How car-sharing GoGet was bootstrapped to $30M

You guys are going to recognize the business model today’s guest created. It’s not laughable the way it was when he started out. People in the U.S. raised millions for that idea, he did not. It had to be bootstrapped.

He built it from scratch and kept growing and growing and growing it. Bruce Jeffreys is the founder of GoGet, Australia’s first car-sharing service.

I’m so fascinated by this scrappy way that he and his cofounder built up the business.

Bruce Jeffreys

Bruce Jeffreys

GoGet

Bruce Jeffreys is the founder of GoGet, Australia’s first car-sharing service.

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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 phenomenally successful companies.

I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been living in San Francisco for the better part of five years. This is an exaggeration but not much. If you have an idea and a napkin, you could basically raise money here, not millions the way you could maybe years ago, but you could raise money. Somebody’s going to give you $25,000 for an angel round, which is why it’s so surprising that today’s guest, because he doesn’t live here, he kind of lives the opposite of here. He lives in Australia. He had a phenomenal business idea. His competitors in the U.S.—I guess you couldn’t say competitors, people who had similar business ideas in the U.S. raised millions of dollars. You know how much money he raised? I had to confirm this with him—bupkis, zero, double zeroes, nothing. He built it from scratch and still he just kept growing and growing and growing it. Here’s the company. You guys are going to recognize the model. Today, it’s not laughable the way it was when he started out. But it had to be bootstrapped.

His name is Bruce Jeffreys. His company is called GoGet. It’s Australia’s first car-sharing service. Seriously, when the company launched 2003, the idea of sharing a car was ridiculous. You buy your own car, you drive it. Sharing a car was maybe for your girlfriend or your wife. She could go—or vice versa, for your husband, boyfriend, whatever. People didn’t do it, but he had this idea, “I’m going to buy a car and let people pay for it just for the time that they need it.” It was laughable. Today, it makes sense. People in the U.S. raised millions for that idea, he did not.

I’m so fascinated by this scrappy way that he and his cofounder built up the business. I’m so proud to have him on here. I also want to find out about this new business he’s got, which is really remarkable in the truest sense of the world. It’s called Dresden. You know how when you go to an eyeglass store, you have to spend a long time finding the perfect frame and is this frame really you and is this frame as good as your friend and should you spend more money to get the better brand on it or should you spend less money so that you can look like you don’t care?

Here’s what he did—none of that. One style—men get the same style, women get the same style, rich people get the same style, poor people get the same style. Everyone gets the same freaking style. That’s his business model behind Dresden. He’s smiling as I’m talking about it because he’s so proud. This is it. This is what he’s working on now as he’s eased off of his time at GoGet.

So I want to find out about how he did this and more importantly, for other entrepreneurs in my audience, I want you to hear his story and be inspired and get some ideas from it for yourself.

Quick word about my sponsors, I have two of them. I’ll tell you about them later, but I’ll mention their names now. The first is a company that will host your website right. It’s called HostGator. The second is a company that will help you hire your next great developer. It’s called Toptal. As I said, I’ll tell you more about them later.

Bruce, I’m speeding through this intro and I’m watching your face. You’re smiling. You kind of dig the speed.

Bruce: Yeah, I love it.

Andrew: Good. I dig it. You probably seem to enjoy the fact that this is really the contrast between where I live and where you started your business. Let’s talk about where you built it to. What kind of revenues is GoGet getting today? What is it generating?

Bruce: So it’s generating over $30 million in revenue.

Andrew: $30 million a year? Before that, you were a government guy. I don’t understand exactly what you did in the government, but I know you built some software for them. What did you do for the government?

Bruce: I worked in the state government of New South Wales. We actually developed a sustainability tool that allowed people building a brand new building, whether it was an apartment or a house, to rate how efficient it was from a water and an energy point of view. So it was actually the first online. web-based planning tool that we know of in the world, which was actually statutory, which meant it was actually compulsory. You had to go through it and you had to essentially use 40% less power and water than the norm. So it was a big challenge, a lot of work. I worked with some fantastic people and also came across the constraints in government as well.

Andrew: How did you end up in Istanbul?

Bruce: Really, it’s so crazy. My mom is from India. Katherine, who’s now my partner, she was traveling with her brother in Europe. We said, “Let’s meet somewhere.” We looked at a map and Istanbul was sort of in the middle and that’s how it happened.

Andrew: So how much time did you spend there?

Bruce: We spent there a couple of years. We basically went there a couple weeks and left a couple of years later. So we fell in love with the place. I ended up working for the Istanbul Film Festival, which is amazing. And then me and Katherine organized an Australian film festival in Turkey, which was pretty crazy. Then we’ve been back many times since.

Andrew: So then you come back to Australia and you don’t have a car and you had this idea that ended up leading to GoGet. What was the idea that you had when you came back home?

Bruce: There was actually quite a bit of a gap. I went back to Perth, which is on the west coast of Australia. After Istanbul, it was hard to settle down in such a quiet place. So we actually headed to Sydney, which is a little bit busier than Perth, but nothing like San Francisco.

Andrew: Nothing like Istanbul either, from what I understand.

Bruce: That’s right. And then I did a bunch of jobs. I worked in advertising. I worked for a university and then worked for government. I was really, really lucky to move to a suburb called Newtown in Sydney, where people just don’t need to own a car. It’s just one of those areas where everybody’s on foot. You can get around really easily. You can get to most places quickly.

It was really throughout the course of that that I actually bumped into Nic Lowe, who is also from Perth, who had moved to Newtown. In a café, I said to him it would be great if we could just share cars. That’s really how the whole business got started. It was really a chance meeting in a café. Me and Nic went on to start GoGet.

Andrew: The idea was it would be great if you and I could share cars or if you, I and five other people could share cars?

Bruce: The idea was one car shared amongst a group of people. We just aren’t using that car all the time. So it was about having a car that was accessible to many people. It was a very simple idea. I didn’t realize that had been going in other countries for quite a while. It had started in Germany. It actually was coming across Zipcar in San Francisco—it’s all well and good happening in Germany because Germans, they’re clever and they get onto that sort of stuff. But when I saw it happening in San Francisco, it made me realize if it can work for Americans, it might work for Australians.

Andrew: So you had this need, not for a car full-time, but for part time, you were thinking about sharing. Then you noticed this does exist outside. It exists in Germany, but maybe the Germans are different from the rest of the world. So we can’t say that because it works there, it will work somewhere else. It also worked in San Francisco and you say, “Hey, it’s working in these two different cultures. Maybe we can bring it over here to Newtown.” That’s when you decided, “We have to run a test.” The test had to do with a festival. What was the festival and what was the test?

