors at telling you what your product should be?” But I think the answer is obvious. They’re the ones that are going to pay for it. What might be a question for me to ask is, where are they worse than others at telling you what the product should be? What’s their limitation? Where do they get it wrong when they’re telling you?

Trevor: That’s great question. I think customers sometimes, and Henry Ford talked about people not really being able to articulate what they want. I think probably if somebody had gone out and specked out what you need for an iPad before the iPad was built, it probably would have had a stylus and keyboard and all sorts of other things. So there are real limitations in it. I think the best information you can get from customers is what they’re not willing to do. What are sort of the stubborn points that you need to get over.

I think the other thing is when you get the chance to be able to see how they work, I think that’s really useful. And I think there’s a strong human element in it when you can connect with them. There’s a point where they start talking to you or they start sharing their problems. And you become very much aware that we look at people in roles. But the truth is that person who you’re dealing with a customer is going home and has a kid and wife and a dog a set of challenges and problems. Once you can understand that I think there’s a human element and it takes over and people are willing to ask for your help or to suggest something that they want and when it’s theirs, that’s when it’s really useful.

Andrew: How did you know that New York would be such an important city for you? So important that you wanted to practice and then come back into the city.

Trevor: That’s another great question and the short answer to it is data. There was information, I remember joining a trade association for business jets and that was another sort of big moment. It was $300 or something like that and was probably about as much as I had spent at any one time. And they had great data showing where traffic originated from and I have to say sometimes I’m one of these people that has to make the mistake and then learn from it and then recover.

In this case, getting that data was really, really essential because we could have gone off the map in lots of different directions. But it told us that 80 percent of the traffic originated in these major cities and that was helpful in terms of focus.

Andrew: How many partners did you need in order to get this off the ground? Would it it have been enough to just have one person with one jet to get started or did you feel you needed more?

Trevor: So there are sort of gremlins that live inside your head when you start a business. Because everybody gives you advice about all sorts of things. If you talk to a VC they’re always going to say, well, you have a chicken and egg problem, which we all know. I came in my mind, after various conversations, that having 50 was the minimum threshold.

Andrew: 50 people who had jets?

Trevor: Actually, 50 jets. That became a seminal number for me. I felt like if I could cross that threshold then I had it.

I concentrated then on the New York area. I remember my mother actually saying to me, when I was telling her this idea, shouldn’t you focus sort of locally. Of course, I pushed back on that advice, but it was smart because the Internet, of course, is a national, international, worldwide phenomenon. The idea of focusing on one market seemed impossible. But, having that data then helped me to understand that that one market was really critical, and if we could satisfy that market then we could grow from there.

Andrew: Okay. By the way, the chicken and egg problem, of course, is you don’t have enough jets, you can’t get enough customers. Because they’re not going to be interested in all bidding off one jet. If you don’t have enough customers then the jets aren’t going to be interested, because they’re not going to make enough money. And, meanwhile, they’re going to have talk to you guys on the phone to let you know if they have a jet available, et cetera. So, how do you solve it in this space? That’s a really tough challenge.

Trevor: It is a tough challenge, and I think it’s one that exists in a lot of businesses. For whatever reason, I’ve been involved in markets with Skyjet, and now again, and it’s a difficult issue. You have to decide where you’re going to start.

For me, going to try and get customers was literally impossible – customers being people who were going to use the jets until we had them. So, in one sense it sort of made it easy. Then you had the issue of you can always get a chicken or an egg. But, what happens when you get the chickens and they’re not satisfied?

For us, for me, that meant making sure that I kept expectations in line but also kept hope alive. These people are putting in the information about when their jet’s not flying don’t want to waste time day after day, week after week, with us giving us information about when their jet’s not flying if they’re never getting a trip from it. There’s a strong human element to it. It took a lot to keep them energized and continuing on with us, but we did.

Andrew: What did you do to keep them energized?

Trevor: It’s a good place to focus in on. A lot of it was talking to them on the phone and travelling to them. I’m a real believer in going and seeing customers face to face again and again and again. I don’t think I could say that we were justifying the amount of time that they were putting into it to make it a really truly worthwhile expenditure of their effort. But, I think they felt like there was a vision to what we were doing. I think they believed in what we were doing at a level. And, we did try and make it really, really simple for them. I think that was what got us over the threshold.

Andrew: I see. So, if you couldn’t get them a customer you’d at least be on the phone with them and update them on how the business was going, find out how their lives were, what was going on with their jets, et cetera. First of all, I guess they’d buy into you, and eventually they end up with customers so that they buy into your process.

Trevor: Yeah, that’s right. Your questions are really getting to the heart of what it is to be an entrepreneur. I think a lot of people ask questions that are sort of all at the shiny success points, but you’re getting into the real essence of it.

I think that one of the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur is the insecurity in your idea. Because I could look back at it and say we were 100 percent right, and in fundamental elements we really were. There were places where I was reticent to go to somebody and say, here’s the vision in it. Because I thought at some point they’re going to say that I don’t know what I’m talking about – because I didn’t know what I was talking about. I understood it at a fundamental level that this is a very fragmented industry, it was very difficult for somebody to reserve a jet.

