Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com. I’m smiling because today’s guest has heard me say this before and he was kind of kidding me about it before we started the interview.
I’m also smiling because I’m really happy to see the two guests on who we’re having on here today. These guys always make me happy. About six years ago, I had one of them on to do an interview about how he started this company with what might have seemed to the outside like a quixotic goal of taking on a giant bookkeeping software company. But he had a point of view, an approach. He said he’s going to take on this giant by doing less–less clutter, fewer features, less, less, less and just focus on the simplicity of the software.
And he did it. He and his cofounder built the software up, got their customers out there. More than anything else, they just did it with delight. Frankly, to be honest with you, I’m such a scummy guy that I went online to see who hates him. Like, I got to bring up someone and say, “Aha, these guys . . . ” No. Everyone likes him, which doesn’t make for the best interview, but it does make for a really good story and one that we can learn a lot from.
So, let me introduce them. The two founders of the company are Allan Branch, who was here six years ago to do the interview, and Steven Bristol. They are the cofounders of LessAccounting. They do . . . actually, how would you guys describe LessAccounting in a sentence?
Steven: Well, there are two ways. So, we’ve had a tagline. We’re simple bookkeeping software. We like to joke around that we’re QuickBooks but not so shitty. We’re the accounting software that sucks the least.
Andrew: And you guys do more than accounting software. You also have bookkeepers, right?
Allan: Yeah. We have a whole bookkeeping service that we call AutoPilot. Yeah.
Andrew: All right. We’re going to talk about how you did it and we have a big giant announcement. What am I doing burying the lead? And the announcement is . . . Which one of you wants to say it?
Allan: You say it?
Allan: You get to say it.
Steven: It’s all you.
Andrew: You guys sold the company.
Allan: We sold the company. Well, we sold the app. We sold LessAccounting.
Andrew: Right, because LessAccounting is part of this company that does so much more.
Andrew: What was that hand gesture that you did, Allan?
Allan: That was confetti.
Andrew: Confetti. We did it. We should have had some kind of trumpet or something, but I wasn’t even sure we were going to get to do the interview. You just signed the paperwork just about an hour before this interview.
Allan: An hour ago, yeah.
Andrew: And we’re going to talk about how you came up with the idea, talk about how you grew it, talk about what it feels like to sell your baby, this company you’re so identified with.
It’s all thanks to two sponsors that I’ll tell everyone more about later, but first, I’ve got to introduce them. The first company is doing an incredible job of turning people into the best developers they possibly could be and then getting jobs and then becoming great entrepreneurs. The company is called Reactor Core. The second company will help you book phone calls and meetings with people and really make it easy for them to get together with you. It’s called Acuity Scheduling and I’ll talk more about them later.
First, how about we start with Steven? I’ve heard less from you on Mixergy obviously because Allan was on before. How does it feel to have signed the contract?
Steven: Well, first of all, I just want to point out that I am the President of Less Everything and Allan is the Vice President. So, I’m the one that signed the contract. When we started the company in 2007, I filed the paperwork. So, I became the president. We were going to switch off every year and then we just never did. So, I got to sign the contract. It felt amazing. It was great. It was exciting.
Andrew: Why? What was amazing about it, the sense that you have a finish line? Was it that you now have more money in the bank? What was it?
Allan: I can tell you. It’s nice having built something that someone else sees enough value into to buy for a reasonable price.
Steven: Except that Andrew is really asking about the signing of the contract, not the whole thing in general.
Allan: Oh, interesting.
Andrew: I’m good with both.
Steven: So, the signing of the contract felt so good because it was such a relief to get it all over. The money is going to be transferred tomorrow, so that’s when everything will finally be done. But I can sleep tonight, right? I don’t have any more due diligence to do.
So, for the last few months of the company or of time, Allan’s main focus in the company has been split between Less Films and his boat. I’ve kind of been doing everything else, including the sale. So, for me, the signing was just such a relief. It’s good. Because I got the contract already signed. So, my signature was the one that did it. It’s not like I signed it and then they signed it. They signed it, gave it to me with no revisions and . . .
Andrew: And it’s done.
Steven: It’s done. It’s amazing. Yeah.
Andrew: Allan, were you checked out of the business?
Allan: No. He’s talking about I’ve never been the person that volunteers to read contracts.
Steven: That’s always been my job.
Allan: Since I’m the kind of creative person, I get to be like, “These words, I don’t like them on the page. I like colors better. Steve, you’re better at contracts.” So, he does the contract reading.
Andrew: I see. What about then the rest of the time he said you were on your boat. Did you have any work to do in the last few months?
Allan: Certainly. Yeah. He’s half joking. I’m in the middle of redoing a 30-foot sailboat. That’s Steve joking at me.
Andrew: How long did due diligence take?
Steven: So, today is May 20th, is that right? So, we started the sale process in December. So, it’s taken a while and I guess it’s kind of like . . . we’ve never gone after funding, but from what we hear, it always takes a lot longer than you think it will. From my experience now, selling a large asset like this is very similar. It takes longer than you think it will. We had multiple offers, multiple buyers.
Andrew: How did you find all those buyers?
Allan: We used a broker.
Andrew: You did? Which one?
Allan: FE International.
Andrew: You know what, they’re the ones that people keep using it seems like in this space. Actually, I had one of the founders do a course on how to sell a business. I didn’t know at the time how popular they were because I had just never heard of them and now maybe because I did a course with them, I’m recognizing the company name a lot.
Allan: The thing is if you value your time at all, then you should use a broker unless you have someone across the hall from you that’s ready to write you a check.
Allan: They save you so much time talking to people who are unqualified, have no money. With us, because the app had been around so long, people wanted just to chit chat with us. So, we would have been on 100 phone calls of people just wanting to dig into customer acquisition that have no intention of buying.
Steven: Yeah. We actually had a few calls with people that really were close to being qualified but never . . . yeah, the FEI certainly saved us a ton of time in those types of phone calls. Yeah, the founders, Tom and Ismael, really, really great guys. David Newell [SP] was our broker, the one that we worked with pretty daily. Really great guy. I have actually had him over. I made him old fashions. Working with them has been a great experience.
Andrew: So, what percentage of the sale do they get?
Steven: Their standard fee is 10%. While we’re on that topic, if you’re thinking about selling to your business or you just want to see what the numbers look like and you contact them, make sure you tell them that you heard of them from us because we get a 10% of what they get. We get a referral fee.
Steven: Yeah. And it makes it easy. We’re not big into advertising for others, but they did such a good job and really helped out so much and we want to help them grow their business.
Andrew: I do leave a lot of money on the table by not taking a commission every time someone in my audience discovered something that I talk about. But I’m perfectly fine with it because then I get to ask really jerky, pushy questions. And they don’t owe me anything and I don’t know owe them anything like this. Allan, what did you sell the company for?
Allan: We can’t say.
Andrew: You can’t say? Why would you sign a contract that says you can’t say what the exit amount is?
