Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses.
I don’t think in over a thousand interviews I’ve seen anybody else use social media as well as these two guys you’re about to meet. I mean, I’ve spent the better part of this morning looking at women in their underwear, guys with their abs, women doing YouTube videos, every one of these people basically looking phenomenal on camera and holding up this tooth whitening thing.
And that’s how these guys who you’re about to meet built up their business, by using influencers, getting their stuff every freaking where out there. I’ve seen unboxing videos on YouTube, the works. This is what they’re good at. This is how they built their business. They bootstrapped it and got it here and I invited them to talk about how they did it because I’m just amazed that it would be done so well. I feel like these are the models for how to sell and build a business in the social media world.
All right. Let me introduce them. On our left we’ve got Alex Tomic and on our right we’ve got Nik Merkovic. They are both the founders of HiSmile. It offers the most advanced teeth whitening product out there. The reason I’m calling it the most advanced is because they must have burned this into my team’s mind. I asked my team give me a sentence that describes what every company that I interview is. This is the sentence they pulled because this must be all over. You guys are not just good, by the way, Alex and Nik, at getting the word out there but at making sure that people understand what message you want to leave them with.
All right. This interview is sponsored by two great companies. The first will help you find your next great developer. It’s called Toptal. The next one will help you actually get people on the phone and get meetings. It’s called Acuity Scheduling. It will help you schedule with people. I’ll tell you more about them later. First, Alex, Nik, welcome.
Nik: Thank you much for having us.
Alex: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: Nik, since you’re center of camera kind of now, tell me what are your revenues 2016 for selling this tooth whitening product?
Nik: 2016 our revenue was we hit the $10 million mark within our first 18 months. So, basically, we started December, 2014 and we hit that June/July, 2016. For the year of 2016, we made $15 million in revenue, Australian dollars.
Andrew: $15 million?
Andrew: And how much profit?
Nik: We keep the profit quite close to our chest. We haven’t really opened up on that side of things. We are profitable. We can let that sort of be known.
Andrew: Fair to say that you guys have over $1 million in the bank?
Nik: I wouldn’t say in the bank.
Andrew: Interesting. Where is it? Is it in product?
Nik: We invest a lot back into the company. We don’t take a lot for ourselves. We don’t leave a lot in the bank. In product development, we’re constantly developing our product. If you saw what our product looked like on December, 2014, when we sold our first kit, it was completely different to what it is today. So, like you mentioned, the most advanced teeth whitening product, the reason it is that is because we’re constantly developing our product, so putting money back into the product, back into what got us to where we’re at now.
We think more long term rather than short term. $15 million is a good amount of money to make in considerably the second year of running the business, but for us, we’re thinking long term. We’re thinking bigger. We’re thinking of becoming a billion-dollar company, ultimately.
Andrew: Go beyond tooth whitening?
Nik: Not beyond teeth whitening, but with our teeth whitening company, we think we can become the biggest globally in the oral hygiene space. We can only do that by putting back into that machine and growing off the back of that.
Andrew: I get that. I feel like in the early days of television there were brands that were built with commercials, and then when infomercials came out, there were brands that were built there. Today we’re looking at social media. There definitely need to be brands built on this. Like I said, I’ve never seen anyone do it better than you guys. Alex, how much money did you guys put into the business?
Alex: So, when first started, we put $10,000 each of our personal funds.
Alex: We just went 100% with that. From that, we just started putting everything we made straight back into the business, and we just had a really strong focus on where we wanted to get and we just achieved it. We started taking it one by one and got to where we are now.
Andrew: How’d the two of you meet up?
Alex: So we’re family friends. We’ve been family friends for close to 10 years. We always had that thing. We just understood the market. We would talk about brands, break down brands just organically, not anything formal.
Andrew: I heard that. How would you break down brands? Give me an example of what you guys used to do?
Alex: By brands, I don’t mean just companies, I mean people, influencers. We just always understand why things were the way they were. So big brands like Apple, McDonald’s, Nike, why were they always so successful? Why could they last so long?
Andrew: What did you learn about looking at Nike? I like that you were doing stuff like that?
Alex: Okay. For example, Nike, at the end of the day, they’ve been doing influencers for the last however long they’ve been around for. So their scope of influencers is not a new thing. It’s just how you use influencers is the new factor that we’ve identified.
Andrew: What did you identify that Nike does with influencers that the rest of us with our more superficial view of it wouldn’t pick up on?
Alex: I think the way Nike uses influencers is different to how the smaller startups use it that don’t really take off. I’ll give you an example for HiSmile compared to a lot of other companies out there that attempt the influencer game. We target influencers that have influence over our target market rather just getting any influencer out there. So that’s the first step.
Then it’s about building a story around that influencer and not just having them post another picture. So, at the beginning, like we said, we send out products, they push it hopefully for free and we didn’t have much control over the content being put out. As we’re getting bigger, we’ve got more control over the content they’re pushing, and that’s where they can really leverage off the back of we give them the content that we want them to push based on their brand.
We’ve got a marketing team now that basically breaks down each influencer, why they’re a big influencer, what their reach is. Obviously every influencer has a different style of I suppose marketing themselves. So it’s about incorporating our product in their brand. So it might be doing an activity at home while using the HiSmile product, whereas some influencers are better known for pushing the product blatantly for being a product and just holding the kit as is.
Andrew: And you guys break that down before you work with them.
Alex: Absolutely. And on top of that, if you want to go one step further, we try as much as we can–it’s almost like storytelling. So some of the higher level influencers, especially Nike, Adidas, the big brands there, they all have a story behind the big influencers, they’ve got what are they unique in their sport, how do they act and they use that personality to further sell the product. The people looking at them are influenced by them for a certain reason, so focus on that reason.
Andrew: All right. I’ve got some notes here for us to come back and circle around to. You guys find the influencers who are not just influencers but influencers over your market. You now can control the content so they’re not just any old random thing about it and you’re giving them guidance. You break down what each influencer does so you figure out how to work with them.
You have a system you talked about before we started. It’s not just feeling it out at every moment. And storytelling with influencers is important. I want to get to that, but let’s build up to it by understanding how you got here because I don’t want to get to the tough part, which is what you have now, a really sophisticated system. I think it’s easier to build up to it when we understand the basics.
One of the basic things you guys did was you said, “Look, we love breaking down these businesses, understanding why some brands stick around and others don’t. Let’s take this passion and understanding we have and apply it to a market.” Then you started looking through lots of markets. You told our producer you spent 12 months researching. What I’m curious about is what was your process for researching, and how did you find this was the right gap for you to enter into?
