Building an eHarmony for the manufacturing industry

One thing I’ve noticed over recent years is more and more entrepreneurs selling physical products. And if you’ve heard any of my interviews with those founders, you know that it’s really tough to find a manufacturer for your products.

Well, joining me is an entrepreneur who thought he could come up with a better way. He looked around and said, “What if there was an eHarmony for the manufacturing industry? Someone who would take a creative with an idea and match them up with the qualified manufacturer.” So that’s what he created.

Michael Lizanich is the founder of Manufacturefy. They use artificial intelligence to connect manufacturers with products across all industries around the world. I invited him here to talk about how he came up with this idea, how the idea is doing, how he’s getting manufacturing companies, how he’s vetting them, all that stuff.

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Michael Lizanich

Michael Lizanich

Manufacturefy

Michael Lizanich is the founder of Manufacturefy, a platform that intelligently connects manufacturers directly with products.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters, you know me. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And one of the things that I noticed over the most recent years is that there are more and more entrepreneurs who I interview here who are selling physical products. And if you’ve watched any or heard any of my interviews with them, you know that it’s really tough to find a company to manufacture your products for you. So many will end up . . . One case, I remember one guy just clearly shut down because he couldn’t manufacturer his products. And other cases, people have made products, they’ve got the first version, it absolutely sucked, they had to figure out how to do it again and all while paying and spending a lot of time waiting for this to come to fruition.

Well, joining me is an entrepreneur who said, “I think I can come up with a better way.” He looked around and said, “You know, what if there was an eHarmony for the manufacturing industry? Someone who would take a creative with an idea and match them up with the qualified manufacturer.” And so that’s what he created. His name is Michael Lizanich. He is the founder of Manufacturefy. They use artificial intelligence to connect manufacturers with products across all industries around the world. I invited him here to talk about how he came up with this idea, how the idea is doing, how he’s getting manufacturing companies, how he’s vetting them, all that stuff.

And we can do it thanks to two phenomenal sponsors . . . Oh, and I just want to find out about his childhood. This is a guy who’s created businesses going way back to his childhood and I just like that spirit. I find sometimes that listening to somebody talk about what they’re doing today, listening to their brilliant big idea is exciting, but also a little intimidating. Going back to the childhood story, well, that just reconnects me with how exciting entrepreneurship was and is and could still be. And so I want to find out a little bit about that.

We could do it thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. You’ve heard me talk about them forever, two really good companies. The first, if you need a website hosted . . . Man, I’ve been . . . With just a simple website, I’ve been traveling the world doing interviews, publishing on a simple WordPress website. If you want to do something as simple as that, go to HostGator, they’ll host you right. I’ll talk about those in a moment. And then I’ll tell you about Toptal who past guests and I have been texting about because, well, I’ll tell you his story. Toptal is a place to go when you’re looking to hire phenomenal developers. First, Michael, good to have you here.

Michael: Yeah. Thank you for having me, Andrew.

Andrew: I want to talk dollars and cents. How much are you guys producing in revenue so far?

Michael: We’ve currently produced about half a million dollars in revenue.

Andrew: And that’s . . . Since when?

Michael: Not . . . earlier this summer.

Andrew: So we’re talking about, like, under six months and you’re producing half a million dollars. And that’s . . . Is that right, first of all?

Michael: Yes, that is correct.

Andrew: And that’s not just for the money that you’ve helped take from creators and send to manufacturers, you’re saying that is your cut of what’s been done on your platform. Is that right?

Michael: That is correct.

Andrew: Wow-wee, very impressive. Do you have an example of a product that was matched with a manufacturer on your platform?

Michael: Yes. So a great example that somebody brought an idea or a product that somebody brought us recently it was a new sort of shoe. It was a new women or new women’s shoe that they wanted to have brought to the market. And they had this idea of this new sort of, you know, different odd sort of shoe, is the best way to describe it. And they were having troubles finding a qualified manufacturer. So they . . . Long story short, they . . .

Andrew: What was it about the shoe?

Michael: Honestly, it was a shoe that had some secret storage compartments to it.

Andrew: Okay. Got it. A woman’s shoe with secret storage compartment.

Michael: Correct, correct.

Andrew: Got it. So you can put, like, some extra money or something like that in there.

Michael: Exactly. So it is an interesting component, but I’m sitting on the backend of the site, I’m able to sort of see all different sorts of products that stick out. And this was definitely one that sort of I thought would be, would be an interesting one to share on. But long story short, the woman and creator of this product, she, unfortunately, had many speed bumps and roadblocks when trying to produce this product. And she was a . . . She’s a single mom and unfortunately did not have the financial capabilities of finding a manufacturer. And she was reliant on paying these independent third parties a fee to find these . . . to find her manufacturing facility. And she lost . . . Each time she went to a third-party, she, unfortunately, lost the money that she . . . And deposited that gave them.

Andrew: Wait. She would go to the manufacturer say, “Create my shoe for me,” and somehow they would take her money but not create her shoe?

Michael: That is correct. She was going through the traditional component of a third-party as the industry labels as a sourcing agent.

Andrew: Got it. That’s what I’ve been hearing a little bit of in my interviews. So what happens is, if I don’t know how to manufacture something, I would go find a sourcing agent, they would have connections to the factories, but basically, they have relationships with them that matter more than I do. And they’ll introduce me to the right factory and that’s how I get my stuff created. Is that right?

Michael: That is correct.

Andrew: And so why would that lead her to lose her money?

Michael: So the one interesting component, and this is sort of how I came up with the Manufacturefy idea, was when you are wanting to go receive a quote, these third-party sourcing agents require a deposit. They don’t want it . . . They just don’t go out to the market and go to their current relationships to find a manufacturer just to get a quote from them. They also sort of want a quote . . . They want a deposit within that time period for all the time they spent with it. And what they sort of do is hang in front of your face that, “Here, why don’t you give us a $10,000 deposit, we’ll go find you a quote, and then once we get back to your quote, if you move forward with your order, great, we’ll take that deposit away from your future order?” But a lot of the times as these quotes are so high or not what people were expecting, so right there, $10,000 deposit as example was just flushed down the toilet.

Andrew: And so if I work with your platform, I don’t need to make that deposit, I can just find a manufacturer?

Michael: Correct. When you’re able to . . .

Andrew: What happens if you suck? What happens if I asked for, let’s say . . . So one of the things that I’ve been loving is all these attachments in my GoPro, I keep it in my pocket all the time. I’m running a marathon in every continent, so I carry the GoPro with me for training, for the marathon itself. But it sucks for mics. And so I’ve been thinking all these different ways that you can mount mics and other stuff on it without adding bolt to it. If I come to you and you guys manufacture this for me and I want to start selling the product or your manufacturers if they suck. If they actually make it so that it doesn’t connect properly to my device, what’s my recourse?

Michael: So the way that we develop Manufacturefy is that is unfortunate . . . That is all on to the user. So we’re just . . .

Andrew: It’s on me?