Bruce: What me and Nic did was we basically booked at a stall at our local community festival. It’s called Newtown Festival. A lot of people come, like 80,000 people come. It’s always in November. It’s always hot, humid, dusty. It’s pretty grueling. What we did was we actually didn’t have a car, either of us.

So we went to a rental car company and hired a nice looking car. We basically did some flyers and brochures up and we pretended that we had a service. We called it Newtown CarShare. We basically had a survey form. I think we just gave out a whole bunch of watermelon. We just spent a whole day surveying the community. That was really the first public like, “Let’s just get out there and ask people.”

Andrew: I could have sworn that Zipcar did this in different parts of New York when it came there. But the idea was much more scrappy for you. You just rented a car and stood by it and said, “Who wants to use this on a part-time basis?” Anyone who said yes, you took down their contact information. Anyone that said no, you just let them pass. You told our producer, “Look, 90% of the people who saw this thought it was a stupid idea, but there was 10%, they dug it.”

Bruce: That’s it. There was 10% that dug it. One of the really interesting things was there were quite a few Germans that came past and were like, “We’ve been waiting for this for like 20 years. Why did you take so long?” So there’s a few people that were like, “Duh, this exists. Hello? We’re ready to sign up.”

Andrew: You know what? I lived in Manhattan at the time. I didn’t need a car. I got it. I got the idea to Zipcar. But every time I’d bring it up, people would say, “Why don’t you just rent a car for the day?” What was your answer to people who said that, who said, “This makes no sense. Why would I want to rent it for the hour? I should just rent it for the day.”

Bruce: People sort of imagined that renting the car, it was almost like you needed to use it for an entire day. We were like we only needed the car for like a couple hours to go do a shop, to buy some groceries. Why would you go all the way to a car rental depot? It didn’t make any sense.

Andrew: That was the big draw of the other car sharing companies. They would literally be in your building if it was a 12-story building, maybe two parking spots in the garage would have it. For you, you didn’t have that sense of ubiquity. What was the draw? Was it that Newtown was small enough that people could walk to it?

Bruce: One of the big things that’s different about Australian cities is we don’t have big parking lots throughout our inner city centers like American cities do. In an area like Newtown, most of the houses have zero parking, and the only place to park it is on the street. It’s the council that has a permit system that operates the street.

In the early days, the councils, they’d never heard of car sharing and there was zero interest. So we had to find spots where there was no regulation. There were a couple of spots here and there that were sort of grey zones where we would put the cars. Actually, it literally started with three vehicles. They were hard to find and hard to access. It took us a long time to get to ubiquity.

Andrew: I see. Twelve people said, “Hey, look, I don’t need ubiquity. I don’t need you guys to be an established company. I get the idea. I’m willing to do it. You took their contact information. That explains why every article from the early days was they started with 12 members. I couldn’t understand what the 12 members were. These people became members. You charged them an annual fee, or how’d you do it?

Bruce: The really important thing, Andrew, is after the first of all, we sent an email out and said, “We’re going to start. Come to the local town hall. We’re going to basically tell you about our service and hopefully sign you up. Twelve people came to that meeting. Importantly for us, we charge a $500 deposit per membership. Those 12 people would basically—they basically gave us a $500 deposit, two complete strangers who were pretty sketchy, I’d have to say.

Andrew: What made you sketchy? Was it that you were part Indian in a country that was whiter?

Bruce: That was definitely a start. Both me and Nic were clueless. We were young and really had no idea what we were doing. It was obvious.

Andrew: Okay. Frankly, I don’t even know if it’s legal to take people’s deposits and buy the product. I think at least in the U.S., you’re supposed to just keep the deposit somewhere safe. You were just winging it and you said, “Look, we’re going to take this money and use that money to buy the cars, am I right, the first car?”

Bruce: That’s right.

Andrew: What was the first car?

Bruce: That is legal in Australia, by the way.

Andrew: It is? Okay.

Bruce: What happened was me and Nic, we basically bought two secondhand cars. Nic bought an old pinkish colored ute, like a utility vehicle, I guess a small truck. I bought this crazy, secondhand imported Corolla from Fiji that ran on diesel. They all run on petrol in Australia. We were paranoid that someone would put petrol in it, kill it within the first month. So we had these two really old cars. We actually approached a Volkswagen dealership. They clearly felt sorry for us and they loaned us a little Volkswagen Polo that happened to be the car that Nicole Kidman was driving around. She’d returned the car because she’s probably spending so much time in the States. So they actually lent us that car for three or four months.

Andrew: So you started out with three cars that you hustled to get. You had 12 members. You were in business now. Years later, the iPhone would come out and people could book on a phone. I know you guys are Android, iPhone, etc. Back then, they had to book on a computer. How would you open up the car for them? How would you unlock it?

Bruce: What we did, we basically followed the same path the German company had started, which was basically we had the keys. We put them in like a metal box, and we actually put them on the side of the car and you just walk up.

Andrew: You would have a generic key that would work for all of these cars at any time.

Bruce: Exactly. The crazy thing is, Andrew, that we actually kept that system so that by the time we had a couple hundred cars, thousands of people had the same key.

Andrew: For me, as an entrepreneur, this type of story is crack cocaine. The cleverness of it, this is what makes entrepreneurship so interesting.

Bruce: Yeah. To us, it wasn’t clever. We had no money. We didn’t know if it was going to work. So we really just did what we could. The most important thing, Andrew, is we trusted the members. I think that’s the key thing. The members were really great and we trusted them. Every new member we would meet at a car and get to know them. Actually, after a few months, someone worked out how our system worked, and they smashed the window, took the box, got the key out and they took one of the cars. They actually took it just to—they were going from A to B.

Andrew: A joyride.

Bruce: We recovered the car a week later. Then we started putting the little boxes on electricity polls. They’re wood in Australia. So we’d drill them into a pole. We thought the energy company would be on to us really quick. We were lucky because the boxes were a blue color, and they were the same color as the energy company’s logo.

We thought most people would think it was the energy company’s box, not our box. Amazingly, we had hundreds of boxes. The whole city, we had boxes on all these poles. Then one day, somebody from the electricity company rang up and said, “We discovered one of these boxes. What is this about?” And we told them it’s a CarShare program and people get the keys. The person went, “Oh, that’s fun. No problem.”

Andrew: Really?

Bruce: Yeah.

Andrew: Wow.

Bruce: You wouldn’t expect it.

Andrew: No.

Bruce: One of the things we discovered early on was if you just got out there and did things—a lot of times, there wasn’t a problem, but if you asked to do something, I’m sure if we went to the energy company and said, “We’re thinking of putting 200 boxes on your poles,” they would be like, “Hang on a minute.”

Andrew: Then you’ve got to deal with the bureaucracy of getting it done.

