How a “lazy” bootstrapper built software that turned him into a grinder

I have a company for you today that’s bootstrapped, profitable, and doing incredibly great.

Your mind is going to be blown by the possibilities of building software in an unconventional way.

If you ever saw the movie “Rounders,” there are some people who want to get rich quickly at the poker table and there others who grind it out and keep getting better and better. They’re the ones who get real money.

Today’s guest is solving problems without venture capital–like a “grinder”. Liam Martin is the cofounder of Time Doctor and its sister site,

When I asked him what Time Doctor was, he gave me this five-word description, “Google Analytics for your workday.”

Liam Martin

Liam Martin

Time Doctor

Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor which helps individuals and organizations to be more productive.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of, home of the ambitious upstart.

Let me let you in on a little something. Before each interview, I look for the hook, the reason that you guys are going to want to listen and I look for that one story that will punch the host in the gut, just so we can get you to pay attention to the rest of the interview. And I can’t find the hook. I can’t find that gut-wrenching first question here.

I can’t even find a way to fully explain to you what today’s guest does, but I want to trust me that I’ve got a company for you here that’s bootstrapped, that’s profitable, that’s doing incredibly great that if you spend just like five seconds understanding why this is so good, your mind is going to be blown by the possibilities of building software in an unconventional way, without venture capital and solving a problem–like a grinder.

Did you ever see the movie “Rounders” where they say that there are some people who want to get rich quickly at the poker table and there others who are going to grind it out and keep getting better and better and they’re the ones who are going to get real money? I feel like Liam, is that fair to say that you guys are grinders?

Liam: I feel like that would be my middle name if it wasn’t McIver.

Andrew: Yeah. And we’re going to talk about how you do it, specifically how you understand your customers’ problems so you can improve and so on. Liam, who I just mentioned is Liam Martin. He is the cofounder of Time Doctor and its sister company or sister site, When I asked him what Time Doctor was, he gave me this five-word description, “Google Analytics for your workday.” I don’t know that that’s going to explain enough. I think the best way for people to see it is for me to ask you what was going off on your screen as we were talking, before the interview started?

Liam: So, actually in previous calls that we’ve done, you’ve seen the pop-ups that I’ve had on my interface where our software basically forces you into productivity. I’m a very lazy person at my core. That was one of the major reasons why we built this software. So, it will tell me everything that I’m doing throughout my workday.

So, as an example, right now I’ve been working on “Interview with Andrew Warner” and it’s been running for 21 minutes and 22 seconds. I’ve spent approximately 19 minutes and 38 seconds on Skype and the rest of that time on Gmail. So, at the end of this call, I’ll be able to measure exactly how effective I was in actually–

Andrew: How did that make you more productive?

Liam: Well, it just tracks all of my metrics. As an example, if I’m on Facebook, if I’m on Facebook for more than 30 seconds, I’m actually going to get a popup that says, “Are you really working on the interview with Andrew Warner?” And if I say yes, it leaves me alone. And if I say no, it puts me on break. So, it really is understanding, unlike most other software that just tracks how long you work, we track what you did while you were working.

Andrew: And so, that’s great for personal productivity, but Time Doctor is about running a company, right? What do you do for my team that allows my team to be more productive and allows me to pay people?

Liam: Well, what we really do is we’re trying to solve three fundamental problems as it connects to remote work. I actually see it breaking down to three major problems. Finding remote workers, that’s a big problem. Managing remote workers, which is very different and we’ve actually spoken at length a few years ago about that. Lastly, paying remote workers, you wouldn’t think that’s very difficult, but it actually is incredibly difficult. I could probably talk for hours just about that.

Andrew: Time Doctor manages the second two. We’ll talk about the first since that’s

Liam: Correct.

Andrew: So, it’s managing remote workers?

Liam: Yes.

Andrew: And paying them.

Liam: Exactly.

Andrew: So, how does managing them work through Time Doctor?

Liam: So, as an example, I spoke to a customer a few months ago. He was using Salesforce and he was using Time Doctor. He combined those two products into one package and he was able to find out that there was a golden ratio between his most successful sales reps and his least successful ones.

So, he was able to look at where they were putting their time, not how long they were working, but what they were doing while they were closing sales and then he just basically pulled what those guys were doing and taught the lower guys about how successful the good sales are that work there.

Andrew: Because your software, Time Doctor, watches what the most successful people do and then you can come back to everyone else and say, “Here’s what they’re up to.” I see.

Liam: So, as an example, with the Salesforce people, they found out there was a magic ratio between spending about 75 percent of your time on the phone and 25 percent in your CRM. So, if it was out of that range, their sales weren’t as good. They actually now have that golden ratio that they practice in the company and they have a 22 percent jump in sales just from being able to understand how to get those metrics where they need to be.

Andrew: Okay. And for payment, how much money have you guys helped facilitate?

Liam: As of this year, these numbers were back in March. We just passed $100 million in payments through the cloud.

Andrew: $100 million in payments?

Liam: $100 million in payments, yes, exactly.

Andrew: Okay. And it’s direct. I’m not sending you the money and you’re taking a cut and sending it to my employees or virtual assistant or any of that?

Liam: We feel that for us, we want to facilitate remote work and taking 10, 20, 30 percent of somebody’s salary out of what they’re doing is just going to slow that process down. So, for us, we’re interested in long-term remote workers. That really is where our platform is strongest.

Andrew: So, in your grinding it out where I see your website, your homepage keeps changing. I love the new current landing page on It’s so clever. I can see this is something that only A/B testers–ruthless, nonstop A/B testers–are going to create. How much revenue are you guys doing a year with all this grinding it out?

Liam: So, we’ve been doubling every single year. We’ve been in business for about four years. As I’ve discussed before, we’re in the multi-million dollar stage. Hopefully we’re targeting an eight-figure run rate within the next year or two. But it is, as you said, a very long process, a very grinding process. It’s actually split test 162 that we’re currently working on for Time Doctor.

Andrew: The fact that you even know that it’s 162 shows us something about the way you think. There’s something very comforting about your process because it’s very methodical, it’s very deliberate, it’s very consistent and it shows results. And you’re not hoping for a lottery win here. That’s where you guys are. I thought we were going to end up talking about because I just love the name That was your biggest investment, right? You and Rob aren’t developers, right?

Liam: No. We’re not.

Andrew: No?

Liam: So, Rob is technical, but I would not say–he actually leads product at Time Doctor and But neither of us are technical.

Andrew: Rob, your cofounder.

Liam: Yes.

Andrew: But you blew my mind at the beginning of this interview. You said, “I’ve never talked about this publicly before.” The reason doesn’t work like our competitors where you go on and you say, “I want to hire a freelancer to do a job for me and I’m going to pay and take a share and give it to a freelancer.” That’s the way other freelancing sites work. It’s because of a call you got from the government that you never mentioned publicly before. Who called you and what did they call you about?

Liam: So, the Federal Trade Commission called us. If you’ve ever gotten an email or a phone call from the Federal Trade Commission, it terrifies you. Even the way that they send an email, they say, “Hey, you might want to actually talk to your attorney before interacting with us in any way.” And then they said, “We would love to be able to talk to you about the future of remote work and two-sided marketplaces in the United States.”

So, I actually called up my lawyer. My lawyer is a very good lawyer and is able to keep me relaxed. She actually does a fantastic job. She said, “Well, don’t freak out. Just email them back and say, ‘What is this about?'” It was about the oDesk and Elance merger, that they have now turned into Upwork. They were very concerned about the way that remote work was being facilitated, whether this was going to be good for the average US worker.