Michael: It’s on . . . Yes, that is on you. So there are actually a couple of ways that we go about this. There are two manufacturers on Manufacturefy. One of them is a traditional manufacturer and then the other one is another manufacturer that is Manufacturefy verified. If you choose a Manufacturefy verified manufacturer, of course, that is then on our part and that is something that we have to repair on our end because it was a verified manufacturer for us.

Andrew: So then I get my money back or you work with them and tell them, “Hey, produced this the way that you promised Andrew”?

Michael: Yeah. We work with them directly, and we also put a complete halt to all orders that they have outstanding.

Andrew: Wow.

Michael: Which is . . . And that’s a big deal because they think that they might have received through Manufacturefy $5 million worth orders and they gyp you for your 10,000 $10,000 order, right there we stop additional $5 million in income that they would potentially be able to receive.

Andrew: Right, right. Okay. Great. I can’t believe no one’s come up with this idea before. But let’s go back and understand you a little bit, then understand why you came up with this idea, and understand why no one’s done this before and how you put it together. But I just love it. I’ve been noticing that this is a problem for . . . I actually don’t think you should call it connect . . . I don’t think you should say connect products with manufacturers. I like the idea of connect creators with manufacturers, that there are creators out there that are starving for help to create their products and they just keep getting, if not ripped off, then they still have to deal with the problems of manufacturing. And I’ve noticed the pain point, you’re the one who’s solving it. Let’s go back to your childhood and understand how you got here. What do your parents do?

Michael: My dad is a real estate developer and my mom is interior designer in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Andrew: When you say real estate developer, what type of real estate?

Michael: Actually, my dad is a residential and commercial real estate developer.

Andrew: So you watched him come up with . . . Like, find a plot of land, develop a real building, put it up there and then rent it out?

Michael: Correct. Or sell it. Yes. So I was . . . And that was sort of what our family background was about what was within real estate. My dad didn’t . . . My dad did not graduate from a four-year university. My mom did not graduate from a four-year university. And both of them are entrepreneurs. They both work for themselves.

Andrew: Did your mom also end up owning a bedding and linen store at one point?

Michael: Yes, she does.

Andrew: She did.

Michael: Yes. She currently was an interior designer, and then now she does interior design and owns a high-end bedding and linen service in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Andrew: So was the real estate business growing up so high and low that at times you guys were suffering as a family?

Michael: Yes, that is correct. So, unfortunately . . . There’s a lot of unfortunates that hate brining up.

Andrew: Be open. Let’s do it.

Michael: But through . . . When the economic recession hit, there was sort of the three top markets that got hit the worst was number one was Las Vegas, number two was Phoenix, Arizona, and number three I believe was Orlando, Florida. We were in . . . I was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. So, unfortunately, we were . . . We didn’t lose our house, we didn’t lose our cars, but we did suffer greatly and immensely where we were . . . It was times were very tough.

Andrew: What was . . . Give me an example of the lowest point. I know for me there were a couple of things. Number one, I’ve talked about before our phone was just cut off. It was so embarrassing that we couldn’t make a call. It was solved quickly because the phone company bill is not that bad, but gives you an indication. The other one was we had no health insurance, so my parents were constantly in fear of us falling and hurting ourselves and . . .

Michael: Oh, no.

Andrew: Or worse, falling not really hurting ourselves thinking maybe we did, calling an ambulance or something and then having to go and pay thousands to the hospital for nothing. That was a huge issue. So every little illness instead of saying, “Well, how are you feeling? Are you okay?” it’s like, “I don’t know that you need to actually go see a doctor. I think you’re going to be okay without it.” What’s your memory?

Michael: I don’t know what . . . I mean, it was bad, but not like that.

Andrew: You guys had health insurance the whole time.

Michael: Yes, we did. We did. We did have health insurance. But I’m not going to forget this. My mom was coming home on our way home from work and she says, “Michael, could you please call the pizza place and order a couple of pizzas for us?”

Andrew: Yeah.

Michael: And I was like, “Okay. All right.” I believe I was in junior high, high school at the time, so all I did was eat, eat, eat, eat. So I thought, “Okay. Well, I want this type of pizza. I want this type of pizza. I want this type of pizza.” And then the whole family want, like, a cheese or something. So I got . . . My mom came home and she scolded me because I ordered $80 worth of Domino’s pizza and freaking out about it and I was like, “What’s going on?” And she was just so upset. I think all she said was, “We did not need to spend that $80 in pizza.” And that’s all she said. That’s all she says. Later on as time developed and time went through and went on, I asked my mom, “I remember at one time I did that.” And she said yes, I did. She says, “I vividly remember that because that was a time when that $80 worth of pizza was all the $80 I had.”

Andrew: So you blew the last dollar on pizza.

Michael: On pizza.

Andrew: But you didn’t know it at the time. Your parents were shielding you from it, Michael.

Michael: Correct. Yes. They were . . . They would present it to my sister and I of yes of what’s going on, but they didn’t really present the complete destruction that I guess I really had of financially and monetary too.

Andrew: I wonder how you feel about that because for me, I think that it was good that my parents showed me how dangerous entrepreneurship and the world could be financially. I am now literally sitting in pants that had a hole in them. Partially, I loved it. Partially because I didn’t want to waste more money on it and time. I went I just had it repaired. There’s a place on Valencia Street where a woman does great work. She sawed it up and I’m back and ready to go. And my goal in life is to reduce my expenses to the point where, screw the world, whatever bad things can happen, I’m going to be fine.

Michael: Exactly.

Andrew: I will not lose a minute of sleep over that.

Michael: Correct. And that’s sort of that whole premise of the . . . I like to . . . Everyone calls it a great recession. I would like to describe it as a depression that really did have the financial components of being a depression just without the publicity of labeling it as a depression. But that was the whole premise of how I go about my current entrepreneurial mind and business like mind and my business mind.

Andrew: The idea that . . . So how does it influence you now? What’s one decision that you make that you wouldn’t have if not for that experience?

Michael: The big influence that I have had in which relates directly with Manufacturefy was my dad sat down and says, and told me, “The one problem that we’ve had is that we have not . . . ” He’s a real estate developer, so he develop and then sell, develop and sell, develop and sell. You notice everything was sell. There was nothing that generated a consistent cash flow.

Andrew: Yeah.

Michael: And because of that, that’s sort of your little backbone, if something was all to go down, you would still have a certain real estate property that would generate some cash flow. And he told me that was by far the biggest mistake that he’s ever made was not buying and keeping certain types of real estate properties, because if he did in the time of an economic downturn, if everything else was to go to completely zero, like what it did, there would still be that one thing that would produce some sort of cash flow to live off of.

Andrew: I get that. And so are you doing that now?

Michael: I’m doing that right now with Manufacturefy.

Andrew: How?

Michael: So the way that I developed Manufacturefy was in the back of my mind I thought . . . And also another thing that my dad said was, “If you want to . . . ” Was it . . . Was it dine? I don’t . . . ” . . . dine with the classes . . . ” or, ” . . . work with the classes, dine with the masses, work with the classes, dine with the masses.”

