Andrew: Hey there, Freedom Fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com where I do real interviews in depth, with real entrepreneurs, where we talk about the kinds of things that you don’t usually hear, that entrepreneurs don’t usually talk about in public. Like for example, you’ll hear a lot of people say that one of the first things that will happen to you when you start a business could be that you get sued. But no one ever really talks about what happens when they got sued. No one even talks about the ramifications of it. No one talks about the emotional toll it takes on you and how, as an entrepreneur, you can triumph. Not just deal with it, but triumph when bigger companies are suing you.
Well today I’ve got a guest who came up with a great idea and these giants actually sued him. It didn’t have a rosy ending, but he found a way to recover, an inspiring way to recover. If you are in business and you’re worried about being attacked by anybody, and you frankly should be, you’ve got to listen to this interview to see how today’s guest dealt with it and triumphed.
My guest today is Matt Warren. He is the founder of most recently Jura Watches, the UK’s largest online luxury watch retailer. That’s the company we’re going to talk about, how he built and sold, and since selling it, he launched Veeqo. Now Veeqo allows you to ship more in less time and the way it does that is by syncing all your web stores and marketplaces. This is the kind of company that sells both on Amazon and on it’s own platform, maybe on Shopify, and maybe even has a commerce store and some other store, and wants to keep it all organized and make sure to take good care of their customers without going crazy. That’s what his latest company is, it’s Veeqo and it’s spelled V-E-E-Q-O.com.
And Matt, this is actually the time where I usually do my sponsorship message, but I think I talked enough. So why don’t I just start the conversation with you and later on I’ll tell people why they should sign up to Freshdesk if they want to take good care of their customers with great customer service. Matt, welcome.
Matt: Hi. Hi, Andrew.
Andrew: Hey, this whole thing happened when your boss, I mean the whole idea that set you off on this journey, happened when your boss gave you an expensive watch, or told you he could get you an expensive watch relatively cheaply. Why is that such a big deal that someone came to you and said, “Hey, you know, this thing you have, I can get cheaper.” Aren’t people doing it all the time?
Matt: Yeah, I guess. But for myself I didn’t know anything about watches at the time. So whenever someone says to you “I can get something a lot cheaper” and you feel like it’s a friend offering you something quite interesting, I was kind of curious. I was young, I was about 20, 21. So my natural instinct as a bit of a geek, was to go on the internet. This is back in 2001 I think. And see how much does this watch cost, how much discount do I get? What does the watch look like? And so I did that and found there’s no information. It was a tackier watch and you couldn’t even find pictures of it.
Andrew: What year was this?
Matt: I think it’s 2001.
Andrew: Okay. And so you couldn’t even see any pictures online and you said, “Hey, there’s a problem here.”
Matt: Yeah, yeah.
Andrew: Before we even get to the depth of the problem, why do people care about watches? There’s some kind of personal passion that I see, that frankly I don’t fully connect with. And I want to communicate to the audience and frankly I want to understand for myself, as a 21-year-old what drew you to watches?
Matt: Until he introduced me, I had no interest in watches. But when I started looking into it, it was really interesting. There is a luxury watch world. I mean, why do people spend $10,000 on a watch which basically is inaccurate. A Casio watch is more accurate than some of these expensive Rolexs are. But I guess the interest is from a brand and styling point of view. It’s aspirational. They are expensive, they are handmade in Switzerland, they are quite exclusive. I guess it’s a statement, if you’re into Rolex watches like owning a Porsche or having a big house.
Andrew: I see, and so other people who are into watches know where you fit into the totem pole of watch wearers. And they’ll know that you’ve spent money on an expensive watch and that you were discerning enough to pick the right kind of watch. I see.
Matt: You’ll be judged on your watch, yeah.
Andrew: You would be judged?
Matt: Yes, absolutely. I mean now . . .
Andrew: Some of this is sexist. I know that guys, if they’re into watches, will watch each other’s watches and they’ll know about it. Will women look at the watch in the same way and say, “I know you just spent money on a really expensive watch and I like you more because of it”?
Matt: There are certainly women like that. Yes, definitely.
Andrew: Okay. Are they the right kind of women? Are they the kind of women I would want to get to know?
Matt: I don’t know, Andrew, you’d have to tell me that. There are a lot of women do know what a Rolex is, a tag, and I think women actually know more than men sometimes.
Andrew: I see. All right. This is a world that I had no idea about but it makes sense. Like if you buy a Porsche you have got to keep the Porsche parked outside, right? Or you have to make a really big show of having somebody come out with you to the ballet because you forgot something in the car, give them a ride home or something, just so they know you’ve got a Porsche. But if you’re rocking a really expensive watch, you’re walking around with it and everyone gets to see it.
It’s expensive and that’s why . . . we’re talking about $10,000 is not unusual for a watch. That might be even on the cheap side for a really nice watch. So now I see why having a boss who will give you a cheaper price on it, it’s so valuable, you go online to see is this really cheap? Can I get it even cheaper? You see that there’s nothing out there, and as a result you saw an opportunity. What was the opportunity that you saw? How did you envision solving this problem?
Matt: I just thought if I was looking for a watch and I couldn’t even see pictures of it, never mind being able to buy one, there must be other people like me. I knew there was. There’s lots of people like me who used the internet back then. So I thought, well, if it’s an opportunity, I could sell watches online. No one else is doing it, so there’s a marketing gap here. I didn’t think much more deeper down, the thought was like why would anyone not want to do that.
Andrew: Okay. You said fine, I’ll go and create this website and I’ll start selling watches online. That was the initial thing, the initial idea.
Matt: That was the initial idea, yes.
Andrew: What was the url for this older website?
Matt: It was Blitz, B-L-I-T-Z Watches.
Matt: Yes, that’s right, yes.
Andrew: All right, and so now you need the website is fairly easy, anyone can put together a website even back then. It was harder, but you could put it together. The harder part is getting those expensive watches when you’re 21-years-old and I imagine you weren’t flush.
Matt: Yeah. I had an IT job so I was doing okay. I was a programmer back then. But my first thought was, right, I’m going to sell watches. I’m going to phone Rolex. I’m going to tell them I’ve got this great idea, I can’t believe they haven’t thought about doing this. So I phoned up Rolex, found out their receptionist’s number, and after about 30 seconds effectively they laughed at me and said, “You’re not selling our lovely, luxurious watches on the dodgy, scammy internet with its fraudulent stuff and there’s horrible people on there.” These watch brands are very traditional, extremely traditional, hundreds of years of heritage in them. As far as they were concerned the internet was the devil.
Andrew: So they were not at all interested in touching it in the least, especially not with this new guy who’s calling them up.
Matt: Even beyond . . . I could have been anyone and they still would have said no.
Andrew: Oh, I see.
Matt: The internet was that off-putting for them. So I phoned Swatch Group who sell Omega watches and other brands. Again I got laughed at effectively. Tried another watch brand and same thing happened.
Andrew: And none of them are saying yes. But you’re entrepreneurial. You’re saying you’re an engineer, and you were an engineer, you’re really clever, but you’re also a guy who has been entrepreneurial your whole life. Your background was that even at 13-years-old you found a way to make a little bit of money behind your parents back. What did you do?
