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. Joining me is an entrepreneur who’s worked for several companies over the years and has found his own hit software company which he launched. I want to talk to him about how he found it. I want to talk to him a little bit about addiction. I want to talk to him about how he’s building it up and also kind of comparing him to one of his mentors who was just killing it.
The guy who we’re going to get to know is Dan Uyemura. He is the founder of PushPress. You know when you go to some gyms their software is just kind of weird. It looks like the doctor’s software that you used to get, and it just feels like out of step in a world where everything is so mobile and so clean and so driven by user experience. Well, Dan and his co-founder said, “You know, we could fix this.” And the first step they took to build the best software was to create a gym and that somehow them create better software.
And today what PushPress does is it basically automates . . . Well, it’s gym management software. It automates lead generation, it enhances retention for gyms, and allows them to sell things like memberships and one-off classes and make sure that it’s all organized right. And if the gym also sells t-shirts, allows them to sell that and so much more. I invited him here to talk about how he did it, and we can do it thanks to a phenomenal sponsor. That company is called ClickFunnels if you’re trying to turn strangers into customers, unless it’s a gym, maybe even for gyms, you got to check . . .
Dan: Absolutely for gyms, yeah.
Andrew: Is it for gyms too, ClickFunnels?
Dan: Our big [thing 00:01:40].
Andrew: Cool. Dan, good to have you on here.
Dan: Thank you for having me. That was a great intro. Thank you so much.
Andrew: So one of the things that you were thinking about since your conversation with our producer was that you talked to her about addiction and you’ve been thinking, “Oh man, now I’m going to talk to Andrew about.” Do you feel comfortable? I know you’ve been kind of thinking about whether you feel comfortable about it or not.
Dan: I mean, it’s one of those things where you carry something with you and you’re ashamed to talk about it and it gets more power over you. And I think, like, honestly, I’ve never really openly spoken about this before and I think today is the day.
Andrew: Do you remember your lowest point?
Dan: Yeah. So it was . . . I mean, it was a really quick and rapid succession of lower lows. And my lowest point was a night and I think it was late December 2011 when I basically was convinced that there was an organization that was trying to kill me. And they were following me to Five Guys for dinner and following me home and, you know, all the cars that I saw with certain light styles were them, and the motorcycles that were following me were them. And when I got home, they were watching me from across the street. And it was Christmas time, so I remember, like, flashing lights like the reds and the greens. In my mind those were signals about, like, go now or don’t go or . . . It was just nuts.
Dan: Looking at it now I understand how people are walking around on freeways holding up signs and just crazy.
Andrew: What got you? What was the substance that got you there?
Dan: So it was the perfect combination/cocktail of methamphetamines for breakfast, opiates for lunch and alcohol for dinner.
Andrew: And so when you go through that, what gets you going into a spiral of layering in all those substances?
Dan: Okay. Yeah. I mean, it was a gradual progression, like I mentioned, and it started with opiates just as a recreational thing like Vicodin after work felt good instead of having a drink, right?
Andrew: Like a relaxation experience. And when you have a Vicodin after work, what do you do with it? Do you watch TV?
Dan: It’s almost like having a glass of wine or two, right? It’s just like your body feels good, you’re kind of relaxed, it takes the edge off the day. And before you know it, you’re probably pretty addicted to those, right? And it got to the point . . . And this is just classic stuff. It’s like one Vicodin after work turned into two Vicodins after work, into like half an OxyContin afterwards turned into like snorting oxy, right? It just went totally like the gamut of it all.
Andrew: But it wasn’t trying to escape something or was it?
Dan: Probably, honestly, do you want to get deep?
Dan: For sure. For sure it was.
Andrew: What do you think you were trying to escape?
Dan: So I don’t want to . . . I’m going to preface this. I’m not blaming this on anything or anyone. These were my choices and maybe my lack of understanding of myself at the time and so I don’t want it to come off like it was someone else’s fault. At the time, my wife who was . . . We would just do it together, like, we’ll have a Vicodin pill together, right? Whatever. Actually, I should say my ex-wife. And it just became something we did like a routine of what we did.
Dan: I probably honestly was trying to escape, like, I knew she was going to be my ex-wife probably for a long time. I was probably trying to escape like that. That was probably the main part of it. Like, the main unhappiness in my life was . . . And she’s a good person. We were just different. Again, I don’t want to make this about her or anything like that. It’s just, I was personally probably trying to escape some of the realities of my life at the time.
Andrew: Okay. And so you eventually broke up, you were overweight from all this? Is that right?
Andrew: And you were starting to feel depressed about your life.
Dan: Pretty like . . . Yeah, already were very depressed with my life at that point. Yeah.
Andrew: But even before that you were depressed about your life, but when you found yourself in the breakup, how did you handle it?
Dan: So, during the breakup, this is like a weird dichotomy which I can’t even explain to myself now, I discovered both CrossFit and methamphetamines at the same time.
Andrew: Oh, wow. Okay. What’s . . . What do methamphetamines do for you?
Dan: So, in the beginning, it’s like superpowers, right? You can clean your entire house, you can wash your car, you can fix the plumbing, and go workout and have a productive day at work, and everything is perfect.
Andrew: Wow. How long do you get that before things go bad?
Dan: I couldn’t say now because we’re about like a decade ago almost now, but there was a good . . . Like, for me, it was a good while. It might have been a month, might have been two months, right? And I’m sure it declines real quick. But in the beginning, you’re just like, “This is perfect.” I was able to sleep. Like, all these things I heard weren’t true. I wasn’t seeing ghosts. I wasn’t talking to myself and the house is fabulous. Right? I cleaned the whole house.
Andrew: Got it. And so you were at a point where you broke up and you discover this, which gives you the sense of superpower and greatness and at the same time you discover CrossFit. And CrossFit, what does that do for you?
Dan: It’s basically like the obsessive version of fitness. Right? It’s like do two hours’ worth of working out in 20 minutes. So you’re going super hard, resting very little, you get tremendous results in a short amount of time. It is an amazingly effective workout routine if you put back your time and investment into it. You learn a bunch of cool stuff. You realize you’re stronger than you ever thought you were. You realize you have these abilities you never thought you did. So it’s . . . Yeah. It’s like coming out this relationship I had all these, like, positive things that I’m discovering even though one of them wasn’t so positive in the long run.
Andrew: Got it. Okay. So you’re thinking I’m on a good track over here. Things are going well. And then eventually we get to this point where we talked about earlier, your low. How do you come off of that?
Dan: Well, for me, personally, you get arrested, and you almost go to federal prison.
Dan: Yeah. So that was my wake-up call. I mean, I distinctly remember being in the arraignment holding cell for my court and just thinking to myself, like, looking around at everyone else being held with me and I’m like, “This is not me. These people are not me. I’ve been a professional all these years. I graduated college. I have a life ahead of me. I have children. Wake up. What the hell are you doing?”
Andrew: Wow. Did your children find out about this?
Dan: At the time, they were too young. Now they are aware. I don’t think it’s been direct . . . They know that I’ve had legal problems. They know I’ve had drug problems. I don’t think I’ve ever addressed it head-on like this and this and this. They’re probably at the point now where I almost can.
