Andrew W: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of mixergy.com, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. I am especially excited about today’s guest. We had this great conversation at an event where I pitched him on being on Mixergy where I heard how successful his company was. Yeah, I heard some private numbers that I don’t think he’s going to share with you here. That just blew my mind about how well he’s doing with his business.
But the reason that I’m especially excited to have him on here beyond all that is, he’s a guy who admits to having depression, admits to having what I’ve called a counter mind, which is this part of your brain that everything you want to do, just like disputes it, counters it before it even evaluates it and he says, “You know, I have it. I even named it.” And, boy, is he . . . I don’t want to say gotten over it.
But, boy, is he accomplished so much by breaking free of the limitations of, you know, depression and counter mind and our own inner resistance. And I want to have him on to talk about how he did it. He’s name is Andrew Thomas. He is the co-founder of SkyBell. SkyBell is a smart Wi-Fi enabled doorbell that allows you to answer your door from a smartphone and allows you to see who’s at your door.
There is a competitor in this space. There are several huge competitors in the space. Frankly, I don’t understand how the guy is able to operate today mentally considering how it feels like this is a heated space, and still, not only he is operating, he’s doing incredibly well. I want to find out about how he did it. This interview is going to happen thanks to two phenomenal sponsors.
The first is a company, I’ll be honest with you guys, every time I see it on my ad list, I keep saying, “Not today. Not today. Not today.” I didn’t feel like I was ready for it. It’s a company that will help you raise money for your company. It’s called StartEngine. And I finally feel like I’ve got enough of an understanding that I could talk about them. And wouldn’t you know it, Andrew actually knows him. So I’ll invite him to talk a little bit in the ad for it. And the second sponsor is a company I do know super well. It’s called ActiveCampaign. It’ll allow you to do email marketing. Well, I’ll talk about both those. First, Andrew, it’s good to have you on here.
Andrew T: Andrew, it’s great to be here. I really appreciate it. Thank.
Andrew W: Let me start with the one question that I know you’re not going to answer, but I think it’s important to still ask, revenues, last 12 months, what were they?
Andrew T: Yeah. It’s a difficult question to answer because we are a private company and, you know, I am held to some obligations under NDAs. But I think the bottom line to take there is that the smart doorbell space has just gone bananas. It’s a user experience that people understand, and there’s a lot of demand for it. So whether it’s B2C, B2B, there’s a lot of revenue. So, you know, we definitely have . . .
Andrew W: Are we talking about 0 to 10, 10, 50? Can give me any bound, any range?
Andrew T: We still needed to keep going.
Andrew W:Oh, you mean even more than that.
Andrew T:But yeah, it’s very healthy revenues. It’s very healthy revenues. Yeah.
Andrew W: You say more than 50?
Andrew T: Again, it’s a very nice number.
Andrew W: What range would you give me? I don’t want to trap you here because I know that we agreed that I’m not going to get the actual number on camera, even though you told me privately.
Andrew T: Yeah.
Andrew W: What range would you feel comfortable? And it could be as wide as you want. I’m not looking for an actual number. These aren’t accountants who are listening to me. I just want to give people a sense of how big you built this.
Andrew T: So the sense maybe it’s better people know hardware valuations. You know, our valuations is well into the nine figures. So, you know, $100 million plus valuation, so you don’t get there by doing a couple million a year.
Andrew W: Okay. And one of the things you told me was Comcast was a customer when we talked in person. I want to understand how . . . you told our producer about how Honeywell is a customer. I don’t understand how. I thought everyone just went to your website or Indiegogo or Amazon and bought. You apparently have gone B2B in addition to B2C. We’ll talk about how you did it.
But let’s go back a little bit to this depression period of your life. When you were . . . and we’ll build up to how you built to this because I want understand how you got to this point. But you told me before we’re starting to interview that you read about the founder of box.com. Tell me why he stood out for you and what you were feeling when you read about it, when you read an article about him?
Andrew T: Yeah. To really understand the power of that moment, you got to go back to my mindset at the time. So at that time, I was about 25-ish and I was actually a financial planner. I was wearing a suit in a high rise office building, you know, helping people with their investments. And I was miserable. I was actually battling depression. I had high heart rate problems, 115 beats per second was my max resting heart . . .
Andrew W: Why were you miserable? Do you know how many people would kill for that kind of position?
Andrew T: You know, I think no matter what you do in life, if you aren’t doing what, you know, you’re here to do, you weren’t aligned with your truth, you weren’t living your life, you’re going to be miserable. And I wasn’t living my life. I was living somebody else’s. I was living scared. I was living my dad’s life. He was a financial planner. And it wasn’t that he made me do it, it’s that I took that as security said, “If I’m a financial planner, I’ll be safe.” And underneath the water, you know, there was a current. It always that kind of a truth, I knew that I love tech, I loved entrepreneurship, but I never let myself own it. And I never thought I was good enough. This is a story about worthiness. It just flat out didn’t feel good enough or worthy enough to own that.
And I also had so much counter mind, and you and I have mentioned, so many counter mind thoughts, so much shame, that blocked me from owning that truth. And when I saw Aaron Levie in this article, you know, we went to the same school, and I saw this guy, and I just said, you know, “This is a guy who he did it right. You know, he obviously has something I don’t. I’m in an office being a financial planner and he’s off creating this unbelievable tech company from his dorm room that he started from his dorm room.”
And it was great contrast for me too. You know, at the time, I realized, like, really drive a big self-hate narrative. But also like, yeah, to have that contrast to say, “You’re not good enough. If you were, you would have been him.” And so when you do that, you just run the script that it’s really hard to get out of.
Andrew W: What do you think that you felt that you weren’t good enough? I think about this story that you told our producer about when you were a kid, your dad’s company was moving offices. And do you remember what you did to capitalize on that move?
Andrew T: Yeah, you know, there’s anecdotes of these throughout my life. You know, I think, what was that, 10 or 12, I went and I actually went around the office, put up flyers and said, “I’ll move all of your boxes for you.” Because I knew that these adults, they don’t want to move their own stuff. So I’ll do it for dollar box. And I made like 400 bucks in like three weeks that summer. And, yeah, there was that.
There were other instances of me honoring the entrepreneurial bug in me, you know, in high school running this club that was all about entrepreneurship. We used to run these events like basketball tournaments, and charge people and we used to make profit and that was a lot of fun. And when I went to USC, I got a degree in finance. And I did it because I thought, “Oh, finance is the safe route,” right? “If everything goes bad in my life, I can fall back on this finance degree.” And that’s not a mindset about abundance or acknowledging our creative power potential as individuals as people.
Andrew W: So why do you got wrapped up in that as a guy who’s smart, who came from . . . like family seems that they were very supportive of you. You were exposed to entrepreneurs around you. Why do you think, if you could be open with yourself, what would you say?
Andrew T: You know, it stems from, you know, a pattern of shame and people get different triggers when they hear that word. But shame is this feeling that you are inherently not enough, no matter what you do, no matter who your around. And I think that story, you know, there’s other stuff in my family and there’s other things that society puts on us.
Andrew W: Like what?
Andrew T: Yeah. There’s a lot of merit driven, you know, love. A lot of merit-driven external validation in my family. It didn’t matter to me what it was. I mean, when I tell people about this journey, I remind them that it’s not just now needing some measure of success to feel good enough, when I was 10, it was my batting average, you know, baseball. I remember, I struck out like one time one season, and that was the worst moment I had, you know, because I couldn’t say I went the whole season without striking out. Like this is not reasonable stuff for a 10-year-old.
And, you know, when I got to high school, it was grades, right? I had a four or five seven cumulative GPA, still wasn’t enough, right? And like, it does not matter. If you need something to feel good enough, it’s a black hole you’ll never fill. And the only way to do it is to get right with yourself. You know, get to a point where you release this shame, add in some self-love, and replace it and tap into your creative potential. And then you can create anything, which is what I’m now experiencing. So there were a number of circumstances, you know, in and outside of my family. And I think some of us might have more of a proclivity to those types of [inaudible 00:08:30] .
