How an app can solve an offline problem

I happen to be the one of the many people who don’t have enough time to take my car in for maintenance.

Well, joining me is an entrepreneur who recognized that problem and is solving it.

Limvirak Chea is the founder of Fixter, which lets users book hassle-free car maintenance.

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Limvirak Chea

Limvirak Chea

Fixter

Limvirak Chea is the founder of Fixter, which lets users book hassle-free car maintenance.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. One of the top things I noticed is that, um, entrepreneurs who I’ve interviewed, who built successful companies tend to solve problems and often they’re problems that we just kind of take for granted, we assume.

As, as customers, as users, if we have these problems, they’re our fault. There’s something wrong with me. And so we don’t notice them, let alone want to fight against the system. One of those problems is having your car repaired or maintained or looked after. There’s this sense that, uh, I’m not good at understanding cars.

I happen to be the one person who doesn’t have enough time to take my car in for maintenance it’s me. And so if we think it’s consumers that it’s us, we don’t recognize that there’s a problem. Let alone say somebody’s got to solve the problem. Well, joining me is an entrepreneur who did recognize the problem and is solving it.

His name is Lynn Brock chair. Am I pronouncing your name right, dude. I’m still prefer the way you say it. Can you say it yourself? You’ve got such a good, like combination of accents. Where are you from?

Limvirek: I’m French Cambodian. So my parents are Cambodian. I grew up as a French kids, uh, pretty much all over the world. Uh, studied one year in U S when I was, uh, 20, I was 20 ish and, um, and moved to the UK 15 years ago. So yes. Interesting combination of countries.

Andrew: And somewhere in there you

Limvirek: about having a French accent though.

Andrew: You definitely have a friend Jackson, but it’s got this worldly, um, feel to it and maybe we’ll get into some of the places that you’d been growing up and beyond, um, within this interview. But. The person you just heard is the founder CEO of fixture it’s car maintenance, as easy as ordering takeaway, somebody comes to your house, takes your car and takes care of it and then brings it right back.

That’s what it’s all about. I invited him here to talk about how fixed or got started, how they talked to customers, how they understood the problem, how they solved it, how they got customers and so much more. And we can do it. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first. It’s a company called rippling and I love it because it’s the all-in-one employee management system.

They do all the HR, all the management of your team, all in one app. And I’m going to encourage you later on to go to rippling.com/mixergy and the second one it’s SaneBox. And I’m going to tell you my email address instead of promoting them. I’m going to tell you, email me andrew@mixergy.com. And when I talk about SaneBox later on, I’ll tell you why SaneBox is allowing me to just put my email out there and make it easy for me to manage all the incoming messages first.

Good to have you here. Give me a sense of revenue where where’s the revenue for fixed are right now.

Limvirek: 3 million pounds revenue run rate. Um, and it’s been, you know,

Andrew: And it’s been, what about three years? Four years. Almost that you’ve been running the business.

Limvirek: Uh, a bit more than three years. Uh, we launched London, um, three years ago, uh, Q1 2018.

Andrew: Want to go back a little bit before this, you were heading a company called street life. What street life?

Limvirek: So street life is a local social network client. So, and a, like the proposition was, how do we bring neighbors? Speaking to each other. Why not? Don’t say Facebook or other apps with connect to in a very local kind of way. And, uh, street street life was, was connecting those neighbors smart in small areas.

Andrew: How’d you get connected to street life.

Limvirek: Um, so I got hired as a new CEO to help the founder, uh, scale the company, right. Series a and beyond.

Andrew: And then you come in there thinking, all right, I’m going to help scale the company. And what happened when you got in

Limvirek: So I joined just after the Brexit quad. So I joined in July, 2016. So, um, and what was happening in, um, in UK was I say kid, especially I started, well, there’s a bit of doubt, right? What was going to happen to the world? And, um, and so the funding that was supposed to be there actually wasn’t there anymore.

Right? So a very difficult situation. Another situation I had that I had signed it for.

Andrew: And so at some point it ran out of cash. Am I right? And you were, you were leading the business, right? You’re a CEO company runs out of cash. What do you think? What happens to you at that time?

Limvirek: Uh, they never run out of cash, but, uh, the cash runway was getting shorter and shorter. Right. So I was thinking when you, when you do in those, in those occasion, right. As you look at all the different alternatives, right. That is another possible, right. So knowing that to build the new strategy to executive and strategy, which takes time.

So. Isaac. What, what that is a, you have to, to assess the situation and discuss with your board, right? What are the different options? And one options we looked at was either reset the company. Uh, but that means I wasn’t needed anymore. Either ask the existing investors to put more and more funds. Uh, but they were very cautious because of the new environment or decide to go one way, which was an in this case, we decided to go for, uh, trying to sell the company.

Right. So, and, um, when you, when you tried that you, you better succeed because it’s really hard if you don’t, if you don’t succeed and you don’t have funds to do something else.

Andrew: The business was sold soon after you came on board too. And, uh, next door, the U S company.

Limvirek: it was quite a success, right? So, uh, next door and next door UK, uh, street life, uh, was the base. And so we found a ride, a good home, good home for, uh,

Andrew: Was that your deal? Did you make that deal happen before you left?

Limvirek: yeah.

Andrew: You did.

Limvirek: I think, um, yeah, I worked on that. Um, I worked a lot on that and I made sure that all the customers and as many as possible, we transition to next door, uh, worked a bit with the next door UK team and us. Like it was a good success.

Andrew: What makes it a success? This was around the time when nextdoor raised, I think $200 million at a valuation of a billion dollars. It officially, or unofficially became a unicorn. What was it that made it a success for you?

