SunFrog, the $100M dollar, bootstrapped t-shirt platform

I’m involved in the tech world and I have never heard of today’s guest or his company. I was a little doubtful when I saw my team’s research. I said, “How can a company this big exist and I haven’t heard about them?”

He’s had no outside funding as far as I can tell. We’ll get into those details too.

Today’s guest is Josh Kent, the founder of SunFrog, an online t-shirt platform.

Josh Kent

Josh Kent

SunFrog

Josh Kent is the founder of SunFrog, an online t-shirt platform.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy and I’m really obsessed with entrepreneurship and tech. I start my mornings reading Techmeme, Hacker News, the business section of The New York Times, the homepage of The New York Times, they fill me in on major business news. The Wall Street Journal, I’ve got a paid subscription to that. I hang out here in San Francisco.

All that’s to say I do all that, I’m involved in this world and still I never heard of today’s guest and never heard of his company. I was a little doubtful when I saw my team’s research on them. I said somebody on my team screwed up. How can a company this big exist and I didn’t hear about them? So I started doing research. Maybe their traffic isn’t real. No. It’s there.

This is an amazing story. No outside funding as far as I can tell. We’ll get into details as far as that. But an incredible company that’s built really big that I’m going to introduce my audience to and we’re going to find out how he did it, how this entrepreneurship built something so big and it’s not his first company, he’s built multiple companies you may not have heard of before. I want to learn from him and learn about him.

His name is Josh Kent and he is the founder of SunFrog. They’re an online t-shirt platform. Basically, the way it works is if you, the person listening to me, has an idea for a t-shirt, you go to his site, you design it, they help you design it. I saw a really simple way to design the t-shirt. You link people up to your t-shirt so that they can buy it on SunFrog and SunFrog will print out your t-shirts, they’ll send it out, they’ll take care of everything.

As I said, this is a massive company and we’re going to find out how he built it up thanks to two great sponsors that I’ll tell you more about later. The first, I’m going to call it a form company but they do so much more than forms. They’re called Formstack, I’ll tell you about them. The second is a company that does more than just email. It’s smart email automation. They’re called ActiveCampaign. I’ll tell you more about both those later. First, Josh, so good to have you here.

Josh: Thanks for having me, Andrew. Appreciate it.

Andrew: Josh, your revenue for 2016—I’ve got some data here. Do you feel comfortable sharing it with my audience publicly knowing that I will not edit it out?

Josh: Sure. Yeah. Go ahead.

Andrew: What’s the number?

Josh: The number is $100 million. That number has been getting us a lot of airplay, I guess you could say, a lot of recognition because a lot of people are like, “How’s that possible? How do you do $100 million in a couple years?” Like you said, you were doing your homework on me and it’s like how does a company like ours come out of nowhere, skyrocket to the top of the Alexa ranking? How do we get to where we are and do it so fast? I think that’s the fun of our story I look forward to sharing with your listeners today. I think it can be an encouraging story for anybody living in this era in this time.

Andrew: No outside funding?

Josh: No. No outside funding. We are fully bootstrapped. What I mean by bootstrapped is we are running on our cash and we are making it happen as we can afford to make it happen.

Andrew: And you’re profitable now?

Josh: Yes. We’re profitable. We’ve been profitable from the beginning.

Andrew: You could have stayed under the radar for a while. I saw that yeah, there’s some coverage of you, but it’s mostly by Crain’s and local newspaper, local coverage is huge. You buy office or you get into a new office space, I saw the local media covers it. But you’re not like in TechCrunch. You’re not courting the Techmeme world until now. Why are you suddenly coming out and saying, “Here’s what we built? Look at us, guys.”

Josh: To be honest with you, Andrew, early on, our competitors were getting a lot of the Forbes and the TechCrunch and all that sort of thing. To be honest, from where I’m from, I’m used to owning and operating small brick and mortar-type companies. My background is a small web firm. I’ve never seen the value in all this mass media. So, I’ve been intentionally under the radar. I’ll be honest with you. Early on, I thought, “These guys are really vain. They’re just pounding their own chest and whatever. I don’t need it.”

So, for the first couple years, we really were off the radar. We started getting some coverage. When we would, all these good things would happen from it. Some big licensing deals would come from it. Some of our best talent would come from it. So now I look at it and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, the power of PR.”

I’ve been grinding so hard, just hustling and grinding and doing my thing. It was always an afterthought. Where now, it’s like SunFrog has exploded. We’ve got this explosive growth where now we want sustainability. So, as a company, we want PR. That’s why we ended up getting into NASCAR and things like that so the world can then know our name.

My goal would be that years from now, I can survey people, “Name a t-shirt company,” and they’ll say SunFrog. There was a day when you would have surveyed, “Name a domain company,” and everybody would go, “Uh. . .” Now they go, “GoDaddy,” right? GoDaddy owns the domain marketing as far as the name goes. I think my goal, my life mission here is like let’s get everybody to know SunFrog. Let’s be the world’s best t-shirt online buying experience.

Andrew: And it’s much easier now because like April on your team emailed me and said, “Do you want to interview my boss? Here’s what we did.” I just needed two sentences from her and I said, “Of course, yes, bring it on,” where if you were just getting started, I can see how it might be a lot tougher.

Let me get to know you and know how a guy gets so many customers, gets so many shirt creators to come on his platform. I think what you did, especially going after groups was really innovative and other people can learn from it and use it in their businesses. But you’re a self-taught programmer, going back in history. 2002, you founded a computer store in Grayling. Where’s Grayling?

Josh: Actually, the town was Gaylord. Grayling and Gaylord, they’re real close by. It’s a small town in northern Michigan. We’re talking like 3,500 people, to give the listeners perspective.

Andrew: More people went to my high school, I’m pretty sure, Brooklyn Tech.

Josh: Well, this is a small town like you see in the movies, typical small town, everybody knows each other’s name. Probably, as we were talking earlier about the lack of desire for media exposure, that’s the world I’m from where you don’t need it to be successful at that scale. We went beyond the scale and here we are today talking to you.

Andrew: This is Alpine—I’m just going to spend a little bit of time to get to know the sense of who you are that you can come out of nowhere and build this. Alpine Computers was the name of the company. Was it the kind of store that would sell like IBM clones, is that what it was?

Josh: Yeah. Picture this—picture you walk into the store and you look around and there’s Apple computers and Dell computers, which was a very rare combination to see Apple and Dell coexist in the same space. Then there’s a service center where every day about 20 computers would get dropped off with viruses and malware and they need to be cleaned up or fixed up. We were kind of like a micro Radio Shack meets Best Buy, a little brick and mortar store servicing local customers, heavy on service.

