Is your business model broken?

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Joining me is an entrepreneur who is dealing with a realization that I think a lot of us need to come to.

I wish I had this conversation myself years ago. In this interview we’ll talk about what today’s guest learned the hard way about what business models work.

Adam Arkfeld is the founder of ParaCore, a pay-per-click lead generation agency.

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Adam Arkfeld

Adam Arkfeld


Adam Arkfeld is the founder of ParaCore, a pay-per-click lead generation agency, and Prevail Legal Marketing, performance-based lead generation agency for high-growth law firms.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, there fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs, for an audience of entrepreneurs. Joining me is someone who listened to my interviews. And I’m so excited to have him on here because. He is dealing with the realization that, I think a lot of us need to come to.

And frankly, um, many of the discoveries that he made, I wish I’d made over the years, myself. So bottom line, I’m doing this for my younger self. I wish I’d had this conversation, but I have a feeling I’m going to repeating some of the mistakes that we’re going to talk about here. And hopefully this conversation will help me avoid them and, uh, build a bigger company.

Alright. Uh, Adam Ark Feld is the founder of Powercor. It is a pay-per-click. Pay-per-click lead generation agency. He is also the founder of prevail legal marketing, their pay-per-click lead generation agency for lawyers that guarantees it’s cost per lead. We can do this spot, this interview, thanks to two phenomenal sponsors.

The first, if you’re paying people. I want you to go and switch to Gusto. This is your chance to do it and do it right. Take care of your people and make it easy for you to pay them. And the second, if you’re inspired by this interview, you want to start something you’re going to need a website.

I will recommend that you go to, but I’ll talk about those later first, Adam. Good to have you here. I always ask my guests, what’s a win for you. How do I make this useful? And you told me that. There was something that you wish that, that you’d realized early on about, about the type of business you should be in.

What was that realization?

Adam: Yeah, I started air Corps 11 years ago, and I just realized when I first started, I fell into owning a business. Um, I was in real estate a little bit out of college when that market was crashing, I started building websites and I just started building websites out of my condo. Uh, coffee shops kind of grew that business to about 10 employees.

And I just started realizing that. My employees were being poached by startups in town. Um, you know, the next level of website development is like bigger projects, bigger swings and revenue, bigger problems. And I didn’t want to be in that. I just realized all the pain of that model. So. I was in that model.

And then I switched to pay-per-click advertising, which is parakore, which is recurring revenues, theoretically, you know, not like SAS based revenue, but its own beneficial, its own benefits of being recurring revenue. And then lately I’ve been moving to more of a performance-based marketing model where we’re actually getting paid, um, on a per lead basis instead of on a retainer basis, which has a slew of benefits in itself.

So I’ve gone through about three major iterations in my business and. I just wish that 10 years ago, some would have been like, listen, man, you got a business. Great. But your model is really tough if you love it. It’s sort of like, you know, if you love music and you want to make a creative music, it’s like, if you love music, like go for it, do it.

But you gotta like, love it. If you love building websites, do it and go for it. But if you don’t, you might want to consider, like, I dunno, maybe being an accountant or a doctor or something.

Andrew: And you were doing good solid revenues as we’ll talk about later on in this interview, the difference is that with web building it’s project-based with pay-per-click advertising, it’s an ongoing relationship. So you have more predictable revenue, better relationships with your customers. Am I right about that? You, um, you mentioned how you got into this business, but I’m kind of fascinated by what you did before. Uh, I got to ask you about the Ritz Carlton. I’ve heard so much about hotels, these high-end hotels and how systemized they are about taking care of their people. What did you do at the Ritz Carlton?

And what did you learn from them?

Adam: Yeah. I had a couple of friends that worked at the Ritz just in college and we were valets. And whether you’re a valet or you’re, you know, front desk or, you know, housekeeper doesn’t really matter. You’re all, you’re all educated in a certain level. Customer service is very high in customer service. So it’s everything from, uh, as a value, you stay on the front drive.

It’s the way you stand. You’re there standing with your hands, classed in front of you or a class behind you, but you’ll never have your hands in your pockets. They will yell at you. Um, you never say no problem. You always say my pleasure or you know, something of that. Uh, you always say my pleasure, but someone asks you a question.

You just always say, um, I’ll get back to you on that and just basically try and solve their problems. Because they’re high net worth individuals going to the Ritz Carlton. Um, so it just teaches you a different level of attention to detail when it comes to interacting with people. And what’s important.

Andrew: Do you still do that today?

Adam: Okay. It’s funny because in the, in the pre-interview, um, your person was asking about it and it didn’t really occur to me, but. We actually, there’s a book. I think it’s called Ford and it’s like family occupation, something in dreams. I can’t remember what the, it’s an acronym that stands for something. And so we’ve incorporated into our business that we become happiness touches and they sound kind of cheesy, but like with client birthdays or anniversaries, um, with the company or, uh, if they’re having kids, we, my office managers send gifts all the time.

It’s probably three to five gifts, a month, little things. And. Conscious love that they send us pictures back, and this is one example, but I didn’t even realize it probably came from that. Um, but it most likely dead. And it’s just something that our clients really like. It’s just small and special.

Andrew: Ford stands for family, occupation, recreation, and dreams. And this is the things that you should talk to people about because that’s what matters to them on a personal level. Am I right?

Adam: Yeah. And we actually used to, um, ask a poured question at the beginning of our reporting calls where we’d say, Hey, you know, what’s your favorite? If you could, if money weren’t an issue, where would you live? Right. To like, learn about them for these happiness touches. But we found that a lot of our owners and I don’t know, some people just didn’t like it.

They just didn’t like talking about. Spending five minutes talking about themselves is really weird. We stopped doing it. Um,

Andrew: want to know something I found when we went into a COVID a lot, all my conversations were, um, online and I couldn’t get emotionally connected to the people I was talking to and they couldn’t get connected to me. So every conversation became very transactional. I’ve hired you to do the thing you’re coming back and reporting on the thing.

And we’re never going to talk to each other again, because we can’t care. I said, how do I do this? And I, I read billion dollar coach, um, about the guy who trained so many of the people who run Silicon Valley, Eric Schmidt famously was one of his acolytes and he pushed Eric Smith, not just get into the mechanics of a conversation, but ask something about what people did over the weekend and take a personal interest.

