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 for an audience of very ambitious listeners. And if you listen to my interviews over the years, you might notice that in the early days, I did a lot of interviews with entrepreneurs who had content-based businesses. They had these blogs, they had these . . . Actually, basically, it was mostly blogs, and they did pretty well. And then it all became SaaS, and then it started become a little bit of mobile apps and then more mobile apps, and then e-commerce started creeping, but the content sites started go away.
The content sites, frankly, started having such a hard time online that they weren’t doing well enough for me to interview them. And then I discovered today’s guest. Today’s guest is Evan Varsamis. He runs a site called Gadget Flow. Gadget Flow is for gadget lovers like me. It’s like this type of . . . I don’t get sucked into Facebook. I could get away from Facebook in a second. It’s mostly people sharing photos of themselves and bragging. I don’t give a rip about that. But for some reason, just seeing the latest gadgets makes me feel like I’m in the future. And so what Gadget Flow does for me is create this addictive experience where I just scroll through all these products, they’ve got these beautiful shots, they’ve got links to go buy them or read more, and I could get lost in it.
And that’s what today’s guest created using a basic WordPress site, and he’s built it up to, according to SimilarWeb, about a million hits a month and it’s doing well revenue-wise. I’m going to ask him about that, and we’ll find out how the profit of the business is going and how he got started.
All right. We’re going to interview the founder of Gadget Flow, the product discovery platform that helps you discover, save and buy awesome products thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first will let you kind of copy what Evan did on your own, it’s called HostGator, or let you publish your own WordPress site. And the second will help you hire phenomenal developers. It’s called Toptal but I’ll tell you and Evan all about them later. First, I got to welcome you. Evan, good to have you here.
Evan: Thanks for having me.
Andrew: Evan, we were scheduled to do this interview weeks and weeks ago. I called you, you didn’t turn on your camera, and you said, “Andrew, I’d rather not do it today.” What was going on?
Evan: I was burned out 100%. It was . . .
Andrew: A hundred percent.
Evan: Yeah. It was like at the end of my 15-hour day, and I was like, exhausted. I was like, “I can’t do this right now.” Sorry about that.
Andrew: And partially, it’s because you’re where in the world?
Evan: Right now I’m in Greece. I’m usually based in New York City, though.
Andrew: And so that’s what it was. You and I were talking . . . What time is it now when we’re talking?
Evan: It’s like 8:15.
Andrew: 8:15 p.m.
Andrew: So, basically, you had a full day today and still at 8:00 p.m. you’re doing this interview with me and the same thing or something similar happened before. These are the types of days that you’re living right now.
Evan: Oh, yeah, 100%. Totally.
Andrew: I got to tell you, I was looking at your numbers, I said, “Boy, this is impressive.” Your model makes a lot of sense. You have these beautiful shots of the latest gadgets, links to more information about them, and when I buy, you get a commission on that. I thought the model makes sense. I’m looking over your shoulder. You live in a beautiful Greece lifestyle. You had a smile on your face when I talked to you. I felt like you had it easy. Why are you . . . What’s the hard part that keeps you working this hard?
Evan: Yeah. Definitely, it’s not easy. Like, we launched Gadget Flow back in 2012, three Greek co-founders and we scaled the business organically, no VC funding or angel funding or anything like that. So it’s mostly I would say that for primarily it’s like 15 hour days, especially for us as three founders and then later . . .
Andrew: Doing what? What did you do today?
Evan: About 13, 14 meetings primarily with the team because we just came back from our team retreat in Japan, which was awesome. But yeah, lots of things to go through, lots of notes to go through and to plan ahead.
Andrew: So the model isn’t as easy as it seems to me. You guys know. What is that? I saw you roll your eyes. I said it. I got to stop asking the question. What is the model then if it’s not as I’ve described it?
Evan: Yeah. So, first of all, you only see like, I don’t know, like, 10% to 50% on the front end. So Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform. We curate 12 new products every single day. We’re not taking commissions though, zero commissions. What we do is that we write a high-quality description, we showcase high-quality photos and videos, and we make it easy basically for our users to discover great new products and make them understand how they work and how they might be useful for them. So it’s great for like someone that’s commuting. It’s great for like someone who’s looking for a gift and any similar scenario.
Now, from our side, though, like Gadget Flow is this product discovery platform that also helps businesses scale their sales or businesses basically increase awareness, right? Now, it’s not just a product discovery platform. We have a podcast, we have a blog, we’re covering events such as the one that Google did yesterday. So it’s definitely a lot of editorial coverage and a hybrid model between a marketplace and a blog I would say.
Andrew: Okay. But if I understand it right, you guys still will link to Amazon. And don’t you use Amazon affiliate links on that?
Evan: No. No. We actually don’t use any affiliate URLs. What we do when customers approach us basically, we say that we charge like a one-time flat fee. We have promotional packages available that basically, if you submit a product, it will go through an evaluation process from editorial team, and if it’s a great fit, if it’s something that we would feature anyway, then it gets approved. And the only benefit that you get from just being in Gadget Flow is that you have more prominence [inaudible 00:05:31], you get more feature placement, you get to be part of our daily newsletter, weekly newsletter. So that’s how we do it.
Andrew: So it’s advertising-based?
Evan: Pretty much, yes.
Andrew: Pretty much. Is there anything else that I’m missing? So just so I’m clear. If a product like . . . Look at this. This is why I can’t check out your site even for research. I just get sucked into this freaking thing. Suddenly, I want a retro compact mechanical keyboard. I feel like that would inspire me to type. I should get that. $119. Let’s click over and see it. It’s possible that that company would come to you and say, “Evan, we want to pay for ads to get more of your people to see us.” And then they pay you money and get in your email newsletter, get a little more prominence on your website, etc.
Evan: Correct. That’s exactly how it works.
Andrew: All right. And the total revenue is what?
Evan: It’s above 2 million right now for 2018.
Andrew: Two million. You guys profitable?
Andrew: You are.
Evan: Yeah, we’re a self-sustaining business, so we had to be in a way.
Andrew: Have you been able to deposit in a bank account somewhere or collective bank account of all three of you founders over a million dollars, or is this just slightly profitable?
Evan: Not yet, but we got a valuation that it’s over 17 million, so it’s good, I guess.
Andrew: Because somebody was offering to invest in a company.
Evan: Yeah. We had M&A request in the past, but yeah.
Andrew: Wow. All right. That’s a pretty impressive business. You’re in Greece right now. You actually grew up in Athens, Greece, started coding, from what I understand, at an early age. How old?
Evan: Thirteen, 13, 14 years old I started coding, then I went to, like, graphic design and then I go back to like web design was pretty much a combination of both, right? So I always enjoyed, like, web design and building websites and services and this and that.
Andrew: Were you getting paid for it at all?
