Andrew: Freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of real entrepreneurs. Like today’s guest who told me he’s been listening for. How long have you been listening to him? Um,
Shaun: At least 10 years.
Andrew: I’m so honored that you’ve been listening and I’m so excited to talk to you about your story, because I want to find out about the current company that you’re working on. I don’t know how high level is competing. In a world where there’s so many marketing automation companies selling software, how are you standing out?
And before this interview started, before I even said, I don’t know how you’re surviving in this world with, with all these competitors, uh, you started telling me that there’s just a huge appetite for software out there and. I get it, but I, I always think that it’s limited, especially for, for established categories like marketing automation, but high levels growing.
I have one, one idea about why it’s growing. What high level does is it does marketing automation. Um, basically, you know, the CRM collect email addresses, send out messages, do it in an automated organized way. Um, But it does it in a white label way for agencies. So in agencies, listening to us today who says, you know what, I want to do marketing automation.
I can’t stand. I got a few companies that I’m sure that they can’t stand. I want to insert them here, but they might say I can’t stand all the options that are out there. I’m going to create my own agency’s software without coding it up. I’ll just use high level. You will let them put their own logo on it.
It’s like they created the software, they manage the software for their client and give them credibility and it gives them, um, something new that other agencies don’t have. I’m guessing. That’s why you stand out. Am I right?
Yeah. Find out about how you built it and what else it is that’s allowing you to, to grow and we can do it. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors by now. Everybody knows that I am sponsored by HostGator. If you’re building a website, you know, by now to go to hostgator.com/mixergy to get their lowest price.
But you may not know that one of my other sponsors is a company called , which will do marketing automation inside of LinkedIn. I’ll tell you later on why you should be going as opto, especially if you’ve got an agency. Sean. Good to have you though. First. You told our producer, you’re not going to give revenue at all.
Can you give us some kind of band? Can you tell me
how, how high levels doing?
Shaun: how about like between 10 and 20 million a year?
Andrew: I would have split my tea out unreal within two years.
Andrew: And you still sound like a guy who’s paranoid. Like I thought you were coming on here to save your company the way we were talking.
Shaun: No, I’m just paranoid.
Andrew: You just paranoid, always. You think it’s going to go away.
Shaun: No. I mean, no, no, no, no, not at all. I think running a bootstraps opera is a hard thing to do. I’ve just have natural innate fear.
Andrew: And part of the fear is because it’s something that happened to you early on. You’re a guy who, um, started creating websites early on. You went, did you literally go to door, door to door
Shaun: remember that there was this thing called the.com crash. I was in college at the time and I was working for a really cool startup and wouldn’t, you know, it they’ve vanished overnight.
And so, like everybody else in that moment, all opportunities for employment vanished with it. And so I was, I literally walked out my, I moved back from college to my parents’ house, like every other college kid. And I literally walked out the front door and just. Knocked on doors until I randomly found someone who, hired me and turned out he was starting a business.
And so we kind of started it together,
Andrew: What was the business?
Shaun: uh, is an answering service.
Andrew: Like phone answering service?
Shaun: Yeah, but which sounds super uncool and, you know, but to be honest, I loved it. It was the greatest business in the world because at the time answering terms with all these little, all over the place, these little companies at the whole average is literally just coming online.
And so we sort of put I already, and I’d already been working the web. I’ve worked for this really cool advertising agency that was doing all this online stuff, making websites and all that stuff. And so I would put two and two together and we really nationalized that business. And in 12 years, we’ve brought in 5,000 small business customers, 400 employees all working from home.
We run all our own software. It was all fun time
Andrew: Wow. Working from home, even back then.
Shaun: back then. Oh yeah. Yeah.
Andrew: was this for lawyers and accountants and
Shaun: Yeah, all small businesses. It was all inbound. So like we never, so here’s, here’s the story of a simple, we were in the little building and kept filling up the building. And then we finally said, okay, well, we’re going to have to go to another building. And so we went and looked at other people in our industry and, and, you know, we just hated what we saw.
It was frightening, a building full of thousands of people. So we said, forget that. What can we do? That’s different. And so we’d heard at the time that jet blue actually was doing work from home agents in Utah. And so we kind of investigated this and we tried it. I remember running, uh, an office above the laundromat, down the street from us.
And we sort of used it as our test bed and stuff, and it worked and we scaled it out and it was very crazy at the time. And, uh, and you know, we scaled it out to, like I said, 400 boys.
Andrew: I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile 2003 to 2005 is when you did this, right? So the company is answer connect. You’re listed as a co-founder. You grew to 500,000. It looks to me 5,000, excuse me, customers, which is huge in this space. How did the cash out part of this deal come out? How’d you do? Why not?
Shaun: Uh, well, I mean, I was 18 at the time and I didn’t have a lot of experience in business and, um, I didn’t understand how contracts worked and how the world worked and, you know, all of those good things. And I, I sort of put my head down and worked hard for 12 years, seven days a week. And, um, you know, I just didn’t realize what I didn’t know.
And at the end of it, you know, there were some disagreements between myself and some other founders and. I was a minor shareholder holder. And so I learned some great lessons there. So I, I got to start over again. Um, but, uh, but ultimately I think that was, uh, I mean while I certainly could say, I wish it was a different experience.
I’m certainly happy that I had it the way I did because I learned a lot and I have many experiences. I don’t think money could buy. I mean, in the middle of, of running that, I also started an online women’s shoe store called soul stripe.com, which at the time competed against Zappos. And we grew that to millions of dollars in revenue selling women’s shoes.
So just lots of adventures you just wouldn’t have gotten had I gone off and got a job.
Andrew: What would you have done differently with answer connect? Would you have just formalize your relationship with this
Andrew: but it was their idea. He wouldn’t have done it. He said, Hey, look, go take a walk, Shawn. I’ll
Shaun: no, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Yeah. No, no, not at all. I mean, I think I was, you know, I think that had, I just been a little more street smart. I think I could have created a different relationship there and just done a better job. I don’t know, just about having experience and understanding, you know, Contracts are there for a reason or, you know, agreements should be sort of agreement should be in writing because
Andrew: Do you think you were clearly, do you think he clearly meant for you to get half of the business or, or
Shaun: No, no, no, no. That was never, that was never the deal.
Andrew: it was just some portion of it, but it was never discussed.
Shaun: Um, it was discussed, but I mean, you know, you know, sort of due to legal agreements and other things that have come subsequently, I can’t go too much farther into that. Did I get myself in trouble, but suffice to say, um, it’s just, it was an experience that taught me a lot.
Andrew: One thing that I would, that I’m wondering, I don’t mean to super impose my own experience on you. But I remember in college when I got a job working for Stephanie Winston, she’s like wall street, shark really aggressive, did well for herself. I remember I went in to talk to her. I got the job. I was so happy.
I got the job that when she just like, assume the clothes at $0. Um, so the internship, I just said, okay, when do I start? And it was the way that she assumed it, that made me keep on moving on. But in, in reality, I just should have stood up and said, I need to get a salary. That’s what, that’s how things work at NYU.