That’s kind of where I got my start. In typical entrepreneur fashion, each business I’ve ever had births a new business. There’s always a side hustle going on. At the time for me, it was a side hustle called Alpine Web, which is an offshoot of Alpine Computers. We live in a small town called the Alpine Village, where everything is themed Alpine. It’s a ski and golf community.

I spawned this web development firm, which is three or four guys. We make websites. I’m consulting with business owners, so I love it. I’m talking to business owners all day every day. As you can imagine, there’s always a side hustle. Alpine Web has a side hustle called Funfix.com, TheaterBot, these other companies.

Andrew: While you’re doing Alpine Computers, you’re on the side designing websites for people?

Josh: Yeah.

Andrew: You’re getting online clients too?

Josh: Yes.

Andrew: And then what was the other business you were talking about?

Josh: What happened from Alpine Computers and some of these other businesses I spawned into all kinds of businesses.

Andrew: Not always—I read about the real estate investment firm.

Josh: Yeah. We’ve got about 36 rental properties. I’ve spawned a holdings company, different companies. I’ve dabbled in oil gas—true entrepreneurial spirit here, where I’m just into a little bit of everything, but just trying to find my way.

Andrew: Most entrepreneurs who do this aren’t focused enough to get one thing right. Here you are doing all these things and you don’t have the shiny object syndrome, you actually are able to make things work. Now we can get into the substance of how you work that we can all learn from. What’s different about the way you ran all these companies that allowed them to not just work out but to thrive considering your attention was diverse. What did you do that we could learn from?

Josh: Well, I think I live by this motto of inspect what you expect. It’s something that every single person who works for me knows and hears over and over. What it does is it allows me to empower people, to trust people and say, “I need you to run with this,” but now it creates a conduit to where I can come in and inspect what they’re doing and there’s already that relationship. I think a lot of times us as entrepreneurs and leaders, we empower and we say, “Go do,” but then we forget to inspect what we expect and then we say, “If I ask then I don’t trust,” and you build this weirdness.

I feel like I got over that early on in my leadership development, where it’s like you’ve got to ask the tough questions. You’ve got to spot check once in a while and say, “Are you doing it to the standard we once talked about?” So many times you’ll find that a staff member, a team member will say, “I stopped doing that because it’s too labor intensive and my focus is over here.” It’s like, “But that’s super important. We have to keep doing this or doing that.”

Andrew: Let’s get an example. By the way, I’m going to interrupt a lot in this interview. It comes from a place a love and I need to understand and the fact that I grew up in New York, where Brooklyn Tech was 4,000 people competing for attention.

Josh: I love it.

Andrew: But I do want to understand this. Let’s take one area, one business that you ran where you inspected to expect. What I’m curious about, if you come up with a specific, how do you set the person up to run with what they’re supposed to and then what’s your process for inspecting just the key things and not being a micro manager. What’s one area and how did you pass the work on?

Josh: Sure. Let’s take it down to the level of even just a very basic computer store that’s doing service and repair. It would be possibly a follow up call to a customer or before the computer gets checked out to go home, firing it up and going through the service tech’s checklist, like you did everything as it said and it’s performing the way it should.

Where now at SunFrog, it might be walking the floor and making sure the shirts are going in the bag along with the sticker and the labels being adhered right just to ensure that the process—but doing it in an inspection kind of mode but not in an, “I’m coming to drop a hammer.” I’m not coming to be the bad guy. But again, having that bred into your culture of the company, whether you’re big or small I think will serve any leader in any role.

Andrew: It seems like what you’re doing is you’re giving them a checklist and then you come and see if the checklist has been gone through. Is that what it is? Or is it more of a direction and you expect them to come up with the steps and all you do is look at the end result and see if the top five things you care about are done. Which is it?

Josh: I think it’s a little bit of both.

Andrew: That’s a challenge. It’s easy to either lead by checklist and expect the exact same thing or to lead by saying you’re in charge of maintaining these computers. I just want to make sure that every customer is happy. The combination is a little interesting and tricky. How do you do that?

Josh: I think it comes with a person you’re working with. At a smaller scale, I’d recommend anybody who’s listening who’s running a smaller company of maybe two, three, four employees, use those employees as your hands, your extension of yourself. That’s where maybe a little bit more micromanaging comes in because their job is to execute how you would execute so that you can scale.

Then I think you hit a tipping point where now I’ve got hundreds of employees and now I’ve got directors and departments that are bigger—like my customer service department might have 25 people in it. That’s bigger than most companies I’ve ever run. So, I have to empower Amy, who runs customer service, like, “Amy, this is your world, your policy, your procedure.” So, when I come in to inspect, it’s like we’re having these talks. It’s not like I’m looking over her shoulder.

Andrew: But she comes up with the procedures.

Josh: Yeah.

Andrew: I see. Do you set the goals? Do you say, “Amy, I’d like us to have this kind of response time and this kind of happiness, satisfaction, the rest you take over?”

Josh: If you’re dealing with the right person, they’ll even set those. I think a lot of it’s maturity level on who you’re dealing with. Let’s just keep going with the customer service. I’ve got a customer service director who has a very Amazonesque like make everyone happy no matter what the cost, just make them happy. That’s like the overarching goal of our customer service department.

So, it basically is like a guiding mission for how she’s going to work her polices and her procedures through, but ultimately those little intricacy things, those are all hers to run. I’m just looking at the higher level, but when I come back in, I’m looking at some of her micro level, if that makes sense.

Andrew: It does. One other thing going into your history—let’s talk about Kent Properties. I’ve thought about I should be investing in real estate. I don’t. But here’s the difference between you and me—well, I don’t know, maybe it is or it isn’t—I think if I invest in real estate, I should make sure I inspect because the building I should buy should be a solid building, I don’t want to end up with problems. I should also make sure I’m going to a place where people want to live 10, 20 years from now.

I have this whole list of things I need to do and things that I wonder what don’t I know. So, there’s big mess of to-dos and I think why am I going to spend all my time trying to understand the real estate market and try to understand my business. I better just spend that same amount of energy on my business. What did you do to deal with that question? You’re nodding, it seems like you recognize that issue?

Josh: I do. I think real estate—I’m guessing a lot of people listening today are right where you’re at, like, “Should I get in, shouldn’t I?” I think real estate is like any other business—do not dabble. You don’t dabble in your web development firm, your graphic design company. You don’t dabble in real estate. You’ve got to make a commitment and say, “I am going to learn real estate,” because the ones that are in real estate do really well. The people that tend to dabble, in my experience, the dabblers end up getting burned. They learn the expensive lesson and eventually they bail out.

