How Early (Repeated) Mistakes Gave Birth to a $1MM Creative Solution by Solving His Own Problem

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Joining me is someone I’ve known for years and watched as he struggled with challenges with his business.

But I also saw how committed he was. He’s here to talk about what that was like and how he pulled himself out of the hardest moments.

Matt Ackerson is the founder of AutoGrow.co, which which helps agencies, marketers, and brands get quality marketing projects ‘done-for-you’ fast with 12 skillset for 1 price, and all without the headaches of hiring.

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Matt Ackerson

Matt Ackerson

AutoGrow

Matt Ackerson is the founder of AutoGrow.co, which helps agencies, marketers, and brands get quality marketing projects ‘done-for-you’ fast with 12 skillset for 1 price, and all without the headaches of hiring.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner coming at you now from Austin, Texas. We are not fully moved in here, but this is where I brought the family. And I’m kind of excited about getting to know the area here. Joining me is someone that I’ve known over the years. Matt Ackerson is someone who’s emailed me about past guests who set up a, um, a mastermind with other people who are listening.

Who’s built up his company and shared some of his wins, but also frankly shared some of his challenges and it felt depressing at times how he’s a hardworking guy. Who’s committed. I felt like he was never going to leave that one room that I would see him in when we did Skype calls at first and then zoom later on.

So it was clearly committed, sacrifice a lot. And to see that not work out was so painful for me. And I imagine much more painful for him. And then he reached out a little while ago and he said, Andrew, this is really going well. We talked, we saw how well it was going. I wanted to find out why and how and what changed.

And as we talk, we said, let’s do an interview and talk about it. And so here he is the founder of auto grow.co this company that will get you quality marketing work done for you fast. He nailed it. He nailed up, like he nailed the product. You need marketing work. You don’t want to figure out the software.

You don’t want to put up with all their little quirks. You just want someone who can do it for you. You go to their team, they do it, they handle it for you. And now not only does it work for his clients, it works for him. I invited him here to talk about how we figured this out, why this is working, why past iterations of it didn’t work.

Maybe we can talk a little bit about the. What I felt were depressing times and then what he did specifically to get out of it and what the rest of us can learn from that. And we can do it. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you need to hire salespeople, I want you to go to overpass.com/mixergy.

And the second, when you’re ready to get a website for a new project, or maybe just a side idea, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. But I’ll talk about those later first, Matt, the tab here.

Matt: Andrew Hardy here. It’s great to be here.

Andrew: good. Do you feel comfortable sharing your revenue with everyone? I told you before we got started, you don’t have to, I celebrate it with you, but we don’t have to have the whole world in on it.

But I do think it’ll give people a sense of where you are.

Matt: Yeah. So we’ve been growing incredibly fast over the last 12 months. Um, and we are above a million dollar run rate right now.

Andrew: Wow. You did it.

Matt: Yeah, it did it.

was still growing. I feel like we’re still very early in the journey, so a lot more to go.

Andrew: You got one thing that you’re excited about because of it. Can we talk about that?

Matt: Sure.

Andrew: Let’s talk about the car, the Tesla, when I started doing these interviews, here’s the thing, I know that there are a couple of others. Your life is really in order now. Right? But when I started doing these interviews, I talked to entrepreneurs, waiting for them to say they got a car waiting for them to say they got this or that they, they never did.

They would always get a nicer Mac. That was like, really? That’s all you care about. And in reality, I understand brick and mortar stuff. Wasn’t super exciting for them. They were often just living in the digital world. So the best top of the line, Mac exciting. Now it feels like it’s a Tesla and people who never cared about cars, like even me, or I finally took a test driving a Tesla.

I see it. What’s exciting about the Tesla.

Matt: Um, so I’ll preface by saying I’m not a material person. I own like my laptop, a couch, a TV, and the car in the house. And that’s literally like it. Um, I like to buy things only if they increase happiness and save time and, uh, Teslas it’s fast. So it’s fun for that. It looks cool. And, uh, it requires very little maintenance.

I never have to go to a gas station again. I just pull up at home and, uh, the acceleration is pretty fun. Yeah.

Andrew: I like the software of it. I didn’t it to me, I’m a software person more than I’m a car person. I can’t identify cars in the road. Took me a long time to even identify Tesla on the road. Once I sat inside the, the software, just as amazing. It makes sense. Right.

Matt: It’s kind of like a spaceship and it just, you know, it drives itself too. Um, you know, with autopilot features and it’s, it’s wild, it’s, it’s super safe. You can surf the web. Um, you know, it’s got some safety features, so you can do while you’re driving, but yeah,

Andrew: It is comforting though, to know that things are good. Now the whole path, I feel like with its frustration started. When you heard Joe, DeSena the founder of Spartan race. Am I right?

Matt: Yeah.

So I was, um, a sophomore just transferred to Cornell university and they had this lecture series where they brought back alumni to tell her stories as it was an entrepreneurial lecture series. So Joe de Sena, uh, inspired me to become an entrepreneur. He was kind of, you know, the first person that I heard, his story sounded like a huge adventure.

And, uh, he also came with this amazing quote from iron brand. Uh, it’s always stuck with me as well about, you know, um, actually it might’ve been Teddy Roosevelt, the man in the arena, plus a foot from Iran. But anyway, um, it just kind of sent me down a path where I was like, you, you mean to tell me that I can be creative and artistic, which is a big part of who I am.

Um, I can have adventure. I can up level up my skills, uh, and I can make money by starting a business. Let me, let me give this a shot. This sounds really fun and exciting. And so I did.

Andrew: He’s such an inspiring person in general. I need more Joe in my life. I remember going to this dinner and I had been introduced to him before, but I didn’t get it. People recommended I have Mon uh, and do an interview with him, but I didn’t get why his business was great. And then as we were sitting down at dinner, everybody in at the table was, was just listening to him.

And people literally got up from their tables and just stood around and listened to him. Talk about this crazy story that he had about buying a farm and then building up on that farm and then taking on more and more, uh, in this little business project that he had on the side. And then of course I had discovered how big Spartan race was.

It’s a huge company that, uh, It just keeps getting bigger. And so I made a mistake of not having him on, and then I eventually corrected it. I get the inspiration, the first businesses that you started after that was, and we’ll get to what you’re doing now with auto growth, but was what?

Matt: I just supposed to say one thing about Joseph. Joe is super inspiring entrepreneur. I encourage everyone to go back and listen to that episode when you’re interviewed him, he’s got this magic about him, that I think a lot of entrepreneurs aspire to have too. It’s the power of story. It’s the power of not being afraid.

And it sounds like just a wild adventure whenever he tells us. So it’s, it’s, it’s a little bit of magic and I really admire and respect Joe for that. And that’s why he inspired me. So the first business I started was called scribble.com. It was basically digital, online coupons that college students up at Cornell couldn’t print out, or they could text to their phone and they would get a discount on a subway sandwich, or they would get two free one pitchers of beer at the local beer place.

That one was really popular. And, um, yeah, so we, uh, I launched that, did every con everything possible to market it. Um, a lot of stuff worked, some, a lot of stuff didn’t and, uh, made a little bit of money. So that was The first business. And I started.

Andrew: The part that didn’t work I imagine was coupons for college kids. Am I right?