Bruce: That’s right.

Andrew: Parking spots I heard, though, were an issue for you. There, you really needed to work things out. What did you do to get permission to park where you needed to?

Bruce: Really early on, we found a couple of grey areas where we could park. Then we worked really hard with local councils asking for permission. One of the things that sort of changed it for us was—it’s a good thing to do if you can—is we ran a conference after we’d been doing it for about a year, where we ran a conference program and invited Susan Shaheen, who is a fantastic transport expert from—she actually lives in San Francisco. She was our keynote speaker. We got her out to Sydney.

We got all the councils and all the policy people in the room for a one-day event and from there, that helped build up momentum, but really what it came down to was you need within the council the entrepreneurial people. We had one council in Sydney, North Sydney Council that had a team of people and they were really willing to try it out. They knew that if they asked the local people, the local residents if they would like this in their area, they would all go, “What’s this? You have to tell us more.”

Instead, they just actually did it. They just rolled out some bays for us. What that means is a dedicated bay. It’s a bay for a CarShare car. It’s got signage for that car. You get fined if you park in it if you’re not a CarShare car. They really got the ball rolling. From there, other councils then joined.

Andrew: So that explains it. I found an old article from the Sydney Morning Herald with Dr. Susan Shaheen in there. The conference she spoke out is Reinventing the Private Car Conference. I said, “Who’s creating a conference for that?” Now I realize that you’re the one who created that conference. You brought her in and you’re the one who helped get points across like traffic congestion, scarcity of premium parking spots is an issue. There’s an environmental impact of having private cars. I see. Okay. This was part of your idea.

Bruce: Yeah, it is. One of the great things, Andrew, about doing a conference is you can actually then sell sponsorship for that to people who want to help but don’t know how to help. A good example is Toyota sponsored that for $10,000, they gave us a check. That’s a classic thing where Toyota were like, “We think this is a good idea. We’re not really sure, but we’d like to be your sponsor.”

Andrew: So it wasn’t that they were trying to get customers to buy their cars there, it was they were trying to say, “We support this idea, go explore it.”

Bruce: That’s exactly it.

Andrew: Okay. Let me take a moment to talk about my sponsor and then we’re going to get right into the next part of the story, which is how you guys created software. You guys created software in the most—to me, this is the most interesting thing, how you guys got software to run this. At some point, though, you had to go beyond the bootstrap idea for software and you needed top developers.

Every business goes through this. They hire someone who they know, hire someone who’s a friend, hire someone who’s inexpensive and then they need to spend money and hire the best of the best. At that period when you’re ready to buy the best of the best, that’s when my sponsor, Toptal, comes in. Toptal has decided that they’re going to make the hiring process for developers as good as possible but only for the top developers.

That means they put people through tests, they do all kinds of research to make sure they get the best and the best. Then when people like you and me and other people listening to us are looking for developers, all they have to do is go to Toptal. You don’t go to the website and order it like you order a pizza. You put in your contact information and then you get on a call with someone from Toptal.

I should be clear—top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, Toptal. And then they ask you, “What’s your work like?” I’m guessing that you, Bruce, have Slack open all the time. I’m hearing it in the background. I don’t know how you deal with that sound. What Toptal would say is, “We need somebody who can be on Slack all the time for Bruce because Bruce wants constant communication,” or maybe you’re someone who doesn’t need constant communication. You work through a task management process like Asana.

Then they find someone who, not just develops using your language but works using your style and your culture. They introduce you. If you like them, you can often get started within days. Anyone out there who hears my voice who’s a business person or who’s managing a team and needs an extra person for part-time or full-time or frankly, some people are hiring full-time developers, I want you to go check out this special URL just for Mixergy listeners. It’s Toptal.com/Mixergy.

When you go there, no question, I get credit for you coming in and I really appreciate it. But what you get, my dear listener, is 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to a no risk trial period of up to two weeks. That’s top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, Toptal.com/Mixergy. They work everywhere, in Australia too. In fact, the founders were traveling all over the world as they were building this business until one of them had a son and maybe the other one had a kid and they had to settle down.

Let’s continue. The booking software, you didn’t code up your own software the way so many other people would. What did you do? You’ve got to tell people.

Bruce: One of the great things about Nic was that he had this bizarre combination of skills. He had done computer science at uni. He was working in finance, and he actually was a classically self-taught person. Again, because we didn’t have any budget or anything money, what we did was we found like an open source room-booking system and we basically modified that—

Andrew: For hotels?

Bruce: Yeah. I think it was actually for like conference rooms. It meant for our first members, they actually didn’t book cars. They booked rooms, but then they knew it was for a car. Basically, we took that platform. We modified it, put it together, built a website. That’s really how we got going. We got going really quickly with it and then incrementally developed it and we had some crazy things happen.

We actually hosted out of Florida, we had this really cheap hosting package. We’d only been going for six months, and they just disappeared completely, gone. They went broke. So we lost our booking system. All we had to do was tell all our members, “Sorry, our host has gone broke, just ring us and we’ll book with a calendar.” So, for a week, me and Nic took calls, basically just diary appointments while we reconstructed—

Andrew: You had to build it all over again.

Bruce: Sorry?

Andrew: And the list of members was where?

Bruce: It would have been about, by that stage, 50 people.

Andrew: And you just kept it where, on your personal computer. It’s not like you lost your customer base.

Bruce: We had backups.

Andrew: Okay. What number is this? Do you recognize this phone number, 04224671—should I keep going?

Bruce: That’s my number.

Andrew: Is it still your number?

Bruce: Yeah.

Andrew: You had your cellphone number on the web?

Bruce: Yeah.

Andrew: It wasn’t like, “Here’s the booking number.” It was, “If you have an emergency or if you’re pressed, here’s my number.” That was your cell.

Bruce: Yeah. For me and Nic for the first four or five years, we were on call 24/7, like it was a nightmare. We would get calls at 3:00 in the morning, someone with a flat battery or a flat tire. That’s how we ran it.

Andrew: And you had to wake up in the middle of the night and deal with that?

Bruce: I actually had a newborn child at the same time. So I was up all the time anyways. Nic wasn’t and Nic is a bad sleeper. We would basically alternate. We would do one week on, one week off. In the early days, it was very quiet. We had no members. So nothing much happened. But I’m telling you, it got crazy.

By the time we had hundreds of members, you would literally be getting calls every hour. We did that for years. We actually were on call over the night period up to about six or seven years into the business. We should have, in hindsight, hired people earlier. To be honest, when you get every problem call, then you know every single problem in the business. That’s a critical thing.

Andrew: What’s a problem that you picked up on that you wouldn’t have if you weren’t the guy answering the calls?