Nik: Like Alex mentioned before, we’re both really similar, so when it comes to research, a lot of it’s done in our heads and a lot of it’s done through discussion for the both of us. We looked at the market as a whole. We’d look at Instagram and look at the products that were pushed through social media, especially Instagram because that was the one on the rise with the influencers and stuff like that. We’d see what they were doing. A clear gap was oral hygiene/teeth whitening. The products that were–
Andrew: How? How did you know it? I interviewed Alex from Luxy Hair who does hair extensions. I never understood how did he freaking understand that there were hair extension needs out there. How did you guys know that teeth whitening was a need?
Nik: At that time, it was the most boring market that we identified. Because it was the most boring market, we could come in and really create–
Andrew: How did you know that it was a boring market and no one made it fun?
Nik: All the products that were out there were really cosmetic feeling and dental and no one really played around with the concept. No one played around with the lifestyle factor of it, the fact that that really gets people engaged with your brand and not a transaction.
Andrew: You’re right. It is very clinical. You know what’s weird? HiSmile.com goes to a dentist who has a very clinical approach. You guys are HiSmileTeeth.com, which is the exact opposite. If anyone wants to see a difference between like before and after you guys came in.
Andrew: Why cosmetics? Why didn’t you say, “Hey, we’re going to do shirts, we’re going to do shoes, we’re going to do something different?”
Nik: I think around the oral hygiene space, back to that again, teeth whitening isn’t something that everyone needs, but teeth are something that everyone has. So it’s about then figuring out the products that we can add to our line and add to our SKU to make it a more global thing and we can reach more people. I think t-shirts, fashion, it’s a fad. It goes in and out and you’re competing. For us it’s about not competing. It’s competing with ourselves, first and foremost and having a product that everyone needs.
Andrew: I see. Right. Teeth whitening is never going to go out of style, we’re all going to want to have whiter teeth, especially if we’re drinking more coffee, which is an issue for me. I’ve never wanted a product more than I want your product after seeing those videos and knowing I usually sit and do these interviews with coffee, which is definitely damaging.
So I see that. You want something that everyone needs–and this is something that both men and women want. You want something that is in a boring space that nobody’s made interesting to bring in. I see. Okay. Now you have to go and create a product. When it was time for you to say, “We’re going to create this thing,” how did you figure out how to make it?
Alex: We identified what the key points that are customers really wanted. So what do people want out of a product? It’s time. People want a product that does whatever it says in the quickest amount of time with no inconveniences. So we identified how do we do this. We stripped everything back. Everything out in the market were long processes. You had to mold mouth guards. It was a really technical process. We stripped away all the technical side of it and just made it as simple as possible so people could do it on the go, could do other things at the time and made it in the 10 minutes and of course delivered results. So they’re the key things.
Andrew: But if no one else was able to do it, how were two upstarts who just happened to connect in uni, how do you guys do it, then?
Alex: It’s not that you’re not able to do it, it’s that a lot of the other companies I assume just go with what’s already out there instead of thinking further and identifying that everything is possible there. It’s just because everyone else has done it that way, they think they also have to go down that path, but you don’t. In any industry, you can form your own identity and your own product and your own ideas into that.
Andrew: You guys worked with a cosmetic engineer in Sydney. He’s the person who helped you put this together. How did you find this cosmetic engineer?
Alex: Through a lot of research, as much as we researched the product, we research–
Andrew: You’re just Googling around saying, “Who can do teeth whitening products?” You had someone make it for you?
Nik: Yeah, a couple of our connections as well referred a couple of people. So we spoke to them and told them what we were about and formed a really good relationship.
Andrew: You wanted something that you wouldn’t have to have people mold their teeth and send it back to you. What’s the deal with peroxide? I saw a bunch of people say there’s no peroxide. What’s the reference there?
Nik: So the peroxide in the market, it’s a big thing customers are looking at. It affects your teeth and causes sensitivity. That’s another factor we wanted to make sure our product had, no sensitivity. Again, I wanted to identify what were the issues with–
Andrew: How did you know that these were issues? Did you go to Amazon and see what people were complaining about? How did you know what issues? How did you know that peroxide was a problem?
Alex: When we started this, we picked apart every single detail to the industry.
Andrew: Where? Alex, how did you go and find out that people were upset about sensitivity? I didn’t know that was an issue. If I were looked to have my teeth whitened, I wouldn’t know the look for that.
Alex: We broke down almost every brand prior to starting and broke down what were they were doing.
Andrew: What’s your process for breaking it down and understanding the problems their customers had with it?
Alex: Our way for us was through social media. So looking at the comments people are leaving on their posts, looking at any reviews people find online, but predominately on Instagram, on Facebook, with social media, there’s a massive positive in that you can reach a lot of people. There’s also a massive negative if you aren’t a good brand or you do have negatives to your company. It’s going to be seen. You can’t really hide it. Customers are going to bombard you with feedback.
Andrew: So you would find people on Instagram saying, “I had my teeth whitened and they hurt?”
Nik: Multiple times. Twitter is a great place to search that. If you go to Twitter search and you type in teeth whitening, you’ll be surprised and shocked at how many times you see people complaining about brands and sensitivity issues.
Andrew: You put a list together. Do you remember something that stood out when you did this search?
Nik: Not particularly. Sensitivity was obviously one of the main points.
Alex: And common themes start coming to. So, like Nik said, sensitivity and inconveniences. People were identifying inconveniences. It was a long process. Some of them you had to do overnight, some of them 30 minutes to an hour. We just saw that was a constant theme people were complaining about. It’s like how did we get from here to what people want.
Andrew: Okay. So sensitivity was an issue. What else did you find as you were searching on Twitter and everywhere else?
Nik: Time was a massive issue. There were a lot of complaints. You have to reverse engineer what the comment truly means. People saying, “Watching Game of Thrones whitening my teeth,” or watching a two-hour long love whitening teeth. Some people were even sleeping with their strips in their mouth, and it’s like there’s got to be a better way. There’s got to be a quick way.
Uber did the same thing for the taxi industry. Like you asked, “Why weren’t people doing it that were already there?” Why didn’t the taxi industry decide to create an app that would be more convenient to use? They had the funds. They had the money to do it. You get comfortable and you get lazy. It’s similar here in Australia. I don’t know what it’s like in the states but we had Blockbuster and Video Ezy, these video stores. They’ve gone bust because they didn’t innovate against Netflix or predict the next move. We always try to be two, three steps ahead.
Andrew: Here’s one. Emily, January 29th, just a few days before we’re recording. I just did a search for teeth whitening. It says, “My teeth are killingggggggg from these white strips.” This is the kind of stuff that you were picking up on?
Alex: Exactly. But for us it was like every single day we were just paying attention, not just to Twitter, but to all platforms everywhere, reviews, the website. We were breaking this down like a lot.
Nik: It’s not just like one search and we identified it. It’s a constant addiction to that whole industry that we took for six months, twelve months before entering the market.