Yes. It’s good that you send the, that you send over the paperwork to them and you’re going to introduce me to things, but even if I would have just worked it out and said, NYU requires that we get a salary. That’s at least minimum wage. I could’ve stood up, but I was too. I was too shy and I was not willing to stand up and say what I wanted and that’s why I didn’t get it.
And I believe that Stephanie was smart enough to know it.
Shaun: I think that, I think that in those moments, when you are new at what you’re doing, and you feel like you’ve arrived. You feel like you’ve gotten the thing that you wanted so desperately that it’s hard to then decide at that point, that you’re going to stand up for yourself and take it for. Right. And so I think in those moments, you know, everybody’s different, it’s hard to know what’s on the other side of the table, but there’s certainly people in life who can sense those things can smell those things and can take advantage of those things.
Um, you know, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll personally never know, but I will say in those moments, I wish that I had acted differently because
Andrew: That just stood up and said, here’s what I want from life. Here’s what I want from this relationship. Got it. Got it. And that’s, that’s the big takeaway and that’s the worst of it because you can be upset at somebody else and say, I’m going to find someone else. Who’s not like them, but to be upset at ourselves and say, I can’t believe I did that.
Even if I know I’m going to learn from it. I feel like, Ooh, Andrew, that was who didn’t ask Stephanie wouldn’t uh, I think her last name was a Westin. Winston who? Stephanie Winston.
Shaun: Isn’t it amazing how you can barely remember now. And yet, at some point it was the greatest thing ever.
Andrew: And I always think that that person who was there, who didn’t stand up and ask is probably somewhere inside me and I either can fight it or whatever, but I feel like it’s always there and I have to watch out for it. Do you feel that too, that maybe that’s why you’re so guarded right now with high
Shaun: Oh, I mean, absolutely. I’ve always been, I’m always that person and at some level I always want to be, but I think also you’ve got to realize that to what extent that’s a weakness, it’s also a strength, right? It makes it, I mean, Because think about the reverse. Let’s just say you were, you’re always in it for yourself and you are no, you are always cutting people off and taking full advantage and doing whatever you could have to stump people onto the ground.
I mean, I got to tell you that history does not look kind of, of those people. And I don’t know, I don’t know those are great lives to live. So, you know, if I can take an advantage of a little more, but at the same time, I’m perhaps a little more empathetic or more kind. Hopefully, you know, that just means we live a little bit nicer lives relative to some other people.
Andrew: And truthfully, we work in an industry in the tech startup software ecosystem where it’s growing so much, that there’s a lot of room to be right. Nice and not to be so hoarding of your piece of the pie. Yeah. And,
Shaun: I mean, I, I mean, I don’t, I certainly use the bill that way. I don’t, you know, I hope the future continues in that direction. I mean, I’m a software engineer and that’s my background. I love. Creating software and seeing software change the world. And I’m a small business guy on small businesses.
And so I think that lends itself
Andrew: yourself, a small business owner, when you’re doing over 10
Shaun: No, no, no, no, no, no, I’m sorry. I just meant, I love helping small
Andrew: Got it. Okay. Got
Shaun: you know, like my, my last company, you know, I got to a point where I’d helped a thousand small businesses and I kind of grew it to that point and I kind of couldn’t figure out what to do.
And I looked around and the only place I could see was enterprise. I mean, thought. How in the world am I going to do that? I just, I can never do it. So
Andrew: I admire people who could say, you know what, I created this software, like S and BS, but you know what? Enterprise is more money I’ll shift to enterprise and I’ll go through their whole rigorous process.
Shaun: do it. I just, I
Andrew: I, yeah. Um, what happened to the shoe company that you started? I
Shaun: Oh, well, that was, yeah, that was so much fun. Uh, what happened was simple. Um, you know, uh, like many, many, many companies who ship things through the mail. There’s not a lot of money leftover at the end of the day. So while we certainly ran that business for a very long time, um, and sold a lot of shoes. I don’t know that I would recommend the online retail people as a business.
It’s not a high profit business in general, especially when you’re selling something that fundamentally you’re, you know, this has just changed and shifted retail, right? This is, this is what it’s taken for granted today. But you know, if you’re selling the same thing as a hundred other people, what else is there to sell on except price.
And so, um, that, that’s what happened to that business.
Andrew: Okay. Then you started to talk about this new idea that you had, you talked to. Well, what was the new idea? Yeah.
Shaun: Oh, which one?
Andrew: Before it was invoiced Sherpa, it was this other idea. What was the idea?
Shaun: Uh, Oh, yes. Okay. So this was, I’m not a very creative guy and so I’m, I’m good at implementation, but not necessarily thinking stuff up. So I, at the time I thought, you know what, I’m going to go out and I want to help small businesses, bro. I know what I’ll do. I’ll do reputation management, like automatically help businesses get reviews.
And it looked around in the world and there were lots of people that did this. I don’t remember going to like a tech, startup meetup thing in Portland where I lived and there was some big DC dude there and he gave some speech and I went running up to him after the ads. I said, Oh, Hey, I, I respect you.
And I want to tell you about my new business idea. And I said, and I told him that, and he’s like, it’s like, that idea is terrible. He’s like, that has been done a hundred times. You that you gotta think of something different, man. And it was just like, he had just like punched me in the face. Like it was the worst experience and I left there so demoralize.
So while I
Andrew: But the idea was to get reviews for businesses. Somebody comes into your small restaurant, your smaller hotel.
Shaun: Lawn or whatever. Yeah,
Andrew: why, you know what? I have seen a bunch of businesses that do that. It seems to make so much sense. Why don’t they take off?
Shaun: Oh, don’t worry. Well, you know, w w w we’re going back around to that idea, but I think fundamentally at the time, um, it wasn’t, it did take off and there’s lots of companies that did it. Um, you know, I think that what, what would have stalled me on that business?
Wasn’t the idea itself? I was, I mean, it was early on, right? It was 10 years ago. It was still, it was still kind of a new thing at the time, I think, but suddenly what will stall me out at the time with the distribution? Because that’s actually, in my view, what gets most small start software startups is it’s not the engineering.
It’s the, how do we the heck did we get to
Andrew: Uh, right, right. And all these sites that offer a views, they can’t charge that much for a review. Right. And if, if, if how much could they charge maybe 50, let’s say a hundred dollars. A restaurant might be willing to get people who leave to pay. What do you think.
Shaun: if you look at I actually, I think we’d be surprised. I think that if you go and look at like a podium or a BirdEye, these guys are charging three or 400 bucks a month. Now it’s not just reviews these days. It’s a couple of other features, whatever it is. There’s actually, it’s actually pretty, pretty expensive, but if you look at the model and how they built it, it’s all on tremendous amounts of VC capital, because most of it goes into a big sales team and cold calling and all kinds of things.
And that’s where I would have run around into an issue. I didn’t know a lot of agencies and I certainly didn’t know how to sell, so I would’ve, I would’ve been done there. So I’m actually ultimately very happy that he said that because of course, that kind of leads into the next part of the story where, you know, I went to dinner that night demoralized and I talked to my wife and her friends who were accountants.
