Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses.
Join me as a Mixergy listener, who, um, our team said, well, his numbers don’t exactly hit our minimum, uh, for revenue. But when we heard his story, we said, this is, this is a freaking interesting story. And then we saw the product. He’s a creator of Groundhog. And we said, how did nobody else create this? We believe that Adrian Toby is going places in the way world.
I consider us lucky to have him on here as a guest to talk about what he’s building. So Adrian Toby is the creator of Groundhog. It is a CRM and marketing automation, WordPress plugin. Basically what it does is if you know, infusion soft, It’s basically that inside of WordPress, if you know, um, I don’t even know if they’re calling in Infusionsoft name.
I think they’re calling QI or
Adrian: Convert kit active campaign.
Andrew: these things. He’s created it inside a WordPress. I think he’s made just one mistake with it. And that is he’s charging too little. What are you charging? 40 bucks a month. No matter how many email addresses people have, but the beauty of doing it inside of WordPress is.
His tool, his plugin knows if somebody is, it’s been on your site after not being on the site for a while. And so you could send them a message. It knows what they’re doing on your site. You don’t have to tell the software, the software is part of the site. And so that, that, uh, connection makes it really strong.
The other thing that I like is, and I don’t think most people will understand this, but a few people will and really appreciate it is. You could bring your own email provider, your own SMTP connection. You just plug it in and then he’ll send through there. So if you have deliverability issues with your email marketing software, just switch to Amazon’s delivery.
Don’t like Amazon. Great. Postmark does one. Don’t like them. Great. Send a SendGrid does one. Don’t like those Adrian’s built his own. Go get your own from wherever. Right? So you get deliverability in your own hands. Anyway, this is the software that we’re gonna be talking about. And we can do it. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors.
The first, if you’re trying to create software that excites users, just like I’m excited by this. Um, and you need a great developer go to top towel.com/mixer. Do they will fricking rock your world. They have the best of the best developers. I hate super lit. It was like that. We’ll get into the details of what they do in a moment.
And then second. If you’re building a website in WordPress and you want to take advantage of Groundhog and so many other plugins and tools that go along with WordPress, just go hosted on HostGator. If you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, they’ll give you a deal. But again, I’ll talk about those sponsors later.
First, Adrian. Good to have you here.
Adrian: I’m really excited to be here. And I just want to say thanks for having me on the show. I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you. Yeah.
Andrew: Your mom suggested that we have you on, she reached out, you guys work together and you’ve worked together from an early age. What’s what’s that first business that you remember your parents doing. And obviously this is your business. I know it’s separate, but I love the family connection here. What’s the, what’s the first business that you saw your parents do?
Adrian: So, so my origin story starts when, really when I was in between 13 and 14 years old, just starting high school, really. Uh, and even possibly earlier than that, uh, my parents for many, many, many years, uh, ran a digital marketing training organization called training business pros here in Canada. And, and what they would do is they would train.
Entrepreneurs and business owners, small business owners, all across the country. How to. Uh, essentially grow their online digital channel with typical digital marketing strategies that were available back then, this is all pre Google Panda, which essentially means it was what easier to rank on the first page of Google.
You got your back links, you do your keywords, you know, make sure your keyword is in the title, in the URL and the description, you know, for four or five times the content minimum content size in a thousand words or whatever. Uh, and it was a fairly simple process to put 30 to 60 people in a conference board room at a hotel.
And we would go, and my dad would stand on a stage that we would bring with us and essentially go through the process. Everyone would get a workbook, uh, and we’d go through the process projector and train these people how to. Essentially build their digital channel to attract visitors and then turn those residual leads.
And then those leads into sales. Now that obviously didn’t last, uh, Google Panda
Andrew: Wait before we go into why it didn’t last. I’m looking at the site right now. Your dad’s like this, this rockstar, first of all right here. I don’t know what his personality is, but it feels to me like he’s somebody, who’s just, he’s got a magnetic personality. Am I right about that?
Adrian: You are, you wouldn’t be wrong. That’s for sure.
Andrew: Um, but I could see you he’s targeting right now with the site medical professionals, people in finance, people of marketing agencies, he wants to help them build their, uh, build their audience. Your job was what, at the time, when you were a kid,
Adrian: My job. So I did pretty much everything in the business besides actually get up and speak. Uh, so we would go to trade shows, which is where we would put bums in seats. That’s where we would find people we’d go to the small business expo or we’d go to the tech conference or
Andrew: you would sell tickets, the
Adrian: yeah, we sell tickets.
I literally carried around order forms. And we, we did more business with the people at the booth rather than the people actually visiting and attending the conference. Like that’s what we were really there for as the people who’s, you know, we’re there to get business like more business, like do it online, you know, stop coming to these things.
Andrew: you wouldn’t get kicked out the conference. Wouldn’t say, Hey look, these people pay to be here. They didn’t pay for you to come and solicit door to door.
Adrian: My, my dad’s magnetic personality allowed him to make lots of friends with the organizers, with many of these events. So nonissue.
Andrew: good hustler. Move that I remember Jamie, Siminoff the founder of ring. He and I knew each other. When we were both living in Southern California, he said he couldn’t get enough money in the early days to promote his business. And he did the exact same thing that you did.
He would just go to the conference and try to sell people who are coming to the conference. And he did a better job than people who were in the boots. Okay. So that was yours. Your job have. A lot of confidence. I’ve now watched you in preparation for this interview. I’ve seen you here, we’ve talked before.
Um, I wonder how much of that came from you talking to strangers and saying, come buy a ticket to, to my dad’s thing, to my mom’s thing.
Adrian: Probably a lot. I remember on one occasion, um, I had a conversation. I was probably maybe 15 at the time. And I had a con I was having a conversation with a fairly, uh, established business owner. Uh, and we were selling essentially we sell like $400 to a starter course where you’d come in. You’d like, get the basics.
And then the upsell from that at the back of the room was to get into like the $3,000 three-day course. Right. We had a whole, we had a whole, our whole sales funnel planned out. The first day was $300 and you go and you get the basics. And then the upsell from back of the room was the 3003 day course for that one.
And then the upsell from that one was essentially what we call like a, like, it was essentially the all access pass. Like you get a whole, like five-year pass to come to any training. You’ve watched, let us know that you’re going to come, coming to events for however many thousand dollars. And I remember having this conversation with a fairly established business owner, uh, and I had explained the value so well that they ended up just.
Paying full fare right away without any sort of help. And I’m sure they got a kick out of the fact that I was 14 at the time and then may have had something, but they signed their credit card, everything, and it was processed later. So that was a big win for me at such a young age. And, and that’s kinda like where the entrepreneurial history started my other, Oh yeah, go ahead.
Andrew: Did it help you when you were dating and as a teenager, did it help you feel? I always thought if I had this training, I would have had a superpower, but instead I was trapped in this need to break out and talk to people that didn’t even know how and what to say.
Adrian: I’ve I’ve never been a big data. I’ve had, I’ve had a series of long-term relationships is, is, is how I prefer to do, to do
Andrew: Were you able to go and talk? I don’t know
Adrian: but I’ve never had a problem talking to anybody. Uh, no, I’ve never I’ve if, if there’s a conversation that I feel that I can add value to in some sort of way, I will not hesitate to introduce myself and say, Hey, listen, you know, is there a way that I can add value to your conversation
Andrew: By the way, I said your dad was like a rock star on the photo, but he’s, he’s a jazz star. He won the Juneau award, which is a big
Adrian: nominated you didn’t
Andrew: nominated. Okay.
Adrian: Who’s nominated. Sorry to add, but
Adrian: I want to be
Andrew: this is, this is me getting a little person with your dad, but as someone who, who was on stage as a musician, who’s a good musician.
Was it, was it hard for him to sell digital marketing services? Did it feel more like he’d become this, this office C guy, like the TV show office when he wanted to be, um, a rockstar musician,
Adrian: It’s a personal struggle for him still like 20 years later to this day. Um, He learned how to be an entertainer long after his music career ended the truth of the matter. Uh, he did a lot of personal training, a lot of personal speaking, which I in turn absorbed through essentially sitting in the back of the room of literally hundreds of seminars.
Um, and he really went through his actual like entertainer. Presenter personality change after the end of his music career, which happened in 2001 after nine 11, uh, his, his, his, his, uh, his career ended on a kind of nine 11 because Arcadia records, which is the label that signed him was next door. To the towers when they came down.
