How Jo Overline kept SwingDev from being a one hit wonder

How does a startup founder keep his company from being a “one hit” wonder?

Five years ago I did an interview with a founder named Jo Overline who got a lot of press for an app he created called Ugly Meter. It was even featured on the Howard Stern Show. But he never wanted to be a one hit wonder.

A few weeks ago Jo emailed me and said, “We actually have a real agency now…and I’d like to come back to Mixergy to talk about how we did it.”

Today Jo Overline is the founder of SwingDev, which builds web and mobile apps for startups and early stage companies.

Jo Overline

Jo Overline

SwingDev

Jo Overline is the co-founder of SwingDev which builds web apps and mobile apps and they do everything from the design to creating scalable back ends and they specialize in working with startups and early stage companies.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I do interviews with entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses.

And a few years ago, five actually, I did an interview with today’s entrepreneur and check out this headline, I’m kind of proud of it, “Ugly Meter: How to Make Half a Million Dollars by Destroying Kids’ Self-Esteem.” Such a fun interview. This guy created an app that allowed you to take a photo of yourself and then it would give you a rating from zero to ten, let you know how ugly you were.

It did fantastically. The app got a lot of press. It was on Howard Stern. I think the day after it was on Howard Stern it did an extra $80,000 in revenue. It was one of several apps that Jo Overline and his company created. And I remember looking at their website at the time and it said something like, “Want us to build an app like this for you?” and there was a button there. For the most part, we ignored that part of the business. I think it was still kind of early. He was just getting going with that. My focus is on what people do, not what they’re going to do.

But a few weeks ago, Jo emailed me and said, “Andrew, we did it. We used to be a two-person operation. My cofounder designed the apps. I built them. Yeah, we got a lot of press, but I never wanted to be a one-hit wonder and we’re not, Andrew. We actually now have a real agency. We’re building real apps. We’ve got a big team of people, and I’d like to come back to Mixergy to talk about how we did it and what’s going on right now.” So that’s what we’ve got here.

Jo Overline is here for a repeat performance. He is the cofounder of SwingDev. They build web apps and mobile apps, and they do everything from the design to creating scalable back ends and they specialize in working with startups and early stage companies.

This interview is sponsored by two great companies. The first will help you do your email marketing right, not stupid email marketing, which a lot of other people specialize in, but marketing automation done right. It’s called ActiveCampaign. The second company is a system that we use to book guests and that I use whenever I want to close sales. It’s called Pipedrive. But I’ll tell you more about both of those later. Jo, welcome back.

Jo: It’s great to be here. It’s been too long.

Andrew: Yeah. You know I’m going to ask you about this. Last time, you were about half a million dollars from one app. Today, how much revenue are you guys doing annually from developing apps and other products for other clients?

Jo: Right around seven figures now, but we’re growing consistently.

Andrew: Give me a sense of it. We’re talking $5 million to $10 million or $1 million to $5 million?

Jo: $5 million to $10 million is accurate.

Andrew: $5 million to $10 million?

Jo: Yeah.

Andrew: How many people on the team?

Jo: We have almost 50 now.

Andrew: 50?

Jo: Yeah.

Andrew: And I know that you and I have both moved to the Bay Area since the last interview, but your team is in multiple places. Where are you guys?

Jo: Right. So we have a local office in Oakland. We have a team in Warsaw, Poland, and we have a third team in Cape Town, South Africa.

Andrew: Wow. All right. Give me an example of an app that you made that you’re especially proud of?

Jo: Well, Ugly Meter was interesting because it built all our success, but I wasn’t necessarily proud of it.

Andrew: You seemed proud of it at the time. I even told you what I was going to call the headline and you said, “I dig it.” I liked that you were willing to enjoy it. You know what? Actually, I just talked over what you were saying. You were about to say that you weren’t especially proud of it. Why not? What was it about it?

Jo: I’m proud of the success and what we turned it into and how it was leveraged to make something better. From a technology perspective, it wasn’t that innovative. For me, I want to create like new, exciting things. Although it had great success, it wasn’t the technological innovation that I . . .

Andrew: I see. You set out to do that. So was there an app that was especially technologically sophisticated that you’re proud you guys created?

Jo: You know what? Now that you mentioned it, there was something really cool we did a couple years ago for Disney, actually. It was early on when AR stuff was kind of almost just a fancy unknown thing. We made a really cool thing for kids to explore the park at Disney, where they would take their phones or their iPads and they would find these special little Mickey Mouse characters around the park. When the kids would find them, they’re board waiting in line and they’d find it. If they would hold their phone up to it, on the screen, the character would actually come to life on their screen.

It was so fun to watch because you’d see a kid holding up an iPad and he’d like look at it and Mickey Mouse would come alive and start talking to him on the screen and without fail, you have this iPad held up and the kid looks behind the iPad to see because they’re so confused how this has happened. To see that happen with users was like–it was just cool. But to see kids just get excited about it was a really neat thing and to see magic, like we like to create magic and that was a situation where we really could do it.

Andrew: So my sense is that at the time, you guys had a website called DapperGentlemen.com. You still do. That’s where you featured apps like the Ugly Meter and you had some kind of security app and you had some kind of an app called OhSnap, which was some kind of a camera app. I don’t fully understand them. But you were playing around with lots of apps. And the featured part of that site was the button that got people to contact you if they wanted an app developed. My sense is that button is what drove the first few customers. Am I right?

Jo: Yeah. Absolutely. Once we started getting press, we needed a way–as simple as it is, people needed to know how to get ahold of us. And yeah, it truly got some amazing leads through that, not only just founders with ideas, but we did deals with Lexus and ESPN. We had like–

Andrew: They’re coming in from like a USA Today story or Today Show story about the Ugly Meter and they’re saying, “You know what? These people are interesting and maybe they can build apps for us. They weren’t dismissing you because of the Ugly Meter.”

Jo: Yeah, not at all. There was mixed press about that, but I think in the end, the app world was relatively new back then and people knew they needed apps and they didn’t know who to contact.

Andrew: Interesting. Impressive. Okay. What I’m curious about is the why. Most people who have agencies do it because they don’t have a lot of money, don’t have a lot of resources and they want to make money by doing it for other people. Often in the back of their heads, they are thinking to themselves, “One day I’ll find my own application. One day I’ll create my own product. I won’t have to deal with these clients anymore and I’ll do big things.” You seem to be going backwards. Why did you go that way as opposed to saying, “I’ll just keep hammering away at these apps and one of them will be a long-term sustainable business like Evernote, for example?”

Jo: I realized actually through–I’ll tell you a story of a great failure I had that I realized that doing our own work wasn’t a guaranteed–it was like a lottery. I had no expectations for Ugly Meter to be successful. A couple of my friends and I, after that, we were like, “What do we do next?” We made a bunch of money. We’re software developers, and the dream is to like make games. So we’re like, “We’re going to make a game.”

