How a guy with no money launched a startup on Craigslist

Imagine you’ve got no money, but you want to start a company. How would you do it?

Well, today’s guest is a guy who was in that situation and decided he was going to start with nothing but a Craigslist ad. You’re about to hear how that took off.

Michael Georgiou is the founder of Imaginovation, which builds enterprise-level web and mobile applications.

Michael Georgiou

Michael Georgiou

Imaginovation

Michael Georgiou is the founder of Imaginovation, which builds enterprise-level web and mobile applications.

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Full Interview Transcript

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

And I’m the kind of interviewer who comes in even when he has a cold. So, screw that. I know that it makes for a little bit weirder voice, but I don’t believe in staying home, staying in bed if there’s any way for me to get out of bed. I will be the 90-year old guy who crawls into the office and still shows up for meetings even when he’s sick and has a cold, even if I break a hip. I will be there. It’s important to love your work. Am I right, Michael?

Michael: Yeah. That’s right.

Andrew: Hell yeah. All right. So, guys, imagine this—imagine you’ve got no money, but you want to start a company. How would you do it? Well, Michael, whose voice you just heard, is a guy who was in that situation and he decided that he was going to start with nothing but a Craigslist ad, an ad on Craigslist. Thankfully, that took off. What we’re about to hear is how we did it. His name is Michael Georgiou. He is the founder of Imaginovation. Let me say that again. It actually works better, don’t you think, Michael, when I say it fast, Imaginovation?

Michael: Yeah. It sounds pretty cool.

Andrew: It’s like a merging of the word imagination and innovation, right?

Michael: Yes, sir. That’s right.

Andrew: Imaginovation. They build enterprise-level web and mobile applications. Before the interview started, Michael wanted to make sure to tell everybody that they also do software for internet of things and AI. I don’t know specifically what he means by AI, but I used to laugh at internet of things, Michael. Now I want it everywhere. I want my coffee maker to work on Alexa. I want to wake up and say, “Alexa, make it eight cups today,” or, “Hey, Siri,” I shouldn’t say that out loud. Alexa is probably going to make people’s speakers go off. “Hey, Siri,” doesn’t.

Or say, “Hey, Siri, heat up some water. Today I feel like hot tea.” And then get to the kitchen and by the time I’m in the kitchen, I want the hot water ready. I don’t know if that’s what you’re working on, but I’ve got to tell you I’m now a huge—I don’t know if I can say fan of because it’s not fully here, but a huge anticipator of internet of things. I will not be making fun of it.

Michael: Yeah, it is booming. And AI, it’s basically artificial intelligence.

Andrew: It’s such a broad category that I’m curious—at some point we’ll ask you why you want to bring up AI. I know that’s probably the future for you, but me saying you also work on AI, I don’t know if that’s going to be clear enough for people about how they can work with you. We’ll talk about that. We’ll use this intro conversation as an opportunity to bring it up.

I should say that two sponsors we have for here are ActiveCampaign, the company that will help you send out the smart email and Toptal, the company that will help you hire your next great developer, designer, MBA, etc. Michael, good to have you here.

Michael: Thanks. Great to be here. Really appreciate the opportunity.

Andrew: Let’s start dollars and cents, give people a sense of how big the business is—your revenue over the last 12 months is what?

Michael: Over the last 12 months it has been over $1 million. Last year was the first year, 2016 was the first year we broke seven figures.

Andrew: Wow. Congratulations.

Michael: Yeah. Thank you.

Andrew: Why are you telling me this? I understand when a company comes back or is founder comes back and his company sold and he tells me or if it’s a funded company and their numbers are public. Why you? What’s the point for you of coming in here and saying you did over $1 million?

Michael: Just to kind of not really—I’m definitely not the person to ever brag. Seven figures really isn’t that much money, to be honest, for a company of—we have about 40 people now. But it just kind of comes to show that we started from nothing and we grew our company organically to over a $1 million company. So, just be a little bit of an inspiration that anything is possible if you work hard and you dedicate yourself and what you believe in.

Andrew: 40 people—you told our producer there are 40 full-time people. That’s like an average of—assuming all the money goes to them, that’s an average of like $25,000 a year. We must be talking about people—their salary, I mean—we must be talking about people in a different country where $25,000 would go a long way.

Michael: Yes.

Andrew: The bulk of your staff is where?

Michael: I would say 60% of our staff is in India. So, we have a really cool offshore model. A lot of our experienced developers are in India. That’s really how we started. Then after we’ve made some money, we’ve been able to reinvest in our company and now we’re hiring a lot of project managers here, technical leads here, designers, some of our internal marketing staff and business development people as well.

So, I would say the core of our entire management team in the US is actually in Raleigh, NC and then about 25 full-time developers in India. Yeah. To be honest, it’s a mixture of both, but the core of that money that we’ve made gets reinvested into a lot of our people here that we’re trying to give back to the community.

Andrew: By the way, I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but there’s this like this noise going off on my other computer. I know most people would edit that stuff out of their interviews. I like the little office sounds. It’s a little unprofessional for me to have left my computer unmuted, but for the most part, I don’t have any alerts on my computer, which is why over the years, I don’t hear a lot of sounds.

I just switched to Basecamp for team project management from all the more modern, newer project management apps. I just didn’t like them. They were all very distracting. Basecamp is just simple, it’s all contained. It works really well. It creates a sense of community. But I have to remember suddenly I want notifications on my desktop and notifications on a Mac means noise. I’ve got to figure out a solution for them.

Michael: No worries.

Andrew: What do you guys use for project management, staying in touch with people remotely?

Michael: We use JIRA. Our communication tool is the constitute of Slack. We use Slack internally for daily communication and JIRA to manage all of our tasks.

Andrew: That’s what I’m noticing for developer teams. It’s mostly JIRA. They love JIRA. When they don’t use JIRA, it’s like Trello. Then Slack. Don’t you feel overwhelmed with all the Slack messages going back and forth?

Michael: Man, you don’t even know. Just imagine for us, we have a 24-hour cycle. We have people here and we have full-time people in India. So, my phone is—I’m getting notifications in the morning, at night of those people continuously working. So, it’s a lot of noises. I have to kind of turn off my phone at night, not turned off, maybe just put it on vibrate. I would go crazy.

Andrew: If you don’t want to work at night, they’ll even have a do not disturb in Slack, but even if you turn off all those alerts, you still are waking up to a lot of catch up conversation. It’s kind of like walking into a room and instead of just continuing, you have to pay attention to what people said an hour ago. It’s a distracting, I find.

