How TikTok Students Sold to Morning Brew

They used TikTok to promote their podcast, but podcasting is painful. There’s no discovery. It’s hard to grow. And there’s little audience feedback. Meanwhile, their short videos took off. This is the story of how the Our Future creators grew their short video business, generated revenue and sold it to Morning Brew.

The podcast is in all major apps, just search for Mixergy.
You can also use our RSS Feed RSS feed.

Michael Sikand and Simran Sandhu

Michael Sikand and Simran Sandhu

Our Future

Michael Sikand and Simran Sandhu are the founders of Our Future, a media company dedicated to inspiring young entrepreneurs. Michael, with a background in finance and a passion for storytelling, has played a pivotal role in shaping the company’s strategic vision. Simran, bringing expertise in digital media and content creation, has been instrumental in driving the brand’s innovative approach and expansive growth.

roll-angle

Full Interview Transcript

Andrew Warner: This interview is sponsored by Gusto. It only matters to people who are paying and handling benefits for your team. If that’s you, you know how much of a headache it can be. Why not use the software that I and more of my interviewees have talked about than any alternative. Gusto is beautiful. It’s effective.

And right now, if you use my link, you can try it for free. Go to gusto. com slash Mixergy. This is a great time of year to do it. Gusto. com slash Mixergy. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And these guys who you’re about to meet started a business that was very similar to mine and they ended up changing it and shifting it towards the TikTok generation.

Frickin killed it by selling their business to Morning Brew. In fact, I would even say, I don’t know if selling the business was part of the killing. The growth was, it was just insanely popular within the tech community. And I just kept hearing about it from people and I wanted to get to know them and became friends with them.

The two founders you’re about to meet created Our Future. It’s a series of short form videos about business people and businesses that’s posted. I see it on YouTube shorts, but on TikTok, of course. And it’s Michael Sikand and Simran Sandhu. Guys, thanks for being here. Thanks for having us. Do you remember the day

Michael Sikand: you sold?

I do remember the day when the CEO put the signature on the documents, which made it final. Was

Andrew Warner: that, how did that feel? Tell me about that day.

Michael Sikand: I was sitting in the Delta Sky Lounge and the CEO of Morning Brew finally put his signature on the docs and I was on my way to Chicago. For New Year’s to spend with some of my Michigan friends.

And while I couldn’t actually tell a lot of people, I actually only told like my best friend, Matt and obviously Simmy knew, but it was cool. Cause it was like, all right, it’s done. I’m gonna enjoy like this, like start of 2023 and. It was just perfect timing, like literally waiting for the

Simran Sandhu: plane. It felt really surreal in a lot of ways, and what made it really funny was there was a slight something that was incorrect on the contract that we signed.

And so a few hours later, I think it was either like 24 hours later, we get an email from the COO, and he’s like, Hey guys, I need you to sign a new document. And me and Michael just look at each other, we’re like, Whoa, no, like, This isn’t something bad or crazy, but candidly, I don’t think it really hit either of us until they announced it.

And like, the press release went out, and we posted it on our socials, and then it was like, oh wow, this is really starting to hit.

Andrew Warner: Financially, what did it mean for the two of you? Are you financially set for life? Is it something less than that? What does it mean? Definitely not

Michael Sikand: set for life, but pretty awesome to be able to So my family, my mom’s going through like some stuff like with a divorce and stuff.

So it’s like, for me, the most important thing is being able to help out my family, like for certain matters. And two, for me, not having to worry about collecting dimes and cents as a 23 year old, right. It’s pretty awesome. But in terms of being set for life. I’m actually happy we’re not set for life because we’re still hungry.

We’re still in this. We’re going to make some more money. That’s why I’m not set for life.

Andrew Warner: The two of you were over at my house. We’re sitting by the fire with a few other friends and I had the sense there that both so anxious, so hungry to build something big and even walking through your past videos. I could see this.

Michael expressed it much more than Simi did in past videos. And at the same time you felt like. This just makes intellectual sense. You put a win on the board, you take some financial pressure, you don’t have to do all the things that you have to do in order to get by in this world, and now you get to live the next few years on your term and probably the rest of your lives.

I think that’s what it was. Am I right?

Simran Sandhu: I think you’re right. A lot of it comes down to, I think you have to take baby steps on your way up. Because Everyone wants to go chase the money shot idea, the issue though is that if you lack credibility or don’t have the financial means to do it, you’re really climbing an uphill battle, like what is that Paul Graham quote, you’re default dead and you’re trying to become default alive.

Yeah. If most startups just aren’t going to work out, so how can you put yourself in the best position? For Michael and I, like, candidly, I don’t even think it was about the money. Did it change our life for being 24 and 22 years old? Yes. But it was more of like, we can take a bigger swing next time around.

We at least have this Foundation we built within media. We understand distribution really well. That’s a core part of any business. We will go build in the future and then we will just build on top of that. And so combined with that and the access to really cool people like yourself. It made it worthwhile.

I

Andrew Warner: want to know from you, Michael, like, I feel like you’re the kind of person who almost wants to run through a wall at every conversation. When Simi and I are talking, there’s a presence and a happiness that he has that I want to have. Like our friend Neville, whose house we met at, he’s happy. He’s producing from a place of happiness.

I can’t do that. I need to feel like there is danger at any minute. I’m going to be homeless and my kids will starve unless I fight. And I feel a little bit of that kinship in you, Michael. Do you feel that?

Michael Sikand: Yeah. I don’t know if I feel like the world is ending type mentality. I think for me, I’m very driven by being portrayed to be the main character in the movie, like that’s like where I come from.

Like, I want to attract a lot and like trailblaze and like leave a weight behind me and. It’s not necessarily like I feel like my family’s gonna starve and that’s why I’m motivated. I’m motivated to win. I’m motivated to be the best. I’m motivated to outperform my peers, right? And that was like another big part of this kind of thing that we did in that we got ahead of everyone.

And when you’re in the front of the race, you’re never going to give up because we have loss aversion, right? As humans. I’m not going to give up this top spot. I’m going to keep the gas on. And that’s what a lot of running coaches say is get in first place and you’re not going to give it up. So that’s how I felt

Andrew Warner: about this deal.

Did I have you analyzed right? Sometimes I, I. Superimpose my needs on other people, like I need you to be someone who’s coming at life from a place of happiness and still producing so that I could realize that there’s an alternative to my crazy approach. What is it? How would you define what motivates you?

Simran Sandhu: I would say that like, Michael and I are equally sharky, but we’re very different in how we approach it. Um, my mentality is much more like, I’m very subtle and low key. I’m willing to put up with shit for a really, really long time. And I think like that’s one of my superpowers. Doesn’t matter how boring it is.

Doesn’t matter how like unpassionate I am about what I’m doing. But I will see it through. And I’m just gonna have a smile on my face as I do it. And we’re just gonna chug along and see what happens. You know

Andrew Warner: what, there was an episode of your podcast. You guys have a new podcast. It all started with a podcast and we’ll get into the building, but there’s an episode of your podcast where the two of you are analyzing businesses and you just kind of stopped and you said, it’s amazing how many businesses succeed because someone just didn’t give up.