Andrew: I’m looking at your timeline. 2002, you started Alpine Computers, 2004, Alpine Websites. I know there are others. 2005, you start Kent Properties. How do you not dabble when you’ve got a store to run and customers coming in the door, website to run and customers who need to be satisfied and you have to understand the real estate market? How do you learn them all in depth while managing all these other businesses?

Josh: That’s a great question. For me, all these interests, everything we’re talking about like Kent Properties, for somebody listening that might say, “Properties has nothing to do with computers and computers has nothing to do with web.” But for me, these are passion points for me. I actually get excited to lay in bed on my iPad looking at Craigslist and all these real estate sites. That’s maybe a dorky thing for some people, like, “That doesn’t appeal to me at all.” If that doesn’t appeal to you, maybe you shouldn’t be in real estate.

I genuinely like looking at buildings. I love getting deals. I’ve got a mix of downtown commercial buildings. I’ve got residential and I love them all. So, it helps because it fuels off a passion. So I think that’s what allows me to listen to podcasts like yourself, I know you do a lot of real estate stuff and talk to people on real estate and things like that and as you’re listening, you pick up these tips and tricks and apply them as you go.

Andrew: I wonder if you’re also distilling down the questions to a few key ones and you don’t get distracted by the others. Are you good at that? Is that one of your superpowers?

Josh: I’ve never heard of it referred to as a superpower, but sure. I would agree with that. I’m definitely—you hear Gary V. talk clouds and dirt, I’m in the clouds. Yeah. I’m big picture, big process and then I feel like I’m really good at getting people that are good at the dirt. They’re really good at the logistics, the policies, the processes and doing the same thing over and over and they’re robust. Once you’ve got those robust things, then you can scale.

Andrew: What do you look for it in the people you hire to know they can actually both come up with the numbers they can hit and the process to hit them and maintain those systems and the people. What do you look for?

Josh: For me, I’m looking for people that have a crazy attention to detail, those kinds of folks that can really follow—I need the people to do the details because I’m the details guy. I tend to gravitate towards cloud people because I can sit here and we can talk conceptually and stuff. Those usually are a red flag for me, like we won’t work so well together.

Andrew: So, you want to spend time with them, but you don’t do well with them. By the way, for anyone who doesn’t know the clouds and dirt thing, it’s Gary Vaynerchuk saying you have to be as a business owner, he does anybody, he likes to be in the clouds, meaning he likes to see the big picture, but on the other hand, he also wants to be in the dirt, meaning he wants to be the guy setting his up his own Instagram account, taking his own photos on Instagram, being the practitioner so he could understand the details of the job.

You’re saying you’re a cloud person, you like spending time in the cloud with people, but that’s not the wrong hire for you. You need to understand that you need the people who are in the dirt who get really psyched about the little things like fixing a toilet. Maybe that’s too specific.

Okay. I think I’ve got a sense of how you operate. Let’s take a moment and then I’ll talk about my sponsor and see where this idea came from because I heard what you said to another outlet, one of the local newspapers, I think, and that shocks me how you got into this business. But first, I have to tell everyone about a company called Formstack. Josh, did you ever hear of Formstack before Mixergy or am I about to introduce you to something?

Josh: Brand new to me.

Andrew: Great. Good. This is a company that’s been around for a long time, but I think most people who interact with them don’t know they exist. They create forms, forms that you can put on your site, that look like they’re part of your business. Forms are pretty boring. People are tuning out when they hear that. Here’s what you could do with a smart form. Here’s what we did.

I had this idea that people keep emailing me about how to interview, “What’s the mic? How I do the right interview? How do I tell stories?” all this stuff. I wasn’t sure, “Should I actually be teaching this? Is this something worth my attention?” So I went and I created a form saying a couple of things, “What do you want to learn about interviewing? Why do you want to learn it?” and maybe one other question. I sent out an email to my whole list and I said, “Guys, people have been asking me about interviewing. If you’re interested, click this.” They clicked the link, they saw my form.

Once they submitted it, I said, “Would you actually pay to learn this?” and a bunch of people said, “No, no problem.” The form needs to be smart enough to ask the people who said no, “Why not?” so we can learn from them what’s missing. People who said yes, the form then said, “Why?”

And as soon as they hit submit, I took them to another form and said, “Why don’t you put down a deposit?” because I wanted to understand do they really want to pay. I don’t want someone who just fills out a form and says, “Yes, I would pay.” I want the form to say, “Pay $10, pay $1, pay something.” That helped me understand that there was a demand, why the demand was there and that there were people willing to pay.

The reason I’m telling you all this is because a smart form will do all that for you guys. It will allow you to ask one question and then have a follow up question. It will allow you to collect payment using whatever you want, Authorize.net, Stripe, whatever it is and then forward the email or the notification from it to whatever person on your team that you want. The right form should also integrate with every tool that you have.

That’s why I’m recommending Formstack. What I like about Formstack is they’ve been around. They’re not going to disappoint you, meaning they’re up, they’re not going to go away tomorrow and they work with every tool and they have way more features than I can be here boring you and Josh with. I’m going to stay big picture in the clouds and tell you guys if you want to get into the dirt on this, go check out the details on this special URL where they’re going to give you 25% off your first three months and 14 days free to really try it out and see how it works and how it can change your business.

Go to Formstack.com/Mixergy. Really, take a look at that list of features because it’s going to show you what you can do to grow your business. Even if you don’t use them you can use these forms to change the way you sell.

By the way, Josh, my voice is kind of hoarse. I get invited to speak at conferences. I’ve been saying yes lately. My thing at conferences is I have to meet every single guest. I can reach a bigger audience here, but if I’m going to fly out, I want to have a bigger relationship with each person. We have to talk to them all.

Josh: Very cool.

Andrew: You don’t go to conferences, do you?

Josh: Not a ton. I actually just spoke at EComm Summit in California. That was really my first time like speaking to a large audience. Then I spoke at—there was one, it’s in Florida, Izea Fest, a lot of social media influencers there. I got to follow Daymond John, which is kind of cool. So, actually, I guess I’ve done it twice now, but it’s something I enjoy, just not something I do a ton of.

Andrew: I feel like if I start to see you at conferences here in San Francisco I should be aware that you’re looking to raise money or a biz dev deal. Frankly, that’s a large reason why many people come and do an interview here. They’re ready to let the world know so they can buy or be bought.

Josh: Not in my case.