Matt: I decided to do a fishing competition. I’d just gotten into fishing so it was quite cool. I don’t even know why I thought this, but I thought I could hold a national fishing competition, because I thought if I got 100 people to turn up and charge about ?100, about $150, I could make probably like $1,000, $2,000, $3,000. I’m just going to sit there and watch them fish. So I thought this is a really good idea.
So I put an ad event in a fishing magazine, didn’t cost much money. I borrowed my dad’s old voice recording box thing, it’s called a recorder nowadays, and I told in the ad, you’ve got to ring between 1:00 and 3:00. I knew my parents wouldn’t be in by then. I would be in school, and people to leave messages to say I’m going to come to your fishing competition. I got about 120 people said they were going to come. So I booked the fishing lake and that seemed all pretty easy, I was pretty relaxed about it.
Then on the day I said, “Dad, can you give me a lift down to the fishing lake?” “Yeah, fine, son. I’ll take you down to the fishing lake.” So we drive there, we get there, we’re about half mile away from it and we couldn’t get there, there’s this queue of cars and it turns out they’re all waiting to get in this fishing lake. Some guy knocks on my dad’s window and says, ‘Hey, do you know who’s in charge?” My dad just laughed at him and said, “No.” And I kind of meekly said, “Yeah, it’s kind of me,” this little 13-year-old very geeky boy. I had to get out the car and walk down all these cars. Everyone is wondering what’s going on.
So I kind of try to direct everyone. “Right, you go do this, go do that.” Then it went horribly wrong because I had to decide where everyone is going to fish. This is a competition who can catch the most fish, and where you sit is very important. There’s like 100 lots to sit around, like 200 lots. I’ve just got bits of paper in a bag and everyone picks out the numbers from the bag to see where they’re going to sit.
It’s by sheer bad luck everyone ended up sitting up in this tiny part of the lake and the whole rest of the lake where all the fish were was completely empty. So they were all rather annoyed about this and my dad had to help rescue it a bit because everyone is quite angry. So we ended up all the money we made we just gave back as more prize money to kind of appease everyone.
Andrew: So it actually didn’t work out for you.
Matt: No, it really didn’t work out. My dad was very, very annoyed that his Sunday got ruined and I potentially might have embarrassed him quite a lot kind of thing.
Andrew: Do you know what? I didn’t realize that it didn’t go so well. I thought this was one of the reasons why you had the guts to keep on going even though Rolex laughed at you, and Swatch Group laughed at you and everyone else. So let me ask you this then. When you are getting so much push back, most people would just give up. Most people would actually give up before making the first phone call. They would say, “I don’t know anyone at Rolex, why should I try? I’ll move on to another idea, but it’s a good idea. Someone should do it.”
You had the idea, you made the phone call. You got rejected and you did something that we’ll talk about in a moment that actually helped you get those watches anyway. What I’m curious about before we get into the facts of what you did, is the psychology behind why you were able to do it. Why is it that a guy who failed so badly and embarrassed his dad as a kid with one of the first entrepreneurial enterprises ever for him, why did that guy still feel confident enough in his ability to keep on going now?
Matt: I guess because it worked, the fishing competition would have worked if I hadn’t messed it up a little bit. Everything else came together, these people had come from all over the UK to this fishing competition. One guy traveled from Scotland, 300 miles. So I guess I thought, yeah, this worked, I just cocked it up a little bit. Next time I won’t cock it up. I’ll learn . . .
Andrew: I see.
Matt: . . .from the mistakes I made.
Andrew: All right. This is the kind of stuff that people would think is a little bit too hokey to do if they sat down and intentionally did it, but you’re doing it naturally. You’re looking at a situation where you essentially failed, and instead of looking at the result, “I failed and I had to give all these people their money back and I embarrassed my dad,” you’re looking at the positive. Which is people came from all around just to be a part of this idea that I had and one little tweak would have made this whole thing work.
That’s what you focused on and that’s what allowed you to have the courage, tell me if I’m wrong, I don’t want to just assume things here, that’s what allowed you to have the courage to say “Rolex is laughing at me. Swatch is laughing at me. There’s another way and I could find it.”
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. There’s always a way, definitely.
Andrew: So they’re laughing at you, what’s the way that allowed you to start this business?
Matt: So I started more Googling, trying to find out where I could get these watches from. I thought maybe shops, so I went to some local shops to find out and I got bad feedback from local shops. They weren’t interested in giving discounts on watches. I eventually found a company in the States. They were selling, not the watches I wanted, but cheaper watches.
So I just picked up the phone, spoke to them, and they were kind of semi-interested but they wouldn’t give me much discount. But they said they’d sell to me. So I started buying one watch at a time from them, built up a relationship with them, proved I was a good person to work with. Then they started supplying me with more and more watches and bigger and bigger discounts.
Andrew: You had to buy these watches from this wholesaler buy paying before you even sold it.
Matt: Yes, I was using my credit card, yes.
Andrew: I see. All right. That’s impressive, and that’s how you were able to populate your store, I’m looking at your store right now. You did not have Rolex on the day that you launched. My guess is because it was too expensive. But you did have Gucci, you had Oakley, you had Omega, TAG Heuer, and a bunch of others. Cartier, Calvin Klein.
Okay, let me do a quick sponsorship message because this is really important. A few years ago I interviewed a guy named Gabriel Weinberg and I was just so amazed. He was this guy who just decided he was going to go up against Google and create a brand new search engine. I was amazed and at the same time I thought it was a bit of a quixotic journey this guy is going on. I don’t know how he could take on Google. If he can, I don’t even know if he can take on Yahoo and Bing.
But he was just marching and marching, and one of the things that allowed him to keep growing was that he had this community of people who really loved him. Gabriel was incredibly loved. And one of the reasons he was loved is because he communicated with his community. He just kept answering emails and he kept going into forums and responding and so on, and was just fantastic. In my interview with him, in addition to asking him, “How are you building this new search engine and what did you do before,” etcetera, I just asked him something that seemed very basic. “How are you responding to all the emails that are coming in from people who want to be a part of helping you take on Google?”
One thing he told me was he uses this help desk software to respond to email. And I looked into it after the interview and I totally got why he used help desk software. The reason that he does is because it makes it easier to respond to email, but also if you find that there’s an answer that you have to give somebody multiple times, you don’t have to keep typing that response over and over. You can actually create a short cut that allows you to respond with it or, better yet, something that even Gmail won’t let you do. With the right help software you can even create the answer easily on a web page, on a help page that people can read before they even fire off an email to you. That’s why Gabriel was able to do so well.
I actually investigated Gabriel’s software and it stinks. The software that he used is so antiquated. The company hasn’t modernized it, and that’s why he left them. If you look at his site right now, his help software is not the one that he talked about. It’s just awful. So what is good help software if you’re out there trying to take good care of your customers because they love you and they’re passionate about you the way that they were with Gabriel. I should say that Gabriel today is no longer on a quixotic journey. He raises a lot of money because he got incredible traction. Last I checked he’s doing 10,000,000 searches a day. And no wonder he’s doing it, he’s imbedded in Apple products. Apple likes his software so much that if you want to, one of the few search options is his software, DuckDuckGo.
