Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses a little over a year ago. I guess it must have been two years ago. Now I was looking for partners to do these joint webinars with, and I sent out emails to people and ask them if I could partner up with them to do these webinars, to help grow my audience.
And truthfully, I didn’t get much of a response from it. And I think it’s partially the people didn’t didn’t know that it was me. They thought it might’ve been coming from Megan on our team. They thought maybe it was some automated thing that I was sending out to everybody. Anyway, Megan, on the team said, Andrew, Why don’t you record a video and we’ll show them what you’re trying to do and send it out to them.
And so I fired up a ScreenFlow and I recorded an individual video for each person. And then I edited in ScreenFlow myself. Green explaining what I was trying to do and my personal video. And then I went into, um, Canva and I got a screenshot to show. This is like, what’s there, that this is a video made customized for them.
And then I sent it out to 10 people. It took me about a week to put together, but all 10 of them responded. Uh, I think six of them ended up partnering up with us, including Brian Clark and others who really had great audiences and nothing but desire to support me. Um, joining me today is the founder of BombBomb.
Everything that I just described to you actually is done in Bo he’s smiling. He was smiling as I said this, because. His software just does this. It lets you shoot video of yourself. It lets you shoot video of your screen. It lets you create these customized videos for people. It will even email it out.
And what it does that my little hack together system doesn’t do is it would even tell me if Brian Clark even watched the video that Brian Clark stop, as soon as he saw the video and then say, okay, it’s from Andrew, I’ll do it. Or did he watch it to the end to understand what Andrew was doing or what that kind of insight comes when you use bombbomb.com?
His name is Connor McCloskey. That’s what a software is. It does. It one-to-one like that. It also, he also has a software. The software also allows you to do it, um, like mass mailings, uh, the way you might do with MailChimp, but instead of just text on a screen, it’s a video. And he did it because he’s a salesman who needed a way to close more sales.
And this worked for him. I invited him here to talk about how he did it and we can do it. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first put a smile on his face. When I told him about it, it is called Gusto. Every entrepreneur who has, I’d say reach at least 10 employees has heard about Gusto. And if you even have fewer than that, you need to know that Gusto will help you pay your employees, pay your contractors, pay your people, right.
Handle their benefits and so much more. I’ll tell you later why you should go to gusto.com/mixergy. And the second is a brand new company. Those of you who know that on LinkedIn, you could get customers get leads. You’re going to want to know about Zopto. I’ll talk about both those later, but first Connor. Good to have you here. How much this is such an awkward first question, but I got to have people know this. What’s your revenue.
Conor: Uh, well, I’ll, I’ll tell you this. We have 154 employees and we’re profitable.
Andrew: I have the number here. Would you be willing to say scale like millions more than 10 million? What do you feel comfortable saying?
Conor: Yeah. More than 25.
Andrew: One 25 million? Yeah. This is an unbelievable success story for a guy who’s not a developer. You’re a salesperson. You were the reason that you came up with BombBomb was you are selling billboards. How far back are we talking about?
Conor: This is 2003, four, five. I was selling billboards,
Andrew: How do you get billboard? How do you get customers for billboard business? What’d you do
Conor: uh, door to door.
Andrew: literally go to store, to store, to store and say, you need a billboard.
Conor: phone cold calling or you’re just walking into people’s stores and being like. Hey, man, I’m Connor. I’m selling billboards. Here’s here’s what I can do for ya
Andrew: And then I’m imagining what you could do for them is it’s raises your brand. People know you better and I’ll make your phone call your I’ll get you phone calls.
Conor: region frequency on a mass level or directional, like turn here to go to this gas
Andrew: Uh, wow. Do you remember one of your best sales?
Conor: Best sale was. 24 hour dentures. So I CA I, I brought together, um, I did a deal with a 1-800-COMPANY and they owned one 800 new teeth. Then I went to the 24 hour denture people and said, put this up. Way out in the middle of nowhere, because the people that are traveling in rural areas need, they got to drive all the way up to Colorado Springs.
They need it within 24 hours and they can’t afford it. So it, it, it completely changed these people’s business. I’m still friends with, to them to this day. Um, and, uh, they ended up retiring. It was a husband and wife team that made dentures.
Andrew: Back then
Conor: That one was $1,324
Andrew: four a month for a month. And so were you making good money doing this? You had 150 clients. I heard.
Conor: Yeah. Yeah. I made really good money. I went from actually, um, I had, uh, lost everything in a business I ran before that was living in my neighbor, who is a mechanic. Um, his basement got a job, went from running about 60 people to living in a basement and, uh, got an, a job as an intern filing, uh, just files alphabetizing and all this, but it was a job.
Andrew: A job at the billboard company and you just kept working your way up in sales.
Conor: with them six months, I was, you know, I wasn’t an account executive. I went from, I actually went through the whole real estate process, how to get billboards put on stuff, all the internal workings. I did like every job in the whole business. And then finally worked my way up to sales. And then my boss was like, You become a sales man, and then you become a sales manager and then you become general manager and then your regional manager.
And then you become this guy at this public company and retire with a couple of million bucks and that’s your life. And that’s when I knew I wasn’t going to work there.
Andrew: Why were you good at it?
Conor: Um, relationships has always, it’s been my thing, like, um, caring about people. I grew up, my both my father and grandfathers were all entrepreneurs and they always taught me that if you take care of your people, you take care of your relationship. Your word is your bond. Um, you will, it should come back around,
Andrew: And still you were. Okay. All right. So you said, I, I see my life. This is not the life that I want for me. It’s all planned out. Over here. I got to find something else. But before you found that something else you just want to do better at sales, from what I understand, you said, I need a way to scale. I can keep going door to door.
