Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview proven entrepreneurs about how they built their phenomenally successful businesses for an audience of real entrepreneurs who are building phenomenally successful companies as you’re listening to me, or sometimes just getting started.
I got to tell you that when I went to NYU, I was studying finance. I wanted to be this guy who bought and sold companies just like one of my heroes at the time, which was Henry Kravis, a guy who was known for buying companies like Nabisco. Anyway, I decided once I got into tech and entrepreneurship, I just couldn’t leave it alone. I had to get into it. Joining me is a guy who had similar ambitions of getting into finance. And the reason he didn’t do it is because he couldn’t get a job. I don’t know why he couldn’t get a job. He seems like a nice guy. He’s very friendly, smart. He couldn’t get a job.
Brian: It was crazy. I applied to all these jobs and I was in New Orleans at the time finishing up my schooling at Tulane and I was applying to all these cool investment banks and big hedge funds in New York. And when you go interview up there, they’re comparing you against all these Ivy leaguers and they’re just telling you, “You’re not smart as them,” without any kind of a test or evaluation. I was like, “Just put me on the trading floor for a day.” I never got that opportunity, and I came back home and started buying and selling stuff on eBay.
Andrew: And the company that Brian Burke, who you just heard, started as a company called Sell Your Mac where you can, get this, sell your Mac
Brian: It’s that easy. You just come to our site, you can sell all your Apple gear. We make it really hassle-free for you.
Andrew: So it’s more than Mac, huh?
Brian: Yes, we focus a lot on the Mac channel. Everyone buys and sells iPhones, and you can go to your carrier, you can go to Apple, you can go to craigslist. Those opportunities are all around, but not everyone buys back Macs and for the best price. So we try to be really a market leader in pricing to ensure that our customers do get a good value, and they’re not turning into other avenues.
Andrew: All right. We’re going to find out whether this is actually good money and whether those companies that turned him down were right or wrong thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first is going to help you hire great developers. It’s called Toptal. The second will help you host your website right. It’s called HostGator.
Brian, I want to go straight to dollars and cents. What’s your revenue? 2018 done in the can, how much?
Brian: We’re going to do between 10 and 11 this year million.
Andrew: $10, $11 million in revenue.
Andrew: And then how much of that is profit?
Brian: I don’t want to share the exact profit numbers right now, but we have a healthy profit and we’re working to grow the bottom line.
Andrew: Give me a sense of it because basically, you’re buying stuff online which is kind of commoditized at this point, selling it into a world where it’s commoditized where you’ve got tons of competitors. Are we looking at 10% net margins or more? Let’s just ask that.
Brian: Yeah, close to 10%.
Brian: One of the issues is that we’re investing really heavily back into the business, so that sucks up a lot of cash. And I think trying to understand the difference between cash and bottom line profit is quite different. I mean, you could make a million dollars but have zero leftover at the end of the year because you’re [inaudible 00:03:02]
Andrew: Okay. So you’ve got cash. I get that you’d have cash leftover but . . . So we’re talking gross margins of more than 50%? No, gross margins have got to be tiny.
Brian: Yeah, it’s a slim margin business. I mean, it’s highly competitive. There’s lots of opportunities, a lot of people that stepped into the game. So we focus mainly on customer service. We have the best price, but we also try to deliver the best service to the customer and that’s why we stand out ahead.
Andrew: So if I email you over the weekend, I’m going to get an email response over the weekend or Monday?
Brian: If you email the general team email, we are closed on the weekend. We want to make sure our team members have time with their families and friends. But in general, if you email us during the week, you’re going to get a response almost immediately.
Andrew: Okay. I got to say, if you email me during the week, you’ll get a response next week. I’m so bad with email. It’s just flooded. And I heard about how . . .
Brian: If you email me over the weekend, you’ll probably get a response in five minutes.
Brian: Yeah, I’m pretty much on it.
Andrew: Hey, when we go back and think about why you were turned down for those jobs, let’s look at it from a distance and be honest. What didn’t you have and where were they right, where were they wrong in turning you down for these jobs?
Brian: I didn’t have a lot of internships in the finance industry. I think that might have been something that maybe not as good compared with some of other opportunities people had to pick from.
Brian: Also was coming from the South. I think there was just something about going to college in the South at Tulane versus going to something in the Northeast, you know, these Harvard and Princeton and Penn and stuff like that, and they were just blatantly comparing me to those people the second I walked in the room.
Andrew: I think finance but . . .
Brian: I think they believe the story that these people are smarter even though they don’t know me.
Andrew: But Brian, I thought in finance what they really liked was more hustle, more determination, more avarice. They weren’t looking for Harvard grads to be on the trading desk, were they?
Brian: At these places, I mean, I think they were . . . It was investment banks and some big hedge funds. I really had my sight set pretty high, and that was one of my issues too that had I gone for a mid or low tier firm . . . I actually had some offers at some lower tier firms. I just wasn’t interested. That didn’t drive enough passion for me. I was like, “If I have to work 100 hours a week, I want to make sure I’m working for something I really, really care about.”
Andrew: And what did you care about? For me, it was being like Henry Kravis, the idea that he could just buy a company, inject some intelligence and improve it or change the financing of it from equity to debt, and boom, the thing takes off. That excited me, and I wanted to be at that level. What was your version of that? What was the level that you said, “I want to be there”?
Brian: Really, a high-powered hedge fund that we’re doing a ton of volume and making a lot of profit. I was driven by the sense that I could make a lot of money trading, and it’s something that I do have experience in. Growing up I did very well for myself trading with my bar mitzvah money. I have kept growing that year over year. A little bit tough in the last three months, obviously. But in general, I felt I had this acumen for trading stocks.
Andrew: What were some of your trades when you were in high school, when you were in college? What were the ones that you still remember?
Brian: Intel was one of them. I was picking some food companies I was familiar with.
Andrew: Did you do options trading?
Brian: It was [inaudible 00:06:20] companies that I knew.
Andrew: Were you going aggressive options, high margin, that type of thing or no?
Brian: Not when I was young. No. Plain old equities.
Andrew: Okay. And so your return was maybe if you were super strong 20%? Is that what we’re looking at?
Brian: I actually never really gone back and backdated my percentage. That’s a great question.
Andrew: Just like, roughly, are we looking at like big, big wins or . . . ?
Brian: Yeah, probably in the 20%. I mean, definitely above average.
Andrew: Okay. So you said, “Look, I got this. Give me like more of an environment and I could knock the ball out of the park.” Got it. Meanwhile, while this . . .
Brian: I was doing more than 20%. I think I 10X’ed in bar mitzvah money in like five years.
Andrew: But some of that was you going into stores and buying old phones, wasn’t it?
Brian: So that happened after college.
Andrew: Got it.
Brian: That’s my targeting [inaudible 00:07:05]
Andrew: So you’re saying you 10X’ed your money from investments?
Brian: In trading.
Andrew: Wow. All right. That’s killer. All right. No wonder. Man, you . . . All right. So then while you had these big visions, at some point, you said, “I’m going to start buying . . . ” and the first thing was a phone, right?
Brian: Everyone has phones. It kind of started at college that senior year people wanted to get rid of all their old electronics and get more money to go out and spend on the weekends. And it seemed to be that a lot of people had an extra phone lying around, and I started buying their phones from them. I had a couple of different ways I could do, like, give them cash up front or I can do it on commission. People were kind of loving the commission thing back then. I was charging 35% and made a nice little side business out of it. It seemed that people didn’t want to spend the time selling their own stuff and for me it was honestly really easy. It was something I was used to.
Andrew: And you started out by going to your friends and getting their stuff? Was it your friends first that you’d buy their phones or was it strangers?
Brian: It was people on campus. So friends of friends. I was mainly marketing to fraternities and sororities. So if I knew one person in the sorority, I would go through her and try to get an email address so I could send it out to everyone on their list or show up at one of their events and tell them about it. I think after a couple of months everyone knew I could buy their phone. Then I was getting a lot of random things people wanted to sell me too.
Brian: The most random was probably a massive bin of brand new female razors. And there was some sorority event that Gillette or whatever gave them . . . I mean, literally it was probably 1,000 or more brand new inbox razor sets and they’re like, “We don’t want these.”