Limvirek: I think success in what I learned as a CEO, what you learn is. You have to make tough choices. Um, and you have, when you have made the choice, or I think in this case, I will see a work with my board and that it’s you by yourself, right. So you have to go to what you have said you can do. Um, and I say, that’s, that’s my personal learning, right?

More as a CEO, a young CEO for son to you learning, um, that it’s not easy being young. Um, so you have to surround yourself with good advisors.

Andrew: And it also feels like you found a way to make a success out of a company that. In, in many ways could have just gone down considering what was going on. Right.

Limvirek: Yeah, that’s great. I think that’s the life of many startups, right? It’s you can quickly move from something that is about to die to something that is a major success. So usually you’re you in between. Um, and, um, yeah. It’s like, you have to keep fighting. You have to be to be resilient.

Andrew: Do you still have equity in next door? You personally,

Limvirek: No, I don’t think anymore. No, it was parked.

Andrew: What do you mean? It was part of what and how’d you end up with

Limvirek: Uh, so as part of the deal that I didn’t, I then didn’t get any equity in and I left soon after, because I wanted to find my own company.

Andrew: Why, why do you want to found your own company considering how tough this was and from everything I’d seen your background as, as somebody at one of the early well, a post IPO people at Google, you were at AOL finance event, right? You had a really great career. Why, why go back to running your own company?

What was it that you liked about it?

Limvirek: That’s an excellent question. I would say having been in London for 15 years, uh, being French, uh, sake, I always work in non-European companies and I always felt that I wanted to help grow the European startup ecosystem. And that was my decision of leaving. Evenbrite

Andrew: I’m sorry. Why, why, why does that matter to you? I don’t, I don’t understand. And I’m not putting it down. I want to really understand why is people’s mission to create a bubble? Bigger startup ecosystem, as opposed to saying, I’m going to take just care of my customers. Take care of my employees, take care of my family.

Why do you care about the greater ecosystem and not just let it develop on its own.

Limvirek: The difference is working in a big European company. That’s sorry, U us company. What you realize is everything is very us centric, right? So to develop a product that is really specific to the, to the, to Europe is very difficult. Next door managed to do that and they learn by. Learning by everything that we did at street life and adapting the product to make it to work in Europe product in a sec.

Um, I did the same at Evan brides, but what I, what I realized is funding a company in Europe. You can quickly focus on your customers. And in my case, it fixed her is really focusing on the UK customers first, uh, rather than taking a product and changing it to adapt it to the UK. And for me, that was a big difference more than in addition to just helping the European ecosystem.

Andrew: Okay, that makes sense. When you worked at event bright and you try to take this American very Silicon Valley company and make it more European, what are some of the ways that you could make this American company fit into the European market? What did you do?

Limvirek: It’s a great company and great product, uh, sake. My role was really explaining the specific, the differences of the UK market. One of them was on the payment side, so a lot less people use credit cards, a lot more people use debit cards. So that being the payment processing fees are lower. Right. So explain this smallest changes that really made my life different, uh, in

Andrew: what? And when you say explaining it, you mean explaining it back to the, the leadership in the U S what other changes, what other differences are there in the European market versus the American market?

Limvirek: There’s more than just these ads in the S when you change them a word like monetize, for example, but that’s like, it’s, it’s, um, you know, the type of features that, uh, so I worked a lot with, um, music promoters, right. And there are features that they expected in UK, that. Um, installment plans, right? So the ability to pay in several, uh, certain, several times, not once at that given time,

Andrew: Even event management software, they didn’t want to pay all upfront, even though they were selling tickets. And each ticket basically was including a fee on it.

Limvirek: many wanted to offer their customers DVDT to pay with different installments

Andrew: Oh, for an event,

Limvirek: for events. Yes. So music

Andrew: is a foreign concept to me. Sorry.

Limvirek: Yeah. And so basically instead of paying, let’s say 200 pounds tickets, you pay in three times, right? So, and that’s, it’s a half just when you pay the tickets, 25% of the latest stage and 25% just before the event.

Right? So those kinds of things, that’s all slightly different, but that are required by the market.

Andrew: Uh, okay. I’m with you now. So you said, look, I don’t want to have to . I want to build from the ground up here and then maybe we expand into the U S so the idea for fixture wasn’t originally yours, right? Who came up with the idea?

Limvirek: So the project was incubated at Kemet ventures, incubator, uh, back to, um, and, and, um, and so I came in after the project had started and, uh, wasn’t going well or what needed to be to, to reaccelerate. And, um, and I came in when the team was, uh, around a few people, mostly engineer and, uh, basically reset the project, rebuild to an MVP.

Uh, did that with my co-founders right to CTU and CPU. So chief technology officer and chief product officer, and, um, what I realized is that the idea was a great idea and, uh, we just needed to tweak a few things, uh, try more. And then from there scale, uh, slowly.

Andrew: let me go back to the incubation. This was, um, it’s Volkswagen that has this incubator, right? Am I, am I misunderstanding? It is right. Oh, got it. All right. I thought that you were also part of the Volkswagen incubator. Okay. So accident, why. W how does it work? Do they come up with the idea or does the entrepreneur come up with the idea?

Limvirek: It’s usually a mix in this case, it was their idea and they were looking for operators. Uh, to help them scale that idea. And, um, and as say once said, when I discussed with them and say, wow, this is really an issue that I had myself. Right. So going to a gallery showing up, realizing that my booking wasn’t in any system, looking at.