Andrew W: You know, you’re kind of dancing around it. Do you feel comfortable saying what one of those circumstances is specifically?
Andrew T: You know, not really because I don’t want to bring, you know, my parents into this. My parents had been nothing but blessings and we all get to where we are by, you know, our circumstances and they’ve had their parents and, and I don’t want to, you know, bring that in. I think it’s safe to say that I’m sure every listener or watcher has had moments where they don’t feel good enough. And if you spend enough time in that space, you’re not going to feel good and it’s a lot more fun to be on the other side. It takes some work for sure, but it’s definitely on the other side.
Andrew W: You know, I’ll say that to me that some of the things that came up for me that made me feel like I’m not good enough is I would see people who like had the cool hair, frankly, like had white people hair, very straight. They could do the whole thing where they could put a bandana and it wouldn’t hang just right, right? It was those little things like that that would then get stuck in my head and I think, “Well, I’m not as cool as them.” Now that I say that aloud I go, “What the hell? This is ridiculous.” Anyway, do you what happens was, it’s always ridiculous once you say that loud, I think, most of it is.
Andrew T: You know, I’ve been doing a lot of work with this group called Evryman that’s bringing men together on these retreats and getting them to go into a space where they’re willing to say these things. And that’s what I appreciated so much when he said, “You know, check in how are you feeling.” And I think, you know, this is a great example for, you know, accessing those points in our lives or those feelings that shape who we are.
And as you’re saying it, now I’m thinking about more tangible examples, right? So I’ll share that my big story is I didn’t grow until I was 16. I was 4′ 10, 95 pounds in high school. You know, so that was a big thing for me and it has shown up in different ways. But, you know, there’s that that feeling of, you know, you’re small, you get no attention from girls. You know, I never got picked on. I was, you know, good athlete and all that stuff.
But it’s still, like you don’t really need too much to not feel good enough and, you know, that was the theme of my life. Like half of my brand was organic and true to myself and the other half was me trying to, you know, prove something or get something. A lot of my success has been tied to needing that success to feel good, to be honest with you.
Andrew W: You think you’re using it now? You’re using it to your advantage.
Andrew T: Well, finally, you know, success has always been the driver I’ve needed and I’ve had it. But now what I’ve decided is I need a new definition of success. That’s where I’m at now, right? The idea that you are only successful if you have a million in a bank or an exited company or X, Y, and Z, that’s a recipe for disaster. We need new definitions of success.
Andrew W: Why? It seems like it’s working for you. Why screw with it? Why change it out into something like “The more people I love, the more people love me, the more successful I am. The happier I am with where I am, the more successful I am.” Why change it to something like that?
Andrew T: Because I think it didn’t end up making me happier. You know, when you reach those things that didn’t make it didn’t make me that much happier.
Andrew W: Look at how successful you are now. Doesn’t that make you happier?
Andrew T: It didn’t. It didn’t. Until about a year ago or two years ago, I’ve been doing this work. I’m a work in progress, right? So, no. I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive either. I think that you can get to a place where you change your definition of success and it sets you more free to be even more ambitious and to be like tap into your power even more. So I’ve actually . . .
Andrew W: Then you’re just more ambitious now without the need to make money and be successful just to prove that you’re worthy?
Andrew T: Exactly. Exactly. You are free, right? And with freedom comes potential and possibility and power and all of those good things. Yeah.
Andrew W: You know, I could talk about that for hours and I’d love to do it, but I could see that that’s . . . frankly, that is personally one of my passions to talk about that. But I don’t want to go off this into a rabbit hole. I want to come back for a moment and talk about your grandmother, because this was a pivotal moment in your life. You were with her when she passed.
Andrew T: Yeah.
Andrew W: What happened? What did you experience and how did that change you?
Andrew T: That was a big, very big moment. So at the time, again, financial planner at 26, battling health problems related to anxiety, depression, and the shadows that go with that. I also was in a toxic relationship. And my grandmother was battling a Parkinson’s like disease and so I was around her often at during the process. And she finally passed away and I was in the room. I was the closest one per person to her and I saw her take her last breaths. It really just affirmed this belief, this idea that we are not here to be depressed. And that’s not to dismiss anybody’s experience, but for me, it was like, you know, a snap. It was snap out of it. You’re here for more than being a depressed financial planner in a miserable relationship. You need to, you know, turn this around. And seeing her take those last breath reminded me that that life is short and we are here to create and we better do it. So that really, really sparked me in the right direction.
Andrew W: And that’s when you said, “You know what? I’m going to be an entrepreneur. This is who I was. If I go back to my childhood, I see examples of this. I’m going to go and do it.” And the first thing that you created them on your LinkedIn profile was APT Digital.
Andrew T: Yeah. So I wish it was that easy with the turnaround. But, yeah, when I when I saw my grandmother took her last breath, I leaned on my aunt, Marine and I said, “You have the answers. I don’t even know what the questions are. You know, I need help.” And she turned me on to Dr. Wayne Dyer. Taoism, meditation, quantum physics, law of attraction, Abraham Hicks, and I just started diving in. And while I did that, I got rid of all of my clients. I ended that relationship. And I just tried to get right with myself.
But while I was doing that, I did start APT Digital and that was a sort of a [merge 00:14:07]. So coming out of SC actually, I got a job and I worked for Google on their search engine team for a year. And that kind of sparked my curiosity in web and web design and SEO. And so APT Digital was a, you know, web design search engine business that I could do on my terms. I had a couple of good clients at but I didn’t stack up. I wasn’t trying to build an agency. I was trying to make some money while I worked on myself. So it was really an engine to creating the space I needed to work on myself and to get going again.
Andrew W: You know what? I was trying to look up, Joe, your co-founder, I don’t see much about him online. His LinkedIn profile, for example, shows nothing but SkyBell. How do you guys know each other? What’s his background?
Andrew T: Yeah. So Joe and I met at a company. So I ended up consulting for a company that he had started and it was a hardware business and we got to know each other. And that’s when I was, again, like turning things around. And I hadn’t yet knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I first met Joe. This would be, you know, when I was about 27. And when I got to be 28, after two years of working on myself after that, you know, grandmother passing away moment, after I got rid of my shame and meditation, I just knew I needed to be an entrepreneur. And I made this declaration to my roommates.
And I said, “Guys, I can’t be going to the bars anymore. I’m not going to be, you know, messing around. I’m going to say no to a lot of things. I got to read some books. I got a good be ready to be an entrepreneur.” And sure enough, what, four months later from making that declaration, Joe came to me and said, “You know, Andrew, I want to I want to start another company. I have this idea of this video doorbell.” And he starts telling me about it and we had sort of hashing out ideas around this doorbell concept. And I knew that that was the idea and I was ready to go at that point emotionally.
Andrew W: What did he see in that?
Andrew T: You know, I think he just saw frustration and that’s what we had that first conversation. You know, he kept having to get up to answer the door at the office and it would interrupt his workflow or at home. You know, and then I started complaining that, you know, “I don’t like it when the doorbell rings, like I get a little anxious. I want to know who’s there and then someone else’s chime in in that when they’re gone. They just wish that they could know what was going on at the house.”
And then we realize package deliveries. You know, you don’t know when the Amazon delivery comes. And there’s just a lot of these user experiences. And we just said this, “We have our phones on us 24/7, why don’t we just stick a video camera and a doorbell and launch this thing?” So we looked, there was nobody doing it. We filed some patents pretty quickly and then we went to Indiegogo.
Andrew W: He’s a patent guy. I’m looking at justia.com. Their patent search. He’s got patents way before the business, way before you guys got into business together. Like wireless telephone service patent from file 2003. This is while you were still in school. Call receiving system apparatus and method having a dedicated switch. This is 2004. I could just keep going on and on with this thing.
Andrew T: Yes. Hundreds.
