You’re a founder and you get COVID-19. Now what?

I was supposed to do this interview weeks and weeks ago. But the day of the interview, I talked to Thomas and he told me that he had COVID-19. I had never heard of anyone who had COVID-19.

I got really worried for him and we stayed in touch. Eventually he recovered and he’s finally here to tell me about his business and his experience with this illness.

Thomas van der Kleij is the founder of Tapfiliate, software that takes care of all your affiliate and referral marketing needs.

Thomas van der Kleij

Thomas van der Kleij


Thomas van der Kleij is the founder of Tapfiliate, software that takes care of all your affiliate and referral marketing needs.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew Warner 0:04
Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I was supposed to do this interview weeks and weeks and weeks ago. And the day of the interview, I talked to Thomas and he told me that he had COVID-19. I had never heard of anyone who had COVID-19. This is in the early days of of the pandemic, we didn’t even know that it was a pandemic at the time. And I chatted with him, I got really worried for him largely because I got wrapped up in his story. Here’s a guy who at a previous company that I don’t know that I could relate to this in the US, but he worked at a company that helped squatters squat in abandoned buildings. Like we don’t have that in the US companies that help squatters companies. Maybe they kick out squatters. Anyway, he worked at a company that worked with squatters. He ended up turning it into kind of startup housing or startup office. Am I right Thomas office environment for them.

Thomas van der Kleij 1:01
Yeah, basically, I build a social network for startups as a lead generator for getting startups to make use of empty office buildings instead of squatters.

Andrew Warner 1:10
And then from there, he goes on to say, you know what, we need a better way for people who are sending referrals to companies like mine to get paid. Now, obviously, that has been around for decades. It’s called affiliate programs where anyone can sign up for your affiliate program. And if they send you a customer, or they send you a lead, they get paid. But he said, I just don’t like the options that are out there. I’m going to create a better way. And he did create a better way. And he said, You know, I had a company before. There’s a lot I didn’t like about it. I’m going to change everything. Like too many founders was a problem. I mean, then he’ll go into in this interview, why too many founders was a problem. So he went a different direction. Raising money is a problem. He went in the direction of bootstrap all this stuff that he wished he’d done better. The first company, he got to do better with this company. And the company has been doing really well. I invited him here to talk about how he did it. And then I’d also like to find out a little bit about his experience with this. dreaded virus. His name is Thomas Vander CLI He is the founder of a company called tap affiliate. They allow it software that allows you to create and manage your own affiliate programs. So anyone can sign up and get paid whenever they take the action that you they whenever they’re there, the audience they send you takes the action that you want, basically, really, when they send you a customer, they get paid for doing it. All right, we can do this interview thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first is Click Funnels. It’s the software that you know I use to collect leads, but they also have a podcast called Traffic Secrets. I’m gonna pitch you and try to get you to listen to Traffic Secrets. And the second is in software that I use to create a new business for this guy who taught my kids drew from the zoo the zoo. Well, I’ll talk about later why I use Hostgator and how I use it. But first, Thomas, good to have you here. Yeah, thanks for having me.

Unknown Speaker 2:51

Andrew Warner 2:52
Yeah, man. Tell me how did you know how you got COVID-19?

Thomas van der Kleij 2:58
Yeah, so We went to Austria with a group of sang guys and we were at a place called St. Anton which center rolled and it has one of the most well known at Persky bars and it’s cold as most of you and it turned out the whole stuff was infected and we were actually occupying the first apartments like away from the most of yours but that group you know, picked out that place because wants to be close to the most weird so we went there every day and all 10 of us and everybody else I knew those in the area got sick.

Andrew Warner 3:32
Wow, we and for you. What was it like for you when you when you got it?

Thomas van der Kleij 3:39
Yeah, so we decided to go back a day early. Because you know, we heard some stories about, you know, all the impending lockdowns and everything. They had already closed that bar like a couple of days prior, like mid midway during the week. So we had decided to go back one day early and I’m super happy we did. First of all, you know, a couple of other friends of mine Girls in the area they stayed they got locked in. The other thing is that you know, we drove home and really like the last hour before we buy, like a 10 hour drive really like the last hour before I got home I you know, I got the chills and then I got home I I’ve already talked to my wife because I said, You know, I might have this thing and we need to you know, isolate. You know, when I got home, I just went into the guest room and just lay down on the bed. three sheets floats on and yeah, just

Andrew Warner 4:29
because you’re shivering so much and you were that cold?

Thomas van der Kleij 4:32
Yeah, it’s just like just fever basically. Did you feel that? Well, I think the fever only lasted like for maybe a day then off. And then you know, I felt like I was recovering. I just went back to work on Monday actually, and I got home on Friday. So I was just ill for weekends. But then you notice shortness of breath started and all these other symptoms and that’s when Wednesday You know, when you’re really short of breath, you feel like you’re a little bit outside. yourself. So I felt like no, I’m not going to be any fun during any interview.

Andrew Warner 5:04
When you and I talked, you were having trouble even breathing.

Thomas van der Kleij 5:08
Well, that’s maybe a little bit too strongly book, but it’s like imagine just having walked the flight of stairs, a couple of flights of stairs, and it’s not going to like normally when you do that better in like, a couple of seconds, but just not getting any better. And that that went on for quite some time, but I wasn’t like, I can’t breathe.

Andrew Warner 5:29
So it seems like it’s a fairly mild situation for you. Right? I was worried that it was gonna be much more dire for you.

Thomas van der Kleij 5:38
Yeah, I’d say so. The thing is that what’s what’s a little bit shitty about it is that you know, it just goes on and on and on. I’m like, I’m never sick. I you know, I work out like a couple times a week. Yeah, I’m a good I’m good health. I’m never sick. And you know, whenever I’m sick is like once every four or five years, you know, it’s just like two days is gone. But here it’s just like kept going with symptoms shortness of breath, still feeling like knock yourself and I think that was a little bit weird about it. But, you know, oh, no, I can Yeah, it was about that.

Andrew Warner 6:10
Are you still feeling shortness of breath or any impact from this?

Thomas van der Kleij 6:14
Okay, so it’s a little bit hard to say I face so but to be honest, I haven’t been really keeping up with my exercise regime.

Andrew Warner 6:23
See yourself enough to know can I still do what I was able to do before I got COVID-19?

Thomas van der Kleij 6:28
Yeah, I can go to the gym, you know. So it’s really hard to say.

Andrew Warner 6:33
Wow, all right. I’m glad to see that you’re doing really well. When when you say you went back home, what city are you in right now? Where’s home?

Unknown Speaker 6:39
Ah, Amsterdam, Amsterdam.

Andrew Warner 6:41
You grew up in Amsterdam. Is that where you were DJ as a kid?

Thomas van der Kleij 6:45
No, no, I grew up in a place called size which is by Utrecht, which

Archer city and I went on to study there and I used to DJ Well, I used to DJ get in my own van. You know, for school dances and things like that. For, like people, some people would hire me for their, you know, their 20th anniversary party or whatever. And then I went on to study in Utrecht, which was pretty close by actually. And then, you know, it was my students job to DJ at bars. Because of

Andrew Warner 7:17
getting paid as a kid as a, as someone who’s fairly young to do this, it seems like I’m looking at your past here. Our producers put a bunch of notes together for me from your conversation with them. It seems like you are super entrepreneurial. Can you tell me a little bit about this website that you built and the print company that you put together? What was that?

