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Hi, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. How do you use your own resources and relationships to bootstrap a business? Joining me is Chuck Longanecker, creator of SlideDeck, which is used by over 100,000 sites and is profitable. SlideDeck is a plug-in that helps web designers organize any kind of content into a beautiful and user-friendly slider.
Well, I want to ask him about how he got his product to take off. I want to ask Chuck about a previous site that didn’t work out for him. I know that he’s going to be open with us about that, because we did a pre-interview. And I want to ask him about the follow-up products that he has in mind, including Hello Bar, which recently launched.
Chuck, welcome to Mixergy.
Chuck Longanecker: Thank you very much. Good to be here.
Andrew: So, I mentioned that there are 100,000 sites… it’s over, well over 100,000 sites that are using SlideDeck. Can you give me an example of one of them and what it’s done for the site?
Chuck: Yeah. There are so many people using the site for so many different things. But what we’ve found out is the best usage of the site so far is for product tours. And we’ve been fortunate enough to know some really great people and gotten to know Neil Patel and Pete Shaw. And started bringing up the idea of SlideDeck to them, and the idea of really explaining their product a little bit better to help with conversions.
So, we built a SlideDeck for them. We took them through an entire process of story boarding exactly how the product works, what are the great benefits to the product and why you should engage with it, and put it up there and tested it for quite some time and noticed some really great results. Almost 20% increase in conversions.
We really love the irony of that, since they are a, more or less, user experience testing site, and many people use CrazyEgg to increase their conversions. So we figure it’s pretty good market testing if we’re able to increase CrazyEgg’s conversions that SlideDeck is working.
Andrew: All right. So, it’s a beautiful design that you’re giving people, and anyone who goes to SlideDeck.com can see the designs that you’ve got. But to me, it’s more meaningful to see that it actually increases conversions. And Neil has actually recently said that he came out with a product that had one of those long… what do they call them? Long sales pages.
Chuck: Squeeze pages?
Andrew: Yeah, they’re just really giant, and it converted pretty well for him, but he said that he would’ve had a better design, they gave him more credibility, and it would have increased conversions if he would’ve taken that long form and put it into a SlideDeck where people can just go through and see the features that he has to offer in a much cooler way, much more elegant way. So, now I understand why, because it worked for him with CrazyEgg. I’m looking down at my notes to see who we’re talking about here at this point.
So, you and I did a pre-interview, and you also put together some notes about why SlideDeck works so well. So let’s go through it. You said the first thing, when we talked, that helped was looking at your own current needs. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Chuck: Yeah. Starting as a user experience design and web design agency for the last 10 years, we’ve tried to make a lot of different things out of our interests. But really what it came down to is making something that we needed, something that we could build and resell. And in some cases, we can build a product for some clients and then continue to evolve it over time. And so, we started to look at web design in general and wanting to innovate more than an average company.
We didn’t want to just build a website, put in the typical homepage, about us, contact page, and move on to the next client. We wanted to actually innovate. We started asking ourselves, how do we make a better homepage? How do we make a better products page? These are standard pages that the billions of websites on the web have, and if we can improve those, then we’re onto something. So, SlideDeck actually came out of us trying to explain our own services.
So, SlideDeck was born. I don’t think it was called SlideDeck at first, but that was on our website, and we’ve kept it up there for old time’s sake. It’s on our services page right now. So, that’s the first SlideDeck, and from there, we decided to start making them for our clients and make their websites easier to use and understand.
And then from there we said, hey, why don’t we just build an infrastructure and architecture to this and make it easier for ourselves to build it for other clients, and we could be the only person with this architecture. And we realized that’s not really our way. Our way is really to give things out to the rest of the community and to engage with the rest of our web designers out there.
And so the thought was, we’ve carved a nice niche for ourselves in creating sites and actually doing some nice designs. So we wanted to enable other web designers to be able to do similar things easily. So that’s how SlideDeck was born.
Andrew: Was it as easy as just taking what was already there and white labeling it, or did you have to scrap what you had, learn from it, but build a brand new product?
Chuck: It was very proprietary. So, in order for other users, other web designers to just jump in and in order for us to build documentation around it and increase the compatibility of it, we had to actually rebuild the entire system. We did it, very minimal, viable product. So we followed a very simple process of, we just wanted to do one thing and one thing very well, and then we’ll iterate on it after that. So, we wanted to just start with horizontal left to right slides and make it very simple to interact with and just get the idea out there.
So I think it took us about four weeks to build it to a point where you could offer it for free. And then we decided once we got a little bit of exposure, we could offer a pro version and so on and so forth, iterate from there.
Andrew: I’ve talked to a lot of design shops in the past that have tried to create products, and they’ve told me that it’s hard to find the time to do it. You’ve got clients who are pressing you for work, and you want to turn around your work for them quickly and be on top of their needs. And you have your own little product that there’s no desperate need to finish, and there’s no urgency, and you’re not going to make any money on it instantly. In fact, who knows when or if you’ll ever make money on it, and so often that product gets built, and if it ever does, it doesn’t get built out as well as a client product. How did you make time, and how did you launch SlideDeck then in that kind of situation.
Chuck: Well, first I have to admit that I did that about five times before I built SlideDeck. So I’ve had a lot of other sites, a site around thought leaders called Learn From My Life, a site around music and bands called Champion Sound, that were all out of passion, things we were interested in, things we were excited about. But ultimately, we couldn’t give them enough time. We really couldn’t dedicate the time to them, and being a web designer in the web designer world didn’t help us. We had to become musicians. We had to become interviewers and thought leaders. And we couldn’t do those at the same time.
The secret behind, I think, what we were able to accomplish is that we built a product that’s parallel with what we’re doing anyway. And so I can get the buy in from the rest of the team and actually monetize it immediately with our clients. And I could simultaneously build it for other people and turn it into a product. So the first time we used SlideDeck, we were able to resell it as a custom installation, which was actually more profitable than building the website.
So it made sense in line with our standard operating procedures and business. At first we started as professional services, and then slowly started to build more attention to it and build the brand over time to downloads for users as a product.
Andrew: Did you have a customer who you were sure was ready to buy, or did you first build out that product, four weeks later show it to a customer, and hope they would buy?
Chuck: When we first built SlideDeck, we thought we might be onto something, but we weren’t sure, because we’d felt that before and weren’t onto something. So, I started showing SlideDeck to a lot of people, and I said, “What do you think this is for? What would you use this for?”
And from those amazing entrepreneurs I’ve gotten to meet, came up with great ideas. All the way to my mom, came up with five ideas of how to use it, and our clients as well were blown away. They hadn’t seen an interaction like that before. And it’s like a standard horizontal accordion slider, but more. There’s more depth to it. Something about it caught with people.
