A new spin on journaling

Like
+ Add to

I find that journaling has been better for me than therapy and today I have a founder who noticed the same thing.

Meha Agrawal is the founder of Silk + Sonder, a subscription based mental wellness journaling experience for women.

My goal for this interview is to understand a little bit about journaling and how she’s making a journaling business work on a subscription basis.

The podcast is in all major apps, just search for Mixergy.
You can also use our RSS Feed RSS feed.

Meha Agrawal

Meha Agrawal

Silk and Sonder

Meha Agrawal is the founder of Silk + Sonder, a subscription based mental wellness journaling experience for women.

roll-angle

Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, they’re 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 Matt, how are you going to be upset if I say yet another founder who created yet another journal.

Meha: I’m not going to be upset because we’re so much more than that.

Andrew: I can’t believe that the world has this much of an appetite for journals, but I also can’t believe that there’s a new spin on journaling. All right. The person whose voice you just heard is Matt agro while she is the founder of silk. And Saunder, they’re a subscription-based mental wellness, journaling experience, journaling experience for women.

Now, it looks like they’re thinking about going long-term and I’m totally with you on this. By the way, I do find that journaling has been better for me than therapy. Journaling has been better for me. I hate to say it then talking to my wife, talking to my friends, I find that I don’t hold back and I have more space to go in a journal than even if I do even more than I do with a therapist, YouTube.

Meha: Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s scientific proof. I’m bringing pen to paper. So what you’re describing as is definitely something that I can relate to as well.

Andrew: I should say my goal here is to understand a little bit about journaling, but more to understand how you are making the journaling business work, how you found. I love that you did it on a subscription basis. I love that you care about whether people even fill out the journals because it is a challenge, right?

Imagine somebody has the new Yorker at home after a year, they might feel guilty with you. If they have 10, four, even two blank journals and they feel guilty and frustrated, I want to know what you’re doing to solve that. And even how to measure it, we’re going to figure out how you did this and what we can learn as creators from you.

Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you’re out there and you’re creating, you need a website to host your, your business could have hostgator.com/mixergy. Well, you’re going to get a great price, excellent hosting, and you’re gonna be happy with them like I am. And number two, if you’re trying to convert visitors into email subscribers, into customers, I’m going to tell you about a free report from unbalanced that will help you do it.

But I’m gonna talk about those later first. Let’s get into dollars and cents. So people see that we’re really talking business here, not just woo stuff, revenue. How much are we talking about annually

Meha: Yeah, so I’ll share what I can share. And that is in the millions.

Andrew: in the millions? How old is the business?

Meha: Couple of years. So I’ve been full-time on it since 2019. Um, and before that it was a nights and weekends project since the end of 2017.

Andrew: Nice. I love that this started as a nights and weekend project. I feel like I need to get my creative juices going again. And I’m going to go for maybe not nights and weekends. For me, it might be for like 5:00 AM projects, get up early, just go hack away at something and then get into life with that energy that comes from it.

And so I want to figure out how you did it. Um, I thought you were in a pretty freaking good spot when you were doing this nights and weekends. What’s the job that you had at the time.

Meha: So I started looking Sonder while I was a software engineer at stitch fix. I’m actually back at the end of 2017. And then in between I joined another company called fueled where I was a product manager there. And so it was funny. I had the visionary skills of a founder, but the execution skills were quite lacking.

Uh, so being a product manager at fueled, I think helped me context, which, and learn all the tools in the toolkit to be able to take soak. And Sonder to what I believe was around a thousand members, about $15,000 in MRR, when I decided to just quit and go full force and think about whether I even wanted to raise VC money to fulfill this dream.

Andrew: I love that. Even throughout my notes, I thought this was just Ari, our producer doing this, but. In my notes in my research, I kept seeing, um, MRR, monthly recurring revenue. I love when physical product creators are talking monthly recurring revenue, because I just don’t think of it that way. And I like that.

You’re blowing my mind with it. All right. Let’s get to know how you got to this place. You told that producer. Listen, I was in my twenties. I hit a dramatic rut. What do you mean by right before, before we get into the business

Meha: Yeah. So I think rep for me is waking up feeling incredibly under fulfilled, overwhelmed, anxious, uh, stressed, uh, not happy quite frankly.

Andrew: I always feel like. Okay. This is my problem. I feel like only entrepreneurs have stress work-related and everyone else must have it easy. I’m looking at you. You’re working stitch fix the muse analyst at Goldman Sachs. What’s the anxiety coming from, be open with me. I’ll be open with you

Meha: a great, that is a great question. And I think that’s exactly the guilt that I was waking up with every morning, because I had built this facade. The life was great. I moved from Seattle, from New York to San Francisco. I was dating my then boyfriend now fiance, a new city, new dude, new job. I was working at a company on the verge of going public life, looked great from the outside.

Right. And so ultimately what happened was, you know, I come from a South Asian background. Didn’t really know how to navigate therapy. Felt intimidated by it. Coaching felt really expensive. Um, the self-help books were great. The podcasts were excellent, but I was unable to really use that as an accountability mechanism for me to feel better every day.

And my friends stopped to get my calls because I was this negative source of energy. And they’re like, man, we don’t get it. Same question. You’re asking

Andrew: was the, what was the negativity about? I mean, let’s, I don’t want to put it down. I want to understand it and relate to it. What was going on?

Meha: So I think in retrospect, what was going on was every two years I would hit this career wise. Right. And that career, what was because I was on the wrong path, being a software engineer.

Andrew: you would just comfortable where you were, weren’t growing, weren’t enjoying life or what.

Meha: Great question. I would say it was discomfort, but in a less rewarding way. And that’s because I am, I have, I’ve always had this entrepreneurial bug. I’ve always known that I wanted to build something bigger and I felt like I was a cognitive wheel, right. Like at Goldman great company. But my impact was very limited at stitch fix.

I was a software engineer. I was working at this great company, but I wasn’t born to be a software engineer. Right. That was, that was, you know, right. For the time. But in the moment when you feel like you’re living somebody else’s life story and not your own, that is where that anxiety happens. Right. That, that lack of fulfillment is coming from a colleague from something bigger than yourself and this inability to see that right away and all those go through these motions to be able to diagnose the disease as I like to call it, which is something you can’t just put a bandaid on.

You’ve got to

Andrew: it a disease?

Meha: Yeah. I mean, I think so. I think, like, I think there is this a world in which I lived in, um, and, and that I would try to find gold stars, right. Working at the next best company, finding validation from my parents, from my peers, from society being a female software engineer is like this goal of badge of honor that I felt like I was failing other people if I were to leave and do something else.

And so I

Andrew: they get to you. You had both modes on the one hand. It wasn’t just your parents. And again, you have, uh, your parents are South Asian family and parents are really pushing you to achieve a lot. Right? And it’s not just them pushing you though. Internally you have this need to get the gold stars, as you say, to be not just at some Schmo wall street company, but to be a Goldman Sachs, to be at the muse, by the way is phenomenal company, right?

The muse stitch fix. And so you personally love it, but at the S not just your parents pushing you into this, but at the same time you have this need to go do something else. And if you were to be open with yourself about why you didn’t start a company, why you didn’t move, what would it be? What’s the

Meha: you made back then before

Andrew: then?