Anyway, if you want that kind of community that will help you, if you want to take care of your customers to that degree, what help software should you use? Well, there’s one that other interviewees have used on Mixergy, there’s one that you might have seen advertised, there’s one whose company is doing so well that I interviewed because I had to figure out how did this guy do such an incredible job of taking on the help software and building it up. And that company is Freshdesk. Fresh like I smell fresh right now, and desk because like help desk software.
Freshdesk, a fresh new approach to help desk software. They’ll give it to you for free to sign up and try and explore and see if it’s the right fit for you. My sense is it will be because it has all the features that we’ve talked about. Email support channel, allows you to create community forums, allows you to create game mechanics, allows you to do so many things more than I can ever tell you here. They actually gave me a list of things that they wanted me to tell you. I’ll read it to you and you’ll see why I don’t want to go into too many details.
They’re saying makes, let me see, Freshdesk has over 40,000 customers around the world. Honda, Hugo Boss, right there I don’t think we should read it. Because if you’re listening to me, you’re not Honda, you’re not Hugo Boss. You’re a smaller company and you should know that smaller companies do really and especially smaller companies, do really well with Freshdesk. Even if you’re a one-man operation, it will make it easier for you to respond to people and create answers before you even get the question. They shouldn’t even email you if it’s a question you’ve answered before. They should just have it up on your community forums. Freshdesk allows you to do that.
Freshdesk is beautiful, you can try it out, within minutes you can explore it and see for yourself all the features I’m not going to list here. All you have to do is go to Mixergy.com/freshdesk, and I know that a lot of people are going to like it because after I interviewed the founder I started getting emails from the company saying, “Can we sponsor? Can we sponsor?” They must have gotten a lot of customers from Mixergy and they want more. They must be happy with the customers and they want more. So now they’re paying me to talk about Freshdesk, and I’m happy to do it because they’re a great company.
Go to Mixergy.com/freshdesk. When you do that you’ll be able to sign up for free, experiment, keep it for as long as you want. It will grow with you as you start to hire people, you can easily integrate them in there and have them create the forum pages, have them respond to people. I really am happy with Freshdesk. I’m happy to promote Freshdesk. What I want you to take from this is, first of all, sign up for Freshdesk, but at the very least if you hate me, if you have everything that I’m telling you, at least take away that you should get some kind of help desk software to allow you to more easily respond to emails and take good care of customers before they even have to email you.
All right, Freshdesk is the name of the company. Go to Mixergy.com/freshdesk to use them for free.
Hey, Matt, that’s a brand new sponsor for me. I’m not even sure how long I went, I intentionally didn’t look at the time because I said I’m just going to speak. How do you feel as a sales person? Give me feedback, quality . . . even rip into me a little bit if you think I could have done a better job. As a sales person, what do you think.
Matt: I think perhaps a little bit too long. Perhaps too many Freshdesk wording because it’s a bit spammy. Otherwise I’m going to go check it out. Sounds good.
Andrew: That’s a good point. I intentionally didn’t bring them up until later on, but once I brought them up it was like Freshdesk over and over, yeah.
Matt: I think good intro as well, the way you described the problem and then went into the solution kind of thing. Yeah. It got me
Andrew: Thanks. That’s a format I’ve been trying to use for everything. What’s the problem and illustrate it with a story and then what’s the solution and illustrate that and so on. And then what’s the benefit and how do people sign up and what’s the incentive for signing up. All right, we did all that. Now it’s time to come back to you. You’ve got all this. Is this legal for you to go to a wholesaler and buy watches?
Matt: Yeah, I thought so. I thought free trade. I think me in Britain I can go and buy something from the United States and it’s all cool. I thought so.
Andrew: I thought so too, and frankly this is a battle that’s been going on for a long time because Amazon’s doing it.
Matt: Yep. Yep.
Andrew: It’s a sore topic though. So you did this, this is not what they wanted you to do, but fine. You’re a small guy trying to make it in the early 2000s. You get the watches, you now have a website, you’ve got a logo, everything’s ready to go except you now need sales. How do you get your first customers? What do you do?
Matt: Okay, so the first thing you do is you wait for three weeks and nothing happens. You think, “Screw this. I’m just going to give up. I’m going to go back and find a job, I’ve got no money left. I’ve racked up my credit card bills.” And then I got one sale, completely out of the blue for a Gucci watch for ?400 and that kind of inspired me. I thought, okay, we’ve gotten one sale. About two weeks later we got a second sale.
Andrew: It was just random, they just found you online?
Matt: No, initially we did nothing. Then I did PPC ads with Google AdWords.
Andrew: Got it.
Matt: And back then there was actually no competition. So we’re paying like 5p a click kind of thing. We started that small and that gradually went up and that was our main source of income, basically the first 12 months, Google AdWords.
Andrew: Just buying Google AdWords and selling watches, Google AdWords must have cost you dollars at the time, not hundreds but single dollars.
Matt: Yeah. I think the first bill was about $20. There was no competition. No one was bidding on these key words, it was fantastic. Looking back on it now I think, oh my gosh. A few years ago we were spending [inaudible 00:20:57] sums of money on Google AdWords.
Andrew: The founder of Magenta told me that I think, he got his first big customer for like five cents and we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars in business. Yeah, it was easy pickings back then.
Matt: It was.
Andrew: I’m on your site right now looking at the early version of your site, and I see under Gucci you have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 watches, actually a total of 12 watches. If I were able to go to the second page, I would probably see that but I’m just on a screenshot. How did you have so many watches? Did you really put them all on your credit card?
Matt: No. What we did, actually I only bought one watch to start with. The rest we just took pictures from the internet where we could find them and found out information about them and put them up there. The idea was if someone buys them, we’ll go and try and find the watch from some shop somewhere. It was kind of like preview it first, we do an invest, why would we want to invest without money first to start with.
Andrew: Okay, and you were starting to prove there was a market there.
Matt: Yeah. The sales start coming in more regular, we get one sale a week. Then two sales a week. It starts quite quickly within a few months getting quite consistent, the sales.
Andrew: How much revenue, do you remember, did you do in the first year?
Matt: I think the first year we did about a ?1 million, $1.5 million.
Andrew: $1.5 million first year of business doing essentially AdWords to sell watches that you buy from a wholesaler.
Matt: Correct, yes.
Andrew: That’s amazing. Were you enthused?
Matt: I was, but we were so busy we didn’t really stop to think about it. We just thought what more could we do? Because it was going well, all we could focus on was about how to get to more and more sales. We had lots of issues and getting watches was difficult. Currency issues. Customers were quite demanding. So we didn’t really think about if we’re doing well or not kind of thing.
Andrew: Suddenly I’m hearing you use “we.” In the beginning we were talking about “I.” So let’s talk about this transition. At first it was just “I,” just you, Matt Warren, working on this in your spare time, right? You still kept your job.
Matt: No, I quit my job.
Andrew: You did?