Andrew W: Of course, he’s got a patent for doorbell that you guys worked on together, but the patent is in his name. Why does he need you? Not in any offensive way, but what is . . . I could see what he was bringing in. What did he see in you that made him say, “I want to partner with this guy, Andrew”?
Andrew T: You know, Joe is . . . you’ve just mentioned evidence of his brilliance. He can see hardware extremely well on his mind and I’ve never met a better thinker in terms of hardware and bringing products to existence than Joe. You mentioned those patents, SkyBell itself, now has 90 issue patents. I think we have another 35 pending everything from the actual doorbell itself to what you can do with it. You know, like scanning a package, all sorts of different home access control, smart neighborhood. So a lot of really interesting technologies.
Andrew W: And you know what? Now I see that some of them actually have your name on them too like the doorbell package detection system and methods.
Andrew T: Yes.
Andrew W: That’s got your name on it on there.
Andrew T: Yeah. You’ll see pop up more and more with the software patents.
Andrew W: But still, what did he see you? Did he see you as the marketer? What did you see in you? What was it?
Andrew T: You know, I think he saw me as a potential leader and co-founder, first and foremost. I was really stepping into my power.
Andrew W: Why do you think? Because from back of your life, you didn’t see what was great about you. What was it about you that he saw? Why did he see that in you? This is not me coming as an insult. I see a lot of great things in you. I wonder why at that point he saw you as a person that he would partner with.
Andrew T: Yeah. Again, I was 28. I was two years removed from this big experience and, you know, coming out of my depression and when you do that, there’s a lot of power that comes with that, owning yourself, owning your truth, all parts of you. There’s a lot of power. I was ready to go and he knew it. And he already had . . . we’d worked together for a year and a half. He already knew I was trustworthy. He knew I followed through in what I said. He knew I was a good, to your point, a good marketer, like the skill sets I brought. You know, he’s older than I am. Like I’m bringing it a different perspective to things and like looking at Indiegogo and saying, “Yeah, I know how to do this and I know how to make this viral.” And . . .
Andrew W: Oh, he’s not the Indiegogo guy. He’s not the guy who would reach out to someone like me and say, “Hey, Andrew, would you want to try one of our door bells,” and hopefully get . . . that’s the thing.
Andrew T: Exactly. I was the marketer to his, you know, engineering mind. And when we did Indiegogo, that was it. We formed the company almost five years ago to the day, yeah, coming up here in a week. And he took the engineering and the hardware side, worked with the engineers and the prototypers to see you know, how feasible this was. And while he was doing that, I was working on the narrative, the branding, the message, the video. I wrote the script. I got some of my USC buddies to shoot the video, you know, that’s the side that I brought. And then, you know, also time. You know, I was hungry, ready to go. And I had more time and flexibility to like really just get going. And sometimes you need, you know, the 80 hours a week type of aggressiveness.
Andrew W: I get that.
Andrew T: So I just grabbed it and we ran.
Andrew W: Okay. And so why did you guys go to Indiegogo? The patent company, you’re smart enough to think that way, why go to Indiegogo instead of going to Amazon, or I don’t know what?
Andrew T: You know, it’s hard to just go straight to Amazon when you don’t have a product yet. But it just felt like everything was right for a crowdfunding campaign. It’s when it’s just started getting going. If you remember, 2013, there were just maybe a couple million dollar projects. Journalists were now starting to really pay attention to it, so it felt great.
We had tried to raise some money. We raised a little bit from an angel investor. But when we went outside of him, there was nothing. People didn’t want to fund a doorbell. And if they did want to get into smart home, they wanted you to own everything, you know, and they would say, “You have to own the hub that connects the lights and the locks.” And we’re like, “No people aren’t going to wake up one day and say, ‘I need to drop $2,000 at Best Buy on nine different smart home products and have them work now.”
They want one, you know, point solution that does one thing really great. And we know people are motivated by security. We know people like video cameras. You know, we don’t need to worry about the rest of that stuff, it’ll come. Let’s just tell this really great story about a product that can keep you safe. But the same product that can keep you safe also keeps you keeps you connected to the kindergartner when you know your kindergarten or son or daughter comes home from school or when the UPS guy drop something off. So it was just great idea.
And we went to Indiegogo because we wanted to raise the funds. It was about funding, right, and we raise $600,000 and non-dilutive capital and we got a lot more than just the funds. I didn’t realize how great crowdfund it is.
Andrew W: You got press galore.
Andrew T: Oh, I mean, in addition to that I think, yeah.
Andrew W: That was you contacting people? That was you contacting TechCrunch?
Andrew T: You know, we had a small PR agency do some outreach but we got in Gadget that tonight. I hit go on the Indiegogo campaign and went surfing and was, you know, almost sure this thing would . . . I was nervous about it working. My face is all over the thing. I come back from surfing, nobody had done any money. So it’s like, “Uh.” So we went to bed. I woke up the next day and Gadget covered us. I think it was early that morning and, you know, $5,000, $6,000 was already in and then it started rolling. We were covered by Forbes, you know, three days later. And then that’s when it just went nuts. So, no, they found us and then Fast Company found us I think the sixth or seventh day and they called us an Indiegogo sensation. And we’d already hit 100 grand. And then I think that was it.
Andrew W: And that’s part of going after Indiegogo at a time when that was just starting to heat up, when people were starting to think that there was something there. All right. Let me take a moment talk about my sponsor and then we’re going to get back into what happened. Actually, I want to ask you something about the campaign and then what happened afterwards. But the first sponsor is a company called StartEngine. I have been, as I said before, postponing them because I wanted to make sure this was like . . . that I understood it. That I had it right. Here’s what I have in my one sentence description of what they do.
StartEngine helps entrepreneurs raise capital on their own terms from over 150,000 investors. If I were to go a little bit more in depth on it, it says here in my notes, “Helps entrepreneurs raise capital via crowdfunding. You don’t need angels. You don’t need venture capitals. You don’t need those people telling you what your company’s worth. You don’t need to pitch them. They could help you raise money through capital stock, convertible debt, or even regulated ICOs, Initial Coin Offerings.” What do you know about them, StartEngine? You know the founder. What can you tell me as a person who wants to know more about StartEngine?
Andrew T: You know, especially as an entrepreneur, this is another great way to get access to capital which is such a huge headache, right? How do you get access to capital in that angel stage? And so going out to the crowd obviously was fantastic for us and it’s replicable. You can do this again. And so, you know, StartEngine, you know, I think at its teeth with equity crowdfunding, equity crowd raising, and then evolved into an ICO which as, you know, initial coin offering are very popular now. Crypto has really blown up. I believe ICOs raise more money than venture capital did last year. So you can go to the StartEngine. And now you have the option of doing both, you know, more of a traditional venture route round just from raising from a lot of individuals, or you can go the token I security route and raise a security token.
Andrew W: Why do you think raising money online makes more sense than going to VCs?
Andrew T: It can make a lot of sense. There’s trade-offs and everything of course. But you know, it’s hard raising money from investors. It’s not easy getting to angel investors or to VCs and like we did. When we did, they said, “No.” They said, “The doorbell hasn’t, you know, touched in 100 years for a reason. You know, it doesn’t need to be updated and/or, you know, own the whole smart hub.” So what do you do? Well, you just go to Indiegogo. You raise $600,000. You prove product market fit. You get a ton of [inaudible 00:25:01] thousand customers. You get 1000 emails like I did saying, “I like this idea. I don’t like this idea.” So now I’ve got product feedback and you have validation for your idea. And what do investors use against you when you start off? No validation for your idea, no funding, no customers, no branding, no product feedback.
Andrew W: No relationship of the value of relationships is unreal. I think the reason that . . .
Andrew T: It’s unreal. So you can get that at StartEngine.