Meha: center. Well, I will out myself. I was tinkering with plenty of projects since 2013. Uh, one of them was a South Asian wedding planning company that I never launched because I was so scared. Again, going back to this gold star validation, how would customers react? And so when I decided to work on soap and Saunder, my attitude was very, very different.

I said, I’m giving myself two weeks and I want to see what I can build with the printing press that I literally found on Yelp and see if users would pay a dollar for it. And they paid $50 for it. And then I found that friends of friends were buying it. And so I did try to start a company.

Andrew: Why didn’t you do it? Do you feel that it was this fear that other people would say this is too small? Was it this fear that maybe you’re, you’re not fast enough or that you should have done it before? All of that,

Meha: It was all of that plus more, I would say the biggest, the two biggest things was imposter syndrome. I’ve never done it before, so how could I do it? Well, and then number two, is this isn’t perfect enough. Let me build all the bells and whistles before I even launch it. And so that was my mindset for every project that I dabbled in before soak and Saunder.

And so I really shifted gears when I launched silken Sonder to overcome that fear, that self, you know, self imposter syndrome that we all face, especially as founders.

Andrew: and the way that you got the journaling was you tried therapy like me, I’ve said over and over again. I have not had great results with therapy. I’m all in on the fricking therapy. I’m there for it, not holding back. And it doesn’t really do much for me. I can’t say that it’s all a waste of time and that they’re charlatans.

They just, sometimes it’s helped a little bit. It’s helped my wife when we go into couples therapy a little bit. So I’m there for her, but it doesn’t give me that. Wow. I can’t believe this is my life now. I can’t believe I’ve been holding this back moment. Right. And so you had that experience too.

Meha: Actually I never even tried therapy. Um, back then, it was just, it was intimidating. I mean, you have to go through all these loopholes to try to figure out like a, do I need therapy? Who’s going to be a good therapist. It’s like finding a partner, you know, thinking about which therapist is right for you.

Andrew: you. You’re you’re overthinking it. It’s like I see, I have someone in my family who does that. She’s way over thinking it. Just go to the therapist, go be in there and it’s. But, but you know what to challenge, how do you find the right therapist? The matchmaking service, right? And don’t tell me your friends will refer.

That’s how we ended up with it. My friends can’t refer good movies to me. They don’t know what I like. Right. I love them. They, they drink, they drink beer that I can’t stand.

Meha: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But what you’re describing though is exactly how I felt about meditation, because at the time, calm, Headspace, all these great meditation apps that were working for everybody around me were just not working for me. And I remember closing my eyes and just feeling more stressed and like in my thoughts.

And I’m like, how, you know, that was very difficult. And I realized for me, active meditation, worked writing things down, slowing down, being forced to slow down was what I needed to self explore. And, um, I think that’s something that both therapy and meditation just, they either force you to silence your thoughts, or they force you to go like really deep and areas that you’re just not in the mood to go deep on.

And I think that’s where journaling has been the savior.

Andrew: You started with five minutes. What did you do in those five minutes?

Meha: Yeah. Yeah. I had a very simple framework. Um, three things. I’m grateful for three things that are making me anxious with a little arrow on how to overcome that anxiety. So if I was nervous about the launch of something at work, this is like the best case scenario of what could actually happen. And then three things that I wanted to accomplish that day.

And what, what that pattern essentially signified was this desire to briefly reflect briefly practice gratitude, even though I don’t feel like practicing gratitude, but most importantly tie it to action. And I think that’s the part that is missing from self reflection, self introspection. There’s really like no thread on, okay, this is great.

I like, I have all these insights about my personal core values, but now what, how do I take that and do something about it?

Andrew: I go back and forth on that. Sometimes I find giving myself the action, tells me what to do and removes the worry or replaces it with something more constructive. Other times I find now I’ve sat down here and instead of relief, I’ve got a to-do list in addition to the to-do list. But what I found helps me is just.

Well, truthfully right now I’m trying different things. What I’ve found has helped me is to just think on paper, here’s what I’m going through. And then give myself permission to go deeper and to say that things that I shouldn’t say. And sometimes that’s hard to uncover, like who I’m jealous of, where I’m, where I’m scared and where I feel like I’ve failed myself.

Right. Um, Do I, I have tried gratitude. I find that that, that, that helps a little bit. It’s not enough on its own, but you know, what’s useful is to then go back. I just interviewed Ady painter, the founder of WooCommerce. And he had a period where he was going through a real negative period. And I asked him how he got out of it.

And he said he got up early, started journaling, regular basis. Wouldn’t give it up. And as I’m journaling, I sometimes think of him now. And one thing that he reminded me to do is go back and see what you did before, what you wrote before. It’s so helpful to see what I was grateful for before that I thought I’m doing it because I have to, instead, I should have said, yeah, to put even more appreciation for these things that you’re grateful for.

You did like 10% appreciation. Cause you, you felt you had to go 110% because look at how amazing this wasn’t. You didn’t appreciate it at the time. Um, and so it sensitizing me to the things I should be more grateful for now. And then, um, To also see the things that I was wrestling with. And why did I let that happen for so long?

There was a period a few years ago, I was wrestling with email where it would literally be waking up in the morning journaling. It’s like, I can’t believe I have to go through email. How am I going to clear it? Right. I thought, damn it. That should not have been a pain in my life to the degree that it was.

All right. Um, so you can see, I’m obviously way into journaling. Uh, I love it. You, you push yourself from five minutes to 30 minutes every morning.

Meha: And for kind of the similar reasons as you, I think you can’t go deep enough by saying through things that you’re grateful for. Are there things that you’re anxious about? And so allowing yourself the freedom to process, whatever comes up for you. And I think having a regular ritual, um, in the morning is, is great, but also giving yourself no time limit, right?

If you need 30 minutes in the morning, sometimes it will only need 15 minutes, but to process whatever’s going on or reflecting back in your journal is really, um, useful sometimes. But now I typically I’ve appended to that, right? Because I’m now not just talking about gratitude, I’m doing affirmations, I’m visualizing, I am writing things like that.

I want to manifest in my life and things like that. And so some days it’s still, you know, five to 15 minutes and other days it’s like 30 ish minutes of just free-write journaling.

Andrew: What’s the biggest thing that you’re almost too embarrassed to admit here that you’re affirming or aspiring to

Meha: Oh

Andrew: in your journal.

Meha: yeah. Great question. And, and I guess I’ll say it out loud. We are, um, you know, we’re in the process of launching a pretty big digital platform for our members. And so what I’m affirming is that it will be an amazing success and that we will bridge the gap between analog and digital in a magical way for mental wellness.

Andrew: curious about how you’re going to do it. So people write it down and then you give them a digital version of it, or they’re sharing the experience of

Meha: no, no, no, no. Sorry. Our digital version is very much going to be an extension of what soak in Saundra is today. So today it is a analog journaling product, and you can think of the digital version as, um, the online community for peer to peer support and accountability that we’ve tested in a Facebook group that we’re now bringing into a digital platform.