So, I’m finding there’s a backlash against Slack. When we internally had to have some communication device, I said I can’t deal with that. I can’t deal with email. I don’t think it’s actually productive. We ended up with Basecamp just for that reason. It gives me a little bit of chat, but not a lot of chatter. I don’t want distractions.

Michael: Yeah. We used to use Basecamp, but then we migrated over to JIRA once our team expanded.

Andrew: I get it. I feel like at some point you can’t stick with Basecamp. It becomes a bit of an issue. I also feel like it’s weird with Basecamp that when I want to edit a task, I have to hit the edit button and then I have to hit the save button. Those little extra steps, they’re not a problem. I’m not like rushing out the door and can’t hit two extra buttons. They just feel like it’s not using newer technology. But it’s worth it. I’d much rather have that and have the sanity. I don’t want noise. I don’t want people chatting all day long. Chat all day long, but exclude me.

Michael: Yeah, a lot of distractions.

Andrew: As soon as I say this, there are going to be people sitting back going, “You don’t understand. You can set up alerts to come up whenever someone mentions your name.” That’s a whole other thing. Basically, you’re managing Slack now. I predict a backlash is coming for Slack.

Michael: Probably.

Andrew: I think so.

Michael: Yeah, probably.

Andrew: All right. Let’s go back in time. You’re a guy who was in Australia studying for your Master’s. You left. You were unemployed for a few months. Your brother in law started a company. What was the company that he started?

Michael: Well, actually, we started it together. So, what happened was I did my Master’s degree in Australia, finished in 2011. I came back and I was unemployed for about almost six months, I would say, and then he came to me and he basically said—he married my sister and we had a really good relationship. He had this idea of starting an agency.

He’s more technical. He was working at SaaS at that time. He was more on the technical side. He knew I was more on the creative side. He wanted to partner up with me to manage our sales and marketing operations as we expanded. We decided to be 50/50 partners. We decided to start Imaginovation.

I came up with it. I actually had this dream, we were coming up with logos and names and I had this vision in my dream that innovation, I had all these keywords popping up. It was crazy. I just thought wow, Imaginovation, which is imagination turns to innovation. We have imagination is the creative side of our company and innovation is more of the technology innovative side of our company. So, merged together, that’s how we came up with the name and yeah, that’s kind of how we started.

Andrew: I did something similar. It’s called a portmanteau, right? You take two words, you smush them together, you end up with a third word, right? Mixergy was supposed to be a combination of mixers, which is what I was doing, and synergy or energy, boom, you get it together. The weird part about that is people always unbundle them in whatever way they want. So, for me, I end up with, “Mix Energy, right, Andrew?” People will say, “I’m a huge fan of Mix Energy.” I’ll listen to them for a while. They actually have heard a bunch of interviews and they still call it Mix Energy. Do you have a similar issue going on with Imaginovation?

Michael: Not really. A lot of people, they mix and match their words and everything, but for us, I don’t know. Like I said, I felt it was right. I felt it was the right name with both words kind of combined. I think what happened was it was the purpose behind what we believed in. We wanted to mix the—it wasn’t necessarily the words. We had some other cool names to call our company, but it was more alongside the purpose of the creativity, the imagination side of the company, what we felt is going to provide a lot of imagination in our products and our ideas and merging that with the technical side of the business.

Andrew: What I like about it is it gives you a lot of flexibility. You guys started out doing WordPress and you grow into internet of things. If you guys were called WordPressovation or WordPress Dev Shop, you’d be stuck. I really feel that names need to give you freedom to do anything. You should be able to go from software to underwear sales with the same name and not have it changed, not because you should as a business owner get into underwear sales after starting out with software, but because the name should give you flexibility to adjust what you do, but the motto should be or description should be super specific and concrete. We do x, y and z and that’s it.

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: Then people understand what you do but you get the flexibility to change what you do as you continue. Did you know from the beginning that what you would do is WordPress development or were you hunting around for something to do?

Michael: Well, when we first started—this kind of goes back to why we have people in India—we had some developers that Pete had known, he worked with previous companies and they were also unemployed at that time. They were website developers along with app developers, not mobile, just more like web applications.

So, we were doing more websites. We got into websites and web apps when we first started the company. The first customer that we signed the third week that we started was a web application. It was a music application very similar to Spotify. It’s not Spotify but it has similar features and they were located in Charlotte. That’s kind of how we started. It was more on the software side of things.

Andrew: I see. So, SaaS was in the company structure from the beginning?

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: Is either of you a developer yourselves?

Michael: Sorry?

Andrew: Are you a developer?

Michael: I am not. No. I am purely just a creative, more creative marketing, business development, sales.

Andrew: Your brother in law, is he a developer?

Michael: Brother in law, Pete Peranzo, is very technical. The guy is a genius. He’s very, very smart.

Andrew: I see. He was going to manage these people. Yes, they were cheaper, but with his direction. They can do what he needed done and he can make someone who’s not charging that much, doesn’t have a lot of experience fill in the gaps that he needs. Got it. Okay. That was it. Then you guys go and place a Craigslist ad, right?

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: Tell me about that Craigslist ad. What was in there?

Michael: So, as a startup, you have no money. I was unemployed. I was working in my parents’ spare bedroom. We basically had, like I said, we started with no money, had no loans, no investors, nothing. We decided, “What can we do for free?” At that time, Craigslist was doing pretty well. Everyone was selling and buying from Craigslist.

So, we said, “Let’s start promoting on Craigslist.” So, I put ads all over the country. I was spamming Craigslist. I was going nuts on it. I think we even got—there’s even a few times we got some emails from Craigslist even saying, “Hey, guys, you’re putting too many ads up. Cease and desist,” all this stuff.

Andrew: Did you stop?

Michael: We found other ways.

Andrew: Yes.

Michael: We changed email addresses, we adapted, we did nothing illegal, but we just found was to get around it, we made no excuses, and worked hard and consistently put out ads.

Andrew: What did you do to get past their blocks?

Michael: I think a lot of it was just email addresses, man. A lot of it was email addresses.

Andrew: I think today it’s a little bit harder because I think they even connected to phones and they’ve gotten smarter about this stuff because there’s so many people doing it. So, you just created a bunch of email addresses. You manually went into the different cities and posted?

Michael: Yes.

Andrew: I see.

Michael: I spent months doing it, months and months doing it. We started local first. I’m not going to go post in California when we’re located in Raleigh. So, you’re going to win the local first before anybody else. So, we started posting Raleigh and Charlotte and then we got some calls, started to get some calls around North Carolina and then the company, the startup in Charlotte called me and we had a few phone calls and we closed the deal. I think it was around a $10,000 deal the third week we started the company.