Brian: So I gave them cents and the dollar and just sold them in bulk.
Andrew: On where?
Brian: On eBay.
Andrew: So in college, most people really want to flex, have everyone see them as being the coolest, most interesting person. How did it feel to be considered like a schlepper, a guy who’s going to take somebody’s old phone and sell it for a little bit more?
Brian: I think I’ve always done that, though, so for me . . .
Brian: That was something . . . Yeah. I mean, I was buying and selling stuff on the streets when I was young.
Andrew: Like what?
Brian: So I have been used to it.
Andrew: Like what? What did you do when you were really young? I think we just lost his audio somehow. We’ve been struggling with this for a bit. Let me know, Brian when you come back. Wow-wee. I’ll tell you what? While we wait for Brian to come back, I’m going to . . . Brian, did you just come back?
Brian: I’m back.
Andrew: You’re back. Okay. Like what? What did you sell when you were younger, when you were a kid?
Brian: It was things I was making back then. The number one thing I sold was jewelry. And I would make jewelry from beads and sell them in school and in the neighborhood. It was a pretty large neighborhood. There were pretty nice people liked them, you make a little money. It wasn’t nothing crazy, but making $100 in a few weeks when you’re 10 years old is pretty meaningful.
Andrew: I used to do that. In camp, we learned how to take lanyard and turn it into bracelets and that suddenly became a thing and so I would make it and sell it. I had a little bit of interest in the lanyard stuff but a lot in the selling part. But by college, I started to feel like I have to hide all these little side hustles. I was selling sandwiches door to door to store owners in Queens. I didn’t want anyone to know that, but you felt comfortable doing it. That was just who you are.
Brian: Yeah. I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin, so I never really worried what people think about stuff like that. I was just trying to showcase my entrepreneur passion and I’m willing to buy and sell anything that people need to get rid of, and that was kind of how it was started, and so it just happened to be one of the best avenues to go with.
Andrew: I love that. I feel like right now that kind of hustle is still something that some people are embarrassed by. I love it. I love when I see somebody hustle and sell especially like something that’s that clear. You’re buying low, buying someone’s old phone and selling high. Where were you selling it? Did you sell it on eBay? Were you on Amazon? Did you find some other place to sell it? Where were you selling it?
Brian: eBay has always been my biggest channel. I’ve really just grown my knack for eBay, and I think I launched my eBay account back in 2000. And I mean, we have over 35,000 positive feedbacks on there now and way more items than that sold. I mean, people don’t really leave feedback anymore these days, so I think we’ve sold over 100,000 items on there.
Andrew: What’s your eBay store URL? I was looking you up. I wanted to look you up.
Brian: If you go to ebaystores.com/isellimac.
Andrew: I see it. I Sell iMac. Right, right. Why is it that? I thought I was on the wrong site.
Brian: So originally, the business was called I Sell Mac and at the time that name when eBay was taken, so I figured I’d pop another I in front of Mac, why not?
Andrew: Got it. All right. And I see your stuff in there now. It’s a good place.
Brian: Yes. We’ve got hundreds of Apple products on their live every day.
Andrew: Okay. And so that’s where you’re going, that’s where you’re selling. At first, it was going in and selling your friend’s stuff. At what point did you say, “I’m going to walk into stores and see if they’ve got extra stuff for me”?
Brian: It happened really right when I got back after college. I needed to make some money, I didn’t have a job at the time, so I quickly went to these Verizon kiosks and I met a good friend there that helped kind of spread the word at this Verizon retailer and I had these guys selling me bags of phones every single week. Back then there wasn’t any trade-ins, so there were very few trading sites for phones, people giving their phones to the reps for free.
Brian: Yeah. They would get like 30 to . . .
Andrew: They say, “I’m done with this. Take it.”
Brian: They just trade in their phone and give away their old one. They’re trading in this old flip LG and getting a new mobile RAZR.
Andrew: Right, right. And then what is the value of the old thing? It’s not . . . Right, right. Okay. And so that’s what you were taking, that’s what you were selling, and you were just sitting . . . Were you listing it yourself or did you start to get friends to come in and help you list it?
Brian: I started doing it on my own, but quickly realized I couldn’t physically test and process every phone, so I hired a couple of friends that I knew, I gave them about $10 an hour at the time and they were just testing out phones for me, and I was doing all the physical listing, all the customer service and stuff like that. They’re mainly doing the testing and the shipping to get us going. But we were buying 40, 50 phones a day at that point.
Andrew: Wow. All right. That’s pretty freaking cool. And so you were making enough money at that point to realize this could be your full-time thing. Were you at that point realizing that could be your full-time thing? Wow. This connection is really funky.
Brian: Yeah. Sorry about the connection. Yeah, I knew it was a full-time gig within the first I would say six months. I didn’t know it would be a lifelong gig but I knew that it definitely could take the place of another salary at a lower level finance type job.
Andrew: Okay. All right. Let me take a moment and talk about my first sponsor and then we’ll come back and we’re going to find out how you then grew this thing. And it feels like one of the things you did in the early days was start to get into a search engine optimization.
Our first sponsor is a company called Toptal. If you’re out there and you’re looking to hire people, the best of the best people are available at toptal.com/mixergy. In fact, you got nothing to lose. It’s not like a job site where you place a listing and then you hope somebody responds and you have to screen them. No. Toptal has already screened them. All you have to do is go to this special URL I’m about to give you.
Again, you hit that button and you’ll basically be scheduling a call with one of their matchers. You tell their matcher what you’re looking for and challenge them to find the best of the best people for you. They will go out there, they’ll find them, they’ll introduce you to them and then you can often get started within days. So here’s the URL, top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, so that’s toptal.com/mixergy. T-O-P-T-A-L.com/M-I-X-E-R-G-Y, toptal.com/mixergy.
Brian: Speaking of talent, and I’m sure that service is great. I’ve never used it. But I want to go tell people that I’ve had such great success with just LinkedIn jobs and Facebook jobs and I think it’s a great community.
Andrew: How? What’s your process there?
Brian: Just posting the jobs up there. I think it’s a place people are searching actively for jobs, so it’s obviously different than the talent site. They’re not sending people your way. But it’s so easy for people to apply and they’re looking at these channels constantly. I never tried Facebook just until last month when I had to make a couple of new hires. I was overwhelmed with the response rate. I couldn’t believe it.
Andrew: What do you do to keep track of the whole hiring process? I found using Workable was really helpful because if I placed ads online, I just get flooded with responses and I have a hard time screening them. What I like about Workable was they give you a list of questions . . . a place where you could ask questions, so every applicant has to answer some questions. It gives me a sense of who they are, and then it has this like Trello board-like process where I can keep track of where people are in the hiring process.
Brian: Well, I think I need that. That sounds good. I definitely fired back some questions to each person, and within LinkedIn and Facebook they both have a process where you can pick where they’re at. Hey, they have been contacted, they replied, they’ve been phone screen and stuff like that. So you can kind of [inaudible 00:16:46] the process there.
Andrew: So they don’t do the screening questions but they do have that . . .
Brian: They have the workflow that [work for you 00:16:53].
Andrew: Organization, the workflow. And then do they allow a couple of other people to come into the workflow management process?
Brian: I don’t know. I’m in charge of hiring here. I kind of do the initial screening and then I bring people into the company and I allow my leadership team to interview them. So I’ve never brought someone quite at that front end. I’m usually just trying to look for a great culture fit, kind of feel them out if they can do the job at a high level and then I bring them in for the tough interview questions at our office.
Andrew: Oh, cool. All right. Facebook and LinkedIn really the place to [find people 00:17:20].
Brian: Everything we do is literally at our office. We process everything internally. A lot of other companies in our space are managing these products out of house and using third-party companies. We do it all here. It’s all SYM team powered by our people.
Andrew: What do you mean there? What would they outsource? What would they send outside?
Brian: The processing is the biggest thing.
Andrew: Once you get the phone to test it to make sure it works and that [inaudible 00:17:42].