Uh, how you, you, you now use to book a hotel or a restaurant, or just using your mobile apps. There must be a better way in an industry. That is a huge industry is probably we’re talking about 20 billion pounds per year, just in UK. Uh, so I really liked the idea because I had this issue myself and I like, I like tackling issues.

I like solving problems.

Andrew: And so then if it’s, if it’s not your idea, I hate to get into equity, but how much of the business do you end up owning? If you’re, if it’s somebody else’s business.

Limvirek: I know. So, um, it is, uh, I think the way they incubate is they keep us more share, but I still have a big chunk of the business. Right. So with my co-founders, right. So we’re close to half of the business now. So they really help with this idea. They bring the entrepreneurs to, to accelerate those scanning.

Yeah.

Andrew: So what are the problems that you sign it that, that you said you wanted to fix?

Limvirek: I think it’s trying to go slowly.

When you have, when you launch an ideas, first, you have to in, you know, you always have those phases where you have to build an MVP test, the market iterate. And, um, and so the team was a great team and it was more about helping them say, okay, look, why don’t we. Try to do one thing that is very basic, right.

So get a user to book, to have a great experience and, um, and get them confident in giving the keys of their cars, to someone that is, that they don’t know. Right. So, uh, and we started with, um, the web, right. So normal mobile experience. And so would we still, is that. If you explain that well, and we focus on trust, we try to explain, we spoke to our initial customers, this worked, this worked, you validate you move to the next thing.

Right? So what I have tried in Manchester, can I extend that to the new city? Right. When I said we launched the in about three years ago, that’s because we had to learn that. People were waiting to give their keys. The carriages were looking for extra work and the whole system was working. Right. So that needs a product was, was appealing to customers.

We could attract them and you would get with book online. And so that’s when we know Shalanda. And then from there we started scaling progressively

Andrew: All right. Let me take a

Limvirek: hiring and building the team there.

Andrew: I want to know a little bit more about the early days in that first finding product market fit period. But first, let me tell you and my audience about a company called rippling. I’ll tell you why I discovered them. It’s it’s an all-in-one HR and it platform. Here’s why I discovered it.

For some reason, no matter how many experts I hire, no matter how much software I bring in, I’m the one responsible for the 10 90 nines in the U S that’s where you file paperwork to tell the IRS, tell the government here’s how much money I paid, uh, different contractors. It always comes back to me to do the math, to put it all together.

I said never again. I can’t, I can’t have it come to me. And so I said, I need to find a solution. And I kept hearing about this company rippling. I did the demo and I realized, all right, they’re going to handle it all. Anytime I want to make a payment, I could just go in and make a payment to any contractor.

We have somebody who we work with and have for years who helps organize our, uh, interviews. He works in the UK. I can’t pay him using our usual system. Well with rippling, I could pay him using, using rippling, just like anyone else in America. Like he’s a regular human being instead of making it crazy, they make it easy to pay international contractors.

And to me, I said, that’s it. You solved it for me. I love you. I’m signing up. It’s cheaper than my alternatives, that the other software that we use it’s phenomenal. Then when I did the onboarding. I discovered something. They said, Andrew, do you give your people who sign up with you? A new email address? I said, yeah, they get their name@mixergy.com.

I said, isn’t that a pain? I go, yeah, I never thought of it, but you’re right. I have to go in and remember, they said, well here, when you add them and you onboard them, why don’t you just press a button? And you could give them their email address. I said, that’s phenomenal. And he said, do you use Slack for, for new people?

Do they get access? I said, no, truthfully, I don’t like it. But they said, okay, if you ever do, let me show you something. The guy who did the demo says, look, When you pay, when you onboard someone, they pay the, they sign the paperwork. And then the next thing is they get their email address. And the next thing after that is they could get not just a Slack account access, but they also get all the rooms that they need in Slack, all organized.

I said, this is really exciting. They said all the software that you give your people, you could automatically give it to them using rippling, just like when you sign them up, you get their banking information. So you could pay them. They sign the paperwork so that you’ve got that on file and you can pay them from rebelling.

Well, you could handle all the software that you get maxes to from rippling. I said, this is amazing and it’s cheaper than just a standard, um, employee and contractor payment options that I’ve looked at. I said, well, what about when someone leaves? I said, All right. That’s good. One. I said, when they leave, you have to remember all the different things you gave them access to.

I said, yeah. I said, here you have their account. All in one place, you say they’re terminated. You give them their severance and then boom, you take away all the acts, all the accounts that they have access to all in one, no more headaches. And frankly, in India, in between period, they get a great experience getting paid.

They get to, they get full access to their numbers. So they know how much money they made. See how it came into their bank account and they have one place where they could go and see all the apps that you give them access to with an easy way to log in. They don’t even need a password manager. It’s all taken care of.

I said, phenomenal. I’m in and I am a customer of theirs. And now I’m urging my audience to go and check out rippling. I know this is not a decision that people make like that. So, what I’m going to suggest you do is just go do a demo. I want you to file it in the back of your head so that when you get frustrated, when you think you’re locked into something, when you think there’s a better way, you’ll at least know what that better way is.

And if you want to do that, my people over at rippling. Well personally, take care of you and walk you through how the software works. If you go to rippling.com/mixergy, rippling.com/mixergy in 30 minutes, they’re going to blow you away and show you what they could do to help you take care of your people.

Again, it’s more than just paying your people. It’s managing all the software and all, all the payments and everything that goes into taking good care of them. rippling.com/mixergy. Um, let’s come back to the story in the early days. I really enjoy doing that ad in the early days when, when the product market fit.