And so, with that, we started bringing it to clients and saying, ‘This is a product we have. We can actually build a product tour with it. We can build your whole site in it. We can explain something complex and make it nice and simple. And almost everybody said yes. Everybody was excited about it, and actually some people, after we had already just built their site, wanted to add it in. So it was an easy sell, and it was like, about time. Because web design is not an easy sell in general. [laughs]
Andrew: Can you talk about the site that you launched in the music industry? What was it?
Chuck: Yeah. About three and a half years ago, we built Champion Sound. We’ve always been big fans of music and bands and musicians and DJs, and we saw that there was an issue. You have things like MySpace. At that point in time, it was the primary marketing device. Now you have Facebook. And at that point, you didn’t have one primary set of people. You had some people on MySpace, you had some people on other social networks, some people on SMS, some people in email. And there’s no way to gather it all in one place and be able to communicate all your gigs and your music and all this kind of good stuff.
And there wasn’t actually a place to put all your mixes. There wasn’t Sound Club. There weren’t a lot of these services that are out there now that have really become established. So we wanted to build one general location, which musicians and venues and promoters could syndicate information about their gigs and their music and just really be in touch with all their fans.
And so we built Champion Sound, which is a platform for email marketing, SMS marketing, integration with social media. They can upload all their music there. It’s one central place. We figured, we’ll just sell ads on top of every email and make it free, because musicians aren’t exactly the people with the business platinum cards that are paying the bills every month.
And unfortunately, we didn’t do enough homework, and it’s really not very easy to get ads in emails as well as to view the images for those emails. AdSense doesn’t really work that way either. So, I think we could’ve probably made it work, but it was just a matter of we had to spend an enormous amount of time going to music conferences and really immerse ourselves in that music world when we’re web app people. We’re web designers. And we weren’t able to make that investment. And I think it’s really . . . you sell yourself short when you’re not willing to drop everything and focus on something 100%, and we were never able to do that.
Andrew: I see. So you had to immerse yourself in the music world. Meanwhile, you already are immersed in technology. You’re already immersed in the design world. People who are building sites today know Digital Telepathy, your company. And so you might as well build for the audience that already knows you. I see.
Before we move on to the next point, I didn’t know you guys had something called Learn From My Life. Did I know it? Did we talk about it and I somehow forgot, or do you guys keep it from me because you thought it was competitive with Mixergy and I’d be upset?
Chuck: Oh, no. Not at all. Learn From My Life is actually a little different audience. It’s thought leaders, mostly authors. Not much web stuff at all, and it was a partnership we did with a couple other people that were all just very passionate about life learning and growth. And it actually is, I guess it is somewhat similar to what you’re doing. But yeah.
Andrew: Damn you guys, competed with me behind me . . . no, I’m kidding. [laughs] I completely encourage… not only do I encourage other people to do interviews like this, I support them when they do and I answer endless questions about the technology I use here, because people are obsessed with the technology. They think that that’s the answer, that if they figure out how to put their videos the way I do, with two videos side by side the way we’ll have it when it’s all produced, that if they could figure that out, then everything else will fall into place. But it’s not about that. It’s about doing interviews.
So, what were the challenges you saw in that? That’s kind of a selfish question. I’m curious about what challenges you faced in the same business as I’m in.
Chuck: So, the main challenge was that I was running an agency. We started Learn From My Life. We started Champion Sound, and with Champion Sound, since we couldn’t get ads, we started a boutique ad network. And it was just too much. It was just too much multitasking. We had wonderful speakers with Learn From My Life. It’s a challenge to monetize it. We didn’t spend enough time figuring out how we would monetize it ahead of time.
I was at a point where we had started a tiny, tiny little incubator that we were utilizing our own resources to actually create a whole bunch of other startups with them. And I kind of let my partners just run with it, and I didn’t get involved too much. So, I was a bit of an absent leader in that. I think it’s just a matter of focus, and it’s a matter of single-tasking instead of multitasking on many things.
Andrew: The next point that you and I talked about in the pre-interview and in the emails that we sent back and forth was, target the audience you already know. And you gave an example of how that worked against you with ChampionSound.com. Here, the fact that you know designers . . . actually, how did you know designers? How did designers know about you and your work?
Chuck: Well, we actually came into that group as a peer as opposed to having a vast network of designers. We’re a small shop. I think we’re relatively respected, but we’re by no means being in all the different publications and trade mags, and nor do we really have that goal. I think we entered in as a peer, and we’re able to speak the language and took the time to understand what designers wanted.
We spent a lot of time going out and finding all the designers that we respect and had conversations with them. And asked them about, what’s your pain? What is something that you spend a lot of time with, and it just keeps you from doing your passion? What would you like to be easier?
And so we learned a lot that designers… as development has become commoditized, designers still have this hump they have to get over, where they can’t spend time being creative and just designing and going to the intuitive process of things. They spend a lot of time tweaking the bugs and making them look right and doing cross-browser compatibility. And so we started to understand that if we could make something simple and easy to use and actually increase the design and improve the effectiveness of the site that’s somewhat turnkey and low cost, they would buy it.
And so we went forth and just really had a lot of these conversations and understood first that we have to actually solve this problem, give a simple solution to it, and the people came after that.
Andrew: That’s an interesting point. To me, you seem famous. To me, I think everybody in the design world and the tech world knows you, and that’s because in my world everyone does. I lived in southern California, where everyone knew Chuck, where everyone, if they were in your part of town, felt that they could just come and use your office space. But I guess the rest of the world doesn’t know all of us. You had to go connect with them. How do you do it? Is it endless phone calls? Is it just reaching out to people one on one? Is there another way you got a hold of all these designers?
Chuck: Yeah. It’s taken a while to really understand it, but it’s pretty simple once you get it. You have to stand for something you really believe in. You have to really grasp something that is worth spreading and worth sharing. Just a single idea, a single challenge to overcome. And I think that when you present that to a peer, someone that can see the work that you’ve done and validate that you’re on their level or someone that they would consider an equal and of the same mindset. When you present that to them, they’re engaged. They want to be a part of it.
And so, as opposed to going to them and saying, “Hey, I’m building this product. Will you answer a survey for me?” or “Can I call you?” You present it in such a way that, I’m one of you. I understand you. I have this idea. I have this grand vision. Will you consider being part of it? And once you’re able to communicate that to that person, and if they do want to be a part of it, they’re yours forever. They’re someone that you’ll be able to communicate, they’re a supporter. And if they don’t want to be a part of it, great. OK. So why not? And maybe that’s not a good person to be in touch with.
Andrew: You know what? I remember that about our first conversation about SlideDeck. It might have been about a year ago or so? Do you remember? When did you guys launch SlideDeck?