Matt: As soon as I started this I had a bit of a falling out with my boss. He kind of sacked me, I kind of left. I’m not sure which.
Andrew: Why did he sack you or why did you leave?
Matt: That’s a good question and the reason was the company was financially in a bit of trouble. I was the highest paid engineer by far and I think he was getting quite stressed. It was a bit of everything kind of thing.
Matt: At the timing was right for me anyway so I happily left.
Andrew: Okay, and then who’s the first person you hired?
Matt: The first person I hired was a girl called Jo, a young girl. We just needed help just picking and packing watches, processing orders and stuff like that.
Andrew: Okay. Then who was the highest person that you hired in the first year?
Matt: It was a guy called Lee, we kind of stole him from a jewelers. He had a lot of experience in the trade and he was quite expensive, he made a lot more money than I was from the business. He brought a lot of experience from the watches and that kind of stuff to us.
Andrew: I know that one of the reasons why you’re calm right now is because this is your first on-camera interview, right? So it’s not something that you’re especially comfortable doing on a regular . . . did I just lose you?
Matt: No, I’m still here.
Andrew: So it’s . . .
Matt: Right now, sorry.
Andrew: That’s one of the reasons why you’re not super enthused. But at the time, when things were going well, did you say, “I can’t believe it. I got it. This is working and this is going to be my new business. I’m an online entrepreneur.”
Matt: I guess so. I guess I thought it was pretty cool. I think in the second year we did the revenue up quite a lot. At that point my life changed quite a lot. We had a lot of money and it was quite cool. I could buy some nice cars, I could have big house. It was fun, it was really a lot of fun.
Andrew: What was the nicest car that you bought?
Matt: At one point I had seven cars. I had a Lamborghini Gallardo, Aston Martin DB9, Maserati, few Porsches, I was bit of a car fanatic back then. I loved cars.
Andrew: They are kind of connected, watches and cars, right?
Matt: Yeah, they are. Yeah kind of. I’m not that kind of person any more, but definitely.
Andrew: And this is all as you’re building up Blitz Watches, right?
Andrew: Wow. Did you get time to party? Do you get time to take the cars out with people or where is it, just sitting in the garage while you worked?
Matt: About six months or a year after I started Blitz I met my wife, so I probably didn’t take advantage of all the things I had at the time.
Andrew: Do you remember the car you drove her in the day you met her?
Matt: It was in, that was probably an Audi I think?
Andrew: Do you remember the watch you wore?
Matt: Wow, I think it was TAG Heuer watch.
Andrew: Do you really remember or is it just that’s the watch you probably would’ve worn.
Matt: I think I remember because we were having dinner and she said something like, “I like your watch.” So that kind of sticks in my head.
Andrew: So AdWords wasn’t going to get you to that level. At your height how much revenue did you do a year?
Matt: ?5 million.
Andrew: With Blitz?
Matt: With Blitz, yeah.
Andrew: So about $7.5 million U.S.
Matt: Yes, that’s right.
Andrew: That’s not AdWords that’s delivering all those customers, right?
Matt: No, correct, yes. After about a year SEO starts to really kick in. Again we dominate quite easily. I didn’t know anything about SEO at the time, but quite quickly it was dominating because no one was in the field. Starting in, I think by our second or third year, SEO was 50%, 60% of our sales. PPC was about 30%, 40%.
Andrew: Your url structure is pretty advanced for the time.
Andrew: Was that intentional?
Matt: It was kind of, I wanted something really simple and basic just to work. I was not a designer so it doesn’t look beautiful. I wanted something really functional and quick, I just want to buy something quickly.
Andrew: Yeah, the site was quick. The design was functional, like you said, not especially beautiful but it worked.
Andrew: But the url, it feels like, did you do the coding or the architecting of it?
Matt: Yes, I did it from scratch. I just created an ecommerce site basically. In fact, looking back now I developed that site and I used it for Jura as well, the same code base, the same engine. I wish I’d now turned that into a product in itself. I’d have become Shopify effectively because it was well practiced and used, used to doing volume.
Andrew: Tell me if you even remember why you did this? The url, if I were looking at a set of watches, let me click on one I can actually pronounce. There we go. All right, this url is different but here’s what I mean. It says blitzwatches.co.uk/products-series.asp? and then type= whatever it is. So you didn’t create static pages, it was, do you remember anything about how you structured the site?
Matt: Yes, that was bad from an SEO point of view now. But at the time it was about functionality into the coding, about how it would work kind of thing. So looking back, that’s kind of horrific from an SEO point of view.
Andrew: I can’t find it but I see what you mean. That you don’t want it to be a variable, but the name of the product is in the url’s.
Andrew: So that wasn’t intentional but you did build it, you had that all in mind. Life is good, you’re driving great cars, you are in love, you found a woman you’re getting married to, you get married, everything is going great, and then you get a lawsuit.
Matt: Yeah, three lawsuits in fact.
Andrew: Did you get any notice before they came?
Matt: I don’t think we did, no. I think literally the first thing arrived was this big box of files saying, “We’re going to sue you.” Swatch Group, TAG LVM Hedge which owns TAG Heuer, and Gucci, all within a few months of each other. I’m assuming they coordinated perhaps, maybe.
Andrew: Right. Maybe they were using one company that spotted you and told all of them to go sue.
Matt: Yeah, possibly. Yeah.
Andrew: And did they just want you to take it down or did they want you to pay for past damages to their brands?
Matt: Oh no, they wanted everything. They wanted to destroy Blitz, because we were discounting watches so we were getting a Rolex watch and TAG watch and we’re offering it a lot cheaper. And part of the luxury watch world is the price is really important because if you sell discounted something that’s luxury, it’s not luxury anymore. If it’s easy to get it’s not luxury. What we’re doing is, they would argue, we were damaging their brand. What we would say is it’s a free market. We can buy and sell whatever we want. So what they sued us on was an IP infringement.
Andrew: Why you have their photos on your site?
Matt: No, not for that reason, that’s copyright. IP infringement is when, is [inaudible 00:30:07] that we pull the watches from the States, but IP law means those watches need to be offered in the European Union first for sale. It’s a stupid, crappy, silly law.
Andrew: That’s intellectual property law that if you make something available, that they can decide where they make their intellectual property available first?
Andrew: I see.
Matt: So if you put a pair of Nike Trainers from say the UK now on eBay, technically you’re breaking Nike’s IP and Nike could technically sue you. For one pair of trainers, Nike don’t care. But we were selling more Gucci watches than Gucci were in UK. So you can understand their anger at us and Gucci UK was effectively . . . we were losing them money as a distributor in the UK.
Andrew: So do you go to your lawyer and does the lawyer say to you that, “You’re right but it’s going to be expensive”? Or does your lawyer say, “Hey, it’s a stupid law but they’re right”?
Matt: Well, that’s the thing about lawyers, isn’t it? They always want to fight your side, and that’s what lawyers want to do. They make their money from fighting and they just want to fight. So we went to lawyers and they were keen to fight, funnily enough. They said there’s a chance. They kind of said the law is the law, but they have to prove it correctly and there’s lots of loopholes and lots of technicalities, and we were in a position where, what do we do? Do we give in and try and settle? But if you do that, you try and settle, then they’ll think you’re weak and they’ll try to take you for every single penny. So you’ve got to fight. So you fight with the aim of settling, which is silly. But that’s what they recommend. And that’s what we did.