Andrew W: Yeah. Okay. I think, by the way, the reason that Toptal raised money was something like one of the co-founders of . . . I could be off in this . . . one of the co-founders of Facebook was a neighbor of one of the founders of Toptal and then once he invested, then Andreessen Horowitz said, “Well, if this guy is investing . . . ” It’s one of those types of things where it’s relationships and they know the founder and as a result they back up. All right. In this case if you don’t have someone who is just like your neighbor and who is the founder of Facebook, here’s a great opportunity, StartEngine was founded by Howard Marks. He’s a guy you know?
Andrew T: Howard, yeah.
Andrew W: He is the co-founder of Activision This is a guy who’s incredible entrepreneur. If you’re out there raising money and you want more options, go to . . . here’s the special URL, mixergy.startengine.com. Check out the options available for you there. Mixergy listeners who use that URL are going to . . . let me see, we will waive the $5,000 premium service fee to receive the free legal and accounting services direct onboarding and marketing guide. Basically, they’re going to do it to get you going and where other people have to pay you are not going to have to. Go check it out mixergy.startengine.com.
I’m excited. This is like the new way of raising money and it feels a little bit different and weird right now just like crowdfunding used to be and like selling online before you make it seemed like a weird thing. I think I’m going to interview people in five years who do this, who’ve raised money this way, who saw this option fast. All right. It’s mixergy.startengine.com. One of the reasons I’m including you is because you know the founder. But the other reason is your LinkedIn profile says you’re an expert in cryptocurrency and an expert in crowdfunding?
Andrew T: Yeah.
Andrew W: I get your crowdfunding, what’s your cryptocurrency background?
Andrew T: You know, I’ve gotten involved in various capacities in that world. And it’s just becoming such an important movement. And so it takes different shapes from investing, token ownership, or . . .
Andrew W: You invested? This is where Justin the founder of Needls and I did a party, a scotch night. You came over. I didn’t get to talk to you that much about your crypto background. He did. He started telling me. I couldn’t keep up with what he was saying because at the end of scotch night. What is it? You invested in bitcoin? You invested in crypto? What did you do?
Andrew T: You know, I’m grateful enough to have been introduced to that opportunity, and yeah, you know, made some investments in the space.
Andrew W: So investing bitcoin early on.
Andrew T: Yeah. Bitcoin, you know, Ethereum, and some of these other, you know, notable cryptocurrencies. And it reminds me of Internet of Things, you know, five, six years ago when, you know, you had this game changing technology. And I think this, you know, crypto and blockchain has the ability to be, you know, significantly bigger than IoT. You know, you look at it, and you say, you know, if you’re at the start of a burgeoning movement, you know, how do you get involved in a way that helps you make an impact and you can sort of position yourself well?
So I’ve been doing that more and more and the parallels to crowdfunding are so . . . they’re direct, right? Like we raised money from the crowd for an idea that did not exist. What are all these ICOs? Raising money from strangers for a product that does not yet exist. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a token, it doesn’t matter if I’m sending you USD over Kickstarter or Indiegogo, it’s still the same idea. And so, you know, that’s something that, you know, I’ve been fortunate to have success there and continue to want to help good people be successful.
Andrew W: Okay, so you launched the campaign, you build some prototypes, you said, “We’ve done this before. We can do it again. We just need you to buy it. And then . . . ” Oh, and I think you also said, “Then we’ll spend a little more time on the software and then we’re ready to roll with this thing.” You got those sales, $600,000, really impressive. You got chips. And then 40 to 50% of them were?
Andrew T: Forty percent of those did not work. Yeah.
Andrew W: Which chips?
Andrew T: The Wi-Fi chips.
Andrew W: The Wi-Fi chips.
Andrew T: So there’s a chip in every device. There’s a Wi-Fi chip in our smartphones and there’s a Wi-Fi chip in our video doorbells. And so we did not know this and we shipped the product and to 100% of the people, and yeah, about 40% of them, 50% of them did not work. And that . . .
Andrew W: And just to be clear, the whole thing depends on you plug you wire it up to your doorbell and via Wi-Fi it sends video to your servers and then from your servers to me, and you guys even store the videos on your servers for a few days. So without Wi-Fi, it’s done. It’s meaningless.
Andrew T: Yes. A smart Wi-Fi doorbell does not work very well if it does not have Wi-Fi. Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew W: Why? Why did this happen? It feels like these Wi-Fi chips are pretty common.
Andrew T: You know, at the time, there were four big companies doing it. And fortunately, the one we picked, I just don’t think . . . I think that when you’re starting out, you don’t always know what you don’t know. And unfortunately, this company didn’t fill those gaps for us. So we shipped the product that we didn’t know the extent of the lack of . . . you know, the libraries weren’t built out and the chip just wasn’t going to be compatible with most of the routers.
Or it was things like we didn’t anticipate that people wouldn’t put in a Wi-Fi password. Or, you know, maybe it’s an open or . . . sorry, like the SSID is has a password but the password is nothing, like no characters. The absence of characters. Or maybe it’s a hash or period. Or maybe the Wi-Fi is too far from the front door. Maybe it’s not the right Wi-Fi standard. And so we set up and tested this stuff but we did not, you know, buy every router, I wish that we did.
Andrew W: And so it wasn’t that the chips were defective, it’s just that they weren’t compatible with people’s real life setups.
Andrew T: Some of them yeah. So like imagine all of . . . like Linksys router is not working with SkyBell. You know, that first SkyBell that we shipped. And you’re right. Like if you can’t get it to the internet, you can’t over the air update it. These were bricked. So we had to ship them all back. So we paid to ship them. We paid to ship them back. We also shipped them to our international customers right off the bat. That’s another big mistake that we made and it got it got bad. Like these are the moments that you hear people talk about, you know, startup pain and going to dark places, like this was it. We were just bailing water at that point. It was a race to figure out what the parameters and what the variables of the problem were and we were all hands on deck. I mean, I don’t know if we’ve explained the product itself very well. I have one right here. It’s a video doorbell, right?
So it attaches and replaces your old doorbell. When you press this button, it’ll trigger the motion sensor. We send video to your smartphone. That all goes through Wi-Fi, right? Like you said, up to our cloud back down to the phone. And so if you don’t have Wi-Fi, stable Wi-Fi, it’s not going to work. So that was a big lesson. We learned a lot of things. And operationally, you know, we definitely learned some lessons there. Luckily, we recovered and we started selling presale through Amazon. And that gave us the revenue that we needed to keep going and turn out a good second version that was a real solid and we put that through Amazon. And then that led to the Apple announcement. So this is a classic . . .
Andrew W: Let’s take this. I’m looking by the way at comments from around the time of the launch. People were commenting in there saying things like, “Installed on stucco.” I guess that’s their exterior of their house, “and my doorbell rings. However, when I press answer on my iPhone 5s, there’s an hour . . . ” So basically, you’re looking at people’s wall configurations, their phone configurations, what’s in between. It’s insane.
Andrew T: The density of the air. Do they live by the beach? How many walls are in between a router and the front door? People do a Wi-Fi test with their door open and then we would say, “Shut the door,” and then no Wi-Fi at the front door. And like that’s a range problem. You know, your iPhone won’t solve that problem. But there are circumstances where the power configuration wasn’t right and, you know, we had to make adjustments. Or the Wi-Fi just didn’t recognize the iPhone, right, or the Android phone, or the router. It’s just a pairing sequence. And now five years later, it’s very, very easy to do that, right? These Wi-Fi technologies have evolved. But five years ago on your first try raising 600 grand to make your first product, it was very difficult. So, yeah, we learned some lessons for sure. You know, don’t rush to release your product.
Andrew W: First of all, the crowd is in your favor when things are great but, man, it’s painful to watch the crowd turn against you like I see in some of the comments. That all is understandable. I also see some people saying, “I never got my device. Where’s my device?” Including someone who said this, just like, when was that, like five months ago. “I never received my device. It’s been years,” from Rebecca Lena Leonardo [SP]. It’s like all these issues.