Evan: Yeah. Actually, I launched the company in Greece when I was like 17 with a friend who was older than me, and we were knocking doors and stores, local store here in Athens and we’re like, “Hey, websites are trending. You could increase your sales. Let us build your website.” So that worked pretty well for like, just a few months.
Andrew: Wow. All right, fantastic. And like me, you were watching “Diggnation.” Can you describe to people what “Diggnation” was? It was a pretty big thing at the time.
Evan: Oh, man. Like, “Diggnation” basically inspired me in a way to get involved with the tech industry. I mean, “Diggnation,” digg.com as a website was like a news tech website, which was highlighting like the latest tech stories and everything, and then it was Alex and Kevin Rose who were like talking about the most popular stories of the week and everything. So I remember that I was rushing home from school just to watch this thing. I was like excited. I was eating lunch and I was watching this and I was like, “Man, I wish I was like one of these two guys one day.” So pretty pumped.
Andrew: And now I think you might actually exceed them, that your site might end up being more successful than theirs. Their site, digg.com, Kevin Rose’s site anyway went down, but it was huge for a long time and “Diggnation” showed the world here’s what’s happening in tech that’s exciting, and they made it exciting and you got sucked into that. Your dad was in computer hardware, which is what gave you access to computers. What did he do in computer hardware?
Evan: No. He had like a hardware store, like a Best Buy for instance, here in Athens with hardware stuff for computers. So I was into gaming, so I could just create my own computer. I would just walk into your store and I was like, “Let’s build something today.” And high-end graphics cards and stuff like that. So I was into hardware, computer hardware for like, I don’t know, like, a year or two I was building like custom computers and stuff. I was enjoying it for sure.
Andrew: One of the famous entrepreneurs from Greece is Aristotle Onassis, ended up marrying JF Kennedy’s widow. He was in the shipping industry, and he brought a lot of attention to how big the shipping industry was in Greece. You actually felt it as a kid. How did you feel the shipping industry as a kid?
Evan: No, it’s definitely huge and it’s still huge today actually. I would say that Greece and the UK are the two capitals of like shipping market in general.
Andrew: And do you have a family in the business?
Evan: Yes. From my mother’s side, we do have a family in the business. And I tried it for a couple years, it was definitely not for me. Definitely a profitable business, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t fulfilling. I wasn’t like waking up every day and was like super grateful.
Andrew: What was the typical day there?
Evan: Oh, like, wake up with an alarm at like 7:30, rush to work and everything, get out by 5:00 and everything. And I felt exhausted by like 6:00 p.m. and I was working for what? Eight, nine-hour a day.
Andrew: Doing what?
Evan: Well, basically logistics and stuff related to shipping.
Andrew: Oh, trying to figure out where the ships go, that kind of thing?
Evan: Well, yeah, pretty much, but we’re talking about, like, 250,000-ton ships, right?
Andrew: Got it.
Evan: Not the small ones.
Andrew: You know what? Growing up I used to watch old documentaries about Aristotle Onassis. It seemed like he was living the life a shipping magnate, which means that he had access to all these ships, he had his own yacht. He would have like this whole setup in there where if he wanted to seduce a woman, he could do it. I love that they would focus on that part of him. And I guess that day to day, especially today, it’s just not as exciting. By the way, is tech as exciting as “Diggnation” made it seem to be?
Evan: Oh yeah. A hundred times more.
Andrew: More exciting.
Evan: Yeah, yeah.
Andrew: What do you mean? What’s the most exciting thing about it for you today?
Evan: The fact that we use, like on a daily basis. Every single day there’s like something new in the market, and that’s one of the reasons that we created the Gadget Flow pretty much. Like, you can’t keep up with everything that’s coming out. Like, you got 1,000 projects on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, like, GoFundMe and everything. And on top of that all these big brands doing R&Ds; and the R&D basically, and introducing new products to market every single day. So that’s great.
Andrew: And so I kind of expected . . . I was surprised when you and I connected and you’re going to use AirPods to connect with me. I thought, here’s a dude is going to have like the latest cool, retro looking microphone. He’s going to have a bunch of like robotic dogs in the background. You don’t have any of that. You don’t seem as addicted to it as I am.
Evan: No. I’m a minimalist, actually. I do have lots of gadgets and stuff, but I’m an Apple fan, a big-time, that’s why I have the AirPods and they’re like pretty convenient. But I’m a minimalist.
Andrew: I am too. You know what? I think I look at it much more than I buy it, obviously, but I do sit around thinking, “Well, this would be pretty hot. This would be pretty hot.” Now that I think about it, though, if people started shipping it to me, like, if I were in your position people started sending me stuff to go take a look at it and try it out, I feel so burdened by it. It’s more fun to just look at it and imagine it and occasionally buy it than to be surrounded by it.
Evan: Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely interesting if what you’re looking at or buying is like useful because at the end of the day it comes down to whether you’re going to use it or not, right? Not whether it’s something fancy for your friends to see it. Yes.
Andrew: All right. So shipping wasn’t for you, and then you said, “You know what? I’m going to get into this whole tech thing. I’m going to . . . ” And then what you did was you opened up a media agency first. What was the media agency?
Evan: Yeah, it was Cloudie basically. So I rented an office right across from the shipping company that I was working for back in the day, and I had my best friend, Mike, basically be there like by 9:00 a.m. trying to get as many customers as possible because I have like, just a bit of a background when it comes to like web design and advertising, but everything else was pretty much self-taught if you think about it. No bachelor’s degree in advertising or digital marketing or anything like that. So we tried to get as many customers as possible. So I was working 9:00 to 2:00 p.m. for the shipping agency, and then I was literally walking for like, a minute and I was going to like, the other office, right? And that happened like, I don’t know, like a year, almost a year.
So we’ve worked with some European customers, gaming companies. We would build portfolios for photographers, some department stores as well here in Greece, and it went well. So that’s actually how Gadget Flow was born. It was through that agency because we’re thinking like, you know, having customers is great, getting paid on a monthly basis, recurring revenue, blah, blah, blah, that’s fine. But since we’re like that involved into the market, where do we like come up with an idea.
So we’re trying to brainstorm for like days. We came up with pretty much nothing. And then one day we’re sitting at my apartment in Athens with Mike and my girlfriend, Cassie, and my partner in life, I guess at this point, and we had this idea for Gadget Flow and we like, “Where are we going to go if we want to find like high-quality products, other than just Amazon and get lost, right, especially like lots of replicas and stuff like that?”
And then on the other hand, you had the, what I mentioned earlier, the fact that all these new products that are coming on the market and how do you stay updated? I mean, you can definitely check out Engadget, and the Verge, and Gizmodo and everything, but these type of websites write long content, like so much content that you just can’t go through all of it in a day. So we came up with the idea of Gadget Flow. So we started curating products from day one. Of course, everything was done in-house especially back in the day.
