How did a global company grow without systemizing?

I’ve been emailing back and forth with a Mixergy fan who said his revenues were over $10M.

But he told me in private how much pain he was in because the systems that ran his business weren’t working like they should have.

Mario Nawfal is the founder of Athena Group, a collection of companies that sells things like juicers and hover boards.

I want to find out how he got his start and how he built a collection of products to sell online.

Mario Nawfal

Mario Nawfal

Goglobal

Mario Nawfal is the founder of Athena Group, a collection of companies that sells things like juicers and hover boards.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I do interviews with entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses.

And a few weeks ago, I started going back and forth via email with one of our listeners here, a guy who says he’s a longtime Mixergy fan, he’s been listening for a while, told me his revenues were over $10 million and also started expressing to me in private about the pain that he was in because the systems that run his company weren’t as organized as they should be.

I looked him up and you know what I found out about him? Nothing. But I got to know him. He seemed like a good guy. I introduced him to our producer. I asked him to do an interview. The producer said, “Andrew, I can’t find anything. What do we do here? Why are we doing this interview?” I said, “I don’t know. There’s something interesting about this guy.”

So that’s what we have here, an interview with a guest who does not have much online, who I don’t know that much about, but I’ve done a little bit of research on him and I’ll continue to do it even after this interview. I’m presenting him here because I think the way that he’s built his business is really interesting.

His name is Mario Nawfal. He is the founder of Athena Group. It’s a collection of companies that sells things like juicers and hoverboards, and I want to find out how he got his start, how he built up this collection of products, how he’s selling it online, and how he’s kind of poking his competitors in the eye. He may not be public, but his products are pretty aggressive towards their competitors, or at least in the marketing, and I want to find out about that.

This interview is sponsored by two companies. The first will help you set up your next website right. It’s called HostGator. The second will help you hire your next great developer. It’s called Toptal. Mario has used Toptal, so maybe we’ll talk to him about it in the interview. Mario, welcome.

Mario: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Andrew: You know what? Why don’t we start with this juicer you guys have? What’s the name of this juicer?

Mario: At the moment, it’s Juisir. We are about to rebrand to Juilavi. I don’t know when this interview will go live.

Andrew: Okay. The thing that I’m seeing about it is that you know Juicero, right? Of course you do. Juicero is this juicer that raised tons of money, ended up having a lot of sales and then Bloomberg saw that they were selling these little pouches that you were supposed to put in the juicer and pay on a monthly basis to get to your house. Bloomberg said, “You don’t even need their really expensive juicer. You could just squeeze their stinking pouches and you end up just as much juice. So this whole thing seems like a fraud.” I don’t think Bloomberg said it was a fraud, but a lot of people started acting like it was a fraud. So you guys came out and what did you say as the owner of a juice brand?

Mario: So I’m not the owner of Juisir. We’ve teamed up with them, and we’re doing all the marketing and distribution for them and everything else. We found the opportunity. We launch Juisir even before Bloomberg found that out. We’ve taken advantage of that. We’ve actually made a video where we made fun of the fact that you can squeeze juice out of their juicer. I think it’s on our YouTube channel. We’ll probably be using that weakness in our marketing down the track.

Andrew: But even before then, you said anyone who bought their other juicer can actually get a discount from you guys, right?

Mario: Yeah, of course. I’ve done that many times with our products where we focus on a competitor and will give a coupon code. Sometimes the coupon code is the name of the competitor. We give a discount. We advertise through Google and Facebook.

Andrew: I’m glad that you explained that you didn’t own it. I’m trying to find the words to say that you own some part of this relationship between the product and the customer. How would I describe it? How would you describe where you stand in the market?

Mario: Under our GoGlobal business, we find products that are very unique, have got unique selling points and we team up with them. We don’t offer consulting. We don’t want to make short-term money. We team up through exclusive distribution perpetually, so forever, where we own the trademarks, etc. or we go through a joint venture. With Juisir, we’re exclusive distributors at the moment, perpetual distribution.

Andrew: For the rest of the product’s existence—

Mario: For this product and future products.

Andrew: Sorry?

Mario: For this product and we’ve got first right of refusal for future products as well.

Andrew: And then what do they get out of that?

Mario: They get our scale. We’ve got offices around the world, warehouses, customer service staff, marketing channels. We’ve got the brand as well. We allow them to leverage off our platforms.

Andrew: But then they’re not really running a business anymore, right? What’s their part in all this?

Mario: They help us on marketing, and they focus on product development as well. So without the right product, nothing will work. You could say they have the most difficult job at the moment—

Andrew: Creating the product.

Mario: Exactly. It’s a lot harder than anyone would think. That’s why you get delays with Kickstarter projects.

Andrew: The success or failure of the product now or the business depends on you guys. You basically own the business without having to pay to own the business.

Mario: You could say that. We offer our services, our expertise to become part owners. We are invested in the business.

Andrew: Okay. How much revenue is Juisir doing so far?

Mario: We’re about to launch the business. So they’ve raised $700,000 through crowdfunding, and we’ve got purchase orders from retailers around the world, but we’re waiting for product development to be done and manufacturing is starting next month.

Andrew: Were you with them before the crowdfunding campaign?

Mario: We signed the deal two days before they went on Kickstarter. I met them at CES in Vegas. We had dinner the next day, finalized the MOU. Within that week, I was still in Vegas and we finalized the agreement and signed it and they went on Kickstarter.

Andrew: Okay. And that’s the way that you like to operate. You want to find something that’s unique, something that has a patent and then start selling it for the creator.

Mario: Initially we were developing our own products, higher risk and you get a higher margin. But then I thought we’ve got all the structure there. Instead of going through all the hard work of coming up with an incredible idea and take the risk of getting invested VC money like Juisir did, they’ve got investors to develop the product, which could fail or someone else could make it before you, we would wait for someone else to do this, go through proof of concept. With Juisir, it was that Kickstarter campaign, and then we team up with them and help them scale. We’re the next stage after they get proof of concept done.

Andrew: So then what do you do? What’s your part? How do you do your part? What kind of marketing do you do?

Mario: We’ve got basic Google, Facebook and we’ve got influencer marketing. So we have our own brand, Froothie, which sells blenders and juicers already for three, four years. We leverage off the influencers we have around the world with Froothie and Optimum, our brands.

Andrew: How do I see it? Here’s what I did do. I did “clean juicer.” The whole idea behind Juisir is that it’s a juicer that you don’t have to clean. You don’t have to buy the pouches, which I misunderstood. They actually give you a plastic bag you put inside the juicer. Your fruits and vegetables go inside the plastic bag. The juicer squeezes the bag with the fruits and vegetables in it. The juice comes out in the cup. You take the plastic bag with all the waste and you toss the in the garbage and you don’t have to clean the juicer. That’s the way they operate, right?