Andrew: How old are they now?
Dan: Sixteen and 14.
Andrew: Okay. All right. Yeah, they’re . . .
Dan: So it’s a delicate thing. I also don’t want introduced to them, like, “Dad did it,” like recover, right?
Dan: So I’m trying to navigate that myself. But I think the more that they know, the better, personally.
Andrew: Yeah. When I was being told not to do stuff, if the person said I did it before and then now they’re telling me that they’re not doing it and I shouldn’t either, I feel like, “Well, you’re missing out on all the great stuff like. You got all the great stuff and you’re telling me not to have it.” All right. Meanwhile, while you were going through this, you did decide to open a gym, and partially it’s because you were looking around at gym software and you saw what?
Dan: Well, basically, kind of you described, like, they were all built . . . Obviously, prior to what I thought was the current age of the internet, this was like 2011’ish, like, APIs were coming out, YouTube was popular, mobile was pop . . . Like, iPhones were out. Were they out? Yeah, they were out, right?
Andrew: 2007 the first iPhone came out.
Dan: Yeah, they were out. And the experience that I was getting from the software company that managed the gym that I went to was terrible, like, so hard to use, I couldn’t even log in. It kept taking me around and roundabouts and this not in the other. And I just decided like this . . . It was a kind of combination between me thinking that CrossFit was the next big fitness thing at the time. And honestly, this was actually like a 2008’ish when I was first doing CrossFit, 2009 I’m deciding I want to open a gym and/or build PushPress. And yeah, I’m just like, “CrossFit is the next biggest fitness thing. Gym management software appears to be terrible. If the biggest one in the in the market was representing themselves this way, I need to look into this.”
Andrew: You know what? I’m on one right now. I don’t want to shame them. It kind of works, but it feels clunky. Now, I just did a search, “San Francisco CrossFit.” I said, I’m going to go to the first one, because I remember when I was curious about CrossFit, it was such a pain in the butt to deal with their websites that I finally just called him up and said, “Can I come in at some point?” They said, “Yeah, sure, come in anytime. Here’s our schedule.”
Andrew: So you saw that. And the reason that you were highly aware of the problems is because you have a history working with some of the best software developers. Can you talk a little bit about your background in software development and startups?
Dan: Yeah. So, I mean, basically, I came out of UCLA around the year 2000 and I’ve always been an entrepreneur. So, towards the end of my career at UCLA, me and my fraternity brother of mine started a web development company. And is, ironically enough, I was the biz dev guy because I was a business major and he was the engineering guy because he was an engineer and we just had to learn each other’s skills to make it work. Coming out of that, we took over a client who didn’t pay us one of their properties which was called mixture.com which we turned into, like, Myspace before Myspace.
Andrew: Like a social network.
Dan: Yeah, but we missed the whole friending thing. So it wasn’t . . . Oh, no. Friends of friends. We had friending, but it was before the whole, like, this is what your network is, these are the people that are three degrees away from you and stuff like that. So we missed that.
Andrew: So, all I could do is see my . . . Well, I shouldn’t say all, but what I would be able to do on your site was find my friends and then talk to them or do what?
Dan: Yeah. So it was kind of . . . It was a community and it was centered around all the stuff we were into personally like extreme sports and snowboarding and stuff like that, cars, like that, you know, fast cars and just stuff college kids went to. So it attracted a college-level crowd. We had like message boards and chat rooms and community. I mean, this was like ’99, 2000. So it wasn’t as complicated as is now, but it was kind of like the AOL for younger kids to go to, I guess.
Andrew: Okay. All right. You also worked for one of the best, it’s not just entrepreneur, one of the best business, people in the space from Mike Jones. I don’t think many people outside of the LA tech scene know Mike, but he’s now an investor through science and a bunch of companies that we know including Dollar Shave Club. He created a couple of software companies, Userplane I think was the first big one that he sold to AOL, right?
Andrew: It was a chat software that he told me in an old interview on Mixergy that he created for a client, but he asked the client, “Can I also take this with me?” and the client said, “Sure,” so the client had their chat software and Mike had his own chat software, Userplane. He developed that up, sold it over to AOL, and then founded a couple of other companies. Right?
Dan: Correct. Yeah.
Andrew: Okay. And so by working there, and the thing that I know about Mike is super practical and knows where the audience and money is, right? Like, SEO before anyone cared about SEO, he jumped in, he was great at it, or he worked with people who were phenomenal at it, knew how to drive traffic. And also, because he’s in LA where there isn’t a lot of outside funding, or there wasn’t at the time. He and the people who are good entrepreneurs around him were great at monetizing. And so you’re seeing, “Look, these are real business people. Look at these sites, how polished they are. Meanwhile, I go to CrossFit and it’s ugly.”
Dan: Yep. Yeah, that is like 100% my experience. When I first joined Userplane, the team was still small enough where like we interacted with Mike on a day to day basis. Fast forward to when I was at Myspace with him and I saw him maybe once or twice because he was the next building over and four stories up. Yeah. Like you said, no one outside of LA knows him. Probably everyone inside LA knows him. He knows his stuff, and he definitely has a presence here. I would argue a lot of people outside LA know him too, but it’s like the right people know him.
Andrew: Yeah, the interesting thing for me about CrossFit is, every time I think about it, I think about how in the early days of CrossFit, I was introduced to the CrossFit founder for an interview, I totally underestimated it. And because their site was so bad, I couldn’t even . . . I said, “This looks like a really bad blog. This is supposed to be a huge business? I don’t think so.” I passed on the interview. Meanwhile, of course, the site was ugly, but the process, the thing they were working with you on was phenomenal. The results were there.
Okay. And so what I wonder is you worked with Mike for years. You were a web app developer for years, about a decade. Why didn’t you go out or did you at the same time say, “Look at all these people who are succeeding. I should be out there making my own company”? Did that eat at you that you weren’t creating your own company?
Dan: Well, I mean, the whole time . . . I’m an entrepreneur, right? So what I did to feed my family was to take a job at a startup where it was still exciting for me. But the whole time I had side gig, side hustles, test businesses. I was trying to start stuff the whole time.
Andrew: Like what. What’s one that could have done better?
Dan: Like, looking . . . So when Facebook first came out with their API . . . Oh no. Not even their API, their . . . What do you call? Their app.
Andrew: Right. They were going to become an app platform.
Dan: I built a whole bunch of games which honestly, I probably wasn’t the first, but in my mind, at the time, I developed the genre of games where it was kind of like this offline . . . I don’t even call it like an adventure type game or something. I made a good amount of money do . . . Like, more money than I probably made at Userplane at the time just from running ads. And ironically, I’d mostly ran, like, Userplane, because they had an ad network, Userplane ads through my game. But yeah, I made like three or four Facebook games when those first came out. I made a good amount of money. And then the Farmvilles came in to kick me out, right? Which is . . . I forget the name of the company, Zynga. Zynga then came and kind of like took that platform over and I couldn’t compete, so it was over.