So I tried that. And so I’d get on calls and I’d say to people, so what’d you do this weekend? And people feel that, I don’t know if it’s my place to do whatever. I said, I got to find a solution here. And my answer, uh, after a bunch of experiments was the first thing I would do is I would just think about something that happened.

And then I would in my personal life, and then I bring that up. And so it might be something like my four year old just had his birthday today, starting out of the house. Like the guy just won a super bowl. It’s, it’s amazing to see how excited he is about this little thing. And then the next thing I would do is since I know that they’re worried about how much time I’m going to spend on the personal and they want to get to business to their anxiety, anxious, I would say.

We’ve got a lot to cover here, but I can ask you what’s what’s going on today or what’s going on with whatever. And then I give them an opportunity with also a time box. So they felt a little bit more relief at letting that out because it is a problem. People feel like they shouldn’t say anything personal.

Adam: Yeah. And it’s, it’s sort of a shame. I mean, you know, we are, we’re all just so focused on business in this business environment. And it’s, you know, I’m a member of like entrepreneurs, organization. I have a coach and it’s like, in those organizations, like even other business oriented, we don’t even talk about business.

Like all the, like in your five-minute update, you only have five minutes, you lead with feelings. So I’m feeling anxious about this. And then. You only talk about the top 5% or bottom 5%, and you’ll talk about anything in between and that’s it. And it’s like an amazing place of, you know, safety and comfort to like actually talk about, but there’s so much more going on during the scenes.

So I agree with you a hundred percent.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. I, I do like that about some, something like scotch night, like poker, I would invite people over. I, I realized guys don’t like to talk, but if they’re their cards there, they’ll talk a little bit. And then if I insist that we’re going to have a break to go eat, then they’re going to talk a lot more.

And it’s hard to actually focus on finding a solution for how to get personal with people. When the rest of the world outside of business, that’s all they do. This is the most natural thing for them to do. All right. Um, so you were starting to say how you ended up in web development. How did you end up in web development?

Adam: I went to school for computer programming, um, got into commercial real estate when real estate was really hot for really no apparent reason. And then a friend of mine said, Hey, want to help me build websites? And the market was crashing and real estate. And I said, sure, I really had nothing else to do. So I knew how to do computer programming and he just taught me websites, but it was very, I mean like transactional, as you said, there was really no intention behind it.

Andrew: How would you even find these people?

Adam: My partner found him for a long time. And then, um, they just were referrals. So it just did a little work. Then you got referrals or kind of asked around and it’s kind of it when you’re the only one doing the work. Like you only need a few projects, you know, we didn’t charge anything. So.

Andrew: Yeah. Friday I saw how much you were charging. This is peanuts. How much were you charging?

Adam: Uh, our first websites were like $1,800 and we’d been a really complicated websites for like 3,500 like websites that in the future would have cost like 40 grand

Andrew: What’s a complicated website. What type of sites were you building back then?

Adam: one website back in the day for a patent attorney. It was called, um, it’s called . I don’t think it’s still around, but it was like a social networking site. Four. I can’t remember what it was. It was, it was like a social site, but like you would like things and you would like interact. And there was, I mean, it was complicated.

There’s a lot of things going on in a site like that.

Andrew: There were a bunch of social networks at the time for, um, for everything I remember there was one, I was keeping an eye on and called business. It was going to be the, like the MySpace of business. And of course, all of these were, were blown away by LinkedIn and Facebook. What did you build that site in?

Adam: Uh, it was straight PHP. Um, just

Andrew: So you’re building these sites from scratch. You weren’t even. Wow. You weren’t skinning

Adam: No, my partner was a purist and he wouldn’t let us use like WordPress or frameworks were until actually not buying them out. And then we started using that stuff.

Andrew: How big was the business before you bought them out?

Adam: Uh, I, he was my original partner. Then we brought in a partner when I bought him out. We were probably doing like 200, 250,000 in revenue. Maybe two 50. Yeah, yeah,

Andrew: Okay. So not even that much. And then, and then you joined EO, doesn’t EO have a requirement of a million dollars in sales or certain amount. I don’t know how much it is in funding. Right?

Adam: yeah. It’s a million in top line revenue.

Andrew: So how’d you get it to a million dollars in top line?

Adam: Um, EO has an, has a program called accelerator, which is a theater organization. Um, you know, Chris Ron’s CEO introduced me to you. And I think you’ve interviewed Russ Perry of both. Those guys were an accelerator here in Phoenix. And so to get an accelerator, it’s 250,000 and then between two 50 and a million, and then you, you theoretically transitioned to EO.

So I was an accelerator. And, you know, I don’t know, they just teach you how to run a business. That’s like it’s tactical work. So do some sales, do some marketing hires and people, but yeah.

Andrew: Is that what it is because I’ve heard people here on Mixergy talk for years about how amazing EO is. I’ve seen other entrepreneurs. Try to recreate it for the tech space and it hasn’t worked. My, the latest friend that I’ve seen who was taking a He’s been buying companies.

And then I think this is the one that he wants to launch from scratch. Create these groups. What is it that makes EO the accelerator and then the program itself so effective. Yeah.

Adam: I would say it’s two things. It’s the quality of people that are, so you have to have certain revenue requirements to be in certain parts of the organization. There’s also a group called YPO. Which is like North of 10 million, um, under 45 to get him. And then the it’s a, it’s a, um, it’s a highly, highly, highly confidential organization.

PO is special. You cannot share anything that is talked about in your group. So we have a group of eight, so in an environment like that, and you’re together for years, I’ve been in my EO forum for five years and it’s changed over the years, but, um, but then for five years, When you have a space like that, a protected space where you can talk about anything, family, business, you know, it’s, you can’t find that really anywhere else.

Like where else do you can find that, you know, we were just talking about having personal conversations. This is to like the ends degree things you don’t tell anybody.

Andrew: I think it’s also that you meet in person right until recently. And then they’re pretty hard about, you have to show up for the meetings you have to, you can’t keep missing them. Right. I guess each one is different.

Adam: No, it’s a hundred dollars late fee. If you’re a minute late, depending on your group, if you miss more than one or two meetings are kicked out of your group. So yeah, it’s very, very highly accountable.

Andrew: At one point you had one client, I don’t know how much you want to reveal about the revenue, but one client was making up about half of your revenue. You looked at this business of building websites and you said, this client goes away. I lose half my revenue, even if the client stays and I continue this way, I don’t see myself getting to, to a big business.