Andrew: Was there one other market that you considered that maybe was close to the one you were going to pick?
Alex: We were looking at a bit of skincare potentially and what was happening in that game, but we definitely identified teeth whitening pretty solidly.
Andrew: Okay. So you have this market. You have the problems you’re going to solve. You have someone helping you create the product to solve it. Do you then go and manufacture it?
Alex: No. From there, we spoke with the engineer. We got the product finalized, and then we spoke with a lot of manufacturers internationally to see who could do it and who could do it really well and package it finely.
Andrew: Where’d you find the manufacturers?
Alex: We did multiple–a lot of contacts. My father works over in Hong Kong and he has a lot of contacts there and also in Europe as well. So we’re lucky that we have–
Andrew: Working all your networks?
Andrew: What does your dad do, Alex?
Alex: He does finance in Hong Kong and he has a couple of contacts there through finance.
Andrew: How’d you guys come up with $10,000 each, fresh university students?
Alex: I lent some from my brother and from my mother.
Andrew: I see. And you, Nik?
Nik: Actually, I didn’t go to university. When I finished school, I basically went overseas for a little bit and then came back and worked long hours and saved up.
Andrew: I was misreading my notes. It was Alex who dropped out of university or I guess it doesn’t matter. Did one of you graduate?
Andrew: You just happened to be close friends, neither of you graduated. One didn’t go and the other dropped out.
Alex: That’s it.
Andrew: All right. So then you finally found a manufacturer. The manufacturer produces all this stuff, and you do something that then takes this business in a whole other direction from the way other people go. Before I get into the details of that, I’ve got to tell people about Toptal and then we’ll circle back to Acuity Scheduling because I think it fits in with the way you guys do business. Do you guys know about Toptal?
Alex: No, not too much.
Andrew: I should actually pronounce it very carefully. I’m like eating my words here. It’s top as in top of the mountain, tal as in talent. The idea behind Toptal is these founders looked around and they said, “Every one of our founder friends is bitching about the difficulty of finding a developer.” They said, “What if we become the greatest place for finding developers? That’s all we focus on.” So, they came up with this process for finding developers.
I actually interviewed them–I did a course with them for Mixergy about how they find developers. They said, “Andrew, we’ll never let you publish it.” I said, “Look, let me record it with you and if you change your mind and we don’t, I won’t publish it.” Courses unlike interviews I can edit. So, they talked to me about some of this process of how they find their top developers and then I finished record and said, “Thanks for doing it.”
He goes, “You realize we’re never going to let you publish that. There is no way we’re even letting 10% of what you just got me to say out to the public because finding developers is what our secret sauce is and we’re never going to even let a little bit of it out.” So, I said, “All right, let’s see.”
And I worked with them and worked on them and they still never let me talk about it publicly because that’s what they do well. They love the fact that out of 100 people who apply, out of 100 people who want to be developers for Toptal, 97 get rejected, 97 don’t make interest and the top 3% end up at this database for Toptal, the best of the best.
So, when a company like the one who’s listening to me right now is looking for a developer–frankly even you guys at HiSmile, when you’re looking for a developer and you want the best of the best, you go to Toptal, say, “Hey, guys, we need a developer. Here’s how we work. Here’s where we work. Here’s the way we like to work. We want someone full-time, part-time, whatever,” they go and get you that person and they hook you up and you can often get started within days.
If you guys are out there listening and you want a great developer or team of developers, there is no better place for you to go than Toptal–top as in top of the mountain, tal as in talent. Go to Toptal’s special URL for Mixergy listeners and they’re going to give you 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours and that’s in addition to a no risk trial period of up to two weeks–Toptal.com/Mixergy.
Hey, I’m actually looking at you guys as I do this and I realize this is not one of my best reads of the Toptal ad and what a time for me not to have the killing read because you guys are so good at this. Give me feedback. You heard me talk about Toptal. What would you do to promote Toptal if you were guiding me through that promotion?
Nik: In the style that you were doing?
Andrew: Yeah. I just read an ad and I know that it wasn’t good. I’m going to say there are times I go 100% and it’s great. There are times when I’m like at 25. This is a 25er. I could have definitely done a better job for Toptal. Give me feedback. What would you have done to make that ad read better?
Nik: I think you read it quite well, to be honest. For me, personally, I was soaking it in and trying to understand it because I haven’t heard of Toptal before. It sounds like a great service. It sounds like what spoke about before, what Uber did to the taxi game. At the end of the day, if you serve your customers and you put the customer first, you’re going to be successful.
Andrew: I think that’s my problem with the read. I was too busy talking about the process Toptal goes through, when in reality, nobody gives a shit about the process. What they care about is themselves. I need to identify the problem that a customer or potential customer of Toptal would have and then talk about how Toptal would save their life and then say if you’re out there and have a similar problem, Toptal can help solve it.
That’s the problem. I was actually frankly a little bit lazy there. I should have done a much better read. But that’s the way it is, right? It’s live reads. I like the danger of sucking or doing great. When I do great, I pat myself on the back, when I stink I’m open about that too.
On with your story–you guys get all this stuff and you start to ship it out for free, am I right?
Alex: To influencers and people with a big following.
Andrew: Who are the first people? How did you find that first list of people that you were going to give it out for free to?
Nik: To make it easier, we’re based here on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. We tried to aim local first, so Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne. We aimed local first. One, it was easier and cheaper to ship out. Two, we had more control of once they received the product, it was within our time zone, easier to contact them, easier to communicate. And three, ideally we wanted customers from Australia first because it was simpler for us to communicate with them and translate that message across to them to begin with.
Andrew: Were you shipping it out yourselves?
Andrew: You did. Oh, I see. So you guys took possession of all this stuff. You had it in your basement?
Nik: Yeah, basically in the basement, just at home.
Andrew: Okay. So you wanted to have local shipping. How did you know who the right influencers were and who was likely to actually use it? Did you check in with them and say, “If I send this to you will you post on Instagram?” or did you just send it out?
Nik: At the start, we basically just sent either a DM on Instagram or if they had an email, we’d send an email, basically, “We love your page. We’d love to send you our product to test and review. We’re a new product here from Gold Coast, Australia,” made it quite a personal message, “See what you think. If you like it, please share your experience.” Did that, sent it out and got pretty good results with that. Obviously not everyone posts with the product, but for us, luckily the majority did, so we knew we had a good product.
Andrew: And then they couldn’t link to you. What would they do to drive customers to you?
Nik: Yeah. They would link to HiSmileTeeth, not the website but to our Instagram page.
Andrew: Got it. They would @ you and then people would follow through and see that they could click over and buy.
Andrew: Do you know if that first campaign worked? You guys were shipping out a bunch of product.