Andrew: Tell me what that means.

Michael: If you . . . You need to focus on or a lot of people in my mind was focused on an industry or a business that appeals to the mass in general population. Yes, a lot of people want to appeal to the luxury goods or luxury market because it has sort of the prominency to it of being rich, fancy, all that stardom and things like that is associated with more of a high-class clientele. But we all know that there’s more general mass people than top 1%.

So I purposely came up with an idea that would appeal to all components and all economic levels from poor all the way up to the very wealthy.

Andrew: Got . . . But the other thing that you have with this business is Manufacturefy charges, if I’m correct, the manufacturers a monthly fee in order to work with you, right? And so . . .

Michael: That is correct.

Andrew: You do have a base level of revenue that comes in every month as long as you satisfy your customers. Okay, I get that. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the entrepreneurial experiences that you had. I can’t believe that others hadn’t come up . . . I can’t believe that I didn’t do a Manufacturefy-style interview like two, three years ago with someone who built it before. I can’t believe that it took this long for somebody to come up with. It’s such a clear idea and such a burning need. All right. But let’s understand you. So you’ve started businesses going all the way back to your childhood. In elementary school, you told our producer, you had this business. Do you remember the first one?

Michael: Oh, okay. So there was a . . . There was a house sitting business.

Andrew: Okay. Tell me about that one.

Michael: There was a house sitting . . . Before the age of 18 I had . . . What did I had as businesses? I had a housesitting business, I had a car detailing business, I . . . What else did I do? Oh, I sold candy at school. That’s a big one. That’s a good one. That was a really good one.

Andrew: Why? Why was that such a good one for you?

Michael: Oh, because I would go to Walgreens every night, buy a bunch of candy, but it . . . The thing was my school did not sell any candy on campus. So, again, I was recognizing a need that appealed to the general population or appealed to everybody. And so I buy candy from Walgreens and then mark it up twice the price, which was still less than the snacks that they were selling at school, and they, of course, they have candy. And then I would sell candy out of my backpack.

Andrew: And so do you remember making a lot of money from that or was it like the idea of how simple business could be that you still got excited about?

Michael: How simple it could be, how . . . Well, one, it was just so fun because people from everywhere coming towards me and . . . What was your other question you asked?

Andrew: I guess that it’s an indication of, like, the thing that you . . . It’s that the thing in you is in you and that it actually works in the world. This entrepreneurial bug is in you and that in the world that does make sense. And I do love the simplicity of it. I took my kids out to sell lemonade. I guess it’s been about a month or so ago. I love the simplicity of, you got to work up the courage to go and ask strangers if they want lemonade. The basics of how much does it cost for the lemonade, how much are you going to charge for the lemonade? The simplicity of it is so exciting.

All right. Tell me a little bit about the neighborhood housesitting business. What would you do there?

Michael: Yeah. So, actually, I did . . . So the neighborhood that I grew up in there was a park at the end of street and at the park that’s where all the mailboxes were and there were sort of a bulletin. And in that bulletin was mostly people would go post a piece of paper looking for this or selling this. And what I . . . So I went up there and I thought, “Well, right here. I’m going to market right the neighborhood, printing one piece of paper, and I’m going to go there and thumbtack it up.”

And I thumbtacked the housesitting service. And yeah, and I thumbtacked a housesitting service. And I believed . . . God, I can’t remember. I don’t remember how young I was. I was probably fifth or sixth grade that I was doing that. And I was getting calls. I was getting calls and I purposely timed it so it was right before the summer was . . . It was time for summer, so we knew people were going on vacation. We knew people were leaving. People knew who . . . Some people knew who I was within the neighborhood or recognized the last name. And the people that didn’t, it was fun because they’d be like, “Oh, yes, we’re interested in this. Could somebody come by?”

So I go up, knock on their door, and they’d be like, “Hello, can I help you?” And then I would be all ready with a . . . I had a full binder in my hands saying, “Yeah, I’m Michael Lizanich.” And they’d be like, “You’re Michael?” I’m like, “Yeah, of course, I am.” So that was always . . . That was a funny thing.

Andrew: And all it was you just coming up with this idea, tacking it up, seeing if it would work and you got customers. And frankly, it does make sense. I would pay a neighborhood kid to come watch my place. All I want is just clear out the stuff while we’re away for a week.

Michael: Exactly. And the thing too is . . .

Andrew: The mail.

Michael: Right. Clear out the mail, take the dog out, look after the house. That’s all easy tasks. And the one thing that I thought about too, this is even when I was young, was even at such a young age people would prefer to pay somebody less that’s younger to do it, a kid, over someone that they’re a retiree and they’re sort of doing that just with their extra time that they have.

Andrew: Because it’s less money for a kid? You’re saying even at that point, they cared about saving a little bit of money and seeing a child made them feel that they were.

Michael: No. Not that. It was just the component that somebody would rather help a kid out, rather help a child out over an older individual.

Andrew: Yeah, there’s something about helping somebody on the way up that you feel like somebody helped you, you want to return the favor, you want to see where they go, you want to be part of their memory. All right.

Michael: Right.

Andrew: We’re going to get into the car detailing business in a moment. Let me talk about my first sponsor first. It’s actually very appropriate, Michael, that it fits in with what we’ve just been talking about because the first sponsor is a company called HostGator. And I urge everyone who’s listening to me who’s got some ideas in their head to just go to hostgator.com/mixergy. With one click you could get a HostGator to host your website. WordPress is the platform. Did you guys build on WordPress first, Michael?

Michael: No. We just went right out of the gate.

Andrew: Wow. I was trying to figure out, like, what you built on and when I realized that it wasn’t something that I could figure out. I could kind of tell that you coded up your own thing. Well, for marketplaces, there are actual WordPress themes and designs that will allow you to create a marketplace. I think anyone who’s looking out in the world and saying, “You know, there’s a problem. I think I could solve it, but I can’t do it myself. I think there are other people who could do it.” Boom, you can go and host your own marketplace just like Michael did. If you decide that you want to create a content business, you can go and create a content business.

Chris Luck, this guy who whenever I do a live set of interviews here and I need to go take a break in between interviews, he sits down and he manages things and, like, leads the audience, talks to the guests while I take a break to go get tea or use a bathroom. He sent me a message. He came out with a new site too. It’s basically a site that recommends products based on his analysis and his team’s analysis and he gets a commission from affiliate links just like Wirecutter, which is now owned by “The New York Times.”

So many different ideas. It doesn’t take much to do. His idea is on WordPress. If you’re listening to me, you could put your idea on WordPress or so many other free platforms. All you have to do is go to hostgator.com/mixergy, fire up that entrepreneurial bug, give yourself a place, a platform to create and watch what happens. A lot of it will be absolute garbage but some of it will be absolute magic that will change your life.