We said it was. We said we’re very happy that this is a move that Upwork is making. We actually think it’s going to evolve the entire ecosystem in a really interesting way. But one of their other concerns–and it’s actually a concern that we can talk about now, I think, that’s happening a lot–is the issue of payroll taxes in the United States.

Andrew: Their feeling was maybe Elance, by paying all these freelancers, is really having an army of employees that they need to take care of taxes for.

Liam: Correct.

Andrew: And that freaked you out because?

Liam: Because our model, as it currently stood, could not withstand–like most other two-sided marketplace, you take a very small percentage, so we’re talking anywhere from 5 to, in some cases, 20 to 30 percent. But if your payroll taxes are 20 to 30 percent, you’re out of business very quickly and you need to be able to work for that. You need to be able to prepare for that. Secondarily, if they said, “Actually, you are answerable for these payroll taxes and now you’re responsible for six years of back taxes…”

Andrew: I see. I don’t want to get too deep in the weeds here. Then you said, “We can’t pay all these taxes for our people and stay in business. So, what we’re going to do is create a marketplace that’s completely free. Anyone can come to, find a freelancer. They can hook up with that freelancer. They can talk to them directly. They can pay them directly. We’re not going to charge anything for it.

But if they want an easy way to find out what those freelancers are doing, they can go to Time Doctor, where we have this incredible software that we’ve built that will allow them to make their freelancers more productive and keep track of the hours that they’re working. That’s the model that you came up with.

Liam: Yes. And it seamlessly integrates into So, the two products actually work in conjunction with each other. So, it’s a very easy, flip a switch and you’ve got Time Doctor to track your employees.

Andrew: Let’s see how two non-developers, non-heavy coders ended up with a software business that they test nonstop, that they improve nonstop, that they have a team of how many people working for you guys?

Liam: I think we’ve got close to 70?

Andrew: And what portion of that are developers?

Liam: Most of them are developers, actually. More than half the team are developers.

Andrew: You know what, actually? That probably is the hook I should have used for this interview. How did a pair of non-developers build this insane software company that’s actually profitable and do it all bootstrapping, right?

Liam: Sure.

Andrew: Sometimes it takes me a little bit longer, but at least we hit on that. I want to see, really, how you got to it. Your background is in figure skating.

Liam: Yeah. I was a competitive pairs skater. I was the guy that lifted the girls. That was a lot of fun.

Andrew: Did you get beaten up as like a figure skater? You did?

Liam: All the time.

Andrew: What’s the worst beating you ever took?

Liam: I actually never got–I don’t think I ever got hit for being a figure skater. You know what? I did once. I remember these three huge hockey players grabbed me in the hallway once. I think I punched one of them in the face and then they just backed right off.

Andrew: Wow. I would never have been able to punch a bunch of hockey players.

Liam: There are two things that you can do in Canada when you’re a kid. It’s either hockey or figure skating. I looked at the hockey situation. I was a hockey player. Then they showed me this figure skating thing. I was about 13 years old at the time. I got to skate around with girls in little dresses. I said, “I’m going to sign up. I’m going to do that. That sounds great.”

So, that was all she wrote. I loved that. I actually continued on until my early 20s and I ended up getting into a–I blew out my rotator cuff and then I also blew my kneecap and ended up not being able to do it anymore. But I was at the national level and I was doing some international competitions too.

Andrew: One of my favorite parts of the Elon Musk book is that Elon used to get beaten up as a kid for being a nerd. I think about does that still even go on anymore?

Liam: I sure hope not. I think that we’re at an age now where being nerdy is acceptable. And I’m not a high schooler anymore, so I don’t know. I feel like that shouldn’t happen anymore. I feel like nerds are cool. At least I hope they are.

Andrew: You actually even made a little bit of money on the side while you were figure skating. There was one summer–was it a summer actually? You sold what?

Liam: That was my first real business. It was a sporting goods company. I actually sold some skate guards that had leather shammy on the outside, not to go into the details of it. But basically cold steel is really hard to clean off. So, this leather shammy would pull all of the moisture off the blade. These blades would usually cost about $2,000 apiece. They were very expensive. I sold that and basically just got on the phones all day long and sold, sold, sold, sold to different retailers.

Andrew: How much did you make from it?

Liam: I think at the end of the summer, my second year, first year I just did a little bit of an experiment, the next year for the summer I was selling, I made about $50,000.

Andrew: Why summer? The reason I hesitated for a second there, I thought people usually skate in the winter, at least in New York where I grew up.

Liam: You sell in the summer to the retailers and then they start their season on September 1st.

Andrew: I see.

Liam: So, that’s when they actually get all of these products in for the hockey players and the figure skaters.

Andrew: Do you remember one tip you learned when you were making sales calls?

Liam: Always call them back. You have to call people–I think I read this state somewhere–on average five times before they actually buy. It’s true. Always be nice. Always be respectful. But unless they say, “Leave me alone. Never call me again.” Call back. And try to figure out what kind of a deal you can strike with that person.

I know for me that was probably the biggest, and at that point, we had computers, but I didn’t really know what a CRM was. I had a huge flipbook of all of these different retailers that I had grabbed from all across the United States and Canada and then I’d write in, “Call this guy back on Thursday.” And then I’d have to look through the book and say, “I’ve got to call this guy back. I’ve got to call that guy back.”

Andrew: I think you and I even to schedule this interview had to go back a few times. I wasn’t sure this was going to be a good interview, but I liked you. We just kept going back and forth until we figured out a way to do it. I didn’t know your company was doing so well, actually.

Liam: Oh, well we’re quiet.

Andrew: You were talking about numbers that I didn’t even relate to. Where was that? You sent me an email. You created even a webpage, didn’t you?

Liam: Yeah.

Andrew: There it is. It’s an infographic. It’s I thought, “I don’t know what that means. If he’s giving me one million hours, maybe it means the software is used by one person a million hours. I have no idea.”

Liam: Yeah. That’s probably not the best. What we were communicating there was we had gotten to the point where we were doing a million hours a month on the platform. That was back in March. So basically eight months ago, six to eight months ago. For us, the real accomplishment for our own company was that we’ve been able to do this almost three times faster than any of the competitors in the space.

Andrew: The big ones in the space–Elance and oDesk, right?

Liam: Yeah.

Andrew: How much did they do?

Liam: Elance made it to a million hours in 9 years. We did it in three. Freelancer did it in eight years. We did it in three. ODesk did it in 7.7 years and we did it in 3.

Andrew: I’ll be honest we you. It doesn’t impact me because I don’t think of them in that way. What amazes me is these guys have built a multi-million dollar company, bootstrapping it just dealing with software that part of it doesn’t even charge and the other part I’d never even have heard of except for Mixergy. It’s like this quiet success story that’s actually making money and is profitable is amazing to me. Maybe that’s just the way I think. I’m a philistine who can only see things a certain way.

Liam: I think the other part of it too is we’ve got a team that we have a management philosophy that isn’t the classic management philosophy. We have employees all over the world in 15 different countries. We really do eat our own dog food. So, for us, we felt like we wanted to build a company in which we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted.

So, as an example, my director of product just spent the last three months in Bali. He really likes Bali. He’s going to Costa Rica next for the winter. And he’s really enjoying himself. He’s an incredibly productive employee. But we’re able to manage what he’s doing and measure of all of his metrics seamlessly because we have time doctor with us. So, he doesn’t have to be in a physical office.

Andrew: That’s exciting to me too. Not just being in a physical office, but getting a sense of what the other person is doing. All right. Since I am a philistine who only cares about money, I should do my sponsorship message number one and make some money here for Mixergy. The first sponsor is a sponsor I checked in with you before we started. I said, “Are you okay with me talking about these guys?” Toptal–you actually knew them.

Liam: Yeah. They’re a great company.