Nik: It worked, but again, even now what we do with influencers, a lot of people ask, “What’s the ROI of working with this influencer or that influencer?” There’s no direct ROI. We think second phase. So first phase is getting the product to them and having them push it and that’s great.
So, perfect, we’ve got Skye from the Gold Coast promoting our product, beautiful, from “Big Brother.” That’s good. She’s got 250,000 followers. That’s great. It’s about her getting her followers onto our page and us having belief in our content that we’re going to push to keep those customers interested and engaged and then one month, two months, three months down the line having them convert.
Andrew: I see.
Nik: Obviously, you group them from day one, a few customers, but that’s a luck. That’s a Hail Mary pass. It works, it doesn’t work. That’s not a long-term strategy. For us, it was all about converting that second, third-month customer because that’s where the skill came in. That’s where the marketing–
Andrew: I see. Your thinking is it’s not someone’s going to see this influencer and go buy it. They’re going to see the influencer, follow our Instagram page and then when they’re ready they’re going to buy.
Andrew: You guys have a damn good Instagram page. Everybody looks freaking hot. So at what point did you start to actually demonstrate–by the way, a lot of women in their underwear and guys are showing their freaking abs. At what point did you start to actually get sales and know this was working for you? If it is such a long-term process, it’s hard to validate, isn’t it?
Nik: Sales, we started selling around the 15th of December, 2014. I think we made our first sell two days later.
Alex: Yeah, two days later.
Nik: So we started selling, and then obviously it starts with one sell, goes to two. Slowly but surely we built up. With our influencers, basically the best way to describe what we just spoke about getting people to your page, you do that by getting influencers and increasing your reach. To then get to the next level and increase the depth of engagement with your customers, you actually have to have the chops and you have to have the knowledge and understanding as to what people want and what people are looking for. So that’s where we come in and that’s where our brand comes in.
A lot of brands will go and get the width. They’ll get a lot of influencers and that’s fine. It works and it has the illusion of working from the beginning. But as a long-term strategy, they start to die off because they don’t have the depth. That’s where not every single human being in this world is cut out for business and not every single person can do it and there’s no handbook, there’s no right or wrong. You just have to understand people and what they’re looking for in order to achieve that depth to have longevity with your business.
Andrew: So tell me more about what they’re looking for. I get that you’re saying, “We don’t want the instant sale. That’s not how we’re going to decide it.” Is the flow, “They follow our page and then when they’re ready they buy?” Is that how you guys do it?
Alex: What we do, we don’t look at customers just to transact them. We create a lifestyle to the brand, create a brand that looks like it cares about its customers. Again, these guys post, we’re just going to hit them with an offer straightaway–we want to sell a lifestyle to the brand. That’s how you build a long-lasting brand. Like I said, going back to it, that’s what these big brands have done from the beginning. They create more than just a brand that sells clothes. These are lifestyle brands and they just so happen to sell clothes as well.
Andrew: I see.
Alex: That’s the mentality.
Andrew: The lifestyle involves someone in a bikini on a beach. It involves three people holding up their ice cream from some really interesting looking ice cream place, a teddy bear with ice cream and it happens to also involve the HiSmile product. When you guys describe this–I remember talking to Derek Flanzraich, the founder of Greatist, he spent so much time trying to think of his product’s voice, what his product stood for. He wrote it down. Did you guys do anything like that, have some kind of document that said, “Here is what we stand for, this is our aesthetic. This is how we think about talking to our customer.” Did you do that?
Alex: You find out by putting out a lot of content and what people react to most is what you identify most as what your voice is.
Andrew: What’s something you guys put out that no one reacted to? Do you remember one thing that sucked?
Alex: Yeah, at the very beginning, we were targeting everyone, all ages, males, females–we were just a one size fits all. From that, we started to say, “Okay, a lot more of this group of people is being a lot more engaged to this type of content. Let’s focus on this path. This is what we’re strongest in. This is what we can do.” We identified the 15 to 25 year old female market for our product was most engaged and most interested in the content we were pushing out. So we started really focusing on, “What are they after? What are they looking for?”
Andrew: What are they after? What are they looking for?
Alex: Fun and lifestyle and active. We just put a lot of that type of content out, influential content. What else?
Nik: So, further on from what Alex said, we reverse engineered what the 15 to 24-year-old was looking for. This is where the gap was, and this is one thing that the other, especially oral hygiene weren’t doing, they didn’t them a chance to have a voice. No one was listening to them. No one was communicating with them. We’ve got a team that’s dedicated in customer care to getting back to customers ASAP. As soon as they write in, we want to get back. It doesn’t matter what they’re writing in, whether it’s about the product or they just want to have a chat. We’ve got someone to personalize a message to them.
One unique thing we do is one our YouTube channel, you might not have seen it, we’ve got a YouTube channel called HiSmile Answers. So a lot of people write to us on Facebook. So instead of us just writing a basic response and answering a question, if someone asks, “Do you guys ship to the United States?” every few questions we’ll answer through HiSmile Answers and that’s a videoed response. It will be Jess from our customer care team getting behind the camera and personalizing a message to you, Andrew, who asked the question.
You’ll get that video message linked in the thing. Not only is that personal for you, but we’re getting people rather than you just reading it, we’re getting up to 1,000, 2,000 views on that question on YouTube, which is obviously expanding our reach and expanding our engagement and people ask more questions because they want to be answered to in the same way.
Andrew: I don’t see that when I go to your YouTube page–
Nik: It’s on a separate–go to YouTube in the search and HiSmile Answers and there should be a page. It’s a totally separate page. We keep that separate.
Andrew: So all it is, is you responding to people individually. I see it.
Nik: You see it? Yeah.
Andrew: I just had to pause so it didn’t distract from the conversation. I see. It’s like 23 second videos of somebody in a really well shot office environment saying, “Here’s your question, here’s your answer.” Interesting.
Andrew: How do you organize that? That’s brilliant. How do you guys structure it so you can pound those responses fast and keep it organized?
Nik: It just cut out for a second.
Andrew: What’s your process for sending those out?
Nik: For putting out the HiSmile Answers?
Nik: We’ve got a few people that monitor social media. Someone monitors Facebook in particular. That’s where you can link out to. Instagram it doesn’t really work because there’s no link feature in the comments. We monitor these comments we’re getting on our videos, on our posts across Facebook. We then put a list together and shoot it on the day.
Andrew: So you shoot it all in one day, and then you have to remember a list of all the links and then somebody takes a video and shoots it to–that seems like a tough process.
Nik: Kind of, but we do it in the day. So, if you wrote your question today, you’ll get a HiSmile Answers that day. We won’t leave it for four or five days. Otherwise we’ll just respond with a tight message. But questions that we can respond to and ones that we haven’t really answered by a HiSmile Answers is essentially it’s a bank of our FAQs in the most interesting form possible.