Andrew: Let’s pause because I want to dive into your thought process behind getting it and why you actually know the specific date when you came up with the idea. But first, I want to tell everyone about my first sponsor. It’s a company called Toptal. There’s a listener, a Mixergy listener named Greg Archbald, and he needed an experienced developer for his site, it’s called GreaseBook. It’s software for the oil and gas industry. I kind of love it when an entrepreneur comes up with software that’s not the latest photo app, something that’s geared towards a whole other industry.
The problem that he had was it was difficult to find and then screen top developers. And we’ve all had that issue, right? You want to look for a developer, you start putting ads up, you have to go forever trying to figure out who the right guys are, then you have to start competing against someone, then you might find someone and then Google’s trying to hire her away from you and you’re kind of stuck. He had a big issue with that. He also found that local hiring pool was pretty small and recruiters were very expensive, so he said, “You know, let’s give this company, Toptal, a shot.”
If you guys have been listening to me, you know I’ve been talking about Toptal for years and I’ve been using them for years. And so Toptal has an international talent pool already there set and ready to go. They’re the best and there’s no recruiting fee. So he called them up, he found a developer from them and that allowed him to focus on his business instead of getting distracted by hiring and managing the whole hiring process. And as a result, he was selected for an energy accelerator. So the business is now doing well.
I actually went to his website. It’s so interesting, by the way, Evan, when somebody goes out of the tech scene and takes the whole set of ideas that works well in tech in our little world and brings it there. Like he has this little widget that comes up on the bottom-left that says “Another person in the oil industry just signed up right now, 20 people just signed up for this.” Like, all those things that we take for granted that are unusual in the oil and gas industry, he brought to his website.
Anyway, if you’re out there and you’re listening to me and you’re equally having a hard time hiring, why don’t you just give this company a shot. Greg Archbald did, I did and so many other people who have interviewed here on Mixergy and who have listened to Mixergy have used them. In fact, if you go to this URL that I’m about to give you, you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours, and I should say it’s top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. If at the end of the period you’re not 100% satisfied, you will not be billed. Here’s the URL it’s toptal.com/mixergy. Top as in top of your head, tal as in the best talent in the world, toptal.com/mixergy.
Evan, I do these ads so much that I swear to you when I get together with like entrepreneurs here in San Francisco, VCs for dinner, they will in the middle of dinner as a joke interrupt it and say, “And now Andrew is going to do a quick ad for Toptal.”
Evan: That’s a good one.
Andrew: It means it’s penetrating.
Evan: For sure. No, a hundred percent.
Andrew: Evan, how is it that when you talk to my producer, you said, “We came up with the idea for Gadget Flow August 15, 2012”? Who knows the specific date that the business came up? How did you know this specific date? What happened?
Evan: I don’t know. I felt something.
Andrew: You did.
Evan: I definitely . . . Yeah, I will definitely remember that.
Andrew: What did you do? Journal it, write it in a calendar? I feel a lot of things. I don’t remember the day I fell in love with my wife but I felt something.
Evan: If you think hard enough.
Andrew: I don’t remember the exact date.
Evan: Right, right. No, I mean, it was a key date for us festival because we started a business, so it’s an interesting date for us. It will remain forever in our brain and everything. But, I mean, yeah, like, we launched this business. We’ve never expected to work with companies like DJI or to partner with, like, during Delta Airlines, right?
Andrew: But what you were thinking was we’re going to cover a broader collection of tech, a broader. Not even the broader tech market. It’s products. You were going to focus on specific gadgets, which is what Engadget which is the granddaddy of all these different tech companies used to do. They’re called Engadget because they covered gadgets. And you said, “We’re going to take it back to that and just focus on gadgets and more of them.”
Evan: Yeah. We started by covering just gadgets, like you said, for like the first year or so. And then we have basically customers . . . weren’t selling any kind of plans back in the day, so we have people coming to us and saying, “Hey, your website is doing great. Your social media channels so I create and engaging, engaging-wise I guess. How can we get on your website?” And I was like, “Okay, yeah, we’ll charge you like $49 to get on Gadget Flow.” And they was like, “Great. Let’s do it.” And they came back like a week and a half later and they were like, “Whoa, Wow. We generated like, not tens but thousands of dollars in sales. Let’s do it again.” So that was . . . They want . . . Yeah.
Andrew: But they would come to you. But you knew that advertising from the beginning would be your model. The question I always wonder is, how did you get anyone to come to your site. What was it? Was it search engine optimization, was it something else, social? Walk me through that.
Evan: Yeah. It was a combination of pretty much everything I’d say. Definitely, lots of growth hacking back in the day because Facebook and get the organic, let’s just say, reach of Facebook was like, I would say four or five maybe even 10% in some cases if you had engaging company.
Andrew: Because if somebody hit Like on your page, Facebook was going to show your post for them more often where later they stopped doing that.
Evan: The good old days, yeah, for sure.
Andrew: So what did you do to get people to hit Like on your page? Did you do the like [inaudible 00:19:48] for you?
Evan: Yeah. So we partnered with a load of like similar interests pages like Apple Fans, the Android world to say or the graphic design world and the equipment that they’re using. So, we’re like, “Hey, we’re not monetizing this site.” That was back in 2012. “We’re not monetizing the site, so we would love to partner and exchange our audiences in a way.” So, like, yeah, I got . . .
Andrew: Meaning, you’ll run a promotion for their site on your blog and they’ll do the same for you?
Evan: Yeah, yeah. It was like basically the link exchange that we can do or post exchange, stuff like that. And that worked great to be honest. That brought us the first few thousand subscribers, followers and everything else, so it worked great. That was part of the growth hacking technique, and of course SEO-wise given my tech background and online advertising background that I had from the agency and then from the web design agency that I had when I was 17, I knew that SEO would have been like a big part of our marketing strategy, so we paid attention from day one. So that has helped a lot.
Andrew: What worked for you back in the early days of SEO, search engine optimization?
Evan: Backlinks for sure. We started with backlinks and basically, domain authority was very important, so we managed to have a high score as well and then just getting high authority backlink was by far the most important thing.
Andrew: How did you get the links? What was your process back then?
Evan: Oh, just the good old like outreach method by email, “Hi, I’d like to do this and that.”
Andrew: Yeah. What was this and that?
Evan: “Hi, I would like to buy like,” not buy, but most probably write a guest post in which we were paying an editor back in the day to do. We’d write about this topic and that topic and we just need to link back to our website. That was pretty much it.
Andrew: Pitching. Did you do any advice? I think back then it was kind of . . . it wasn’t okay, but it was more of a bigger practice a little bit.
Evan: Yeah. I mean, there were some . . . Yeah. To be honest, yes, there were some websites that required like a payment in order to publish their blog posts, but we wrote the blog posts, it was like 100% organic, it wasn’t like you were linking on irrelevant articles on our website, right? So it made sense. So, yeah, we definitely baited and it paid off hundreds of times over, I guess.