And how did video play into to that?
Conor: Well, I this, so then I started going, so I’m a big, like psychology of selling Brian, Tracy, Zig Ziglar, like getting pumped up in the car, like Dwight, you know, in the office, like, you know, getting pumped before you walk in. So the psychology of selling was always my thing. And so like, as I was analyzing what I was doing, I was finding that if I just spent more time with the clients I had.
I would sell more to them and then have to do less prospecting on the front. And so I just started doing the backwards math and time in the day and how many people I could stay in front of. And I was like, I can’t physically get to all these people every month. There’s not enough hours in the day to both prospect and take care of my customer base.
And so how do I do that? And I was like, Video, what if I could send video through an email and I was like, there’s gotta be a software company that does this. Um, I had heard about constant contact in the SAS business model at that point. And I was like, man, this would be a great idea. So my buddy was Colorado college’s video professor.
And, uh, we got a little green screen walked on to, uh, you know, the, uh, the, the things that thanks for your business, call me anytime. And, uh, I sent it out and within 48 hours, I had like 70 emails, 40 phone calls of people being like from the video, this is 2006.
Conor: And, um, and they were like, Not, Hey, I want more billboards.
It was what company did you use to do that? And, um,
Andrew: Because they wanted it for themselves.
Conor: because they wanted it for themselves and I had. National clients, regional clients, um, you know, local clients, all sorts of different people. Um, and eventually how I really stepped into it. As I tried to partner with a company that was a tech company, a developer company that had a bunch of devs on staff.
And I said, you build the product, I’ll sell it. And I, and I did a revenue share with them and I brought them, my corporate, our, our CMO came into town. I drove him to, and from the airport, gave him the idea, send it to them. And they were going to buy it for 800 salespeople across the nation. And the, the dev shop couldn’t figure it out.
And I had a conflict of interest because it was a public company. I couldn’t. Being on a deal where I was employed by himself, I had to bail on it.
Andrew: And what did you want the software to do? The first version that they couldn’t deliver?
Conor: I just wanted the ability to create a video and send it in an email. That’s it.
Andrew: And the email would be embedded in the video, in the email, or would be linked to a website.
Conor: Um, it didn’t even matter at that point in those days, like in coding, like we take all of these things for granted these days, but like I was running multiple, I bought like multiple laptops and I was running, it was called onto technology. Which was bought by Google for like $2 billion, um, for their Kodak of their video and coding.
And I would run simultaneously video and coatings to try and get the best quality. It was like the hand crank way to do video and
Andrew: each video that you wouldn’t code. And then would you send a custom video to each person?
Andrew: So this was, we’re talking about 2005 or so that you did this. I was looking to see when YouTube was launched. It’s two, actually it’s about the same time 2005 Google video was coming in afterwards. And so this is what, this is what you were trying to do on your own.
And you were going to sell it as what SAS or sell it as a one-time package
Conor: And I, I got the for constant contact and for Salesforce and I started revert. So they’re, you know, 90 pages long. And I started looking at the business model and saying, okay, How does the, the, how does the economic engine or model work for the SAS companies? And, and I was like, this is a great thing. It’s a, an annuity.
And I was like, if I could just get, and that at the time I was, I was starting businesses in Africa, in Kenya. Uh, with a friend of mine, social enterprise stuff, like chicken coops and, and the labia farms and stuff. And I wanted to move to Africa. And I was like, if I could just build up $10,000 in subscription revenue, it’ll pay for me to go live in Africa
Andrew: And build chicken coops.
Conor: and build chicken coops and stuff like that.
That’s a whole other story. That’s a whole other story
Andrew: why Africa? I saw that in the notes and I, I, I couldn’t figure out what the connection is.
Conor: Yeah, Kenya. I had visited Kenya in 2000, uh, right before September 11th. I got back the day before September 11th, um, doing, um, music festivals and stuff like that. Met a Ray gay singer. Kept in contact with him. And he called me up one day in 2004, five, four, and um, said, Hey, my brother’s coming to America.
He’s the, you mind if he stays with you, go to my now business partner, go to dinner that night. And I’m like, Hey, this guy’s coming. What you think? He’s like, really? You’re going to deny a guy from Africa. Go to pick them up at Denver international airport, he gets in my car for some amino. I’m like, Hey man, nice to meet you.
What are you doing? He says, I don’t know anybody in America. You’re the only person I know. I’ll be here for two months. I’ve got the clothes on my back.
Andrew: Wow. Okay.
Conor: So learn a little bit while he was doing, he was helping these kids in this, uh, garbage dump that came him and his wife fasted for a data week, uh, trying to, uh, feed these kids now it’s, you know, um, they had a heart for these, these poor widows and orphans and this.
In this garbage dump, they were, uh, people coming down from the, uh, Sudan war, um, in Northern Kenya and coming down. And it was the first place that people could stop that, uh, that was safe. And, um, these people, they just found it, this friend of mine. And, um, and basically he was like, I’m here to raise money for this.
Uh, this is what I feel like I’m called to. And I was like, I don’t know anything about nonprofit or NGOs, but what I do know is business. So we threw it up on a white board. We whiteboard it out, all the things he did. We, we raised some money. We ended up now it’s, you know, the, uh, the he’s got quite an organization.
This guy, he was like, you’ve opened my eyes. What we started talking about. I was like, tell me about the markets. What is being sold? What are you doing? What are the things? And then I started talking to her. I was like, well, what if you bought a car and started a taxi service and then use that asset to pay off the liabilities and there’s profit.
And I started and like, he was like, you’re opening my eyes. Do all of these things, Connor, like what the heck? And he took that entrepreneurial spirit and like ran with it today. He’s got a chicken coop of over 2000 tilapia farms. He sells about 400 kilos a week and tomatoes.