Chuck: Last December, we had the site up, and it took us until January to actually have something to download. [laughs]
Andrew: OK. Maybe I was in Argentina at the time, but I remember you calling me up and saying, “I launched this thing called SlideDeck. I want to show it to you.” And you showed it to me, and you didn’t pitch the product so much as you pitched your vision for the web. You said, “The web is just . . .” I forget what it was. It was disorganized. There was a problem. We’ll get to what the problem was, but you were pitching this solution that didn’t have to involve SlideDeck. It was just a new vision for how to organize content on the web. Where did that come from? Why did you decide to do that instead of saying, “Hey, I only have a little time with Andrew on the phone, and with everyone else I’m going to talk to about this, I should focus on my product, not on the rest of the world.”
Chuck: Honestly, I think pitching a product is total bullshit. I think that they’re just words that are coming out of your mouth. There’s nothing to validate it. There’s nothing to add proof to anything you’re doing. Anybody can say that their product is great and that you should use it. I think it’s better to actually show the vision that you’re trying to accomplish, because that way you can actually get other people on board to see the larger vision. And the product kind of takes a backseat.
It’s kind of like if you’re driving to an amazing event. It’s about going there with close friends to get to the event as opposed to the car you’re driving. And so for us, we see that we want to create a movement to improve the design of the web, make it easier to use. We see SlideDeck as one vehicle to get there. And so SlideDeck, we put a lot of energy into it and everything, but it’s really about getting there and the progress of getting there, more so than just about the product itself. So I figured, when I talked to you, you would understand this. You see products all the time. TechCrunch has 15 new articles every day or more. We’re full of that stuff. So, what we need is a vision and something to grab onto as designers, and something to solve.
Andrew: Where do you come up with that vision? Because it sounds like the first thing you did was come up with a product that you were already building into other people’s site. How do you step back from that and say, “OK. What’s the bigger vision here that I’m communicating, that I stand for, that I’m building around?”
Chuck: I think it starts with failing a lot. As entrepreneurs, we have no shortage of ideas. And I think becoming a good entrepreneur means that you become selective with your ideas. You learn how to pick what has opportunity, what doesn’t, and how to test it out. And so I think in this case, it started as an idea. And I had had enough experience to take my time and validate it over time as well.
So, in terms of coming up with a bigger idea, knowing that I don’t want to just be a soft worm seller. I don’t want to just be a competitor. I don’t actually want to compete with anybody. I look to large brands that do something more. My friend Simon Sinek, who says it’s all about the Y. He says, if you look at Apple, it’s all about challenging the status quo. If you look at Southwest Airlines, it’s about being free to travel around the country. It’s really the essence of what you do that allows people to identify with you. And so I knew I had to come up with something, and it was a long process of really thinking through it. Every day, in the shower, on the way to work, wherever you are, just thinking about what is that one sentence that you can get behind and explain why you’re doing everything. And tie it back into our agency. Tie it back into Digital Telepathy and have one centralized goal. Have us evolving to an Internet company and a design company and not just an agency, not just a software company. You have to have something that everybody’s pulling for.
Andrew: What is that one sentence that captures your goal and your message?
Chuck: It’s always evolving, but we feel that we’re pretty close with it right now, and we’re working to make the web easier to use. That’s our goal. And we say that because there’s a lot of depth behind our thoughts, at least for that, but we want to improve the design of the web. And we look at it as, we’ve got old press format right now. Text, images, just from books and newspapers. And we have videos, and that’s from broadcast television and podcasts from radio. We don’t have a true web format.
And Flash kind of failed us, because Flash wasn’t quite as dynamics as we would like it to be, and just not very good and interactive. So our goal was to actually help the design of the web, progress the design of the web and be there as a thought leader. And in doing so, we feel that our products will kind of fall together in doing that.
The goal of making the web easier to use is actually solving a problem. I feel like interactivity with the web is difficult. I feel that website owners will have better conversions, better results with their websites. So we feel it’s a very good problem to solve.
Andrew: OK. Tell me a little bit about the virtual board of influencers that you have. I’m so impressed that you’re willing to talk about this publicly. I’ve heard other people have this, but it’s not until much later in life that they’re willing to discuss it. What is a virtual board of influencers?
Chuck: Hopefully they’re OK with me discussing it, too. [laughs] So, you have those people that you admire in life and that have gone on and done things that you’d like to do as well. And obvious one for us is 37Signals. They’ve done a great job. They started as a design company. They were able to build a great product and were very philosophy driven.
So the first person I went to was Ryan Singer, who’s been their designer since the beginning. And I just started asking questions. I was very open and up front about it. I said, ‘I know a million people want to take their design agencies, their building products and all this kind of stuff, but I want to ask the questions that will allow me to fail quickly and eventually succeed, as opposed to just going straight into it. So, here’s the first person I talked to.
And from there I started to map out all the other people I think would be great influencers as well as have the experience that I could leapfrog into. And so, Ryan was wonderful. Ryan introduced me to someone else. From there I saw Scott Belsky of Behance speak at a summit series. And I reached out to him, because he has the influence of designers, so I want to understand a little bit about how he reaches that market.
And from there, I talked to Matt from SitePoint, and he has over a million designers that he interacts with. He’s been doing this since he was 14. And just like we talked about before, I brought my story and the vision that I have and brought it to him and asked him if he’d be willing to help. And he said yes. And then luckily, we started working with Neil Patel and Hiten Shah.
And I have this philosophy that I like to call karmic business, which is, if you give a little something first, if you show a person that you’d like to interact with what you’re made of and what you can do, it changes everything. So you’re not always asking, you’re actually giving first. And for as many of these people as I could, the first thing I would ask is, ‘Is there any way I can help you? Is there something I can do for you? You don’t know me from Adam, but what can I do? This is what I’m good at.’
And in a lot of cases, people don’t take you up on it, but when they do and you knock it out of the park, it makes a lasting relationship, because they can actually feel the experience that your services create. And it makes it so much easier for them to engage with you and actually help you along in life.
Andrew: I thought you meant something else. I thought a virtual board of influencers is a board of influencers in your head. I’ve heard people say that what they’ll do is they’ll say, ‘Who are the five people who I really want to influence me? And I don’t just want to read their stuff. I want to have them give me feedback. I’ll go for a run, or I’ll sit down somewhere quite, and I’ll say, ‘If I make this move in my head to this person, if I make this move, what do you think of it?’ And they imagine what that person’s feedback might be, and then they bring in another person who’s in the virtual board of influencers. Anyway, I thought that’s what you meant. I’d love to do an interview with someone who can talk about that, but it’s not the case in this situation.
In this situation, you actually are talking to Hiten Shah and Neil Patel. How did you help them out in order to get them to give you feedback? What kind of feedback did they give you?
Chuck: Well, I had been working . . . I’ve known Neil for a while, and I did a lot of what I said was bullshit before. I was talking to him, “Hey, we’re a really good design firm. I’d love to chat with you more.” And he’s like, “That’s great. Yeah, I’ve heard that a million times. And finally, I told him about SlideDeck, and I said, ‘Let’s just try something. Let’s just try it.” And fortunately, a good friend of mine who’s a conversion expert was actually working with them as well, and we were brought together with that. We just tried out a SlideDeck. And in doing so, we had great results, and Neil’s like, “Holy crap. You guys are good.” So it took that click for that to happen.