Mario: Exactly.

Andrew: I went to Google and I did a search for “clean juicer” because I feel like that’s their selling point. I do see that their Kickstarter campaign is up high. But what else are you doing I’m not seeing here? If you guys are good with Google, why am I not seeing ads for it? Why am I not seeing more links, more videos on YouTube come up?

Mario: We’ve got a lot of YouTube videos, but the product development will finish next week. Production will start next month. It’s a bit too early to start marketing now. We’ve got purchase orders from retailers we’ve done behind the scenes. We have a deal with Amazon as well, where they will support the product. As soon as we’re closer to launch, we’ll start accepting pre-orders and promoting it further. We’re also going through a rebranding as well.

Andrew: Why rebrand? I’m seeing a lot of links if I do a search for Juisir.

Mario: Yeah, Juisir, J-U-I-S-I-R sounds too similar to juicer. So someone else could also come up with a name Juicir with a C instead of S, similar product, and we can’t stop them from doing that because it’s too similar to juicer.

Andrew: I see. It’s not defensible as a name. That makes sense. Is there another product I can type into Google and see some of your marketing for?

Mario: We’re just going into the U.S. now. We’re very big in Australia and Europe. If you search — we’ve just stopped Google advertising because we’re going in Amazon now. But if you look at Froothie, that’s our main business. You’ll see the blenders and juicers there.

Andrew: What I want to see is how—

Mario: How we market.

Andrew: I want to get the sense of how influencers talk about your products.

Mario: Of course. If you look at Optimum 9400, for example, reviews, you’ll see a lot of influencer reviews and videos for the product. They’re mainly US-based and Australian based.

Andrew: I see. This is one of your blenders. What you’re doing is you’re showing me if I search for it, I can see people review it, like I see SmarterFitter.com is reviewing your blender. I could see ChocolateAndZucchini.com has got a review. I see some people doing YouTube videos. That’s because your team helped promote it. Is that right?

Mario: Very actively. We send out a lot of free product, and we’ve actually taken that up a notch at the moment after what we saw Instant Pot, the guys that sold a quarter of a million pressure cookers on Amazon, they’re very cheap, but they did that through influencer marketing, sending hundreds and hundreds of machines out for free. We’ve taken that up as well.

Andrew: And your team does that? Your team finds the influencers, sends them the blenders, helps them talk about it and then keeps track of who’s talking about it.

Mario: Exactly, as simple as that. But we do that on a very large scale around the world in different languages as well.

Andrew: I see. Okay. I’m looking over your shoulder though, and it looks like you’re at home. It doesn’t look like you’re in an operation of people who are working behind you to get influencers to promote the products.

Mario: Most of the company, they work from home. So about 60% to 70% of staff, we have about 50 to 60 employees, I think, now, they work from home. They’re contractors or full-time workers around the world, because we can’t have offices across Europe, for example. We have a head office in Australia. I travel all the time, so I’m currently in Slovenia working. I’ve got a standup desk near the kitchen. That’s the kitchen behind me.

Andrew: I see. So you’re kind of renting a place temporarily.

Mario: Exactly. I travel all the time.

Andrew: Why do you travel so much?

Mario: Why not? I have to enjoy life working 24/7, and traveling is one way to do that. Plus I get the chance to meet different people. I was in the U.S. earlier this year meeting influencers, partners. We are developing a lot of partnerships at the moment to scale.

Andrew: I’m listening to your accent. Where are you from, originally?

Mario: I’ve lived in Australia most of my life. I was born in Lebanon in a French school. I’m not sure if you sense a bit of French in there. Then I moved from Lebanon to Australia at a very young age.

Andrew: What was it like being in Australia not knowing how to speak the language when you first arrived?

Mario: I don’t remember a lot of it, but it was very tough. I remember that.

Andrew: What was tough about it?

Mario: Assimilating, doing business. In Lebanon, I was entrepreneurial from a young age. I would be selling cassette tapes on the street, for example.

Andrew: Like with music on it.

Mario: Exactly.

Andrew: Creating mix tapes and selling them.

Mario: I had a big white bag full of cassette tapes. Everywhere my family went, they’re religious and would go to church and I would take the tapes to church until they told me, “You can’t bring that in.” I would sit outside the church trying to sell it to people.

Andrew: What’s the Cadbury business you had growing up?

Mario: Early on in high school, I would go door to door again. Everything I did before Froothie was door to door sales. That’s how I started. I would sell chocolates door to door, as simple as that. I would print out a map from Google Maps, highlight the streets I would cover, selling Cadbury chocolates.

Andrew: How old were you at the time?

Mario: That would be the second year of high school, I think.

Andrew: This was in Australia?

Mario: Yes. I moved to Australia at the end of primary school.

Andrew: What brought you to Australia?

Mario: Lebanon. There’s no opportunity there. So Australia was the logical choice. My entire family was already there. My uncle was in Europe. My entire family is either in Europe or Australia. No one is left in Lebanon on my mother’s side.

Andrew: One of the early businesses that you had involved selling smoothie packs to cafes. You’d hire university students. Where was that?

Mario: In Australia, again. That was at university, the first real business. That’s Froothie. That’s how it started. I would go door to door to cafes, offer them pre-packed, frozen packs of yogurt as well as fruits and vegetables to make smoothies, an easy way to make smoothies. It is impossible to make money with cafes. For them to pay you on time is a nightmare. But that led me to blenders and I found an opportunity there.

Andrew: Why is it so hard for them to pay you?

Mario: I haven’t asked them. I think they’re a bit traditional and they’re very careful with their money. They operate on tight margins. I respect that.

Andrew: Okay. Then you went online and you started selling. Was it eBay first?

Mario: I started with eBay. I had never done anything online, so knowledge was zero. I started with eBay selling the blenders. As soon as I got that notification on my phone someone purchased, I realized I really should learn about ecommerce.

Andrew: What was your eBay account if I wanted to look that up?

Mario: Good question. It’s, I think, Blenders Guys, I think. I don’t think we even sell on eBay anymore.

Andrew: Blender Guys?

Mario: Blender Guys would be the one. I can go off screen, if you want.

Andrew: Blender Guys actually brings up this magazine called Blender with the family guy on the cover of it.

Mario: That’s in Australia, though, eBay in Australia.

Andrew: I see. Okay. You were starting to actually get some sales from that. People were starting to buy from you. How did the university students come in to help you grow?