Bruce: With car sharing, there’s a lot of operational things to deal with. I think the biggest thing is training the member, giving the member information. Something that might look obvious to you is not obvious to them. It’s that nitty-gritty stuff that you really learn when you’re speaking to lots of different people. Some people are technical and some people aren’t. That’s what you learn. I think as well, you realize that members educate members. The more you educate a member, the better they then educate their friend who has just joined the service.

Andrew: I see. So, meanwhile, as you were doing all these phone calls yourself, the guys from Zipcar, they raised $75,000 before launching, $75,000 before they had anything, $25,000 of that was a last-minute angel investment that just jumped in. They allowed them to lease a car. Before you launched, they had $4.7 million in a series B. We’re talking about worlds apart. Meanwhile, you’re being woken up in the middle night. Do you remember how much you made a week the first three years in business?

Bruce: We weren’t paid.

Andrew: Zero? How did you survive?

Bruce: Well, for both me and Nic, we had working partners, which helped. They were working. We lived off savings and we lived really cheaply.

Andrew: Why didn’t that create resentment with your partners? Why didn’t somebody say, “We’re together, we’re in love, but you’re up in the middle of the night. You’re not making any money. Go get a job?”

Bruce: It’s really a testament to our partners, to be honest. The biggest thing I’ve learned is if you’ve got a partner that’s really materially focused, that’s really like, “We need to be buying a house and going on expensive holidays and getting a new car,” then you can never start a business. It’s very hard. They just want you to have a job. I think Nic and me were blessed with partners that were not materially focused.

What was more important to them is that we’re doing something that we enjoy, that was good for the community. It might go somewhere, it might not. That attitude was critical. They weren’t going, “Oh . . .” There wasn’t that feeling of resentment. There was definitely frustration and, “This sucks,” like I’ve being woken up at this time. But that’s the really important point, do you know what I mean? I think me and Nic have got a lot of energy, and they saw at least that we were doing something with it.

Andrew: You always were the person that would have a lot of energy?

Bruce: Yeah. I throw myself into things when I get into them because it’s fun.

Andrew: I’m like that too. I find that energy creates energy. The more energized I am, the more there is and then it just keeps going and going.

Bruce: That’s it. It’s self-perpetuating.

Andrew: What hour did you wake up in the morning? Were you a late sleeper at that point in your life, or did you have to wake up early?

Bruce: At that point, I think I was actually getting up at a normal time. I think my kids weren’t waking up really early. So I was getting up at a normal time.

Andrew: After three years, you started paying yourselves a grand total of . . .? Do you remember? I have it in my notes?

Bruce: I think it was something like $80 a week or something.

Andrew: $80 a week. That’s nothing. How’d you even come up with $80? Why didn’t you just say forget it?

Bruce: I think the thing was it felt like a lot of money then too because we’d been getting nothing. So when we got $80, you’re like, “Woohoo.” Then I think in a short period of time, we doubled it. We were like, “Hey, we doubled our pay.” It was pretty amazing, actually to get paid. You have to go back to those times and realize everybody now today thinks, “Oh, yeah, car sharing. I understand what that is. That makes so much sense.” Back then, everybody thought it was completely not viable. They thought it would never work. So to really start getting paid was an indication that there might—it might survive as an idea. It might survive as a concept.

Andrew: I’m surprised even looking back that all this stuff worked because my wife was in—we used to use Zipcars all the time. She backed into something at this weird garage that one of the Zipcars happened to be in and she broke something in the car. I realized after she called them up we didn’t even have to call up and tell them this happened. There’s no way they know what happened. If they happened to see it on camera, we could at that point apologize.

I don’t know how people weren’t breaking your cars more. I don’t know how people weren’t using it when they weren’t supposed to. I don’t know how any of this stuff even worked out, but it did. Go ahead, you were going to say something.

Bruce: I think the biggest thing I learned was how trustworthy most people are. Most people do the right thing. There’s a small percentage that don’t. You need systems and procedures to pick them up quickly and then get them out of the service. There’s a small group that won’t respect—

Andrew: And ask those people to leave. When they were doing something wrong, what were some of those things that you guys had to deal with?

Bruce: There’s actually some telltale signs. If someone is smoking or leaving rubbish in the car, then that’s a sign that they don’t respect the service and then that ultimately will lead to an accident or the car returned late. There’s some telltale signs. And then we got good at picking up. The thing that surprised us—you have to imagine that me and Nic, we weren’t sure we were going to run the service for very long. We were just trying it out.

One of the things that surprised us was how clean the cars came back. People were actually treating these really well. So that actually encouraged us to keep going. So, by in large, most people are good. That’s what we found. Part of that comes down to who you are in your culture and how you communicate that. In the early days, Andrew, everybody knew it was just me and Nic. If they backed the car up into a pole—do you know what I mean?

Andrew: Yeah. It’s one thing to back a car up if it belongs to Advisors. It’s another thing if it belongs to my buddy, Steve. I feel closer to Steve. I want to take care of Steve. The same thing seems to have happened with you guys.

Bruce: That’s right.

Andrew: What about insurance, though?

Bruce: Can I tell you something really fun?

Andrew: Yeah.

Bruce: In terms of the comparison with Zipcar, I think one of the things that we feel very proud of is GoGet in Australia actually has a higher adoption rate than Zipcar in the United States. We have more members as a percentage in areas of Sydney and Melbourne and other parts of Australia. Even just in terms of fleet size, we are now getting on to a quarter of the size of Zipcar in fleet. So we’re actually pretty—for us, it’s a real sense of pride that we built this service in a small market, none of this external financing that you talked about with Zipcar by doing it organically. It was painful and slow. That’s how we built it.

Andrew: I feel like one of the reasons why Zipcar isn’t doing better—I don’t want to make it about them—as someone who’s used it—I’ve used lots of different car-sharing services because I’m a New Yorker and I don’t want to own a car. I only buy cars reluctantly. The lack of caring—at some point, it’s fresh and everyone’s on it and it’s such a great idea, and then the iPhone comes out and there’s an iPhone app and everyone’s excited about it and then they don’t care.

They don’t care about the kind of cars they get, they don’t care about where the cars are placed. They don’t care about the details. I found that especially—this has nothing to do with your interview—after they were bought out, for sure. The cars, they’re no longer interesting. They’re being overtaken by competitors who have less to offer, in many ways. They don’t have this level of attention that you do.

Bruce: One of the great challenges with growing the business is to stop them from corporatizing. When they corporatize, they become bland. They’re not dynamic. They’re not responsive to the consumer. That’s one of the biggest challenges with any business. As GoGet has grown, how to do we retain its culture of being a street-level business that’s in its local community?

Andrew: Is this part of your culture, this idea of the scrappiness, of the trust your customers, is this the kind of thing that you’ve documented and shared with the team?