Hostgator.com/mixergy. Absolute lowest price when you use that URL. They’ll give you unlimited this, unmetered that, everything really that you need. And then, yes, they will . . . Even though that’s a low price, great starter package, they will scale up with you. When you’re ready, they will, I promise you, give you great deals on every level beyond that, but I think you should start with a cheap plan that’s available on hostgator.com/mixergy. Get yourself going. And if you hate your hosting company, they’ll migrate you for free. HostGator, thank you for sponsoring.

Let’s talk about that, what you told our producer was the first legitimate business, car detailing business. Where did that idea come from?

Michael: I have a passion for cars. I always enjoyed cars. That was . . . I grew up also in addition to real estate was we had a car dealership license and that just allowed us the ability to go to car auctions.

Andrew: And buy cars and then you would sell them on like Craigslist or something?

Michael: Of course.

Andrew: You would.

Michael: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: I want to be freaking adopted by your whole family. You told our producer this, you said, “Look, in my family if you aren’t working, you aren’t living. No hobbies, no vacations, just different types of work.” And you didn’t feel oppressed by it. You feel like this is your creative life. This is what you love.

Michael: Correct. Yeah.

Andrew: Wow. Okay. So, of course, you had a car dealership license. I didn’t realize that. All right. And so what did you do with that and how did that tie into this car detailing business?

Michael: Yeah. So that tied into the car detailing business was that’s how I sort of grew a passion for cars. That’s how I grew a passion for cars. And, again, it was another idea was, “You know what? I need . . . I would like to work. I would like to make money. But I’m playing high school football right now. I am busy Monday through Friday for all football components and all school components. What’s something that I can do on a Saturday and Sunday that allow me to . . . where my schedule would be able to adjust or be flexible?” And I thought, “Well, what can I do? What can I do? What can I do?” And a friend of my grandparents actually told me a story that he bought his first house waxing and washing cars.

Andrew: Okay. So you hear that this person did and you think, “I think I could do that too.”

Michael: I was like, “Why the hell why not?”

Andrew: I freaking love the way your mind works. Okay. All right.

Michael: Yeah. I like to sort of live off of the saying that one of my good friends or close family friends said who I look up to professionally, when he says, “Why draw when you can trace?”

Andrew: Tell me what that means. I have a sense of it, but I want to hear from you.

Michael: Why . . . If someone else has got the idea, why not just sort of . . .

Andrew: Trace their idea. I talked to several entrepreneurs who said that. It’s like . . . And you were going to find that out to with Manufacturefy. The first version of your website, it came from somewhere else. And so what you’re saying is, “Look, instead of trying to come up with something brand new on your own, see what’s out there, trace over it and create a version of it that is yours.”

Michael: Correct.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. And so for you, it was, “Hey, I see something, a drawing that I like, which is this car detailing business. I’m going to trace it.” Where did you get customers for it?

Michael: So customers were actually just through a lot of it was just friends and family. Friends and family were doing it. And that was almost to the point where I made enough from that business that I was able to buy my first car.

Andrew: Really? What was your first car?

Michael: My first car was a Mustang GT.

Andrew: Wow. That’s a beautiful car. I’m not into cars at all. My brother was and he got himself a Mustang Convertible and it was amazing to just sit in the passenger seat of that car because people would not stop staring. There was like a woman who worked at the diet place, she came out to just look at the car and I wasn’t sure what was going on, except that’s what people do.

Michael: They just like looking. Right.

Andrew: Yeah, I had no idea. And this was you, from what I understand, taking your supplies going over to detail people’s cars, like really just scrub and clean, and then . . . You’re nodding. And then you expand it from there. How?

Michael: What do you mean by expanding?

Andrew: I thought that then what you started to do was you brought other people in to help you, am I right?

Michael: Yes. Yes, that is correct. So, at one point where I was . . . Because I was doing the high school football Monday through Friday, and Saturday and Sundays I was during the car detailing, I realized, “Okay. Well, now there’s so many cars. There’s only one person of me doing this and with my current capability I’ll only be able to do two cars a day. Now, if I got two or three more people there, I could do double or triple what I’d be able to do on my own.”

So I had hired two people and again, they were two kids my age that had a much more flexible schedule that I did because they weren’t in high school athletics. Where that was . . . Where I was . . . They were coming over to my house, we’ll go over to the client’s house. I would help them start cleaning the car and then I would leave and then come back. So that’s sort of how the business developed from there.

Andrew: Why did you feel like you even been had to be there for the beginning and the end? Why not just say, “All right, guys. You got the work. I’ll see you later”?

Michael: Somebody in the face of the business had to be there with the clients and with client attraction.

Andrew: It was, from what I saw on your website, a very concierge-like service. You’re playing up the fact that you don’t have a location by emphasizing that you will go to their place and give them this high touch white-glove service. Right?

Michael: Correct. And that transitioned to the Motorsports Garage. Yes.

Andrew: Motorsports Garage. That’s the business that you . . . It’s in . . . I’m on the website right now. And it’s in New Orleans. That’s where Tulane University was.

Michael: Yes, sir.

Andrew: Because of football you got into the university, you started earlier, and then you took your . . . Well, what did you do to get advertising in there before everyone else joined? Oh, no. I think we just lost your audio. Let’s give it a second. This is one of the reasons why I love doing pre-interviews because the pre-interview uncovers things. There we go. We lost you. I would never have been able to just randomly bring this up, but I did hear you talk to our producer and you said, “Look, I went there early because of football.” And then what happened? What did you do?

Michael: Yeah. So then . . . So, as we could tell, when I was in high school, I had a nice little cleaning phase. We moved forward to college. And with college is sort of the same. With high school, there was much more strict athletic and academic schedule. And I thought, “Well, what else can I do that I could adjust or that I can adjust my . . . ?”

Andrew: Oh, no, we keep losing you. It keeps dropping in and out. Let’s take a moment here. We’ll see if we can make this work again.

Michael: [inaudible 00:30:52].

Andrew: There we go. We just keep . . . We keep losing you. Sorry. Go for it again. So you were saying, “What else could I do?” And say, “Well, you know what? I could do . . . ” if I understand you right. “I can detail people’s cars.” Right?

Michael: Well, actually, I was cleaning people . . . I was cleaning dorm rooms . . .

Andrew: Oh, really?

Michael: . . . in college.

Andrew: Oh, that’s what that was?

Michael: Yeah. So I went from cleaning cars in high school to cleaning dorm rooms in college.

Andrew: Okay.

Michael: And then I moved . . . And then I went to my first full component legitimate business, the Motorsports Garage, which is where I had business partners, I had investors, high net-worth clients, ultra-high-net-worth clients. So that was sort of my premise of building up to . . . Yeah.

Andrew: Got it.

Michael: Motorsports Garage.

Andrew: So when we say . . . So you would go into school, you posted up signs all over the school saying, “If you need your dorm cleaned, I could do it for you.” You got clients. And then did you actually do the cleaning yourself, Michael?

Michael: Correct.

Andrew: You did?

Michael: Yes. Yeah. So I would do the cleaning and then I would also have some of my teammates help me, football teammates help me as well.