Andrew: That makes sense. And then it’s available right there. There’s now, “Do you ship to Alaska? Is it safe for your enamel? How well does HiSmile work? Can you use HiSmile on bottom teeth?” That’s great. “Are your products approved by dentists?” I see. So then you’ve got facts and they’re really well shot but they also have this casual feel to it. Cool.
Andrew: That makes sense. And again, you’re not looking for ROI on each one of these. You’re just saying, “We’re going to create it. We’re going to send it out. It’s just our way of connecting with people.”
Nik: Rarely do we look at ROI. Rarely.
Andrew: Interesting. You know what? I would think if someone brought this to me, it wouldn’t make sense to shoot a video. Some of these videos have dozens of views, not thousands, dozens of views, to shoot that for a product that sells for what, $29 for the thing, $59 for the full kit? I would think that just–go ahead.
Nik: Yeah. And that’s why no one’s done it before us in this industry. People at Colgate, people at Oral B, people at these bigger companies, there’s no chance these ideas would get approved because like you said, all of a sudden you see a video that gets 12 views. But if you don’t put out the video that gets 12 views, you’re never going to get the video that gets 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 views. And then they’ll answer that’s just a number, that’s just views, but we see it differently.
Andrew: I’m looking at Colgate Optic White’s Instagram. I just typed Colgate in Instagram. That’s the first one that came out. You guys are smiling. Have you seen this before?
Alex: I have.
Nik: I actually haven’t looked them up on Instagram.
Andrew: It’s interesting because they’re clearly professionally shot photos. They’re not like pushing Optic White in each photo. There’s one with just a woman holding her hair looking at the camera. It’s got no action on it. There’s something that’s missing from it, even though they’re not aggressively selling. It doesn’t feel corporate but it does.
Nik: I haven’t seen theirs, but I’ve seen not brands in oral hygiene but brands in other spaces and a lot of the top brands, like you said, there are professional videos. The idea is there, but they’re lacking personality. They’re lacking understanding of what that target market wants.
Andrew: It is in some ways overtly promotional and even the ones that aren’t overtly promotional feel very corporately professional. I see what you guys are battling against.
Nik: Yeah. Even on the influencer front, the influencers that have big followings, the influencers that take off for their own personal brand are the ones that don’t necessarily shoot professional photos, but they make their lifestyle and their photos seem achievable. It seems like it was effortless. Like when you see an athlete and any athlete you look up to, it doesn’t matter what sport he’s playing, but it’s effortlessness.
You’ve got some athletes that are unbelievable but it just looks hard. Every movement is hard. Whereas if you’re watching the NBA, you watch LeBron James, you watch Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, you watch Christiano Ronaldo in the football. It’s like it’s effortless when they’re playing, Conor McGregor when he’s fighting–it’s totally effortless. That’s what a brand, whether it’s an influencer, a personal brand or a company with a product.
Andrew: Did you try to get these people on the phone when you started out working with influencers, or did you just try to send them product?
Nik: Just send them product and then all on email or direct message.
Andrew: Got it, just back and forth, encouraging them, supporting them, answering questions, being okay when they didn’t. At what point did you go outside of Instagram? It seems like Instagram is where you started, but now I see you on YouTube. I see you on Facebook, etc.
Alex: Yeah. We started on all platforms but we really focused at the very beginning on Instagram. We then transitioned and said, “Okay, it’s not going to always just be Instagram. So we’re not doing ourselves any favors.” So we set out to understand all platforms for what their true purpose is, and we broke them all down and we focused equally as much to see where they could work and it’s paid off spreading ourselves to another platform.
Andrew: For YouTube, was it also a matter of finding influencers, people who do like makeup videos and making sure they got this, that’s what it was?
Alex: Same process, it’s just a different platform and different content that gets put out.
Andrew: All right. Let me take a moment to talk about my second sponsor and then I’m going to come back and talk about this system that you guys put together to make sure you’re on top of all this and you’re organized as a company and not just hanging out with influencers.
So imagine you guys decided or someone listening to us says, “I’m actually going to talk to the influencers that are out there and tell them about my product and be there to help them out.” Well, if you want to do that, it would be a nightmare because it would take so long to book back and forth, “When do we get on a call? When do we talk? When do we actually make this thing happen?” Once you get into back and forth emails with, “Are you free on Sunday at 5:00 p.m.?” “No, how about Monday at 3:00 p.m.” It doesn’t work out. Too many back and forths and people will not get on a call with you.
But what I found is if you get on a call with a customer, they are so much more likely to either buy or tell you clearly why they’re not buying so you can adjust your promotion for next time or you can adjust what you’re creating for the next opportunity.
So I had that problem, couldn’t get people on the phone. I wanted to. I knew I could create better products if I got my first batch of customers on the phone. So, what I did was I created an account on Acuity Scheduling. I connected it to my Google calendar. That’s what I use for my calendar, that way Acuity knew when I was busy.
Then I marked off when I’m ready to make phone calls. I actually don’t like making phone calls first thing in the morning. I am great at making phone calls at about 10:00 a.m. So, I marked off 10:00 to 3:00 p.m. I love making phone calls, not on Fridays because I want Fridays to be my workday, definitely on Mondays and Tuesdays. So, I had to mark it all off.
Once I do that, Acuity gives me a link that I can give to anybody who I want to have a conversation with. So, now when I say, “Hey, thanks for buying,” or, “I saw you were interested in buying. Can we get on a call?” it’s not, “When are you free?” It’s, “Here’s a link to my calendar, pick any time you want.”
When they pick a time, they get to put their name, of course, and their phone number, so it automatically will appear on my calendar so I know their phone number when it’s time to talk. And I might ask them a couple of other questions so that I get to know them and fully prepare for the call. And of course it goes on their calendar, so they remember it. You guys know it. That’s how I booked you. I used Acuity Scheduling. Did you guys get an alert the day before reminding you about this interview?
Alex: Yeah. We did with the link and all that.
Andrew: That’s the beauty about the system. Sorry, go ahead.
Alex: No, I was just explaining the little email we got.
Andrew: That’s the beauty of the system. If I found that people forgot about the interview, I couldn’t complain about them. That doesn’t do anyone good. I go back into the system in Acuity and I say, “I’m going to send a reminder the day before.” I found that some people were in really bad environments for shooting interviews. So, I created a list of the things that I like for you to do before an interview–be in a good environment, shut off all the crap going on in the background on your computer, etc. Now I add it so that before this interview you got that link, right?
Andrew: Anyone who’s listening who’s selling software who maybe wants their customer to have a few things ready before the call can add that for the reminder email, “A good way to be prepared for this call is to have your CRM available. If you have an assistant you wanted to call . . .” all that stuff, you add it in.