Andrew: Why are you okay with them? Aren’t you guys competitive at all with

Liam: We’re all trying to accomplish the same goal. I think fundamentally for us, our mission statement as a company is to be able to allow workers to work wherever they want, whenever they want. Toptal helps with that goal. So, if you’re going to get somebody hired, Toptal is a great option–sorry, if you’re going to hire someone, Toptal is a great option to find that talent, figure out really top tier developers that want to work on a particular project. I think they figured out a niche that is going to give them a lot of growth in the future.

Andrew: Why? What niche do you think they’ve gotten?

Liam: I think they figured out the developer niche beautifully. They’re able to say, “You want an absolutely top tier developer,” I think they have a very small group of developers that they keep in their database. But they’re very, very good.

We actually have the same thing with We have hundreds of thousands of people on our platform. But we actually really only have probably about 10 percent of that database is a database that I would personally shortlist for a client. They’ve basically said, “Forget about looking big. Forget about the numbers,” let’s focus on getting some really good people that we know are fantastic and putting those people in front of great companies.

Andrew: What’s amazing to me is I never talk about the prices for them. Their prices are really reasonable. For a top developer, you should really be paying through the nose for it.

Liam: Absolutely. I don’t know their prices personally. I know they’re probably more expensive than some options but they’re probably not scratching the surface for other companies. But I know that for us in our business, finding remote employees is something that, regardless of where they’re located or what they’re doing is a very difficult process. We know it more than a lot of other people.

It seems like Toptal has figured it out very well for a great demographic, which are those top-tier developers that you’ll need to be able to–everyone talks about full stack developers. We actually get requests for that every day. There is no such thing as a full stack developer, realistically. But I think probably Toptal would be one of the closest companies to be able to find you those types of people out of everyone that does remote placements.

Andrew: I’ve really been happy with them. They find them. They get you the right fit. You get to hire them. You don’t personally hire them. Toptal does. You pay Toptal. Toptal takes care of them. I wonder what their deal is with the two-sided marketplace issue, if they got an FTC call.

Liam: I have no idea.

Andrew: I always assumed–I should find this out–I assumed they’re employees of Toptal. What do you know about that?

Liam: From what I understand–and I don’t know their entire business model–but from what I understand, Toptal is really a staffing agency. They are a two-sided marketplace, but they act like a staffing agency. They’re going to go out, find a client that has a labor shortage and then supply that client with that need as opposed to more of an inbound process like we do, as an example. You just sort of come to us and we deal with your problem. We’re not going to find you the quality of developer that Toptal does. They just have a better system because they have that small group of employees.

But I would say for us if you want something just absolutely handled, Toptal is probably your best spot. For a major, fast-growing tech startup, they actually need that. They just need it solved. They don’t really care if there are payroll taxes here. They just need to be able to get that labor out of that.

Andrew: I do love that about them. You get the right person, get to work with them quickly and if you need them, I believe–I should test this too–if I need to contact the developer who worked for us, I just contact Toptal and say, “Can you find that guy? There’s a question about the code that he wrote.” And that guy is there. It’s an incredible relationship.

Here’s what Toptal is trying to do with the Mixergy audience. They really want to win you guys over. So, they’re giving us something that I don’t think they give this to anyone else. It’s unprecedented. I can’t believe they would do it and it frankly shows me how much they care about me that they want to win over the Mixergy audience by doing this. They’re giving Mixergy listeners 80 free Toptal developer hours when they pay for 80. That’s in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks.

So, if you go to and sign up, instantly you heard one of my past guests say, they get on the phone with you so freaking fast, you don’t understand what kind of CRM they have that allows you to know who you are and get on the phone with you intelligently so fast. They’ll understand your needs. They’ll place the right person for you.

It doesn’t have to be a full-time forever person. It could be full-time. It could be a part-time person. It could just be a few hours that you need in order to get a project done. They are that good. Go to

So, back to Time Doctor’s story. Thank you for the support in that sponsorship message. It’s cool that you actually knew this. If you said you knew them and they were competitive with you and you were worried about it, I wouldn’t have run the ad.

Liam: I think you really have to understand your space. We study all of our competitors to be able to make sure that we know what everyone else is doing. For us, after we had that sort of issue with the FTC and our issue connected to payroll taxes, we just really understood that we should stick to what we’re really good at, which time analytics, which is basically tracking the metrics for remote employees. We’re really good at that. We think that we’ve carved out that niche.

There are a lot of companies that I think are going through that process right now, where maybe they’re trying about four or five things and then three or four years later they just sort of come back to the one they think, “Oh wow, that’s where the growth is coming from. Now let’s double down on that and really make that work.”

Andrew: You met Rob who’s a past Mixergy interviewee who talked about how he made a lot of money in affiliate programs but it’s not a long-term business that builds equity, unlike what you guys are building together now. You met him at South by Southwest?

Liam: Yeah. I was speaking at South by Southwest quite a few years ago. I think it was the year after we did a panel at South by Southwest with Noah Kagan and Nathan Latka and Espree Devora. That was actually when we launched Time Doctor for the first time. So, one year passed. Before that, I met Rob and Rob was showing me this really crappy alpha. It was this application that basically tracked what metrics your employees were interacting with, so, what applications and websites they were interacting with.

I thought to myself, “This is a great idea.” This is an idea that would have saved my previous business that I actually was now going through so much stress over that I thought to myself, “You know what? I’ve got to join up with him because I think this is something that I think is just going to be a…” It’s a more important business for me than the previous business that I was running.

Andrew: And so, you just partner up with him. How do you show him–what do you bring to the table? He invested money in the business, right?

Liam: Yeah.

Andrew: He had the alpha. He had the idea.

Liam: He invested. I had also had a nice amount of money. So, I wasn’t going to have to pay myself for a significant amount of time. I could work for free. I actually did. I worked for almost three years without a salary.

Andrew: Three years. How did you get a nice amount of money?

Liam: I had an acquisition from a previous business before.

Andrew: Is this the tutoring business?

Liam: That was the tutoring business.

Andrew: Tutoring business? What were you tutoring?

Liam: I was tutoring everything at the beginning and then nothing at the end. I was running a tutoring business off of grad school and I was teaching at McGill University. I was lecturing. I remember that I really liked teaching, but I did not like lecturing at all. I actually found it really difficult. I had gotten a really bad course. It was like a first year sociology course and all of the chemistry students and biology students were taking it to say, “Oh, I’m going to get an A in this.” They didn’t get an A with me and they were not that happy about it.

So, I remember going into my supervisor’s office after I finished my semester and I said, “I really am not that good at this.” He said, “No, you’re not.” And then I said, “Should I keep doing this?” And he’s like, “You should look at maybe not doing this if this is going to be your life. If you’re going to teach for the rest of your life, maybe you should take another look.”

So, I said, “How long does it take before I can get a Master’s?” He said, “Write 200 pages.” So, six weeks later I wrote 200 pages on I don’t even know what, threw it under of his door and got a Master’s degree instead of a PhD and then I was out to build this new business. The business I liked, throughout that semester I was actually making more money tutoring students than I was lecturing. Graduate students get paid peanuts to be able to lecture low-level classes.

So, I thought, “There really is a business here.” So, I started tutoring students on the side. That turned into I’m fully booked. Then I hired my friends. Then I hired a couple more friends and I thought what if I do this? What if I use technology to make myself more productive? What if I tutor everybody through Skype, what we’re currently doing right now? And I can charge people the same rate. The students like it more because they don’t like to go anywhere. And all of a sudden I was able to almost double the amount of students I was able to get in because I wasn’t traveling all the time.