We spent the next year making a game called Monsters Invade Oz. It was kind of like a–the easiest way to explain it was like a Pokémon-style game. We poured like our hearts and souls into that, and we were working day and night for like a year. We got it done. We were just so excited. In our heads, we had so much success before and we’re like, “We’ll just have more success, right? It’s an easy thing to do.”

Andrew: And now you’re actually going to put effort into it, where before you were being a little goofy with it, so of course effort is going to be better than goofy.

Jo: Yeah. It’s better than luck, of course. Now we’re going to make active decisions to be successful. We had the game. We launched it at the Game Developers Conference, and we actually won their GDC Game of the Year. We met Apple there. Apple loved it. Apple featured it. But this was right when free apps and in app purchases were kind of a new thing. People were trying to figure that out. We did it all wrong.

Andrew: What did you do wrong with it?

Jo: We didn’t really have a balance of like setting people up in an environment where they wanted to spend more money. It’s hard to get a dollar out of people. It’s really harder than it seems.

Andrew: Yeah.

Jo: Personally, I think we were too motivated by money and we were being greedy about like holding too much back and it just turned people off. While Apple featured the app, we rose in the charts, we were like in the top ten. We were great, but almost literally no money. I think we had–we had hundreds of thousands of downloads, and I think total spending ended up being like $200.

Andrew: Wow. I see. All right. So you realized, “You know what? This thing is actually harder than it seems. We kind of lucked into something that did well, but that’s no way to build a long-term business. Let’s not allow this kind of failure to keep happening. We’re going to build apps for other people.” You started building apps for other people. Your first clients came in. What did you learn about working with clients in the beginning? What’s a mistake that you made?

Jo: Taking the wrong clients.

Andrew: The wrong clients?

Jo: Yeah, taking the wrong clients and setting the right expectations. We realized that you can’t just like–to us, like I wanted to use what I learned and help other people succeed. So we really needed clients that were actually going to put effort and be more like partners. I knew we had to build a business off referrals. I realized how powerful those incoming leads were, and I didn’t want to be a sales guy. So we knew from the beginning we had to make every client out there should be our cheerleader to bring us more clients. But the only way that happens is if we were setting them up for success and working with the right people.

Andrew: Give me an example of a wrong client without mentioning their names, because I know once you mention their name, you’re going to want to hold back on detail. Give me an example–early days, you guys are starting, you’re building apps for other people. This guy seems okay. This company seems good. She’s a good client, it seems. But what happens? Give me an example.

Jo: Okay. I’ll give you one. We had a client that he wanted to change how booking was done in the hair salon industry. That was his area of expertise. The thing is really everyone has app ideas, but they underestimate the amount of work it takes to execute those ideas. So we didn’t quite realize that back then. He’s a nice guy. We worked really hard for him. We helped bring him to market with this product that was great, but he really just wouldn’t take the next step of realizing they should be treated like a real business. So it ended up being a failure for everybody. For him, he had this dream of like changing his industry.

Andrew: You’re telling me this guy’s paying money to build the app for him. You built the app but it fails as a business because he’s not promoting it. He thinks, “I create this, salons need this, we’re going to kill.” They don’t kill. They come back to you and say, “Hey, Jo, you and the team screwed up because if you did a good job, then this thing would have done better.” That’s the problem.

Jo: Right.

Andrew: And so you wanted, as a result of that, to take on clients who had reasonable expectations?

Jo: Uh-huh.

Andrew: Okay. Isn’t it enough to say maybe instead of changing clients, when you sit down with a client, all I can do is build this for you. You’re going to have to market it so you focus on doing a good job there, but not trying to manage their business at the same time.

Jo: You can say that up front, but no one remembers that when they’re trying to blame someone for failure.

Andrew: I see. And the truth is that if you know they’re going to fail, if you don’t stop them, there’s some responsibility on your pat or some pain you’re going to have to deal with because when someone fails, there’s pain to go everywhere.

Jo: Yeah. And for us, we have a genuine interest in people succeeding. If we don’t think someone has a valid business model or they’re not going to successfully execute, we will not take their money from them.

Andrew: Okay.

Jo: And we’re up front and honest about that. We have a culture of blatant transparency and honesty. So we’ll tell them, “We don’t feel this is a valid business model. We don’t feel right taking your money.”

Andrew: By the way, Jo, I’m standing for the very first time in an interview. I finally gave in and bought a stand-up desk because I couldn’t keep sitting all day. Then I said, “As long as I’m getting a stand-up desk, let’s get one of those flatbed treadmills, the walking treadmills I could put underneath. Maybe being more active will help me.”

This is my first hour standing up. My feet are kind of feeling a little bit of pain because of it. They gave me a free mat to put underneath my feet, so I’ve got that on the treadmill now. I’m sure I’m going to get used to it because I’m okay standing up. What bothers me is I spent time yesterday with a guy just adjusting my lighting, and it’s way too bright up here, like I need a visor and maybe not enough down here.

Jo: I’ve been considering the standing desk transition too, but I haven’t . . .

Andrew: People love it. A lot of people who love it, they talk nonstop about it, so I feel like maybe they’re just in some kind of a cult, but my wife’s been using it for three years. She never said a word about it until I said, “I’m buying one.” She said, “I have it. Stop yapping. I get it. It helps.”

Jo: The treadmill. That’s ambitious. I could never go that far.

Andrew: I know. And you know what? Frankly, I hate that I spent $1,000 on a treadmill that won’t go more than four miles an hour. Four miles an hour is not a run. But I wanted to be quiet. There are other people in the office. I want to make sure I’m not being a jerk. I’m acknowledging why I’m kind of shifting here.

Jo: To me four miles per hour is a run.

Andrew: All right. Back to the business–I get the sense of how you’re doing it. I also understand it’s you and your cofounder, two people programming–one programming, one designing, but two people doing all the work. At what point did you start bringing in other people and which other people did you bring in?

Jo: When we realized we couldn’t do it all on our own. We found people that we knew and we trusted and had–I was lucky enough to have people that had varied skills that balanced. So the balance, to actually really–

Andrew: Developers first?

Jo: The first step was to bring in two key developers because I couldn’t do everything myself. So we were really fortunate where we got the right people to come in and help us. So we had two of those guys come in who are key partners now and actually work and run our Warsaw office. One of my childhood friends, Matt, he was also there too, and he actually lived out in Warsaw and he’s actually the one that kind of created that relationship. Those three together have–

Andrew: Your cofounder lived in Warsaw?

Jo: Yeah, high school friend, actually, left Arizona and ended up over in Europe.