Finally, if you want to take the data out of that and put it into your CRM or put it into your spreadsheet or whatever, when someone fills out a form on Acuity you could automatically do it because Acuity has integrations with just about anything.
If you’re listening to me and you want to try it out, this software was created by a long-time Mixergy fan and so he is giving us something he’s not giving anyone else–45 days free to use his software. All you have to do is go to AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy. If you have not gotten on a call with someone and you finally want to improve your success rate of getting people on the phone, use it.
If you are not selling enough, try to talk to people not just have your website do all the sales. Even if you just do it for a week, you’ll learn a lot and you’ll improve your product and sales process. Sign up for Acuity and use it that way. So many different uses, one great URL–AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy.
Let’s talk about this system. You guys are starting out sending out a bunch of stuff and now I see you saying it’s systemized. What does that system look like on the inside for reaching influencers and encouraging them to tell your story properly?
Nik: Yeah. So, First of all, we’ve got a promoter team, an outreach team, people that are based in our target market we mentioned at the top of the interview, find the correct influencers who will influence our target market. We have an outreach team who’s basically hitting up all these promoters across all these platforms–Instagram, YouTube like you mentioned, Facebook, Twitter, Musical.ly, Snapchat. They’re out there doing the outreach.
We’ve then got a promoter management team that’s basically like customer relationships, building customer relationships but with the influencers. So building relationships with the influencers once they do get back. So some influencers obviously are paid. It’s negotiating that side as well. Some just want the free product. Some want to be an ambassador for the brand for a longer term. So we can work that out on that front. That’s what their job is to do as well. They schedule them in, send the product out and schedule them in.
Then we’ve got the marketing team that breaks down the influencers once we sort of begin working with them and understand exactly how we want this person to push our product and what’s going to suit–it’s not just our brand that’s in our best interest. That’s where a lot of people get it wrong. Again, it’s back to that point of putting the other person first. That’s the same with the influencers.
For us, it’s truly about putting their brand first because we know if they’re putting their brand first and we take this into account and they’re going to push our product, it’s going to look better on our product because it’s going to be more congruent for their followers. That’s basically what we do. We setup the plan, schedule them in, base the post around how we want them to post, discuss it with them and then off we go.
Andrew: All right. Let me break this down. You might have heard I’ve been typing as we talk. The finders–how do you guys find influencers that you should reach out to? What’s your process for that?
Nik: So, on Instagram, the easiest is on Instagram. Based on previous influencers that we work with, Instagram also–if I go on an influencer’s Instagram page, you can check who they’re following. You can also check there’s a little down arrow drop down which is suggested people. These are similar influencers or similar people on Instagram to that person. You can essentially hit up people that are influencing your target market based on the influencers that you’re already working with, with that suggested dropdown.
Andrew: I see.
Nik: Then you can go through a messaging process. A lot of people now have emails in their bio. But some people don’t. So sending a direct message, personalizing that message and not pretending you care, not being like, “We truly care about your brand,” but with their actions more so caring about their brand.
Andrew: I see. So if I’m on HiSmileTeeth on Instagram, right next to the follow button is a menu button. I click on that and I can see that Khloe Kardashian is someone who’s related. Fashion Nova is related. Beyoncé is related. So for you guys it’s like really high profile people. But that’s one of the ways you do it. Do you also have any external tools, something that shows you who has enough of a following and is related to you or is it just this?
Nik: It’s just that.
Andrew: Just that.
Nik: With influencers, I don’t think there’s a software that’s possible to be made. It’s not like you can go, “200,000 followers equals $500 in value.” It’s a gut feeling. It’s a learning process, sending out product, figuring out what’s going to work, what’s not, figuring out how the followers are based on engagement, who they’re engaging with. There’s not a one-size fits all method because there’s a personal touch to it. That’s, again, where the skill comes in. That’s why not everyone can do it.
Andrew: Okay. All right. I see how the finders will go and spend some time researching and they’ve got to have that experience to figure out who’s going to actually work. Let’s talk about the outreach. You mentioned outreach is sometimes emailing. You can DM anyone on Instagram, right? So you’ll DM them and if they’re open, they’ll respond. What else do you do to actually get someone to pay attention to you?
Nik: Commenting, leaving a comment on some of their photos, liking and engaging with them over a long period of time, actually showing love, not just pretending, actually investing time into them on their profile, giving them love, giving them attention.
Andrew: What’s your process for remembering to go back and comment from week to week? Is there CRM you guys use for that?
Nik: No. There’s no CRM.
Andrew: Is there a spreadsheet with a list of all the people you’re following so you keep remembering to nurture the relationships?
Nik: We did have a spreadsheet, but now we don’t as such because there are so many influencers out there that if it is a big name influencer, it’s one that you’re not going to forget and if it is one of the other influencers that happens to not get back, so we’ll move on to the next, you’ll probably circle around and come back to them at a later stage. It’s more of a time thing if you were to put in a CRM, make sure there’s a list. I think it’s better to just go out, figure it out.
Andrew: For anyone who’s listening to this and starting out with this, would you recommend that they aim for people with smaller followings, smaller influencers or is that just a waste of time. What do you think, Alex?
Alex: I definitely recommend working towards the highest profile first. It’s not so much about getting one influencer, it’s about getting a lot of influencers that represent the brand, whether that means a lot of small ones or whatever size you want to focus on, it’s a numbers game. Don’t be so specific about who you’re interested in, but get a range of different people in that target market. People have different kinds–some people might be fitness or fashion or whatever it is, but still within that age group you’re trying to target.
Andrew: How much money would you say you guys spent last year, 2016, on products you gave away to influencers?
Nik: That’s a good question. I don’t think we’ve got a stat for that. Probably $50,000? Probably $50,000.
Alex: About $50,000. That’s just off the top of the head.
Alex: I’d say $50,000.
Andrew: That’s not too bad. That’s not bad at all. By the way, every Australian dollar is $0.76 US for anyone trying to do the conversion, right? All right. So, at that point, the management team kicks in. Someone responds. They’re interested and you guys have a management team to help nurture the relationship to see if there’s payment to pay, right?
Alex: Yeah. Scheduling . . .
Andrew: You said there’s something called an Ambassador Program. What’s the Ambassador Program?
Nik: An Ambassador Program is something that we do with certain influencers. So certain influencers that we feel fit the brand based on–this is, again, based on what Alex said, putting out content and getting the reaction. So certain influencers have a look that fits our brand and they become an ambassador.
They get a slightly different pack sent to them. They work with us over a long period of time as well, and we’re looking to reshare their content and put them to the head of the queue and work with them even closer than we do with some of the other promoters or influencers who are just working with us for one or two posts. These ambassadors are with us for a few months, years.
Andrew: They’re just continuing to tell the story.