Wasn’t right. Can you give me some specifics about what was off about it? Like, I want to understand the details of it.

Limvirek: So I think it’s first, you know, um, the customer journey, right? It has to be very easy to book. It has to look professional without investing too much money. So we started with a very simple web page and, um, and I think what we did where we did lots of trials was, uh, on the driver’s side once. So we employ, we have selfless self-employed drivers, right?

So there is similar to door dash or wearing the fixer jacket. You can see it here. And, um, and so. You know, you have to define a little processes, right? Because people are not used to keep their cars parked. So they have to the professional, they have to have an ID card because otherwise people don’t really have some that just had to go back home.

So it was disappointing. Right. So when you see kids like feeding, we have the brand and if you have to carry their own ID cards and, and I was like, what. We had a few people, usually friends and family to start with. And I say, what we really felt was needed was build the trust of customers product. So we’ve quickly put reviews from existing customers on the website to help on the conversion rates.

Right. And the more, and that’s, that’s what creates a network effect because once you have an initial customer that leaves a positive review, the next customers are going to be, to be, to be knocking that. Right. So. It’s really it’s rating from a very basic service to more and more, uh, to, to perfection, to having better operations, especially, especially on the driver’s side, educating the garages.

Right? Because our, on the supply side, we don’t do the work. We have partners, Karesh partners that, um, that do the work. So it was making sure that the whole experience was seamless for the customer and getting the reviews

Andrew: you built it from what you told our producer, you said the first thing you needed to do was figure out which side of the marketplace to focus on. And you decided we’re going to focus on supply because we need the garages that will take care of our customers. And then we’ll see if we can get customers.

How hard was it to get the garages to say yes, if you bring a car in here, it will take care of it. It seems like that was

Limvirek: wa I think it was easy-ish right. So, um, because, uh, we have. We have experts from the auto industry. So they have their own network of garage and they have led garage network, extension and management characters have spare capacity and are always looking for more jobs. And our proposition was you don’t have to go and pick up the car, we’ll bring the car to you.

So it’s extra revenues. And now that we have added more and more features as we also save in time. So what we really focus on is one getting the supply, right? Getting the

Andrew: thing was, if we bring a car in, will you take care of it? And I imagine also it’s will you give us a, uh, a rate, a discounted rate because we’re going to be bringing a lot and we still need to Mark it up, right?

Limvirek: Yes. Again, we negotiated initially small discounts and when we, we were able to bring more volumes when we negotiated better discounts product, but initially it was more building the supply side in one location and then bringing the customers in was the drivers so that the whole experience could flow.

Andrew: Imagining the drivers was next. Right. Did you, did you hire full-time drivers or using contractors in the beginning?

Limvirek: Uh, we always use contractors, but at the start, you have to make sure that if you have a booking, a driver is going to be available. And so same with the garages. We cannot negotiate big discounts. When you start with drivers, you have to tell them that, uh, they have a certain number of hours that they’ll guarantee otherwise they would go and find another job, which makes sense.

Right? And so, as self-employed drivers, we guaranteed a certain number of hours to make sure that they were available when the first customers would come in. And, um, so supply signs, drivers, and then customers,

Andrew: then customers. And before we go into customers, from what I understand, you also built there, there are a couple of other things that you built into the site. One is you built a scheduling system kind of like Calendly, right? So that you can make sure that you understand that you have someone, a driver to go and pick up a car, but also that the mechanics have space.

Did you give the mechanics any kind of software internally? Or did you just assume that if you brought a car in, they would take care of it.

Limvirek: Now we have that shedding, initially it was all done by email. Right. And we would take the bet that they would have, uh, extra space, uh, which they usually did. And if really it was busy, we would, we shared it with the client. Right. So again, try to do something as basic as possible, uh, to render the two, to give a great experience.

Andrew: Okay. And that’s, that’s essentially the site that you built, the scheduling part that made it easy for people to understand why they should trust you with their car and then allow them to schedule a pickup. The other thing that’s interesting is when I go to your site, I see the first thing that you ask is for the vehicle identification number or, uh, or is it the person’s registration number?

Why do you ask for that?

Limvirek: Because it helps us know first people know it and they know their address. Right. So there’s the other thing we ask, is there a zip code or post postcode in UK? And, um, it helps us identify the car so that they don’t have anything else to answer. So we know the car, we know the model, we have acquired older data to equalize the car.

And so that means we are able to price. What is needed on the car and the more information they gave us, like mine age, the more we can recommend what needs to be done on the car. So

Andrew: it. And did you build that in from the beginning?

Limvirek: Yes. Yeah. That was a initial feature.

Andrew: and it’s time to go and get customers. You started with family. You said, look, go through this, tell us what you think about the experience. Family’s going to be nice, but what are some of the problems that they identified? And then also, what are some of the benefits that they liked about it?

Limvirek: So benefits is they didn’t have to go to the garage selves, right? So that’s a for, and that’s a time saver. Second benefit is we have in-house mechanics. It’s on they’re the ones explaining, basically dealing with the garages and negotiating the price was carriages. Making sure that what is required is

Andrew: Ah, that they liked that there was a third party who was talking on their behalf with the garages. And so there’s a sense that there’s someone looking out for me.

Limvirek: Exactly. Right. So I don’t know, or I didn’t know much about cars. That’s exactly what I wanted to offer to a customer. Right. So not necessarily, you can say you can take different categories of women, for example, are the ones that are usually overcharged. But the reality is I was overcharged because I didn’t know much about what was needed on my car.