Andrew: You were telling me a little bit about what that first job was. It was software as a service, a web app of some kind, right? You outsourced it to the developers you know in India. In your opinion, did they do a good job the first time out?

Michael: No. They did not.

Andrew: Talk to me about that. It’s a learning curve.

Michael: It is. Absolutely. It’s a huge learning curve especially when you’re dealing with offshore developers. There’s a lot of communication issues. It was a learning curve not even just for the guys over there, but even for me and Pete when we started. We never started a business before. We had no idea how to do it. It was just from all trial and error. A lot of it was from trial and error and fixing and making improvements consistently. I think that’s what business is about. I think it was about evolving and making continuous improvements, trying not to make the same mistake over and over again.

Yeah, to answer your question, they made a lot of mistakes. They weren’t dedicated. They were there for us. They believed in our company. They helped pave the way to where we are right now. But at the same time, they were not experienced developers. They had a few years under their belt. I think it was about three or four of them and it was guys that Pete had known before, he’s worked with before. So, I was like, “All right, cool. These might be some decent developers to work with.”

But it just kind of—they were good at the simpler designs at that time, but the more complex back-end development, there were a lot of issues and then we had to rectify all those issues with the customer, try to make the customer happy. There’s a thousand things that went on, but we’re a lot better for today and over time, just solidify processes and make them as seamless and streamlined as possible.

Andrew: Have you ever heard of a company called Esri?

Michael: I think I’ve heard of it, yeah.

Andrew: That’s the way I felt, like I heard of it somewhere. I heard of it because a friend of my worked there. The friend happened to be here yesterday in San Francisco. On my way out, I said, “I can come by for 15 minutes.” One of the nice things about San Francisco, I stopped by 15 minutes and then went home. He told me the story behind Esri, the company that he worked for. It started out doing consulting services, kind of like what you guys do, then got into products. Today—and I had no freaking idea—I’m looking it up right now, the revenue is $1.1 billion.

Michael: Wow.

Andrew: He told me the founder, Jack Dangermond and his wife, Laura, were on the Forbes 400 list. I looked them up. Their net worth as of August 2017 is $3.7 billion. These two founded the company. Shocking, from nothing but consulting. The reason in bring it up is I get why you, without much money, still living at your parents’ house, would start a consulting company, right? You don’t need much to start it and the sky is no necessarily the limit as a consulting company, but you get to keep twisting and changing and adjusting until you figure out what your thing is. Wow, look at them. They are on the Self-Made Score number eight, age 72.

Michael: Wow.

Andrew: Phenomenal, right?

Michael: That’s pretty amazing, yeah. Wow.

Andrew: Do you have that kind of vision for yourselves, that you guys are going to keep on growing to what level?

Michael: I do. To say that we’re going to become a billion-dollar company doing app and mobile development, probably not. There’s not many billion-dollar agencies out there.

Andrew: You have to pivot away from that, right?

Michael: You have to eventually pivot away. We have dabbled into creating some of our own products. We’ve basically created some internal products like we’ve created our internal CRM system, but we weren’t able to really finish it because we got consumed by client work.

We actually created—it’s a separate company, but separate SaaS product called ImagineCommerce.io. It’s a centralized platform for third-party APIs where you can connect with a Google Analytics or Facebook AdWords or a Magento or Shopify and you can view all that KPI data on one centralized location so you don’t have to log in and out of 50 different platforms to view all that data.

So, we built a platform similar to that. But we weren’t able to finish it. We had some issues with the back end and things like that. So, long story short, we’ve dabbled into our own product development and eventually, we want to create our own suite of products and have like an Imagine.ai, Imagine.iot product. So, we want to brand it, make it consistent with Imaginovation under the Imaginovation umbrella and then kind of create those suites of SaaS products.

Andrew: That is a challenge. How do you find the time to be able to build your own thing? Frankly, I love the Basecamp people. They started out as 37signals, an agency and then they wrote about their transition from agency to software like Basecamp. I think they make it seem too easy.

It has been a challenge for lots of entrepreneurs, where they will set out on that direction and they just will spend a lot of money, get distracted, hurt their client base. It’s a challenge. I’ve done some interviews with entrepreneurs who have talked about how they did it in more depth than the Basecamp team did. It’s painful, but it’s worth it. Frankly, all you have to do is go talk to Jack Dangermond. He’ll tell you, multi-billionaire.

Let me take a moment here to talk about my sponsor. It’s a company called Toptal. Well, imagine you guys are out there listening to me and you’ve got an agency like Michael does, but you can’t do everything. So, you’ve got a client that comes to you and says, “I need to get this done,” and you say, “We do that, we don’t do this, but I understand as a client, you need both.”

For example, maybe, Michael, there are agencies that specialize in iOS development, but they’ve got a client who needs both. We want iOS and Android. We want iOS, Android. You guys do both of those, but we need Alexa because all our clients need to be on Alexa or one of our clients needs to be on Alexa. You can’t go hire an Alexa specialist. You don’t want to necessarily get your people to get distracted by this one thing.

So, what many agencies do is they go to Toptal. They say, “Hey, Toptal, we have a client, we need somebody who’s the best of the best. We’re not going to go to the cheapo freelance sites. We want the best of the best for this one client. We can’t get invested in this project forever. Bring someone on.”

So, Toptal will go through their network, understand how you work. They’ll see, “Hey, Michael, you guys JIRA, you guys use Slack, we know someone who’s really loves JIRA, will tolerate Slack because nobody loves Slack,” actually, there are a bunch of people that love Slack, “And actually happens to have all the needs that you’re looking for around developing chat applications for Alexa, etc.”

They make the introduction. You’re happy with them. This person will then be in your Slack like a full-time employee. This person will get to have an email address at your company like a full-time employee so that your clients who need to talk to them can communicate with them and your clients, for all they know, are talking to a full-time person member of the team.

There are many agencies, I had no idea, Michael, that were run this way. You just go and hire people like that. Maybe you’re into the development stuff, but you need design. So, people will go to Toptal and they’ll hire design or maybe you need pricing help or you need some financials put together or you need all kinds of stuff for that.

Well, that’s what Toptal is about. They’ll help you hire the best of the best. They started out with developers and they moved on to designers and today they even have fantastic MBAs that are helping people raise money and organize their financing and figure out what the right pricing should be.

So, if that is where you are, I want you to go check out a special URL that they created for us because they are Mixergy fans like you—in fact, the two founders of Toptal are two of the first Mixergy fans—the URL is going to give you 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours and that is in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. Think about that, 80 hours free and two-week trial period.