Matt: No. So the idea works, people were using it. Um, it just, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about marketing. I remember once at one point, someone suggested to me like, Hey Matt, why don’t we capture email addresses on the website? And I was like, eh, let’s just keep doing flyers and chalking. And you know, let’s, let’s span the campus again or whatever the hell we were doing

Andrew: Or a thousand dollars in t-shirts.

Matt: yeah.

A thousand bucks wasted. And t-shirts like, let’s hand out more of that.

Andrew: Oh, because if people saw the t-shirts everywhere, they’d say, what is this brand? And then they would end up going and checking it out and it felt more substantial. All right. You know, that’s, that makes sense. On a college campus, you actually could get your brand out there, I guess.

All right. So that stuff, I get the challenge. There were, were businesses willing to talk to you and let you give their coupons out.

Matt: So not really, but that’s, that’s how I learned how to sell. I remember spring break came around and I put on a button up and a tie because I thought that would make me look, I don’t know, get my foot in the door, whatever. And it just went door to door, just selling each of the owners of businesses. And a lot of times they wouldn’t be there.

So I just keep showing up and keep smiling and showing them, Hey, this is the website it’s going to promote your business. And I just gave it away for free to start, and that was hard enough to sell, but it just kept showing up to build the trust and signed up 36 businesses, which was like basically all the popular ones in Alish down there.

And, uh, and we were off to the races. We had content on our website and we had some great offers. So yeah, I kind of got us started.

Andrew: Okay. So then why didn’t it work? You’re saying college students use date. You were able to get the top local businesses. What wasn’t working,

Matt: Marketing. I didn’t know what I didn’t

Andrew: what do you mean by marketing marketing? I thought meant getting college students to use your software and they were no.

Matt: yeah, but we would have these spikes in our traffic when we would get some press or we would do some sort of event or, or I’d give some sort of a speech at like a campus, you know, fraternity or something like this, but then it would go down. People would, you know, get busy with their life and whatever, and, and, and, and then you kind of forget about the website.

Um, so that’s why I think looking back, if I could do a different, knowing what I know now, we would have done SEO optimization, but we would have capture emails and done promotions on a regular basis. Very similar to what Groupon did. And they were quite successful group on basically their whole business was successful because they built a giant email database and they had great offers.

Andrew: Ah, okay. So it’s not so much getting people in the door. It’s that repeat business once you’ve marketed to them, once they’ve tried it once they’ve hit the site, how do you get them to come back? If they bought, how do you get them to come back? All right. But the big takeaway is you got comfortable going door to door.

When you have that sales power, I feel like it really is a superpower. The ability to go and sell.

Matt: Yup. Yup. It really changed my life. Um, and for anyone who’s on the fence about starting a business, this is one of the things, um, that I think is really beneficial to going to businesses, that it challenges every part of you as a person grow. And for me, I was pretty introverted. And then I came out of that experience being much more confident and extroverted, and I could just felt like I could talk to anyone.

I would just walk around campus and just everyone knew me. I was the scribble guy and I’d be like, Hey, what’s going on? Cause I went everywhere.

Andrew: All right. What was the next business?

Matt: So that was the next iteration of scrimp. All the S card was, uh, it actually turned a profit. It was a plastic card that college students would carry around with them in their wallet. They would buy it for, I don’t know, 15, 20 bucks. And that way we thought that that was a better business model, because then it was something physical.

They always had it with them. They didn’t have to print it. They didn’t have to text it from the website. So there was less friction in the process. And we also, we made a profit right up front by partnering with the businesses that we already had a relationship with from the previous year. So they would buy the cards from us wholesale, like for 10 bucks and then resell them for 15 or 20.

Um, so we got immediate distribution and turn a profit even before we had the cards produced. So that was cool.

Andrew: You sent me the most detailed outline of how things worked out for you, um, that I’ve ever gotten from any guests. I feel like you should keep this at some point, you’re going to want to write your story out. And this is the, this is the bones of it. But one thing you said was we stopped building on it. I didn’t double down.

I didn’t increase. Why didn’t you continue when it was working?

Matt: No, I think I’m kind of a perfectionist and I, and I think that this is something that has really held me back over the years and I’ve had to learn to let go of it a lot. You know, you can have this perfect vision of how you think things should be or how you want them to be. But in reality, just have to adapt to just have to be like, all right, well, this is what it is.

And, you know, we sign up these businesses just like we did with the coupons on the website business for scramble. Um, we had the cards, we were selling them, but then I just stopped pushing because I was like, well, you know what? Let’s build out the website. Let’s build out like this feature to partner with the local, you know, campus, local groups on campus and get them to buy from the site.

And this feature is needed that, and this, and it’s like going to be perfect. And you kind of like, after that initial success, it’s like, oh, we have to just keep being successful, but perfect. At the same time. And that doesn’t work. You gotta, you got to abandon that mindset.

Andrew: All right. And so then you moved on to blue sky, local.com. What was that?

Matt: Right. So I graduated college at this point. I partnered with a club front of mine. Uh, we lived together. We had about, well, just a couple thousand bucks and a few months left on our lease. Um, for the, uh, for the apartments, since we had just graduated. And we said, all right, you know, for the rest of the summer into the fall, let’s just build out this idea and see where, uh, it was called blue sky local.

And once again, leverage those existing relationships. And, uh, basically the, the idea that I presented to these businesses again, pre-selling, which helped validate that the idea was needed and people would pay for it actually correct collected, uh, credit cards from several businesses. And then we built it.

Um, the problem was that, you know, there are slow sales days for restaurants. And, uh, basically we would send out automated offers if it was raining or snowing or a Monday or Tuesday

Andrew: Yeah.

Matt: Yeah.

To get people in the door for them. And, uh,

Andrew: So what happened to that? That makes sense, right? Only market and whenever the, whenever businesses low and automatically market when businesses low.

Matt: Yeah, I know it sounds like a brilliant idea. I thought it was a brilliant idea. It’s like, oh wow, slow sales days can be solved. But the problem was that it was a latent idea. It was something, it was a, it was a latent problem or pain point. Meaning like it was there, you can quantify it. We did this whole study.

I did this whole survey. I surveyed like thousands of restaurants across the country. I calculated that on average, the average restaurant was losing $200,000 a year due to these factors completely outside of their consultant control, no time of day weather or whatever. But, um, what I learned was that it was latent, meaning that they had bigger problems.

They weren’t, they, just want, they would just kind of looking like a day ahead a week ahead. They, they just saw these things as, you

Andrew: they, they didn’t realize it was a problem. They accepted it. So do you think that if you would have gone out when it was raining and said your business is slow today or on a few days when it’s raining and said it’s been slow this week? I think I’ve got a solution. Would you give me a shot? Do you think that if you would have done it when they were feeling the pain, that they were more likely to sign up, because this seems like an idea that has legs.

Matt: Yeah.

And restaurants did buy it. The, the distribution strategy of going door to door though, you know, once you’re no longer a college student in a college town, it’s more of a hard sell. So that was, that was the other thing was that my sales marketing strategy is still the same. I didn’t adapt. I didn’t invest in traffic and, and this, this sort of thing, but I also didn’t listen to the market.

Um, I remember sitting down with one of the franchise owners for a Buffalo wild wings, uh, in long island, New York. And she was one of our best clients. And she said, you know, this would be great if it had just emailed marketing features. And I was like, what do you mean? She’s like, well, I think I just want to be able to blast it out whenever I want, you know, and make it like a newsletter.

