Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. You know, one of the things that I’ve noticed is. And Tricia, maybe that maybe I’m the only one who didn’t realize this, but I’ve seen these beautiful, I wouldn’t even call them murals.
It’s just graffiti on a wall that happens to look interesting. Yeah, you’re smiling. Right. You know where I’m going with this? That happens to have like a subtle brand in it. And I think, boy, that’s beautiful. Whoever loved it is. So connecting the person in the mural with the sneaker that the person wore with the thing that they did and ate or loved.
It’s so amazing that brands have this kind of connection that people would just go and spray paint them up then. And I’m usually a cynical person I would see. And then I started researching murals and I realized it’s probably murals doing this
Andrew: or a company that’s trying to hack this together on their own.
Basically what I’ve learned is. If there is a food company, a restaurant that has this beautiful mural out there that kind of includes their brand, or maybe it doesn’t even at all, but is associated with them with the mural. I wouldn’t even call me or I’ll call graffiti. It’s because they found a good local artist it’s because they found the vibe that fits with the city it’s because they went and they made it happen.
And it’s, it’s marketing that feels organic feels artistic, feels like something that you’d see on Instagram when somebody’s standing in front of it. Or just do like, look, let me ask you this, that famous Kobe Bryan photo. Was that a brand that paid for that that’s so that, excuse me, that spray painted mural.
Do you think that could be a brand that paid for that?
Tricia: Possibly. Um, but there were so many Kobe murals after that tragedy. So it’s, it’s really difficult to say, but, you know, I, I know for certain that we certainly get reached out to after that took place for brands that wanted to commemorate him and everything he gave to the game and to people.
So very likely there could have been somebody, you know, putting kind of their money behind sharing something like that.
Andrew: All right. The voice you just heard is Tricia binder. She is the co-founder of murals. I’m going to read your one sentence, but I feel like it’s too stale for how cool your company is here. It is helps brands and businesses collectively and authentically engage audiences. Using local art. I guess what we’re trying to say is it’s not just these big murals on a wall.
It could even be small projects like you’ve guys have augmented reality, which I, I don’t know about. You will also collaborate with art with artists and I’m seeing on your website, will you also do up sneakers for the brand
Tricia: Yeah. So we, I mean, we kind of look at art in any form as a way for different brands or businesses, to be able to connect. We think more authentically with their audiences and in some cases, Cases that’s doing engaging a fine artist to do like live canvas painting. And oftentimes those are given away to charities or other things we’ve worked with some really cool sports teams the Chicago fire to paint cleats and electric guitars and, you know, just different things that people can share with their fans or they can share with their players as recognition sculptures.
I mean, it can really be anything if it’s art forward, we’re into it.
Andrew: All right. This interview where we’re going to find out how she built up this business is sponsored by two phenomenal companies. The first one heard how troubled I was by how much email I had. They said, try us out. And I did. And boy, they are managing my email inbox. So well, it’s called SaneBox. I might be the last person on earth to know about it, but if you go to sanebox.com/mixergy, you’ll get to use it for free and see why I love it, why it’s organized my emails so well.
And the second is HostGator for our hosting websites. If you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, you’ll get a great price and great hosting package. Trisha, what, what do you guys do in revenue wise with murals?
Tricia: Been in business a little over two years. well, it might not sure the exact specifics of it. We were thrilled in that in our first year. We’re able to \ hit a seven figure Mark and grow sales, which far exceeded our expectations. And I think really got us excited because we felt people in Hanley sort of got the idea and the value proposition of this opportunity to work directly with, with artists.
And that’s continued to grow. Of course we hit a bit of a lull during the pandemic. But our sales continued to be strong. We’re investing in people and hiring, and we’re really, really excited about 2021.
Andrew: The 2020 do better than 2019 revenue wise.
Tricia: It’s a bit behind 2019 revenue wise. Because most of Q2 for us, like vanished almost overnight. But the trajectory that we would have been on could have been almost double what it was in 2019 prior to that. So we were, we were pretty much at parity with the year before, just slightly under.
Andrew: Did you find any new revenue sources, any new projects that you wouldn’t have discovered if you weren’t forced to make up some of the revenue loss?
Tricia: We did you know, like literally at the height of COVID \ like in like, I don’t know, mid to late March and we were, you know, again, like overnight it’s like, people didn’t know what was happening. There was you know, stay at home orders and things were shutting down and we knew that that would inherently was going to impact our business.
We work with a lot of sports teams. Sports went away essentially overnight. And we really, it kind of gave us the time to kind of step back and think about projects that we had always sort of wanted to explore, but couldn’t because we were working too fast and furiously before. And one of those things was identifying some really great artists that had not taken their work into like a sculpture or three-dimensional format.
And so in partnering up with them, we were able to take artists who traditionally did, you know, murals canvas work. That kind of stuff and able to move them into these, like this four foot, six foot, eight foot huge sculptures the, which we were able to kind of like build out, learn fabrication, you know, be able to begin selling them into our customers.
And we actually just shipped a batch of four of them and deliver them to one of our early clients I think two weeks ago now. And so that’s been an incredible experience for us in the artists,
Andrew: even selling it on your site. You’re selling it directly to clients, businesses that are looking for sculptures for their workplaces. I’m assuming even though there’s no one going into the workplace right now,
Tricia: More places, but also cities, you know, like if you think of like local parks and things like that, one of the interesting things we saw when we looked around and, you know, going outside and walking around was one of the few things maybe you could do during the pandemic and you go to these like art parks and stuff, and you see a lot of abstracts.