Andrew: So I, I see that you’re excited about it for the entrepreneurial reasons, but you wanted to make just $10,000 a month so that you can go and participate in it. I’m sensing that there’s more of a do gooder instinct here, right? For you. What’s what’s your connection to wanting to go and do that? No.
Conor: You know, um, a little bit of my story is, you know, I, I, you know, I had a, I had a great upbringing. My parents were there, but I was a very lonely kid. Dyslexic people told me I was stupid. I didn’t fit in anywhere. And, um, and it just, it made me kind of a loner almost, although I had friends, but like I wasn’t the guy who got picked on the team, I never won the trophy.
I was always like, You know, I always got fourth place. It was like, it was, I never really achieved anything. And so, you know, by the time I was in high school and experimenting with all sorts of drugs to numb my pain, you know, uh, you know, I realized that relationships. And when my grandfather and my father taught me about the world was that people were the really things that mattered.
And, um, and, and, you know, you can’t take anything with you. So a material success and, and nice places, uh, are, are, are all great and good, but like, ultimately at the end of the day, you’re not going to be able to take it with you. And what you give away in this life is really what you’ll take.
Andrew: And you still believe that.
Conor: I still do.
Andrew: So are you saving all this money up to give it away somewhere?
Conor: Well, actually, I, you know, if you look at these, you know, the guys who take that, you know, stance and say, Hey, we’re going to build this up and really optimize the investment and then build up this thing and then give it away. I’m taking a kind of a different approach and saying, maybe we should give it away through relationship along the way.
Like, and then that keeps you hungry, kind of. Um, so like one of the things that I tested out this year is what is the maximum amount of cash you can give away until the IRS doesn’t give you a deductible anymore.
Andrew: So you just literally been given it so 20, 20 you gave away money to what? To who? Sure.
Conor: Um, well, uh, I gave him, um, money away to Africa. Um, I’ll tell you, I was just talking with there’s this, uh, organization in Colorado. Brings called Mary’s home. They save, uh, they, they help women, um, that are in abusive relationships that have kids. They give them a place to stay a program to get on their feet.
Um, a woman that just graduated out of there. Um, uh, actually, um, she started her own business now is like, Thriving and doing well things. Um, we have a thing called Springs rescue mission, um, in Colorado Springs and it, and it meets people where they’re at and gives them basic needs and services around different things.
And then I’m just a big fan of being in relationship with people and being like, you might not necessarily get the tax write off, but. People that just need stuff. Like, you know, on Christmas day I rolled into, you know, the, the, uh, gas station and this lady looked at me and I was like, do you need some money?
You look stressed out. And she was like, yes.
Andrew: Of course. All right. We better not get you too carried away talking about that here in the podcast so that other people don’t. Say, well, I got Conner’s email address. I’ll figure it out and send them a video and see if I could get some from all right. I see. I see where your head is coming back then to you creating this, you had this idea you couldn’t follow through on it.
The first way that you wanted to you eventually did come up with something. What’s the first version that you were actually able to launch.
Conor: Um, so the first version you. It actually would send an email. You couldn’t edit the email. I would have to hand upload the video and, and hand upload a list, a CSV to get the contacts in. And it would send it out from a, from a mail server in like the middle of the Pacific ocean. So like I went to, so I had one customer.
I always call Bronco Billy’s casino. And, um, they were a billboard customer and they, um, they had a list of 5,000 people they sent out to. And the first one took a day and a half to send out the email. And, um, but it worked great. It was one of their most successful things because they had a video of the owners all dressed up.
This is circa 2006. And, um, or actually it was two that was 2007. So that time I even got a customer was 2007. I sold a winery, a casino, and then I gave it away to the fine arts center in Colorado Springs. By the way, all of the videos at that time, there was no phone with a camera on them. The iPhone wasn’t even invented at that point.
And so. I would physically have to go out and record the videos because that was the number one. Um, that was the number section.
Andrew: And frankly, it must still be a current objection because a lot of the promotional videos that I’ve seen you create will explain the product, explain the event benefit, and then anticipating the problem people have you also, or your team says, and don’t worry. If you don’t know how to shoot video, we have lots of training to show you how to do it.
Conor: Part of our guidance.
Andrew: but you want to constant contact type of company at the time. How does, how does going and shooting custom video for your clients factor into this vision that you had?
Conor: Well, so at that point, um, I was like, you gotta do that and to even have a shot at it. And then email deliverability is actually a, you know, a good old boys club and I was not in it. And, um, and so.
Andrew: there’s someone at AOL who has to approve your mail coming in, or else they block you. And if they block you, they’re not telling you why it’s like that. Okay. So you didn’t have that kind of, but were you thinking. I’m going to do this by hand. Now, at some point, people will have easier access to video.
You were, this is you saying I’m laying the foundation for a world that I believe has got to come. And by the way, that’s what, that’s what it is. And by the way, when I phone first came out from what I remember, it did not shoot video. It shot photos. If you installed an app, you could get a video. And that app was marginally rogue, right?
Okay. All right. I see where you’re going with this. Let me talk about my first sponsor. And then I’m going to come back and ask about how you got Bronco Billy’s as a, as a client. Uh, cause I thought that was pretty interesting too. So my first sponsor is a company called . Do you know opto at all? Or am I about to tell you about them?
Conor: you’re about ready to tell me about them.
Andrew: All right. Good. I’m going to open your eyes to this brand new tool. See, look kind of a while back. I must have off-handed said who, who is using LinkedIn messages to get customers. Well, bunch of people said to me, I’m using LinkedIn. Do you use LinkedIn messages, Connor, you do to get customers.