What are you, what were you looking for when you said this is not going to hit my target?

Adam: You know, I joined EO. I think we did like 1.1 million or something. Right. And we joined and I was looking at my client base and there was a client. Can Phoenix that was responsible for let’s say $500,000 a year. It was something in that neighborhood, four 50 to five 50, and they were acquired by a German company.

And I just knew like how you replace a revenue stream like that. They had an amazing marketing manager, like got along with grain. She trusted us and she fought for our, for our budgets. And we just made amazing things for this company. Um, but those are hard to find and. It’s sort of like finding a unicorn employee, right?

It’s like, you might have one, but like you can’t build an entire company based on unicorns. And then they were acquired by a German company, which just threatens my future and my employees were being poached by startups. And so I was just like, this model is stressful. Like what the hell? Like trying to get bigger projects.

And then, you know, so it’s just a constant battle and with big swings in revenue, And that’s not even to speak of like full service agencies that bring on big clients and they hire up and fire based on those clients. It wasn’t even to that magnitude, I knew that’s where Kate could potentially go. And that was not appealing to me.

Andrew: So then how’d you end up with pay-per-click.

Adam: We had one client paying us $300 a month to do pay-per-click. So we felt qualified to start a pay-per-click agent.

Andrew: and the attractive thing was that it was $300 per month. That per month part.

Adam: Yeah. I mean, yeah, so we had no idea what pricing should be. I think initially we priced it at four 50 a month or 300 or something, plus 10% of ad spend in our ad spends at the time were like $1,500 a month. So we’d be charging $500 for a client, but yeah, the recurring revenue and the scalability. So in my mind, I was like, okay, one account manager can handle.

X number of clients 20 or 10 or whatever. And then, so I can just hire another account manager and they’ll hire, don’t manage 10 clients. It’s like, in my mind, I could see this like scalability equation working out. Um, what I didn’t realize was that not many people know how to do pay-per-click well. And so it’s not like hiring a designer developer where you go to school for it.

You have to either train it, or they’ve learned it in an environment that you’re. That could be all. It could be various sorts of qualified. So when there’s a, when there’s a position in a business and there’s not formal education outside of it in the real world, it’s hard to grow that it’s hard to scale that position because then you have to become a training organization.

Andrew: Did something just go off in the background, like a fan.

Adam: Maybe I have an air handler that sounds like a cannon sometimes.

Andrew: I wanted to see if you could turn off the fan. I’ll do. And I’ll do the first sponsorship message while you do that.

Adam: Sure. I think it’s off right now, but I can go turn

Andrew: okay. If it’s often will continue

Adam: I think it’s good.

Andrew: now I’m hearing something a little bit of something going off in the background. Yeah.

Adam: I don’t hear anything on my side.

Andrew: Ah, it’s gone.

All right. Super. But since I’m looking at the background, I’m also seeing a statue of Buddha is at, for spiritual purposes or just to kind of make the place look nice.

Adam: I’m by no means Buddhists, but the faith speaks to me the most of any. So it’s just like calming, you know, I had a decorator decorate my office and I said, I like Eastern stuff. And she brought it in. So I meditate every day. You know, stuff like that.

Andrew: What type of meditation practice do you have?

Adam: I just meditate 10 to 15 minutes a day. I have a pretty light. I have quite a few things my morning routine. So, uh, 10 to 15 minutes a day and I just do silent sitting. I don’t do guided. I don’t, you know, do the mantras, I just sit for 15 minutes. So I find meditation.

Andrew: I feel like you’re someone who gets a lot of your. The way that you live your life comes from books and systems and processes. Am I right? Like that morning routine? I’m almost wondering, is this miracle morning? Is there someone else who you’re getting it from?

Adam: Yeah, every major, I guess, habit or change in my life as a result of someone else influencing it. So a number of years I joined this program warrior out of California. Um, that’s kind of I’m phasing out of right now, but they just have a really strong morning routine and. It’s about meditating, you know, doing some reading, journaling, um, working out, you know, eating healthy.

And so once I was able to incorporate that, it’s, you know, the, the idea is like you win the day before the day starts. So you win the day before you leave the house. So if the whole day goes to shit, like at least you have meditated, learn something, you know, communicate with your spouse, with your kids.

Like you make deposits and all these areas. So the morning, I mean, there’s miracle morning. There’s all sorts of them, but it’s just a powerful time. In my opinion,

Andrew: What time do you wake up?

Adam: I try to get up. It’s usually, uh, I’d say five 30 is when I

Andrew: Five 30. And then all of this is personal growth and relationships with your family. Do you do any work thing before to kind of win the day?

Adam: No, I decided to cut that out. I decided not to. I think it’s.

Andrew: I got to work on myself. Work’s gonna happen all day. I’ve got to build myself up for that.

Adam: Yeah, and I feel really strongly that you, you take up the space that’s available to you. So, and that’s why people procrastinate on tests. That’s why the task that could theoretically take 45 minutes might take an hour and a half because we have an hour and a half window. It’s just like, you tend to, this is my opinion.

I say new, but it tends to, um, you know, operate in the amount of time that’s available. And so if. I make that time available for me in the morning. Then I just ended up working more. I would rather figure out how to keep my day under eight hours as from a business perspective, then be like, I need to work 12 hours.

Like the hustle and grind thing is like nonsense. My opinion.

Andrew: let me talk about my first sponsor. It’s Gusto. You’ve used Gusto. What do you know about Gusto?

Adam: Um, I mean, there are payroll system that I used a long time ago. We moved away from them like five years ago because they kind of started increasing their prices. And I went to another company, but my CPA literally said she was going to fire me if she, if I wouldn’t, if I didn’t go back to Gusto because we were the only client she had.

And she’s not a CPA for years that wasn’t on Gusto. And I had to fight her just to stay on this other platform because I didn’t want the, I didn’t want to go through the process of changing nothing to have Gusto, but she was like every one of my clients on Gusto, we can’t work together. If you don’t switch.

Andrew: So if you’re out there listening to me and you’re getting started, go to D they will help you get started for free. They will do your full service payroll. We’re talking about not just. It full-time employees who are W2 employees, but also a 10 99. And when we’re talking about people now more and more are moving anywhere in the country, then you need a payroll company that can actually handle where they’re going.