Andrew T: Well, we better get sort that out. Yeah. I mean, that’s . . . you know, I don’t want to sound dismissive at all, but, you know, that was a long time ago and there was international. So if someone fell through the cracks that have, you know, 5000 units, I get it. But we’ll have to go back and scan that to make sure we’re making sure everybody got the product that they ordered for sure.
Andrew W: Where did you get the money to ship the product back internationally, fix it, ship it back to them internationally? Where did you get that money? You guys were not selling it for that much.
Andrew T: No, we weren’t, right? And the $127 was the lowest perk at Indiegogo. But the app, the Amazon presale was helpful in getting more revenue in but we also just stayed really lean. So to get people a sense of time, you know, mid-June, we started the company. August 20th or so or 13th I launched the Indiegogo campaign [inaudible 00:34:53] late January. So we shipped between, you know, forming the company and shipping our first hardware product with the crowdfunding campaign in the middle is less than six months. And so we did this fast and we did this lean. Yes, we should have taken a little more time, but, you know, we do things pretty fast and lean. So we were able to . . . I mean, the bank account went down to a number I would hope nobody’s bank account goes down to. And it was nerve-wrecking for sure. But we were able to recover . . .
Andrew W: How did you did you not lose your confidence at that point?
Andrew T: You know, I remember having a conversation with one of my co-founders and I said, you know, “Can you think of any circumstances where there’s work [inaudible 00:35:30]” answer was, “No.” And I was like, “All right. Well, let’s go home.” And then you get up the next day and you just . . . maybe it’s out of stubbornness. We’re all very strong personalities and we just said we’re not going to quit, like we’re just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other to solve these problems. And everybody galvanized around solving these problems. And I think sometimes you have moments like that. Things aren’t always going to work out and you get punched in the face and you have to pull yourself off the ground. It sounds cliché but that’s exactly what it was. And it was as much as just doing it, just putting one foot in front of the other and saying, “We’re going to dig our way out of this.” And that’s what we did.
Andrew W: What’s the Amazon deal that you guys had that helped bring in more money?
Andrew T: So at the time Amazon was not doing a ton of preselling. But the doorbell was just, I mean, $600,000 in 30 days. So, you know, they opened it up and the buyer at the time sort of saw the vision of the smart home and he made a confident or put his confidence in us and said, you know, “Fix it. We’ll put it up and then we’ll ship when you guys are ready.” So we did.
Andrew W: So they liked the presale? That was you getting that deal or them reaching out to you because of Indiegogo?
Andrew T: That was reaching out because of Indiegogo. I mean, Indiegogo put us on the map, right? It is as much a funding vehicles than it is a go-to-market strategy, as I learned, you know, after the fact. But yeah, a lot of things open up. Apple also found us from the crowdfunding campaign and, you know, put us in that first WWDC home kit announcement and that’s what really put us on the map. You know, it was our logo up there with these big companies. And everyone’s like, “Who the heck is SkyBell?” This little, you know, Indiegogo darling is up there with major companies. So, yeah, all from the Indiegogo campaign.
Andrew W: Okay, the Amazon deal from my notes here. Actually, I want to keep your confidential. I don’t want to reveal things that you’re not comfortable revealing, but I do see the sales numbers for that. Can you say what you guys did in pre-sales from Amazon?
Andrew T: I don’t know if we can or we can’t. I’m going to err on the side of no just because . . .
Andrew W: More or less than Indiegogo?
Andrew T: I would probably say a little bit less.
Andrew W: Oh, less than Indiegogo. Okay. All right. So you sold . . .
Andrew T: A little less, a little bit more. You know, it wasn’t like we 3Xed Indiegogo. Yeah.
Andrew W: You told our producer, “Getting featured by Amazon did not increase our sales. It’s not like people saw our logo and then went out to . . . ” Sorry, getting featured by Apple. “It’s not like people say the logo at WWDC and then they went out to Amazon and they bought.” What was the benefit of being feature there, then?
Andrew T: Yeah. That didn’t really happen. What it did was it signaled to the other big companies in this, in the IoT space, the burgeoning IoT space that, you know, this video doorbell existed, right? And it was good enough and capable enough for Apple to put it on this home kit announcement. I think what that did is really kind of answered a lot of validation issues for a company that just sort of had a very public, you know, ops disaster with the fulfillment and kind of proved that we were on the right track. So it was a vote of confidence, I think, for a lot of other big partners. And, you know, that’s when we saw this opportunity, given the marketplace, for reasons you mentioned, there were there to you primary doorbell companies in the space.
And we saw an opportunity to go to B2B, right, and become the partners doorbell, create this really great best of breed product, it’s backed by IP, you know, it’s just a full stack. So we, you know, created our stack ourselves so that we could send video into other people’s apps. And then we made, you know, strong pitches and went and that was sort of my role as a business development officer was to go to the Honeywells of the world, the Comcasts, alarm.com, and make these pitches as to why we should be the doorbell on their security systems. And that was a big step.
Andrew W: All right. So I want to understand how that happened because that’s the part that I don’t usually get into because B2B is less exciting to talk about. B2B businesses don’t know how to tell their stories well. I’ve got a great opportunity here in you to talk about it. Let me take a moment to talk about ActiveCampaign and then we’ll jump into the next thing that happened in your business.
But with ActiveCampaign, what they do is let you do smart email automation. I looked at your site. You guys use basic email software. I don’t know I should be saying their name. But I’m going to pitch you, forget the audience, I’m going to pitch you on considering ActiveCampaign and here’s why. What you do is you have a basic newsletter on your site and I think with consumers a newsletter is not very interesting. People are not scrolling to the bottom of the SkyBell seeing “Join our newsletter” and then entering their email address.
What might be more interesting is to say something like, “See how we recover lost packages,” or, “stolen packages. See how . . . ” right? And somebody would enter their email address to see that. Or maybe it’s “Five ways to protect your home,” and someone would enter the email to get that.
Now once they’ve gotten that, you might do a drip email campaign where you say, “First of all, here’s the thing we promised you, ‘Five ways to protect your home.'” The next day it’s, “By the way, we sell this doorbell cam that can actually tell you who’s at the door and protect you.” Some people might be nervous and then you tell them about that. The next day you might come back and you say, “You might be interested in knowing how easy it is to install it. Here’s a video of someone who’s 12 years old installing the doorbell and it works.” You know, like that little drip campaign.
And if someone clicks on the ease of use or clicks to find out more about how to install it, you just tag them so you can come back the next day and say, “Here are five different ways to install it. Don’t worry, we got you covered.” Or if at some point they click on the partners tab on your website and start watching the material you have about partnering up with you, you tag them as a partner and then you start treating them as a partner in your emails. “Here’s the partnership that we’ve had with Honeywell. Here’s the partnership we’ve had with Comcast,” etc. And you say, “Here’s our phone number so you can talk directly to the founder,” or something like that. Does that makes sense?
Andrew T: It makes total sense and that sounds great to be honest with you. Yeah. That personalization, the tailor-zation is extremely important. So, yeah, I see that. And you’re right, that is a step above what we’re doing with our email marketing right now.
Andrew W: I get you’ve got basic email marketing and you don’t want to get sucked into this email automation and that’s the power of ActiveCampaign. You and frankly anyone else who’s listening to the sound of my voice who says, “Hey, this is really interesting but I’m never going do it. I got too many other things going on. This is not the bulk of my business email.” I’ll tell you what, Active Campaign makes it super simple. In fact, if use the URL I’m about to give you, you can actually get them to help you set this up. All you have to do is go to activecampaign.com/mixergy. They’re going to let you try this for free so you or someone on your team who wants to explore this, should just sit down with a cocktail one night and play with it and you’re going to see even after five cocktails, you’re going to be clear headed enough to use ActiveCampaign. It’s super simple.
And if you decide to sign up, second month is going to be free if you use this special URL. Also they’re going to give you two free one-on-one sessions with their people to make sure that you use the platform right and do smart email automation at your business. And frankly, if you are with a different email service provider, the way that you guys are at SkyBell, they’ll even migrate you for free. All you have to do is go to activecampaign.com/mixergy. That’s activecampaign.com/mixergy.