So that was, that was the end of that. And then it was kind of like, well now what do we do? He has all of this original sheet music decided to sell it online. And that’s when the digital marketing’s like, well off, I can sell it online. I can teach other people how to sell it online and went to Tony Robbins and, and took a whole bunch of personal training and then took speaker training, train the trainer postmasters.
And here we are
Andrew: that. And do you do any of those things? Did you? I wanted
Adrian: took all my dad’s courses.
Andrew: you did. So if you got those Tony Robbins CDs, you would listen to them and actually absorb them and not want to rebel against them. That’s worldview.
Adrian: Well, he had to drive me anywhere everywhere. I’m 23. So I got, so while we were working together, he would drive everywhere. And so we had the CDs all in the, we had a, we had a Lincoln with a six CD changer. Yeah. We just put all load all 60 days in and you’d change one from the next 10. What w what was I supposed to do?
Andrew: You know what? I, I heard Diane Keaton’s, uh, autobiography and in it, she talks almost in a sad way about how much her dad liked this type of thing, but he seemed like a happy person from her description. He seemed like he was getting a lot of benefit from these types of this. It wasn’t CD’s, I’m sure it was records at the time.
And I always wondered why, why she felt. Why she felt so put down that he was listening to it. And the only thing I could come up with is that was her dad. This is her rebellion against it. He would listen to Dale Carnegie or read Dale. Carnegie’s how to win friends and influence people and believe in it wholeheartedly.
And she had to somehow fight against it. But you didn’t have that.
Adrian: No, I, I believed that. You know, I mean, the pro we can believe anything that we want in this life and we can see things. And we can say, I don’t believe that, or I do believe that, but really at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is results. And the only thing that I observed from a young age, my family, when my dad’s music career ended, we moved back in with my grandparents.
Uh, and we bought a house which was condemned three days later. And, and it was, it was, you know, from when my memory sort of like concretely begins, it was a rough start. So the only thing that I can, you know, attribute to the fact that we live in Toronto, or I live, I live on my own at this point, you know, Thankfully, but my parents live in a nice house and have nice things and can afford to do lovely experiences.
And the thing that I attribute that to is those CDs in that personal training. And that’s really the only thing. So if it works, it must work like there’s the results count
Andrew: You transitioned as a family or he, your parents transitioned from teaching this to creating an agency. I wonder why,
Andrew: what, what do you mean what happened?
Adrian: Google Panda was the end of old school, Google search algorithm. And after Panda, the digital marketing landscape changed forever because it became so much more complex for small businesses and entrepreneurs who will wear many hats in their organization already. To take on the hat of digital marketing and then do all of this work themselves, you know, the back links and the keywords and, and making sure that the user experience is good and the load times and all of these things, it became too much software, too much hassle, too much training that we couldn’t get, uh, an excellent result for small businesses in the three days of our digital marketing program that we allotted.
And it was just no longer feasible for the small instituted to do it themselves. And then with the, with the introduction of things like Infusionsoft and active campaign into the mix, it just Sue is like, okay, well, we’re not going to be able to give or have enough time to train these people, the information for the right amount of money.
Uh, to get a reasonable results within the expectation of time to work the cost. So it’s just, it didn’t make sense. So out of, out of the, I won’t say ashes because they still train people to this day. It’s just that much higher level. Um, out of that sprung a done for you, a digital marketing agency in the five figures per project kind of region to essentially offer full service.
You give us a business and we’ll give you back a new one, essentially, the type of deal.
Andrew: Okay. And then you somehow created your own WordPress product lift. Lyft,
Adrian: So it’s form lift, um, for lips. No worries. Uh, that started out of necessity to scratch my own niche as all things do. Um, We used infusion soft, which is like the OJI now infusion soft. Now keep the O G small business CRM and marketing automation tool that really kind of brought us the drag and drop canvas of creating automation to create customer journeys and user experiences.
Andrew: just pause. So this was a thing that I think many people understand how revolutionary infusion soft was, but if you don’t, I just want you to understand that the cool thing with infusion softwares, you could. Say if somebody clicked on this tag, send them that message. And if they didn’t send them a different message and based on that kind of, if then they created this visual editor that you could design a user experience, even if you weren’t a digital marketer who obsessed about this stuff, because you could see the, you could see the decision tree right there on your screen.
Right. And that was the amazing thing that they did versus a Weber before that was just add people to a list, send them all the same thing.
Adrian: It was great. And it’s still great. Like it’s still. Like keep it still great software and it does amazing things and businesses are using
Andrew: I don’t. I don’t agree. I don’t agree because I don’t agree because first of all, their pricing is kind of whacked out. If
Adrian: it’s much different than it used to be. That’s for sure.
Andrew: they definitely change it. In some ways. I feel like they’ve been humbled in other ways, they’ve gotten more arrogant, but it’s, uh, it’s. The problem that I think they ha I have with them is that it’s, it’s very much a, what can we do?
Let’s just sell, sell. They, they, their attitude is better for enterprise than it is for the SMBs that they were recording. And then it’s less dependable. Um,
Adrian: though, it was revolutionary at the time that I was using it, it was, it was like, Holy shit. This is something that we can do. Now. We can create these amazing customer journeys and experiences that literally no one else is offering. And. If you can create a better and more convenient and efficient customer experience, you win.
Like that was the name of the game. So we were doing this, the only one of the big problems of this though, was the entry points to all customer communiques within infusion soft, which is the web form, which is give me your email address and I can send you an email. The problem with Infusionsoft’s way of doing that was that their wet Farmar module looked like straight out of before the internet was even created.
It just looked bad. It wasn’t mobile responsive, and, you know, you could, it was very clunky and you couldn’t add it. And it was just, there’s still so much wrong with it. It hasn’t changed at all from when I created form of three years ago, which is baffling to me. So.
Andrew: have to say, even three years ago, if you were using a different form, if you were using something like ClickFunnels, you could connect it. Couldn’t you.
Adrian: You could, but again, who wants, if you’re already spending 300, $400 a month on Infusionsoft, why do you want to go spend $300 a month on click funnels to just solve that one problem?
Andrew: When the sales person sold you on the fact that you could get email and forms and front to end, it would be all done for you. Okay. I got it. All right. So then you saw this as an opportunity. You said there’s things there, thing I’m going to say. The word stinks. You could do something bad by the way. I’m not, I don’t mean to rag on them.
I’m a customer of theirs. I’ve been a customer of theirs for a long time. I think they’re really decent people, but I also think they’ve got some hard edges to their personalities and to their software. And they’re probably not made for the S and B world, but enterprise for sure. Or they should be in that world completely.
And it leads to give you an, a sense of how confusing it is. People call them Confusionsoft. Now they call themselves keep, but just to add an extra level of complexity, they call themselves, keep with K E a P spelling. Like they, like, there’s nothing here that is logical and makes sense, which is disappointing from a company that’s supposed to bring order to a communication platform.
All these, my words, you’re competing with them and you’re being a lot nicer than I am. Uh, and I’m a customer of theirs. There that I’m
Adrian: I’m not, I, I, as much as I love to weigh in on the conversation, I do have to be very careful with what I
Andrew: Okay. I get it. So you said I’m going to create a form. That’s going to make it easier for people to get email addresses and other relevant data into infusion soft. Is that what, um,
Adrian: That’s where I started in my software development and software company in Germany. Uh, my dad came over to my desk and I’m like, Adrian, I, you know, I was going to computer science. I was taking comp site university, university of Toronto at this point in time. So he walks over to my desk, which used to be on that side of the room.
And he says, Adrian, I need you to freaking solve this problem for me. Like these forms are terrible. Like fix
Andrew: clients, you
Adrian: for his clients,
Andrew: and your, a student learning this stuff. So why shouldn’t you be able to do
Adrian: Why shouldn’t I, so I’m like, okay, whatever. So I, you know, I go home and I, I. I do some, I do some like super like, you know, put my coat or sunglasses on and put my gloves on.
And I’m like chomping away at the keyboard. And three days later, uh, I have like half, you know, half a page of code, but that does something really bad. And, uh, we, we put it on a webpage and guess what? It kind of works. And with that, and that was like the start of it. Right. And then we started using that for our clients.
And then, you
Andrew: Before you go into that. Why didn’t your dad just get a gravity form, a subscription. It’s like a hundred, 200 bucks. You’re done.
Adrian: Well, the gravity form integration for Infusionsoft didn’t exist at that point in time yet.