Allan: Because that’s the only way to get the money.
Andrew: And why do you think a buyer doesn’t want the world to know what they paid for a company? Why do they even care?
Steven: So, it’s an interesting concept, right? I think it really boils down to there’s no right number. There’s no right amount. So, no matter what number someone buys or sells something for, someone probably everyone else, is going to think that was either too high or too low. So, it’s better to just let’s not get into that because that’s such a distraction then from the core of the business, which is what? Which is making customers happy. It’s about building something that people are happy to pay for. It’s about providing good support and making an application that feels like home to people.
Andrew: Did you guys each get to walk away with more than $1 million from the sale?
Steven: Once again . . .
Allan: If we were to stack hundred dollar bills, it would be like this tall.
Andrew: That’s something you can’t even say? You can’t even say whether you ended up with more than $1 million each.
Steven: I think we might be able to say . . .
Allan: I don’t think we should.
Steven: We’re not going to.
Allan: Listen, when we’re on our private jet, Andrew, we’ll tell you.
Andrew: In private you’ll tell me.
Allan: In the private jet I’ll tell you, the Less Jet.
Andrew: Are you millionaires now, each of you? Now we don’t have to say whether it’s from the sale. Can we say that?
Allan: Oh, interesting. No. We probably shouldn’t say that. It’s such a new relationship with the new buyers. We want to keep them happy.
Andrew: Who’s the buyer?
Steven: The buyer is a company that you probably haven’t heard of. They are called American SMB Services. So, they’re kind of a smaller company and if you go to their website, you’re going to think, “Wow, these guys don’t look anything like Allan and Steve and LessAccounting.”
Andrew: Yeah. That’s exactly what I was thinking. These guys are using clipart on their site. You guys are known for your design.
Steven: Absolutely. So, the thing to keep in mind is that we had several offers. All of the offers we had were comparable. The money was basically the same across all the offers. So, we did get to pick and choose a little bit. We chose these guys because when you look at . . . so, some people want to buy a new product, a new product, a new business and then sit on and do nothing and just keep collecting revenue. Some people share your vision and some people don’t. Some people want to expand.
So, from all of the offers we had, we thought these guys were most closely aligned with our vision, with our philosophies on customer support. They may not have the greatest website in the world, but we think that they’re going to do the best job with our customers.
Allan: And our design taste, they now have bought that. They now have brand standards to go run with, right. So, while they were weak in that previously, now they have their standards to run forward with.
Andrew: I see. And are you guys going to continue to work with them at all?
Steven: In the short-term, yes. In the long-term, probably not. We sold 100% of the asset. It was . . .
Allan: All cash, all up front. Now, we’re working with a transitioning period. We’re just makings sure the app stays running, questions stay answered, the support team comes on, the developers, all that kind of stuff. We’re not actually putting in work. We’re not developing pieces for them.
Andrew: Frankly, they should just hire you apart from this. They should say, “Okay, here. All your obligations to us are done. We’re now going to hire you. What’s it going to take to bring Steven and Allan to come work with us and do design for us?” I’ve seen your design work. You guys do phenomenal design work.
Steven: Thank you.
Andrew: Your onboarding, I was looking at it in preparation. You don’t give people this big giant page of things to do, you walk them through it step by step and then there’s a video, I think, of Allan somewhere in the middle of it. There’s some personality throughout.
Steven: It’s a great question. So, it kind of leads into what we’re going to do next. So, when you talk about, “Why don’t these guys or could they even hire us going forward?” We are actually going to be focusing on consulting and building great things for other people and doing Less Films.
Andrew: You guys are going to do a consulting company in addition to Less Films?
Steven: Well, Less Films is a consulting marketing company and in addition to that, we’re going to be taking the existing team of engineers, we’re going to be building it up and we’re going to start . . . we actually have a few clients already, but we’re going to be growing the consultancy to help other people create great businesses that people love.
Andrew: Okay. Less films creates videos for people, right?
Steven: Yes. Correct.
Andrew: And you also have people at Less Films and through Less Films, you guys are building Less Films up into a consulting company that will do more than just video. Is that right?
Steven: So, no. Less Films is kind of its own business unit with its own name. The company is called Less Everything. In that, we had different business units–LessAccounting, Less Films. We bootstrapped the development of LessAccounting. It’s something that’s been in production for over nine years now. We’ve been working on it for a long, long time. We bootstrapped the development with consulting work initially. Our vision, our goal has always been to become a product company, which we did. Now we want to go back and help others do what we’ve done.
Andrew: Okay. What do you say to someone who’s listening who says, “These guys aren’t saying how much they sold the company for. They’re going to do consulting work right now. This seems like a step backwards. If they sold for a good amount of money, they wouldn’t be doing more consulting work”?
Steven: What would we be doing?
Andrew: Starting another software company or sitting on Allan’s new boat.
Steven: I think that we’ve done the product thing. We’ve done the consulting thing. I think that for the foreseeable future, we’re going to enjoy helping other people build great businesses. The time might come when we get sick of doing that and we have another great idea for a product and we do that. I don’t know what we’re going to be doing in five years from now, but I do know that for the foreseeable future, we’re going to be focusing on helping other people building great things.
Allan: I think too as people that have been working on the same software product for nine years, the consultancy is like an exercise, a cardiovascular exercise for our software brains where you’re getting to work on six projects at one time, right. So, it’s like all these new problem sets, new customer segments you’re getting to work on.
It’s kind of like reenergizing those muscles that may have atrophied over the years. We’re getting to use those skills that we’ve been using the past nine years on client projects now. That’s very exciting, to get to work on multiple client projects instead of focusing on LessAccounting.
Andrew: Allan, you know what I’ve wondered about you?
Allan: Oh what.
Andrew: You seem like you don’t focus much, like right behind you, I can see because we’re talking over view, you’ve got LessConf, your conference. It’s coming up, I guess?
Allan: No. We stopped doing LessConf a few years ago. The last one was 2013.
Andrew: Oh, I see. I could have sworn it says 2016. I see. That’s not what it says.
Allan: It actually says 3010. That was the conference from the future that year.
Andrew: Got it. Okay. So, you guys aren’t doing that. You’re just doing Less Films.
Steven: Yeah. We stopped doing LessConf and we started . . . your question is about focus and we started really focusing on LessAccounting. LessConf didn’t really align with that business. You’d think it would, but most of the people that came to LessConf weren’t LessAccounting customers. It wasn’t something we were using to promote LessAccounting. So, we stopped doing it so we could stay focused on LessAccounting.
Andrew: Why did you do it? Why did you do the conference in addition to a video production studio, in addition to the accounting software? Allan, you’re smiling. Why?
Allan: Yeah. Fun challenges, right? So, we threw a conference because the first year speakers were Derek Sivers, CD Baby, David Hauser, Grasshopper, Mike McDerment, FreshBooks, Gary Vaynerchuk.