Brian: It wouldn’t even arrive at their facility. It would go straight to the third-party processor, that company would unbox it, test it out and verify it. And there’s not great customer communication when you do that. We’ve rarely have problems with the customer’s item, but if we do, we’re very upfront and honest and replying back to them and talking through it. Versus some of these other companies, they might just send you a check in the mail and you never had an opportunity to even okay the price change.
Andrew: All right, I get that. Let’s continue in and see how you ended up with this process as it is right now because you started out with a Joomla site. Why Joomla? Why did you use that to publish?
Brian: I did not pick Joomla. My webmaster picked that back in the day. I was not crazy web savvy, so I kind of went with whatever he suggested. And we’re still on Joomla today. And it feels like it’s a little bit outdated, but the site is still running well and we’re still helping a lot of customers.
Andrew: And did the original version of the site allow me to go in and like get a price quote right away? Was it doing that kind of calculation?
Brian: It did. It was always instant price quote. I wanted to make sure that was a feature we offered right out of the box. I think there’s so many sites where you go through a process and you don’t even know what it is. So I want to give the customer the opportunity to know the price before they ever put their information in. I don’t want you to have to give me your email just to find out the price.
Andrew: Look at this. So I see an old version of your website. One of the things that stands out to me is it says, “eBay power seller since 2000. Click here to see my excellent feedback.” What were you selling at 2000 that made you a power seller?
Andrew: It was still cellphones back then.
Brian: A lot of cellphones. That’s when it started, yeah.
Andrew: Wow. All right. So you had the website up and running and then you told our producer, “We got really good at SEO.” I’m looking at early versions of your site. I’m missing what you did that worked really well for search engine optimization. What did you do?
Brian: The biggest thing we’ve done are our Mac guides, and they really go into detail about all the product information. And I’m not sure if there’s a tab on the old site or not, maybe the toolbar that says Mac guides perhaps, but that’s where you’d find all that information. It’s literally a step by step every single thing about the products and stuff like that.
Andrew: Is it on the current site? Can I see it?
Brian: It is. We don’t make it really featured. If you went down to the bottom of the page of the site map, click on Mac Guide, you’ll see it all there.
Andrew: Okay. Because you’re not looking . . . If someone’s on the site, you don’t want them to go to guide. You want them to understand that they could sell their stuff. Got it. You know what? The very first . . .
Brian: I wish I could clean it all up. It’s like Google when you have one little box and this is what you do.
Andrew: Right. And the whole thing really is. Here’s what you do. Get a quote. Just press this button, see what your stuff is worth and then continue . . .
Brian: That’s the goal.
Andrew: . . . through the process and send it in. The very first site actually forget Joomla. The very first site you made was using that crappy Mac Website Builder that they used to have.
Andrew: iWeb. Right. It would make pages look really nice if you stuck with their theme. It’s very Appley in that you can . . . it could look really good as long as you do exactly what we want you to do. If you want to step outside, forget it. Right? And so . . .
Brian: Well, that was the programming language that I knew, so you can make your site in afternoon.
Andrew: All right.
Brian: I’m all about getting started. You said you like hustlers. I mean, I didn’t want to wait to spend $10,000 building my first site version and I wanted to launch that day, so I went up and just did it.
Andrew: And the guides, you wrote them yourself too?
Andrew: The guides basically say, here’s what’s in it. Here are the specs for . . .
Brian: Yeah. It’s a lot of specs. The technical information, but that helps drive a lot of search. Someone’s searching for a port number or just information in general, they tend to land there.
Andrew: Got it. And then there’s very quick, easy links to go sell your MacBook, whatever it is that you just look for in the guide. So you said you did that yourself?
Brian: Yeah, back in the day. It’s been a long time.
Andrew: You just sat down, you said, “Look, this could be good SEO. I’m going to put it in and then see what happens.”
Brian: Yeah. Well, of course, when I started off, there wasn’t nearly as many products, so it was a lot easier to do. [inaudible 00:21:45]
Andrew: You then you continued doing SEO for yourself up until a few months ago. What other SEO stuff worked for you to get new customers?
Brian: Just about last year we started focusing a little bit more on the organic SEO efforts and just trying to create more content out there on the web with backlinks coming back to our site and you’re making sure that these pages have very high domain ratings and rankings and stuff like that. Also, we went through, we cleaned up our site, looked at all the different issues that Google was seeing and try to speed it up, got better servers, did this secure certificate, stuff like that, that kind of helped us boost our ranking a little bit. But I mean, you search for anything “sell my MacBook,” I mean, we’re typically number one in the world on Google.
Andrew: Let me check right now. Sell my MacBook Air. Let’s see what comes up. Top . . .
Brian: You see.
Andrew: No. Top result is your competitor.
Brian: On ads or on organic?
Andrew: On organic. “Sell my MacBook Air” is what I typed in. Oh no, two of your competitors. Can I mention their names? Are you going to like suddenly be . . . I’m going to . . .
Brian: No, sure. I’m very open about my competitors.
Andrew: Okay. In that feedback, in that . . . I forget what that little box is called at the top. There is cashforyourmac.com and then so they have this step-by-step process. And then next under that is Gazelle, then under that is cashforyourmac.com again, then it’s apple.com support page, and it’s apple.com trade-in page, then it’s Sell Your Mac. Let me see if I take away the Air . . .
Brian: Wow. The Air might have gotten me on that one.
Andrew: Okay. You’re number three if I get rid of the Air.
Andrew: Wow. But that’s your way of doing things of getting people. And that Cash for Your Mac people they are in that info box at the top. How did they even get into that? Actually not how, I know how they get into that.
Brian: They got their own snippet in there somehow.
Andrew: Who encourages that?
Brian: That’s something we’re working on for the future. We’re going to get up there.
Andrew: Snippets and amp and the whole thing. You basically have to dance to their song.
Brian: You do.
Andrew: So that’s how you get people to your site. I see you’re a little uncomfortable the fact that I brought that up, aren’t you? I hate doing it.
Brian: No. It’s fine. I mean, Cash for Your Mac is out there. They put out coupons that directly target us because they know that we’re a better company.
Andrew: What do you mean? What type of coupons do they put out? What does the coupon say?
Brian: “Save $50 by using the Sell Your Mac promo code.”
Andrew: Got it. Got it. So you’re basically looking for promo codes for Sell Your Mac and then they’re trying to hijack that link and get them over to their site.
Brian: Yeah. They’re trying to offer bonuses to get people to trade in there instead.
Andrew: Are you super competitive? Are you the type of person who is just constantly going over to competitors and seeing what they’re up to?
Brian: I definitely want to beat our competitors, but it’s more from the strategy of wanting to do the best thing for the customer. So something we offer that other competitors don’t is we send boxes to all our customers. So if you request a shipping box, we’ll send it out to you the day after you get your quote, probably a few days later, help you send it in. Really alleviate that hassle of finding the right box and making sure it gets here safely. One of the customer’s main concerns is that their items not going to arrive in good shape and then they’re going to get a lower quote. But with our boxes, it’s firstly guaranteed it’s going to arrive safely.
Andrew: You know why I don’t sell my stuff? I don’t sell it because . . .
Brian: You’re worried.
Brian: You’re worried about security.
Andrew: No, I think I could wipe it out pretty well. If I sell it at all, I’ll sell it using Facebook’s marketplace or Craigslist and have someone just come to the office and pick it up because there it’s . . . the amount of money you get is unreasonably high for product but I don’t sell it otherwise because I just won’t get enough. So before we started, I said I like my Mac, my iMac, but I don’t love it. How much could I get for it? It’s like $200. So I thought, “For $200 I might as well just use it as like a dummy terminal for something else for my iPad if I need to have access to a Mac, I’ll just login that way.” It feels like Mac Apple products . . .
Brian: I mean, people hand me down a lot. I mean, I think especially with iOS and iPad, if you had a nice iPad and you got a kid or a friend that needed one, you don’t want the $100, you rather see someone else use it.
Andrew: Right. I’ll take it to my brother who’s a PC person and say, “Look here, take an Apple product,” and then it feels more valuable.
Brian: [inaudible 00:26:06] face and chuck that PC out the back door or recycle it.
