GrubHub founder Mike Evans is starting over

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I first interview Mike Evans 12 years ago when he was hustling to get GrubHub off the ground. It’s mind-boggling how much he got done in those 12 years and I want to find out about all of it: the IPO, the exit, the time off, and the new start.

Today, Mike Evans is the founder of Fixer, an on-demand handy-man service.

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Mike Evans

Mike Evans

Fixer

Mike Evans is the founder of Fixer, an on-demand handy-man service.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. I’m so freaking lit up to do this interview today. People do not understand how excited I can be about today’s guest. And here’s why the first time I interviewed Mike Evans, the founder of grub hub was. Back in 2010. So we’re talking about 12 years ago, and I remember how much of a hustler this guy was in the sense that he would work during the day.

And then at night he digitized menus to put them online. And the reason that I get excited about it is by the time I had interviewed him, he had found a business model. It was we’ll digitize menus for free. And then we will say, we’ll make it easy for people who are hungry to find a restaurant near them, that delivers based on their zip code and their, if it’s more than zip code, which was pretty impressive.

And the restaurants that are willing to deliver and then their business model, I think it evolved to include a premium service for restaurants that wanted to pay for higher risk, uh, listings. This is like internet 2.0, coming back, a guy who had an idea work really hard. I think it was him or no, you, you were the one Mike who was coding and your partner was, was pounding the phones, right?

Mike: yeah. That’s

Andrew: At the time, it was like, it was such a crazy idea. Investor didn’t want to invest in you because I think it was just so manual. Anyway, I was, I’ll skip past my intro and my excitement for you, but I’ll say that I’ve watched you over the years grow. I’ve been excited to see the first of all, when I interviewed you, the business was successful.

That’s why I interviewed, but it grew even more. You merged with seamless, you went public. How freaking exciting is that the business has since been acquired and required and all kinds of other things that happened. You exited took a long bike ride across America, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

And now you start a new company called. Where you will send a handy person to my house either if I schedule them or on demand and you fully hire the person, I want to find out about what happened at grub hub. I want to find out how exciting it was to go public. I want to find out everything about it.

Why you left, why GrubHub didn’t didn’t be door dash, and then what’s going on with fixer and how fixer has grown so fast. And we can do it. Thanks to two companies. The first, if you’re listening to me and you have people to pay contractors W2 in the U S outside the U S you should do what Mike and I do.

We use Gusto and go to gusto.com/mixergy to use them for free. And the second, if you’re hiring developers, I’m going to tell you that lemon.io/mixergy is the place you should be. You should be including in your, in your search, but I’ll talk about those later. I’ve been talking too much, Mike. Good to have you here.

Mike: Hey, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. See you again, after, after 12 years in it, a couple of events that have occurred between the last conversation and this one.

Andrew: Of all of them. What was the most exciting one? Was it the merger with seamless that then allowed you to go public? Was it the day you went public? Was it the day you left? What was, what was like the one most exciting day that you look back

Mike: Yeah, the big moment for me at grub hub was, um, just after the housing crisis. Um, a restaurants were, uh, brought me flowers at the, at the company headquarters, uh, to thank me for keeping his business, working through this huge economic downturn and keeping all of his, um, all of his family members who were also his employees employed. And I knew at that point that I was making a really significant impact in, um, in a lot of restaurants, workers lives. And so that was when I knew that we were really onto something great, obviously, uh, financing rounds and merger and the IPO were great. The I, everybody should do an IPO once. It’s great. I

highly

Andrew: what was the most exciting part about it? Was it being on the jets? Was it seeing your, your, your stock trade for the first time?

Mike: Getting paid, getting paid with the best.

Andrew: Really that you finally got, but you’ve been paid before. Weren’t didn’t you get paid before?

Mike: Yeah. I mean a little bit, but like,

Andrew: Yeah. Tell me about the getting paid part.

Mike: debt and pay off my house. It was great. Like, it was great. That was, that was exciting. But yeah, I

Andrew: wait, wait, Mike, you couldn’t pay, you can pay your school debt until the day you went

Mike: yeah, that’s right. I had 260 grand in school debt when I started GrubHub. And my whole goal when I started the company was to pay off that school debt. Uh, I overshot by a little bit, but it took a long time. I mean, it took a decade before I got from point a to point B.

Andrew: How wealthy did you get the day of the IPO?

Mike: Uh, I did pretty good. I did pretty good.

You can look it up in the sta

Andrew: I know the S ones do actually say what percentage you own or how many shares you own and all that. All right. I, for some reason I didn’t do that

Mike: before that it was a metric shit ton of cash. That’s the official measurement.

Andrew: the sec. Lets you say that and they don’t let, uh, Elon Musk speak what the hell is going on in this

Mike: I dunno. I was no lie. I mean, I left the day after, not the day, about a month after the IPO and sort of rode off into the sunset. And so I wasn’t an insider after that point. So yeah, I could, I could say what I want.

Andrew: Can you just, I know this, this is after your time there, but why didn’t grub hub beat door dash. You had, you had a headstart on them.

Mike: Yeah. I think. Ultimately, when you look at where the strategies for door dash and Uber eats and GrubHub are today, uh, it really is all about who can outspend the others. And it’s about paying the highest CAC and, and spending the most money on acquisitions, um, with little differentiation between the services.

And so, um, GrubHub got to where it was because we, we made sure that the best food got to customers. We didn’t, we didn’t always optimize for just profit. We made sure that the best restaurants were sorted the highest in addition to the ones that paid us more. And so it’s similar to Google ad sense in terms of the algorithm. Uh, and, and that differentiation went away once the company sort of became beholden to, um, public shareholders and, and quarterly profits. And so because of that, uh, it really came down to who had the most money in door dash raise more. And so they won because the strategy was who can spend the most, and they had the most money. Um, prior to that, it was about the best quality experience. Um, and I, and I still. Whichever the three of those companies will win in the long-term is the one that reverts back to providing a quality experience as opposed to maximizing profits.

Andrew: What do you mean? Like you, you said that before, uh, this race to acquire customers at any cost, if a customer called you up and had a problem, you’d say no problem. We’ll fix it for you. Well, you tell me what was the

Mike: Yeah. So,

um, that’s sort of like beginner’s customer service, right? Make the, make the resolution more memorable than, than the problem. And so we would do things like somebody would call you call and I say, Hey, Andrew, I can see by your phone number that you’re calling from, you just ordered from Bill’s pizza and the food’s 48 minutes since you ordered, uh, let me call them and text you, uh, about what the status of the order was.

So that was like sort of customer service. That was one of our big advantages, um, as we were growing. Uh, but actually there’s a better customer service solution than that. Resolve the problem before it’s even a problem. And so what you do is you’ve got Bill’s pizza and you’ve got Bob’s pizza. And one of them, um, has a 98% success rate of getting the food to a, to a customer.

And it’s hot and it’s high quality. Uh, and the other one has a 50%. You put, you put the better restaurant at the top of the listings, regardless of which one pays you more because ultimately the repeat purchase rate from the customers and their referral, um, that’s a much better way to acquire and keep customers than just spending money. Um, and so that’s really what I’m talking about. I think that, um, there’s that differentiation doesn’t exist between any of the three major players in the space now.

Andrew: And I should say your business evolved from you just listing menus for free to then being kind of a search engine for local restaurants to eventually sending out the actual orders through delivery. People who reported back to you were 10 99 contractors.