Andrew: and the idea is that other people are holding me accountable to journal on a regular basis. I do feel like I need the social element of it in some way. The thing that I do like about therapy is I sit there for an hour. No one interrupts me. When I, when I’m talking to the therapist for an hour, I was out there journaling again this morning, my four year old must have some instinct that as soon as I sat there, he comes right out and sits next to me too, which is cute and great.

And, but I can’t get into like the, the issues that I’m having when there’s a four-year-old right there.

Meha: I

Andrew: yeah, if, uh, I think one of the things that I’ve been doing lately is using something called focus, mate, do you know it.

Meha: don’t know if I’ve heard a focus, mate.

Andrew: I love that it was, it was created by a Mixergy fan. What he does is you go in there, he matches you with another human being.

Who’s there in real time. You do a screen share if you want, which I don’t do video share for sure. And you’re in a session you say to each other, what you’re going to get done in the next 50 minutes. And then you hit, we hit mute. And then with someone watching you, you do it. And it keeps me focused. And then also if the kids or someone comes in and they see that I’m in a session with someone instinctively, we all know we don’t interrupt the person.

Who’s in a conversation. We do interrupt someone who’s down with paper. I don’t know why people don’t appreciate that.

Meha: I hear you. It’s it’s yeah. Paper is significant. That’s where the best work gets done. Um, no, it’s, uh, it’s incredible. I mean, in our case, I think what’s been really rewarding to see is how much, um, is, is possible when you empower members to share amongst each other’s their little revelations on which parts of the journal.

Cause our journals are not blank. They’re guided journals with different frameworks, which parts of the journals have resonated for them, which part stays in purpose, which parts are just like not speaking to them. And when you give that power, I think it gives everybody the permission to use silk and Saunder their own way.

And I think as a brand and as a founder, it’s so beautiful to see how people have utilized the tool in a very different way than I use Silicon Sondra. I mean, I am a black, like just one black pen 0.4 millimeters or whatever it is. And I think 50% of my journal is always empty. Uh, I’m pretty bad at finishing things.

And then I see. This cohort of users that are just, you know, buying pens and stickers and washi tape, and like using this as a canvas to express themselves creatively. I mean, it’s just so rewarding to be able to see that.

Andrew: Not too. I mean, not necessarily as Silicon Saunder, uh, users. Um, but I have gone on Reddit threads where people share their journals and their notes, and it’s amazing how beautiful they make it. And I think for some people that helps them think for me, it would be a distraction. I just want to sit nothing.

Like you said, just, I am specific about the type of pen I use. I actually prefer to do it with, um, right now with the, with the Apple pencil on my screen so that I always have it. I always feel with paper, someone could see my paper and I can give into it. And so I need something that’s more, um, yeah, more private encrypted and all that stuff.

Um, what I do with paper though, is if there’s something that I really need to get into and I want to be able to destroy it, not think it’s going to be on someone’s server. I’ll write it down and I’ll just burn it.

Meha: Oh, wow. You go through all those hurdles.

Andrew: I do. I want to just be able to get it out. I remember reading, uh, uh, who was it?

Who, the writer, who, who was supposed, it was had a hit out on him by the Lee, by the co by Khamenei. Uh, whoever’s listening to, it was like, I read, I read one of his books and he talked about how he had a black journal and he discovered his wife journal. And she said, this is my black journal. I said, what are the YouTube talking about?

And in it, it was like all the poison that’s in their bodies. They would put into their black journal. It wasn’t even like the necessarily true stuff, but you just want to get it out. Like, if you want to hit someone, instead of denying that feeling, way I don’t have, I I’ve thankfully, no one. Uh, but you write it out and you get that blackness out of your system.

Um, for me it would be the burden. That’s where I would write, who I was jealous of is I don’t want to admit that I’m jealous of anyone.

Meha: You know, what’s fascinating though. Andrew is that. I was surprised when I started soaking Saunder. I noticed that customers were sharing a lot with us as a brand, right. They would email it. They would tell us how much Silicon Sonder is changing their lives. One of the stories that really sticks out to me is while it was still a nights and weekends project, the customer said had, this helps her with her ADHD.

She has adult ADHD and getting a new journal in the mail every month, just to help helps her, um, feel grounded. And I think what was fascinating was when we did launch our MVP version of our online community. The way that people share. I mean, you’re talking about encryption and you’re talking about, you know, like a very private space, which still gets on their offers, but we also celebrate this like vulnerability that just kind of organically took place.

I mean, I never really said, Hey, tell us everything that you’re writing and you’re still a good Saunder. I just lead by example. And I shared whatever I was comfortable sharing, sharing, you know, with the audience. And they ended up sharing a lot more. And I think that was. Pretty interesting to me. And I don’t know if that’s because of the type of customers we’re going after versus, you know, folks like me and you, who probably don’t share a lot in general.

Um, but yeah, I think it’s, it’s like amazing to see that, you know, we have customers in all 50 States who have polarized views socially, politically during the past year with all this stuff that has gone on, it was really rewarding to see that this is essentially a social network where people can coexist alongside one another, despite having very different backgrounds and beliefs, um, and then sharing that.

Uh, but we obviously moderate. So I think that’s probably part of the, part of the secret sauce.

Andrew: All right. So what I’m seeing here is the answer to one of my questions, which is how could there be more journals in the world? And the answer to that is that you hearing a lot of passion for me for journaling, right? I’m hearing passion from you and you from your customers for journaling. This is a thing that is as ancient as writing, but at the same time is as powerful and emotional.

As, as some of these other things we talked about, like meditation, that now people are getting into like therapy that people are more and more embracing. It’s it’s up there with that. And I understand the passion for it. Right. Let me take a moment to talk about my first sponsor and then we’ll get back in and understand once you knew this, wasn’t going to be your nights and weekend project.

You gave yourself a short amount of time. What did you find on Yelp? How did you create the first one? What did it cost and so on? Um, how you got your customers? Uh, my sponsors HostGator, listen to me. If you are out there and you want to build a website, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. That’s what I did. I literally used my own, my own code to get the lowest price possible from HostGator, because I do want the lowest possible price and.

Once you do, you’re not only going to get the lowest price, but also dependable service that will just frickin work. They should put that up as their model, dependable hosting that will just break and work. Host gator.com/mixergy. All right. You went to Yelp and you found what a print shop or something.

Meha: Yeah, a printing press. I mean the first original version of silk and Sonder was just printer paper, right? With some examples, some mock ups, I sat down with a couple of friends of mine said, would you use this? What would you change? Then we wanted it to look a little bit more legit. And so I just looked back Yelp and friend of mine told me, look up printing press.

So I looked up printing press and found a couple of options. And then I essentially figured out, and I can’t remember what the budget was at the time, but I, I figured out like, okay, we want to do a run of 25 to start because we want to basically gift these to friends and friends of friends to see what their feedback is.

That is actually very expensive. So it’s like, it’s, I can’t remember it because like 25, 30 bucks, like just for per journal, essentially.

Andrew: because they’re doing it

Meha: Digitally, they’re doing it digitally and they’re doing like a very small run and there’s like setup fees involved and all this other stuff that I had no idea about.