Imagine going to book something that costs 5,000 dollars an hour. You’d have real trepidation about getting on the phone and talking to somebody, because you would be concerned that you wouldn’t know what you were talking about. So, being able to display it on the Internet where you could anonymously understand how the business works made a lot sense.

But at the same time you have people coming to you and saying, well, is somebody going to book a 50,000 dollar trip on the Internet. You go, well, maybe they’re right. Then, somebody from the industry talks about a problem, maybe a regulatory issue or maybe the length of a runway which determines where a plane can land. You get these things in your head and you start to become more reticent about it.

I think you have to push past that as best you can. Because even though they may not respond immediately, because they just don’t have the imagination to be able to understand what’s possible, I think the more people understand the vision of where you’re going along with that one to one contact that comes from meeting with people, I think those are the two best antidotes to the fear of doing something.

Andrew: So not knowing how long a runway was and not being aware of the mechanics of a jet could be overcome if you are very clear about your vision, if you just keep evangelizing it, and if you just keep talking to them. They may even actually help you understand the mechanics of the business if they buy into your vision.

Trevor: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. I think sometimes you sort of hold back from saying something to somebody because you’re sure that they’re going to come up with a reason why it can’t work. As an entrepreneur that idea is so important. It’s everything. It’s who you are. It’s what you’re driving towards. You hold onto it.

You’re sort of past the point of is somebody going to steal the idea. For me, anyway, that was never the big concern. It’s are they going to harm it, are they going to poke a hole in it, are they going to go and have a conversation with somebody else about the idea that’s going to make it difficult to keep rolling the ball up the hill. There’s a constant balance.

But, you’re exactly right. I think if you are open to it I think you can get a lot of very valuable feedback.

Andrew: I want to ask about the next step in the development of this business. But, first, we talked about how you learned to persuade other people. We talked about how you overcame what you didn’t know. We talked a lot of the outer game.

I’m curious about the inner game. You have to go through a lot of doubt here. How do you do it? When you’re trying to convince somebody and there’s a voice inside your head that says, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re not an experienced entrepreneur. How do you deal with that when you’re trying to figure out the next aspect of the business, and there are doubts and visions of failure in your head? How do you get past all of that so you can bring out the good part of who you are? What did you do?

Trevor: Yeah. I think it’s probably more than anything at the core of the challenge of entrepreneurship. Because those comments, criticisms, and doubts are coming at every level. They’re coming from friends giving you a sort of smile about what you’re doing, like, we don’t know where this is going. It comes from investors saying, well, for me this is one percent of my portfolio that is basically gambling money. It comes from people in the industry doubting you. It comes from going in…

Andrew: …From your past experiences, too, where you failed before and you say oh, maybe this is another one of those things, or you have other insecurity…

Trevor: …Absolutely. And, you know, you’re the single point of failure in everything.

Andrew: Right.

Trevor: From the idea to the execution of it to the fundraising of it. To use a sports metaphor it’s like if you were going to try to play golf or baseball and somebody was coaching on the swing. You’re visible to everybody, and everybody is telling you how to swing. Or, they’re not, and they’re just sort of looking at you with a quizzical look.

I think that there are a few things that help. One of them is a small thing, but it’s exercise. It’s incredible how your body, just with endorphins, can help you to look at things very, very differently.

I think it’s great to have a mentor, obviously, where you can, or a friend who is willing to hear the narrative about what you’re doing. I remember a good friend of mine. Every time we would meet I would have some stack of papers. I’d have something to show about what I had done. And that smile back, that engagement, matters a lot. I had a champion along the way, and I think every business really needs that. I’m reminded every time I get one of how valuable it is.

Imagine if you were going to write a movie script and you just sent it in. The chances of it getting published are, you know, one in a million. But, you can narrow down the chances, increase the chances for success, by doing some very basic things: formatting of whatever form a script needs to be, the title in the right place, your name in the right place. I mean really…

Andrew: …Did you have a champion who showed you how to do that?

Trevor: A champion who shows you how to do that…

Andrew: …Who was the champion who you had?

Trevor: I’ve had a couple. I’ve had one in this business I’m doing right now which we’ll talk about a little bit later. But, in Skyjet there was a guy in Washington, DC where I lived and where the business grew up. He really liked the idea. He was a lawyer and also a business consultant. We put together a deal where he would get some success fee if he made some introductions that led to an investment.

It was great because he became somebody that I could go and have lunch with every two or three weeks and talk about the business. He was a good buffer between the old industry, the way that it worked, and my vision and my idea. That actually made a huge difference.

My lawyer was great, too. He wanted me to succeed. He understood that this is what you did as an entrepreneur. You were sort of taking something a little bit farther down the line than the way the industry worked, but had some understanding of the way the industry worked. Those couple of people made a real difference for me.

Andrew: Okay. I’ve made a note to come back and ask you about your champion at Appbackr. Continuing with the story now, you have your idea. You have your partners. You have your pitch down. It’s time to build a website so that you can bring customers in. We’re talking about the nineties here. How’d you end up getting a website built?

Trevor: Yeah, incredible. I had lived in Budapest for three years. First of all, finding a developer, a partner, is one of the biggest challenges. Great lawyer, great developer, I think are really important parts of the business. A friend who is Hungarian introduced me to a guy who was getting his PhD. He was in Washington.