Andrew: How systemized were you about getting articles and backlinks and so on? What was your internal process?
Evan: So lots of spreadsheets to start. We started with search results. So we were focusing on the first two or three or four pages of Google, high authority websites, but not the type of like Engadget or the Verge, right? Long trail keywords as well. We couldn’t nail like, any .edu websites back in the day, right? But yeah, that was pretty much it. Lots of spreads and lots of outreach, I was doing that on a personal level definitely for like, the first couple years, and then decided to hire people and scaled it.
Andrew: It’s funny. It seems like you guys block Internet Archive from archiving your site, but I’ve gone back . . . Do you do that intentionally?
Evan: Not as far as I remember.
Andrew: So I went back another places and I saw early versions of your site and what stands out to me was at some point early on you guys were really good about adding share links to everything where if I saw an article . . . Ah. I can’t get to it now. If I saw an article I could easily share it. And it seems like seeing something interesting and sharing it on social was a good way for you guys to grow your traffic. Am I right or am I imagining that?
Evan: Yeah, definitely.
Andrew: You know what else you did? It seems like in the beginning you didn’t say much about the content on the homepage. It was more about just like getting people to click into the article.
Evan: Yeah. But I mean, that got a lot of people confused and still actually many people are confused today that are like first-time visitors or users so we’ve been A/B testing like so much for the past like two or three years. People think that we’re a store most of the times because that reminds you basically makes you think that it’s an eCommerce website or a marketplace, but it’s not, because if you click Buy Now, you’ll get redirected to the sale’s website.
Evan: So, yeah. So, yeah, we wanted to make it clear, so if you’re visiting the website as a guest right now you get a big like widget on top that says, “The number one product discovery platform” and “Click here to join us.” And we wanted to make it a bit more straightforward for like our first time visitor on how it works, what it is and how they can use it, and of course, what’s the benefit of it.
Andrew: So, if I understand right, the first set of visitors came because you guys would write articles, on other sites actually you’d hire a writer who would write articles, right?
Evan: Yeah. It started in combination with like growth hacking, lots of like outreach social media, not just articles.
Andrew: What are some of the growth hacking things that you did that worked?
Evan: Well, the one that I’ve mentioned earlier it’s a great example actually. We partnered lots of like Facebook fan pages, Twitter again as well back in the day and we were like exchanging content. And then of course, like, we sub . . .
Andrew: Go ahead. And then of course?
Evan: Yeah. And then, of course, like, anything from local distribution services that I remember . . . I can’t even remember one back I day, but there were like hundreds that you were using as a publisher to distribute your content something similar to like FeedBurner. But, yeah. All these basically . . . All these services I’ve added up and that result into like hundreds of thousands of visitors back in the days.
Andrew: How did you learn about this? What website were you reading at the time to get to know all this stuff?
Evan: Yeah. Not just one. So I wasn’t reading any books back in the day, so I was like into, “Let’s find out about how the web works or marketing world or what are like the latest growth hacking techniques. So, like, I keep doing that actually today because it’s very useful. Google is like the biggest library I would say. So you can . . .
Andrew: But are you going into it . . . Were there sites like Moz that were especially helpful for you was . . . ?
Evan: For sure. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, 100%, 100%. I definitely feel comfortable with Moz. Definitely, the early days of buffer.com, they started blogging and it was like more organic I would say. So that was helpful regarding social media back in 2013. There were like a bunch of websites. Like, if I go through my book, I’m sure I probably have more than 300 bookmarked reference.
Andrew: There’s an interesting thing about you is that you would read all this and not feel overwhelmed, not feel like, “Yeah, we should do it but how do we fit it in with what we’re doing?” You’d find a way to start implementing. What was your process for taking an idea that you’d read and implementing it and not just saying, “This is interesting. We should do something about it and forgetting about it”?
Evan: Yeah. No, that’s a great question because like, I don’t see that internally in the company. Most of the things that we’re doing today as a team and we’re like 29 people at this point, close to 30 people. Most of the things I’ve done to myself to start with, I’ve learned on this . . . First of all, I learned everything myself, understood everything myself, analyzed everything myself, and then I could teach someone else, so I can like, in a way outsource it, right? So, back in the day when I was scaling my business, it felt like something important. It felt we’re onto something here. So I was spending and I still spend many hours trying to get the latest technologies, see how we can market this feature or that feature, what we can develop the next in order to make it more interesting.
Andrew: But it seems like what it is you were reading around looking for the next cool idea. You’d figure it out on your own if it made sense. And then once you did, you are very quick about passing it to somebody else
Evan: Yes. A hundred percent.
Andrew: And then when you pass it on, what’s your process for passing it on and making sure that it gets done and improved?
Evan: Well, first of all, understanding what’s the right department, right? So, for instance, our operations team are . . . Our operations team actually is a combination for like, a social media team and a customer relations team. It’s a hybrid model that we’re trying to like, improve at this point. But I would say that process would include finding the appropriate individual, making sure that they have the technical background or the experience actually to do something like this, and then, later on, go through the process that I’m following and try to basically ask them whether they can improve it or not because that’s the key.
Andrew: You give them a process in what? A Google Doc? Is it a set of checklist?
Evan: No, no. I don’t do that. I prefer jumping on a one-on-one video call or something and just going through the process and making sure that they understand this, making sure what the goal is for the next month, week, or [inaudible 00:28:29].
Andrew: So you say, “This is how I’ve been doing it. Now, you need to do it,” and you’ve set a goal. It’s a metric that goes along with it?
Evan: Usually, depending on what we’re doing. But yeah.
Andrew: Okay. And then how do you make sure that they get it improved. I’ve gotten that far. So I’ll do something like I’ll edit then I’ll pass it on. I remember passing it on to a guy in Guatemala. He did great, but he did my way. We never checked back in to see if we could improve it and now we’re getting better at it. What was your process for improving . . . ?
Evan: Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, it’s a two-step process to be honest. The first one is to make sure that this individual can achieve the same numbers. If it’s measurable, right, I would quantify it. So, if they can achieve the same numbers, that means they’re doing a great job. They’re doing what you’re doing. So the next step is making sure, well, understanding on whether they can improve that process for you.
So let’s just talk about social media, for instance, right? So if you’re doing something on Instagram Stories right now and you get like 1,000 views as an example and you pass it to someone from your team, you should ask them like, “Can you think of something that we can get to like to 2x that to get to 2000, for instance, or 3000 or even more than that?” And most of the times that’s what they usually do. But I was . . . I actually taught them the basics, so I know exactly what we’re talking about when we jump on a call in two months or a year from now and go through the strategies. So that’s just a . . .
Andrew: A matter of checking in on the numbers. And then do you have a regular team meeting or do you have . . . How do you get to see the numbers on a regular basis?