Thomas van der Kleij 7:39
Yeah, okay, so

bear in mind, this was, I think, like 13 years ago, it was before To be honest, I have you know, any sense of sustainability and how important it is to build sustainable businesses. But we we build a free printing service for students and babies What we did is we would allow you to center documents through our website, upload them or email them. And then we have printers and all campuses around from Edmunds and you have to imagine that the Netherlands is smaller than the state in the US. So we had him around the country but that’s not as big as you might imagine. And then you could go to this printer to log in with your username and password on a little screen and you could print your documents and what we would do is first we you know, scale down your documents a little bit and then we would check Hey, you know, it’s Andrew, he studied economics or whatever and then we print like a job posting for for a bank or whatever someone interested in your profile and we would like print your name yet. So we say like, hey, Andrew, are you you know, our next bright shiny star from work? So

Andrew Warner 8:50
I would ask for something to be printed. You would print it to me for free for gratis. And then you’d also include an ad that was targeted towards me and even included my name in it.

Thomas van der Kleij 9:00

Andrew Warner 9:01
It’s called gratis print. Am I right?

Unknown Speaker 9:03
Yeah. Free pen. I’m sorry. Yeah, that’s that means free print free print job and

Andrew Warner 9:11
what kind of things that people want printed?

Thomas van der Kleij 9:13
Um, yeah. So it was mostly, like bulk material that they use for studying. And so that was also you know, that was also the wide was pretty effective because you know, people would have these things they needed for college and they would be like studying the page. Yeah, actively looking for distraction, but you know, spending actual time on that page where those ads, those ads were. So it was pretty cool. a cool way of you know, having the, you know, the dynamic possibilities online, but then on paper, actually.

Andrew Warner 9:43
clever idea. We’re talking about 2008 to 2012 is when you were doing this, obviously people had laptops at that period, but there are many people who prefer paper when they’re reading long form material. Got it and so you got that how did you get how did you get it?

Thomas van der Kleij 10:02
Yeah, so we did sales

was not my problem. Yeah, so we were four guys, we started out three of us. One of my friends, he’s like the real a commercial that we were friends, by the way, still are. But one of my friends, he’s a more of the commercial guy. I was more, you know, on the technical side of things. I didn’t do any programming back then. But I was more. You know, I understood how, how these things work. It was more like a project management kind of roles. And then I had a third friend and he was our financial guy. And we went on to wire I’d say, this other company who was doing the same thing. And we were like, Mark thing, guys, and they were like four tech guys. We acquired that company. And just one of the guys and he was, he was our main developer.

Andrew Warner 10:59
So how’d you get caught? And by the way for anyone listening, they weren’t he was in his teens at the time. Right, Thomas we’re talking about a teenager doing this. I thought What’s it nothing? So how do you get customers?

Thomas van der Kleij 11:10
Yeah, so basically just cold calling reaching out. You know,

Andrew Warner 11:14
that’s for the businesses who are paying for ads, you’re calling them and said I had I have these college students. I can target ads for you. It wasn’t an affiliate deal. It was just straight up they pay you per print.

Thomas van der Kleij 11:26
Okay, well, so basically Okay, so there’s there’s two parts to this first, we needed you know, that whole big bunch of students to be able to, you know, show these ads to and then we need to add some feel feel to inventory did that created because everything they printed created as inventory for us. So the students we got through, you know, the universities that these introduction weeks and we would find a sponsor, we’d get like free yogurts or whatever, and we would hand those out and we would let them sign up, basically for us, everybody almost does sign up. Like with with a big thing. So that went pretty well, we build a big database. And then we sold ads to two companies where we do cold calling, indeed. But we were left with a lot of excess inventory. Yeah. Because you know, we we sent emails, we did like narrow casting on the little screen. And we have, of course, the ads on the prints. So we had a lot of inventory and that we felt with affiliate marketing.

Andrew Warner 12:30
Would you get the affiliate from the affiliate programs, Commission Junction back then?

Thomas van der Kleij 12:34
No, we use trail blur, mostly another was a couple of local ones here in Dallas, this business was very mellow, mellow.

Andrew Warner 12:41
I can see it’s very local. In fact, one of the ways that you were able to save money was you wouldn’t mail it to the students. You just say go pick it up essentially from this printer. You give them the location and they would get to print it and they would get to pick it up. Am I right?

Thomas van der Kleij 12:53
Yeah, yeah. They got to go to the printer and then log in with their username and password. Which was actually very novel back then we I think we’d like by accident created the first cloud printing system in the Netherlands.

Andrew Warner 13:07
And looking at the early version of the site, yeah, I can see up to 60 pages of notes, and it’s largely for student lecture notes that they could print up on location. Would you come up with the idea for it?

Thomas van der Kleij 13:19
Wow, that’s a really good question. I think we just saw a nice started out as a student project for the University of my friends. And then yeah, I think we do for now. I’m not really a fellow I guess. Okay.

Andrew Warner 13:36
Tell me about this squatting agency. What’s, what are the squatting laws where you are?

Unknown Speaker 13:41
Yeah. So soil starts to get darker and darker and darker.

Andrew Warner 13:46
Yeah, talking. There’s no light.

Unknown Speaker 13:48
I have no idea. But you do. Let’s see what he’s

Andrew Warner 13:50
got. What time is it in the Netherlands now?

Thomas van der Kleij 13:53
It’s eight. Yeah. Okay.

Andrew Warner 13:56
Yeah, yeah. All right. So it’s the squatting laws in the Netherlands.

Thomas van der Kleij 14:00
Yeah, so squatting used to be legal. It’s really, really weird. It’s when you have a table, a bath, and a chair, you have something which is called translates to home piece, which sort of means you live somewhere. And renters are really, really well protected here in attendance. So squatting used to be legal. It’s illegal now, but

Andrew Warner 14:27
where people see an empty building, and they go and live there, this I remember happened in New York and the this police had to go in and get people out of the building. And it was this whole controversy about how fair it is. If no one’s using the building, why can’t the homeless live in it, but if the homeless are living in it, who’s making sure that they’re protected and that they’re not stealing electricity and all that stuff, and also ownership rights in the US? So you’re saying in the Netherlands at the time, anyone can squat as long as they had what a mattress a table, what was it

Thomas van der Kleij 14:54
and a chair, the chair they have

Andrew Warner 14:56
that they’re allowed to stay indefinitely?

Thomas van der Kleij 14:59
Well, It’s really complicated. First of all, squatting is a very political politically loaded subject here. Because it’s not for most enough like for homeless people. So to say it was more on the, on the anarchist sort of like side of things, where people, there’s like famous squatters actually, like one guy that started it’s very, like a socialist socialist. anarchist thing. I don’t know, like all that about not it’s not that they don’t have

Andrew Warner 15:29
a better place to live. It’s just that they have a point of view. Yeah. And we’re talking about roughly what 2008 the global economic crisis. Am I right about that? Yeah. So

Thomas van der Kleij 15:39
like, the political side of things that started out in the 70s. But when I was there, it was because of the economic crisis that you know. That’s why we have all those empty office buildings,

Andrew Warner 15:50
right. So suddenly, people couldn’t afford to maintain their office buildings and squatter said this is my opportunity in the Netherlands that was okay. And so what was the company that you work for dealing with that.