We met and sat down. We talked for an hour. I told him the idea. He nodded his head and said, yeah, I think we can build it. Fortunately, I knew so little about what I was doing or I never would’ve done it. Because the level of complexity underneath what appeared to be a very simple offering was just…

Andrew: …What are we missing when we look at this with the same naive eyes that you might’ve had when you started? We’re seeing a basic site with a scheduling system. What are we missing?

Trevor: Yeah. One of the things is there are 5,000 business airports. There are 500 commercial airports. So, you have 1,500 business jets and 5,000 airports. The combination that takes place of where an airplane might originate from to take you from point A to point B is incredible.

Let’s say you live in New York and you want to go to Chicago, and you want to go for three days. It may make sense to take a plane that’s in Florida and fly it up to New York. Because that plane is planning to return home to Chicago, and it may be cheaper than a plane going from New York to Chicago, and waiting for you a couple of days, and then bringing you back.

There are regulatory constraints on how long that plane can fly. There are owner constraints about how many hours constitutes a minimum for the day. They may require that the plane fly a minimum of four hours in a day, and your trip’s two hours so it doubles the cost.

You have all of those things which you could sort of think through from a logic standpoint. In some cases, let’s say where there’s a daily minimum, you might show for a 30 minute trip that because the plane requires fly four hours, it costs $20,000.

Well, that user experience, one time user experience is somebody seeing something that should cost, I don’t know, $1,000 costing $20,000 is enough to have them never come back to the site. So you have to think about all of the messaging and how you’re going to communicate.

Andrew: How do you communicate something like that? Hey, you want it for 20 minutes but we have this big expense for you.

Trevor: Yeah. You know, a lot of it, because those become the sort of punch lines to conversations and to a user experience. I mean, you know, imagine going to a B and B and the first couple of times, you know, you went to look for a room it was $3,000 a night. I mean, you know, that becomes an article and that takes on a life of its own.

A lot of it is pressing information, and these are real engineering challenges that I wasn’t aware of, because you think you’re hiring a developer and he’s going to make it perfect, because he understands all of the underlying logic. But he doesn’t necessarily have a responsibility, at least in his mind of thinking about how a customer is going to respond to something. So you have to manage every detail of it.

Andrew: You even told Jeremy, our producer, that winds, you had to take that into account! How did you take the time on the runway, the winds, all that has to be taken into account. And so you handed it to your developer. Was he able to at least work out the mechanics of that, and then do the mechanical part so you could focus on the messaging? Yeah?

Trevor: Yeah. And that’s right. I mean, you know, we have to factor winds. You have to factor things like the plane. When do you start recording that the plane is flying? Because you want to match up with the way that the owner of their aircraft does it because otherwise you’re giving somebody a very different price on it. Winds make a huge difference! You know, you think about when you’re flying east to west, west to east, the difference in flight times, you know, going back and forth to Europe can matter hours on a trip.

So all of those things were really important. And he was great at dealing with the complexity of it. And you’re asking, you know, was he able to do that so I could control the messaging? Yes, he would do the underlying things, but sort of ironically, sometimes with some of the most basic things, he was Hungarian, you know I’d ask him to put something up, and the English would be broken. You know, because there are some things that you can’t anticipate ahead of time that you need to have a message. And he would write something. And you’d go into, I would go into a demo, you know, to show to somebody and there would be a typo, some basic, you know, set of English words that were just sort of mangled in some way.

And it’s incredible, because you can have all of those things right – the winds, the runways – I mean, all of these sort of complicated things, but you have one thing a little bit off and your meeting is completely discounted. So you learn to be sort of obsessive about details and really making sure that you manage those. Because nobody will ever own those as much as you need to be successful.

Andrew: You know, some of what you’ve said in that answer might just sound like details to the person who’s listening to us who wants the bigger picture. But I’ve got to tell you, those details are really important. When we are starting something new and we have a mistake, we’re almost, at times, collecting evidence for why we should be failing, you know? I’m going in and pitching and I have this mistake and I go, you see, this is another example of why you’re going to fail. Everyone else gets it right. They’re meant to succeed. You’re getting it wrong. You’re not meant to succeed.

Move on from this idea. Go do something else. That’s the way we sometimes, you know, sabotage ourselves. But by hearing that this happens to you, and hopefully people have heard many of our other interviews and see, well this happens to lots of entrepreneurs. We take away that false evidence. We start to remind ourselves it’s part of the process. You start something new, of course you’re going to have issues. You talked about cycling and I asked you about the distance because I love cycling.

When I first got into clips on my bike, I didn’t know how to clip into my freaking bike! It seemed so easy that, you know, I didn’t even know that you had to learn how to do it. And I struggled with it, and the guy who showed me on this training ride that I did the first time that I got my clips said, hey, there are two kinds of riders – those who fall, and those who are going to fall. So, clip in. It’s okay if you fall, just keep going.

To see an expert guy, an expert rider, say that to me made me feel more comfortable. Anyway. I appreciate that and I want to go right back on track here. We now have a website. We have partners. We have a model. We account for head winds and time on the ground and so on. It’s time to start bringing in a lot of customers. How did you bring customers in the door who were going to pay for these jets that you now had the right to rent out?