Andrew: And you fought, but while you were fighting, before the settling . . . now, I’m about to ask you a question, there are two ways you can take the answer, you can just say factually what happened and move on and no one will care, no one will remember, no one will relate to, and it will be safe. Or you can take the more vulnerable position and just really get open about what happened at the time. You were, here’s the question, you were at the time even contemplating suicide. Could you talk about that?
Matt: It wasn’t at that time. After everything was over, after we got sued, after we settled, after we paid all the lawyer’s bill, I think we spent about ?300,000 on our own lawyer’s bill, about $500,000 just fighting, fighting them to get to a stage where we could settle with them. And the settlement was hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. So it wiped out everything, wiped out the business, wiped out me personally completely. I lost everything. And for me it was quite shameful, I guess. My first really big business and I’d lost it all.
People don’t care whether someone sued me or whether I run it badly. They didn’t care that commercially it was very successful. All they saw was Matt, he failed, he’s a mess up. Especially I guess with family. I didn’t want them to think of me like that. At the point where I lost everything and I owed people lots of money, I was like, how do I get out of this mess? What do I do? And I did contemplate suicide, as an exit, for a few seconds. Because really I’m not helping my wife or my child who’d just been born, I’m not helping my other family. I’m being really selfish. I need to dig deep, get over it and try and sort it out as best I can basically.
Andrew: Did you feel like maybe your wife wasn’t going to love you any more or not have enough time to love you because of how you were feeling? Because of what happened to you I should say?
Matt: I think my wife is really supportive. I think she really helped. She didn’t think I’d failed. Perhaps some other members of my family did think that.
Andrew: Was there one person specifically that you know who saw it as a failure?
Matt: Probably quite a few, quite a few of them did.
Andrew: You’ve got them in your mind and you remember.
Matt: Absolutely. Because they didn’t understand and they couldn’t understand what happened. Therefore they probably assumed the worst of it.
Andrew: Did you go get a job after that?
Matt: No. No. Before we finished getting sued we planned to stop doing Blitz. It was getting harder and harder to buy the watches. Ten companies sprouted up copying us. Margins were getting reduced, and we could, as you go into the higher market, the more higher end luxury and doing it properly, be the first proper official retailer in the world to sell watches is what we thought we would do. So we started planning this, we started thinking about a brand, then we got sued. So that kind of got paused while we dealt with this.
And after the suing stuff came to an end, we said, “Do we do this?” We’d come up with this new brand called Jura to do it properly and we’d invested quite a bit of money in it already. So we kind of had to do it. But at the time I didn’t want to do it. I thought, I’ve just had enough, I just need to get out of watches. I don’t want to see another watch in my life ever again. I also didn’t want to take this huge amount of risk again. But having put so much money into it already, having committed to other people, I felt like I had to. And we’d already committed. So we basically raised money for Jura from investors. We had four angel investors. We’d committed to a lease and a shop in central London, so to pull out would have been very difficult.
Andrew: I see, and this was going to be a separate business.
Matt: Absolutely. Yes.
Andrew: So that code base could come with it, your knowledge of the industry could come with it. But it was going to be a separate business so if one was sued the other could still stand. The reason you needed to open up the store is something I learned in a past Mixergy interview. They will sell to you if you have a store, and if you have a store you can have a website for that store. But you can’t just have a website.
Matt: Correct. That’s right. Yes. But it’s more complicated than that because even with a store, the watch brands didn’t want us to sell online. And the big watch brands didn’t want to touch us because we were a brand new retailer. If you’re someone like Rolex, they’ve got like 10 shops in UK. To be more luxurious you need to have less shops. They don’t open new shops, they close them down, become more luxurious. So then you go to them and say, “Can I have a shop?”
So what we had to do to start with was go to the very low, small watch brands, the ones that were not that cool, to get them on board. Make them successful with us, prove that we could sell the line so we could get to the next watch brand that’s slightly up the ladder. Try bit by bit, prove ourselves as a brand that we could do it and prove it to the bigger watch brands that we could be successful for them.
Andrew: And that’s what you did to keep building yourself up?
Matt: Yeah, that was really difficult. Because we raised initially about ?500,000 to open Jura. So we opened this really swanky shop, because the watch brands come in and they look at it and decide whether they want their products to be in there. So we spent about $500,000 on just the shop. We had 106-inch giant plasma screen and these custom b-spoke units, fancy floors, right in the heart of London the rent is very . . .
Andrew: Was that in Hanover Square?
Matt: That was the office. The shop was in Burlington Gardens, which is between Bond Street and Regent Street.
Matt: And so we, it was mad, because we spent all this money, hired all the staff to run the shop, and we got all this money from investors, and then we launched it and it went horribly wrong.
Andrew: What happened?
Matt: No one bought anything, that’s what went wrong.
Andrew: No one wanted to come into the store and buy because?
Matt: Because, one, we didn’t have great watches, and secondly we had no retail experience of running a physical store.
Matt: So the first mistake we did was our front window, instead of putting like a display of watches, which sound sensible, right? We decided to put these mountains, because Swiss mountains, and put the odd watch up on there. What we worked out later was everyone thought we were a gallery, we didn’t actually sell watches, and they didn’t come into the shop. So that was a good lesson to learn. But after three months of opening, and we basically had virtually no turn over.
Andrew: Turn over for the U.S. means you had no sales, people were not buying.
Matt: We had no in-store sales. The online side was doing some stuff, but we were losing about $100,000 a month. So after three months of launching we had virtually no money left. So that was, to be in that position less than a year later after Blitz had gone bust, was pretty hard. Yeah, it was really hard.
Andrew: I can’t believe you just keep going. But I guess at this point the business has a momentum of its own so you have to keep going, right?
Matt: Yeah, we had to keep going. We had investors on us. Banks had committed money, I’d put my personal guarantees to banks, to investors and to everyone. I couldn’t let this fail. Blitz had gone bad, this could not fail. I had to fix this problem.
So we went back to the investors and we told them, “Yeah, we launched three months ago and our sales have been nothing and we’ve run out of money. Can we have some more money please?” And I was expecting that meeting to go terribly, badly wrong. I was expecting the worst grilling of my life. Weirdly it went really well. And they were really supportive and they gave us more money.
Andrew: Wow. How much more?
Matt: At that point it was about ?150,000.
Matt: The reason they gave us more money was the online sales had done quite well. I think in the first month we did about ?100,000 just online. Still, the whole business was losing money but the online was showing that we can sell luxury watches online and we were the first to do it. So brands like Bell and Ross, we’re the first company in the world to sell them on a website, to get permission to do it.
Andrew: I see. So if you could just get more into the store then it would mean that you’d be able to get more on the website, which means that you could sell more and that’s what they were banking on. So this story just became, if I’m understanding right, the store would just become a show piece. It could frankly be like an art gallery. All you need is just to create the sense of prestige so you can get more brands onto the online store. But as I’m saying it, I’m looking at your expression and understanding that’s not the way it worked.