Thomas van der Kleij 16:02
Yeah, so basically,

here in the Netherlands, we it’s not socially acceptable to board up buildings, and we don’t, it’s not not done. So what we do is we put squatting guards in there, which basically, you know, before used to mean we put someone in such a building to live there for like a very low amount of money, like say, you know, like $100 a month in the center of Amsterdam,

Andrew Warner 16:29
on the condition that they will leave within two weeks whenever asked, but there’s also some interesting side notes that we took. So if, if you don’t put anything up and the building is empty, anyone can come stay inside. If you put if you bought it up. It’s not accepted and it’s it’s just not culturally appropriate to do it. So you can’t do that. What people would do is office owners or building owners would just have a guard sit there and say, Sorry, you can’t squat here and ask people to move on. Let’s go make peace with them.

Thomas van der Kleij 17:00
No, it’s not. It’s actually, we call it the squad guards, but it’s just the person living there. So the person signs up with HTC were a words of, Hey, you know, I want to live in this cheap, cheap housing. And I’m prepared to leave within two weeks if you ask me if I can, if they’re cheap. So that’s basically his time, we call that squad cards, because it’s just people living there. And the thing that I was doing, and so we got all this, these empty office buildings in the financial crisis. And it’s really hard to use the traditional model to let people live there because you know, they need there’s different, you know, fire precautions that you need to take a shower, which, you know, most office buildings have. So what we said is, you know, why don’t we, especially in this crisis, create an opportunity for the startups to get an office space for really, really cheap. And that’s what we did. And then the question was like, okay, we are a traditional agency and we’re known for putting people in in These houses to live there, how are we going to, you know, talk to entrepreneurs. And that’s when we came up with, you know, we’re going to build a social network for startups and use that as a lead generator.

Andrew Warner 18:08
How did you get anyone to join this social network for startups?

Thomas van der Kleij 18:13
So we did a lot of, you know, coffee meetups, we try to sort of, like, do a lot of networking, help entrepreneurs wherever we could. And at first, it was like a really, you know, hands on thing where we would, you know, listen, get people in touch with each other, do like manual matchmaking, get them to post content on the website. And then as we develop the website further, you know, we created more opportunities to reduce generated content, and that sort of like, went as a flywheel.

Andrew Warner 18:43
And our goal was get them into the network, and then tell them if you need office space, we’ve got this cheap space. It’s just sitting there. Yeah. Okay. And is that where you discovered affiliate programs?

Thomas van der Kleij 18:58
Well, I discovered that printing the printing area, of course, because that’s where we fill the empty the excess ad space that we have. But when I was working at this company, I was on the other side because we want to use first of all affiliate marketing to get new members. That wasn’t possible because for affiliate networks, it was just too small was peanuts. They weren’t interested. And other than that, we also had a lot of these entrepreneurs that came to us that said, like, Hey, you know, we want to advertise on your website. And then we said, we want to promote our business because like you have all these entrepreneurs in your database, I do something that’s interesting for entrepreneurs like surfaces. And yeah, that’s when we said okay, yeah, sure, you know, we’re open to that. But you know, we we are a commercial company, so we gotta get we got to earn something. Also important to know that I was sort of like busy Sort of like detaching this social network from the squatting business I want this to be two separate entities one, you know, being its own business and just you know, doing sending leads to the to the squatting I see. So I was also looking for other ways to earn money. So that’s why we said, you know, we got to earn some money if you want to advertise on their network. But then the problem was always that these were old starting companies, so they didn’t have that, you know, any money? Yeah, put up upfront to say, okay, sure, you know, if we can share some Island, whatever you sell, that we’re also okay with it. And we always got stuck at the tracking bit. So that’s partly where, where the idea for definitely.

Andrew Warner 20:42
Let me take a moment talk about my first sponsor, I want to tell you a story about this little business that I built for a guy named Drew. And then I want to come back and ask you about some of the difficulties that you had at that period. This was one of the toughest points in your life, a partnership was failing. You were living off your savings, you’re watching your friends, I want to ask you about that. But First, check this out. We’re now in lockdown. My kids can’t go to school. I’m reading them stories at night and talking to them about bugs. And whenever they have a question I’m I go to Google and I look it up. And at some point, I couldn’t figure out the answers to some of their questions. Like, for example, my five year old said, what happens if a stinger from a bee is on the ground? And I take it and I poke somebody? Which is kind of like a weird thing to say, but I get it I get the Curiosity is trying to figure out is the poker the problem? Or is what’s in it the problem? And is the stuff that the bee injects in you? Is that what lives with the poker? Elizabeth? Anyway, I couldn’t figure out those answers for questions like that. So I went on Twitter, and I said, Does anybody know an entomologist that I can zoom with my kids for a few minutes and just ask some questions. And someone said, Yeah, I do here. This guy, Drew, he works at the San Francisco zoo. He’d be happy to do it as a favor to me. And sure enough, the guy said, Yeah, absolutely. I’ll do this zoom with your with your kids. And so my kids, get on And I asked him if it’s okay if I invite some of my kids friends who they haven’t seen in weeks. And he said, Sure, the more the better. And so it’s about six kids all about the same age three to five years old. And they’re pelting him with questions. And he’s answering all their questions. It turns out by the way, that a beast finger can actually contain the I forget what it’s called the the part that will irritate your skin, it’s in this finger, and if it falls off, or absolutely use it as a weapon, which is not what my kid was asking, but now we have the answer to that. But he also brought on this snake and he showed them how a snake eats he brought on another snake. He brought on a chameleon, he brought on whatever animals he had in his house, the dogs that were at his foot, and he just kept things interesting. And it was fascinating. And at the end, I said, so how are you spending your days? He says, well, the zoo is furloughing all of us. I’m gonna get to the business part of this in a moment. He says I do a little bit of work for them during the day but for the most part, I have free time I said you should do this professionally. I would love to. I used to teach kids and I think Did this and it’s so much fun. So why don’t you just build a site in this as well? I guess I should. So I have Hostgator as a sponsor, I go, let me go try this. I didn’t. It’s been a while since I created a new site from Hostgator from scratch. Within minutes, I had this site up and running. I went for their, I think their cheapest, if not their checking, second cheapest option. And immediately, they gave me all these options for what I could install. I picked WordPress because it was super simple. I was up and running with WordPress, I started getting a little carried away with the different themes and designs and I said, No, here’s how it’s gonna be a simple black and white theme. I’ll shoot a video of myself saying, here’s what happened with my kids when he taught them. And I think you should buy a ticket to the next session that he does. And that’s all I did. And then I showed it to him. And he said, Yeah, that’s great. So I emailed to I emailed my audience and within minutes, we sold out this one live session that he’s doing and I said, do you want to do more? He goes, Yeah, I want to do more. This is great. He’s making more money doing this then he would at the zoo zoo is open. All because we recognize that there are a lot of kids like mine. Who are just sitting at home bored, a lot of parents like me who want to teach their kids and he is super engaging. He’s got this ability. And within minutes, I was able to create the site. Believe me, if this took up more time than that, I don’t have time for that I got a business around, I got kids to take care of. I got a wife who’s like, feeling like she was being neglected during this call. But even though we’re in the house, she’s not spending enough time with me. I don’t have time. But I built it up fast. And now he’s got this business. And I’m, I’m excited about and he’s excited about it. Listen, if you’re out there, and you’re listening to me, and you haven’t started something yet, you should go to slash mixergy. Even if you have started, just want to get your creative. Look at how excited I am about this. You want to get your creative juices flowing, build something from scratch, and feel free to delete it. If it doesn’t work out. That’s what made this such a fun experience for me. I said, Who cares, I’ll just try this and try that. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll delete the whole thing and start over or not start over. Who cares. It’s the fun of creation that I got to tap back into. If you go to slash mixergy like I did, you will get the lowest price they have available like I got and also you’re going to have an easy experience with them. They make it super simple to get started with them. And then of course if you hate your hosting company or you just want to save some Do what I did with my other site, which is switch it over to hostgator. In fact, I didn’t do that myself. I just asked my question Michael switch over anything that we don’t have on Hostgator over to hostgator. Let’s save some money and save money. So brand new site, take the Hostgator site that exists. We want to save money, take it to hostgator. And if you go to, slash mixergy, you will get the lowest price to have available that’s slash MIXE rG Why? Thomas, tell me a little bit about the bad things that were going on when you told our producer Look, I had a partnership that was failing. What do you mean, who’s the partnership with

Thomas van der Kleij 25:32
with another friend that joins the company? A couple of months in. He is a fantastic guy, very talented. He lives in the us right now, by the way, but very talented guy. And you know, we were working on the company. He was helping out with marketing bit of things. But he is more of a Salesman you know, great at making connections with people. That sort of thing. But we were, you know, a starting tech company with a with a product that sold back then and $29 a month. So it’s not really worth you know, picking up the phone for or you know, doing, doing.