And when I was a software engineer, so I had no clue. Um, so then that was kind of like, okay, this is like a little fun project. Let’s just throw some money at it and see what people think. But then it was time to think about just basic breakeven costs. Right. And in my case, we have a data planner’s last journal.

So it’s like a perishable good. After 30 days, it’s not useful. And so I had to think about. How many customers do I think I can get, is it 20? Is it 50, et cetera? And I can’t remember what the first run was, but it wasn’t more than 50. I’ll tell you that. And it was, um, kind of this understanding with myself that, Hey, we’re putting a little money in, we’re going to see if people are going to buy this and if they do, then we can just increase the number of units.

And I think it was around a couple of hundred units where he was actually breakeven. Um, obviously we pay for shipping. And so I just kind of did the math on that. And then all I cared about was getting to that breakeven number and like pouring the PR whatever margins we ended up getting later on, I would just pour that back in.

I was paying myself and then, then I could see, does this engine run on its own? Or, you know, do we just close shop?

Andrew: And from the beginning, you wanted it to be a monthly subscription.

Meha: Yes. Yes. Because, you know, I could identify with our customers, which is, I am that person that goes to target and all these other places and gets really inspired by the beautiful stationary and blank journals and planners of all sorts. And January 1st would hit and I buy gorgeous annual thing, annual planner, and then it would be like March or April.

And I’m like, haven’t used any of it. That was a waste of 40 bucks. And now what do I do? And so this was an idea on, you know, keeping an authentic surprise and delight experience for the customers where they don’t even know what they’re going to get the next month. It’s like somewhat consistent, but there’s also.

New prompts, new guided, uh, frameworks for them to engage with. And so it felt like this mix of surprise and delight and this permission to start a fresh every month. So if you didn’t use your journal enough the month before you get to hit reset, you get to put this one away, you could shove it away, you could toss it away.

You just get to start again. And then there was this idea of why should we wait until January 1st to set our new resolutions? Why do we need to kind of let the year end before we can start a fresh, why not start a fresh every month? Why not set your intentions every month? You know, life happens throughout the year.

And so that was, um, that was kind of the idea behind it. And it also just so happened. I was working at stitch fix, which. As, you know, has a subscription component to it. And so thinking about both subscription and personalization and what that could do and unlock for emotional health was something I was really curious about.

And I knew from my time at stitch fix that if we could connect with our user and create this feedback loop, we could iterate on the product and the experience and understand our users over time in a much quicker cadence. And if we just did like a regular planner or journal and just be available on Amazon.

Andrew: I wonder if I should be using stitch fix fix, by the way, this v-neck sweater. I think this looks, this is great. It bothers me so much. And it’s just a little bit off center. I can’t get that. The V on this, um, the sweater to, to line up properly, I keep adjusting it, but stitch fix will just be like a subscription service where they, they asked me a few questions and then they start shipping me stuff.

And then if whatever, I don’t. I shipped back and I don’t have to pay for, and then they come back the next month with more stuff at every month, brand new stuff. I think I probably should.

Meha: You just got up and you just gave them a free podcast app right there.

Andrew: I think I, I, you know what it is. I think there’s certain things that I need to have on subscription or else I won’t do it. And if it, if it’s here, I’ll do it and I’ll take advantage of it. If it’s not, I’ll just say I have to stop, you know, should always do this male barbers, barbers for men. Right.

Because we do need, if the short haircuts are the way to go for men, so, or at least that’s, what’s in style right now, we, we just let it go and then we don’t look good. And my barber should just say, Andrew, pay me this much for the year. Come on. In in fact it would be great if she even said. Come as often as you, like, as long as I don’t have anyone else and I’ll just clean up your neck or whatever, but let’s do it on an annual basis.

Otherwise I put it off. I’m also, I’m loving that I got a haircut. I w I, I tried to do that. I went into my barber. I said, you take cash. I hate that. All these people take cash lately. They’ve switched away. I said, I’m going to, I hate that. I have to go to the ATM after I come in here. Cause I forget about cash.

Let me give you a stack of hundreds and don’t charge me for months and you keep, so you said, Oh, okay. And then I think she hated the idea that you’d have to keep track of it all. And that she’d owe me. And then what if it’s, so then she just let that go. And I could see that I was driving her crazy with it, just do it on a subscription and even better subscription.

And then give me priority VIP

Meha: Yes. There you go. That’s awesome. Yeah.

Andrew: Then they could do it because they’re always people want to do last minute stuff. Hold the VIP seating until three hours before if somebody comes in great.

Meha: Love it. This could be your 5:00 AM idea that you take her with, make it work.

Andrew: Right. I hadn’t thought of that. Just subs. Oh, right. You know what it is? Subscription subscription. A haircut’s kind of like, what was that class pass?

Meha: It’s like, it’s like ClassPass for here. Yeah. There you go.

Andrew: All right. I think that’s the reason that I bring this up is I feel like sometimes we feel guilty charging by subscription, but dammit as customers, we sometimes want that subscription. Give it to me that way.

Meha: It’s convenient.

Andrew: make it feel predatory, you know, don’t make it feel like Amazon is like, so what you want toilet paper delivered every month, subscribe and save you save 2 cents.

And then they jump up the price on their subscribe and save because whatever algorithm says, the price has to go up and they don’t tell you. I see what you did it. I see how you got to print it up. You went to, and you said, I’m an engineer. I’m going to create my own thing. Everybody loves Stripe.

Stripe is phenomenal. You Stripe. Tell me about what you created when you engineered your site.

Meha: Yeah. It’s a really funny story because at the time I was coding in Ruby, on rails at stitch fix. And so, um, I felt that’s easier for me than learning how to use a very restrictive Shopify template. And I think the software engineers in the audience will appreciate that sentiment. Everybody else would think while you’re crazy.

I certainly think, wow. It was crazy because I ended up spending time, essentially creating the Stripe account, integrating it with Stripe. And then once we started to fulfill orders, it was like a pain in the butt and we had to migrate to Shopify. And

Andrew: was the problem with Dewey? Did you get the design that you liked? You did.

Meha: I, so I, because I created it my way, it looked great.

Probably better. Like it probably just as good as a Shopify template, but that said, it took longer than what a Shopify template would’ve taken. Um, the pain point was not in the early days when you had like 25 to 50 orders, but once you got into the hundreds, it was like using stamps.com. It was manual. If you, you know, someone didn’t get their order, you had to like figure out a way to create an order, but not charge them.

And it was just, it was just like, why would you build an e-commerce platform from scratch when it could be way easier to kind of see where things are for our customers, order through what we now use, which is shopping.

Andrew: Yeah. And you know what, I don’t think of all the things that go into it. I think of Shopify as the hosting platform, but it’s more than that it’s hosting. And then it ties in, like you said, to stamps.com. So you get your shipping labels and it ties into inventory and then they use tracking now and all that stuff it’s just built in there and move on.

Um, all right. And so how long did it take you to switch from your thing to their thing?

Meha: Oh man. I think, um, I feel like it must’ve been closer to like six months. Uh, I just remember by this point I had moved to New York and, um, that’s also a funny story because as we were approaching the thousand Mark of number of customers per month, uh, I remember I had asked like, like literally I would push the dollies from my building to USBs because in New York, for whatever reason, USBs refuses to do a pickup from your apartment.