Andrew: Okay. So you were trying a bunch of things, then CrossFit comes in. If I understand right, you created one gym, then you were booted out because of the addiction issues, and then you created another one. Is that right?
Dan: Correct, yeah.
Andrew: And both of them were so that you could create your own software or was the first one just, “I’m going to create a gym because I love it”?
Dan: So the real reason we created LAX, and at least one of the main motivators on my end was to create the software. It also was to create a gym. At that point, it was so . . . I mean . . . Yeah, it was to create a gym. At that point, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to create a software because I didn’t know what all the competitors were like, what the landscape looked like, if gym owners even cared. So creating the gym helped me get into the community and understand like, what it’s like to be a gym owner, blah, blah, blah. In doing so, I really realized the need was there.
Andrew: So you were thinking, “Maybe I’m going to be a gym owner or maybe I’m going to create software. I’m not really sure. Let’s just get in there and do it.”
Dan: Exactly, yeah.
Andrew: How much does it cost to start a gym?
Dan: I think the first gym, LAX, we put about 100 grand into it. That was like 25 grand personally. We had four partners.
Andrew: Okay. All right. And that includes . . . There’s a lot of equipment, right?
Dan: There’s a lot of equipment, but in CrossFit, there’s also . . . It’s not like a regular gym where you’re buying like $5,000 machines and you need like 100 of them. This is like you spend 50 to 60 grand on barbells and weights and stuff like that and the most expensive things are probably the pull-up rig. I don’t know if you’ve seen those things.
Andrew: I don’t remember, but I remember that and I remember the ropes that I had to climb.
Dan: Yeah, yeah. So, relatively speaking, it’s a low barrier to entry. You can get in with, like . . . You can honestly open a gym with probably 20 grand. We opened like a premier big gym with big, you know, fancy equipment and a custom-made rig and all this other stuff.
Andrew: Who were the other five people that you joined in with or the other four?
Dan: A guy named Chris, who’s still my partner today at PushPress, and then two guys name . . . It was four of us total. So, two guys named Mark and Arbel.
Andrew: Okay. And so did you get booted out of that one? Is that right?
Dan: Yeah. So, I mean, speaking fairly and objectively, like, they took issue to me getting arrested, right? And it’s like, I get it from their standpoint. Like, people who use drugs typically have mental problems and typically, like, carry on with their problems. I was trying to tell them, like, “Look, I’m okay and I just had a reality check.” I don’t blame them at all for, like, not wanting to work with me. That was fine. And yeah, I mean, that was essentially the course of action was they were just like, “We’ve lost faith in you as a partner and you need to go.”
Andrew: All right. And then you started another gym?
Dan: Yeah. So I took the . . . I basically got my money back from that gym and then during that time, I had started working with a local girl who was trying out for the LA Sparks. She was a basketball player. Her name is Jamie Hagiya. And developed a friendship with her and realized she had real potential in being a CrossFit athlete or a CrossFit coach. And her and I and her sister opened a gym in Torrance, which is, you know, nearby.
Andrew: Okay. All right. And from the experience from the first gym, you saw there is a need for software, the software that exists thinks, “I think I could create the software and it could be bigger than the gym. This is my future.” Am I right?
Dan: Correct, although there were plenty of points in time even at the new gym where I’m like this, “This PushPress thing takes too much inertia to get off the ground. Maybe the gym is the better play.” Like, I had a couple of times, you know, 2015 where I was just like, “I don’t know. This is like a lot of work to get a little bit of traction.”
Andrew: Let’s understand why because it seemed like software is so much easier, especially when you look online, it feels like once you get software built, that people are going to buy it and you don’t need that many. All right. We’re going to find out why. First, let me tell everyone, my first sponsor is ClickFunnels. And truthfully, Dan, I didn’t do that well for ClickFunnels in the last couple of months. They’ve been a sponsor. I went to them to see, “Am I getting you the number of leads that you’re looking for? Am I getting people to actually try ClickFunnels?” And it turns out the answer is not. I’m not sure why. So I’m actually going to work with a . . . What I do is I work with Neville Medhora, copywriter, to listen to this and go over some of my past ads for them to see what am I doing that’s not working? What could I do to improve it? And then I’ll come back and I’m going to do it again. What do you do? Like, do you work with coaches to improve?
Dan: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, that’s one of our core business tenants is to help our gyms grow and not just say, “We help our gyms grow.” So we’ve kicked off a bunch of initiatives from an early stage mentoring program to some content series and we got . . .
Andrew: What about on a personal level? Like, do you turn to coaches for improvement or is there . . .
Andrew: Is it books?
Dan: Absolutely, yeah. So I’m personally . . . Like, I think books, podcasts and coaching mentoring are the things every business owner, gym owner or otherwise need to do. Right? Like, there’s two ways to learn. Either you spend time or you spend money. And you want to learn from people who have spent the time. Right?
Dan: So, to me, I’d rather spend the money, hire a coach who’s been there, done that, or at least learn from people who’ve been there, done that, and accelerate my own growth in my own business, then try and take the long run route.
Andrew: So I’m going to work with him. I’m truthfully not sure why it didn’t work. It worked, but it didn’t work well enough, not for me, for sure. I definitely want to kill for them because I’ve used them for a long time. Here’s the thing with ClickFunnels. I use them because I started using them to collect email addresses. I knew if I’m going to buy ads, if I’m going to start promoting stuff, I need people to come and enter their email address so I could start sending them messages and over time sell to them. And I had all these systems for doing it, but ClickFunnels I heard was better and so reluctantly I switched over to ClickFunnels.
Their pages did get me better conversions. And their tools are so easy that at the end of collecting people’s email addresses, I could very easily drag and drop a credit card form, I could very easily drag and drop an upsell. And all these things just worked so smoothly that I couldn’t help but try it. And at the end of all that I created a funnel that did over $1 million in sales. And they actually even gave me what they called the gold record or the 2 Comma Club award which means I did over $1 million in sales from one funnel.
So I get the reluctance of my audience has. I don’t know how to push them over the edge to get them to try it, but I know that if they try it that they’re going to get the kind of results that shocked me which is easy way to collect email addresses, a site and landing pages that you can be proud of, and a process that converts strangers into customers.
So I’m not doing a great job here of telling you. If you’re listening to me, though, please listen to the sincerity with which I’m telling you that ClickFunnels changed my business, not like revolutionized the whole thing, but it definitely took it a step further and I’m really urging you if you’re trying to grow your business to go try them, especially now with the new year coming up.
So go to clickfunnels.com/mixergy, you’ll see the funnel that I use to get my sales. You’ll also see . . . You’re also going to see . . . You’ll see my webinar funnel. You’ll see a bunch of my funnels, but I’d also suggest that you just look at the way that . . . Look . . . What am I trying to say? I’m trying to say go try the software for free. If you go to clickfunnels.com/mixergy, you’ll get to go try this software for free. I feel like I’m now I’ve made my point and hopefully, you’ll go and try it and frankly, regardless, I’m going to improve by signing up with Neville again or having another conversation with Neville and see what we can do. Clickfunnels.com/mixergy.
Dan: Let me . . .