Andrew: I thought your cofounder was Ryan Allen.

Jo: So he was, but he’s not part of this now. So he wanted to get in the education industry and kind of went on a different path.

Andrew: I see. Okay. So then you brought in another cofounder, a guy you knew for a long time. Was he living in Warsaw at the time?

Jo: Yeah. He was actually living there. He lived there for several years. We were just talking one day. It was kind of random, but he was like, “There’s real talent here. They’re very strong in engineering. If you have more than you can take on, let’s maybe try to build a team out here.” Yeah.

Andrew: And did you hire full-time? No, you just hired people as you needed them at first, right? By the way, as you answer, I’m going to adjust the lighting. It’s kind of nuts.

Jo: No problem.

Andrew: Who did you hire first?

Jo: We brought those guys in as partners, really. We didn’t really treat them as employees, but really our next hire was–it’s a big leap to hire your first full-time employee. I had done it before, so I was comfortable with it in other businesses. We got our first full-time employee and he’s still with us. This was like four or five years ago. Things just naturally progressed from there. Because of our small team and we’re very close and we all had similar views, we built like this family style relationship with everyone in our business.

Andrew: What did a developer cost in Warsaw full-time?

Jo: Actually, I have no idea because I was not involved in that.

Andrew: Really?

Jo: Yeah. I trusted these guys to run that office for me.

Andrew: But you have a sense of like percentage-wise. Are we talking about 50% of U.S. developers, 75?

Jo: Actually, it’s interesting. Wages I know have gone up over the past few years. Excluding the Bay Area, which is just ridiculous and skewed what people make, remote work is like a real thing now. So guys will make 50% to 75% of what a U.S. developer would make, but with far more talent, frankly.

Andrew: I see. Yeah. And they’re happier and we’ll talk about happiness because I know that’s really important to you. I don’t know why, but you guys really obsess on–I guess I do know why, but you guys really obsess on it. Let’s talk about one other thing and then we’ll get into the sponsor and then come back into developing the business.

The thing I’m curious about is a company like yours takes on a lot of clients. You need a system for taking in new clients, improving the way you interact with them, right? What I’ve found is that consulting companies are often proud of that process. What was your process in the beginning and what’s it like now?

Jo: It was a mess, really. It was a mess in the beginning.

Andrew: When it was a mess, how did you do it?

Jo: We had no process. We’ve really learned in the past–even in the past year that we need processes for things. We can’t just–before it was just like everybody does whatever to make the business move forward.

Andrew: So a customer would come in and you guys would just all huddle together on a call.

Jo: Whoever could talk to them would. It was just really random. As we got bigger and we started having pods of teams working on projects and we couldn’t know everything, things would start to fall through the cracks. We would even lose valuable business leads. We really had to break things. Actually, it’s a focus of our company right now is just restructuring processes and procedures from the ground up.

Andrew: Like fixing them. But you do have some systems at this point, right?

Jo: Absolutely. It’s actually great. We’re heavily investing in custom software. We’ve realized the key to a successful project is like great communication with a client. We’re creating things to do that.

Andrew: I’ve worked with this company. I’ve wanted them to designed slides for an event that I was speaking at. They did beautiful work, gorgeous, but beyond that, what really excited me about working with them is they had a system for working with me, everything from like the very first call had a clear outline, clear direction, clear set of people on the call, and they were clearer to introduce who was on the call because my sense was they had a process because they probably screwed up at some point in the past.

They used Basecamp to keep things organized, not the most recent version of Basecamp, but the one that they knew and they liked and everything was communicated in Basecamp, so there was never any question. If I ever had any question about something, I wouldn’t have to go and ask them and wait for even an hour response, it was in Basecamp.

There was always a set of steps. Here’s what’s coming up next. I always felt like, “These people don’t know my message.” But then I looked at the process and I said, ‘This is so well organized. They’ve done this. They know it. They’ve got their thing together. I’m just going to trust their process because it’s so polished.” I love that.

I want to ask you about your system, but I’ve got to tell people about my first sponsor. This whole idea of having a systemized way of communicating with people, it’s what we do when we work with customers one on one, right? I have somebody who comes in to do an interview with me, I have a clear process with them. Jo had no doubt that I would show up right here. I had no doubt that Jo would show up here. He had no doubt that I would be prepared. I had no doubt that he would be prepared because we have a system when we’re working with one on one.

The problem is when we as entrepreneurs, as business people work with large numbers of people, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, often what we do is we make a mistake of speaking to all of them the same way, of not having a process to understand where they are in their relationship with us and improving it. Maybe someone who’s starting out should not get the latest email newsletter, for example. Maybe they should get an understanding of what we’re about. Maybe they should get a couple of things that we know are going to help them, etc.

So the difference that I’m talking about is the difference between using the standard email systems that most businesses, frankly including mine, start off with that all they do is they make it easy for you to collect email addresses and send out the same message to everyone. And they make it dead simple. It looks really pretty now. You think you’re making the right move because these people advertise everywhere. They’ll advertise on NPR. They’ll do bus ads, etc. So it feels comforting. But it doesn’t work. It gives people a really bad experience.

So the alternative is something called marketing automation, where as soon as somebody joins your mailing list–first of all, they make it easy for them to join your mailing list–and second, as soon as they join your mailing list, they’re onboarded properly. Maybe they’re asked a question. They don’t have to respond by emailing back. They can click a link. Are you in cold weather or warm weather? They click a link.

If they’re in cold weather, you stop sending them ads for t-shirts and shorts. You start telling them about how you also have hoodies. If they’re in different temperatures, they get different messages, but also where they are in their relationship with you. Maybe in the beginning, you don’t start by selling. How many people out there, Jo, have gotten emails from a business where it’s, “Here’s our newsletter and what’s 10% off?” Well, I’m not ready to buy 10% off. I don’t trust you yet. I trust Amazon, but I don’t trust you. Warm me up a little bit.

Imagine if the business knew first two or three weeks that a client is joining our mailing list or a potential client is joining our mailing list, we just educate them. We tell them about what it’s like to work out in our clothes. We tell them how we do it, why we do this, why there’s Nike in the world and Amazon in the world. We want to create a brand new fitness clothing line. We tell them and bring them in. Then after three weeks, we send them an offer or maybe we get a little smart.

Maybe we speed it up after a week, we send them an offer if we see they’ve been on our site and they’ve been clicking on the same shirt over and over again, we know they love it, they need something to push them over the edge and in that case, we have smart automation and we email them and we say it’s 10% off because we want you to understand what this product is like by feeling it personally.

All right. This is marketing automation. I want everyone who’s listening to me to have marketing automation. The problem is most software for marketing automation is too complicated. You need a team of people to use it. here’s one piece of software that you can manage yourself, that your virtual assistant can manage for you, that as your team grows, they can all understand it and integrate it into every part of your business.