So, long story short, that scaled to about 200 part-time tutors throughout Europe and North America. They were all tutoring. Our biggest customers were pre-med students. For anyone that’s interested in doing tutoring right now, get the pre-med students. They are the easiest ones to get. They will pay you whatever it takes to get As in Bio 1-2, Chem 1-2, Math 1-2 and Physics 1-2 because they need to get those As for their applications to medical school.

So, we did that. That was a great business. But the problem that I had was I was running customer service. I was working with some of my students that I had kind of had over the last two years. I was managing all these other tutors. The business issue that I had was Johnny would come to me, the student, and say, “Hey, you billed me for ten hours and my tutor only worked with me for five.” So, I’d go to the tutor and I’d say, “Did you work with Johnny for ten hours?” And he’d say, “Of course I worked for ten hours.” But how could I prove it? I couldn’t.

So, what I’d have to do is refund Johnny for five hours and only charge him for five and I’d have to pay the tutor for the full ten hours. I actually ended up losing–I was charging about 40 percent margin–I was actually losing money on that deal and it was killing the business. So, Time Doctor would have instantaneously solved that issue for me and it was the software that I really needed to be able to get to the next level in the business.

Andrew: What did you sell the business for?

Liam: We sold it for a low six figures. We actually got taken, to be honest with you. That’s probably another story. But if a competitor reaches out to you and wants to talk about the industry, understand that they’re trying to buy you and don’t tell them all of your secret sauce.

Andrew: I see.

Liam: So, that was kind of… and that was the first real business, the first real scalable business that I had. I was not great. I remember them coming back later and just recognizing, “Wow, they’ve started their own division of exactly what I’m doing. That’s a problem.” I’m a relatively nice guy. I really like the tech startup industry because everyone is very nice. A lot of other businesses are quite cutthroat and those guys were quite cutthroat.

Andrew: I do feel what you’re saying about the tech industry. I’m surprised how nice everyone is. I think that has something to do with how much money is in here. When it’s a fast-growing business and you don’t have to take market share from someone else in order to do well, you can afford to be nice.

Liam: Absolutely. My girlfriend, actually, she is running a mermaid business right now.

Andrew: She’s selling mermaids?

Liam: She’s teaching you how to swim like a mermaid, like a mermaid academy. She’s actually got the largest one in the world right now. It’s grown very, very quickly over the last eight to nine months. It’s called

Andrew: Okay.

Liam: So, she has no competitors whatsoever in this space. She cannot buy enough pool space to be able to get the students in there. She is a very, very nice person. But I told her eventually these competitors will be coming in. I’m trying to prepare her for that. She’s very nice. She’s very helpful. She was helping other people that wanted to teach mermaiding how the business works. I’m kind of just telling her like, “Don’t give away all your magic sauce because that’s a tactical advantage for you.”

Andrew: I see that you actually wear the mermaid outfit, the bottom part of the mermaid outfit.

Liam: Yes. Exactly. You should have her on the show, actually. I think she’d be a very interesting business model for you.

Andrew: Do you really want her to talk about all the things I’m going to ask her to talk about?

Liam: Maybe you should pass it by me beforehand.

Andrew: I called one of your advisors to check in on some of your information.

Liam: Oh, yeah?

Andrew: I said, “Yeah, I know Liam. I need to go deeper with Liam. I need to also make sure I’m not getting snowed by Liam because I like him.” So, I called one of your advisors, Shane Mac.

Liam: Yeah. Shane has been a great friend and an advisor to us for years. Fantastic guy.

Andrew: You know what Shane said?

Liam: What did Shane say?

Andrew: Shane gave me a lot of insight into how you guys work. I also asked him about funding. He said–I’m just reading a text message from my computer here. “Honestly, I don’t think they would be delusional enough to be great at raising money. Crazy to think but it’s hard to think of how weird the Valley is.” And he also says, “They shouldn’t raise money. They shouldn’t be delusional. They’re really good at optimizing A/B testing and making money.”

So, the big takeaway for me is you’re not delusional enough to raise money. And Shane’s a guy who taught other people, other entrepreneurs here in San Francisco how to raise money.

Liam: I think that Shane has actually got it. He got our ticket perfectly. We are not people who will communicate the long-term vision–we will communicate the long-term vision of what we’re doing, but we’re not somebody who’s going to just sort of like sell you smoke. We’re just going to–

Andrew: The fact that you would even consider it sell you smoke shows how different you are from other entrepreneurs here. Shane, I believe, would want you to talk about the big vision of how you’re going to change the world.

Liam: Right.

Andrew: You want to talk about just a few more tweaks and this product is going to be so much better. Next year you’re going to do 10 million in sales or in two years you’re going to do 10 million. That’s a difference.

Liam: Yeah. Exactly.

Andrew: It’s not like he wants you to be different. He’s just figuring, “That’s who these guys are.” So, you and Rob are coming together. My sense is also having followed you for a while, you had, great domain name. That’s where you spent a lot of your money. You also had Time Doctor. is where you could have sold a delusional dream, right? But Time Doctor is where you got traction. Real customers were using it. You were starting to get some sales and that’s when you decided you were going to double down, triple down and then continue. Am I right?

Liam: Yeah. We also were getting pretty significant traction and we actually still are getting traction in By the end of the first year, we were doing in just transactions–because it was a percentage-based model at that point–we were doing a little over $1 million run rate in that business. So, that was within the first year.

But we actually found out that most of these two-sided marketplaces, we weren’t paying attention to one of the most important metrics that any tech entrepreneur should be following, anybody that’s in SaaS, which is churn. We were not paying attention to churn. We were just saying 20 percent month over month growth. We were seeing fantastic growth over the year and then we thought to ourselves, “What’s going on here.” Growth has slowed down recently in the last two or three months and then it’s like, we’re adding 100 customers and then we’re losing 100 customers. “What’s going on here? What’s the process?”

Well, I started interviewing a lot of customers to find that out. It goes back to our grinding philosophy. I got on the phone and I started calling people, everyone that quit. “Why’d you quit?” I actually asked them two questions.

Andrew: This is

Liam: This is We do the same thing with Time Doctor. One of our jobs is to basically call up customers and find out two things from them. Why did they quit and what could we have done to not have you quit?

Andrew: Okay.

Liam: What could we have done to keep you? And those are such powerful questions to ask of your customers because it really, it’s not a stressful environment. You’re not trying to convince them to buy the product again or you’re not trying to convince them to keep–you’re not convincing them to keep their credit card information or anything like that. It is, “I’m trying to learn from you. We failed you basically as a supplier. We want to know why we failed so that we can do better for the next one.” Those are the types of things that you really do understand what the customer is feeling.

But with, one of our biggest problems it hey weren’t actually telling us the truth. So, they would not tell us when they actually took that employee and did a side deal with them.

Andrew: Oh, I see. Right. And that’s why they were churning even though they were continuing to build the relationship. Of course.

Liam: They were churning. They were just going somewhere else.

Andrew: Yeah. It registered on your system as churn but in reality they were sticking with their person if they were good.

Liam: Yes. Some of them were actually using Time Doctor very happily. We would see that pop up and we’d think, “Wait a minute… Didn’t we find that person for that guy? Okay. Well, what’s going on here?” So, that was an interesting insight that we had a big difference of understanding connected to what people were telling us and what they were actually doing. That was a big insight. For anybody that’s thinking about building a two-sided marketplace, you really have to get into the mindset of that customer.

Andrew: How do you do that? I’ve heard in past interviewers entrepreneurs say, “Call up your customers. Find out why they cancelled.” I tried calling up my customers that cancelled and I couldn’t get on the phone with them. Who answers a phone call from a random number? I then would leave a message. No one wants to call a guy back after they stopped working with him, especially if it’s the founder. It’s like calling up your girlfriend and telling her why you don’t want to date her anymore. It’s kind of awkward and there’s no upside to it.