Mike: Yeah, So, um, with the. last time we talked, it was literally like a listing service where. Premium service just got you your menu listed higher on the website. And then we start digitizing those from an SEO so we can get SEO value. Um, so they weren’t just scanned menus. Um, we started typing them out and then, uh, it, it literally took me two and a half years in the business where I was like, I wonder if people want to like order online instead of calling a restaurant, uh, you know, you know, and then, and then, um, that became the model and we were the, we were in the first hundred, uh, apps in the app store.

And so that really accelerated our growth. Um, and so people could order from their phones for the first time. Uh, and we had 25,000 restaurants on platform at the time we launched the app on apples with huge headstart. Um, and then much later it was actually after it was after the IPO that the up started doing the delivery themselves, instead of relying on the restaurants, delivery drivers.

And, um, and the approach that they took was a gig economy approach, which is not highly differentiated. Um, you know, you have drivers who will drive. Who will pick up orders for all three different, you know, major carriers. Um, and I’m a big believer in actually creating, um, in hiring and retaining the best quality people through a W2 model.

Um, I think that actually is a much more effective way to create a better experience. And that’s, that’s a path I would have taken, but that was after, after the IPO. So I was gone. Um, but yeah, that’s

how the, that’s how the.

model.

Andrew: By the way I know what you mean about bad service. I still can’t get past my issue with one Uber eats order that I placed back like half a decade ago. And I still don’t order from them because I had food delivered for a meeting that was important to me. I swear. I don’t remember what meeting it was or who it was.

It was so important. But I do remember not only was the food bad, like it was the wrong food. It arrived badly and I could’ve forgiven all that, but they wouldn’t take my word for it, that they didn’t deliver what they needed to. And I was so bombed that I couldn’t take care of these guests who came into San Francisco to meet me anyway.

So that kind of thing just really hurts.

Mike: you can’t mess with people’s food. Uh, they get, they get hangry. And so, um, and, and over the course of however many millions of orders that went through grub hub, um, the error rates, something like 8%, something went wrong with the 8% of the orders. So, um, whether that’s, uh, I got a Thai ice tea instead of Thai as coffee, or it took too long to deliver or an item was missing or there weren’t utensils, whatever the case may be.

And with an error rate that high it’s actually really important. As I said before, to select the restaurants that have a lower error rate and provide those to the customers, as opposed to just taking the highest bidder. Um, And then you end up with a lot less of those experiences that you just had. The other thing is, believe your customers, right?

Like the cost of, um, the cost of not believing your customers, because some people are fraudulent is, uh, is enormous compared to, you know, what, there’s some bad actors and we’re not going to optimize towards them. We’re going to optimize towards our customers that we value and we’re going to believe them and we’ll figure out how to handle some of these, these bad actors on the backend.

And that, that will always be the case for any large business.

Andrew: And I guess at some point it’s not that it’s not that hard to identify them because you delivering to their home. If you see a home constantly has issues, maybe you ding them too, or you don’t believe them.

Mike: Um, well that, that comes with its own set of problems, because what if they’re in a college dorm, or if you’re in a

high rise, or if you’re at a hotel, you can’t just do it by address and you can’t just do it by phone. So, I mean, that is a big issue, but, um, but again, the solution to that problem is not to hurt your good customers as well.

Andrew: I did look up the . So the you had 4.3, roughly million shares of the company. I meant you owned about 3% of the business at $34 a share, I think is what the IPO price was.

Mike: Yeah. So it’s like just over a hundred million bucks.

Andrew: And so then why did you leave? The other thing that I saw on the S one is next to your name. Mike Evans will be leaving. Why? Why not stay with this?

Mike: You know, starting a company and you’re in your apartment and then running it through the IPO is a really great start line and finish line. And for me, um, it was, it was just the finish line. I was ready to move on and do some other things. Uh, I, I felt like I had some more gas in the tank to do another business.

And, um, I got the company to the size. I wanted it to be had a great exit, um, and decided that that’s what my path was going to be after that.

Andrew: Will you also burned out

Mike: Um, I think, I think I was not enamored with public investors. I’ll say that, um, you know,

Andrew: before you even got to be before you even got to be a publicly traded company?

Mike: well, I mean, we, so we filed for it. We filed the S one to go public. Um, two years before we actually went. And then pulled it to do a merger with seamless and then file it. So it was, it was two and a half years of working with investment banks and, and talking to public investors and, and, um, w large investors, not individual retail investors. Um, and so it wasn’t, it wasn’t just 30 days. It was like two and a half years.

And, uh, and I’ll say this, um, an individual public investor is a great person. They have quality, they have values, they’re wonderful people, but taken as a whole, like the group of all public investors acting as an individual individual is like the most narcissistic short-term thinker you could possibly find in the world. Uh, and so it’s very hard to create company that’s oriented towards long-term value and customer value, um, as a public entity, unless you just are willing to plant that flag and say, come hell or high water, I’m going to live by the customer.

Andrew: Yeah, I think Eric Reese has heard this so many times. He created a long-term stock exchange. He’s I think that there haven’t been a lot of listings on it, but I can see the issues there. At what point did you decide that you were going to cycle across America?

Mike: Um, I think the first time it entered my mind the first time that I was like, you know, this might be a fun idea. I was, uh, I Was at the grand Teton national park and there was like this separate campsite at campsite at Jenny lake. And a bunch of people were like rolled up on bikes with like big bags and everything.

I’m like, what’s going on? And I’m like, where’d you guys come from? And somebody said, uh, oh, I, I just biked here from Virginia. And I was like, someday, I will do that. And so that was a really good time. And so after I left the laughter, I left, um, grub hub, like 28 days later or whatever, after the IPO, I started a bike ride across the country to decompress.

Think about what I just accomplished. Um, and really just reflect on what the lessons were pause before starting my next.

Andrew: Was it everything you hoped it would be. I, I do like the idea of being discussed where you fully disconnected for it.

Mike: Uh,

no,

Andrew: I mean, but you didn’t, you didn’t have a tour bus behind you.

Mike: no, I mean, yeah, it was, it was totally self-supported. I was just in a, I had a tent and like

I just found camp sites and cycled across the U S, which was wild. There was this one moment where I was in Kansas and this kid, uh, like he came out, he came over and he’s like, Hey, Mr, do you want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

And if you’re interested, you’d come over to my Bible study. I was like, Hey, thanks. And you know, literally a month earlier, I had been on a private jet, like headed towards the IPO with like lobster tail and shrimp cocktail provided by city. Like it was the juxtaposition of those two moments. And, and I like, I like investment bankers.

They’re hardworking, intelligent people when it really comes down to it, talking to an investment banker or talking to this kid with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Like, which person do you really want to interrupt? Day to day. And, and the kid with the sandwich was being really generous and kind and gracious.

And, uh, and that was what I found is I’ve talked to people across the country. So,

Andrew: I feel like maybe that’s you. I would in the back of my head go, what does this kid want? He’s trying to convert me to his thing. I’m not taking a sandwich and then he’s going to convert me. And what does he think? I am.

Mike: It was a great sandwich, Andrew. He was a great, I, I, I was one of the things I was trying to do is leave my cynicism sort of back before the bike trips started. So, uh, yeah, it was a great sandwich.

Andrew: You know what I wonder where you always, this much of a do gooder before we got started, we were talking about like the do gooder nature behind fixer. I love that you have fixer.com a domain and all, but I don’t, I don’t have a memory of you being this person who was like the kind of do good or that you are today.

Yes. I remember you telling me the stories about the businesses and the restaurants that you helped out and you feeling genuinely concerned about them, but where’s this coming from?