Andrew: Was this like a side hustle that started SunFrog? Was it just you saying, “This is a fun thing. I like t-shirts?

Josh: It really was. At the time, picture a small web firm with four or five employees and in this little web firm, we’re building websites, whether you’re a lawyer or lawn care service or whatever. They would come in, we’d draw up the website. We’d build it. It’s only fun for so long, but after a few years of doing this, you start developing the, “We should build our own websites.”

We started doing that and SunFrog was one of a couple, maybe a half a dozen little side hustle ideas. We had a little bit of a seasonal trend. Anybody who knows web development firms, there’s a big push for the new year, right? Every business owner on the planet wants to revamp their website and their image for the first part of the year, but by March or April, everybody’s overworked and they want to go on spring break and it’s over.

Then there’s these business trends. We found we use the downtime. Our downtime was building our side hustles. SunFrog was the first one. Our goal at the time was a couple hundred shirts a day. When we launched the website, we sold zero. So everybody can relate with me, when we launched the website, we sold zero shirts.

Andrew: This was you thinking, “I’m going to design the t-shirts. I’m going to list them on my site. I’m going to sell them on my site and on Amazon and your site sold zero shirts.”

Josh: Yeah.

Andrew: But for how long? I get you put up a website and the first eight people aren’t even going to know it’s there. Google doesn’t even know it’s there. How long did you go before you made a first sale?

Josh: Right. That’s a really good point. So, anybody listening today who’s in the physical product space, like selling a shirt, selling a coffee cup, whatever it is, what we did is we leveraged the market share that was already at Amazon, Etsy, eBay. So, what we did is as SunFrog, we had accounts on these other platforms. It allowed us to be in their ecosystem and to pull sales based on what was trending and what was selling.

So, we actually started making our first money, got our first taste of cash flow and proof of concept through these other platforms. But you’re paying all these fees. So, that’s where SunFrog kind of came from. It’s like, “Let’s get them over to SunFrog for their repeat purchases.”

Andrew: How? I talk to so many entrepreneurs now who are selling on Amazon and they’re doing well, but Amazon will not let you take your customers off of their platform. They make it hard for you to communicate. How did you do it?

Josh: Yeah. They do make it really hard. What we were doing—and this was three or four years ago, maybe five years ago now—we were putting coupons in the bag. So, for your next purchase, go here to save—and sometimes real aggressive coupons because we wanted to pull them away because you’re right, all these platforms, they make it very hard to do this nowadays. But what we found, Andrew, is the coupons didn’t work.

The site, like we’d get a sale a week, three sales. It wasn’t working. From my web background, I knew we were going to float in cyberspace like all these other websites. It needs a model. It needs a plan. So, when we started. We just had our core products, but we knew we had to build a platform. We had to have a platform where people could upload their art and where people could sell their art.

Andrew: Because then every one of them becomes a salesperson for you.

Josh: Yes. That’s what we did. That was the key. That was the secret sauce right there.

Andrew: Was that part of the original idea, that you were going to empower me to create a Mixergy t-shirt and encourage me to sell it to my people or was it originally you were going to create your own shirts?

Josh: I would say it was within the beta development phase. I would say that was part of the plan within weeks of either launching or even at the time of launch. It’s so fuzzy in my memory. I often say we built it from the ground up by sellers for sellers because we were sellers. We were selling on these other platforms. We didn’t like the fees. We didn’t like how it worked. There were things we thought we could do better. So, that’s why SunFrog became this marketplace and why we did the rev splits the way we did it.

Andrew: Let me ask you this. I interviewed the founders of Teespring 2013. They were longtime Mixergy listeners. They said, “We’re ready to do an interview.” They existed two years—when did you guys launch?

Josh: I want to say we were a year behind them or even in the year of.

Andrew: They existed. Zazzle existed. What did you see in the world that was missing and say, “The world needs us to come in here too?”

Josh: Yeah. Well, good question. Zazzle, CafePress, Redbubble, a lot of the ones at the time we were launching, we didn’t know of Teespring or their model, we knew of Zazzle and CafePress. What we didn’t like is their payout. So, you sell a $20 t-shirt, you get like 10%, 15%. So you’re making $2 or $3. It wasn’t enough to make it worthwhile. That’s why I feel like a lot of these sellers were in the physical space on Amazon, Etsy, eBay, but there is one big problem. When you’re using those platforms, you’re usually the one printing, storing, warehousing. We felt as a company, we could eliminate that part of the equation.

So, when we came out, we came out of the gate paying 45%. Then if you were the artist, you got 5%. So, you came out of the gate with 50% on some products. So, if you sell a $20 shirt, you’re making $10.

Andrew: What do you mean? The person who sends the lead over to you get 45% and the—

Josh: Yeah.

Andrew: I see. So if I make a Mixergy t-shirt and somebody else in my audience starts selling it, they make 45%, I make 5%. If I do both, make the t-shirt and get people to it, I get half the revenue?

Josh: You got it. We started that way right out of the gate. I think that’s why we had such explosive growth. It was a big part of it because these folks that were using Zazzle and CafePress, they were easy to convert to SunFrog. It was like, “You’re going to give me half? We’re used to 10% or 15%.” And we had more of an evergreen model.

What I mean by that is you could buy the shirt any day and it would ship within a day or two as opposed to our competitors in the competitive market. What Teespring came out with was a platform. So it would run for a week or two and then it would close off. When it closed off, if it met the amount of the minimum, it would print. If it didn’t, you’d get an apology email saying, “Hey, we’re sorry. You don’t have good taste, your shirt didn’t sell.”

Andrew: How much money did you have to spend on equipment to be able to do this just in time printing and shipping of all these different styles?

Josh: Well, today, our print partners have millions of dollars’ worth of printers.

Andrew: So, you didn’t even have all the equipment.

Josh: Originally, we did. I had a printing company that pre-existed before SunFrog. If you can imagine, I had another side hustle there. So, I already had the screen printing technology, but we were quick to adopt the DTG, the on-demand print technology because we’re living in an era and time where it just felt like a bad consumer experience to have to wait until you could sell so many. Could you imagine going to Amazon and them sending you an email, “Not enough people bought the TV you want, so we’re not going to manufacture the TV.”

We wanted to bridge that gap. We felt the only way to do that was with DTG, which is kind of expensive. These are $40,000 printers. We’ve got about $150 of them now. So, some of these companies—it was a newer technology. So, you hate to be the early adopter on some newer technology at times, but it’s where we needed to go. It gave us the full cover gamut so we can print anything.