That’s the key behind ActiveCampaign. If you want to try them, they have a special URL where they’re going to give you your second month free. They’re going to give you two three one on one sessions with experts who are going to help you think through what to automate. So, you’re not automating everything but you’re not missing out on the key parts that should be intelligently automated. And if you’ve used one of those other products and you want to migrate over, they will migrate you for free.

Here’s the special URL. It is ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy–ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy. Go check them out. Frankly, even if you don’t use them and you use a different software, I want you to look at that center set of images where they show you how they automate. It will help you think through your automation–ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy.

All right, Jo, back to your systems–I understand the chaotic early days of systems. Talk to me about what it’s like today, not what you’re going to create next, but I’m assuming you’re using off-the-shelf software. I think that merging of off-the-shelf software is interesting for us to learn from. What do you use? How do you onboard customers?

Jo: So we have a real personal touch because we’re a small agency. We’re working hand in hand. Our key tools, our processes are a lot better. They still need improvement, of course, they always do. But we heavily rely on Slack for communication with clients, and we do a lot of integrations with Slack for that. Our developers use JIRA to manage projects and tickets–

Andrew: Let me put some structure around all this so that I can give you help and not just give you this open-ended question. One of the things that I notice that happens when I go to your website is you have this form that comes at me one question at a time. I think it’s like three or four questions, where at the end of it, I know how much a web app or a mobile app would cost me. It’s like, “Do you want custom design or standard design? Are you going to do a login, no login?” that kind of thing.

I answer those questions. At the end, you say, “Great, here’s essentially what it’s going to cost you. Fill in this form and we’ll have a consultation to really give you more clarity than this estimate that I just gave you on the web page.” What happens with that? Where does that contact go in your system?

Jo: So our lead validation is a very important thing for us, like working with the right clients. The first step of that whole thing once we collect that core of information, we have a sales manager here in the U.S. that jumps in. We use Salesforce to manage those clients.

Andrew: So it goes from there into Salesforce. The sales manager goes in. Does he have any extra information, any extra insight on the person beyond what they just filled out? Do you guys enhance the information with LinkedIn data, with outside data at all?

Jo: It’s interesting you ask that. So just something we’ve started to do this year is we actually have a–we brought in a guy that does market research and company research. So when we jump into a first call with somebody, we know a lot about them. We know–everything that can be found not only about their company, what phase they’re at, background of the founders, where their expertise is at, we look at who their competitors are. This new thing they want to build, what’s their market advantage? What are their goals? How will it be successful?

Andrew: I see. So there’s a researcher whose whole job is to understand the potential client before they even get to the salesperson.

Jo: Right. So our salesperson can jump into that process–actually, we have three people now–they jump into that process armed with as much knowledge as we can give them to not only speak like they know what they’re talking about, but actually have a fruitful conversation.

Andrew: I see. So today, Jo, if I were to come to you with an idea for a salon booking service, you would understand who I was, but you’d also say, “Andrew, there are these four other competitors. Here’s what’s interesting about them. Before we start building, let’s talk about how you’re going to react to that,” right?

Jo: Right. It’s interesting because a lot of times we find out these founders aren’t even aware of these competitors. They just have their idea and they want to go forward. It’s actually great for us as a company because then we’ve done this little bit of research and these guys are so good at it that we have. Then we truly like come off as the experts to them.

Andrew: That’s brilliant. That’s a great takeaway. Let me suggest for someone who doesn’t have a full-time person a site where they can do this. The site is called Pipl, but it’s spelled P-I-P-L.com. If you type in or paste in an email address, they will find information for you like their LinkedIn profile, their other online profiles. You can of course when you know their website, you can put it into a WhoIs.com search and get some more information about the site and who owns it. So there are a few tools like that.

What I would love is a Zapier–I’m going to ask the audience for this. Maybe there’s someone out there that knows of a Zapier integration that we can use, so if someone fills out a form, I know it now goes into my CRM, which happens to be Pipedrive. I’d love for that to also be populated with more data, not as much as you can because we don’t have a full-time person on that, but I’d love to get a little bit more before we get on a call with the client.

Okay. So the salesperson has that information, how fast before the salesperson will contact back?

Jo: Our goal is within 24 hours to have all that research and information on it.

Andrew: All the research comes in. Do you just make a phone call out, or do you schedule a call?

Jo: It depends what the client wants. Usually we’ll make an initial call. We’ll make an email and schedule something and get an initial kick off call with usually our project manager here first. Depending on what the project is sometimes we bring in our CTO or other relevant project managers up front.

Andrew: And they all get on a call. Okay. A project for a mobile app might cost me $60,000 or at least the way I filled it out using–I think I wanted everything, just like I put the treadmill under my desk, I said, “Let’s see what happens if I put in every single bell and whistle.” About $60,000–I don’t think I got all the bells and whistles in. At that point, you’ve invested some time in potentially bringing me in. Assuming that I come in, what’s your system for asking me more than the form? What’s your system for keeping track of it, for passing it to the developers? Then we’ll get into time and so on.

Jo: Okay. Cool. Again, one of the things we’ve learned from past mistakes, every project starts off with a product design sprint. It’s such a great value to the client and it also like empowers us to do the best thing for the client also.

Andrew: I sign the paperwork. And you guys immediately start with this design sprint to give me something to look at.

Jo: Yeah. So it’s a one to two-week process. The full team goes at it. We have an architect, developers, our head of UX and UI–

Andrew: What’s your process for understanding what I want?

Jo: Well, that’s about finding the right client. We don’t want the client that wants to hand off and have us do things. We want people that are partners. The client is–

Andrew: Do you have a questionnaire? Do you have something else?

Jo: Yeah. We will prepare questions ahead of time because every project is usually unique. So we have an intro call, and then we take that information and we have a next set of questions. Once we feel like we have a good understanding and the client is ready to move forward, we start with the product design sprint. At the end of this, product design is a 20 to 40-page report with wireframes and everything that’s like an actual game plan of how this is going to be done, how it will be done like on time and on budget, which is oddly a unique business model in outsourcing to do those two things.

Andrew: I see. Do you have a set of specific questions that you ask and you kind of pull out from, or is it always somebody handwriting new sets of questions to ask the client?

Jo: So we’ll have core questions. The things that we want to make sure they have a monetization strategy, that they actually have defining features that are different than the competition. They have the ability to go after this market, like are they in this market? You don’t want someone who’s a mechanic trying to revolutionize the real estate industry because they think they know about it. So we want to make sure they have the right profile.

Andrew: What do you keep all these questions in?

Jo: We just use Google Drive for a lot of stuff.