Andrew Warner 26:16
Oh, so this wasn’t even at the printing company. We’re talking about affiliate, is that right?

Unknown Speaker 26:20
Yeah. So then let

Andrew Warner 26:23
me ask you this, then you knew about Affiliate Software, why create an affiliate? We’ll get into the problem with your partnership, then why create affiliate? I don’t understand. The reason that I don’t understand is there’s tons of apps out there that do what there’s tons of software out there that that do what you do. Why did you feel like you have to create something brand new, why couldn’t you just stick with one of the ones that existed?

Thomas van der Kleij 26:42
Well, I think the ones that exist that, you know, they were back then, like really 1990 solutions. I think that there wasn’t one that had, you know, what I was looking for the you know, the thing is you you onboard partners on this platform. So it’s really important that you know, it feels like works and does and is up to

Andrew Warner 27:03
business are their first professional experience with you could be when they sign up for this affiliate program on your site? Let me take a moment. You’re absolutely right. This is not just me blowing smoke. When I say to you, your stuff just looks way better than the competition that I’d seen. I get that, especially the older players who were around when you got started. They look clunky. They’re in the 90s. Still, it felt like but why create a whole new thing? But did you see a business opportunity to just say, look, we’re gonna sell more businesses coming online, more than we’re willing to take on affiliates, and they won’t relate to the old world you Is that what it was? It was not so much that you had a problem that you couldn’t find a better solution for. It was just that you said this, this thing that exists needs to be modernized. They’re not going to do it because they’re stuck in their old legacy ways. I’m going to be the one to create a new version of it. Yeah, basically, that’s what it was.

Thomas van der Kleij 27:56
Yeah, yeah. I thought you know, this is just something that needs improvement. You know? I think affiliate marketing can be a really, really wonderful way of doing marketing where you can really engage partners and where affiliates can add another value in the sales process. So I think, you know, it’s a wonderful form of marketing. And it’s it’s bad sides as well. And we tried to sort of like focus on the really good kind of, you know, affiliates versus advertiser combinations. But, you know, it’s a beautiful way of doing marketing, I think, and I think it deserved, you know, something, something better at the font size, you

Andrew Warner 28:36
know, the where I see your attention to detail is, in the URLs. How many affiliate URLs Do you see that are insanely long Amazon is is the famous example of that, right? You give an Amazon affiliate link, it’s full of a bunch of data. It’s, it’s functional, not pretty, right? And it’s a functional that I could kind of get a sense of who’s using an affiliate program what the affiliate program is by Reading the URL, but it’s not pretty. You care to that degree. And that’s an example one of many that I could come up with for what separates tech affiliate from your competition? Where does that come from? Are you the guy with the with the aesthetic sensibility? Or was it someone else on the team who said, we can make this pretty from the beginning?

Thomas van der Kleij 29:18
Well, the URL, the URL would be more would be more my thing. But the actual, you know, aesthetic thing is, you know, in the end, I’m a developer. And our product definitely, in the beginning was, like, sort of, like, built by a developer for developers. So it was really, you know, in my, in my opinion, like very well organized and things were in the right place, and things follow the logical structure. But then we got some, you know, some more people that were more marketeers and I got them on the platform and they just didn’t understand anything about it.

Andrew Warner 29:57
So then, wait, what do you when you say that you wanted to come up with something that was more modern What are you talking about then? If not, if not this design if not this online experience?

Thomas van der Kleij 30:06
Yeah, so now the design you know, I am not one making it Indian if I know what is what looks nice and I

Andrew Warner 30:14
did it you partnered up with one

Thomas van der Kleij 30:16
yeah, I hired people are people did it

Andrew Warner 30:21
from beginning and the reason that you did that, instead of partnering up with someone was you had a bad experience before? What was the experience with the printing company that was so bad?

Thomas van der Kleij 30:28
Well, you know, we were friends, and we were in that company for equal partners. What I really learned there is that, you know, a ship needs to spawn captain, we, you know, we ended up we did a lot of, you know, very cool things. But we also ended up you know, spending so much time, you know, being a little debate club, I’d say,

Andrew Warner 30:52
like, well, what’s an example of something that you turned into a debate club instead of having clear leadership?

Thomas van der Kleij 30:58
Yeah, it’s, you know, by choice Got it. It’s all minor things and it’s about you know, it turned into a you know who, who has the final say kind of thing? I guess, you know, unwittingly it’s just any

Andrew Warner 31:13
major argument. It’s just every little thing. Yeah.

Thomas van der Kleij 31:17
Yeah, shoot, we collect phone numbers from from the Shoot. Shoot we are. Yeah, that’s a thing you know, and it’s something that we debated for, you know, almost days I guess. And we were like, again, we were like 20 so we didn’t really know

Andrew Warner 31:30
what we’re doing have any issue with with investors? Am I misunderstanding that?

Thomas van der Kleij 31:37
Yeah, we got into a little bit of a weird situation where, where we have a bit large printing company. They were sort of like supporting us work capital. So we got their printers and paper and everything. We didn’t pay for that we were supposed to pay that back at a later point. And then we have investors who invest money in the company different different ones. And at some point, you know, a sort of like power play between these investors and the printing company, sort of like started to emerge where we were one of the investors came in and he said, Well, just let me dictate the email that he will send through them. Again, we were 20. And here was this. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And we, you know, we did a few rides, and then, you know, he sent us on our way with, with, with things that we, you know, we’re supposed to do at that point, or, like, say that in the printing company, and we didn’t really understand it, but he said, No, this is what you’re going to do. This is what you’re going to do. And it turned out to be a total farce. And then, in the end, we, you know, got back to them, you know, yeah, to be honest, this is all getting like out of hand, we’d like spoke from the heart to them. And that’s like, solve everything with that. But apparently,

Andrew Warner 32:51
the only thing he didn’t like was there was a constant hunt for new customers. And so you decided this new business is not going to be that it’s going to be software’s service I see. We take you down memory lane for a moment. This is what one of the earliest versions of your site look like look at that nice right? also look at the smile on your face by the way I literally will see curse words used by founders describing the first version of their site. Sometimes people think that I’m being hard on their site I’m just reading my notes from the conversation that they had with our producer about how bad their site look you’re smiling as you’re looking at this am I right?

Thomas van der Kleij 33:27
But this you see the logo

Andrew Warner 33:28
Yeah, the logo it doesn’t I don’t fully get it there’s like something what is the logo with

Thomas van der Kleij 33:37
the T? This is the first one Oh no, that’s that’s the second logo I

Andrew Warner 33:40
want to tap almost but it’s not a yeah look like a water tap. It looks like a pogo stick.