All right. You starting doing to start to do really well and then a competitor you told our producer . . . I’m only saying you told our producer here because I think every time I talk about a guest competitor, I feel like this is now going to block them up. So I want to remind you, we did talk about this. But your biggest competitor came in. Can we talk about the name? Are you going to feel awkward if I bring them up?
Andrew T: No, I don’t think it’s, you know, hard for people to find that information out.
Andrew W: You know what? Then let’s not even say it because I think once we say it then it creates a chill in the conversation. But a competitor, I see them on TV all the freaking time here. For some reason they put a TV in the break room here. I don’t need that or in the in the lobby. I don’t need TV. But they put on CNN and you see them selling it. It’s on Amazon. Your competitors are all over the place now. What happened? How did that impact your business? What did they do?
Andrew T: You know, it’s the tale of two doorbell companies, right? And so you a have a great B2C marketing company do exactly what you just said and we had to do a gut check. It was similar to my own journey where it’s, “Who are you? What are your strengths?” Right?
Andrew W: Because their strengths are marketing. They had a ton of money. They raised a couple $100 million.
Andrew T: 210 million.
Andrew W: And they went and buy a bunch of ads.
Andrew T: Yeah. They bought ad space. They raised and they spent what they raised, right? Revenues were, you know, exceeding ad spend so they kept doing it. And that’s the story here is that the demand pool for smart doorbells has been incredible. The idea of seeing who’s at your door from your phone, you’re on the couch, you’re at work, you’re on the other side of the world. People understand this user experience. They understand the need that they have and it’s been a very galvanizing product.
And so they went the consumer route, sold into retail on their websites and pushed hard and we decided that for the next couple years we were going to focus on building the best product like we said and, you know, the one that Wirecutter you’d mentioned and, you know, best doorbell on Wirecutter. Best doorbell on CNET for years. And that would be the doorbell that all of the partners with trust. And we figured if we could gain their trust and build this integration where our video shows up in their app, we could, you know, leverage the incumbent positions of these big partners, leverage their marketing and distribution, and build a company that didn’t need as much funding to raise and not experience as much [inaudible 00:45:18]
Andrew W: Okay. This is interesting because I would think, all right, you need better email marketing, and I still do, and better SEO and better all that stuff. And you said, “Hey, what if we go in a different direction? What if instead of out-marketing our marketing competitors and buying more ads that them, what if instead we go to a different channel and it’s going to businesses that have your customers, partnering with them, selling them your door bells and then they install it on their clients’ doors?”
Andrew T: Yeah. Exactly. So, you know, take Honeywell Total Connect, it powers a home security system that dealers resell throughout the country, right, alarm.com. And so they buy SkyBells and, you know, we have integrated it into their system. So they go on this on alarm.com system and, you know, that user has alarm.com app but they’re seeing the video feed from their SkyBell. They get alerts from their SkyBell. And so it’s the perfect combination to that traditional home security system that’s still calls the police, you know, it’s still has sensors on the walls, but they didn’t have the doorbell. Nobody was thinking about this door bell, right? That’s why we went quick, invented the product, patented the product, and then, you know, sought these big distribution deals so we could . . .
Andrew W: But how did you know to go to that? Your background isn’t in partnerships like that. You don’t have a friend in Honeywell. You didn’t work for . . .
Andrew T: No.
Andrew W: Right? That’s where it seems like . . . yeah, where did you get that experience? How did you decide to do that?
Andrew T: I didn’t have that experience. My credentials for all of this success have been reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie 15 times. And I’m not being . . .
Andrew W: Literally 15 times.
Andrew T: I have read that book 15 times on audiobook. My brother told me about it when I was turning my life around and he said, “You need to read this book,” because I was not like that. And so he told me that Warren Buffett read it 15 times. I don’t know if that’s true or not or he just wanted me to read it.
Andrew W: Do you want to know something? So I taught Dale Carnegie. After I read the book, I just was so moved by it. I knocked on the door of Dale Carnegie in in Manhattan and I said, “I’ll work for you guys for free. Give me any kind of job because my life has changed in the last couple of months because I read this book.”
Andrew T:Yes, I [inaudible 00:47:18]
Andrew W: They said, “I know a guy I’d worked for them.” They did at one point talk about their alumni and they said Warren Buffett was an alumni and a bunch of other people. And I said, “Because I’m this kind of person. I like you and I still want to look you up on Wirecutter to see what Wirecutter thought of your product.” So I looked it up. Warren Buffett did take the class. He took “How to Win Friends and Influence People” because when he was a stockbroker . . . or he took on private clients . . . he used to go and teach and he needed help learning how to express himself and teach and he took the class.
And, yeah, absolutely, Warren Buffett took it. And in fact, there are videos online where he says that his certificate from Dale Carnegie and Associates is on his wall. But I think even his school diploma is not on the wall. Yeah, yeah. So I’m with you. So you’re saying that’s how you learned. But that doesn’t tell you who the right person to talk to at Honeywell is. That doesn’t tell you how to deal with their sales process.
Andrew T: It does and it doesn’t. So that book was game changing for me for a lot of interpersonal reasons, but it also taught me, you know, the skills of listening and asking questions. So what I did is I found out who the people were that were making these decisions. I would find them on LinkedIn. I would find a way to get in front of them. And then I would talk to them about it.
Andrew W: Get out. Really? This was you going on LinkedIn to find the buyers there?
Andrew T: You do whatever you got to do, right? So this is this is LinkedIn, this is sometimes they would call us, this is sometimes I got to go find out who they are, this is going early to their speaking engagements and catching them before they go on stage instead of after they go on stage. It is whatever you need to do. And so that’s kind of that figure it out mentality that that I run by. So I don’t need to know these things. I just need to go and do them and I’ll learn along the way.
And part of that is just going and doing it. And then part of it from the book was once I was in front of them. I wasn’t trying to sell them doorbells. I wasn’t trying to sell them on why were better. I was trying to learn about what their ambitions were, like what’s important to you both as an employee, a person, and as a company, who also makes decisions.
How do they get incentivized? Like I was going and asking questions and listening and not interrupting and smiling and being likable and being trustworthy, which is all tenets of that book, right? Everybody has a feeling of importance. Sorry about that. Everybody has a feeling of importance, right? So I would go in and find out, like, who’s sitting across to me? Who are they? You know, I know that one of the guys like Honeywell like loves to play basketball and just had an operation on his knee, right? So I reached out to him and say, “How’s your knee? Like are you back on the court?” You know, and so it’s that sort of level of trust that I think it doesn’t necessarily close a big enterprise B2B deal, but it sure does make a difference. And, you know, you said, you know, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” was it taught you.
One of the things that got me was or taught me that, you know, your early job in those early discussions is to build trust and safety in space and let them know that you’re a good person, and you can do that by a lot of the tenants in that book. And then, yeah, there’s tactics and stuff you learn along the way, but at the end of the day, it’s people trying to feel significant. It’s people trying to accomplish their goals. And once you kind of get on the same page and establish mutual purpose, the rest of the stuff falls into place, right? You know, so that was my tactic for those deals.
Andrew W: You know what? As you’re saying this, I went to alarm.com to see are you on alarm.com on their website and sure enough you are. And the app though does not look like the app that I saw on the App Store. I guess that’s what you were saying, you’re integrated in their app. If someone has a guest ring their doorbell, it shows up in their app, in the alarm.com app.
Andrew T: Correct. So that user never downloads the SkyBell app. They’re doing it all in the alarm.com app. So their sensors, their indoor cameras, the other alarm.com products that they have are all integrated together in that app and then ours is as well. So it shows up like one of their cameras. It stills says “SkyBell” on the button, on the actual piece of hardware and it comes in a package that is co-branded. But at the end of the day, we’re seamlessly in their app and that’s what we want. We want to empower more people to feel safe. We don’t want to just isolate and say you have to buy our doorbell. We want us to breed the best companies in the space and, you know, make everybody safer.