Andrew: Us too. You weren’t pre-interviewed. I knew you. I had a set of things that I wanted to drill in on in this interview, but usually we have a set of questions–you weren’t pre-interviewed, were you?

Jo: No.

Andrew: I thought I say, “Hey Andrew, this is a set of notes, go get it.” Usually what we have is a template, someone will copy that template into our pre-interview folder and then they’ll share it with you and go through a set of questions with you before they send it over to you. They’ll delete some. They’ll edit some. They’ll make some adjustments, and then they’ll use it as a template. It sounds like that’s what you guys do.

Jo: We’ve tried to automate as much things as we can. We use a combination of Trello, Zapier, Slack and Google Drive and all those things work together.

Andrew: How? Walk me through this. Geek out with me about the details of it.

Jo: Sure. The first step of anything is we have a Google Form where we collect information from a user. We ask a whole list of questions, just basic business stuff, their ideas, the platforms they want to go after.

Andrew: I see. So before you even get to a call where you’re asked questions by a person, there’s a form and it’s a Google form, interesting. So the Google form spits the results into Google Drive and then into a Trello card.

Jo: Yeah. It goes into a Trello card and what we do–so it creates a Trello card which we call our lead pipeline. Our lead pipeline has all the columns and there’s a new lead, right? As me, as the CEO and head of the U.S. side, it’s up to me to look. I look at each one of those leads. So, when a new lead is created, Zapier actually creates a Slack room for that lead.

Andrew: A Slack room for the lead?

Jo: Slack channel.

Andrew: Slack channel. Wow. Okay.

Jo: To discuss. It posts the results of the survey and all those things so it’s all there–estimated budget they have and all those things. I go look and I examine that and I will talk to the sales manager if he’s out of the conversation. We rely on our gut feelings a lot. I slide it over to go or no go. If I slide it over to the go column, Zapier sees it and then just kicks off the next step. It notifies the project manager, the appropriate people that are part of the project and then the ball starts rolling from there.

Andrew: Zapier is just such an amazing tool for stuff like that.

Jo: It’s awesome. Yeah.

Andrew: So good. All right. I see it. So it’s constantly moving in Trello, Slack group where you guys chat. I’m guessing when a Slack channel gets created, you’re also getting pinged in some other channel to say, “Hey, guys, there’s a new customer who’s there.”

Jo: Right. There are reminders set for deadlines. When we fill in these things, deadlines are set for either responses or bids or anything like that.

Andrew: That’s in Trello?

Jo: Trello and then it also pushes to Slack also.

Andrew: Wow. So your Trello is your project management tool.

Jo: Right now, but the thing is–I don’t know if this is a typical use for Trello, but with Zapier, it’s actually made it very powerful because, again, we’re not dealing with hundreds of thousands of leads. I know everyone we’re working with by name. So it’s basically just we have everyone and everything in columns and weekly we do a new leads call, where we review our new lead pipeline and discuss each project. We’ve made mistakes where we just forget about something and like lose a six-figure deal just because we’ve forgot.

Andrew: I know. I’ve had good guests, good friends who I interviewed and we didn’t publish the interview because our system was just, “Do you remember or not?” as opposed to now we use Pipedrive, which is kind of like Trello in the sense that every step of the process has its own column and you just keep moving a card for each person through all the columns.

And then you manually–this is a little too detailed, guys. It’s specifically meant for people who are real entrepreneurs. I want us to learn from this process so that we can improve our processes. I feel more and more that a business is a collection of processes. Some of them are clearly defined. Some of them are crappy and are going to cause you trouble. And some, frankly, are just kind of gut processes that we don’t clearly define but work really well for us, right?

Like in the book, “Blink,” Malcolm Gladwell talks about the firefighter who walks into a room and immediately knows you’ve got to get right out of there and just as he walks out, the floor falls from under him. There is a set of understand, some mental processes that he’s going through in that moment. It’s not handwritten on a checklist. But he’s going through it and that’s what allows him to get out before the floor collapses. So I want to understand this stuff because I really want to understand business.

The deadlines, how do you guys put them into Trello? Handwritten or are they also Zapiered in?

Jo: It’s actually on the card, we can put a due date for the next step.

Andrew: Handwritten or does Zapier automatically do that for you?

Jo: There’s a field in Trello that actually allows us to select a date, and Zapier posts it into Slack and Slack reminders keep us going from there. It’s not the perfect system and we certainly have a ways to go with it, but the important thing is we’re not letting things fall through the cracks anymore. This is not only with new leads. We’ve seen mistakes–we had to integrate processes for billing too because we would finish a product and then not invoice somebody.

Andrew: Right.

Jo: That’s bad.

Andrew: Or you invoice them and you forget you didn’t get paid for it.

Jo: Yeah, or what result were we supposed to build. Where’s the single source of truth where–

Andrew: Where do you keep that? Where’s your single source of truth?

Jo: That’s been a process. Now each project has a Google Drive folder. That’s part of the Zapier start.

Andrew: It creates a folder for each–

Jo: It creates a folder for that project. Every project has a three-digit project code. So everything is organized.

Andrew: That’s automatically created by Zapier.

Jo: Uh-huh.

Andrew: Yeah.

Jo: It’s great.

Andrew: One of the things that I used to screw up on is paying contractors. We’d agree to something on the phone and I’d go, “Great. I know what we agreed to. I know what the amount is. I’ve got another call. I’ve got to jump. Thanks. Looking forward to working with you.” We’d work together, we’d get great results, and then I forget how much. So I’m kind of counting on them.

So one of my processes now is I create a new Google doc with our agreement. We’re talking about sometimes I just start off with someone for like $500. But I still want to understand this $500 because they’re testing me as much as I’m testing them. “Is this Andrew a guy we can count on?” So, in there I say, “It’s going to cost this much. Here’s when the project will be complete. Here’s what we’re expecting to get done.” I share the doc with both me and them.

Jo: I have a big recommendation. One of our biggest process improvements in that area as far as contracts and things like that, we use Podio. Podio is a service that–it’s like a process management type thing. It’s really cool. So we actually have our standard contracts and things–like our standard fields of a contract in Podio.

If we’re talking to someone, even something as simple as an NDA. Everyone wants to sign an NDA and we need to do it and we need this to be easy. So, on an initial call, we can just put in Podio, we put their name, address and click generate. Podio integrates with RightSignature, which is like DocuSign, just a smaller company. Within like 30 seconds, the client gets a personalized contract by email they can electronically sign.

It’s funny. That’s very simple and it shouldn’t impress anybody, but other companies are so disorganized and they’re like, “Wait a minute, we just started this call and you already have a personalized thing in my inbox?” They realize that we’ve thought things through, like we’re thinking ahead.