Mario: That’s before eBay and everything. I would sell water filters and different things door to door. It was purely commission based. I had a team of 10 people. I could say I’ve got great business, but I could barely pay the bills. They only made commission. I would convince them through — you have to get their energy. The salesman pitch, that’s what I used to do before.

Andrew: I can’t picture you doing that. You’ve got a really smooth voice. I feel like I would trust you. You seem to me like someone who can handle the finances of millionaires and billionaires with that voice and that easy, calm sensibility. You don’t seem like someone who could fire up college students and get them to believe they can make billions overnight.

Mario: I was speaking to my brother just before this call about how I lost my patience over the last few years. I’m not even close to being patient. I can be an asshole at times when I find mistakes. I’m very aggressive, and my mother is a salesperson. My whole family is sales. I was never shy. I come from a sales background. It takes an effort to be smooth and calm and speak slowly. I’m actually very upbeat.

Andrew: Otherwise you say, “Hey, come on, guys, we have to sell all the things. If you’re not moving, you’re pussies.” Would you call them pussies?

Mario: No. I would never use those words, but I would be very aggressive, taking them door to door, giving them that push. To this day, that’s how I talk to staff, to my team members, a lot of energy, very loud and very driven.

Andrew: I see. Driven by what? What are you trying to accomplish?

Mario: I live day by day. I do have a certain target — I don’t disclose the number — I want to reach financially. My goal is to reach — I’m not sure if you lost internet connection, I got a notification.

Andrew: I can see you.

Mario: My goal is just to get that freedom that I have now, to have that peace of mind that the business is there to stay or the businesses are there to stay. I’m driven by competitors as well.

Andrew: Yeah. I can see that. Why blenders? Why would someone who’s so driven get into blenders and not any other number of things?

Mario: I did banking and finance at university, to complicate it further for you. Why blenders? As a salesperson, you learn to sell what sells, follow the money, as you hear in movies. Blenders were selling. Cafes needed a blender that was good quality at a logical price. I started. I tested it. When I had people ordering, I would double down and focus on that.

Andrew: I see. It just kind of happened. You started out by selling stuff to cafes, stuff that didn’t work. Then they did like the blenders. The blenders started to sell to café owners, is that right? Then from there, you started selling it online. I see. The next step, you told me before we started, “Why am I selling other people’s blenders? How about we make our own blenders and we’ll increase our margins, have more control over the product,” right?

Mario: The equity was the brand. So Froothie as a website selling products, eventually Amazon will eat us up in Australia, as they did everywhere else, and they already did that in other European countries. So I knew that Optimum is the equity. So, without Optimum, Froothie will not last.

Andrew: Froothie was the website that you were using to sell your blenders, but you said, “Why am I selling blenders that aren’t really mine? They are other people’s blenders. I’m going to create my own brand.” Optimum was the brand. It happened fairly quickly. You started selling your own brand, your own product. Who manufactured it for you?

Mario: We found factories. I personally did that in the early days and learned the hard way how difficult it could be. The first hire was an electrical engineer. From day one, it was purely focusing on product. Anyone in ecommerce, if you don’t have the right product, you don’t have a long-term business. I realized that from day one, and that’s why we’re still here and competitors are out of business.

Andrew: All right. Let me take a moment to talk about my sponsor and then we’ll come back and talk about how you created the product, how you started selling it and then the other businesses you got into including things like hoverboards. The sponsor is a company called Toptal. You heard me talk about Toptal. You signed up. Was it you directly? Who signed up for Toptal at your company?

Mario: I sent it through to one of my colleagues. Rebecca from HR was in contact with you. She worked with them. She was very pleased. She worked with other competitors before. I mentioned them to you earlier.

Andrew: You can mention them in this ad.

Mario: Yeah, Upwork, oDesk, we used them. They’re good for cheap contractors, which we still use. For finding a developer for Magento, that was the first hire with Toptal, one of many to come. It was—

Andrew: Why that? Why not put some ads up or go for cheaper developers, even if you have to hire two or three? What was it about Toptal that drew you and got you to send it over to Rebecca, your HR person?

Mario: The fact that they say no to some of your own is enough for me to realize they have quality hires there.

Andrew: Yeah. You know what? One of the big reasons they say no is there’s nobody to actually work with a great developer. A really good developer doesn’t just want to work with a jerky entrepreneur who has nothing but an idea. They want somebody they can get useful feedback from, get useful direction and who can actually evaluate the product. How big is your development team?

Mario: Developers, we have about three people now, but we might just focus more—

Andrew: Three people that you have full-time on staff?

Mario: In house, yes.

Andrew: And then Toptal’s people would just work with your developers. Gotcha. If anyone out there is listening and they are looking for the best of the best, Toptal prides itself on excluding 97% of developers who want to work in their network. They work to get just the top three percent and they test them and they check them out and all that. Then the top three are in their network, so if you’re looking to hire, they will talk to you first and if it’s the right fit, they’ll match you with the right developer within their network.

There’s a special URL they created for us. The guys behind Toptal have been longtime Mixergy listeners and supporters. They created a special URL with a special offer just for us. Mixergy listeners will get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when they pay for their first 80 hours in addition to the no risk trial period of up to two weeks. All you have to do is go to Toptal.com/Mixergy, top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, Toptal.com/Mixergy to get that offer.

All right. So then let’s talk a little bit about manufacturing. How did you get the first product made?

Mario: That was a failure. So I’m happy to go through that. It was finding the factory that supplied the — initially, we started drop shipping from an Australian wholesaler, and then we find the factory that has the same product, got a very small shipment, no experience in electrical engineering. The product was definitely subpar.

The next step was getting an electrical engineer and finding the right supplier, testing products. We go through 10 samples a week at the moment. In the early days, one thing I can say is when you’re talking to a factory, ask them about who their clients are and then look at the reviews for their clients’ products. Do they have good reviews? Do they have a good reputation?

Andrew: I see. So you know I like to go to the Internet Archive. If I wanted to see this website you created, was it Froothie.com?

Mario: Froothie.com.au.

Andrew: I’m going to go to that. And then what year was it that you first started selling your own blenders on there, 2012?

Mario: Yeah, I’d say so, four years ago. It didn’t even have a shop now option. I had no knowledge in creating websites and website development.

Andrew: I see now. I’m looking at this first site. You were selling still to cafes. The offer is we will provide you with a fresh, simple, and easy way to sell smoothies. Got it. You’re telling them how to do it, and you have this blender on the left, the Optimum 9200, I guess, is how you say it. It was $791. Now it’s $591. Can I buy it? Let’s see what happens if I click here. Wait, it takes me to Blender.html. And the URL is broken in there because you guys didn’t structure your URLs right. Okay. What I can do is click to get a free demonstration. That’s what you were aiming for.