Thomas van der Kleij 33:46
Yeah, that’s one created by an intern. We got some fun But

Andrew Warner 33:51
anyways, this water two pair of water it’s it’s not terrible. Really. Believe me?

Thomas van der Kleij 33:57
This is this has already been improved for as well. A

Andrew Warner 34:03
logo is what was it?

Thomas van der Kleij 34:05
That was basically a tap with a drop coming from inside it. The idea was to like tap into affiliate marketing today what we learned? Yeah, what we learned during the printing era is that that’s affiliate marketing gave us a sort of like undercurrent of you know profit like a like a profit that would come in so that’s the water team. So that’s where that came from.

Andrew Warner 34:27
I always thought tap was you were thinking ahead that we’re going to be in not a click based world like a double click was in but a tap based world which is the tap device look and I’m holding this on an iPad right? I thought no, I get it now. All right. But here’s the other thing that I noticed. You could have easily said we’re going to take a share of commissions, right we’re going to you’re going to pay your affiliates we’re going to get a piece of that you don’t get you don’t pay us until we we don’t get paid until you get paid. Instead you decided we’re just going to get paid a monthly fee regardless of your Commission’s just for everything that we track right here. There’s the the Sales structure, badly put up on the screen because I’m holding up the iPad to the camera but work, but that’s what it was right? That was you saying I need consistency? I can’t have the ups and downs of a business. Right?

Thomas van der Kleij 35:12
Yeah. Well, that also but this is more of, you know, philosophical samples I have on affiliate marketing. I think, you know, there’s a there’s a place for businesses to take part of the Commission, but the sort of like the kind of affiliate marketing that we try to encourage where there’s, you know, really it’s you, the Parker, and no one in between, where you get like, as an advertiser full control. I don’t think that that would be, you know, boosted if we were taking parts of the profit. I think, you know, it’s, if you do it yourself and work directly with the partner, you can actually use that extra money that you’re saving, they’ll pay as a network commission because that’s normally what happens with You know, with networks is something that you can give to the partner or you can share it so you can create a more enticing

deal for those affiliates,

Andrew Warner 36:10
right? If I don’t have to pay you that money I can pay to my affiliates, and then they’re more likely to send me more customers. And frankly, the rest of my stack doesn’t work that way. I don’t have to pay Hostgator more every time I make a sale. Right? They just get paid for hosting. And that’s actually what went into this. You took a couple of months to build it. You build it yourself the first version?

Unknown Speaker 36:29
Yeah. Almost.

Andrew Warner 36:32
To this day, still most of it?

Thomas van der Kleij 36:34
Well, yeah, I think like, that firm is built by me. Yeah, we’re, we’re for developers now. But you know, to be honest, in the end, I like being an entrepreneur, but you know, I love I love being a developer a little bit more sometimes. So I still am very, you know, involved with product development. And also Cody, because it’s just, it’s awesome. I’ll see

Andrew Warner 36:59
you later. It on beta list which was created by mixergy fan, someone who I interviewed great site to go and find new products. How did you do on on beta list?

Thomas van der Kleij 37:10
Yeah, pretty well. Like I was so surprised. I was so surprised to be honest. Yeah, I remember. I remember the excitement. I went to a soccer match of IRA. I think it was the data that was launched. And I remember like, sitting up in the stadium and getting like my first customer support emails. And it was like, I remember like that feeling it was so good people are actually interacting with with the product. There’s stuff is happening. I really hadn’t expected it to go that fast. You know, we got a couple of hundred subscribers on the first day, I think, and you know, not very bad on this. Yeah, I think spiritual battle is, you know, you can try it for free in

Andrew Warner 37:54
exchange. I thought you had a $29 price point right from the start. I guess not

Thomas van der Kleij 38:00
After like three months, I think I think we launched the bed. That’s where in January and then the first customer we had on April somewhere in April.

Andrew Warner 38:08
Was it the same free people who were able to convert into paid?

Thomas van der Kleij 38:11
Um, I don’t think so. No, I remember that sort of like that customer, we I think we have like 10, zero $10 a day AdWords budget, something like that. And I think we got a customer from there. And I remember like being really surprised like refreshing the page. So one customer seeing one customer. I was actually surprised. back then.

Andrew Warner 38:33
I’m seeing your listing on beta list right now. Was invites one of your thing that you were giving people free invites or something? Was that part of how you hook them in?

Thomas van der Kleij 38:41
Yeah, definitely. You know, it’s nice, you create some, you don’t want to get overwhelmed in the beginning. But you also want to, you know, it creates some sense of urgency for people, you know, wanting to sign up. So I think that’s a nice, nice way of doing it.

Andrew Warner 38:57
And so you kept going with that and then at some point, you Went to Facebook and Google AdWords and my rain.

Thomas van der Kleij 39:04
Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

Yeah. So all sales up to this day is automated. Like it’s only, you know, online advertising, we don’t pick up the phone to do any outbound calling. And as a result, or as part of that we’ve we’ve worked a lot on, you know, making the whole process like really automated and hands off and just trying to optimize and optimize to get people to use product without, you know, needing our help. So, yeah, I think that that’s something that we’ve, you know, been been always worked really, really hard to and that’s why I think we can also continue up to this day to to do all the automated sales.

Andrew Warner 39:50
I feel like that’s an advantage of yours, but it’s also a big challenge of yours that you’re kind of missing out on the the customers who have more to spend But they want to do a demo and you don’t do a demo, they want a little bit more hand holding. And you don’t do that. Right.

Thomas van der Kleij 40:06
Yeah, that’s, that’s just not our position. I think, you know, our product, you know, allows you to do everything yourself. And it just works for a lot of people. And it works for us for our business model.

Andrew Warner 40:25
And then how did you figure out how to do AdWords and Facebook? It’s a competitive market. I don’t think it was as competitive back in 2014 when you were doing it, but still wasn’t easy. And you’re not someone who has that background?

Thomas van der Kleij 40:39
No. Okay. So Well, I think like, any keywords running affiliate marketing are pretty competitive, of course, not as competitive as it is now. But yeah, you know, we were bootstrapped. So, everything that we had to do in the company, especially the beginning, I had to do because, you know, I put in just a little bit of money like, like Maybe like 15 or $20,000 into in the beginning and, and build it from there. So we had to do cost cutting wherever possible and that meant that I had to do everything. So I taught myself how to do AdWords and there’s more examples

Andrew Warner 41:17
and failing or was there something that you did?

Thomas van der Kleij 41:20
No, I think I just read up on it a lot came up with a strategy you know, I think the strategy was to be very very tight in in how we did the keywords so everything was you know, only exact matches in the beginning so we knew we got like very very high targeted traffic and but just a little bit and that turned out to work and I think that’s the game you know, if you if you AdWords might be different these days. I haven’t bothered with it in a while. But the game was always you know, you you you go and carry you go in very narrow and then you wind them up, widen up a bit. So you’re spending increases your converts is also increased, but trial to pay ratio might decrease a little bit. And it’s sort of like that game with the little metrics you know with the metrics and you know, they’re all communicating Of course and just keeping everything in check ends and slowly like growing the thing.