Metal work and things. And, and we, we thought we could create an opportunity for sculptures and by selecting the right artists where it was really tangible and approachable, like a little kid or, you know, somebody who wasn’t in our kind of soar would immediately get it. And that was something that we were excited to kind of champion and get behind, which had we not sort of had that bit of a lull and decided to take our resources and imagination someplace else might, might not have existed.
Andrew: you know, did that really well is, I don’t know if I’m pronouncing this artist’s name right? It’s is it Finch? The one who created all those honey bears, right. You drive through San Francisco or walk through San Francisco and you see all these different types of honey bears that people display in their windows in their doors.
And the, I guess the thing is for kids, but adults also is to look around and see how many of these different honey bears you can spot. And he really just plastered the city with that. And you’re right. People are allowed to go and walk outside and, and. There’s not that much to do when you’re just looking outside at stores that are closed or boarded up.
And so that’s one of the things that you’re doing. Hey, before you did this, you worked at trunk club. I’ve known trunk club forever. Since, before they launched, they pitched me on like, I guess dressing me and I missed the opportunity. I just didn’t. But I liked the people at first. And then I heard that the, that the culture inside was kind of painful.
What was, what were you doing there? What did you experience inside?
Tricia: So I had heard that too. And I had actually been a bit skeptical before I joined the organization. Um, I actually joined at a point where. There was really sort of a changeover in leadership and they had brought me in to kind of help develop and build out a marketing organization. I think some of the maybe challenging parts, culturally, we’re a bit more on the sales side for me on the marketing side of things, you know, I had a small and a young team that I was able to grow quite considerably and really kind of bring a different way of selling into the organization to help support those stylists and take some of that, that burden off of them.
And I think. You know, like through that, I think the culture was shifting in a more positive direction, at least during the time that I was there. But yeah. I mean, I, I
Andrew: You didn’t love. I think you’re being a little diplomatic, which is fine. I think that’s the way to be. You didn’t love working there. Right. And, and that fair to say.
Tricia: No, like I actually did. I did. Yeah, I, I had. It’s like such an incredible opportunity to really build something there. And I knew coming into it that maybe for all intents and purposes, it was a bit of a turnaround situation. You know, I knew that after Nordstrom, I purchased it, like they were looking to be able to get more out of it.
And I wanted to be part of that. And so for me, I did get to hire and select a lot of my team. I was able to build out. Great. Well-rounded group of individuals and we were seeing success. And like, when you take something that maybe is struggling and you start to like build it and see the momentum and other people are seeing that, like, for me and my time there, like it’s, it’s, it’s thrilling.
I mean, it’s, it’s just, it’s just feel so great to see where you’re starting. And then all of a sudden these things start to come together. So my personal experience was. I honestly, I wanted to do my own thing. I had tried to do two other kinds of starts at building my own company. I really want it to be responsible for building my own culture.
And I knew that there was things that I had seen or witnessed before you know, in others that I work with or senior leadership, but I really want it to build something special. And, um, I knew that if I didn’t kind of take the time to step back and be able to do that, It probably would never happen.
And so I left without any career prospects.
Andrew: What are the other ideas that you tried before?
Tricia: Okay. So I am really obsessed and passionate about party planning. And I want it to do kind of a trunk club model, like a party in a box. And it was called cake tango was the name of the company. And so we had kind of ventured out with that, but, you know, kind of like putting together things so that you can essentially be like, Oh, you know, I want to Superhero party.
And you essentially ship all the little capes and the matching things. So for parents who maybe aren’t really good at doing those Pinterest type parties, like we could make it easy for them, like set it out and you’re ready to go. And the other one was a champagne cart company. Like if you think about ice cream cards I really wanted to like, be able to set up at like weddings or other places and franchise out this idea where you would have like crafts champagne based cocktails that, you know, could be created like a beautiful, like lovely environment in a way.
So that’s sort of the first
Andrew: Why didn’t
Tricia: now I’m slinging murals.
Andrew: Why didn’t they, why didn’t those ideas work out?
Tricia: I actually think both of them are still have possibilities. I think at the time I needed a bit. I think I gave up too soon. I think I quit too soon. I think I got scared by the financial aspects of leaving something and not being able to depend on, you know, the great salaries that I had at previous companies.
And I think I just, I got scared and I didn’t follow it through And Miro is different because I had two amazing partners who were there. And at any point in time, when somebody is always, maybe ready to give up a little bit, you had two other people or at least one other one to help pick you back up.
And I think having those people that are in those trenches with you made the difference for me to be able to become an entrepreneur.
Andrew: That makes sense. And it’s always so helpful to have somebody hold you accountable and make the things feel real because you’re together with them.
Tricia: Yes it, yeah, I it’s it’s inexplainable. I think how important that was on my journey.
Andrew: I have to say. So I, I think you’ve given us some great ideas for other businesses to start when you’re looking at trunk trunk club, which is a personal shopper for clothing, which is really hard to find the right fit to right. Find the right style. Things might look good online, but not in box. To do it for birthday parties where a Cape is a Cape.
You don’t have to worry about it fitting. Right. That’s a great freaking idea. And then you’re making me think, what else is a pain to shop for it? Why don’t we do that? Like imagine personal shopping for brunches, maybe that’s that’s already done with catering. What else is it? Where shopping is a pain and then you can have a personal shopper come and do it.
You know, what else is being done right now for remote teams? You need to have the lights for your team’s laptop. You want to make sure that they have the ergonomic, this, that, this, and that right laptops so that they could be on zoom all day. That’s that’s a great area for personal shopping. I feel like now we should be thinking, what do I hate shopping for that somebody else could do over zoom much better for me.