Adrian: So there wasn’t, there wasn’t anything like literally, like there wasn’t, there was nothing that worked except for maybe thrive the thrive themes, thrive, leads forms, but that only supported first name, last name, email address.
There was nothing for like the full fledged web form out there at the, at that point in time,
Andrew: are you connecting your form to theirs?
Adrian: So, uh, infusion soft provides unstylish HTML form code that you can use to just stick on your website, but no one
Andrew: an API. You’re just using the form.
Adrian: Yeah, no. So there’s an API, there’s an API end point that they provide to just download that issue on code.
So what form does at the most basic level is we go grab that unstylish code. We parse it and we build it into blocks and stuff. And then we add our own styling to that and just slap it on a WordPress page and call it a day. But it w that is a much more friendly process. If you can believe it than what they were providing before.
So people were like, wow, you know, this is revolutionary for me. And you basically the, the old process of using or creating a good looking Infusionsoft web form. Was getting the HTML uninstalled, HTML code faffing about for 45 minutes, trying to figure out how to style at CSS, realize that you couldn’t style CSS, go to Upwork, hire someone for like $30 to do the CSS, uh, and then paste that on your WordPress website.
And then when you want to change something, realize that you couldn’t have to go back to that same developer pair, pay another $30. And then go through that process every time you want to change something, the form lift, what you do is you install this WordPress plugin on your site. Uh, you connect it up to Infusionsoft with your API key.
Uh, and then you have access to all of your web forms with a drop-down you select which one you want and click import. And then we will take that we will parse it and we will style it. We give you all of these extra little functionalities, like turning fields on and off or hiding fields, or auto-filling them with information.
It makes that really easy. Uh, and now you have a web form in a few minutes, rather than possibly a few days, which was the typical way of doing something like that.
Andrew: Okay, you did it for him. You did it for his clients. So he used it for his clients. Um, did you had you end up doing in school?
Adrian: I I left. I, uh, and so I was in my third year, but I switched to part-time to do agency work and work on formwork full-time
Andrew: Form lifts you, one of the problems that you told. I see it I’m on there on the mana page, but we told our producers one of the problems was you charged a one-time fee for it, right?
Adrian: Yeah. So I experimented. With four or five different pricing models for that, for that stuff. So my first, the first iteration on that was super janky and did very, very, very little in waves of actual functionality. I sold for like $27, one time to a bunch of people. Um, and then it got a little bit more serious.
I invested a lot more time and development and features and usability and making it like a real WordPress plugin. Um, and then I sold that for like $99 one time. And then I went and I got easy digital downloads, which kind of opened me up to the way that real WordPress companies do business WordPress plugin companies do business, uh, which is the freemium model, which is very popular.
And then having your paid ad ons. Um, that is the way that the vast majority of WordPress plugins these days operate. And I think it is still a very good method for WordPress plugin companies to grow. Uh, there are lots of other business models out though. Like just having like the one premium version and, and obviously just not having me at all and just going full premium.
Um, but that was my first light. I’m like easy digital downloads. It looks like they’re killing it. So I’m just going to copy them. I’m going to just do exactly what they’re doing. Cause I, why do I know better? Right. So I’m just going to do what they do. So I separate forklift. I create a free version. I throw it up on wordpress.org.
I then create a bunch of premium add-ons to add stuff like file uploading or signatures, or kind of just like stuff that people ask for from me. Sometimes I just created, uh, various different ad-ons and then I create a product called the all access pass and I would sell access to the suite of tools for something like $29 a month was, was, was my original price, I
Andrew: Okay. I don’t remember, but.
Adrian: that works. Like that’s that, that, that works. And people started buying extensions and started buying these all Xs passes. And I then invested more time in forklift and creating these things and answering tickets and emails and, and, and talking to other Infusionsoft partners about, you know, getting deals and having them use for lift for their, for their clients.
And then I flunked out of my first course ever. And the history of my entire life. I got a 48% in CSE, two 65, because I spent more time working on form lift in the library that I did study you on material that I really should have been studying. And that that year was the year I’m like, well, you know, my am I going to continue to spend something like 8,000 Canadian dollars a semester?
Uh, on my, on this computer science degree that I probably won’t need because I’m like bread entrepreneur. I, I honestly think that I’m not, I’m not hireable because I just, I’m also like a controller personality type. If you ever do like the quadrant exercise. And I, I just require a little bit more investments in everything that I do.
So I’m like, am I going to need this degree? Right. Is it worth it to spend all of this money and accrue this debt? And to spend this amount of time when I could be doing other things like building for Lyft or maybe something else. Uh, and that’s what like I’m out of here.
Andrew: Your parents give you a hard time about that.
Adrian: No, they’re like, go for it.
My, my, my, my mom was the one who wanted me to go to university. My dad didn’t care. My dad has never had to show him, show his university degree to anyone who’s in the higher life. Uh, so he’s like, if you don’t want to go when I was deciding whether I wanted it, uh, after I graduated high school, it’s like, if you don’t want to go, I’m not going to make you go.
But my mom was like, you have to go. So I went and, uh, but when I’m saying, Hey guys, listen, you know, this is not something that I need. I, I feel like I got my university experience. I joined a fraternity and I had a great time there. I was on the board and everything. And. And, uh, I had a lot of fun. We had some, she had some great parties and I learned a lot about working within a board context, which is much more difficult than some people realize, uh, even just at the small units, diversity level, where there’s, the stakes are very low.
And, uh, I had, so I had my opportunity, I had my experience and then I’m just like, you know what I can do be I could be doing better things with my time.
Andrew: All right. Let me take a moment to talk about my first sponsor. And then I want to come back in and see what, what happened here at this business, and then how you ended up not pivoting starting another one. Um, you mentioned. Developer. One of the things that I love about top tower is the caliber of developers that they have there.
So since we’re talking about WordPress, I said, what if Adrian needed to hire a WordPress developer? Let’s just see, I just typed in WordPress into top towel. Let me tell you about the first person. The very first person who came up, his name is Brett. Poor Sally, or maybe it’s poor Kelly. I don’t know. Brett has nine years web development experience with the PA in the past six years spent, uh, spent, uh, with the past six years spent honing his skills with WordPress plugins and themes.
He’s an expert in WooCommerce and is the author of simple sales tax plugin, a popular sales tax compliance solution for WooCommerce. And then it goes on to explain who he is. This is the caliber of person we’re talking about. People built real plugins, started real agencies have real product experience.
And they’re available for hire at top town. And if I scroll down and see, where is he in the world? He happens to be on the East coast. It looks like he’s somewhere around New York, Massachusetts area. The reason I’m bringing this up is Adrian. When people think about how do I, where do I hire? They think of one or two things, either.
They say I’m going to invest a whole lot of time and go through this whole hiring process. And it’s going to be this big dramatic thing for our company, or they go, I’m just going to go to these cheapo freelance sites and I’m going to hire someone who’s inexpensive. The reason they want that. Big drawn out processes because they want someone who’s great who they can count on the reason they want the cheap freelance process, because they want someone quick.
It doesn’t have to be either, or there’s a new way. And that is top towel. They have a top of the line developers, people who take pride in their work who have spectacular reputations. Who’ve done the work that you Adrian are looking to hire for, or whoever is listening to us right now is looking to hire for they’ve done the work and they’re ready to do it for you.
All you have to do is. Not even higher. Just go to top towel.com/mixergy and start a conversation with one of their people. They’ll tell you if they got the person you’re looking for, they’ll get you on a call with them. If you decide to hire great, if not walk away, you’ve lost nothing, but I believe you’re going to be impressed with the caliber of people that they bring to you, Adrian.
And if you use my URL, I get credit, which means thank you. But it also means you get 80 hours of developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours, in addition to a no risk trial period. So they’d make it incredibly advantageous for you, Adrian, to sign up and for everyone else to sign up and go hire from top tower.
That’s top of the top of your head towels and talent. Top T a l.com/m I X E R G Y. top.com/mixergy. You should call them. I’m not screwing around. I’m telling you people who I’ve interviewed end up hiring what’s up.
Adrian: I worked with them in the past.
Andrew: You have, I was wondering who built the site. So the F the first
Adrian: I did.
Andrew: of form lift was you
Adrian: Yeah, I,
Andrew: lifts with you from beginning to end.
Adrian: yeah. Still is
Andrew: Why did you decide to move on? What was the challenge that got you to say? I think I’m ready to start something different.