Andrew: So then you did something kind of interesting. The first million in revenue didn’t come from the web pages that we talked about and the SEO. It came from some kind of deal that you made to get a bunch of different Macs. What was that deal?
Brian: Our first really big deal we did we had an overseas partner and we bought about eight skids of Macs, so that really helped the ranking.
Andrew: And how did they end up with that? How did they end up with that many Macs and then how did you come up with a partnership or a deal with them?
Brian: This company does a lot of off-lease Apple stuff, so they were taking them in from one of their clients and they had found us on Google at the time. They searched for “Sell MacBook” when we were number one. They didn’t add in “Air” so we were doing a little better.
Andrew: And so that’s what it was. And I feel like those kinds of companies must be great clients because they don’t have somebody to hand me a down to, they’re not going to Facebook or Craigslist and dealing with that.
Andrew: They just have those computers, they have a business need. Even if the price isn’t perfect, they got to get it out because it’s better than keeping it around. Am I right?
Brian: Exactly, yeah. Businesses aren’t going to sit on these things and try to repurpose them as dummy terminals. If they have an internal need for them, they might pass them down, but if not, they need to sell them. And usually, companies wait too long. They need to sell a little quicker.
Andrew: What’s the percentage of your business that comes from companies versus individuals?
Brian: Right now it’s about 50-50, but we’ve been really growing the business, working more with companies. The consumer side has been growing a little more steadily, but I really ramped up on the B2B side.
Andrew: And it’s all just people coming to your site. You’re not reaching out. You’re not trying to get these deals.
Brian: Not doing outbound right now. I mean, we do AdWords and stuff like that, but I have no outbound call team that’s sitting in our office and you’re ringing 500 people a day or anything like that.
Andrew: And I get a sense that just watching your smile that you’d like to have that. That actually is exciting to have more activity.
Brian: I would be excited. I’ve bootstrapped this business the whole time. I’m still 100% owner. I’ve never taken on any funding, and so I’ve had to grow it year over year, what makes sense and it never made sense in the past to hire a multi-person outbound sales team. But I looked up . . . I mean, I visited my competitors before and companies in our space and they usually have that.
Andrew: The first big customer that you had, the first big business customer sent the stuff where? You didn’t have an office then.
Brian: They sent to my house and took up my entire two car garage at the time. It was a little packed and it pissed off my neighbors.
Andrew: It did. Because what? Were the computers inside your garage or outside, on the lawn?
Brian: No, no. This neighbor across the street didn’t like delivery trucks coming every day. And then when he saw a semi-truck dropping off the pallets, it ticked him off and he complained to the city and got me in trouble.
Andrew: And so what does the city do when there’s a neighbor that has these trucks coming in, dropping stuff off?
Brian: It’s really upsetting what the city did because we’re kind of minding our own business. I mean, the four people I had on my team at the time they had cars in my driveway. We’re not causing anyone any problem. The city send us a cease and desist order.
Brian: I know. I had two weeks to vacate. They said, “You’re allowed to have one employee.” And I was like, “I’m paying my taxes. What’s the problem? The cars were in my driveway. Who cares if there’s four people working here?” But they cared. So we had to move very quickly about 10 days later.
Brian: It was good time, though. We stayed in Cincinnati. I mean, we moved 10 miles away or so.
Andrew: What kind of place?
Brian: It was about a 2,000 square foot office building right up the highway. No like, retail storefront kind of thing. It was more just kind of warehouse.
Andrew: Loading dock?
Brian: We had a ramp.
Andrew: Ramp. Okay.
Brian: Or dock. We have a couple of loading docks at our new place here in Blue Ash.
Andrew: Okay. Wow. Did you ever get like revenge on the neighbor? They’re not my neighbor, but I’m going to . . . As I go for a run, I’m going to have revenge fantasies of what I could do.
Brian: No. I’ve never done anything like that. He was 80-year-old man living alone.
Andrew: You know what I’d do? Here’s what . . . I start going through revenge fantasies and what I could do. I start thinking basic things like, “I’m going to find something that he did wrong,” and then I go into, “What can I get away with?” and then inevitably I go to, “You know what? The best thing is just go be nice,” so I would then go take cookies over to their house.
Brian: Overly nice.
Andrew: Yeah, and just say, “Hey, you didn’t know who I was. Maybe it seemed a little weird that . . . ” Was it weird that there were trucks? Let’s go talk to them. And if that doesn’t work then I go and I get revenge.
Brian: I’m trying to find some common interest there.
Andrew: Yeah. Like maybe he was an old entrepreneur or wannabe entrepreneur, he could live through this experience or maybe just, I don’t know what.
Brian: I think he was trying to sell his house at the time if I remember correctly, so maybe . . .
Andrew: Right. And maybe help him out by helping him sell his house.
Brian: It would be nice.
Andrew: Let me talk about my second sponsor and then get back in. Our second sponsor is a company called HostGator. If you’ve got a business idea and you want to get it up and running . . . You know what? I talk about WordPress a lot, but if you’re into Joomla, you can actually publish Joomla websites on HostGator. If you want to do Drupal, if you want to do Magento, if you want to do anyone in these open source hosting platforms, absolutely, HostGator will make it super easy. I think they even have that one-click-install. Brian, I invited you into my last ad and you basically said, “Here’s a better alternative than your sponsor. Go to Facebook and LinkedIn.” I’m going to be open and say that you had a bad experience with HostGator. I’m going to say for you because . . .
Brian: Yeah. I feel the same way. I mean, they were one of my initial internet providers, but when there was a problem, it was so hard to get anything done. You’d wait so long on these customer service queues. If your website’s down, waiting an hour for someone to even talk to you, it’s extremely frustrating.
Andrew: So I have to tell you that . . .
Brian: [inaudible 00:32:01] fix it.
Andrew: So they did have an issue with that, and before I invited them back to be sponsors I went in and I made sure that things were working well, and they were and I felt good about having them back on and now they are our sponsor. It absolutely was an issue at one point with them where customer service was there, unlike their competitors who forced me to send out tickets via a web page, they actually had human beings on the phone. But absolutely, there was a period there where they were slow with their customer service phone calls. I think they were a little overwhelmed.
I think since you were with them sold to a major hosting company, Endurance. They’re now part of that. I was going to say conglomerate, but they’re not. They’re very tightly focused on hosting. And they do an excellent job right now, so much so that I have a business, a chatbot business that does way more traffic even than Mixergy, constantly getting bombarded with hits, constantly has to put up with people’s nonsense because they want to test out my site and test out my hosting, and these guys have been bulletproof at HostGator. And when we need to contact them, there are lots of different ways for us to contact them. If you’re out there and you want to host your website right, it probably even work with iWeb if that’s still out there, whatever it is, bring it to HostGator.
Brian: It is not out there.
Andrew: It’s not. It’s done, right? Even if you have it in an old computer, can you use iWeb?
Brian: No, you can’t.
Andrew: You know what? You don’t want to. You could I bet, but you don’t want to. Whatever the new . . .
Brian: There’s so many sites. I mean, you can find a free website making tool and have website up in 15 minutes.
Andrew: Right. I actually I’m a big, big, big proponent of WordPress. All you have to do is go click one click-install of WordPress, you’re up and running and you’re good and frankly, if you decide you don’t like HostGator in the future, you got your open source platform, just take your hosting over to someone else.
Brian: Jump right out.
Andrew: Right. And if you’re not happy with your current hosting company, go to the one that I choose, HostGator. And if you use this simple URL, you will get the lowest price out there. In fact, there was one person who said, “I found a lower price,” and I said, “Tell you what, I believe that we still have the lowest price anywhere. If you find a lower price, I will pay the difference.” So anyone who’s listening to this episode, if you find a lower price than they’re offering right now at hostgator.com/mixergy, I will pay you the difference, but frankly, let’s not . . .
Brian: What’s the cost for a month of hosting typically?
Andrew: Yeah, exactly. Let’s not be petty. $2.64 a month for their cheapest plan. The one that I advocate which is called the Baby Plan is $3.98 a month. There’s an asterisk, so follow the asterisk and just make sure you understand all the details.