Andrew: I’m like that too. You know what else I discovered? Negotiate with them. I mean, even with the, the, the, um, the dealership, when they’re, when they’ve got a fixed price, I just learned if I just negotiate even a little bit before I bring it in, they’ll cut down the price. Even after they do the work, they’ll cut down the price a little bit, but there’s like a lot of negotiation involved.

And I never think that on a hundred dollar bill, I sh I should negotiate. It doesn’t seem like it’s enough, but they’re ready to negotiate. The mechanics are ready to negotiate.

Limvirek: Can we do that for you? Right? When we negotiate better rates, that’s included in our pricing. And I think that’s, that’s what you have to put together as

Andrew: Yeah, I wouldn’t have thought I would. I think, look, they’re just maintaining the car. It’s only a hundred bucks cares, but I remember one time saying, Oh, my wife really wanted me to use the coupon. I forgot you mailed it to us yesterday. The guy goes, no problem. I’ll just put a coupon in for you. I said that could happen when he took like 30 bucks off.

And then on my way out, I said, Thank you. Is there anything I could do to cut the price even less? This seems a little bit higher than I would have liked. I said, let’s call somebody over. I, they call somebody over and I was shocked. They took off another $10. This is pretty impressive, but now I feel like a sucker for never saying that before.

Um, all right. So that was the stuff that they liked. Give me a couple of things that they didn’t like.

Limvirek: Somewhere the opposite. Right. They felt that they didn’t know what was happening to their car right now. Petrol heads liking their cars. So it was all about explaining really spending time explaining to them what was being done in the car when I’m so big, a deal presenter for our proposition, which is kind of like, what we would we did is, is make sure that it’s in our invoice.

We. Made very clear what was done in the car and make sure that we gave them a service sheet when they can know. And they, they, they would have books to write and that’s something they leave in the cars and ask the gouges to do, to provide. So all the checks they hadn’t done on the cars, would put it in a survey sheet so that, uh, the users would know.

And that’s something that’s we also made to them electronic now.

Andrew: Got it. And so I can understand you hand over your car to somebody. You want to know exactly where it is. And that was a surprise to you that people needed to know where their car was the whole time. How soon before it comes home and then what was done to the car? Am I right? Okay.

Limvirek: Yeah, correct. Right. So basically, usually you would see it because you would be at the garage here. You, everybody wanted to approve because we were still getting the trust in the company. And I think that that was an easy one to solve, but that was the customer feedbacks, the initial customers feedback.

Andrew: All right. So then I went to SEMrush to see where are they getting their traffic by far? Well, number one is direct, but by far the most popular external source of traffic for you is Google. When did you get into pay-per-click ads and organic.

Limvirek: So Nala, Google is not our majority, right? So direct and organic is modularity. Uh, we started KPC, uh, pretty much at the start because that would allow us to bring the customers, to convert them and to iterate on our product, especially on their conversion rates. We are a lot less dependent now.

Andrew: Yeah, I can see that. It looks like a SEMrush is saying paid Google is seven and three quarters percentage of your traffic, but organic Google is 37% of your traffic direct is 45% of traffic. That’s right. Right. And then I see something social blade labs. Why social blade labs so big for you? You don’t even know.

And uni days I see that’s pretty big, but I’m

Limvirek: so we have partners, right? So, and it’s like, what we’ve seen is one way to grow the business was to sign partnerships, uh, with anyone who had a big database or membership of people that have cars, right? So you need, these are students who we’re working with per box. We’re working with an intro called co-op.

And what they do is they provide the offer. Fixed her as an additional service to their audience. Right. And we share, we share the profits with them.

Andrew: And did they, there are customers a discount. They give their members a discount on fixed her. Got it. So then their members know about fixed or they have a sense that they’re getting an advantage because they’re part of the program. Got it. I see that. I see also a rewards. I don’t know them, but that seems like a rewards program in the UK.

Right. They’re also sending you customers. Okay. But the very first thing you did was pay-per-click who is managing pay-per-click and making that work for you guys,

Limvirek: Uh, we have in house PPC.

Andrew: in the beginning, or was that you

Limvirek: no, no, I did. Beginning was agency. So I’m not, yes. I’m managing a small budget. Right? All that. Trying checking, um, uh, and trying to bring the customers at the right price. And, um, so then we brought that in-house because I say what you get is, I mean, as many startups, right? It’s, it’s a lot cheaper to work with agency to start with because you cannot afford someone that they could do that.

And now we have a small marketing team was one person focused on PPC. Uh,

Andrew: Okay. And then organic. Was that the next thing that you did started to create content that would bring people over?

Limvirek: Yes. If you want to see if you also read up all the, uh, uh, technical terms, it’s on our website. Uh, but, uh, yeah, creating content, making sure that we have the social media strategy and then we use the content across our different platforms. I think that’s something that we did and it takes more timelines.

Uh, so it takes a few months or years to build, to be able to put our traffic there.

Andrew: Were you the one who made all these decisions about what to, what to bank on for your initial traffic? What to do next? Or was it, uh, was it someone else on your team?

Limvirek: it was myself with my co-founder. Who’s looking at the product gross. And I say, it’s really related because that’s like, they’re there. The content brings the traffic. Right. Then once you have the traffic, it’s all about optimizing your customer journey, right. And a secure, the role of, of co-founders is to make sure that we have the right conversion rates on our website.

Andrew: How much money did you raise to be able to do all this, to hire the agency, to invest in paid traffic and so on?

Limvirek: Overall, we have raised 6 million pounds, um, from Kevin ventures and, um, and now we’re working on our next round of funding.