And I, and I said, no, What? No. And then I kind of, I was like, oh, sorry, I didn’t mean it, but that was part of my problem too. Again, you can’t have that perfect vision of what you think it should be and you got to stay open to what the market tells you, your clients. So,

Andrew: All right, I get it. I wonder if someone could pick this up and make it work. I feel like even beyond, um, beyond restaurants, this would be helpful, frankly. There are times when, if I knew that the local, um, putt putt in San Francisco was, was just empty. I would have jumped to go in there. It’s just such a pain when it was packed.

Uh, there’s a laser tag place here. I don’t want to go laser tag with a bunch of other people, but they’re empty and they say, look, there’s nobody here. Or we’ve got a discount right now. Jump in. I mean, all right. The thing didn’t work, you ended up going back in and living with your family. Is that right?

At that point?

Matt: Yeah. So that was, that was kind of a low point. Um, I moved back home. I think I, I was, I just felt like horrible because this thing that I just spent a year doing after graduating failed, um, I was living in my childhood bedroom and my parents were like, all right, you gotta like start going at interviews.

Remember I just to just to feel like I was accomplishing something, I got a bunch of buddies together during a snowstorm and I was like, we’re going to make a bunch of money today. So we went out and just sold all the local houses. Pre-sold them, I’m

Andrew: What do you mean you sold the local houses? White.

Matt: we pre-sell the local houses. So it was like the day before the storm and went out and just kind of like generated leads and be like, Hey, there’s going to be a storm tomorrow.

Andrew: you want to pay us to shovel it? Whenever it comes down.

Matt: Exactly. And they were like, yeah, yeah, come back. And we agreed on a price. So we made, made a bunch of money doing that.

Andrew: Damn. I wish I had thought of that as a kid. That was where I made the most money as a kid. Those snowy days in New York city, when people needed to get to the office from Queens, I would go and just not door, knock door to door and offer to clean it up. But it was a waste. Imagine if I could have done it the day before and just said, it’s going to snow tomorrow.

Would you want me to come in here? And pre-sell it. Even if they had a pre-sell pre expression of interest, it would be good. So I don’t have to waste time knocking on doors that aren’t interested. Oh, clever idea. All right. Thing. Didn’t work out. Why didn’t you give up on entrepreneurship? Why didn’t you say I’m just, my parents are right.

I’m going to get a job. This thing sounds so good online, but it’s a fake thing that people are all talking about. Joe de Sena. Nice for him, but that’s Joe. It’s not me.

Matt: Yeah. I’ve always been a creative person. I, um, you know, I, I think growing up, I started developed a little bit of a chip on my shoulder because I thought that I was smart, but I wasn’t really creating anything. You know, it was making a contribution that was, you know, that was something that was worth recognizing and, and a value.

And, um, and I think, you know, I didn’t feel that way from my family either. So I started developed a little bit of a chip on my shoulder and then going through that moment, you know, and going on some job interviews, I was like, it just felt soul sucking to me personally. Like I I’ve had, you know, I worked in restaurants when I was a teenager, you know, I I’ve done other, other things, but it, you know, I guess I just had it, this, I just want it to do more, you know, like I wanted to start something, I want to create something.

I didn’t want to work for a large corporation, like chase bank or north or brown man, and just, you know, make PowerPoints and generate reports. Um, I want it to be the one building a great company, um, because I felt like maybe I had an idea inside me. That could be something good for a lot of you.

Andrew: In some ways, I feel like it’s a stupid decision that we’re all making. And in other ways I feel like there’s nothing else we could do. It’s the best decision ever. I feel like I may, maybe I just never had the right Joe de Sena of getting a job come into my life. And if I would then maybe I would go get the job.

I have heard people come to my school and talk about the perks in their job and the, and the pride that they have in some of the things that they do, but just never spoke to me. I do though at times in my life, think I wish I had gotten a job to get a sense of what it was like on the other side, to get a sense of what it’s like, not just to have a job, but to work, work for somebody who I admire, who I could learn from who I want to be more.

Yeah. Like in see their day-to-day stuff. I did have a little bit of a job in college and I learned a lot from working with my boss, but that was all part-time after school, you know, to immerse myself in somebody’s life. And somebody’s way of doing things, um, In some ways. I feel like I missed out on that.

I feel like I’d want that a little bit. Imagine if you could go and just go work for someone for six months and then go back. I don’t know.

Matt: I mean in a way though, you know, when you, when you start a business, it’s not like you don’t have a boss, you just have a lot of bosses and they are your clients or your customers. And it’s, it’s actually a lot less filtered and a lot more real because they’ll just tell you the truth. They’ll either buy from you or they’ll not buy from you or stop buying from you. Um, yeah.

so it was interesting though, you know, once, once I made that decision that, Hey, okay, I’m going to give this one more shot. Um, I told my family, I’m not doing any more job interviews and they sat me down the next day. They’re like, listen, you seem lazy. You seem not ambitious. You need to go get a job.

And I was like, okay, I’m definitely starting this.

Andrew: I got to show you. Yeah.

Matt: Now I want to show myself to, I want it to prove to myself. Yeah.

Andrew: All right. We’ll find out what you started in a minute. Let me just quickly say to anyone who’s listening, who’s looking to hire a salesperson or maybe thinks, you know what our website is doing a lot of the work itself, but what if we hired somebody to talk to customers who seem like they’re interesting or interested or higher value customers?

What if we could set up a sales process that involves a human being calling or emailing or otherwise selling personally to our customers? Well, when you’re ready to do that, you need a place where you can go hire salespeople and find out about them before you hire them. That’s where overpass comes in.

You can go and browse the list of salespeople that they have. See, who’s good at email. See who’s right for your vibe. They’re actually entrepreneurs Matt on this platform who are just saying. I’m in school right now. And I want to, and I want to do some sales or I’m taking a break from a company I want to just sell because I need to do something and they want to sell.

So they’re on this platform. They’re also frankly, house husbands, Housewives who are at home for a few hours and just want to have a softer sale process. You can find them all on overpass. You can evaluate them. You could decide if they’re right for you. And if you are, you can not just hire them through overpass.

You can use their software to manage them. And what they’re doing is making it as easy to add a salesperson, as it is to say at a server on Amazon web services. So if you want to get started, you can get a discount, 10% off of the payment that you’ll make to these people. And it’s pretty inexpensive too, especially since it’s, commission-based largely small little small payment with commission to hire from there.

All right. If you want to get started and get that discount, go to this URL. It’s overpass.com/mixergy overpass.com/mixergy. All right, Matt, talk to me about the, the business that you started once you made that decision to show them and show yourself.

Matt: So that was the business. Uh, it was called pedal there@thetimewelaterrebrandedasautogrow.co, which you can talk about later. Um, and part of the reason for the rebrand just jumped ahead is pedal Vera. It means it’s meaningful. And that’s why I chose it means in Latin seek or strive for truth.

Andrew: I feel like it’s meaningful to you, but I think a lot of us didn’t fully know that and didn’t have that connection. What do you think? That’s it.

Matt: It’s at people, uh, people would ask like, you know, new potential clients like, oh, like what does it mean? Like, it sounds like I like e-commerce or oil or pet food,

Andrew: right, right.

Matt: you know, that’s why we rebranded as auto-related.

Andrew: I mean, not Autogrow, especially with autogrow.co it’s got that nice little rhyme to it. Auto makes sense. It’s just, it’s a, it’s a much better, a much better name, but I get it. It doesn’t really matter that much in this type of business. What was the, what was the business going to be?