Steven: Jason Fried was there.
Allan: Jason Fried.
Steven: Eoghan and Des from Intercom were there.
Allan: Right. These were our friends. We knew they had great stories to tell. We know people that want to hear them. That’s kind of easy. What the conference grew into was we made money, but it was such a giant stress. So, there was a return on the stress that wasn’t . . . I would rather take the stress and put something else. [inaudible 00:17:56]
Andrew: I see. I feel like you guys are just so creative. This is just me from the outside. You’re so creative that you knew you could do a better conference than most people. You knew you could make it look better. Your poster looks better than most people’s any part of the conference. You knew you could do a bunch of different things and you started doing all of them. Maybe at some point you sat down and you said, “If we’re going to really kickass at any one thing, we have to focus or else we’re never going to be great.”
Allan: Yeah. I can only promote three things. With the conference, at the time, we were doing a conference, workshops as a consultancy, a consultancy, LessAccounting and Less Films.
Allan: It was too many things to try to market. So, we narrowed it down to three. We’ve done an event last year in Costa Rica where 80 people came. Very low key.
Steven: But it was not a LessConf.
Andrew: Why do that again? Why spend the time to do that if it’s not going to translate to more customers?
Allan: Well, because it’s fun, right? Going to an event in Costa Rica is emailing our friends. I knew a person that owned a resort down there. I said, “Who wants to go to Costa Rica?” People show up. I say, “You want to talk? Come talk.”
Andrew: You just kept it simple.
Allan: It’s easy when you have enough friends.
Andrew: This is the thing that I in my head I don’t get. Maybe I need to. My favorite rye in the world is Sonoma rye from Sonoma Distilleries. I went up there for Valentine’s Day. My wife took me there. I got to watch them make the rye. It was such a beautiful process. They care about everything. They even purify their own water, right? Just because they think at some point it’s going to be too expensive to get water here in this part of the country. So, they said, “We’re going to find a way to always have our water and to have complete control of our process.”
Then he starts to show me the other whiskies he makes. The rye is like heaven on earth. He’s now going off to scotch style drinks and then this and that. I said, “Why not just stick with the rye?” He says, “We have to just explore. We’re creatives. We’re creators, we’re creative. We have to allow ourselves to learn this other stuff.”
And I think I need to maybe not be so focused on one thing, like I want to just keep doing interviews. I should be more open to creative projects like you guys and not so reluctant to do them. Am I right? Allan, you’ve known me long enough. Do you think that’s true about me?
Allan: I think create the job that you want to have or just go get a job. There’s no point of being an entrepreneur and creating some business and the actual job you do is no fun. So, my job is not LessAccounting or wasn’t LessAccounting. It’s the company as a whole, pushing it forward as a whole. So, whatever that is, that’s what I want to do. That’s the job I want. So, one day, I may be writing a script for Less Films or playing an event. That’s what I find joy in.
Andrew: And you enjoy the switching of tasks. I see.
Steven: But let’s also point out, going back to the topic of focus that this maker of the rye was successful at making the rye. They had built a successful company around the rye.
Steven: I think that one of the things that we did poorly, one of the lessons we learned throughout the years and something I think many people in our industry don’t do well is that lack of focus.
Steven: So, I think it’s important to focus until you have built your business to whatever level you’re satisfied with and then you can start, “Oh, let’s see what else is there.” So, you for example, you built your podcasting business to a great level. This may be a good opportunity, it may be a good time to explore. But if you only had two followers and you were now starting to go out and see what else you can do, it’s probably too early.
Allan: Or . . .
Andrew: Okay. Let me talk to you about . . . sorry to interrupt, Allan, but I’m going to come back. I’ve got to do a sponsorship message. But I’ll come back and I want to ask you about when did you know that you guys hit? When did you guys know you were doing too much and when did you know you were finally in the groove with LessAccounting and then I want to ask you about what made you go in December to FE International and ask them to help you sell the company.
I’ll give you some time to think about it while I talk about my sponsor. Do you guys know this company, Reactor Core?
Andrew: No? Okay. I’m going to tell you about Reactor Core. You guys are both developers, am I right?
Allan: I’m a designer.
Steven: I’m an engineer.
Andrew: You’re a designer, Allan.
Steven: I’m an engineer, yeah.
Andrew: You’re an engineer. I know you guys do Rails consulting. Steven, you do some Rails work yourself and you also supervise other people who do it?
Steven: Yeah. So, I don’t write that much code anymore, but yeah, I’ve been writing software and leading teams for going on 20 years now in Rails, C++, the litany of you name it, we’ve done it.
Andrew: So, here’s what Reactor Core is. It’s essentially a cult almost. That’s the way people describe it because they don’t just teach you how to be a developer. They spend 12 weeks with you teaching you how to be a developer. It’s not just 12 weeks. It’s 6 days every one of those 12 weeks. It’s not just 6 days a week. It’s also from 9:00 to midnight of them working with you to become a developer, to watch your work, to give you feedback, to have you actually do the work, to have you learn the project. People love it.
When I say it’s a cult, it’s because they don’t want to leave. They have this incredible graduation rate. The reason that they do is because the founder, one of the founders, Anthony, if people had trouble going through it, he invited them to sleep at his house. We’re talking about like you are going to be full on immersed in development until you get this right because that’s how obsessed they are.
Afterwards, you can go on to become an entrepreneur who knows how to develop the way that Steven has or you can get in an incredible job that you will actually love. That’s the way that these guys are doing this. They started out in San Francisco. I actually once saw one of their students wearing a t-shirt. I walked up to him and I said, “Tell me. What’s it really like?” As I established, I’m a scummy guy. I don’t trust anyone. Even Anthony, who’s been to my house, who’s been to my office, we’ve gotten to be good friends. I still want to know, do people really like it?
I talked to this guy and he said it’s extremely intense, but there was a reason why he was wearing the t-shirt with the company name on it. He said he still loves it. He still feels a connection to it and the people who he had gone through the program with. So, it started here in San Francisco. It was taught by people who had the experience to teach it. It was taught by obsessive people. And then it spread out to other parts of the country.
If you are listening to me right now, you can come to San Francisco, be part of the Reactor Core school right here. Come over to my house. Come over to my office if you’re part of the program. But you don’t have to be here in San Francisco. They’ve got schools throughout the country. If you don’t have one that you feel comfortable with and you want to learn remotely, you can do it online, but this isn’t one of those online, do it at your pace, go whenever you can or three hours a day and call it a day. No. This is an intense program.
When I say 12 weeks, 6 days a week, 9:00 to midnight, you’re going to be doing that stuff online with somebody looking over your shoulder. You have to be obsessive. You have to really want it to be in that program. If you want it, you can go and apply at ReactorCore.com. Allan, can you say it? My pronunciation is sometimes a little bit off.