Bruce: I don’t think we’ve done that good a job with it, to be honest. I think we were just being—I don’t think we were that conscious of it. I think we were just being ourselves. I think for a lot of the team, they would resist the scrappiness. They would go, “This is not the way to do things.”

Andrew: They don’t want that. They’re there to more professionalize the company.

Bruce: Exactly. That’s a very common dynamic. People come in with this—they call it the proper or the right way off doing things. The thing about scrappiness is it’s very hard to document or turn into a strategy, especially if you’re not very conscious of it. I think you can do it, but you have to really work at it. One of the learnings from GoGet has been the way—how do you maintain that nimbleness as you grow. That’s a big challenge.

Andrew: What did you do to hire that? I wonder if you did. As you were saying that, my mind flashed back to when I was in college learning about business plans, learning finance, my dad was starting a new store in Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn, which was not a great neighborhood at the time, but listeners are telling me it’s fantastic now.

He said, “What we’re really good at is we’re really good—me and my friends—at starting these stores fast. We kind of laugh at you guys for going to school and learning business plans because it takes you forever with all this analysis to get started.” But he said, “What we’re not good at is going beyond the scrappiness. We could find a way to get Levi’s jeans into our stores and Nike sneakers, even if Levi’s and Nike don’t want to deal with us. What we don’t know how to do is get to the point where we need to deal with them and we want to partner up with them and we want to grow.”

That’s a big challenge, to start off scrappy the way you did. He wasn’t able to transition or didn’t want to transition to this more businesslike, more professional way of doing things. I wonder if maybe this was a conscious decision on your part. You don’t want more scrappy, you want more professional. Was it?

Bruce: One of the issues about being scrappy is that bigger institutions and companies won’t deal with you because you look too—a larger company, say you wanted to partner with a larger company. They’re really looking for predictability and reliability. When they see a couple of scrappy entrepreneurs, it scares them. “What are they going to do? I don’t know what’s coming next.” So, as the service grows, there’s all these opportunities to work with, whether with the government or with larger companies to partner.

A really great example of this, Andrew, is that we have a great partnership with Ikea in Australia, where we have cars at Ikea stores and people get their furniture and they take it home. I think if Ikea had dealt with me and Nic in the early days, they would have gone, “These guys are crazy. They don’t even wear shoes.” Whereas with our staff, at least they come across as competent.

Andrew: So much of what I see of you, I think people don’t need to see the video to get a sense of how you look and what your personality is, but I’m researching you as we’re talking about all these different stores. I see this video of you from December 2010 at the NSW Transport Infrastructure Summit. You’ve got your hair groomed nicely. You’ve got a tie and a white shirt on. You’ve got your name on properly and a nametag. But it’s unlike anything else I’ve seen of you.

Bruce: Yeah. That was a disaster.

Andrew: Why was that a disaster?

Bruce: That was the worst talk I had ever given because I wasn’t being myself. I was trying to look like them, like professionals. I think they could see through it.

Andrew: It felt inauthentic.

Bruce: Yes.

Andrew: I just discovered this Vimeo video of you doing it as we were talking, and I couldn’t listen to it before the interview started. I didn’t know it existed. I’m going to send it to you in case you want to go flash to the past. Maybe that’s a nightmare, not a good memory.

Let me take a moment to talk about my second sponsor and then I want to understand a few things when we get back. I want to understand how you got insurance. This is a tough thing to ensure even today. Airbnb took forever to get insurance set up properly. How did you do it? I also want to understand how did you back away from the business? How does it continue to run when you are now focused on Dresden? And just to get to know you a little bit more because there are a couple of things you did in the past I hope we’ll have time for but we’ll see.

The second sponsor is a company that you would have loved to have hooked up with back when you were getting going. It’s called HostGator. Unlike your company in Florida, these guy shave been around forever and they will continue to be around forever. They were one of the best in the early days, HostGator and they started acquiring and acquiring until they were acquired and they’re now part of this huge company that does nothing but hosting. Actually, they’ve expanded beyond hosting. They now host email and so many things.

The reason I’m bringing that up is this is a reliable company that’s been around forever. If you were to go back and time to sign up for HostGator, you’d be a super happy customer. First of all, your data wouldn’t disappear. Anyone who’s out there who’s looking to build a business should just get a hosting company that works. Don’t look for frills, don’t look for bells, don’t look for whistles, just look for something that works and HostGator has it.

If you want to get started, they’ll take their already low prices and reduce them even further. I’m looking at their website, the one I’m about to give you in a moment and they have a plan that starts at $2.64 a month. Think about that. it comes with unmetered bandwidth. Don’t sweat any of the details. If you want to level up, I think you should listen to my voice and get what they call the baby plan. You’re going to unlimited domains. That’s so helpful. Do you guys use Zoom to talk to each other at the office? You do? I think I lost Bruce? Bruce, do you use Zoom?

Bruce: No, we don’t.

Andrew: When you want to use screen share, you probably use Slack screen share, right?

Bruce: Yeah, we don’t have an office.

Andrew: Right. That’s what I figured. You don’t do anything for video sharing with each other?

Bruce: Really, personally, I find video really inefficient. We just tend to try to catch up physically and then the rest of the time, it’s online with Slack and other things.

Andrew: I see. I had someone in my audience who I did some business with, he uses Zoom all the time and he says he got tired of giving people the special URL for Zoom. He set up a website for Zoom. If you and he were talking, he’d just give you this secret website, it would launch to the video conferencing and then you’re in. You get to do clever stuff like that for your clients when you’re that good, when you’ve got a hosting package that allows them to do it.

Alright. There’s so many different uses for your own domain. I have one just for personal invitations. If I want to invite someone to something, I put it up on a WordPress page, I send them the link. I know it’s going to work. I know I can control it. All you have to do if you want to sign up is go to HostGator.com/Mixergy.

You’ll like this, I think, Bruce—when my wife and I started dating, she heard me say something at a party and I said, “Is that a little offensive?” She goes, “No, but it’s déclassé.” So we were just starting to date. I went back home. I copied dictionary.com’s description of déclassé. I added my photo to it and I bought dictionharry.com and I put this page on it. I sent it over to her. You have unlimited domains. It doesn’t matter. What do I pay? Just for the domain? Hosting is free, essentially.

All right. HostGator.com/Mixergy, guys. Go find creative uses. It’s so good to have this kind of package in your back pocket.

All right. Insurance, what did you do, Bruce? How’d you get insurance companies to back you?

Bruce: Actually, it took us months and months and months even to get an insurance policy. We actually couldn’t get one. The only way we could do it was get a car rental policy, which was crazy expensive. Car rental is way more risky an activity.