Matt: No. Yeah, I guess you’re right. But at the same time the store was costing us huge amounts in rent because [inaudible 00:40:35] London, and we had five store staff and they were expensive. So we had to at least make some money to cover it’s own cost. Otherwise the online operation couldn’t finance it.
Andrew: Why open, you said five stores?
Matt: No, we opened one store.
Andrew: Okay. So it had to make some money. What did you do to get the store to turn around so it could pay for itself?
Matt: We took advice. We asked people. We asked people in the industry why is it so badly? And we listened and we took action. We changed the store, we changed the staff. We changed the layout, we changed the front window. We fixed the problems. We also used the online to really promote the store. We had a lot of visitors to the website and we used that as sort of our advantage to funnel people down there.
Andrew: I see. You were still doing SEO. I saw all kinds of links on the home page to the different watches that you sell. Which at the time, we’re talking maybe 2008, was still a little bit effective.
Andrew: So you did know the online stuff really, really well. When you said you got advice from people who had store or retail experience, how did you find them? How did you get them to say yes, to come over and give you solid feedback?
Matt: I think that’s the great thing I found is, that you ask most people, you go up to someone and say, “Hey, you know a lot about this stuff. You seem to be a guru in this. Can you help me? Can I ask your advice?” You ask someone’s advice, I find most times people will make the time to give that to you. You just have to ask and be humble about it. Be grateful afterwards.
Andrew: Who’s the person who gave you really, I was going to say the best advice, but that’s hard to decide. Who’s someone who gave you some of the best advice you got?
Matt: During Jura?
Andrew: Yeah, for the store.
Matt: The store, I think . . . do you know, I can’t even remember. We spoke to so many people and I think it was one of the watch brands, actually. His job was to be a rep. He goes to all the different shops to sell his watches. So he sees a lot of shops. I took him out for coffee and I think bought him lunch even, and he just told me about all the different stores. He told me which ones did the best, how many sales they got. He told me why they did the best, and I think his advice was probably the most useful.
Andrew: I see. So then things start to turn around, but you still need to build up the website, right? So you get even more sales from the site. What did you do to get more traffic into the site in a world where now AdWords were starting to get expensive?
Matt: We focused on the watch community. There’s lots of people obsessed about watches. You can Google watch forums and there’s about 50 of them, and people will talk day and night about watches. So we targeted those. We started actively contributing, not spamming them, but actually being useful because we happen to know quite a lot about watches. We got involved in those and naturally we’ve become a bit of a source as the place to go to find out about watches. So rather than just being an ecommerce store, we wanted to be an information hub about watches. Pictures, images, dimensions. And what we found is people started using us as a resource just to find out information.
Andrew: I see. Like forum.watch.ru people were talking about you on, I can’t find any others right now in real time. But who has the time to go and sit do that? That’s not you who sits down and goes to forums and answers, right?
Matt: Oh yeah, definitely. Yeah.
Andrew: It is you?
Matt: Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew: You went to those vBulletin boards and you started answering questions and linking back. That was you?
Matt: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. In the day at Jura there’s store staff and there’s effectively me and one other person in the company. So we did everything from shipping watches, answering the phones, emailing the customers, hustling, marketing, we did everything. Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew: Here’s what I see in my research. There are two other things that seem, at least for me, that helped you. You said you became an authority. The other that I see is that you started getting articles written about you. I’m seeing here in SimilarWeb, for example, that Esquire was linking to you guys. I’ve seen other publications mention you. Was that effective for you?
Matt: Well, the key to that was I hired a really good marketing director. He didn’t have much experience online at all, but he was the best hustler in the world. He would do deals that would not cost us anything. So we get into Esquire Magazine, we get into all these magazines, and he’d leverage the watch brand against the magazine. So we’d use the watch brand’s money to get into the magazine through us.
Andrew: What was the angle for getting in the magazine?
Matt: Watch brands want to go in magazines and effectively he’d get three or four watch brands together, get them to contribute a pot of money. He’d go to the magazine like Esquire and offer them like a watch piece effectively to do that.
Andrew: What’s the watch piece?
Matt: It would be like, perhaps, what’s the best James Bond watches or something like that. He’d do all the research, a bit of writing, he collected photography, and kind of push it onto them. He was brilliant doing that. His budget was zero and he got everything for free.
Andrew: Budget was zero, but what the watch companies contributed was they contributed the photos or did they contribute the money to take the photos?
Matt: Money, yeah. The money.
Andrew: And the money was just used for photos or what else was it used for?
Matt: So we hired a good watch journalist to write the copy. At one point I think in 2011 we did our own magazine. A 24-page magazine. I think it cost about $40,000 to create it and send it out to loads of people. And we completely funded that from the watch brands. They paid to be in our watch magazine. And we made a bit of profit on that. It predominantly is about Jura having its own watch magazine.
Andrew: How did you sell the magazine?
Matt: So we gave it to every customer, we had big data space by this stage, people who had bought watches. We also gave it away in a national newspaper as well, which was quite expensive.
Andrew: But there’s no profit in just giving it away to your customers and a national newspaper. You said you made a little bit of profit, I was surprised. Where’s the money coming from?
Matt: Well, the watch brands. They pay to be in the magazine.
Andrew: Oh, I see. They pay to be in there, you use that to fund the magazine and you have a little bit extra left over and all you have to do, not all you have to do is still work, you have to get that magazine out to your customers and you get it out to other publications customers. Okay, so that’s the second thing that I saw. Here’s the third. I see that eBay UK is sending you guys customers. Amazon.co.uk is sending you guys customers. Shopify.com is sending you guys some customers. In addition to all these publications, it’s retail stores that are sending you customers, right?
Matt: Yeah. So we became like a resource, a lot of factual knowledge. So we find eBay, someone is selling a watch on eBay, and it linked to us to say, “This is the watch I’m selling.” We’d have all these back links and click-throughs. And we find the customers end up buying it from us and not from eBay.
Andrew: Okay. So this is not that eBay is, that you’re selling on eBay or selling on Amazon. It’s that those sellers are saying, well, I’ve got this thing. Go look at their site to understand what it is.
Andrew: I see. Oh, wow. And you’re tracking to see that customers are actually coming in from that?
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. We were quite . . . we track everything. So if something is working quite well we can try and encourage it or replicate it further.
Andrew: At your height, how much revenue did you do at Jura before you sold?
Matt: Peak was about ?5.5 million.
Matt: $7.5 or $8 million.
Andrew: And this time all with the blessings of those companies that initially sued you. Did every single one of them come back?
Matt: Except for Gucci, yes, they did.
Andrew: Except for Gucci.
Matt: LVMH did and Swatch Group, yes.
Andrew: You’re like the Sean Parker of watches, you remember Sean Parker was sued, in the Napster days, and today all of those companies are back working with him on Spotify.
Matt: Yeah, it was quite cool and then most of the guys that sued me took me out for coffee and asked me advice on how to stop other people doing what Blitz did, which was what they call gray marketing effectively. So I became a consultant.