Andrew: I’m looking at one of the early versions of your site. There’s a lot of personalization. So, I can buy a t-shirt that says made in the year of my birth, aged to perfection and you can have the exact same t-shirt with the year of your birth. What I’m curious about is on the left side of the page, you want to know people’s name, their birth year, their hometown, their job title and their interests. What were you thinking? Why all that data? Were you trying to get a sense of who your audience was or were you thinking the more data they give me, the more my software will figure out the right t-shirts to show them?

Josh: Yeah. It kind of creates a consumer experience, where once we have that, the emails, the webpages, the search, it all renders to be a little smarter. What we’re doing is we’re playing off what Facebook does automatically. So, most of those birth year shirts were selling through Facebook. We sell the craziest shirts, like, “I’m an Ohio Girl in Florida World,” because we know you used to live in Ohio and you moved to Florida.

We sell shirts that are so impulsive. People see that shirt and it’s like, “That was built for me.” There’s an individualism, where it’s not just a sports team. That stuff doesn’t seem to sell nearly as well as the individualized product that speaks to them, especially if it speaks to them at a hobby or lifestyle level. That’s where Facebook changed the game for everybody.

Andrew: How did you use Facebook to do that?

Josh: So, if you remember, I want to say it was late 2015, Facebook changed their algorithm and they built these in line ads. You could do the boost, you could buy the ads. Prior to that, because we preexisted prior to that, and what we did was we would partner with big fan pages. I can remember one of my first sales calls was to hunting—on Facebook, if you search hunting, they’ve got like two million fans.

I called these guys up and I said, “Do you want to sell hunting shirts?” They’re like, “Yeah, what’s the catch.” I’m like, “Share this link, I’ll give you half the money.” They’re like, “Okay.” They posted a t-shirt and I want to say they made $30,000 in like a couple hours. They called me back like, “Is this number real?” I’m like, “Yeah, you just made $30,000, guys, nice job.” They’re like, “Can we do it again?” I’m like, “Yes, you can do it again and again.”

Andrew: That was your plan. Was it you doing that too? Even though you’re the guy in the clouds, was it you actually contacting them all?

Josh: Yeah. Early on I had one guy helping me with biz dev and that was our job, amongst like running the company and buying equipment, I remember flying around the country and picking up equipment for my printing side of the business, things like that. That was the early on proof of concept. You know what, word spreads. The hunting people tell the science people who tell the other people. Before you know it, they’re knocking at your door because they’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month sharing shirts through your platform.

That was the beginning. I’ll be honest, Andrew. We were scared when Facebook changed the algorithm where fan pages didn’t have the reach. All these guys that were making $30,000 to $50,000 with one post, they would go down to hundreds of dollars. They thought something was broken. I’m like, “Yeah, Facebook changed it.” We thought it was over. But it had just begun. Then it was scalable.

Andrew: So, the hunting people you contacted, that was a Facebook page. I see. They would lose power in Facebook’s new algorithm change. The groups started to get more power because group stuff was getting surface more. That’s a change you made, going after the groups.

Josh: Yeah. So, picture this. What happened is used to, you had to have a fan page with millions of fans to make money. When Facebook changed the game, like late 2015, a kid in his bedroom could build a fan page with no followers and just start running ads and then what they do is because we’re giving them half the money, they spend $3 to $4 on customer acquisition so that they’re making $6 or $7 per sale and that’s how we have these success stories of these kids who make $1 million in ten weeks. We’ve got a kid that made $1 million in 20 weeks. These kids—I say kids because most of them do fall into that demographic. These kids know how to scale up on Facebook.

Andrew: How do they know how to buy those ads?

Josh: They’re using the tools that Facebook has built and they’re targeting based on behavior. Anytime they can take a cross-section—so, let’s say people who own golden retrievers and people who like motorcycles, they’ll put a golden retriever on the motorcycle and they’ll target you. They know that you like those things because the way you engage on Facebook. When you see that shirt, it just resonates to you. You think it’s hilarious. You click it. It’s impulsive. It’s $20. We got your money before you had time to think about it and everybody wins. They use the tools within Facebook to do that kind of targeting.

Andrew: And you also offer free classes in online marketing to teach people how to do this stuff for their group.

Josh: Yeah.

Andrew: You said that one of the first goals was to sell 100 t-shirts a day. Do you know how long that took and what that meant for the business?

Josh: Well, at the time, we were building websites and I remember talking to the guys, I’m like, “Guys, if we could just sell 100 t-shirts for $20, that’s $2,000, that covers what we need because the difference is in hosting revenue. If we do this, we won’t have to make websites anymore.” That was our goal. We crushed 100. 100 became 1,000, 1,000 became 10,000 and it kept going and it happened really fast.

It is not the norm. I’ve owned a lot of businesses. This is not the norm. This was a lot of good timing, a lot of good hands on deck, but that is not the norm. Sometimes in a life, a lid is removed for us, Facebook did that. Had Facebook not done what they had done, we’d still be hustling and calling and building the network the natural way.

Anybody listening today, I would hope your listeners are going, “Holy cow, Facebook is powerful. I’ve heard this now probably for the 100th time, Facebook is powerful.” It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a service like Formstack or ActiveCampaign or if you’re selling a physical product. Facebook is where it’s at.

Andrew: Let’s talk specifically—I like to make these interviews timeless, but sometimes I think it’s helpful to understand what’s working today to get a sense of how you think and how we can all think beyond today. So, before we started, you said, “I want people to learn how to do this.” What can they take from this interview that will allow them to do marketing better?

Josh: Yeah. What I’d love to say to anyone listening that is not in the Facebook game, I would say you need to be. Maybe you’re like, “I’m not a marketer.” Well, if you work at a company and your company has a product or service, I think you owe it to your company or whoever you work for or yourself to know the skill. This is a skill that will be the wild west of right now. We’re now almost three years into this run.

It will change, but right now the absolute cheapest audience, the absolute cheapest lead you can buy right now is through Facebook. It used to be Google. Let’s rewind ten years. It was Google ads. Then it got saturated. It got overpriced and we all moved on. Now it’s Facebook. It won’t always be Facebook. Early tests have shown that Pinterest is where it’s at and some of these other platforms. But right now, 95% of your resources and your energy, I believe, should be in Facebook.

Andrew: Is there anything working especially well on Facebook?

Josh: Yeah, the way you can target audiences based on behavior. If you think about it, with Google, ten years ago, you’re doing it based on geolocation and you’re doing it based on a keyword. It was pretty rough and time of day. During this time of day in Florida, I want to sell shorts, where now it’s like I want to sell shorts to people who are avid swimmers who engage on these kinds of platforms and are also of this type.