Matt: So, you know, I sent out an email to announce the launch of it. I said, Okay. this is the minion of the company It’s meaningful. These are the core values, and this is what we’re going to do. Here’s our tagline, great web design, great web design. I thought it was kind of clever, but, uh, right to the point. And that’s.

Andrew: I think it makes sense. What, uh, who’d you email it to just friends and contacts from school.

Matt: I put together a list of 500 people who I had met, You know, in the previous year, starting my previous businesses and met on campus. Cause they have a lot, they had a lot of entrepreneurial events back in, back in college and I went to a bunch of events off campus too. So I just kept all those business cards in a big stack, put them into this email list and just sent out this, this blast showing some work that we had done or we meaning I, whereas in a, at the time and say, Hey, like you want a great, what does that pedal Vera come to us?

Ready?

Andrew: to those BNI meetings. they helpful? BNI? Is it it’s like an old world thing that works for real estate brokers, mortgage, lenders, chiropractors. They all get together. And when someone trusts their chiropractor and says, they’re looking for a new home. The chiropractor says, you know what? I actually have a friend who is in the, in the real estate business.

I can make an introduction. Then they come into their weekly meeting and they say, I made an introduction over the last week to this person. If they come in and they say, I need a new website, they could say, I know this guy, Matt, he can help you out. It makes a ton of sense. I actually think that someone could bring that into the modern era and do it somehow online in a more organized way, maybe like a weekly mastermind with some introductions that happened back and forth in a way of keeping track of it.

They keep track of their introductions on paper that people put out. And that’s how they make sure that there’s no takers, but everyone’s sharing also giving back introductions. It’s a, it’s an interesting idea. I can see how a lot of local businesses benefit from it. Did it help you.

Matt: It did, uh, Quarterly email newsletter, definitely a dollar for dollar helped a lot more. Um, we got our first two clients, um, from that one was an executive coach, uh, someone who I met on campus and wasn’t alumni. Um, the other was actually Joe de Sena, uh, Spartan race. And I’ll never forget, you.

know,

Andrew: Wait, Joe dissenter responded to an BNI email.

Matt: no, no, no.

DNI was separate. We got some, I

Andrew: got it. You’re saying that works, but the email marketing that you did to your school

Matt: yup,

Andrew: worked even better. Got it. All right. So Joe DeSena was a, I guess an alumni and he was an alum. And so he said, I’ll, I’ll hire this agency. Am I right?

Matt: Yeah. He said, Hey, like, uh, we’re just getting Spartan race kind of off the ground here. You know, we want to generate, you know, grow our Facebook likes and you know, something along these lines, we’ve got a lot of stuff we could Do What can you do to help us? And I said, all right, well, I think we can help here, here in a year.

And we just got right to work.

Andrew: He offered you equity.

Matt: Yes. And I turned it down actually. Um,

Andrew: that? Obviously it’s

Matt: no, I, I really don’t. Um, you know, I focus, you know, I think I was unfocused enough in this whole entrepreneurial journey, but that would have just taken me away from, you know, the mission of the company and this vision for building something really big and something that employs a lot of people and that, you know, is focused on the mission of creation, acceleration.

So as much as it would be worth a nice, you know, something nice right now. Um, I’m glad that, uh, turned it down cause it would’ve been too distracting

Andrew: Just be his guy.

Matt: Yeah. I don’t, I don’t know if I really could have done both. You know, I, I think I would have had to choose at some point between, Hey, go full time, you know, as part of their team or, you know, stick with auto group.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s a challenge for design agencies that people do want to give you equity because they’re just getting started. Their equity is not worth that much. So they, they don’t want to part with cash. They want to give you that, but it’s hard because you need the cash in order to survive. You need the cash to pay your people.

And so I think, I think that’s the right way to do it. And frankly, often the pay off, even if there is a payoff it’s many, many years in the future and you’ve got to pay your people now. All right. How did that go? What didn’t, let’s talk about what didn’t work about the first version of

Matt: So we started bringing on all these clients. It was a wild, first year I worked nonstop. I mean, the first few months were pretty terrifying because there were moments where, you know, I just remember like huddling, like a child in bed. Like I was like, rent is due next week. I don’t have enough.

Andrew: Uh,

Matt: And so, but what, what, when I would stop doing that, I would go out to these networking events and I would just drum up business.

I would just keep showing up early in the morning and find people, or I would send another email newsletter and generate more leads and more referrals that way. And, and little by little it built up and the relationships built up there to, uh, to where, you know, towards the end of that first year, you know, we were doing, you know, we were at like, um, you know, a $300,000 run rate for the year.

Andrew: And this was you doing all the work yourselves,

Matt: in terms of sales. Yes.

Andrew: what about the design?

Matt: no, so I had to initially it started off just as me and then I quickly learned. All right, well, the limiting factor here is me. I need to delegate. And I think that this is something useful that anyone can just think about as a best practice. You always want to identify like, like as if it’s an engine, like what’s the limiting factor, where’s that bottleneck and then remove it.

And it sounds simple like, Okay. well, duh, like had to delegate to, you know, grow the business. And so that’s what I did. I started hiring people. We hired, I think about, uh, seven people full time by the end of that, um, the anniversary of the first year in business.

Andrew: All right. What didn’t work. This was a thing that was going, but it’s, it had trouble.

Matt: Yeah. So we lost a couple of big clients that we had, and we just had too much invested in those relationships. So when that relationship was paused and one of them was ended, um, you know, we said, well, Okay, what are we going to do? We need replacement clients. We need to go out and get them, but we couldn’t find them fast enough and payroll, which was, um, you know, every two weeks 16, K I, you know, per, per, uh, payroll per month, I think at the time, you know, I had to go to my team and I said, listen, we can’t afford this.

Um, and I had to, Yeah.

almost the whole team. And, you know, these are people with, uh, with families and, you know, I felt terrible and, you know, but I had to do it. I had to save the company and, and it did save the business. It reduced our burn rate, you know, down to something very little and, you know, we survive to fight another day.

And, but, but the problem that I came out of that experience really recognizing, which is a problem that I think a lot of businesses. And, and I think Neil Patel put it really well. Like if you’re in business, you’re in marketing and you just need some sort of a consistent stream of leads consistently, you know, you’re in a services business where you risk falling into this feast and famine cycle.

That is All too common. Unfortunately

Andrew: All right. At one point you started doing daily blogs, like you personally said, this is going to be my thing. It’s going to help me with search engine optimization. It’s also going to help me, uh, just get to know the people who are, or have them get to know my business. If they’re reading me on a regular basis, why didn’t that work?

Why didn’t the constant barrage of non-profit or constant production of blog posts work?

Matt: It actually did. work. Yeah.

Because coming out of that experience the first year where it was just horrible having to lay off most of the team, I said, all right, I really want to figure this out. So. Over the next three years. It wasn’t immediate. It took time to build up that SEO authority and understand, Hey, like this is building traffic and then this traffic can turn into leads and, oh, interesting.

So I kind of was solving my own problem, but also writing about what, you know, what our sales funnels and, you know, I’m generating traffic was started collecting that, turning into an email list and nurturing those leads. And we had built by the end of it, we had built site, a nice inbound sales funnel. Um, and we, I never had up to, to network again.

So consistency of doing that too, and the repetition and the practice helped to really hone it.