Andrew W: Who’s the first company you got? Who’s the first client?
Andrew T: The first one was Honeywell. The first of the big companies was Honeywell.
Andrew W: I didn’t know Honeywell did that they. They don’t have a service where they’ll set people up with alarms. Do they? What’s their deal?
Andrew T: So Honeywell white labels smart security solutions for a large, large percentage of the market share.
Andrew W: Oh, so if a security company would need the security devices, they go to Honeywell and Honeywell sells it to them and allows them to put their label on it?
Andrew T: Correct.
Andrew W: So why wouldn’t Honeywell just do this without you? Why do they need you?
Andrew T: That’s a great question. We kind of just went in and moved fast and disrupted the market. And it was you’re either going to get disrupted or you’re going to, you know, partner with a doorbell company and so . . .
Andrew W: Because they couldn’t create this fast enough to compete with the B2C companies.
Andrew T: You know, for whatever reason, nobody was thinking of the doorbell. And so like one of the first things, I won’t mention which company, but one of the first things my first contacts at one of these bigger security companies, he said, “The whole team has been thinking about how to get better front door security, not a single one of us thought about the doorbell and we’ve been working on this for years.”
Andrew W: Why did they think about that?
Andrew T: I mean it’s just one of those stories where, you know, a couple people get together and they say, “We can do this. Why not?” And then they go do it. And you [inaudible 00:52:51]
Andrew W: So what were they thinking about if not the doorbell? They were thinking I guess about those magnet alarms that tell you if the door is open. They were thinking about locks. Is that what it is?
Andrew T: You know, locks and those sensors are great but people love scene, right? Cameras are one of the most popular products in security and in the smart home and so you needed to get optics on the front door. And so it was the cameras that are, kind of perched up top and people don’t want these giant cameras on their front door and their doorsteps and people have aesthetic priorities that wouldn’t . . .
Andrew W: So a camera would look a little bit awkward in their home, a little bit big brother-ish, but a doorbell that happens to have a camera in it doesn’t. Is that what it is?
Andrew T: Yeah. I mean, you can kind of see our designs right there. They’re just built a little more sleek. It’s not a giant camera. If you walk by somebody’s house, you know, and they have a doorbell that one of our doorbells, you can . . .
Andrew W: . . . [crosstalk 00:53:43] the one that looked like a candy bar?
Andrew T: Yeah. This the trim model.
Andrew W: I never seen that before.
Andrew T: We made this to fit on door frames because some doorbells on the East Coast, a lot of them are on the doorframe itself. So we needed a thin version, basically the same exact product, but this fits on the thin door trim. The circle one fits on the wall. If there’s more space. So no matter . . . go ahead.
Andrew W: I’m sorry. Go ahead. I want to hear you and not me.
Andrew T: Well, it was just a way of making sure we reach more homes and, you know, the addressable market is huge, right? There’s just millions of freestanding single family homes are duplexes where each unit has its own doorbell and so you need to work on as many of them as possible.
Andrew W: What do you think about this Register article about you guys from earlier this year? The one that says SkyBell is with a begging cup or actually a patent rip off lawsuit. That says that because you’re suing competitors for infringing patents, you guys are basically patent trolls.
Andrew T: Yeah. I don’t know where or why they’re saying that. Obviously, we disagree. Like we’re in market, a patent troll usually does not have a product that is, you know, out in the market and they’re not competing. They sit back and they incorporate in east Texas and they file patent lawsuits. So I don’t know what grounds they’re using to justify that statement. Obviously, we don’t agree but we also don’t pay much attention to the Register.
Andrew W: Because there is a thing in the press that if anyone uses a patent and a lawsuit, they are being anti-competitive, and what they should do is compete in the market. It does bother you a little bit I can tell. I could tell you well enough that it bothers you but you’re not you’re not getting baited. Does that feel right?
Andrew T: I mean, it’s neither here nor there. Like I try to focus on the things I can control, right? And so if they go and they say something, vocalize their opinion, that doesn’t really have a big impact on me. And so I just try to stay focused on that. So it’s not necessarily conversation I think that has any conclusion on what I’m going to do. Like our goal is to make safe neighborhoods. Our goal is to get as many of these on front doors as we can.
And you reach a point where like, we get enough stories that we’ve prevented a robbery, right, and the parent will tell you like they are immeasurably grateful to you because, you know, they stopped the robbery in real time, and the sanctity of their home is still intact, right? And it’s as important as that and it’s as innocent as, you know, the five minutes that they get to chat with their kid when they come home from school. And normally they’re at work, they don’t get to see their son or daughter yet. So that’s the mission that I’m focused on. And I think the journey that I’ve been on teaches you to focus on what you can control, like know your truth, and the rest of it, a lot of it is noise. So I try not to listen to the noise as much as my truth and why I’m doing things.
Andrew W: You get great ratings on Amazon, you get great ratings on Wirecutter. But when I go to the App Store, there’s like a two and a half stars.
Andrew T: Yeah. You know, I’m trying to think of actual things because the app is somewhat simple. You know, it’s like, “Show me who’s at my front door when the doorbell rings.” So I don’t know if people are expecting more. You know, we’re not perfect, I’ll admit that, like we always have work to do. So it would be great to spend more time in there. I don’t spend as much time on the development side. I used to. The first three years of the company, I was doing sales and then the next phone call would be the development and software meetings. But at this point, I’m really focused on the business development, the revenue side of the piece, and then or the team handles the ops in development. So I’ll need to check . . .
Andrew W: You spend the majority of your time doing what?
Andrew T: Doing the sales, right? Building relationships, building partnerships, closing the bigger B2B deals, doing some PR marketing when it comes along. And a lot of fundraising is the other majority piece of my time.
Andrew W: What kind of fundraising are you doing?
Andrew T: You know, it always feels like you’re constantly fundraising, right, because we have a capital intensive business. So we know we’re going to meeting high net worth individuals. We’ll sit in front of some funds. You know, you want to keep, stay active, keep your relationships open. And we don’t do like big, huge rounds, where you raise, you know, $60 million in a single round. We kind of, you know, kind of keep the rounds open a little bit more. So we’re always kind of going back when we need it. But let’s say we get a big order, we need to factor something. Instead of taking a loan to factor that PO, we might go and just take a small chunk of funding for equity and, and use that to capitalize the company or do a loan or something like that.
Andrew W: Why?
Andrew T: Because you got to go, you know, order long lead time components. So, you know, the big difference between software and hardware is we have physical materials, right? And the supply chain is much, much deeper and larger and wider. So we have to order long lead time components, and you’re making those commitments. And so the suppliers don’t just take IOUs, right? They need some amount of that money up front. And then if you’re going to make a new, an update to product, like let’s say, we have an update on the hardware, we have to make a new line, you’ve got new plastics, new molds, you know, new modules, it’s expensive. So it is a definitely capital intensive business and you got to raise all the time. So I will spend money on lot of time doing that.
Andrew W: All right. Well, I do now see it. I got a PDF here from alarm.com. I can actually . . . or from someone who copied it from alarm.com showing the how to install the Wi-Fi doorbell. And sure enough, there’s SkyBell right there. SkyBell doorbell camera and slim line. This is incredible. I don’t know how you . . . I got a sense of how you’re able to pull it off. But, man, it feels so painful to go through physical products. So painful to get the chip right. That even when you get a great sale, it means not the end of the line. You now have to go out and not just manufacture it but get the money to pay for the components. And oh, wow, wee. All right.
Andrew T: Meditation, right? All the other mindful [inaudible 00:59:43]
Andrew W: Do you still meditate or regular basis?
Andrew T: Yeah. I meditate. I meditate. I work out. You know, I focus on what I’m eating. And the mindfulness piece, it’s like exercising your body. You need to do it all the time. So there’s some amount of self-care or mindfulness work that I’m doing and . . .
