Software that improves user experience (and grows your email list)

When I first started Mixergy, digital marketers were using pop-ups on their sites. It might have created a bad user experience but it did lead to more email subscribers.

Well. today’s guest says you can still get those results without using 2004 tactics. You can be proud of the way you collect email addresses and have it actually improve the user experience.

Mogens Moller is the co-founder at Sleeknote, a tool to guide visitors on online stores to become leads and customers with personalized and targeted onsite messages.

I invited him here to talk about how he came up with the idea and what he did when a competitor popped up in the space.

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Mogens Moller

Mogens Moller

Sleeknote

Mogens Moller is the co-founder at Sleeknote, a tool to guide visitors on online stores to become leads and customers with personalized and targeted onsite messages.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And I remember when I started Mixergy, the digital marketers were putting popups up on their site. And I remember one specifically, I won’t call him out because he gets pretty aggressive with people who even criticize him a little bit. But he said, “The numbers are big. People are actually putting in their email addresses. Why wouldn’t I do that? I get a lot of complaints. But those people don’t understand business. Business tells me I get a lot of email addresses if I put up a popup. And so I’m doing it.”

And truthfully, there were publishers who didn’t agree with that for years. And then I saw it spread because it does work, even though it creates a bad user experience. In many cases, it does work. Even Bill Gates, I was on his site, he had a popup asking for an email address. Well, joining me is an entrepreneur who says, “You know, you could still get results, but you don’t have to be that in your face. You don’t have to be that 2004 technology obsessed to get people to give you their email address. There are ways to make it look really nice. A way that you can be proud to collect email addresses on your site. A way that’s so good that you could actually use it to guide people through your site, not just collect email addresses.”

His name is, and I’m going to ask you to pronounce . . . to help me with the pronunciation. It’s Mogens Moller. Did I say it right? Exactly.

Mogens: Yes, sir. Exactly.

Andrew: And I say that because it’s spelled Morgens in English. Where’s it from? It’s Danish? Denmark. He runs a site called, and a tool called Sleeknote. It’s just really well designed. A collection of tools that are well designed that yes, you could use to collect email addresses, but as he kept telling me before we got started, people use it for more than just collecting email addresses. Once you’ve got someone’s email address, you might want to just use it to tell them, “We’ve got a black Friday discount, or you might want to upgrade from level 2, where you’re paying 10 bucks a month, to maybe level 3 and pay 12 bucks a month, but get a lot more features.” And all those types of things are . . . can be communicated using Sleeknote.

I invited him here to talk about how he came up with this idea. What happened when a competitor came up? He did something that I don’t think I heard anyone else on Mixergy say that they did in quite the same way. And how he’s getting users to do this. To install it. And we can do it thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you’re hosting the website, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. The second if you’re hiring developers, maybe you are inspired by what you’re hearing here and you decide that you want to create your own software, your own SaaS, Toptal will help you do it because you can hire phenomenal developers from toptal.com/mixergy.

First, good to have you here. And you know, as an American, the first question I going to ask you is, what’s your revenue?

Mogens: Our revenue? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure. So, right now, we just crossed $2 million in annually recurring revenue. So yeah, $2.1 million right now.

Andrew: In annual or is it monthly or overall recurring revenue? It’s $2 million.

Mogens: $2 million in annually recurring revenue.

Andrew: And then don’t you charge monthly?

Mogens: We charge both monthly and annually, but it’s when we check our monthly subscriptions and make it, you know, throughout a year. That is our . . . That’s the revenue that we do. But we actually have most of our customers paying us annually today.

Andrew: Okay. And that’s bigger than . . . So you and I have had a hard time scheduling this interview. I think we got on a call before. There was an issue, and then there’s also a time zone issue. And the interesting thing is that in the month since we started this, between then and now, you’re almost doubling your revenue? What did you have before? When we first started it was $1 million in revenue. Now it’s $2 million in revenue.

Mogens: Yeah, we’ve had a good year. It’s good business. I don’t remember as we . . . as far as we doubled it. I might have said a wrong number before then. But yeah, we have . . . We’ve been growing at 50%, 60% the last year, so it . . . we’re pretty . . . pretty happy about that. We’re are . . .

Andrew: Are you profitable?

Mogens: We are very, very close to being profitable. That’s a goal for the second quarter of 2020. But it’s not like we’re bringing a lot of cash. We are self-funded, bootstrapped with only a little bit of angel investment 4 years ago.

Andrew: Why aren’t you profitable? Where’s the money going? If it’s $2 million, it’s not like you have affiliate commissions, right?

Mogens: No, we just like to hire great marketing people and developers to keep developing the product. But I guess for most businesses, you would say we are profitable. We are so close to it, and we’ve kind of been balancing on like very, very close to the profitable border. We just haven’t crossed it yet.

Andrew: And you’re still taking a salary for yourself?

Mogens: But positive EBITDA and all that stuff. We just not cash flow positive yet, but expect to be there within the next 3 months.

Andrew: And you’re getting a salary at this point, right? Of course.

Mogens: Oh, yeah, sure. We’ve had that for 4 years . . . for 5 years. Yeah.

Andrew: Give me an example of how it’s used? How is . . . what’s one use of Sleeknote that someone who’s listening will say, “Oh, man, I should really go check this software out”? And then we’ll get into how you built it up?

Mogens: Yeah, good question. Well, I will say, of course, email addresses is an obvious way to use our platform. But I think a lot of people already know that that makes sense when you do popups. But you’ll say . . .

Andrew: Are you guys better at conversions tan the more intrusive popups?

Mogens: I would say what a lot of our customers begin to use Sleeknote for today, and have used it in the last few years, is actually we are very much focused on e-commerce. And e-commerce. And e-commerce, it’s mainly about making your visitors able to make a buying decision. So, on a lot of online stores, I’ve been doing a lot of usability testing. That’s kind of, like, a secret hobby of mine to see how people are reacting on different websites. I do a lot of usability testing and ad tracking. And I can see that the main reason people are not converting on online stores today, it’s because they’re not able to make a buying decision. So, and this is where Sleeknote, actually, today is helping a lot of our customers to be able to, at that moment where they need a guide.

It could be if you’re on some kind of online store, you’re about to buy a washing machine. Let’s just take an example. And you have a list of 50 different washing machines. You don’t know which one to choose because you don’t . . . you only buy a washing machine every 10 years or so. Then when you scroll down that website, you need . . . for example, Sleeknote should show a little box and telling you that, you know, are . . . your data response to choose to help us, and click on this guide. And then you will read, well, the differences is about these washing machines. Or it could be if you’re buying a new pillow for your bed or stuff like that.

So in general, what we’re trying to do is the goal is to make a tool primarily for e-commerce where you are better at helping your visitors to make a buying decision. But, of course, also . . .

Andrew: But . . . so you guys have a Shopify integration, but you’re not in the Shopify App Store. Why not?

Mogens: Yeah, that’s a really good question. It’s something that we have our OPR for the first quarter of 2020. So it’s something that we’re doing right now. And it’s something that we should have done before. We’ve just kind of . . . Yeah, there’s so much . . . so many things to do, and so many other important things to do as well. But Shopify, definitely a lot of our customers today are using Shopify and it could be a growth . . . a really growth source for us there. So that’s what we . . .