Andrew: Right. I’m always impressed by that too. I should know that’s actually done through some system, but if someone sends me a contract right away, I feel like they’ve got a team in place, they know what they’re doing and they sent it over and it’s not generic where I fill in my name. I like it. I see Podio. Podio seems like a checklist process that allows multiple people to get assigned responsibilities and multiple apps to get assigned processes, right?

Jo: Yeah. What makes Podio powerful is a software called GlobiFlow that integrates with it. Podio actually bought them. It was so key to their service. But that allows you to create all these integrations with RightSignature. So it’s really neat. When both signatures are executed, RightSignature actually takes a contract, makes a PDF, attaches it back into the field in Podio and emails the sales manager and then me a copy of the completed contract as a PDF. All this happens automatic. It’s the greatest thing in the world.

Andrew: Wow. Yeah. I’ve never heard of it. They’re owned by Citrix now. Sometimes I feel like, “Man, I have all these different monthly payments.” Like Podio is $9 a month for the basic plan. Then you get your Zapier plan. Trello doesn’t cost anything, but maybe you need an extra feature from their Pro plan, so you pay for that. Then someone else on the team needs Asana, so of course you pay for Asana. Do you guys pay for Slack also?

Jo: Uh-huh, a lot.

Andrew: Right. It’s like all this stuff all at once. I really admire people who can just deal with–I’m now learning to respect people who just work with Microsoft Office. It’s all included. You don’t have to worry about paying for Evernote and this and that. Whatever it is you need, they all have it in place right there for you. I’ve got to reconsider them. The problem is that my world, my people have all moved to Google Drive. It’s hard to get them on Microsoft Word. We’ve all moved to these other apps in those other platforms. It’s really hard.

Jo: We actually took a serious look at Microsoft about nine months ago. It was the same thing. It’s like, “Wow, this could be our solution.”

Andrew: Right.

Jo: It was hard to even define, but something was lacking there. It didn’t do it for us. We’re stuck with all these tools. At Zapier, it really has done a lot to make all these scattered tools work together. It’s been really great.

Andrew: Yeah. Since we’re talking about tools, I’ll tell you guys about my tool–frankly, we were going to talk about a different advertiser. You guys probably know who, but they’re competitive with Jo’s business and I’m not looking to–actually, they’re not competitive, but it could be a little confusing, so I said, “Hey, Jo, I think maybe we should run it.” And we didn’t. Instead, I’m going to talk to you about a company that isn’t even paying me, but it’s so perfect for this conversation and I’ve been talking about them forever without getting paid anyway, so I’ll tell you about them.

The company is called Pipedrive. I used to have a process for booking guests, as I’ve told you. It’s really disorganized. You could see why I’m excited about my process. It gets results. My process is in Pipedrive. Whenever we suggest a guest, their card goes in the left most column. I do not allow the person who suggests a guest to also approve them. I want a second set of eyes because you people, you entrepreneurs are so freaking charismatic. You’re so freaking persuasive. You will talk to one person on the team, maybe it’s even me and I’ll go, “I’ve got to get this guy on.”

And then I think later on, “What the hell was I even thinking of? This was not a good fit.” He’s just a nice person but his business is just two months old. It’s not a good fit. So, I need a second pair of eyes. So we put the person’s card in the left most column as in suggested and then someone else has to move them one column to the right, which is approved. If they’re not approved then we move them to lost and we explain why.

We always have this ongoing list of why we reject people so that we understand internally what it takes to get someone on board as an interview and what is actually not a good fit for us. We have someone brand new starting out maybe in a couple of months. They can go back in and see all the reasons why we rejected people and have an understand of where we are.

Then we continue with the process. The next step is to send out a request for an interview if we haven’t reached out to them or they didn’t reach out to us yet, then we send a follow up and all the way through to the end. If at any time they reject us, again, we mark them as lost and we continue to explain why. We require that someone’s marked as lost, we know why.

That way at the end of the year, we can go back in or maybe several times during the year, we can go in and see, “Why did we get rejected? Why did we get turned out?” We had bad email addresses, so maybe we can hire someone to find the right email addresses. Maybe it makes sense to pay a service $10 a month to find us the right email addresses, which is what we did. Or maybe people reject us because they don’t know who we are. So we should tell them who we know or who we’ve interviewed they would respect. I don’t know what it is, but we have this whole process.

Now, that’s for booking interviews. I’ve also used it when I wanted to start a new business, Bot Academy, which teaches people how to create bots and allows businesses to hire our graduates. I wanted to understand all the people that are applying to learn from this program. So I created a new Pipedrive account, brand new. I paid from scratch. I wanted it to be a separate business.

When someone applied to learn, I would create a card for them and then I would call them up because I wanted to understand who they were and then I would take notes in Pipedrive. The whole system was organized so if you were interested in learning, you either got accepted and paid or you got rejected and I understood what was a bad fit for us and then we could change our marketing in the future based on that.

All right. This is a lot of yapping. Here’s the best way to see it. I’m not going to send you to Pipedrive.com. They didn’t pay. But that’s not why I’m not going to do it. I’m going to send you to a URL that I created on our site that will show you my screen as I explain to you how Pipedrive works. Go check out Mixergy.com/Pipedrive. You’re going to see my computer screen complete with all the apps I have open that day and you’re going to see how I use Pipedrive to close sales. It’s Mixergy.com/Pipedrive.

Jo: I can back up all your opinions on Pipedrive. I’ve used it and it’s great.

Andrew: You have, right? It’s fantastic.

Jo: It is. It really is.

Andrew: It’s like CRM and project management in one. Okay. Any other tools you’re especially excited about and then we’ll move on to team.

Jo: That we’re using right now? Not really.

Andrew: What’s missing that you guys are willing to create your own project management solution from scratch, essentially?

Jo: General business process management. We really believe in–like a lot of dev houses will just bill eight hours a day per guy. That’s just what they do because hey, the guys are working all day. We don’t do that. We built tools, custom tools for time tracking. But we don’t develop them to oversee what the developers do.

We empower the developers like, “Hey, we need to have honest and transparent time tracking, but we want to make your life easier also. How do we combine those two goals?” And we’ve created custom software that we use internally and with our partners. Not only does it like provide transparency to the clients, but it makes the developer’s life easier.

Andrew: All right. Let’s talk people. If you heard me type, I was telling the person I was supposed to meet with afterwards, “I don’t want to get off the phone with Jo. We’re going to go a little longer.” I pushed my next meeting. I want to talk about people because basically your whole business is people, right? Everything you’re selling is the process and the people who are going to be creating it. I want to understand–I think to get how you think about people, we should talk about this cooking Fridays. What happens on our Friday?

Jo: So Friday in our office, since the beginning–it was much easier in the beginning–we rotate and someone different in the office cooks breakfast for the whole office every Friday morning.