Andrew: Okay. And this was still in the design business phase of the company, right?

Matt: Yup. Um, although there were plenty of distractions, like actually did like a little diagram here in preparation for this. I I said, okay. So we went from, you know, 2010, when we started a design development agency to marketing agency, to SAS, to agency, back to SAS, again, agency productized service info products.

We’ll talk about all this, a second product ties, service launch info products, again, third productized service. And then today

Andrew: And now today it’s productized service. Right.

Matt: Yeah, I would kind of, I would liken it to, uh, one of your sponsors outgrow there where, you know, you said you can kind of log in through the software and turn on this sales talent as if you’re turning on the server. It’s similar with auto row. You log in and you have creative talent at your fingertips.

No hiring required you to skip all that and get the work done.

Andrew: Okay. And so when, one of the things that you shifted into with software, what was the software that you shifted into?

Matt: Yeah.

So. Um, every client that we had as a marketing agency needed email marketing. So I said, all right, well, why don’t we just develop a SAS product that can deliver this? And we will charge a monthly fee for it because, Hey, you know, if you’re doing projects as an agency, you know, again, feast or famine, you risk falling into that where you have to constantly go out to generate sales and leads and fixed price projects.

But SAS, oh, that looks really interesting. Let’s just do that and perfect reoccurring revenue, automated sales, all of that. Um, so we started investing thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of dollars in that. And by the time it was anywhere close to ready, it’s it. Wasn’t ready. And, uh, we had to just pivot back again to agency mode because that is.

Was bringing revenue. That was what key was keeping the business alive. So that’s part of the way it’s pivoting back and forth was because we couldn’t do our development fast enough or the, you know, the, the team was wrong. Yeah

Andrew: of transition. Do you think that now that you’ve got stronger revenue, that you’d be able to make that transition,

Matt: Yeah. And I feel in a way that we have, but it’s aligned perfectly with

Andrew: I mean, do you think you’d be able to create software to, oh, you do actually. You have software now of your own. Right? Got it. But it’s not. Do you think you’d ever go to SAS where people sign up, use your software without any human beings helping them out,

Matt: Um, that does sort of happen now when people sign up on the weekend and you know, there’s, you know, there’s like automated, there’s a lot of self service features in there where projects are submitted completely independent of us. And they’re delegated through the software.

Andrew: to other people,

Matt: Yeah.

Andrew: do you think, do you think that you’d ever go back to software handling that work or do you think that. That, uh, human beings are always going to be a part of your business.

Matt: I think that, oh, human beings, definitely for sure. Um, for business, but I think, you know, we definitely want to keep automating things to the same time and accelerate, you know, people’s creativity,

Andrew: Got it. So what you’re imagining is marketing work. That’s just done for you. You tell us what you need. We’re going to do it. We’ll starting off with human beings doing it. And then more and more, our software should be able to do the things that our team of marketers is doing manually. The software should, should handle all of it, as much as possible.

Matt: yeah. We’re going to build creative tools, uh, to, to go and help the team actually do it so it can keep scaling. Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. If you need a website, you guys know, go to hostgator.com/mixergy Al it works. It’s an expensive. And frankly, if you use the hostgator.com/mixer URL, my sponsor will give you an even lower price than everyone else. Go. Get them. I’ve been hosting with them. I think you’ll love them.

hostgator.com/mixergy. Alright, talk to me about the next transition and why you made it without a place where you’re doing design work. You’ve got a, some SAS on the side that doesn’t work, but fine. It’s understandable. You still have design work. You’ve got stuff starting to get a marketing channel, working for you on a consistent basis with blogging and search engine optimization.

What did you do next?

Matt: I kind of, I kind of looked at it and I said, well, you know, we got traffic coming in. You know, the one thing we have going for us is we built this sales funnel and that’s kind of a lesson that I kept learning over and over again, which was, you know, I would think I was stopping big. Oh yeah, let’s go build a SAS because a SAS.

Because Hey, grass is greener mentality and you know, you got the perfect perfectionist mindset going on there too. And we would pivot away and then ultimately pivot back. And instead of, and instead of doing that, um, what I should have been doing is just building on top of what works, always build on top of what works.

So that’s what I finally realized. I said, all right, we’ve got this traffic, we’ve got the sales funnel. We’ve got a good reputation in terms of, you know, our audience, our email list. What the hell can we sell? That’s that’s more scalable, right? That’s that’s maybe not as great as selling a SAS pro. Because we didn’t have the funds to actually commit to that, you know, where we would need, like, you know, like maybe outside investment to do it.

Didn’t want to do that one to keep bootstrapping. So I said, all right, let’s try packaging. You know, our services I looked at, for example, WP curve, that was kind of inspiring. I said, interesting. You know, they’re charging a monthly fee. It’s not software, but it’s a done for you type of service. And I went to our email list and I said, all right, what do you guys want?

I just surveyed them. One person replied one person. And they said, you know, I want a done for you sales funnel service. And I said, okay, Let’s launch has done few sales home service. So we threw up a landing page literally the next?

day and someone bought and I said, okay, what the hell did we just sell? We sold, done for your sales, those servers.

Okay. What is it? I dunno, what’s the scope of work. I don’t know, but let’s do it. Um, we were charging 99 bucks a month to start, and basically what the idea became. We kind of discovered and what the market I guess wanted and what we can sort of afford to give them for that price point was strategy is just strategies.

Just me pretty much at first, just sitting there, you know, replying to emails and saying, okay, do this, do this, do that, do this. And we started broadening that to have other skillsets in

Andrew: Wait, they were just paying you at first. What they should be doing with their marketing, not to do any of it.

Matt: They wanted help with implementation, but we were just, we were terrible at defining the scope of work. Again, I didn’t know what we’d sold at first, so we kind of just rolled with it, um, you know, ready, fire aim, you know what I mean? So, yes, I just rolled with it and we started adding skillsets over time.

Like, okay, well we can do copywriting. And you know, we can help you with a little bit of, you know, maybe not writing the whole thing, but tweaking it. And we can help you with setting up some AB tests. And so we started hiring some writers and some assistants, but the price points were so freaking low and I didn’t feel comfortable raising the price.

I just didn’t have the confidence for some reason. Um, but you know, it was working, it sort of it was starting to work. You know, we, we went in two weeks from Monday, the launch went from zero to like 5k MRR, and then after another six months we were at 10 K MRR. And, um, but still, it.

was like there was something that was not fully working there and I didn’t, I was too close to the business to see it.

So

Andrew: Now that it’s been awhile. What do you think it was that wasn’t working even though revenue was growing, you found something that clearly made sense.

Matt: we were, we just weren’t profitable. Um, you know, at like, you know, between the $99 to a 2 99 per month price point, you know, we could not afford to hire people full time and provide just much more value because clients ultimately, and what the market wanted was something more hands-on more. done for you?

Not just a little copy.

Andrew: wanted more. And meanwhile, you couldn’t afford to pay for what you were already offering them because you weren’t charging more.

Matt: Exactly.

Andrew: do you think going back, if you could have charged more, if you could have gotten yourself to charge more, that it would’ve worked out.

Matt: Well, we did. And I found out.

that’s exactly what

Andrew: That was the click to first of all, going back and then saying, wait, why didn’t design work? Why, what was it about design that wasn’t as effective as this was it that you weren’t charging a monthly fee and turning it into a consistent service productized service? What is it?