Andrew: What did you try out with him?
Chuck: We tried out the SlideDeck I mentioned earlier for their homepage and increasing the conversion.
Andrew: OK. So they just put it on their homepage for a little bit? They said, “Let’s see what the conversions are.” The conversions happen to be great, and that’s when he loved you.
Andrew: OK. And you did all of that for him. You took it from what he had before, and you redid his site, his landing page.
Chuck: We actually just added a SlideDeck to it. So we redid a little bit of the homepage itself. It’s a pretty simple site right now. Consequently, we’re now building a lot of the . . . CrazyEgg will be quite new here pretty soon. So that’s still under wraps, but eventually you’ll see something pretty neat that’s coming up.
Andrew: CrazyEgg for a long time just looked ugly. I love the product, but their site just looks so old, and I’m glad that you’re helping them out. So, you helped them out that way. How does Hiten Shah, how does Neil Patel, how did they help you?
Chuck: We’ve been very fortunate. We have, with this vision of making websites easier to use, we understand that the people they work with, their skill set is something that we don’t have at this point. We’re taking designers and merging them with usability and analytics pros. And there’s really no one better than Hiten Shah in terms of analytics. The guy is like a human computer. What he’s done with KISSmetrics is pretty amazing, but it’s also pretty difficult for a beginner to get into it.
So, what we asked him to do what to help us build a program within Digital Telepathy, which is that life cycle program I mentioned, which I helping any kind of company or web app work as if they were an Amazon or an eBay that is constantly testing, constantly improving the different pages of their site, working on the design itself, because design is really the only thing that a user experiences when they go to a website. And so we’ve worked with them for the last three months and building in this whole program, getting trained on KISSmetrics and really understanding how to implement the software for a lot of our clients and also the advocates for their clients as well.
And it just so happened to fit perfectly in the product life cycle. And I think that’s something I mentioned to you earlier, which is, if you take a look at where you’re at, whether you’re a web app or a service provider, and you look at who comes before you and who comes after you on the product life cycle of a customer. It’s a really good idea to connect with those people.
And so, with Hiten and Neil, their products are a good boomerang back to us. We bring their products in to a lot of our customers. Once we’re able to analyze their products, it comes back to us. We build new designs and test them on KISSmetrics. And CrazyEgg as well as KISSmetrics sites. So it just happens to be a wonderful connection, and we do similar things with the guys at ReTargeter as well. ReTargeting is one of the best new marketing practices out there in terms of just making common sense. I think it’s not pulling a lot of volume at this point.
Andrew: What ReTargeting mean?
Chuck: So ReTargeting, it’s funny. Once you think about it, it seems obvious to do. So a user comes onto your website, and they perform an action of which you would say, that’s a potential customer. So in our case, if someone comes to our download page, we would assume that they’re potentially a pro customer for us. And so what you do is you lay a small cookie down on that user, and everywhere they go on the web, they see your ads.
And so, from there, we were able to craft a special campaign film. So we were able to say, we know that they’ve downloaded light. We know that they’re potential pro users, so we could start advertising all the benefits of our pro package itself. So we’ve just noticed it’s a wonderful way to get people back to your sites and a new way to marking to them. And it also fits within our product life cycle of what we do. SlideDeck increased conversions. ReTargeter can then provide the traffic flow.
Andrew: I see. How many of those relationships do you think you have? Do you . . .
Chuck: Right now, I’d say we’re working on about five in particular, and I’d say that’s probably too, too many. You’re probably only going to be able to focus on three full time, two to three even full time. Number one, if you do it right, you’ll be more busy than you can possibly handle. And also, if you’re managing five of any types of relationships at once, it’s pretty difficult. So you’re not going to be able to be providing them as much value or probably receiving as much value as you can.
Andrew: And how formal is that? Are they counting how much traffic they’re sending to you? Are they counting how many conversions they’re sending to you, and you have to help them get that many conversions back, or is it a little more loose?
Chuck: Absolutely loose. It’s all about trust. We don’t work with people that we don’t trust. We don’t work with people that we wouldn’t be friends with and have dinner with. And so we spend a lot of time getting to know the people, making sure that’s a good fit, making sure we’re a good fit for them as well.
Andrew: OK. Next point is, pick a very simple starting point or used case, and make sure your product is the best solution in the world for it. What do you mean by that?
Chuck: So, with SlideDeck in particular, we started off with saying we needed some way to communicate on the web. And if you remember what I said about needing a new web format and having print broadcast radio, that’s a big concept. That’s something that’s pretty hard for people to digest and understand. And so, what we learned from that was that SlideDeck can do many things. Let’s pick one, and let’s pick something that we know well. And we love working with web apps. We love the online business world.
And so one of the challenges is that you’re not going to buy something unless you can see it and possibly taste it and feel it at this point. So the product tour is so incredibly vital to the purchase process of a web app or any online business. And so, we decided to use SlideDeck as a new way to interact with product tours. And instead of having to go to a product tour page which has thumbnails and a little bit of text, and you’re only getting part of the story, we can overtake the header on the homepage and put it right there, so you immediately have access to it. And get nice and sophisticated with decision tree analytics and working people through the deck itself based on what their use case may be or whatever they’re really interested in, in itself.
Andrew: I can see how presenting it that way helps a lot. You see me smile, because I totally get that. That if you were to come to me and I was a web app maker, and you’d say, “Andrew, you can use this to better explain concepts on your website.” I’d think, all right, great, but I think I’m going a pretty good job explaining concepts right now. When I have an issue, I’ll think of you and let’s talk.
But when you come to me and you say, “Andrew, you know how you have product tours, and you’re leading people through multiple pages, and it’s a pain in the butt to edit and change? Well, I’ve got a new solution. People don’t have to leave the homepage. They can still always see that one big button where they can order or start using your app. But what we’ll do is we’ll make that homepage much more useful by adding sliders of information, and all you have to do is adjust that top area, which is kind of dead right now anyway.” I’ll go, “eah, totally. I completely get it.”
All right. Soou start off with that, but you have a much grander vision. How do you go from that one case to more and more and more use cases?
Chuck: So that’s actually our primary strategy right now. We’ve built out the product. We’ve built out the engine of SlideDeck itself, so we can power an unlimited amount of different variations of SlideDeck.
Chuck: The strategy now is to focus on the design. Bless you.
Andrew: [laughs] Thanks.
Chuck: To focus on the skins, if you will, themselves. So our next goal is to create the most innovative, powerful product tour skin possible. So you have all of this interaction that you can do, and our default passage will say, at least to the best of our knowledge and our best cases and scenarios of how you should present a product, what you should tell, how it should flow. And then adding always additional options of going deeper into the product itself.