Conor: just to communicate with yeah.
Andrew: It turns out there’s like a 30% open rate. If you’re targeting business people who are not like burned out, they, they open it, they respond they’re into that whole communication. I got one entrepreneur. He said that he gets enterprise customers by reaching out to them on LinkedIn. This other entrepreneur is getting investors by messaging.
Uh, What is it executives at fortune 500 companies on LinkedIn? I said, why then, you know, there’s angel list. He goes, no, no. These are the people who are going to buy from me and open doors for me. If they make an investment, it’s great. But then they’re responding. And then the thing that really blew me away was apparently their whole agencies that will go to clients like the billboard company that used to work for an others and say, I will get you leads, just pay me for leads.
And what they do is they take over the customer’s LinkedIn account and they start sending chat messages on LinkedIn and getting customers. Anyway, there’s a whole business around this. I was fascinated by it. Well, I found this tool that basically automates it because here’s what the process is. Like, you got to find the right people to message.
You then have to customize messages for each one of them. Then when they respond back, you have to respond back to them and then you try to get them on a call or do something else to close a sale. Well, there’s a tool that does all of that. It’s just completely automated. It’s called Zopto.
And they’ll customize the whole thing. So they mail merge a message for each person that’s unique — after letting you target them.
They’ll even let you target people based on whether they’ve been on your site. Connor. Imagine they come to BombBomb and then you able to then go on LinkedIn and say, you know, I’ve got this tool that’s helpful.
Or imagine if they use some other tool. I don’t know what Intercom for you or something might indicate that they’re into marketing automation or maybe they’re using infusion soft, or what’s a tool that one of your customers at BombBomb would use Connor.
Conor: Uh, we use, um,
Andrew: Customers, what would they use if you wanted to go find customers? What software would you, would you look for businesses that
Conor: ZoomInfo or, uh, something like that, or,
Andrew: Yeah, I would imagine if they were using something like not MailChimp, maybe HubSpot customers. They’d be good. Right.
Conor: Oh yeah.
Andrew: Yeah. Right. So imagine you do a search for anyone who’s using HubSpot. You find the CFO or the CMO at that company. And then you say I’m going to message them on LinkedIn. Well, one at a time it’s a pain in the butt.
If you’ve got Zopto, you could do this on mass. Anyway, the reason I’m saying all this is Zopto will do this on en mass.
I’ve actually seen people go to Zopto, sign up for the software, create whole agencies where they use the software to get leads for clients. And then the way they get clients is by using Zopto.
All right. Listen to me, if you’re out there and any of this is resonating with you. If you’ve got an agency where you’re getting leads for clients and you need a new tool to do it, if you’re trying to get enterprise customers and you need a tool to do this, right, I’m going to give you a URL where you can go and get to use this software right now.
It’ll blow you away when you use it. Here’s a URL. Go to: Get.Zopto.com/Mixergy that’s G E T dot Z O P T O dot COM slash M I X E R G Y.
It’ll blow you away.
Go get ZOPTO. Thanks for sponsoring.
You’re a sales person. What do you think of the, that first ad?
This is my first time talking about that sponsor.
Conor: That was good.
Andrew: You know why it was good? Zopto’s guy was so good about getting on a phone with me. He demoed for me and so on. I get why they do demos.
You guys are selling software for what, like $29. Your team’s offering me as demo every time I’m on your landing page. Does it pay for you to do a demo for someone who’s paying so little.
Conor: Yeah. Yeah. It’s um, you know, we identify the, the, the people and, and, and look at it and, and yeah.
Andrew: Because there is a higher end product. What I was looking at when I’m saying $29 a month, it’s the one-to-one video. If I want to go and send a thousand or 10,000 messages, the price can rise up.
Conor: Yeah, correct.
Andrew: All right.
Conor: Then obviously we’re trying to get into organizations and then there’s tools on how to use that and to optimize those things and, and, um, to get people more engaged in using the product more and using it more effectively.
Andrew: Percentage would you say of bomb bombs? Users are individuals versus bigger businesses, individual salespeople.
Conor: salespeople is about 60% and then big businesses. What we call kind of mid market enterprise is like 40%. And that is, that is dramatically growing over the past a year. Um, and, um, especially with COVID and all of that, um, we’ve seen a large acceleration in that
Andrew: Why do you think COVID is accelerating that?
Conor: just people aren’t able to get face to face.
Andrew: And so this is the alternative to, I can’t walk into your office, say hi to you, Andrew. So I’m going to send a video and that’s my hot, yeah.
Conor: Yup. It’s not live. Right. So like, you don’t have to like set up a time, like. Another zoom meeting or whatever. It’s like, Hey, I can send you this information. You can watch it on your time. You can engage with it on your time and then you can interact with that person on your time. So,
Andrew: So closing Bronco Billy’s you had to offer to, were you building a site for them or what was it that you offered them that you’d be willing to do?
Conor: well, I, I pitched everything to him, so I was doing. Pay-per-click I built a website forum. I shot video for them. I did all of their digital.
Andrew: The whole thing. And you did that all hoping that they could help launch this business of yours that you knew. It is, would eventually be self-serve software as a service. You’re the guy who read the 900 plus pages in the, in the, uh, of these email marketing companies. You are all right, you got them as a customer.
Tell me about, um, I just knocked the mic whenever I get excited and knock the mic out of the way it’s got to just burst people’s ears. Tell me about this one customer who was doing leads, who ended up being an investor. What type of leads was he doing?
Conor: So these guys were the second largest lead aggregator for insurance in the U S and we actually, they came to me, I sent him a video. He was a friend of mine, kind of a mentor guy. And, um, And he was like, I really like what you’re doing here. And we actually created a technology that we’re not fully using right now, but it was called real-time email.