Andrew Warner 42:13
Looking now to see what keywords are sending you traffic, why is like here Kathy Elliot is a big one. Let me see affiliate marketing is another one best WordPress plugin for affiliate marketers. That’s another one that you’re using right that you’re buying ads for. That’s

Thomas van der Kleij 42:31
not the one doing it but that sounds that sounds correct. We do have WordPress and WooCommerce plugin so

Andrew Warner 42:37
yeah, I saw your you’ve got from what I remember good ratings in the in their plugin marketplace. What about john Chris Donnie course? Who’s john Chris, Donnie. Someone you’re working with? I don’t know. No, you’re getting traffic from that. Alright, so I’m kind of hunting down to see how much of your traffic is now coming from search and it’s a pretty big number. We’ll look At like 14% not huge, right? Talking about paid ads. It’s mostly organic 64% organic 36% paid, roughly right? That’s what

Thomas van der Kleij 43:15
that’s what right.

Andrew Warner 43:17
But then I’m trying to figure out are you using affiliate marketing to promote your affiliate program but you know what, let me take a moment talk about my second sponsor, then come back and my second sponsor is a company called Click Funnels what they usually do is create landing pages. What they want me to talk about is the fact that they have a new podcast that everyone was listening to me, especially if they’re into online marketing is going to want to listen to you guys don’t connect directly in with clickfunnels Thomas, do you want to say something about what what you would be able to do if clickfunnels directly plugged into your let’s make a pitch to Russell Brunson, who in his book Traffic Secrets said that this is his favorite business podcast or famous podcast in general. What do you what? If he plugged in directly, what would he his customers get and what’s the functionality that we’d all have?

Thomas van der Kleij 43:58
Oh, what a nice opportunity. Well, so basically, we can connect Click Funnels, what we could do, we get a lot of customers who, you know, ask us to kind of connect Click Funnels and unfortunately, we always have to say no. But what we could do is, you know, help them grow their, their landing pages that they create, created with Click Funnels help them grow. It’s through affiliate marketing. And the nice thing is I know that clickfunnels works with stripe with whom we have a direct integration. So you know, if you get like a dispute or a refund, that’s automatically taken care of if you do recurring commissions that can also be automated, automatically taken care of just by connecting your stripe account. And the only thing if we want to connect with clickfunnels that we need from them is for them to be able to give us the either the stripe customer ID or the stripe charge. I prefer the customer ID so that we can use that when we track the customer to affiliates. And from there, the rest is all automated.

Andrew Warner 44:54
And that’s the way you work and you guys do the who reaches out to partners like Click Funnels. I wonder if they even know that they should be connecting with you?

Thomas van der Kleij 45:03

It has been years ago to be honest, you know, we keep an eye on it, but clickfunnels especially because we have so many of them No.

Andrew Warner 45:13
person on board or is it? Ah,

Thomas van der Kleij 45:15
yeah, that would be me. Yeah,

Andrew Warner 45:17
that’s, I got to ask you about that when we get back into the interview about like how you take it on so much still, even though you’ve backed off, it’s still a huge company. Alright, so clickfunnels great company. I use their landing pages, I can understand why they would want to plug in with tap billion. I’ve got to tell you guys, they’ve got an affiliate. They’ve got a podcast that if you’re into marketing, you should be listening to here’s why. This is a company that is doing over 100 million dollars a year in sales, all in the marketing, software space. That means their customers are doing marketing, and that’s why they sign up for their software. That means that Click Funnels is fantastic at doing marketing themselves or else you wouldn’t you wouldn’t see so many people signing up to their software, so they know marketing. And what Russell Brunson the founder is an amazing at his storytelling, I sometimes wonder if he’s, if he’s in the company doing anything other than telling stories internally and maybe coming up with crazy great ideas that he convinces everyone to jump on. But all he does is teach using stories internally, externally. And he’s got this podcast that if you hate marketing, you’re going to love because he’s such a good storyteller. If you love marketing, you’re going to love because it’s it’s like, like candy for the brain the way that he tells it, and there’s nothing for you to sign up for and pay for it. There’s nothing for you to pay for. There’s something for you to sign up for whatever podcast app you’re listening to me on. Stop what you’re doing and go subscribe to Traffic Secrets right now. When you do you’re gonna get this guy Russell Brunson is a great storyteller, teaching you through stories, how you can do things like buy better Google ads, do better Facebook marketing, how you could get traffic from Instagram, all that stuff. And some of it is not just broad social platforms and tech platforms. Some of it is just like the one on one stuff that he does to convince people to partner up with him so that he can grow his business. it’ll teach you what’s working for him and his customers. All you have to do is sign up to the free podcast. It’s called Traffic Secrets. It’s the underground playbook fulfilling your website and funnels with your dream customers. Really, that is not an exaggeration. Go check out Traffic Secrets, great podcast. Do you do a lot of affiliate marketing yourself if I’m not seeing that?

Thomas van der Kleij 47:31
Yeah, we definitely do. Yeah, of course. We do a sort of affiliate Inception where we use our own products for an affiliate program for products

that’s definitely one of our bigger channels.

Andrew Warner 47:46
How are you getting affiliates Who are your affiliates? I’m, I’m obviously spying on your traffic spying on your site and I see something called spritzee. That is, that seems to have some kind of partnership with you, but I don’t know don’t have enough insight just by doing this Can you tell me what’s working for you isn’t as an affiliate?

Thomas van der Kleij 48:05
Yeah, we do. Yeah, so we do many different things we we run several programs I think that’s also one of the things that our software does that it’s you can run like several programs so we run side by side the referral program and an affiliate program referral program is something we do with our existing customers so we asked them to promote the products and they you know, they can earn cash or discounts but we also do an affiliate program and pretty affiliate program like we really reached out to just bloggers and websites that are interesting to us, we scattered those out reached out to them and just, you know, on boarded them on on our affiliate program. So for example for us, there’s a lot of websites, great websites that right above a WordPress plugins, or WooCommerce plugins and those are you know, really good affiliates for us because our product works one on one, their traffic Like everybody interests within WooCommerce as potential customer for us. So those are just, you know, really, really great deals. And is this you reaching out to them one on one you personally, not. This is we have an affiliate venture for well, but he unfortunately he was a absolute mark the mark, they’re a manager specialized in SAS, so that was really good. But now our work.

Unknown Speaker 49:26
Now who’s doing

Thomas van der Kleij 49:27
the marketing

Andrew Warner 49:28
department got it. Okay. So let’s talk about what I hinted at earlier, which is that you’re somebody who is taking on way too much right. Now well,

Unknown Speaker 49:36
yeah. Well,

Andrew Warner 49:38
yeah. Well, you taking on that was excessive.

Thomas van der Kleij 49:42
Yeah. So it was, you know, born out of necessity in the first place, because the company was bootstrapped. So you just can go around and you know, get into Kansas. I don’t know what is it like $600 a month. Because you know, that that was, you know, almost that was Harbinger would be gone within a couple of months. So for example, you know, we can pay for an accountant or a bookkeeping system. So I built a bookkeeping system myself in the in the beginning also because I was interested in you know how bookkeeping works. And I knew some of it, you know, from studying. But the first two years we rent on our own in house on our own the system that I built.

And I did the bookkeeping as well, for instance.

Andrew Warner 50:26
So instead of using QuickBooks, or one of the other platforms, you built it yourself.

Thomas van der Kleij 50:33
Yeah, yeah, we can really use QuickBooks and I think maybe you can now but back then you know you need something that is compliant with Dutch tax laws and collect you do your your taxes basically. And the other thing is that we one mistake, I think that we made early on or that I made is that we went on to use stripe and then later at a PayPal and I also built belief system ourselves, so you know it all the subscriptions and all that logic. And then it did the charging both through PayPal and stripe. And that meant that we couldn’t get, you know, a nice generic solution later, I learned that that stripe already had all this with stripe subscriptions. But I had to build something that could do the reconciliation of all the of all the charges versus all the Yeah, all the bookkeeping entries that we made, and it was no product to do that because we had these two different payment platforms. So yeah, that also sort of like made it necessary to do this.