Everyone else dropped out. And I think Simi, you were really taking a dump on a lot of these ChatGPT new startups that are just kind of putting a frame around ChatGPT. And you said they’re all one update to ChatGPT away from dying. But then I also wonder, and I feel from your analysis, that one of them is going to just keep chugging along and going to start with a wrapper around chat GPT experience, add a feature, still survive, cater to a small group, add another feature, and then in time be the last person standing in that space, and that specialty will make amazing, and then they’ll be on our future.

Simran Sandhu: Yeah, I think that criticism really came from like, there, you’re opening yourself up to a lot of competition. And I think most people, especially if this is like their first time ever building a company and they’re just, they’re trying to get rich really quick, they’ll see a ton of competition and get discouraged really, really easily.

So in a business like that, like, you just kind of have to figure out like what game you’re in. That’s a game where like, Partnerships and a lot of media, uh, a lot of influencer first approaches really does well because it’s like, how can you get the brand of your company out of, out in front of as many people as possible and get them to be consumers, right?

And so that game is won through distribution, but I just think a lot of people would get discouraged. And maybe that’s one of those cases where chugging along and being willing to put up with it. Yeah. We just covered someone on the podcast the other day and they. Had made 25 million a year selling weighted blankets.

And like, that was a really competitive space and it was one of those things where he took the one strategy, which was like pricing first, and then he just waited out for all of the competition to, to not be able to compete with him on that one advantage. And slowly they all came out and then he took up all the market share.

So I think it’s like one of those. You talked about

Andrew Warner: also how he was really good about understanding what his customers wanted. I had, I wanted a weighted blanket. But they’re always too small. And you pointed out people want their toes still covered up also. And then you said, no one says it’s too cold when they sleep.

They’re all saying it’s too hot. Especially if you have a heavy blanket on you. He figured out a way to keep that blanket cold. But here’s the thing. What, what I’m amazed by with you is you succeeded in the content space. It’s so freaking competitive. Every kid is in their whole home trying to be the next Mr.

Beast. You succeeded something. Everyone’s copying your format. I want to know how you did it. But before we do, let me wrap this section up with what exactly did Morning Brew buy? What did they get? Did they get this services business that you built where you were creating shorts for other companies? Did they get just the ad revenue that comes from the past media?

What did they get? What

Michael Sikand: Morning Brew got was like, in many ways, two exceptionally bright and talented young executives. They got the intellectual property of our future, right? So buzzy new Gen Z brand reaching tens of millions a month through a short form video. Very monetizable from an advertiser perspective.

And they got Simi, who’s an excellent operator and can grow revenue from a services side. And me, who’s always going to be able to create high quality business content that can be monetized throughout. Like they got really two very talented people. And the problem with media is that it’s very dependent on the creator.

So for me and Simi, like there isn’t a lot of automation. Like I can’t automate myself and step away from morning brew. Who I can’t have like a clone of me go host a podcast, right? Simi can’t have a clone of him run an agency, right? So it’s very human dependent and they got two great humans. They did get the services business.

I think a lot of media companies are struggling with the rollercoaster of ad dollars, especially in this environment. So having that more consistent. Recurring revenue model in media through services and agency was actually really attractive to Morning Brew. Wow, I wouldn’t

Andrew Warner: have thought they would want that.

How many customers did you have that you were creating short form video for? I

Simran Sandhu: don’t even think it was we had a big like book of business. It was who we were working with that was so important. It was Shopify and HubSpot and big blue chip companies. And given that they’re like, A very premium brand in the business space.

It was like, okay, if these guys can figure it out on a smaller level, we just can be this catalyst to help them grow even quicker. But I would echo Michael’s point and I would say, if you look at this tactically, like, what they dominate is text. It’s newsletters. With us, they 2x their video footprint overnight.

Right. So it’s like they reached an entirely new demo, like with Michael kind of trail blazing that, um, and then like with our Tik TOK or YouTube or IG, like now morning brew had a big video presence with us in that

Andrew Warner: arm. I think, um, You are uniquely duplicatable. I mean, like, I think if Michael got sick for a month and needed to stay home, your system is strong enough that I think it would continue and the numbers would be where they are.

I think you have another person who’s over there and it took me a while to recognize that it wasn’t Michael, right? There’s another person who’s doing the voiceovers. Yeah, we

Michael Sikand: had another creator, Jackson, who was our first in our budding talent network of like multiple hosts and personalities on our future.

We ended up parting ways and focused specifically on just my voice and my content. Once the deal closed and I don’t really show my face in the videos anymore. It’s really nice to be able to just record into the mic. Don’t have to care about what I look like. Why

Andrew Warner: not have another person

Michael Sikand: do it? I definitely could have someone else do it, but This voice, Andrew, this voice is worth a million bucks, you know?

Andrew Warner: Is it, is it worth a million bucks to you because you get to build your own reputation, um, now that No, I don’t really get,

Michael Sikand: I don’t really get that much clout from hosting videos that my face isn’t in, like, people know it’s my voice and they go and follow my Instagram because it’s like in the caption, it’s like, oh, she’s by Michael Zacon.

I don’t personally get a lot of clout, but I enjoy narrating stories and my voice has been on thousands, hundreds of, if not thousands of these videos at this point, so. It’s something the audience has come to love. They’ve come to love our editing. They’ve come to love our storytelling. They love our aesthetic.

They consume these videos every day. Right. And for us, I

Andrew Warner: see you’re saying, look, even though I’m not on camera, people are connecting with me and there is a warmth there and it’s worth it. Even if there’s a business benefit to being able to write myself off so that we could expand beyond me. Okay. Let

Michael Sikand: me get, if it’s narrator driven, the voice is really important, right?

Like they’re connected to that. And that’s a big part of our product. It’s like the bun or the burger at McDonald’s is consistent

Andrew Warner: across all. I think you should be on camera too. I feel like just that quick you on camera, you got a good look. You have to, you had that whole background with all those magazines.

There’s a vibe that you’re communicating. And every time I talk to you about it, you say, I don’t have to get dressed and go, dude, just get fucking dressed. It’s not

Michael Sikand: that hard. I might get back into it now that I have my own kind of space here cause I didn’t really have the opportunity to set up a studio in Austin just because we were in like short term housing.

I might go, I might get back into it because I do enjoy sometimes being on camera.

Andrew Warner: Here’s how I understand it got started. Uh, COVID hits a friend or mentor of yours says, don’t let a good crisis go to waste, which is great advice. I think I felt a lot of guilt during the COVID trying to find a business growth during that time.

I should have just let that go. Next crisis that comes, I’m letting all that go and just building hard during the crisis. You then say, I’m going to create a podcast and interview people. Why? What was the goal for you in that?

Michael Sikand: Yeah. So let me just go back to what you said about competition. You’re like, Oh, you guys want a media?

Like it’s so competitive. I like when there’s competition, but specifically I like when there’s competition that is missing a new category. I don’t like direct competitors, but I do like adjacent competitors because it makes me so much more energized to harp from rooftops about like what I’m doing. It’s like.

There’s a lot of business content out there, but no one’s doing it in this way. So for me, it was like

Andrew Warner: What’s the distinction that you saw there? What was it that was, that existed? Yeah, the

Michael Sikand: distinction was there’s no content built for young people. Morning Brew did a good job of it with their newsletter, but they were always serving like more of a millennial.

And I was like, Well, there’s these more digitally native Gen Z’s who are going to need their morning brew, right? So that’s how I thought about it. How do we capture the next

Andrew Warner: generation? So then why not start with email marketing and or email newsletters, copy the morning brew, the hustle? It’d been done.