Nik: Exactly. Yeah, continuing to tell the story, producing unbelievable content for us and a great face for our brand.
Andrew: I imagine the marketing team is the people who help your influencers tell their story. Am I right?
Andrew: So, how do you think of that? I’m looking at a woman name Erin Scott. Do you guys know Erin Scott?
Andrew: She has 9,000 subscribers on YouTube. She did a video basically unboxing and showing her process of using HiSmile, a review and a demo, the whole thing. 31,000 people viewed it. How do you help her tell her story? How do you help her have a solid video people will watch? What’s your process, basically, for helping them?
Alex: So, based on what’s worked previously and then based on watching her videos and what she’s done before. So I haven’t seen Erin before, but based on her video style will base off what will get her–with all influencers, we don’t help tell the story with all influencers. We help with specific influencers. So influencers with massive reach we craft their story and put a bit more time into it. We’ve got about 1,000?
Alex: 1,000 influencers that we work with regularly. So, obviously timewise there’s not the time to have our marketing team break down each and every influencer. It’s about hand-picking which ones we’re going to storytell with and going with them. With the others, we’ve got basic PDFs that we do send out with basic posting guidelines.
Andrew: What’s in the PDF?
Alex: Posting guidelines.
Andrew: What’s in the guidelines?
Alex: Basically examples of posts that have worked with us before. So, putting out content, the reaction we get, the ones that work, we send them through to them, potential styles of posts, ways to incorporate our different products. It’s not just the kit. We’ve got a coconut whitening mouthwash, a teeth whitening pen as well and obviously the bundles. And different platforms that they can post on–so if they’re on Instagram, if they’re on YouTube, if they’re on Snapchat, it’s going to be slightly different.
Andrew: So, what has worked for you? What’s in the PDF? What do you put in the PDF that’s worked for you?
Alex: It’s basically in short form do’s and don’ts. When you’re posting, we want to see the HiSmile logo, we want to see the brand because there are a lot of brands that even when they see the HiSmile logo, they rip it off and put it on their page as their promotion, especially with some of the bigger influencers we’ve worked with. Make sure the logo is evident. Make sure you’re using the product correctly, first and foremost. Make sure you’re not just being lazy. As influencer marketing grows, there are a lot more people wanting to jump on the train and get involved either as an influencer or the brands at the same time.
And a lot of influencers don’t truly understand what it takes to be a good influencer or they got lucky. Some of them have fake followers and fake engagement on their page. So they’re not truly an influencer. They have to understand first how the product works. It’s not just, “I’ve got a HiSmile product. I’m just going to post it however I want.” They don’t even know how it works or read the instructions. It’s about them actually using the product. We never want to send out a product and have someone look at it and be like, “I get to put up a picture and I’m cool for my fans, I’m cool for my followers. It’s actually about using the product.”
Andrew: You’re giving it to them for free and you’re still telling them what they should do with it? You’re nodding. Yeah.
Alex: Not telling them what to do, but just showing them how to really get the most out of the product and to get the most out of the product, that’s how they can then share the product as well.
Andrew: Then when you say schedule it with you, what’s their incentive? You gave them $60 worth of product assuming it’s a free relationship. What’s their incentive to work with you on schedule? Shouldn’t they be thinking of their own schedule?
Nik: We’ve got over a million followers across all our social platforms now.
Andrew: So, if they work with you to publish when you guys could accommodate them, you’re more likely to promote them.
Nik: Exactly. And if they stick by the guidelines, if they’re posting content we’re looking to do, the incentive is the higher the chances are that they’re going to get pushed across our platforms. We’ve got a large following that the majority of the influencers we work with. It’s in their best interest as well to get that double value?
Andrew: Where do you promote them? Your Twitter account is pretty small.
Nik: Our Instagram and our Facebook are our two biggest. So Instagram I think is at 420,000. Our Facebook is at over I think 500,000 now. YouTube has got close to 10,000, that’s not including HiSmile Answers. Twitter I think has about 10,000 to 12,000. Snapchat I think 20,000 to 30,000, Musical.ly I think 10,000. So, across all, it’s over 1 million followers, especially on Instagram and Facebook we’ve got unbelievable reach.
So a share from us for our influencers can be massive for them for their following, for their increase and again for their legitimacy. If they’re promoting HiSmile as opposed to Dave’s Teeth Whitening Kit, there’s brand value. You’re promoting Apple over Samsung. You’re promoting Nike over Reebok. It’s that value as well.
Andrew: I can’t figure out your Facebook strategy. I get Instagram. The shots are so good. Let me not forget to follow you. I don’t even care about teeth whitening. I just care that there’s something very exciting and beautiful about the shots you have.
Facebook I don’t fully get because on Facebook there’s a photo of chew chocolate chip cookies and your caption for that is, “We’ll have them all,” but the photo is like screenshot from somewhere and it’s mini soft and chew chocolate but the end is like the ampersand. You know how web browsers don’t even understand ampersand properly so it converted to & and you guys still copied and pasted that in there. I’m not putting it down. You got 661 people to hit a like or reaction button on it. I don’t see the connection.
Nik: Facebook is about engagement. Again, it’s reverse engineering and understanding what people want. Facebook is platform where people don’t spend too much time like Instagram looking at influencers’ photos, spending time picking up dresses they want to buy, clothes they want to buy. Facebook is about me jumping on and tagging Alex or my mates in a video that’s funny, in a video that’s relevant and a video that’s interesting. It’s about reverse engineering that, what’s interesting to our target market, they’ll then tag.
If you go through our feed and look at the engagement, our numbers are we’re one of the biggest on Facebook in terms of our engagement. Our reach on Facebook is unbelievable. We’ve got videos with 11 million to 20 million views, which is more than the brands we name-dropped earlier–Nike, Adidas and Apple–are getting because we’re not afraid to put out content that isn’t necessarily brand-related, but it’s engagement-related and target market-related.
Andrew: I see, like how to make mac and cheese.
Andrew: I do see one with eye shadow or something. It’s a collection of eye shadow shades and your caption on it is, “Need,” 1.9k reactions. You’re smiling as I say that. The interesting thing is right underneath it, you guys also have the first comment is asking people to name the brand in the image above and there’s a link to HiSmileTeeth. So that’s the way you’re linking back to yourselves.
Nik: Exactly, yes. It’s also removing that robotic approach. Anyone can schedule a post. Are you going to truly engage and listen? The more that people see that HiSmile isn’t just a robot. It’s a collection of people. It’s a movement. It’s a lifestyle. The more they’re willing to open up and engage and be more personal with you and ideally become on with the brand and go to war with the brand.