And then turn that into a service.
Tricia: A hundred percent. I mean, I love everything about that and I’m definitely a creature of convenience. So I think, you know, when you can just solve these simple pain points for somebody, it, it, it’s an exciting opportunity.
Andrew: I had this entrepreneur, not just one, a lot of my entrepreneur friends now are sending me videos or pictures of their S their zoom setups. I feel like it’s great for them because they’re geeking out on this stuff. They’re drilling holes in their desks. They’re putting a light there. I feel like what they should be doing is.
Make that zoom setup. Just give me everything in a box that I need to send for myself so that I have the nice blurry background or whatever that up. That’s a great business idea. Trisha, somebody should steal that idea right now. All right. By the way, you’re looking good in your setup here, we sent you a mic.
I love the sound of this mic.
Tricia: Yeah, it’s amazing. And it was super easy to set up. So I appreciate that.
Andrew: All right. Oh, that’s another good idea of podcasting in a box. Whenever
Tricia: See there you go.
Andrew: shipped out. All right. I’m coming up with all these
Tricia: solve all the problems.
Andrew: So the idea of murals came from.
Tricia: You know, honestly, it was like this classic startup story where you’re all sitting together, drinking beers and talking about something amazing and or doing something amazing. And my, my one partner Dave had said to my other partner, Mateo, like the tail, give me an idea. And Mateo just loved street art.
He loved going around the city, taking pictures, his personal Instagram was filled with it. And he’s like, I just really think that there’s something we could do with street art. And. You know, Dave and I come from, you know, experience working with like very big brands and companies. And, you know, I thought as a marketer, especially that there was something really unique and interesting about a brand, being able to kind of like connect with somebody in a very different way where like you don’t have to engineer or their engagement or their attraction to you.
Like you just have something that naturally draws them in. And I think are fundamentally does this. And we started talking a bit more about it and kind of had the thought that. You know, maybe, you know, when you think of like right brain left brain people, right? Like an, an artist versus a business person, having somebody help facilitate those conversations and be able to like help somebody actually achieve their business or their marketing goals, like with somebody who is more creative and like, you like to kind of have that like in between person to help, you know, ease that conversation and get to the good place might be an opportunity in the market.
And so we kind of tested it out with. An organization in Chicago and they were like, we love this. And from there we just started building it.
Andrew: Again, that people will take pictures of these murals on it, and then put it on Instagram with not even themselves standing in front of it. But it’s just look at this discovery. This is beautiful on its own. You might want to take a picture of landscape. I want to take a picture of this. The connection though, to brands is a leap that is hard to make.
Where did that come from? The idea that they’re going to be brands that want to pay to have this.
Tricia: Yeah. I mean, it was, we kind of looked at like what was happening in the out-of-home space. Like when we thought about, you know, billboards and more traditional out of home advertising. And I think even in the digital world, in the era of Facebook ads, there’s some, there’s some kind of like, Tiring of that, that takes place with people digitally.
You get so exposed to it. And so some, even when I was at trunk club, you know, I was thinking more about out of home and about direct mail and some of those would come such a long way when it comes to measurement and other opportunities. And we thought, well, what if we can kind of take that like higher funnel, like out of home thing, but make it more mid funnel where somebody is engaging with it and they do naturally share it and you get.
That extended reach and, and somebody who just kind of like makes it a little bit deeper connection with the brand immediately. And that’s where we kind of thought about, you know, sort of this like spin on traditional out-of-home advertising. That was more of like an anti billboard approach. And could we find brands that were willing to like very authentically one, allow an artist to kind of.
Represent their brand and maybe a way that they had never allowed it to be done before. And to, could we get them comfortable with a more, again, like secondary integrated messaging? So it didn’t feel like an ad.
Andrew: But did you see that this existed? It does feel by the way it does. It feels more like native advertising where standard billboards feel like the old school internet billboards. They’ll obviously they work. I think they work if you’re on the right street, but they still feel like ads and they still. I feel corporatey and old, this feels more like native ads.
Like when you’re scrolling through Instagram and you see an ad for a brand that looks just as good, or just as fitting within the environment as your friends, your friend stuff. But did you see that someone was already selling this? Did you see that there were services? Did you see the businesses were paying for it or did you make that leap on your?
Tricia: Yeah, we, we started exploring and researching and trying to see what was out there. And we really didn’t see a lot of companies like ours. We really didn’t see a ton of it in the market in place. In fact, the one big bigger company that we did see that does a lot of work, especially in New York was called colossal, but they.
Essentially hand paint ads. So it still is the ad. But it’s hand painted. And so they do take sort of like this old kind of like craft and skill and they bring that to the advertising, but it wasn’t what we wanted to do. Like we, we made a decision very early on, even in conversations with some like brands who would have been very big for us at the time.
And said, you know, honestly, if that’s what you’re looking to do is like to reproduce an ad. These companies are better suited to do that. We’re really about hiring an artist and have that artist painted themselves and using that artist own style and interpretation of your brand to be able to bring something that you’ve never thought of.
You know, that only this individual will be able to create for you.
Andrew: You know what I do see a colossal add here that is for Remy, the liquor company, Remy Martin. And I would have just thought that that was, I wouldn’t have known that that was hand painted. It does look like something you’d see in a magazine, it looks like a professional shot. Not like someone on the street decided that they love Remy so much that they have to paint it, but it doesn’t feel like a Banksy, you know?