Mike: Yeah. I mean, um, I think that the best businesses are the ones where the, the benefit that they create for their customers and the communities and the profit that they create for their investors. Um, it’s a huge lever for change, but it also, I also think they’re, they, they tend to, if they’re done well, they tend to be businesses that have really high, um, levels of differentiation.

Like they, they just, you have founders who are thinking intentionally, you have your people who, um, really care about sort of thinking holistically about the whole system. And you can create a long-term business that can run for 30, 50, a hundred years on that mentality. And it’s not a get rich quick kind of, Uh, kind of approach.

So, um, it’s, it’s self it’s, maybe it’s self-interest but like enlightened self-interest. I don’t, I don’t really think of myself as a good to do gooder. I think of like, how do I create holistic systems that are beneficial for all of the constituents involved? And I think it’s a great way to run.

Andrew: Uh, I see you’re seeing businesses kind of like those mom and pop restaurants that you’ve seen passed from one generation to the next. And occasionally we hear about them when like the youngest child becomes a famous chef with a book, but that’s the way you’re thinking about businesses, not like some kind of charity alternative.

Mike: Yeah, that’s right. I, I don’t, I I’ve worked with nonprofits and I think they have a great place in our society, but that’s really not for me. I don’t think they’re a big enough lever for social change and they require ongoing constant support. Um, if you can create a business that’s both profitable and, and it’s good for the constituencies of the communities that they serve. Um, that’s a better way. Uh, and I think that that’s also a better way than a pure profit model that, um, it just consumes resources without any sort of thought for what it does to the, to those around, to the environment in which there are.

Andrew: I told you before we got started, my wife has been on this path of helping for profit businesses with their social missions, largely in, uh, in like the San Francisco bay area. They’re a bunch of tech companies that, um, that are doing this. And one of the reasons she wanted to do it is she went to volunteer in Micronesia as a teacher.

And they ran out of pencils, like little things like that they basically were scrounging around for. And you realize, meanwhile, there are these businesses that have a lot of money. Did you try donating money to, I think you had some experiences where that showed you something similar that it wasn’t right.

Or wasn’t working

Mike: um, donated, given away about half of what I got from the IPO by this point. And, um, and I’m a big believer in, in philanthropy. Um, but I’m not convinced it’s the, it’s the biggest agent for social change? Um, I think, like I said, that’s, that’s why I started fixing her. Right. That’s why I was like, you know What I can, I can do. Um, if I actually create a for-profit company that creates social change. So, I mean, I’m obviously a big believer in, and I put my money where my mouth is with that, but, um, yeah, I, I don’t, I don’t think that nonprofits and philanthropy is bad. It’s just, um, it’s not the only way to, to, to make the world a better place.

Andrew: What about the companies that you invested in? I think, um, after grub hub, you started investing in different companies that also had a social mission and that didn’t go so well. Right? What happened there?

Mike: Um, no, I think, well, I did invest in companies. Uh, it turns out I might just not be a great investor unrelated to whether or not they’re social or not. Uh, and so, uh, I think I invested in like 18 startups and a lot of them failed quickly. Um, there?

was really not a lot of correlation between, um, the, I actually, the, the, of the ones that are still surviving and doing quite well about half of them are, or have a social bent to them.

And then I also invested in some VCs, some of which are socially oriented and some of which are more.

Andrew: As an LP. Okay. I get the feeling that you didn’t enjoy investing. Otherwise you would have stuck with it and try it. No, you didn’t.

Mike: Well, investing’s terrible. I, I, would see, I would see companies and the CEOs and I really respected respect to them, but I just want to get in and tinker I’d want to get in and just like, can we do this? Can’t we change that. And, uh, it doesn’t work as an investor to be that, um, prescriptive. So, uh, it takes a ton of time. And I honestly, I just like running things, I like creating something from nothing it’s really fun. Uh, creating businesses is ultimately a creative exercise, right? Like there’s, there’s, there’s something generative about it. That is, uh, that’s really satisfying to me.

Andrew: Did you have any side projects this whole time or was fixer the very next thing you created?

Mike: Uh, no, this is the

next thing I created fixer. Yeah. I mean,

aside from investing, which, um, whatever,

Andrew: with you. I think a lot of people aren’t good at investing and don’t enjoy investing, but it’s so freaking prestigious. And then everyone comes to you for money and you have the power to really help them.

So beyond the prestigious, the prestige and the power, there’s also the sense of helping somebody out with a vision. So I get all the appeal of it, but I think the actual hard work is not something people enjoy as much as they pretend to involve investing.

Mike: I talked to bill Gurley, who was an investor he’s he’s at benchmark, uh, and he was an investor in GrubHub and about, about being a VC and, uh, you know, a couple of his pieces of advice were, first of all, you just got to love it. You got to love it for what it is. You can’t love it for getting rich. And the second thing is. Well, really three things. The second thing is you have to be good at helping people operate, but the third one is picking matters. Like you have to be really a really good picker. Uh, and benchmark has a huge advantage because of their brand that they get this, like it’s sort of the cream of the crop. And then they get to pick from that. And I was like, why can’t I can’t emulate that advantage? Like, like, how am I going to become a good pig? Like, it would take 10 years of making mistakes to get good at it. Uh, and, and I thought, well, I’m already

arguably either it was a fluke or I’m pretty good at restarting businesses and running them. So maybe I should do that again instead.

Andrew: I love Ari spent so much time after your call with her, for the pre-interview so much time just writing up her notes on you. And I love the way that you were thinking about what to do next and what your, what your skills and experiences. I think a lot of entrepreneurs I interview will say to me, I had to start completely different.

I got bored of the old, and I think. I get that there’s some that’s boring, but doesn’t, it hurt you to destroy or to give up on so much that you’ve already done that, you know. All right, let’s get into it in a moment. First. I should say, if anyone is listening, um, my first sponsor is a company called GRA, um, not grub.

GrubHub is not a sponsor. It’s Gusto, uh, for paying people. I’ll tell you what I like about Gusto. Mike, I’m curious from your point of view, what you like about them? Um, I think the majority of my interviewees, what I’ve asked of use Gusto for me, it’s the simplicity. I still do this myself. I paid, I paid 10 99 people on a regular basis and I don’t want it to be a hassle for me.

And I don’t want them to live in this. Am I getting paid or not getting paid place? I want them to know what’s coming to them and I want to have it easy for both of us. What does it for you?

Mike: Yeah, I think, um, it’s, it’s not value add or a competitive advantage for me to be, or anyone in my company to be really good at HR and, and figuring all that stuff out. And. I can just have a, have a, you know, this company that does a lot of those things and it does it well, probably

better than we could do ourselves. Um, I, yeah, I’ve really loved working with Gusto.

Andrew: And I should say they do have people. They have people so much that I actually found myself calling them up to help set something up. And then, and then the guy says, well, you know, Andrew, I can just call you back. If you have an issue. And I realized, wait a minute, I don’t need him here. I’m just calling them because they’d make them so easily available.

And I apologize to him. And, uh, and I moved on. All right. I should say, if you want to try them out for free now is a great time to do it. Even if you’ve been using a different payroll company, even if you’re just paying 1 10 99 person, start with them and grow with them, go to gusto.com/mixergy to use them for free.

For a limited time, as a way of seeing how good they are, gusto.com/mixergy. I don’t think the money is going to be an issue. That’s going to stop people. I think once you go in there and use it for free, you’re going to see the dashboard new. You’re going to stick with them and love them. All right. So here’s one of the things that you said to our producer.