Evan: Yeah, that’s a great question as well. So, I mean, I do weekly . . . I would say with most of the team, the core team, at least I do a weekly one on ones, and then we do like, marketing meetings, both meetings, management meetings and everything else in between. So, yeah, definitely too many meetings.
Andrew: And when you have a dashboard, that’s a spreadsheet with everyone’s numbers on it with the key numbers or is there something else?
Evan: Yeah. It’s not like you’re doing something as an individual to be honest with an exception for like, obviously sales team and social media team. For everyone else, it’s all about teamwork. So the numbers they don’t matter necessarily that . . . Customer relations for instance, they’re going to have some numbers, but you’re going to measure the team performance. You’re going to make sure that not just as individuals they are doing well or not as individuals are improving but as a team. That is more important.
Andrew: And so all of social might be a few people but as a team, they need to do well.
Andrew: Okay. And why would you . . . Why is that important more than individual goals?
Evan: Well, I mean, teamwork I think it’s way more important than individual goals because it’s really hard to find chemistry within your own team. So we had that in mind from basically day one when we launch Gadget Flow and not day one, but day 100, let’s just say. When we launched Gadget Flow and when we thought about scaling the business, one of our concerns I would say was creating a culture that it’s scalable, creating a team that has like chemistry. So we didn’t necessarily care about your bachelor’s degree or master’s degree back in the day. Remember we’re just 21, right? So we wanted to actually hire people that understand our product and they’re hungry basically to learn new things and to scale with this business. And that has helped us a lot.
Andrew: All right. It looks like Archive for some reason just wasn’t working well on your site earlier and now it is and I get to see what the earlier versions of the site look like. Boy, it is just a standard WordPress site. Do you remember the first theme you used? I wonder if I could see it. Let me see.
Andrew: What was it?
Evan: Oh, it’s the dark with the orange stripes.
Andrew: Yeah. Let me see if I could . . . A theme . . . Oh, it was your own customized theme and Gadget Flow is what you named it. But yeah, it was so basic looking WordPress theme that then became this big business. But let me take a moment to talk about my second sponsor, it’s called HostGator. I want to tell anyone who’s listening to me that frankly, what Evan and his team did with The Gadget Flow or now it’s just called Gadget Flow. I guess you guys had to buy the domain “Gadget Flow” after a few years.
Evan: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: How much did it cost? I saw your eyebrows raise as I said it.
Evan: A lot.
Andrew: A lot. Tens of thousands?
Andrew: Yeah. And the only reason that it cost a lot is because you guys made The Gadget Flow so big. It’s not like you had a four-letter domain that you’re trying to acquire. All right. So whatever he’s doing, you guys could basically do it too. The idea is find a topic that’s really super exciting. And if you’re a little bit off in the beginning, it’s totally fine. Look at this. The Gadget Flow for a long time had post like Pac Man cookie cutters. That’s not making it on your site today, right?
Evan: Yep. No way.
Andrew: Right? You got to figure it out and a way to figure it out is by trying. The cool thing about going to HostGator is with one click you could install WordPress and just get up and running. And I mean, if somebody wanted to copy this and say, “You know what? Gadget is a little bit done. I’m going to find a different topic and just keep showing these almost like glory porn shots of the thing.” Like, real estate porn is a thing, right? There are blogs that are dedicated to just showing beautiful real estate. Gadget porn is a thing too and Gadget used to do this, they don’t do it so much. Actually, they’re getting a little bit back into it. You guys do beautiful photos of gadgets that people who are into just want to go and take a look and ogle all day. What’s another topic that somebody could pick that is like that that you would suggest?
Evan: I don’t know. We thought about back in the day creating something like, call it Art Flow which is going to be like related to art and paintings and stuff. Could be interesting.
Andrew: Art Flow especially if it’s like the type of things that people would buy for the house, absolutely. I could see furniture being a thing. Clothes, absolutely nothing but like really interesting outfits. Whatever it is that you think is your topic, there are people out there who are just going to love looking at it. If you find beautiful photos, that’s what Evan and his team are great at. They find these beautiful photos. They don’t have to shoot it themselves. They find it, they make it look good on the site and then they give people like me a place to go and just constantly ogle the latest stuff and then we can click over and buy when we want to.
He is not doing an affiliate for some reason. You guys could frankly. Wirecutter and so many other people do it. I don’t know why you guys don’t. I’ll ask you in a moment. But there’s also advertising in there as Evan is discovering it’s doing well. If you’re out there and you want to start a business like this, go to HostGator, or if you’re listening to the sound of my voice and you do not like your hosting company, you should not have to stay. The beautiful thing especially if you’ve got WordPress or Magento or any of these other open source software platforms, you can take them to a competing site like that. Well, it’s not like that. It’s not hard though. Right?
In fact, if you’re with a different company and you want to switch over to HostGator, HostGator will migrate you for free. All you have to do is go to this special URL, hostgator.com/mixergy where you’re going to get up to 62% off their already low prices, one-click Install of WordPress and so many other open source software platforms, unlimited email addresses, yadda, yadda, yadda. The list is on there.
The thing that I never talked about that I probably should is they give you $100 AdWords offer to really kick your business off. They give you $50 in search credit with Yahoo and Bing. They really will do whatever they can to help get your business off the ground because the more you do well, the better it is for them because it means that you’ll keep updating the plan that you have with them or staying with them for years and years and years like I plan to. HostGator.com/mixergy.
Hey, why don’t you take affiliate commissions? If you’re linking to Amazon, if you’re linking to other people, why not take a commission for no other reason than just to see what’s doing well on your site so that you have more feedback into what you should be promoting more?
Evan: Well, we can measure that in so many different ways, but basically the reason is because we curate these products that are not on Gadget Flow or on our platform at this point and we’ve been doing so since day one. I mean, don’t get me wrong. We tried affiliate for like what? The first six, seven months back in 2012. It worked great like in terms of revenue. It was a profitable revenue back in the day with that kind of traffic and everything.
But today I don’t want people to think that we’re showcasing this product because we’re trying to sell them to you. We’re showcasing this product because we just think that they’re cool first of all, right, and that we need to share them with the world. So, on a typical day you won’t find like the latest Google releases or the latest iPhone or anything like that. You’ll find products that are not that easy to find to be honest that you’d have to spend a few minutes or maybe an hours on Google or on Amazon searching for something cool. So, we don’t want like, people to think that we’re just trying to sell something. That’s why.
Andrew: Okay. Fair enough. So you’re starting to build up your business, you’re getting a bunch of ad . . . Not ads. You’re . . . Sorry. You’re starting to get into social, you’re starting to go on to other people’s Facebook pages. Buffer was a tool that you guys started to use to do what? Because I know that you guys are really good on software.
Evan: Yeah. Scheduling pretty much. So we were scheduling tweets and Pinterest posts for instance, or Facebook posts because literally back in the day for like the first year and a half we had to manually do everything. So, when we discovered Buffer we were like, “Oh, my God, that’s insane.” It saves us so much time. So, yeah. We’re grateful for Buffer.