And so as opposed to us saying, OK, here’s a SlideDeck. Build a product around it. We’ll say, OK, if you’re building a product tour, here’s the specific use case skin to put on top of SlideDeck. And from there, we can start building it for all kinds of use cases. We can go completely dynamic with it. It can be used for social media, it can be used… our other main use case is blogging right now. You can use it all over the web to tell a story, to explain something. And in the future from that, we see potential mobile use of it. So if you were to think about going through an instructional manual, how to install your router at home, which now everybody installs their own router, right?
Chuck: So, if you could just beam that to your phone and just slide right through those instructions themselves, it’s much better than opening up a big piece of paper which has images on it, like from IKEA, right? So, we see a lot of different uses, and it’s all about the output, not so much about the development on the inside. We want that to be a black box, so you don’t have to worry about custom development in the future. We really want to make the output the thing that we focus on, the design itself.
Andrew: OK. Let’s take a look here. What’s the next point I want to talk about. Giving it away for free. How active were you at giving it away for free at first, and who did you give it away to?
Chuck: So, it’s interesting. It’s something that’s both . . . it was hard at first. And it’s something I’m learning how to do better now. You have to be careful when you give away things for free, because you kind of take away some of the value, the knowledge that you have. So our initial approach, we were about this close to getting it on Squidoo, which would’ve had about a million impressions a month, which would’ve been perfect. That’s where it was at. But there’s something about the process of offering something for free, where you almost have to let them know what you want out of it. You have to be very clear that, OK, I’m going to do this for you, but this is my expectation out of it as well, because what we do is valuable.
And so, it has to be equal equation, I think, when you interact with these other sites and give away things for free. A lot of the work that we’ve done has been portfolio work. We’ve worked with Ted a bit to use some SlideDecks there, which I think is one of the most powerful brands out right now. And a lot of other higher end brands, I’d rather not say them all, because I like to kind of think that it’s a SlideDeck, whether it was paid for or now. But it was a great learning process.
I like to challenge our staff when we’re first, early on, building a product to work with some of the world’s best people, to create a great product with them, whether it’s for free or paid. So that we know how to do it over and over again from there.
Andrew: Gotcha. OK. So what do you expect? When you give it for free, what’s a clear expectation that you can give someone?
Chuck: The number one goal is for them to give attention to it and actually value what’s happening. So I focus on whatever their most important objective on the web is. And that’s what we try to accomplish for them. So that gets them committed. Once their committed and once we build it, it’s our goal for them to actually feel a change, to feel how it’s improved something. And if it doesn’t, then we learn from it. We learn how it hasn’t. It’s our research and development, and we go make a change in the product.
If it does, we ask them to share it with people. We ask them to share it with their influencers. We ask to use them as a case study. We’ll be releasing the details of a case study with CrazyEgg here pretty soon. So, we ask them to introduce us to other people like them that they feel would have some more experiences.
Andrew: I notice you have 37Signals on your website, and you show an example of how 37Signals’ website would be remade if they used SlideDeck. Did you get their permission? Do you even need their permission in order to do that?
Chuck: I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not sure. I’m sure Basecamp is trademarked, so you have to be very careful. You can’t call it Basecamp SlideDeck necessarily. But I got in touch with Jason Fried, and I asked him. I of course wanted him to put it on his site. But he’s great. He said, absolutely. We’d love to be the focus of that. Our goal was to start with Basecamp, because it’s something that our target market uses. And it’s also something that we have a challenge with new clients using. It’s getting better now, because it’s proliferated, but before, a lot of clients wouldn’t know how to use it. They would just want to stick to email. They were very averse to it.
So what we did is we used SlideDeck to build a process of bringing them up to speed that we could actually send to our clients, and say, ‘OK, just follow this SlideDeck. It’s one, two, three. It’s simple for you.’ And actually eliminated the aversion to our clients using Basecamp. So we made it available for our target market web designers to then share with all of their clients as well.
Andrew: I see. OK. So, you just took Basecamp’s core ideas. You put them into a SlideDeck instead of a single webpage. You just let people slide through the ideas, and then you gave it to your target customers and said, ‘You know how you guys are using Basecamp by 37Signals, and you want to introduce it to the people you’re working with, your clients? Well, here. I’ve got a simple tour that you can show them. And that’s a way of introducing both SlideDeck to your potential customers and your potential customers to introduce Basecamp to their customers.
Andrew: OK. What about AppSumo? I noticed you’re in that bundle. You’re giving it away through AppSumo, because what you’re getting there is name recognition and promotion, right?
Chuck: Yeah. AppSumo’s been fun. It’s a bit of a challenge for a product like ours. I’ve worked with Noah Kagan, who started AppSumo, quite a bit on this. And just really understanding how to offer the product. If we just give it away as part of the bundle, we really don’t have anything else to do with the client. It’s really just giving away software for free. So we had to think about, how can we get it out there? How can we get a great deal, introduce a user to the product, and then still continue to work with them over time? It’s much easier if you have a month to month web app based SAAS product, but just a software product, it’s quite difficult.
So what we did is we came up with the idea that we would give them all the pro features, we would give them everything that they could use on the product. We would just keep a little branded bug on the bottom of it. And now, they can use the vertical slides. They can use the API. They can use all these features, and they got it virtually for free. They pay us a small amount for the package itself. But if they want to upgrade and get rid of the bug, we’d give them a very low price of 19 bucks. So, it’s allowing them to still engage. It’s not creating a lot of revenue for us, but it’s getting them to engage and activate and be part of our community.
And then also, we now have a new product which is a multi-site product. So once we know that they’ve kind of moved onto the $19 version, if they’re going to create another website with it, we now have the opportunity to upgrade to a multi-site product.
Andrew: OK. And I should say that AppSumo is relatively new, so I guess not everyone knows what it is. It’s a site where you go to get a bundle of web apps at one super low price. And I’m always wondering about the results from web apps that have been in the bundle. I think Neil Patel of CrazyEgg told me that what was happening was people were remembering CrazyEgg because he was in the bundle. And they didn’t get to order it at that super low discount that AppSumo offered for a limited time. What they do then is come back later on to CrazyEgg.com and buy from him. Or they’d forget while the promotion was running and just type in CrazyEgg.com anyway and buy from him.
So you’re seeing a little bit of orders coming in from that, but it’s not huge. It’s great for branding, and in the future, we’ll see if all those people who are getting it virtually for free will end up upgrading to $19 and then beyond.
Chuck: One of the things I like about it is they pick a specific demographic and group to market to. So they’ll pick a specific blog or a specific design community. And so we get access directly into that community, and it really pumps up our brand awareness.
Andrew: What do you mean? How do they do that for you?