You said. I had this experience selling to, or getting millions of consumers. I like that. I don’t have any experience selling to one Oracle, right? Like that kind of enterprise sale was not. You. Tell me more about what went into your decision making about what to do now.

Mike: Yeah. A part of it was to play to my strengths. Right. Uh, and a part of it was to do something new. So I wanted to mix of those two things. And so the part that I had done before was created brands that had millions of consumers. And, um, I feel like I have some skills there. I kind of knew what to do to make that happen.

Um, I, I have zero skills in enterprise sales. Like I can’t, I don’t know how to sign up university to do anything or Oracle or IBM. Like I have no idea. I don’t know how people handle, like six months sales cycles. I go crazy. Um, and so it was like, well, we want to do a consumer brand. And we looked around and we said, um, it’d just be nice.

If we found something where it was like, there’s, there’s not a big brand nationally. And people still have to use the phone to call, to order a service, something like that. Um, that was like, sort of part one. Of like going in, you know, that was like the personal part of like what I wanted to do. There was another part, which is what kind of business I wanted to create and we can jump into that one ready.

But, um, yeah, that was the idea behind it. I had, I had some skills and I wanted it to look at least a little bit like, um, what I had done in the past in terms of the, the brands and the consumers and having an app and all and making things easier, more accessible, all

Andrew: What skills did you feel you had for acquiring consumers? I feel like at the level that you got to Mike with grub hub, you were disconnected from the SEO of the day. You were disconnected from some of the techniques that they were using. My right.

Mike: Yeah.

Uh, so one skill is, I, I think spending for customers is, uh, is a terrible idea. I think spending lots of money for customers is a terrible idea. Creating a product that people refer, uh, creating a product to people come back to and being a product first organization. Um, is the way to get a big consumer brand. You can’t just spend it well, you can, but it takes billions of dollars. Um, there’s a much more efficient way to do it, which is a great, a great product, which is not to say, as you build it, they will come. That’s, That’s, going all the way, the other direction. And it’s false. Like you can’t just build a great product and hope people use it.

You do have to spend, and you have to be good at integrating, um, spending on marketing with a product conversion rate SEO, like all of it’s gotta be part of one ecosystem to really work well. Um, you know, the, the, the conversion rate numbers, one of the, at one point at grub hub, we had a, I think we hit a high point on conversion rate of 38%, 38% of all customers coming to the people coming to the website. Transacted typical numbers are like three or 4%. And when you’re on, when you’re, when you’re bidding on SEM, when you’re bidding on Google and you convert at that high of a rate, um, You can add you’re more effective than any of the other, the other spenders. And so, um, you can you outspend by being more efficient, not by spending more dollars,

Andrew: What did you do to get such high conversion rates,

Mike: um, everything right, but every there’s necessary, there’s no silver

Andrew: but is it, is it about landing, but that, what I mean is I don’t see how the product influences a conversion at that point, unless you are saying that people have already been familiar with Grubhubs through a previous experience, and then you were just retargeting them.

Mike: no. Um, so it’s everything from picking the keywords to make sure that you get the right demographics to having specific landing pages for those keywords that, um, convert highly, um, through AB testing and optimization. Um, but also have a design philosophy, you know, wrapped around them. You’re not just a pure AB testing, um, uh, mentality, uh, all the way.

And then the conversion was all the way down to. Did the person get the food in that case or in fixers case, did the, the, the handy person do the work, um, that the person wanted to have done. Um, it’s just, it’s, it’s an entire, the entire thing is integrated together. And then, um, and you know, who’s great at this.

This is booking.com. You create a little bit of FOMO. So, um, booking.com does a great job of this. If you go to booking the homes website and you type in Albuquerque, uh, they will try to convince you that there are like three places left in Albuquerque for your dates that you can book and you better hit that button.

Now it induces so much anxiety and fear, and they actually drive huge conversion rates with that fear. Now that’s kind of a shitty way to go about getting customers. Uh, but there’s an element of like create scarcity, Um,

make sure that the page loads fast, I mean, it’s, it’s real. It really is everything. Um, the brand has to be good.

Andrew: And you’re saying, that’s the stuff that you just would love working on, speeding up the page, figuring out what it is that booking.com is doing. And so on.

Mike: Yeah, that’s

Andrew: I’m on

Mike: I don’t do a lot of that myself anymore, but I’m definitely

Andrew: talking about it and getting in the weeds in it and thinking it through.

Mike: yeah,

Andrew: Okay. So that’s one part of it. The other part was you wanted a business that also does good in the world.

And so how would fix her do that?

Mike: Yeah. So when I was thinking about, um, so there was three parts, so it was really, is it’s something I’m good at a problem that I have. And then something that?

does good in the world. The problem I have was easy. When you try to call a handy person, you’re going to get a date six weeks out. Well, first of all, you get voicemail.

If they call you back, you’ll get A date six weeks out. And when they do show up, they’ll do great work, uh, really high quality work, but the interface and the waiting and the time to get a small job done, it’s it’s really a nightmare from customer experience. I tried it. I tried getting a rain barrel and salt.

It was a total failure.

Andrew: A rain barrel is a thing to collect water that comes off your roof, and then you use it to water your garden.

Is that right? And so you tried to get that done. You use Thumbtack, you had problem with Thumbtack because you still had to, I didn’t realize that with some tack, you have to still call the people.

I thought I was emailing people that I got from there.

Mike: Uh, well, Thumbtack, I think you can email, uh, with home advisor, you have to call, um, but at any rate that it results in someone calling you back on the phone, you know, that app on your phone that you never use the

Andrew: I know that it’s so far, I get so angry when they do that. When they call me, I always thought that the solution needs to be giving these people a better internet experience. But then I met people from one of these yellow page companies at a conference. And all they do is help small businesses get set up with the webpages and software and everything.

So there are people out there battling this on a call by call in face meetings with, with these local businesses and they still can’t get them up and running on some software. That

Mike: Well, it makes sense.

Cause if you’re a handy person and you’re your cell phone, Um, any hours during the daytime that you’re not working, you’re not billing. You don’t get to bill for answering the phone. And so unless you can staff a call center to actually answer those calls, you have to call back after working hours.

Right

Andrew: is why don’t they have some kind of web experience where they’re not a billion different things that I need to have fixed, right? It’s gutters, it’s toilet. It’s like maybe 50 things. Isn’t there. Someone who could create a wix.com version for them that allows them to Wix and Calendly integrated there isn’t it doesn’t seem like,

Mike: there. Isn’t an, you know, I, as an investor, when I was doing investing and I was on a board of a few different companies that did, um, that were marketplace businesses that worked with individually independent contractors, there was a problem we ran up again against again and again and again. And it was unless you’re the independent operator is getting over 50% of their transactions from your planet. They don’t keep their inventory updated. They don’t keep their, their schedule updated. And if

the inventory isn’t real time, then a consumer can book 2:00 PM tomorrow. So the problem with trying to integrate a fragmented marketplace is that you have to be so much of the volume that, uh, that the independent operators will actually keep that inventory updated. And so that, I think that that’s the, and I’ve seen it in event planning and I’ve seen it in, um, salons and I’ve seen it. There’s a, there’s a number of different verticals I’ve been involved with and seeing this problem over and over again.

Andrew: I feel like in salons, it’s starting to, it’s starting to happen. They’re starting to use the booking apps

Mike: Yeah. Um, and if one player does come out ahead, they’ll have a huge advantage because they’ll have live inventory.

Andrew: right there. They’re starting to, I see Squire a lot now. Um, when I, when I book haircuts, look at how

Mike: Yeah. And there’s another one too. There’s um, I can’t remember the name of the other one.