And they said, you know, um, our clients send out invoices all day long and they don’t, people don’t pay those invoices. And, you know, they spent hours on it and wouldn’t, you know, it it’s actually a big deal because many of our clients actually go broke over the fact that their invoices don’t get paid in time.
They get into a cashflow crunch and that they can’t pay their bills and have to shut down. And so, you know, off the back of that dinner conversation, um, I didn’t know what else to do. So I just sort of tilted my business that direction. And I just said, I’ll just try it. Um, and I literally integrated, so I thought to myself, well, where can you get the invoices from like, who has invoices?
I’m like, Oh, the accounting system. So literally at that moment, QuickBooks online is mail through API zero, which was an unknown little accounting software company at the time was coming out in New Zealand. And so I integrated with both of those and, um, which, you know, it was a big hit, lots of small businesses have that problem.
Andrew: know what absolutely. You send an invoice and you don’t want to be a Nat, you know what? Especially for small businesses, you’re the guy who sold the deal. You close the sale. You don’t want to go back to the people who you’re going to close another sale with and say, now it’s time to pay. Give me, give me the money.
But if it’s software that does it, then it’s depersonalizes it. It makes it a lot easier. I’ve had situations where people will pay me to fly out, to go to a conference. And it’s like a nice time that we have a nice time together. We’re hanging out now, what do I do say now you have to be, I have to be petty and say, pay me this thing.
I throw it into an invoice, even though it feels awkward when we know each other and I could text them and they could, whatever, send me the money. It feels so much better to depersonalize it. The thing is though fresh books existed at the time. And you, I think you even saw that and you
Shaun: yeah, yeah. Yeah. I tried to
Andrew: was built in.
So then what’s the problem. Why, so what you were creating was something like what a sequence of messages that
Andrew: smart enough to add it. And that was it.
Shaun: uh, I mean, yeah, I mean, and then like, you know, I would of course try to evolve it, right? So like the big, the big piece, of course, wasn’t just the reminder there was. And then they came to payments, integration with made it super simple for people to pay. And then you start to get, you start to realize that a lot of people actually end up doing business with the same people over, over again.
Um, and so then we can start, you know, at a certain it. Um, make it so that the next invoice up would just automatically pull off the payment method on the due date. So it wasn’t, you didn’t have to remind them anymore. You can just auto collect the money, um, that sort of thing. Right. Um, and, and so, yeah, so I mean, on its face, it really wasn’t all that.
Um, complex, but turns out it was a big, big, big, big issue. Um, but I would say long-term, that’s actually what concerned me. I mean, I, I saw that this was, I was really just adding feature onto a platform that didn’t yet exist. And my assumption was that someday that it would, and so, you know,
Andrew: we go into sell, let me pause for a moment. Coming back to the day you launched it, you launch it and immediately to success. You say
Shaun: Well, you know, I mean, I, you know, immediately people start signing up and seemingly they were pretty happy with
Andrew: how, how did they even know you existed?
Shaun: what this was was braided, right? So it was all through the QuickBooks apps market and the Xero apps market. It gave me all my distribution. I didn’t need to do any advertising or marketing.
They did it all for me.
Andrew: And so this is one of those amazing feelings that you get as an entrepreneur where sometimes it just hits right from the start soul struck was I guess, at that point, about eight years before, were you still comparing it to salts?
Shaun: No, no, no, no, no. That’s all. Yeah. So at that point, I’d sort of, that was literally my sort of, I was on my way out. Um, I had already, I sort of started this off my kitchen table. Um, and you
Andrew: But in your head, you didn’t, I have a friend who’s a, who’s doing incredibly well with this company. He doesn’t appreciate it. I was telling you before he’s getting offers to sell the company and he’s basically looking to jump on it. He doesn’t appreciate it. And sometimes I want to tell him, do you recognize that there are times when you spend a couple of years to even get any traction, then once you do the whole thing gets taken away because.
Some world changing thing you lucked out. Did you recognize that you were onto something this way? That it was that such a fortunate thing
Shaun: Yes. Yes, yes, absolutely. Um, although, you know, it’s an evolution in thought though, like at the outset, I didn’t actually see out us. My situation was I didn’t, I just sort of assumed that I was early on in the process. I sort of gotten the first version of it and I would sort of, as I went along, figured out other ways to help these small businesses and really grow this into a much bigger thing.
But like I said, I ran into a scenario where I got to a place where I personally couldn’t figure out kind of the next steps. Um, and, um,
Andrew: we’re going to get into what you’re going to do with that in a moment. I want to ask you people saying that my ads are the only ones that don’t skip through. So I’m going to do an ad for HostGator. I’m
Shaun: Okay. Go for it, please. Do.
Andrew: I’m going to make it unskippable by asking you. One of the easiest things to do.
If you have a website, if you have an idea, a desire to start a business is to go into consulting, create an agency. You’ve seen Shawn agencies for years. Now. What’s an example of one that you see that if someone’s looking to get started, either an idea or a framework for a type of agency, they could start
Shaun: Digital work?
Andrew: still digital marketing agency, buy ads on Google, buy ads on Facebook, that type of thing.
Shaun: No, no like help small businesses in your local community. Get online, run their business, advertise market, local digital marketing agency. Still. Absolutely.
Andrew: I realized that this type of thing, that Ty Lopez tells his people from the side of his Jaguar, that they should be
Shaun: Yeah, but there’s a D there’s a total difference there though, right? The difference there is the online course, the online world is really about a single focus. Go sell Facebook ads to dentists, rinse and repeat. Right. I’m saying, do the boring, old thing, stay local, stay in your town, go out. Don’t sell just one thing, sell everything.
Be the outsource CML for these small businesses. It’s just at the very base layer. It’s it’s it’s labor arbitrage. I mean, what’s the difference between a bookkeeper, you know, or a digital marketing agency, if you really want to get down to it. The bookkeeper. It’s not that the business owner couldn’t do it.
It’s just labor arbitrage. It’s expensive to hire somebody in-house to do that work full time. Why is the digital marketing agency any different? I think it is thinks the same thing. There. It’s not, it’s the same concept. It’s somebody who has experience and has the ability to help you do marketing and advertising, but you don’t hire them.
Andrew: And there’s enough money. You think these smaller bits? So you’re saying to me, I live on I in San Francisco. Valencia street is the main, big strip over here. You can’t go door to door, to all the stores and Valencia street, especially
Shaun: focused on durable ones, focused on the higher margin, focused
Andrew: you know what? Valencia street has got all these higher margin things.
There they’re places that sell coasters for $50. Right. But
Shaun: Well, you’re, you’re a bit of a unique spot, right? So.
Andrew: But you’re saying wherever they are, look at the people who have higher margins, go door to door, say, I’m going to get you customers from the internet. Here’s how I’m going to do it. I’m going to create a website for you. I’ll buy a few inexpensive ads at the right places for you.
We’ll set up a drip email campaign for you,
Shaun: Well, and what I would tell you is, and this is what we got to eventually get into higher level is you have, so the big, the big mind shift change in my opinion is you’re also become not just a service provider. You’re also going to start to become a software provider and a technology provider because all of these small businesses need both.