Trevor: So there were a couple things that I did. One, I was very fortunate right from the beginning because we got almost immediate traction. I mean, I remember we had a trip the day that we put the site up for $40,000 or something like that.

Andrew: Without any ads? It just happened?

Trevor: Without any ads. I mean we got, it was, I mean immediate. But, that isn’t, because I think another false impression that I think a lot of people have is that if you have a great idea it’s just going to hockey stick. They don’t. Rare, rare exceptions they do, but if you look at almost any business that’s made it, there’s a lot of iteration that goes on. I mean it’s, you should be looking at these things as seven year projects.

I mean, it’s probably two years to get it right, three years to get it right, a couple years to ramp it up, and then you know, time to be able to find somebody who sees value in it, shares the vision that you know well enough, and you know, wants to exit with you. But, I mean, there were a couple of things. One, we did get that organic bit of business. We also I remember in my bank account when I got the funding for the business, I had $300 on you know, on the Monday and then when we got the financing, $300,000.

And when I got that money, I went, I found a consultant to help me think through the marketing, because I could imagine just sort of blowing through that money so easily, you know, with different ideas. What really worked, and there’s a lot more to marketing today, that is something that is vastly different in 2012 than, you know, years ago, but I think there’s a principal that stays the same which is really, you know, honing in on your core customers. I mean today, you know, you probably look at, you know, somebody’s clout score and whether they have traction on a particular subject. But it’s the same thing as was then. We needed to go to where our customers were.

And I mean, I found as a general point that broad things like sponsorships and things where this is not sort of a really discernible ROI don’t really help with marketing. They may help with business development but they don’t help with marketing. Marketing is a tough thing. I think it’s something that CEOs a lot of times delegate to somebody else. But it’s something that you have to be very involved in and to really sort of be willing to be wrong about it, but come up with a hypothesis on who our customer is, then go after them really diligently. And then if you’re wrong, sort of recalibrate and try again.

And you were saying about bike riders. There are ones who have fallen and ones who will fall. I mean, that is something you just have to wash it out of your head about sort of mistake avoidance being the real objective. I mean, you have to just be willing to go at it and go at it again and again.

Andrew: So, who did you think your target market would be and how did you originally go after them? And then I’d like to hear about the evolution of figuring out who those people were.

Trevor: Well, so, I would say sort of the first issue was understanding, and this was one of these things that sort of consultants or McKenzie is sort of good at. But it was understanding that in order to get a customer, there were probably several different sell points. You know, it was selling to at one level the end user for the jet. It was selling to the CFO who needed to validate.

And then it was also selling to the person who was saying, or had the capacity to say, no to something. And a lot of times that’s the person whose job is at risk. You know, for me, coming in with some bright new idea. And it’s very easy to just sort of swat you aside. And I think it’s important to address all three of those markets.

Andrew: So that might be the CFO of the company who is responsible for paying, the salesman maybe or the biz dev guy who wants to fly a jet, and the HR person who says I can’t let you start flying jets because then everyone else is going to want to do it. For example, these are the three people you have to win just to make one sale?

Trevor: Yeah, that’s right. And that’s exactly right. And I think, you know, I think this is one of these points which probably extrapolates beyond us. I mean, you know, not everybody is not going to have that, you know, high net worth person who’s, you know, consuming the product and then, you know, the CFO who needs to validate and then somebody who can say no in exactly the same way.

But at the same time, there probably is almost always the person who writes the check, the person in that hallway conversation who’s going to through water on whatever it is that you’re working on, and then the person who wants it. And you really need to understand those three customers and when all three of them seem to be able to…

Andrew: So it starts it seems to me with the person who’s eventually going to boarding the jet. How did you bring them on board? How did you get them to know that you existed as an option and to say yes, I want this.

Trevor: So we did a lot of that through assistance.

Andrew: Through assistance.

Trevor: Yeah.

Andrew: And how did you get assistance?

Trevor: Yeah, so, you know, it was, I think a, sort of a market by market strategy. I mean, you know, the way Facebook launched. You know, they went into a market when they felt that they had sufficient demand, and then they went and hit it really hard. For us it was where did we have the supply? Where did we have the jet inventory?

And then going in, I hired a wonderful person, my first hire, and I remember she had a salary of $60,000 year, which just seemed unfathomable to me. And she just did a great job of, you know, she had experience in working in a related industry, in a car service industry. So, we were able to identify major customers from that car service industry, from the car service business, and she had set of contacts, and we just started building from there.

Andrew: One on one, calling a specific customer and saying, I know that you and I have this relationship. I know you’ve rented a lot of limos or car service from us at the last company I was with. I want to tell you about this new place that I’m working and why I think this is good for your boss. It’s just like one on one closing sales.

Trevor: One on one closing sales. I think the other approach that we took was this industry association actually was very good in being able to target customers. Every business has an industry association. I mean, I’d add that to good engineer, good lawyer, and finding an industry association because those people have an interest in making connections. It’s typically a relatively inexpensive membership fee, less than $1,000, probably less than $500. I think it’s a great way to get connected.

Andrew: What was the association?