Andrew: Yeah, they’re there at least a couple. Now, finally, they’re more than a couple I’ve interviewed one. Um, I can’t think of the name right now, but they’re, they’re at least out there now doing this thing. And I always thought that it’s lawns would be the hardest because they get so much of their, their payment in cash and they don’t want any of it reported.

All right. So then if you saw this problem, the next step was to create a business around it. How much did it cost you to get fixer.com as a domain?

Mike: And it was like a hundred grand.

Um, yeah. yeah.

And I bought the bow. I bought the Eve F I X, E R. Yeah. And so, uh, yeah, uh, if that’s about what it was and, um, and we pick that name on purpose, cause it’s not gendered, right? It’s not handyman. It’s like fixer could be a man or a woman or a non-binary person.

And that was intentional because, um, and I’ll get into, this is probably a good time to get into the, like how it makes the world a better

place. How does somebody become a handy person? Nowadays? They have an uncle and their uncle teaches them how to fix things. And eventually they hang up a shingle.

That’s that’s it.

Andrew: There’s no class that you go to and sign up for the way you would to beauty school.

Mike: No, the number of trade schools in the country that are open, um, it it’s dwindled to almost none. And the only entities that are left are for-profit entities. Some of which are, are good, but many of which are really about arbitraging, federal, student loan, um, aid. And, and, um, and that’s it they’re really about extracting profit, uh, that way.

Not

Andrew: Can we pause on that for a moment? Why not? Why can’t you do it and do it on the same model as the coding schools do now, where you let them come in and they don’t, they don’t have to pay their debt and they get student debt, but they don’t have to pay it back until they make three times whatever it is that you’ve charged.

Mike: Well, the main challenge with the difference between the coding schools, because we looked into this model,

uh, the reason we didn’t go down that path is because a lot of people who are entering the trades are entering, Um,

it really just above the minimum wage when they start. And it turns out you can’t earn that. When you’re at that level, you got to eat. And a lot of, a lot of people have families or they have obligations. Um, and so that you actually, what we do is we actually pay people while they’re being trained. It’s not even just that we don’t charge tuition. We actually pay them an hourly rate while they’re, while they’re in

training. Um,

and I think that’s actually really necessary for, um, for the handy person. You know, work is probably the lowest paid among the trades, but it’s the entry path that lets you ladder up to

electrician or plumber or roofer or crane operator or whatever. And so, um,

because it’s the entry path and because, um, it, it pays sort of at the, at the, entry path at entry point level, um, you just gotta, you can’t just pay people, nothing.

You can’t tell them to take six weeks off work. They just won’t do it. Nobody will do it. They’d much rather go

Andrew: Ah, right, because they have to take six. Even if you’re paying for their school, they’re still taking time off of work. And then in the beginning, they’re not making that much money where a developer might come out and make 60, 75,000 a year. Uh, the first year they’re not making much in the beginning. Got it.

All right.

Mike: And

most developers have gone to college, uh, even in the coding schools. And so they going to college imply something about, uh, a social net or a family that’s been able to send you, or at least even if you pay for it yourself, they’re supporting you in some ways. And it leaves out a whole section of our society that doesn’t have that privilege.

Andrew: okay. So you said, I think we’re going to have to hire everyone full-time, which is so painful because you don’t, you can’t predict demand, right?

Mike: Yeah. So, so we did, so we skipped the, like the third key piece, which is I wanted to create a business. And this is like, this is like the, the, the fundamental rule of impact businesses is. The business model and the social benefit, can’t be decoupled. It’s not a tack on thing. And, and, you know, after having the problem with the rain barrel and thinking about the kinds of things they wanted to do, the third piece was, you know, the supply of skilled workers is insufficient to the demand, and economics 1 0 1, the first day of the economics, 1 0 1 class.

What they say is if supply is low and demand is high, a price is high. And the more, those two things separate the higher the price goes. So we said, well, why is the supply low? And that I already spoke to this a little bit, a lot of the trade schools, most of the trade schools have closed almost all, almost all of the trade schools and public education and closed. And so we said, okay, the supply is getting even worse. So what if we stand up our own training center or training program and we train people from scratch. Um, but then we try to retain them. And actually at this point, we said, well, if we’re investing in training, unlike unlike GrubHub drivers who already know how to do. Hopefully, right?

Uh, that’s a skill most people learn before they apply for the position. Um, this is actually a pretty highly skilled role. And so we’re going to have to invest a lot in training people. If you’re investing a lot in training people, you want to retain them. And a W2 model is better for retention than a 10 99 model.

And so we said, okay, we want to lean in on the W2 model, go with a high paying job. That’s highly retained that we have high retention on. And actually that is going to be the thing that scales growth, because retention is the thing that’s more important than just acquiring a bunch of skilled unskilled Erik or semi-skilled laborers like drivers that, um, that you can, that already exist in the pool.

The pool doesn’t exist. So we said, okay, great. So the, so the impact is we’re creating an entry path into the trade that’s gender inclusive and racially inclusive. And by the way, if the supply of skilled workers is insufficient, um, the worst strategy you could possibly employ is let’s eliminate 50% of the, of the, of the possible skilled labor pool by only hiring men.

Like that would be a terrible strategy.

Andrew: Yeah.

Mike: So the impact and the profit are completely intertwined in this model. And we picked this model. This is the thing I wanted to work on because of that. I didn’t like after the fact, like figure this out. And so that is the impact. We create an entry path into the trades.

People stay with us for hopefully three, four or five years, and then they move on. We helped them launch into a more high paying role, like electrician or plumber or whatever. And so we create economic mobility for the people who apply. Right. But we have this huge competitive advantage, right. We have our own set of skilled workers.

We understand 100% of their inventory. We can schedule them right away and we can control the quality and consistency of the job. And so that is the, that’s the whole business model. That’s the whole secret. Right. It turns out that the thing that I said before, the stuff that I was good at, like creating a consumer brand great. Um, it turns out that I’m not an educator and creating a training school from scratch, uh, was a bigger bite to chew off than I realized when I first started. Yeah. It’s, it’s really hard to, to educate adults in an effective way. Like it’s, it’s not, um, it, it turns out the teachers know a thing or two about what they’re doing. Uh, and, and the typical startup arrogance, which every startup entrepreneur brings to a new new industry. When they say that they’re gonna, they’re gonna disrupt it. Um, we found out pretty quickly that we needed to learn from people who teach, how to create this program, how to write our curriculum, how to apply the curriculum, how the classes work, you know, whether it’s a mix of online and offline. Um, and that was, that’s been the hard that’s been, the hard lift of the business is figuring that out so that we can get a scalable training program that’s ROI positive.

Andrew: What’s the

Mike: you mentioned

Andrew: Now, your what’s the process now for hiring you’re I guess you’re qualifying them before they even come in. Right. Or

Mike: Yeah.

Andrew: me, and then you’re teaching.

Mike: So we, we post on Facebook and Craigslist and all those places, we advertise the position, just like you would advertise for consumers. Um, and they come to us and, um, we give free educational materials. We basically give some classes of classes to everybody who applies and the ones who complete the class. Um, you know, they’ve learned something, they’ve gained some value, but they’ve also proven to us that they have some skin in the game. And then we bring them into the in-person training program for a number of weeks. And then we start sending them out with experienced fixers pretty quickly. And it turns out that if you send a trainee with an experienced fixer and you’re doing something like hanging a TV, that takes two people, you can charge for both their time and

it’s Jew. And so we start getting a return on investment pretty quickly by sending the trainees on two person jobs. Um, and that that’s the model. That’s how we, that’s how we get people from applied to, uh, in a person’s home doing that.