And there’s such a massive, you already kind of alluded to this. There’s a massive moral of all of these choices out there. How the heck is a small business owner? Am I supposed to choose these technologies to run my business? It starting
Andrew: ended up picking the ones that are advertising everywhere, like
Shaun: Or something right. Or old calling me or whatever.
But does that, that’s a, that’s a really terrible way to do it. If you think about it, if it’s, and honestly, even once you make those choices, you realize those are, that’s like just buying tools at the hardware store. Now you’ve actually got to take those silly things and do something with it. It’s way, way easier to go out.
And if you have somebody in your local community, like a digital marketing agency who can show up and say, listen, You need this tool, this tool and this tool, and I’ll put it all together for you. I’ll set it all up and I’ll run it all the time for you from solved.
Andrew: And what are the tools or what are the features let’s say? Cause I know high level
Shaun: Yeah, sure. Absolutely. I mean, it, I mean it ranges, every business is different.
Right. But, you know, I think that if you’re a, for the hours, a local business, it’s, you know, reputation management, web chat on my website, um, you know, uh, uh, two way text messaging. Um,
Andrew: So that they could get a text message from someone who wants to buy from them.
Shaun: of course, yeah.
Andrew: And then they have to sit and manage men at
Shaun: No, no, no, no, no. So that’s where the agency starts to come in and provide a lot
Andrew: text it. I’ll respond to them.
Shaun: And then there’s there’s and then there’s also like things like.
I was in the answering service business. And, you know, I can’t tell you how many businesses, miss phone calls right. In the middle of the day when they’re open and all their staff is there. And I’m going to tell you, call calls Fort worth at zillion dollars and relative to any other type of leads, because that’s a high intent activity, that person on the other side.
So when you miss a call, um, what about miss called Tex back? So when the calls, miss you automatically text that person back.
Andrew: and you just set that up for them as software. Dude that happened to me. I middle of the day I go and I take my kid from school to afterschool play. Basically he’s in the park. He’s hanging out by himself. I say, you know what, if I’m leaving, I kind of feel like a falafel. I call a falafel place fricking guy, because it’s lunch.
He’s not picking up the phone. I got desperate. I eventually called back a few times and got through to him and he made me a spicy falafel. That was really good, but you’re right. Just text me. Right? You’re saying give them the software that just automatically text back. If he misses a call, no sweat. Got it.
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My URL you’ll give me credit for sending over and you’ll get great hosting package that will work quickly. Let you move on with the rest of your life. hostgator.com/mixergy. All right. You were saying to me that you were starting to realize, look, you had this thing, it worked, it’s such a brilliantly, simple idea, invoice, Sherpa.
And then you said, I don’t know where this is going. I don’t have any new ideas for new features. What do I do? And then you get, what is it? An email out of the blue. Cold gall. Okay.
Shaun: And, you know, I get a million emails and calls before for many other people telling me how great I was and how, how they can take me to the next level and all this other stuff. So, um, you know, and talk to venture capitalists and things like that. Um, until of course they found out how little revenue I did and that sort of ended the goal,
Andrew: much revenue are you doing?
Shaun: uh, let’s see, I did the best, highest, highest ever got, I think it was like 40,000 a month or something.
Andrew: That’s fricking great.
Shaun: Oh, no, it’s a single owner. Oh no, I was, I loved it. In fact, I, I hated those puzzles and capitals that make me mad because I was like, what do you want from me, man? I’m doing this all on my own.
Andrew: what did it, Oh, because they were, they were starting to put you down. Like this was not
Shaun: Oh yeah, yeah,
Andrew: Ah, yeah. You know, that’s the way the world has changed today. I think you’d find they wouldn’t be venture capitalists. They’d be these entrepreneurs with a rolling fund or
Shaun: The angel funds and stuff like
Andrew: Who would then also be able to come in and say, Hey, you know what?
And get you fired up about other ideas. And now you’re in a mastermind with people who have a financial interest in getting you excited and lit up. Right. Got it. Okay. So, but you didn’t have that. You were getting people who were making you feel bad for not being QuickBooks with this and not okay. And this dude calls you up.
This gentleman calls you up and what happens.
Shaun: Yeah. Yep. Yep. And he’s from like a, you know, like a business brokerage website, loving company of some kind
Andrew: Can you say the name of the company?
Shaun: uh, yeah. And, uh, yeah. And so anyways, you know, he goes on, he does his shtick and I’m like, yeah, yeah, whatever buddy. He’s like, you know, and he’s like, but listen, it’s like, what do you got to lose?
And this is how he got, he was like, listen, you just named a price. Right. I don’t, I don’t even price. He’s like, you signed a document that says very simply that the price you gave me, it’s gonna be right there. And I have six months to sell you. And if I fail. You pay me nothing, right? He’s like, what in the world do you have to possibly lose?
And I’m like, gosh, you know what? He’s the first guy who called me, who said that I didn’t have to pay him a dime. And I just couldn’t, I couldn’t argue with this point, so I need to raise the price. And, uh, and then, uh, you know, a week later I think he came back with three beds and I felt pretty stupid,
Andrew: What was the number that you gave him?
Shaun: uh, half a million dollars.
Andrew: Okay. You’re basically asking for 10 months
Shaun: Well again, I had no idea what I was doing
Andrew: but you’re just throwing out a number you got to look. If you gave me half a million dollars and I’m interested.
Shaun: and of course, you know, now it’s a joke because of course, by the time you pay all the lawyers and you pay all the fees and you pay everything else, I mean, at best you might see, you know, uh, you know, a quarter that amount when all things
Andrew: Whoa. Really? You
Shaun: Well, there were some other extenuating circumstances there. I
Andrew: Give me like a type of extenuating circumstance without
Shaun: Uh, yeah, so right in that moment. So I had, I had white label payments as part of my app. Um, and I had done, there was a scenario where my payments provider had believed that was on a contract where I took all the risk and I knew I was on a contract that I took none of the risks.
Andrew: Meaning like you’re collecting money from somebody
Shaun: I’m white labeling payments. I’m like, Hey Andrew. Well, I’m just like, Hey, I’m like straight, right? I’m like, basically like my own little mini strep. And it’s like, Hey Andrew, come in and fix up your own pains account, you know, English or payments. And, you know, it was just the white label of somebody else.
And I got a percentage of that. Right. But as part of that, the big risk in payments versus fraud. And so I knew enough to know, I have no idea how to handle fraud and last thing was going to do as well. Anyways, this payments provider had gotten bought recently by a very big company in New York. And in the midst of it, all the contracts were kind of mixed up.
And the version I signed said, I have no risk aversion. They thought I was under set. I had it, I had to take all the risks. And so they were just basically giving anybody who came through the app payment and some guys sure enough turned out to be a fraudster. And in the midst of it, I, you know, ended up basically costing them, I think like $200,000.
And, um, they threatened up the time to shut me off. Um, and I was like, Oh, that can’t happen. And so I had to settle with them for, I had to pay $80,000 of that 200 grand in order to keep the payments account on. So that’s 80 grand right there.