Brian: That’s less than a grande coffee at Starbucks.
Andrew: Right, right. So basically, I’ll be honest with you, Brian. Hosting is just a solved problem. It’s not expensive because it doesn’t take that much today to host websites. What you need is a company that’s not going to disappear overnight. I’ve interviewed people whose site suddenly disappeared overnight, or they get sold to someone else because they’re a cheaper okay provider or they’re like the artisanal provider, then they get sold to someone else, and then it gets crushed because that other company doesn’t give a rat’s ass anymore.
If you want a company that’s just going to be steady Eddie, make it work, and let you concentrate on the rest of your business. That’s what HostGator is about. Hostgator.com/mixergy. A fantastic company. I just signed an agreement with them where I said I will not disparage. It’s the first time that a sponsor made me . . . Like, all my sponsors know that I have to do [inaudible 00:35:02] whatever the shit I want. Right.
Brian: It’s not disparaging, it’s just the truth. I mean . . .
Andrew: No, no, no. I now like . . .
Brian: [inaudible 00:35:08] now it’s great again, so that’s good.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, I don’t like that I’ve been told not to disparage, but I looked and I said, “Is there anything at all that I would want to say accidentally,” I know I get carried away, “will there be . . . ” And I looked into it, I said, “No, I got nothing to disparage them about. I like the work they’re doing.” I said, “All right, great. I’m willing to . . . ”
Brian: Well, I just wanted you to openly use Sell Your Mac and you can tell us we did great or not. You can disparage us if we did something wrong, but . . .
Andrew: Yeah. Here’s a secret. I think unless you’re like really being aggressive against a sponsor, talking about the negative and talking about the alternative options actually adds credibility.
Brian: Yeah. It makes it an honest discussion.
Andrew: Here’s the other . . . So that was one thing in the agreement. The other thing in the agreement that I wanted to make sure that I was okay with was, they get to use these commercials that I’m doing, these ads that I’m doing for other stuff, and I thought, “What else could they possibly do that could act . . . Is there something they could do that could harm me?” I said, “No. If they’re going to go and like take these ads and then go buy ads to promote my read of the HostGator ad, I think I’m fine with that. Let’s do that.”
Brian: It seems like a great opportunity. Yeah, they’re getting your name out there for Mixergy.
Andrew: What’s happening is, Brian, as we’re charging more and more for our ads and like, it’s becoming more of a thing, the sponsors now say, “Well, this is actually a big part of our ad budget. We got to make sure this Andrew guy is like, it’s okay to do . . . ” It used to be, “We like Andrew. We listened to Andrew’s stuff. We know he’s reaching entrepreneurs. What the hell? Throw him some money.” And then when it becomes not throw him some money, but throw him some real serious money, and it’s like, “All right, we got to bring other people in the company. Let’s just have a sanity check.” You should . . . You know who does the biggest freaking . . . And I’m going to curse. Who does the biggest fucking investigation of me?
Brian: Let’s hear it.
Andrew: Freaking Toptal. Toptal the most. They researched me up and down. They want to make sure that everything absolutely works, that it works, that we’re delivering them good customers, that our customers aren’t people who sign up and then disappear. These people are fucking insane to the level that I want to aspire to be. Like you know if sometimes you see somebody who’s richer and you go, “Why him and not me?” And then there are other people who it’s the opposite, you go, “I fucking can’t compete at that level.” They are competing on a fucking level that you just cannot believe on everything, on every goddamn thing.
Brian: Well, it sounds like it’s working and they’re still a big sponsor.
Andrew: Yeah. You know what? They’re to the point where there was one person who . . . There was a period there where I said, “I need a little bit of help at Mixergy.” There’s a guy who is no longer working at Toptal, I went and I just like, hired him on a contract basis to just help me like rethink my business. I see the freaking insanity. He never shows up to a meeting without a rundown of everything that we’re going to talk about that’s super clear. Never. Like he and I could just maybe social he’ll do it, but business, boom. He’s always like talking to other people and getting input before we talk. He’s always doing constant research. It’s at a level where you go, “You understand I’m just like one man. I don’t know how I’m going to keep up with this conversation.” He didn’t give a fuck. He’s got it.
Brian: He likes what he’s doing.
Andrew: It’s how I work. You keep up with it or I’m going to run you over. I’ll say his name. Dylan Weissman. Anyone who talks to Dylan Weissman, you keep up with him or you’re going to get fucking run over.
Brian: He’s the badass.
Andrew: And that’s the world that Toptal is working on.
Brian: Where is he at now?
Andrew: He’s working on something really big. I can’t say what it is. He had a little, and still does, has a little bit of time to do like side consulting work, but he’s working on a startup that’s pretty interesting.
Andrew: It’s not that he’ll kill me. He’s like a sweet guy.
Brian: [You won’t 00:38:36] drop it here.
Andrew: He’ll send me cookies if I let him down by revealing what he’s working on, but he’ll be upset. He’ll be upset. Anyway, I love that. Who do you admire in business? Who is it that you’re looking at and you’re seeing on the inside, and you go, “This is amazing”?
Brian: I mean, you were talking earlier about the guy that was buying and selling companies.
Andrew: Oh, yeah.
Brian: I think I look up at the people on Shark Tank. And as you know they’re very intriguing to me. They have the business acumen to know very, very quickly whether these companies are probably going to be successful or not. They have the money and be able to put it to use in those businesses and create more jobs. I love that I create jobs at this business. We have 22 team members here now and looking to grow a lot more. So I think that’d be very interesting to be able to be a shark, be able to put my business hat on every day and invest in some of these startups and ultimately get more jobs in the country and help out these young entrepreneurs.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s interesting that you actually need jobs in the U.S. You can’t outsource overseas. Or can you?
Brian: We’re all local. I mean, people could do overseas. I’m sure there are trading companies overseas, but yeah, definitely focus people at our warehouse in Cincinnati.
Andrew: Why do you want to have your people internally look at the phones and evaluate them and your people do SEO for so long, and you guys do everything. Why don’t you say, “We’re going to be the SEO company. We’ll just have a beautiful looking website and a bunch of content and the rest we’re going to send to someone else. Let them deal with it. Or let other people get phones and we’re going to be the one company that could evaluate and whatever. What’s your plan? Why do that?
Brian: I want to offer the best service for the customer. And I think that as soon as you break the supply chain by having this stuff out of house, you can’t even see the product. How do I know if I’m selling an item how big that dent really is unless I have it in front of me? I mean, photos actually look worse, in my opinion, when we post them on eBay, for instance, of how these things look. And having the customer touchpoint. If there’s ever an issue I want to be sure that we can reach out to the customer right away and there is no miscommunication. I think that’s really big. I don’t think everyone is honest.
Andrew: Give me an example of something you do because everyone says that they do good customer service. It wasn’t until Tony Hsieh said, “Hey Andrew, challenge me. Call up my customer . . . ” Or he didn’t say, “Challenge me.” He said, “If you call my customer service and they don’t have the shoe that you want, they’ll go Google it and they’ll tell you where you can buy it online.” And then I challenged him and I recorded it and showed it to him. It wasn’t until then that I realized, “All right. He means what he says.” When you say, “We do better customer service,” give me an example of something like that that it’s verifiable but also shockingly good.
Brian: So if you said, “I want to have my hard drive pulled out on my computer, have it backed up and sent back to me,” we would do that for you. And . . .
Brian: Yeah, we really go out of our way if the customer asked for it. So pretty much any requests that they’re going to throw our way we’re going to make it happen. And if it wasn’t at our office, it’d be really hard to facilitate all these requests.
Andrew: Got it. Right, right. And if you’re shipping it somewhere else especially overseas, you can’t get me my stuff back. What’s the craziest request that somebody sent and you guys complied with?
Brian: It’s a good question. I don’t know really on top of my head. Those requests don’t come to me anymore. People send me a lot of crazy stuff, I’ll tell you that. I think that the packaging it might be the craziest.
Andrew: Like what? What do they send?
Brian: We’ve seen diapers. We’ve . . .
Andrew: Oh, diaper boxes that they put it in.
Brian: Wrapped in diapers.