Adrian: the reality with form lift is that it’s a very niche product infusion soft has only so many people. Uh, users in the world. And as you’ve mentioned, they have also had some turbulence in terms of image, in terms of public perception, in terms of retention, um, that, you know, I would get cancellations from form lift because people stopped using infusion soft.
Now I, as a business owner, I don’t really want to put my livelihood, my revenue and, and my income in the hands of something that I have absolutely no control over, you know, that’s, that’s, you know, that’s some of the problems that Facebook based businesses have and, and people who create apps for Facebook is they’re essentially putting their, their lives and their product and their own perception in the hands of somebody else.
And, uh, one of the, one of the. One of the CDs that my dad used to listen to, or a book that he read and something that I have absorbed over time, because he told me no, if you’re going to own the business, I’m the customer. And with forklift, I didn’t own the customer. If they left infusion soft, they weren’t my customer anymore.
They were still Infusionsoft anymore. Formerly is what I would call a utility product easily. Disposable. Right. Nothing that they build their business around, like Confusionsoft, which is what I call a platform, product. Something that is very much integrated into the core of their business. And it’s something that is deemed essential unless they’re like super fed up and they have to leave and switch to HubSpot or ActiveCampaign or something else.
So the, and then on top of that, there’s only so many Infusionsoft customers, only some of the peoples use WordPress only. So many of those people need formwork. So like you get, you know, 30% of 30% of 30% of there and you end up with a very small sample size of possible customers for lift in his best year to 30 grand us USD.
Um, and last year it made a little bit less than that. It’s gone down since in, in, in usability since then, which I don’t know if something that’s relevant to how formal it is perceived or something that Infusionsoft’s perceived. So then it’s like, okay, well, what do we do then if we’re going to build a software company and we’re going to build a product, that’s going to help a lot of people then what is it that we’re going to do?
And we analyzed and we analyzed and I thought, and I thought, and you know, I looked at what we have the most problems with in our agency. Right. We did, we did agency work day in, day out, and we identified a lot of the pain points. And then at the end of the day, we’re like, why don’t we just build a CRM and marketing automation platform that just plugs into WordPress and just solve all of our problems overnight.
If only I knew it wouldn’t be overnight.
Andrew: It seems like a pretty hairy proposition. First thing I notice is when it comes to email marketing software, there are tons of them. I’ve interviewed loads of them and they all seem to not all, but there’s a, there’s a big enough market that many can do well, constant contact and MailChimp and whatever it is that Noah Kagan came up with.
I forget what that is and convert kit and infusion soft and all these can just survive. And then there’s a new entrance who can still do well.
Adrian: Well, there’s, there’s, there’s, there’s always new businesses, right? Like people start businesses every single day, as long as there’s new businesses, there’s opportunity for, for business to business tools to disrupt and, and grow.
Andrew: So the thing that I, that stands out for me though, is how difficult isn’t it difficult to keep track of, to do marketing automation, where you’re trying to add essential you’re recreating Infusionsoft.
Adrian: Is it difficult? Yes, Mary, um, the, I think back to some of the software and some of the products that we built from from day one and I built the entire, I built. The, the MVP, the first version of Groundhog, if you will, by myself in two months, uh, and then released it. And I’m like, what do you guys think? And, and, and, and, and sent it to people.
And I’m like, install this and use it and send me a feedback. Uh, and I got mixed responses, you know, it works.
Andrew: was janky.
Adrian: It was, it was janky.
Andrew: did it do? And what was janky about it?
Adrian: It works. The UI was acceptable. The user experience was subpar, but it got the job. It did really what it said it was supposed to do. It’s just, it, wasn’t what I would call a refined experience.
And I look at some of the backend stuff, you know, the code that people don’t see normally, although Groundhog is an open source product. So if you did want to go look, feel free. Um, but if you look at the backend code of, of some of those earlier versions, I just kinda like, what was I thinking. Um, is, is a much more refined and robust product today than it, than it was originally.
And that’s good. I think.
Andrew: What was it supposed to do? Was it going to tag people, get their tags in your database? Was it going to send email? It was.
Adrian: Yeah. So marketing automation. So having, having the automation or those funnels or the customer journeys or whatever word you really want to use in the, in the actual platform, we just used the word funnels because a lot of people understand the concept of what those are now. Uh, even if it is totally overused, which I think it is, but, you know, just, just use what people know.
Um, so basically, you know, if something happens, do a sequence of things until another thing happens to a sequence of things until another thing happens, like that’s what it does. You can send a broadcast emails, you can add your custom fields, you can have your, uh, your sales pipeline to have a booking calendar, basically pretty much anything that you would expect to get from.
Uh, Infusionsoft active campaign or HubSpot, you should be able to get in some form from our WordPress plugins, just installed WordPress website integration was the big, the big one though, like the, the, the problem with the software as a service platforms, the cloud hosted ones, the ones that you’re paying monstrous amounts of money per month for is the fact, or one of the problems is that you can’t easily integrate it with WordPress, which pretty much all of us are using to build our websites.
Andrew: Why, why not? What’s the problem that they have for integration with WordPress.
Adrian: It. Well, the path to integration is not clear. In many cases, it requires some sort of obscure third party add on to do that does a whole bunch of things, but you only really need it for like one simple thing. Uh, um, David Bullock, cause a friend of mine, he, he is the developer behind them. Barium is a great guy, but essentially you need to go buy , which is not an inexpensive product, just to be able to do like.
Payment Dunning on WordPress from infusion soft, but it’s really a whole membership, uh, payment Dunning, like, uh, failed
Andrew: hasn’t paid, you got a Fe pale. Got it. And so what you’re saying is, yeah, infusion soft. Doesn’t have that one bit of code that you can put on every page on your site that would allow Infusionsoft to know what people have done to know whether they’ve clicked over from an ad and therefore trigger an email.
Adrian: And not that forklift did that, like that, that was one of form capabilities and something that I was just stuck into there just to be like, you know, to make our agency lives easier to get that information so we could do cool things
Andrew: So you, in order to have email that understood what people were doing once they were on the page, so that you could respond with more email based on what they did on the page, you felt you had to create the whole email experience from the ground up to make it easy for the web and email integrations to just be for them to just be one.
I get it. Why build it within WordPress. Why say I’m going to deal with everything that comes along with WordPress. Their design comes along with WordPress. The, uh, the fact that you’re going to miss out on square pay space, people comes along with the word pro with WordPress. Um, the fact that you have to give me the code that you wrote mean it’s because you’re on WordPress and they require that right.
So anyone can go and see it. Why build it inside of WordPress instead of saying, you know what, I’m just going to put it on groundhog.io. And if anyone wants to use it, they could use it there and I’ll give them a plugin that will, will send me data.
Adrian: It’s what I knew. I am not, I didn’t finish computer science. I didn’t, I didn’t go get my degree. I knew I still know very little about software development and the massive investment that it takes to go build. A cloud-based software company. It’s, it’s ridiculous. The, maybe not the things that you need to know, and that’s just not, that’s just not my skillset, but I didn’t, I also didn’t have the money.
To go out and spend a bunch of money in, uh, for, for people from top-down to go build something that I was just going to be the visionary of. So it came down to all right, well, what does it mean? What does my skill set? What do I know? What products can I provide? That’s going to add value to the marketplace and add value to people’s lives.
And I’m like, well, I told the WordPress plugin, I’m just going to build another one of those, because that’s what I know how to
Andrew: Got it. And then the, the advantage for the user is, and I like how honest you are, but the advantage also for the user is they’re in WordPress. Anyway. That’s where they’re typing out the blog post or copying and pasting it in. Why shouldn’t it be the same place where they go to send out email, just copy and paste it in there too.
Adrian: And also, I mean like WordPress is 35% of the internet. Now the top 10 million sites predicted to be 50% by 2025, which is like, ridiculous. So, I mean, and it’s not, it’s not like I’m cutting myself short on potential business, right? It’s like, there’s, there’s plenty of WordPress websites out there that I’ll be able to interact with.
I’m not, I’m not cutting myself short on
Andrew: why didn’t you do this? Why don’t you do the freemium model that you mentioned earlier? Offer Groundhog for free and then have an upside for anyone who want to do something else.
Adrian: Oh, this is something I’m going to I’m. So, so this is also something that I’m happy I did and that I regret I did. Uh, and there’s lots of reasons for that. I made big mistakes in terms of pricing and positioning and my first year, which would be like, From August, October of 2018 to October of 2019. And that year I made many, many, many mistakes about positioning and pricing.