Andrew: And then today you guys use . . . Sorry?
Evan: We’re not sponsoring it or anything.
Andrew: I’m not either. But I do see Joel has created something fantastic with that business. That whole company did. And so it would just let you load up your latest articles and automatically and tweet them out. There are still a little bit of manual work in that, right? I think, unless they changed it recently, you still have to go in and actually enter the post in there versus . . .
Evan: That’s for Instagram.
Evan: Yeah, I think that’s for Instagram. Yeah. Unfortunately, yes. But that’s not their fault. It’s due to the Instagram API. So, yep.
Andrew: Okay. And then you started using CoSchedule. Why switch to CoSchedule for posting?
Evan: We haven’t switched. We use their subject optimizer and they have the title optimized for SEO purposes. So we use both actually at this point.
Andrew: Oh, okay. And you told our producer, “Look, we use dozens of different software to help promote.” What’s one that is especially effective that we may not know about?
Evan: I don’t know. Intercom, but I don’t know if it’s going to be useful. We use Intercom for like leads and customer support and pretty much everything they . . .
Andrew: What do you mean? I’m surprised that a content site would use Intercom. Intercom is that little thing that pops up in the lower right of many websites today that says, “How can we help you?” Content sites don’t do that.
Evan: Yeah. Well, we’re not just the content website to be honest. We have so many features that you can use as a . . .
Andrew: Like what?
Evan: So you can have your public or private wish list on Gadget Flow and save your favorite products for like, future reference. We have . . .
Andrew: Right. There’s always a Save button on the . . .
Evan: Yeah, yeah. For sure. We have . . . Exactly. We have the deals and discount of section that we partner with brands and we make sure that we display offers for like the next 30 days. We use that as a user acquisition technique as well. So, in order to access our deals and discount page, you need to have an account.
Andrew: Where do I see the deals and discount page?
Evan: You can find them either through the header menu on top or if you go to the homepage on the right side of New Discoveries there’s like My Feed and Discounts and Deal section there.
Andrew: And that’s where you guys will sell products and then you get a commission every time you sale, right?
Evan: No, there’s no commission.
Andrew: What is it?
Evan: No, we just . . .
Andrew: I keep wanting to say that you’re doing commissions and I’m wrong and you are so against it that you . . . The few times that you interrupt me and I’d love for you to interrupt me more. The few times that you interrupt me and say, “Andrew, that’s wrong,” is when it comes to that. It’s not. And so how does it work?
Evan: Yeah. I mean, it’s pretty much the same way for customers. It’s for people that want to offer like a discount to users. Well, our editorial can basically . . . We have a specific segment in our editorial team, well, department I would say, that looks for the latest discounts from the web or specifically from Amazon. We’ve created an API tool that connects with Amazon API’s and we know there’s like an offer from Amazon we displayed on Gadget Flow. So, if you have that product into your wish list, for example, you would see that in Your Feed as well.
So Your Feed is a feature that we’ve pushed live like two or three years ago that lets you select basically your favorite categories and just shows you products just from those categories. You don’t have to go through whatever we’re curating on a daily basis. You could just say, “I’m into car accessories, bike accessories, Mac accessories,” and just make sure that you go through these products.
So, yeah, lots of features. We have a currency conversion. We’ve just added like 20 something currencies you can check out Gadget Flow in like GDP or yen or like Canadian dollars, Australian dollar, and everything. We have filtering that you can use to check out like products between specific price ranges. So, yeah. And of course, my favorite feature is the augmented reality one that we have on our iOS app. I don’t know if you saw that.
Andrew: No, I didn’t see that. You know what I noticed? I told you about this before we started. I love the little details of your app. Like, whenever I scroll up, you have the parallax effect that will make the images for each product kind of reveal a little bit more of itself as I scroll up which just encourages me to keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. All right. So how do I see augmented reality here? What am I looking for in that?
Evan: If you go to the Categories section, second or third tab, and from there Available in AR.
Andrew: Okay. I see Amazon anniversary gifts, Apple Watch accessories available in AR. Okay, let’s take a look. All right. So there’s a Google Pixel 2.
Evan: Okay. Just click on the bottom of . . .
Andrew: Now I can . . .
Evan: Yeah. Click on the bottom on top of the image.
Andrew: Oh, view an augmented reality. Okay. Loading. Can it use my camera? Yes. I get it. All right. Now I can . . .
Evan: Just stop it somewhere.
Andrew: Okay. I still . . . There I see. You know what? I’ve got to tell you. This is like a lot of augmented reality. It looks tiny on my . . . Oh no, I take it back. All right. It doesn’t exactly come out right. It looks really tiny on my desk, but if I zoom in I could . . .
Evan: Yeah. It has to first analyze like, the space basically.
Andrew: Oh, look at that. All right. So now I can move my phone behind this pixel and see it. Let me see that.
Evan: Yeah, it’s funny.
Andrew: Got it. And this is all your internal coding?
Evan: Yeah, 100%. We actually use obviously Apple’s AR kit, but with that said, we were one of the first five apps back in September 2017 when Apple introduced the AR kit, right? It was primarily us and the IKEA app that . . . Oh, and The House, of course, that introduced the augmented reality features. So we worked like day and night from June the day that they announced this up until, like, September 25th if I remember correctly. And yeah, we were one of the first apps.
Andrew: One of the reasons why I thought that you guys were doing commission on sales was there is a new affiliate program that’s mysterious. If I click the link, it doesn’t tell me what I’m getting paid for, and I just kind of assumed the way works is I refer traffic to you and when somebody buy something, I get a commission. That’s not how it works. How does the affiliate program work?
Evan: Oh, yeah. That’s for basically the ad buys that we offer to our customers. So, if you’re like an agency or a consultant in the crowdfunding market, we’re big in the crowdfunding market, by the way, and you want to refer customers to us and say, “Hey, you can use Gadget Flow to promote your business or your service.” They get a commission for every referral.
Andrew: So all your revenue 100% comes from advertising?
Evan: Yeah. At this point, yes.
Andrew: Wow, wee. All right. That’s surprising. I thought that whole thing died. And you guys are quick to jump on stuff like we saw here with augmented reality. Facebook came out with their Instant Articles. What did you guys do about that? That was the one click and you see the beautiful layout for their articles. What happened?
Evan: It wasn’t just Facebook. Actually, we were one of the first businesses in general. Like, whenever actually there’s something new in the market, the publishing market or social media or anything, we strive to make sure that we implement that feature ASAP. So Instant Articles was one great example. The Twitter cards if you recall, like, a few years ago it was a second. So we’ve seen . . . I don’t know. It should have been like close to 5X on our website traffic from Twitter just because we’re using the product info card, Twitter card basically.