Andrew: I can imagine Yeah, from what I’m hearing Shopify apps are just phenomenal. You started out in school, building websites, or was it optimizing when you were a kid?

Mogens: Yeah. Well, building websites, to begin with, when I was in school and then, later on, work within the conversion optimization kind of industry where I helped different online stores in optimizing their websites. I’ve been, you know . . .

Andrew: We’re talking about in the early 2000s you were doing SEO?

Mogens: Yeah, yeah, that’s actually in early 2000s I begin to build.

Andrew: Wow, this is the early 2000s is when SEO was not super sophisticated. But it was marginally black hat. Grey hat was a big phrase that people used because what the SEO people were doing back then was they were . . . not keyword stuffing anymore, but they were just getting a bunch of links to the site. Is that the type of stuff that you were doing back then?

Mogens: No, I was not doing SEO, I was doing conversion optimization. So on-site optimization. I’ve not been, like, an expert in optimizing for Google. I’ve been kind of optimizing the site or the customer’s site. Not for SEO, but for conversions. So it was more . . .

Andrew: So once somebody was on the site . . .

Mogens: . . . user friendly . . .

Andrew: . . . got it.

Mogens: Yes. So user-friendly. Make it more obvious how to buy a product. How to guide the visitor around on the site. How to optimize the checkout flow. All that stuff. So not in SEO, but I think you call it CRO conversion rate optimization basically. Like, yeah.

Andrew: Yeah. Got it. Meanwhile, your friends were working at bars. They were working at gas stations. Were you making more than they were?

Mogens: Yeah, I think I was. Yeah. Not a lot more. I spend all of it. So yeah.

Andrew: Spent it on what?

Mogens: What you do when you’re a young kid. I don’t know, going out drinking and yeah. Going to cinemas also.

Andrew: And did you do that because you wanted to, like, feel important or because you just couldn’t help yourself?

Mogens: It was just an interest for me. So it was just . . . I just loved, like, looking at websites, designing websites. And it’s a bit weird because today I’m not designing any kind of websites in Sleeknote. I’m . . . and if, you know, if you tell our designers that I design stuff. Once in a while, I do that. They just laugh at me and say, “You know, that’s not how we do it today. You don’t use Photoshop anymore. Now you use Figma or whatever it is. But yeah, I can actually . . . I do actually have some pretty good Photoshop skills from back in the days.

Andrew: Were you calling up customers yourself back then?

Mogens: Yeah.

Andrew: You were. How did you get customers as a kid?

Mogens: That’s a good question. But actually I did some old traditional cold calling. So, besides looking at websites, optimizing websites, usability, I also, like, one of the core competencies of mine is that I like to talk to customers and . . .

Andrew: You would just pick up the phone and . . . how . . . you would do, like, a Whois search on somebody’s website, pick up the phone call them up and say . . . ?

Mogens: Yeah. I’ll say back then it was pretty easy because all websites sucked. So the sales pitch was not that hard, so I can improve, like, how your website is working. I’ve done that for these other companies, you know, and then I should do it for you. And it’s pretty easy to do a quick design for them to visualize it, and then make a deal from there.

Andrew: I remember as a kid learning how to cold call or just doing it and getting results. Getting adults to take me seriously. And it felt like such a superpower. I felt like I could do anything in this world because phones are everywhere. If I could just pick up the phone, I could convince somebody to say yes to anything. And it felt great. Did you have that feeling?

Mogens: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And then I had a mentor back then who just . . . told me like a very simple thing that everybody knows today that sales is a numbers game. So it’s just a matter of, you know, don’t let it get you down if you get 10 no’s in a row. Just, like, call the number 11 and 12 and then maybe you’ll get a, yes. And I kind of took that to my heart and just said, “You know, okay, fair enough. They . . . those calls, they just didn’t have the need for a new website.” And just call a new one. So that thing has definitely helped us also build Sleeknote that, of course, in the beginning, I sold like almost everything together with some of my founders. Because back then we didn’t have any money, and we didn’t have anything to spend on marketing and do all the inbound marketing that we do today and Google ads and whatever you have.

But back then we just, like, called some customers and got them to test it out.

Andrew: And so you had some customers, and you noticed that they wanted you to help them collect email addresses. Am I right?

Mogens: Are we talking about the . . . like, the kid’s business . . .

Andrew: The origin is Sleeknote?

Mogens: . . . or the Sleeknote.

Andrew: Yeah. Sleeknote business was, as I understand, it was you started getting customers, customers were saying to you, “We need to collect email addresses,” and my sense is, having gotten to know you a little bit, you said, “No, I don’t like that approach.” Am I right? Or am I wrong? Be open with me?

Mogens: Not completely right? Well, the very short story is that I worked as the consultant for . . . in conversion optimization and had a customer there who wanted to collect more email subscribers on their website. And they’ve tried some different tools for that and building some popups where it kind of took over the whole site. And what I saw, when we analyzed that, is that they got more email subscribers, but they also scared away a lot of their customers. So their conversion rate, and how much they sold on their website, actually dropped. So we need to find some kind of middle way where they still got a lot of email subscribers, but it didn’t kind of hurt the overall conversion about how much they sold and their revenue.

And that was when we made, like, a very early prototype of what became Sleeknote, a very kind of non-intrusive popup way that you can close very easily, and it will go down to the bottom with a little teaser box. You can open it up again, for example, and a lot of websites, if you get a discount code right away, oftentimes if you’re not ready to use the discount code yet. So you just want to say, you know, “Instead of submit or subscribe to this newsletter,” you want to say, “Maybe later.” And then it will go away, but you are able to open it up again when you are in a state where you can make a buying decision hundred.

Andrew: 100%. Yes.

Mogens: So that was actually an early prototype. And from there, we begin to kind of hype that and get some very early adopters on to test it out. And then we begin to build the whole software, and build . . . at the same time build an email list.

Andrew: I want to get to know you a little bit and the way you think. When they started asking you for this, did you immediately say to yourself, “Aha, I think I’ve got a product that I can sell, that will bring money in without me having to spend time doing the work”? Or were you someone who said, “I’m just reacting to a request, whatever comes will come”? Which way did you think? Was this the beginning of a future software company for you?

Mogens: It’s a really good question. And I will be much cooler if I said, “The first thing when I heard all those customers who want this, I just said, ‘We can build a business on this.'” But honestly, I didn’t. I was more like . . . You know, I was working as a consultant. I was just, you know, have a new relationship. Soon to become a father and all that stuff. I didn’t . . . Honestly, I didn’t want to build a business back then. I earned pretty good money as a consultant, and everything was good. But when the customers kept kind of writing to me that they wanted this feature that they saw in this website, I was like, “Okay, we need to act on this.” I kind of, like, have an entrepreneur inside of me that is pretty strong.

So, when I hear that from so many customers that they need . . . that there’s something that they need, and they can’t find on the market. I have, like, a feeling in me that I want to build that even though I’m not a developer. I then teamed up with an old friend of mine, who’s a developer, and who’s still a co-founder today who’s our CTO.

Andrew: Who was he?

Mogens: Patrick. He’s our CTO today. Teamed up with him . . .