And I just remember USBs would be like yelling at me. Like there’s no space, there’s no space. And I’m like, these got to get out. This is mental wellness. What do you want me to do? And when people want this. And so I remember like pushing this on like 23rd and, you know, Broadway or whatever, or wherever USBs was, and then having to like take a subset to another USP as of 34th street.

Um, Yeah, it was,

Andrew: they wouldn’t take your full order. Their job is to take the order and

Meha: I know, but there’s a first-class bar or like, like big and it was piling up and it was funny. I went there and I saw some other brand that also had like first-class mail going out. I was like, okay, I’m doing something right. Because I’m not the only entrepreneur who’s like manually going into you USBs for this.

Andrew: How did you get those first customers?

Meha: Yeah. So,

Andrew: first one, let’s start with.

Meha: the very first, why was my friend Marina sleep? Uh, she was in, she was in, uh, college with me. She was my roommate. So she was my very first one, but then she told her friends and then my other friends started to tell their friends. And I think what I did in the early days was I took off that imposter syndrome hat, and I basically email I hustled.

I emailed everyone. I knew professionally and personally. I put it on LinkedIn. I realized, you know, your family and friends, like they will support you, but not all of them are going to buy your product, but that’s okay because at least tell others about it. And so within the first couple of weeks, there were friends of friends and then solely friends of friends, of friends.

And then there were random emails coming in to hello at silk and Saunder, uh, which was, you know, based basically because of our Instagram account, someone’s somehow found us. And that was how the early organic customers were found. And then of course, a couple of months in decided to dabble with some ad spend kind of hypothesize what the target audiences look like.

I think I was spending maybe like 50 to a hundred bucks a month just wanting to see. And that’s how we got kind of the randoms. Um, and then from there it’s history.

Andrew: Instagram is really strong 60,000 followers. More, more than that, there’s a certain vibe that I don’t know what the color scheme is, but it’s pretty consistent with your site. Right.

Meha: Yeah. Yeah,

Andrew: then like, there’s one here. That’s just this, I don’t know this antique bathroom. It has nothing to do with journaling.

It’s not, it doesn’t have your journal, right. It just has your vibe. Where do you get that photo?

Meha: The photo that you’re talking about is probably a rebrand, but I think the silken song, her vibe is very much a holistic experience, right? Journaling is your scientifically proven evidence-based exercise format to elevate your emotional health. But being mentally well is also living life, doing things that calm and center you.

And so that type of a photo is signifying. Hey, self-care Sunday, go soak in the bath disconnect in order to reconnect with yourself.

Andrew: And so your, your vision is let’s find images that represent the Viber going for, I’m looking at one right here where it’s on, where it’s the same colors as your site kind of, but it’s a chair with a tea cup on it and a spoon. And again, this one’s a re gram. You’re just finding things online that you, like, you ask the creator, if you could re gram it on your site and that’s it.

And then you post it with a bunch of hashtags and explain, this is explain what the connection is and that’s you, that’s the thing that you’re doing and people are following you. How you getting follow? And then from there, of course, the reason I’m bringing this up is you’re clearly getting sales

Meha: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, I think that what the vibe signifies by whether you’re on a, a table eating breakfast, or whether you’re soaking in the bath, you can very much be introspecting or even journaling. Uh, we have customers who like set up their, you know, journaling and candle thing in the bath and then journal there somehow.

So I think, I think what we’re conveying is like, Hey, look at this aspirational, but achievable, um, authentic lifestyle that you can create from the comfort of your home. And Oh, by the way, we have a product so that you have an activity to do rather than just sit there. And so, um, that’s really, I think where the messaging and the branding and the, uh, essence of silk and Sonder is coming through.

Yeah.

Andrew: This is just really well done. I’m just constantly scrolling through your thing. And, and then every once in a while, you’ll, you’ll show a photo of the journal. I think if you were to go after men, I think that the analogy that I would go with is it’s like, um, CrossFit for journaling. And the reason I bring that up is that I hadn’t done a lot of CrossFit, but when I did, what I noticed is interesting about them is they keep varying up what the exercises.

Th they’re exercise. Right? Same thing with journaling. Journaling is the same thing every day, or make it up if you want to, versus what you’re doing with Silicon Saundra is saying, we’re going to keep changing it up to keep it interesting. Keep you engaged to try to see if we can find something that you’re attracted to.

Meha: I love that you use CrossFit because CrossFit has a big community component too.

Andrew: Right. Right. You know, I had a chance to interview the founder of CrossFit in the beginning and I said, it’s just another weight loss thing or exercise thing. I think I’m going to pass. And my friend said, no, I’m building software for this community because it’s big. I said, it’s big for you. It’s not that big.

I was totally missing the boat on that. Um, all right. You kept on getting subscriptions. Oh, and that’s the other reason why you want to have. Um, no, no. Why you wanted Stripe? Stripe is good for subscriptions, but then I noticed, I went to SEMrush to see where silken, Sondra getting their traffic. And one of the things that I saw was you were using a tool from, from our Shopify tool for subscriptions,

Meha: Yeah called recharge.

Andrew: it actually, it has a different name. It’s, uh, it’s cited in the traffic, uh, the different name. How helpful is that?

Meha: It’s it’s fantastic. I mean, I think like with any software system that you’re not building from scratch, there’s obviously limitations of drawbacks with like skew tracking, for example, um, we’re not your classic a subscription where you’re getting the same deodorant month over month, right. Where a new product every month.

Um, but it’s fantastic. I mean, it syncs with Shopify, it syncs with our, um, you know, internal systems for shipping. So it’s, it’s very easy to use. And I think in order to focus on growth and focus on scaling, it’s much better to work with these systems and up until a certain point. And then at a certain point, it might make sense to build your own, but, um, for now it’s working great.

And the team’s awesome.

Andrew: Here’s what I saw in SEMrush. It’s Shopify subscriptions.com. Then I followed it to see what is this tool. And that’s when I saw it’s called recharge. All right. I’ll tell you a couple of other things that I saw in your traffic analyst analytics in a moment from seminars, but let me take a moment. Talk about my second sponsor.

Hey everyone. If you’ve got a landing page on your site, may I don’t know if you guys use a landing page, you know what I think you should do? Here’s here’s something that you should do. You should offer up printable versions of some of you think about doing this, right? Like. Right. Here’s a, like, you may not be ready to try this.

You may think that this is, you might be skeptical. Obviously the benefit of silk and Saundra is the feel of the journal. The ability to see that there are multiple pages that you should fill in the possibilities at the beginning of the month and so on. Right. But some people might just want to try it out.

Is this journaling for me? And so if you just said to them, print out our journal, it feels like a very free thing, like a generous thing to do. And in reality, people are going to print it out. Even if you give him the whole thing. And they’re going to say, I don’t want to keep track of all this. What am I going to get a stapler and all that?

Let’s just, I’ll just pay for it. But I see the eye, see the thing here. And I’m on a roll. Anyway. If you were to use that unbalanced, we’ll do it. Um, and obviously there’s other software that will do it too. So here’s what Unbounced decided that they’re going to do with me. They said, look, Andrew, We’ve been using, uh, or businesses have been using our software for years.