Andrew Warner 51:37
And so when it got to be excessive what happened to you or your company that made you realize this is too much I gotta stop.

Thomas van der Kleij 51:44
Yeah, there was was a combination of things. So first of all, you know, it took a while to get the company started, you know, we had like 50 6070 8090 100 customers, you know, it was growing really, really slowly. At least it was not enough to for me to pay myself. Then there was this other partner who was also, you know, looking to get paid at some point, of course. And that was, you know, without me knowing it actually turned out to be weighing pretty heavily on me. Then next to that, I always got an email whenever someone cancelled, and that was just like tiny little, tiny little steps. And I remember like I was, my partner was away on this honeymoon, and I was in our office, I got one of those anti squatting office spaces, obviously, and I remember, I remember like sitting there and I got like three of those cancellation emails and I, you know, I just like lost it. And I just went to Zurich, I remember. And actually, a guy who now has now become my partner really recently in the company has become partner in company He was sitting there, he was working on Alec on another company back then. And he just sent me that and I did it for like, what’s up? Like, are you are you okay? And then, you know, I spoke with him for a little bit and it says, Good, I think, you know, you’re just you’re just sharing stress. Well, you’re right. And the weird thing is, I have gone to the doctors week before. Because I had like, all these tremors and everything. And I was I was feeling really, really weird and like to ask me, like, Are you stressed? And I said, Well, I was thinking, I said, Well, I’m not stressed because I only knew stress as the being late kind of stress, you know, missing your flight attendants dress like them. That’s feeling but I learned then that there is a really different kind of stress, and that’s subconscious stress. That’s where, you know, you get all these tiny steps and everything. So he told me, man, I think you’re really stressed. And I sat down and I wrote, actually, you know, I opened Expo, of course, in my ID as a developer. I just wrote down, I’m stressed and I just started, you know, Writing down like everything that was bothering me. One of the things was, well, I’m digging into my savings. It doesn’t look like I’m gonna get paid anytime soon if I’m, if my partner of mine needs to get paid, that’s, well, that’s going to make things like twice as hard. And the fourth thing that I wrote down is like a nobody knows I feel this way. So I first went home. Yeah, so first, the first one home, my wife told her I felt identical. I have another like Simon Parker into companies for an advisor who was taking the company, a very experienced ex McKinsey, kinda person, persons. And I called him and told him you know, this is not you know, this is not going well. And so we met in the park sat on the bench and both for hours and I always felt like you know, people who, who this happens through like, I always saw that as a sort of like, weak thing. And then this this man who I haven’t really, really high regard He went through the exact same thing. And what I learned is that it’s more of a thing that will happen to people who are, you know, very driven take on a lot of, you know, take a take on a love. And then and then it’s sort of like happens when we sat on a bench. And now he was just very practical. He said, Well, so what are you going to do? You’re going to tell your party, he’s not getting paid you already you already company, so would argue it’s not going to happen. So he’s just not getting paid. It’s as simple as that you’re gonna spend less on AdWords, you’re gonna do this, and this, you’re gonna pay yourself tomorrow. So I did all those things. And I also, you know, took care of all the other things that I wrote down, that sort of like, salted for me really, really quickly, but it was not it was not a good time.

Unknown Speaker 55:45
When was this?

Thomas van der Kleij 55:49
I’d have to look it up.

Andrew Warner 55:51
In a couple of years ago.

Thomas van der Kleij 55:53
Yeah. And well, I think 2016 all right up.

Andrew Warner 55:56
You know, you take more time now. 5060 does a company work? Well with it, let me ask you this if you had a worst case of COVID if for some reason you were out for two months where you couldn’t touch a keyboard with the company continued to do well,

Thomas van der Kleij 56:09
yeah, definitely. Yeah, actually, we, you know, the past few years, we have spent, you know, a tremendous amount of effort of making me unnecessary, which is really nice, you know, because, you know, we’ve, we’ve documented everything internally, we’ve automated everything, you know, back in the day, I used to have to go into the database to do things. But now I can just, you know, mostly work on the things I like, you know, partnerships and also working on products. So, definitely, the company will definitely survive. I remember. Also, I remember my honeymoon. That was the first time and this was in 2017. That I could go for three weeks without doing anything.

Andrew Warner 56:53
And now at night when you’re having dinner with your wife, are you are you checking your phone all the time? Are you the type of person who needs to keep staying involved.

Thomas van der Kleij 57:03
Yeah, to be honest, a little bit. Yeah, but I’m just I don’t know, I I’m just someone you know, who does one thing like, hyper focuses on it? And then, you know, at some point moves on to the next thing, but yeah, I’m always impulsive what I do I it’s Yeah, I don’t really believe in the separation of work and life. And I don’t know, I think you just have to make sure that whatever you do is really, really fun. And then it all becomes entangled in a good way.

Andrew Warner 57:34
I’ve seen a lot of that here in San Francisco. I don’t think I could talk about the people who have seen it like family barbecues who are on their phone the whole time, like dads were, they pay attention their kids, but for the most part, I can think of a few were on the phone the whole time, who would step back if we’re going for a hike? And you know, it’s not because they’re slow. It’s because they’re sneaking in their phone. They’re way worse than you, the one person who I remember who’s doing this kind of like in a normal way. And he’d be okay with me bringing it up is Justin the founder of needles. He’d have his phone on a table when we’re having a drink. And he gets alerts. Every time an email comes in, I said, can’t you just let the emails go? He goes, I can’t go to sleep with even one unread message and unresponded to message in my inbox as someone who has alerts even for text messages and eat well for emails. No, no, not anymore.

Thomas van der Kleij 58:21
Not not what I do. I do check it sort of like, but I’m not someone who is on the phone all the time. I think that, you know, can be like a little route for us. And it’s also you know, I it’s hard sometimes, obviously, because you want to know what’s going on and you want to, you know, make sure everything’s okay. And it always is, most time but

Andrew Warner 58:44
I don’t know. You don’t have to be there all the time. The reason that I say that, because we’ve exchanged a few emails. And you were one of the fastest people to respond to a message. The one time that you weren’t responding fast was we were supposed to be doing an interview here, and I Couldn’t frickin Connect. I couldn’t make the interview happened. This was last Wednesday. It was such a terrible way for me to start my day without being able to connect with you. So I emailed you and then a little bit later you emailed me back and he said, I was just sitting here on camera and I turned off email so I wasn’t able to respond even fast when he’s slow. COVID Let me close out with this. Our sales up this year relative to last year, say March excuse me, April, May, maybe even March. Are they higher than they were last year?