Andrew: It is, more than share?

Bruce: Way more. You’ve got tourists and people out of town and they’re using the cars. Our people are going just for local trips. They know their city. They’re doing it during the daytime. Car rental is heavy use, country trips, all that stuff. So we actually paid a fortune for insurance initially. What we had to do was to build up a track record that took years. We had to build up a record of low claims and then people would start insuring us.

Andrew: Yeah.

Bruce: Now, it’s not a problem. But in the early days, insurance, finance, a range of things were very difficult.

Andrew: Financing was essentially you guys waiting for people to sign up and when they signed up, you’d take the money and go buy cars. You guys charged way too little compared to others, so little per hour. How you’d take all that money and buy cars whenever you could.

Bruce: One of the important things we do is we charge a kilometer fee. So, in America, they tend to not charge a kilometer fee, but just charge an hourly fee. For us, an important thing was that we don’t want people driving too much. That was part of the rationale of the program. So we charge a kilometer fee, which meant the hourly fee is a bit lower. Do you know what I mean?

Andrew: I see. I didn’t know that. I would have preferred that, frankly. Like you said, I’m just driving to Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Trader Joes is where we used to go. But we’d leave it for an hour because my wife loves Trader Joes. It feels like such a waste. It’s just $20.

Bruce: Yeah. That’s right. That’s exactly it. We saw that people would want longer time. That’s what we did. We reduced the hourly rate. Financing was hilarious. Nic basically found a car dealer with a finance company and the guy that ran the finance arm used to be a repo guy. I don’t know what you call it in the States.

Andrew: That’s it.

Bruce: He basically came around to Nic’s house, met us, looked us up and down and said, “If you don’t pay us, we’ll take all your stuff.” That was our first financing, really. He became also a great advisor to the business. We financed our first quite a few hundreds of cars that way, through that finance group.

Andrew: Through the repo man?

Bruce: He was scary.

Andrew: Do you remember when you got to your first $1 million in revenue?

Bruce: Of course.

Andrew: When?

Bruce: We were excited to get $100,000 and then $250,000. The first $1 million in revenue would have come in about three years, three and a quarter years.

Andrew: You would get to that level by what, handing out flyers, putting it out all over town? What did you do to get that many customers?

Bruce: We did everything we could. We went to lots of festivals. We literally stood on streets with flyers. We mailboxed—actually, media was really important. We did a lot of media.

Andrew: You mean getting in newspapers?

Bruce: Exactly.

Andrew: How did you do that?

Bruce: Really, one of the things that is amazing about a business like that you have a journalist who joins up the business and then they want to write a story about it. You’re just yourself. Too many media stories are concocted. If someone’s a member, they would just get in contact with us and before you know it, there would be a story. It was very organic. We were always really open to media, always really host with them and still are really.

Andrew: You did have on your website from the beginning a cellphone number. Use it just for emergencies or for the press. So you were open to them. You also were good about not just the big press, but blogs and interviewers. Do you know something called OutTheFront.com.au?

Bruce: Yeah.

Andrew: It’s not a big podcast company.

Bruce: It’s a couple of neighbors who are doing it.

Andrew: Yeah. You were on there. I’ve got to tell you, they took your photo, they made it look really nice. Do you remember it?

Bruce: That’s a really famous Australian photographer, Dean Sewell. He’s a famous news photographer. He’s a friend of theirs. He basically did the shots for them, I think, for free. So that’s really a good example of the stuff that’s in your community that you can’t help get involved with. It’s great.

Andrew: Now I’m on his website, the photographer. He does do beautiful stuff. For anyone who’s interested, it’s Oculi.com.au. I’m fascinated by good photography. Sometimes Digg.com, which is one of the sites I check on a regular basis just links to really beautiful photography and I can’t stop looking.

Bruce: Yeah.

Andrew: Sorry?

Bruce: Photography’s a problem with a car share program. Normally, it’s just a photo of a person next to a car. Everybody just thinks it’s a car ad. You’re like, “It’s actually very hard to photograph.”

Andrew: Yeah, it is. He did it right, but it took a lot of work. It’s just the photograph. He also put your name on the street, carshare only, your name on the wall, carshare only. He staged it well. All right. You didn’t end up getting funding, but you did take some money out of the business. What did you end up doing? How’d you bring investors in?

Bruce: One of the things that’s very important is me and Nic always looked—we weren’t the founders that were going to be—it wasn’t for us, the ego side that we run this company and it’s our company. We very early on were working out a way out of the business, which means that we were reducing the number of hours we were doing. We were very deliberate about it. We got to a point where we were working really hard and we have to take an investor on. It was more we got to a natural point where it was time for an investor to come on.

So we were really lucky in that we found a great partner in a private equity firm in Australia that was very focused on small to medium sized domestic business and had a model of working with the current owners and managers to grow that business. So that’s actually worked really well for us as a way of maintaining and growing the business because it becomes—it’s unhealthy if it’s all coming from a couple of people. It needs to broaden out. It’s like a tree. It needs to grow.

Andrew: Yeah. The new CEO, Tristan Sender. He’s a guy who’s had a background in car rental companies and management consulting companies. Did they bring him on board?

Bruce: We brought him on board a couple of years before. So Tristan has been on board since then.

Andrew: Okay. So you then brought in investors. You cashed out a little bit. One last question about this. How did you set up your company to be prepared for you guys to walk away, to not have to be in it all the time after being in it 24 hours a day?

Bruce: I think that it comes down to this. We never imagined that we would be in it forever. Not from a—we never had that language about exits and all that sort of stuff. I didn’t understand that. I don’t understand that. More simply you’ll work hard on something for quite a few years, you’re not going to do it for the next 30 or 40 years.

Andrew: Still, don’t you need somebody who’s going to take over all your responsibilities, someone who can handle the press really well, structures to make sure what you’ve created survives beyond you?

Bruce: I think the core thing is me and Nic never saw ourselves as being very good at anything. We’re good at starting stuff and being agile. But we were never that good at running things long term. It’s not like we had this idea of, “How are people going to replace us?” It was more, “Someone’s got to be better at this than me.” A simple example would be in the early days, I’d be going around cleaning the cars and I did a pretty bad job. Then we’ve got professional car cleaners. It happened pretty—

Andrew: It’s you doing the job, recognizing you’re not that good at it and then saying, “How do I find someone who’s a pro at this?” You doing the media relations yourself or the marketing yourself, realizing you’re not that good at it and then saying, “How do I find someone who is?”

Bruce: That’s exactly it.

Andrew: How do you find someone who is? That’s not an easy solution.