Liam: There are a lot of people that didn’t return my phone calls. There are a lot of people that continually do not return my phone calls, but we get more of them. Here’s how we do it. I basically tell you, “What can I do to get on the phone with you for five minutes? Can I give you $20?” How much would understanding that real answer count for you?

So, we break our churn into two categories. We have voluntary and involuntary churn. So, involuntary churn is–actually just had this for a customer. One of the owners of the company got cancer, had to fight cancer and shut down the entire company. I could not control that.

The software was great. They say, “Your software is great. We’re going to come back to it after this is over, but for right now, we can’t keep buying this software.” So, those people you can’t control. That’s approximately, I would say, about a third of your churners, in our experience, are actually in that category.

The other two-thirds are the ones you can control. Those are the ones that are saying, “It’s buggy. I don’t like this feature. My employees don’t like it. I don’t like you as a person,” whatever it might be. Those are the things that you need to be able to register. But get to the real truth of it.

A lot of the times they’ll give you excuses that actually are involuntary or at first they’ll appear involuntary. I think you’re pretty good at that Andrew. You’re a pretty good interviewer. I would say you could probably get to the core of why somebody quit. It’s just a very uncomfortable conversation to have.

Andrew: And so how would you even get them on the phone? You’re saying you just offer them money.

Liam: I call people back a lot.

Andrew: What CRM are you using now? It’s not a flipbook anymore.

Liam: No. I have a human CRM now. I have an assistant that makes sure that I know exactly who I’m calling every single day, but I call those people back. I keep calling them. Always be nice. Always be respectful but get an answer. I actually tell my staff now that are actually running our retention team you don’t have to get a good answer or a bad answer. You just have to get an answer. That’s really what we’re looking for.

Andrew: You used to make those calls yourself. You’re not doing it anymore?

Liam: I’m doing it to a degree. I always think it’s important for the founder of the company to make sure that they understand the core of their customer and also how that customer is changing. So, maybe the needs of that customer are changing over time. As an example, one of our major additions and the reason for voluntary churn was that we lacked an API. That was something that we changed in the business. We added the API.

Andrew: We’re talking about Time Doctor now. The software lacked an API. Why did your customers want an API?

Liam: So, only about five percent of our customers actually wanted an API. It was really weird. We would call up these customers and we thought, “Okay, this is a problem that’s at the bottom of our totem pole.” But then we studied those customers a little bit more and we spent more time with them and we found out that they were some of the biggest customers in our business.

Andrew: Interesting.

Liam: We’re talking about multi-thousand to multi-hundred seat customers that set, “You didn’t have an API. So, we went with this solution.” Or, “You didn’t have an API and we needed to integrate this project management software and we couldn’t do it so we’re not using it.” It actually only accounted when I basically figured all the different categories of my churn, it only accounted for about five percent of the calls that I had but it accounted for more than 50 percent of the actual revenue that we lost.

Andrew: Oh wow.

Liam: So, we worked on that and we actually built now the next iteration of Time Doctor that we’re currently building because we need to scale to a million users. That’s kind of the next goal for Time Doctor, our current solution. Very borings tuff–we’re basically rebuilding the back end of the software. It is, at its core, just an API. And then we just plug stuff into it. That’s kind of coming from a marketing guy.

Andrew: I get it.

Liam: That’s how developers explain it to me.

Andrew: That’s a smart way to build software. Flickr is the first company I heard that did that. They set a path for other people to do it too. I’m wondering for you. What’s a use case that somebody would have to have an API for with Time Doctor?

Liam: So, we integrate with a lot of project management tools. So, as an example, we have tasks on Time Doctor. So, I am currently tracking “Interview with Andrew Warner” and that’s one of my tasks that I have in my workday. So, if I wanted to pull that in from Trello or Asana or Jira or any other type of solution–

Andrew: I see, pull it in from their–sorry, go ahead.

Liam: Project management is big to be able to–we basically say, “Would you like time tracking with Trello? Would you like time analytics with everything?”

Andrew: You already do that. You connect with Trello. You connect with Jira.

Liam: Correct.

Andrew: I see. I see that that’s one example of how somebody would want that with whatever system they might have.

Liam: A lot of large companies, software like Microsoft SharePoint and SAP are horrible pieces of software, but enterprise companies love to integrate with it. The first questions that I’ll be asked is, “Do you integrate with SAP?” “Yes, we do.” The API can do it. We’ve done it before. Let’s do it now. And that really changed how our customers were looking at our software.

Andrew: So, speaking of grinding, you did 60 phone calls you told Jeremy Weisz, our producer, you asked people why they quit. You broke their reasons into involuntary, which you explained could be something like cancer, and voluntary. For voluntary, you had three reasons, one is bugs, second no API. What’s the third reason somebody would quit for an involuntary reason–excuse me, that’s voluntary reason, for a voluntary reason?

Liam: For voluntary reasons. So, the third one is resistance. So, the employees–very few people want to have their metrics tracked. And that is a major problem that we see. It’s something that we can’t escape. We’re primarily tracking your metrics. Rob sees my metrics. Everyone in the company sees my metrics. We publish that information publicly, actually. We had employees that were quite resistant to that, obviously.

Andrew: They don’t want everyone else in the office to see what they’re up to.

Liam: Or they don’t want their boss to be able to see what they’re doing. And to be honest with you, in the vast majority of cases, I had a customer today actually that showed me some screenshots of “Orange is the New Black” for about six hours throughout a workday. That’s something that is unacceptable in my opinion for an employee who’s working remotely. So, that’s why employees don’t want that type of monitoring or analytics within their company.

So, what we had to do was figure out how do we actually restructure our mindset? We did this based off of–we ran an experiment where we did NPS score. So, that’s Net Promoter Score. For anyone that doesn’t know, it’s how happy are you with this software.

Andrew: And how likely are you to tell someone else about it?

Liam: Correct. So, our employers basically, our customers, they love the software. We have like top of class NPS score. And then our employees, what we call the users, they hate the software. They just absolutely despise it. So, we recognize that we should focus not on the customers so much that we put all of our energy into, but instead, focus on the users and try to make those employees lives as easy as humanly possible.

If you’re going to use this type of software and we know that you’re initially resistant towards it. How can we show you that this will actually make you more productive with your workday? So, you can actually spend less time working and more time doing things and moving the business forward.

So, that was a big shift for us and after that, we actually added in a whole bunch of user-friendly features, not customer-friendly features, but user-friendly features that really changed the way the business–

Andrew: For example, what’s one of those?

Liam: So, as an example, we gave the users a lot more access to their own data. So, we’ve now implemented the ability for users to be able to delete some of their screenshot data. So, if they see something that maybe you’ve been putting in some credit card data or maybe you’ve got an interesting email from your wife or something like that that came in that maybe your employer shouldn’t see, you can now delete those screenshots automatically.

We’ve also added in other features like we don’t produce the pop-ups as much. We can tweak how annoying they become. I personally love them because it gets me back to work. As you’ve seen before, sometimes I have these pop-ups that popup all the time. But other employees don’t like that.

Andrew: The popup that says, “Hey, you should be doing this? Are you doing it? Why are you doing something else?”

Liam: “You’re playing ‘World of Warcraft’ right now. Are you really doing interview with Andrew Warner?”

Andrew: Let me take a pause here and talk about my second sponsor, which is HostGator. And let me ask you this. Imagine I gave someone in my audience a HostGator account and sent them to and said, “Look, you could,” oh, we should actually do this, shouldn’t we? You get a HostGator account. You can hire someone from to build anything for you.