Back to teeth whitening and why we chose teeth whitening, there’s not a teeth whitening company or oral hygiene company that people go to war for or that people are 100% loyal to. Whereas you look at Nike, Adidas, Apple, any big brand that we’ll ever name drop, people go to war for those companies. That’s what we’re looking to create. We’ve actually got customers who respond to other customers on our social media platforms before we get a chance to respond to them at times.
Andrew: I’m baffled by Facebook here. There’s a video as you’re talking of people holding pandas and they can’t really control them for the photo and your caption on that is, “Omg,” and it’s a video that autoplays, 5.5k reactions. But it doesn’t feel like it connects with the brand. The reason I’m asking is because I feel like this is something I could duplicate, but then I’d worry, “Does it fit with the Mixergy brand?” And then I get in my head.
Andrew: You guys are so brand-freaking-conscious. Talk to me about, then, how does this panda thing fit in with your brand? It feels like something my mom would want to share, not my girlfriend.
Nik: It’s width. That’s the width. The depth is the skill. So width is always duplicable. Anyone can replicate the width. It’s about the depth that’s difficult to replicate. You’ve actually got to have the skill to be able to replicate that.
Andrew: How are you getting depth here? How are you getting depth on Facebook?
Nik: We get the width. We get the reach. When we then post a product photo with Facebook’s retargeting, we retarget based on that. We don’t just give them a product photo, we sell them a lifestyle video. I don’t know if you saw pinned at the top of our Facebook page should be a brand video. It’s sort of like a bit of a mix of heaps of influencers using our product. It’s a bit of a fun video with cool music behind it.
That would be the next piece of content they see, something that’s not so salesy. Like Alex said earlier in the interview, we don’t try and transact from day one. It’s about two months, three months, four months building a lifelong connection with these people. So they’ll see a few of our little page posts on Facebook.
Andrew: That video feels like you guys. That’s a hot video, moves fast, really well shot. Who pays for that? It’s your actual users? Somebody actually internally edited it together, right?
Nik: Yeah, internally edited. We’ve got a marketing team, videographer, photographer, editing team.
Andrew: I can’t believe I care this much about your brand but I love the design. You guys are sucking me in completely. Talk to me about your biggest celebrity. What’s her name, Kylie Jenner?
Nik: Kylie Jenner?
Andrew: Yeah. The reason I’m like stuttering as I say it is I found an article about it and I thought I saved it here. There it is. I didn’t make it clickable. The Daily Mail wrote about it, about Kylie Jenner–I don’t know the other ones. How do you get Kylie Jenner? What’s the process for doing that, for getting Kylie Jenner to take photos with HiSmile?
Alex: For us, when we first started, we identified definitely Kyle Jenner in that target group is the most influential person in the market. So when we first started, it’s like we are going to work. That’s our end goal. We’re going to aim to get Kylie Jenner as a promoter. For us, it’s a lot of communication back and forth. It’s not just about, “We just want you to do a photo or this or that.” We want to do a long-term, big scale promotion. We wanted to do big things with them. They were pretty interested and our back and forth communication got us to where we were.
Andrew: How much do you pay for that kind of relationship?
Alex: We can’t tell you how much pay for it, but we can tell you it’s a lot of back and forth communication.
Andrew: Is it millions?
Alex: I can’t say.
Andrew: You can’t even say that?
Alex: No. I can’t say anything to do with that.
Andrew: It’s got to be millions at this point. How about this–does she own a piece of your business?
Alex: I can’t say anything to do with it.
Andrew: You can’t say anything to do with that whole deal? Can you say at this point it could be the two of you who are owners of the business and maybe one other person or maybe it’s just the two of you?
Alex: Just me and him.
Nik: We’re just the owners.
Andrew: I see. Right now you guys are the only two owners. So you didn’t have to give up a piece of your company for that. So the whole thing is bootstrapped. From the beginning, your money, nothing but the $10,000 that you each kicked in, no other money came in except maybe loans?
Andrew: Nothing else?
Nik: Nothing else.
Andrew: All right. Where are you right now? I’m looking over your shoulder trying to figure it out?
Nik: We’re at my place, just an apartment here on the Gold Coast.
Andrew: What kind of apartment do you have? What’s your style here? You want to turn the camera around?
Andrew: We’ll take a look at your house. I saw somebody walking behind you going to the fridge. Who was that?
Nik: That was Mom.
Andrew: You’re at home? You live with your mom?
Nik: Yeah, still with parents. I’ll show you. I’ll take you outside. Sorry if the camera is adjusting to the light.
Andrew: That’s a beautiful view. No wonder you’re living with your mom. I’d live with your mom too.
Nik: Yeah, nice little view. Gold Coast is nice. It’s a nice spot.
Andrew: I wanted to run a marathon there for the longest time. There’s a gorgeous marathon. I want to run a marathon on every freaking continent. The Gold Coast Marathon is one of my wish list ones. All right. This kind of reminds me a little bit of when I interviewed the founders of Airbnb. It was two of them sitting in a room. To class up the joint, the found a map of the world, they put it behind them and they talked about their business. At the time it felt like this crazy things, like, “Who the hell are these guys to say that people are going to stay in each other’s homes?” And they did it. I feel like–maybe I’m fully hoodwinked here.
This is where the professional interviewers who listen to my interviews say, “Andrew, you’re getting carried away. You’ve got to get more distant. It seems like you’re lavishly excited about the guests. Chill out a little bit.” I can’t chill out. I either get excited about something or don’t. I’m excited about what you guys are doing. Maybe, like I said, I’m bought into the brand, but I have to say, you’re doing social media so beautiful that I don’t even care about the look of the people in there. I don’t need to look at women or guys’ abs all day.
But as a guy who respects business, to see that you thought through the design of your Instagram so well, the design of your website so well, the relationships that you have with people so well, the freaking YouTube videos that I couldn’t stop watching of these women who were opening up your fucking box–I can’t stop watching it. It’s well done and I’m excited to see that you guys have built this.
The website if you guys want to check it out is HiSmileTeeth.com. My imagination is my audience is not your target market in the sense that they’re not looking to look any prettier, but I still urge them to check out your website and your business because the way you’re doing business today it’s a model for the way that others should be building their businesses online and I think there’s a lot I should be learning from you and I appreciate you guys coming on here and telling your story.
Alex: Thank you so much, Andrew.
Nik: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: The two sponsors that I had on–the first sponsor, frankly I did a 25% job for Toptal, thankfully their product is so good that it will overcome that. If you need to hire a great developer, go check out Toptal.com/Mixergy. Again, if you want to get someone on the phone or have a meeting with them, I urge you to check out AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy. I’ve been with them for years. That’s how I booked this interview and that’s how I get people to actually show up. I’m grateful to both of them and grateful to both of you. Thanks for doing this guys.
Nik: Thank you.
Alex: Thank you so much, Andrew.
Andrew: You bet. Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. Bye, everyone.