Andrew: And how long did it take your team to create that?
Evan: So, yeah, that’s the thing. So we’ve created the team who can communicate perfectly with us. So, when we see like this type of announcement, everybody is excited to get started on this and work on this and push it live . . .
Andrew: And you just drop everything for a moment and say, “We’re going to get into this.” And then . . .
Evan: Yeah. Well, yeah, it depends. Let me just give you a couple of times. So, for instance, Instant Articles from Facebook was one. The App Articles, obviously you know that from Google, right? So that gave us like two exclusive in terms of mobile traffic as soon as we implemented that. That was insane. So it’s not just . . . We’re not just saying, “Oh, we have to have the latest feature just because we want to look fancy.” Right? It’s because . . .
Andrew: No. But if you’re one of the first people to have it, it does help you a lot.
Evan: Yeah, exactly. Quick example, IGTV that Instagram introduced a few months ago, remember? So I publish the story like after five hours from the announcement and I got like on my personal profile I only got like 26, 27,000 followers or something. On my personal profile, I got 25,000 views. That is . . .
Andrew: Because you were one of the first people to do it. And what did you do?
Evan: Nothing. I just downloaded the first video editing app and I just created a roundup with my drone footage I piloted at DJI Mavic. And I created a drone roundup let’s just say with great shots for like 20 or 30 seconds and got like 25K views organically.
Andrew: And then did you start to . . . Did you do more of those?
Evan: Yeah, yeah. I do some personal branding every here and there.
Andrew: But is Instagram’s video app actually useful for you guys now, or is that a test that didn’t pan out?
Evan: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I haven’t made my mind up yet to be honest with you.
Evan: It will be sure for sure, but I don’t think that portrait is the way to go to be honest.
Andrew: You know what I was surprised that you stopped? It seemed like Medium was sending you a good chunk of traffic.
Andrew: You guys had really interesting approach to Medium. What you would do is you do these roundups. Back to school happening here, 18 different things that you’d want for back to school. A beautiful photo, a paragraph of text underneath it. You already had basically that stuff on your site, right? The backpack with the plugin USB thing you had on your site. You just had to take the picture, put a little bit of text and make it relevant. That was sending you traffic. Are you in touch enough with like, the media team and the numbers to know why you guys stopped Medium?
Evan: For sure. First of all, it was time-consuming, but obviously, that’s not an excuse. The most important reason is by primarily the fact that we’re sending a lot of traffic to Medium, not the other way around because we’re promoting those articles on our newsletter, social media channels. Yeah, basically, you know how it works. In Medium schemes [inaudible 00:47:14] if you send like, 1,000 visitors there, Medium is going to think, “Oh, this article is important, so we’re going to increase its visibility, its reach and everything, so we’re going to send another 1,000.” But at the end of the day, that only happened with a small portion of our articles, I would say like 20% or even 30% if I remember correctly. So, when we started to A/B test that and compared with publishing our own content on our blog and sending people on our blog which basically used the same header as the marketplace, we realized that it’s way more efficient. So it’s all about A/B testing. We never like . . .
Andrew: And it’s a bunch of different tests. Something new comes out, you sit down with your team, you say, “How can we use this? What can we do in this?” You move fast, you experiment, and then you analyze the data.
Evan: Correct, yeah. That’s it.
Andrew: Sometimes you look at feedback from people. You told our producer, “Look, we had a bunch of complaints about our sign-in flow.” What was the issue there? And then how do you handle that?
Evan: So, yeah. Like, since our early days I was obsessed personally with feedback especially from our early users because it’s very important to get their feedback and basically create a product not with whatever you think that it’s going to be interesting and cool, but whatever they think that it’s going to be cool. Most of the times, you know, 99%, let’s say they win.
So with the onboarding basically, with the signup process it wasn’t flawless. It had its issues. Back in the day it was slow, you were getting directed your profile and then users wanting to save something there was like into we’re losing that page. It wasn’t okay. It wasn’t good let’s just say. So we improved that. We improved that within like hours if I remember correctly. It was mostly like a day or so because I was like, I gathered the team and I was like, “Guys, we’ve never got this important feedback ever before, so let’s just focus on this. Fix it so we can have a better like onboarding call.” And you know what happened? It was just one innocent like, let’s just say, email form that we were using back in the day. We improve their signups by like 25%, 30% just because one user reached out and said, “Hey guys, this thing is broken. You need to fix it.” So that’s why . . .
Andrew: So we get a lot of feedback too. I never know if we’re spending enough time on the things that matter from email and ignoring some things that are . . . or ignoring the things that matter. It’s really hard to figure out what to address. How did you know what to address?
Evan: So we use Trello. It’s one other services that we’re using, right? So we use Trello for like prioritizing the most important bugs and ideas and which feature we’re going to do next and everything. So, when we get feedback from our users and we get for instance, 10 emails send and two of the emails have the same pretty much content, then prioritize on that. So it’s . . .
Andrew: And so is on . . . You guys use Help Scout. We use it too to check email. Right?
Evan: Yeah. We don’t use it anymore. We actually transition from Help Scout to Intercom like a few months ago.
Andrew: Oh, Intercom completely. So, if somebody gets a . . . If customer service gets an email in Intercom and another one and another one addressing the same issue, it’s on them to go to Trello and add a card for it manually.
Evan: Yes. If they cannot fix it, obviously, they’re on their own. Yes, that’s how we do it. And I assign it to . . .
Andrew: What we’ve been doing is we tag it and then we go back in and look at tags, but that’s just not efficient enough.
Evan: Yeah, we use it as well. We use tags as well on top of that just to notify the appropriate departments. We use lots of automation through Zapier that have saved us like, I don’t know, hundreds of hours on a daily basis, I’d say. But yeah, definitely.
Andrew: How many people in customer service?
Evan: Right now it should be four people.
Andrew: Four people?
Andrew: Why did you switch from Help Scout to Intercom?
Evan: Convenience 100% because we’re using both. We’re using Intercom for, like, lead generation . . . Well, not only do lead generation but the live chat feature that leads to lead generation, I would say. And we’re using two tools and Help Scout couldn’t keep up with all these emails that we’re getting because we get a lot of emails right now. And yeah, we thought that we would give Intercom a try. We tested it for like two weeks. So I sat down with my CFO and said, “Okay. You know, we need to switch.” And in two months we move everything over because we were relying so much into like automation. Automation does everything internally. So, yeah, that was the most challenging switch I’ve personally ever done.
Andrew: Customer service software, because all the different automation of how to respond to things goes away, all the filters go away.
Evan: Pretty much. Pretty much. Yes, along with the other things.
Andrew: You ever regret not taking funding? I feel like you told our team that in 2013, it seemed like there was a lot of money and you guys didn’t get it. Do you regret it? And why didn’t you get it?