Andrew: ReactorCore.com. Right. There it is, ReactorCore.com. The reason, Allan, you were smiling as I said, “Yeah, they can even come to my house,” maybe I shouldn’t have said my house. Let me see who it is. But the reason I can say it is I know they have a very rigorous screening process, so a lot of people are going to apply, actually I want to say, most of them will not get into Reactor Core. The ones who do, I think they’ve been vetted by Reactor Core and I would feel comfortable having them over at my house with the founder even of Reactor Core, Anthony.
Allan: Would you let them babysit for you?
Andrew: No way.
Allan: Okay. No Reactor Core students can babysit for Andrew.
Andrew: You have to go through a lot to babysit for me. No. No.
Steven: What about house sit?
Andrew: I don’t even know if I would let you babysit for me because you know what, Allan, here’s the other thing that made me think that. You sent me this incredible book on entrepreneurship when I had my son. You wrote the book.
Allan: My son and I did. Yeah.
Andrew: Every time I show it to people, they ask me two questions. First thing they ask me is about the picking of the nose. You and your son, I think, are picking your nose on the back of the book.
Andrew: So, then I tell the story about, “He’s an entrepreneur who I interviewed. This is the way he is. He just likes to do goofy things like that.” The second thing they say, “He wrote a kids book? What entrepreneur has the time to write a kids book?” That’s what makes me ask you about this whole focus.
Allan: Well, the little book, which will now be at LessEverything.com/Hero. You can get your own.
Andrew: Because entrepreneurs are heroes, that’s the message there.
Allan: Well, my son, he’s nine now. I think he was six or seven. He was trying to figure out what I do for a living. He said, “Draw pictures on the Internet,” or, “Draw pictures of the computer.” I’m like, “Well, I’m an entrepreneur.” He’s like, “What’s that?” I’m like, “Well . . . What is that?” So, that conversation turned into a little book. It was a little book we gave away for LessAccounting customers or whoever wanted it.
Andrew: It was good. I’m glad you did it. I have a book about a girl engineer at my house. I could see that it’s get my son a little excited. I can see how if you have something for entrepreneurship, at least he’s familiar with what it is, as opposed to most books, which are really wacky for kids, like Babar. Babar is one of my wife’s favorite books. Do you guys know that book?
Steven: Yeah, the elephant.
Andrew: Right. We got it before we had a son. We couldn’t wait to read it to him. He was like two months old when we read it to him. That’s a weird book. He gets . . . do you know what I’m talking about, where he ends up marrying his cousin. He ends up coming and taking over.
Allan: They’re like kings or royalty elephants and have crowns and stuff.
Andrew: Right. He’s basically taking over the whole community. I don’t know what it is. It’s not what she expected. It’s not what she remembered. I’m glad that you did it. Let’s talk about this moment where you said to yourself, “Let’s focus.”
Steven: Two books that might be better to read would be like maybe “The Little Prince” or “A Clockwork Orange.”
Andrew: “A Clockwork Orange” [inaudible 00:27:53]
Steven: Those are two really good books for the kids, right?
Andrew: “Yertle the Turtle” was a really good one. “Yertle the Turtle” was recommended, I think, by Ben Horowitz and I got that on his recommendation. That’s one that I can actually feel proud of. It’s about a guy that’s a bad leader and what it takes to be a good leader. That actually is applicable to adults and to kids and he, I think, recommends it to entrepreneurs he invests in, Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz.
Let’s talk about this focus. When you guys decided to focus, did it actually help the business? Did you see measurable growth in LessAccounting?
Allan: Yes. And measurable reduction in stress. So, as a business owner you’re looking at profit and stress. The profit can be really high, but if the stress is higher, then it’s not worth it.
Andrew: Give me an example of a time you were feeling stressed because you had so much going on and even though it was profitable and making money, it was worth letting go of the stress. What’s one time where you felt stressed out?
Allan: So, there were a couple years of consulting where Steve worked like a couple thousand hours in one week.
Steven: Yeah. In 2007 when we started the company, I worked like 4,400 hours, which is like 16 hours a day every day for a year.
Allan: I remember apologizing that I was going to bed at 10:30.
Andrew: I see.
Allan: He was staying up.
Andrew: I see.
Allan: There was that. The last LessConf we planned in Panama City, Florida. I was losing sleep. We had a circus act. We had a party at my house. We had 400 people at my house. We had knife-throwing lessons. We had a rap video shot here. That sort of like you’re losing sleep and due to business and that’s not cool.
Andrew: I see. And you guys were still day to day on LessAccounting.
Allan: Yeah. LessAccounting and all the other little things.
Andrew: All the other little things. Why did you decide to sell it? Why did you in December go to FE International?
Allan: Well, because we’ve done so many things, that’s never been like . . . we have to keep this thing because this is the only thing we’ll ever make successful. I don’t believe that. I believe whatever we put our mind to, we’ll make money at. So, LessAccounting was at a place where we could get good money for it. There’s now an emerging market of people buying SaaS products at this size. So, we had a friend that sold through FEI and he said it was an easy process. We said, “All right. Let’s talk to them.”
But the thought was always, “Let’s take that cash off the table now and secure our families’ finances for good. If something were to happen to me . . . ” It’s basically like cashing out a giant life insurance policy at 35 but still have the opportunity to go make money somewhere else. We live in a great time where if you can design things as apps or build apps. You can make lots of money.
Allan: So, there was an opportunity cost in having LessAccounting. So, we decided to let it go.
Andrew: Steven, did you ever feel like this whole thing can go away? I go to sleep at night sometimes feeling that about Mixergy.
Andrew: No, really? Look at the face you’re even making. This does not register with you. This is my life every day. I feel like everything could go away.
Steven: So, part of that might be that you’re kind of on your own, right? I know that if I get sick, Allan is going to keep things going. If Allan gets sick, I’m going to keep things going right. If one of our things goes away, that doesn’t stop us from being creative and smart and lucky, like I’ve got a blog post planned which I haven’t written yet, a little preview, but the two biggest attributes, I think, that have led to my success personally, personal success, business success are number one, I’m a smart guy and number two, I’m fucking lucky. I’m lucky as hell in every aspect of my life. So, the thought that if this or that one thing goes away, then I’m ruined forever . . .
Andrew: You didn’t have that at all?
Allan: What do you mean go away? Are you talking about like . . . define what that means for you.
Andrew: We were starting to watch some competitors get into your space, right? I think we can talk about inDinero, we can talk about Bench, we can talk about others, QuickBooks, to some degree was trying to make their stuff simpler, but it’s not really there. At some point, these guys could end up gobbling the market and you could end up with nothing, right?
Steven: Well, we started with nothing, right?
Andrew: And you’re okay going back to nothing?
Steven: Well, we’re far from going back to nothing.
Andrew: All right. If this is not a reality for you, I don’t want to push it.
Steven: I’m not talking about cash. Our reality is that we have . . . we have Less Films. We already have consulting clients.