It’s a completely different game. You’re spending pennies sometimes for acquisition or even just a couple dollars. As that applies to your business model—I would recommend anybody listening today, you can go to Facebook and watch these videos. We’re talking less than an hour, you’ll have your head wrapped around everything I’m saying, or go to SunFrog. Down at the bottom, there’s a link, SunFrog School. We don’t charge a thing for it. We do it in the hopes that you’ll love it so much that you will try to sell a shirt and we show you how easy it is to sell a shirt, monetize it and then scale. All you have to do is come up with the idea.

Andrew: What about the designs? Who comes up with that?

Josh: So, great question. As it relates to SunFrog, there’s over 100 million unique designs on our website. We are the world’s largest for selection. You can literally go to SunFrog and search zebra or elephant and see pages and pages of zebra/elephant, where you go to Amazon or eBay, you might see a half a dozen. So, we’ve got more selection than anybody. You can go to SunFrog and you can pick any one of the shirts, it doesn’t matter and the artist will get 5.5% anytime one sells. You as a seller will get 45% to 65% based on how much volume you bring SunFrog.

Andrew: Okay.

Josh: So just to drive it home maybe, we’ve got these kids that have Instagram followings. They’ve got YouTube followings. Let’s say you’re into golf. You post a golf shirt. You’re wearing a golf shirt. You post a link. They’re making roughly $10 a shirt and they’ll sell 10 just with a shirt, so they make $100 in an afternoon of playing golf and then selling golf shirts to their friends. You’ll see how anybody can do this at any level. As you start selling, you start upping your game.

Andrew: All right. So far, we’ve only talked about things working out, working out. One of the things you told our producer is it’s important to talk about failure and I think most people don’t appreciate the value of it enough. So, why don’t I take a moment to talk about my second sponsor and when we come back, I want to hear about failure and why you think if you could teach a class, you told our producer it would be about the Art of Failure.

The sponsor is a company called ActiveCampaign. Look at the intelligence that Josh brings to buying Facebook ads. He’s not just saying one ad for everybody who you’re targeting. There’s micro-targeting. That’s what’s happening here in his world in social. Why are you, if you’re listening to me, sending out the exact same email to every person on your list. You shouldn’t be doing it.

If you’re doing it, it’s probably because you got suckered in to buying one of the simplistic email software out there, which I get, or one that’s overly complicated that never let’s you actually take full advantage of the targeting. That’s why I’m recommending that you check out ActiveCampaign and go sign up for it right now. What ActiveCampaign will allow you to do is target people based on what they’ve opened in the past. What emails did they open? What emails did they click on? What parts of your website did they go to?

So, imagine if you had a t-shirt site that was maybe even selling only Josh’s t-shirts from SunFrog and you noticed that someone just kept going over and over to the t-shirts that were from California. Maybe your email targets them and says, “We have these new California t-shirts.” Maybe they’re going in by topic, maybe they’re checking out one section of your site that’s for startup t-shirts. Then your email should not send them a newsletter—I hate newsletter emails—and should not send everyone the exact same thing, but instead should say, “We have this discount or we have this new t-shirt in the startup category.”

That’s what smart marketing automation does and it also empowers your people when they have tech support issues or customer support issues to deal with that they can see everything your contact has done on your site. So, they get to know the person as soon as they come on. If you want to see the power of marketing automation, even if you don’t want to sign up for ActiveCampaign, they have such freaking great images here that describe how marketing automation should be done via email.

I’m going to recommend you go check out this page, ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy. Check out the features. Check out that little image on the bottom right of their site and you’ll see how to think about marketing automation. In one image, you’ll understand it fast.

If you’re ready to sign up, because you’re a Mixergy person, you can try it for free. Because you’re a Mixergy person, you can get your second month for free. Because you’re a Mixergy person and you want to take stuff to the next level, they’re going to give you two free sessions with their consultants, one on one sessions with their consultants so they can help you strategize how to do marketing automation right, really bring it into your business.

And also because you’re a Mixergy person, if you got wrapped up in some overly simplistic or overly complicated email solution, they’re going to migrate you for free, all because you’re coming in for Mixergy. Frankly, you also get tagged as a Mixergy customer in their database, which means that they know to take care of you forever because I will not let anyone mistreat my customers, even if they’re a sponsor who paid for an ad and the customer is upset a year from now. So, go check it out by going to ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy.

So, Josh, you’ve had some time to think about failure. What’s an example of a time that you failed and what do we take away from that?

Josh: I think failure, as it relates to us as entrepreneurs or leaders, I feel like people just embrace failure like they should. I think there’s a lot of school of thought like you should avoid failure, stay away from failure. But in my case, like I literally in my building, I have these framed things that I hang down the hall and they’re my failures. Mostly, they’re businesses, right?

Andrew: What would I see if I were to walk down your hall?

Josh: You would see business names that are no longer in existence. They’re messages to me. They’re reminders. I was mentioning Gary V. earlier and I was referencing his clouds and dirt and I totally dig that. I’m on board with him on that. But if you ever hear Gary V. talk about he ignores his failures, I’m on the opposite end. I don’t dwell on them, but I don’t want to forget them. I want to respect them because they have helped define who I am my journey.

So, when I walk down the hall or if you were to see this, you would see businesses like Alpine Signs or Tee Tournament, sites that I’ve launched, things that I’ve done that failed. I remember why they failed, why I should have never started them in the beginning and I remember what I’ve learned from them so I can move forward.

Andrew: Can you take me through one of them so I can learn from your experience?

Josh: Sure. Let’s use Alpine Signs as an example. Picture this—again, one of my side hustles. I’m in the tech world. I’m doing web businesses. I’ve got all these business contacts. I start a sign company because I have all the right business contacts. I’m an overnight success with my sign company. Everybody’s doing business with me. I’m vinyling radio stations on their vehicles and everything. It was the most successful failure I’ve ever had. Here’s what I mean by that. It consumed most of my time.

Again, for a guy who’s entrepreneurial the way I am with different side hustles, this business was taking up 80% of my time and maybe only yielding 5% of my revenue collectively and didn’t show any more promise and I should have seen that before I even launched it. I look back at that because I get pitched all the time for businesses now.

People are like, “Hey, Josh, can I pitch you?” I go to these angel investment-type things. The difference is I can kind of like—because I remember mine and because I don’t forget those, I’m like even if you succeed, you still fail because there are different levels of business. Some businesses can succeed within a geographic area or whatever and still fail from what I’m looking for at the level that I’m at now.