Andrew: I also like how you told our producer w when we made money right from day one, we’ll get into that in a second. Uh, I should say second sponsor is a company called lemon lemon.io/mixer G will help you get developers from Europe, less expensive. And man, they’re so good. And the way it works with lemon is you chat with them and tell them what your needs are.

They have an account manager who’s going to review what you’re looking for, match you up with the developer. Who’s the right fit for you. And if it’s not the right fit, they’ll replace them. If it is the right fit, you just get to continue to work with them. You’ll see they’re phenomenal developers, or frankly, if you don’t love them, don’t hire them.

And if you, um, I’m not telling you to even hire it from them. I’m telling you go and have a conversation with lemon IO and you’ll see how good their developers are. If you’re hiring right now, you should go to lemon.io/mixergy. And frankly, I would just go there because their web pages don’t, their copy is so fricking good.

They have a good personality. You know what, that’s the thing that, um, I feel like they’ve got a risky risk taking personality where they’re kind of putting themselves out there with their landing pages and their copy. And I like that about them. Alright. Um, Katie who’s Katie, she factored in the beginning.

Mike: Yeah, Katie is a friend of mine who could fix anything. She was, uh, she was the first picture. Um, and when I had told a few I’d bought the domain name, so it literally, it wasn’t the first hour of the business. I bought the domain name and then, um, myself and Katie and Zach, um, our first software developer, I think Jake was in the room.

The four of us were like, okay, let’s um, let’s run this, let’s start this business that we’ve been talking about. And I texted like five of my friends who couldn’t fix anything and said, we’re open for business. Um, And it was like 40, it was, it was 43 minutes before. One of them said like, alright, come on over and hang up a shelf.

And I was like that first

40 minutes I was sweating. I was like, Okay.

this is an important, uh, but yeah, we made money in the first hour. Um, and, and I, you know, I I’m, you mentioned Eric Reese, I’m a, I’m a big believer in the lean startup methodology. Um, I’ve spoken to him a number of times about it and, um, and also a big believer in the long-term stock exchange, by the way. Um, and, uh, yeah, so we did, we went and did the first job. Um, I, the, I asked for a credit card number, we put it into square. Um, and so that was every, that was all the elements of the business. Right. We had the supply, which was of somebody I knew who could fix everything I demand, which was people I knew who couldn’t fix anything.

The connector was my phone when I was texting

people. Right. And then, um, and then we had, uh, we had to charge the customer in a way that the fixer didn’t have to worry about it. Right. And then, so that was the first hour. So like during that hour, Zach put up the first webpage, we signed up for a text-based service.

So I wouldn’t have to use my phone, um, similar. Uh, yeah, so we, we signed up for that. And so then at that point we have the business. Now it’s just an optimization

problem. It’s a big optimization problem. But, uh, yeah, that’s where we started from.

Andrew: What do you mean by text-based service? What did you use?

Mike: Uh, we used, um, oh gosh, it’s

killing

Andrew: mean one that would actually take orders for you?

Mike: a company called Textline, which is like a, a way to be able to text people,

um,

Andrew: Just another phone number. It’s like a Google voice, but more professional.

Mike: Yeah. And then ultimately we ended up using their API as opposed to, as opposed to using even, um,

even the platform that they used that we could stand up originally.

Andrew: I thought you were saying you were you’re hiring even outsource people to respond to your customers. Know that’s not your thing.

Yeah.

Mike: no. We didn’t just have a bunch of people on phones.

Andrew: Um, so then you started getting customers. How, what worked for you in the beginning? Pass your friends.

Mike: Um, Craigslist, Thumbtack Angie’s list, home advisor.

Andrew: you went on some tattoo. Yeah, I guess you could because right. Because all they do is refer out.

Mike: Yeah. And, and, um, and I’m a believer in that model when there’s the supply of skilled workers. And then what we have is we have, we can create supply of skilled workers, which is something that none of them most marketplaces don’t even think about.

Right. Um, and we’re not a marketplace, we’re a tech enabled service provider. Right. And so we’re customers of all of those lead platforms, for sure.

Andrew: This is kind of like a roto Rooter for everything versus Roto-Rooter doing plumbing nationwide.

Mike: Yeah. That’s, that’s what we expect to be, will be a national national brand for, um, getting stuff fixed and upgraded.

Andrew: Why is it that there’s only that for, for plumbing, I see Roto-Rooter and competing services on the road with their trucks. I just don’t see a, for any other service like that.

Mike: Yeah. That’s exactly what several VCs have said to me. They’re like, why doesn’t this exist already? And I’m like, we’re working on it. I mean, when you see a gap like that, that’s, that’s a time to pounce, right. When you’re, when you’re trying to create a business, there should be a national brand. We will be the national brand.

Andrew: I could see that. And I could see also eventually companies referring their furniture companies and other companies referring their people to you. I can see eventually, um, everyone who has an Airbnb who doesn’t want to handle the work themselves, signing up for one of your Airbnb subscription services.

And I’m sure he’s going to come out. Cause I think you have a subscription service now for homeowners.

Mike: Yeah. We have subscription service now for, uh, for homeowners. Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. I could totally see like an Airbnb plan and then every Airbnb owner would have it so that they don’t have to worry about who’s going to come out to the house. If there a last minute issue with something like, I dunno, the lock not working.

Mike: we have skilled workers, right. We train them ourselves. And so we can do standardization about the way the work is done. We know it’s done well. And we take before and after pictures, like all of those things that sort of enhance the quality of the product and the experience, um, we can control, we can control all that because we can say how the workers do the work.

Cause they’re not tending 9, 9, 10, 9, 9 workers. And it’s actually the, the fixtures themselves who create the standards. Not, it’s not like top-down. Um, and so that, that model works really well for creating a quality experience for the Airbnb owners so that they don’t actually have to worry. Did it get fixed?

Andrew: Right, right, right.

Um, do you do any of that? Are you going after large groups of people that.

Mike: like do I do the fixes myself? I

Andrew: No, no, no. I mean like, is there, is there like a partnership with Airbnb in the works? Is there a partnership with some, I don’t know, uh, not Ikea, but what are some of the Ikea alternatives?

Mike: Yeah. Ikea even bought task rabbit to

Andrew: I know.

Mike: the furniture

assembly. Yeah. Um, do you remember what I said earlier about not understanding how to do enterprise sales that also applies to partnerships? I I’ve never,

I’ve been doing this 20 years. I don’t think I’ve ever created an effective partnership.

Um, we’re going after homeowners, uh, consumers. That’s, that’s our, that’s our jam.

like I’m open to partnerships, but we don’t have any in the works.

Andrew: So then you get into, I feel like all it takes is just like, well, now it doesn’t take, I there’s. No, all it takes. So you get into this COVID hits and suddenly we were all afraid to have people in our homes, your business, what happened to it?

Mike: So our, our revenue dropped by 80%, which was, uh, this was a big hit because people didn’t want it,

Andrew: walking in there.

Mike: want other people coming into their homes.

Andrew: Yeah.