Dude, go jump on this right now. The URL is top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, Toptal.com/Mixergy. Even if you don’t sign up, now you know the secret of some of the best agencies out there. They don’t have all the people themselves. They work with Toptal.

All right. You now have Craigslist ads out there. You’re starting to bring in clients. You told our producer, “We did a lot of things. We mostly did WordPress stuff. We mobile development. We did SEO, digital marketing, videos.” Dude, were you like in a position where you said, “We’ll take on anything? What’s going on there?”

Michael: Yeah. We were that kind of me too agency, where we say turnkey, everyone always says, “I have this turnkey company. I do everything.” We were that type of company where we said we could do everything. That was, like I said, that was trial and error. We had all these different services that we wanted to do because we knew you were going to make money in it.

Also, SEO, digital marketing goes in hand in hand with development. So, we thought it was kind of a good fit, but as we learned, as we grew over time with a lot of experience and trial and error, we decided to focus on development because we knew that that’s our strong suit is building applications and building websites and doing all types of front and back end development and then we kind of got rid of our—we just kind of deleted our marketing services.

When you have a marketing company, you need account managers, you need social media people. You need SEO. You need analytics. There’s so many different types of people that you need. Essentially we just didn’t—we weren’t ready at that time to be able to have so many different services at such a small company.

Andrew: Tell me more about the problem with having a lot of different services. To me, it feels like lack of clarity. I don’t want someone who does all that and also makes the best coffee on the planet. I want just great developers when I’m looking for developers. What’s the challenge—I see one of your early websites. You emphasized web design and web development. That was the big tagline. What’s the challenge with taking both of those on? What’s the challenge with taking both of those things on and some digital marketing services? You’re saying that you needed to have account managers? Wouldn’t you need account managers anyway?

Michael: Yeah. You do. You need account managers to manage the accounts for our website, but you also need an account manager to manage social media or SEO client accounts. There are so many high expectations that clients have when they’re paying you a retainer for digital marketing to get them up on their Google rankings or to get a certain amount of reach for their social media or whatever it may be to make a certain amount of money for them over a course of time.

So, with that being said, those high expectations means that you need to give them a lot of attention, a lot of attention. In order for us to do that, we had to hire so many people here. They didn’t want to deal with our US accounts, they didn’t want to deal with account managers in India. They wanted to deal with account managers in the US.

We decided to say—even though I love marketing, but I would love to market my own company, as selfish as that sounds, I want to market Imaginovation and help my company grow to be successful and provide value to our app customers, to our customers that we’re developing a web or mobile application or IoT product for. So, just decided to refocus our company last year. It’s been working for wonders for us.

Andrew: So, up until last year, you were doing how many different services?

Michael: We were doing website design, development, mobile applications, web apps, SEO, social media.

Andrew: SEO up until last year?

Michael: Up until January of yeah, 2017.

Andrew: Still, you cut back all your services and your revenue for the first time hit $1 million. You’re telling me cutting back helped lead to more sales, more revenue?

Michael: Yes, because it helped us to focus.

Andrew: Focus on what?

Michael: Focus on what we’re really good at and that’s development. That’s technology.

Andrew: Did it help bring in more clients because of that?

Michael: Yes, it did. This is the thing, you’ve got to think of it. When you’re focusing on so many different services, if you’re focusing on 100 different services, you’ve got to remember that you have to hire people like account managers or just experience people to provide those services to your customers, which means if your expenses are going to go up, your sales have to go up tremendously.

So, we decided you know what? We’re going to just re-shift our focus on just development and increase our marketing and sales on just development and it helped us to make more sales and essentially not have to worry about so many different things to provide customers.

Also, from us speaking to different business mentors that we’ve had, it makes us a lot—when you’re showing a customer that you’re focused on three or four different services instead of ten, it shows that customer that you’re super confident in those services that you’re offering like technology and then also, it’s easier to sell. Your pitch doesn’t have to be three minutes long. It can be 20 seconds long.

Andrew: I see. My sense is that the way you got into digital marketing was you tried out Craigslist, it was working for a long time and then Craigslist lost some of its power. So, you said, “We need something else,” you can’t keep spamming Craigslist. At that point, from what I’m understanding looking at your background, you discovered search engine optimization and you said, “You know, this is really effective.” What was the early set of SEO hits that got you so interested in this that you decided to operate as a service?

Michael: From a lot of our—me and Pete and some of our guys overseas, we had a little bit of help here, we did a lot of research and we tried to understand what keywords are going to make us the most money, what keywords are realistic to hit in kind of like a shorter timeframe and that was Raleigh Web Design. We’re located on Raleigh, we were focusing on more web design at that time.

So, we’ve strategized and we’ve basically wrote a lot of content and did a lot of social media and did some onsite optimization, not getting too technical, but I think we did the right things to get up for Raleigh Web Design and Design and Development and then over after about a year—actually, after about two years, we started to get ranked on the first page of Google for web design and web development.

Andrew: I see you’re number two for me under Raleigh web design. Were there articles? I don’t see a lot of articles on your site about Raleigh, Charlotte. I don’t see any of it. I know you rank for those cities. What did you do in the beginning that got you to rank for them?

Michael: So, SEO is a combination of onsite and offsite optimization. So, onsite optimization, like I said before, you have to do some keyword research, add the correct keywords on your title tags, meta tags, descriptions, content blogs, then you combine that with your offsite efforts.

Andrew: What did you do offsite that worked for you?

Michael: What we did is we used to pitch to editors like Entrepreneur Magazine, Entrepreneur.com, VentureBeat, all these—those we pitched later, but all these other offsite media publications that we used to pitch to and they would accept our articles, our topics and they would add a back link in those articles and that increases your Google juice.

Andrew: You asked them specifically for that. I do see a story. I see one on VentureBeat, “How Digital Assistance Changed the Way We Search,” it’s written by you. I see. Those are the kinds of articles that link back to your site that you’re talking about.

Michael: That’s exactly right. When Google spiders the internet once or twice a week, their algorithm is very complex, I definitely don’t know how it works, but from what we understand, they combine both your onsite efforts and offsite, but onsite doesn’t hold a lot of power, it doesn’t hold a lot of weight. It’s more about five to ten percent of your ranking weight. The offsite is really what matters. It’s what you’re doing for other people. It’s the value you’re providing to your target audience.

Andrew: Okay. So, you started doing this personally. You got good at it. It started bringing you customers. You continue with it. You say, “Let’s offer it to our customers.” When you offer it to your customers, you need to create a process. What’s the process you created that allowed even guys in India who you never met to be able to do SEO for your clients? What was your system?