Andrew: Yeah. What were you going to . . .
Dan: Sorry to cut off.
Andrew: Do it.
Dan: Let me ask you a question. Who is your typical audience here? These are business owners, right?
Andrew: It is, yeah.
Dan: Let me put this plug out for ClickFunnels. I don’t use them. I’ve never used them personally. But gym owners are your traditional brick and mortar small business company who they’re an SMB who’s focused on fitness. They don’t know much about business in general. ClickFunnels kills it for gym owners. So, if your audience is even a little bit more sophisticated than an SMB fitness professional, and that’s not knocking them, it just is what it is, they love fitness, then ClickFunnels will kill it for your audience, like, they should absolutely try it.
Andrew: You’re saying, if people who are not obsessed with online businesses and online marketing are using this software and they’re getting great results and people who do know a little bit of something or a lot about online marketing are going to do even better. I completely agree. I really urge you guys go check it out for free if use this URL, clickfunnels.com/mixergy.
So you now had this idea that this is going to be a thing. Who built it? Who built the first version of PushPress? You?
Dan: Yeah. So it was basically me and my co-partner, Brian.
Andrew: Okay. How long did it take you to build the first version and what was in it?
Dan: So the first version, we probably spent about three to four months on and we threw it away.
Andrew: Really? Why?
Dan: So the first version we built it on top of WordPress. And that’s funnily enough why we call ourselves PushPress because the idea was it was so easy you can run it from . . . Back then most gyms use WordPress as their website. Even today they do. But the idea was, like, as a plugin inside WordPress, you can manage your entire gym is what we trying . . .
Andrew: You know what? That makes so much sense. And then because of your company name because it’s PushPress, I can’t tell you how many times I went into the source code of your site to see if it was built on WordPress and it’s not. Now I understand. So what was the problem with it then as a plugin for WordPress? A lot of businesses started as WordPress plugins.
Dan: Yeah, it’s just we quickly came to find out that all of the details of running a gym are fairly complicated to the point where we didn’t want to play inside of the ecosystem of WordPress.
Andrew: For example.
Dan: Like, billing, doing check-ins for members, keeping track of membership attendance, coaching assignments, scheduling. Like, theoretically, all these can play within WordPress, but the ecosystem of WordPress was just over . . . It was bloated because it has a different purpose. And normally when you build a plugin, you kind of build a singular purpose. And this was . . . We quickly found that we had to do, like, 20 things.
Andrew: I get it. Why did you want to do 20 things? I’m wondering why you didn’t launch with just one thing that you were going to do, maybe landing pages for gyms or membership management or something like that. Why did you decide to do so much?
Dan: So the irony of that is, is we are the only gym management software right now that I know of that proclaims ourselves not to be an all-in-one. So those 20 things were actually like the key things we had to do, whereas, like, there’s things that some of our competitors do that I would argue, like, we’d have to spool up a whole new business unit to do. You can’t do everything you do well.
Andrew: Like what? What are the basics that you were going to focus on?
Dan: So billing was the biggest one. So being able to set someone up with a membership plan, have that plan automatically bill, not double-bill people, selling products within the system, keeping track of which members had attendance in certain classes or can go to certain classes. There are just a lot of nuances to the entire platform.
Andrew: So I’m looking at the first version that I can find of your website and you do focus in the headline on membership management for you. But as I scroll down, you even were doing blogs and member communication, which is email. Why even include that in the beginning?
Dan: I mean, honestly, that’s a good question. And like . . . Well, here, the real reason is because to go to market at that time, there were six to eight mature . . . I mean, honestly just probably 20 mature companies, but in our space that we thought competitors were there’s like six to eight and they all did these things. So it would be hard to go to market and say like, “We can compete with these people,” and not do membership management, some basic CRM stuff like communications, billing, attendance, class attendance, you know . . .
Andrew: Got it.
Dan: . . . products, you know, stuff like that.
Andrew: They were starting to become the basics.
Dan: I think we were the first system to actually introduce landing pages because, again, at the time in 2010, 2011 when we were building this, that was a newer concept that I honestly to this day, I think our landing page is still a killer feature of ours compared to, you know, our competitors.
Andrew: Okay. And so you scrapped the first version, you got back to work, you built the next version. How long did it take you to do that?
Dan: Probably like another three to six months, threw that one away.
Dan: Same thing, like, we went down the route of trying to build . . . So that one, I think we went down the route of trying to build a billing engine on top of our own, like, PCI compliant layer where we might end up becoming an ISO and like . . . Then we dealt with all the billing complexities, like, “Do we become an ISO? Are we a direct credit card processor? Do we have to partner with somebody?” And we started going down the route of like becoming our own ISO, which thank God we didn’t. And when we found Stripe’s Connect platform, we threw that one away and went Stripe Connect.
Andrew: Okay. That was a big move to go to Stripe instead of the . . . What was it? Authorize.net?
Andrew: Huge, right?
Dan: One of the . . . I think that was our first lucky stumbling block.
Andrew: Why? What was it . . . Why did that make such a big difference?
Dan: Because . . . So, at the time I think we were literally one of . . . I mean, I don’t know. I don’t want to say we were one of the first clients, but we were early days. Like, they had just announced it, my partner saw it, we call them and we got on it. And at the time, we didn’t know where Stripe Connect would go. We didn’t barely even know Stripe. And it saved us so much development time in terms . . . and business compliance and legal compliance and all these stuff we were going down the route of, like, it just took it all the way so we could focus on making sure that we fired off billing correctly and making sure we did all the other stuff right. And this is in a time when, like, a lot . . . Like, at the time we were the only ones who used Stripe. And a lot of our competitors were having a double billing issues and all these issues with billing, which we just didn’t have because we used Stripe on the backend.
Andrew: Yeah. I feel like sometimes when we in the software space gets so excited about new software and, like, go to Product Hunt and get excited about all the new things on there and talk to our friends and find out about all the new software that they’re using, sometimes I feel like we’re just wasting our time getting too distracted by the cool new apps that are out there. And then a story like yours comes up where because you were in this world because you saw how effective Stripe was going to be, you moved on to Stripe before others did and it gave you an advantage. And I recognize that there’s value in it. Yeah, we can get lost in it, but man, if you find the right tool, there’s huge advantage in that.
Dan: Yeah. I mean, all this other side of the coin, I’ll say you’re right. Like, I think I waste too much time checking out new platforms, new tools, and I always ended up coming back to what we know and love anyway.
Andrew: It’s a balance. I do find that I sometimes get just so resentful of the distraction that I don’t go and explore and I have to give myself time to explore because we’re in this space. It does make you more productive within reason. All right. So you built it. How did you find you first . . . Your first customer was your own gym, right?
Dan: Actually, technically speaking my gym was a second customer.
Dan: I don’t even know, like, how, but somebody from Quincy, Illinois found us, started talking to us, he’s an early adopter type, loved the fact that we were from the gym space, loved the fact that we understood his pains, and he actually signed up before my gym launched like a couple of days before.
Andrew: Wow. This is some guy named Sam.
Dan: Yeah. Yeah, Sam Karoll.