Mario: Nothing was right back then. That’s how I knew there was potential there. We had a very primitive website, no shop now option and eBay. When I could make money with such a basic website, I knew that if I improved that and better marketing, there’s potential to scale.

Andrew: How did you make money with this basic website? How would someone even find it?

Mario: Google AdWords. I started advertising on Google. From day one, I was very aggressive and trying to think of different ways to use basic tools to stand out. Website Google, I would put “don’t buy competitor name” before they trademarked it. I did that even after getting legal letters from competitors.

Andrew: So if would search for a competitor’s name — I’m trying to think what’s that major blender that Olivia keeps asking me to get.

Mario: Our main competitor globally, we’re number two after Vitamix.

Andrew: Vitamix. Right. That’s the one she keeps saying we should be getting because she thinks we should be blending more and juicing more at home. So if I were to search for Vitamix back in 2012, you would say, “Don’t buy Vitamix,” and then link over to your site.

Mario: Exactly, as simple as that.

Andrew: That’s not a hard thing to get people not to buy because, frankly, Vitamix is really expensive. It’s an expensive product, and I’m always so skeptical that it actually will be worth the extra cost.

Mario: Honestly, it is. We’re not that much cheaper anymore. It does cost a lot to make the right product. I was surprised as well as we grew.

Andrew: You’re saying they are pretty good.

Mario: I’ve said this from day one. I would say don’t buy Vitamix. When you click there, we would never say they’re a bad product. We’d say they’re a good product. In Australia, they would sell for $800 Australian. So approximately back then it was $600 to $700 US. So it was more expensive than the US and that gave us an edge.

Andrew: When we talked before this interview, we were trying to talk about which of your businesses to get into. We kind of went through them and you said, “Well, somewhere in between, there was this event business. We probably don’t want to talk about that because it’s not that interesting.” I’ll bring it up a little bit. It’s interesting that right between selling blenders and selling mobility products, these two-wheel devices I can ride around the city in, right between those businesses you had an event business. What’s the point of that? How’d you get into it?

Mario: So that was before the personal mobility products. That was a few years ago. It made sense to me. We did a lot of influencer marketing for blenders and juicers in the health and wellbeing industry. An event would allow us to connect with all those influencers. I didn’t care to make money from those events. It was mainly to get those connections and get our brand out there. We did become the biggest health and wellbeing event in Australia, but scaling an event is just a headache. It wasn’t worth it.
Andrew: What was the name of the event?

Mario: TheRealFoodRevolution.com.au, so The Real Food Revolution. We did okay. We were the biggest in Australia.

Andrew: But you didn’t enjoy any part of that, huh?

Mario: I wasn’t too involved. It was the influencers leading it and our marketing team. It was good for the first two years, but afterwards, we’re a global company, we’re selling our products on retailers, on Amazon. We have all these new projects launching. Events wasn’t a priority anymore. I’d rather focus on the 20% that gets the 80% of return.

Andrew: I see. This seems like an interesting event. I’m not even into health food, but I like what you’ve got here. I can see why people would want to come to it. There’s something about blender demonstrations too that really captivates me. Are you like that too?

Mario: Personally, I was never into blenders. Our competitor, Vitamix, they did that a lot, and we started doing it as well. It works well.

Andrew: I go to Whole Foods and I see this guy using a blender. I go, “Why am I going to watch this?” And I go, “You know you’re going to watch it.” He’ll blend, which is kind of typical, but he’ll say, “If you hold on to the blender button for a long period of time, you can turn this thing I blended up in into hot soup because it blends so much,” and then he makes hot soup and gives it out to people and he puts a little tortilla into it. That’s a fun little thing to watch. But you’re not into that. As a salesperson, you don’t enjoy watching that kind of sales performance. It’s just too small?

Mario: You can’t scale it. We tried it a bit in Australia. It worked okay. It’s not something you can scale. I’d rather focus on influencer marketing where one video could get you millions of views.

Andrew: I see. What’s a good video that’s done especially well for you, one you’re especially proud of?

Mario: If you go on our homepage, I think there are a few there that got a lot of exposure.

Andrew: OptimumAppliances.com.

Mario: Demo videos work best along with comparison videos, so direct comparisons to competitors. We are going to do more of that for our different businesses.

Andrew: You’re not crazy for dehydrators, for these 20 in 1 multicookers? That’s not your thing?

Mario: They sell incredibly well. That allowed us to scale. We have another website selling air fryers, multicookers, sous vide. We don’t sell a kettle. We sell something that’s on a USB.

Andrew: I’m seeing a lack of passion for the products. Frankly, I could see my wife watching this going, “This is really good. You can make kale chips.” She’d be excited. You don’t seem nearly as excited as she would be, and this is your business. What do you say to someone who will say you have to be — someone like Gary Vaynerchuk says you have to be excited about what you’re doing. It has to be a product you’re excited about.

Mario: I don’t think you have to. As a salesperson coming from a sales background, I wasn’t too excited about the product. I was excited about building something, having a team there, waking up in the morning, speaking to the team, developing strategies. That was my passion. Developing the right product, I knew it was core. I have the best engineers working for the company, but it’s not something I do. My strength, my passion is in HX, for example, personal mobility. That’s why I’m excited about that. It is in partnering, developing those relationships. That’s where GoGlobal comes in, teaming up with Juisir, teaming up with other businesses.

Andrew: What about hiring? Is that something you get excited about?

Mario: That was one of my mistakes when I started. I did not hire the right people. I was lucky to get the right engineers. Other than that, I struggled.

Andrew: How’d you find the right engineers?

Mario: Luck. I interviewed people, and I had the assumption that anything I can do, anyone else can do even better. That’s not the right assumption to have.

Andrew: Where did you go to find engineers who could manufacturer a bigger blender?

Mario: In Australia, it was purely putting an ad on I think it was called Seek.com.au, putting an ad for an engineer.

Andrew: Okay. Let’s talk about some of the seeds of the failure or the challenge — I don’t even know that I would call it a failure or a challenge, the seeds of the problems that you were texting or emailing me about. You said that hiring was an issue. How did you hire that if you could go back and shake yourself and say, “Don’t do it this way,” you’d go back and do that? What were some of the mistakes?

Mario: Two things. Number one is spending the time to interview and test every applicant, which many businesses do. I did not do that. Having too much trust. I’d say three things. That’s number one. Number two is to get the right people, you have to give them skin in the game. So I was obsessed with owning everything, 100% owner of every single business, even when we scaled.