Chuck: So they’ll do a, if you’re familiar with Forest, which is a private invite only design community. So they’ll do a deal just for Forest. And so, SlideDeck will be exposed to every single user on that network that checks their email. Or they’ll do one through Web Design Ledger. And so within that blog itself, we get access. In a way, you’re kind of featured on the blog. So it’s an easy way to get access in the blog. It’s not the same as getting a blog poster feature about you, but it does get you into new demographics that you might not have gotten.
Andrew: Cool. Final point here is to iterate. How have you iterated so far? The app’s been up for about a year. Have you done it?
Chuck: We iterate every single week. So it’s a series of our own ideas. We have a huge list of ideas, and I’ve had this problem of big lists before. So what I do is I have a this week and a next week list, and everything else sits on the master list. So the only things that we plan are what we’re doing this week and what we’re doing next week. And so that’s been the source of our iteration, and how we get things on that list are based on our own schedules, our product development schedules, ideas that we know that we want to move forward with and we have scheduled.
We also do a ton of qualitative analysis. So we talk with our customers a lot. We survey them. We survey both light users, asking why they’re no upgrading. We survey pro users, asking why they did. We’ve used KISSmetrics sites is probably one of the best tools we’ve used for . . . and I’m not just saying that because I work with Neil and Hiten. But it’s one of the easiest, best tools we use for iteration, because you can pop it on a page. Within a couple days, you get about 50 responses, and you can make really quick changes based on points that people have made multiple times and that you agree with. So that’s been a great source of it as well.
And then just direct feedback itself, asking some of our best users, what else do you want? What else are you looking for? And building on top of it that way has created a lot of iteration. And then I would say you mix it in with one thing, which is you’ve got to keep going back to your vision. We could lose sight of our vision and keep making a jQuery slider, which is kind of what it’s classified as now. But we have to keep going back to that vision and saying, how are we changing the web? What are we doing next to do this? And that’s really the fuel that keeps it going.
You can’t stay there too long. That’s like a month thing. On a weekly basis, you have to make sure it works. You have to stick with the support. You’ve got to make sure people are happy. But on a monthly basis, you have to go back to that vision and make sure you’re making progress on it.
Andrew: Why don’t people buy, or why do people buy? When you’ve surveyed customers who’ve bought, what’s the big reason that they buy?
Chuck: Well, we’re fortunate that the number one reason people buy is for the design, which I feel we’re totally lucky for that, because we happen to be designers, and that’s something we can continue to do very well. And that forces us to keep our sites on the designs and make sure that we’re not building too many functions and features into it. We’re just really working on the design itself.
The other reason is it saves people time. When you have clients or when you’re building projects, the one thing that you don’t have is time, the one thing you could use more of. And so building something that saves them time, and ultimately, if you’re able to price your product for other people that are using it as a service, you’re able to price it in a way that’s profitable for them. So we estimate it saves about 20 to 24 hours of build time with a SlideDeck that costs $100. So if you do the math on that, it’s totally worth it.
Andrew: Yeah. So I mentioned in the beginning of the interview that you guys have the Hello Bar that some people have seen on my website, and I told you that I saw on Tim Ferriss’s website. It’s such a cool little bar. I just wanted to sometimes highlight for people what’s going on on the site or to send a link to something that I’m trying to promote. And I don’t know how to get that bar up otherwise, and you came up with the Hello Bar, so I emailed you and I asked you for a beta invite before it was open. Is it open by the way to the public now?
Chuck: No, we’re still invite only, private beta. And we’re really trying to hammer on the system and make sure that it’s solid before we go live with it.
Andrew: I see. And the reason for that is that if too many people are on it at once, and too many people are serving up those Hello Bars, then it will slow it down for everyone who’s using it?
Chuck: Yeah. It’s on the top of your website. It does load last. If you put it at the bottom of your code, it’ll load last on your site. But every once in a while, if we get someone who gets hundreds of thousands of uniques a day or multiple sites like that, we’re still working through the scaling and the bugs and the caching and everything like that. So, we have about 5,000 users right now on the private beta, and we hope to take it to about 10. And from there, we feel that we’ll have a viable product to take public.
Andrew: So what did you learn about launching a second product from the first one?
Chuck: Second product is much easier. [laughs] Time still to be told, because we haven’t started monetizing it yet. We have a plan to monetize it, and there’s a good sign, because people keep asking us for a pro version, which is always good. We’ll happily offer that here soon. But it’s much easier, because you really know how to get the product to market first. You know how to work with a small group of beta testers. You know how to survey those people and really understand what they’re looking for.
And I call it the leapfrog effect, which is actually a lot of fun, too. You take those core people, the 100,000 people that are using SlideDeck right now, and those are your VIPs. Those are the people that you’ve established your brand with, and you say, “Hey, we have a new product out, and we’d like to give you guys exclusive access to this.”
And that’s just been wonderful, being able to bring that product to people that are already familiar with us, already feel comfortable talking to us about the product and letting us know what they think could be improved upon it or just giving us that honest feedback and actually populating and spreading it. It’s been pretty amazing to do that. And we just released a viral spreading tool, which is similar to GMail giving everybody an invite. And that’s been fun to test that out, to see how viable that is, just spreading the product before it’s into public.
Andrew: I see. I think when I log in, I see that I have two invitations that I can give out to other people. And I guess that’s the way you’re spreading it. What a great product. And I can see where the pro features would come in. Like, right now, you have the little H. Hard to notice, but some people might want to get rid of the H that refers back to Hello Bar. I know that you’re working on stats, giving stats to pro people. That might be helpful. What else do you have in mind for the pro version?
Chuck: So the goal of the Hello Bar is to engage users on your website. It’s a very simple idea. If you think about your website, anybody’s website, you have one thing you want to tell somebody. You’ve gotten them to your website. You want to at least have them read one thing, get one message off, and even better, get them to click some place, to continue down the funnel of the site itself.
And so the goal of the Hello Bar is to be there in the most recognizable area of the site, but be unobtrusive, to be a simple statement, elegant, match the colors of your site, blend in but not too much. As you do that, you think about, OK, you’ve got ad space on your website. You could put it right there. But that’s only if someone goes to the homepage, and we’re used to not looking at ads anyway. Or you could have someone come in on a different page and never see some of the most important aspects of your site.
So that’s the primary goal of that. And we’re done with the way that the Hello Bar looks, which is the fun thing. All the things we’re going to be doing now is how it behaves. So in the back end, we’re adding lots of new features. The features themselves will be promoting clicks. So the stats, they’ll be actually released today or tomorrow. The stats will show every iteration of your Hello Bar. So, I saw you changed text I believe recently on your site. So you’ll be able to look at your stats and see how your text actually is increasing your clicks and how the impressions and that click through rate are related.
So pretty soon, we’re going to be releasing a pro feature that will allow you to test three at a time. And so you’ll be able to do AB testing at first, or multivariate testing on the different status messages that you have up there and the different links that you have, as well as being able to do a lot of other good, fun stuff with the site itself and just helping engage users and understand more about why they would want to click on something, as well as schedule different updates themselves.