Bruce: That takes time. With the media side of things, a great example is we looked at people helping with the media side and then one day, I got this email from a gentleman, Jonathan Englert. He used to live in New York. He knew about Zipcar. He’d migrated to Sydney. He sent me a beautiful email. It was three paragraphs, beautifully written and he got the job. Done.

Andrew: You know what? This is mind-blowing because hiring is one of the toughest things. Bad hiring decisions are one of the most painful things I’ve heard about on Mixergy.

Bruce: Yes.

Andrew: But it just worked out for you is what you’re saying.

Bruce: We’ve had our share too. We’ve had our share of bad hiring decisions as well. It was difficult. It’s a hard thing to do because you are handing your baby over. It’s not easy. The big thing is you can try people out for a while and then work out if they’re going to work. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve learned is you need to develop people into the role and keep developing them. That’s a huge thing. The crazy thing about growing companies is they change. You sort of think it’s the same company, but actually it’s completely different up to three years. Three years later, it’s another different company. The skills change.

Andrew: Yeah. I imagine too as you grow beyond a certain number of employees, it’s a different company still and different structure.

Bruce: Exactly.

Andrew: Let me close out with this. I’m looking at another—you really are good at getting press. There’s another thing I’m looking at, Onya Magazine. Great photo of you. How do these online sites have such good photographers? You’re wearing your glasses, Dresden glasses. I’ve seen you now, so many different photos of your glasses, almost never using the same color, but always the same style. What’s the deal? Who says to themselves, “Warby Parker is changing design. They’re coming up with monocles, for goodness sakes. We’re going to out-do them by creating one style.”

Bruce: I think everything comes from the consumer, myself. I basically hated glasses. They’d break all the time. You’d go into a shop, you’d get so much choice. They’d be expensive. They’re fragile. They’d take ages to come. You’d have to wait for them. So there was really a dissatisfaction with how glasses worked. Living in Turkey and visiting family in India, I’d seen different ways that glasses were done. I was really lucky to team up with Jason McDermott. We just started with a blank sheet of paper, “Let’s redesign glasses.”

We basically grew a team around that simple job of redesigning glasses. So we just kept it really simple. There’s one style. There’s four sizes. It’s super strong. We put a 10-year warranty on it, no questions asked. Everything is interchangeable. You can take out a pin and change the arms. So if it breaks or you want to change the style, pop the pin back in again. You don’t need special tools for that.

Andrew: You don’t need those little screwdrivers from the supermarket?

Bruce: Yeah. We did the same thing with the lenses where they can pop in and pop out. So a person at home could do that. It doesn’t have to be a special thing. We’re almost doing the opposite to Warby Parker.

Andrew: Yeah. Almost? I can’t imagine you being more opposite.

Bruce: Yeah. We’re doing the opposite. What’s amazing for us is counterintuitively, it just seemed like such a crazy thing. We were really nervous when we opened the first shop. We opened the doors and we thought, “Are people just going to come in and laugh and go, ‘What are you doing? This is crazy? One style of glasses? How is that going to work?” Everybody in the industry goes—they have this mantra that everybody’s face is different. There is a particular pair of glasses for everybody.

Andrew: Yeah. Also, I remember when Seth Godin, the guy who wrote “The Purple Cow,” which is what I feel like your company is, it’s this remarkable thing that’s so different. I remember when he needed glasses on his blog. He said, “Glasses are going to be the face. They’re your personal brand. I have to find the right ones.” He didn’t go on in an agonizing way, but he had to figure it out. You come out and say it’s not the way—it doesn’t matter that much.

Bruce: It doesn’t matter. In fact, there’s a safety in being able to—if we’re all wearing the same glasses, it’s pretty simple. What Seth is going on is that glasses are a differentiator. They make somebody look stylish and fashionable and then they make somebody else look the opposite of that. They actually are quite a segregator for people. If you can pay $800 for a really amazing gold rim pair of glasses, fantastic. That says something about you. Is that where we’re at in 2018?

Andrew: Yeah. I told you before the interview started this kind of reminds me of jeans, Levi’s jeans, the way it was. Everyone got Levi’s jeans. You could wear it a little bit differently and customize it, but basically, we’re all wearing the same jeans.
Also, as you’re talking about, it reminds me of a company called Y Athletics, who I interviewed. He said he walked around a computer store at Apple and he didn’t have to figure out too much. There weren’t a lot of questions to ask before buying a phone or computer. I said, “Why is it when I go to a clothing store, there are all these different things to ask about? It’s too much and it doesn’t really matter that much. The quality matters.”

Bruce: Also, it adds lots of cost because the industry is continually pumping out new styles. There’s this crazy supply chain. So we’re all paying for it. You might pick a really fantastic pair of sunglasses that costs $400 and then lose them a week later. What you’ve paid for is this incredible supply chain that’s useless to you because they’re lost a week later. One of the things we never understood was the industry acts like you’re not going to lose your glasses.

Andrew: They want it.

Bruce: We lose billions of pairs a year. There are people in poor countries that have no glasses. There’s basically 2.5 billion people in the world who could do with glasses and don’t have them. Here, we have this model, this industry model that has all this cost built into it, which means people who need to read, to go to school, to drive a truck or a car can’t do it because of this cost model.

So, to me, we didn’t realize this when we started. We knew the whole model was broken. Since we’ve been going, customers have been coming in and telling us whether it’s Indonesia or different parts of the world. We feel a bit humbled—we feel a bit ignorant that we didn’t think of this sooner. But the reality is that it’s a basic necessity. It’s a thing that people need. It’s become a fashion thing and it’s really sad.

Andrew: So it’s lots of different colors, lots of different styles. I’m looking right now at wood composite glasses, same price as every other glasses, $49 to $99. What’s the difference? I can’t seem to make it go from $49 to $99. I keep trying different options and it’s not going up.

Bruce: $49 is like a regular pair of distances or reading glasses. Then basically $99 is like the thinnest lens. That’s the difference. So normally, when you go up to thin lenses, you pay a fortune. For us, it’s under $100.

Andrew: I see it now. I just switched the lenses to ultra-thin. I didn’t think to go to that. Ultrathin, 100% UV protection lenses gets me to $99. Got it. That’s the only difference. Then I can take out the glass from the glasses and pop in sunglasses in it?

Bruce: Yeah. One of the things that happens is you might just scratch a lens. But scratch a lens at the moment, you have to get the whole thing remade.

Andrew: Just pop it out, get another one and that’s it. I’m done.

Bruce: You’re on your way. It’s about convenience. It’s about glasses becoming a really—at the moment, they’re really inconvenient.

Andrew: Is this bootstrapped too?

Bruce: Really, no, it’s not. I basically funded it from the start. The manufacturing is bootstrapped. We haven’t spent a lot of money on the manufacturing side of things. To open up the retail stores, that took a bit of cash. One of the things about the manufacturing that’s been amazing is we’ve worked out that we can basically put any sort of plastics through the factory and come up with these crazy recycled frames.