Now, we actually give a percentage of revenue or profits or even equity in some countries. We just did that in one country. We can get the right people, the strong people, having the right people in place. We started doing that recently. The third one is having basic systems like a CRM. Those three things I did not do, and this is my focus now.

Andrew: You’re saying you don’t even have a CRM right now.

Mario: Don’t even have a CRM as a global company.

Andrew: What do we consider a CRM for you? You’re talking about something like Salesforce that helps manage individual relationships with people or something like Infusionsoft or Constant Contact, not Constant Contact, but something to manage all your email list.

Mario: My team is looking at Zendesk for now. So similar to Salesforce, but not as complicated or expensive.

Andrew: Zendesk, that’s a CRM?

Mario: As far as I know, that’s what they were recommended to me when I said we need some sort of CRM to manage our relationship with our consumers.

Andrew: I see. Okay. But we’re not then looking at like email. What was your goal with this? What did you wish you’d have done with your CRM?

Mario: Increasing efficiency and systemizing thing. We have a philosophy now of systemize or make the systems more efficient and then scale. So having the right systems in place when it works in one country, I scale it to 40 countries and then making sure they’re efficient.

Andrew: What’s an example of a bad system? Frankly, I’m looking at your sites, and it looks like you are in a lot of different countries. Some of them I can’t even pronounce. I just don’t understand how you’d be able to manage all those different businesses without systems.

Mario: We have systems, but they’re primitive. They’re based on certain people in the company that know how to manage all these different people. If that person leaves, I’m thinking of a specific person that’s managing a few European countries, if that person leaves, I know I’m in trouble.

Andrew: I see. It’s not a system. It’s a person who’s just got his hands on everything, and at some point that person will either break or leave.

Mario: Exactly. They use Google Sheets. We have those different manuals and wikis within the company, but it’s not efficient, especially when I listen to your interviews and you’ve got all these different tools that I would love to use. That’s what we’re doing now.

Andrew: I see. Okay. So, after the event business, you got into HX. What’s HX and what got you into it?

Mario: Something I’m passionate about. It’s a long-term play, and that’s personal mobility. So hoverboards, I don’t even care for hoverboards. It’s more electric scooters. We’ve got the HX Wheel, which is our first product that we teamed up with.

Andrew: The HX Wheel, it looks like a skateboard, but it has one big fat wheel in the middle of it and you stand with one foot in front of the wheel, one foot behind and you balance and the wheel goes off on its own, you don’t have to kick or anything.

Mario: Exactly.

Andrew: What gets you excited about this business? Are you feeling like in the future everyone is going to want one of these types of devices?

Mario: I see this to be the kind of mini-Teslas. That’s what we use internally. Personal mobility is something that in five, ten years’ time, I see it working on a mass scale. It makes sense to me. It makes sense that it’s good to walk. I’ll walk all the time to exercise. But if you’re in a hurry, it’s nice to have an electric scooter, go to the train, fold it and then go to work.

Andrew: I see. They are getting cheaper and easier to use. I’ve got a friend that works at Google. He comes over to my house and he brings this wheel, nothing but a wheel. I said, “Why do you have this wheel?” He said, “Well, there is the Google bus that everyone knows that takes me to the office, but I have to get to the Google bus and in the morning, I don’t want to rush to the bus. I’m like seven blocks away. What am I going to do, take an Uber, run to it? I stand on this wheel and this wheel takes me to the bus.”

He goes, “Once you get off the bus, everyone thinks you’re in Google and you’re fine, but it’s a giant campus. I have to get to my desk. What am I going to do, run to the desk or walk and waste my time?” He stands up on the wheel and he goes over. When he puts it that way, it kind of makes sense.

Mario: You have other companies like Ford and I think Hyundai, they’re developing their own product similar to what they’re doing. They see the potential there. It is a long-term play, so I don’t see that happening for a few years.

Andrew: You’re just imagining in the future, people are going to need this, kind of like my friend Rich needs to go from his house to transportation from the bus to the office. That’s the thing you’re seeing. Are you passionate about it in the sense that you like to get on any of these things?

Mario: I work on hoverboards all the time. I don’t have one here in this apartment because I’m traveling, but whenever I can, I’ve got one in head office. Anywhere there’s space, within the apartment, outside, I would be on a hoverboard on serious business calls. It’s something I enjoy as well.

Andrew: I went to Justin Kan, the former partner at Y Combinator, to his house and he’s got this hoverboard. I get on it because he wants me to get on the hoverboard and experience it. It’s a bit of a challenge, but once you get it, it’s freaking fun.

Mario: It works. People see it as a fad, but it actually makes sense. You can move from point A to point B very efficiently. Maybe a hoverboard is not the best product for this, but it does make sense. You don’t have to always use Uber or drive or use a bicycle. There’s another option as well.

Andrew: What I’m wondering is why do you even need to partner with them? Why can’t you just say, “Hey, you know what? This,” what is it called, the HX Wheel Surf, the product that you rebranded the HX Wheel Surf, why do you need to partner? Why can’t you just go to a Chinese manufacturer and say, “Here’s what I like to do. The patents are this. Let’s find a way around the patents and create something for me like that?”

Mario: Risk and cost. It costs a lot of money. The person we’ve partnered with for Juisir and the HX Wheel and others, they’ve paid millions to get to where they are now. They have investors. Patents are strong. Getting around them is not easy at all, almost impossible. It takes a long time. So the risk is something I’m trying to avoid. We’ve developed our own product all this time using the lean strategy. So when I develop a product, I test it on the website first, see if there are preorders. I still do that.

But if I want to develop a product that’s completely new, instead of spending those millions getting VC funding or using my own money to develop a product, why not find one that’s gone through proof of concept, getting those patents, selling a certain market that I think they sell in Korea and Japan successfully now, and then offer them the option to scale in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. What I’ve found as well, Andrew, is when you have the right product, getting into retail, getting Amazon to come to you becomes a lot easier. Becoming product focused, even though I’m not an electrical engineer, there’s incredible value in there.

Andrew: All right. I’m going to do my second sponsorship message and then I want to come back and find out when you create new products, what is your lean startup approach to it. I just wrote a note to myself so I don’t forget.

My second sponsor is a company called HostGator. It hosts websites. Let me ask you this, Mario. If you had to start all over again, brand new, everything is taken away from you except for your knowledge and a HostGator hosting package, what business would you start? What website would you launch?

Mario: I would launch GoGlobal. So I would use HostGator and Acuity Scheduling as well.

Andrew: I love them.

Mario: What we do is we partner with those companies. We organize a meeting. We convince them of our capabilities, but I’d start with one country on a smaller scale.