Andrew: I see. For me, it’s been the best way to promote the mailing list. I’m not really big on my email list, but people keep wanting to sign up for email updates. And so, I tried every which way to let them know, yes, you can get email updates. I put it in the right margin. Nobody notices what’s in there. Where else did I put it? I put it up on the top right so it’s on every page. Nobody notices it there. I tried a bunch of different things.
But I put in the Hello Bar, and suddenly people are signing up. I’ve never gotten so many consistent registrations for the email list, and I’m not doing anything intrusive. I’m not promising anything. I’m not giving anything. There’s no incentive. Maybe I’ll try one in the future. I just wanted to make it available to people, and suddenly, because it’s up in that Hello Bar, people are noticing it, and not a single person has complained.
I bet you if I had a pop-up or a light box, I’d get a lot of conversions, but so many people would complain that it probably wouldn’t be worth doing. I can’t think of anything else that’s worked this well and gotten me zero complaints from people. So, I love it.
Chuck: That’s awesome.
Andrew: I’m glad you’re coming up with more features for the pro version.
Andrew: All right. So there it is. You know, some people like when I sum it up. I usually cannot sum up the interviews, but you’ve given me such great notes, I’m going to sum it up. And then I’m going to suggest that you guys go check out a couple of things. So first of all, pick a product that matches your current needs and offerings. If possible, develop a product as part of a client project, and that’s what you guys did with SlideDeck.
Number two, pick a target audience you already know. Even better, pick one that you’re a member of, and you did that with designers. Number three, choose a big problem you believe in fixing. Number four, build a virtual board of influencers. Not one in your head, unlike Andrew though. I mean a real one. And you had Ryan Singer of 37Signals. You had Hiten and Neil you talked about.
Next point, because I forgot what number I’m on. I’ll say, pick a very simple starting point or use case, and you chose product tours. Next point, give it away for free to those passionate about the cause, and ask for something in return. Don’t just give it away for free and devalue it so people think it’s just another piece of code or another freebie. Next point, find the supply chain and give your services and products to them, and you talked about how you partnered up with ReTagger and CrazyEgg. You promote them, they promote you. And finally, iterate like mad. So there it is.
So, first of all, I’m going to suggest that people check out SlideDeck.com. Second, is there a way for them if they see the Hello Bar and they want one, is there a way for them to beg you or to ask you for an invitation?
Chuck: Actually, I just set up invitations for Mixergy.
Andrew: You did? OK.
Chuck: I did. So, there’s 100 invites for Mixergy. So if you go to HelloBar.com and you fill out the short form there and just put in the word mixergy, all lowercase, you’re in.
Andrew: HelloBar.com. Just type in mixergy. All right. I wonder how long it will take to get to 100. That’s kind of an interesting question for me. If I knew that, I would’ve sold it up front in the beginning of the interview. I don’t want to look back here in this interview and not get even 100 people. All right, so go to HelloBar.com, type in mixergy. I’m telling you, you’re going to love the results. And finally, is there a way for people to connect with your personally?
Chuck: Yeah, absolutely. You can connect with me on Twitter as barefootceo, and just add me and chat with me, whatever you need.
Andrew: What’s the deal with barefootceo? What does that mean? I’ve seen that you use that name on lots of different sites.
Chuck: So, I’m in San Diego. I live in San Diego. I’m now spending half my time in San Diego and San Francisco. But I’ve this kind of role as a CEO for so long. It’s been 10 years. And I have this laid back feeling of things, and I don’t actually like to wear shoes.
Chuck: So, I don’t wear shoes often. I don’t like to dress up. I don’t like to look like something I’m not with clients, anything like that. So it just became my name be virtue, I guess, of the way I dress and the way I am.
Andrew: So you walk into work, or you walk into a client meeting barefoot?
Chuck: If it’s at our office.
Andrew: Wow. That is so San Diego.
Chuck: I like to set the tone.
Andrew: Actually, that’s one step beyond San Diego. San Diego is flip-flops to work. You’re taking it to a whole new level. Wow.
Chuck: Typically, I do my homework ahead of time. I get to know the people. I become friends with our clients. They trust me. They trust us. What does it matter if I have shoes on?
Andrew: Right. All right, I like that attitude. So, thank you very much. Thanks for doing the interview. Thank you all for watching. Make sure to catch Chuck somewhere in person and see if he’s wearing any shoes. And if he’s at a conference without shoes, I want to know about it. Somebody tweet me with that. All right. Bye.
Chuck: Thank you.
Andrew: Thank. All right, we’ll edit out this part of the conversation, and the before interview part, and I’ll post it up on the website next week.
Andrew: Cool. This was a great interview.
Chuck: Good, good, yeah.
Andrew: It’s such an inspiring story the more I get into it and the more I realize the potential for new products and for slowly rolling them out and for monetizing them. I’m so lucky to have been a part of Hello Bar at this point, to see what you put up there, how simple it is. Because I can imagine a year from now, when there are more features, when it’s on more sites, wondering how you got there. Now I am actually seeing how you got there.
Chuck: Yeah. It’s fun. I’m always hypercritical of myself, but I’d love to have more . . . I wanted to be clear and succinct so we could get through a lot, but I’d love to have more about, just the fact that you’ve got to do something you love, that you believe it, that you love. Because even if I’m to fail with this stuff, it was awesome. Who cares, right?
And the other stuff, like Champion Sound and all that stuff was hard. It was like, ugh. I’ve got to deal with this person. But when you do something… and it’s kind of the summary I gave you that maybe you could post on the small blog post for the video. Which is stand for something big and in line with your resources network, enlist passionate influencers and validate your ideas, and give it away to critical partners. That’s what’s fun. You get to talk about what you love.
Andrew: Is it fun though? Because, you know what? I wasn’t the only person you talked to, and you talked to me for a good 15, 20 minutes, maybe even half an hour about SlideDeck. I wasn’t able to fit it in my site as much as I wanted to. You must have had tons of phone calls like that, many of them with people who really like you, who you really like, who said, ‘No.’ That doesn’t seem like fun to me. That seems exhausting. That seems like you’re walking hat in hand and asking people to take your hat for free, and they’re refusing you.
Chuck: I don’t know. It doesn’t bother me, because I don’t take it personally. It’s kind of their loss in a way, and I also try to learn from it. So, I want to have a product that I say, “This is what it does. Do you want it?” And it’s just an obvious yes. It’s so common sense. It’s simple. Hello Bar is my, I wish I would’ve thought of that product. I’m really hoping it’s one of those things like, we could’ve done that, but it’s already there. So, I’d enjoy all those conversations, and I usually don’t have conversation with people I don’t like.
Andrew: That makes it harder though, doesn’t it? To do it over and over with people who you like, who many of which will say no and won’t even give you a clear reason, because they just don’t know. It’s hard for them to figure out that they don’t know how to use this right.