Michael Sikand: Morning brew and hustle were already massive at that time. So podcasting as an interesting space, right? I didn’t understand it. Had I been able to go back in time, I probably wouldn’t have pursued it first off. Because?

Andrew Warner: Well,

Michael Sikand: podcasts were exciting. This was COVID, right? Everyone was talking about the space, you know, Spotify was in talks with Rogan.

It was an exciting category and when you want to break into media, you pursue the exciting category, right? The one that can help you, the one that rises all boats with the

Andrew Warner: tide. And still, you wouldn’t have done it. Why? Why wouldn’t you have done it if you could go back?

Michael Sikand: Because the growth potential to get to some kind of critical mass for building like a media business was going to be too long of a road.

So it was also the wrong platform for the generation and the demographic I was doing. They don’t want to listen to an audio podcast. They need to be engaged. They need to be stimulated. And if you compare my podcast, which was, I would say a whole wheat bread, like high quality, good for you, still can eat it quickly, fun, pretty impressive.

The TikTok stuff is marshmallows, man. Like. It literally every part about what we did suited this evolving customer consumption chain. I want

Andrew Warner: to get into how you discovered it and how you evolved it, but give me a moment here on this podcast part. One thing that you have said and others have said about you that you did really well was cold email.

You’d be able to reach and punch above your weight. As a small, like new podcaster, part of it you said was, I would use my age, I would tell them I’m young and I’m trying to learn. What else? Give me some of the techniques that work for you in cold calling or cold emailing.

Michael Sikand: Social proof, right? Like I’ve had X, Y, and Z, and I kind of hacked the social proof because I used my Michigan background, like my university to get people who were a little bigger and well known.

And then I was able to get them just through Goodwill. And then the people I didn’t get through Goodwill, I’m talking like executives of big companies and whatever, or founders, I got them through the social proof, but there was also a quotient of like pumping up my numbers. I wasn’t honest about my numbers and I don’t think that young people should be.

So I definitely like put this podcast on this pedestal, right? I created this image of it. There was, this is the best thing since sliced bread. And I’m this 20 year old kid who’s like really ambitious. So, so much of success in media is how you frame it. And I think I

Andrew Warner: nailed that. Did you have any techniques for getting through to someone?

I was just talking to Jesse Poojie and he goes, I could reach anybody. He goes, I just find somebody. Cause he had an agency that did advertising for companies like Dollar Shave Club and others. He goes. All I do is I go on LinkedIn, I see who is connected to the person I want to reach and want to sell to, and then I email them and I say, and he sends a short email, something like, Hey, could you introduce me to so and so?

I hear they’re switching, uh, ad buying companies, and I want to talk to them. And it’s like three out of five people don’t, um, to send an introduction. And I said, Jesse, did you check to make sure that they really were looking for a new ad company? He goes, no, I just, I just assume everyone’s always looking for a new company.

And that’s how I got the intro. And he goes, it’s so simple, but nobody does that. They don’t use that. Did you have any techniques like that that work for you?

Michael Sikand: I would take people’s emails off like email discovery sites. I didn’t, I wasn’t a Jessie Poojie, like I didn’t have like, second and third degree connections with the kind of people I wanted to talk to.

I would send direct like, LinkedIn messages. To be honest, Andrew, it came pretty easy. I probably could have systemized it, used a CRM, grinded my ass off, really thought about it intentionally, but no. You know, every few weeks I’d send out an email blast, just one, and people would

Andrew Warner: reply back. Email blast meaning like, you’d add them all to an email list and ask?

Cool, like,

Michael Sikand: merge mail, and I would automate it. I’d put their name in it and be like, hey, you know. And I have a copy and pasted message in many cases. Okay. So a lot of people are like, Oh, you probably did all this research on these people. And to be honest, like I didn’t need to work that hard to get great guests.

It was just cause my sale, my, my message was excellent.

Andrew Warner: Okay. My message was I have big numbers. I’m talking to this new audience that other people aren’t audience. Yeah.

Michael Sikand: It’s like this person hasn’t talked to this group, this demographic, and then the media teams would resonate with that. And I talked to the media teams and they’d love me.

They love me. Right. They absolutely adore me and they would give me the green light.

Andrew Warner: All right. Then how did you discover short form

Michael Sikand: video? So do you know the, uh, uh, adult entertainment star, Mia Khalifa?

Andrew Warner: No, she’s an adult entertainment or yes.

Michael Sikand: Okay. He’s Lebanese. Okay. And she made a lot of, well, so she made a lot of like drama when she essentially performed scenes with a hijab.

So pretty crazy. Anyways, I was posting clips of the podcast to TikTok to be like, Figure out how I could capture this exciting new platform that all my friends were using. I didn’t use TikTok, but I was like, this is, would be a great marketing engine for my podcast. Let me just try and get people interested in the clips.

And there was one way I interviewed the chief marketing officer of Chipotle. And you wouldn’t believe how I got this guy. It was literally just got his email, like brian at chipotle. com. And like, he was like, Oh, the PR person saw it and got me the interview. Just one email. I actually went for the CEO and they gave me the CMO.

So shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. I put a clip of me talking with Chris from Chipotle. And I was like, tell me about the future of like digital delivery. Package that up, put it on a clip on TikTok. Got 50, 000 views. It was crazy. And I was like, wow, 50, 000 people consume my podcast.

I was like, that’s crazy. And I even saw that Mia Khalifa liked the video. Wow. Okay. Okay. This like famous porn star business clip. Like I can make anybody interested in business. If I can make Mia Khalifa like,

Andrew Warner: right. Okay. And I saw the first, I, what, at least what I could find online as one of the first ones that you did.

They had some text on it. They had some b roll. How Simi, you’re the expert at this. How would you describe his first videos and how he created them? I think

Simran Sandhu: for the time they were really really good. Like, would those Were you

Michael Sikand: were you like, shocked by the format when it when I started using it? Like, when you first saw me pivot?

Or were you more like, let’s see how this plays out?

Simran Sandhu: I think it was a little bit more of like, let’s see how this plays out. Cuz It was still kind of drawn from the podcast to, to some extent in the beginning in, I believe it was like 10 K that you had gotten to on Tik TOK. And then I think you had moved away from it for a little bit.

Like there was a little time in there where you were like, yeah, like this is cool, but like, this isn’t like materially driving more podcast downloads. Cause I think like, I could be missing some nuance here, but it was like supposed to be an engine to drive more downloads for the podcast was, yeah. Um, And then it was just like, screw the podcast.

Like I can just blow up the Tik Tok and he’s selling the switch.

Michael Sikand: Why, why should I be pulling people off the platform? They love, they love being here. They love it. Why pull it away? Let’s just create for this moment. Let’s create for this thing. I think a

Andrew Warner: lot of people did that, but I understand it. I’m in partnership is, uh, sorry, go ahead.

Simi.

Simran Sandhu: No, I was just saying like for the time, I thought it was really good. Like. Yeah, like it’s a day and night difference from like what we put out now, but taking into account that no one was doing it at the time, it’s like, wow, this is the gold

Andrew Warner: standard. I understand it, Sammy. You’re the one who creates the videos and Michael does largely the writing.

Am I right about that?

Simran Sandhu: So I lead like, or I did lead most of our operations work at the time. Uh, neither of us, I think there was a stint in the beginning where Michael was doing most of the editing, but like, Kind of just learn like the more high leverage opportunity, it’s just finding really good editors.