We actually have a patent on it that would actually change the email once it’s sent out. And it was tied to an online lead auction for insurance quotes. So when you went on to quality auto insurance.com or whatever, they were running traffic to, and you filled out your information, that email would go out and send the quote.
Based on the time they opened it, the area they were in, in a real-time auction to try and get that lead to close ads in real time. So we called it real-time email. We have a patent on it. There’s a bunch of companies that are actually using it, um, uh, using a similar type of technology out there. Um, you probably see it if you get like a Motley fool emails or whatever it changes and stuff like that.
Andrew: those occasionally. All right. And so. This was a video that they wanted you to do for them, or just customized email in general, not even video.
Conor: It was just customized email. I was, I was beg, borrowing and stealing to get anything I could do that bring in revenue.
Andrew: Anywhere around the thing that you wanted to do, you’re willing to do while you figured out how to do it. I heard that you hired some, uh, design developers who were pitching new Java at first, the thing didn’t work out. Eventually it did work out. How did you get your first version to actually work?
Conor: I went through four developers. Um, and then I met. Uh, key my first investor. Um, it was actually before the insurance guys, um, and he actually had semiretired was going back to school for art history. He was one of the founders that invented DSL in the late nineties, efficient and works. They’re one of the fastest growing companies on the NASDAQ in 1999, $80 billion market cap.
He ended up semi retiring. I was in a philosophy book club at 6:00 AM. Every Friday with them got talking, he was like, what are you doing? And he was the one who taught me product management and building dev teams.
Andrew: What, what did you bring to the table that got him so interested in backing you and teaching you and working with you?
Conor: That’s a great question. You know, I’m pretty I’m. I was just like, I’m always like just trying stuff. And, you know, I think like literally I went to lunch with this guy and I had printed off papers of the product of what the workflow look like. And he was, he looked at me and he was like, this is horrible, but this is really interesting.
Andrew: The idea was interesting. The fact that you’re working on it as interesting. Got it. And that you’ve got some kind of salesmen work ethic.
Conor: And I, uh, and, and it always came down to this undeniable belief in who, like in anything, I can’t sell anything that I don’t like 100% believe in. You can just read it. It’s like all over me. And so like, I have to a hundred percent believe in it. And what I knew was when people sent videos, To individuals if they actually took, you know, and at that time I think I clocked it in at like, it took like 18 minutes to record a video and send a one-to-one video in the system at the time, which was a pain in the butt for one video.
Um, and, and I was just. If I knew how people reacted to it. And they were to this day, we’re doing an evaluation, our business, you know, uh, two weeks ago. And the guy from, you know, the big tax firm out of San Francisco, we send a video on the valuation, like our feedback from our CFO. And he’s like, I’ve never gotten one of these.
This is really awesome. That was two weeks ago from one of the top accounting firms for tech in San Francisco.
Andrew: You’re saying this is still mind-blowingly new to people. It’s still an eye opener for them to get it. It’s because it still does take effort. You know, anyone can fire off email, anyone can create, um, I don’t know, a drip campaign using any kind of software. Right.
Conor: And there, there are companies, competitors, um, that do stuff similar to us and they automate these things. Like they put your name that comes out of a database on a thing, and then they send it out to 20 people. But the minute that somebody clicks record, they know that you didn’t take the time to actually record it.
But when you actually take the time to record it and care.
Andrew: So that’s, that’s what you, because you could add that, right. You can make it look real. I could always hold a piece of paper. Well, vineyard does that. That’s what it is. Right? Vidyard would let me fake that. I’m holding a piece of paper with the person’s name on it. You know how to do it. You don’t want to do it.
Conor: No, why would I do that?
Andrew: but what if your customers wanted to? What if it gets more
Conor: it’s a, it’s a, it’s a trick. It’s a gimmick.
Andrew: you ever test it to see if it gets better results for your customers or you just don’t even care? You’re actually
Conor: clearer. It’s, you know, it’s kind of like a general belief in who I am. Like, I just, I just believe that, you know, at the end of the day, like automation is great for some things, but relationships, it’s not.
Andrew: Okay. So you’re continuing to learn. You get better advice on how to put a team together. At some point you get a co-founder you started to mention that. Who is this person? Why did you team up?
Conor: Um, well, he started helping, um, with the dev side and he brought in some cash and then my other co-founder, who’s still, he. That guy is still an investor in us, but he, he went and started a family and, and, um, and decided to go and do other things. Um, and then my other co-founder, I finally convinced him, um, to quit his job and to come full time.
Andrew: When did you finally do that?
Conor: Um, you know, that was when we raised the little bit of money from the, we raised like $50,000 from, uh, um, the, the, the insurance guys. And, um, and so we raised a little bit of money there and it was always a comedy of errors of like my aunt Linnie would come out to visit my mom. And I’d be like, aunt Linnie.
$25,000 is good to be worth so much money. And I convinced about 20 of my family and friends, which you never take
Andrew: No, I can’t believe it. And it paid off for you. They did.
Conor: For us and for them nicely.
Andrew: That’s what I mean, it paid off for you as a relative to them to have given them this opportunity. Yeah. Did they cash out yet?
Conor: Uh, no, Nope. They’re still on, um, you know, uh, a couple of them have, you know, a couple of the early events, you know, I’ve done some favors and connected them with different people and, and I’ve bought in back shares from some people, um, you know, and then, um, Yeah. But, um, most of the people they come to me and they’re like, Hey, I just want to have a phone call with you every year.
And I’m like, Hey, if you can put this into something else that’s growing, um, more than this, which a video company and COVID is just the company you want to be invested in. And, um, you know, it’s an, and humans are what I’m betting on for the future.