We watch what’s worked. And what hasn’t we see what gets in, what increases conversion, what doesn’t we see what people in your space do and what’s working for them. How can we just put together a report? And we make it available to all the Mixergy people and allow them to see how, how others in their space are doing landing pages.

What’s working for conversions for other people. What the numbers look like, so that you don’t just say ma, Oh man, we didn’t do very well when you look at a number, but instead you say, actually we did much better than everyone else in our space, much better than ever anyway, for people who are out there.

I see are nodding for people who are out there, who are nodding along with me to here, it is completely free. Downloadable. Go to unbounce.com/c B R unbounced.com/c B R conversion benchmark report unbounced.com/c B R. All right. Here’s what else I saw. I saw a, share a sale analytics in your traffic. So that means

Meha: Yeah. So it’s, it’s actually an interesting story in the early days. Um, there are a couple of customers that happened to also be bloggers. And so that was an indicator that maybe we should spin up an affiliate program eventually. And so we haven’t really flushed out that, that program, but I, I think that the premise is that so much awesome content is, is created by these bloggers and bloggers and they should get a commission for every sale that they generate.

And really what we’re doing is empowering, I guess, a form of an entrepreneur, uh, that way. And so we do have some stuff running with affiliates. Um, and then we also have obviously our referral program as well.

Andrew: for our program is for your customers to tell their friends what’s the benefit there? What do you give them?

Meha: Uh, I believe it, give five, get five

Andrew: What does that mean? Give five gifts. Oh, you giving them $5 discount. You get a $5 discount and to share a sale, keep track of that for you.

Meha: So shares I’ll have something similar. And I don’t quite remember what the, what the percentages are because I don’t manage it anymore, but it

Andrew: You build it yourself. Or did you use share sale to also empower the, give

Meha: Oh, Oh no. We, so we use share sales for, uh, more like affiliate stuff. And then we use, um, we use a yacht TPO program for referrals.

Andrew: That’s another, so all these different things, because you’re now on a platform that’s, that’s popular all these different ideas that you have. You don’t have to come up with software for it. Yourself. Someone else has done it. Put it in. You decide you want to have upsells down, sells afterwards. You have it in.

Do you have any upsells meaning when somebody subscribes after they paid you, do you offer them something else that they could buy?

Meha: Yeah, no, that’s what I was like upsells for a second. We don’t have multiple products right now. So really beyond Sonder kids in our annual supplement, which are just two other journal offerings, one for the BA for the, you know, around six to 12 year olds. And then one is, um, kind of like a, like a more holistic view to your personal wellness.

So it’s not a planner. It’s more like bigger ideas and dreams and breaking it down goal by goal. Those are the, really the only upsells, but we’re not doing it as part of the flow yet.

Andrew: Okay. All right. Makes sense. And frankly, I don’t think that’s the Shopify makes that part easy enough. They should. And I know that they’ve got restrictions on it. I’ve talked to a few, I’ve talked to one specific creator, a software creator. Who’d made something for it, and it’s not an easy thing to get through with Shopify.

All right. Um, one of the things that you told our producer was you expected that you were going to end up with these hyper achievers, that they were going to use your journal to achieve even more, right? Like Tony Robbins types customers. Instead, you ended up with people who just want to elevate their emotional health.

How did you recognize that that’s what they were coming into you for?

Meha: Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I think like many good founders, my story is also rooted in a personal journey. And so I assumed women on the coastal cities, hyper achievers, people who want to like win across all areas of life, personal professional, emotional, um, was going to be the only demographic.

But then, uh, the way that I figured this out was as soon as we had kind of non friends of friends, tripling and just names that I did recognize people from Kansas people from Texas, people from States that I don’t personally know anybody in, um, I just decided to reach out. And I think, uh, the biggest power you have in the early days is, you know, everybody wants to talk to the founder.

And so I literally would talk to hundreds of customers, hear their stories. And that’s how I figured out that there, that there are different types of personas. Oh, uh, just, just a very thoughtful and polite email, the same way I got my investors on there.

Andrew: And it was just, and I want to get to any investors. I’m surprised that you’ve got investors 500 startups is a backer, but wait, you just sent them an email saying, thanks for buying my product. Can I talk to you about how you plan to use it? And they said, sure. And then I guess they went to Calendly or

Meha: Yeah. Yeah, it was, uh, it was a little bit more nuanced than that. It’s more like, Hey, I’ve noticed you’ve been a customer of ours for X number of months. I hope. You’re enjoying your and Sondra experience. We are thinking about ways to better serve. You would love to get 30 minutes of your time. And what’s amazing is when you give your customers the power of giving you both, you know, constructive feedback, as well as positive affirmations, it just opens up so much opportunity.

I mean, the types of things that, you know, people thought were missing, we added in, or, uh, people felt like, you know, certain parts were confusing or the format of the pages were not in the right order and things like that. And, and I think when you give that kind of luxury and freedom and agency to your customer themselves, like they are grateful.

You don’t even have to compensate them because they’re just so excited to be heard.

Andrew: And then I’m guessing that you weren’t really super, uh, um, anal about how you were taking in that, that feedback and what you were doing with it. Right. It was just let me talk to them. I’ll understand. I’ll make some notes, right. There was no spreadsheet with how many times do I hear this one thing over and over?

Or was there.

Meha: Yeah, so there was a spreadsheet, but it was all, I mean, I think for my product management days, there’s a power and there’s. There’s a certain framework you could use for user interviews in which it asks open-ended questions, because really you’re trying to get into the details. And it’s really important to listen, as opposed to just like, have a survey of things that you’re checking off.

And so, um, one thing I did pretty well was just listened to them and take notes as they were talking and letting them elaborate on things even off of the script. Um, but at the core, it was very much who are you? Where do you come from? What’s your life story? So I could get a sense of, you know, demographic data that we could then use to target.

So our customers, um, and then otherwise we were asking questions around like, how do you use your slogans on or what was confusing? What did you expect to receive and how did you feel when you got it? And then, um, I think just keeping those types of questions open-ended because those are where the golden nuggets are.

It’s not, you know, me asking the, the, the leading questions just to get there. I just made them up.

Andrew: Oh, okay. I thought there was, but there’s a framework that you’re using.

Meha: the framework is more so from my days in being a product manager at a fueled where we were launching minimum versions of mobile apps, uh, when we’re understanding the problem, what we’re solving, you ask kind of open-ended questions even before you decide a feature set. And so I applied that kind of methodology to this set of user interviews, where it’s more about understanding who your customer is, what types of tools they use before.

So can Sonder what problems so can Sondra is really solving for them and letting them kind of elaborate and lead that discussion, uh, versus me saying like, you know, something’s, honor’s a great product, right? It’s helped you do this, right?

Andrew: Right? Right. Yeah. The, what did you do is before is an interesting one. Um, What else? I I’ve heard that from Noah Kagan. The other one that he’s suggested is also where are you? What sites are you on? Where you

Meha: What do you read?

Andrew: do you read? Um, okay. And then you started to discover that that’s what they wanted.