Andrew: You’re saying you’d create a website that makes you look professional so when you’re calling on people, there’s something to point them to and then you call up people who have interesting products and say, “Can I represent you? Can I sell this product?” What you would do then is sell using the same method you have right now, which is find influencers to give the product too, am I right? I see you nodding, but also I see a little hesitation. What am I missing here?

Mario: You’re very observant. We would do that with Chinese factories. We’re actually doing this. We’ve launched an office in Shanghai and launched GoGlobal China. We’d go to a factory and say, “You’ve got a great product. Why give it to distributors? We can get you directly into stores, directly on Amazon and make you a website and you can sell directly to consumer, factory to consumer.”

Andrew: So you’d say to the factory, “I’m not going to buy your product. I’m going to help you sell your product to the U.S. and Switzerland and all these other countries you work with.”

Mario: And build your brand. We allow them to build their equity instead of having to depend on OEM, someone else’s brand.

Andrew: And then they would pay you what based on results?

Mario: At the moment, we’ll say we’ll charge a fee, but you have to agree that within a few months, you have to agree to partner with us. That’s where our equity is.

Andrew: So first you help them sell, but then they have to agree to partner with you where you basically take on all the stuff.

Mario: Get perpetual exclusivity or we get equity in the business if it goes through proof of concept, if it actually works. If I use HostGator, that’s what I would start on a smaller scale.

Andrew: Yeah. We just started a new site. As you know, I’m excited about chat bots these days. I said I need a new site so people can understand what we’re offering and what we’re excited about and what they could buy and what they could do with this. I said I want us to have the best hosting package we can. I went to HostGator. HostGator has an inexpensive plan that if I was just starting out and I didn’t know what I was doing or looking to experiment, I would go sign up for it. It’s $3.48 a month, I think, is what it comes down to, and I would start there.

But because I knew we were going to get a lot of traffic, I knew a lot of people would be coming to it, I started out with HostGator with their simple plan, but I got on the phone with them quickly and said, “What’s the best plan? What’s the one that’s going to give us the most durability, the most speed and so on?” So they gave me one. It was actually pretty inexpensive. We signed up, and they’ve taken a beating, our site has. The site holds up and does really well.

So if you want to get started, whether it’s with a simple plan like their Hatchling plan, which is $3.48 a month if you use this special URL I gave you, or any of their other packages, including WordPress managed hosting, they have tons of them. Go check them out at HostGator.com/Mixergy. You’ll see they’re going to give Mixergy people 50% off their basic packages.

Also, once you upgrade or stay in their network, you’ll always be known as someone I sent over, so I think that companies are really good about taking care of people who I send over because they frankly know I have a big mouth and I get to complain whenever I’m not happy about the way someone treated one of my listeners. Go check them out, HostGator.com/Mixergy. As always, keep letting me and the team know when you have a good or negative experience with any of our sponsors.

Mario, let’s go back to the products you created yourself. What’s an example of a product you created?

Mario: Every single product on Froothie or Prestige Home Appliances we created.

Andrew: So what’s your lean process for creating a product?

Mario: The first step is to get a concept, developing a landing page, find a factory, but do not finalize a product, just start working on it in the background. Then we put the product on the website. We run a campaign not worrying about profiting, just to test if you get any sales at a certain price point that makes sense. We try different marketing strategies for a few days and see if we get pre-orders at a heavy discount. If that works, then we scale that product.

Andrew: If it doesn’t work, do you not manufacture it?

Mario: Not at all. We drop it. We say to the customers, “This product we will not be launching.” There won’t be too many customers. It will only be for a few days. We’ll say to them, “Look, this product will not work,” not will not work, “We will not be bringing it in. There are delays, issues,” and we don’t bring it in. However, so far we’ve had a pretty high success rate, I think almost every single one we’ve launched.

Andrew: Wow. Eric Ries would be so happy to hear about that. He’s always looking for people who use the Lean Startup methodology to do something other than software sites. So if you’re ever interested in speaking at one of his events, let me know. I think what you just told me right there would be an interesting story to share with him, especially if you have screenshots of how you did it.

Mario: I could probably find them. The funny thing is I did all of this before even hearing about Eric and the Lean Startup. When I read his book, I’ve sent it to everyone within the company. It makes complete sense. It just works. It’s very efficient and low risk, high risk, my apologies.

Andrew: Very efficient, low risk.

Mario: Low risk because less likely the product will sit in the warehouse and you can’t sell it. High risk because it’s — actually, if you do it right, there is no high risk, it is low risk. It’s tough when you’re selling a product on pre-order without having it in stock, without having it there, touching it, feeling it, making sure it will be—

Andrew: Have you ever had a screw-up with that?

Mario: With the lean strategy launching a product too quickly? In the early days, yes. Not anymore.

Andrew: Give me an example of one of those products you ended up having trouble with?

Mario: When I launched my first blender, the Optimum B7000, I can’t remember, in the early days, it was 100% fault rate and people waited three months for the shipment.

Andrew: 100% what?

Mario: Fault rate, all of them were faulty.

Andrew: All of them broke?

Mario: Yeah. I know the importance of not having negative reviews because that can kill your business. So, being able to get through those, I think it was 100 pre-orders, with a product I was highly anticipating, everyone was and for it to fail wasn’t easy.

Andrew: I see. How do you recover from that?

Mario: 20-hour workdays, calling every single customer and apologizing.

Andrew: Do you go after people and say, “Sorry, I’m going to give you a replacement?”

Mario: A replacement, a refund or a replacement or an upgrade, so immediately I went back to another factory and said, “This is a problem. I know your product costs more.” That was in the early, early days before I had the electrical engineer, etc. I would offer the customers an upgrade or a refund, of course.

Andrew: I’m on your site. I can’t tell what some of these flags are. Each country you’re in seems to have its own homepage, its own version of Froothie.

Mario: And someone working there as well. We have customer service staff in all those countries.

Andrew: What’s Magyarország? What’s that? Let me see if I can figure out what country that is. That’s Hungary. I see.

Mario: Of course. It’s in the local language on Froothie International.

Andrew: Got it. That’s why the top level domain is .hu. Okay. So then you seem to have had this process for creating these businesses. Was the fitness business the next one that you launched, FitnessSX.uk?

Mario: FitnessX. This is more of — you could look at it as a money making business. It sells a cool product that will sell well. It works. It’s not a fad. But it’s not a brand like Optimum or HX. I know that will work. I think we might be going on TV with a product from there You will get a lot of revenue from it. In five years’ time, I’m not sure whether it will still be there. I don’t focus too much on that.

Andrew: Let’s talk about some of the lawsuits. What’s the first one you got?