Tricia: exactly. And that’s where we wanted to differentiate ourselves from the companies that we could kind of uncover that we’re doing something similar in this space. Okay.
Andrew: So then the first person you went to was four corners. What’s four corners.
Tricia: So four corners owns a number of really amazing restaurant groups in the Chicago area. And that was the organization I mentioned earlier that. Again, my partner, Dave, he just kind of goes out and does, and he set up a meeting with them and said like, Hey, we have this idea for a business. Would you be willing to hear us out?
And these wonderful people said yes. Cause they had some murals and some other restaurants. And so they knew, and they kind of talked to us about. What some of, you know, like what worked well and what some challenges were and where they wish maybe a partner will kind of step in. And, and that was sort of that bit of external validation that I think that we needed on the idea to really begin kind of pushing it and starting to sell it.
Andrew: Give me a ballpark of what they paid for that. Just to give me a sense, it, I want to know what is something like this cost.
Tricia: Yeah, we didn’t actually work with four corners. But I can tell you the, the murals that we do, they, they range in price based on square footage. I mean, you could have. Something anywhere from, let’s say $10,000 to $60,000 or whatever, just depending on how large it is. And they can go up from there.
How many murals that they’re doing? It depends on the artist too. You know, more popular artists, demand higher prices and you know, or like maybe like their approach just takes longer that are higher demand. So all of those things are factored in.
Andrew: Understand the difficulty of finding it finding someone. I had a friend who had an office in Soma and different people would just spray paint that gate, you know, Soma in San Francisco is not a great neighborhood, but it’s where all the startups were at least until the pandemic. And he just find people spray painting his thing all the time.
One of the people on his team just went out and found the spray painter that they liked the best, the graffiti artists. Right. And they said, look, How about you just do this, knowing that if he did something really good, instead of just something fly by and we got you, that everyone else would respect it and walk away.
But I don’t even know how he could end up finding the fricking designer. Everyone, everyone was pretty impressed and stunned that he was able to do it. How did brands do this then?
Tricia: I’m impressed and stuff. She was able to do that as well. You know, a lot of them it’s like, literally it’s just searching through Instagram or, you know, seeing somebody else do something and maybe they can see, you know, the artists tag on the mural and that’s where we thought we could come in and we could.
You know, take our time to like find an uncover and kind of categorize and like, based on abstract or geometric or photorealistic or whatever. And we could make that process easy because from what we did here like one of our very early clients was shake shack and they did this a lot, but it was very time-intensive for their internal team who obviously didn’t have a person just dedicated to this.
This was just a small part of their job, but it took up a lot of time and resources. And again, that’s where. Somebody like us comes in. And we can really help because it’s not that again, you can’t find an artist, you can’t hire them yourselves. You absolutely can. If you’re looking for someone to help manage that process and make it simpler for you, then that’s where murals is a great partner.
Andrew: I should talk about my first sponsor. It’s a company called HostGator. People who need a website hosted can go to hostgator.com/mixergy. We already gave Trisha a few great ideas. I really love the idea of concierge shopping, shopping done for you. I think someone’s going to steal your idea of birthday parties.
Anyone who’s a parent. It’s a pain to do it. You know what even is even better. I like HostGator ads to kick around some ideas. Here’s what might be even better for today. Okay. It is a pain to shop for parties, definite win, but no one’s doing birthday parties right now. The zoom birthday parties are still happening.
I think zoom birthday parties where you just, where you’re just sitting and celebrating and talking is not enough. I think there are two things that should be done. Number one, send out packages to everybody who’s coming to the birthday party, small cupcakes, small party favor, the the Cape, whatever.
And package it up in a way so that each one is open one step at a time so that they’re not all opening up the whole thing and being done with it. Right. That’s the first, the second part, and this could be mixed in too, is have a host for it. Don’t expect the kids and the parents know how to deal and lead have a simple host who could do magic.
Magic on zoom is pretty fricking easy. Any, any aspiring magician can get a magic kit and do magic, have a couple of like comics or something. That’s entertaining. Have somebody who could even work a zoom and bring in a video and then come back. Right. All that is an interesting marketplace. What do you, you think Tricia, it doesn’t even have to be a marketplace.
What do you think?
Tricia: I love it. I literally did that for my daughter’s birthday.
Andrew: How did you do it for your
Tricia: year, we, I use my old party boxes and I delivered a spa birthday party with robes and games and champagne glasses and snacks and treats and facial masks and nail Polish. And everybody got it with instructions and help lead it. And I literally had moms reach out afterwards that said, where did you get those?
You daughter, sister now wants to do that for her party.
Andrew: yeah. What a, what a great idea right now. You thought of that. I wouldn’t have thought of facials. I also didn’t think of well actually we did have a good, did we have an idea? Somebody had a great idea of sending the kids Lego pieces to put together because it gives them some time to put the Lego together and then it was a spinning Legos.
And then they could all take the zoom ins. I can come up with those ideas. Imagine if there was a single website. Zoom parties.com. Maybe can’t be zoom. Remote parties.com. Remote birthday could be anything. And all we’re selling is a box of these things. There’s the facial and champagne and fake champagne thing.
You as a mother, you get the box all delivered to your house. And then with your kid, you drive by to the neighborhood and you give it to everyone. Or maybe you even have an option where you later on an option where you mail it to every one of the party, uh, uh, attendees. Boom, great idea. All right. Let me close out this ad.
And by the way, it doesn’t, I thought maybe it’s a marketplace. It doesn’t have to be a marketplace. You get three comedians, right? Get drew from the zoo who I partnered up with last year to do a thing. So he could do a zoo instructional birthday party, whatever. Did you have five different options of people?