Andrew: Wow. All right. Do you, you could have just left it in the background while you did other things, but
Shaun: I had customer, I had 700 customers
Andrew: yeah, that’s killer. You could, but I’m guessing that you just wanted to lock
Shaun: I couldn’t have, I couldn’t have, because I was the single owner operator. I didn’t charge enough for the biggest problems. I didn’t charge enough. I couldn’t hire anybody. I do all the support tickets myself. It was just, uh, it was, uh, it was just a night and day operation. And, um, and also it’s just not the way I roll.
I can’t, I can’t disconnect. So put it all together and there’s just no way to background it.
Andrew: That you then sold the company. You, you, did you take some time off? I can’t tell.
Shaun: Uh, I became an employee, essentially, a consultant or whatever you wanna call it, but I was full-time
Andrew: For a few months,
Shaun: for a year.
Andrew: Oh, a year with them. Got it. Okay. And then once you left, I’m looking again at your LinkedIn profile. 2018 is when you left that company? No, I keep saying 2018. I don’t know how we end up with 2018 on this. How long did you take a break? Did you say to yourself? I’m not at all. Okay.
Shaun: I already, I already won. I knew I wanted to move on. I knew I wanted to do something else. Um, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do, but I mean, I knew I didn’t want to start another software company. And so, yeah, and, and lucky for me at the time, one of the smartest, the smartest and best engineer I’ve ever met in my whole life happened to come available and he was willing to sign up as a co-founder with me.
And so I, I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity. And so
Andrew: When you had, well, how do you know him?
Shaun: Um, I hired him 12 years earlier.
Andrew: And he said, you know what, I’m up for? Starting something with you. You
Shaun: I try, I tried to get him to do something. He and I had actually done a little, um, online invoicing app thing, um, you know, sort of on the side and while he was working and then he finally quit and I said, Hey, let’s go do something else. And he said, he said, okay, let’s try it. And so I was like, this’ll be great.
Let’s do it.
Andrew: One of the things that the people who worked, um, your clients had invoice Sherpa. One of the things that they kept telling you was that they needed more customers and you see that as a big business pain point.
Andrew: You also told our producer, and this is where I had in my notes. Uh, ha I didn’t understand this.
You said to yourself that your next business was going to be vertical, specific invoice. Sherpa was just trying to be everything to everyone. And I knew my propensity to always say yes to things. So I knew if I stuck with one vertical, the features I’d say yes to, from one customers would likely be the kinds for others.
So w what, I’m, what I’m, I think I’m understanding you saying is you wanted a specific type of customer who are all the same.
Shaun: Versus vertical size. Right? So at English, or I could do, I did one thing for lots of people and did it super well, but then I got to a place where I’d started to get requests that were really good requests, but they’d only impact 5% of my customer base. So sadly, I couldn’t do them. And I, I really got frustrated by that.
Andrew: because my needs is a person who sends out invoices to conferences is so different from one of an accountant who’s tracking minutes is different from even a
Shaun: That’s right.
Andrew: it. Okay. And you said, I want one type of customer. Are they all gonna have the same needs? Got it. Then you were seeking out one idea and you spent some months on it and it didn’t work out.
What’s the idea.
Shaun: I chose the vertical home services. I had a lot of home service customers. Anyway, Sherpa liked the vertical and I was like, that’s great.
Shaun: Plumbers, HVAC people. Sure. Yeah. Carpet cleaners, you name it. So I was like, great. I’ll just, you know, go off and do another, you know, service CRM. Right. Um, and so we’ve built an entire service CRM.
It wasn’t, I mean, we’ve built the whole thing and we built the mobile app. We built the web app, we built everything. Um, and. And then I woke up to the fact that I had no clue how I was going to get customers and that while integrating with things like QuickBooks or what I’d done in the past might work to some degree, wasn’t gonna work to the same degree.
Right. And then I call, I had a lot of these people that I knew and I called them a lot. And when I called him in to show them this new software, they said, Oh, this is great, but. As cool as it is to get another, you know, a better dispatching your job management system. What I really need is more customers.
And I thought, gosh, what the heck? How can we, how can we do this? So I just, we sort of paused it and we went off and we said, okay, let’s go back to reviews, getting reviews for small businesses and two way text messaging at the time. And so then we, we sort of created that product
Andrew: before you continue. I just want to underline the fact that you, you had a product idea, you spent months developing it, right? How many months?
Shaun: Oh four months.
Andrew: Okay. The guts though. And the self-awareness to say, I’m not going to continue, even though I’d invested in this thing is impressive.
Shaun: Well, no, it’s stupid because it’s the problem. It’s it’s, it’s the man with the hammer disease or the person in the Amber disease, you know, a man with a hammer. Every problem looks like a nail. As an engineer. And I would point this out to every other fellow engineer out there. We have the propensity to swing the hammer.
We know which is, I know how to write code. I know the right software. I know how to grade. That’s a stupid idea. The better entrepreneurs that I’ve read subsequently, especially in the bootstrap world, they go out and they, and they don’t talk to their customer person. They say, Hey, listen, if I was to create the following thing, what’d you pay me for.
And if someone says yes to that, the very next question is he listened, write me a check, and I promise I won’t cash it until I have that thing created. And if you get 50 people to do that, you have a business. That is what everyone should do, including what I should have done at the time. So I was not smart.
I was stupid.
Andrew: Okay. All right. Still the, the fact that you wouldn’t continue with this saying I’m gonna find the right plumbers. I’m gonna find the right electricians. That’s impressive. You then went back to the review business. How did that go for you?
Shaun: Really good at first and then really terrible. So what I mean by that is I show, I showed it to 30 customers and all 30 or 30 potential customers sort of people I knew. Um, and all of them bought it and I thought, wow, this is amazing. This is going to be great. And then two weeks later, they all canceled and.
I’m like, wait, hold on. What just happened? Right. Like you said, it was amazing. And they also the same thing. They said it is amazing when we’re just too busy too. Like we just don’t have time to figure it out, set it up, get a done, whatever. And in that moment, there’s lots of ways I could have gone. Right.
But it just so happened. It was just by chance that a marketing agency who was working with one of the customers who hadn’t yet canceled. Um, called me up and said, Hey, listen, we need to see the platform because we heard you’re working with our customer. And I’d just like to know what it is that it does.
And at the time I sincerely recall saying to myself, what a waste of my freaking time, why am I getting on the phone with this person? But I didn’t have a lot of, I had a lot of times I was like, okay, I’ll get on the phone. And this guy said, wow, this is amazing. I think this is so great. Can I buy this for my other customers?
I’ve got 50 other clients. I’d love to sell this to, and, you know, I said, okay, that’s great. And I just assumed two weeks later, he cancel the two weeks went by and he kept calling me and he kept, he kept asking for more features. And then he said, can I introduce you to 13 other agencies? I know. And, and so what it eventually, eventually dawned on me was, wait a second.
This is the key. This is the missing piece. This is the aha moment for me. It’s the business owners need this technology. And, but they don’t have the time to learning. Not because they’re not smart people, but because they’re busy doing the thing that they do. Right. And it’s these people that plug the gap, they fill the hole.
And so to me, that was like the biggest epiphany. I mean, it didn’t happen overnight. It was the answer.