Mario: Without mentioning the brand, it was the don’t buy campaign got their attention. I got an 18-page document, a cease and desist, which you get scared that you could lose everything. You have that entrepreneurial manic depression. So you think the world is coming to an end. At the same time, you get excited. That’s what happens now. Every time I got one, I get incredibly excited.

Andrew: About what?

Mario: For them to send you a legal letter, it means there’s potential. They see something, the opportunity to have high sales. They take the effort to send that cease and desist letter. For them to do this, it means there is an opportunity there. I am posing a threat. So I fuel myself with this. I was speaking to my manager yesterday about that same point. He was scared and saying, “Should we launch this?” I’m telling him I’m more excited to launch it now. I might double down on this product because there is potential.

Andrew: So what are you going to do, for example, with this lawsuit with Juicero?

Mario: Juicero is a different ballgame. It’s a product that we are launching. I knew the potential was there, and we expected them to try to strong arm us. But I’m not even dealing with it personally.

Andrew: It just doesn’t bother you?

Mario: No, because the lawyers have checked everything and they know we don’t breach any patents at all?

Andrew: What about patent 9,493,298?

Mario: I’m not even sure what that is.

Andrew: That’s the one they’re saying you guys are in violation of. The lawsuit doesn’t even come to you, though, because you’re not the guy creating it, you’re just the guy promoting it. You have some insulation from it, don’t you?

Mario: We are distributing the product.

Andrew: But they’re not suing the distributor. They’re suing the manufacturer. You guys do have some protections because of the way you work.

Mario: They are suing both of us, but we do have, let’s say, documents in place to protect us. We are very well protected.

Andrew: What’s the way you protect yourself? Let’s talk theoretically. What would a document for someone like you have that theoretically could help protect someone like you?

Mario: I’m just thinking whether I should mention this. Why not? It’s nothing I should hide. Everyone should do this. It’s an indemnification agreement. If we go with a client that has a very unique product but there’s risk we should breach a patent, we tell them if we have any patent claims, you have to indemnify us. That means they need to know they would have done their research before signing this.

Andrew: I remember when I first signed contracts, I’d see indemnification in there. I asked what it was. It turns out what it is, is that the person who’s indemnifying compensates you for the loss, but if they only have this one product and you have a loss, they have nothing to compensate you for. You still have to pay and then you come to them and say, “Hey, I’ve paid. Now you guys owe me.” They say, “We have nothing here. It’s a product that’s gone now because of this lawsuit.” So it doesn’t really give you that much protection does it?”

Mario: Leo from Juisir, he’s the CEO, the founder, I think he was in Entrepreneur 30 Under 30, he has credibility. He’s a person I trust, but also he has a big business as well away from Juisir. I think they sell coffee machines, great office in Shanghai. We know that they will be there to support us.

Andrew: I see. Okay.

Mario: And we’ve done our homework as well. If we think there’s the risk that we can lose the case, we would likely not take that risk.

Andrew: I’m so fascinated by the whole Juicero thing. It looks like such manufactured fruit packages, like they’re sending you a smoothie that you can buy at the grocery store.

Mario: $120 million when they started.

Andrew: I know.

Mario: I think the concept is great.

Andrew: I don’t even think the concept is great. What am I missing?

Mario: I thought the concept was great if it was more affordable. Getting those juice packs at a better price, it could work. But then again, when I saw the concept of Juisir, which I personally did not think of, I did not think of the fact that you could put your own contents in there. I was fascinated when I saw it at CES.

Andrew: Because Juisir says go to your local — tell me if I’m wrong about this. Juisir says go to your local corner store, buy the fruit fresh, put it in there, we’ll squeeze it for you, and there’s no mess because you toss out the bag versus Juicero, which says, “We’re going to send you stuff in the mail.”

Mario: A key point here, I have to point that out legally as well as marketing-wise, the bag that we have, you can reuse. It’s not one you throw away. It’s a reusable bag, so nothing you throw away.

Andrew: I see. That little elephant is something I keep reusing. You guys aren’t even looking to resell me the bags?

Mario: You could reuse it up to a certain point.

Andrew: I see. All right. That makes sense. As a person who likes juice, if I’m going to have them ship me a packet of stuff I squeeze, why don’t I just go to the corner store and buy a bottle of juice?

Mario: That’s a valid point that I can use in marketing as well. Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew: I think I lost my opportunity to interview them, but they don’t seem like people who are ready to do interviews anyway. I think they are humbled beyond where they should be. They should still stand up and keep on talking right now. This is the time to talk, not before when they were just promoting themselves.

Mario: I hope they listen to that interview, Andrew, and jump on an interview. You managed to get me. I managed to get on Mixergy.

Andrew: Why are you doing this? What’s your goal here? I’m not going to sell more blenders for you. I’m not going to get more hoverboards sold. What’s your goal here?

Mario: My team has been asking me to get myself out there, at least open a LinkedIn account, which I’ve been hesitant to do. When you go on GoGlobal, my details are there, but there are other people under me.

Andrew: GoGlobal is one of your brands.

Mario: GoGlobal is the brand that teams up with products that have achieved success, and we partner with them, get equity and help them scale. That’s the business that takes up most of my time. You’ve got my details there. You can see it on the website, GoGlobalTeam.com. Then you have other people there as well.

Andrew: I don’t see your details there. What I see is I see your photo and based in the U.S. and nothing else. Everyone else I can read more about them.

Mario: Exactly. They’ve got LinkedIn profiles. Some of them have had a lot of media attention. Then you have the CEO, the person that leads the company, he doesn’t even have a LinkedIn account. They said that could work against us. It didn’t. The main reason is also trying to get myself to do things I would not usually do. I try and get myself in uncomfortable situations now to move forward.

Andrew: I see Victor Maxwell is one of your guys. I see him on LinkedIn. It looks like you have a good group of people there. I didn’t investigate all of them. I get it.

Mario: They’re a great team.

Andrew: You said that it didn’t hurt you to not have a public profile.

Mario: Not really. We got Juisir signed up.

Andrew: Why start with me? I can be a bit of a dick sometimes, as you saw before we started. Everything you responded with, especially in the beginning, I had a very skeptical tone. Why start here? Why not go in one of these easier programs or some website on Forbes.com or something like that?

Mario: For that reason, because you do challenge your interviewees. You ask tough questions. I enjoy listening to your interviews. There is value there. So it’s not hustling, hustling, working hard, getting the job done, that’s it. You achieved success. You dig into different strategies. We’ve only got 50 to 60 minutes, so we can’t go through everything, but you try to find certain strategies that would offer value to your listeners, and I enjoy the challenge as well of being asked those touch questions. Usually I don’t have to answer those.