Andrew: Okay. Uh, you end up getting Anderson window retailer, the local retailer, in order to get them, you say, I’m going to do your search engine optimization. I’m going to do your pay-per-click. You do the whole thing, basically. You’re saying, I’ll get you the results your mentor says to you, switch from charging them a fee to charging them per lead.
Right? And they’re happy with that.
Conor: Yeah. So they were happy with that. So they said, okay, we’re putting in this much money, we’re getting this many leads. And then I just flip that around and said, I’ll change the business model. I’ll guarantee a lead at this amount. And I had all the analytics and everything. So I just did the math. And I was like, if I can increase this.
And I can pay for it, then I will, I will win on the back. It’s a win-win for everybody. And so, um, it increases their business and increases mine. And I just originally, when I did it, I blew it. I took it nationwide and I had the business model wrong and I didn’t make any money.
Andrew: You took the pay per lead model nationwide. Oh wow. Got it.
Conor: they were connect. So the local guy was connected to, you know, people all over the country. Cause they all yeah there. And they were like, we got this great thing going with Connor, you should do it. And um, and I ended up doing it and it did not work
Andrew: didn’t it
Andrew: It’s the same model. You’re just taking it now to different regions. Google allows you to customize for local regions. Why didn’t it work right.
Conor: It was all based on the relationship back to relationship again. So the people wouldn’t give me a hard time about paying the cash up front so they would pay me, they would prepay the leads upfront and then. They, they, they wouldn’t give me a hard time about the quality of leads or if it set or the appointment or
Conor: loose on that.
And the other people were like Nicklin and diamond me. So it just eat away at the margins and it was unprofitable. And so I had to shut it down. And then the original people got bought by a bigger company and they were like, We see this thing working for us, will you come on? And I was like, Nope. And they’re like, what if we doubled your lead cost? And I was like, I do that.
Andrew: You really just taking whatever you can get and they’re still doing it with you at that price.
Conor: Uh, yeah, well, it it’s expanded into multiple markets and prices and different things. So it’s um, so I, shit, I, I spun that business off and the beginning of 2015. And run that as a separate company. Um, I hired a CFO, uh, so I found a CFA. Who’s a good friend of mine. Um, and I was like, this is, you need analytical minds in AdWords.
And I’m like, okay. Uh, CFA would love ad-words with a cost per lead strategy and they would just eat this up. So I paid them to train an ad words and had him get a bunch of CFA’s together. And then we built a company, uh, that’s still running today and, um, it is a weird. I don’t even know what you call it.
It’s called Dale Valenti, which in Latin means God willing. Um, and so like, I’m just like, if this works, it works and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t and, uh, I’m gonna use this. Do do things like help out the Springs rescue mission and single moms and people.
Andrew: What you’re doing is your clients are getting leads. They’re paying you for the leads. And you’ve got these companies, uh, CFS. I didn’t know what that was. It’s it’s a certified funnel.
Conor: Yep. Yeah. So it’s a financial advisor, a souped up financial advisor that, um, you know, that analyzes like the stock market numbers and stuff. And
Andrew: And you wanted them to just analyze the ad buys that they were doing so that they could understand whether it was working or not. Got it. And you separated it because you realize, you know what BombBomb needs to be a software company. Your vision was SAS. You got back to SAS. All right. I’m going to do a shorter ad this time.
Cause I know I went long for the last one for, uh, Gusto. What do you know about Gusto? Maybe you would, maybe I just ask you and then we’ll leave it at that.
Conor: They’re the, the, the platform for HR HRS, I’m assuming.
Andrew: Yeah, HR they’ll take care of your payroll. They’ll take care of your people no matter where they are in the country, they’ll even take care of your contractors. Of course they do hiring onboarding time-tracking. They’ve got a certified HR expert. Basically what they do is they make it so easy, Connor that if you have people that you need to pay.
You just got pay people, do it in minutes and then move on and your people are going to love it because they’ve got a great experience on their side. I want people to go try this for free, because this is a good time to start switching right now, January, 2021. Go to Gusto. so.com/mixergy, and they’ll let you use it for free.
That’s G O S T o.com/mixergy for three months free. And frankly, don’t do it for free do it because it’s going to save you a lot of agita. Alright. Um, When did you finally realize, when did you hit the Mark? Is it because of that tech savvy agent blog post that was written about you? Is that what finally made you realize that you like what your model is?
Because you’re still wandering in this, in this point in the story.
Conor: Focused in on real estate. So tech savvy agent, um, Goes online searches for an email marketing platform, finds BombBomb is like, this is super easy, way more easy than MailChimp or constant contact
Andrew: for an alternative to MailChimp. Doesn’t even think about the video. That’s your pride and joy. Okay. All right.
Conor: D was doing a lot of things. At the time he had about 200,000 followers on tech savvy agent had a list of that many people. Loads up a video of him using the product and what he does, and then sends it out to 200,000 people. And we were signing up like, Oh, good day was like 10 people signing up. And we were like hand crank and like, Colin, every single person that fills out a form, like we would run to the phone.
We had, we had a thing called no voicemail left behind, like the phone rings. Like you’ve got, if you’re in a meeting, you got to run and get it. Like you can’t let it go less than 25 voicemails in a quarter. Like we w we like, we’re all over this. And, um, and we signed up 40 people off of his email.
Andrew: Because they saw that he was using, it said, what is he using? And what was it about the email that they were attracted to? Did he actually use the video feature?
Conor: He used the video
Andrew: Ah, and, um, once again, people are excited about the video, but also curious, how did he do that? Yeah.
Conor: How do you do that? And his whole video was on how to use BombBomb.