Andrew: Is this not QTown CrossFit?
Dan: No, no. That’s Sam Dancer’s.
Andrew: Oh, yeah. Wow. All right. So they found it. How did they like the first version? Did it suck?
Dan: I mean, honestly, for what we put out, I felt the first version was pretty good. It just was like one 20th of where we are now, like, it was just very feature incomplete.
Dan: But he was just starting a brand new gym. He literally launched the gym the day that he joined us, so all he needed was billing and be able to set up membership plans. That was kind of it at the time.
Andrew: And so it was fine that it just did that?
Andrew: All right. And at this point in the story, are you over your addiction or is it still an issue?
Dan: Oh, no. Yeah, I’m way over it. Like . . .
Andrew: No, I mean, at this point, once you’d launched the first version of PushPress and Sam signed up as a customer, you were done.
Dan: Done. Yeah. So my incident happened December of 2011. Sam signed up as my client probably like May of 2013. So I was probably, you know, good two years and a half sober.
Andrew: Wow. How do you get sober?
Dan: You get threatened to go to jail.
Andrew: That was it.
Dan: But, again, my addiction wasn’t . . . I do recognize that there are probably people who have mental health issues or like, true . . . No, I take that back. I have an addictive personality. Absolutely. That’s why I’m an entrepreneur now. Like, I just replaced one addiction with the other. Like, I’ve got PushPress. And if I ever don’t have this business, I have to find something else to obsess over so that it doesn’t become something destructive. Right?
Andrew: You know what? I find that I have that too that I’m not looking to just run occasionally. It’s got to be long marathons. I’m not looking to do anything just a tiny bit. It’s got to be all or nothing. And you and I started talking about this before we got started with the interview about how it actually can help in business, am I right?
Dan: I mean, it’s just the double-edged sword of obsession, right? Like, people like Steve Jobs and whatnot were obsessed with what they did and it cost them something else, right? So it’s just, like, you have to recognize . . . I personally think most entrepreneurs, like, the hardcore ones are obsessive whether they obsess over drugs or gambling or sex or their business, it’s kind of irrelevant. They just obsess. And you have to kind of look at yourself and say, like, I have this and I have to, like, dial myself back when I feel like it’s getting too bad.
Andrew: So what do you mean? What’s an example of how you use this obsessive personality in business or how it plays out in business?
Dan: Well, I mean, it’s just like I wake up . . . If I wake up at 4:00 in the morning, so I have to go to the bathroom, I can’t go back to sleep because my brain is on thinking about what I need to do, what I can change, who I need to talk to, what my day is going to look like. That’s obsessive, right? I feel like normal people can just go back to sleep.
Andrew: And you just get . . . Will you get up and continue to do it or just lay there?
Dan: No, now I get up because I . . . Before I would just lay there for two hours tossing and turning, getting frustrated. Now I just get up and start working.
Andrew: And how late do you usually work? What’s your schedule usually?
Dan: Well, so this is where I try to, like, dial it back. Like, yes, I’m always on my phone, yes, I’m always on Slack. My wife will be the first person to tell you like I’m answering emails and answering Slacks up until bed. Right? But I don’t open a computer when I go home from work. Like, I force myself . . . Unless there’s an emergency, I disconnect it from the time I leave work. I spend it with my family, I spend it in my wife, I spend it with my kids. I spend it with their families, stuff like that.
Andrew: But you will look at your phone, you will get on Slack.
Dan: I will.
Andrew: And if it’s 4:00 in the morning, you’ll just be responding to messages.
Dan: Yeah. Or I’ll be kicking things off because I’ve got East Coast guys, so I’ll be like, “Hey guys, when you get in, talk to me about this,” or whatever. Yeah.
Andrew: So I was reading a starter story interview with you and you said there are a couple of things that actually helped us with our marketing. And the first one was . . . And I love that you’ve been had the Google Analytics chart to show it. The first one was the poster. What’s the poster?
Dan: Yeah. So we worked with one of our early clients, she was an Olympic lifting coach. Same thing, like, we realized there was no poster, instructional poster, for members of gyms to be able to look at to like understand this highly technical Olympic lifts. So that’s the stuff you see on the Olympics to clean and jerk and then snatch. And so we worked with her to come up with . . . Like, my other . . . Chris, the partner here at PushPress is, like, very visually oriented, kick-ass-like user experience type of guy. So he made this infographic poster that showed, like, the front, the side, and the feet, like, where everything needs to be at different positions. And we used her as a model of the poster and we just gave it away.
Andrew: A poster that CrossFit gyms will put up on their walls.
Dan: Correct. Yeah. Of course, it’s branded PushPress and they had to go to pushpress.com to get it. So it was, like, we were just thinking of ways, because we didn’t have any money, to get our brand into every gym to let them know we’re there.
Andrew: And because you were offering it, people came to your site, they registered, you know, did the whole email address and mailing address, right? And then you shipped it out to them.
Dan: Yeah, except we were so neophytic. I don’t that’s a word.
Andrew: Such neophytes. Yeah.
Dan: Neophytes. We’re such neophytes at marketing that I don’t think we recorded a single email address or we captured anything. We just, like, took it to make the order and then I don’t know where it went.
Dan: Yeah, we blew that opportunity.
Andrew: That’s too bad. I get it. And so you got traffic but not real . . . Did you get customers from it?
Dan: We definitely. It had definitely got us on the map and sure . . . Like, I don’t remember now, but I’m positive we got, like, our early traction of customers from that. Yeah.
Andrew: I see. And how would people have even found out about it?
Dan: So it was designed to go viral because it’s like a free poster that you can put in your gym. So it was like the minute it went up, it kind of went out in the Reddits and the Facebook groups where all the gym owners hang out and it’s like, “Dude, go here and get this free poster. It’s pretty cool for your gym, blah, blah, and . . . ” I think we ordered 1,000 of them to be printed here locally. Again, this is before print-on-demand stuff I feel or maybe those early days. So we went to a print shop and picked up 1,000 and we completely sold out of them.
Andrew: Did you charge shipping or anything?
Dan: So we did. I think we charge 5 or 10 bucks shipping, which was like . . . The competitor poster that was out there was 30 bucks to buy from a store. So even for 10 bucks ours looked better, it was easier to understand, and it was like a third of the price with shipping. And the shipping ended up costing us like three or four bucks. So it actually funded our early operations. We made, like, you know, $6,000 or $7,000 on the posters in total.
Andrew: That’s fantastic.
Dan: I mean, it was basically like the three founders sitting in a room packing posters all day long. Like, was it great for our time? Probably not, but we got some income.
Andrew: And now it’s available for download.
Dan: So that’s the thing. It was always available for free download, so we were like, “Hey, if you want to print it yourself, go ahead. If you want us to mail you one, it’s 10 bucks.”
Dan: And the funny thing is we actually offered it was like five-foot by seven-foot vinyl you can print, so it becomes this monstrous poster vinyl that people . . . Like, we’ve probably sold maybe 100 of those.