Michael: What we would do for SEO is we would basically meet with the customer here, with the prospect and we would try to understand their needs and requirements, see what their goals are, what their objectives are, how much money they want to make. From then on, we would develop a digital marketing strategy for them. Then from then on, we would sign the agreement and charge them a monthly retainer and we would start implementing that strategy immediately and then provide them with weekly or monthly reports to show them the progress of it.

But like I said, when we did that, it took so much time and effort from us to do that that we weren’t able to focus on a lot of technology side and in technology, you know you’re going to make money doing any type of software development. So, that’s what we did. A lot of our team’s strength was technology. So, that’s when we kind of refocused. A lot of our team’s strength was technology. So, that’s when we kind of refocused.

Andrew: How did you hire people in India? How did you get—when you got good at it, what was that process like?

Michael: How we started or how we are now? What’s our process like now?

Andrew: Let’s do both. I’m curious about what it was like in the beginning, what some of the mistakes were. Now that it’s dialed in, what are you doing differently? Let’s go back to the beginning first.

Michael: Okay. In the beginning—so, in the beginning, Pete knew developers in India and that’s the reason we hired him because they were also unemployed at that time, so we thought this is kind of cool, they’re willing to work for us for free until I could bring in some business, so not a lot of pressure on me, but that’s how it is when you’re in sales.

We knew them. It was a blessing disguise, essentially, that we knew these guys overseas that were willing to work free and then that’s kind of how we started. They grew their team, so we started to hire those people over there. After we closed more deals here, we started to reinvest in more developers in India and just hire more and more over there. But at that time, they were outsourced. They were another company. They were building their company while helping us grow as well.

So, we found a lot of challenges in that in the sense that they were—even though we were paying them for services to be rendered like building a website or an application, they were still focused on building their company. So, their passion wasn’t there. So, when you outsource and they’re not full-time for you, like I said, their passion, their dedication isn’t there and it causes a lot of issues.

So, over time, what we used to do is we did outsource—we were very small. It’s just only a few of us here. So, we outsource to our team over there and then over time, we made more money and then we just hired more people in Raleigh and we used to hire full-time—we used to let go of our teams in India and then we would hire full-time people over there, so they were under Imaginovation contracts and NDAs.

Andrew: I see.

Michael: So, right now, we have over 20 people full-time for us and they work remotely in their homes. It’s pretty cool. They speak English and they work on US hours. We also have a recruiting company in India and we would—they would vet them for us and they would send them to us to be interviewed. We would interview them, have our process here for interviewing and then we would hire them full-time or not hire them.

Andrew: I see.

Michael: It’s kind of cool. We’ve kind of conquered this offshore model, you know what I mean?

Andrew: Any tips for someone who’s listening to us about how to do this right?

Michael: I’m sorry? If you are trying to work with anyone remotely, make sure that you’re able to work from 12:00 at night to 6:00 in the morning.

Andrew: You need to do that? Even though now your team is working on your hours?

Michael: No, no, no, when you first start.

Andrew: I see. They’re not going to work around you until you start to really have work for them and it takes a long—yeah, that’s painful.

Michael: It’s very painful. We did that for almost four years. So, it was a lot of grinding. It was working nights—you’ve just got to work hand in hand with these guys. Nothing against them, it’s just that you’ve got to work hand in hand with them because there’s communication, there’s culture barriers. There’s a lot of different things and it’s a learning curve. So, you’ve got to be there to manage them. You can’t just give them a task and expect them complete it like this. It doesn’t work that way.

Andrew: When you say be there to manage them, you mean check in with them during the day? How’s this task going? You’re constantly messaging them?

Michael: Consistently, yeah. And solidify processes internally, have internal tools like JIRA or like Basecamp so the communication is very seamless between you and your developers. So, over time, we’ve worked on a lot of things that we had done wrong and then we’ve improved and evolved and now it’s working wonderfully and these guys over there, they’re amazing. We don’t have to stay with them all night, we have processes now that work effectively.

Andrew: Do you do any ongoing training with them?

Michael: As in what?

Andrew: Training in how your company works, training about how to work with your clients, training on the work that they do specifically?

Michael: Yeah. We’ve experienced in terms of working with our clients, they don’t really talk with our customers. We have our account managers and project managers here to work with our customers just because a lot of US customers want to work with locals. However, in terms of technical training, process training, things like that, we go through about a two-to-three week period where we train them on all our tools, we train them on our company, we train them on processes and things like that and things like that. The more you pay them, anyone overseas, the more you’re going to pay them, the more experienced they’re going to be and they don’t really need to be handheld.

Andrew: Got it. You want to hold their hand because they’re just that good. You moved on from Craigslist, you did SEO. Networking was really big for you. What kind of networking did you do?

Michael: I used to go to like local events.

Andrew: Really? So, you would go to the local Chamber of Commerce and get people from there or you’re talking about local meetups?

Michael: Both.

Andrew: Did the Chamber ever work for you? I’m so surprised by how many guests come in and tell me about the Chamber? That seems like a waste. Those people just feel like they want a quickie, cheap website. They don’t value the work. Frankly, their vision for themselves is not online, it’s offline. They want to be the real estate broker. They have to have a website, give them a website fast, don’t charge them too much, right?

Michael: You’re exactly right. So, I used to go to meetups, networking events trying to see what works and what doesn’t work. Remember, I was new to this. I had no idea what I was doing. I was 24 years old at the time when I started to network, 25, so over time, I started to realize that alright, this crap is not working. A lot of the people we’re meeting at Chamber or these little meetups like you said, they wanted $300 websites and we were charging at that time at least $2,000 to $3,000 when we first started. It just wasn’t worth it for us.

I put myself out there just to kind of build referrals, build my contacts. You never know. Sometimes you might meet the right person with the right network or the right database. You might get some business from it. That’s what happened. They would know someone who knew someone who knew someone. But to get a customer straight from a Raleigh Chamber event or from a meetup event is very rare. It’s better from—that’s easier for like a real estate agent or law firm, but for building products that are thousands of dollars, you’ve just got to go meet people and just try it.

What worked for us in terms of networking was more like expos and larger networking events. So, we would reinvest a lot of—me and Pete never really took salaries. We reinvested a lot of our own salaries for the first four years back into the company into a big expo here in North Carolina or sometimes even out of state and we would get business that way.

Andrew: Did Pete have kids or a kid?

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: And he still didn’t take a salary?

Michael: No, but remember, Pete was working two jobs for four years. Pete was working at SAS.

Andrew: While working at Imaginovation?

Michael: Yeah. After Imaginovation, he was working from 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 in the morning.

Andrew: Good lord.