Um, you, you mentioned it briefly in these calls, like you’re doing you’re way too inexpensive for like $40 a month. Can you believe that? I sold it for much less than that, uh, in my first year and the reason I thought I did that because I started out with the freemium model again, because that’s what I knew.
I knew how to do freemium. I did it with forklift. That’s EDD, do what I see WooCommerce do it. So I’m like, if they’re doing it, it must work. Right. I’m not going to argue with a proven business model. So that’s what I did, but I did it wrong. I stuffed the free version with way too much value.
Adrian: And I made it, I made it basically so that they didn’t ever need to buy anything if they didn’t want to, which is a problem.
So I stuffed the free version with way too much value because I wanted to essentially just have people say that is so amazing. I’m going to share it with everyone that I know, and then kind of just achieve mass adoption and then, you know, once reach critical mass achieve profitability. The problem with that strategy is, guess what?
I didn’t get a $5 million check from a venture capitalist. So guess what? I don’t have money, which means I need to make money in order to reinvest into the product and to, to keep the lights on and keep the server going and keep the website up and pay the hosting bill. Like those are, those are just realities of business.
If you don’t have a $5 million VC check, I bootstrapped this business from zero. So for an entire year, I just got so much value into that free version and my pro version, which I sold with basically everything in it. So all of the extensions that we offered, all of the premium value of the premiums for everything I sold for one 99 for a year, which comes out to less than $20 a month.
Um, for, for a single site. And then the only differentiating value between the higher packages was the number of sites that you could install it on. So one site was like a one 99, five sites was two 99, 10 25 sites. It was like three 99 or whatever. And it was just, I was just stuffing so much value into these plans, which, you know, on the surface sounds great.
But the problem with that, and this is knowledge that I received from a number of mentors that I’m grateful to have in my life. Chris Badgett lifter, LMS got me into Cabo press, which is hosted by Chris lemma. Who’s a, who’s a big WordPress from commerce guy. Uh, and I shared with him my problem, and everyone else at Cabo press my problems.
Like why is no one buying this? And why is, why am I not making money? And every single one of them said in unison, Too cheap. It’s not expensive enough charge more. And I’m like, why? You know, but there’s so much value. Like why are people buying businesses? And consumers have an expectation of how much they should pay to solve a problem that costs so much money. And the fact that I was priced with so much value, add such a low price point, actually priced me too low. Out of the conversation, not too high, but too low that they would look at it and they’d say, yeah, right too good to be true. There’s no way that you can promise that much about that of price. But if you actually did what you said, it would, it would cost X amount of
Andrew: I was when I saw it. I didn’t think that I would think, um, it means I have a lot of D DIY to do on this, that this is great, but essentially what I’m getting is a get hub repo and go figure it out. When in reality it’s a plugin. I can make it work. Um, the only thing that I might need to bring with me is the SMTP connection so that you send out email and I think you even no.
Adrian: But even, yeah, so like a lot of, a lot of the setup of Groundhog is automated now. And, and it’s really kind of like a very seamless onboarding experience in, in, in many cases, unless you want to do like some crazy custom stuff, which fine, we’ll help you with that. And we have like premium support. Like we have like people on, on call ready to, to get you answers and to get you help.
And so people look at that pricing. They’re like, there’s no way that I’m going to be able to get the same level of service, the same level of functionality of product. If I’m paying active campaign $400 a month and why I won’t be able to get it for. You know, $200 a year. It’s just, it’s just not, not possible.
So we price ourselves out of the conversation in that way. Or like you said, people are just like, well, if it costs that low there’s there’s, there’s, what’s the catch, right? What am I, what am I going to have to reinvest in to actually get to work? Or what’s going to be my additional expense when the, when there really isn’t that.
So. Got back from Cabo press, uh, from that event and overnight I couldn’t wait. Like I just opened up an Excel sheet and I just started punching the numbers. That looked right to me. I went to, I talked to a guy also Devin Walker, who is the CEO of give WP, which is like the defacto donation for, for WordPress.
Uh, and he said, Justin, when I shared with him this problem, it’s like, just go to our pricing page and copy it. And I’m like, okay. So I went home and I went to his pricing page and God bless. And then I copied it. I copied the numbers you got. If you go to his pricing page and you go to ours, you’ll notice that there’s a, there’s a,
Andrew: What’s his site. I want to get a sense of it.
Adrian: uh, give wp.com great guide, probably to have on the show. Um, he’s excellent and very helpful and very kind and very, very honest and, and generous with his, with his, with his knowledge and his, with his experience. Um, So I went to his and I’m like, that looks good. So I sent an email out to my list. I had, we only like three or 400 people on the list at that point in time, when we got many users, I have much more now, which I’m currently getting great before.
Uh, and I’m like, Hey, listen, everyone, uh, I’m going to be changing the pricing in 30 days from now. This was, this was, this is what the new pricing is going to look like. It’s basic plus pro 20, 30, 40, and we’re going to basically make the all access pass, which we’re selling for who $200 a year now. And we’re going to make that $480 com.
November 1st, uh, which was the date. And I said, if you want to look in at the current pricing and you want to keep that pricing for the rest of however long, are you gonna use Groundhog? You can go and buy the plan that you want now. And we’ll grandfather you for the rest of fraternity. Uh I’m I believe in the grandfathering model and that O G customers shouldn’t necessarily be penalized.
For when you make poor business decisions. So I said, and also in a bid to raise money, uh, as well, because we’re heading into the slow season, which is December when people are much more focused on getting Christmas presents and we work with the solopreneur market on math. So they’re, their income is directly tied to the Christmas presents that they send out.
So the slow season for us is December. So in order to be in a bid to raise money for that particular season, Or like go, go invest and go buy. And we made a ton of money for the first time ever. We broke, we broke five digits, which is like a big deal for me. Cause we hadn’t done that before. And I see it and I probably seems like small potatoes to a lot of people, but you know, Like a year in and having like, struggled so much, that was like a big, when I went and bought myself a nice big bottle of scotch and it was an expensive bottle scotch, and I really enjoyed it.
And I had a, I had a, I had a a hundred dollars cigar and that was the first experience for me as well. Just had a great time. Um, and we switched the pricing over and we’ve stuck with that pricing ever since, because it just works now and I haven’t received. A text or we have, we have live chat. I remember receiving this question at least once a day, what’s the catch or it’s too good to be true.
You know, what’s the deal I re and I haven’t received that since changing the pricing. We, we, we increased the pricing, we pared down the value and we made it consistent with the, we, we made the perceived value consistent with the actual value. And we still provide a ton of value at a very low, low price point compared to our competitors, SAS software service competitors.
But now it’s much more reasonable and people are much more accepting and they see it now as a viable option to solve their very expensive problems.
Andrew: Uh, but essentially it’s still low. It’s $40 a month. I know the agency is 80 for $40 a month compared to on your own site for the lowest active campaign price, it’s $159. And you don’t scale up based on use. Like if I have a million subscribers, I don’t have to pay you anymore. Am I right?
Adrian: You do not. That is the beauty of self hosting.
Andrew: Because I’m hosting it myself.
The only thing I pay extra for is, um, extra plugin features like isn’t there one for this? If then thing that I was mentioning earlier, that’s a plugin that I think is like a hundred bucks. There it is conditional logic. I think it’s like $99 a year. If I want to accept payments using your plugin. That’s another one.
If I want to use your SMTP to send out an email, that’s another, that’s another price. So I could, it’s still cheap even with all that, but. At its core. If I want to do nothing but email, I pay you 40 bucks a month and I bring my own SMTP or you for a hundred bucks a year, give me a SMTP, which sends it out.
Right. That’s super cheap. Um, I still think you have room to charge more. I don’t think people make the distinction between you hosting it on your site. The way that say active campaign does or Infusionsoft and them hosting it on their WordPress site.
Adrian: I think they do.
Andrew: You think they do.
Adrian: I, you know, I want to rephrase that. I know they do. There is a cap. I believe that there is a cap and maybe there is room to grow within that cap, but there is a cap of what you can reasonably charge for. What is a self posted WordPress plugin. Now they’re, they’re
Andrew: know what the hell self holds it is.
Adrian: the agencies of which we work with mostly do.
They’re very, they’re very in tune our, our ne our, uh, ideal customer. Is the agency like that’s who we make the most money with. That’s who requires the least amount of support there. They help in the group, people solve problems. Like if all of my customers with agencies, I’d be a very, very happy man. And we do a lot of our marketing and focus on the agency market specifically.