Allan: Let me answer that. So, you’re talking about us going, “Oh my gosh, we’re going to go down in flames slowly.” Well, the reality is if that would happen, it would happen very slowly with a SaaS product. It would happen over the course of three or four years. I believe we’re smart enough to go, “Oh, look, the app is starting to burn out. We should find a new market, make it niche, build these certain products to go after that certain thing.”
So, I didn’t have a giant fear of like . . . years ago, we started saying like, “We’re the cockroach of the accounting industry. You can’t kill us we’re profitable and we’ll figure out how to be profitable. We’ll cut our salaries. We’ll build the features. We’ll do whatever. We’re smart enough people . . . we’re not going to turn around and be like, “Oh my god, zero revenue, month three.” Okay.
Andrew: Let me ask you this. I’ve got a fan who’s been listening since the beginning of Mixergy who says, “Andrew, I’ve been listening. I grew my company now. We’re doing a few million dollars in sales. Things are good. I don’t know where the next level is. I don’t know how to take it up. You’re not also at Mixergy dealing with some of the challenges that happen after you get to profitability. So, as you guys grew to profitability, what were the next set of challenges that came up?
Steven: One of the problems we’ve always faced with LessAccounting is that it’s such a large problem space, right? It’s just we had this vision of making this thing that would be easy to use and we were, not being accountants ourselves, we had this naivet? about it which allowed us to do it.
The reality is that what we create was this very niche product. So, you’d wind up with like bookkeepers who love LessAccounting and accountants who love LessAccounting. What they love about it is that it makes it easy for their customers, for their business owners. Then you have a set of bookkeepers or accountants who don’t like it because they don’t really care that much about their clients. They just want to use QuickBooks, which is something they’re very, very familiar with, right?
So, we had steady growth. We kept growing LessAccounting. But it was clear that to get to really big growth, we would have to push beyond what we really could do with the resources we had.
Allan: And we would have had to jobs that we don’t want to do. So, at one point, we said, “We should market to accountants. We should be going to accounting conferences talking to them.” We’re like, “You want to go?”
Steven: Yeah. I went to one.
Allan: No. I don’t want to go.
Steven: Yeah. Right. Exactly.
Allan: I don’t want that job of hiring accountants that do community . . . no. I like building stuff. I like marketing. I like writing content. So, we really maybe even some people would say to our detriment, we didn’t take jobs that we didn’t want and grow the company bigger than what we maybe could have.
Andrew: It sounds like you’re saying that to your detriment that you were willing to give up the money, willing to give up the growth because you weren’t willing to have a life that involved going to accounting conferences.
Steven: Well, life isn’t about whoever gets the most money wins. Life is about whoever is the happiest and finds a way to be happy and raise their children in a way that makes them happy and great individuals, protect their family, live in a safe neighborhood. That’s what life is about. So, when you weigh the choices between, “Am I so stressed out that I’m yelling at my kids?” versus, “Hey, we can let things grow slower or not at all, whatever it might be.” For Allan and I, that’s really not a choice. That’s how we want to live. That’s how we are.
Andrew: Do you guys feel like freaks in the startup world? Because I know some of your competitors. I know they’re willing to do it.
Allan: Yeah. You’re an investor. I know.
Andrew: Oh yeah. I am an investor in a competitor. You know why I stopped doing investment? I’ll come back to the other question. The reason I stopped investing is you Allan at one point said, “Andrew, I want to sponsor Mixergy.” I said, “I can’t. I’m investing in a competitor. How do I now talk about you?” So, you came back and you said, “No, but I want to. Let’s do it.”
I thought, “This would be good for my audience. It’s not like the company I’m investing in wanted to sponsor or asked for it or even thought about it. I should just do it.” But it didn’t feel right. Then I said, “What I care more about is doing Mixergy right than making a little more money from investing and I just stopped because I never wanted anything to come between me and doing good job here on Mixergy.
And then I should say that I brought in Sachit Gupta, who started doing ads for us and he said, “Andrew, I want to push you outside of your comfort zone.” I said, “I trust you. I’ve known you long enough.” He eventually did get an accounting software company on here. I think that was the right move. But yeah, so I have gotten to know a little bit about it.
I also interviewed one of your competitors and started calling up their friends before the interview. I can see that they’re willing to go to accounting programs even if they hate it. They’re willing to do it. Do you ever feel inadequate because of that?
Allan: No. I feel like those people are suckers. They built a job that maybe do not want to do. I don’t know.
Andrew: I don’t get this. I grew up with this very New York business attitude, where you do have to go after every last dollar. I obviously don’t do it here at Mixergy. I feel bad about that. I feel like I should be wanting to crush it, crush people even, crush everything.
Allan: [inaudible 00:38:08]
Andrew: You guys are laughing when I say things like, “Don’t you feel inadequate for not doing more?” I do. I feel like, “Why am I not beating the people on CNBC? There’s something wrong with me.”
Allan: Well, okay. So, I think anyone that operates at a really high level, whether it be an athlete, a chef, a writer, a pot distributor [inaudible 00:38:23], a developer, we’re so good at beating ourself up to get to that level, we can’t stop, nor can we enjoy it when we get there. There’s something that fuels us inside, whether it’s a mean parent, a mean coach or ourselves that makes us go, “I can do it better. I can do it better.” And you keep practicing and getting better. That’s just yourself beating you up.
Andrew: You had that too?
Allan: Certainly. I want to be better.
Andrew: Do you ever think about like, “Look at these guys. They’re raising more money than me. They’re building these more profitable companies or more valued companies?”
Allan: Yeah. Even as a parent you’re always going, “I’m screwing this all up, aren’t I?” Yesterday at 2:30 p.m. I was sailing with my kids and I was like, “I’ve got it all figured out.”
Andrew: When you say all figured out, do you mean just parenting or do you mean even business?
Allan: I mean we created a business that I don’t despise. I have so many friends that have created jobs, business that they just don’t like and they’re lying to themselves every day and they’re working for this machine that they should just go get a job. Entrepreneurs, there’s no glory in building a business that you hate.
Steven: Right. When I hear you say, Andrew, that you feel inadequate, to me I think you should go get some therapy.
Andrew: I go to therapy. They don’t help with this. They don’t understand it. They never come from the sense of fierceness.
Steven: Then you need a better therapist. Right? No seriously.
Andrew: I think I’m healthy for wanting more. I think I’m healthy for wanting to . . .
Allan: There’s a difference between happy and satisfied.
Andrew: I’m happy but not satisfied and I’ll die unsatisfied. I’ll die saying, “I want another day and I want another dollar.”
Steven: Sure. I’ll agree with one of those things. If you have enough dollars, then maybe just focus on having another day.
Andrew: You can never have enough dollars. Is that wrong?
Steven: It’s wrong for us, I think. I don’t want to say it’s wrong for everyone, but it’s certainly not our number one value. From the very beginning, when we talked about what our values are as individuals, as heads of our families, as business people, making the money was never the goal. The goal was having a life that we loved or we could spend time with our kids and give them enough time that we felt satisfied before they are off to college and then we never get to see them again.