Evan: No. Definitely, not because we would have given like a huge chunk of our company and would have . . . I don’t know. I don’t know. Yes. I don’t regret it, actually. Yeah, we pitched The Gadget Flow back in 2013. Everybody was getting funded, like, the silliest idea for instance, we would raise $10 million or $1 million, I was like [inaudible 00:52:20] right? So, we sat down with the Greek founders, we were like 22 at the time and we said, “Okay, let’s try the local community.”
So we find out which are like the top three VCs in Athens back in the day and we booked an interview with one of them. So we went there and we were prepping for like two or three or four weeks for the presentation, and we’re anxious and everything. So we went there and they’re like . . . They weren’t actually paying attention because of our age first of all. Second of all, they just . . . I don’t know. I don’t think they understood our model, but even if they did, they were just not interested and they said, “Your business model is not scalable. That’s just it.” And we’re like, “Okay.”
So it was a bummer for us for like, the first 24 hours, and then we thought, “Okay. We’re going to prove them wrong.” So that’s . . . Today, I’m kind of proud that things turned out this way because looking back we would have lost like, a good what? 25%, 30% of our company and for what? Just scaling faster?
Andrew: And then you would have been pushed to get into every new thing that could potentially blow up. What about the fact that you . . . Aren’t you dating your co-founder?
Evan: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: You are. Is that an issue? I don’t think I could do that.
Evan: No. No. I mean, many people ask like, “How do you do it, like, work together, travel together, do everything together?” And I was like, “We’re pretty compatible let’s just say. We enjoy doing things together and we’re having fun along the way.” So it works.
Andrew: All right. Let me close it out with one more thing that I’ve been trying to get out throughout this interview and I think I need a little bit more on this that you try so many different things and you don’t get bogged down and you seem organized. Like, it’s so many different promotional experiments. I hear you’re in a bunch of magazines. I think I saw that on your homepage. But in preparing for this interview, my team looked at a bunch of articles in Forbes and other places to see is this guy of substance, does he actually makes sense. There’s a ton on you. So you do that. You do the Twitter thing and you do the Facebook Instant Articles. Even if Instant Articles goes away, it’s worth a shot.
You try this, you try that. It feels like you have a process for doing it that I want to get at, and that to me seems like a big takeaway that anyone listening to us can leave and just have their business changed by. How do you test all these different things fast, get results and move on and not get bogged down, not get into you know, “Guys, we have to figure this out,” and then get lost in trying to figure it out? How do you actually take action on all these different ideas, these growth hacking ideas?
Evan: That’s a good question. I just from my side ensure and I would say that I just take action. Many people want to do new things and they’re like, “Let’s organize it. Let’s create a to-do list. Let’s put it on Trello. Let’s create cards.” At the end of the day, they just never do it. I am the opposite. I would start even without even writing down the idea. I wouldn’t even make a note. I wouldn’t even create a to-do list up until that point that the thing that I’m doing basically becomes a substance, right? So it’s something interesting, it works and I’m going to do it and I’m going to keep doing it. That’s when I take notes, that’s when I’m writing my thoughts down, and that’s the only time. In terms of learning new things, I would say that it’s whether you’re interested or not. So I’m just having a lot of fun doing . . .
Andrew: But the learning part is easy and fun. Taking action and then saying to the team, “Let’s get this up and running in a week,” and then they say, “All right, we didn’t get it done this week. We need another week.” But meanwhile, you have another idea to test out because now Facebook came out with a thing and then Twitter came out to something magic. That’s the hard part of testing it. And then analyzing everything that you’ve done to see how you can keep improving it so it doesn’t get stale or get rid of it like you did with Medium. That’s the part that it seems like you must have some process that we can learn from but it’s not that systemized, is it?
Evan: I think it has to do with passion as well to be honest with you because, like, back in 10 years ago, CEOs were not like, super involved with the technical aspect of the business, right? I’m not talking about billion-dollar businesses, but startup as well. Today, if you notice in the tech market in general, CEOs are directly involved with like their marketing teams, their developers, their CTO, and everything. So, the only . . . Like, this group of people is related for the past like, I don’t know, 10, 12, 15 years. And it didn’t used to be like that, actually in the past.
So I would say that definitely, it’s also passion because if I’m passionate for something and I made sure that I hired like people that are passionate with what they’re doing and they trust me and there’s chemistry in the team, yes, they’re going to follow me. They’re not going to be like, “Oh, he came up with another idea. We’re not going to do it, though. We’re screwed.” Right? They’re not going to say something like that because we work together and we have a common goal to scale this business and together.
Andrew: And how do you keep the passion going? You guys are all remote, right?
Evan: Yeah, 100%. So I mean we just did our first thing retreat in Osaka, Japan. So we gathered half of the team. The core team, actually, we’re planning our second one later this . . . well, next year, 2019. And then we do weekly meetings. I would say that there isn’t special . . .
Andrew: You Zoom meetings get in and you start the meeting with something motivational, something that says the vision for the company every week?
Evan: Exactly, something like that. We do weekly updates, we do talks, we have smaller groups of people that are meeting who have the same interests. So we try to keep a connection, like, an open channel between the team. It’s not like 100% work. So, in some scenarios, it’s even better than just being in the same office space.
Andrew: All right. The website for anyone who wants to get sucked into this what I’m going to call gadget porn is . . . You know what? I was going to say, gadgetflow.com, but that just redirects to The Gadget Flow still.
Evan: Yeah, yeah. We haven’t actually switched over yet. We haven’t for like close to a year now.
Andrew: Regardless what it is, I’m going to say to anyone who’s listening, if you’re really into gadgets, they’re going to be a little bit promotional about their app and you’re going to say, “I don’t need another app for content. Who gives a rat’s ass?” Right? It just feels a little bit like annoying. Like when I go to Reddit and they keep getting me to use the app. I think the website is fine enough. I just like the design of the app. And if you’re into design at all, it’s worth downloading the app just for that reason. And if you’re into gadgets, you might want to avoid the site or save it for a time when you can just get lost in it. It’s called thegadgetflow or gadgetflow.com.
And the two sponsors who made this interview happen are . . . Well, if you want to copy Evan, hostgator.com will make it easy for you to set up a WordPress site but then you’re going to have to work like mad. And second, if you want to hire a great developer, go check out toptal.com/mixergy. HostGator.com/mixergy. Toptal.com/mixergy.
And finally, I’m going to close this out by saying, if you have one of the smart speakers in your house, the kind that you can actually shout out, I’m not going to say their name, but say its name, say “Hey,” whatever it is and then say, “Play Mixergy,” and let me know if it’s working for you or not. I’m wondering if the name Mixergy is actually tripping up these smart devices or if it’s clear enough that the devices actually know what to play. I’m curious about that. So shout it out and let me know on the site or just email me, email@example.com. Thanks. Thanks, Evan.
Evan: Thanks for having me.
Andrew: All right. Bye. Bye, everyone.