Michael: So, the guy was freaking exhausted. I was working 15 hours a day, Pete was working 15-16 hours a day for four years and then after the fourth year, we got some big deals and then Pete decided, “I’m putting my two weeks’ notice, man.”

Andrew: Then he left?

Michael: And he left. No one ever quits SAS. SAS is like one of the best companies in the country to work for.

Andrew: When you SaaS, I thought you mean SaaS as in software as a service.

Michael: No, SAS, if you Google them—

Andrew: Oh, got it.

Michael: SAS. He was in tech support there for four years. He was working there. That’s when we started Imaginovation is when he was working at SAS. I was working during the day time while he was working at SAS, I was doing a lot of daytime tasks. Pete would do a lot of other project management. He would do a thousand other things after hours. That’s kind of how we grew the company. It was a lot of hours.

Andrew: I don’t know how you guys didn’t get burned out.

Michael: You’re telling me, man.

Andrew: Then a tragedy happened. I’m going to talk about it in a moment. I want to give it enough time to have a real conversation. But first, I’ve got to tell everyone look, if you’re doing any kind of email marketing, don’t use those services that let you send the same exact thing to everybody on your list. People don’t need the same thing.

What you want to do is email them intelligently. First day they sign up, they should get a specific kind of email. Second day, another kind of email. If they buy, send them emails to customers. Don’t send them an email saying, “Guess what, we have a 10% discount or 20% discount.”

If they click on the same section of your site, maybe for Michael’s site, he’s got some people who are clicking only on internet of things. He should be aware of that so what he does is sends them email saying, “We are the leaders in internet of things software development.” You want to know what people are doing on your site, you want to know what they’re interested in, you want to see the actions you’re taking and based on that, send them a different email, send them a different sequence of messages.

Well, doing that has been incredibly complicated. It’s possible. It has been possible for a long time, but most companies don’t do it because it is so complicated. That’s where ActiveCampaign decided they were going to play. They changed their whole business around. They’ve been in email forever, but they said there’s this new set of tools that people are not getting to take advantage of because it’s too complicated.

We are going to add those tools and make it so simple that anyone can do marketing automation, that anyone who wants to can send a different email to somebody who clicked one link versus someone who did not, different email to someone who bought versus someone who didn’t, different email to someone who’s tagged as a potential customers versus someone who is not so that you can actually close sales based on what people are doing on your site and what they’re interested in and what they’re doing and clicking and are interested in your email, so simple.

I urge you to go check it out. When you play with it, you’re going to understand the power that is now at your fingertips. You’re going to feel like you’ve got superpowers as a marketer. The URL that I’m going to ask you to go check out will give me credit so they know that I referred you and they’ll want to keep buying ads, but also, it’s going to give you your second month free. It’s going to give you a free trial right now. It’s going to give you two free one on one sessions with their consultants so they could show you exactly how you can think about this and use it in your business.

And if you’re already with someone else, they’re going to give you free migration. All you have to do is use this special URL. Frankly, if you’re a Mixergy listener, you know by now it’s not that hard. It’s ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy. That’s a good name, actually. I don’t think they meant for it to be about this, but the business was a whole other thing when they started—ActiveCampaign, the campaign should be actively changing based on what people do, it’s a great name, ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy.

When you’re on that page, I just really will point out one thing that you should look at, if you’re looking out on desktop, on the right side of their page is a workflow, a flowchart that will show you how they think about this and how you should be thinking about marketing. On the very bottom, you’ll see what a contact record looks like when you’re looking at them in ActiveCampaign, ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy.

The tragedy was what?

Michael: So, like I said, Pete married my sister. They had their first baby. His name was Phillip. He was a preemie. But he was just so little that he didn’t make it after about the first month—or actually, he was almost two months. I think seven weeks is when he passed. So, we had to kind of go through that. That was, I think, after the three and a half-year mark in our company.

Andrew: I guess I kind of assumed once they were born, that’s it. You just have to deal with a lot more stuff.

Michael: Wow.

Andrew: So, he was in the hospital for weeks and then—

Michael: For a few months he was in the hospital with my sister. There were some issues. He wasn’t growing. We had to kind of deal with that. But the benefits are that Pete’s my brother. I’m always there for him and he’s always there for me. We kind of offer this balance to each other where we’re always there for each other and it’s pretty amazing. It’s definitely a blessing. It was really hard at that time when Phillip passed. I had to take on a lot of—help Pete out. Pete was in the hospital for a few months, so he couldn’t dedicate all of his time to Imaginovation.

Andrew: So, you took on more of the work.

Michael: I had to take on more of the work.

Andrew: You were already stretched thin. Did you have to talk to developers and tell them what to do and you’re not a developer—you’re smiling, right?

Michael: It was crazy. But taking nothing away from Pete, when he was in the hospital, he worked too. It was crazy. His son wasn’t doing well. He was in the hospital. He still had to work and put in some hours. It was hard, man.

Andrew: It seems like you guys came out better for—as a company, if not like as a parent, that’s really painful.

Michael: Very hard.

Andrew: Now that I’m parent, I’m more aware of how many people lose their kids. It’s just like, “Wow, this is a thing.” People don’t talk about it because it makes other people feel uncomfortable.

Michael: It was hard, man. It was hard.

Andrew: You don’t want to put more pressure on him. You seem to have come out better as a relationship, as partners, but also better as a company. What’s the bright side of this? What happened that’s better because of this?

Michael: I think it made us really appreciate that life is short. You don’t have much time. You really don’t have much time. You’ve got to do something that you love. Regardless of how much money you’re making or regardless of the position you have—

Andrew: How has that changed—I get that. We all know that and still we don’t do it. Now when you come to the reality of it, you’re confronted with it in a very painful way. What do you do? What actions do you take that are different for it? Do you come away with a lesson and the actions you’re too busy to actually implement?

Michael: No, I don’t think it’s that they’re too busy to implement. I think what we took from it really is that I think the outcome of it is that me and Pete’s relationship got even stronger, not that it wasn’t strong before, but I think it just took it to a whole new level because he saw what kind of brother I am to him and who he is to me. I think it just made our family stronger. Listen, me and Pete started this as a—we started this together as a family business.

So, we started it together. We’re going to end it together. We’re 50/50 partners. That’s what we always promised each other. I told him whatever you go through, I’m going to be there for you and whatever I go through, you’re going to be there for me. So, it goes a long way with just showing you lessons of how to overcome adversity and trials and tribulations.