And you said to our producer, I decided I was going to do a ton of research on positive psychology. I w I, you felt like you were getting a PhD in self-help books. What did you learn from them? And what are some books that helped you

Meha: Oh yeah. Oh man. There’s a whole, there’s a whole list of them. I would say the one thing by Gary Keller, I think it is, um, that was probably most instrumental because it tells, it kind of reminds me that you have to live, you know, life a little bit more holistically and in, and thinking about what is the one thing across different categories of your life that you can do such that by doing it, everything else becomes unnecessary.

Um, the, the one thing, the one

Andrew: one thing got it.

Meha: Yep. I would say essential ism was another one power of now.

Andrew: So the, how are you using the centralism till help to help you create prompts in a journal that helps people focus?

Meha: So essential ism wasn’t necessarily like tactical prompts, but I think it’s this notion of like focusing on your strengths, focusing on things that really light you up. Like, I think, uh, essential as parents, you know, parents that practice essentialism are really thinking about, okay, you know, my, my child does not need to be everything under the sun.

We noticed that she’s really gravitated towards dance, how to double down on dance. And so similarly thinking about what type of questions or prompts do we need to evoke, um, amongst our customers so that they can identify, Oh, I’m really enjoying cooking. I see this as like therapeutic for me, I’m gonna double down on cooking.

So it’s kind of like that philosophy.

Andrew: Okay. All right. You mentioned investors. Why did you decide to go for investors? This seems like a lifestyle business,

Meha: Yeah. Yeah. Great question. Um, one that I thought about quite, uh, quite for some time, especially during the ups and downs of, of raising. And I think if I wanted to just stop at a notebooks business or a journals business, we wouldn’t need outside capital. Right? It’s a very, it’s it has great margins. You can run it.

Um, as we were, I think for me, I feel compelled to build a much, much bigger business where mental wellness is where fitness and weight loss is today. So you see new, you see weight Watchers, you see how they’ve leveraged in real life and virtual communities alongside personalized journeys on weight loss.

You see what SoulCycle and Peloton have done for fitness. Why is it that mental wellness is stuck in the stone age, where everything is self navigated, isolated, et cetera. And in order to build that big of a business with a level of personalization and. Evolution that we need across an individual’s life, um, in forming these habits and kind of being able to proactively and reactively deal with your care, uh, is something that requires capital and resources and people much smarter than me to help us achieve that dream.

Andrew: I would say, thinking you are gong to. I was thinking you were going to say, well, there are these box businesses where people subscribe and they get stuff. And now we start with journals. We might give them some health, food or something else. And that’s what justifies it. It’s a subscription of products.

This model has existed before. We’re just going to do it differently, but you’re thinking I want to do self-help in a new way. Yeah. And so what do you envision, if you’re looking five years from now, what do you see happening? What do you see Silicon Sonder offering?

Meha: Yeah, I think, um, I think I have two things. Number one is kind of externally when anyone in the world thinks of, Oh my God, I don’t feel a hundred percent. I feel anxious. I feel stressed being able to think of silk and Sonder as your go-to destination for almost like your self care prescription or whatever we call it.

Um, or essentially like your, your self care tool, tool set, uh, you think of silk and Sonder. So if I feel anxious because of my relationships, I go to silk and Saunder, I type that in somewhere and I’m able to see what prompts I should use, what, you know, what parts of the journal I should engage with, who I should reach out to.

Um, and that kind of like reactive ability as well as,

Andrew: that you might. So just like a doctor would prescribe medicine and a homeopathic, whatever would prescribe a homeopathic. Whatever’s you’re saying your prescription is going to be, here’s a journal, write it out. And, um, and that is going to be, yeah. The model. Is it going to be digital, do you think at some point, or is it all going to be analyzed

Meha: I agree question. We are actively building a digital platform. I would say analog is your place to reflect, but digital is your place to kind of share and also understand your emotional health in a way that you can’t do just by writing. You need to like surface that data to

Andrew: but you’re not going to do a, um,

Meha: like a digital

Andrew: day. Yeah, no, no digital, it has to be on paper. It has to be freehand. Um, what do you think about this? I sometimes feel like, okay. Want someone to walk you through your journal? I almost would. I don’t know that I could do this for some things. I just almost want to a person to prompt me and to write it down or to, I don’t know.

I, at some, sometimes journaling feels like, like you’re there with writer’s block and I know that you’re, you’re adjusting that you’re fixing it with prompts, but it’s still you and the paper

Meha: Yeah, what you’re saying is you want a life companion. You want, you know, you want your life coach companion with you day after day. And that’s exactly what I see silk and Sondra as, um,

Andrew: what you’re thinking the community is going to be.

Meha: the community already is that I would say silk and Saundra as a brand should basically understand you as if they were the passenger seat of the car that you’re driving.

Andrew: All right. And so when you talk to investors, how hard was it to get 500 startups to sign up and say, sure, we’ll help accelerate.

Meha: Yeah. Yeah. So by the time I got to 500 startups, I’d raised a little bit of money, so there was a bit of proof on ability to raise capital and also.

Andrew: the first, uh, investor was

Meha: Sabina Shaw of red draft advisors based in New York who literally told me no. And basically for a period of time, just served as a mentor and tried to convince me that I may not meet Capitol.

And then once she saw this vision and the community pieces, she’s like, Holy crap, you’re onto something. I want to be the first check-in.

Andrew: Okay. And then you heard from people that AF after you get the first check, it’s much easier to get other people, especially if they have some kind of credibility and.

Meha: It’s not, I think every person, so an investor’s job is to be skeptical. Right. And luckily I grew up with a dad. Who’s a professor. So as a PhD, he’s also very skeptical. So I’ve been used to justifying my dreams and my ambitions and, and all of that. And so I think, um, I think what you realize is that every investor is going to either get your vision or not like you or not, and be able to problem solve alongside you or not.

And I think what I love about every single investor that I have on my cap table is they are highly critical. Like they definitely can see around the corner more than I can, but there’s this desire to solve problems, which. It’s very important, you know, for a founder, because you want to be able to call up your investor, who’s optimizing for the same outcome as you and say, Hey, I’m going through a tough time.

I don’t know how to deal with this. Help me. And they want to help you because it’s in their

Andrew: that you took to an investor.

Meha: Well, I think recently just the imposter syndrome that I’m dealing with in migrating our community from a place that’s just pop it, like it is working.

Andrew: is working. Right. I hate the Facebook works as a group. Right. Cause I don’t want to be on there. And so you saying, who am I to take them off of Facebook? They already tell me they love it and I have to move them over here. Okay. And, and what did you

Meha: I mean, I think, I think like investors have said, look like, like this is a business decision. You may find that it totally fails, but that’s okay. You have to at least try it. So I think there’s this like permission and understanding. There’s also this, um, this kind of reality of, you know, you’re going to launch this thing and you’re going to wish you had done it sooner.

So it’s like that optimism that as a founder, you’re constantly thinking of like the negatives all the time. Um, and then also strategizing, I think like there was a question around me just totally closed this or do we do a phase rollout? And so hearing the different perspectives is very much a strategic play and this is all based off of what they’ve seen in the past.

Um, or what they hypothesize and stuff that as a solo founder is certainly hard to make a decision on sometimes.