So it was more of like ops, just like running the media, like business side of it, like trying to actually focus on the monetization. And then as the agency grew, that’s really where my focus

Andrew Warner: went. What do you mean by monetization? What was the early monetization that

Simran Sandhu: you did? I think it was like Michael killed it with like getting millions of people to watch the videos, but it was like okay we need to make more money around this and like we need to build like a very disciplined business because I, I, like when I had came on, it was like, there were a few advertising deals that had taken place, but like the rates that were going out, like the money out the door was really high and there was no structure and like just various op stuff.

So it was like, okay, let’s clean this up and let’s position ourselves to be

Andrew Warner: able to scale. When you made your deal to partner up, I’m assuming this wasn’t a 50 50 partnership, right? Yeah. Michael,

Simran Sandhu: Michael had a bit

Andrew Warner: more equity. More than 60%. What

Simran Sandhu: did it

Michael Sikand: come out to? Yeah. Should we be, are you transparent with it?

Yeah, take the risk. Simi, are you down?

Simran Sandhu: Or no? I don’t, well, the only reason I’m hesitant is like, we signed NDAs, so I don’t know if this, like, kind of impacts that in one way or the other. What I’ll tell you,

Michael Sikand: Andrew, is that I was very hesitant to bring on someone else. I was like, couldn’t I just do everything?

And then over time, I realized how much I needed Simi. And we would have been able to exit without him. And none of this would have happened, so I offered him a percentage and that just gradually increased over time. Cause you make a deal with someone and then the minute it becomes unfair, you make it fair.

And that’s the thing, right? It’s like you supposed to honor this original agreement in startups, but that just doesn’t work. It’s like you bring someone on to build a company with you and the value changes, the circumstances change, right? So I’d say. I started off with the vast, vast majority, and it came down to being just a slight majority by

Andrew Warner: the end.

And Simi, from what I could tell, was working for the majority of the time that you were running the company. He was at Eli Lilly, right?

Simran Sandhu: Yeah, so I left April of 22. But, I would say, like, our business changed quite a bit when we both were full time. Michael was leaving school at that point. It was, okay, it’s now or never.

I’m either gonna leave this full time job and go do this, or I’m just going to be stuck in Indiana and just keep going down this path. Wanting something good to happen and something big to happen, but it not actually taking place. So, yeah, it just kind of ended up being the perfect time. And then he left Michigan, I left Indianapolis, and we made the trek out to Austin,

Andrew Warner: Texas.

Why Austin? I’m glad that you came here because that’s how I got to meet you, but why

Simran Sandhu: here? I would love to say it was like a very methodical decision, but like we probably went the worst way about it. We went to one South by. Event or it was like a we came down for for South by we’re like we love this city.

We have to move

Michael Sikand: Well, no, we were thinking about LA and New York as well. So it’s like New York LA Austin What’s it gonna be? Simi had lived in the Bay Area up here for a month with me. Yeah, and we wanted to go somewhere else Because it was really expensive. So New York and LA, Austin was just like, wow, like we can be big fish in a small pond.

Like it’s a rising tide. We can get a dope ass house. We got a sick ass crib with a sweet Airbnb our first few months. And we knew a couple people there and hit the ground running. And I’m so thankful for the friendships I made in Austin, man. What a great city of people. Like what a, what a quality. It is

Andrew Warner: a tight friendship here from what I see.

It’s very

Michael Sikand: Easy though to meet everybody. Yes. Yeah. The kind of tech events that we meet at, like that’s everybody, you know what I’m saying? Like the people

Andrew Warner: on the I didn’t realize that when I was visiting the city, I thought, well, look at all these people. You constantly go out for drinks and you see this new person.

And then eventually after I lived here for say four months, I realized, Oh, it’s the same people over and over. It’s. A small versus San Francisco, where there are a lot of people you just don’t see cause they’re always at the office and you just don’t see them. And then you’ve got the suburbs and they’re never coming out of the suburbs unless they’re taking a bus to go to work, you know, like the Apple bus or something, and then they’re constantly people coming in.

And so there’s a sense of, I can’t get a handle on who’s here. And every time I think someone’s here for good, like my buddy, Shane Mack, it would turn out that something happened in their businesses and they would leave and move on. It’s a very transient city compared to Austin. Before we continue, I’ve gotta tell you about Gusto, my sponsor.

It’s the easy payroll and benefits solution that you’re going to love. This is the time of year to switch over to a plan that you’re gonna enjoy using that’s gonna make it easy for you to pay your people, make it easy for them to be on top of how much you’ve paid them, what everything is looking like as far as taxes, payments, benefits, time, attendance.

All the stuff that you need so easy and beautiful that you’ve heard many of my past interviewees talk about how much they love using it. And I’m going to recommend them highly. This is the time of year to switch. You will love it. I guarantee it. In fact, I don’t even, I don’t even have to give you a money back guarantee.

I’m just going to let you try it for free right now. If you go to gusto. com slash mixed surgery, that’s G U S T O. com slash M I X E R G Y. Um, talk to me about revenue. Can you just give me a sense of the financial buildup from advertising and then we’ll get into the services part of the business, how much were you doing in the beginning when you started selling ads to who, and then how did it build up?

Simran Sandhu: So we probably talk about, like, how we made the money. I know for sure we can’t talk about how much we were making and, like, what we’re doing. Even

Andrew Warner: in the early days you can’t talk about ballpark revenue? Only because Like, are you talking about

Simran Sandhu: hundreds, thousands? Yes, we were doing like well over hundreds of thousands and like the, the only issue is that it’s very clear what multiple media businesses get.

And so like, if we just kind of signify that it’s pretty clear how much people.

Andrew Warner: Okay, but let’s talk then 2022, the end of 2022, how much were you doing roughly at that point? Not around the same. At that point, I think 200, 000 in revenue.

Michael Sikand: Um, no, no. Yeah, I, I made like 30 grand with one Morning Brew video in, I think, October.

Andrew Warner: Morning Brew was paying

Michael Sikand: you? Yes, Morning Brew was one of our first customers for advertising.

Andrew Warner: Wow. Okay, so you made 30, 000. What kind of ad did you do for them?

Michael Sikand: These guys wrote, uh, 70 million for writing an email, right? Got it. And then would hook people into the story and then tell them to subscribe because our future has the most insane storytelling capabilities for brands.

Some of the most unique set of capabilities for storytelling. Like we tell business stories and like, and we like drive people to the product. Let’s actually go to like, it only works a few times. But once we tell the story of a brand, like there’s advertising, Andrew, where you watch a TV commercial and it’s like, ah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

But when you’re telling a business story, you’re actually talking about the problem they solved and like what makes their product great and why it won on the market. And by telling that story, it makes people want it because they learn everything they need to know. It is the most beautiful. Most all encompassing pitch commercial ever is telling the business story behind a product.

And

Andrew Warner: then people are willing to go out and sign up. How do you get them to leave the platform to go and sign up for a newsletter? I would

Michael Sikand: be very intentional about my CTA. So for TikTok, it’d be like hit the link in a bio. And what I’d do is I’d show footage of our link. I’d show footage of our actual page.

It’s like there’s these small things you need to do to increase conversion. For YouTube, I would be like check out the link in the comments because that was the mechanism for getting the conversion. While TikTok and Instagram were link in bio. And I was like, well, a lot of people are going to be first time viewers of the channel watching this video.