Andrew: So I’m seeing it on your site right now. You’re still not great at marketing it. It’s like, “This is a button I press it and I get it.” There’s no button. And I would imagine what it would be is it would say, “Enter your email address to get it.” I enter my email address. I mean, if you were using ClickFunnels, you do that and then the next page would say, “For $9 we can professionally print and mail it out to you so it’ll look great on your wall.” “All right, I’ll give you nine bucks.” “By the way, we also have this upsell. Sign up for our software for just $1 for two months or something.” Right? But one of the things that I heard you say was it took you as a developer a long time to appreciate that marketing is important. I think you even have come to the conclusion that marketing beats product. Am I right?
Dan: Well, in the rare case, you build a product that goes viral and gets traction purely on that than maybe product-based marketing. I’m just saying for the average person, you’re fighting against . . . You’re fighting for market share against companies that are spending a lot of money that have brand recognition, like, you’re not developing your own space, you’re not carving out your own space. So, if you can’t get the word out and you can’t let people know what you’re doing, then it’s like trees falling in the forest, right?
Andrew: You’re saying, the greatest product in the world if it has nobody knowing that it exists is a failure, but a crappy product with great marketing that gets people to come and buy it, maybe even makes them feel better about owning it than they should feel about it is at least going to have a chance to fund the next version of the product so that it can continue to improve.
Dan: That is a much better way of saying what I was trying to say. Yes.
Andrew: I get it. I get it. And I think coming from someone like you who is . . . I’m looking at your LinkedIn, senior web app developers, senior web app developers, senior software engineer and lead web app developer. Like, you’re not a person who’s just yapping. You’ve been building for years and you’ve come to this realization. All right. The next blip on the Google Analytics was the timer. What’s the timer?
Dan: So the same thing. Like, we were looking at a way to get our brand in front of people. Same, we found a problem, it was like there was no easy way to set up a timer to run CrossFit type workouts. They do all this weird stuff like workout for three minutes, rest a minute, workout for three minutes, rest a minute. And all the timers are out there were like impossible to figure out how to set that up. And on top of that, they were like these ugly digital numbers that . . . There was just no attention paid to aesthetic. Again, we’re product-first people, obviously, not marketing-first people. So we set out to fix that. We built this timer. We didn’t realize how good it would do, honestly. Again, a huge missed opportunity on that, regard. Like, we ever . . .
Andrew: What do you mean?
Dan: I think at one point we were doing like a million workouts a month or something, like, it went nuts. We were . . . We had just . . . I don’t remember the numbers, so this is like a long time ago, but hundreds of thousands of people using it, millions of workouts a month. And I think a lot of it was by the design of the product. So maybe this is an instance of where like, a good product wins because we put on the App Store and it just worked and people use it. We didn’t have any good marketing messages around it. We didn’t have any viral ways of sending it to your friends. People just use it. And I think it was a rare case of like, there weren’t 100 timers to pick from and we were kind of ranking towards the top and people just took it, right?
Andrew: I’m looking at it now. It’s just clean. I could see how many seconds are left in the workout and I could see, I guess, how many . . .
Dan: Rounds left.
Andrew: Rounds. Is that what it is? Rounds and cycles left.
Dan: Yeah. So that’s the concept of like these workouts that are weird in CrossFit where you might do like 5 cycles of 5 rounds of 1 minute, so it will be like a 25-minute workout where you’re doing minute by minute.
Andrew: Got it. And from the little that I remember of CrossFit, there was some kind of timer or something and you were supposed to look at it and that’s what guides the whole class. The whole class is guided by the time, right?
Andrew: And the workout of the day.
Dan: Yep, yep. So the workout of the days and the timer are kind of joined. Yeah. So what ended up happening was we didn’t realize is, people were downloading it for yoga and their runs and their home workouts, like, just a ton of people started using it. So, yeah. And we’re actually working on relaunching that right now. We’re going to reboot . . . There was a bunch of voices in there. I think that was kind of our hook that was cool is like people would cheer you on that were big in the CrossFit community [inaudible 00:42:27].
So we’re working on relaunching that. The problem with that timer is every time iOS changed, we had to like spend 10,000 bucks to refresh it. And eventually, we’re like, “We’re not making any money on this, and we’re burning a ton of money.” So we put ads on it, eventually, which killed our traction because the ads invariably got in the way of the workouts or crashed the app or whatever. So now we’re in a position to give it back again. We’re going to take the ads off and relaunch it probably in the next 30 days or so, refresh some of the voices to new people.
Andrew: You also had a . . . You still do. You have a pro version and I saw . . .
Dan: That will probably go away.
Andrew: You think the pro is going to go away. It’s just going to be a freebie?
Andrew: And then where’s your upside?
Dan: So the way we’re going to focus on is actually making this . . . So what’s cool about this app is you can actually cast it via Apple TV to a screen and run it in your gym. So a gym can have a really nice looking timer in their gym instead of like some analog timer. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to put all of our energy into making it the best gym timer, that’s for free. And then there you go. There’s our in with a bunch of gyms.
Andrew: Just the fact that they’ve got you in the gym is an entry point to potentially sell them software.
Dan: Yeah. And so the idea is eventually will make it so you can program like the entire class via a web interface and maybe you’d have to be a PushPress, like, free client to access that interface or something. So this time we’ll be a little smarter about it in terms of like getting people signed into our system to use the app to its full extent.
Andrew: Okay. So both of these marketing pushes got you some users or some traffic, got you some customers, but they didn’t last. What was it that has allowed you to continue to grow?
Dan: I mean, I would just say it’s . . . I mean, I think our secret sauce is the fact that we are in the gym space. So pretty much everyone on the customer-facing side from day one that we’ve hired has owned a gym.
Dan: So when you talk to somebody at our company, they know what you’re going through because they owned a gym, or they still own the gym, one or the other. So I think that’s more of our secret sauce is like we . . . Like, the mantra is understand your customer. Well, our customer ends up becoming our team and our team knows themselves and they know we’re friends with the people in the community, so that is kind of our secret sauce right now. Yeah.
Andrew: I imagine partially it’s . . . I know you guys go beyond CrossFit, but the fact that you’re deep in that world means that people get to know you a little bit better, right? That within the CrossFit world, it’s easy to get . . . Not easy, but you can get recognition. It’s a community that actually has . . . that interacts with each other that actually is a real community. Right? In the sense that it’s a Soul Cycle. There’s no Soul Cycle community. There are people who go to Soul Cycle, they enjoy it, they might talk to each other about it, but they’re not talking a lot to each other online. There’s not this event that goes on and all the other stuff that CrossFit has.
Dan: Yep, absolutely. How can I respond to that? So what’s kind of cool is, yes, that is true. And we were deeply embedded in these communities like on Facebook or whatever where gym owners get together and share best practices or whatever. As we grow and expand outside of CrossFit our goal is to bring people into the community that own yoga studios that own pilates studios that own martial arts gyms or whatever. But also what’s cool is we’re developing our own community within PushPress where our gyms with different exercise modalities are sharing with each other. Like, oh in yoga, do you know this type of a tactic works? And then a CrossFit guy will try it, or a CrossFit will share with MMA guy or something. You know what I mean?