Andrew: And so what you ended up doing was saying, I’m going to test it. We don’t have to migrate everyone until we know it works. And then once you test it, you have enough to go back to your Facebook community and say, look, this is working better than it did at

Meha: Yes

Andrew: Let’s move it over. Trust me, or don’t just trust me, see the results.

Let’s try this. Okay. Um, and then 500 startups. One of the reasons why you went to them was you’re solo founder. You’ve got nobody to chat with and 500 startups takes you in, and then they give you what.

Meha: They give you a little money, but more importantly, they give you a community of other founders. Uh, plenty of parks. And I would say the one thing I love about 500 startups is they allow the founder to kind of make this decision on what do you want to focus on there’s there’s growth and there’s capital.

And you can do both at that time. I wasn’t interested in raising more money. I was interested in growing my business. And so they had a lot of folks that are just amazing digital marketers. And I took it upon myself to learn almost like I was taking a class on different strategies and tactics on how to grow my business.

And I think I grew it.

Andrew: Because they bring, sorry, how much did you grow up by? And then I want to ask the

Meha: I, if I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I think it was around 10 X after four months.

Andrew: because they have specific people who have worked for, I’ve worked for tech companies for startups in the past at growth, and they hired them to 500 startups. Right.

Meha: Yeah. As far as,

Andrew: is do it for them as what.

Meha: so they don’t do it for us. They basically get, they’re kind of like your professors or your teachers that mentor.

Andrew: Do whatever it is that you did teach them so they could do it, but you are full-time at 500, meaning these practitioners full-time at 500 startups, whatever they did at these startups, they have to teach you how to do, and they don’t have a side gig, or another thing that they’re focused on.

This is what they’re doing. Full-time

Meha: no, no. So I think, I think then being a mentor is the side gig.

Andrew: all right. A mentor is a side gig. They’re doing it as practitioners, but where do you, what, what helps you grow 10 X? Who was it that you talked to? Give me one example.

Meha: I think, um, Oh, I guess this is a great story. One of our then growth advisors, informal growth advisors who eventually became an investor. Um, I told him, look, I think, I think the Facebook ads are working. I’m sitting here writing the copy. The pack is like seven bucks, which is amazing. Like I want to grow this and I have no clue.

And so I would meet with them weekly. Um one-on-one and he basically gave me like strategic tips and eventually he’s like, you’re onto something really big and really great. And I think Asia raise more money and go faster and be like, you have product market fit. So what are you doing? Like let’s, let’s grow this thing.

And I think. Like giving me the comfort of spending more money, understanding Roaz and like all of these marketing terms that I had no idea about being an engineer. Um, and when he told me he wants to invest and that I need to reserve some space for him, for him, to me, that was just like so affirming because he’s closest to my numbers.

And so his name is so-so SSH.

Andrew: Okay. And what’s his background? What’s he?

Meha: He started his own digital marketing agency. Very, very successful was acquired by w promote, um, fantastic human overall and, um, somebody that I lean on, you know, a lot for all of our growth tactics.

Andrew: Right. One thing again, uh, SEMrush that stood out for me. Where and where are you getting traffic? Yahoo. Yahoo ads are working for you. search. Maybe you’re not running the Yahoo ads, but you’re getting traffic from Yahoo search. And then you’re also sending traffic to event bright. What are you doing right?

Meha: Ooh, great question. We are at hosting Saunders circles, which are these guided journaling sessions, uh, that is hosted on about bright.

Andrew: So people get together on zoom and then there’s a coach or someone guiding them and then they all, that’s what I’m talking about. Right? So you’re not just sitting there by yourself. Right? You have this thing with persons coming, watching you, talking to you and you’re all journaling together. That’s a great idea.

That makes total sense. I don’t know why. No, one’s done that before.

Meha: It’s hard. That’s why.

Andrew: Why don’t we close it out with this? So people remember the, the company name it’s silk, and Saunder what the name come from. Where does this.

Meha: Yeah. So, um, Saunder happens to be a made up word only found in the dictionary of obscure sorrows. It essentially means that every passer-by around you is living this life populated by their own ambitions, their own worries, their own fears, and they think they’re living this life in isolation, but really we feel that heaviness of life on our Gnostic lanes.

And so silk and Saundra is our way of adding smoothness and ease to an otherwise very isolating and heavy feeling of life.

Andrew: Was also checking to see, does it mean something in another language? Yes. In Swedish Sonder means without

Meha: Well, silken Sonder is with him without.

Andrew: All right. The website is silk and saunder.com. It’s also on Instagram and you guys have the handle silk and Saunder, and there’s also silken Sondra for kids and all this other stuff going on in the world of Silicon Sonder.

Congratulations. I feel like you’ve hit on something really impressive. And, um, I wouldn’t have guessed. I wouldn’t have guessed. Here’s what I’ve taken away from this number one. Think about subscription number two. Oh, let me ask you this. How did you know when people weren’t filling in your journal? I brought that up in the beginning.

How’d you know, if they were filling it in and what you could do to adjust if they weren’t

Meha: Literally would send a form at the end of every month. Which pages did you use?

Andrew: that’s it. And so you kept track and that’s one of the numbers that you try to improve month after month. And then what happens if people just don’t do any, then they don’t want to come in and fill out the form. They feel guilty. So is that also a metric that you look at?

Meha: I mean, I think we look at churn, right? We look and see if those that have engaged with the journal are more likely to retain. And what we found is that a lot of customers don’t always use their journals because life gets in the way, but there’s this mindset of forgiveness and Hey, I tried to commitment to myself, but I kind of failed.

So I’m gonna try again next month. Yes.

Andrew: how do you tie that back into, how do you tie the form results back into your churn? So you can make a connection. I find that that’s such a basic thing to ask for, but I don’t know, software that does that.

Meha: Well, no, it’s all manual. And, you know, we could be doing a better job now at our current scale, but in the early days, it was really informative of, you know, those that love the product. Why do they love the product? How much are they engaging with the journal? Um, and how much, you know, like who are they?

What’s their, what’s their profile person. And I think ultimately it’s this, um, that lingering desire to, to spend time on yourself, needs to be there. Otherwise you’re not going to make the habit.

Andrew: All right. Silk and saundra.com. And I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first one is if you’re hosting a website, do what I did go to hostgator.com/mixergy. And frankly, I think everyone should be doing interviews. It’s just such a great way to learn from other people and then extend your reach by, by reaching out to people who care about your guests.

If they don’t care about me, they care about you. Right. And how that’s fantastic. I’m sure that there are people who are like that. And then they come in and they just got me and they say, you know what? This guy, Andrew is actually not half bad. And then they come back and they listen to more interviews.

So as a growth hack interviews are fantastic as a learning hack, they’re even better. All right. So if you want that, go to hostgator.com/mixergy, sign up for them. And if you want to figure out how to get more people, to subscribe more people, to buy, how to improve your conversion rates and see what’s working for other people and copy the best ideas.

All right. Here’s what you do. Go to unbounce.com/c B R. They’re not even promoting their software. They’re just saying they will give you their report for free. Right now. unbounced.com/cbr, man. Thanks so much for doing this interview.

Meha: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Andrew: Thanks, bye everyone.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.

x