Maybe I should show them how many followers I have and just, just show them the link because a lot of people don’t even end up looking at your Tik Tok like profile. So that helped. And then what I did is like, this was like a business strategy perspective. I syndicated these videos across other pages. So I’d find these Instagram pages that were aggregating content on the business landscape.

And then I’d have the video posted across 10 of these guys, they were Croatian guys, whatever. Right. And they would then have their own unique link and we were able to just drive a fuck ton of revenue. Like in this environment, Morning Brew was paying like 4 an email. So we were raking it in and we had to Is this a CK deal?

Yeah, we were doing per email and it worked like I, cause there was no cap, right? So I did this for The Hustle as well. I also made tens of thousands with The Hustle in that fall, right? And just, it was two clients, right? A hundred thousand for those deals. And then we had other advertisers too. Uh, this kind of hot direct consumer company faves.

And I think if maybe Celsius network came around that time, I can’t remember. There were a crypto company that went under.

Andrew Warner: And they were, you know, Dylan Jarden and, uh, Henry Belcaster, they do shorts also Henry does business stories kind of like yours, but he’ll find one aspect of the business instead of telling the whole thing, like how posters were made, where you might, I don’t know, maybe you would do that too.

And, uh, and Dylan does general, here’s an amazing thing that you might want to know. Millions of views. What do you think they make from all that? Since, uh, especially Dylan doesn’t have a focus, estimate their revenue.

Michael Sikand: Well, their revenue comes from their services business, which I think is quite successful.

See with Dylan and Henry, they started with their services business and then did original content. We started with original content and then did a services business. So more or less somewhat similar. I’d say.

Andrew Warner: I was looking to have a place to go shower and run when I was in New York City and Dylan says, come use my place.

I really will always be grateful that he, that he did that. We had lunch. He told me services business. The part that I didn’t ask him was what’s the revenue from, from content. I don’t know that they’re doing advertising. I think they’re just doing whatever share they get from the platforms they’re on, right?

Michael Sikand: Yeah. I don’t like that. I don’t think they’re doing, I don’t think they’re doing, um, branded content. Like he reached out to me like months ago. Like, how do you guys get brand deals for these shorts? Like it’s an artful, it’s an artful thing to be able to. Do good advertisements on short form video, right?

Like it requires a little, like quite a lot of tack to be able to pull it off. And it requires like a sales engine and a lot of approvals. And it’s like a whole nother headache. You know, I think for them, it’s more of we have this big services business. Now we’re just going to go build our names out with our content and get a bunch of views.

And, and use that as a case study for our other clients.

Andrew Warner: All right. At what point did you decide you were going to do this as a service business? That you were going to add a service layer to your business?

Michael Sikand: It was more just like chance. Cause I was listening to my first million and they were doing a contest about who could make their, their clip go viral.

And that was like, once that, on that challenge got the recurring revenue deal, had them acquire the TikTok page. It was so funny, like, learning, like, if you’re, like, a young cat with, like, just the right skill at the right time, like, suddenly you’re just gonna make money, like, I remember just treating HubSpot invoices for, like, Okay, you’re gonna acquire this from me, uh, okay, you’re gonna pay me every month, okay, and then here’s my challenge.

Suddenly I had like just 25, 30,000 wired to me from HubSpot. And I was like, what? Like, this is so

Simran Sandhu: for,

Andrew Warner: for managing their, their, or for creating content for them and basically managing their, or doing my first millions

Michael Sikand: clips on TikTok. Oh, from my Right, right. That birthed the services business. ’cause Simmy was like trying to help us turn our future into a business.

And he is like, well this is recurring revenue. What are we doing here? Like, why are we not going more all in on this? And the ad market is tough, but it’s just a higher quality source of revenue services

Andrew Warner: than ads. Surprised. I think a lot of people didn’t want to get into services. I told you that our mutual friend who’s a house we went with, uh, we, we all had a conversation and Cody, he kept for months.

Saying to me, Andrew, why don’t you do podcast service business? He had his podcast. He had been paying people to do this. He goes, you keep giving people advice and feedback and showing them how to improve this and that. Just do it for them instead of telling them what to do. And I was super hesitant, literally months saying, I don’t think this makes sense because it feels like it’s a lot of work to do services for very little revenue.

I mean, even if the numbers are good, I love that Simi’s laughing at me because I’m getting it wrong. I want to know where I’m getting wrong. Tell me, what do you think?

Simran Sandhu: I think that it’s a funny thing because it’s like services have recently gotten very sexy again. Like the agencies have been around forever, but I just feel like it’s been, we’re in this Twitter bubble as of like this past year or if you have even, let’s say a mid sized audience, the play is to go build an agency of some kind or like Go partner with some operator to go build out an agency and sit back and collect checks.

And it’s like so funny because it’s been around forever. What I will say is like, this model works well when like your costs of production are really, really low. So like, how much do you think it costs us to produce a video, right? For like, let’s say on average for one of

Andrew Warner: our clients. That’s a good point.

I actually don’t know the level of your editors. I would guess that a video on our future takes a good three days to five days of editing work. Am I

Simran Sandhu: off? Sub 24 hours and sub a hundred dollars. Get out of here! Yeah, I think

Andrew Warner: everyone’s got to go and check out the our future videos to get a sense of what we’re talking about because we’re talking About cutouts of the people.

You’re not just using straight up b roll. It’s you’re cutting them out What is it called where you cut out the person from the background like masks? Yeah, you’re masking them out You’re popping them up. If you talk about a burger, you don’t just show the burger or generic video of a burger You have the burger masked out and each item in the burger, like the burger patty and the cheese and everything else, falls down from the sky.

It’s like, details to that level. Simi, Simi knows what I, what I’m talking about. So, under 100 to create that, and that includes the writers and the, the video

Simran Sandhu: production people? So, there’s two parts to our business. I would say that like If you look at the original content, and what we would make for advertising, Michael was the writer.

I think he now has some support helping out as needed, but I’m the script

Andrew Warner: writer now. Yeah.

Simran Sandhu: On the agency side, it’s kind of dibbied up where we focus on original and repurposed content, and there’s so many buckets within that. One of our deals that we’re doing right now with Dropbox is like, we found this industry niche creator, and we do everything from scripting and post production to actually like, managing out so they can put paid spend behind it.

So like, It just, it varies case by case, but we don’t have independent script writers on the agency side. Usually like the creators or anytime we outsource this kind of work, they’re also in charge of scripting. And then on the repurpose side, there is no scripting involved. It’s just post production work.

I

Andrew Warner: don’t know, because even when you take a My First Million video, they’re very good about being quick, punchy, and telling stories. You’re still clipping out a lot of stuff that’s distracting from your video, right? And that is maybe not writing, but it’s deep editing to tell a story using other people’s long content.

Simran Sandhu: Absolutely. So that’s where it’s like. If you were to break this down, there’s three parts to this process. So like, let’s take My First Million, for example. You have one person who’s clipping. So this is like someone you can get really, really cheap. And we kind of have created like our own metrics or our own formula as to what makes a good clip.

Like if it hits on X, Y, and Z things, that is clip worthy. And then we have an editor who does all the post production. And then we have a person dedicated to actually posting across channels. So, it’s like Does it, the economics make sense on one deal? Maybe, maybe not. But when like, it’s just economies of scale, you spread the same team across five or six different client accounts.