Dan: We are developing our own community, which community is the only reason why CrossFit succeeded both at the owner level and at the gym level, and we’re trying to recreate that within our own ecosystem.
Andrew: I can see some of your top gyms here. If I go to SimilarWeb, I can see that Badger Krav, which is krav maga, they use you guys, right? There’s CrossFit SV, they’re big on you guys. CrossFit 858. Those are the ones . . . I’m trying to figure out, like, where you get the bulk of your traffic. The bulk of your traffic is coming from existing users. So how are people even finding you guys to get on calls with your team to understand that you guys know what they’re going through and that your software does it? Where’s the traffic? Where do customers . . .
Dan: I mean, I think our number one traffic source right now is, it’s going to be linked back to our customer support and that’s linked back to the fact that these guys own gyms and they actually really give a shit about . . . Can I swear on this?
Dan: Give a shit about gym owners. So, like, our NPS I think right now is a mid-60s, like . . .
Andrew: I saw. It was high also on the different rating sites. So you’re saying it’s . . . But how does that translate into new people finding out about you?
Dan: Yeah. So what happens is somebody on some forum somewhere will be like, “Hey, I’m tired of this company screwing this up,” or, “I’m opening a new gym and I’m thinking about, you know, I need some software advice.” If I go and look at those, it’s just like, “Use PushPress, five star. I use PushPress customer support, it’s amazing. Use PushPress, they know they’re talking about.” It’s just, like, that kind of reinforcement from our customers is, like, what we . . . It’s all we need, really.
Andrew: Okay. You’re saying you create a good product and people within the community are going to talk to each other about it.
Dan: Well, it’s not that simple. So, in my opinion, and this has been a focus of ours from the beginning. The product is half the product, like the software is half the product. The other half is the support. And I think that’s where a lot of people screw up in SaaS is because they’re . . . Like, we overstaff support, and we make sure that people in support know what they’re talking about. They’re not like frontline people who are, like, let me talk to someone else. Right?
Dan: So our support guys are key not just in retention but in eventually marketing, right, because our clients are so happy. They talk to other people about it.
Andrew: Right. So let’s take a look. So what’s the number one software in your space? Is it Mind Body Online?
Andrew: Okay. So, if we go to them, what are they doing to get customers?
Dan: They have a massive sales team.
Andrew: That does what? That goes out to . . . I see. So what they’re doing is they’ve got a sales team that finds out where the gyms are and then they start reaching out to them.
Dan: Yep, yep. And then, you know, in certain spaces, they do better than others and they have a good enterprise sales team, so they’re going to sell your, you know, Barry’s Bootcamps of the world because it’s about who you know and about the relationships you create. They have a great . . . They’re an amazing sales organization, Mind Body is, right?
Dan: But we’re focused on the support and customer happiness, end of things. Like, we don’t make outbound calls at all.
Andrew: Yeah, this software does look like it’s a little clunky for me. That’s the software actually that I saw on a couple of sites locally here. Yeah. Again, when I’m looking to see like on Ahrefs to see where they’re getting their customers. There’s not a lot of content that’s drawing people in unless I’m misreading it. It’s the gyms that are sending people right over to them to log in.
Andrew: And then otherwise, you’re saying it’s just them reaching out to people?
Dan: Yeah. That’ll be cold calling and or it’s just like . . . So, in our industry a lot of people are like, “I used to work at this gym. They use Mind Body. I’m opening my own gym. I’m going to use Mind Body because I know it or PushPress or whatever.” It’s kind of like you’re going to use the systems you know.
Andrew: Right. Right, right.
Dan: A lot of it is like that. They’ve forever been the 800-pound gorilla, so they have 60,000 plus gyms. So just that network effect, you know, has carries forward some.
Andrew: We started talking about how you’re going beyond what you’re doing now and a little bit about the vision for the future. What is the vision? Where’s PushPress going?
Dan: So our main mantra and our main goal here is to genuinely honestly help our clients succeed. And by succeed, I mean, like, growing revenue tremendously, making them better business owners, getting them out of working 60-hour weeks, right? Turning them into business owners. That’s going to be the big picture of everything we do. So everything we do from here on out is going to be centered around that. And the funny thing is, I’ve just spent the last two years working with mentors in my space learning how to be a better SaaS CEO. And everything I realized is like these gyms are just little SaaS businesses, but they’re services service, not software service.
Andrew: Yep. Because they’ve got the same subscription-based model that every software that we buy online seems to have.
Dan: Yeah. So all this stuff that I’ve been learning how to make PushPress a better company, I’m repackaging and putting the gym twist on it and I’m going to be working with our gym owners to learn all these things because no one’s there supporting them on how to be a better business owner.
Dan: When you open a gym, it’s like you get a kettlebell cert, you get an Olympic lifting cert, you get a rowing cert, you get all these movement certs, you get kinesiology degrees and stuff.
Andrew: All these certificates of completion.
Dan: No one learns how, I mean . . . Yeah. But nobody takes the time to learn like KPIs for a service business or retention or referral systems or feedback loops, NPS. Like, gyms don’t even know what NPS is, a lot of gyms don’t, right?
Andrew: Net Promoter Score, to understand whether people are actually liking what they’re buying from you.
Andrew: And so what’s one thing that you learned, for example, about reducing churn that you think will help gyms and you’re going to repackage and teach to gyms?
Dan: Yeah. So that means . . . Like, we can just to talk to NPS for that, right? So take a heat check of your clientele every three months or whatever you feel is appropriate, three months is the standard. And then the people that are happy with you, those are the people you talk to you for referrals, right? I mean, they’re telling you which way to go with them. The people that are in the middle, you literally sit down with them and ask them, “How can I make this more excellent for you?” And the people that are on the bottom end that, you buy them . . . Take them for a cup of coffee, spend 10 bucks on them and say like, “I’m failing you.” Just own it. “How can I make this experience better for you or where are we lacking, or do we need to cut ties so you don’t get mad at me? How do we deal with this?”
Dan: Just that simple step will increase everyone’s retention like gangbusters.
Andrew: And you do that now, Dan? You actually call up people who give you a low score and low Net Promoter Score and you say, “I’m failing you. What do I do to improve?”
Dan: I personally don’t anymore, but my support team, like, yeah, if we get anyone who’s a six or below, they get a reachout. And we try to understand where . . . At least we can understand where we’re failing them, which helps us improve what we’re doing. Sometimes it’s something so specific to them. We can’t fix it for everybody.
Andrew: What’s an example of something that you guys have learned from somebody who’s given you a low grade, six and below, and because you talked to them you learned, it improved your business?
Dan: So there’s one that we’re working on, we haven’t fixed yet, but there’s recently a gentleman from Australia. He runs his business in a certain way that’s kind of unique to Australia, I feel, but also at the same time there’s enough gyms in Australia this is . . . Like, this is a cultural thing that I don’t understand. I don’t know how to explain it without getting too deep in the weeds, but basically like he wants. Like, if you get 12 classes a month, he wants that to reset on the first of the month as opposed to when you bill. So he might bill on the 12th, but on the calendar month, he wants that to flip over, and he gave us all the reasons, we listened to it, and we’ve got it in the roadmap for our future build. In the meantime, he’s actually asked if he can work for us to be employed. Like, he’s becoming a loyal fan of ours because we’re listening to him, we’re having meetings with him, talking through the product of how we can fix it and he understands like we’re listening.