Andrew: Oh, got it. Because he’s trying to train them. That’s the value that he brings in. Got it.
Conor: So Keller Williams, which is a large, they have 170,000 agents or something. Call us up and say, You should come to our annual conference called family reunion. It’s at the big convention center. And, um, and come down, we like, literally like get a sprint wifi, you know, because it’s $5,000. And like, I’m like, literally, yeah, it’s like get internet and we set up this booth and literally from.
An hour before the convention center opens. There’s like 60 people at our booth being like, I want to buy it. We had 500 customers on the day we arrived. And three days later when we left, we had like 1200 customers.
Andrew: Paying how much a month.
Conor: It was, we sold it for $144 for the year.
Andrew: Okay. All right. That’s solid though. It’s super cheap, but, okay. That’s a solid thing. And now also you found, you found your audience, which is your customer base, which is real estate agents. You found your way of getting them, which is these events. You started going to events, nonstop conferences, buying booth, setting up
Conor: So we invest X amount, so it’s just a basic CAC ratio and LTV, and then you’re just looking at it and you start figuring out the business model. And then that’s when I went, um, I don’t know if, if I told you about this, but the loan shark deal.
Andrew: What’s a loan shark deal. No.
Conor: so this is an interesting thing. So this was really the turning point.
So. That. So we just doubled our business. We were, you know, I forget how much revenue we’re low revenue. We are hut. We had people on staff we’ll we didn’t barely have any runway. And I was like, but we can see that when we went to these shows that it would stack and then people would find out about us and then it would drive traffic and it would just.
Build and build. And we’re like, if we just focus on this, this market’s big enough to like build a company off of just this. Like, laser-focused get like niche, like dominate. It’s a beachhead strategy. You know, we went to the quarterly offsite and was like beachhead strategy land fricking dig in, fricking take the beach.
And then we’re going in like straight up, like the hand to hand crank. And we’re doing this. So, but I still couldn’t get an investment cause we didn’t have any revenue really. We’re, we’re adding like 200 customers a month at that time. And so there is this what I call the loan shark, but there was, have you ever heard of like invoice financing
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. They’re called factoring or something. Yeah.
Conor: found this guy out of Denver, this lawyer.
And I went to them and I was like, Hey man. So this is this thing called SAS. And this is before SAS capital and all of these guys that
Andrew: Yeah. Now you can do it.
Conor: on revenue before the days of all this, the, what all the great entrepreneurs have today for, you know, being able to finance their SAS companies. Once they have a little bit of traction.
And so I went to this guy and I said, I’m adding 200. Here’s the, here’s the deal? Here’s the lifetime value of these customers based on these churn rates, I’ve got this much data on a thousand customers, and I gave them the backwards math, and I said, discount it at 60% of the value of the lifetime value of that customer.
And then charge me a super high interest rate on a seven month payback period of principal and interest at 47%.
Andrew: 47. You’re basically saying, just rip me off, but also you have the sense that.
Conor: What I need five, $550,000 line of credit, and I need to be able to borrow it based off of the new customers that I bring in at this discounted rate. And you’re going to charge me at this rate so I could borrow, it was $240 per new customer that I got. And so basically I just did the math on the business model and said, If I can build, if I can add this many people and then accelerate that growth to 400, the mass should work out.
Me and my business partner, Darren had to personally guarantee. And that’s when my buddy, who was the guy from efficient networks. Um, he was like, I can’t personally guarantee T this I’m out.
Andrew: Okay, this was what year?
Conor: This was 2012.
Andrew: 2012. And so you finally, you’re willing to do it. You’re on a roll. You’re getting money based on the, kind of the present value of your future earnings from each new customer. At a bad, bad deal, but I understand it. You do well. And then
Conor: worked, the math
Andrew: the math definitely worked. It worked for him, work for you. It made sense.
But then three years later, you ended up with another problem, right? Where you rent space downtown, you end up how much space did you end up renting whole floor.
Conor: 15,000 square feet.
Conor: We had 36 employees at the time.
Andrew: a, so the space could accommodate how many people.
Conor: Uh, I think it was like 120.
Andrew: Okay. So you’re thinking big, you end up with a, what can I say? What the revenue was at the time? I’ve got it here, my notes, but, okay. So $2 million in revenue, everything is looking good, except the summer becomes a busy season for real estate professionals. They don’t want, is it that they don’t want new software, but they’re willing to keep paying for their current software or are they canceling even that.
Conor: You’re just not getting the new revenue.
Andrew: That’s it, no new revenue coming in because they want to go and do deals. They don’t want to have to send more, more messages out. And so that’s your business.
Conor: There’s no new revenue coming in because you’re focused on real estate and all the realtors are actually outselling. They don’t have time to buy software. They’re actually
Andrew: The problem for you, you, is it because you need more money coming in to keep this system
Conor: The other way we financed our business was we did. So we went from 5% of our business being annual, uh, paid up front cash. Two, we flip that when we went into real estate. And so we financed our business based on the deferred revenue of upfront cash payments,
Andrew: Okay. And so you finance with anticipation of getting more upfront payment. It’s not that you were finance. It’s not that you were getting a customer and then getting that customer’s money upfront. It’s that, but in addition, you were also getting money based on
Conor: borrowing off of that.
Andrew: Got it. Are you a gambler? No, you just don’t know.
You just don’t have, you’re not a VC guy,
Conor: I’m I’m I knew, I knew that I, I knew I could, I knew the math worked, so if it, so I was
Andrew: about this? They didn’t change from 2014 or 2013 to 2015. It had always been like that. Why did that year take you so much by surprise?