Trevor: So it was the National Business Aviation Association, and yeah, really, really useful. Very accessible. And that gave us a list of who were the members. And people who were the members were likely to be customers. So that was very useful. But yeah, that one to one selling really made a difference.

Andrew: Here’s what Jeremy told me also. He said you guys did partnerships – trip.com was a partner, Expedia was a partner. You also bought ads, the Wall Street Journal for example. You guys placed an ad there. And you got press. It was an innovative idea, and so you got into USA Today, the History Channel did a piece on you. All those things helped?

Trevor: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: And you got that yourself, or did you bring someone on board to do that for you?

Trevor: So, yeah. Those actually were all very good things. For the PR we brought somebody on. PR was hugely helpful to us. We really, we did a white paper on the cost of travelling commercial versus the cost of travelling private. And I think we engaged a lot of the imagination around, especially USA Today, but other publications. And we really came to become the sort of go to person. I think that helped to give us sort of air cover.

The Wall Street Journal ads were terrific. Very small, very targeted ads really made a huge difference. And the partnerships, like with trip.com and Expedia, were, they, I think if you talked to the people who did customer service for us, on both the PR and the trip.com, Expedia type relationships, they would have said, real pain in the neck. Lots of customers who shopped but didn’t buy.

But for me as an entrepreneur, I think they were essentially useful, because what they did, while the Wall Street Journal ads were doing all the work really, day in and day out, these are the things that signal to people that this sort of stayed industry had potential to go beyond where it was. And I think captured some of the excitement that existed for people. Because when, there was a reason that a mass market publication like USA Today was writing about this, because everybody, you know, wants that chance one time to go on a business…

Andrew: …I see. If this was just for rich people who read “The Wall Street Journal” and had their assistants book a flight for them “USA Today” wouldn’t be interested. But, if this was something that was working for them, but because of Expedia and other sites would soon be available to all of “USA Today” readers possibly, then that’s a story that makes it exciting for them to talk about.

Trevor: Yeah, that’s exactly right. One of the things that we had started to work on which we didn’t finish, and I think this is a real challenge for any entrepreneurial organization… Because there’s a point when you’re going along and we could’ve continued those “The Wall Street Journal” ads and had a good business that would grow step by step from that. That was important to do. The Expedia and trip.com stuff was high profile but probably not as productive as something else.

Where we really wanted to go, we ended up selling the company beforehand, was with Sabre to integrate with one of the reservation systems. I say that this is an issue that I think lots of entrepreneurs face. There’s that point where you really come to understand your business. At that point you’re probably just out of money and a little bit tired. And, you have tired investors who are sort of happy to see some things happening but maybe don’t have the appetite to go and start from the beginning all over again.

For us, that thing that we didn’t do, the Sabre deal, would’ve been the real technology integration. It’s always a challenge in any entrepreneurial venture, because there were a lot of the ah ha’s that were right from biking and seeing the plane on the ground, getting “The Wall Street Journal” stuff, and getting the PR right. But, it still takes time to get to the point where you really have it.

That’s why survival is so important. It’s not mistake avoidance. It’s just staying alive long enough to get it figured out.

Andrew: Is that why you sold, because, as you said, you were tired, and your investors were looking for their payoff?

Trevor: It was interesting. I’ll give you the short story. We had one of our investors I think I once described in a “Forbes” article that he understands investing the way Mozart understands music. I mean he just feels it. It was 2000. He said, you know, I think the market’s in a bubble. I think it’s probably right to sell.

We had been talking with Bombardier which I had put in my original business plan as the company I wanted to sell to. They were impressed with us. They were impressed with us I think in part because they liked our business and they saw that they needed to do something Internet related.

I think they also loved our PowerPoint. Big companies always have these big decks that they’re showing to you. We spent 10,000 dollars on getting this great investor presentation. I think they were actually wanting to acquire us because of our PowerPoint skills.

But, it wasn’t at all from being tired. It wasn’t at all from being any of it. I loved the business. I was really excited about it.

When Bombardier started talking to us, originally we were talking to them about coming in as an investor and maintaining our financial investors. I felt like that was going to be a really hard relationship. Because as I spent time with Bombardier I saw that they really culturally needed to own something, that it needed to be theirs, and that they didn’t have experience where they sort of had some entity that existed outside of their framework.

And, the idea of having our financial investors working together with the strategic needs of a big company just didn’t seem like a fit. There was a moment where I felt it. I went to them and said, what if you guys bought the whole thing. That’s what really started getting the momentum going on the sale.

Andrew: What did they pay for it?

Trevor: We sold it for five million dollars, which isn’t the sort of hundred million dollar deals that you hear about today, but for us at the stage we were at we had very little investment in it and very little revenue at the time. We had valued the company at a much higher number. I had the good fortune, actually one of the investors in the business today was part of the team that first identified Skyjet as an acquisition. I went to him later and said, could we have gotten more. He said, maybe a million dollars more, but it wasn’t some order of magnitude different.

I probably should’ve gone a little bit higher than that. But, my philosophy on it was that I wanted to lay down singles and not try and hit home runs. And, that I cared about the business, I wanted it to succeed, and I wanted it to have a good home. It was a great choice.

I should say before they acquired the company I went to them and I said, listen, you’re a big company. You guys can have all sorts of people doing due diligence on the business, and you can wring us dry. If we’re going to go through the possibility of an acquisition you first need to be a customer.