It’s like, Oh, now like there are very high margins and this is a sustainable business.

Andrew Warner: And then what are some of the things that you hit on for storytelling? What do you, what do you look for?

Simran Sandhu: Mike, do you want to touch on like kind of your playbook and then we can talk about how that separates? Yeah.

Michael Sikand: I mean, I look at it, right.

You’re trying to break the ice, right? Like you’re trying to shatter someone’s schema, right? They’re kind of looking into this portal, right? And it’s this never ending rectangle, vertical. And your job is to make someone just stop or like, stop scrolling or just try and elicit some kind of breeze. Right.

And it’s like that Kanye West Jay Z song, right? It’s provocative. It gets the people going, right? How can you create provocation? So it’s talking about celebrities, right? Talking about well known figures in society, right?

Andrew Warner: Nicknames. So Elon Musk, I’ve noticed you have a bunch of videos. I don’t know if it’s a bunch, but you have some on email.

Elon Musk. Yeah. Like if I’m

Michael Sikand: going to tell a story about Lucid Motors, right. I’m working on one right now. It’s like these guys worked for Elon and then ditched him to build his biggest competitor, right? Like,

Andrew Warner: or that is such an our future sentence.

Michael Sikand: Yes. Uniquely us. And I just found this guy on Twitter.

Who’s literally taking my scripts and like writing these great threads. And then he wrote one on us today and I was like, that doesn’t really make it up.

Andrew Warner: You know, we should. I’ve noticed that you’ve been trying that too on Twitter, but it takes a ton of time and I don’t know. Yeah,

Michael Sikand: I tried. Dude, I’ve been trying.

I’m like, wait, like I get crazy views for this on TikTok and LinkedIn. Like why can’t it work on Twitter? And I’ve had a few of them where, but. I feel like only half of them work.

Andrew Warner: So I on Twitter wrote using your style for one that got me about 300, 000 views. It was, I forget, it was something like this guy moved in with his parents to, or this guy used ChatGPT to create a whatever million size business, something like that.

But I was trying to channel you. I like the, here’s the format that I get from you. It’s something like this person who should never even be in the ring, just beat the champion. So it’s like, It’s that kind of, I don’t even know if that’s the right

Michael Sikand: way to put the point. No, it’s for frame breaking statements like something wild, right?

Like it’s like this individual, this because of this, or like did this while doing this. Like it’s just something wild, right? And it’s like, okay, mm-hmm . Build some context, right? This person came from here or like. This industry has been around for decades. Uh, what happened when John Doe joined or like something like, this is how the world is, right?

Person was a person like everybody else. Right. And then it’s like, because like I was looking at Pixar’s storytelling framework and it’s like, it was like, this happens every day. I’ll see story structure. It was here. I got it once upon a time. There was right. And then every day, one day, some day Shane did something.

And then because of that, and then because of that, until finally, yeah. Right. Also had chat GBT kind of analyze my scripts and stories and I put it up on Twitter. I don’t know if I can find the tweet really quickly. But it really just talked, taught how our stories are designed. Right. It’s like present some interesting, controversial information, some really interesting hook, and then have lots of interesting twists and turns and challenges and some heroicism over the challenger, right?

Like I’m not looking for a linear story. I think I’ve really tried to like tell my script writer to stop giving me linear stories. Like no one likes a story where it’s like, this guy came from the mud of Korea and built a 10 billion company. And then it’s just linear. It’s like, He went from here, and then he built, and then it just gets to the end, and he built a 10 billion dollar, like, how the fuck?

Joe, what I’m looking for is some novel specific story, I feel like, to anchor it, so I’m always looking for like some juicy detail that shows the genius of this person. Right. And that can sometimes tell the whole story. Just one.

Andrew Warner: Well, I, I look for linear. My, my, my approach is since we have some time, I look for give me the thing that they did.

That’s amazing. Let’s spend some time on that so that people care. And then what’s. Where did they start out? What’s the first thing they did? What’s the first challenge for you? It was the first thing you did was podcasting. The first challenge was it wasn’t growing that much. Then what did you do? And then it was discover TikTok.

And then there’s a challenge there. TikTok didn’t actually produce much for you. And then there was another realization, which was, you know what? I don’t need TikTok to do something else. Just doing well on TikTok is enough. And then I was looking for those little bits of Of genius or the little bit of effort that we could pick up something from.

Like he kept sending out cold emails. He kept doing, and how did he do it? That’s the approach I take, but I recognize that there is a formula to it. And I don’t know, it’s not a Quentin Tarantino thing. I love how Quentin Tarantino will break the linear format. What do you think of this approach? How would you take it instead?

And if you think about storytelling,

Michael Sikand: I think that people like to really easily just see like what made someone a divergent thinker, this interview would be like, okay, like Michael and Simi were recently graduated from college and they realized that Wall Street Journal wasn’t appealing to TikTok users, so they built all these TikTok pages and built a media company.

Right? That’s the divergent thinking. It’s like, okay, this is how the world was like every day, like are, and then, but because of that, they did this and, but it’s happened. And then there’s kind of series of events. So I don’t know. I mean, like you’re in a different realm. Like you have a lot more freedom and flexibility with like long form storytelling.

I think you’ve asked great questions, but I think for like short bites, it’s like, people just want to see that someone was really smart and how, like they’re so genius in retrospect, right? For looking at the world in a way no one else was. But

Andrew Warner: you do have, you do have a lot of wow moments in your, in your storytelling, including like at the end, there’s a thing that you’re leaving.

There’s always something cool to leave with. Yeah. Yeah. I could see the effort that goes into it. All right. Let’s come back and come back to me with the agency, since that’s what blew up. I get my first million does a competition. You come in, you end up with a customer. Suddenly HubSpot is sending you checks and you realize there’s something here.

How do you go about getting other customers?

Simran Sandhu: I think we benefited from like the timing of it. Now you see tons of clip agencies that exist, but back when we were doing it, it was just us and Dylan and like those guys and their guys, their prices were really, really high. So it was like. Okay, we have this hero client.

Everyone knows who My First Million is. So that got our foot in a lot of doors. So it was like, oh, these are the guys that work on MFM’s clips. So it was actually really nice because people just kept approaching us. It was like, hey, can you work on our podcast?

Michael Sikand: Yeah. When you’re young with the right set of skills, like, shit’s just gonna hit you.

Like, you’re just gonna get hit with crazy opportunities. Like, you don’t have to worry. Like, it’s gonna come to you. If you’re the right set of skills in a hot space, that’s

Andrew Warner: right. So you didn’t have to promote it, you didn’t have to just keep publishing on your Twitter account or something what you did?

Simran Sandhu: We did over time, but like in the beginning it was mostly just like, okay, let’s figure out what is transferable here, right? Like there’s a lot of things that they had going for them, which is like, talked a lot about storytelling here, like those two guys are really good storytellers, especially I would say, like, Sean, like Sean has this innate gift from being able to pull any analogy from anywhere and have it fit into the context of what he’s talking about.

So it was like, yeah. And so it was like, how do we, what is transferable? If you’re these guys have this special gift, but my hunch and our hunch is that we can take a few of these things that they talk about or what. What works for them, and we can apply this elsewhere. For example, what works really well for them, there’s like three or four things, right?