Andrew: A paid consultant or a friend consultant?
Matt: Definitely not paid.
Andrew: Like Frank Abagnale, the Catch Me if You Can guy.
Matt: Exactly. I’d already given them all my money, they took everything I had, so.
Andrew: Now the knowledge. All right. The business did well. You sold the company. Why did you sell?
Matt: My passion is tech. I’ve been a geek, I’ve been a programmer all my life. I didn’t actually want to sell watches, I just kind of fell into it and spent 10 years doing it. So at the time I didn’t have time for selling watches, the tech world was going, kicking off crazy. I wanted to build a tech product, a global tech product, so I thought it was time to sell the business.
Andrew: How did you find a company to buy it?
Matt: I knew the company for a long time because we had relationships on and off. They were jewelers, the biggest jewelers in the UK, so I knew them quite well and I trusted them. Actually one of the reasons, what actually happened was, we didn’t just sell it initially. I was living in London, my dad passed away five years ago and it was quite life changing for me. Because most of my family actually lived in Wales and when he passed away quite suddenly I kind of made a decision to move back to Wales, which is three hours away from London. And I couldn’t really run Jura from there. So I thought, what am I going to do?
So we took a half measure, we tried to sell the retail store, keep the online stuff which I could still run from Wales. So we sold off the retail stores and kept the online stuff going but we partnered with this other company to basically handle the physical side of it. So they’d hold the stock and dispatch it. Effectively we’d done the marketing of it basically and we did that for three years.
Andrew: Wow. And then you sold it to C.W. Sellers.
Andrew: How much did you sell it for?
Matt: Unfortunately I can’t tell that.
Andrew: You now have enough money you could buy another, what was that car you bought before, the Audi and the Lamborghini. What’s the poshest car you have?
Matt: I have a very normal car now. I’ve lost the thing for having a nice car. I lost so much money in the Lamborghini. I bought it for ?130,000 and I sold it for ?70,000. I could start another business the amount of money I lost in that car.
Matt: So now no more nice cars for me.
Andrew: So is it just a Prius now? Save money on gas and on the car?
Matt: I’m afraid it’s how big is the boot for the kids now. That’s where we’re at with cars.
Andrew: I’m so bummed. I have to buy a car now. I live in San Francisco and I love that I could take Uber everywhere and [inaudible 00:51:42] and stuff gets delivered, but I’ve got a one-year-old.
Matt: I wish we had Uber, we don’t have Uber yet. We’re kind of not there yet.
Andrew: Life will change when you get it.
Matt: I can’t wait.
Andrew: Another thing is you’re not in London anymore, right? You’re in Wales? So London, just like in San Francisco, it’s overcast. It’s not pretty out. I want to get a car just so I can drive out of here. I get so bummed sometimes.
Matt: Yeah. Wales is great for that. We’ve got mountains, we’ve got the sea.
Andrew: Yeah. I get living in London but I think I’d prefer Wales also, I’m with you. Especially if I had family. I don’t know anyone in Wales so I’d probably be stuck. So you started this company, I really like the idea behind it now that I’ve gotten to know you I understand why you do it. I just don’t know why you gave it that name. That’s a pretty hard name to pronounce and spell, Veeqo.
Matt: The marketing director at Jura he taught me a lot. One of the things I’ve learned through my career is always learn from people and I learned from Allister a lot about branding, how important a brand is. Before I started Jura I wanted to call it Swisswatches, LuxuryWatches.com. Because in my head I was thinking, it says what it does, it’ll SEO brilliantly.
Then he told me, “You can call it luxurywatches.com but no one will remember your name. It’s two generic terms.” He taught me about creating a name that people will associate with what you do. So Veeqo is about helping retailers manage their stock and shipping their orders. It means nothing. But hopefully it will become to mean something to everyone and that’s the idea behind it.
Andrew: I get it. That makes sense. And you know what? The design of this new site, to be honest with you, I’m looking through the source code to see what you built it on so I can copy it, is it a theme that I can go get, is it a platform that’s available. No, this is all you customized.
Matt: Yeah, yeah, fully customized, yeah.
Andrew: It’s a really well-designed site and my favorite part of the whole site is, first of all the headline is very clear, you didn’t pick a very clear name. It doesn’t tell me immediately what it does but the headline does. Where is that? There it is. It’s the one that shows, it’s like this gift that zooms in that shows me how I can keep track of my inventory at Amazon, eBay, on WooCommerce, Shopify, all in one dashboard.
Andrew: You actually have multiple gifs like that. But that one is the one that’s most helpful for me. And there’s another one that shows me how I can easily ship everything, I see all my orders from all those different platforms on one page. I can click one check box that checks all, meaning check all the items that I’ve recently sold and hit print, and then I get shipping labels for all those items that I sold. It’s a very beautiful product.
Matt: Yeah. No, I think so. I think over ten years selling online I had so many problems, and one of the things I struggled with was we’d sell something on our web store and then a customer would walk into the shop thinking it was in stock. We’d have to tell him to wait because we sold the last one online, what we call overselling, it’s massive problem because the system is disconnected. The system using the shop isn’t connected to your website and some people sell on Amazon and eBay and they’re all disconnected. And so you have staff try to go and update them all manually which in the middle of the night you can’t do either.
Andrew: So if I had five items and I list five on Amazon, and five for simplicity on eBay, and five immediately overnight sell on eBay, will you pull them from Amazon so they’re not available there?
Matt: We’ll do it in real time. As soon as you sell them on Amazon, Veeqo will update eBay immediately in seconds.
Andrew: And pull it from eBay so I’m not double selling.
Andrew: And then there’s printing shipping labels. All this stuff that now that I know that you’re a techie, I get why this company works the way it does. Before that I didn’t get it. To be honest with you here’s what I thought. I said this guy made a lot of money selling watches, he must have hired a younger, newer entrepreneur who’s just got this talent. And he now is the face of the company, meaning you are the face of the company but there is someone else who really knows how this stuff works. And it’s more tech for you than it was watches.
Matt: Absolutely tech, yeah.
Andrew: How did you validate this? How did you make sure that other people had this problem the way that you did? Needed the same platforms that you did? Like Zero for example, you weren’t using Zero to manage your books before, right?
Matt: No, we were, yeah. I was, yeah.
Andrew: Oh, you were. I see.
Matt: Absolutely. We validate because I spent 10 years doing this and I knew the problem and I’d spent a year looking at all the different systems out there. I tried everything. Because up until then I’d built my own systems. But I don’t have time to code and I was getting crap at it to be honest anyway. So I just wanted to buy something that worked and we could use and it would save my staff lots of time and stuff. I tried it all but it was all crap, they all have major problems. It was either really powerful or too complicated or so expensive, like only an enterprise customer could afford it.
So I wanted to build something that was real easy to use and not too expensive and did everything I wanted it to do. Sync the stock, make shipping orders a lot faster, and give me visibility about am I actually making a profit. One thing retailers struggle with, you’re selling on Amazon, you’re selling in your store, how much did I pay for these different things? You have to get your accountant in to work out the cost price and trying to get instant how much profit did I make last week or last month compared to last year, was impossible. It kind of motivated me, thinking, all right, I’m just going to make my own thing.