That ended up being a really smart move for us. Because it took away the risk that if the deal didn’t happen we would’ve wasted a lot of time. Instead, we did a lot of business with Bombardier. It helped us to grow. And, it helped to connect the two companies together in a way that really ended up being long lasting.

Andrew: Kind of like a breakup fee but for you even better.

Trevor: Yeah, exactly. We eventually did negotiate a breakup or lockup fee which was helpful. Fortunately, we didn’t need to use it. But, exactly. It’s revenue…

Andrew: …Right…

Trevor: …[SS]…it’s great…

Andrew: …How much of the business did you own at the time of the sale?

Trevor: I honestly don’t remember exactly. It was less than 50 percent. It was a substantial…

Andrew: …More than 25 though, right?

Trevor: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: Do you remember the time when you had to go and check your bank account personally to make sure that a check from an investor didn’t bounce? What was the toughest financial time as you were running the business?

Trevor: I remember going to the cash machine and hoping 20 dollars would come out, again and again. I remember actually going to meet with a strategic investor who I was pretty hopeful was going to be an investor. They’re based in California with their head office in Switzerland.

I flew over to Switzerland. This was sort of going to be the victory lap. I was going to meet the chairman in one of these nice cushy interviews on Friday. I needed a Saturday night stay. I was going to stay in Switzerland until Sunday.

I remember sitting down with the chairman. He was like, so tell me what you do. I mean, hearing about us for the very first time it seemed. I said, well, I’ve been in pretty serious negotiations about selling a company or having your company come in as an investor. He sort of blew up and said, why would we invest in a startup.

I remember running back to the airport and saying, “Listen, I just had the worst meeting of my life. Please get me back on that flight because I can’t afford two nights in Switzerland after the…”

Andrew: …Wow. But, if you don’t get the deal you definitely can’t afford a second night. Did you do what I did, which is after you got the check go to the ATM and see what the balance looked like? You did?

Trevor: Yes I did, yes I did.

Andrew: I even printed it out. It used to come right out. Then, I would just rip it up into little shreds to make sure no one would see it. I got scared.

I said at the top of the interview, even FedEx’ing a package, there was one investor that you wanted to get interested in your business, but he happened to be in Europe. You had to second guess it because it cost 50 bucks to ship to Europe versus 10 bucks to send your business plan to the US.

Trevor: I remember that so well. I think I used the post office’s overnight service. I remember saying, this is ridiculous spending 50 dollars on this whole package of material. He became sort of the one investor, and he put 90,000 dollars in over the course of 12 months.

I found that with my mood there is a synchronization with where I am with the bank account. It’s not about being rich versus poor, but there’s something really tough about being in a business that you love and having nothing in it at all.

I was very fortunate with him. I didn’t realize at the time, but that 50 dollar investment that I made in an overnight package is what allowed me to be able to iterate. Because he would put in 5,000 dollars, 10,000 dollars at a time and that allowed me to take a step and take a step and take a step. And he believed in me and I have to say that, I mean he believed in me at a time where if he had lost that $90,000, it’s not that he would have been destitute, but that was a substantial part of his wealth that he was sharing with me.

Walker: Alright. One more thing that I didn’t talk about, one more challenge, and then I want to go on to what you’re doing today which is Appbackr, and that challenge is that all these planes aren’t the same. Someone is paying you $10,000, $25,000 to get on a jet, and you’ve got all these different jets. How can you give them a consistent experience that they can count on when you’re not sure which jet they’re going to go on when they’re booking a flight with you?

Cornwell: Yeah, well that is absolutely a, you know, a challenge. I mean, you know, the truth is that at one level you can do it relatively simply by, you know, the same way that you show different prices for plane tickets. You, you know, you show somebody the different costs of an aircraft which is essentially what’s the hourly cost times the number of hours that they’re flying. But I think some of it gets down to, as you say, how do you create that consistent user experience so that, you know, you give people something to hold on to?

To sort of explain why is this one trip $2,000 and why the same trip on another plane is $12,000. And it’s not something that I think we are affected by any means. But I think a consultant that I ended up working with at Bombardier used to start a lot of presentations by saying guiding principles. And I think it was a really important way to approach building a project, saying what are my guiding principles.

And one of them has to be when you’re doing something new that you’re constantly teaching at every step. And whether you do that will tool tips or some other means, you know, just showing people along the way, helping them along the way to be able to get smarter. Showing them information informs their decision.

Andrew: Alright. So you sold a business, you celebrated as we talked about with your mom, your brother, you took some space to yourself. And then something led you to launch App Backer. What was the original idea that made you say, I’ve got to run this business, I’ve got to get it off the ground?

Trevor: You know, I think that I got a couple of things that have sort of stuck with me always, which one is, you know, how difficult it is to be able to get the money that you need to start an idea. That there is an imbalance in going to somebody who is wealthy, not because of the power difference, but there may not be in the industry that you’re in at all. And this is sort of before you get to VCs, what are called the angel investors. And you know, waiting the weeks and months to be able to get that meeting, and then the time that it takes to close the deal.

Andrew: All this just to launch an app, you’re saying. You’ve got to go through all of this, right?