Andrew: And so you teamed up with Patrick, and you said, “Patrick, you and I can form a company, separate from my consulting. We’ll own it 50-50.” Is that right?

Mogens: Yeah.

Andrew: And 50-50 you develop it? I will help think through the product and talk to people.

Mogens: Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Andrew: Okay. And the first version was nothing more than that popup that we just talked about that when people minimize . . . when people closed it, they actually minimized it, so they had access to it again?

Mogens: Yep, that’s the first version. And then . . .

Andrew: They collected emails, and did it send it somewhere or just stored in a file?

Mogens: No, it was extremely early. They could not even do anything with that. There were no software. It was just hardcoded. We did it very, very early that we got some people to use this. And that is, like, one of the takeaways from me in this process is that even though it was so early, that they could not even change anything themselves, they have to write an email to me that we want to change the words in the popups. So this . . . I mean, I want to have another design and all that stuff. We still charge them money. So we charged around, as I remember, around $30, $35 per month, even though they were not able to do anything. But they wanted . . . they still wanted to pay us.

Andrew: They still needed this?

Mogens: Yeah. And that was a really, like, clear kind of signal for me that we’re onto something here because they are . . . they actually want to pay for this even though it’s such a, you know, a horrible product at that time. Yeah.

Andrew: As I understand it, when someone was interested in buying, you would send them a wireframe saying, “This is what we could create for you.” They would say, “Yes,” then you would go into their site yourselves, install the thing and that’s it?

Mogens: Yeah. That’s right.

Andrew: Wow-wee. Okay. How did you get customers?

Mogens: I guess you could call that a very early MVP.

Andrew: Yeah. It really is. How did you get customers to try this MVP? Was it just cold calling?

Mogens: It was a . . . it was a combination of cold calling. And also I . . . back then I’ve built . . . so how I kind of got customers in my consultancy business back then was I had a blog where I wrote when I got some cases from my customers. Then I wrote about that on the blog. And that was actually where these new potential customers came from. I did a blog post about the case that I did with this customer where they wanted a popup and we did a better version. I made a blog post about that. And then I got around 50 emails from interested customers that they wanted the same thing on their website. And I had to say to them that we hardcoded this for this customer of mine and it costed a lot of money.

And that was, of course, not what they wanted. They just wanted something out of the box. And there were no kind of solution, at least any good solution. There was only something for WordPress back then. And they were not using WordPress, so they needed to do that themselves. And that was why we decided, “Okay, we need to make this as a software out of the box that they can install in a few minutes and then they’re good to go.”

Andrew: Your blog post, from what I understand, got 50 emails. It was mostly online stores, right?

Mogens: Yep.

Andrew: Why online stores. I thought it would have been bloggers back then. What year was this? 20 . . .

Mogens: Oh, honestly because I think they were the readers of my blog. So I think there was, like, it made sense for a lot other than online stores. But it was online stores that I helped in the conversion optimization, so they were kind of like the readers and . . .

Andrew: Oh, okay, that’s just who you have now.

Mogens: I think also that’s the main reason why they kind of like are the target audience for us today is because online stores is what we have all . . . in Sleeknote, all . . . we have five founders today, and that is what we know well that businesses. And then they also . . . you know, they are able to pay, and not that bloggers are not able to pay but online stores, big online stores, they got big budgets and we are not . . . In this market, we are not, like, the little cheap player. We are not like the very, very expensive one either. But we are kind of like the quality kind of solution in the middle where, you know, it costs some money. But if you are serious about your business, it makes sense to choose a service provider as well.

Andrew: What was your blog? I’m looking for it, and I can’t find it.

Mogens: Sorry, my blog or the . . .

Andrew: What was this blog? What was the website for the blog that you were talking about?

Mogens: Oh, back then, I don’t . . . I think it’s in Danish. So I don’t think it’ll make that much sense for you. But I can find the URL here. I actually think the blog post is still . . . Sorry, is still online.

Andrew: Do you remember the website that you put it on?

Mogens: Yeah, I can see that there are some kind of . . . It’s an old WordPress website because you have some error on it right now. So it’s still online, but I haven’t been updating it for 5 years.

Andrew: Okay. Let me take a moment to talk about my first sponsor?

Mogens: Yeah. We got a blog today in Sleeknote that we update a lot more often.

Andrew: I see that. I’m going to take a moment to talk about my first sponsor. It’s a company called HostGator. What’s interesting about you is that you were just trying this out. You were just blogging about what you were doing. You were just experimenting. It reminds me of Sahil Lavingia the founder of Gum . . . Wow, what is this? Sahil Gumroad. I was going to say, Gumdrop. Gumroad. The guy used a message me on a regular basis to say, “Andrew, here’s what I’m working on. Here’s what’s going on with me. Here’s what’s up with my life. Here’s where I am today.” And he was constantly launching stuff. And I remember when I interviewed him, I said, “What’s the big message from all these launches? What are you doing?”

He goes, “Shut up and ship. Like, if you could take one thing away from my experience, just ship, ship, ship.” And sure enough, he did. And now Gumroad, this tool that he created for selling products online, it’s not a billion-dollar business like he imagined, but it’s a business that’s doing phenomenally well, bringing in profits on a regular basis. And it’s all because he just kept experimenting. Kind of similar to you. Oh, here I see January 13, he did a blog post. His revenue for the month was $515,000. Gross profit for the month was $122,000. Oh, but net, he lost $4,000. Interesting. I wonder why. But he’s his . . . Oh, wow, his revenue just keeps growing and growing. And he’s showing it publicly. I thought he was already profitable. Maybe that was a down month for him.

The point of it is, he just kept experimenting. If you’re out there and you haven’t started something, or you have a few ideas and you haven’t launched them, go over to HostGator. Just throw up a website. It could be as simple as a WordPress site, with your main idea on it, and see who is interested. I think it was the Buffer guys who started out by just creating a landing page saying, here’s my idea. If you’re interested, sign up. And as soon as somebody signed up, they said, “Well, it’s not fully launched. But let me jump on a call with you and understand what you want out of it, so I can use your feedback to launch it.” The point is, if you keep launching if you keep experimenting, if like Matt . . . as Matt Morales, this guy who call . . . who I interviewed about how he called his dad to say, he went bankrupt, and he was about to go bankrupt.

And then the next day, he got an idea for some dishwashing robot. And he jumped on it. And then I think he told me that it did $1.5 million he took out of the business from that. I said, “What’s the takeaway from that?” He says, “Just keep having more at-bats.” So, if you want to have a bunch of at-bats, take it to HostGator. Launch a website. Put your idea out there. If it stinks, close it up. If it’s great, keep building on it. And the beauty of HostGator is they’ve got a package that will allow you to have unlimited domains hosted with them. All you have to do is go to hostgator.com/mixergy. Create that account that gives you unlimited domain hosting, and then every little idea that you have, just experiment with it.

Just like anyone who’s drawing. Any artist might have a piece of paper that they’re sketching on, and they could toss it away if they don’t like it or keep it if it’s meaningful to them. You could do the same thing with your websites. Just build them. If you like it, keep it. If you don’t, toss them away. hostgator.com/mixergy. We’ll make it easy.