Matt: with the agency model. Yeah.

Um, we were just, it’s, constantly hustling behind it. It felt like, you know, we would, you know, the proposal process was really slow and manual and signing the contract and Hey, did you get it yet? Hey, here’s this invoice. Can you pay it? And it was just, you know, facing people for payments chasing after proposals.

Um, but like little by little.

Andrew: uh, it’s just basically a marketing agency with all the problems that go along with it, nothing that differentiates you, you’re always competing against other people on price. You’re always struggling to get new customers. Am I right? It’s it’s the standard problems of an agency. That’s where you were.

Matt: Yeah. And I mean, to get to this point that we’re talking about now, there was definitely incremental gains, but we just. You just have to keep pushing, you know, for example, one thing that worked really well was, uh, selling project roadmaps, which was basically selling the proposal part of the process for $500.

For instance, we would charge 500 bucks, but we would be very thorough. We put together the entire plan. It was executable, it was valuable. We had a money back guarantee with it in case they weren’t happy for any reason. And that actually increased our conversion rates substantially for the higher ticket item that we would sell the whole project, you know, for 500,000, whatever the price would be.

Andrew: All right. But that is for auto grow. As we know it today, the marketing done for you program.

Matt: That’s for the agency I’m

Andrew: Oh. Even the agency. Okay. So that worked there transitioning over then to why this iteration of your business work. It seems to me now you’ve got one thing that you’re doing, which is marketing, right? Something that unlike restaurants that don’t think about the problem of not having customers on a rainy day, every business thinks about marketing.

I do not have enough customers is on lot of people’s minds. Right? And so you nail the existing, ongoing, painful problem that people are.

Matt: It’s yes, businesses, they need to market and they need to do it continuously. And they need assets and certain maintenance to be done. Or I need to update their website. They need a new logo. They it’s, they didn’t do website and your landing pages, lead magnets, all this stuff, and they constantly need to refresh it and maintain it.

And agencies, we actually partner with many agencies now because they have an ongoing need for just quality work to deliver to their clients. And that’s also a big limiting factor for them. So in a way, we kind of solved our own problem by building the solution and then selling it to other agencies, you know, because it was always a pain hiring people, you know, you’re always chasing and kind of like herding cats.

So, so it’s a lot of our clients are agencies as well. For that reason,

Andrew: Okay. That part made sense. You then said I’m doing a lot of, a lot of different marketing tasks. It’s it just doesn’t pay. Do you feel like you were at first going too broad with the marketing that maybe you could have started out by saying we will just handle your email marketing or we will just handle your convert kit or we will just handle pop-ups or whatever.

Is that too narrow?

Matt: we experimented with that at one point, um, you know, I completely. Change the business at one point and again, and we went towards, uh, this pop-up model where we said, Okay.

you know, done for you. Sales funnels too broad, too much stuff too. You know, clients want too much for too little and we weren’t raising our prices yet at that time, let’s just do pop-ups.

Okay. We’ll AB test your popups. And that started to work. Um, and we, we got some, some interesting, some pretty big name referrals. But it just more of a personal preference. It didn’t feel aligned with the mission. I didn’t think we could build a really big company just from doing that. I don’t think it was solving a really big problem.

Uh, so when we pivoted back to done-for-you sales funnels and then later, you know, done for you marketing assets delivered fast, that worked out because we raised our prices. We could deliver quality quickly and we could hire a full-time team to deliver it behind the scenes.

Andrew: Okay. When you were doing just sales funnels, what software were you handling? How limited, where you were, how broad were you.

Matt: Hmm. Great question. We.

Andrew: I want to just so I frame this properly, I want to understand, I feel like software as a service makes sense service as a service is something that is just not tapped into enough and I’m fascinated by it because, um, I don’t think that a lot of people want to manage software. There’s some software you’re happy to manage and forget.

But for the most part, if you think about even email marketing software, if you just blasting out email, it’s not that hard, but if you’re doing it intelligently, tagging people who do something, it’s a pain. If you want it to connect back with what’s happening on the website, so that people whose email addresses you have, aren’t being bombarded with requests for more email address, it can be done.

We’re all smart enough to do it if we’re listening, but it’s a pain in the butt to do it. Um, and so I totally get the value that you’re coming up with, but at the same time, I feel like. W why aren’t there more companies doing this? Why aren’t there more people saying I’m going to start off with service as a consistent monthly fee that we will handle the thing for you.

And I just don’t see enough of it. I look at my income statement. I don’t think we have a single one, a single item on there that is for a service that does it. You know what bookkeeping is the only one, right? I could use QuickBooks. I am smart enough. I have the patients, the intelligence, the curiosity who would take up too much of my time.

I pay 700 bucks. A lot of us do they manage it where we’re done, why aren’t there more services like yours? And so I want to understand if somebody has an idea for doing that, what are the problems? What are the things that they should understand? And so if we go back to the early days, how limited did you have to be?

Or how broad were you in the software you were handling.

Matt: Got it. Yeah. Great question. So. We initially were limited to just like two tools. We were like, all right, so you’re coming to us and we’re just going to say, you know, we’re going to recommend as the experts lead pages, you know, for landing pages and your website and for email marketing, it’s going to be active campaign.

You know, if we do retargeting, okay. You know, we’re going to use this tool over here and that was it. And that’s how we started. Um, but as we moved towards, you know, this, I call it where we’re at today, service as software. Cause I don’t fully see it as a productized service, but, um, No clients, they wanted to stick with whatever tools that they were on.

You know, they’re comfortable with it. They didn’t want to migrate, even if we could do migrate them. Sometimes they want to be on whatever they were comfortable with and what they knew so that they could go in and check it out or make some changes if they wanted. And so we said, okay, you know, that’s what the market wants.

That’s what we’re going to deliver. I mean, I think it’s just really hard, you know, I think it’s really hard and really valuable to have an entire team with all the skillsets that an agency needs, that a small business who needs to do their marketing on a consistent basis needs to manage these apps, as you’re saying.

And that’s the problem that we identified, um, because we didn’t have that as an agency ourselves, and I’m not answering your question, Andrew.

Andrew: I think you are. I think what you’re saying is we could try being narrow, but in, in your case, it had to be broader. If I’m thinking about one service that I tried as a service was, I mean, I liked the way you phrase it’s service a software. It was a podcasting for a podcast. I was helping some friends put together and working with them on.

I just didn’t want to do it myself, even though I could. And so there was a company that would do it. Wasn’t very expensive. You just upload the files, they edit them, they could add music, they could add everything and they just go in that case, it did make sense to have a limited collection of software that they worked with.

I think they would, they would pick from four or five different podcast hosting companies and go with that. But, um, I could see how in your business you needed to go broader. And then why did you go broader than sales funnels? If sales funnels were working.

Matt: I think we kind of want to be like, like rush for entrepreneurs or kind of, I don’t know, put entrepreneurs in the driver’s seat. And we’re like the automated Tesla getting them to their destination. They just punch it in and we, we get them there, but they say, okay, I need this, that delegates it’s us. And we can do it.

And you know, Andrew, like I think that, um, this would be one thing I learned because I was avoiding it for so freaking long was just do things that are really difficult, because if it’s difficult for you, it’s difficult for everyone. And if it’s valuable at the same time, people are going and to pay for that.