Andrew: So, what we’re taking away from this is be mindful of how much time you have to invest for the revenue and profit you’re getting and how big the market is. How would you have known that the sign business is not a big enough market?

Josh: Good question. Back to my little community of 3,500 people roughly, there was only 500 businesses registered with the Chamber of Commerce. If I have 100% of the business in my community, I only have 500 business clients and then I’ve got to reach outside the community. So, the stretch and the reach just isn’t there for the level of success and the kind of numbers I need it to yield for the amount of time I’m going to put in.

Another good example, Andrew, is I launched TheaterBot.com. It’s point of sale software for movie theaters. We were so excited because we love movies so much. We built this software, we deployed it. We sold it to five movie theaters and we’re like this industry kind of sucks. We don’t like this industry because there’s only like 2,500 theaters nationwide that aren’t part of some conglomerate and it’s like small market, small market, small market. And then we’re like even if we have major market share, we’re still not where we want to be.

So, these are different failures that I’m sharing along the way and these are from big picture and I’ve also got staffing failures and things along the way. You don’t want to forget. I think as entrepreneurs and stuff and as people, we fear failure because we don’t want to fail, we don’t want that stamp. I say you’ve got to kind of embrace it and you’ve got to say, “Hey, what did I learn? What’s my takeaway?”

Andrew: Mark Andreessen said that he learned a lot from the dotcom bubble bursting, but there were lessons that he needs to unlearn so that he’s not gun shy. Is there one thing that kind of put a fear in you that you need to get past? Is there one failure that you should almost forget?

Josh: That’s a really good question. Nothing really comes to mind. I’m sure there are those lessons because if you were to look at my wall, you might say this guy will probably never start another business again, but I’ve got a side hustle I just started a month ago. I’ve always got something cruising, but you don’t want to get to a place where it’s like okay, you process everything to death to where you can’t do it.

I think it’s just—in my sense, it’s a sense of refinement, my entrepreneurial journey has been 15 years. The reason I share this today is I’m hoping somebody that’s three years into their entrepreneurial journey can listen and hear this and say, “Ah, bigger cloud-level evaluation could serve me well,” but there are times for those companies that have these geographical lids because the stuff you’re going to learn in those, they’re going to make you a better leader, a better manager and a better people person, all these skills you need.

To be honest with you, had I built a $100 million a year company when I was 18, I would have screwed up big time. I would have been buying Ferraris and Learjets. I would have rubbed it in everybody’s face. They would have hated me. I would have been out of business a year later. The only reason we are still here is because I’ve had hard knocks and a school of training of 15 years of knowing the people are what make the company and learning to work with people and value them for who they are.

Andrew: What about—I’ve been wanting to follow up on this—our producer asked you about low point and you said that one of the hardest things is the people around you not losing faith. So, I get you saying, “You know what? This is going to go on my wall. I’m going to learn something from this. The next business is going to be even bigger and my current businesses are all going to benefit from it.” What about when there are people around you who don’t have that strength, who don’t believe and you have to give it to them and if you don’t get them to believe, their work is going to suffer, they’re going to feel like the cheerleader who says school sucks.

Josh: Yeah. Really, what it comes down to for your team is motivation and culture. Through good culture, you’ll get the motivation. If you have a really good culture, you’ll get people that will give you naturally 20% to 30% more productivity. But if you’ve got a culture where people fear their job or they don’t like what the company is about or the way they’re treated, you’re going to need more employees that cover that.

For me, I really don’t count on motivation. I’ve got this discipline built into me. I do the hard stuff. I have meetings and things I do not want to do, but I do it because I’m disciplined and I know the results of being disciplined. But when it comes to your staff, they may not have that discipline. So you, as a leader, need to really work with them on disciplining them into the routine.

That’s where the inspect what you expect comes back in. You’re making sure they’re rhythmically following a disciplined process. Along that, it’s my job, obviously, as the leader, as the visionary to cast motivational style information so that people can rally because when people are motivated, you definitely get more out of them, hands down.

Andrew: What do you do? What’s your motivational style? How do you get them motivated?

Josh: I think passion is contagious. I would say the number one motivational element for me is passion. We have a huddle meeting every Monday morning. There’s about 40 career professionals that come into this little classroom setting. I get in front of all 40 of them, a little state of the union, rally them up and then my directors all speak to each department.

And then I do a daily huddle with my directors, with my core team and then I require that all my directors have daily huddles with their team so this energy can kind of continue on. That keeps us communicating strong and it keeps us at a running pace because we’re moving and it’s either we need you to move or get off the bus kind of thing. It sets a tone.

Andrew: What’s this thing that you’re working on that’s going to be the Amazon Prime for franchise apparel?

Josh: So, one of the things we’re doing—so, SunFrog has this explosive growth, where we’re exploding, we’re doing 95+ percent on Facebook, which is amazing and scary at the same time. We’ve become virtually a household name. During the holidays, our Alexa ranking beat Victoria’s Secret and a bunch of other big names. We were in the top 200. Usually, if you’re in the top 500, you’re a household name. We came out of nowhere. Now what we need is sustainability.

One of our sustainability moves is to build other channels. So, what we’re doing is we’re leveraging our positioning, our buying power and everything and we’re building fulfillment centers. We are partnering with big brands, like big pizza places. We just signed old Chicago last week and sent them nearly 20,000 hoodies to all their locations nationwide.

The perfect customers for us would be like Little Caesars and Dominos and those kinds of companies that need uniforms for their staff. They need them all the time. They’re frequently buying and we have them in a warehouse and we pick and ship same day, but we give them the buying volume on their entire year upfront. So, if you’re buying even just 5,000 shirts or 20,000 shirts, whatever it is, we’re produce them, manufacture them, sit on them for you and or print on demand for you.

Andrew: So, I hire a new person. I need them to have a new shirt. I come to SunFrog fulfillment and you guys will send it over.

Josh: Yeah. Perfect example.

Andrew: I see fulfillment.SunFrog.com, is that that business or is that a different business?

Josh: It’s kind of a division within SunFrog that we’re just now starting to roll out. It’s maybe three to six months old right now and so far, so good. The consumers that we’re reaching out to, it is a service that they want. A perfect example is like a pizza parlor. They’re going to hire an employee Monday and they need two hats and five t-shirts, but they don’t want to store them in their facility and they want a great price and they want the quality to be consistent. We will send them the two hats and the five shirts at the same price as if they bought 5,000. They’re eating it up, so far, so good.