Chuck: I actually respect the fact that they say no, and I find out why. Why won’t it work for you? And I then go change what I say next time. And it takes a while to explain what you do very clearly. It’s really hard to say exactly how something works. It’s taken me this whole year to refine what I’m talking about. So at the beginning, it was a totally different conversation. When I talked to you, it was probably a totally different conversation.
Andrew: You know, it was. What I could see was it was beautiful, and everything that you guys touch is so beautiful that it’s intimidating. But it works. I just didn’t know how to put something that beautiful into what I’m doing. And that’s why my eyes lit up when you said product tours. Because if you give a specific solution to a specific problem, it does make it a lot easier to understand. I see. And so it takes time to even come up with that.
Chuck: Yeah. Absolutely. It just brews over time. You just really let it simmer, and you understand it more yourself. And it’s funny, I’ll change words in a sentence and be excited about it, and my wife will be like, “What are you talking about? It’s the same thing.” I’m like, “No, it’s totally different.” Because it’s the paradigm you’re creating, what you’re explaining to someone.
And your point is good. Just you sharing that with me, I understand even further the fact that you can’t give someone a blank slate, you can’t give them a blank canvas. Because they’re like, “OK, great. This looks cool. What do I do with it? I’m not going to go into Photoshop, slice this up, code it, and put it live.”
So that’s where we’re really trying to go that skin route, where it’s default awesome. It looks amazing. You feel comfortable putting it on your site, even though someone may have one that looks very similar on their site. And then for us, we established the fact that, they know that’s a SlideDeck. Andrew Warner’s got a SlideDeck. It’s obvious, which is cool. It’s awesome. And that goes to the brand that we’re trying to create, which is like, you feel just, I guess, depending on certain products, if you have a really cool product. Like I have, you know the DODOcase?
Chuck: OK. So, I’ve just recently become friends with him, and he gave me one.
Andrew: Patrick Buckley, the creator.
Chuck: Yeah. I feel cool carrying that thing around.
Andrew: Yes, I know what you mean.
Chuck: I know something that a lot of people don’t, and that’s what we want the product to be like as well. That’s why we want sliders.
Andrew: How do you know Patrick?
Chuck: First of all, I’m loving my time in San Francisco. It’s so awesome. And so I go out to a coffee shop and I meet someone amazing, or we go to dinners with amazing people. One of my good friends, Dave Hassell, who’s starting 15 5, which is a pretty cool new organizational structure. 15 5 is based off of Yvon Chouinard from Patagonia’s management principals, which is that everybody should take 15 minutes once a week to write a report that takes their manager five minutes to read. And it goes all the way up the food chain. So he’s building an app for hat.
Andrew: I see. OK.
Chuck: They live in a mansion in Pacific Heights with like eight other guys, almost all entrepreneurs, and Patrick lives there, too.
Andrew: Oh, he told me about that building. Isn’t he married right now?
Chuck: He is.
Andrew: Yeah, he is. And his wife is in there.
Chuck: Married with a dog, living there with all the guys.
Andrew: I didn’t realize it was a mansion. I had this vision of them living in a smaller house than that.
Chuck: No. And they have these amazing dinners once a month. And they have notable people show up and just great conversation. It’s been great. So then I went to [inaudible 1:06:12] with them, too. You really get to know someone there.
Andrew: That’s inspiring actually to live in a place like that. I always had this vision of living in an apartment building where everyone somehow was on the same mission, where you can just go downstairs and they take care of your breakfast and your lunch, and you could just go and work when you need to, take off when you don’t want to work. But have the whole environment support you, have you whole environment to be ready for you to do whatever it is that you’re here to do on this earth.
Chuck: Yeah. Eating healthy, right?
Chuck: So focused.
Andrew: Right, right.
Chuck: It’s an interesting idea, because I’ve been looking for a coworking spot in San Francisco, because I don’t want to get an office. I actually want to be around other people and be inspired. I worked some time in Flowtown with Dan and Ethan and those guys. I’ve been kind of bouncing around. But I tried some of those coworking spots like Dogpatch and all those others, and it’s too much. It’s not mindful enough. It’s just guys really working and trying to get it out there, and they’re players. They’re trying to get it going. They don’t have the philosophical, like, this is my strategy, so I’m gearing. But when you meet guys like Patrick, he has the concept of the DODO and keeping things from going extinct, and all this stuff built into his product. It’s beautiful.
Andrew: And I feel like you have that actually, even more than Patrick does. No offense to Patrick, but it is a very clear focus.
Chuck: Yeah. It’s kind of relieving. I’m the most unfocused person at times, because I’m just bouncing off the walls, total business ADD, and I’ve learned that I have to be this way to be successful. And another cool story I didn’t share. Once I left, my best friend and my wife were running the agency. And they’re more profitable than I ever was.
Chuck: And I’m like, that is awesome. I couldn’t be happier.
Andrew: Are they more profitable because there was just momentum before and it continues?
Chuck: They just focus on building websites.
Andrew: Without trying to create these side projects. They know, you’re going to take care of the side projects. They always wanted the side projects anyway, but now they know that they’ve got that, and they don’t have to be distracted by it.
Chuck: Exactly. And I would get all excited, bring the client in, and then ignore them.
Andrew: Yeah, I see.
Chuck: [laughs] Because I’m off to the next thing.
Andrew: I get that. And I get how it’s great for them.
Chuck: I love what you’re doing, man. I think when I called you, I was like, holy shit. Because I hadn’t been on your website for a while. And I was like, wow, I can’t believe how you’ve transformed your business and your site looks good. The people you’re interviewing, the confidence that you have, the way that you interview, the questions that you ask of other people. I’m super impressed and so happy. Because I met you right when you were transitioning.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s come a long way, and I still see that there’s so much more to go. I’m still a little nervous on camera. I bet you the people who are listening to this part of the conversation see that I’m much more at east than I was during the actual interview. But I’m getting better and better. I was always the person who wanted to just be locked up in a room and work all day and the only time I want to talk to anyone is when I’m talking to a client. But slowly, I transitioned into that, into the world, and now I’ve got to learn how to talk to people this way. I learned how to talk to people at parties and events. I’ve got to learn how to talk to the world this way and how to talk to them in blogs.
Chuck: I think you have a really good . . . when you transition to a new subject, I think you have a good signature question asking voice.
Andrew: Do I?
Chuck: I’ll show you. You’re like, “Tell me some specific . . .”
Chuck: And I think it’s good, because it’s a visual and audible shift that now you’re onto something new. And it’s kind of cool. You can almost bookmark those various…
Andrew: I didn’t even notice that I did that.
Chuck: Yeah, it’s good.
Andrew: All right, well, tell me how I can transition to a good bye. I’ll just say good bye, and Joe, you cut off right here. Both hands up. Chuck, thanks. I hope to see you when I’m in California.
Andrew: Cool, bye.