I was going through a lot of different examples in that ad. I think . . . I wonder how it played. I wonder if people got a little confused. It’s kind of weird to be able to talk to an audience of people and not see their faces. I need to see people’s faces. Are you like that, too?

Mogens: Yeah, definitely, definitely. I do a lot of presentations at different conferences, stuff like that. And I love to see, you know, how people react. And then I can kind of adjust my message to that.

Andrew: Right. That’s the one problem I have with using the phone. And so if I have a meeting with somebody, I don’t even use a phone with them. I refuse to do a phone call. What I do is I try to switch it over to a Zoom meeting, so I could see their face, or to FaceTime or something. Because when you see somebody’s face, the more experiments you make, the more you can see what works and then reuse that. And if something doesn’t fly, get rid of it. It’s hard. It’s hard with the podcast. Even if you do it live with people, you don’t really get enough of an impression of what they’re thinking as they’re listening to it.

All right, you now started to get traction. How long did it take to get the very first version of the product up? How long did it take Patrick to create something?

Mogens: Half a year?

Andrew: Why so long?

Mogens: Yeah so . . . Well, because we wanted . . . Yeah, it’s a good question. We were only . . . it was only Patrick and we actually met another founder back then, a guy called Asger, who’s also still a co-founder of Sleeknote. But we wanted to have something that was good. And we also actually were able to onboard more and more customers in this hardcoded solution. So it was not like . . .

Andrew: Oh, so you have been losing sales. You were creating the product while you were selling the more cumbersome version.

Mogens: Yeah. I kept selling the very hardcoded solution that just, you know, just . . . it was just very much work. Every time we got a customer, I think we used, like, 5 or 6 hours just to set that up. So yeah, but it took half a year to build it.

Andrew: Why call it Sleeknote? I feel like I keep expecting it to be a note app to replace Evernote. But it’s not. Why did you come up with that name?

Mogens: No. It’s a good question. Yeah, it’s a really good question. But quite often actually, primarily from people from America. Well, the short story is actually I didn’t come up with a word Sleeknote. We made a merger. So the company that I talked about before, where Patrick and I made this small thing, it had another name called Twami actually, and that’s even other word or more weird word that was my . . .

Andrew: What does that mean?

Mogens: Well, it doesn’t mean anything. It was just my nickname. When I was a kid, I had a small musical project where I made electronic music, and my older brother always called me Twami, and we need to find a domain. We need to launch, and then we’re still . . . It’s the only .com domain that we have. Let’s call it that. So that was the name of the product actually, until we gather around 100 customers. Then we merged our company with another small startup like us, who was called Sleeknote. They were three guys. We were three guys. At very early stage we merged together, became a new company, and then we decided that Sleeknote though was a better name than Twami. So we kept that.

But I think for us, the reason why we think Sleeknote and still think is actually a good name, is because like, it’s like the sleek thing. It tells a bit about the product that is not . . . you know, one of our competitors is called OptinMonster. And where it’s, like, okay, it’s a monster that is kind of, like, getting on the screen and is annoying. So we want to kind of communicate something completely else. And then maybe it should have been, I don’t know, Sleekboxes or something like that instead. But yeah, Sleeknote was the name and we’ve kept it since. And it was . . .

Andrew: So that’s one of the interesting parts of your story for me. You discovered that there was another Danish company doing something essentially the same as you after you built your software after it was fully working?

Mogens: Yeah, after we built the very first prototype of it, yeah.

Andrew: And so you had . . . and by the prototype, I mean, it was off the shelf. People are actually able to go to your site, fill in the form, and start using it themselves?

Mogens: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay.

Mogens: Yeah.

Andrew: And so why didn’t you say, “You know what, these guys are doing something, I can crush them”? Or, “These guys are doing something, let them go do their thing. We’ll do ours. There’s OptinMonster. There’s tons of other tools out there. Sleeknote will be one. Twami will be one.” Why do you want to partner up with them?

Mogens: That’s a good question. And we, of course, we talked a lot about that back then. I think the main reasons why we decided to team up was because, first of all, we had a really good fit. So the people, in the different companies, just made sense to kind of bring together. So, if we had, like, the same people, if it was like a CTO guy and the kind of CEO guy in the other company with, like, the same interest, it might not make that much sense because we have a overlap.

But in the other company, in the Sleeknote, there was a really, really good and he’s still just a guy just called earlier before our interview him. Emil, like, who is our CMO. Like, he knows everything you need to know about marketing, and has the, like, run the most famous marketing podcast in Denmark today as well. And then there was a designer who’s just like an amazing designer in any other company. So just, you know, if we were growing our little Twami company, we need to find those profiles after all. So why not just team up, and they have, like, the same interest, and they were also entrepreneurs. So that was just a very good . . .

Andrew: I wonder also, I keep thinking about the other Danish interviewee that I had here David Heinemeier Hansson, the guy who’s known for being one of the cofounders of Basecamp, and . . .

Mogens: And have those kind of fight all the way up? Then why not just . . .

Andrew: Sorry, and the creator . . .

Mogens: . . . the same part of Denmark, and . . .

Andrew: Actually, you know what? It’s such a . . .

Mogens: . . . and me and Emil the CMO. [inaudible 00:28:48]

Andrew: Sorry, we had a bit of an issue here with a tech. I wonder if it’s like David Heinemeier Hansson, who when I interviewed him and I said, “Mixergy is home with the ambitious upstart,” said, “I actually don’t like ambition. I think it’s toxic,” or something like that. People can go back and see the transcript of it. But in my mind, inviting these guys in means splitting the company with more people. And it’s not that necessary. Yes, you can hire all the people that you mentioned, the designer, etc. But you can hire them. You don’t have to give them equity in the business by partnering up, you are diluting your ownership of the business further. And I wonder if it’s like a Danish thing to not be as obsessed about it as I am here in the U.S.? What do you think of that?

Mogens: Maybe, maybe. Honestly, I haven’t thought that much about it. You have to remember that it was still very early. So, it was a bit like just founding a company with a bit more people than only us three. We haven’t made . . . We did make some software. We had, I don’t know, about 100 customers back then. But we just thought that it made a lot of sense for us and we . . .

Andrew: In retrospect, it didn’t make sense from a customer point of view? They had 10 customers when you guys partnered up. In retrospect, are you happy that you did it? Or do you feel like . . . you are?

Mogens: Yeah, yeah, yeah, completely. Yeah, sure.

Andrew: You shouldn’t have done it as well without them? You couldn’t have hit these numbers without them?

Mogens: No, definitely not.

Andrew: No?

Mogens: Definitely.

Andrew: And now it’s your ownership stake in the business.

Mogens: It was definitely the right thing to do back then.

Andrew: How much of these you own now? What’s the percentage? You personally because of all this?

Mogens: The different percentages is today is not something that we share . . .

Andrew: But you own less than 20%?

Mogens: No, I don’t own less than 20%.

Andrew: Okay, all right. I just feel like, man, it started out with Twami being your nickname. It’s you, your business, your idea, your name, and now you’re a part-owner with other people, but that doesn’t bother you?