Andrew: I’m looking, um, since you brought up some of the keywords, I could see you’ve got articles on squeaking noise when turning steering wheel left or right hand brake warning, light on a BMW. You’re smiling. You recognize this. This is the type of content that you’re writing. When somebody has an issue, you want to be able to explain it to them and then say, by the way, if you need somebody to fix it, we can send somebody over to your place right now to pick up the car.

Limvirek: Correct. And then we can add the model of the car and we, uh, we’ve worked on different variations. We ended occasions as well, a lot. So people looking for car servicing, you know, me car, so to Sydney and London. Right? So that’s where we want to be, to appear on top of the, the, the organic results.

Andrew: And so then you moved on to partnerships that was the third or the next step of your marketing. How did that go for you? Was it as easy as just picking up the phone to people who had your customers and saying let’s work out a deal and they’ve got their people in place to do that.

Limvirek: I don’t think it’s, it’s, it’s every easy, you know, it’s like first you have to have a great product. You have to have proven that your. B to C product works well, not because a mesic, once you have built that trust and that came in all the online reviews we had that really helped move to two, two partnerships.

And then partnership is really about finding someone who believes in the product and believes that they can help grow, uh, the, the, the traffic lights. So, and the partners we found the sake, the, they knew that their audience. Had cars, every car in UK needs, what do we call it? An annual tea and annual check every year.

So. No, you know, matching bows and offering them a discount too. And also a product that made the life of their own customers easier. You know, it was a win-win for both parties, not so one, one company we work with is per box, the offer employee perks, and especially doing when everybody works from home and you have to service your car, we would offer a service where they could serve as their cars, without leaving their whole pod.

So that was a kind of a perfect match for us.

Andrew: One of the things that I found with people who do these kinds of deals is once you get the deal in place, the marketing has to start. You have to tell the people who have these perks that they could, that they could use them, but the partner doesn’t have the strong incentive to market to their own people.

How, how have you worked that out?

Limvirek: So I think it’s, we have to be clear with the partners, right? For this to work for them. And for us, it’s a, we need to align incentives and that’s like, what we agree with them is, uh, this is our proposition. This is how you can explain it to your customers. This is how it’s going to make their life easier.

And to work together with them on marketing campaigns. Huh, obviously. Uh you’re right, right. So being in the homepage and then disappear from the homepage, creates a different peak of traffic. So what we do is agree, kind of a marketing plan for the next 12 months. Every time we onboard a new partner. Yeah.

Andrew: All right. I’m going to talk about my second sponsor. And then I want to come back in and maybe get to know you a little bit and see where the future of the businesses. But a second sponsor is SaneBox. Here’s the thing that happened to me. How’s your email? My email was just flooded for years. How was it for you?

It seems like not bad.

Limvirek: No say same, same. You still tell them.

Andrew: Yeah. I’ll tell you my solution. I’ve talked about this in the past one was I gave my assistant full access to my inbox. It made things very weird with my wife. If she would send over medical information, I’d have to do something about it or just say, look, my assistant’s going to go through it.

That helped a lot, but I needed something else. What do you do to deal with your email? And then I’ll tell you how SaneBox helped me.

Limvirek: Um, I do with myself and I usually, I can then go get to zero inbox and look too. Um,

Andrew: I know now I’m getting to it on a regular basis because it does weigh on me not to. So here’s what SaneBox does. SaneBox automatically knows how to sort through my messages and say, okay, these messages. Andrew doesn’t need to deal with right now or ever. And it just starts to bucket them. The ones that are news, it puts into news.

The ones that Andrew never needs to deal with, it puts in those, they have something called black hole. There are messages that I don’t ever want to see. They just take them and they get rid of them for me. And. They then give me just the email that’s important. And if I want a report of all the others, I get to see it.

And maybe I get, go through the list. And I say, actually, I think I would like that. The newsletter from, from Sean, it’s pretty good, but other newsletters, I don’t care, dump out for me or put it into some archive for me. That’s how it handles it. And if I want to train it. Like, maybe there’s a message from somebody who I don’t ever care about.

I want to just train it to go into, uh, the black hole. I could just train it. I say, look, SaneBox send it into the black hole. Anyway, bottom line, I go into my inbox in the morning instead of seeing literally over a hundred messages that drive me fricking nuts in the morning, I see maybe 10 messages. And then I have a report that lets me see the others and I can go and figure out which ones I want to handle.

And if I want to stay busy on my one project and not have my email just flood in and bother me and distract me. I said do not disturb hours and it sets my email to new, do not disturb anyway, tons of great features like that. I’m going to suggest that you and anyone who’s listening to me, not take my word for it.

Just go and try it. If you go to sane box.com/mixergy. They’ll let you try the software for free. I’ve spent forever asking them about security and privacy and all that. They will flood you with all their security information. They spend time on the phone with me making sure that they were going to protect my, the contents of my inbox.

I feel great with them. And more importantly, now I get to respond to people faster and I get to stay. Sane. If you’re out there listening to me, here’s my email address. Just flood me and see what happens, Andrew, at mixergy.com. If it’s a real message, you’ll get a response quickly now. And if it’s not, it goes straight into my, into my junk mail or into one of the other message buckets that they create for me.

All right. Sane box.com/mixergy. And if you want em, if you want to email me, I’d love to hear from all my listeners, all of them, andrew@mixergy.com. I used to, I used to say coming over to the office now, I can’t even do that. What’s your office situation now under COVID yeah.