Andrew: I see. But that’s not fulfillment? Is fulfillment where you’re servicing retail stores, like clothing stores?

Josh: Well, in our wholesale division, our fulfillment is we’re fulfilling their orders to themselves, but they’re multi-location. That’s where it gets a little trickier. A lot of the customers we have have hundreds of locations. So, they can all log in to their individual portal. The franchises can then police the quality and things like that.

Andrew: I see. So, you’re thinking, “We’ve got this ability to print. Where else can we do it where it’s necessary in an ongoing basis?”

Josh: Yeah.

Andrew: You know what? I’m looking back at your history, the thing that I didn’t talk about at the start was you’re a guy who was an entrepreneur even going back to when you were a kid. You sold what when you were in school?

Josh: Yeah. When I was in like elementary school, I was the kid with a pack of gum selling each stick for $0.25 knowing the whole pack only cost me $0.25. So, I’d have $1.25 gross and $1 net. When you’re a kid, that seems like a lot of money. Now I laugh it. I remember making $6 or $7 a day selling gum to my friends because their change from their lunch, they had exactly a quarter from the $2.00 that was $1.75. So, I got all the schools change money, at least in my class. Yeah. That spawned into lawn care, always selling or servicing at some level early on. I’m 38. I think I’ve only been employed for two years and that was right out of high school.

Andrew: You think your mom was inspiring in the ability to sell. Why?

Josh: Well, in my case my mom and my dad, they had like this debt system that I’ve never come across anybody else that’s ever raised their kids this way, so caution for those listening. But we had on the refrigerator me and my sister’s name. It would say Josh. It would have my debt.

Here, I’m a 12-year old kid and I owe my mom $20 because my mom, if she said, “Here’s $20, it’s like it wasn’t free.” Now, my clothes were free and the food and the house was free. It wasn’t like I was an adult when I was 12. I was still a kid. But if I wanted something, like a toy or something like that, it was never on the house. It was always on my debt. So, that’s where the gum came in.

That’s where I had a real appreciation at an early age for money to understand it. I understood debt at a young age. I didn’t have to go through my college years and learn debt and rack up the credit card. I did it when I was 12, 13 and 14. It really gave me an appreciation for paying your bills and not letting your debt get too high.

Andrew: I want to close out with two things. The first is a book that you recommend. You told our producer it’s Grant Cardone’s book, “The 10X Rule,” why?

Josh: That was one of them. I think I gave them three books. Depending on the audience, you have a very big audience. So, I was thinking big massive audience, what would suit them? The three I gave them, one was Dale Partridge just launched one called “Launch Your Dreams,” I went through it real quick and it’s a five-minute every day and every day he gives you something. But at the end of 30 days if you follow him, your business is up and running.

I felt like anybody listening who wants to engage should read Dale Partridge’s book. Anybody who just needs that motivational kick in the pants, I would say Grant Cardone’s “10X,” because he just demands it of himself and as you read it, it kind of gets you to think, “I’ve got to start thinking bigger and acting big and man up and I need to move.”

The one that I would say for me personally, to answer the question directly, would be Simon Sinek has a book. I think it’s called “The Power of Why” or “The Reason of Why,” it’s the why book. It’s white with a big red why on it. I read that book and I was like, “Wow, I’ve been doing this for the last ten-plus years, but the way he articulates the why and then the hows so that when you have that why, that is your guiding principle.

Andrew: What is your why?

Josh: Well, my why is a little bit different from business to business based on why we’re doing what we’re doing for what consumer level. But at my core, I have an inner company, a talent—remember that web firm I was referring—for me, they are my why. I really want desperately to be on the shuffleboards when I’m 60 and 70 with the same group. That means everything to me, that tribe, that team, whatever we call that.

I’ve got guys now who have worked for me for 15 years and I love knowing their strengths and their weaknesses and I love doing life with these people. So, they are my why and they are why we do what we do. The hows always change. I think anybody who’s looking to level up, if they read that book, it will certainly empower you not just for yourself, but even as you communicate to your teams and to your company, like when you have that guiding why, it really helps everything else fall right into place.

Andrew: So, here’s the final thing—by the way, yes, Simon Sinek’s book is really good. I remember he did an interview with me after the book was published, before it was a major success, really.

Josh: Oh, really? Cool.

Andrew: I said, “Most authors don’t want to do interviews after the book is published. I know you really care about the topic of this book because you don’t want to get a few more sales.” It stuck with me how much he’s done with it because he believes so much in it and the impact on people.

Josh: Yeah.

Andrew: I was spying on you a little bit because part of my job is to go back and look. Here’s a small thing that came up—

Josh: You do your homework, man.

Andrew: Nothing bad. I brought up all the weird things, all the doubts that I had I checked out and things are fine. But I wanted to see what did your site look like before? So, I went to Internet Archive and I saw that SunFrog.com used to be a surface protection company. It’s still in existence. I think they have a different domain. You bought the domain from them sometime around 2015. Why was this name so important to you that you had to buy the domain from someone who had it?

Josh: So, we started as SunFrogShirts.com. So, I was heavy on the SunFrogShirts. This poor guy was emailing us and kind of getting upset because he’s like, “I’m getting 100+ customer service inquiries.” His phone is ringing. They’re leaving voicemail. There was some buyer confusion. I ended up offering to buy the domain name off the gentleman and then I bought him a bunch of SunFrogDeckSealants and different domain names in part of a trade.

But lesson learned too, like try to have your domain name squared away because it costs a lot more when you have to buy it that way. And for the long play, SunFrog, hopefully will be the brand, the name. Just like GoDaddy isn’t GoDaddyDomains, it’s GoDaddy or Monster Energy can just be referred to as Monster. My hope, my goal is fast forward a few years and the world knows the name SunFrog.

Andrew: It’s a very visual name. I think you said you came up with it partially because you were interested in the Geico gecko. The sun and the frog and clearly images you can have in your head and the logo reinforces it. It’s amazing to see what you’ve done with that logo, that little bit of an idea that as you said, started out as a side hustle, has become this massively successful business. I’m excited to see where you go with this, what conferences you speak in, what the extensions are.

For anyone who wants to check it out, go check out SunFrog.com. I appreciate you doing this. I’m also grateful to the two sponsors I brought up in this interview. The first will help you more than just forms, but really smart information gathering and sales. Go check out Formstack.com/Mixergy. If you want to do your email right, go check out ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy. If you invite me to another conference, I may lose my voice completely, but it will be worth it. Thanks, Josh, for being here.

Josh: Awesome. Thanks for having me.

Andrew: Thanks. Bye, everyone.


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