What’s one business that someone could create with nothing but a HostGator account and some staffing that they get from Really keep it inexpensive. I see you’ve got a tele-sales specialist for $3 an hour. You’ve got a web designer for $10.70. Keep it really light. We want to start an MVP and build a business up. We have nothing but a HostGator account and some staff time from

Liam: I actually had a customer that did something very interesting about two or three weeks ago. So, this was a weekend business for him. And he has a developer through, a front-end developer. So he put together a very simple WordPress site. Maybe I’m killing his business after this happens, but that’s fine. He put together a WordPress site and he decided to put together products that had a 25-year guarantee.

So, he really likes products that last a long time. So, he got some knives and a water purifier and these things that last a long time. I’m not going to tell you the URL. But he put together this URL and then he started advertising it on Reddit for particular subreddits that people will connect with. So, I think it was like male style websites and architectural subreddits and all these other kinds of things.

So, he put it together. He bought some advertising. He didn’t buy his own products. He just put Amazon links up on everything. And the guy, I don’t know how much HostGator is, it’s probably quite affordable. He made a couple hundred dollars from affiliate sales in just that weekend. He made back his entire cost in a weekend. Now it’s just a passive thing and now he’s trying to tweak the traffic connected it.

Andrew: Is he writing any original content with it?

Liam: No. The beauty of it is that you can purchase Reddit advertising.

Andrew: So, he just bought Reddit ads and they go to his site and from his site they go to an affiliate link on Amazon. Why doesn’t he just directly send them Amazon?

Liam: Because he wanted to communicate exactly what that brand was. “Here are 25 products that got that 25 year or more guarantee and these are the types of products that you’re interested in.” And they’ll click around on five or six, but the moment that they click on one, their flagged with that Amazon affiliate link. So, he takes a percentage of whatever they do business on.

Andrew: Even if they end up buying themselves underwear or a new wheel or a new quadcopter or something, he gets a share of that as long as he sends them over.

Liam: Exactly. That’s exactly it.

Andrew: That’s a fantastic idea. Think of how simple this can be. You go to You have your website up and running in minutes because that’s what these guys are good at. I interviewed someone earlier today. That’s why I’m wearing the same shirt I had for the interview you probably saw a couple of days before. I record all my interviews on the same day. Anyway, this guy said he goes to HostGator, he buys a bunch of domain names and he say, “I can always build a website on them later on.”

Liam: Yeah.

Andrew: It’s that easy. You get started right away with You get 30 percent off. These ideas are out there. You might as well try one. As soon as you try one, even if its’ not a good idea, you might think it’s stupid and then immediately come up with something better because once you try something, when you don’t like it, you think of how you can tweak it. It’s so much easier to adjust after you get started.

Go to They’ll give 30 percent off, a 45-day money back guarantee. If you don’t think they’re as good as I say they are–and I think you will love them–but if you don’t, fine, 45-day money back guarantee. They’re that good. What else did I want to say about them? Nothing. Let’s leave it there. HostGator–I’m grateful to them for sponsoring Mixergy.

All right. Let’s talk pricing a little bit and then we should talk about how you got customers in the door.

Liam: Yeah.

Andrew: You had an issue with Rob about pricing, two different opinions. What were the opinions?

Liam: So, for us, it was really… Pricing for us, there were actually two stories connected to it. Number one, the biggest thing that we wanted to do was I wanted to get the product out the door really, really quickly. So, if it would have been my vote–and Rob is the CEO. I think in a cofounder relationship, you have to have a cofounder because it’s really difficult to go through this process on your own.

But more importantly, you have to have somebody who is a CEO and somebody who is a CMO or a CTO or whatever it might be. The CEO has the final call. So, I’ve always given that to Rob, but I fight him all the time about it.

Andrew: That sounds healthy.

Liam: We have respectful conversations with regards to this issue. So, I wanted to get the product out. I wanted to start charging for it immediately. And he did not. So, he had at that point what I would define as–this was before Eric Ries wrote his book on minimum viable product and all that great stuff which I think is a fantastic lesson. I wish we had been able to learn it at that point, but we couldn’t.

So, we were constantly putting off the release of Time Doctor. I would say we put it out about six months too late. We probably would have had an extra, I’d say, extra $100,000 MRR had we not done that and moved so slowly.

Andrew: If you would have just launched something quick and dirty and improved it later.

Liam: I think the most important thing you can do–everyone will hate your MVP. The initial version of Time Doctor, I actually still have it. I have the desktop app and I have the interface. We put it in a very dark part of our server just so I can remember how bad it was.

We now have a much better app. But in two years, we’ll have a much better app after that. That’s the reality of the situation. It will always get better. If you’re thinking right now, “We’ve got these customers and they’re using the app on a daily basis. It’s free right now but maybe we should stick with that because we don’t have enough users,” you have enough users. Start charging for it. That’s where you’re really going to start to iterate.

When we actually did switch to paid, it was really funny. I have this graph of our metrics because we track everything in our organization. It’s one of the fundamental components of our company culture. We had less than, I think, six percent of our customers that were using it for the free version switch to the paid version, but our hours tracked doubled because people were actually using it now.

It was valuable to them. Even if we were charging them nothing, it was valuable to them. They were sending us nasty emails all the time, “This doesn’t work. That doesn’t work. This needs to be improved. Your software sucks. I’m going to leave.” And this was all information that we weren’t really getting before because they were looking at the software saying, “It’s kind of interesting but we don’t really care about fixing it because there’s nothing lost if it’s not fixed.”

Andrew: I see one of the earlier versions of the site. I remember actually seeing this when I interviewed Rob. It’s written very much like a copywriter would write it. “This unique software may help you recover 11 weeks of wasted time each year.” And then there’s a lot of text designed to get you to take the tour or sign up for a free account.

Liam: Yeah. As opposed to our current version of the website, which is basically, “Sign up.” If you go to Time Doctor right now, test it yourself, invite your team, go.

Andrew: Actually, the one that I saw–and I thought this was clever and frankly, I could imagine other people wanting to copy this its’ so good–it says, “Andrew three questions to see if Time Doctor is right for you?” And you’ve got the perfect person to test it because if someone just typed in Time Doctor, they came in for a reason. They heard about it. It’s not like you’re selling this to cold traffic.

Liam: Yes. That actually has been grabbed by quite a few websites.

Andrew: That really bites, doesn’t it? I’d get those hockey players on them.

Liam: I’m very happy that they’ve been able to figure this out.

Andrew: I’m not happy.

Liam: You’re not happy?

Andrew: No. I’m not happy that somebody else would copy you. The only thing I’d be happy with is that if my team copied you. Then I would be really excited about it.

Liam: I’m more than happy to let you borrow that one. For us, that split test was actually quite interesting. It increased our bounce rates considerably. So, when we ran that split test, we found that a lot of customers were leaving. But it only left the ones that were going to pay us and that’s it.

Andrew: I’m going to describe what it says. Really crisp, clear letter, “Do you manage other people?” There’s a yes button and a no button. If you manage other people, I click yes. As soon as click yes, the second question pops up quickly. “Do you think your people could be more productive?” Yes. “Would you like to demo Time Doctor? Time Doctor will show you exactly how much time…”

Let me click no on that. “Alas, well Time Doctor may not be a good fit, but if you’d like to see if it will work for you, browse the site.” Then I get to browse the site where oh, I see. Now I fill in the form. I have a team. I continue. You take my employees’ email address and so on and we get started with no credit card.

Liam: So, once you’ve put in those three questions, we’ve also started to identify who you are as a customer. So, we take those questions into consideration as you’re going through your signup flow. So, I know maybe you’re just testing it for yourself. So, you’ll say testing it for yourself. But you originally in those first questions said, “I manage people.”