Mogens: No, it doesn’t. Really it doesn’t. I really like to do this together with other people. And for me, you know, I don’t know if you have the same saying in the U.S., but to own a little bit of a success, it’s much better to than to own 100% or 50% of something that will never grow and never become a success. So I’m completely sure that we were not able to do the . . . make the same success that we’ve done in Sleeknote without the people that we got on the team when we did that merger.

Andrew: Whose software did you use? Your software, the one that Patrick wrote, I mean, or the Sleeknote software, when you merged with them?

Mogens: So, when we merged we build a new common software.

Andrew: From scratch?

Mogens: So we . . . Yeah, from scratch. Yeah. So we’ve had our software. So remember, when we merged, we’ve had that for about 6 or 7 months. And we learned a lot that we wanted to do differently. So we can kind of rebuilt the software. To be honest, I don’t know exactly if we reused a lot of the same things. I’m not that technical, but I guess we’ve reused some of it. But we rebuilt it in a lot of ways, at least the design and all that part.

Andrew: Yeah. You’re not a developer. You’re a guy who understands marketing, and you understand how to work with people. But you’re not a developer. You didn’t code any part of this, right?

Mogens: No, I didn’t code anything of it.

Andrew: Yeah. And so how did you get more customers? Now that you had a brand new product, how did you get more people to come in?

Mogens: Yeah. Well, our strategy, from the beginning, has mainly been in marketing. So actually, we didn’t use that much time on calling or cold calling new customers in the beginning. It’s something that we started out a few years ago. But in the beginning, we just did a lot of marketing. We did a lot of conferences. We did a lot of, well, in general, just branding, actually. And then those customers that we had, we made sure that they became ambassadors. And then it was a lot of word of mouth.

Andrew: But what do you mean? When did you do conferences? Speak at conferences or just go talk to people?

Mogens: Yeah, yeah, speaking. Yeah. Because of my kind of experience in the conversion optimization, it’s pretty easy for me, and it still is, to become a keynote speaker at different conferences when I . . . where I talk about topics around conversion optimization, but of course, I’m there in the role as CEO in Sleeknote. So that gets a lot of kind of branding in potential markets. So they actually . . . a lot of conferences pay me to come as a speaker, even though that we get a lot of value out of it for Sleeknote. Of course, I’m not staying at the scene and talking about Sleeknote for an hour. But oftentimes, I have, like, 5 minutes or so where it’s a bit about Sleeknote, maybe a little case, something like that.

And that has just . . . that has helped us a lot, especially in the early days, to get our word out and the word out about Sleeknote. Yeah.

Andrew: I’m on Ahrefs. They’re one of the tools that I use to research guests because they’re a partner of ours, and I see that different sites have also written about you, Neil Patel has, Unbounce has, BigCommerce has. How are you getting all these different sites to write about you? Is it you reaching out to them, or is it just organic because you’re speaking at conferences?

Mogens: Yeah, it’s a good question and actually should be Emil our CMO who is . . . he can answer that much better than I can. But I know that we are reaching out quite a lot. And we are also getting quite a lot of requests. So I don’t know exactly how we get to deal with Unbounce or Neil Patel. If it was us or . . .

Andrew: It’s him? It’s Emil Kristensen, the CMO?

Mogens: Yeah, Emil Kristensen. He’s our CMO. Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah, I even see like . . .

Mogens: He’s also during our presentations and a lot of . . . writing a lot of our content as well.

Andrew: And BigCommerce, it’s his review of, I guess, shopping on Instagram saves time and money, and how BigCommerce helped with that. And then they say he happens to be the CMO and cofounder of Sleeknote, and that’s why we’ve got his testimonial. So that’s part of the stuff that you guys do and it’s active. It’s you reaching out to . . . or Emil reaching out to people. Emil writing content. Is that right?

Mogens: Yeah, we do a lot of that. And we also have a content team in Sleeknote where it’s not only Emil, but we got I think three copywriters also where we are doing a lot of . . . We’ve done both, of course, blog posts we do a lot, but also we’ve done podcasts. We’ve done YouTube videos, a lot of stuff. Actually, right now I’m doing a content project myself . . .

Andrews: What’s your content project?

Mogens: . . . that is also going to be a part of our marketing. It’s actually I’ve been using . . . I told you a bit about it earlier on. But the last half year or so I’ve been usability testing around 240 . . . doing 240 usability tests of the biggest online stores in the world. So that’s like . . . that’s Amazon. It’s Target. It’s Walmart. It’s Zappos. All these websites, I’ve been the usability testing with iTracking. And then . . .

Andrew: With who? Which software were you using, and where are you getting the people that you’re testing with?

Mogens: I’m just . . . Actually, at the office where I sit here, I just invite people here. And then I have some hardware with iTracking on. So I test both on desktop and on mobile. And . . .

Andrew: Seriously? Just seeing where people’s eyes going on these different e-commerce sites. What are they clicking? And then you’re taking everything you learn from all that and you’re going to write a big blog post about it.

Mogens: Then I’m taking all that from all those usability tests. And that is what I’m going out right now to talk about at conferences. And also, right now I’m recording videos that will be a new kind of marketing project for us in the second quarter of 2020 where I do a lot of videos and actually kind of helping our marketing department with some great new content. And actually creating a source because that’s what I often see about all these people that are blogging is that they’re using the same kind of . . . the same data source, and then just kind of restructuring it or wording it in another way. So we want to create a new source of data about how to optimize online stores.

And that’s what I’ve been doing with this. And then we’ll create a lot of content about it. And hopefully, a lot of people will begin to use that and link back to us. So that’s kind of like a new marketing trend.

Andrew: Got it. You want to be a big data source that other people refer back to when they’re trying to add credibility to what they’re writing about?

Mogens: Exactly.

Andrew: Got it. I like the way you think. All right, I’m going to say that my second sponsor is a company called Toptal. I got an understanding that a lot of people in my audience are hiring. One of the things that I think is interesting is if you’re . . . if you’re looking to solve a problem for yourself, for your company, the way that you guys did. Someone out there is doing the same thing. I think they, from the start, should be thinking, “All right, if we’re hiring somebody to build this out, how can we start thinking about it as a potential product we sell to other people. Right?” Wasn’t it Basecamp that said, “Sell your scraps? If you’re doing something, see if there’s scraps, parts of it, that you can use to sell.”

I can imagine somebody else listening to me saying, “You know, what we really need is a better way to engage with our project management software. A better tool that will allow us to, I don’t know what, auto-email all of our customer feedback that’s positive, into something that gives us feed . . . that gives us a breakdown of what people think. You know, we’ll build it for ourselves, maybe hire Toptal developers to do it. And then we might turn it into a product that we sell to other people.” And the beauty about going to Toptal is anything that you’re looking to build, there’s probably somebody there who’s already been building it before and done it successfully. And can say, “Here’s how I built it before. I can actually absolutely not just start you from zero, but start you with all this past experience,” and then build you something that’s unmatched.

If you’re hiring developers, and frankly you guys as Sleeknote if you guys are hiring developers, too, you should go to toptal.com/mixergy. You’ll get the best developers, people who have experience, who have already done what you’re looking to do available to you. You just talk to a matcher there. That match will understand what you’re looking for, help you shape it, and then find people who would be a good fit for you. Talk to them, you test them, you interview them, and then you can get started. If you’re happy, you can continue. If you’re not happy, as you’ll see, you don’t even have to pay but don’t worry, the developers will get paid themselves. All you have to do is go, to get that offer and so much more, go to toptal.com/mixergy.