Mike: So we pivoted, we rolled out a video console product, so we could walk people through fixing things from their homes. Um, and that was good. It was good because, um, it allowed us to keep the fixers employed. Full-time we didn’t have to furlough anyone. We didn’t have to reduce anyone’s hours. Um, and we made up th th that, that still didn’t make up all the pay gaps. So we, we, we made up the rest of that with investment cash. Um, but we kept everybody employed who we’d spent all this energy and effort investing in, um, so that as people, as we figured out the protocols and as people started to emerge, and it really only took 10 to 12 weeks before we started going into people’s homes again. Um, and so, so we pivoted back to the core model again, and we let the, let the video console product dive because it wasn’t super profitable. Um, and that was a hard decision to, to invest all this energy and time and fix it, figuring out a product, and then being like, well, that didn’t work. I think we’re going to let that one die of.

Andrew: I do see when I, when I do a new search for fixer.com, it’s all about this in home videos, virtual handyman service, and, uh, that didn’t work.

Mike: It works from a consumer, like consumers wanted it. Um, but, but the pay rate, like to get that expertise on the other side and to have the supply demand matched, it was just too expensive to do it in a profitable way.

We would’ve had charged a lot more and then the consumer demand would have dropped off. But, uh, it’s certainly true that TV stations loved the idea. So we did a lot, we got a lot of press on it, uh, which I’ll take it. Uh, but in the end, the product wasn’t wasn’t as nearly as, um, uh, it was a nice to have it. Wasn’t a need to have like the, the, if you’ve got a toilet leaking, you need it fixed and we can come fix it.

Right. You don’t want it yourself. You don’t want to figure out how to do it. You’re not, you’re afraid that you’re going to do it wrong. And so we

can just come do it. And that’s a much better.

Andrew: The other thing you did was you tried to get. Businesses to let you fix their offices while everyone was away. Since people were all working from home, how did that work?

Mike: Not at all

Andrew: It didn’t,

Mike: No, uh, no. I mean, it works, it that’s, that’s an exaggeration, it works a little bit. Um, but, but ultimately the same nervousness about coming into a person’s home, you know, having a business owner meet you at, uh, at their place business, when they’re all just stressed about how to keep a float anyway, and didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Um, we would have had to extend a lot of credit, which I wasn’t really, I didn’t know how to underwrite that. I didn’t understand how that would work? Um, and so we, that, that ended up not being, uh, It didn’t,

turn it around. What turned it around was we started going into people’s homes again, you know, we had masks on, we had protocols, we did testing.

We, uh, gave bonuses for vaccinations. Like we did all of these different things to really max out, um, to just max out the safety element. And then that got us into people’s homes.

Andrew: had panic attacks in that period.

Mike: I did have, is really stressed out.

I mean, I had a, you know, it’s funny cause I never really got that stressed out that stressed out during grow up. But this is, um, I care a lot more about this business succeeding because I can see it, you know, I can see us getting to the point where we have 10,000 fixtures coming through the training program at any given time and really creating an on-ramp into the trades, which is ness. Our country needs that. Right. And people need that. And so, um, I just had a lot more at stake in terms of this thing’s got to work. And so man, when, you know, trying, going through these, these, uh, figuring out the protocols, figure out how to keep people safe, making sure that we weren’t a vector of disease.

Like that was really important to me. Like you don’t want to

be spreading it around. Um, and so that’s, it was just all very stressful. Um, Yeah.

And that all that, all that all came up to, it came to a head at one point and I was, I was pretty stressed out.

Andrew: Do you ever feel like this is a come down from. You are the man, you, you gone public, you’d done the thing, created a multi-billion dollar business, household name and everything. And here you are trying to figure out how to get a toilet unclogged and somebody to knock it. COVID like, what am I doing? Like you look at Brian Chesky.

He’s he’s got high class problems. Now you’re back at the beginning. You’re back in the basement.

Mike: I love it.

I love it. It’s not a, it’s not a come down at all. I, well, first of all, GrubHub fixer will be a bigger business. It will be a bigger business than GrubHub ever was, or is now, um, the addressable market is much larger. Uh, people spend a lot more money on their homes than they do on food.

And so, um, I’m building something bigger that has a larger impact on the world.

And so, um, it’s not a let down, it’s a challenge. It’s great. Um, and I’m not fixing a toilet. I want to fix a million toilets. Right.

Andrew: I mean, like at the time that you’re doing this.

Mike: I want people to have good jobs while they do it. I want them to be, to have economic mobility, um, and to have an alternative to going to college. Um, I, I mean, there’s there’s nothing about that.

That’s a.

Andrew: I feel like, um, I think what you did with grub hub was huge. I don’t, I don’t want to even try to compare them. I could see why you’d want the future to be better than the past. Um, but the idea that look you’re employing or giving work to people all over the country now all over the world is huge. The idea that people who are poor spending time, making food, or driving out for food, don’t have to, if it becomes efficient even more than it is today, um, the prices could come down.

I could see GrubHub being huge to what I, what I think is amazing about fixer versus grub hub is the complexity of the problem. It’s much easier to stand up a competitor to grub hub than it is to, especially once we figured out the whole Uber model than it is to do, to do fixer, I went back and looked at the transcript.

Our conversation from over a decade ago, the thing that you love the most I feel was how much work went into digitizing those menus into doing the thing that you said, Google is not going to want to do it. Now. Eventually Google figured out a way to get menus into their thing. They, they just had people take photos of menus when they were in restaurants, but you, Doug, how difficult it is, what you’re doing here is so much harder training people to fix toilets, establishing this whole process, doing it across the country.

It makes it a lot harder for competitors to come into anything.

Mike: Yeah, it does. I mean, the, it’s got a lot of competitive barriers in terms of, um, it’s just hard to figure out the operations. It’s hard to figure out the training program and, and because of that VCs don’t like this business, they hate it because until you build those barriers until you do the hard work, it’s a liability after you’ve built it.

You now suddenly have an asset. And so, um, not only is it hard to, hard to build, it was hard to fund. And so, um, but that wasn’t a problem. I invested 5 million million dollars in the

Andrew: And then other people jumped in,

Mike: And then other people jumped in the, I did the first million and then I got additional VCs. Um, and also because I agree with this other business, I’m cheating when I go to VCs, right.

They take my call. So,

Andrew: surprised that they would give you a hard time because you’re a fricking worker. There’s something about you that gets excited about work.

Mike: Hey man, from your mouth to their

Andrew: So what was it that they didn’t well, so they were really just so repulsed by the idea.

Mike: I think, um, there’s a lot of VCs that have a blind spot around W2 workers. Um, they don’t see how business can scale with W2

workers. Um, I disagree with that. I think that when you’re talking about highly trained individuals, retention is the bigger issue rather than just being able to get as many people quickly as possible. Um, and so th there are challenges and, and the business is operationally complex, right? Like you need, you need a team that’s willing to work at the problem. And we’ve worked at the problem for five years to get to the efficiency that we have now, and the quality that we have now.

Andrew: And also, it doesn’t seem to have like the modern internet mechanisms in it. It feels almost like an older school business that just happens to know online marketing, which is a huge skill, but it doesn’t feel like it has any of the new advantages of the new internet space.

Mike: Well, uh, I disagree

because, um, you know, being able to use your phone to book a time tomorrow, having that person actually show up on time, getting the before and after pictures, um, us being able to statistically understand that a toilet takes, you know, 1.7 hours with a standard deviation of 15 minutes allows us to schedule four toilet repairs in a day.

Right. Especially if we’re assigning them last minute, like there’s a lot of technology that goes into wringing out efficiency, the system, because since we have W2 workers, we’re, we’re at risk. If they’re idle, right. If they’re not doing anything, we’re paying them and they’re, and, and we’re not earning revenue. And so a lot of the technological, um, sort of. Uh, underpinnings of the business are around making sure that we’re not idle, that we’re efficient. And then that the experience is good. So from the consumer experience, what you get from the consumer experience, which might not seem obvious at first is you don’t get a four hour window, like you used to get from Comcast.