Limvirek: Okay. And, uh, hope that we can go back to the office in Q2, hopefully

Andrew: Oh yeah. You guys in the UK, you’re getting closer and closer. You’re becoming one of the models for the world, right?

Limvirek: well, uh, we were the bad model where the button now and now it’s better. So those was trying to get out of lockdown, uh, very gradually as they can. The official end date is the 21st of June,

Andrew: Did you get the vaccine yourself?

Limvirek: Uh, not yet. Uh, but, uh, I guess in a few months,

Andrew: All right. Sounds, sounds great. What happened in Cambodia? Can we go back to your childhood a little bit before we go into the future with what’s going on? Is this a little bit too awkward for me to ask you?

Limvirek: Um, I mostly grew up as a French, a French kid because my parents left Cambodia before I was born, uh, before the Khmer Rouge because of the Khmer Rouge plant. So the hunting data of two countries before, and then I’ve had a need to go or really work outside of Cambodia. So the reality is in. Her left. They didn’t come back.

So they were not there when all the events happened and when they come to Russia to covert. So that’s why I never really grew up as a, as a Cambodian kid.

Andrew: Okay. And then had you ended up in Saudi Arabia in the eighties.

Limvirek: so my parents, so I just followed my dad, you know? And that’s what you do when you’re a kid. Right? So my dad took the French French citizenship, right. Because, uh, Cambodia was a very different country and he knew he couldn’t go back. Uh,  uh, took power. And, um, my dad had the opportunity to go to Saudi Arabia.

He used to work at the AGB, the Asian development bank when he was in the Philippines, because it was born there. That’s where he worked. That’s what, that’s where they lived. My parents lived for a while and, um, he got offered a job back to the Saudi fund of development. So I just ended up in rehab when I was a kid.

I loved it.

Andrew: Wow. What’d you love about it?

Limvirek: Um, to, because I think not many people went there. I was like, it’s the deserts who would take, puts everything in the car, go through the deserts, leaving the desert for one day or the weekend and come back. So I think as a kid, it was

Andrew: camping in the desert.

Limvirek: yes. In the car, it was the campaign and that’s

Andrew: in the car, sleep in a tent.

Limvirek: Uh, it makes, it makes, let me know. I was slowly Anna. We had our own organization, a station wagon. The kids slept in the back parents in a tent. Yeah. Yeah. It was a great, great experience. I love Saudi Arabia.

Andrew: Tell me something I’m trying to figure out what it is about an entrepreneur’s childhood that makes them, makes them who they are. Do you feel like you’ve got something from your childhood that allowed you to do it? I don’t want to just try to like analyze this from a distance and say, Oh, It looks like he traveled a lot.

He’s really comfortable talking to people. Of course he felt comfortable going into garages because he’d moved a little bit as a kid and had different cultural experiences. That seems like one of the keys. If I want my kids to be ready for the future world, where more people need to be entrepreneurial, maybe move them around a little bit more and get them out of their comfort zone.

But that’s me remotely spending time reading about your life and saying maybe that’s what need, what, what do you think it is?

Limvirek: I think you’re so right. You’re probably the first person who you’re the first one who asked me the question, but it’s obvious. Yes. I used to travel a lot when I was a child, uh, moved to different countries. And I think what you learn is you have to adapt right. There’s no social media online. So I had to make new friends.

I had to adapt to a new house, a new settings. It could be cold, it could be hot. And, uh, I think you’re just starting. Uh, so I became very adaptable and I say, as an entrepreneur, uh, you constantly have those ups and downs. All right. So you have to be careful not, you know, that the ups are not going to stay for a while and sometimes you’re really by yourself.

Right. So that’s a real downline. So what’d you do when COVID pates? I wasn’t the only one, but Jessica had to take tough decisions. Uh, so you’re right. I think my, my childhood and the fact that I moved to different countries and they had to adapt as it probably made me more resilient to lots of changes in a very small amount of time.

Andrew: And, you know what, and I always liked as a kid, the consistency of having the same grade school and the same friends and developing those long relationships with them and watching us all develop. And I wanted to give that to my kids, this sameness. But I’m starting to realize that fighting for sameness might be the mistake that maybe as, maybe that was a nice thing to have, but.

Maybe it also made me feel a little uncomfortable talking to strangers or feeling like I could fit in anywhere. And then maybe it made me less eager to leave New York when there were clearly a lot of opportunities outside of Manhattan. Um, and so w do you remember one thing that you had to especially adapt to, do you remember one difficult situation where you, where you were challenged and then you overcame that and you adapted and you said, I can do this.

Limvirek: You know, what was probably the hardest was. Um, so I grew up as a French kid, but never grew up in France. So, which makes, uh, what, what was difficult is when I moved to France, France, sorry, know the American way. And, uh, when I was eight, nine years old, You know, I discovered, you know, going to the school in a city and I wasn’t used to that.

So, uh, you know, you have to adapt to the new norms of your own country without, you know, I felt as a stranger, even if I was French. So it was quite kind of weird. And I discovered snow for the first time of my life, which was so strange. Yes, yes. It was in Paris, uh, eight, nine years old. And, um, you know, So funny.

I mean, if you live in new Yorkie, you know, snow, uh, snow bits, I know it was a classic adapting to the CT knife, like big city life in Paris. Uh, that was a major change for me.

Andrew: you don’t think of Paris as being a big city for some reason, but it is even more so than Manhattan. Frankly. Manhattan seems like more organized when I watch kids go into school in France, it’s like, A dad getting a kid on a scooter, crossing this insane traffic to get to the other side where somebody riding a motorized bicycle that really is kicking fumes off into the air.