When you do, you’ll get 80 hours of top Toptal developer credit, when you pay for your first 80 hours, in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. That’s top as in top of your head, tal as in talent. Really, a place for the top talent. Go to toptal.com/mixergy.

Content was a big thing for you. What else brought people in?

Mogens: Yeah, so . . . So I think that the content part combined with actually what we begin to see the early . . . in the early days. We also begin to look at doing sales and in . . . well, primarily, in cold calling to begin with, but we’ve had a bit hard time to crack that kind of . . . to really become masters of doing cold calling because our product is pretty, pretty cheap. So, to make a really good business case out of doing a lot of cold calls, it’s actually a bit hard. So mainly the way we grew, in the beginning, was marketing and was doing content. And, you know, Google ads and all that stuff. So that was kind of like how we built it up and . . .

Andrew: That seems expensive. I feel like your competitors. I’ve seen two approaches. One is see if you could get built into . . . It always seems to be a free version. See if you can get built into existing WordPress installations. So you can imagine a partnership with a hosting company that installs WordPress, have them add your plugin to them. And then anyone who upgrades, you make the money and either split it with them, and that’s the commission, or you pay them for the right to include the free version and you keep all the revenue.

The other approach is and I think Noah Kagan is taking this, offer a free version with a logo linking back to your site. But you guys don’t do that. You don’t offer either of those. You’re not built into anyone’s WordPress or other experience. And you don’t have the free version that brings people in. Am I right?

Mogens: That’s correct.

Andrew: Why not?

Mogens: But what we do have a bit . . . Yeah. It’s a really good question. I think in the beginning, we . . . I talked to quite a lot of founders when we decided not to do the freemium work version. And what I heard from many of them is that freemium is . . . can be really, really hard. So to get people to, like, begin to use the product is well, fairly easy. But to get them from the free version and to your first plan that could be, I don’t know $50, is really, really hard, at least according to those founders that I talked with. So that is why we didn’t choose to go that way. And because we didn’t think that we have enough content, or enough functionality to put in the free plan, and enough really good features to then make them upgrade into a paid plan.

So I . . . in my perspective, when you do free, you need to actually have a really solid . . . I think we can begin to do it now. But a really solid tool where it’s . . . where you are able to, like, remove features so that you can put that in the cheap plan or in the free plan, but also a lot of features so they are . . . they can see why they should upgrade to a paid plan.

Andrew: But for you, I feel like it would be unnatural for a few reasons. Number one, you already sell based on sessions, so a site that doesn’t have a lot of traffic, could have maybe a 10,000 sessions cap, you put your tool on there, and then you link back to you. And for you, it doesn’t matter if they’re not upgrading because they’re linking back to your site, every one of these people is a promotion. And then you could get as aggressive as I’ve seen some of your competitors get where it started out with a logo on the bottom. And then the logo started shaking and shimmying and moving, you know, so that people couldn’t help but see the logo.

It feels like that’s an approach, but you didn’t take it because you saw, based on your feedback, that that wouldn’t be enough or what?

Mogens: Yeah, but and also because actually, we do have in a lot of our customers Sleekboxes, we do have our logo as well, in the bottom of that or in the side of it. And our . . . The traffic that we get from those are just not getting . . . are not becoming customers. So, actually . . . so we actually, like, we do have some data on how well it works for us to have those logos. So actually, in the beginning, when we launched Sleeknote, it was . . . you needed to have that logo, even though you were a paying customer, you cannot kind of remove it. Because we wanted to have that. And even though that we had, like . . . I know we have 1,600 customers today, with a lot of them got those logos on, I think it’s maybe providing, I don’t know, 5% of our new customers that are coming from that logo referral.

So it’s just . . . for us, it’s just haven’t been, like, a source where we should do a lot more of this because then we get a lot of new customers. So, instead, we were like, “Okay, the logo part is fine, but is . . . I think people will overestimate the value of it if they have not tried it and seen the data themselves.

Andrew: I didn’t realize you had data on it. All right. So the other thing that strikes me when I go to your site is the features that, where is that? Like, you have a mobile editor, which as a person who . . . you can see, all I do is everything is like on the iPad or my iPhone. I only use the . . . my desktop computers and my laptop for interviews. Most creation software is not built for mobile, not even for the iPad. You guys have, I think a phone friendly version, right? Where I can . . . Am I right? That I can edit. No?

Mogens: No, we don’t have a phone friendly version where you can edit the Sleeknote campaigns because that is . . . well, it could be a good idea, but it’s not something that our customers has asked us to do. So we are trying to kind of, of course . . .

Andrew: But the mobile-only editor that you guys have . . .

Mogens: But the campaigns that they’re doing, sorry.

Andrew: So the mobile-only editor is an editor that allows me to create a mobile-only version of Sleeknote for my site?

Mogens: Yeah.

Andrew: I see. Okay.

Mogens: Exactly.

Andrew: So how do you know then that people don’t need this?

Mogens: Oftentimes, you want to show a completely other message on mobile than you want on desktop. And you want to show, like, like specific campaigns only for mobile. For example, you can target that based on geographical data and stuff like that. That makes a lot more sense on mobile. So I’ll say that’s the mobile experience in it. We . . . actually, our customers are not asking us to do a mobile editor. If they did, I will definitely do it. But as far as it’s not a wish today, people . . . I think a lot of our customers, they are working on a desktop when they are going into tools like this. What we are looking into building, and I think we will be building this year, is . . . and maybe an app or at least a mobile site where you can see the data and where you can activate or deactivate campaigns.

Yeah. Because sometimes when you’re just like you’re on the run, and you’re somewhere out in the city, but you just want to activate this campaign right now because, I don’t know, Black Friday is coming up, or we have some offers and I forgot to do it at the office, that makes sense to do on the mobile. But to sit on mobile and design the Sleeknote campaigns and the popup boxes, I don’t think it makes that much sense yet at least.

Andrew: How do you know that there aren’t enough people are asking for it? What’s your process for keeping track of what people are asking for or where they’re frustrated?

Mogens: So we use productboard a lot, which is amazing other SaaS business where we put all our . . .

Andrew: Productboard?

Mogens: Product board.

Andrew: I’ll look for it right now.

Mogens: Yeah. They’ve made an amazing product. And I guess they have some inspirational founders as well. But we put all our customer insights in there. And then we have our product team where we look at all these insights every week and prioritize them. And those who get most votes in there or most insights, we move directly to our product roadmap and our backlog, and then we take it from there. Then we make a . . . oftentimes we make a RICE score. I think it’s Intercom who made that kind of framework back in the days where we RICE score every feature based on the reach, how many customers are going to use it? What’s the impact of it for those customers who are going to use it? Was our confidence on, you know, if we can develop this, and what’s the effort in it?

So we make that kind of RICE score in every feature, and then we figure out which one to develop next.

Andrew: Wow, I see . . . I’m looking at productboard. I had no idea this even existed. Their whole business model is . . . and the whole product is about how to collect all the feedback that you get from people and organize it in a way that’s actionable.