So, you lied to us and we know and we actually are re-orienting our email campaigns to be able to make sure that we’re communicating the right information to you, which is, “I do manage people. I feel a little be apprehensive about getting my employees to use it.” So, my job over the next month is to be able to make you feel good enough about actually inviting your employees.

Andrew: I see. They really do have a team but they lied and said it’s only for them because they want to try it on their own without integrating it to their whole team and you as a company need to understand that that’s how they think and deal with the fact that they have a team but also a big discomfort about working with someone new with their team.

Liam: Correct.

Andrew: That’s a very convoluted issue.

Liam: Yeah. Our biggest metric is how many employees are you adding and then are those employees actually tracking their time. If that’s not happening, then we aren’t getting paid. So, we need to be able to understand what those customers are going through. What I mean by customers are employers and what are the users going through, i.e. the employees.

Andrew: I see you also use Intercom mail to communicate with your people based on activities they’ve done.

Liam: I think we were one of the first customers to sign up for Intercom. We got in for free and then they charged us a really small amount. The value that you get is absolutely fantastic.

Andrew: Such beautiful software. Intercom allows you to figure out what your customers are doing on your site and communicate with them based on what they’ve done or haven’t done.

Liam: Exactly.

Andrew: So, good. So, how did you get people in the door?

Liam: So, for us, it was I think that Shane actually, again, hit us perfectly or identified us perfectly, which is we grinded a lot. We did a lot of blog posts. We did a lot of forum posting when that was big. We do everything and anything we can to be able to just sort of acquire that next customer. There was no real spurt. There was no explosion of traffic. It’s been very steady, linear growth from the beginning.

So, I think that you really have to sort of–sometimes people undervalue the ability to just sit down and say, “I’ve acquired two signups today. My goal is to acquire three signups tomorrow.” And then the next goal is–so, our goal is to be able to increase signups by 10 to 20 signups–or, sorry, grow 10 to 20 percent month over month. That’s really our modus operandi and our goal. We really focus on that exactly.

When you look at the logistics of that, it is how are you going to build that–how are you going to build that funnel and just have every single day, every week are you going to put out a blog post? Are you going to investigate a new source of traffic? Are you going to run another split test that may make your software a little bit stickier, those types of things. It’s a very long process. But it is a grinding process but I think that really is what we did at the beginning and even now today as a company.

Andrew: What worked for you in the beginning?

Liam: For us it was probably getting those initial employees in and being able to say, “Okay, how are you using the software?” and then trying to get some employees who maybe they were using Time Doctor at one point for one employer and moving on to another employer, getting them to actually use Time Doctor in their next job. That was absolutely fantastic for us. It was kind of almost like almost a viral component to the software.

Andrew: How do you do that? How do you get an employee–we keep calling them employees, but they’re often not even full-time employees.

Liam: Yeah.

Andrew: How do you get a worker to take software to the next company, especially when that software is going to track them and send their boss at the new company all kinds of information of what they’ve done?

Liam: So, it actually depends what country they’re in, which is probably a very unsexy explanation from your audience, but I’m going to give it to you anyways. North American workers generally won’t share the software. Employees in Southeast Asia on the other hand, will share the software. Their work culture is connected to remote employee management. It’s a fundamental component of a way that they work. I think five percent of the Philippines economy is now entirely for remote freelancers. So, that’s a huge number.

Andrew: That is huge.

Liam: That was back in 2013. So, 5 percent of your work force, more specifically 4.8 percent of your workforce, is remote freelancers. How do they reliably get paid? Well, one of the best places to get reliably paid is to have all of those metrics in place so that you can go to the employer and say, “I actually did work for 8 hours and 22 and here’s the measurement. Pay me my money.”

Andrew: I see.

Liam: So, we really focused on that. We sponsored every meetup you could possibly think of with regards to remote work in the Philippines and Southeast Asia and we’re continuously investing in that market. I’m actually flying to Manila in two days and I’m going to be there for the next month because that’s where the customers are. So, my job is to be able to work for our clients and reach out to a lot of different users, i.e. workers.

Andrew: So, meet ups have worked for you, sponsoring them. What else? Finding ways for your workers to pass the software to their next employer–content marketing, has that done anything for you?

Liam: It’s been an interesting–even connecting content to a particular–sorry, connecting content to the user base as opposed to the employer base has been a big jump for us. So, as an example, before that point we were always writing content. We were always doing inbound marketing targeting the employer. How do you manage your remote employees? How do you make sure that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing? All these types of things.

After that, once we really understood how important the users were, the workers, we started reorienting some of our content saying, “How do you always get paid as a freelancer?” We’ve actually got a great series on how do you get paid as a freelancer? How do you make sure that your employer is not going to rip you off? How do you make sure there’s a pay schedule in place so you can do a little bit of testing with that employer make sure you get paid?

These were all things that we just sort of reoriented and we communicate not just through our inbound methods but also in our outreach to those customers, those users to be able to get them to use the software and share it with their other employees.

Andrew: I see Warrior Forum sends you guys some traffic. I was looking to see what the conversations were there and it’s questions like, “How do I track what my virtual assistant is doing and make sure that I’m paying for time that they’re actually using?” Does it feel a little bit like big brother to say to somebody who’s working for you, “You have to install Time Doctor so I know how much you’re working?”

Liam: I’m not going to say that it isn’t. I would say that there is definitely that component to the software. That is a reality that I think is connected to remote work. So, I think there are actually two different types of workers. There are workers that are really passionate about–maybe I’m just going to focus on tech startups. There are people like me, where I’m going to track all of my metrics because I’m using the software or I’m a founder of the company and I’m going to use this software every signal day. And I’m interested in understanding my own metrics and I’m putting 100 percent of my energy into the business. There’s no 98 percent for me. I’m putting everything I have into the business.

And then there’s someone else that they’re just doing a job. They’re going in there doing their eight hours. They’re getting out. That’s the employee that needs those types of metrics tracked because in a regular office setting, they would be getting tracked. They’d have a manager. They’d have all these types of things. If people were paying “World of Warcraft” on the computer in the office, the managers would see that very quickly and say, “Hey, what’s going on?”

So, this basically removes the manager from that process and allows you to facilitate that process a little bit easier. It is always a touchy subject and we really focus on saying, “If you’re going to tracking software, you might as well use the tracking software that actually makes you more productive.” But there always is that component to it.

Andrew: It seems like you’re also getting a lot of customers, of course, from That’s the biggest source of customers as far as I can see when I was looking at it. Well, no it’s not.

Liam: It’s a major source, but probably not the top source of traffic for us.

Andrew: I can see this last month Entrepreneur Magazine sent you more traffic. Capterra and Warrior Forum sent you more traffic, at least from what I can see looking at SimilarWeb. Let me ask you this one final question. Let me ask you this–Shane Mac has shares in your business. You guys are not funded. How does Shane Mac get all this stuff? How does he end up with shares in your business?

Liam: He’s nice. He’s a nice guy. So, Shane is one of those people that I will invite Shane down to the Miami house. So, Rob’s got a very nice house in Miami. Rob’s got a bunch of different businesses. As you probably know from interviewing him before, he’s got his toes in a lot of different things. So, we had Shane down about six months ago right before he went for a very important presentation down in San Francisco.

That guy just gets me motivated. He is the person that is going to say, “You know what? You guys are doing…” in the four years that we’ve been working on Time Doctor, we’ve seen companies go up. We’ve seen companies get a lot of funding, go really high, implode and just fall right off. I’ve seen that happen time and time again. Whereas us, we’re kind of the tortoise.

We’re the guys that are saying, “We’re going to make sure we’re doubling every single year. Forget about venture capital.” “Oh, you want to give me a term sheet for $50 million?” “Don’t worry about it. I really wouldn’t know what to do with the money.” So, that’s my focus, trying to figure out how do we get to that next step?