Mike Tufte talked about the pop culture aspect of it, but really what draws people in is big numbers. It’s curiosity drivers. It’s like, hey, have you heard of X thing? Hey, I use this thing and it changed my life in Y, Y way. So it was like these types of things. And then also just like leaning into big names, like we’ve noticed like a lot of the clips that would do well with Sean and Sam, It always talked about someone else.

So like some of the first few clips that Michael had made when they were going viral in the beginning, it was around like, sure beasts and like Lavorne and it’s like, okay, use this to build the foundation and a big base for like your podcast. And then you can focus on like more tactical stuff as like people’s affinity to you grows.

So it’s like right now they don’t know who you are. You’re like, they’re scrolling on Tik TOK. You get like maybe two seconds to, to make a break it with somebody. So how can you draw them in? And the idea is they see you enough times, they’ll keep coming back.

Andrew Warner: I’m looking at their top, uh, shorts on YouTube.

The top one that has 17 million views is Elon Exposes This Tesla Employee Who Leaked. Yep. That was you who did

Simran Sandhu: that? Yeah. Yes. That’s, uh, that’s one of ours. So that, that, like, that hits on a bunch of different things. Hits on the pop culture. It’s a big name. Everybody knows who Elon is. It was a trending topic.

This was something that was taking place like while the Tesla or the Twitter acquisition was taking place. And then it was just a crazy story. So it was like those three factors combined is what enabled it to

Andrew Warner: do so well. There’s another one. Jeff Bezos banned him from Amazon. And that was a story told by one of their friends on the podcast.

Simran Sandhu: So funny. It works for those guys. So it was like, how can we take this and go do this with other guys? It’s just like our

Michael Sikand: future videos, but like in the podcast for like. My first million was such an inspiration to me because they made business entertaining and that was my goal like Both our future TikTok and my first million podcast, like the lines between pop culture and business to essentially tell stories about business that could be intercepted by the largest total addressable market possible, right?

That’s what we did. Like, you know, morning brew put, you know, us in a newsletter and made it quirky and witty. My first million put it on a two friends having a beer podcast format. And we did it by dropping a Drake instrumental behind some animation.

Andrew Warner: Speaking of, how do you use copyrighted material? You constantly clip like so many other people do that It’s a bunch of popular movies and

Michael Sikand: So, it’s an unspoken truth.

Um, but we like to, you know, educational and fair use standards for talking about business and Not necessarily like showing the movie clip as a movie clip, but showing it in context of the story.

Andrew Warner: I, I don’t, I think you’re not the only ones doing it and maybe you’re going to feel uncomfortable with me bringing it up, but I think everyone’s getting away with it because it’s part of meme culture and you’re allowed to just clip and do meme, but I think it’s a copyright violation in the sense that you’re allowed to talk about a thing and bring it up so you can talk about it, but if you’re using it to make your point, that’s different.

It’s not you commenting on it, it’s you using it. And I think that’s a copyright issue. And I’m looking at both of you. And for one, Simi, stop smiling as I talked

Michael Sikand: about this. Yeah, I mean, put me in court,

Simran Sandhu: you know, like. I’m thinking about it. And it’s like, would people still consume the content if the high premium level editing wasn’t there?

That’s what I’m like thinking about as you’re saying this. And I think nowadays, like, I think there’s diminishing returns to a certain level of editing. Like. Yeah, I think we’re, we do a really, really good job of it. There’s probably a few other people who have taken what we’ve done in and done it one step further.

But even at the end of the day, if you took out the Jordan Belfort footage that we use in our clips and the wall of Wolf of Wall Street stuff, would people still watch this? We could probably change it with sock images in like, people would still come and watch cause it’s still really engaging. So I don’t know.

That’s what I would say. I think they would.

Andrew Warner: I think it adds something and it’s like a phrase from Saturday Night Live might have been a way for people to keep referring to this point in this message and have something come along with it that’s beyond what they could communicate on their own. I feel like that’s the way we’re using short clips.

It’s this meme culture thing and we’re all doing it and the platforms haven’t been upset so we could continue and they’re, they’re essentially the law. Alright, so if I’m understanding you right, you saw that there was good revenue, it was consistent revenue in the services business. You got the first customer who was a market customer and then others followed because they just found out about it.

You weren’t even promoting it. There wasn’t a video that’s that had no, it wasn’t crazy,

Michael Sikand: man. My DMS are full of people being like, do you need a short form editor? That was never, ever something that I saw like in the early days, like to be like, find people on Upwork who knew TikTok. Oh, the vertical format.

It’s like, it’s so different now. I mean, it’s the, the internet’s been flooded with this service offering and we were the first ones and we saw that horizon and we exited to escape the vortex of competition.

Andrew Warner: Why not then in each of your videos, say, if you want videos like this, sign up or contact us or something.

Why didn’t you promote that? People watching that are

Michael Sikand: not the right clients, Andrew. We need enterprise clients who have a lot of amounts of money, right?

Andrew Warner: So then how did you get to the enterprise clients? Was it

Michael Sikand: cold email? We don’t fuck around. We don’t fuck around with personal brands, right? There’s interesting.

If you’re doing content work for influencers, They’re not only incredibly nitpicky, but they also aren’t willing to spend their cheapest fuck. But if you go to like a big corporation, not only are they less nitpicky, but they’re willing to pay multiples more. So they’re the dream clients. The challenge is, you know, there’s, Simi can touch more on this, but the deals take a long time to close.

And there are a lot of big, well capitalized companies that are using short form content or even even bigger challenge, Andrew, is they don’t have content that is even wholly applicable to TikTok.

Simran Sandhu: That’s the issue, right? When we were kind of doing the strategy sesh with Morning Brew early on, and I was making a big push as to like, Hey, we should push this agency to like, all of Morning Brew’s book of business.

And every single like, current customer or client of Morning Brew should be working with our feature on the agency side. He’s like, Simran, you have to realize most companies do not have any content of any kind. There’s nothing for you to work with, like, and they don’t have budget budgets allocated to this.

So it’s like, again, do you want to fight an uphill battle, convincing people they should be on TikTok or just finding people with the deepest pockets who believe in this channel and getting them to believe and trust in your work?

Andrew Warner: And that would be who’s creating content already. And how do we work with them to bring their content here or to create brand new type of content?

Simran Sandhu: Yes, exactly. So it’s like two, two, two variations of that. One would be like, they’re creating content on TikTok, but it’s not performing well. So it would be like helping them get more awareness and just help them come up with a better strategy and put the right people in place so they can scale. Where the alternatives say, for example, like B2B2C, where it’s like anything consumer facing, you’re selling something to one off people, and it’s like they should be on TikTok.

So like a good example of this is like, probably like a Shopify or Dropbox, who have been clients of ours, are a perfect example of this, right? Like those are technically selling to business, but those businesses are selling to everyday people, right? So it’s like, it’s best if they’re on these channels, so it’s like, Even though you may not necessarily want to make a Shopify website right now, what the idea is, is that like, You hear about Shopify and when you do need to make a website, you do decide to go sell a product of some kind.

They’re the first people that come to mind. And it’s like only big companies can take bets like that, where they don’t see the, the, the ROI immediately. They can wait it. And that’s, that’s something only fortune 500 or publicly traded companies help doing.

Michael Sikand: Great way to put it. Cause short form video is great for awareness.

Yeah. Amazing. If you can keep surfacing your brand name somehow in someone’s 2023 content diet of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, like. That’s so valuable. It’s just hard.