Andrew: I feel like I love spending time with my son. I enjoy it. I enjoy even diaper changes, the whole thing. But I still feel a little bit guilty for enjoying it so much and spending so much time with him because I feel like I should be working more. I should be pulling out my cellphone right now and he’s not going to know that I’m doing it. I see Allan shaking his head. He’s a little disgusted. I like that disgust.
Steven: But when your kids get a little bit older, they will know you’re pulling out your cellphone and you’re doing habits.
Andrew: That’s why I might be able to do it now. All right. Let me talk about my sponsor and come back and talk about the process of building up the business. My second sponsor is Acuity Scheduling. I remember Allan you saying years ago that you guys hired bookkeepers to do the work for your customers, to get their initial data in and that turned everything around. Do you do phone calls with your bookkeepers?
Allan: What do you mean, like team meetings?
Andrew: Like does a customer get to do a phone call with a bookkeeper?
Allan: Oh, certainly.
Andrew: You do, right? So, this is something that I’ve discovered a lot in doing these interviews. We create software and we want people to just use it on their own without ever talking to us because that’s the magic, right? That’s the idea. You get software that just makes money without you having to talk to a customer and a customer never talking to anyone in your business.
And then it turns out that if you get your customer to talk to someone on the phone, then they’re much more likely to get what you’re building and much more understanding of what you’re trying to do for them and they start using the software and if there’s an issue, you have someone who can hear it where a survey is never going to hear it.
So, the problem with doing that . . . and anyone who’s listening to me should take a lesson from LessAccounting there and actually let their people get on the phone with their customers–the problem is it’s a nightmare to schedule it. You want to get on the phone with your customer. So, you say, “Hey, Steve, thanks for joining. Here are three times that I’m available.” And if Steve doesn’t want any of those three times, you have to go back and get another set of three times or maybe Steve suggests the times. It just goes back and forth endlessly and you hate doing it.
The better approach is to use Acuity Scheduling. The good thing about Acuity Scheduling is . . . Steve, can you say it? I’m bad at this.
Steven: Acuity Scheduling.
Andrew: Thank you. I interviewed someone the other day. He couldn’t remember the name of it because I so mangled it up, Acuity Scheduling. It’s a wonder that my ads do so freaking well. It’s dedication from the audience, I imagine. So, here’s the deal. You go to AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy. When you do that, they’re going to give you 45 days free trial to use it.
As soon as you sign up, they’re going to ask you to connect your calendar, that way they know when you’re busy and they shouldn’t make those times available to other people. Then they say, “Great, when do you want to talk to people? Is it every Monday between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. or is it any specific sets of days? They let you just paint it on a calendar so you can make those days available.
Then they say, “What questions do you want us to ask people when they book time with you?” And I say things like, I want to know their name, obviously. I want to know their email, obviously. But I need their phone number. I also need to know their Skype name. I prefer to do Skype conversations where I could see them face to face and sometimes I ask a couple of other things, like, “What’s your big issue right now? What are you working on?” All that data goes into a set of questions that people get to answer before they get a call with me.
Once I do all that, they give me a link, I give it to the person I want to talk to and they can pick from my calendar, which dynamically adjusts . . . my wife says in the middle of the day, “Hey, can you please pick up our son?” Put it on the calendar. I go pick up my son. No one schedules a call with me at that point.
Really, really, super simple. I embed it within my site. Most people don’t even know I use Acuity Scheduling because it’s just such a part of my site. If you’re looking to get people to talk to you in person, on the phone, however, go to AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy. Sign up. You’ll really be glad that you did. I didn’t even talk about the integrations. Great software. Yes.
Steven: Allan and I actually use that to schedule times to talk to each other because we like talking to each other. So, we just don’t want to interrupt. So, we use that. So, we really only talk two or three times a week.
Andrew: And you schedule it with each other.
Steven: Yeah, using that software.
Andrew: I’ve been trying to figure out your dynamic. Do you guys ever argue with each other?
Allan: Oh my god.
Andrew: You do?
Allan: Never . . .
Andrew: What’s the argument about? Is it that Steven is taking too much control or Steven is it that Allan is too . . . ?
Allan: No. It’s usually a miscommunication and someone has felt like the other person has devalued them or miscommunicated something. It’s very insignificant.
Steven: Or one person was grumpy and so the other person gives them some space.
Andrew: Let’s be open here. Let’s talk about a specific. This is something . . . there’s no contract that’s keeping you from dong this and the more open you are, the more people will relate to it, the more dangerously open you are, the more good it will feel for the audience to hear it because they’re going to recognize some of themselves in it. Allan, I see you really looking. When was one time when you said . . .
Allan: We haven’t had a really good fight in a long time.
Steven: That’s true.
Andrew: When you did, when was one time when you said, “I don’t even want to work with Steven.”
Allan: When was the one that I drove to Jacksonville to talk to you without even letting you know? There was one fight where I got up and drove four hours to his house.
Steven: I don’t remember that. I think you’re dreaming.
Allan: No. I drove over there to talk to you.
Steven: That must have been really early in the company.
Allan: We’re really good now. For years, we fought really bad, not all the time.
Steven: 2007 we fought a lot.
Allan: But now we’ve learned . . . are you feeling grumpy today? Yeah, leave me alone. Or I’ll say . . . we’ve learned the safe word is “hurtful.” No one wants to be hurtful. So, if you start to feel like you’re getting attacked or something or devalued, you say, “I’m feeling like you’re being hurtful.” So, that’s our safe word now.
Steven: Yeah. We also do another thing where oftentimes we’ll start a call by telling each other what we need out of the call. So, the call might be, “Hey, I need some information. I need a pump up. I just need to vent.” So, instead of me calling Allan and just starting to yell and he has no context, I can say, “I just need to vent,” and then I can start yelling. He knows it’s not about him. He knows his job is then to simply either listen or be supportive without getting any defensiveness.
Andrew: That’s good advice. I still want to hear about the time when things kind of blew up.
Steven: So, something happened . . . I think it was even this week.
Andrew: Okay. What was it?
Steven: I think it was Allan and I got on Skype first thing in the morning and Allan was just a little bit grumpy and he was a little bit short and maybe he hadn’t had his coffee yet. So, we got off the phone, a few hours later, everything was fine.
Andrew: When you argued, what was the argument about?
Steven: We didn’t even argued.
Allan: We didn’t argue.
Steven: We didn’t even argue. Allan and I have been married now for over nine years. We really look at this business relationship, we’re equal partners, we really consider it like a marriage. So, I know Allan well enough to know that oh, he’s not really mad at me even though it sounds like he’s mad at me. So, let’s give him a few hours and see and then I’ll know for sure if he’s actually mad at me or not and I’m not going to worry about it until then.
Allan: And we both have the goal of being in business together forever. So, I know whatever I think he may be thinking, “Oh, you’re thinking this thing.” He’s really not thinking that. So, we haven’t had any really bad, heated . . . I mean, honest to god . . .