Andrew: What’s the one strategy you’d want to impart to the audience knowing there’s someone like you listening? What’s the one thing you’d want to give them?

Mario: There are many things I could mention, but one thing not many people do mention is make noise, be aggressive. The guy from “Shark Tank,” Daymond John, I heard him say the same thing recently. But you have to make that noise. Don’t buy competitor name. That’s what I did. Everyone heard about me within the first year. Other competitors have been around longer than me and no one heard of them because they had maybe an okay product, but they would have basic ads you just filter through. That’s one strategy.

I’m still aggressive to this day. If you look up our website in more detail, I have comparison videos, comparison pages to competitors, and I’m very respectful. I’m very objective. I’m very aggressive. I’m always treading that line.

Andrew: Where do I see it? I’m on OptimumAppliances.com.

Mario: That’s the equity. We try to protect that.

Andrew: It feels like Optimum is a high-end brand. Everything looks really elegant about it. The one thing that looks a little off is we’re in the middle of 2017 and the copyright still says 2016, but otherwise it looks like a premium brand for sure. What’s a site where you guys are more competitive and more aggressive?

Mario: Froothie. Froothie is the soldier that goes out there and makes all that noise.

Andrew: If I go to Froothie.com . . .

Mario: Go to Froothie.com.au, so it’s been around for longer, so we’ve had more chances to be aggressive. Search for Vitamix on there.

Andrew: I’m looking at Vitamix and Optimum and I do see videos.

Mario: On the menu there’s compare to competitors. It’s right there.

Andrew: And Froothie comes from fruit smoothies? That’s the thing?

Mario: Yeah. I think it’s Frothy as well.

Andrew: It doesn’t seem like that much of a comparison. It’s more like a comparison chart than aggression.

Mario: We’ve toned it down a little now because we do have a strong brand. In the early days the brand was unknown, so we were a lot more aggressive. That page there, we still come up on the competitor keyword. We still have videos comparing to them. We ask influencers to make videos comparing us to other leading competitors. Maybe not to the same extent, because we are a much bigger brand now in many different countries, but in the early days, that was a very core strategy.

Andrew: What else would you want to impart to someone like you?

Mario: I would say there are two ways of running a business. You could focus on something that works so when you start selling the product, you double down on whatever that is, even if you don’t enjoy it just to generate that revenue. Once you have a good business in place, then you can start pursuing long-term visions like HX. HX will not make me millions from day one, but I see that happening in three, four years’ time for sure. Optimum could because the demand is there and we’ve really focused on that. Optimum is doing incredibly well. But to get to the next level, HX will be the one to do that. I would never launch HX, all these products that are very new in the market unless I had that revenue stream set up.

Andrew: All right. Where are your revenues right now? You said over $10 million.

Mario: Two years ago, we got to the eight-figure range. Due to some sensitive matters, legal cases and whatnot, agreements being signed, I do keep that confidential for now.

Andrew: Oh, so you can’t say where you are right now?

Mario: No, but we’ve done really well. Since two years ago, we could see we’ve grown incredibly well. Back then, it was purely Froothie and Optimum.

Andrew: I’m still reading that. If I look a little distracted, it’s because I’m looking at people’s comparisons to you and Vitamix. Here’s GreenPress.co trying both blenders, showing examples of both of them and at the very end of them saying, “We don’t get any affiliate commission from this. We are recommending Optimum 9400 as the better product.” I see a couple of others like that.

You definitely are in head-to-head competition a lot with them. Some of these people are really thorough in their evaluations. Like this site FranniesFeed.com has put you up against other blenders for almond butter, peanut butter, hummus. It wasn’t enough that they did peanut butter, they had to see almond butter also. Let’s see how you guys compare for almond butter.

Mario: She compared an older model, and it’s a favorable comparison. I think she’s based in the UK. That was one of the early ones. That was even before we got to the stage now, much better quality.

Andrew: All right.

Mario: We’ve got very passionate influencers. By the way, talking about influencers, we’ve learned as well from — I love learning from other people’s mistakes and success, HiSmiles.

Andrew: What do you think of them? They seem to have a really good influencer operation, huh?

Mario: They’ve got a very inexpensive product to ship, etc. So they could send out hundreds without costing them too much. They are moving to a stage which we’ve tested. They’re moving into a stage where they’ve built relationships with influencers and tell them what to do. When they started, they sent a lot and tried the shotgun strategy. I’m not sure which one works better.

For a business, maybe start with a shotgun strategy. That works really well. Instead of trying to guess which influencer would work, test everyone if you have an inexpensive product. For us, it’s a bit tough. The ones that get you the highest ROI, just focus on them instead of doing too much homework on finding that right influencer.

Andrew: Just send it out and see. That’s what Guy Kawasaki told me years ago. I said, “When I started, you did an interview with me. Why’d you say yes? You didn’t know who I was.” He said, “I can’t tell who’s going to make it or not, so I spend some time with everyone, hoping that some will be winners and some won’t,” kind of like the venture capital approach. He’s trying to figure out but knows the majority of his time will be wasted. That’s what you’re suggesting.

What about someone like you who doesn’t have like a HiSmile inexpensive product, someone who has a more expensive product? How do you give out so many blenders and not go out of business?

Mario: We look at engagement. We use SEMrush to see the traffic they get, SEMrush.com.

Andrew: Yeah, I know them.

Mario: They’re very good at allowing you to analyze their website, where they get their traffic. I think you use a different software—

Andrew: I use SimilarWeb. But neither one is good for influencers because influencers are going to be on Instagram, they’re going to be on I guess Twitter, but Instagram is a lot harder to see who has the most engagement and find people, right?

Mario: It is. It’s a bit tough. You have to take that risk. Some of them will not get you the ROI. On a larger scale, we get the return. It works well for us. We do that with HX, with Froothie and future products as well.

Andrew: Well, I’m glad to see you’re finally getting out there and starting to talk. I’m looking forward to seeing more of you out in public. The website that’s the parent company of everything. I guess if I was going to send someone somewhere to see everything, it would be AthenaGroupofCompanies.com. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to see Mario on LinkedIn at some point in the future. I’m glad to have you on here. I’m excited to get to know you better. I hope next time you’re in San Francisco, you’ll let me know.

Mario: Pleasure is all mine. Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew: For everyone else who’s listening, the two sponsors are the company that Mario and I and so many other Mixergy interviewees have used to hire great developers, it’s Toptal, top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, Toptal.com/Mixergy and the company that I use to host my new site. It’s called HostGator. Check them out at HostGator.com/Mixergy. Thank you all and thank you, Mario. Bye, everyone.


  • fixyourissues

    Revenues of 10M, earnings of -1M.

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