Andrew: Michael, a guy who’s a football player, you’re like the star of a school, right? One of the stars. The fact that you play football puts you up at the top. The fact that you’re then cleaning people’s dorms, isn’t that put you down below in the totem pole of school in the hierarchy? You’re smiling. You recognize that. What do you say about that?

Man, what is happening to your connection? Hang on a second. We got to pause this. I need to fix your connection here before we continue. Oh, there we go. What do we need to do to get your connection right? I would even take that other room. We would chat a little bit of an echo because I want to hear you clearly. Okay. If you get closer to your Wi-Fi, while you do that, I’m going to start talking about my second sponsor.

Second sponsor is a company called Toptal. You people have heard me talk about Toptal for so long. And one of the people that you’ve heard me talk about is a guy named Derek. Derek is someone who, Derek Johnson, decided, you know, everyone’s reaching their customers via email, I think that there is an opportunity in text messaging, and he started creating a platform to let businesses and others, other organizations reach their customers via text messaging.

And I remember when I first talked to him, he was a Mixergy listener and he was doing okay. And as I told you guys in past Toptal ads, he and his CTO decided that they needed to hire, they couldn’t find people to . . . There’s an update on this guys. He and his CTO decided they needed to hire people. It took forever for them to find the right developers. And they were just swimming in resumes, just trying to figure out who to hire. A lot of them were just not really qualified leads. And they finally said, “All right, Andrew is talking about Toptal. Let’s hire someone from Toptal.” They did.

And the beauty of hiring from Toptal is you just talk to a matcher. And then it’s the matcher’s job to go through all the possible hires and then find the right ones for you. In Derek’s case, they connected him with two different developers, his CTO picked one. And if you . . . I think it was few weeks later, the CTO said, “You know, this developer is good. He could even be our CTO. He’s that quality.”

Well, I checked in with Derek last night, I said, “So, Derek, I think I saw your billboard as I was cycling on Market Street here in San Francisco.” And he said, “Oh, yeah, we’re doing a bunch of advertising. I wouldn’t be surprised. Which one of the ads was it?” I guess he’s also doing some billboard ads. I told him it was a bus ad. He says, “Yeah, business is going great.” I said, “By the way, Toptal, are you guys still hiring from Toptal?” And he said, “Yeah, the majority of our team is Toptal.” So this guy is growing and continuing to grow with Toptal.

And the beauty of growing with Toptal is it’s their headache to go help you find the right developers and they will only present you with the best of the best developers. And if they do, you can hire them and get started right away. If they don’t, say, “Hey, it’s not a good fit,” and you move away. What you get, though, is the ability to keep scaling up by focusing not on, “How do I hire more people? How do I endlessly figure out who the right person is?” but by focusing on your customers and let Toptal get you the right developers and scale up and down as you need it.

And if you use my special URL, Michael, you should take note of this too, you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. Really, they make it super easy for you to get not just good developers, but honestly the best of the best out there. It’s top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, toptal.com/mixergy.

All right. Thanks for moving, Michael. The thing that I was asking you before was about going from the most popular sport in America and being on that team to then going and cleaning people’s dorm rooms. Didn’t that feel like a step-down? And you smiled, so tell me what you recognize in that question.

Michael: My immediate response to that question is I like to think of everything as what would make a better story in the future. And that offers a much better story than just saying I played college football. Playing college football and cleaning dorm rooms in college.

Andrew: And so the whole time you were doing it, you also said, “This is going to be great when Forbes does a profile on me or something like that.”

Michael: Oh, of course.

Andrew: That’s how you . . .

Michael: Exactly.

Andrew: It is.

Michael: Right.

Andrew: By the way, I did see that you got some press. Was your car . . . I’m seeing you stand in front of a bunch of cars. Did you have an orange car?

Michael: Yes. So that . . .

Andrew: Do you? You did. What was that?

Michael: So that wasn’t my personal car, but that was a customer’s car. But I believe the orange car in one of those photoshoots was a Ferrari.

Andrew: Okay. So that’s why you’re standing in front of such beautiful cars. This is the quality of client that you had.

Michael: Correct.

Andrew: And you also were very good about getting press.

Michael: Yes. Yes.

Andrew: Who’s helping you get press right now? I feel like Manufacturefy has got somebody working on it or some plan. I didn’t just randomly connect with you.

Michael: No. So, actually, there’s one person that does all the press for Manufacturefy, and that is me.

Andrew: Honestly? So was you reaching out to us?

Michael: Yes. So I’m responsible . . . Yeah.

Andrew: I assumed you had people.

Michael: So, when it comes to all publicity, I feel that I am a better representation of myself than other people might be.

Andrew: Why is publicity such an important part of your business that you will spend your time on it?

Michael: It’s such an important component for us because especially with the constant mode and the idea of searching simple terms online or searching somebody on the internet it’s the first thing that anybody does. And it just makes sense to have . . . If you can increase and . . . If you can increase your internet presence and your business internet presence, it makes a huge difference on the future output.

Andrew: Because this is how you’re going to get customers.

Michael: Correct. Correct. It won’t be . . . A lot of it could be through potential marketing efforts, but, again, if you’re thinking about TV commercials, remember not as many people is watching cable TV anymore. So that’s one thing. So then you’re also, what are people going towards now? A lot that’s going towards the internet. And so why not adjust appropriately?

Andrew: What about this? I’ve got a partnership with Ahrefs. I put your domain in there just try to understand what you’re doing. I see like this press release, “Trillion-Dollar Manufacturing Disruptor Led by a Millennial.” I see a bunch of people using that and linking back to you with it. That’s you writing that press release?

Michael: Yes, that was me.

Andrew: Okay. And then I see you listing yourself on different sites like [Gus 00:38:34]. I see articles about you in here on sites like IdeaMensch. That is you driving all that because you know that that’s going to help your site rank higher, get more reputation, get more customer.

Michael: Correct.

Andrew: Wow. All right. I was wondering about that. Okay. So let’s talk about where you came up with the idea for Manufacturefy.

Michael: So, as I described it a little bit earlier on was, I . . . And sort of gave the example of that woman, the woman with the new pair of shoes idea. Was I had an idea when I was . . . I had an idea when I was in college, a product idea and I wanted to go find a manufacturer and I wanted to know how much it would cost.

Andrew: What was the idea? Do you remember?

Michael: I do not remember exactly what it was. I don’t know if . . . I really don’t want to answer that question.

Andrew: Come on. I see that you’re a little embarrassed. Roughly, you do remember.

Michael: Oh, no. It might not be . . . It’s not an appropriate idea.

Andrew: Oh, sure it is.

Michael: No, no.

Andrew: What are we talking about? A sex toy?

Michael: I mean, I don’t know.

Andrew: Okay. Okay.

Michael: So I had an idea for a product and I didn’t know . . . I wanted to know how much it would cost. I sort of wanted . . . The reason was, if I knew how much it would cost, I’d be able to put a business plan together and then raise equity appropriately for that. Now, I went to . . . I searched online saying, “How to find a manufacturer,” and “How to find a manufacturer.” And a lot of it was through sourcing agents. So I typed in on online sourcing agents. And the first thing that came up was called sourcingbro.com.