Seven, no five, maybe even two options of, of gifts to open up and start. That’s a good business to get started with. All right. Well, we’re missing those ongoing, which you need to think about what to do to make this more of an ongoing subscription thing, but that can come later. People listen to me, copy that idea, or take your own idea to hostgator.com/mixergy.
When you do, they’re going to give you the best, low price that they have and great hosting package. It’ll just work and get you up and running. All right. It’s you quit your job before you knew that this was going to be a hit
Andrew: you’re a person hold our producer. One of the first notes that Ari our producer sent me was that Trisha always wanted to work for the biggest and best company.
Well, even as a kid,
Tricia: Yes, that was my dream. you know, I, I came from a smaller town in like North central Wisconsin. And you know, there weren’t any big, big companies. but when I was young, I just. And I started working when I was really young. I remember when I was like 12 years old, I had a checkbook because I, my parents wanted me to manage the money I was making, working.
And yeah, my dream was like, I wanted to work for like the biggest and best companies, you know, like at the fortune 500 or fortune one hundreds. That’s what I wanted to be like. I, that, that was my goal.
Andrew: Examined. Why? Because you know what I realized, as I said that I was like, shame on you, Andrew, why are you acting like this is such a disgusting thing to do? That’s not what I meant to do. I think we should actually break down what is the appeal of that? Working for a bigger company to recognize that there is the job security though.
There’s who knows how security is, but there are definitely just job security. What else was it that attracted you so that when we’re thinking about creating a good environment for our people, people we can integrate some of these things.
Tricia: Yeah. I mean, you know, I’m sure as a kid, I probably romanticize it to some degree as well, but I think. You know, the idea of being part of these big brands that were behind things that I use it’s the consumer every day. And that I had trusted whatever, like I thought they’ve gotta be doing something right, right.
Like to make me love this, this much for this to be that special. Um, and I that’s why partly why I was in CPG for such a long time is like, and I love that. I love that. I understood the products that I was using because I was the person using them. And so there was like an allure to that for me, where I thought.
You know, that that would be special. That that would be incredible to be part of the people who think of these ideas and create these things that we all want in our lives.
Andrew: You know what I totally get that I can see now that there are people who’d love to work for say Mr. Beast, or what does he have beast burgers or whatever it is. It’s a project that when you’re a part of. And something as a consumer, there’s a part of you that also want, wants to be on the other side, on the creator side.
And that’s a good point that I think you worked for what SC Johnson, uh, Nestle Purina. These are, these are companies that now seem a little more, a little more there. They definitely seem state. But there was a period when they were the ones who were the innovators. I remember as a kid reading about how all these companies were built, they’d have these compilation books with like 20 stories about how different companies would build.
Like, I think it was the lifesavers that the creator had this idea that. Oh, for an impulse buy, told the store owner, put it by the cash register. And when people have an extra, whatever nickel they’ll buy it, um, and they were innovative for awhile. And all right, I could see, I could see that and I could see now why people would want to come and work for you.
Do you find that people do want to come work for you? Because they see the murals because you’re in the art space.
Tricia: Yes, absolutely. Um, I think we’re definitely looked at as like a very fun and cool company. Um, and you know, it’s hard for people not to get excited when they see things like, like mural. If you, if you can, just, if you see one driving down the street and you appreciate it, I think people have an idea that, you know, to be part of something like that would be really special.
And, and I can, I could testify that it really is.
Andrew: I’ve been very like a few Civ. I love what you’re doing. I feel like there’s one area that you could do even more in, and that’s your Instagram. There’s so much more creativity to be done. Even put like a GoPro on one of the artists. And let me watch the thing unfold in real time. Even like, I think that there are other people on Instagram who take way better pictures of your murals, even let, let them somehow have control of your, uh, of your in your Instagram account, but your, your work is beautiful.
And I don’t think it’s getting enough attention on social. Do you agree?
Tricia: I do agree. That’s, it’s one of, I wish that you, you hear, like, it seems like you’ve been like sitting in our office for the last week, so we would have this conversation. And last year too. And it’s, you know, it’s one of those things where there, again, we do work in such a cool space and we always joke that there should be like a Netflix show around us because of the sheer amount of like insane situations that we come into on any given week or mishaps or bloopers or whatever.
It’s just, it’s kind of crazy. And there was a time too, when we were always on the road, like we were always, all of us were living in a different state at any point in time. And to your point about the GoPro, right? Or the like, you know, Instagram live for like whatever. Like there’s, there’s so much more of a story to tell both with the artists and with our clients and ourselves.
And it’s, it’s kind of been a bit of a capacity thing where there’s so much creativity and things that we want to do in places like that. And we’re now I think, especially at the point where we, we don’t want that to continue to be on the back. And we want to give people like a really cool kind of window into our world because it’s pretty wild and it’s pretty fun sometimes just insane.
So yeah, I, you’re not wrong. That’s a hundred percent
Andrew: You, you mentioned, I didn’t even think of the bloopers, right? That if you have some kind of video on you guys for a YouTube vlog or something, I think it would make for interesting content to see the bloopers. But I have to say as an entrepreneur, I, I loved your business until I heard some of the problems.
Tell me about, I already said that at one point, some paint went flying somewhere, or what are we talking about? What happened?