Andrew: Oh, wrapped in . . . I get it. You know what? For cushioning. Okay. That’s crazy, but okay.
Brian: Stuff like that. We’ve had bugs arrive before. There’s been living cockroaches coming inside of the Macs. There’s been paraphernalia and things we can’t talk about on the show.
Andrew: Like what? You can talk about it.
Brian: I mean, there’s like drugs in computers. It’s not okay.
Andrew: You know what? Imagine if . . . You guys aren’t huge on Instagram. Imagine if your Instagram was just stuff we found in our boxes.
Brian: That would be funny and there’s something probably every day.
Andrew: Like here’s like a weird thing that we found. We’re not going to show who sent it over, but here’s diapers, here’s like, whatever it is. Oh, that’d be really interesting.
Brian: That’d be entertaining.
Andrew: That and then I interviewed this guy who all he does his sell on Amazon and he does these weird hyperlapses that are strangely exciting. He goes, look, this is a real business, everyone else says that they’re selling on Amazon. We got trucks coming in and so it’s like a hyperlapse of a truck coming in, stuff getting unloaded, his people putting stickers on it and sending it out, and then puts it on a truck. I don’t know why. It’s compelling. I watched it two or three times on like, Instagram.
Brian: We’ve done a couple of those. We’ve only posted one. We had a big shipping day one time, and we posted what it looks like for all the shipping going in and out. We did one recently one of our team members building all these boxes that were going out to our customers. I should post more of those. Right now I’m the guy wearing the social media hat, so I could probably use a little more help on that.
Andrew: Yeah, you’re doing a lot yourself, huh? I feel like once you got into that, you’re good at getting attention and you’re good at like, enjoying the attention, but you’ve got a lot on your plate right now, and so having another thing feels hard.
Brian: Yeah. I only post on social media, you know, so many times a day.
Andrew: So, first bit of revenue was you actually going into stores, buying the stuff, selling it on eBay yourself, then you put up the website, more people came in, SEO helped drive that. Then you found these businesses, that was an interesting component, and they were coming to you and growing from there.
Andrew: That got you to a few million dollars. What did you do next? What was the next big leap for revenue?
Brian: It’s really kind of grown organically. There’s not one thing I can point to beyond the SEO and continue to do right by the customer.
Andrew: What about encouraging customers to go to review sites, just like saying, “Hey, was the experience good?” and if they thought it was good, sending them over to review sites.
Brian: We do . . . Well, every customer gets a chance to review us whether it was a good experience or not. You won’t find any bad reviews out there about us because we simply just try to always help the customer. But yeah, there’s a follow-up email that goes out along with our payment confirmation that does ask you to rate us online.
Andrew: I do see that, actually. I see on Yelp you guys have . . . Oh, it’s only 13 reviews, 4.5. Facebook, you have 130 . . .
Brian: They hide all the reviews. Yelp is a scam.
Andrew: You know what? I’m going to say 100%. Every time I see the Yelp’s people . . . I love the Yelp’s people, but every time I see them rag on Google like Google is a scam, I think, “Who are you guys to talk? Are you out of your freaking minds?” What do you see as a scam?
Brian: And if you go all the way down the bottom, I don’t know if you see it or just on my end, you see all the reviews that didn’t qualify and they’re all real people. I can prove to Yelp, which I have, I can show them my database, I have this customer, and they’re saying that person isn’t vetted enough for their review to show because they only have two friends. They only made two reviews. I’m like, “Who cares if you only made one or two reviews?”
Andrew: That’s even better. That’s more like, the . . . The guys who are professional reviewers are a little bit obnoxious. The people who are new are the ones who are more like us. Yeah. But you know what? Have you tried advertising with them?
Brian: It got worse when I advertise with them. You get less people coming to it.
Andrew: Really? Why?
Brian: Something with their algorithm? I don’t know. I’ve heard that from other people too.
Andrew: I’m disappointed in them as a user because I love the people there. I really genuinely love them. I root for them. But here’s the problem as a user. I’ll do a search for something like this specific restaurant, let’s say Papalote because it’s my favorite burrito place here.
Andrew: Papalote will show up, I guess, but it’ll be all the other burrito places will show up instead of isolating Papalote, and the ones that advertise show up at the time, I go, “I don’t want all these food. I just want Papalote.”
Brian: You were specific. You didn’t search for tacos.
Andrew: Right. Don’t try to switch me to someone else. Right, exactly. If I search for tacos, maybe then show me all that stuff. It’s such a frustrating thing.
Brian: That’s the number one sales pitch they have on the advertisement, is like we will put you at the top of the page when your competitors pop up. I’m like, “Well, it didn’t help . . . ”
Andrew: Right. That’s not a great experience for me.
Brian: I know.
Andrew: And then . . . I could go off on them for a bit. Here’s the other thing. So they say, “Look, Google will show you Google ratings ahead of Yelp ratings when you search for it.” I go, “Okay. That is frustrating.”
Brian: It’s more trusted.
Andrew: That’s absolutely wrong. I think now Google is more trusted. But that’s wrong that Google is now has this monopolistic power in the U.S. and they’re pushing it. But you know what? How about when I’m overseas? If I’m overseas and I’m looking for a burrito place or a restaurant in a foreign country, and I travel a lot, why don’t they show . . . If they don’t have any local businesses there, why don’t they go and show the Google results because Google does have ratings there, just like fish that out and bring it in or find another competitor, right? If you believe in serving the customer even if it means showing you a competitor’s stuff, do it when it’s not in your interest. If I’m in Argentina and you happen not to have any places here, any [parizas 00:47:19], then for goodness sake, just show me the Google results or show me the local version of the Yelp [inaudible 00:47:25]
Brian: The customer will be happier.
Andrew: Right, right. I don’t know how we ended up . . . I know how because I want to understand how you’re sending people in.
Brian: I’m all about reviews and that’s for sure. We got a really . . .
Brian: I said I’m all about reviews. We had a lady write us a review today, just emailed me personally. She came into our store, she was from Mexico and she’s been having all these computer problems. She tried three stores in Mexico including Apple store, Guadalajara. She tried the Apple store in the Kenwood mall up here. No one could help her. She came to Sell Your Mac and we fixed it right away.
Andrew: I feel like that’s another issue too with the Apple Store.
Brian: [inaudible 00:48:01].
Andrew: Do you do have a partnership with Apple?
Brian: No, there’s no partnership with Apple. We’re not [inaudible 00:48:07]
Andrew: No. So maybe you can rag a little bit on them because I feel like they also are . . . there’s an issue with them where one of the issues with them is they don’t pay that much but they have direct access to you and then they start restricting people. Have they hit you hard yet?
Brian: We’ve had our conversations in the past, but there’s no restrictions.
Brian: The only issue I actually had was our original logo had an Apple computer as part of the mark. That broke their trademark terms. And it was interesting because at the time I pointed to about another hundred companies I could find that would also been violating it. They didn’t really seem to care. They picked on me at the time where they liked us. There’s no problem. They said, “We appreciate all the companies in the ecosystem. It helps drive new business.” So there is that kind of warm-hearted relationship there that we’re helping them out too.
Andrew: That’s good. And I think every single company that I’ve interviewed that did any work with Apple had to contact me to have . . . try to get me to adjust what I said or to back out of the interview before we get started just in case Apple would like, give them shit for it.
Brian: If you are an Apple partner, it’s a different game changer for sure.
Andrew: Even if they’re not Apple partners. There’s one specifically not an Apple partner and still, I won’t mention their name just because what they said to me in private is private, but still. Let’s talk about scammers. You guys have been scammed.
Brian: So many times.
Andrew: How do people scam?
Brian: We have at least one scam per day. And most of the time now it’s on the buy side when someone is purchasing from us on eBay, and PayPal helps us out on a lot of those. They have their flagging systems that hopefully it gets flagged before we ship it out. We do ship it and we found out it’s a scam next week and it’s been delivered and signed for, we’re still covered. So there are some great protections in there. And on the other side of the business if people are sending stuff into Sell Your Mac, I mean, people just send in such a random things and they’re quoting these crazy expensive computers. And these scammers don’t get paid, so I don’t know why they keep trying this.