Andrew: And so was he, was it the reviews that he liked and he thought that other clients of his, what part of your
Shaun: No. So, okay. So we have, we’ve written in a little bit of automation here. So what most of, I mean, in his. Particular circumstance. He was running ads for these people and generating leads and the biggest problem, and I already kind of knew this was with business owners, you generate a lead and you know, this person raises their hand and says, yeah, you know, I want to, I want to come in and get that free estimate or whatever it is.
And then the business owner does nothing because they’re busy, they’re out doing their thing. And then, so what happens, they don’t get the business. The lead turns into. But, you know, if you’re the business owner at the end of the month, when you look at the spreadsheet of leads that you paid your ad agency to get you, and none of them turn into customers, do you say to yourself, Oh shoot.
I’m I’m to blame it did a really bad job. No, you say you’re, you’re a crappy lay marketing agency are fired, right. Even though those leads were great. So what we did is we automated the outreach to those leads as they walked through the door and we were able to start to convert a lot of them automatically.
Into that next stage in the sales funnel, which created a lot of value to the agency
Andrew: Meaning get, get customers for these home services, businesses.
Shaun: Just no services. This guy was like in the med
Andrew: He was in everything, but at first it was for home
Shaun: but lots and lots, everybody advertises, right? So now you’re just like blow this up into a much bigger market. Every business runs an ad. And when you run an ad, you’re fundamentally trying to generate a lead. And, but the thing is when you generate a lead, you’ve got five minutes to get back to that lead.
And if you don’t good luck converting. And so most small businesses are not set up to have that type of reply rate and that type of speed. But if you bring automation to the, uh, to the equation, particularly over SMS messaging, all of a sudden, boom, you’re reaching out to people immediately think, Hey, Hey,
Andrew: So what does that, how does this work? It might be me. I’m just going to pick myself as a consumer. Andrew, the consumer would want somebody to come and attack and change all my light bulb so that their Alexa enabled. Right. Um, That doesn’t cost that much. And it’s a nice little feature to have around the house, especially with kids who can’t, uh, who can’t reach the light switches.
Right. Fantastic. I might call an electrician
Shaun: So you’re not gonna call on electrician. Let’s say you go to electricians, you could call them, but let’s
Andrew: would, might start with, what am I
Shaun: you go to their website. Right. And they’ve got a big button there that says, click here to schedule an estimate and you fill out a form, right? And, you know, and then you hit send and then boom, you go out.
You’re about to go about your day. And if you go about your day too, too much longer, it just all depends. If you’re just intent on filling this as a need, you’re going to call the next competitor and the next competitor, you’re going to keep doing this until you find someone who comes back to you. But if literally 60 seconds later, your phone buzzes and it’s like, Hi, Andrew, this is bill from Bill’s electrician, you know, whatever.
Um, uh, just got your request. Do you need to schedule an estimate or do you need to schedule a time for us to come out? You’re like, Holy crap. Right? Like you’re paying attention and then you’ll start the text back and you’ll engage. And then we, of course, we eventually take this further because you put a little AI in the mix.
So like you might text back. Yes. Bill. I actually do need you to come out. And then of course on our side, bill is nowhere to be found. I don’t know where bill is, but we know that yes. I want you to come out means yes. I want you to come out. Right. So then we’re texting back. Oh, awesome. Andrew. Well, here’s a link to our estimates calendar.
Grab a time that works for you. You’re like,
Andrew: the estimate calendar, the local business owner, has it, or is that another feature that you guys
Shaun: Yeah, we brought that feature
Andrew: it. And so right from the beginning, you said these small businesses are not going to be able to respond fast enough. And Andrew is going to say, screw it. His kid’s going to be tall enough to hit the light bulb.
Why are we becoming what’s this here
Andrew: about this little thing, or you S you pick it up when I’m impulsive and I sign up and the person comes in. I get it. Okay. I see what you all right. Let me talk about my second sponsor. And I think this is also Kayla. Great for agencies. Get this. There are agencies now who figured out the same thing you have businesses want to pay for clients.
Right? And so what they do is they say, what am I going to get clients, I could buy ads. I can run websites and so on. But one way to do it is to go to LinkedIn. They go to business. I say, what’s your ideal customer, right? The business might say, you know, what, what we really need is, um, What we really need is sales people there ended up being our best customer.
Great. I’m going to get you salespeople. Where, where do you want them? San Francisco. Great. They end up going to LinkedIn. Yeah. Do searches for salespeople in San Francisco. They start hammering away at the keyboard, sending personal messages to them, and then they close the state. Actually don’t close a sale.
They get the customer to the point where they’re interested in signing up for the software or for the service or whatever. And then they hand them over to their client and say, here it is. Now I get paid for sending you these leads, right? All this lead generation is done on LinkedIn. All they need is patients and a keyboard.
And if you chat to people on LinkedIn, because you could, you could narrow your search. So tightly. If you chat enough to the right people, you will get those leads and you’ll be able to send them over to your customer. Who’s going to pay you because they’re going to get on a phone and close sales, uh, that you’ve warmed up, or they might even continue them online and then take them offline.
Anyway, that’s a whole business that many agencies are doing. I didn’t even know about this. Well, there’s a company called that said, you know what? We can automate this. What do we do? You’re searching for people. Great. We’re going to give you killer search so you can find the right people on LinkedIn.
What’s the first thing you do. You send them a message. Great. Well, if you send them a generic message, you’re going to be another one of these people who seems clueless. We’re going to customize your message. And so have it feel more personal to the person because we know who they are. They’re on LinkedIn.
And then we’re going to fire off the first message instead of one at a time, as fast as you can copy and paste from your little notepad or as fast as you can type it in yourself, our software will do it for you. One at a time, one at a time, one at a time. And when someone responds back, that’s when we’ll hit you up and say, Hey, this person’s interested.
This person is a salesperson who wants a software, they’re ready to chat, chat with them. And you could chat with them. That’s what’s opto created. And their whole agency’s being built with people who say, I’m just going to sell leads by using Xarelto to generate leads for my customers. Does that make sense?
It’s kind of a, it’s a new thing. I want to make sure that I’m explaining
Shaun: great. We actually have a lot of agencies that do this work and so,
Andrew: I’ll really, they get paid for finding leads like
Shaun: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I think for, especially in the business and business verticals, I mean, it’s a very. Good way to do it. And you know, we have a lot of folks that integrate those products with ours since we don’t do that.
And I’d love it if it’s up there to the same. So please
Andrew: um, you can even search not, well, you could even search, not just based on business, title and information on LinkedIn. You could say anyone who’s been on my website. I want to send them a message through LinkedIn without being creepy about and saying, I saw
Shaun: Well, it’s also multi-channel right. So once that person is engaged, once you do get that person, you know, you need to follow up with them. You need to book them into your calendar. You need to send out emails, you got to get into drip, sequences, CRM, all that stuff. Right. So it’s a really good lead in,
Andrew: You might even be able to say, you know what, my customer, Sean, what your customers, um, what’s one piece of software that they, that they will continue to use even after they sign up for high level
Shaun: Oh gosh. Good question. Um,
Andrew: HubSpot. Is that a big one? HubSpot. Is that a big one or
Shaun: Oh, cause we replaced subs
Andrew: You were replaced HubSpot. I
Shaun: So I mean, I would say most agents, uh, you know, like QuickBooks or something I’ll use, we don’t do, we don’t do that.