You need one that could help you give medical, dental, vision, all the different benefits that you want to make available to your people. You want someone who could help you with that? You want a certified HR expert. You want someone who could do hiring and onboarding and. And frankly do it in a, in an environment that’s just pleasant in an app and an experience that you feel drawn to instead of repulse and confused by, and that your people will feel happy with go to start next year off.

Right? If you are switching away from another payroll, frankly, for you, Adam, if you are, they will make it easy and smooth for you, but I want you all to just go and check them out. Think about 20, 21 being the year that you make it easy for your people to go switch and live wherever they want and have it be headache free for you, headache free for them.

And I’ve seen people who’ve gone through this, say that it’s 10 minutes a week is all they spend now on, on people. And they’ve got an HR expert that can help you when you need them and everything that you need in order to do H HR in order to do payroll, right. Just go to Gusto, by the way, G U S T O M.

The transition I thought to pay-per-click would be a no brainer. Adam, if I were just thinking about this, I would think, Oh yeah, he’s got web design clients. All you have to do is go to them and say, do you want some paper clicks so we can get you some customers great. He hires one person who does it, Adam trains, that person.

And then that person starts to take on other clients that Adam gets for him. And then before long he’s transitioned into the pay-per-click business. You’re smiling as I say this, because that’s not how it was. Why not?

Adam: That’s what I thought too.

Andrew: Why where’s the,

Adam: Easy.

Andrew: everything seems so easy. What’s, what’s the issue that you had as you were transitioning.

Adam: I mean, for one we only had, you know, with one client representing half our revenue, we only had like eight to 12 active clients at any given time. You know, even though we were doing over a million revenue, it’s like, we didn’t have that many clients. So. I think maybe one of them could potentially be pay-per-click click, but they just weren’t, they weren’t prospects.

And they knew us for web development. So here’s the thing like parakore was web development for five or six years. And then we said, Oh, by the way, now we’re going to do, keep you see what I did not do, which was one of the most painful experiences of my life, because I did not create a new company and just say, uh, you know, this is, you know, now we’re pair of PPC or what?

Like I started a second company. I should’ve, I should’ve said I started a second company. Just like when you intro new, you said Adam, on his pair of corn prevail. Prevails started this year. Like it’s a second company. It’s clear. It’s for lawyers. So second company would have been, does a PPC company, but nobody knew us.

I had to re-educate all my accelerator friends, all my EO friends. And I had a family member asked me literally five years later, how’s the web development going. And I’m just like web development for five years, but they just knew parakore, you know, it’s like, they’re not really my day-to-day or anything.

It was a cousin or something, but. Um, it was, it’s a different market. It’s different skillset. Um, we didn’t have track record. Nobody, everyone thought we were web development. So we got no referrals. Um, it was just a bad plan for transition. If you’re changing your services, do not change them under an existing company.

Andrew: so similar to me, web design at pay-per-click go hand in hand, not to customers. They think marketing is different from web development. Is that it?

Adam: Yeah. I mean, they, we just, we didn’t have enough customers. It wasn’t really like, we couldn’t sell our existing customers. We just didn’t have the opportunity to, but with pro, but then you have the website situation. So it’s, our website says we do web development and then we liked slowly transitioned it to pay-per-click and I didn’t tell our existing clients.

And they were like, why does your website say pay-per-click now? You know? And it was just, it just doesn’t, I don’t know. It just didn’t work that way. And I thought it would, but it didn’t.

Andrew: I think that I should have done that with Mixergy, that when Mixergy was for mixers, it made sense that it was called Mixergy. Even then. I think people are a little confused when we then transitioned to, uh, an online greeting card, uh, and online invitation site. Mixergy was. All right. Maybe. And then I started doing interviews with people who are coming to my events and then Mixergy was what?

And I do think that it would have been better if I would have said, okay, I’m doing interviews with people, come to my events. It’s the interview show. I don’t know what it could have been. It could have been Andrew Warner interviews or whatever, but you’re right. Then the brand stands on its own. And then if you need to transition away from something, you could just sunset that thing and it doesn’t stop people from understanding what the new thing is in.

Each product, each project has its own identity. The downside, I think the reason I would have hesitated to do that is because I would have thought that each brand, each service helps the other, but I could see that that’s, that creates confusion, that, that overwhelms whatever help you get. But. I would also wonder if it would make people, if it would have made your clients think, well, what’s Adam doing, he’s got two businesses now.

Is he, does he care about this business? Is there a third? Is he someone who’s got, who’s got focus or is he doing too many things? You know what I mean? Is, is that, is that enough of a downside? Do you think

Adam: So this, this legal marketing business that we started is like our third, our third iteration of this kind of like performed, um, of kind of like going into a different niche. So. You made the transition to pay-per-click. And then I knew someone that was like, that was doing really well and specializing in certain verticals.

So I created outdoor adventure marketing, which was like PPC for tour and activity operators, like skydiving ATVs, you know, boat tours and that like didn’t work, but we spun up that brand and then it just faded away when it was done. And pair core was not affected at all. And then we did one for, um, PPC advertising for Shopify store owners.

It was called Edison to one and you can still go to Edison to It’s a website for, you know, um, if people, we do a lot of like Shopify, um, marketing with core. So we were creating a specific brand there, but then prevail just kind of started taking off in overtook that brand. So that brand didn’t necessarily fail like outdoor venture marketing, but prevail just sort of like took the lead.

And so we went all in on that.

Andrew: all right. And I do see that it could potentially cause confusion for people because I see your face on Edison, 21 in a couple of, and you also have prevailed and so on. PowerCore. But when I do look at Edison 21, I could totally understand how a Shopify owner would feel at home. You are saying right away from the start, this is made for Shopify owners.

And if I’m a Shopify owner who doesn’t feel comfortable with online marketing, I feel like, well, he knows me. He’s in my space. He’s adding this new thing to my world. And all you did really is just create another, another website. I get that. Where did you get that? You’ve said that all the big things in your life came from, um, from someone kind of guiding you, is that Mike

Adam: Oh, yeah, it’s funny. It isn’t a roundabout way. So Mike Metallo that’s rubbed the pumpkin plan, which I’ve been listening to on repeat. Um, that book really influenced a guy named Mike RC, who was also an accelerator in Arizona. And he started a company called loud rumor, um, can be a great person to interview.