Andrew: How much did it cost you to build it?
Matt: It cost me a lot of money every month. We currently have 15 developers working for us.
Andrew: I see, I see. How much did you raise?
Matt: In the last two years we’ve raised about $1.5 million so far.
Andrew: Wow. And I can see part of your traffic again, I’m just spying on you using SimilarWeb. I really recommend anyone who’s listening to me who’s interested in their competition, I’m using the pro version of SimilarWeb. But even the free version works so well that for years I used it. You just can tell where people are getting their traffic. SimilarWeb, here, so you don’t have to type it I’ll put it in your chat box, you’ve got to see it.
Matt: Thank you.
Andrew: Similarweb.com. So it gives me all the different places that you’re getting traffic and your number one source of referral traffic. Not search, not social etcetera, is WordPress.org. Number two is WooThemes.com, and the reason for that is because you integrate with those platforms and so they send traffic to you.
I’m also seeing some of what worked for you with the watch business is Warrior Forums is linking to you. Some article sites. How is that coming about? How are you getting on these sites, like Tech Hub seems to be sending you some traffic.
Matt: So yeah, I think content is massive now. So we have four or five guys in [inaudible 00:58:38] purely working on just content. And that’s hard work. Writing very interesting original content is incredibly hard. And then distributing it is just as hard as doing that so we focus on finding interesting topics to write about, research it thoroughly, write something interesting and then if you do that then distributing it becomes easier and you can get those back links there which are so important for SEO.
Andrew: I remember interviewing the founder of Snap Engage about how he got his customers. And he said we integrate with a lot of different properties and by integrating we get listed on their sites and we ask them every time we make an integration to announce it to their audience. I’ve been wondering ever since, is that enough? Could that be enough of a source of traffic for a company? No, it’s not.
Matt: No, I think we generate about 20% of our traffic from WooCommerce, Shopify, Zero, but it’s not enough. It’s good quality traffic definitely because they’re hot leads for us, those kinds of things. But it’s not enough, definitely. Because people don’t generally go off into the App Stores in Shopify to do stuff. Quite often they don’t know they’ve got a problem that they need Veeqo to solve it. So we’ve got to get in front of them before that kind of thing.
For us that’s about 20%. SEO brings in about 50%. PPC doesn’t really work for this business. The key words are too diverse and small to really work for us. Our partners are very important for us. So for us partners are web design agencies who may build 10 ecommerce companies a year for their customers and they recommend Veeqo. Then it goes down very well with the customer. So we focus heavily on acquiring partners.
Andrew: How do you acquire partners like that?
Matt: We incentivize them, we offer them 20% ongoing commission and that’s generally very attractive to them.
Andrew: What’s your process for reaching out to them so they know you exist and hear you out?
Matt: So we identify them, we build lists. So for example we troll Shopify.com for the experts. We make our own database. We email them, we phone them. We hassle them until they say yes.
Andrew: This process then is manual. It’s not just about sending them email, its first step is we shoot them an email, second step is this, third step and then phone and so on until they say yes or they tell us no more.
Matt: Yes, we send a blast email initially just kind of warm them up a little bit. And then we follow up with phone calls and personal emails until we can try and close them. And we treat them like a sales lead. We put them into our sales CRM and we follow them through until we can actually close them.
Andrew: What sales CRM do you use?
Matt: Base CRM.
Andrew: Base CRM.
Matt: It is awesome, really awesome.
Andrew: I see here, yeah, you don’t get to buy a lot of search terms. You guys have Shopify inventory management, Magenta inventory management, retail inventory management software. There’s not a lot of action on those search terms. And social can’t possibly send you enough traffic for it to be worth your while.
Matt: No. Social doesn’t work for us now. Definitely not.
Andrew: All right. Let me just see one more thing. Display advertising. See this is a problem, it’s not actually a problem with SimilarWeb. It’s a problem for me because I’m having a conversation with you. If I’m not having a conversation with you because I’m okay with just going through and hunting around to see what is your creative look like for example. If I’m looking at you like a competitor or someone I want to emulate, this stuff is priceless. I can see all your ads right now
Andrew: Here’s one of your ads. It says, “Multichannel inventory control,” there’s Veeqo in a cloud above that headline and underneath it in circles is eBay, Amazon, circle for Shopify, etcetera. “Start your free trial today.” Yeah.
Matt: We do retargeting ads. That works very well. We get a high conversion on those.
Andrew: Definitely. And who do you use for retargeting?
Matt: Google. We use AdWords.
Andrew: Oh. I didn’t even know that they did this. Now I’m getting too lost in SimilarWeb. SimilarWeb is even showing me the landing page that ads go to. I think it’s a partnership with, what’s the name of that company? Oh, now it’s a different company. It’s Ad Clarity that gives it to them.
Congratulations on your success. I think anyone who’s selling on multiple stores is going to go over and check out your site, Veeqo. But to be honest I’m not sure why you’re doing, I know why I want to have you on, this is a fan-frickin-tastic interview. It’s got idea from a guy who’s like an outsider, right? You’re not Steve Case’s son or anything. It’s got triumph, it’s got tragedy, it’s got rebirth. It’s got ultimate triumph with a brand new outlook on life, right. No need to get those expensive cars. And it’s got a brand new beginning that we can follow along. I know for me this is a fan-frickin-tastic interview with a lot of useful information. I’m just searching to see why are you doing this interview? Why does this become a win for you?
Matt: I guess I’ve never done it before. I guess because it’s interesting and no one’s taken an interest in my life to be honest.
Matt: I guess in the last couple of years, before a year ago I haven’t shared any information. I haven’t told anyone any of this information. I think I’ve reached the stage now, I think what if I share it with people. It’s useful to them. Its [inaudible 01:04:02] new entrepreneurs, where we live it’s quite useful to see actually it’s okay to fail. Failure doesn’t mean the end. And I know, hopefully if I give out then people will give back to me in terms of, give me their advice and share with me their misery and good bits.
Andrew: What’s a good way for them to connect with you and say, “Hey, I learned a lot from you. Thanks for doing this interview”?
Matt: Sure. My email is email@example.com or Twitter is MattWarren7080.
Andrew: Okay. And I want to thank Prince, am I pronouncing his last name correctly? Appah?
Andrew: Prince Appah for introducing us. And thank you for doing this interview. Everyone out there who’s listening to this interview, you now know the Mixergy difference. If you’ve heard other interviews from tech in the tech or start-up world, now you’ve compared mine to them, you’ve got a sense of what this is about. If you like this enough that you want more, all you have to do is subscribe to the podcast. You’ll get every single interview delivered directly to your phone or mobile device or television or whatever it is that you have. Just search for Mixergy.
And if you don’t like this enough to do more, you should replay it because you must’ve missed something. You were snoozing, you were not paying attention, you were not focusing. Go hit replay and then go to your favorite podcast player and subscribe to Mixergy. All right, thanks for doing this interview. Thank you all for being a part of the Mixergy community. Bye, everyone.