Trevor: You know, for any business, and when I started looking, when I moved to Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, where I live with my family, I saw apps and I thought, these are just extraordinary, creative works that don’t need a lot of money and this is an opportunity to be able to create something which allows people to be able to raise the money that they need in short order. And Seth Goden, the blogger, was saying that so many entrepreneurs focus on getting equity financing.

Equity financing has a long horizon. A product has a relatively short horizon, you know, in that you create it and it will start to get revenue. And so the idea of being able to extract revenue from the sale of product for a lot of entrepreneurs is a better way of financing it than an equity investment. And that’s kind of what took me to the idea of what started out as thinking about pure to pure financing and eventually became App Backer.

Andrew: I see. So you’re saying, instead of giving up equity, you just say to the investor, I’ll give you a share of the revenue that comes in the door.

Trevor: Yeah.

Andrew: And instead of going to a place where they can have multiple people fund their business.

Trevor: Exactly.

Andrew: Kind of like Kickstarter, except instead of getting the actual product, you’re going to get a piece of the revenue that comes in the door. That was the original vision.

Trevor: That’s right. That’s exactly right.

Andrew: Okay, and I can see why with this market of mobile apps heating up why it would be an especially go time to do it. And you also told me before we started this interview that the product has evolved, that the site has evolved. What are some of the new things that you’ve done with it?

Trevor: So what the learning in it. . . We always wanted the backers to become distributors. We want them to help promote the app. And we’re also trying to correlate the effort with the return. And what we realized in a lot of ways we had it backwards. Getting funding to developers is really important, but there’s a lot of effort that’s expended, even at a peer to peer level. But if you can take a great app and help it to get sales then you can create a win for both parties.

So where we focused at the beginning was getting 50 people to each put in a hundred bucks of two hundred bucks to support an app all kinds of things get started. What we'[re really focusing on now is allowing the developer to be able to find people who like the app and create a kind of Google AdWords that showcases different apps. It could be on a blog or on a website.

It can earn that blogger 20-25 cents a download, and the developer still earns a portion of the revenue, a little bit less than he would have otherwise because he’s sharing some of it with the blogger. But he’s getting more sales, and that’s driving his business.

Andrew: So if I like an app then I think it would appropriate to mention it at the end of this interview. I can talk about it, send people to a link where I promote the app, but also get a percentage of the sale. How is that different from Link Synergy which, I think, is the company that Apple works with?

Trevor: Yeah. So what we’ve done is taken a broad approach to it and to say, “We want to one, make it very easy for individuals to be able to promote their apps in the way that you’re talking about.” They’re really something which is embedded on a blog or any website, but that’s a part of it.

What we do is we score all of the apps from one to ten. So we look to understand the quality and then we give them multiple distribution points, so from carriers that operate a site of recommended apps to companies like Intel which are creating new platforms. What we want to be for the developer is a one stop place to go to get distribution across multiple points individuals, companies, anybody that can help make the app successful.

Andrew: So you’re going to help them figure out that Intel’s going to be a good place and make it easy for Intel to understand this is a good app for me to promote.

Trevor: That’s exactly right. There’s a cost of time which is really significant for developers where they’re typically one, maybe two people shop. Oftentimes very little marketing experience understanding what the right landscape is for it, and our business then takes a little bit from each download that happens. Hopefully we’re creating win-win situations.

Andrew: Alright. And I have a note here to come back and ask you about the champion who you have, an app backer.

Trevor: Yeah. It’s actually somebody within the industry who is now a customer. You only realize how wrong you have it until you have somebody who’s helping you, and how little of a chance you have at succeeding unless you have somebody who’s really bought in and wants to champion your business internally,

This is a company called Hutchison [sp] Group branded as three. Yves deMaris [sp] is his name. I don’t know that he would come to describe himself a champion. He’s looking at it from his business standpoint, how to make something successful. We spent a year and he does a masterful job of selling internally. I don’t mean selling like trying to sell ice to Eskimos but really understanding what the needs are on his side making sure that we have a product which is holding us to a high standard, giving us good and direct feedback.

It’s been a great process. If you get it right for one customer and you’ve discovered something with repeatable problem, then you have the beginnings of a business.

Andrew: Most customers feel like you were sent from heaven. They’re coming early on to figure out your product. They end up getting benefiting because they get a better product and they get good interaction, good relationship with the company, and you benefit because you have someone who’s smart, who’s helping you figure out what you should build for him and others.

So let me do a quick plug here for Mixergy Premium and then I wrote notes, as you saw throughout this conversation. I’ll read out some of what I learned from this conversation and maybe you can add to it one other thing that you we can leave the audience with. I noticed that a lot of people in the audience write their own notes and I want to share mine. Maybe it’ll encourage them to share theirs too. So the plug of course, is for Mixergy Premium.

If you have a Mixergy account, go to mixergypremium.com. And since we talked about app development, we have three great courses there taught by real app developers who show you how they had their effect. Not just app developers, some of them actually outsource their development to other companies and they show you how they figure out which app to build, how they lay it out and create mock-ups, how they show those mock-ups to potential customers, how they then get feedback and then how they send those app designs out to developers who build them for, who build those apps. And we also even have an app, a course on promotion. Meaning how do you get publicity for your app.