Andrew: Yes. So the scammers who say, “I’ve got this expensive Mac,” but send you something that’s cheaper or like the internals are cheaper than what they say. I get that. They’re easy because you guys are going through this stuff anyway and you know pretty fast that it’s not what they said it is. So the scamming happens when they buy. They . . . How do they scam you on the purchase side?
Brian: They’re hacking someone’s eBay account or using a different PayPal account and just changing the name. A lot of times there could be a forwarding address in there which looks . . . it jumps out to us really quickly. It’s overseas kind of stuff like that. They’re paying for overnight shipping. So some pretty quick telltale signs typically.
Andrew: What’s working for you for listing on eBay?
Brian: We’re developing our own proprietary tool, but we are currently still using a third-party listing tool called . . .
Andrew: What tool?
Andrew: Fruition. And that enables you to post on eBay fast.
Brian: Yeah. In our own system right now, we’re able to export all the information into Fruition and then we click a few buttons in there and get it up and running. But the future tool we’re working on is going to be all internal and it’s going to be one-click list to eBay. We’ll be able to update all our inventory basically of one click.
Andrew: What about for listing? Is there anything that gives you an advantage in selling at a higher price?
Brian: I’ll point back to our feedback and reviews on eBay? We’re 100% positive.
Andrew: That’s it. Just if you get feedback.
Brian: That helps [inaudible 00:51:04]
Andrew: But beyond the feedback, is there anything like do you do anything in the titles that’s unique about you guys? Do you do anything about the copy that’s unique to you guys? I see always ground shipping constantly, free ground shipping is mentioned. That appears to [inaudible 00:51:51].
Brian: Yeah, yeah. Free shipping, free customer service and support.
Andrew: Lots of photos, right?
Brian: Yeah. We do a lot of individual photos. I think that’s definitely something that stands out compared to people that are using all stock images. The customers really want to know what the Mac looks like they’re going to receive and they’re going to email you asking for the photos. If you use stocks, you might as well post the real photos.
Andrew: Oh I see. And Fruition will brand your listings too with their stuff.
Brian: Yeah. At the bottom, they got a little Fruition thing in there.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, yeah. All right. Anything . . . Have you done anything interesting with all the success? Have you gotten to splurge on yourself?
Brian: I think I live a pretty good life. I’m very happy here with my family. I’m not a splurger but I do like to spend money on food. Quite a foodie . . .
Andrew: Like what? Like really nice restaurants. What’s a good restaurant you’ve gone to?
Brian: In New York, one of my favorite spots is Eleven Madison Park. I went there before they were number one in the world last year.
Andrew: In what?
Brian: Say it again.
Andrew: They were number one in the world in what?
Brian: Number one restaurant in the world last year and this year they’re number four.
Andrew: Really? I see what they have.
Brian: I even had my bachelor party there which seems like a crazy place to host a bachelor party.
Andrew: Or not crazy enough. This is in like a nice white linen place.
Brian: Yeah. It’s amazing. The food experience there. I mean, each course is just its own experience. You feel like you’re traveling to a new area every time they bring something else out to the table. And the way the staff takes care of you, I mean, it’s like theater.
Andrew: Do you get dressed up for this thing?
Brian: The first time I ever went, I was late coming off my plane and I had an Under Armour t-shirt on and I had dress clothes in my bag like that I planned on getting there early and changing, and I asked the hostess if she could help me to find a place I could change and she said, “If you’re comfortable in that shirt, we’re comfortable for you.”
Andrew: Wow. Really?
Brian: So all these guys are wearing suits and sport coats and stuff like that, I’m wearing this little Under Armour shirt.
Andrew: Were you comfortable in it? I’d feel a little bit uncomfortable depending on who I was with.
Brian: Yeah. I mean, I wasn’t like . . . It was a lunch at the time so maybe that helped out a little bit. I wear this type of clothing every day when I go to work, so I do like to dress up when I go out because it’s the only time I really dress up. I’m not someone that has to wear a tie, or a jacket or a dress shirt to work every day.
Andrew: You know what? I’m actually Yelping them.
Brian: Actually, you’re very comfortable too I can tell.
Andrew: I’m trying to just step it up. This is the first time in a long time that I’m not wearing jeans. I’m wearing these like black jeans like things probably from Levi’s store. I did . . . So our ads have photos of me and we needed more photos, so I said to the photographer, “Look, I don’t have anything other than t-shirts. If you want to work with me, you have to take me to the store too and take me shopping.” And the guy did a great job. I just dig Joe’s style. I actually set . . .
Brian: But he dressed you up in things that you don’t wear.
Andrew: No. For once he did. The first time was some things I don’t, some things I do. The second time was everything I wear. And what we did that really helped me was we went into the mall and I sat him down at 10:30 and we had scotch and I drank like four glasses of scotch. I think he might have had two or something.
Brian: Oh, that makes you pretty open to shopping. Okay.
Andrew: Exactly. Now I’m not like so uptight about it, I tried different clothes, and then we go out we take photos. And here’s the upside of it all. The freaking photos he took increased our conversion rate dramatically. Suddenly the people on my team just all they did was replace the fucking photos.
Andrew: I’m cursing because I’m getting excited. Just changing the photos increased the results dramatically and I thought, “All right. That was totally worth it. Totally worth it.” So the photos looked good.
Brian: And they trusted you more in nicer clothes? Was that it?
Andrew: It was better-looking shot. Some of it was nicer clothes, and yes, I do think that they trusted me more. Some of it was nicer clothes, some of it was nicer shots. And he was smart about it. The second time we especially got a good rhythm about how we take photos. He took me out and we were just like taking street shots and he said, “Stand in front of this really interesting wall and then we’ll leave a whole lot of space on the left so that your people can like, write some text on top of it right in the ad.”
Brian: Oh, very strategic.
Andrew: Smart. Or, “Sit down at this coffee place,” and I said, “Look, I’m not the happy-go-lucky-smiling person. Don’t have me just sit and smile.” He goes, “So what would you do?” I go, “All I want to do is like work. I’ll do stuff. So if you take a picture of me posing, it’s not what I do.” So we decided, you know what?
Brian: Head down working.
Andrew: Right. I took my phone out and started like, pretend typing on it, and then he took pictures of that. And if there’s someone taking pictures of you, people turn around and look, especially if they’ve got a professional like photographer camera.
Andrew: And so there’s like one of me sitting down and working and this woman, literally, she’s walking and she’s looking over her shoulder at who I am. And so he had that whole bokeh thing, which is a word I’m learning from Apple, where she’s blurred out enough that you don’t see who she is, but you get the point. She’s looking at me and you [find those 00:56:46] . . . Right? Stuff like that helps a lot.
Brian: She thought you were a rock star. She was like, “Who is this guy . . . ”
Andrew: Right. “Who is this guy who is getting his photos taken?”
Brian: “[inaudible 00:56:52] over here.”
Andrew: In a nice jacket.
Brian: There you go.
Andrew: All right. That was one of the big lessons that I’ve learned this year. Just pay for professional shots and have the photographer take you out for clothes. It also means that then they get to know your . . . Drinking meant that I was calm but also it gave me time to tell him, “Here’s what my style is. My style is not . . . Don’t give me this polished look. I have more of a rugged experience and . . . ” Anyway, that was a big . . .
Brian: I’ve been rocking my nice shot for a while. I got some bow tie pictures I’ve been using on my . . .
Andrew: You know what? I love that bow tie photo. I’ve got to tell you, I thought that you should have come in bow tie on this podcast. I think YSM is nice. You’ve got your shirt from the company. The nice thing about that is you might even get to write it off. I like the bow tie look. I think it gives you a sense of credibility . . .
Brian: I still rock in bow ties.
Andrew: . . . and also I was a little intimidated by that. There’s something about bow ties. Do you do that often?
Brian: I don’t know. When I go out to events and weddings I prefer bow ties over ties.
Brian: It helps you stand out in the crowd. I’m someone that I love being social and talking to people and . . .
Andrew: I see it.
Brian: . . . just having someone could come up to me is great. My latest thing, though, is this electric blue suit. And my friend has a company, his color is orange. I saw him wearing at an entrepreneur event the other day and asked him about it and the brand is called OppoSuits.