Tricia: So, yeah, there’s an example. I mean, there was a time when we were working on a, a really large mural and we were just. Like we call it buffing the wall. So we’re just painting the background of flat color. Um, in this case it was a black background and there was literally a parking garage completely across the street.
perpendicular to the mural. So on a normal day, like that’s something I am even on a windy day. That’s something I even would’ve thought about, but there was a wind and as they were springing it, these paint particles carried into the garage and onto cars. And we got a call saying, There’s cars covered in paint and you need to come in here and fix it.
And I was like, well, I wish there was an adult in the room that could help me understand how to handle this situation. But it’s one of those things where you’re like, okay, we’ll have to figure this out. So yeah, I mean that, those are not fun calls to get
Andrew: figure that out? Getting paint off of a car is impossible. Isn’t it? You have to repaint it.
Tricia: It looks like a water-based paint. And with, you know, there was called sued our lawyer at our insurance company and, and all of those things. And I will say insurance is one of the most important things in our business. But thankfully we were able to get it washed off and, and there wasn’t any significant damage to the cards, but that’s like, that’s like a, a kind of heart stopping.
You know, phone call, moment to get as you, you work your way through something like that.
Andrew: Did you have to pay any money out of pocket?
Tricia: We didn’t
Andrew: You didn’t. Oh, all right. Good. All right. So I see that the
Tricia: all turn out that way.
Andrew: I’m wondering how you got your first customers. It seems to me that you went to people at first who already had murals up and maybe had multiple locations that you identified the, you said, who needs this already and who probably has too much trouble putting it together.
Is that right?
Tricia: Yeah, I, yeah, I would say a little bit. We, to some degree we did that with brands. Like we reached out, we started kind of going to at first, the idea was like breweries and restaurants and coffee shops. Like that’s kind of, that was like our target audience. Like we thought, Oh, there’s people dwelling in those spaces.
Like they should have a mural. So that’s actually where we started our outreach and we kind of tried to stay close to our home base in Chicago, extend out to Milwaukee and other places. So that. Once we got like boots on the ground and went into them to actually activate, like, it’d be close by and we could figure it out.
But then we started expanding it. And at one point my partner, Dave thought, you know, like I think he was just driving by like a mall in one of the suburbs and was like, that looks good. Desolate and barren and they probably need it. And so then property developers, you know, commercial retail, residential became a big thing in that.
That was, I think the moment when we started getting some response and things really took off. So part of it was just one thinking about who we thought, but then really sort of the gold came when we drove by and thought. I think maybe they should be thinking about what they could do. With these big, you know, like these vacant Sears buildings and stuff, it’s like, okay, well, they should do something much bigger because this is a part of a community.
And it could be a canvas as
Andrew: do you mean by the Sears building? It was empty and old Sears
Tricia: Yeah. So like, if you think about, you know, like all of the, the, the Sears or the Macy’s or the, whatever that are shutting down as part of these big malls across the country, they’re just, they just become these huge vacant spaces. Because you know, retail on some of those are just struggling and in a lot of cases they’ve been vacated for years.
And so those are just. You know, run down. There’s no lighting, but there are a huge footprint within these kinds of parking lots and areas for malls and ask some of those, you know, developers start to change those into mixed use properties and things. There’s kind of this window of time where it’s, it’s maybe not the best to look at and, and malls feel a bit dead.
I don’t think that that’s actually true, but I think that there’s a perception that that is, and, you know, using art I think is a great way to kind of like show people that, that there really is, you know, like amazing things to find and do and experience there.
Andrew: Okay. So it was just, I think I know who the market is. Coffee shops and breweries. It turns out coffee shops don’t have enough money, right? there’s this great Portlandia, um, clip on a sketch about how they buy the worst art from this company that sells them terrible art. Because, and I guess what it is is they don’t have enough money.
And so they let local artists put their stuff up. Breweries. Do they have enough money in interest or you find the same thing that they’re not looking for? That
Tricia: same thing, same thing.
Andrew: And then when you said, I think these buildings that are empty can use it. Who do you even go and talk to, to, to sell them? I feel like there’s, there’s not a person dedicated to buy it, which means you have to convince them to buy it and convince the wrong person to buy it, which is
Tricia: Yeah. Yeah. I do think it took a little bit of trial and error. Again, my partner Dave is kind of, I think like a sales, evil genius, and he just has like this amazing way of kind of like uncovering people or testing into different positions and ideas to see who will respond and who picks up the email.
And, you know, eventually we just, we started seeing some success there and I, and I do think That to some degree, like when you have mural in the subject blind, you know, the kind of people’s like interests pizza, it’s a little bit different than the typical sales email you would get. Like, if you think like I own mall property, if you don’t typically get an email about that.
And you know, it’s probably about a vacant retail space or something else. And I think it’s, it’s just different enough that we actually get a surprising amount of like opens in our cold sales outreach. And then people who are interested or, or often we hear it, you know what we’ve been talking about this forever and we just had no idea how to do it.
Andrew: Cold cold outreach is something that I don’t talk enough about here because I hate getting those emails. That’s why I have SaneBox right. And email that comes
Tricia: No, I’ve been
Andrew: outreaches sorting it so well. I used to have my assistant go through my email for me, and then anything that was cold outreach, he could pick up and get rid of anyway.
So there’s a, there’s a hate relationship with it, which I’ve obviously talked about a lot, but there’s a love relationship with it, which comes from the entrepreneurs that I’ve talked to in my audience who are able to make it work. They get a list of emails. They use something like Mailshake to send out a, the first email, maybe the second and third.
And as soon as there’s a response, a real human being jumps in and, and continues the conversation. Where, who do you target for your business from euros for these cold email outreaches? What’s the process like for you? If it’s working, I want to identify it, not just talk about the negative, but talk about what’s working.