Conor: I don’t know if it was so much by surprise or just we didn’t plan. Well, we just didn’t know the cycle well enough to see it. Cause we didn’t have enough data. Right? Like those were in the days before you have the stripes with the ARR and the
Andrew: You know what? I can’t tell you how many investors I talked to back then who talked about, understand the lifetime value of customer only spend based on that. And then I’d say, okay, well, one of you come on and talk about how to figure out the LTV and not one of them could do it. Now, if you have thousands of customers, millions of customers and, and years of experience fine.
But until then they couldn’t really do it. And so you’re right then bare metrics came out with a profit. Well, and now Stripe has it in it’s now part of the software that you get
Conor: You just start that way. We actually, I spent two developers time, two years, developing a revenue recognition system that we used until two years ago.
Andrew: to helps you recognize the revenue based on when it’s earned, not when you collect the cash, right? Yeah.
Conor: you can predict what’s coming back and all of this. Like we, they didn’t have those back then. It was it, there wasn’t a system for
Andrew: Give out. I used to export my data. People would hear me complain about this and my podcast. They would say I could solve it for you. I’d export my data minus personal information to people who I trusted. And I said, okay. Do it, tell me what the LTV is of a customer’s paying monthly versus annual. Should I be selling more annual or monthly and also don’t lump them all together because these people came from this deal.
These people came from my site, these people along. Right. Figure it out. Anyway, I get it. You finally got it. You finally nailed it. Tell me about one fun thing. Let’s close it out without. You finally made this all happen. Your do good, or you’re helping people even at the, at the gas station, but what about you, Connor?
Give me one fun thing that you’re able to do because you reach this height and suffered for so long
Conor: Fun thing.
Andrew: fun part, like proud thing that you’re able to get for yourself to do because of this.
Conor: Yeah, so, you know, my wife, so I, uh, one, uh, one of, uh, the, one of the people I convince that were a friend of mine was a, um, that I convinced to invest in BombBomb. And he became a mentor friend over the years. He, he is the CEO of a sovereign debt fund in Dubai. And, um, and so like literally the, the, the, the dudes got a place on the, the Palm Island and like, and his boss is like one of the richest people in the world type thing.
Um, and so we would always talk about like wealth and what you do with it, even when I didn’t. And at that time I had this mindset of. Basically, I was like, I need to be living off of what my lowest plate paid employee is living on. And even though at the time I was making more and I was just like saving money and like, um, you know, getting out of the hole because like, you know, I almost lost my house.
I almost like funding this whole, this whole adventure. Um, my wife, uh, you know, was used to like not paying utility bills and stuff like that. Um, and, um, and so I was really in this poverty mindset. Um, and I was like, man, you know, I have to live at the lowest levels because, you know, because other people do too.
And my, my friend looked at me and he w he, he, he kind of. Told me and said, you know, Connor, um, just because you don’t eat, just because you drive, I was driving a ma the Honda civic with a broken door handle where you’d have to walk in from the other side. Um, and I was like with pride doing this. And, um, and finally my wife was like Connor, and this was at my ten-year anniversary for BombBomb.
And she was like, you need to splurge and just buy cars. I love nice cars. And, um, and I went and bought myself a Porsche and, um, and yeah, I love, I love the car.
Andrew: And was it, it was as fun as you thought it would be
Conor: is amazing. I
Andrew: What’s amazing about it. I’m not a car person. What is it? What’s amazing about it.
Conor: It is so like, I took it, they have like a driving day, um, down at the racetrack and I went out there and they get you all suited up and everything. And I had no idea that my SUV can go 120 to zero in about, I forget how many feet it was and then do a hairpin turn without. It’s out like, like the brakes, the, the, it just makes you appreciate, this is a cayenne
Andrew: and it could turn, I got it. So now you’re like a race car as a kid, but now you’re an adult who has the real thing and it actually more than lives up to the, to the version of the
Conor: and it’s an SUV. It’s not even the
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, yeah,
Conor: when I’m like, This is amazing. So I splurged on that. I’m more of an experienced guy than I am. Anything else?
Andrew: I am too. Things are mostly
Conor: experiences. I’m not big into, like, I like nice things. I like going to nice places, but like going and taking my sister out on a bow when she comes to visit and like doing different things for people, giving people, experiences a wow is what I’m into, because you don’t know if you’re going to have tomorrow and you can’t take anything with you.
So you might as well enjoy it while you have it. And how do you live life to the fullest?
Andrew: All right. The website is bombbomb.com. He wanted to call the company the bomb couldn’t get the domain cause he’s not like he wasn’t rich. I ended up with bombbomb.com, uh, B O M B B O M b.com. And I want to thanks to sponsors who made this interview happen? The first, if you, if you have a team, you need to go check out Gusto.
This is the year for you to organize the way you pay them and the way you take care of them. Really well, by going to gusto.com/mixergy. And number two, if you’re looking for leads, if you want software to get this right, I’m going to give you a special URL. It’s a little longer than most, but don’t worry.
It’s also on the webpage for this podcast, but I’ll give it to you. You can remember it’s get.xarelto.com/mixergy. Get dot dot com slash Mixergy. Colin. Thanks. So Colin Connor, thank you so much for being on here and also. Thanks for understanding the issue that I had getting started with here. Trying to get my kid into school here in San Francisco.
Yeah, Monday night, we were told six o’clock. We can go and book them in. We go in, I swear, six Oh four. I thought those website was down. I messaged her. I said, we’re on the wait list. I think your site’s not, it’s not working. She goes, no, no, it filled up. So two minutes before you come on, she says to me, we got more room 10 more.
I got it. I got to say Connor. I need more time. And thanks for the extra time we made it work. Right. Connor. Thank you. Bye everyone.