And they’re going to be willing to pay in some cases yeah. Or higher price. And so I wanted to go broad the software layer on top of what we’re offering today. We have 12 skills. We just added a voiceover and video editing, um, conditioned to copywriting design apps management. I want to go abroad because it was difficult and it’s really difficult, you know, to kind of just corral all these skillsets, learn how to hire that, everyone.

And it just, um, yeah, I wanted to do it because it was difficult because it is difficult.

Andrew: And how is this different though than the perfectionism that got you into trouble before?

Matt: the perfectionism perfectionism like will actually drive you to avoid execution because you just want to plan it out on paper And in spreadsheets and through discussions instead of just doing it. Instead of sending that email, instead of posting the jobs, instead of building the forums, building the website, launching, launching, launching, monitoring.

Andrew: And so the difference here is, instead of thinking, I’ve got to get this all perfect. We have to have a system internally where we can organize any kind of project. We have to sign up for all the different things. It’s we have a vision that we’re going to do everything marketing relating that related, but we’re going to keep launching and testing and adding and doing it and doing it with customers instead of doing it in preparation for customers one day.

That’s the difference.

Matt: Yup. And all in one done for you solution and you just click to get your creative morphing work done.

Andrew: Okay. All right. And so for the same fee, not to turn this into an app. There’s a $599 a month plan where I could have an active project that you guys will turn around every one to two days. So every one to two days, I can send you a new project, put it up, put a pop up on my site. You turn it around in a day or two, add, um, a live chat that you guys do live chat to

Matt: Yep.

Andrew: live, chat to my site.

Matt: we will actually be in the live chat, but we can set, set it up

Andrew: you’ll set it up for me and then we’ll come into our slack or whatever else we use is that right? One to two days. You also now do voiceover what’s the voiceover that I would need,

Matt: So if you don’t want to record a, a promo video, like say I dunno, a demo or a slide deck presentation that. You know, demonstrates, okay, what your product or service does. We can have our copywriters write the script. We can have your designers create the PowerPoint presentation, and then we can have a voiceover artist who sounds amazing.

Put his voice on

Andrew: With that one to two days, or is each part of that a different project?

Matt: Each part of that would probably be its own deliverable. And then that would be

Andrew: So here’s my ideas. Some screenshots in a day or two on that plan. You’ll turn it around and give me PowerPoint presentation or keynote. Then if I want voiceover on top of it a day or two, you guys will do it.

Matt: Yep. And the video editing too.

Andrew: Um, all right. And I’m just looking at the walk version and I know that there’s a fly, which, uh, turns things around much faster.

Okay. And so on a personal level, I talked to you through some of these challenges. I’ve seen your face. I wish I’d recorded every one of our calls over the years, just so we can come back and say, look at the way you were look at the, what was challenging you. I was wondering how you got through it. There were times when it felt to me, like you put in so much effort, you deserve to see, to see the fruits of it.

You deserve to be as successful as your friends were not putting in nearly as much effort. We’re not giving nearly as much of their lives to get past. You told our producer, actually, you didn’t tell a producer, you wrote it down, like in these detailed, uh, doc, this detailed doc to me, meditation, you said help therapy, therapy help journaling helped.

Can you talk to me about all this stuff? Why did it

Matt: Yeah.

Andrew: did it help?

Matt: yeah, there was a really low point in the middle there where I got out of a bad relationship and my mind basically melted and just, I totally checked out for about five months. And this is when I had just, you know, launched the first version of the product service that became what auto Grove is today.

And, um, you know, I just had to work a lot on myself and just not try to seek validation in someone else. And at the same time, you know, being going through that actually helped me to succeed a lot. Um, cause it forced me to reflect and um, as I kind of just come out stronger mentally, physically on the other side,

Andrew: And what was it about therapy that helped, for example,

Matt: basically just someone else listening and telling me, Hey, it’s actually a good thing that you’re no longer in this relationship. Um, because know this person wasn’t right for you and now you can focus on, on business and doing what you’re good at.

Andrew: Uh, so if you weren’t in therapy, you wouldn’t have had, and you wouldn’t have had to explain why you’re upset about not being in this relationship and then either talk herself or with feedback from therapists, realize that this wasn’t a good relationship that you needed to talk that out in order to get to that understanding.

Matt: when I got out of this relationship, I mean, this person told me some really personal things that just destroyed me and I just really had to rebuild from scratch.

Andrew: personal things about yourself.

Matt: Yeah, yeah,

Andrew: Here’s a reflection of how bad you are.

Matt: yeah,

Andrew: Wow. And now you didn’t just lose them, but you also are recognizing all the flaws that you have.

Matt: yeah. Supposedly this person was a psychologist and so they just like, and so when I went to therapy, what that person told me after I told the story, she was like, Matt. It’s good. You’re not in this anymore. This person mind fucked you. And I said, yeah,

I think you might be right. And so that’s kinda what I had to get over.

Andrew: what’s the one thing that was the most painful to hear from her because it’s true.

Matt: So I obsessed over it for a long time. And I wrote it down. There were like 22 things because the day after we broke up, I went over there with flowers, coffee, and I, you know, I wanted to pursue it to try to get the relationship back. And, um, but I think one of the things that helped to drive a, but also just kind of, they all hurt actually.

Um, but one of the things, the couple of things that were relevant to the business was she said, you just fired your whole team. Cause I fired a couple of people at that time. And, um, and, uh, what was it? Oh, and like it was, I don’t remember exactly. Uh, there was something like, you know, like the business is not making money, so she didn’t want to be with me because this, this was stressful.

Andrew: Okay. And so as an entrepreneur, when things aren’t working like that, that’s when I like. To think I’m a loser. I failed now to have somebody else say, yeah, you are, and you’re not worthy of being in a relationship because you don’t even realize that you’re, that you can’t make this work. That would be a big fear of mine.

I actually have had that in, even in my marriage. Aliyah has given me no reason to believe that if I fail that she and I are going to be broken up, but I do have this sense that if I fail, I’m not contributing, I’m not valuable in this relationship. And you can, I, it’s hard to separate that. And now to have somebody throw that in your face, ah, that would be, that would be the one that would get me to.

Matt: I was, I was so messed up, Andrew. It was like the darkest. Like, I’ve never, um, like thought of myself as hitting rock bottom, but like mentally I was in Iraq and, you know, I, I, I do, I wanted to.

do something to feel valuable and to also try to get their relationship back. And I, you know, hindsight’s 2020, it wasn’t worth it, but I had to get closure.

So what I did was, um, my entrepreneurial self was kind of checked out. So I, I am tapped into the artistic part of me. And actually I did a painting,

Andrew: Okay.

Matt: that was the other, one of the 22 things that this person told me was he never gave me a gift. So I made a beautiful painting. I have it here I sent it to her for Christmas.

I said, Merry Christmas. And there found out when she got the painting, she threw it in the trash.

Andrew: Uh,

Matt: Yeah.

But I later I got the painting and it’s Uh,

it’s um, I have it it’s.

Andrew: you went back to the trash to get it.

Matt: No, no. I just went over to her house and got it.

from her mom.

Andrew: Uh, wow. All right.

Matt: Blue was closure, you know, that was, that was closure for me. So

Andrew: All right. Let me see what I can learn from Autogrow about creating a business like auto grow. What are some of the things that if I were to say, you know, what all I want to do is pick this one thing that I do really well and set, set it up as a service. Did my audio just cut out?