And he went all in on marketing for fitness studio in gym owners. So that’s all his company does fitness studios and gyms, and his company just exploded. Um, that’s a hard. Demographic to market. I mean, they’re small businesses. They’re not a lot of money out of, it’s just different thing. And so that’s where I kind of got the idea to niche down and that’s really taught me, like when your audience can look at a business and identify on their own that they’re the target market.

Like you don’t have to tell them, like, we do this for your business when they just say like, Oh, I am the target market of this business. And this is what I’m looking for. It’s like that business has to lose your business. They don’t, they don’t try and win it. It’s like, they’re already like a front runner because they’re so clearly aligned with what you need.


Andrew: what the pumpkin plan is?

Adam: how would I describe, I mean, generally speaking, I would describe it as a business strategy book. Um, but I mean, I guess the essence of it is the more narrow you go. With the target market and an audience, the, the faster you’ll grow and kind of the bigger success you’ll see. I mean, when you branch off into too many things, you just get distracted.

You can’t really nurture your, your, your best clients, the way that you need to. So, um, yeah, it’s a, it’s an amazing, I recommend that book. Um, so it’s one of my most highly recommended books I bought it from.

Andrew: It looks like I bought the book in, Oh, look at this March 20, March 21, 2014. I bought it. He did a master class for Mixergy on how and how did. Well, actually he did a few masterclasses and in one of them, we talked about the pumpkin plan. Um, I remember when I first met him, I thought this guy’s kind of weird.

He’s probably just trying to be a guru and there’s not enough substance there. And I forget it was a toilet paper entrepreneur and I get it. It was like, if you run out of toilet paper, you’re going to be resourceful. You’re gonna come up with some solution, same thing in business. You always have to be resourceful.

I mean, anyway, he’s just gotten. To his ideas just really resonate with us, with entrepreneurs who are in the, in the single millions and want to grow bigger and in the single millions and maybe go with the, what that, what happened to my profit. I’m working really hard. I hit the numbers that everyone should be impressed by, but there’s no profit.

All right. Um, so I get, I get the attraction there. I see that you, you didn’t too, you didn’t do that. How did you end up getting pay-per-click customers when you were just, when you were transitioning in a way that we’ll say is maybe the wrong way or the harder way.

Adam: That’s a really good question. Um, that was about five years ago. I think that we just did. Um, honestly, most of our business has always coming through referrals and it’s, it’s been a grind growing that way. And it’s because this is the other reason that this is the other benefit I see of things like the pumpkin plan.

And every time I talk with someone that I see in my situation that would pair core, which is our target audience is marketers and business owners. Generally, no industry specific. You don’t know where to market like LinkedIn is like where you market. It’s like, you know, you don’t know what podcast to go on.

You don’t know what conference to go to. You don’t know what messaging works. And so, um, we just, it’s always been referrals. We’ve I also have a YouTube channel that has a couple thousand subscribers. And I learned that if I, I learned that if I put content on there about tools that my clients were using, like CallRail, unbalanced, and like third-party tools that were affiliated with PPC, I could pick up clients that way.

Rather than teach them about PPC because marketers and business owners don’t really research PPC unless they’re very small. So, but they D they will sometimes research different tools out there that they want to use. So that’s actually generated the hands of the number of clients for us.

Andrew: For PPC they’re if they’re the right customer for a pay-per-click agency like yours, why would they be looking for unbalanced? Because they’re trying to do paper click on their own, or because they know this is the first step, create this landing page. And then from there, move on and figure out how to get people to the landing page.

Is that it?

Adam: Yeah, I think Colorado has been a better source of leads for us, which is people are adding call tracking attribution to their website and they are wanting to get more. Visibility into their pay-per-click campaign. And we have a very long history recall rail. I mean, I’ve spoken for them, right. Written articles.

And so we then position ourselves as the authority on anything call rail. So if you search CallRail on YouTube, I think I still have, I mean, I haven’t checked in a while, but I used to have like six of the top 10 videos. Like literally the word CallRail it’s like parakore was everywhere. So anybody that would look would find our videos.

Andrew: Did you also get customers from, uh, Oh yeah. Look at this. The first two videos are from CallRail itself and the third video is parakore with, with you right there on the thumbnail. Did you also find that all these groups that you were a part of that’s that they led to referrals? I think your one with, uh, Russ Perry, the guy from design pickle, right.

Adam: Yeah.

Andrew: that help?

Adam: Um, that those groups are. Our non-solicitation groups. Um, with that being said, if someone wants your services, they can ask you, but you can never solicit. Um, but actually the majority of our leads now that I’ve thought a little more as a while ago, um, they come from referrals from other agencies. So being just PPC, we are not a threat to an SEO agency. We’re not a threat to a HubSpot agency. We’re sort of a threat to full service agencies, but not really depending on their KPC program. So other agents and other agencies that don’t aren’t familiar with PPC will refer us in a minute because we are just a neutral, you know, we are only doing one thing and we will never threaten their business when we work alongside other agencies that we don’t know our businesses typically at risk because full service agencies will typically charge less than us for our own services.

Andrew: How do you get those relationships?

Adam: Those are easy. I mean, just reaching out to se um, just SEO companies in town, just say, Hey man, like assuming they don’t do PPC, you just reach out and say, Hey man, like a lot of my clients asked for SEO, can we get together? And just kind of like stay on top of them and chat and have coffee once a quarter that if I had to do it all over again, I would spend significantly more time with other agencies, but I, um, I don’t know.

I guess I just didn’t see it at the time

Andrew: Is there an online equivalent of that? Sorry, but now what, I don’t want to miss what you

Adam: I was just going to say it with, with prevail now that I have an industry vertical, um, now we just do pay-per-click and we just do different types of media. We do like more legitimate advertising that we do ourselves because I know who to target my messaging speaks so strongly to them.

So. I, I, we, we are still doing industry, um, relationships or referrals and things like that. That’s, you know, people in legal and things of that nature, but my PPC is a lot stronger too, because my messaging is more aligned.

Andrew: I feel like all of my friends now are starting venture firms of some kind it’s because angel list made it super easy. Not only can anyone create, uh, a fund, but because of this rolling fund thing, you could keep on building. Right? So you don’t have to get a whole lot of money right now and then go and deploy it.

If you’re not big enough to get all the money right now, that’s fine. What you do is you just say I’ve opened up my role in fund. Anyone who wants to commit to it and give me money that I will then invest in. Startups can just go to my webpage and put it on. And the more money they get, the more they have to deploy.