Andrew: I imagine coming out of that saying, “I’m going to work a lot less so that I have more time,” or, “I’m going to work a whole lot more because I don’t want to go home and think about this,” but either way, there’s a whole other way of working that comes from that. It sounds like that’s not what happened with you. There was a greater bond, but there wasn’t a, “We’re shedding this because of this experience,” or, “We’re structuring this,” or, “We’re going to be more assertive with our clients because of this experience.” I’m looking maybe for something that’s not there.

Michael: Yeah. Actually, what it made us do is it didn’t make us work from 15 hours to 8 hours a day, we’re not at that level yet, we still put in a lot of hours per day, but what it made us do is work smarter. It’s not always about—

Andrew: Tell me how. Let me benefit from your experience. When you say work smarter, what do you that I could take away from?

Michael: Work smarter as easy as just documenting things, writing things down.

Andrew: How do you document? Give me an example of something you document.

Michael: What we document is we’ll make a process like for me in sales. What I made last year was I would write down a process of how to vet leads. So, when a lead calls us, what questions do you ask to vet them so they don’t waste your time. You can waste a lot of time sending a proposal to a customer and they’re never going to work with you. They don’t have the money. They don’t have the budget. I’ll write down these processes because we know that we’re going to hire new sales people and I can send them this documentation and they’ll read it and they’ll follow it and boom, that will save me three weeks, four weeks of training. So, that saves me time right there.

Andrew: That’s in a Google doc?

Michael: So, JIRA is a combination of—JIRA is owned by Atlassian. So, Atlassian has JIRA, Confluence, HipChat, it has all these different tools. So, we use JIRA and Confluence. JIRA is our communication platform between us and our customers and us internally and then it also gives us Confluence. Confluence is a document management system. So, we’ll have different processes that will upload, documents that will upload to confluence and we can share that with our customers or we can share that with our employees internally, it’s pretty cool.

Andrew: I see.

Michael: We had everything organized.

Andrew: Atlassian.com/software/confluence. I see what they do.

Michael: It’s pretty amazing. It’s pretty cool.

Andrew: What does it give you that Google docs wouldn’t give you for documenting things like this?

Michael: It just allows you to share—when you’re in JIRA, if you just get—

Andrew: JIRA is project management. It’s like a big task app for bigger projects.

Michael: Yes. So, Confluence is a little bit useless without JIRA. So, they both go hand in hand. That’s’ the reason it’s better than Google docs. We use Google docs for some things, but most of our documentation is going to be at least now in Confluence because you can share the doc with an employee that’s in JIRA. So, it’s all in a centralized location. You see what I’m saying?

Andrew: Yeah.

Michael: Google docs, it doesn’t integrate with JIRA, but Confluence does.

Andrew: Then you get one search, search all of JIRA, all of Confluence in one place.

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: That makes sense.

Michael: You can link them share them, email them. So, it’s really good internally.

Andrew: Why don’t you use HipChat, by the way?

Michael: I don’t know how HipChat is now, but HipChat when we used it about four months ago, we used it for like a month or two. We went from Slack to HipChat back to Slack. So, Slack was awesome, but then we saw HipChat is an Atlassian tool.

Andrew: You’re using all their tools anyway.

Michael: It’s all kind of centralized. But HipChat had a lot of bugs. I think Atlassian is still fixing some things in that system.

Andrew: Oh, really?

Michael: Yeah. But it might be different now. I’m never going to take anything—Atlassian is awesome, man, it’s an amazing company, amazing suite of products and they all work in tandem with each other.

Andrew: I didn’t realize they were still buggy. I thought they were good but the knock against them was they didn’t have as much integration and they weren’t fun.

Michael: Even Facebook has bugs, even Facebook. I’ll have bugs with Messenger.

Andrew: I know. I can’t believe that Facebook even has bugs and they definitely do. They had a Facebook Messenger app until recently that I liked a lot, but if I mentioned a name at all, it would bring up all the names of my contacts and would stop typing until I picked the name.

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: It’s somehow heartening sometimes when the bigger guys have bugs because you’re like, “They make mistakes too. I’m not going to beat myself up too much,” but the other hand, it feels like, “Maybe I’m never going to get to a solid piece of software if these guys are still dealing with bugs.”

Michael: Yeah. It’s pretty crazy. Slack worked better for us. We went from, like I said, we went from Slack to HipChat to Slack. Actually, this is how awesome our team is is that they found—slack has different APIs and different integrations with JIRA. So, we’ve kind of connected both Slack with JIRA.

Andrew: The one thing you don’t get is a really good search. I still think that we need one universal search. I hate that people still come to me because they want to know where something is. I don’t blame them. It’s faster to come to me than to go search our Google Drive and search our chat and so on. One of the reason I wanted Basecamp was I wanted one unified place so there’s one place to search.

What I realized is even Basecamp, they have one find—they do chat, documents, the whole thing—you still have to say I want to search through images, files or search for private—just search and then find it wherever. The whole point is we should have one universal search box that searches everything. We still don’t have that. As a people, I feel like we’ve let ourselves down.

Michael: I agree.

Andrew: Frankly, there have been companies that have been funded to do that. I don’t trust them because I don’t like god view. All these companies have god view, where they can go in and look at what everyone says. I do these Mixergy interviews. A lot of the developers and founders of big companies are fans of mine. I’ve got to believe that some of them are going through my personal documents saying, “Hey look, Andrew’s checking out our stuff. Let’s go see what Andrew’s doing.” Then they’re going deep into my stuff. I don’t like that.

Michael: Probably.

Andrew: Would you do that?

Michael: Probably.

Andrew: Here’s the thing.

Michael: They probably are.

Andrew: You do need to go in and see what your users are doing to understand if the software is being used right, but I think that god view is a real issue. I remember when Travis had some issues at Uber. It was Mark Suster, the venture capitalist who said, “Look, a lot of the stuff they’re doing other people do, but here’s a big problem we’re not talking enough about—god view.” He says he goes in what some of these startups have access to and how they look through people’s stuff and it’s just wrong. It’s one thing to look to understand how your software is being used. It’s another thing to pry because you can.

Michael: Yeah. It’s crazy.

Andrew: Let me close it out with this. At the top of the interview, we talked a little bit about internet of things and artificial intelligence. Internet of things for you guys means what? It doesn’t mean making my coffee. We’re still not in a world where my coffee can be made remotely, but what does it mean?

Michael: So, internet of things, a customer will come to us and they’ll have a certain piece of hardware and they want software to connect with that hardware—

Andrew: Give me a specific. What’s a company that came to you and did what?

Michael: So, it’s kind of hard to say because we have confidentiality agreements with some of the companies that we did IoT, but I could say an enterprise-level company came to us and had this lighting product, a physical piece of hardware. They asked us to do a front end design that integrated with their lighting product. So, when we created this design, the software, I can’t give too much info, but basically you would press enter or whatever it is and the light would go on.