And I don’t know if they could even stop that thing, but it feels very bustling. And I get that. I get that appeal for kids. Um, you move, you went to Google, you had a really comfortable experience. It, well, it seems comfortable to me. Was it comfortable?

Limvirek: Oh, it was great. I loved working at Google. Yeah.

Andrew: And everyone who I know who worked at Google said, I learned a lot interesting to me is you then move to InMobi. And you said, I learned even more from there. Is that right?

Limvirek: Yeah, that’s true. Because I think at Google it was a big company. It was a bigger company. When I joined 80 mobi was my first startup experience. And I think what you see in a startup is you have to learn pretty much everything. You cannot no one sing there. Well, because you have to be able to switch.

Right. So I think in terms of advertising, I probably learn more in my first year at InMobi, then in four years at Google. Um, and it was a great experience. Um, it wasn’t as comfortable when I said it was a little more challenging, but you really are forced to do that. Not that Google is not a great place to learn.

Andrew: But you’re saying it at Google, there was one what’s the department that you worked in. What’s

Limvirek: How was in the syndication team. Right. So basically, um, um, that sense. And so, and so you, I knew everything about that when the movie was mobile, it was more display. So I had to quickly learn how advertising was working when I knew only one type of advertising, which was working very well for Google. And it’s still working out well.

Andrew: In mobi, we’re talking about the company from India, right?

Limvirek: Yes.

Andrew: Apparently it’s the first unicorn from India.

Limvirek: Yes. So it was backed by County. So when the, when I joined and, um, we went to raise $200 million from SoftBank, uh, which was, uh, which made it the first unicorn in India.

Andrew: And so were you also doing text message ads there for them

Limvirek: No I really focused on it was just when, uh, all the apps were getting started. Um, so working with lots of, uh, apps, providers, apps, developers, um, so I spent lots of time meeting, many of them across Europe.

Andrew: What’s the big challenge right now. I feel like you found your model, get, get garages in an area, then move on to getting, um, to getting the drivers and then get customers. It seems like because of the SEO that you’ve been building up over the years, you’re getting an on, uh, ongoing collection of customers.

One of the first things they do is tell you where they are. So even if you can’t service them yet, like, I think I saw a bunch of traffic coming in from Ireland, right? You’re not in Ireland. Are you? But the more you start to see postal codes from Ireland, the more you say, if we go to Ireland, here’s the one place where we have the most postal codes.

Let’s just land in there. Start to buy some ads and expand. Right. That seems like the approach.

Limvirek: So that’s how we growing. And I think what we’re doing is also developing our portfolio of offerings. Right. So we do car maintenance, car servicing as a, as you know, but trying to add more to that, right? Because like, we want to be the one stop shop for everything about your car. And so we have started offering carwash and, uh, we’re looking at offering a car warranty, car insurance, right?

Because that’s what, once we have a brand, once you have feel trust, we want our customers. We want to make our customer’s lives easier on everything related to their car.

Andrew: You need it maintained. We’re going to do it as long as I’m assuming it’s a used car because new cars get maintenance from the dealer. Right.

Limvirek: correct. Most of our cars are beyond three years, three years old.

Andrew: Okay. All right. I see on your website that you not only say, look, we’re going to do contact free collection. You show somebody, I guess they’re wiping down the car key and they’re wearing gloves as they’re, they’re wiping it down. What you’re trying to emphasize is we’re going to keep you safe. I wonder.

Did COVID make it harder for you and that’s why you’re doing it, or because of COVID or more people saying, I don’t want to go into a busy garage, just come pick up my stuff.

Limvirek: I think it’s really accelerated our business. Um, we made sure to protect our employees, right? So when we all went to work from home, make sure we protect their customers, which is why we have those gloves and, uh, and wives to make sure that. Uh, we introduced physical contact, free connection delivery quantity.

And I think the reality is people don’t want to go to the couch anymore. You’ve seen the exclusion of e-commerce right in the UK, on us. And so we are in that same trend, right? So people are booking online and people don’t want to go to stores anymore.

Andrew: Yeah, I used to like going in there. I remember, especially the BMW dealership, my mom, my, my wife and I, my mom, my wife would laugh at me because I would go into that the best coffee, great lounge. I could walk back and, uh, and now I just don’t want to be bothered by it. I’d rather just stay at home. All right.

I get it. I see where you are with fixed her. Congratulations on getting this far. Thanks so much for being on here. Do you think you’ll ever get to the U S or do you feel like there are too many competitors

Limvirek: Cool. We’ll come one day. You have, you have to be mission on the ambitious is enough your first us

Andrew: first Europe. So where’s next France or Ireland?

Limvirek: probably France,

Andrew: Wow. All right. It’s fixed her.co.uk for anyone who wants to go check it out.

And if you have a team of people, you want to take good care of them, onboard them off, board them, give them the right, uh, set of software tools. Make sure they get paid properly no matter where they are in the world or how they move around the world. Go check out rippling. And if you go to rippling.com/mixergy, they’ll give you the great mixer detour, where they will just show you how good their software could be.

Again, no obligation to sign up just. File it away in the back of your head and see how helpful it will be when you really need it. And finally, thanks to SaneBox. You can email me. My email address is andrew@mixergy.com. Oh, I would love it. If people just said hi, or even told me what they thought of this interview, or tell me what they were working on, or just told me where they were in the world.

Thanks for doing that same box. And if you want to sign up, go to sanebox.com/mixergy, those set you up for free. All right, thanks so much for doing this interview.

Limvirek: Bye.

Andrew: Bye. Bye everyone.

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