So we’ve actually been using like waste collected off the beach, then we ground it up and we sell those frames. There’s a brewery down the road that has the plastic lids from the kegs. We grind them up and turn them into glasses. So we actually just won a $3 million grant from the federal government in Australia to develop a complete new industry based on waste recycling.

Andrew: $3 million?

Bruce: Yeah, $3 million.

Andrew: It’s not an investment in the company. It’s a grant. You use it to figure out ways to turn garbage into glasses.

Bruce: That’s it. We have to develop an entire industrial process and a supply chain to be able to exactly turn things like fishing nets that are found all along our coastline into fantastic glasses. The thing that’s so exciting is we found a blue fishing net. We’re actually going to take that and turn it into a real pair of glasses. It’s actually the real product.

Andrew: I see it. I’m on your Instagram account. Anyone who wants to check it out can see it, Instagram.com/DresdenOptics. You can see some of this garbage that’s being turned into glasses, like the keg caps. I didn’t even know kegs had caps. They’re kind of cool looking. You guys chop them up and turn them into glasses.

Bruce: That’s it. There’s endless sources of plastic. For us, we want to come up with an industrial system that lowers our cost so that we can lower the price of what we do and sell our glasses in developing countries. We want to start a store in India in the next year.

Andrew: You’re going to sell it. You’re not giving it away.

Bruce: This is so important. We cannot stand the charity model.

Andrew: Yeah. Tell me about that. My wife tells me about it. She helps companies with their social mission. She says going in and giving people stuff is harmful to the economy because then it obliterates the competitors who are there. If you are to give your glasses away, anyone who was selling local glasses now gets destroyed by you and everyone depends on you. That’s the problem, right?

Bruce: That’s fully it.

Andrew: What are you doing instead?

Bruce: It’s so harmful. We basically will sell our glasses basically in competition with existing people rather than having an unfair advantage of dumping free product into their market. So that’s what we’re doing. We’re doing it as a commercial proposition. The most important thing is their customer needs to have the dignity to be able to buy them, not that they’re the gift recipient of some rich person in a rich country. It is at the end of the day a piece of plastic. They’re not expensive to make. Everybody knows this.

Andrew: What about the lenses? Aren’t the lenses expenses?

Bruce: They’re so cheap.

Andrew: They are?

Bruce: The lens companies—

Andrew: What does it cost to make the pair of glasses you have?

Bruce: They’re actually going to take out a contract on me, but I’ll tell you. I have a standard [inaudible 01:07:12] or I can’t see in the distance very well. Whether in the United States or Australia or India, this lens on average is between $1 to $3.

Andrew: Okay.

Bruce: So two of them, between $2 to $6, on average. But it’s actually, probably in the States, even cheaper and that’s for a quality lens.

Andrew: What about the frames?

Bruce: The frames, like in the industry, they’re probably on average between $5 to $20 wholesale. So when you go into an optometry store—

Andrew: They’re paying $5 to $20 for it?

Bruce: That’s what they’re paying.

Andrew: Oh, wow. Then they sell it to me for $100 to $500?

Bruce: That’s right. Top dollar, they might be paying $40, at the top.

Andrew: Okay.

Bruce: What we’re trying to do with our frame is get the manufactured costs below a dollar so that we can then sell it in the poorest of the poorest market.

Andrew: I’m looking at a guy on your Instagram account. He’s basically taking what looks like shredded plastic that used to be garbage, putting it into some machinery. Is that machinery yours? It looks like it’s an office. Then it’s going to get manufactured into glasses in your office?

Bruce: No. There’s a factory where we work with injection molding.

Andrew: Where is that factory?

Bruce: It’s in Sydney.

Andrew: You own it?

Bruce: No. It’s actually the most amazing relationship. We are so lucky. We met a manufacturer called Asta Industries. They used to make parts of the car industry. It’s big news here that the car industry actually closed in Australia basically four months ago. We used to have Ford, Holden, which was owned by General Motors, and Toyota. They’ve all closed down.

This factory was facing really death because as lots of other factories are closing in Australia because of car manufacturing closing down. We were so lucky to get an introduction to them, meet them, and basically we have this new way of manufacturing which is to co-manufacture with them. So we actually manufacture our product together with them. They’ve got the factory. It’s our tooling, our staff and we do it together.

Andrew: It’s cheaper to do it there. I see right on their home page, the Dresden glasses are on their home site. It’s cheaper to do it there than in China?

Bruce: Basically, I think it is. The thing about doing it in China is it’s classic outsourced contract manufacturing, which is what all the other current optical people do. They all go to China and go, “I want 6,000 of these and 2,000 of this.” That’s not us. We actually want to make it. Making it is about putting it—our staff in our stores come to our factory and make the glasses.

They actually know how it’s made of and they can give me tips and improvements and suggestions. When a customer in a shop says, “Hey, why don’t you have an aubergine-type color?” Two days later, we crazy mad scientists are going to come out with an aubergine color and it’s in the shop. You don’t get that with outsourcing to China. Instead, it’s large orders, mass manufacturing.

Andrew: It’s like you taking calls with every customer when you were getting started in the car share business. You guys are that close to the production. All right. I don’t know whether to recommend that people go check out your website or Instagram account. I kind of like the Instagram account best. Guys, if you want to check it out—what happened? Oh, an alert came up. Google Calendar sometimes throws these alerts up. Instagram.com/DresdenOptics if you want to see how this is made, you want to see people wearing it, you want to see—is Mayor your dog?

Bruce: Yeah, Major.

Andrew: What is it?

Bruce: Major.

Andrew: All right. Thanks so much. Congratulations on Dresden and on GoGet. I also want to thank my two sponsors. If you’re looking for a hosting company that will not shut down on you the way this mysterious company in Florida did, go check out HostGator.com/Mixergy. And when you’re ready to level up your developers, go check out Toptal.com/Mixergy.

And finally, I want to do a solid to somebody who’s been a friend for a long time. He used to be the guy who did Art of Charm Podcast. He’s no longer there. He’s starting a brand new podcast on his own. It is called The Jordan Harbinger Show. If you’re looking for another podcast to listen to after this is done, go check out The Jordan Harbinger Show on whatever podcast app you have.

Please, let me know if you can even spell Jordan Harbinger. It’s actually not that tough. It seems like it’s going to be a long one. It’s not that tough, Harbinger. That’s not bad and I’m a horrible speller. If I just did it right now without looking, it can be done. Go check them out and subscribe. Thank you so much, Bruce.

Bruce: Thank you. It’s been fun.

Andrew: Right on. Bye.


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