Andrew: What does he do? He motivates you?

Liam: That guy is just great at being able to–he understands product very well. He also understands strategic planning. So, he understands for us what we should get into and what we should get in and out of. So, we’ll do sort of every 6 to 12 months, we’ll bring him down to Miami. We’ll hang out in the Miami house for a day or two and just chat about what we’re going to do for the next year.

It’s a very good way for us to touch base with somebody who understands the industry completely, understands tech and understands what we’re trying to do and understands remote work but is disconnected enough that he’s able to give us some bold moves and he’s actually given us a lot of bold pieces of advice, like as an example, “Maybe you should just shut down taking a percentage in” And that’s terrifying.

Andrew: Was that his idea?

Liam: It was in part his idea. Yes. That’s something you look at that and you think to yourself, “We’re running a lot of money through that right now. Maybe we should be doing this as a business idea. This is a bad business decision in the short term. But in the long term, who will survive? Will it be us in ten years that’s still here or will it be somebody else?” And my money is on me. It obviously is.

Andrew: Literally.

Liam: My money is in the company. That’s what really Shane provides to me, that ability

Andrew: I would like to interview him on Mixergy. I don’t think it makes sense for him to do it because his company is just getting going, but I also don’t yet know how to do an interview with him. The thing about him is that he is so chill all the time, walking around in his flip-flops, maybe shorts and jeans and a t-shirt, baseball cap on. He raised $4 million. The idea for his company was a no-go. He shut that thing down–chilling out.

I would be sweating it. You have all these investors waiting for the next move. You have stuff to get done. I’d be worried. He’s just kind of chilling out trying to figure out the next thing. He might be on a jet with some multi-millionaire who sold his company and he’s just hanging out with them still being fully confident. And the fact that he even raised that much money–I don’t know what he had when he raised that much money.

Liam: He had nothing. He had his flip-flops.

Andrew: I got a text message right now. He runs Assist. I’ve got to figure it out. He runs Assist. I guess now it’s working because I just got a text massage from Assist saying, “Hey, Andrew, welcome, I’m your new assistant. To start…” I won’t read it on the air. But now his software is finally working. Assist is going to be a concierge service that lives in your whatever. So, it’s now living in my textbox and it’s working.

I just don’t know how to do an interview with him. I still don’t know why you guys gave him shares. What did he say beforehand? You’re very deliberate people. I have to run home to my nanny. We’ve been going now for an hour and half. So, let’s close it out with that. What was it, as deliberate, thoughtful people–did you get sucked in because he’s so cool and you thought, “We want to associate with someone cool. What is it going to take?”

Liam: Maybe that was a little bit of it. Shane’s a pretty cool guy. But we also are not stupid. We’re not going to give somebody shares in the company because we’re actually making a long-term commitment to that person. He is making the same long-term commitment back to us.

Andrew: Less so.

Liam: Yeah, I would say that. I would say with Shane, he also provides me a really great referee between me and Rob when we have major disagreements. He’s able to navigate it.

Andrew: You didn’t know that before. What was it about him before that that made you say that, that made you say, “I like this guy enough, we should give him some shares?”

Liam: I felt like Shane was a nice guy that wasn’t going to screw up. There are a lot of people out there that are going to screw you in the world. I think that he is a guy that at our current point, “Maybe we want to raise money. Who’s better than raising money than this guy? Not many people.” We also wanted somebody that was really committed to our vision, which was enabling people to work wherever they want whenever they want.

He was 100 percent committed to that vision. I remember us going deep into the night talking about things. This is actually before we asked him to become an advisor. He was a friend first and an advisor second. I think that’s important, particularly when you have an advisory ship. Get friends that can just–he would do it, whether we were going to give him shares or not. That’s probably the real answer.

Andrew: I get that. You said, “We’re not freeloaders. Let’s give him something.”

Liam: Yeah. He was just constantly–we have other advisors as well. They’re always incredibly helpful and just people that I could say, “Hey, Shane, I’m going to Miami.” And in 24 hours he just jumps on a plane and he’s there. So, that’s kind of Shane Mac, in a breath.

Andrew: All right. I’m getting a little bit of an understanding but I still haven’t fully figured it out. Maybe frankly part of my problem is I need a much clearer, very rational answer and it doesn’t come down to that.

Liam: I think with advisors, that’s your long ball play. Those are the people that you give a little bit of equity to, not a lot. But you give them a little bit of equity and you really want them all to share in your success as well. So, they’re putting in all this time and you want to be able to make sure they’re kind of with you through that process and just to formalize the process of being able to say, “You’ve been giving us real help on this, looking at our user experience, getting a couple of meetings with investors. Why don’t we just give you a little bit of equity?”

And nothing changed after we gave him the equity. He just did exactly the same thing. I actually kind of liked that, that nothing really changed after that point. We were doing exactly the same thing. But I felt better about it.

Andrew: It does help. If you’re bootstrapping and you’re outside of the ecosystem, to have somebody who’s fully in the ecosystem, I think I can call him up about any night and know he’s doing something within the tech startup ecosystem.

Liam: Absolutely.

Andrew: All right. So, here’s what we learned. Grinding it out is really painful but it works over time. Two non-developers can spend time talking to their customers and working a little at a time to keep bringing in more of them. If you ask your customers why they cancelled, you have to be willing to understand that they’re not going to tell you the truth right away, if ever.

But if you make enough phone calls, you can get them to reveal what the problems are. What else did I learn here? I learned sometimes you have to kill the thing that’s producing money for the thing that’s actually the long-term viable business.

Liam: Absolutely. And that’s sometimes a painful decision. There’s a lot of emotion connected to it. You need to remove those emotions and you think quantitatively instead of qualitatively sometimes.

Andrew: You’re taking a salary now?

Liam: Yeah. I’m taking a very comfortable salary because the company is successful. To be honest with you, a founder doesn’t really deserve to take a salary until they have made the company successful and everyone in the company gets paid.

Andrew: All right. The website is–there are two of them– if you want to hire people or see how helps you hire people, helps companies hire people and number two, we’ve got Time Doctor. Even if you want to use it on your own to make yourself more productive, Time Doctor will work for you. If you want to make your team more productive, it seems like it’s even better, right?

Liam: Exactly.

Andrew: We got it all in there. What was the big stat you wanted to make sure everyone got from all this?

Liam: $100 million a year in payments and 1 million hours a month in tracking. We’re just getting started.

Andrew: All right. And the one I like is several million dollars in revenue a year.

Liam: Exactly.

Andrew: Congratulations on the success. Good to have you back on here. Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. If you like this interview, please, grab your friend’s phone and subscribe them to my podcast on their phone. It doesn’t matter if they listen. Apparently, I still get credit for the downloads.

Frankly, how could they not listen? We have good guests like Liam here. We’re going to change their lives the way I just changed your life. Put it on your friends’ phones. Require your cofounder to listen to Mixergy interviews. You can even suggest ones to them. Spread the word. We are going to help entrepreneurs everywhere.

Liam: One other thing I want to add is me and Rob, we only listen to Mixergy. That is only–we’ll do long car rides and it will be nine hours of Mixergy the entire way. So, it really is an absolutely amazing product. We love the interviews. We’ve both subscribed to your membership as well. It’s probably the only place that we go and we know the information is going to be really good and really deep from personal experience.

Andrew: You notice I shut up as you said that. I didn’t want to step over your lines. Thank you so much for doing it. Thank you guys for being here on Mixergy over the years. Congratulations on your success. Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. I hope more and more listeners will build great companies and come back here to do interviews. I’m looking forward to seeing you guys. Bye.

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