And they are very aware of,
Andrew: imagine this agent, I’m going to talk about my second sponsor, which is HostGator for hosting WordPress sites and other sites. But imagine this son someone’s in the audience who goes, you know what fricking, Hey, I see how much active campaign I love active campaign. They’re the one that I do love.
So I shouldn’t be picking on them, but imagine they said everybody else for email marketing is charging a hundred bucks. It’s a month minimum. It goes up from there. I’m just going to create a service where I hook people up with say 60 bucks a month, a hundred dollars a month, email marketing services, and all know that there’s not enough budget for them.
Right. Basically what I’m trying to say is can somebody create the hosted version of your software, the hosted Groundhog
Adrian: People are, we can talk about that. Yeah. There’s a whole market. Yeah.
Andrew: So somebody can just say, I’m going to create the hosted version of this. And what would that look like? W.
Adrian: It’s called a, it’s called a Wes, uh, WordPress as a service, a guy named Michael Short. Who’s also a friend of mine and a mentor. Uh, is really popularizing that, that concept within the WordPress community. And basically what you do is you spin up something called WordPress multi-site and you can install whatever plugins you want on it, and then deliver that and charge for it, essentially as a service to whoever signs up.
And they don’t necessarily know that they’re using WordPress or they’re using Groundhog. Cause you can white label everything these days. So people are doing that. That’s a, that’s a
Andrew: maybe at first it becomes a service, but the margins are not huge on this thing. Right. But you can imagine them eventually automating the setup and then they have a competitor in the email market. All right, guys, if you’re out there and you have that idea or any other idea, and you want to bring it to life, go to hostgator.com/mixergy, just like that.
Actually, it’s not like that, Matt, for about, about as long as it is me to do this ad, maybe even less time than that, you’ll be up and running with a WordPress site from HostGator. It’ll be inexpensive. We’re talking to few bucks a month and it’s one that you can count on being there. And you could play around with it.
The idea of turning it into this agency where you’re reselling Groundhog. Great. If you decide that you want to list it as an agency, that’s reselling any of the software, the other people I’ve interviewed. Great. If you decide that you just want to list it and play around with it and then decide. Bows of it also great Mixergy was supposed to be a site that I was disposed of, but I just explored and I liked it and I kept it and I grew it.
The thing about HostGator is it’s so inexpensive. I think they even charge less than many of the note taking apps that I pay, they pay for it. And that’s how little it is. So instead of trying to note app, and you keep it on your own computer, do it publicly, or do it in a way that’s that could be turned public, play around with WordPress and then.
Take it up online. This is a great thing for you to do around the new year. hostgator.com/mixergy. When you use that URL, you’ll get the lowest price they have available to Harney low prices, but you’ll get an even lower price. And frankly, you’re not going to do it to save a few bucks. Um, you’re going to do it because you’re giving me credit and I appreciate you for doing it.
So I always stand behind anyone who uses the hostgator.com/mixergy URL to sign up for them. Um, all right. Your first customers, you got by going back to your parents’ agency, where you were working as a kid and saying, Hey, look, I’ve got this thing. Some of them signed up super. You then went to Facebook.
You bought retargeting ads. Those are supposed to be the best ads, right? Somebody comes to your site, you know, they know you, you buy an ad, you bring them back to close the sale. Well, did it do for you.
Adrian: Uh, zero. We spent, we spent 3000, not a single one. No, I was, I was awful. I am not I’m. I considered myself to be a good marketer. I can write. Good copy. I send great email. Um, pay-per-click advertising is not my strong suit. Um, and I like, you know, I’m a great marketer, Oh, I’ll go do this and I’ll fricking kill it.
And I spent all of this money that I really didn’t have to spend on advertising and it just absolutely. Bombed and I let it run way too long, much longer than I should have let it run. And it was just like, I was lulled into a false sense of security because one of the posts that I put out that I was running was getting lots of engagement, lots of lights and comments, but no sales spending that was logged in as false and soon, like it’s working it’s is getting engagement.
In fact of the matter is likes and comments don’t pay bills. Um, so I had to turn it off eventually. And just say, all right, well, we got to do this a different way.
Andrew: How much money do you lose on it?
Adrian: three, $3,000
Andrew: Okay. All right. Painful when you’re starting decent, though.
Adrian: painful when you’re in month three,
Adrian: Painful, painful, painful. When you’re playing with money that you don’t really have to play with. I was very fortunate that my grandfather, uh, Arthur Toby, uh, who turned 85 this year, bless him. Uh, is very smart with money and made it very, very prudent financial decisions throughout his life.
Even just being he’s a United church minister, a United church minister, and he had been for 50 years. Uh, but he made very prudent financial decisions and trade stocks at 85 on Blackberry, which chose totally beyond my realm of comprehension and, you know, go with him. Uh, he, he gave me, he gave me fam the family and friends loan at a nice 10% royalty and of steep 5% interest rate.
Andrew: Did he really charge you interest?
Adrian: As I said, prudent financial decisions. Um,
Andrew: he should have taken a piece of the business. Okay.
Adrian: Prudent prudent financial decisions, my grandfather, but I love him. And he’s great. And I’m very fortunate that, that he lent me that money. Um, and that’s what I was using to spend in order to do this. Full-time because I stopped working with the agency to, to, to pursue this. And I’m like, shit, you know, I just wasted all this money.
We gotta go find some customers now. And that’s when that’s, when I actually got into an actual strategy that I’m continuing to really go through as I’m on this call right now. So I went and Googled WordPress podcasts and just applied to anyone that had an application form. I, I didn’t, it doesn’t matter what topic it was.
It didn’t matter what specialty they were. I feel like I w I wasn’t doing it for self promotion. And one of the things that I believe in the universe is that if you provide value and you help people get what they want, you can have what you want. And just by providing value and helping people and sharing your experiences, that that is generally enough to, to receive some sort of universal reward.
For that. So I just go and I’d speak on these WordPress podcasts and I’d share my experiences in my trials and tribulations. And, um, I’d get, I’d get my 30 seconds to talk about what, what grandpop does and that it could help. Right. And as always doing that, people started coming to the website and they started checking it out and.
Uh, the podcasters would that go to their lists and said, Hey, listen, you know, I talked to Adrian, the founder of ground Kong to Groundhog. I started getting backlinks. Uh, and then the ball really clear, or the ball dropped, or, you know, it clicked when I got on a podcast with a guy named Jonathan Denwood from WP tonic, and I actually ended up coat Jonathan Denwood from WP tonic is the podcast.
Uh, and I actually ended up co-hosting with him for, for almost a year. Uh, or are you a little bit over a year actually. And I had a really, really great time doing that with Jonathan. I eventually stopped this year earlier this year too, because I just, I just got busy and I’m running a business. Um, and it’s hard to kind of juggle someone else’s podcast and, and with my business, but doing that, I met Chris Badgett from lifter LMS, and that’s when he posted in his group of something like almost 9,000 course creators.
The, the Groundhog lifter, LMS integration. And I got a flood of people coming and saying, does this, does this really work? Does this integration with illustrate? Because right now I’m using active campaign and I’m paying money out the wazoo. And I just like to install something on my WordPress website so I can send people reminders to complete the courses.
And I’m like, absolutely. Here’s how you do that. Uh, and that relationship that I built with Chris really spurred. The idea of, I just need to go make friends with all of these other WordPress product creators and have them tell their lists that we exist. And I’ve just been doing that and doing the podcast circuit and doing my best to provide value to various audiences.
Andrew: What did, what do you mean by channel partners? You told our producer channel partners are your, your best marketing source. Right? What does that mean
Adrian: I would consider my channel partners to be these WordPress products, people and the
Andrew: when they integrate.
Adrian: up when they integrate.
Andrew: they integrate and they say, if you want this, we now offer the connection. Got it.
Adrian: Correct. And also we do cross promotions and they share by black Friday a little why share their black Friday deal. Uh, I feature their courses. They feature my product. It’s, it’s a very, it’s a very kind of like collaborative process between a, a group of us. Uh, our group of us were press product creators now, um, in addition to that, we also have our certified partner, which is kind of like our second line channel partners, uh, who are also very pivotal in essentially reselling Groundhog and implementing it for their agency clients.
We give them a higher commission fee. Uh, in exchange for, for their essentially
Andrew: You don’t have enough. Is there enough margin there for you to share with them?
Adrian: Yeah. There’s enough. There’s enough margin.
Andrew: let’s say an agency will go to their clients and say enough, with all these outside services we we’ve installed Groundhog on your site. All you have to do is use this page to send out your email marketing.