Mogens: Yeah, it’s really, really cool SaaS business. We . . . It’s one of the tools that we, yeah, use a lot in Sleeknote. And I think they’re growing pretty fast as well. I think that could be a good visitor in your show later on?

Andrew: Yeah, I can see that.

Mogens: And they are . . . something that I’m impressed about them is that they are really good . . . Naturally, they are really good at collecting feedback from their customers.

Andrews: Right. So it just keeps improving it.

Mogens: But they this Slack group where they kind of put in new prototypes when they’re designing something, get a lot of feedback in there, and they’ll probably hook that up with their productboard as well. And they are really customer-centric, and I love that.

Andrew: And so how did you know, for example, that . . . One of the features that I really like about your site it’s kind of obvious to do A/B testing. People ask for it. It helps increase conversion numbers. What’s less obvious is the if-then statements that you guys have. If somebody is on this plan, show them this message. If somebody has given us their email address, don’t ask them for an email address, but instead now try to explain what the product is. Where did you understand that that was a use, that that was a need?

Mogens: Well, for us, it pretty quickly became obvious that we needed to have something more than just our customers having one popup box with some kind of general email, subscriber message. So that was when we . . . We need to figure out . . . If we want to keep customers, we can see that pretty early on. If we wanted to keep them like high retention, low churn, then we need them to make more Sleeknote campaigns, because that was when they saw the value in Sleeknote. Because if they only had one box, then when people visit their site for the first time, yes, they saw it, but then they didn’t see it anymore. And then the value that they got from Sleeknote just, you know, decreased over time.

So that was when we built this whole rule engine where you got these if-then different rules in there you can set up. And today the customers that we have oftentimes maybe got 10 or 20 different Sleeknote campaigns on their website, but targeted to different visitors based on their behavior on the site. And then we got a lot of kind of setup and rules you can do so that you don’t kind of show five different boxes to the same visitor. So you can set up some prioritization of the different Sleeknote campaigns. And you can see . . . say, “Okay, this visitor cannot have seen more than three campaigns in this visit, because then we just, like, information overload.”

So we put a lot into that kind of non-intrusive rule engine that we’ve built, because that is what we hear from the market that they want to show this information. They want to collect email subscribers, but they want to do it in a non-intrusive way so that people will not leave their site because that’s just bad business.

Andrew: I wonder if it also helps return? One of the beauties of, say, Wufoo, the form software that I was using years ago was, once it’s up on my site, I had a hard time canceling them. Even though they sold their business, they hadn’t been improving it much, I could see that there were other tools, I was paying for other form tools. I couldn’t get rid of Wufoo because it was deep embedded in my site in places that I couldn’t even find. And I had to go back and recreate the forms, and find them and then recreate them and so on. And so it was hard to . . . it was hard for me to turn out of that as fast as I might have. With email collection software, it’s fairly easy. And you might be with OptinMonster one day, and then you say, “You know, I see this other site, this other tool. Let’s go try that and cancel OptinMonster and go to the others.”

I wonder if having all this, what did you call it, the rule engine means that you have data on all users on my site if I’m using you, and then it’s hard for me to turn out because I don’t want to start from scratch and have a box pop up for people. Am I right?

Mogens: Exactly. Exactly. That is . . . That’s like . . . That’s the why we’ve built that whole part is we want to make it sticky. We want to make it a very hard decision if you want to churn from Sleeknote because you need to build all that data from scratch, and you when you need to build also all those campaign again, and you don’t have that insight on your visitors when you’re starting a new platform. So yeah, that’s definitely . . . Yes, that’s completely right.

Andrew: What is your churn percentage?

Mogens: And that’s . . . Our churn today is . . . The 6-month average is at 1.5% monthly churn.

Andrew: 1.5%. That’s it?

Mogens: Yeah.

Andrews: 1.5% of people leave?

Mogens: Every month.

Andrews: For every hundred people, less than 2% . . . less than two of them will leave your software every month?

Mogens: Yeah.

Andrew: Wow. That’s a . . . That seems like a really good number from what I’ve seen for software like this, isn’t it?

Mogens: Yeah. No, that’s a really good . . . That’s, that’s also a really good question. Because for us, it’s really hard to know what’s a good number. We speak to founders from other companies, but all kinds of businesses are different. And, of course, we don’t speak to that many companies that do the same thing as us. They’re obviously competitors. So we actually don’t know if it’s good or bad churn. I . . . You know, I would like it to be lower. I would like it to be, I don’t know, negative churn to be honest. But yeah, we are like . . . we always try to improve, and we try to build a lot of stuff into the platform that will make it better. We just actually launched something new earlier . . . Oh sorry, in last year, where we now begin to do kind of a consultancy business on top of the software.

That’s a new thing for us because as I told you, early on, I was a consultant and when I . . . when we begin to build the SaaS business, I always said, “You know, I don’t . . . never want to sell ours again.” And it was fine, and I loved it back then. But I just don’t want to do it because you are very, you know, all the time you get customers saying, all the deadlines and all this stuff. It’s just a completely other thing to build software and just kind of reiterate on that and improve it all the time. But we can just see that when we put this consultancy on top of it. So, when we help our customers, they . . . the lifetime on the software is just extending.

So we have so much longer lifetime on our customers when we also help them do better campaigns, not because our software is not intuitive, but sometimes they just need a push in the right direction. And when we do that, and when we do a roadmap for them on which Sleeknote campaign should you do over the next half-year, they just stay in . . . you know, keep using the software. So we are seeing that, like, the consultancy business is a pure churn prevention strategy that works well . . . pretty well until now.

Andrew: Was it, like, Bounce Exchange it was starting to open people’s eyes to this that they were making a lot of money by not selling the software itself, but instead making the software and selling it as a service for conversions. Right?

Mogens: Yeah. I think that was Bounce Exchange. They’re doing that, at least some years ago when I looked at their website, that was what they did like not selling the software, like, software as a service where you can only buy that, but you need to buy, like, the whole package as far as I know.

Andrew: Right. I forget what their revenue was. I remember interviewing the founder and being shocked that that’s how they operated. Oh, wow, looks like it’s four years ago now. So it’s been a while since I talked to them. But they did start opening up people’s eyes to what’s possible with the service.

All right, and then let me close out with this. I know that we said it made sense for you to partner up with a bunch of people. Make a better company. You’d rather have a smaller share of a bigger business than 100% of a failed business or one that never got started. But you did talk to our producer about how challenging it was with the co-founder.

I’m looking here at our producer’s notes and it says, “We thought of ourselves as six friends who all wanted the best for the company. But about three months into this merger, one person said, ‘I just don’t want to be in there anymore. I want to move on.'” Right? And so what happens in that situation when you’re . . . talk about what happened.

Mogens: Yeah, that’s a really tough situation. But that is . . . Very early on, we merged these two companies and one of us co-founders decide . . . oh, actually got a job offer. It was so simple. Back then we were not able to pay salaries to all of us. So we kind of had, like, somebody was studying, somebody was working on other stuff. And this guy he was studying, then he got offered a really great job. And he took that and went full time on that. And because he went full time there, he could not really use a lot of time on our business. And then we had to make a deal where we had to kind of stop that. And that was not a funny experience. You know, you kind of like let down by a guy that you kind of hoped you would build this business with.