Andrew: Okay. That makes sense. All right. So talking to him recognizing this is an issue for Australians. I still don’t understand why, but I can let it go and accept it. And so you just keep building this in. Revenue today is where?
Dan: Last month it was 123,000.
Dan: So we’re about 1.5 million.
Andrew: With two co-founders now?
Andrew: Three. The other two you guys bought out and made sure that there were no issues coming down the road, right?
Dan: Yeah. Well, that was around the time “The Social Network” movie came out, so we were well versed with that. Although, I would not be surprised if a lawsuit came my way if there was ever an exit.
Andrew: All right. Because?
Dan: Because you’re in America, you can sue anyone, right?
Dan: But yeah, we got it all buttoned up. Like, we bought them out . . . Honestly, I was pretty pissed off because, well, at the time I was getting kicked out of the gym, which was like an emotional moment for me but we were basically buying them out at a pretty handsome price and nothing had happened yet other than like corporate formation, like, no code had been written, nothing had been done . . .
Andrew: And you still had to go pay money to buy somebody from business it made no money. It was just an idea.
Dan: Well, because my business partner, Brian, is savvy enough to know, like, you actually have to put a value on the company, buy him out at a fair value, and then it’s like . . . We couldn’t, like, pay him under a value, you know, something that could be question, so he inflated the value, paid him out on that and . . .
Andrew: Wow. You just really want to be conservative.
Dan: Brian is . . . He does business clean.
Andrew: Okay. So there’s still not that much money coming in. I’m imagining you guys are each taking a salary of what? One-twenty a year at this point?
Dan: Not even that.
Andrew: Other than that. And you’re . . .
Dan: This is not about . . . Yeah. I mean, we’re above ramen profitability, but we have a big team. Like, again, this is about our clients first, so like we’ve hired a team to keep building product, to keep the clients happy, to keep everything moving. And it’s not about us taking money off the top right now. You know what I mean? Or I don’t know if it ever will be, but like . . .
Andrew: Do you feel good about that? I mean, you started the company back in . . . I think the first launch was 2013, right, the first version of the site?
Andrew: 2013, first version of the site. It’s six years, almost seven years in and you’re still not making bank from this. You would have made more money if you were to continue to work for Mike Jones.
Dan: Oh, yeah, for sure.
Dan: But I also couldn’t pick up my kids from school at 3:00 when I need to. Like, as an entrepreneur you get . . . Like, I’m an entrepreneur. I was never thoroughly happy working a 9:00 to 5:00, advancing someone else’s dreams and goals, right? I get so much satisfaction from what I’m doing. I don’t even dwell on the money that I make.
Andrew: Like what? What’s an example of something that makes you feel so proud that it would distract you from even caring about whether you’re making 120 or 100 or 60?
Dan: I mean, every day when I get . . . Because we have a Slack channel that every time someone NPS reviews us, it goes in there with their comments and it’s like, every day I get 10 hits of happiness when I see a 10 come through with like, how well we’re exceeding expectations for people.
Andrew: You haven’t gone blind to that?
Dan: No, no. Every single one that comes through I read, good or bad.
Andrew: You know what? I’ve been thinking that, obviously, I’ve been doing these interviews now for a while and one of the things I keep asking is, “Where’s the revenue?” And at first, I asked it in like retaliation to the TechCrunches of the world that focus on where’s the investment dollars. And I wanted to say let’s focus on something else. But internally, I obviously care about revenue. And I wonder if that actually hurts me to think so much about the money instead of the customer experience more. If it really is more about my own personal insecurity and ego and worry about losing it all, and so I care more about the revenue. And if I cared more about the NPS score and the customer and even like just caring in general about people without any number attached to it, I might do better. Maybe this thing that I’ve always fought which is kill your ego and focus on other things maybe that really is my answer to stop being so obsessed with ego-driven numbers and ego-driven anything.
Dan: I’m a big believer that if you take care of the people that are paying for your service, like, it will all work out. And I feel like that’s what . . . Our competitors, and again, this is my feeling being a gym owner, is not many of them are founded by people who are in the gym space and really care. Like, they are sales and marketing organizations. They are payments companies. Like, they’re in it for the dollars, right? And I think that resonates. There’s a few of our competitors that are built by people connected to the gym space and there’s also a few that aren’t. And the ones that aren’t, it’s clear. So, yeah. I don’t know. I could . . . Yeah. Could I be making more money? Would it be nice? Yes. Do I want to help more gyms more? So I’ll take less money, I’ll hire more people and we’ll help more people. It’ll all be fine in the end. I only need so much money to live.
Andrew: Yeah. What part of LA are you living in?
Dan: The South Beach area.
Dan: Oh, I’m sorry. South Bay area.
Andrew: That’s a nice area, isn’t it?
Dan: Yeah. Yeah. But I don’t live in the beach cities. I live a couple of cities in.
Andrew: Got it. So you can get the weather without the beach.
Dan: As much of the price. Yeah.
Andrew: Right. Actually that’s where I was going on and I kind of forgot midway through the sentence. All right. The website is PushPress. By the way, let me close it out with, why are you even here? Like, I’m fascinated by the fact that you do this, but I doubt that there are a lot of gym owners here. I doubt that there are a lot of people who are going to say, “You know what? I actually do want to get somebody who owns a gym like me to go and sign . . . and I’m going to go sign up for his software.”
Dan: I mean, the main reason I’m here is because like I mentioned, all three of the founders are product-first people and we’ve just come to this realization, like, in this year that somebody’s got to get out there and tell our story. And I’m not comfortable doing this, especially talking about, like, some of the skeletons in my closet. But I mean, the reality is, is like if I want to help more gym owners, I have to advance this company, and in order for me to advance this company, like, people have to know about it and I have to be talking to people like you and start a story and the message has to be spread, right? And on top of that, like, I want to build a podcast series myself, so like just watching you how you interview me helps me. Like, there’s so many intangible things that help, right? So, in my never-ending quest of becoming a better person, that’s where I am.
Andrew: All right. Well, it’s pushpress.com for anyone who wants to go check out the website. And I want to thank the sponsor who made this interview happen. I’ve been experimenting with one sponsor per interview. Let me know, guys, if you’re listening what you think of it. And the sponsor, of course, is ClickFunnels. And now’s a really good time for you to go and check out the landing page that ClickFunnels created because if you go to clickfunnels.com/mixergy, you’ll get my interview with the founder of ClickFunnels. Clickfunnels.com/mixergy. Oh, look at this time. Dan, that’s my wife. Olivia, can I talk to you in a moment? I’ll call you back. Okay. Bye. Oh, she’s got such, like, a hectic schedule in the middle of the day. Unusual for us to get to talk.
Dan: That’s awesome.
Andrew: All right, cool. Thanks, Dan.
Dan: Thank you.
Andrew: Thanks, everyone. Bye.