Instead of going off to a different site, you charge 40 bucks a month, plus a few hundred a year for whatever extra bonus that they have. Even if they keep a hundred percent of that, that’s not that much. They must, they must charge more.
Adrian: So there’s, there’s two there’s two business models. Uh, there’s two business models for our agency partners that they do based on the kind of client that they have. Uh they’re they can use their affiliate link and we give them 20%. Uh, they can use that affiliate link. Their client will go, then go make the purchase and own their own licensing.
Uh, they’ll then do the installation and the service, or we sell the agency license, which you also mentioned, which we sell for $960 a year. And that comes with, uh, the ability to activate it on up to 50 clients sites and use it for up to 50 clients. Uh, and then they can either eat that fee entirely, or then resell it at whatever market that they want or incorporated into the retainer or do whatever really, after they buy the license, we don’t really mind.
Andrew: that’s right. Like the answer incorporated into the retainer. So the retainer is we’re going to charge you whatever a month to maintain your site, maintain your email main, make sure that, and don’t worry. You don’t have to pay for any extra software we paid for the whole thing, including your hosting
Adrian: As long as you pay the retainer, you get, do you get to keep access to everything
Andrew: Exactly. And then if you ever want to, you pay us something and we’ll transfer transfer, or don’t pay anything, we’ll just transfer it over to you. If you have want to manage it, but good luck going to manage those types of things.
Adrian: Yeah, and we make a lot of money, uh, based on that particular model with, with agencies who find that very attractive because they want to, you know, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, Own the client, right? If they stopped using, if someone stopped using Infusionsoft, that meant they stop using forklift.
If someone stopped using Groundhog and you were a Groundhog only agency, guess what? You’re out of the conversation too. But as an agency, reseller, who’s then using and owning all the license use now own the customer so that you mitigate that potential loss. If for some reason, they fell out of love with me, which doesn’t happen very often, that being said, but that is something that they consider.
Andrew: I did in preparation for this interview, go and see some of the interviews that you did. Some of them have just a few hundred people listening or watching on YouTube. Do you get customers from that? Is it significant?
Adrian: And I mean, I’m, I’m a small business, like many other small businesses out there. There, there are customers that I have who have bigger businesses than I do. And I’m okay with that. And at the small business level where we’re currently at. And if you, if you want me to share my revenue numbers, I’m more than happy
Andrew: I’m going to,
Adrian: sake of this call.
Andrew: Why don’t you do it now? What is it?
Adrian: Uh, so we’re currently doing 25 K MRR USD.
Andrew: 25 K a month. That’s more than when we first connected with you. You’ve grown
Adrian: black Friday was
Andrew: few months. Black Friday was good.
Adrian: Black Friday was good. That’s I’ll leave it there. Black Friday.
Adrian: did. And we have really good MRR, um, forecasting now. So because we sell things on a yearly basis, we chop that up into 12 segments and then forecast that over the full 12 months so we can predict revenue, uh, and everything.
And the previous month revenue was also very good. So we’re doing 20. We were predicted 25 K MRR for the next little while if sales holds beads. So. That’s where I’m happy with that. That’s a good place to be. After two years of bootstrapping on my email list is now around 4,000 people.
Adrian: Very, but there’s, there’s, there’s also the difference between a very engaged and high quality email list.
And my email is very engaged and very high quality. We don’t, we don’t keep people on our list for very long who aren’t engaged in order to make sure that delivery of the stuff is good and all of that fun stuff. So that’s, that’s how we’re trucking along. And even like 400, 500 views, you mentioned, you know, how do we make this from that?
People come and they find us. And if they ended up paying $960, you know, that interview was worth it because that means someone else eventually will also find the ability to, and come give me $960 and I’m happy
Andrew: find it this stage also, it’s helpful to keep practicing, talking about your product, seeing where people’s eyes light up and where they don’t. And I’ve also found, um, when I researched someone, I will go back and look for some random thing and find a video that was watched by 150 people where the audio is pathetic, but.
It has the one thing I need. And so when you leave these breadcrumbs in life, they come back and they help you with somebody down the road needing that one thing that you’ve just invested into the universe.
Adrian: I think it’s, it’s also a credibility exercise for me. I’ve been. Over the last two years, trying to build my credibility, not only as someone who creates software, but just as someone who has learned a few things about running a software business in the WordPress economy. Um, and I’ve applied to several speaking positions at word camps, which, you know, I love WordCamp and I love WordPress, but you know, it’s not exactly like the most selective process.
And I got denied for some reason. So obviously, you know, my presence. As a WordPress innovator is not there. So I’m currently
Andrew: feedback on that. I think number one, I do think you should be charging more. Number two, I think one of your best skills is communication and your personal brand is non-existent and you’re not capitalizing on it. And I think that there should be more people finding you and frankly, Especially while, while you’re at this young stage, figuring it out, people want to help out.
I think there should be like the Adrian Toby podcast or the
Adrian: I absolutely agree, which is why it’s in progress. As we speak someone is building
Andrew: with it?
Adrian: Uh, so, I mean, at the moment, the plan is brochure website, because just to get it started and get something out there to be Google-able and be searchable. I mean, if you Google Adrian Toby though, like I think there’s a soccer player who shares the same name and then the rest of it is me.
And like, you’ll find like author pages from websites that I built like four years ago at the agency. Like it’s all like Adrian Toby, except for that soccer player is basically all me, but I also need my website. They’re like Adrian told me.com. So that’s, that’s, what’s going on there. It’s going to have all my interviews on it.
It’s going to have, um, links to all of the written stuff and things that have been said about Groundhog and said about my other organization, said about form lifts and Mays. Basically, it’s going to be a brochure website. Agents will be podcasts, maybe coming soon after that, we’ll see. Um,
Andrew: way for people to just see you on a regular basis and be known as the guy who does something who helps someone with some thing, you know what I mean?
Adrian: Paid newsletter. Maybe
Andrew: Uh, I don’t know if the pain, I think that you could obviously compete with, um, sub stack the problem with competing with sub stack.
And I saw that convert kit is doing that is
Adrian: I saw that too. Very interesting.
Adrian: Variant. I saw, I read that too. And I, I looked at it and it’s actually the, the, the process of it. It’s very sleek and interesting.
Andrew: pro the thing is that everyone’s saying I will compete with sub stack by making a cheaper for you to collect money. Nobody who’s on sub stack right now is going, damn it they’re taking what 10% they’re taking. They don’t care. What they care about is, is anyone going to watch, am I going to be able to convert people?
Will they actually read my email newsletters and then, uh, and then buy more? What they care more about is. That’s the thing. And so I just, they just came up with their RSS, their, their Google reader, uh, experience, right, where you just subscribed to a bunch. I subscribe to, as soon as I went to, to add myself to their, um, to their beta program for this RSS reader that just focuses on sub stack writers.
They said, well, we see all these people are who you’re following on Twitter, have these sub stacks. So I thought, you know what? I don’t want to have an empty reader. Let’s just hit follow on all of them. The ones that I care fricking it. I go back into my email inbox. I have 48 email ever since I switched to superhuman, I get zero.
I mean, like it’s all managed. 48 is a lot through, they signed me up to email with every one of them and. In this case, it’s frustrating, but I can see that what they’re doing is working on how do I get more subscribers? I don’t, I don’t know that that’s the, I don’t know that that’s the con the place to be.
I feel like, um, we need to find an audience for you that you care about, and then that you’re obsessed with and then go after that,
Adrian: I wholeheartedly agree. I think, I think writing content and putting it out there for the sake of writing content, putting it out there is not required or helpful.
Andrew: Right. We need a thing. Like the founder of convert kit was really big with creators with bloggers writers, that whole thing, right? He’d written a few books. His mom was an editor who edited his books. The whole thing, the founder of drip arguably had better features. He didn’t have as big of an audience.
He told me. Partially because they didn’t obsess on this one group. They were for everybody, they were going to be email marketing done, right. Or email. Right. And that’s the difference. I feel like we need to find that one thing that you’re obsessed with the one group of people, and then you’re, you’re damn good speaker.
And I’m a little concerned about saying the word damn and hell around you. Because I use the United church. I started Googling who is the United church? Is that who you’re with?
Adrian: The United church. Well, I am not partisan to any particular religious Arthur Toby United church minister. Um, United church was, is like Baptist Anglican and Protestant. They in Canada, it only exists in Canada. Doesn’t exist. The United States, uh, basically the, the followings of these three separate organizations were not large enough to sustain themselves in Canada’s sparsely populated and widely spread region.