So I think what we learned from that is that when you partner up, when you get married and create a business, you kind of need to look at how you’re going to be divorced. You know, we had a contract. We made a contract. It was our accountant who had a template for a partner contract that we just, “Okay, fine, looks great. Let’s sign that and everything is good.” But then when we kind of had this twist, where we need to figure out how to get out, should we buy him out? What can we do? We just saw that this contract was, well, rubbish. So, after that, after we kind of made this breakup with this co-founder, we’ve got a, like, a great lawyer to look at this again and say, “Okay, we need to do this right this time.” And that is a tough part also, mainly because of the discussions and the communication that you have about this. It’s not funny to talk about what we’re going to do the day we become, you know, enemies when we just became friends.

So it’s just a weird thing, but it’s a really, really important thing or talk to have. Yeah, we learned that the hard way also.

Andrew: So how did you guys break it up then? And the problem is that this person who’s not working still has equity in the business, which means that every time you guys make money . . . No, but that’s the way the agreement was written. Am I right?

Mogens: Yeah, that was the hard part because . . .

Andrew: So then how did you break up?

Mogens: We didn’t want him to have equity when he was not working. And then that was when we had, like, a kind of a twist where we had to figure out how to do that the best way, but because he was like, he would like to be, like, a bit on the silent partner part, and still have a bit of equity and stuff like that. But honestly, I can’t remember in detail now how we break it up. But we paid him some money and he was, as I said very early on, so we didn’t have that much revenue. It was not like a big business worth a lot of money.

Andrew: He didn’t have any equity in the business after that?

Mogens: He didn’t have any equity.

Andrew: So you just bought him out?

Mogens: Yeah.

Andrew: And then the new way is what? How do you . . . ? What’s the agreement with the other four partners that you have? The total five co-founders?

Mogens: Yeah. So we’re five partners and we made an agreement back then. And it’s the same agreement that we have today. We just kind of tried to think every scenario through that could be relevant. You know, if somebody someday wants to sell, what should that person do? What . . . how . . . what are the possibilities? Can you just sell to us? Can you sell to anyone else? What if you don’t want to work in Sleeknote, but you still want to keep some equity? What are the cases? What if somebody dies? What if, you know, they get married? Do they need to make some kind of agreement with their wife that the wife cannot kind of get the equity if the person dies?

It’s, like, hundreds of scenarios that it feels a bit weird when you have to think them through, but it makes a lot of sense afterward. It’s not that we . . . it hasn’t become that relevant for us later on. But it definitely is a good thing for us to have still.

Andrew: What did it cost you to put that together? That’s pretty expensive, too. We’re talking five to . . .

Mogens: I can’t remember, but I don’t know, it was $5,000.

Andrew: An extra 10,000 actually. Yeah.

Mogens: Yeah. $5,000, $10,000. Something like that. It’s pretty expensive, especially when we are, like, a young company. You don’t have any . . . You know, I remember back then I think we paid . . . There’s a company called Infusionsoft. I don’t know if that’s the name anymore. I think it’s renamed something else. But I remember that was the first software they bought back in the days, and there was like a starter plan that you need to buy for . . . I think it’s $1,500. And I can still remember that today. That was like the biggest commitment that I’ve ever done to a tool to buy that, like, upfront because we had no revenue back then. And actually, like, we kept it for a lot . . . I think more years than we should have because I just had the feeling we cannot churn from this software because we paid so much for it.

And then one of my founders said, “You know, it’s not that much money.” It was just because back then it was a lot of money. And sure I understand that. Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah, I think we did the same thing. They . . . I talked to the founder, Clate Mask, he said that they decided they were going to charge people a setup fee for getting started. And as part of the setup, they also get consulting with their people. But you’re right. It did reduce churn because people invested money in the software.

Mogens: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a really clever move. You know, we . . . I’m completely sure if we hadn’t paid that setup fee, we would have churned from the software maybe a year or two before than we did. Now, we use some Stripe and something else and that’s fine. But we were pretty happy about Infusionsoft back then.

Andrew: I’m going to say, guys, watch . . . If you’re listening to, me watch out for that software. You do not want to get in bed with them. They’re very expensive. They are beyond expensive. They’re capricious with their pricing. I feel it’s hard to move away from them because you lock in . . . They’ve got lock-in with tags and all kinds of other stuff. But that’s my opinion. That is not anyone else’s onion.

Mogens: Is that Infusionsoft?

Andrew: Infusionsoft. Yeah. They’re complicated and then their name got even more . . .

Mogens: It’s called Keap?

Andrew: Keap. But it’s not Keep, K-E-E-P. It’s Keap, K-E-A-P. It’s like, “Guys, does every part of working with you have to be complicated and confusing and . . . All right. That’s a conversation for another day. Frankly, anytime we talk in person, if anyone wants to know about them, I’ll go to . . . I’ll go super open. I’ll show you emails from them, and show you how annoying the experience can be. All right, but that’s neither here nor there. Let’s close this out by saying they might be complicated. Others might be complicated, but Sleeknote is not. One of my favorite parts of Sleeknote is there’s a part . . . Who did you call before we got started with this interview to ask for this URL that I was asking for?

Mogens: Our CMO, Emil.

Andrew: CMO. You . . . I said, “Can I see all these examples. I know I saw a page with the examples. Where is it?” He calls up Emil, the CMO, and he gets a link to it. And sure enough, the link is right on the very bottom. So, if you guys are on Sleeknote and you want to get a sense of what this looks like, look for the product demo on the bottom of the page, right? It’s . . . I’ll give you the URL sleeknote.com/product-demo where you can see what it looks like. And you guys, really, whoever designed this got really good taste. As a company, you’ve got good taste.

All right, having said . . .

Mogens: Yeah. I’ll definitely pass that on to our designers.

Andrew: You do have good taste as a company. Do you have . . . And I feel, like, you have good taste too as a person. This is our second conversation. The first time this software wasn’t working or the internet or whatever. And I’m looking at you. You don’t have to look good. It’s an audio podcast. You look good. You put the mic in a good spot. You got the camera in a good spot, which usually pisses people off.

Mogens: [inaudible 01:02:36].

Andrews: Yeah, there’s a painting . . . a photo behind him. Yeah. All right, there it is. Sleeknote . . .

Mogens: You’re way too kind.

Andrew: And I think the two sponsors who made this interview happen, the first will host your website. Right, guys, go check them out at hostgator.com/mixergy. The second if you’re hiring developers, you got to go to toptal.com/mixergy. Even if it’s just part of your mix for hiring, you got to talk to Toptal. And finally, the tool that I use to research so many of my guests, including Sleeknote, is they call themselves Ahrefs. Do you guys use them? It’s ahrefs.com. You do use them? Yeah. Because you’re big on content, right?

Mogens: Sure.

Andrew: Everyone who is into content uses them. So I like to check out what people are doing with their content and understand what’s working. So I use Ahrefs and I’m grateful to them for setting me up with an account. All right, cool. Thank you so much for doing this. Bye.

Mogens: Thank you. Thanks for having me. It was a great pleasure.

Andrew: And thanks for staying up late for this. Bye, everyone.

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