And anyway, they’re all doing it. One of my friends. Started creating or as a part of this online community that focuses on the people he wants to invest in. So what he’s thinking is I want to find a way to bring these people to me and this online community that I create myself as a way to get to them.

Do you think that these coffees that you were doing with local agencies, that, that there would be an online equivalent to that? Could you have created an agency Slack or an agency Facebook group or something to, or, or is this just. An in-person one-on-one type of relationship.

Adam: So I almost, it’s funny that you mentioned that I almost started this business called, um, coffee. It’s kinda what it was called, but I had like a clever name for it. Um, when I was in accelerator, that group started would get big and new, new members would come in and you just didn’t have a chance to get to know them.

And there were all these business owners that you wanted to get to know. So I basically sent out a list of, I started email. I said, Hey, anybody that wants to meet other business owners on a regular basis, please email me. And my office manager is going to match you. I think it was once a month, every single month.

And she’s going to send an email to both of you saying, Hey, you two were matched this month, you’re here and you’re here to figure out a place to meet. And now you guys go get coffee together. It was a coffee club, coffee networking club. I think that’s what it was. I want to start a business around, but the idea was like, You know, it’s easy to meet with people, but like to keep it consistent and seven managed and people loved that, but it just kind of became a pain for us to manage it.

Um, digitally. I think you can definitely do it digitally. I mean, it’s just a matter of, to me, it’s more, a matter of the repetition of staying in front of that person, a single meeting with someone almost never results in a relationship.

Andrew: All right. The pumpkin plan. You read it. You said, all right, I’m going to start to create these smaller, uh, agencies that are focused. It’s basically doing the same thing, but focused on a niche. How did you end up with the outdoor activity operators? The guys who were doing zip-line tour segway tours, water rafting.

Adam: we had a couple of those clients and they, so from a pay-per-click perspective, it’s an easy, it’s like an easy path to conversion. If someone’s out of, out of the market, you know, I’m in Phoenix, I’m going to Hawaii. I search Hawaii’s a blind tours. Ads come up. I go and I then click the ad and then I go and I book.

So it’s just a real easy play for pay-per-click. Um, so we just thought, Hey, you know, like these campaigns seem to be working. We had two of them, I think, at the time and let’s go all in. Um, but I didn’t realize that the seasonal nature was really a struggle. They had plenty of business on season and no business off season, but nobody wanted to go there off season.

So. It’s like, you need some marketing if you’re under capacity, but a lot of people hit capacity when they’re in season. They don’t want to pay for marketing.

Andrew: All right. I’m going to take a moment to talk about my second sponsor and it fits in so perfectly with what we’ve been talking about. Adam, I could imagine Adam, somebody saying Andrew’s got HostGator as a sponsor with HostGator. It’s easy to fire up another website. What do you guys build your website on?

Are you will HubSpot or something else? WordPress, right? You go to You get a good price on a WordPress site and you just launch it. And so if there’s a niche. If there’s a niche that’s working for, you create a new site, a new brand for it, and start focusing on that and make people feel at home.

What tips do you have for people who want to follow that strategy? Okay.

Adam: I think that, I mean, I don’t know if there’s any, I mean, I think that that’s trenches, the tip I have, um, you know, create, uh, create a legitimate brand out of it. And so the last two that we’ve done, I’ve hired a, uh, a friend of mine that does branding and she creates a logo and it’s a legitimate brand. Um, so spend a little time investing in it and make it a real business.

It’s not. You know, it is just a little mini agency. It does a little thing, but you’re starting a new business. And unless you have the mentality that you’re starting a new business, and this is you’re telling people that you own two businesses, it won’t be represented as a new business and people have to perceive it as a new business and it has to be represented in the marketplace.

So the mindset is the first thing of you’re starting a new business with a new LLC and a new website. So, yeah, cause if you want to sell it off, Or if you want the revenue to flow through separately. I mean, that’s

Andrew: Wait. So Edison 21 had an LLC. Why not just say I’m going to make Edison 21 into its own site with its own brand. And then if it starts to really kick off revenue, then I’ll I’ll LLC. It.

Adam: yeah. I mean, I guess, I guess I don’t, I don’t even know if I did it with Edison, uh, with prevail. I definitely have its own LLC. It

Andrew: Okay. So maybe not day one day one, get aside, but you’re saying, look, don’t just copy paste your current site. Don’t just re throw something up there. We’re not talking about one of these thin pages or landing page. We’re talking about a real site. Think about it as a real business. All right. If you’re out there and that’s a direction that you want to take.

HostGator is a fantastic company to do that with because they’ll host WordPress, right? For you. They’ll make it quick for you. They’ll be there. And they also have, if you look at that site, they’ll see, you’ll see the middle option gives you unlimited web hosting. That means you come up with an idea. You host it, you come up with another idea later on after sunsetting your first one, or just letting it survive there.

Keep it up. And you create another one and they will host it for free. Of course you have to pay for the domain or use it, or one of the domains that you have, but they’ll host it for you as part of that plan really inexpensive. And if you use my URL, you’ll get an even less expensive plan from them. And boy, are they good?

I’ve really been happy with them. Um, really great price and great service. So. You did you facially then say I’m closing up this part of the business? Was it just as easy as, Oh, this didn’t work out. Let’s just stop and move on

Adam: Which one?

Andrew: the, the outdoor business.

Adam: Yeah. To a large degree. I mean, he just sort of let it sunset and let it fade away. Um, you know, you don’t, I mean, when you have another brand that’s out there and it doesn’t affect your primary brand, you don’t need to do a whole lot. I mean, you can transition the clients to someone else. We have merged our Edison clients into parakore just because we didn’t want to deal with two email addresses.

Can we just say, Hey, you know, we are, you know, our parent company is deciding to merge into whatever and like, if you’re delivering good service that we haven’t had anyone care. So yeah, it’s very easy to spend around that. He’s not spending time on.

Andrew: so then the, the latest, uh, product, the latest business is prevail. It’s different because now you’re not just buying ads, you’re selling leads, you’re taking on the risk and you’re selling the result. How did you come up with that model?

Adam: So again, I saw someone doing it and everything goes back to accelerator. Now that I’m talking to you, apparently there’s a guy in accelerated at a PPC agency. And how is any Oh. You know, his company was moderate sized. I’m not going to disclose anything. And all of a sudden he joined EO and I’m like, man, you like grew your company very quickly.