Matt: you know, if I could just say one thing for the audience, you know, I think, um, one thing I learned from that experience that I think applies to business is like, you know, if you have like an obsessive mind and, and I, and I do you want to make sure that it’s pointed in the right direction, because for me, like where I, I can, you can follow up, you know, you can follow up to kind of chase after whatever the relationship or another problem that might be going on in your life.

But once I turned that focus towards the business, that’s when things really started to take off. So I just

Andrew: I mean, the focus that you had about the flaws that she helped you identify the 22 things. If you could take this obsession, which we all have, I think, and pointed toward in the right direction, then it’s good. If, if it goes on to something that’s, that’s harmful for you, it goes into overdrive harmful because of the way that we are.

Matt: yeah, because it’s externally focused on something that’s dependent on like someone else, you know, telling you something or giving you value versus like, okay, what’s more in your control. What’s, what’s more like healthy and beneficial to you. It’s like, all right, well, I’m going to go build this business and make it really successful.

And it’s going to employ a lot of people and it’s like, oh Yeah.

that’s, that’s actually really satisfying. And I feel great about it.

Andrew: I think that makes sense. I find that in myself too, I get obsessed. I don’t just play chess every once in a while I have to play chess all the time and I have to do chess puzzles and I have to do a coach and I’ve got to learn. I need to get all my feet. Right. I get that. All right, let’s come back.

Autogrow it’s doing well. You finally nailed it. I want to know if I wanted to come up with something like that. What do I need to do? It seems to me like one thing that, that people who are in your type of business tell me a lot is the project management software is so important that inevitably they all end up creating something for themselves.

Right? Am I right? That, that seems like an insignificant piece, but for some reason, it’s, it’s critical.

Matt: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s a common thing, you know, if you, because a lot of the clients are always asking. W what’s the latest, like where where’s everything at in terms of my website or my design project, whatever it is. And that was a common theme that we saw. And I said, well, you know, we want to give transparency, how can we make this experience better software seems like a great way to do that.

And that’s why we have these real-time progress bars In our app. Now that show that.

Andrew: In the app that your customers use.

Matt: Yup.

Andrew: Got it. A regular project management software is not enough. You can’t use an Assana, you can’t use a base camp or a Monday. You need your own partially because you need outsiders to see where their progress is an insider’s to know what they’re driving towards and to manage all these outside projects.

Matt: Yep.

And it makes clients feel in control. I think that’s a big thing that for agencies, especially the founders, is You can often feel out of control, like, cause it can feel chaotic. People come in knowing clients, projects, all this stuff, invoices.

Andrew: You know what I feel like it’s, it’s come up so often that I feel somebody needs to create software for companies like yours that is specifically meant for people who are doing service work on a systemized basis for a set of consistent customers. They need both that internal Assana and the external, uh, uh, dashboard for people.

I think the founder of design pickle was working on it for a while. He told me, I don’t know if he took it further than the initial stages, but I can see that being important. Does a sauna work, was there something that you recommend in the beginning before

Matt: All of a sudden was great. A lot of our clients still use it And then they use us on the backend from, from their perspective, but for their clients and maybe their, uh, the rest of their team, they’ll use a sauna internally. And we’re working on integrating with the slack for notifications to be piped into slack.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. What else we talked about being narrow enough that it makes sense, but also broad enough that it’s more complicated than people can handle on their own. They can figure out lead pages on their own. They can maybe figure out lead pages and convert kit. But if you go beyond that and have to put all the pieces together, then they don’t want to figure out.

And maybe they can’t. And so that’s critical to do not just the work, but the hard work. What else is important if we want to do this,

Matt: Can you define this,

Andrew: what do you mean.

Matt: Like, if we want to do this.

Andrew: Oh, if I wanted to do build a business like yours, if I, I, um, I’m an admiration of how you finally figured it out. You found a problem. That’s significant enough. You started out in a way that you could almost do it on your own, but easily understand there’s a vision to do more than just a small part.

Matt: Mm.

Andrew: This, this, I call it service as software because that’s the phrase that you use.

Matt: Yeah,

Andrew: What else would we need to know if we wanted to do that?

Matt: I think one of the things is you don’t, we didn’t start with the software that, that came about six months after we started, we just started selling. And I mean, I think that’s kind of a best practice in one of the themes that maybe you can seam with each of the ventures that I started was it was always, there was always some success right.

In the beginning because we were focused on selling or pre-selling. So that was good. Um, but I think as far as, you know, building something, you know, niche or product ties, maybe in one, one area, I think one of the biggest challenges is hiring is just going through large numbers of applications. You know, you have to be prepared to understand, like, what is it, your standard?

Um, because I’ve signed up for a number of other productized services, like just to kind of do research. Like I read this, uh, biography by Sam Walton where he used to go into his competitor’s stores. He would walk down the aisles and he would just get ideas like, oh, like I like that. Um, and so I’ve signed up to for other productized services that are out there.

Um, we don’t have, you know, I, I don’t think we have a lot of direct competition because what we’re doing is really hard, but you know, for productized design services that are out there, sign up for a few of them. The quality isn’t that great. And I think it’s because like, yes, they’re hiring the top 1%, but they’re guaranteed to hire the top one in a hundred, even if that one in a hundred is not that great.

I think it’s really important to like know, okay, what is your standard? What are you willing to accept as far as quality during the hiring process and what do you, what are you going to say? No matter what? Um, because, cause I think that if you’re trying to grow something, that’s product ties and that’s based on, you know, the talent that people have to bring.

You can only grow as fast as you can find quality people to deliver, you know, quality level of quality that your clients expect. So.

Andrew: I do find that I think in design, especially, they feel like they just need to crank stuff out fast and they’re just going to use tools that will make it easy for them to create it. I sometimes feel like some of these agencies are doing, or these service companies are doing nothing, but using an iPhone app with their people saying, just put a title on it, just for an ad.

They needed a bunch of these just turn around fast. Okay. All right. I feel like we’ve taken a lot. I’m going to say one of the things that I’ve noticed and admire about the way you work is you’re just creating landing pages for ideas. You have an idea, you put out a landing page, you’ll figure it out later and you’ll do the work.

And if it doesn’t make sense, you can get rid of it. I know that you also have a landing page for us, or I think, do you imagine that you do right? So, uh, what’s the landing page and why should somebody go to it?

Matt: Okay. So it’s Bato grow.co/nexergy. And if your audience goes there, they’ll get a special deal just for the mixers, your audience.

Andrew: All right. What’s a service that you think that they’re going to be likely to sign up for, or that they, that will attract them enough to want to sign up. What are some of the cool things that you’ve done that helped with marketing?

Matt: Well, design and copywriting are some of our most popular and most used, uh, skills. Um, and there’s, you have the all-in-one skill set that we have, and we have 12 in total. Um, you know, apps management is, is pretty popular ad set up strategy. Having someone to talk to like face to face is, is really valuable, but the most requested one that we just added, um, was video motion, graphics, and editing.

So that one might be attractive to some people.

Andrew: I think that makes sense. Video motion graphics, meaning like I’m about to put up with this video. I don’t want it to just look like I shot it on my phone. Add a little style to it, make it feel a little bit better with great intro. Makes sense. All right. We set a lot. It’s autogrow.co/mixergy, and I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen.

The first, if you want to hire salespeople, go to overpass.com/mixergy. And the second, when you’re ready to get a website, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. Thanks so much everybody. Thank you by one.

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