That’s just an example. It’s not really what we did, but that’s an example of things that we have done before. So, you connect a piece of hardware with a piece of software because hardware by itself is useless these days. It needs to connect to Wi-Fi. It needs to connect to the internet. It needs to connect with software that does something. Everyone is on the internet now.

Andrew: Of course. So, they’ll have a hardware and they’ll come to you—is it largely bigger companies or is it people who are going to Kickstarter that you guys are aiming at?

Michael: Great question. It really just depends, but we’re getting—the new thing right now in the US, all over the world is becoming an entrepreneur. Everyone wants to start a company. Everyone wants to start a business. The entrepreneur keyword is booming. So, we get a lot of startups that come to us, but a lot of them don’t have the money. They want to go on Kickstarter or they’re trying to get a loan or they’re trying to get investors. They’ll come to us before they even have the money.

So, that’s why I was going back to there’s a vetting process. You’ve got to make sure that these guys have the budget because we have to get paid for our work. Unfortunately, we’re not a nonprofit. We do get back, but not in that way.

Andrew: What about AI? What are you guys doing with AI?

Michael: We’re dabbling into artificial intelligence applications. It’s not something that we have experience in creating, but we’re starting to research, investigate artificial intelligence. We’re going to start offering it as a service in the next few months. It’s nothing I can say, “We’ve implemented this project.” It’s just something we’re going to start getting into. But IoT, we’ve already created a few different projects. We’ve already worked on a few different projects along with mobile and web applications and videos.

So, what makes us very different is we’ll create a custom video for the app that we’ve built. When you download an app from the Apple Store, you don’t really know what the app does, you don’t know the process of that app. You don’t really know. This app looks awesome. I have no idea what it does. So, we’ll create a video after we’ve developed an application and it will sit on top of the app.

So, it will be like a walkthrough or explainer or storytelling video in 4k or in animation. It will guide the target audience for the app of what that app does. So, that makes us very different than most software companies because we’re one of the only US software companies that has a video team. We have internal video, videographers and animators.

Andrew: I was going to close this interview out by telling people to go check out Imaginovation.com. You don’t have it.

Michael: .net.

Andrew: Imaginovation.net. There’s a guy named Guy in Canada who has that site. There’s nothing up on the site. He got it in 1999 before you. You guys got your first registration in 2011.

Michael: That’s when we started.

Andrew: Even though you didn’t have the .com, you ended up going for the same business name.

Michael: Yeah. I think we actually emailed that guy. There are some people that just own domain names and they sell them, but sometimes they forget about them. I don’t know if that guy’s still alive.

Andrew: I don’t know what he’s up to because the site is down. I can tell you he’s alive. As far as I can tell, he’s alive. He’s a managing director at Directeur Generale. He’s French-Canadian and I translated his LinkedIn profile to understand what he does at Imaginovation Inc. So, he actually had the name. I thought maybe he would be a squatter because the .com is gone. I think you should try emailing him in French.

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: HE does market analysis, business plan writing, investor meetings, planning and startups. He does consulting, BGC, Inc., a consulting firm. It just goes on. That’s what he does at this company.

Michael: Interesting. Maybe we’ll shoot him an email.

Andrew: It sucks not having the .com, doesn’t it?

Michael: We’re so used to .net, but I would like .com too. That would be kind of cool.

Andrew: When is this thing’s expiration date. It expired.

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: He did not pay, as far as I can tell, for his domain. GoDaddy is still holding it. I would do a GoDaddy ping thing—don’t worry, this interview won’t go up in time—GoDaddy has a service where—I’ve done this, I end up with domains like that. You say as soon as this thing is available, give it to me and they will do that. I wouldn’t say that—if the guy was doing something on the business, that makes sense. Let me take a look. Let me update it one more time. Do you know this site, WhoIs.com? It’s so freaking good.

Michael: No.

Andrew: I just search it using the URL. So, WhoIs.com, Imaginovation—yeah, he has, as far as I can tell, an expired domain. He should have paid his bill. No, I take it back, he did. It expires December 3rd of this year. So, every year it seems like he pays the bill. Maybe you can contact him before his expiration.

Michael: Yeah. We can buy that from him and redirect our .net to .com.

Andrew: He’s not doing anything with it and he understands about business. You need to talk to him very French. His whole thing is French. He’s a successful enough guy that he’s not using this, he doesn’t need to be vindictive. I think you’ve got a really good person to work this through with.

Michael: I’m a US and a Canadian citizen and I cannot even speak French. I lived in Canada for seven years.

Andrew: It depends on where you live in Canada, right? There are some places where if you don’t, they give you a hard time, other places. . .

Michael: I know.

Andrew: So, the website is Imaginovation.net, where you can go find out about—actually, you guys have a really nice landing page.

Michael: Thank you.

Andrew: So, a video explaining what you guys do, anyone can go out and check it out. If you want to, go check out my two sponsors. The first is the company that will help beef up your development team. If you guys are like Michael and you’re listening to this video or this interview because you want to understand how he’s running his agency, maybe you want to hire somebody else to beef up your staff. Go check out Toptal, top as in top of your head, top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, Toptal.com/Mixergy. And if you want to send out—what do you guys use for email marketing, Michael? Do you guys do it?

Michael: Yeah. We use HubSpot for all of our—

Andrew: Tell me why. What do you like about HubSpot for email?

Michael: HubSpot is awesome. So, with HubSpot, it tells you if they opened your email. It integrates with your—it gives you analytics and reporting on whether—so you can basically add a landing page in your email when you send it to a customer or to a lead and if they opened up that landing page or that document, it tells you if they opened it or not. It’s pretty cool.

Andrew: Right.

Michael: It gives you analytics on it.

Andrew: If anyone has HubSpot, you do not need ActiveCampaign because HubSpot is all about marketing in every aspect of online marketing. They give you the website. You have to host with them. That’s the ideal version, landing page creation with them, email marketing through them, the whole thing. The downside is it’s the whole thing. So, if anyone’s living in HubSpot world, ActiveCampaign is not for you. If you’re not living in HubSpot world, you need email marketing that does the smart stuff that Michael is talking about and the best way to do it is to go to ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy.

You know what? I really genuinely thought I might pass out in this interview because I’m not feeling very well, but I enjoyed this conversation and it kept me going. So, I’m going to hang up right now and see if I pass out later.

Michael: Oh no, hope you feel better.

Andrew: I’ll do it. Thanks so much for doing this. Bye.

Michael: All right, Andrew. Thanks, man. Bye.


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