Andrew: Okay, well, in some businesses, what you can do is you can say, look, if they’re using this software, they should be using mine instead of it. Right. Oh, how about that? HubSpot, you do a search for all the businesses that use HubSpot. This is what your team could do. Do a search for people who are using HubSpot.
Import them into Xarelto. Xarelto finds him on LinkedIn, sends them a message and says, you know, you’re using HubSpot, but maybe it’s HubSpot and their agencies. You say, you know, you’re using HubSpot. I can create your own HubSpot that you can create for your agencies and make right this whole thing. All right.
Listen to me, people there’s so much more that this thing does. If you want to use it right now, I’m going to give you a special URL where you can go and sign up your whole business. You can get clients come from or you could start a whole business where all you do is use opto to get clients will pay you to get.
You know, leads for them using Xarelto. Alright. It’s here’s a URL. It’s get dot dot com slash Mixergy, and it’s get Geet dot Z O P T o.com/mixergy. When use that URL, you’re going to get to use their software. You’re going to get a demo. So that will make a lot more sense. And you’ll see a lot more features than I can communicate here.
And I want to know if somebody is starting a business like this. If you are, let me know, I want to promote you on Mixergy. Alright. Okay. Oh, and we should reach out to them. Sean, tell them that they shouldn’t, they should integrate with you.
Shaun: Absolutely. API. So we’re, we’re, we’re very easy to integrate.
Andrew: But then they do integrate then. Well, anyway, they showed me all the things to integrate with w w they said, look, if someone has an API, we’ll integrate in a work.
Shaun: All right. It’s developers dot go. High-level dot com. That’s what I have to say.
Andrew: All right. The thing was starting to work for you, right? You you listen to Nathan Latka podcast with the founder of BirdEye. What is BirdEye and how did it open your eyes?
Shaun: Um, yeah, so I loved BirdEye because the founders, um, or didn’t I think the founders were not necessarily specially positioned in any particular type of way. They seem like. So really hardworking guys. And, but what they were doing is they were helping small businesses and that was my passion. And they had that.
They talked about how they did it. They talked about how you use cold email to get the first 10,000 customers. And, you know, that sort of thing. And I thought, Oh, this will be great. This could be our kind of our distribution strategy for, for our products. And that was kind of my starting
Andrew: Hi, you said, look, if they’re using cold email to get customers, I know agencies and my new customers, I’ll get them through cold email to ask you this. One of the best books that I read was on writing by Stephen King. And I think in that book, he said that once he saw bad writers published, he said I could be a good, I could, I could make it as a writer because if these guys are doing, did you have the sense with BirdEye also that look, if they’re doing it, I think I could do it.
Shaun: I had the sense, although, I mean, history will show that that’s not where we went and that’s not what happened, but because that was not the, that was not the technique that worked for us at all.
Andrew: Oh, you mean that’s it, but what about the software suite? They seems to me I’m on their site
Shaun: Yeah, the software, the software was a good start. Absolutely.
Andrew: You said, look, I could build better software than
Shaun: Absolutely. I was like, look, I can do the engineering. I’m not afraid of that. I think we can do a great job. Um, that, that piece was w w was, was easy for us.
Andrew: Ah, so it was the idea. Look here, real human beings using a method of reaching customers that make sense to me selling software that I think we could create. Cause I’m a, I’m an engineer at heart, right. I might make mistakes in other parts of my life, but I get this. If they could get to what 50 million in revenue, we could two
Shaun: right. Or, or I’ll take 10% of that,
Andrew: Got it. If you could even do $5 million. Boom. You’re good. Okay. So that got you really fired up about it. You were still focused on reviews, but this agency started shifting your attention towards more and more and more. And like you said before, once you found your customer base, you’d give them all the features you want, knowing that if one agency needed it, all the other agencies might be similar.
Okay. All right. And so cold email did not work for you for getting more referrals. Did this first agency referred you? What else worked for you for getting customers in the beginning?
Shaun: That’s it?
Andrew: What about that mastermind that you went to in San
Shaun: Well that, so that, yes. So that is that. So that’s just the continuation on the feet.
Andrew: That was it.
Shaun: Oh, yeah. So it was like this, it was like, you know, so it was like, okay, the first agency, and then the first agency introduces the 13 and then one of those people said, I’m having a mastermind in San Diego next week and you fly down.
I had no idea what the heck that was for the record. Um, I just, apparently I, it turns out it’s a bunch of people get together in a room to talk about stuff. And so, um, there were 40 agencies in that room and all 40 bought that product that day. Um, and
Andrew: Well, your product. What was the agents? What was it? The mastermind.
Shaun: Uh, well, it was a gentleman named Rob Bailey and he has an agency coaching program called Richard close. And this was a bunch of agencies showing up to learn how to grow agencies, right. And start agencies, grow agencies, et cetera. And, you know, I realized that there’s this whole world of coaching out there, which I didn’t know existed before.
Um, and you know, between coaches and recommending us to their students and also just agency owners recommending us to other agency owners. That has literally been our growth plan today.
Andrew: What was it that they, they liked about you? They could have pieced together multiple apps,
Shaun: They were piecing together multiple apps and vast majority of them
Andrew: what apps were they piecing together?
Shaun: you know, you name it, you know, it could be active campaign or click funnels or Calendly or. Um, you know, uh, schedule ones or, um, you know, some people might throw in some texting and Google sheets and, you know, etc, etc. Um, you know, all of them were, you know, depending on how sophisticated they were, the number would just grow.
And then of course they would string it all together. It was Zapier and it kinda sorta roots.
Andrew: you know, Jim, is it Shaki or shaky?
Shaun: I don’t know.
Andrew: Oh, you don’t know him.
Shaun: either. I mean, I know him, but I don’t know how to pronounce it
Andrew: Oh good. I just occurred to me. I only see him online. I’m going to say Jim Shaw, uh, Jim Shockey, I didn’t get why high level made sense. And then he came back to me and he said, you know how you do all these things and you use.
Ways of connecting it. And then I realized, Oh yeah, I think I’m so clever that I get to use Zapier to connect my email marketing with my click funnels landing page. And then from there I get to use acuity scheduling. But it’s a lot of work to get that going. And when one thing changes, you have to go back and change everything.
And for other people, it doesn’t make sense. He said, well, you know, you do all that. A lot of businesses don’t want to do it. Here’s where high level comes in. That’s the difference. That’s why you’re. So when I sit here and say, all this exists, and you could do best of breed, you say they don’t want to do best of breed.
They just want to solve it. And it helps that the database is all in one place. And if you want to send text messages, you don’t need a Zapier to send the text
Shaun: That’s right. Great. A lot more consistency. And, you know, in reality, I think, and I found this in my last app and I didn’t want to talk to a lot of software engineers. You’d find the same thing. You know, it’s, it’s like the 20, 80 rule, right? So it’s like 20% of the features do about 80% of the lift. And so, you know, while you may go into a quote unquote, best of breed and see it instantly in features, the number of people who actually utilize most of those features is very low.