Andrew: You have a kitchen in your office?

Jo: We do, actually. Well, our first office was actually in an apartment. That made it easy. Our new office we’re in now, we got to remodel it and build the whole thing. We actually have two kitchens. It really encourages the idea within the company that we are essentially a family. We eat together. We cook for other people. It’s not like anybody cooks–when I travel to Warsaw, like I will cook for the office. We [inaudible 00:48:48]. . .

Andrew: Isn’t that a waste of your time? You’re flying in to Warsaw. You’ve got very little time there. Instead of spending time talking to people one on one, you are cooking the kind of thing that you could hire someone there to do?

Jo: I actually think it’s the best way to spend my time because the most important part of our business is our team. Spending time with our team, we have events, we cater dinner and bring everybody in. We do things like that. To me, if we don’t have our people and our people aren’t happy, we have nothing else. I think that’s actually the best use of my time.

Andrew: They get that? They get a sense of you and your relationship with them because you’ve cooked food for them?

Jo: Yeah. It’s a small thing. It’s important. I think everyone on our team realizes that we care about their success and their development and things like that too.

Andrew: Okay. All right. So you’re cooking for them. You’re creating a family. I’ve found that letting someone go is tough enough as it is. I don’t understand how some people can be callous about it. It’s really tough. When you’re family with someone, it’s murder to let them go. You’re basically killing them out of the family. Has that been an issue for you?

Jo: It’s interesting. We spend a lot of time up front to make sure we’re bringing on the right people. Only two times in four years have we had to remove someone from our team.

Andrew: Really? All right. So what’s your process for bringing people in then?

Jo: Well, first we qualify resumes, the first thing, we narrow it down there. When we’re looking to hire a front-end developer, we’ll narrow it down to about ten resumes and our CTO personally looks at each one and then the first interview comes in. Our interviews are brutal. I wouldn’t want to have to go through it myself, but it’s actually like a three or four-hour process, not only assessing skill level but actually having discussions about how they feel about–we don’t want people that are in the business to make money.

We want people that are passionate and love what they do and as much as their skill is important, but also a personality fit. Do they believe in the same things we believe in? That’s how we’re going to get the people that will want to be around long term.
Andrew: So what’s your process for–let’s go back even to where you found them. Where are you finding these people?

Jo: Ideally referrals from existing employees.

Andrew: What do you do to get those referrals? Do you incentivize? Do you just Slack everyone?

Jo: Yeah. We incentivize. Because our people that work for us, they believe in making the company successful, we believe they’re only going to bring in people that will make them look good. Anyone that an existing developer, like, “My friend, he’s a great JavaScript guy. He’d be a great fit here,” those ultimately get the highest priority.

Andrew: Okay. So you need a new position. You message everyone. Someone comes in and says, “I’ve got a friend,” you’re more likely to interview them. What else do you do to find new people beyond the connections to people you already have?

Jo: We actually do a lot of cultural events. When we built our most recent office in Warsaw, we have this huge loft. It’s about 8,000 square feet, but it’s actually designed to be–we brought the San Francisco-type office to Warsaw. There are cool open areas, couches, foosball tables, all that kind of stuff, which is abnormal for Poland.

So we’ve created this really cool thing. We do monthly things, like last month was machine learning month. Then we did security month. We actually do training on these things. It’s not just for our people. The local developer community is welcome to join. We host events there, like dinners and parties we do for not only us, but we invite all the local dev houses and stuff too. We bring other partners in and we try to make ourselves well-known in the community.

Andrew: Okay. All right. So you get people–and I get the benefit of that, by the way. Events can be a pain in the butt, but man, they’re so effective because that personal interaction sticks with people. They will remember you for a long time. Frankly, it’s kind of dangerous how much they’ll remember. If they meet you at an event, you may not have a memory of it, but they’re in your house, your place, looking around at your stuff. They remember you and they’ll bring it up later on.

All right. So they come in. You guys go through your process. How systemized are you about the questions you ask?

Jo: We have a standard list of things, the basics, but we really kind of let the conversation organically flow from there. We start things off and then we see where it goes. That’s kind of our best gauge. We do one-on-one interviews. I’ve had other companies where we do group interviews, but in this one we feel like a one-on-one interview is most important, and once they’ve passed that barrier, then we’ll bring in like the whole team.

We’ll bring in multiple team members to have a group talk with them, like other developers too because we want to see if they’re going to be a fit with what the other developers are going to have to work with. If the people that work with us now have a bad feeling about them, even though we might think it’s a right fit, ultimately they’re the ones that are going to have to be on the same team, so we trust their input.

Andrew: How do you know when to hire someone in Poland versus the U.S. versus somewhere else? I’m looking at your list of current openings and a lot of them seem to be in Poland. So how do you–like the iOS person you’re looking for, you want them in Warsaw. How do you know that’s what you’re looking for?

Jo: So we keep our engineering in Warsaw, and we keep our project management stateside.

Andrew: I see. Got it. That makes things a lot easier. Okay. And then this office manager you’re looking for in the U.S., right?

Jo: Both, actually.

Andrew: I see. You want someone there and someone here.

Jo: Yeah. We have a dual approach. Project managers, right? We have a U.S. project manager and we have–every project has a Polish project manager and a U.S. project manager. So the client, with the time zone change, it almost gives the client 24-hour access to a project manager. It kind of has a checks and balances for things not falling through the cracks because both project managers have to be in the loop all the time. That was one of the things we embraced early on. Some other people have started doing that now, but that was a new thing that we started having project managers on both sides.

Andrew: I asked you before we started what do you do to help your people make proper decisions and you said, “We have clearly defined focuses on the information we give clients.” How does what you told me before about the way you interact with clients help your people make better decisions?

Jo: Well, we spend a lot of time to make sure we understand their goals, not just technology but business goals, and we pass that on to the developers because if everyone’s going the same–this sounds so obvious and simple, but it is–if everybody has aligned goals and are going the same direction, then everyone is like–they’re working towards something common and generally things are a lot more successful.

Andrew: The way they see it is they all see that same Slack group. They all see the cards in Trello. They all see the forms or have access to the forms that people filled out when they were starting out.

Jo: Actually, the neat thing though–we have access levels, of course, between what information goes to what people. That’s a really cool thing we did with Zapier too because every project–when we create Slack Channels, there’s not one, there’s three for every project. There’s the–if we were doing a project for you, there would be the Andrew Warner project. WAR would be the project code.

There would be WAR Team that everybody’s in, WAR Management, which has the like management, the project managers on the team and then there’s the WAR Board and board has our four partners where we discuss things like very high level, things that shouldn’t be part of the discussion with the rest of the team, in Zapier, it actually takes the information on that and puts it on the Trello card and creates a custom PDF for each room with the information they need.