Andrew: Okay.

Michael: And if you were to go to sourcingbro.com, that is the first thing that comes up and that’s the first, so I guess, the top thing. And if you just read the page, tell me if you feel comfortable having them represent you for any type of idea that you would like to have produced. The grammar is wrong . . .

Andrew: “Want to reduce the sourcing cost for your business? Sourcing Bro help you connecting with the best suppliers in China. Contact now.” I see what you mean.

Michael: And you don’t know anything about the individual that would be representing you or the manufacturer. And I realized . . .

Andrew: No, now they have it. Now it says, “About the founder. Jack Zhou. During my experience as a Buyer Agent . . . ” And Buyer Agent is capitalized. That always bothers me. “I experienced lots of challenges such as delay in shipment, quality issues, huge minimum order quality . . . ” I don’t know why that’s capital ” . . . and after-sale problems amongst . . . ”

Anyway, so you saw this. Like, this person is . . . I see that they’re into online marketing. I see that they use sumo.com as a tool to collect email addresses. They’re using Tawk.to to chat with people in real-time whenever they can. I could see that there’s more intelligence in this than usual, but I also see a lot of the flaws like the site hasn’t been updated apparently since 2018. And there’s some real clear typos or bad grammar on this. And you’re saying, look, you saw that and that made you think what?

Michael: I saw that and I thought, “Well, let me see if there’s actually somebody out there that would be able to do it.” And I did more and more research. And there wasn’t. So I thought, “Okay. Well, what’s sort of . . . What’s the . . . ” And I thought. So that was my first idea was, “Okay, there’s nothing like that, so now I have an idea. From here, I have just an idea. Now, I have an idea, so let me conduct more research to see if the idea is sustainable or if it’s come about yet.” So what I did was I went through the service of an international freedom to operate and . . .

Andrew: Okay. So you just gave up on your product and you said, “You know what? I think I could solve this.”

Michael: Correct.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. And so your idea for solving it was what that you then went out and searched?

Michael: Yeah. So I had the idea. I did a little bit of research and I realized, “Okay. There is nothing out there that allows you just to put in your product and for you to find a qualified and capable manufacturer. There’s nothing like that.” And to confirm my thoughts, I did engage in a service of an international freedom to operate. And an international freedom to operate is a service that a third party does to look at all prior art across the world. So they look through all client, all our databases, they look at all websites, all sort of businesses components.

Andrew: Because you wanted to see if there was a patent by somebody else to do this?

Michael: Correct. I wanted to so I would not be infringed.

Andrew: That’s the part that just boggles my mind that you would spend money trying to figure this out. Why not say, “Hey, it’s a marketplace. There’s nobody who has a patent on a marketplace. I just am going to apply the marketplace towards manufacturing product or producer.” What are you smiling at as I say that because there’s something that I’m missing?

Michael: Because there are . . . Yes, you may think that it could potentially be that easy just to sort of go to market with that. Unfortunately, it’s not like that. There are people out there and especially patent trolls that like to sort of purchase patents so they could sue people for infringing on their patents. And infringing on the patents is definitely a major thing that I already went through with a logo, with our previous logo. So I wanted to make sure that I would not be infringing on that.

Andrew: Okay. And there was nothing like that, and so you said . . . And how much money did you spend to see if there was anything like that?

Michael: A few thousand.

Andrew: Okay. All right. I would still say, “Screw it. Just do it and then figure it out later.” But, all right, I get.

Michael: A few thousand is much easier instead of trying to combat millions of dollars in legal fees.

Andrew: All right. And then you needed a website, and as I hinted at earlier, you were tracing that too, am I right?

Michael: Could you repeat that question? Or say it another way.

Andrew: You needed a website in order to do it and you said, “You know what? I think as I’m looking around this site for . . . ” What was it? It was uShip.

Michael: Yes.

Andrew: You like their design and you said, “I think I could kind of do something like that.”

Michael: Right.

Andrew: What does uShip do?

Michael: So uShip is actually sort of a similar platform which I think I based Manufacturefy off of which was tracing, again, why draw when you can trace. And that was, uShip uses algorithms for goods to be shipped. It’s a logistical website. So no matter what your item is, from a horse to a car to moving your whole house, or sculptures, this website spills over immediately quotes for you to ship that item. So I thought, “Well, one, I was using it all the time for the cars. Two, I was using it for, actually, shipping various types of goods.” So I thought, “Okay. One, the website looks great. Two, it’s sort of the exact same thing that I want to do with Manufacturefy. So why don’t I sort of have that be the foundation of Manufacturefy?”

Andrew: Okay. I can see that it’s not a copy as closely as I thought it would be. I wouldn’t know that you guys that you’re even influenced by them. But now that I’m looking, I kind of get it. All right. And your vision originally was you were going to have a bunch of manufacturers in your platform and then you personally were going to match people up?

Michael: Yeah. So that was . . . That was the original idea, was for me to develop my MVP, the most viable product, was I am going to make this as easy as possible and make this as simple as possible on the backend. And that’s what I was expecting. That’s what I was expecting to receive from the software developers. Yes.

Andrew: So MVP, minimum viable product, you mean. And so minimum viable product who created it for you?

Michael: So it was actually a software development team overseas.

Andrew: How much did that cost?

Michael: It costs a fraction. And when I say a fraction, a fraction, a fraction, a fraction of what it would have cost for me to make it in the United States.

Andrew: Let’s say under $20,000 for the first version.

Michael: Approximately.

Andrew: Okay. And so you had that first version. Now, the first version did what?

Michael: The first version is what’s on manufacturefy.com right now.

Andrew: Oh, it’s still up there now. And so the way it works now, from what I could see was, I could either list my factory or I like the other button says, “Build your dream.” And if I click on Build Your Dream, you start asking me a set of questions like, “Which of these types of products do you want to make? Are you going to make . . . ” The one that I saw earlier was like food, electronics, there’s also a section of cannabis. And then I just go through a form and fill out using pictures the type of product that I want and how many I want created, and then that goes, I’m guessing, to you know at first and eventually to other people? No.

Michael: So it goes right . . . It goes . . . So the part that I wanted to touch on was that I was expecting to get the MVP from software developers, but they delivered a significantly far superior product than I was expecting, a far superior product than I was expecting where what they delivered I will not need to ever adjust if I was to just stay with the current platform of Manufacturefy and not have any additional services. So everything is done through the AI technology.

Andrew: Meaning artificial intelligence matches it out.

Michael: Correct.

Andrew: It knows what manufacturers you have in your platform, what they’re capable of.

Michael: Correct.

Andrew: Got it. And if a manufacturer is not capable of more than 10,000 units, I wouldn’t be sent to them if that’s how many I want or under if they don’t like to deal with small guys. Okay, I get it. Let’s talk then about how you filled your marketplace. My guess is you went after manufacturers first because the platform is useless without them.

Michael: Right.