How’d that happen? Because, Oh, it’s a different company. I’m like, what are you talking about? We need a different company. He goes, Oh yeah, we started selling leads instead of doing retainer contracts. And I’m like, Oh, tell me about that. So he just started telling me, um, you know, he, he, he runs an independent brand that he’s created internally.

And these are like mini brands, you know, not like prevail, but. Like a mini brand runs Facebook ads to them or organic traffic or whatever people convert to on offer. He does paper call actually where people call and then you find a buyer that’s looking for those leads and you negotiate a price up front.

And as long as you can generate the lead for less than the price, then you have a margin on the lead. And so certain industries like debt, um, uh, I mean there’s of insurance, um, credit repair. They’ll just buy thousands of leads. I mean, it’s call centers and as many as you can generate will take. And so they’re very highly scalable.

Um, it’s a very highly scalable model, which is not the case with retainer models because you need so many people to run multiple retainers, but this performance market you don’t need that you just plug in new buyers.

Andrew: Thing that I would have expected is that I’ve interviewed people. Who’ve done this for years. Why is it still working? I would have thought that you’d have a harder time competing with people. Who’ve been doing this for years. Generating leads for lawyers and for others.

Adam: It’s a big world out there. I don’t know. I mean, I feel like the majority of the industry should go this way, where performance is an element of a pay-per-click market or just a general marketers compensation. Um, but. You know, I, I don’t know. It’s hard. I mean, it’s actually, it’s not easy. I mean, by any stretch of the imagination, I guess it is, if you kind of fall into a niche that you do well at, but it’s hard to get that margin and to keep it in scale it and make it a real business.

So it’s, it’s an easy model, but it’s a little harder to execute. Sometimes

Andrew: So then what advantage do you have over others? Who’d been doing this. What’s the thing that’s different.

Adam: Well, we have what we’ve done differently, which I’m not sure exactly how I feel about as, um, we actually, we, a lot of times companies will generate leads under a mini brand, like a third-party brand that’s theirs. So like prevail would have its own brands. And we do that a little bit. And then when the lead is generated, sold to someone else, what we’ve actually done is there’s a software called rally minds, um, that allows you to build landing pages at scale.

So they have a template and then I have an Excel sheet or a Google sheet. And when you add a row in the Google sheet, it creates a new landing page insanely fast. I mean, it’s wild. So you can create like a hundred landing pages by just copying and pasting a hundred rows. I mean, it’s insane.

Andrew: I see it. I’m on the site wrap rally, Okay.

Adam: Yeah. So what we’ve done is we’ve created some templates. And so for bankruptcy attorneys, we say we’re going to. Brand is a landing page for you and we’re going to just rally minds, build it super fast. And then when leads come in, they’re going to convert under your brand. They’re going to go just to you, which means they’re exclusive.

And so that element of branding and generating the lead under their brand is unique. That’s not done very often. I mean, compensated the way we’re compensated on a purely business.

Andrew: And right, because in the other sites, they just have generic pages that they run ads for. And then they’ll just sell it to whoever will take it here. The, the experience for the, for the lead starts off completely and the brands image and in the brands, uh, in the brand’s voice, uh, got it. Wow. I love that.

You’ve got all these little tools that actually have dramatic impact on a business. What else are you using? That’s working for marketing, especially, but otherwise in your business.

Adam: Don’t no, that’s a good question. Um, I mean, I would say, I mean, we use, uh, we use a platform called leads, PDR, which are Latin. So if anyone’s going to do performance marketing, they’re our lead distribution systems. One of them is called leads PDF. Um, that allows you to, um, distribute leads to multiple buyers pretty easily do round Robin, things like that.

Platform called track drive, which we’ve started getting involved in, which allows you to automate text drip sequences and then outbound dials to leads. So in our space, the contact rate and connection rate is super important. So attract drive. And then I don’t know, things like many chat we’re kind of trying to dig deep.

Oh, here’s the game changer. You want it to all that? All this is like, this is the biggest thing. That’s changed our business in the last 18 months, without a doubt. It’s consensus stupid. Uh, there’s a platform called , which is a quiz software.

Andrew: okay.

Adam: And what we found is on Facebook and protection on Google too.

If you put a quiz, so like a questionnaire, it’s not a quiz, it’s like a questionnaire on a landing page. Instead of a form, our conversion rates have increased like 50% like massive improvements in conversion rate, like converting a form into a answer, three questions, and then put them in contact info.

Andrew: And the questions are they, what happens with the questions? They get a response, they get a rating back on how they did on the quiz.

Adam: So, I mean, so, um, there’s a company that we work with on the West, uh, on the West coast, they do, um, like outdoor landscaping and they had a form and it’s like, what type of landscaping do you want when you’re looking to start your projects? Um, something else then contact info. And at the top of the form, it said a thousand dollars off a $5,000 project or something on camera, what the offer looks, right.

So like a decent offer. And then we changed it to a question-based quiz and it converted it. Like, I don’t know, let’s say 4%. And then, and that was a quiz. So it had buttons. And it would say when you’re looking to start a project zero to three months, one to three, but when you like click it and then it’s like, what are you trying to do?

And you’d like, click the thing and then you clicked it again and then said, you, you qualify for a thousand dollars off a $10,000 thing. It says, you, you like, you want it. Everybody wins the same offer, but like you qualify in this psychology by clicking the things. Getting the thing and then putting in your installed it literally, I think it doubled our conversion rate.

I mean, I don’t know the exact metrics, but the quizzes on Facebook, if you do a form, your conversion rate sucks. If you put on a quiz, you, I mean, it just works.

Andrew: and there’s a quiz to your site that, that has that much of a, a dramatic impact.

Adam: You literally just swap the contact form a quiz. I call it a quiz, but it’s like a questionnaire and you can get tons of data points. Like you can do a 15 form, a 15 field form through a quiz. And like, people will, will go through the entire thing because they’re like committed to this and it’s easy.

There’s clicking buttons and you’re saving all the information and then you can do logic. You can send them different places. You can amortize a loan with their software. It’s super advanced. Um, you can do anything you want, but it’s powerful. I dig it. Please talk is where it’s at.

Andrew: You know what it’s called? I don’t know. It.