Steven: It’s been a while.
Allan: We’re due for one.
Steven: I don’t know.
Andrew: All right. Let me pry at another part of your lives. Where are you getting your traffic? I’m on SimilarWeb right now trying to see where you get your traffic. It looks like the number one source of traffic for you guys . . .
Steven: It’s actually one of the nice things is that the parts of Florida we live in, there really isn’t any traffic. The locals think there’s traffic, but they don’t really . . .
Andrew: I mean traffic to your site.
Steven: Oh, sorry.
Andrew: I’m talking about Zferral.com seems to be sending you guys a lot of people, right? What do you guys do with Zferral?
Allan: Those are affiliates and they never convert.
Andrew: They never convert? Zferral is an affiliate referral program.
Allan: Very old, buggy, doesn’t work. They’ve moved on to a product called Ambassador.
Andrew: Right. And you guys didn’t move with them.
Allan: No. I’ve never as someone who kind of runs the marketing, there’s never been one source of, “Oh my god, look at all the money we could make in this one traffic source. Let’s pile all our eggs into that basket.” It’s always been lots of referral links, “How’d you hear about us?” “This link and this link. Andrew talked about you from a coloring book you did.” You just can’t track that kind of stuff.
Allan: Accounting software is not an impulse buy. It’s not a photo editing app on your iPhone where you go, “Oh look, click, boom, bye.” It’s something you look at four or five times and then you come and buy it. Now, there’s a product called Tend.io T-E-N-D dot -I-O, which is helping people tell the story of that customer–how many times they’ve come back, where they went, what they clicked on, that kind of stuff.
Andrew: And you use that for tracking to see where your customers are coming from and how they’re bouncing between the time they find you and buy you.
Allan: Yes. It’s getting better. It tells a better story than Google Analytics does.
Andrew: What about I see GrooveHQ is sending you traffic?
Allan: Yeah, GrooveHQ.
Andrew: That’s from a blog post?
Allan: A blog post, yeah.
Andrew: Okay. Does that convert?
Allan: Everything converts 1 or 2%.
Andrew: What about Intuit? It looks like you guys are active in the community on Intuit. You’re smiling, so that is something.
Allan: So, we’ve always done a nice job as placing us as the underdog because we are the underdog. You have QuickBooks, the giant. Now Xero is the giant. If you’re competing against a giant competitor, Google Keyword Planner showed that hundreds of thousands of people type in QuickBooks error 43621 into Google. So, I wrote some really good help docs that got linked in their chatroom, in their forums.
Do those convert? SEO traffic like that and articles tend to convert much less than a nice . . . well, you can say if they’re having trouble with another competitor’s product, they come to you. But it’s all how you prime them to buy accounting software. Someone coming from Groove, which is a customer support product, GrooveHQ.com, they’re not coming going, “Oh my gosh, I was actually looking for accounting software. I’ll go spend six hours getting setup.”
Andrew: It’s more about building your reputation there.
Allan: Yeah. It’s never been one source of traffic that’s given us all the signups.
Andrew: Yeah. I don’t see anything. I see Startups for the Rest of Us, I see DailyTech. I see Business News Daily. This is just all people writing about you or you writing on other people’s sites like SitePoint and none of it has really caught fire for you.
Allan: No, 9 years.
Steven: I think something that you and probably most of your listeners can identify with is we’ve all been getting these emails from these VCs that say things like, “I’ve got a $750,000 check for any company that’s growing 70% year over year.” And it’s like, “Yeah, who doesn’t?”
Steven: But the reality is that that’s . . . if you’re at that point, unless you have like inventory, you don’t need that check, right?
Allan: It’s not sexy as a startup owner, tech owner, to go, “Oh, yeah, you know how you build a successful business? Spend nine years getting thousands of links.” Right? No. They want the, “Ten Ways to Get Traffic” blog post, right? People don’t want to hear that you write 500 good blog posts, you’ll have good blog traffic. They don’t want to hear that. They want to hear, “Give me the six tips.” The six tips are take nine years and do it.
Steven: It’s not easy, right? It takes time. It takes dedication. We’ve always believed that letting your personality show through is pretty important and it’s certainly something that sets you apart, like people come to LessAccounting.com. They definitely know that they’re looking at something different.
Andrew: Yeah. So, I’m looking at the bottom of LessAccounting or I did earlier today. Let me go to it. I can’t find it. Somewhere on the bottom of the site, there was a link to your most recent blog post and one of the most recent blog posts was about Allan building, there it is, a backyard office.
Andrew: Do people really want to see a backyard office of the guy who founded LessAccounting? Don’t they want to see an office full of accountants, of bookkeepers, of people who are there doing the work, of developers? This looks like very like a homemade project and then it makes it feel like the site is a homemade site.
Allan: Well, the reality is we can’t compete with Xero and QuickBooks with their same ammunition. Their ammunition is, “Look how bit we are. Look how great we are. Look how professional we are.” Our only ammunition as bootstrapped tech founders is to use what we have available, which is, for us, our qualities of being strange, quirky, friendly, nice, jovial, right?
I did realize that there’s a term called shedquarters, which is becoming very popular in suburbia. People are building backyard offices. So, people are buying big sheds and dry walling them out and turning them into a backyard office. No one really wants to work in their house anymore. It gets a good amount of traffic.
Steven: If you think about somebody who’s building a shed in their backyard for their home office might be a perfect LessAccounting customer.
Andrew: I see.
Steven: So, I think when you look at our stuff, it’s not necessarily obvious, but I think most of the marketing we do is much more guerilla than just buying ads.
Allan: I didn’t set out just to build that for the article. I was already building it and I thought, “Oh, I can turn that into some articles.
Andrew: What I like about your design style though is you didn’t just turn it into an article, you turned it into this really nice looking website with a bunch of like table of contents links and it’s all sorted properly, organized right. All right. I think I’ve got everything here. Did I miss anything that we should include? No.
Allan: I don’t know. What do you want to talk about?
Steven: Yeah. Now’s your chance.
Andrew: There is one other thing, Steven, but I want to have you back on to do another interview with me about it, just you and me.
Andrew: I won’t talk about what it is. But I can’t wait to have you back on to talk about it.
Steven: That sounds great. I’m looking forward to that.
Andrew: How many customers do you guys have at LessAccounting?
Steven: That’s another thing that unfortunately we’re not able to disclose.
Andrew: Can you give me some number that shows how big you are just to show . . . ?
Steven: I can give some number, but I can’t give you some number that answer that question.
Andrew: Can you say something like more than 1,000 customers, more than 400?
Steven: I can say that, but . . .
Allan: I’ll say something. I got something. The beginning stages when you’re doing a product and you’re iterating on it, you’re changing all this stuff and no one notices. But we’re at a place now where if I change the button color, I’ll get emails to me, like 20 of them that say, “You’re a genius. That’s a beautiful green.” And then 20 more that say, “You should kill yourself. That’s a terrible green color.