So if you’re interested in app creation, go to mixergypremium.com and take those courses right now. If you’re a premium member, you’ll have access to them. And if you’re not a premium member, I hope you go to mixergypremium.com right now and sign up. Not only will you get all these great courses taught by real entrepreneurs who show you what they do best, but you’ll also be funding these interviews. All the research that goes into these interviews, comes, is paid for directly by Mixergy Premium members. So thank you all for being a part of Premium. Alright, so here’s what I wrote down. First of all, I should also say that Appbackr, if you’re in mobile apps at all, you got to go to Appbackr which is spelled A-P-P-B-A- C-K-R. Alright, and here’s what I wrote down, a few of my notes anyway.

If you’re going to be pitching, find people to pick, to practice your pitch on. In your case Trevor, you talked to partners who weren’t in New York City to practice on them, so you can bring your pitch and improve it and as you bring it to New York City to where you thought you had your critical partners. Here’s another note that I wrote down. Find out, not just what your customers want, in fact, maybe even better than finding what your customers want. Find out what they won’t do.

In your case, your customers at the time, would not go online and enter all their information. And if you had built a business that depended on them doing that, it might have failed. Instead, you found out that they wouldn’t do it and you found work around for it which is just simple as a telephone. Here’s my third and final note: Join industry associations. You talked about how joining the aviation association helped you find customers. They’re in the business of helping companies like yours. For just a little bit of money and a little bit of time, you were able to tap into them as a resource and get customers. What’s one more tip that we can leave the audience with?

Trevor: I think, if you ever have a choice between working on your product and doing something else, work on your product. I mean, really, really essential to get it right. With that said, as I was saying that and I think its true with any advice and you know, any business put that that you pick out, which says five things to do. I mean the truth is that you need to do six things. And it’s also just really important , I think the value of your network.

As hard as it is, after you put in a really long day of building your product, just keep going out and meeting people and talking again and again and again. Because, you know, at the end of the day, if you talk to 500 people you will end up with a network of 50 people, at least. And those 50 people are hugely helpful when you need to go and get funding, you need to go and get to the next step. And you don’t know which $50 FedEx package is going to lead to somebody who can be really helpful.

Andrew: Well, thank you for doing this interview. If people want to say thank you the way that I just did to you, what’s a good way for them to connect with you and say “Hey, I like that interview.”

Trevor: That’s great. On Twitter is great. I’m at Trevor Cornwell, I’m pretty active there and I love to engage with folks who want to chat more.

Andrew: Cool. And of course, as I said before, you can connect with Trevor’s company directly at Appbackr.com, A-P-P-B-A-C-K-R. Trevor, thanks for doing this interview.

Trevor: Pleasure. Great questions. Really enjoyed it.

Andrew: Appreciate it and thank you all for being a part of it. Thanks.

Sponsored by

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.

Share

  • RMRStyle

    Better late than never! And you have a bigger audience now – so Win-Win!

  • 420B10

    Andrew, your beard is most excellent.

  • Kyle Patrick McCrary

    Woah. So much deep content. People, at least listen to discussion following minutes 14:00 and 42:00. This interview is golden to the last minute.
    Thank you so very much, Trevor! And thanks for getting this interview up, Andrew. I’m sure most listeners admire the accountability and integrity you bring to Mixergy.

    $1.) If they don’t say “no” to your idea, it’s probably not a bad idea. – 12:47
    $2.) “You’re rolling this big ball up a hill and people are saying ‘no’ all the time… You have to become very strong-willed about whatever you’re doing but, at the same time, you have to listen to people…The best information… is what [customers] are not willing to do… and to see how they work.”
    $3.) Sharing your big vision, as well as face-to-face contact with people, can cure your fear to keep going. – 25:53
    $4.) Be obsessive about details when it is important to look professional. – 38:07
    $5.) “Hone in on your core customer. Things where there’s not such a discernible ROI don’t help with marketing. They help with business development, but not marketing.”
    $6.) “Come up with a hypothesis on who your customer is, and if you’re wrong, re-calibrate and try again.”
    $7.) “You just have to wash it out of your head… about mistake avoidance being the real objective. You have to just be able to go at it and go at it again and again.”
    $8.) “Try to hit singles and not home-runs.”
    $9.) “Being able to extract revenue from the sale of a product, for a lot of entrepreneurs, is a better way of financing than an equity investment.”
    $10.) “You only realize how wrong you have it until you have somebody who is helping you. And how little of a chance you have at succeeding, unless you have somebody who has really bought in and wants to champion your business internally.”

    KPM

  • Arie at Mixergy

    Thanks Kyle!

  • Kyle Patrick McCrary

    My pleasure.

  • Troy Dean

    Are you kidding me? Andrew, you mentioned that you hope this interview is still relevant even after a year of being missing in action. This is one of the best interviews I’ve heard on Mixergy. I’ve been suffering podcast fatigue recently and reluctantly fired up Mixergy after a few weeks hiatus to see what was on offer… and this blew me away!

    I am so glad you found this interview and published it.

    Keep up the great work.

  • Arie at Mixergy

    YES

  • Owen McGab Enaohwo

    Yeah Troy this interview is a gem! I am glad Andrew and his team found it.