Adam: Uh, leads

Andrew: Oh, leads hook. Got it. Leads I frankly, I even found that for myself. If I’m trying to get feedback on my business, if I say, can you give me feedback people? First of all, they’re not going to say yes, they won’t show up to the calls. The feedback will be much more, how can I help Andrew?

But if I say, I’m here to help you with what you’re going through and. What with whatever the topic is. Now, I get somebody to tell me the real problem, what they were hoping to get out of my solution for it. And they’re much more open, much more, um, much more vulnerable. And the reason that they are is because now I’ve, I’ve repositioned it instead of you helping me, it’s me helping you.

And so. I could see the same thing with a quiz being more helpful because now you’re, you’re giving them something of value right away, I guess. Or maybe it’s just that it’s so, so new right now.

Adam: I think it’s just having notes, the value. It’s just, you, you just have like, you’ve gotten something. Yeah, I guess it is. I mean, you’ve earned something and it’s not just a contact form, you know?

Andrew: all right. How about one, one last one. These are so good. I was going to ask you this one personal question that I’ll hold for a moment, but is there one other one it’s not super personal. You’re not going to feel like I’m invading your bedroom.

Adam: No, you can ask me anything. I’m totally open book. Um, I don’t, I can’t think of it except for, um, you know, this is a personal thing. It’s about Marco polo. I used my boxer who? Marco?

Andrew: my w I am boxers like Slack, but I’ll voice voice first. Um, the, the lead pages team uses it. And when they were buying ads for me, they asked me to join in and that’s how they wanted to communicate. Okay. And so Marco polo is, is like chat via audio with friends.

Adam: Uh, so Voxer is chatting via audio and me with my team, I love using Voxer. I hate text messaging. It takes forever, um, half the time I want to respond to something and, but I’m driving so I can just talk and you can hear inflection in the voice. You can do groups. So if we have an account that needs collaboration, all this can talk together.

So when you’re remote, It’s powerful because like I’m on this interview right now and someone could be boxing me and they, it can be very lengthy. Three very length is three minutes and I can be driving home and then I can talk some back and you can communicate in pseudo real time. And then Marco is the same, but video and on a personal level, just very powerful.

Uh, we as in our EO group and you can just connect in a way that’s, you know, in this time when you’re not seeing people. Just again, seeing them on video. So it’s like a, it’s a chapter and you get a multiple people on it, which is really cool. So those are more personal, but I love those.

Andrew: The, the personal thing I was gonna ask you about is I thought I saw a tattoo right by your elbow.

Adam: Yes.

Andrew: What is that? Yeah, it’s kind of hidden in there, but I pay attention for this stuff.

Adam: Yeah. So there’s footprints. Um, so this is, uh, Macy and not the real side. This is Mason, but then my wife lost twins at 20 weeks.

Andrew: Okay.

Adam: So this is Sophie and Chloe, and those are their footprints. I don’t forget them. And then my son Parker still needs to go here, but I didn’t get it done before. COVID and I told my wife, if I die to find someone to tattoo my dead body, I’m not real upset.

I didn’t get it done earlier on he’s like, I feel like a scumbag

Andrew: What’d you take him over to see him, uh, see the tattoo. Would you take them? That’s that seems like a benefit two year olds would love to see that.

Adam: Ah, man, my kids would probably love that. Yeah. We’re a little, COVID safe now. So my wife would probably not be that into it, but you know, in

Andrew: No, I mean, after COVID it looks like we’re a few months away and hopefully we’ll be back.

Adam: So,

Andrew: I hate working from home. I say it a million times.

I hate working from home. Um, what’s your revenue right now?

Adam: uh, last year pair core did, um, or this year, I guess, um, Brandon about 1.2 for Carrefour and then prevail will be about 600,000

Andrew: Wow. So it’s significant this new business that you just launched, just what 12, 18 months ago

Adam: Uh, no, this one we launched in April.

Andrew: in April. Oh, in April, this year.

Adam: Yeah. April this year.

Andrew: Wow. Impressive. All right. Hi, uh, I’m happy to see this. I’m especially appreciative of the person who made the connection to founder of train you. All right. You guys use train you.

Well, that’s the way to let everyone on the team know how to work together. What the, the operatings manual of the company is. All right. For anyone who wants to go and check you out? I feel like what we’re going to do is I’m going to, I’m going to suggest that they go check out Powercor. What does PowerCore mean? You just came up with the name.

Adam: um, we were trying to be clever with this paradox between technology complicated technology and simple solutions. There was a file in our framework called core dot class dot PHP and it’s real nerdy. Yeah. Another reason we sort of changed the name to something besides bare code.

Andrew: Well, this it’s easy to spell Paul, and it’s enough that we’ll ask a question about it. Um, so it’s, but is there a way for somebody to connect with you, like on a personal level, if they read one of the books that you recommended and want to tell you how it was or ask you for a book recommendation, I feel like this is the kind of conversation that people will connect with more personally than they would otherwise.

Adam: Yeah. Yeah. I, uh, adamant fair core dot Tom is a great way to reach me, Adam, at grow with Either of those two, those are just my personal emails. Um, and, um, I love getting those, but LinkedIn, LinkedIn, not LinkedIn. I miss those all the time. Get too much spam on LinkedIn

Andrew: I know. All right. I actually, LinkedIn has actually been effective for me lately, which it’s, I didn’t know if it was me changing or if it’s the platform changing, I’m going to blame it on the platform. I do think they’ve actually improved dramatically. They’ve realized that they, um, that if they could get the right content on there and create the right atmosphere though, draw people in and. Been improving for me. All right. Um, the suggestion that I always have is if there’s anything you got out of this interview, just go and tell Adam, find a way to reach out to him. Let him know. I have found Adam that I get such great results when I will find an email that I sent to a founder, like five years before I hit reply on that.

And then I. Like continue the conversation. But if the first thing that I say is, Hey, Jeff, uh, Twilio is doing well, can you help me with this thing? He’s not gonna respond, but if I could hit reply on something that I sent him five years ago, and then say, by the way, now there’s a relationship there that doesn’t start with me asking.

So I always recommend that people reach out that way. All right. Uh, and I also want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. You probably know by now that the first is Gusto, go check out. If you have, if you’re hiring people, if you’re working with people, if you’re paying people this year, next year, This is the time to switch.

Go to And if you like this pumpkin principle idea, if you want to create another site for another part of your business, go to Adam. Thanks so much. Thanks, bye everyone.

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