Tricia: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it depends on the type of business that we’re going after. So. I would say at Miro is probably 50% of our business is like developers and 50% is brands. So if we’re talking about, on a brand side, we’re typically reaching out to the CMO of the company, maybe a vice president of marketing or consumer marketing or something like that.
And it’s usually those individuals who will either respond directly. Or they will forward it to somebody on their team or in their creative department or creative agency. So starting there has worked very well for us which is a little bit surprising. Like I would have thought maybe more director levels who we should have been targeting, but.
That’s been very effective. And then on the development side, you know, that can be like a range of people from owners to COO is again, it is more C-suite and upper level that we’re getting towards. But again, we, we find that even if that’s not the right individual, that emails are getting opened and they’re being shared to somebody within the organization.
Andrew: Got it. All right. I have heard that that works well to that. Go, go to the, to the CEO, the person in charge and say, who’s the right person to do this. They get, this is like a passion thing that they get excited about and then they can forward it over to the right person.
Tricia: Yeah. If anything, we probably do more testing in like the subject lines and the content of the email. Then with the recipient, like the recipient, I feel like if we kind of sit somewhere in that, you know, that C-suite we do pretty well. And I think it’s just making sure that the messaging seems, yeah.
Andrew: what software are you using for that?
Tricia: We use HubSpot.
Andrew: Oh, I didn’t realize that HubSpot works well for that. How did you figure out pricing? I hate to go to an artist and tell them what the price should be. And I’d hate to, I hate to negotiate about price with an artist on something like this.
Tricia: Help us figure out the pricing. And we had spoken to a lot of artists to help us understand how they charged and how they thought about price and the value of a project and what they were looking for. And the. Like most common denominator that we came across was square footage. So it was really based on, you know, size and there are like you know, efficiencies that you get, like as you scale up, but it was hearing from them to say, okay, like, how do you work?
What’s your price point? And sort of like documenting that and tracking it and understanding. You know, different levels of artists and what they were looking for that allowed us to say, okay, you know, this is what we need. And then we have to pay for lifts and equipment and permits or other things on top of it.
Then how much margin do we need to make over time? And that’s been something that’s constantly evolved because I think we underestimated a lot of. Cost and things early on. And, and you know, that, you know, kind of got us later, but we’ve been getting better and better, but we kind of started with like, what’s our biggest kind of cost in the equation and then adding on other elements and then figuring out what we needed that margin to be, to eventually operate.
Andrew: So your Instagram, you do some work, but your website. I just, I love it. I feel like it’s just so clean, so easy to understand. So easy to find things. The photos look beautiful. So I’m on the site right now and I see that you’ve expanded obviously beyond murals that are the standard ones that we’ve talked about, how what’s the first place that you expanded to beyond it looks like there’s, there are events where somebody is where people can come and watch this happen.
I get that. I would watch it. What was the first one that you did? And then how did you keep expanding beyond the standard mural?
Tricia: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think the first thing that we actually did to expand was when we created Titan walls, which is a mural festival that we created in Chicago, where, you know, we were bringing it DJs and live music and life Dean, because. One of the things that we discovered as we were getting into this business that we thought was one of the coolest things was we would always be on site when we were painting murals and watching these artists do their work was like one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen in my life.
Like it, it just, they like, they build on it and they build on it. And you just, you know, watching it just like change right before your eyes, like with like a spray can. And I, my mind is like, Still blown every time. And we thought, you know, people can be and seeing a mural and like appreciate it in their city, but like, to be able to sit there and be like, have a beer, hang out, listen to music, watch these artists go at it and then be able to appreciate that our work afterwards was super cool.
And so that’s where something more experiential and event base was where we started to move. And then we began playing with, with other things. Like I remember we had an opportunity to work with. Anheuser-Busch and it was around Halloween and they wanted some blacklight and mural. And we found like literally the one company in a world that had these black lights powerful enough to illuminate a mural that Disney hadn’t used for a campaign.
And then we went to augmented reality with the Clippers. And so every time there’s kind of, it’s always like pushing the boundaries a little bit, to be able to kind of like layer on cool and fun and exciting things to keep it fresh.
Andrew: What’s the augmented reality. I kind of brushed past it quickly earlier.
Tricia: Yeah. So augmented reality is when you’re able to you know, take your phone. And it essentially, you know, places like another dimension of something happening. So in this case we worked with the Clippers after they had acquired a quiet Leonard at the start of their season last year. And what happens is if you, you hold your phone up and you scan in this case, it was a snap code for Snapchat.
But you can do with a QR code or whatever. You’ll actually see Kauai Leonard bus through the mural, the bricks of the wall kind of fall down and he takes like a three point shot and makes it, and, you know, I think it was like quiet for the wind or something like that. And so it allows like this interactive component, it’s almost like video game, like in front of the mural to be engaged and create this whole other level of interest in kind of a fun and unique experience.
Andrew: I see it. It’s right next to his hand. The one that’s not holding the basketball, right? Oh, no. Did we just lose you? I see it. It’s right next to his hand, the one that’s not holding the basketball. That’s where the QR code is for snap. Okay, got it. So do you measure how many people are using that or is that, is that not important to the client?
Tricia: Yeah, this definitely important to the client. augmented reality, isn’t the cheapest thing that you can do by any means. So how many, you know, like downloads and scans of those are really important because it gives them a better sense of how many people are engaging with that mural. And like, for that one, I think it was, you know, like, well over like.