Simran Sandhu: And you have to be so picky with who you work with. It’s so easy to fall in this trap of just working with anybody who gives you money. But it’s like, if you were to take this and just go work with D2C companies, it would be really hard because like the only way they’re going to measure this is like how many conversions did one video get?

And like that, it’s very binary. It’s either it works.

Michael Sikand: In their defense, I would be the exact same way.

Simran Sandhu: Yeah, yeah, I would be the same way. But it’s just like a function of like how they spend their money. So that’s where you have more grace with B2B companies. They’re not in that race.

Michael Sikand: I’d say, Andrew, there’s nothing glamorous about doing a marketing agency.

I think you’re dealing with a lot of overseas talent. You’re dealing with a lot of pesky changes and edits and There needs to be process and it’s hard, like just hard to like things smoothly, every single engagement. I think

Simran Sandhu: there’s, there’s, there’s also like a variation of this where I would say, like, unless you’re just working with, you’re very well connected and you’re only working with warm leads.

So these are people that respect you as a person or like, they know you have an expertise and they’re going to be easy to work with. That’s one way to, to kind of defend yourself. That’s something where I would say, like. Unintentionally, we had that benefit is that like everyone knew what my first million was.

They had some, we started being more vocal and active. We started going to events in Austin. People knew who we were and it was like, okay, like we know these guys know their shit. Like they will figure it out over time. So like there’s some sense of trust there.

Andrew Warner: I can see that. I do feel that benefit of me having done these podcast interviews for years is the people that I’ve met and the connection that I have with them.

As soon as I said, I wanted to do a podcast agency. Eric Ries reached out and harshly it was, how can I help you do this? Let’s think through. He spent an hour just thinking through the business with me. It was amazing. And I think when you get that kind of relationship with someone, it’s way better than if they’re desperate and they’re talking to you because even then, no matter what their desperation level is, they still see you as a service provider who could cheat them, who could maybe mislead them and not as a friend that they want to work with and help and understand and trust.

Simran Sandhu: Totally, it makes a huge difference. Another example that’s like very top of mind right now is like, product ties agencies have become like this huge thing, where there’s this dude on Twitter, his name’s Hunter Hammonds, and he creates like these like product ties agencies. So one of them is like somewhat of a competitor in that they make short form clips, but they’re focused more on personal brands, I would say, with like viral cuts.

And it’s like, it’s really smart because Cody and Sam are like the partners in the business, and they bring a lot of leads in. But it’s like, they’re still going to be relatively easier to work with because like, it’s, they’re affiliated to Sam or they’re affiliated to Cody. Like it’s not,

Andrew Warner: which Cody is this Cody Sanchez.

Oh, code. Oh, got it. Code. I know that. I know what you’re talking about. Cody Sanchez bought into the business. I didn’t realize Sam Parr did. I

Simran Sandhu: don’t know. And, uh, but I know like they’re, they’re affiliated in some way, right? Like, these are warm leads coming in naturally.

Andrew Warner: They’re easier to work with. Right. I feel like you two should get on camera.

Simi, you should be on camera. You look good. You do get in the podcast. Podcast clip

Michael Sikand: going out every day. We’re on camera,

Andrew Warner: Andrew. You doing clips of the podcast? I didn’t see it, man. Click okay. I’ll take a look. I did see that you guys have a new podcast. I like how you open it up by going, all right. We’re not gonna surprise anyone by creating a podcast.

I like the direction of the podcast. It’s just the two of you analyzing a business. The challenge with doing an interview is, first of all, you can’t always get great guess. And second, even the best guests sometimes do a junky job of telling them sometimes. That’s why. Yeah, yeah.

Simran Sandhu: Yeah. Just tell their story, get the points

Andrew Warner: out.

And at some point people don’t necessarily need to hear it from the person. They just want to hear the story. And you’re good. We’ve been struggling,

Michael Sikand: Andrew, with people’s perception of the podcast, thinking it’s an interview show. But no, we control the narrative, right? Like, yes, that, that was an issue I faced doing my interview shows.

I’m sick of depending on someone else for my success. And that’s what doing a third person POV storytelling podcast is about. And when people fall in love with me and Simi and being a part of our journey every week, that is going to be such a fucking moat and it’s going to grow a lot faster than an interview.

I think you’re right. You’ve done like a hundred episodes. We can’t compete with that. Right. It’s like, how can we get scale faster? How can we get, be smart and tactical about growing a pod from scratch? And YouTube’s YouTube, our YouTube podcast is blowing up on YouTube. Like that, that’s like our main channel.

So we’re doing a lot of cool little things. We’re doing shorts. We’re doing these thumbnails that get people to click. So there’s a whole

Andrew Warner: new realm that’s opened up. Because if you’re telling someone else’s story about their, their blanket, that’s doing X million, you could just take a blanket, put the person’s face on it, and just not even have to hope that they’re photogenic.

You can make the whole thing work for them.

Michael Sikand: Just like an R story, but done on

Andrew Warner: a podcast. I think the one thing I would say is I would want a little bit more of you in there, like, even if it’s just, here’s a random thing I did this weekend, or I’m moving into the studio at my new place, give us a sense of who you are.

Um, and I could imagine as you continue, you’re going to get really good at B roll in it. You’re already adding some in it, which I think the challenge with doing, like people have told me to put this podcast on YouTube for years. And the challenge I have is I know you want to sometimes look at this. I can’t, I just can’t put it out there.

I can’t have three people’s faces up there and be okay with that. I think there needs to be some production value, even if people will watch it. I just can’t. I can’t stand to see that. And I think you guys are going to do that. You’re going to add the video. You’re going to add more interesting elements and more production value.

And it makes it really interesting. Plus you’re just good at talking. It is, uh, do you own that podcast now? Okay. So there’s a benefit of that. They get to grow it. And I guess you’re okay with not owning it as long as they get to help you grow your

Michael Sikand: reputation. Yeah, like, people wouldn’t really care about our show had we not sold a business and been affiliated with a major media company, so.

Yeah. To their credit, yes. To their discredit, haven’t been pumping us as much as I’ve wanted them to, to promote it. Um, said, you know, if it’s there. We’ve got a great opportunity on our hands to grow a top show in the next year and a half. Uh, so, we’re gonna rock it.

Simran Sandhu: And Andrew, you know this, this takes really, really long, right?

Like, you’re in for a long grind to grow a podcast. It’s not gonna happen overnight.

Andrew Warner: It really is such a grind. And you got to lean into it and enjoy it and have a setup where you could do it. I like that you guys are getting to do it remotely now, because I think it’s going to let you do it more, more easily and not have to sweat it.

And that means more consistency. And frankly, the podcast listener, I want to know how you fit into my week. Is this like my motivation to run? I know that forever. My wife and I listened to the Gab Fest came out every Thursday. I knew that if we were going to go long distance drive to hike in San Francisco.

We get to listen to that politics show where we get to hear this, these families, these three hosts talk about their families a little bit, talk about life and politics. And so that fit in, it has to fit in doing it occasionally. And when you feel like it doesn’t work, all right, your podcast is great. It is called our future podcast.

Your shorts are damn good. That I think is the thing that people need to go and follow up with and see first, because the attention to detail things that most people wouldn’t even know is there, is there. I love it. Thanks, Andrew. Thanks, Andrew. Thanks. Bye everyone.

 

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.

x