Andrew W: What’s the new thing? What’s your meditation practice and what’s a new approach that you have to life?
Andrew T: Wow, that’s a big two-part question on the meditation side . . .
Andrew W: Let’s start with meditation practice. We’ll go with basic.
Andrew T: I used to be a meditator that tried to get to a state of silence. And what I’ve evolved into is really just a matter of more awareness. So I try not to structure my meditations. I try to allow them to, to be whatever they need to be. And if thoughts come up, I listened to him. I said, you know, “What is the thought?” You know, it’s not . . . or the thought maybe, “I’m not good enough.” So it’s like, “Okay. Well, why am I thinking that? Let me sit with that. How do I feel?”
So I’ve kind of shifted to more of a feeling body experience with my meditations, then sort of the heady, like, “I’m going to try to block everything out.” And I believe in a lot of different forms of meditation. But I believe that every form or it’s up to each person to find the form that fits them best. So for me, it’s just, sometimes it will be visualization. If I want to create something or have something show up, I might spend some active time meditating around that. But other times, it’s just how do I feel, like just taking note of how I exist. And that involves being cognizant of the thoughts that come across, you know, my space when I’m meditating, instead of trying to block it all out.
Andrew W: Okay. And then you’re also saying at the beginning of the conversation that you now don’t need to prove your value by having an exit, which I know you guys came close to but for some reason didn’t work out, right? You don’t need to have me love you to feel validated. You don’t need to have money. How did you come to that conclusion?
Andrew T: You know, that was the years of self-work, right? So now, I’m 33. It’s been, you know, five years since I turned all that stuff around. And when that acquisition fell through, I went through a little like three or four day maybe a week long depression and it was tough, and like, you feel that loss. And then you say, “Well, what are you mourning right now?” And I was mourning this idea that I had to exit in order to be good enough to keep, you know, playing in this world.
And that was a process I needed to go through. And that opened up sort of more feelings. And over the last year or two, I’ve been working on that. And now I’ve gotten, you know, some major breakthroughs to the point where I’m accepting, a) that there’s a new definition of success out there and I’m already by that definition, successful, right? And in paying attention to things like, you know, what I’ve learned, you can’t control what happens to your company.
So the biggest thing for me along the way, it’s been the relationships I’ve made. You know, meaningful relationships with people that I’m lucky enough to call my friends and other people that are maybe on that next tertiary level that I can call on for help or that call me for help. You know, those are all big pieces of value that are there that just aren’t an exit, right, or some amount of money.
But in terms, you know, my overall outlook, there’s a lot of awareness. There’s a lot of mindfulness and patience. But the last couple years, it’s all been about self-love, like loving yourself and filling up your own bucket, getting to your own truth and feeling worthy to own it. And once you do it, I have found that it creates a space and a freedom unlike I’ve ever experienced.
And you can go say, “I want to go do that. I want to go get into crypto or blockchain. I want to go start a doorbell company.” And one thing that’s been important to me is sharing this story and talking to more people about mindfulness and entrepreneurship. And that led me to a community called Evryman that’s working on the toxic and healthy masculinity, doing exactly what we’re doing right now, right, sharing how things feel or sharing what comes up. And as men, we don’t do that very well. So we’re creating those resources. So that sort of mindset has opened up the ability for me to create impact in more ways than, you know, through SkyBell. So on a daily basis, I would say more feeling based, right? How do I feel? What is showing up for me? Where . . .
Andrew W: So strange that that’s supposed to help us, that it seems so counter to what we thought was the answer.
Andrew T: Yeah.
Andrew W: I wrote a Google Doc with my process and in it you can actually see people gone through the process, who list out what their counter mind thoughts were and you could read it. It’s all completely open. You don’t need to enter an email address. And I’m saying to you, but frankly, I’m also saying it to the listeners. They could just go to our truemind.com/thedoc. It’ll reroute you to a Google Doc, where you can see my process. And then in it, you’ll be linked over to people who, what? Oh, you’ll get to see people’s counter mind thoughts, you’ll get to see what they were going through, you’ll get to understand what’s going on here and how to deal with it in our meditation practice.
Andrew T: I love that because that creates space for more people to go there, right? And the more open we are, it allows people to feel trusted and safe to go there too. And we all have this stuff. The great lie is that, you know, we’re fine. And the great truth is that we can thrive. We don’t have to be fine, we can thrive. And the way to get there is to own some of these things and to explore your mask. Right? What do you put out in the world? What are your . . . [crosstalk 01:04:53]
Andrew W: I feel like we don’t notice it. I didn’t realize I had a counter mind because I was someone who read about entrepreneurship forever, in business forever and I was doing well. And we’re talking about even like high school and college. And I thought, “That’s weak. Other people have this stuff.” I didn’t realize I had it in me. I didn’t realize that I had these counter mind thoughts. I didn’t realize I had these issues.
One of the things that helps us to see other people’s counter mind thoughts. And you got to, “Wait, I have that too. Wait, I didn’t realize that.” I’m going through this right now to find examples. But you know what? I’ll just link it. It’s truemind.com/thedoc. You’ll just be rerouted to a Google Doc where you guys can the process and then you’ll be linked out to another Google Doc where people wrote out their counter my thoughts in there and how they dealt with it. I thought they were super open about it. Okay.
Andrew T: I love that. What I have found in that process with the counter mind is the application of a simple question of saying, “Is that even true?”
Andrew W: Right.
Andrew T: And you like, “I can’t do it.” It’s like, “Is that even true?” And I learned that from Bryon Katie along my journey. And she taught me that during what she calls it “The practice.” But it’s really just the idea of saying, “Is that even true? Can I prove it?” And most of the stuff you can’t prove. You are just deciding that that is the case and it’s not even true. And you can just decide the alternative, you just got to work on the blockages that keep you from believing that the antidote to your counter thought is actually true, right?
And that it’s truth. And that is the key. That was a key for my journey is getting all the stuff off that just keeps me from owning the truth. Everybody wants to work on like, man, you know, mantras and meditations and these things. You got to work on a shame, like is the layer that keeps you from accessing your truth, which is the true mind. So those are some of my last thoughts on that.
Andrew W: I feel especially excited that you’re into this and that you have this ability to express it. My expectation is that at some point, you are going to spend time talking about this. At some point, you’re going to spend time guiding people through this and helping them be aware of it. I actually don’t think that as much as it helps that Byron Katie is talking about this, I don’t think people who are in my audience, I don’t think that they that they identify enough with her. I don’t think they feel that she has the credibility in their minds. There’s something about being a successful entrepreneur that makes people feel like, “All right. You’ve got it. I can listen to you.” And anyway, so I think that that’s where your power is coming from.
Andrew T: I appreciate that. Thank you.
Andrew W: Yeah. And you’ve got the ability to do it. And frankly, one of the things that I was looking at as we were talking is just getting a sense of who you are. Are you comfortable in your skin? Do you feel like the need to impress people at the scotch night? Do you feel the need to show off or hide with . . . there was none of that. It was just like this calm person which now I understand where it comes from. All right. Anyone who wants to go check you out, should frankly, just go checkout, it’s skybell.com, right? I don’t know how you got that domain, skybell.com. It’s a good name. And I want to thank my two sponsors including the one that I’m not too embarrassed to admit.
I wanted to get to really know before I could talk about them. I feel good about them now. Actually felt good about them when we accepted them as a sponsor. But I said, “I’ve got to like do a good job for this advertiser. I’ve got to get to know them better.” And I did. It’s startengine.com and you can check them out at mixergy.startengine.com. I would love to interview the founder. I don’t know why we couldn’t do it, but mixergy.startengine.com if you’re raising money. And if you’re looking to do smart email automation, check out activecampaign.com/mixergy. All right. Thanks so much for doing this interview, Andrew.
Andrew T: Yeah. My pleasure, Andrew. Thank you.
Andrew W: Thanks. Bye.