Andrew: And they’re an easier sell. What was your sell to them to get them on board?

Michael: So it’s actually sort of . . . It’s a chicken and egg situation with Manufacturefy because first if you want to have manufacturers that join and then you want them to pay and you want them to pay for the service, they need to pay for the service to also see some immediate return on investment, which would be you need to have the free users first of the creators. So it’s actually the opposite. Like, we wanted the creators on their first because they were posting their items and ideas or products for free. And once you had a database of enough three people that had all of the products, then you’re able to go to the manufacturers and say, “Hey, book manufacturer, we have somebody right here . . . We have somebody on the opposite side that wants to make 100 of these books and we realize that your capabilities are 400 books. Join manufacturefy.com to receive a new order for only $100.”

Andrew: So once you have the demand, you can go to the suppliers and say, “I got demand here. Do you want to be on my platform and pay to get access to these people?”

Michael: Correct.

Andrew: How did you get all the creators then?

Michael: The creator was done through inventors associations. Inventors associations, speaking at events, publicity through the state of Florida, and just picking up the phone and calling.

Andrew: Calling creators.

Michael: Calling creators. So that would be . . . Most of the time was business owners people that currently own businesses, people that have product businesses, calling them on the phone, asking them. Let’s say this is Andrew’s mic shop and you want to have . . . And you buy all of your mics from a supplier. Now what if you actually wanted to have Andrew’s mics in Andrew’s mic shop, you want to have your own private label goods? You’ll be like, “Yeah, I’d like to know.” And like, “Well, join manufacturefy.com and find a manufacturer that’s able to do that. Just do that.” So people that was sort of also part of the business plan was to go after the private label and white labeling.

Andrew: So you know what? I was looking to see if . . . To see your speaking engagements and to see what you were doing in the beginning especially to get people to pay attention. I don’t see much.

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: I don’t see that you got to speak at a lot of places.

Michael: So I did a speaking at a couple of inventors associations’ events in Florida. Next week, I go to a cannabis event and the next day I have to speak at another event in LA and that’s a big manufacturing technology.

Andrew: And it’s just one at a time you going and speaking at these events and then people listen and say, “You know, I think I’m ready to manufacture,” and they come to you?

Michael: Right. Or they’re . . . Correct. And the part two is we spent zero dollars on, like, actual marketing or self-publicity.

Andrew: Okay.

Michael: And the thing is too the startup with per our advisors is we don’t have the capabilities of spending $10,000, $20,000 to exhibit at these events. And it’s sort of we find a little wasteful as well. So how . . . And we thought over, like, “How could we . . . How can we attend these events without paying for them?” And that was through speaking.

Andrew: Yeah, of course, I get that. And so . . . All right. I just don’t see that there’s that much and I can’t believe that there would be that many inventors and creators who are looking for new platforms, but new places to do it, to get their products manufactured, but I’m with you. You were doing this. I’m kind of googling you as we’re talking to get a sense of where you were. It is each part of your story. And as I was googling you, I saw a link on realtor.com to you.

Michael: For real?

Andrew: You were, I’m guessing to you, in Scottsdale, Arizona?

Michael: It could potentially be my father.

Andrew: Maybe it is. The reason that I’m bringing this up is you were working in real estate at this point while you were starting this business.

Michael: Yeah. Forget about that whole little component. Yes. I was working for a large real estate private equity firm in Washington DC.

Andrew: And doing this on the side . . .

Michael: Yes.

Andrew: . . . your idea to create your company.

Michael: Yes.

Andrew: And how did that impact your work?

Michael: It would be me working at . . . Me working on manufacturer at the same time on where I was working at. That real estate private equity firm had a significantly major impact on me professionally while working at that firm, unfortunately, to the level where I, unfortunately, had to walk away from that business.

Andrew: Walk away or were told to?

Michael: Yes.

Andrew: Apparently, from what I understand you were starting to get distracted.

Michael: Yes.

Andrew: And distracted and distracted and one day you walk into the office and someone calls you in. And who calls you in? And what happens?

Michael: An HR woman comes over and says, “Michael, you want to do so many other things that we won’t allow you to do. It might make sense for you . . . ” I’m going to say this much more harsh than she actually said it, but she just pretty much told me hit the road.

Andrew: And that was it. You walked home and then the same day just a few hours later you went and applied for Y Combinator.

Michael: Correct. Within 30 minutes later.

Andrew: And have you gotten in yet?

Michael: I, unfortunately, did not get in for . . . I applied for summer of 2019. And I, unfortunately, was turned away. So I recently applied for winter of 2020.

Andrew: It does seem like for many people it takes multiple shots at it. The fact that you’re now producing half a million is got to be a big deal for them. They want to see that you’re actually getting customers, that you’re building real business. The thing that I wonder, though is, how could you do half a million in just a few months? You’re charging . . . Your money only comes from manufacturers. When I’m looking on your site, it seems like you charge manufacturers $100 a month.

Michael: Right.

Andrew: That doesn’t seem like it would add up to . . . You have enough manufacturers that you could do 500 . . . So 500,000, let’s say that would be about 100,000 a month so far since we’re looking at about five months of doing this. That means you have 1,000 manufacturers on your platform? Be open.

Michael: So what we do and what we did was . . . What I wanted to do while I was working at the real estate firm and launching Manufacturefy was I wanted to do a build-up to launch. I did not want to focus, focus, focus or wait. I didn’t want to wait until launch. I didn’t have the time for that especially with the time hitting down on me while working at the real estate firm, I did not have the time for somebody to say, “Well, you also have to wait a few more months before generating.”

So what I did was we sent out an email and we wanted to offer the opportunity to manufacturers to be Manufacturefy verified before launch. And that allowed us to receive a significant amount of funding because manufacturers were able to join that wanted to be verified. And that’s an additional fee. And from there and also from that time on we started forming partnerships with international trade associations and national manufacturing associations to the point that where we have enough memorandums of understanding executed pretty much across almost all 50 states of all 50 states, so that and immediately opens up to those manufacturing associations members.

Andrew: And so then what’s the pricing structure? What are you charging for that?

Michael: Okay. So the flat revenue is $100 per month.

Andrew: Okay.

Michael: That’s just to join and be on manufacturefy.com.

Andrew: Okay. Right.

Michael: If a manufacturer wants to be Manufacturefy verified, there’s an additional fees that are associated with that. And being Manufacturefy verified means that a set of Manufacturefy representatives go out and inspect the manufacturing facility and make sure that it’s up to the qualifications that Manufacturefy has outlined. And that is not a free service. It’s a very expensive thing that needs to be done.

Andrew: How expensive is it?

Michael: It is upwards of $20,000.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. And so how many verified manufacturers do you have on your platform?

Michael: Several.

Andrew: More than two dozen?

Michael: Not more than two dozen. No.

Andrew: Okay. All right. And so, in those cases, you’re getting paid more and you went to convince them to be verified before you filled out your marketplace, right?

Michael: That is correct.