And if you just looked at the features that are used by the majority of people, it’s a very small subset.
Andrew: Right. And then there’s also overlapping features, right? Landing page software also comes with email marketing. Right now, email marketing software comes with landing pages. They don’t necessarily do better than the other in their different categories, but, okay. And then the thing that stood out for you was the white labeling.
Where did that come?
Shaun: Yeah. So, yeah, so that, okay. So, so I think that it’s reasonable to say these days that all features can be engineered. I don’t think it’s, I’m not, I’m certainly not going to stand up and say like we got here because of an amazingly, you know, insurmountable features. What I would say is we’ve focused on a customer base that no one had ever treated as a first class citizen.
And if you look at the agents in space today, every other platform sees it sees them as a sales channel, right. And a sales channel just means, Hey, look, there’s somebody who has customers that we want. Maybe we can find a way to convince them to get their customers over to us. And then we can get more customers from them.
Isn’t that cool. And you know, the schemes vary from just asking to maybe some kind of affiliate situation, but at the end of the day, it comes down to this. If that agency goes out of business, that platform could care less because now they’ve got those customers direct. So they’re good. We treat them as first class citizens and what we want.
And we also thought it was important that it’s not just the soccer and this is the other big, big, big, big piece. If you look at most small businesses, the people that we truly are trying to help, you can give them all the software in the world. You could give it to them for free and the likely that they could do much with it.
And it’s pretty low. They need the marketing agency in order to make it all work. And so for us, it was super critical that we never wanted the small business or the agency’s customer to get the idea that somehow the big trick was that they just happened to use the software. We still white labeled it specifically so that they couldn’t get that impression.
And they would focus on the person that was really providing the value, which is the agency. Because time after time, after time, I would see small business owners make the mistake of thinking they could do it themselves. And man, they’re just wrong every, every step of the way. And in fact, it just makes sense.
Actually, if you just think of the next time you go in to see the dentist and you’re sitting down in a chair, they’re getting you ready to numb you up. If the dentist starts talking about funnels and marketing automation and all this new software that he’s been, he or she has been focusing all their time on, I think you’d start to get a little concerned that maybe they’ve forgotten how to use that dental thrill.
It just doesn’t make sense. People need to treat market marketing is what it is. It’s a real vocation. It’s, it’s a skill like any other and thinking that small business owners thinking I can pick it up on the side, like as a hobby or something. I just think it’s a bear and big mistake.
Andrew: I think that, I think that makes sense. We eventually end up hiring people internally for our, I think that our listeners would, and I think the other part that makes sense is using agencies to get customers. What’s what. One of the things that I’ve noticed with that model is the customer inevitably feels, why am I paying this agency to use software?
I’m smart. I can do the software myself, or why don’t I just go find another agency? I’m thinking about infusion soft, for example, which I don’t like, um, with infusion soft, you hire somebody to set it up for you. You decide you don’t like them. You go to Infusionsoft’s own marketplace and they help you find somebody else to take over from the first agency.
Shaun: I’m sure the agencies just love that.
Andrew: Right. Right. And then the next agency gets to complain that the first agency didn’t set it up. Right. And so on. Um, alright. And so you let them label it as their own. That means they keep the customer for life. They get the same kind of lock-in that the software gets.
Shaun: Here’s the, here’s the other piece that’s very important because we also enable them to sell the software as a, as a standalone product to their customers.
Andrew: A customer could always walk away. They get to keep using the software without the agency. They keep paying.
Shaun: You don’t want you don’t like your agency, fine fire agency, you think are smart enough to do it yourself. That’s cool too. Maybe you are great. Just keep cheap the software. That’s fine. But it creates a revenue model for that agency. And I think really realistically and variably those small business owners come back around at some point, even if it’s for a limited, a limited time engagement, um, to, to add some other services.
Andrew: I find a company that’s doing this? What do I find? Like a white label version
Shaun: well, we don’t, we don’t really, we don’t advertise
Andrew: You’re not going to say it. Okay. All right. I’m
Shaun: I mean, I mean, I mean, we have tons of them. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I mean, there’s, there’s, there’s lots of people. I mean, one of my favorites is a company called LA hustle. So go low, go low, go low, a lot of hustle.com and he’s one of our,
Andrew: LA hustle?
Shaun: he’s a great story.
He, he came, he was, he was, uh, an attorney. He still is. Um, and he got into this so much that he decided to start a marketing agency. So now he, he, he does marketing for law firms.
Andrew: And now if I, if I go to his site, Oh, here we go. Monocyte. Does that mean you created a site he’s using.
Shaun: Know, his website, his website could be hosted on our platform. Doesn’t have to be big of using HostGator. Um, and, um, and, uh, but, but when you go to app dot go LA hustle.com,
Shaun: which is his login page, that’s where you start to walk into high level land, but you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t know it
Andrew: No, the design looks so good.
He did a great
Andrew: he did a great job. I, I wasn’t sure what that would look like. Um, based on the name, cause you know, some hustle is kind of
Shaun: Yeah, I know he asked me about that name early on and I thought, I don’t know that word hustle seems weird for law, but he’s, he’s like, Oh no, the lawyers love it.
Andrew: There he is Chris Lisle. And so your, his software comes from you. Got it. I see it. I was hoping I could see like screenshots within it, but he doesn’t separate it. He doesn’t separate, he doesn’t show screenshots of high level, right? No,
So we have people have added in things that are just off the wall. Cool. Um, it’s, it’s really starting to become a platform.
Andrew: All right. No outside money profitable right now. All right. What are you putting your money into Bitcoin real estate
Andrew: engineers? You just keep reinvesting in the business,
Shaun: Oh, absolutely.
Andrew: not taking any out, saving it and making sure that that part of you, that’s always worried. Things are going to go away and
Shaun: no, because we want it. We want every agency in the country to be our customer. We have our mission. I mean, we, I believe that we are doing the right thing to help small businesses in the right way by empowering the right people. And I’m committed to seeing that through.
Andrew: All right. The website is go high level.com. I kinda, I kind of would like for you to change your name, to go high level.com to go high level. No, you like
Shaun: A lot of people, a lot of people know us that way and I’m happy to call myself. Don’t have a week. I love that name.
Andrew: Yeah, I noticed you don’t really care. The company is high level. The website is go high level.com, but you don’t care about your own company name. You care about your customers getting to put their name on your software and then getting to work with their customers. For anyone who wants to go start a website or needs to move their website over to a better hosting company, go to hostgator.com/mixergy.
And if you’re not sure what to sell as an agency. Go to zap Del man, you could sell leads to people, leads the convert leads that they’ll value. And if you want to get started with them, I’ve got a long URL. So I’m going to end this interview by saying thank you, Sean. And then I’m going to say the URL here it is.
It’s get that. dot com slash Mixergy, G E T dot Z O P T o.com/m I X E R G Y. And of course we’ll have links to everything, uh, on the site. Thanks, Sean.