Right. We show up on time, but that’s because we’ve written a lot of technology to make sure we show up on time and

we have sufficient supply to make it happen.

Andrew: I get that, you know, Mike, what excites me about the businesses? This, how many times did I have to fuck? I have to beg a friend to recommend their person and then beg that person to come over at a specific day. Just because I don’t even use an electric screwdriver. It’s, it’s a pain and it would be for something like my kids just got a new bed.

They’re excited about it. And I need somebody to put it together. I could put it back together. Let’s not put myself down. I don’t have the patience to spend two hours doing the bed. I’d much rather do something else. And then of course, if you get a trash compactor issue or something else, it’s one of the things that I liked about living in high-end buildings.

They always had a person who would come up right away and I was afraid to leave the high end apartment buildings because. As a customer fixers, a no-brainer for me, as I could see customers signing up so much more than, uh, than I could have, frankly, for grub hub, because I can go out and get my own food.

I’m not excited to go out and fix my own plumbing or, or, or frankly, hang a shelf is a huge thing for me too. I don’t want it to fall down on, on somebody who comes into visit. And then I got all those other liability issues,

Mike: yeah. Or install a Murphy bed. Right. You don’t want that folding on you in the

Andrew: right.

Mike: right? Yeah.

Andrew: okay. W revenue, I didn’t ask you a revenue. How much are you doing now? And then I’ve got to geek out for a minute with you on bike riding.

Mike: Yeah. Uh, we expect to make about 5 million this year. Um, and probably be just over doubling, uh, as, as each year goes by.

Andrew: How about in the last month or the last while? Looking back, give me some numbers. Like how far, how far along are

Mike: Yeah. It’s it’s um, so last year was a little bit suppressed because it was still COVID but, um, probably have.

Andrew: Okay. Alright, recumbent bike. These are the bikes that you lean back and you ride with your pedals forward. I used to think that they were so stupid. And then I read an article that you wrote explaining why you did it and you’re right. You said, I don’t want to look down, which is what you do on a, on a road bike, because you’re forced to look down and be aerodynamic.

You want to look forward in a recumbent bike, allows you to do it. Are they as fun to ride for that

Mike: Yeah. I mean, there, I wrote across the country at 10 miles per hour and like saw the whole thing. Like I just was like, looking around, swinging your head on a swivel, like, oh look, there’s cows. Oh, that look there’s, you know, like there’s, this is a beautiful mountain. Like, you know, um, it it was, it was great.

And you know, the choice for the recumbent, right? Like the choice of the crop, recumbent, the choice to leave GrubHub, the choice to start fixer all of these things. Um, there’s a theme around this, which is intentionality, right? Like, think about what you’re going to do and what your goals are before you do it.

And then figure out the best path to get there. Like literally that. That’s the theme that sort of unites all three of those things. And that’s, that’s what the book that I wrote, Henry, that’s coming out this next spring. That’s the theme of the book

is exploring intentionality. Um,

and also creating this, this wrap-up business from scratch.

Andrew: No. I’m like, I’m struggling with intentionality because we’ve been talking about bias for action for so long. One of the things that I’m talking to my therapist about is how I just act so much that I can’t even take a 10 minute discussion with my wife about where we should eat. I just want to make a decision right now and let’s go do something else.

It’s a real challenge. I have to spend time thinking more.

Mike: Yeah. I recommend riding a bike across the country.

Andrew: Cause you have nothing to do,

Mike: a little bit. What’s that?

Andrew: you have nothing to do with think.

Mike: Yeah. Well, mostly you’re just too tired to even think, but at some point when the bike ride like that each day of the day ends, you’re like definitely a little bit more settled. Um, but yeah, I think.

you know, it’s it’s uh, have you ever seen the amazing. Yeah. The teams that do really well are not the ones who just run off at full speed in some random directions. It’s the ones who like, think about what they’re going to do first and then run really quick. They don’t take a ton of time. It’s um, it’s a beat. It’s a moment where you say, where am I going and how am I going to get there?

And that’s, and then you run it full speed. Right. And that little beat, that little investment in intentionality. Um, it’s critical, not just on that, on a, on a reality

TV show. I mean, it’s critical when creating, trying to create a multi-billion dollar business as well. Right. And, and there’s lots of those beats.

And I think getting into that habit of Like I could just go, go, go, cause I’m like you said, I’m a worker, right? Like I like to be busy. I’d like to be working hard on things. Um, but taking that little moment, um,

that’s really, what’s driven

Andrew: how do you do, how do you do that differently than somebody who sits down and writes their goals every year or every quarter? What’s your approach? That’s different.

Mike: um, a few things I would say, well, first of all, that’s great start. I would say that that’s a great start. Um, the, the first thing is to really sort of understand, like, what do I want out of life? The first thing is set the headline, like the vision, right. And then understand how each of the goals ladders up to it. Um, and then this is really important when, when the goals start to diverge from so either a person’s what they want out of life or a business, what they’re trying to accomplish for customers as that starts to change over time. Because, because those goals change and the goalposts move, it’s really important to not continue doing the activity that you, you decided to do back when the goal was what it originally was. Entrepreneurs need to be good at quitting things like, like pickup. Uh, you know, when we, when we launched pickup at grub hub, um, as opposed to just delivery, it was a terrible idea because our restaurants made a lot realist revenue for us. People didn’t really find that much value in the. Um, it would, it would have been the right thing to do at that point would have been to quit that product because it wasn’t aligned with what we were trying to accomplish.

And that was true with fixer as well, with the, with the, uh, video consult product. It’s not just about setting goals, like laddering those up to the two emissions mission, but also being honest with oneself when either it’s not working or the goals changed and then quitting, leaving, stopping, and then doing something else.

Andrew: Yeah, I’m bad at that too. That’s a really, that’s a really good point. And we keep talking about just sticking with things, winning at all costs and all that. But I have a hard time just quitting things largely because the word quitting is so painful, but I think that’s one of my big takeaways from this conversation that, and that beat of thinking it through and

Mike: Yeah. I literally make this distinction in, in hangry and

the book that I wrote, um, between quitting and giving up the two different things like giving up is just running out of steam. The goal didn’t change. You still want to accomplish it and you just give up, right. That’s different from making an intentional decision that the goal is no longer suitable

or this activity is never going to reach that point.

So I should stop wasting energy.

Andrew: All right. I wish the book was out now. I can’t believe we have to wait a year for the, for the book. It’s not even on Amazon is like a pre-order thing, but that’s just the way things are. Meanwhile

Mike: you can go to my website to sign up for the pre-orders that Mike Kevin’s dot com.

Andrew: I should do that. You know what? I, I just went immediately. I saw that on your site. And then I said, I’m just going to go by the book right now. And then it’ll show up in my Kindle on the day of, and I wasn’t there and then I didn’t come back here. I’m

Mike: It probably won’t even surprise you that I also wanted to pre-order link, but that the publishing industry just doesn’t move that quick.

Andrew: I understand. All right, well, it’s worth it. Thanks so much for coming on here. I fricken love the idea of fixer as a customer. And I love having you back on, I’m telling you over the years, I’ve thought a lot about you because of the way that you built up your business, and then because it showed up everywhere for, for a long time.

Mike: Yeah. Thanks a lot for having me. It was really great talking to.

Andrew: Thanks, Mike. Thanks. Bye everyone.

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