10,000 or something in the first week. So it’s a, it gives you a sense of like dwell time interests people where they’re like, I like right by the staple center. So it’s, you know, it’s, I think that is like a good way of measuring since things like this
Andrew: of it, as you were telling me about it, it’s incredibly cool. It’s as he’s busting through and then he’s, and then a basketball hoop magically appears and he just goes in and makes the basket. I wonder if I would have even noticed that it was there, but maybe once somebody notices it and starts telling you about it, you want to do the same thing.
Tricia: Yeah. We had like, covered like the streets and posts and everything, like all around it where people would walk with the little code. So I think people were like, what’s happening. And we try to do a little CTA to help you understand, like, Hey, like, you know, scan here for, you know, something cool. So people try it
Andrew: You know, I remember taking class at NYU was politics and art, which I freaking hated because it was all about like the teachers, politics and art. Well, one of the things that she she would do is she talk about how in history, how many artists were actually at the mercy of businesses and how businesses would not allow this.
I remember this one story she told about how a business asked an artist to create something. He did a nude, something or other for this, if it is business and the business that we can’t have that. And it’s just as like sexual harassment issues, no. Before sexual harassment issues, this was a more historic story.
And she was up in arms about it. I’m imagining you solve that by working with artists who give the brand ahead of time, a heads up on what they’re creating and let them see it. Right.
Tricia: Yeah, we, the way that we work is we kind of understand what a brand is trying to achieve. And then we present artists work so that they can kind of see like their style and can kind of find like the right match and the person that they think is capable of being able to communicate it. But I will say one of the, I think the most important roles that we play is when we do engage a client, like we try to be very upfront that.
You know, if you want somebody to come in and do something very, very specific, you, you may as well have like an interior, you know, graphic designer or somebody like that, design something for you, because really the value that we bring is allowing these artists to use their creativity and like their special approach to be able to create something.
And that if that’s not what they’re looking for, like where they’re able to give a bit of, you know, kind of flexibility in wiggle room, we’re probably not a good fit in this approach. Probably isn’t. A good fit. And that being said, you know, we’re always trying to ensure that the artist gets a good brief.
It’s like, here’s the couple of things that they absolutely need to have. It, here’s the things that they don’t want to have. And, you know, beyond that, like help us, you know, go, please go create something amazing that, you know, articulate suspicion and, you know, 99% of the time it ends up working really well.
But I do think it is expectations with both the artists and the client upfront on. You know how, how this is going to work so that you do get something everybody’s happy
Andrew: if I were to think about where your business has gone, it seems like you’re, you’re basically a broker, right? You’re working with brands, working with artists, putting them together to create it starts out with murals. It’s moving on into this augmented reality option. These sculptures that I couldn’t even call them sculptures because I think people think of fine art sculptures.
When, when I say that the type of stuff that’s in museums, it’s more like these, the, the, the, the murals that are at the graffiti brought to life in a way that fits with the city. So that’s, that’s what you’ve got. You’re selling it to businesses to put in, in, into their businesses. I wonder, obviously this is going to continue.
I wonder if the future for you is in creating this marketplace where, where artists can sell directly to consumers, where maybe I see this bear with a musical instrument. What is that? A horn of some kind and then say, I want, what is it? A trumpet. I wonder if the future is for me to see that in the city and say, I want to buy it.
And I go to murals.com or Etsy or something, and I buy it, or I bid it up or create an environment where people who want to have this in their homes and offices, but can’t afford the bigger, the bigger setups could come and buy it for our places. Is that the vision.
Tricia: I think, I think that’s an option that, that we’ve talked about and we’ve explored we’ve said like the, the foundational ethos of our company is like, we want to provide a platform for all artists to be able to get their work seen. Based on that, like the situation you described, that’s exactly what we could do, right?
Like we could be an amazing platform to help connect them with, you know, different new customers and consumers were able to purchase directly. So that’s certainly one of the avenues that we’ve explored when we think about. The future of the company. There’s so many ways we feel like we could take this that right now, like we don’t have like a set limit on the vision for the company.
I think we just keep wanting to do like new, cool things that are really immersive and leverage all different kinds of art
Andrew: right. For anyone who wants to go check out the work that we’ve been talking about? It’s murals.co M U R O S. Dot co is the URL. And I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first, if you’re hosting a website to build one of the businesses we’ve talked about here or anything else, go to hostgator.com/mixergy and not to be an excessive sales person, but Trisha, if they already have a site and they don’t like their hosting company and they want a better rate and good hosting.
Go to hostgator.com/mixergy. They’ll move you over. And second, my email is super organized right now because I’ve got sanity in it. SaneBox sanebox.com/mixergy. I urge you to go and sign up for them because what they do is they plug into my email. And I spent so long just making, I would say years, not trusting it.
And then finally getting some comfort with it and saying, okay, go ahead for now. They just organize my email, anything that’s just bothering me. They’ve auto filter out. I get a report of everything they filtered every day. And I get sanity. I used to have my assistant in my inbox, every Frick, multiple times a day, organizing my email.
Cause I, I was missing people. SaneBox handles it for me. They’ll let you try it for free. If you want to go give it a shot, go to sane box.com/mixergy, and I’m grateful to them for sponsoring. All right, thanks so much for doing this interview.
Tricia: Thanks for having me.
Andrew: Cool. Oh, and you know what
guys send me an email.
email@example.com. I no longer have to worry about being flooded with bad mountain mail. I want to hear from you. where are you listening to this? What do you think of this interview? Or just say, hi, Andrew. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. All right, thanks. Bye everyone.