Andrew: That doesn’t show me how well the business is doing. Let me go back to my old friend, SimilarWeb. Let me see if SimilarWeb can at least give me like traffic numbers. I need like something that shows how well you guys are doing here.
Allan: Can we say traffic?
Andrew: Do you guys get traffic? Let me see. Yeah. You can say traffic. I’m going to say traffic because I feel like SimilarWeb is better even than what . . .
Steven: We can’t say it, but if Andrew . . . Or we shouldn’t say it.
Andrew: It says 90,000 monthly visits on average to the site.
Andrew: Does that seem out of whack? It seems like it’s 77% desktop, 22% mobile.
Allan: Those are interesting numbers that you found on the web that we didn’t provide for you.
Andrew: All right. I’ll leave it there. Allan is going to be on his boat. Steven, what are you going to do to celebrate the sale?
Steven: Actually, I am going to see Foals tonight. Foals is playing locally.
Andrew: What’s Foals?
Steven: Foals, F-O-A-L-S. It’s a band. It really just means you’re too old.
Andrew: How are you going to celebrate this big success? You just did something really big?
Steven: Here’s the interesting thing. I’ve been thinking about this now for a couple of months. I’ve been thinking like, “Well, I should buy something. I should go and do something.” The reality is I have everything I want. Am I going to go buy another car? No. Do I need more guitars? No. Am I going to buy another kid? No.
Andrew: What about this? Eric Bahn, who I interviewed here, said that when he sold his company, he just took a copy of his check and he put it behind one of the pictures in his house so he always knew what he did, just to have a memory of it. Are you guys going to do that?
Steven: Unfortunately for us it would be like a screenshot of the bank with the wire transfer.
Andrew: That would work. Or maybe even . . . None of that.
Steven: We thought about that. We want to see the big number in the bank account, right? That would be nice. But we’re immediately going to take that money out. So, it’s not going to last. We’re taking it off the table.
Andrew: And putting it where?
Allan: You’re trying to like buy these material things to make yourself feel good and we’ve got so much feel good already. We’re doing fine.
Allan: I think today, Steven, when I talk, I told him congratulations, he paused and said, “Congratulations to you.” And I was like, that actually felt really good.
Andrew: That felt good.
Allan: Yeah. Someone saying something nice to you that you admire, I like that. If my parents were to say, “We’re proud of you,” that would probably mean more than buying a new car.
Andrew: I need more than that. But I like it. There are two things that I did that helped me. Number one, I did take pictures of the big checks that I had. We’re talking like over $1 million. I took a picture of it. I have it somewhere. When I go back and look at it, it makes me feel sometimes really invigorated and sometimes it makes me feel a little bit sad for being nostalgic, so I don’t want to look backwards. But that’s still something that I’m glad I captured so I can tap into both those feelings.
The other thing I remember doing was I was on vacation with my girlfriend at the time, and the fact that I could just take us on vacation was important to me, and then we went to ride a jet ski. I’m from New York. I’ve never been on a jet ski before. It looked like something you randomly see in commercials that nobody does. I got to do it. It was like this tour that this guy took us on. I loved it so much.
It was so mind-blowingly good that I remember saying to the guy, “How much do I pay you here to take me out on the ocean here for more jet-skiing just you and me alone?” That power, that feeling that I don’t have to now go home because my mom is sending me home or because the ride is over or because it’s not done, that felt like, “Ah, liberation.” When I say, “Welcome freedom fighters,” that’s what I’m talking about. The freedom the business gives us is that sense that this is your life, you get to do what you want. Go and ride the jet ski.
Steven: Absolutely. I think Allan and I have probably felt like that for a while now, the ability to just if we want to stay on the jet ski longer, we just will.
Steven: I had a thought just, I don’t know, within the last couple of hours that maybe I should let the kids go and pick out like one big thing each, but a couple of them are sitting here, so I’m probably not going to actually do that. But I don’t.
Andrew: I agree with you. I always want that because I think it makes for a much better story to say, “Because of that, here’s what I did. Here’s where I went. Here’s how my life changed.” The reality is that many of us are just happy where we are.
Steven: Yeah. I can tell you some stocks and investments I’m planning to make. But it’s like Allan said before. This is really about securing the future of our family. So, neither one of us are interesting in squandering. We don’t have any big desires. We’re pretty happy in general. So, we’re really looking at long-term, short, medium, long-term retirement. How fast can we get to a place where . . . retirement isn’t like dropping off the face of the world. Retirement is I get to choose what I do today every day.
Andrew: So, if I want to get you guys to redesign something for me or to code something for me or be creative with me . . . it looks like actually what are you guys doing? I don’t want to give too many options. If I wanted to work with you or someone in my audience wants to work with you, what are the things you guys are open to right now?
Steven: Right now, we’re kind of open to everything. We’re still getting back into the consulting. So, we haven’t decided what to specialize on, if anything. Historically we’re a Ruby on Rails shop. There’s still plenty of Rails work out there. We also can do mobile. One of the things we’re specializing in lately with certain clients is SMS robots, so robots that do customer service or shopping carts or whatever over SMS.
We also are kind of uniquely positioned in the consulting world. I think if we wanted to specialize in something like onboarding or retention, things that we’ve become very good at from doing LessAccounting. But I don’t know that we’ve necessarily decided to specialize in anything. I think overwhelmingly, we like working with nice people on hopefully interesting projects, but even if the project is not that interesting, if the person we’re working with is nice and they’re a good person, that really is fun for us.
So, I would say that if you’re interested in having us help you or even having a conversation about it, you can find us at LessEverything.com, Steve@LessEverything, Allan@LessEverything. Reach out. Let’s talk, see if we can find some way to help.
Andrew: All right. Cool.
Steven: We’re also available to do best men services at your weddings. So, if somebody’s needing a best man.
Andrew: You would really come over and give a speech?
Steven: It would be a fucking great speech.
Allan: It would be an honor.
Steven: I’ve done that before. Yeah.
Andrew: I’ve never done it before. I don’t know what I would say. That’s a lot of pressure.
Allan: I’ve given a eulogy, actually.
Steven: That’s not so much pressure.
Andrew: I’m so glad that you said that. If I have a best man speech, I would definitely hit you guys up for help with that. All right. Thank you so much for doing this. The website is LessEverything.com. The two sponsors I mentioned are . . . do you guys know who they are? Do you remember?
Allan: Acuity and . . .
Allan: Reaction Core? Reactive Core?
Allan: I was close.
Andrew: Yeah. ReactorCore.com and AcuityScheduling.com. If you throw a /Mixergy at the end of it, you’ll get more free time. AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy.
Andrew: [inaudible 01:02:59] interview.
Andrew: Thank you all for listening. Guys, hang on for a minute after I say goodbye. Thank you all for listening. Bye, everyone.