Brian: They have them for every occasion, you get holiday ones, stuff like that. But they are $100 for a full suit. They have crazy, crazy colors. In the last conference I went to it stood out so much. I think everyone that walked by me made a comment. So it’s so easy to start a conversation when people already want to talk to you.
Andrew: I’m going to it right now. Okay. $100 for a suit. And it looks good. It doesn’t look like a chintzy suit
Brian: It’s not super high-end quality, I mean, you can kind of tell. And it’s also not in the sizing that you . . . You’re not picking out a 42-regular. It’s a large.
Andrew: Got it. It’s small, medium, large. Got it. Okay.
Brian: So the large fit me up top, but the pant fit a little tight, so you got to work with it. But as a conversation starter, I thought it was great. And I’m wearing it to see Yes in January.
Andrew: And does it lead to actual sales or something? Wait. But you’re not doing . . . Sorry. I’m on their website and I think I got the wrong impression of what you’re doing. They will do things like even have a Pac Man suit, a suit with Pac Man on it. That’s not what you’re doing. You’re just saying, a suit that looks like a regular suit but it happens to be super blue. And that’s what captures people’s attention. Got it.
Brian: Yes, exactly.
Andrew: I think that that makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of . . .
Brian: You can go in there and find your company color and find it in the electric version of that, so yeah, it stands out.
Andrew: Right. Right. Right. Right. And then is it awkward when people are meeting you like that when you’re looking that bright?
Brian: You’d have these electric blue shoes to match.
Brian: So it’s kind of full uniform there.
Andrew: You know who used to do that? Rand Fishkin, the guy from Moz.com. He used to go out in yellow sneakers. I don’t know how the hell he found these yellow sneakers, and at some point, he just wasn’t able to find them anymore. But he would go out at events in yellow sneakers and you’d know to go look for him especially if you’d read his stuff online, you want to know the guy, you know what to look for.
Brian: He is the only guy in yellow sneakers.
Andrew: Right. Right. Like super bright yellow sneakers, super bright yellow sneakers. All right. I did a search for electric blue. I didn’t come up with anything. Oh, they change it.
Brian: Just search for blue on there. I don’t know what the name of it was, but it is electric.
Andrew: Got it. Yeah, this is really smart. I like the bow tie thing too. Zee Ali, the guy from the Zee Group who makes hoodies. I had one of his hoodies, but I needed it for a run the other day, so I sweat it up and I took it to wash. He goes around the conferences wearing bow ties. So the idea that he’s at a conference wearing a bow tie is the only person that looks a little bit important and interesting and so it captures people’s attention and they look over at him. All right. I’m now on blue . . .
Brian: I need a blue bow tie to match if I only have the tie.
Andrew: Right. Imagine the combination. I kind of like some of the other stuff that’s a little bit more interesting too, some of there like, maybe not the Captain America . . .
Brian: If you’re looking for an ugly Christmas suit or ridiculously hilarious Halloween suit, our FedEx manager has gotten really into these. And if you’d come to our office on Halloween, you’ll see him wearing his crazy Day of the Dead suits and then he comes in wears his Santa suit and it’s awesome.
Andrew: And you know, it might even look really nice for photos too for getting attention. All right. If anyone who wants to check them out, opposuits.com. They do men, women, boys. The works. And all they do is inexpensive clothes that just really stands out, so you could get like a Spiderman suit but it doesn’t have the Spiderman logo. It’s just is evocative of Spiderman, not like you’re wearing spider man’s cloth? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And they have like the ugly . . .
Brian: They’re pretty fun.
Andrew: . . . Christmas sweater in the form of a woman’s suit. Wow. Really? How cool. I dig that.
Brian: There you go. I dropped some knowledge on you today.
Andrew: Right, right. All right, guys. Thank you so much.
Brian: What color are you going to get?
Andrew: I don’t know. For me, all I’m thinking of is like, can I tie it into something? It’s just like a thought that’s in my head now. I do kind of . . . I do like people who at conferences stand out enough, not so much that it feels a little bit needy, but so much that you know that there’s something special or different about them and your eyes go straight to them like a friend of mine who wears a red pants at conferences. So, it’s red pants, really bright red pants and a shirt. It looks almost a little waspy so we can get away with it, but it’s different enough that your eyes have to go look at him and you . . .
Brian: You can’t miss it.
Andrew: Can’t miss him. All right.
Brian: There you go.
Andrew: For anyone who wants to check out Brian’s site, Brian’s site is at sellyourmac.com, sellyourmac.com. And I want to thank my two sponsors for making this interview happen. The first is . . . You know what? I think these guys are going to be perfectly happy with you going out and trying LinkedIn or trying Facebook if you want to get the best of the best. Go try them out and try every other freaking website out there, and then when you see that it’s a struggle, compete with Toptal. Go to toptal.com/mixergy and then see what they have in comparison, and I have no doubt that they will get you a much better experience, a much better person. T-O-P-T-A-L.com/mixergy.
But by all means, go try every other system out there and see and compare them. And if you find something better, let me know. I’m not looking to just flog companies because I think they’re okay. I want to know that they really are the best of the best. That’s my experience with them. Go check them out, T-O-P-T-A-L.com/mixergy, M-I-X-E-R-G-Y. And if you want a hosting company that will host your website right inexpensively and been doing it for years, hostgator.com/mixergy. Brian, it’s been awesome talking to you.
Brian: A lot of fun, Andrew. Thanks a lot, man. Looking forward to sharing some this wisdom with your listeners and if they have any great questions, they can feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn, Brian Burke, finally got off bow tie, I’ll be right there.
Andrew: All right, right on. And I think I’m getting some camera gear. I’m going to go for a long run and I’m going to start shooting myself as I run. My goal is to run tons of marathons next year.
Brian: You’re going to have a GoPro helmet on and shooting yourself or what?
Andrew: You know what? I don’t want to do that, but I’m kind of intrigued by some of these running videos that I’ve seen and if I could have a GoPro in a place that’s not in the way, I think I’m going to do that. So the GoPro is coming over here, what I think I’m going to do is, as I’m running through these beautiful cities, do time-lapse photography of them, time-lapse video . . . No, it’s called hyperlapsed where it’s just super-fast, and then stop, talk about something, and then go hyper lap or hyperlapse. I don’t even know the language for it. And then shoot videos with entrepreneurs in different countries. I want to broaden the base of the Mixergy interviews. We talked to no one but American entrepreneurs here.
Andrew: I keep wanting to reach outside. If they’re not going to come to me in Mixergy, I’m going to fly out and I’m going to do an interview with them in Africa, in North America and wherever they are. I’m going to start recording interviews that way.
Brian: I have some unbelievable entrepreneurial friends around the world. With this [inaudible 01:04:41]
Andrew: Where? What’s the most exotic place? I want to go outside of our usual stuff. Like, I would love to go to Paris because I enjoy Paris. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world, but I feel like going to Paris and interviewing entrepreneurs there, it’s not going to really broaden me out. Give me . . .
Brian: How about Fiji or New Zealand?
Andrew: All right. New Zealand would technically be Asia, right? Who do you know in New Zealand?
Brian: A couple of guys I met at this conference recently.
Andrew: What kind of companies?
Brian: It’s called Mastermind Talks and was such a wide network . . .
Andrew: Jayson Gaignard. Yeah.
Andrew: His event.
Brian: You’ve been?
Andrew: I’ve been. Yeah, yeah. It’s fantastic. I don’t know why I didn’t think to check in with him.
Brian: No. God. His entrepreneurs are all around the world.
Andrew: All right. That’s really good. What’s . . . Do you remember what . . .
Brian: If you need me to connect you with Jayson, I’m happy to . . .
Andrew: No. Jayson and I, we’ll text each other, but I didn’t even think to contact him. I might need you to introduce me to the people that you know in New Zealand and anywhere else in the world. Thanks so much, Brian, for doing this. Thank you all for listening.
Brian: Thank you.
Andrew: Go find the guy with the bow tie on LinkedIn or conferences. Bye, everyone.