Right? I mean, when the United church was founded, the populated Chicago is not the forty-five million people that it is today. So they said, well, we need money. Some of you have money. We don’t have any money, but you’re going to run out of money if you don’t have us. So let’s just join together and, you know, let’s just agree on some few core concepts.
And then, you know, we’ll leave the rest up to the various different churches that they want to have. Uh, so that’s what the United churches is basically the reformation of all of these different sects of Christianity saying that we’re going to agree to some common underlying principles here, and then we’re just going to have a good time and share the wealth essentially.
Andrew: Did you grow up in that world?
Adrian: No, I did not. Um, I went to church whenever I was with my grandfather and, you know, I sang and I did the Lord’s prayer and all of that fun stuff. But my, my dad and my family was not particularly, uh, adamant on attending church. Uh, I don’t, I don’t, I’m not atheist or anything. I don’t think that, you know, the possibility of that existence exists and exists.
And I, I’m also very happy to participate in. In the congressional meeting and going and being a part of
Andrew: wondering, like, how does a guy end up liking his parents so much that he’s working with them then his mom is still like in his life and supportive like that don’t get me wrong. I have a good relationship with my parents, but this is like, this is next level stuff. You and your family. It’s. It’s nice.
I like it. I want to know, like what’s the recipe to get that.
Adrian: Well, I mean, one of the, one of the things that. I saw with my friend’s parents versus my parents looking back on it and sort of reflecting on the relationship that we had is most parents have look on their own childhoods and they remember the big mistakes that they made and the decisions that they would have rather made in order to be at a different point in life.
And then when they have children, they obviously want the best thing for them. And then they steer that child along the path that they think they should have taken themselves. Uh, but the child not, not always necessarily wishes that they had for themselves. And so there’s, there’s a, there’s a low, hidden resentment towards that.
Which inevitably ends up in, in whoever the child,
Andrew: And your
Adrian: saying, I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m going to go do something else.
Andrew: So, what did your parents do for you instead?
Adrian: Well, I mean, my dad looked on his child and he was a twin. He was in jazz musician for 22 years. He didn’t really have any experience or wish that he would have done anything differently because these girls was so abnormal compared to most.
So I, so he was just essentially going through this new life as always growing up. He was starting this training company and this digital marketing business. Uh, and he basically just said, Adrian, can you help me with this? Because I. No, we can’t pay employees right now. And I just need you to come and set up the booth while I talk to people.
And I’m just like, okay. You know, it was like pay. And also I got paid that’s that’s, that’s a big thing. I was never forced to work for free. I always got paid. Um, there, there should be, there should be reward for hard work. And my parents taught me the value of, of, of I got paid very well. I’ll I keep, I mean, paid very well for my age.
You know, I’d
Andrew: me an example of what you got to buy with the money you made as a kid.
Adrian: I only get a $20 bill and I could go to EBI games and I could buy a new video game for like my X-Box. Like, that was a good day for
Andrew: not, it’s not a ton, but it’s it’s you could, Oh, you could’ve made more money working for someone else,
Adrian: Um, I could have, but I mean, I was still working for someone else. I was like 13, 14, like where would I be working for someone else? Right.
Andrew: making, I was making $8, $6. No, it was, it was really, I think it was $3 and 50 cents actually working at Shiloh in on 14th street, in Manhattan, in the basement of a store that my dad sold clothes to. And I was frankly, happy to do it. Cause I liked work. I liked work. I couldn’t wait to get a job.
I was playing office. All
Adrian: And I also, I liked going to the trade shows and I liked meeting people and I liked talking to people and I like learning things. And, uh, I, I saw the concept of, of, of entrepreneurship as, as very enticing. And my, my parents never really said, you know, The, the, the belief system for them go to university, get a good job, save for retirement, right?
Like what many of us, except me grew up instilled in that. And like, this is the way that it works and I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work like that anymore. Like I know plenty of people who got graduate degrees from university family members that are currently unemployed. So, you know,
Andrew: the safe route is not safe anymore. That sucks, man.
Adrian: And so that’s a belief system that they didn’t hold, but I never heard. And basically the only thing that I was ever asked to do was just help out when, when I could, and then eventually. You know, the, the shoe dropped and it’s like, Adrian, we need you to come full time and work and like build WordPress websites and doing food and soft, and we’ll give you a salary and, you know, and I’m like, you know, okay.
I know a few things about this. I get to help people. Uh, I’m doing sort of computer science-y things. It’ll be
Andrew: fascinated by your business. I got to ask you one more thing. I’m sorry that, um, I I’m jumping in one thing, that one, I just love your business. I like, I love you. I love your business. I I’ve gotten to know you just a little bit through my research. Not like the two of us have ever met in person, but I’m just digging what you’re up to.
I’m looking at Groundhog. The other thing that bothers me is first of all, the price is too low for what you’re offering. But number two, the two GS in, in your name Groundhog with two GS, that, what is it that IO right. I feel like you could do better with Groundhog with one G that’s the proper spelling.co, but that’s like $10,000.
I’m not sure you’re ready to spend that much, even though.co is good. Imagine if you’ve got groundhog.ai and now you feed off of this whole artificial intelligence thing, but you got Groundhog with one G.
Adrian: The two GS was a requirement for trademarking in here in Canada.
Andrew: Oh, is that right?
Adrian: That’s why, that’s why we did two GS. You can’t in Canada, you can’t trademark a real word.
Andrew: You can’t trademark a real word for specific service. So Amazon could not be Amazon in Canada.
Adrian: Uh, I
Andrew: amazon.co.ca or something.
Adrian: I don’t know, my lawyer explained it to me and I just said, okay, so I’m not don’t don’t, don’t ask me about specifics or how exactly it works, but, but they said it would be much easier to trademark and you’d spend much less money. If you just went with a second sheet, so I’m like, okay, well that’s what we’ll do.
I mean, it doesn’t, it doesn’t appear to be a problem very often. And the whole.ai thing personally, for me, I see as like just, you know, I see active campaign promoting AI and artificial intelligence and, and this stuff at the end of the day, this is a fricking WordPress plugin. It’s not like we have some sort of like smart Alexa doing anything worthwhile on the backend grower
Andrew: All right, fair
Adrian: That’s just, I’m sorry that that’s
Andrew: go to groundhog.co. All
Adrian: I all
Andrew: how about this? How about feed off of the notion world Groundhog dots? So dot. So you know how notion is now notion dot? So you see people creating websites, using notion.
Adrian: Uh, I see. I mean, I get people who send me support tickets and notion is what I was when I seen. Yeah. They’ll like right out there. I mean, cause you know, the sport to get is like you’re playing texting. They want to send like this whole like diary of whatever’s wrong with their website. So they just write a notion and then send me the link and I’m like, okay.
But that’s, that’s what I see notion news for.
Andrew: I see notion used for so many random things. All right. Okay. Here’s bottom line. Everyone. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll want to try different email service provider. You want to see what they’ve got available for you. Go to Groundhog with two GS, that IO number one, number two, if you’re just curious about it, go to Groundhog dot, uh, dot IO.
Number two. I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen first, if you want phenomenal developers, people that I’ve hired I’ve hired from them. Adrian apparently is hired from them too. That’s exciting. You should to go talk to them. See if it’s a good fit at top towel.com/mixergy. Again, TLP etl.com/mix CRG Y.
And finally, if you’re hosting a new WordPress site, You want, or you want to move your current site to a new hosting company, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. Adrian. Two of us have been talking for almost two weeks.
Adrian: I S you know what I did, I did an interview yesterday that lasted all of 26 minutes and there was there wasn’t enough time to share anything remotely valuable in that conversation. So I appreciate the fact that we talked about a lot of interesting stuff and a lot of the things that I learned, and I got some great feedback from you, which I’m very
Andrew: I couldn’t stop, which, which is always an indication of how much I am a passionate about a business, but we did, we covered a lot about your pricing, how you started the business we covered, even in your dating life. And we covered whether your dad was resentful or not that he had to move from jazz music to WordPress.
Apparently it’s a transition, but he’s, he’s handling it really well. And partially he’s handling it really well because. Of all the self-improvement CDs that, uh, the three of us have been listening to. All right. Hadrian, thanks so much for being on here.
Adrian: I really appreciate the opportunity.
Andrew: All right, right on. Bye everyone.