Like the boardroom talks about budgets and clients and things like that. Those aren’t things the team cares about. We’re not trying to hide that thing, but we give people the information they need. They don’t need to know that. We’re not going to waste their time with all that.

Andrew: How do you keep track of all this activity on Slack?

Jo: We have a lot of Slack channels. I am religiously using Slack reminders. If there’s something I need to do later, I use Slack reminders. I think that was one of the greatest improvements they made on that product.

Andrew: Slack reminders as opposed to even project management or other reminders. You want it all in Slack. Doesn’t that mean that Slack becomes too noisy? You have your own reminders, which are important but they’re no way to prioritize them. You have messages from their team where they’re just interacting with the client and you don’t necessarily need to pay attention. You have private messages to you. Isn’t that too much?

Jo: I mute the channels that are not–like team channels I generally mute, but people know I’m not reading the team channel unless they tag me and something is important. So I mute the channels I don’t need to be in and generally I’m bored in management channels, which actually have a lot less communication in them. Usually those are issues or things that the project managers need help figuring out and they need some guidance.

Andrew: And you know that one is lit up, you’ve got to go in or bold it I think is what it is.

Jo: We trust our people to make decisions, but we encourage them to ask questions and never be afraid they’re asking a stupid question or things like that too because like everything is a team effort.

Andrew: I get why you would use it. I feel like for us, we recently made the mistake of going to Asana. It’s really robust and it’s very helpful and I love a lot of it, like all conversations happen within a task so you know what we’re focused on, what’s the outcome, not just what the chat is. You can also automate the creation of tasks and so on based on what the project is.

The thing that I like about Basecamp better than Asana is everything is in this one place. All the communication happens there, like the project communication happens there, any conversation around tasks happen there. Chats happen there through camp fires. I can ping someone one on one there. So everyone has this one home base. The problem that I have with Slack is their app takes the whole freaking monitor. So you can’t even have this screen be my project management and my Slack screen. You have to basically give it its own big window.

Jo: So this is why I have three monitors and you’re right.

Andrew: Three monitors, right. So one monitor is what, just for chat?

Jo: So I have three 4k 28-inch monitors, two horizontal, one vertical, yeah. Basically everything I use gets a square. So I have six different squares. I have my calendar. I have Slack. I have email. I have Skype, iMessage and Safari. Those are kind of my open windows all the time.

Andrew: Those are just open all the time?

Jo: Yeah. I can just look around and see them.

Andrew: For me it’s calendar on one screen all the time because I just keep moving through the calendar. I get that, but man it’s a lot. You know what I was trying to do this weekend is–do you know BlueStacks?

Jo: No.

Andrew: I think it’s called BlueStack. It’s an app that lets you put Android apps–yeah, BlueStacks–lets you put Android apps on your desktop, and I thought the little Slack window is so nice. Why is it when I’m on mobile, I have this little tiny window that has all the information I need and easily gives me access to the rest, but when I’m on my desktop, all these apps want full real estate. Asana wants the whole desktop. My calendar from Google needs my whole desktop for me to see the whole week, but on my phone I can just tilt it to the side and that little screen captures a lot of information.

I thought, “How about if I just put Android apps on one screen? All those little windows will be perfectly fine. Good for interaction.” But I’m reluctant to put another piece of software on my calendar. Maybe I will. I just kept reading a lot of bad reviews about bugs in BlueStacks, but frankly, that seems ideal to me, a lot of little windows, just like they work on my phone.

Jo: Yeah.

Andrew: I think we’ve covered a lot here today. Oh you know what? Here’s the one thing that I wanted to ask you about because this has been important to me too at Mixergy. You said to me before we started that you’re really big on enabling your team not just to hit the company goals, but also their personal goals. What’s an example of a personal goal and how do you help them do that?

Jo: Well, these sound like cheesy sayings that everyone says, but work-life balance is important. We actively make sure that people–we don’t want their work to overtake their whole life. We don’t want them working 18 hours a day. We feel in the right environment and work their personal life gets better, like we actually have a roadmap for people in their career to improve.

Essentially some other people look at us like, “Wait, you’re basically training these people to leave you because they go on to bigger and better things,” but to us, like it doesn’t really seem like that. They stay with us. They appreciate it. Also, if people have things they care about, like we sponsor groups they’re involved in and–

Andrew: Like what?

Jo: There’s a physicist group in Warsaw. One of our early team members, like it’s something he cares about and he volunteers for, so we actually donate office space to them. We try to do things–we care about the same things that our team cares about. So we do fun stuff. Our relationship should not all be about business. We took everyone out for paintball a few weeks ago, just rented out the place and had a giant war. Those things like that like bring in an element of fun and friendship into the business. They can enjoy being at work and it just makes them happier in general.

Andrew: Are you doing as a business over $1 million in profits annually?

Jo: Actually, we’re not that profitable because we’ve been growing so much. We’re investing all our money back in the company.

Andrew: I see. Is the goal to eventually be able to sell it? Agencies like yours are tough.

Jo: Not in the near future. We all love what we’re doing so much. It’s our dream to do this. Actually, our team is a good size, but we’ve built it slow on purpose with the right people, not compromising with easy hires and building a good foundation because we have to deliver it every single time. The second we start not delivering 100%, the business will fall apart.

Andrew: All right. The website for anyone who wants to try it out–actually, there’s not much to try out. There’s a lot to read. The one thing I think they can try out is where’s that feature that I saw that lets me get a price for an app? It’s not on SwingDev.io, is it?

Jo: We’re playing with some things on there. We’re about to release a new version. So there may be some different things going on there. But SwingDev.io is where everything will be.

Andrew: Maybe it was on Dapper Gentlemen that I saw that.

Jo: That might be. That’s a–

Andrew: That’s a temporary site you still use.

Jo: It’s still there.

Andrew: That’s where it was.

Jo: Swing is the company now that’s doing everything. That’s where I am. We do have similar things there. People can go there to find out more.

Andrew: So the website is SwingDev.io. And since I’m on a walking treadmill, let me hit the button. Let’s see what it sounds like on camera. Three, two, one . . . Go. There. This is a big countdown just for this short walk like I’m going to get flung off of it. This makes a lot of noise, doesn’t it? Here, I’ll be quiet. Can you hear it?

Jo: Barely.

Andrew: Barely? Interesting. So I’m going to close this out by saying thank you to my two sponsors as I walk away from this interview. We talked about a lot of software here you can use to automate your business. The first one automates your marketing. It’s ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy and the second one is the tool that I use to close sales and I have a screencast of myself using it if you want to check it out. It’s at Mixergy.com/Pipedrive.

Thanks so much, Jo. Welcome back.

Jo: Thanks for having me.

Andrew: You bet. Bye, everyone.


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