Andrew: And you were able to do that to get manufacturers to . . . How did you get them to say . . . “Okay. I don’t know who you are.” I’m even going to Internet Archive, by the way, to find old versions of your site. It’s not coming up, so there’s not much on you. And they still said, “Okay. We’ll pay you up to $20,000”?

Michael: So what it was, is there was ways that we structured it as all flight and travel expenses had to be reimbursed plus a fee depending on how large those manufacturers were or how large those facilities were. And once we were able to determine how large they were, that was sort of how the fee was structured. And we had enough of a user base. And I’m telling you there wasn’t a lot of people that did it. There was no more than a dozen people that before launch paid for the Manufacturefy verification part, but there was enough that were able to generate a significant amount of revenue.

Andrew: Okay. All right. So that’s it. And that was you going out inspecting or no?

Michael: Yeah, that . . .

Andrew: I’m imagining . . .

Michael: So I had myself and then I also had another individual that is very, very knowledgeable about the manufacturing space and knows how manufacturing facility should run, should operate and he knows all the correct questions to ask.

Andrew: How did you find that person?

Michael: I actually found him through a family friend.

Andrew: Okay. Is Sourcing Bro still big? Are they still getting a lot of traffic? Are they still doing good searches? I’m looking for it.

Michael: I don’t know.

Andrew: Let me see. I’m going to look them up. I’m actually going to see what organic keywords they’re . . . China sourcing is big for them. Oh, here’s another one. Alibaba Reviews.

Michael: I want to know what website you’re using for that because I’ve never heard of it.

Andrew: Ahrefs. So here’s the thing that you do apparently with Ahrefs. You see what they’re doing because they’re obviously not doing that great. But, I mean, they’re doing well to get search traffic. So you go see what they’re doing, who’s linking to them, and you go back to those people and say, “I see you linking to Sourcing Bro. Do you really want to link to something where they’re all these typos? I got something that’s a little bit better. Why don’t you just include me in addition to what you’re doing there?” And you get to start to see what keywords are working for them.

Here, like, I’m going to go over to their site and I want to see their top pages. That’s the one that I think is most helpful for us. All right. Alibaba Reviews is their top paid outside of their homepage. So maybe what you do is you create an Alibaba review that’s way better than them. Let me see. Oh, yeah, this site actually, somebody wrote this. “Alibaba is a name that you’d all be well acquainted with. What started off is a B2B business . . . ” But it looks like that they paid somebody to actually write off and write up for them, so that one’s going to be a little bit harder for you to beat, but I think you can still create something better than that.

Michael: How do you spell?

Andrew: Let’s see what’s another one.

Michael: Href. How do you spell?

Andrew: Ahrefs. I hate the name, but everyone knows it, ahrefs.com. I use it to find, like, what are the top pages on my guest’s site?

Michael: This is fascinating. Oh, it’s not free.

Andrew: Yeah. And then find a couple of other people who suck but they’re getting a lot of traffic for manufacturing searches and they’re getting a lot of articles about them and just go copy what they’re doing and beat them at it because you actually have substance on your site.

Michael: Right.

Andrew: Yeah, look at this. Why do they got . . . They got links from toysfromchina.site.pro. That’s kind of interesting. Anyway, about.me/sourcingbro, they got that page up. So someone’s doing a little bit of SEO over there. They might want to spend more money on grammar and better presentation of their site, but the least I could see this guy, Jack Zhou, is at least in, like, the software world, a little bit or someone on his team is, maybe hired somebody who’s doing it because that’s like . . . He’s doing a couple of easy things that are working for him. All right. I could get lost in this stuff. I love watching a little basic things that people do that works for them.

Michael: Well, I’m fascinated by the site now. I’m reading all about it.

Andrew: Right. Yeah, they sponsored me a while back and I didn’t really do such a good job with it and they said, “You know, Andrew, why don’t you just use this tool and research your guests?” I said, “Oh, great. I’ll do it.” All right. And it’s open up my eyes to a lot of stuff.

All right. For anyone who wants to go check out your website, they should go to manufacturefy.com. I freaking love this business. I love . . . I actually don’t know that business that well. I found out about you, I did a little bit of research. So a lot of research. I’ve learned about you. I just love that you jumped in on this. This is clearly a pain point. More and more people want to manufacturer. Kickstarter has opened up the world of manufacturing to more and more people. And then beyond Kickstarter, you’ve got Indiegogo, people creating stuff on their own, I mean, creating these crowdfunding campaigns on their own. And they’re all struggling with manufacturing. And then you also have these people who are just like Instagram marketers or YouTube marketers. They just want to create stuff and sell it.

That example that I gave you about the GoPro. GoPro is great camera. It sucks for mics. And if you want to add a mic to it, you need to add this extra little piece. So I saw a bunch of YouTubers who were 3D-printing solutions because they didn’t know how to actually manufacture because manufacturing is hard. I think it’s about time that somebody created an easier way to get creators connected to manufacturers. I’m excited that you’re doing this. I’m hoping that you’ll get into Y Combinator. Hit me up if you do. I’d love to see you here.

I want to thank you for doing this interview and I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first is the company that will host your website right. If you’re somebody who has an idea, you owe it to yourself to go to hostgator.com/mixergy and get started now. And number two, if you need a developer, go to toptal.com/mixergy.

And finally, for those of you who’ve been curious about what this whole Mixergy Premium thing is, we’ve created this, we live on Mixergy Premium. That is where I bring back some entrepreneurs who have done interviews here to teach courses. If you want to see some samples of these courses, go check out mixergy.com/more. You will see some of . . . Even if you don’t care about signing up for it, you should see what we’re up to and watch how we are growing our business not by not by stuffing more ads into each interview, though, I’ve got to be honest, we’re now it’s like too in a bit, but by really connecting with our audience and creating courses with top entrepreneurs. Go check it out at mixergy.com/more. All right, Michael, thanks so much for being here.

Michael: Yeah. Thank you, Andrew. I really appreciate it.

Andrew: Cool. Bye. Bye, everyone.

Hey, it’s Andrew. And before we close out this interview, I want to tell you I’m recording this a little bit after the interview was recorded. And I’m here with Jack Barker, the finance person that I was introduced to from Toptal. We’re going over my books for the year and things are looking good, thanks to Mixergy Premium members. If you’re a Mixergy Premium member, thank you so much for supporting the work that we do here. Yes, I keep mentioning that you get extra courses taught by proven entrepreneurs like one of my favorites, you know, is the founder of DuckDuckGo, he keeps growing and growing his search engine even though he’s competing with Google and the reason that he’s doing it is because he figured out a way to get traction and came back here to teach it.

So, anyway, you’re getting a lot of courses taught by proven entrepreneurs, but I want to also acknowledge what we are getting here as a team by being a Mixergy Premium member you are funding the research, the people, the . . . It’s not just research into guests who show up, but research into guests we politely turn away because our research shows that they’re not really fit to be here to do these interviews. So thank you to everyone who’s a Mixergy Premium member. If you’re curious about what it is or how to join, go to mixergy.com/premium. Bye.

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