Thomas van der Kleij 59:30
Yeah. We had increased churn in February and March or March and April. I think. What’s really hard to say we started out in February with with a new marketing agency. We’ve used a couple ones here in the Netherlands and now have for some company from the US and they are rocking it, you know, but they they were did that before COVID started. So, you know, it’s really hard to say it’s really hard to gauge You know what it was also because, you know, we made so many great changes for the product recently, and that’s helping helping out a lot. So,

Andrew Warner 1:00:08
yeah, there’s a lot of the percentage increase in sales this year versus last year.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:13
I think it’s about

Andrew Warner 1:00:16

Thomas van der Kleij 1:00:17
like, 30%

Andrew Warner 1:00:19
Yeah, I know, we’re not getting to like account level accuracy. I just want to get a sense of it. Are we talking about three acts? Are we talking just 3% this gives me a sense of where you are, like 30 or 30. And it’s not necessarily even related to COVID and people creating more it’s possible that some of that is happening for you my right but it’s also Yeah,

Thomas van der Kleij 1:00:39
yeah, yeah, yeah, we see, you know, we see, you know, the every everyone in trouble is, you know, leaving Of course, because now they have to do real art cost routing. We’ll see a lot of people moving things online businesses that were already in the process. I also think that you know, receipt, of course, I’d said is, but I really do think That affiliate marketing is, you know, a great way to good marketing channel in these times because, you know, it’s it fosters works by having good relationships. And, you know, I think that’s a good thing.

Andrew Warner 1:01:16
Yeah, the beauty of affiliate marketing has always been, you need an ad, you don’t have to ask permission. You don’t have to convince anyone, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone, you just go get the link. Well, you’d have to prove that you’re a legitimate person worth working with, yeah, get the link and then put it up on your site and then see if it how it does, but you don’t have to convince them that you’re worth spending money on. I remember reading a book about the early days of Google when they were trying to figure out whether AdWords even made sense. They just grabbed an affiliate program. In their case, it was the Amazon affiliate program, right, and they could just stick a bunch of products in there just to get a sense of whether it’s working or not. I think for many people, affiliate ads are the first and best way to get started in any kind of advertising. Right? You just go get an affiliate program. link from someone whose product you trust promoted in a way that’s more personal than if you’re just running with a banner those are dead but if you are running any kind of regular ad and then see how it does, what’s the overall revenue?

Thomas van der Kleij 1:02:16
We’re more of one and a half million dollars this year profitable.

Yeah, yeah. Since the second year actually,

Andrew Warner 1:02:25
how many people

Unknown Speaker 1:02:27

Andrew Warner 1:02:29
nine people so less than 10% profit, right?

Unknown Speaker 1:02:33
That’s not not more than 10%

Thomas van der Kleij 1:02:37
Yeah, yeah way higher

Andrew Warner 1:02:39
net net gross at the end of the day, you get to keep more than 20% Yeah. Wow. All right. So you guys are really doing well then. I mean, stable company. Good growth. Beautiful product, just really beautiful. You know what kind of a jerk I am. And this is the thing I’ve got to watch out that it’s, it’s because I’m podcasting that so many people fling offers out. Me I am the greatest you should interview me and so I become skeptical I just go hunt down the negativity to see what did I miss? I don’t want to be like these podcasters I swear I would never name them but I could see they feature people who I know have nothing they’re just absolute fakers. And at some point that’s going to happen to me if it didn’t already I’m not saying that we’re all that I’m invincible here but I am saying I’m paranoid about it. So what I did was I went online and I started just seeing tap affiliate what are the negative things that people say about affiliate What can I see? And the first thing I think I saw was like a cap Tara rating it’s like all right, cap tears. Oh, here we go. Cap Tara 4.6 rating 31 reviews. Alright, everyone can fudge cap Tara, let me keep going down in. So then I go a little bit further WordPress five star review. But all right, it’s only four people. Let’s see who else? And I’m just like hunting you down. What are they saying? I’m product con. They’re kind of jerk Nah, they’re nice. I’m product. But it could be a little bit critical. You’re not on product. So I couldn’t see you there. But you are on other platforms like get app. And anyway, so I saw it’s not just me saying this beautiful product. It’s it’s your users were saying and it’s other people We’re seeing it you know where I wasn’t able to find you read it that’s where I find that like the dirt on people were like, angry for nothing. It’s like damn Disney Why did they have to show their logo before every movie? Don’t they know that I got time and they don’t have much time I’ve places to go now they could complain about anything I couldn’t find you in there it actually I think auto unless I miss did it there and what was the other one? The big affiliate forum? Warrior Forum. I couldn’t find you in Are you not in there?

Unknown Speaker 1:04:30
No, that’s right.

Andrew Warner 1:04:32
You might be I just couldn’t find you they auto converted it to from Tap Delete to affiliate and then God. That’s gonna bring up a bit. Let me try to put in quotes. Let me see. Maybe I can come up with some negative stuff here.

Thomas van der Kleij 1:04:42
Yeah, no, there’s there should definitely be some hits. There

Andrew Warner 1:04:45
is gonna be some negativity out there. But anyway, for the most part, I’m seeing that people love the software, you’re doing well as a company and you survive COVID do you feel good about that?

Thomas van der Kleij 1:04:55
Oh, yeah, yeah, definitely. But I also you know, keep thinking about no All these people losing other people and then you know there’s I just spoke with a friend of mine today he has yes like to like beautiful restaurants here in Amsterdam and he just had to decide to close one today which is really really sad because it was his first location so you know there’s it’s also entrepreneurs getting hit by this so there’s so much misery in it so my is I’m happy I’m healthy but yeah, my thoughts are actually with more with other people. This is a New York Times article today saying people who have survived

Andrew Warner 1:05:34
Well, yeah, this one was people who survived COVID are are being shunned by others for some reason I don’t know why the previous set of weird articles that they had were about people being being feeling guilty for surviving if they’re doing well like I got past it now. I feel guilty and

Thomas van der Kleij 1:05:54
yeah, business wise, business wise, I recognize that you know, because Okay, so, you know, we’re doing, we’re doing well at this point. But you know, you don’t know what’s coming, you know, there there might, you know, there’s very good chances that we’ll have an epic recession. So I don’t know how I’ll be doing in a couple of months, or I will be doing Of course nobody does. But then there’s, you know, friends that you businesses are going bankrupt, you know, yeah, of course, you feel bad about that. So, I Well, I wouldn’t call it shame. But that it’s a it’s normally you can be very proud of being, you know, successful you’re having. But

Andrew Warner 1:06:39
I do see that when I went out on Twitter, and I said, is anyone doing well, I did get quite a few people who said, I’m doing well, but I just don’t feel comfortable saying it because I don’t want people to think I’m dancing while everyone else is dying. And I understood that at first and I didn’t push and I’ll never push. But what I’m recognizing is that there’s four Get the economic depression. I think there is a psychic depression among entrepreneurs this sense of futility. And I’m not talking about other people. I’m saying I feel it too. I think we’re all feeling it to some degree, that sense of what’s gonna happen. What’s gonna happen to me, this is awful. I just lost out on this thing. If it could only have gone on for just if the economy could have only grown for one more year, then I would have been been even better, right, though all that. And it’s really painful. I think it’s helpful for our psyches. It’s helpful for our psychological well being to hear positive stories, because frankly, people are counting on us to leave my kids are counting on me to figure out where they’re gonna go to school next year and where they’re going to live, right? They can’t have me moping around the house, the people I work with, they’re counting on me having energy to keep guiding them and keep making tough decisions that people I interview the people who are customers in mind, right? It’s all on us. And I can’t just bring it out of thin air. I got to have it from other people and then channel it for my people. For my family for my work and you being on here is helping me channel you. And and I appreciate that. And I know that that’s what’s happening to others. I know that if they allow themselves to just feel that there’s some good stuff going on in the world, and that they look for it themselves, that they’re going to be in a better situation for doing it. Thomas, thanks so much for being on here and being a part of this mission.

Thomas van der Kleij 1:08:21
Yeah, thank you very much under

Andrew Warner 1:08:23
the website is tap Go check them out, or do what I did just like put them into Google and see what other people are saying about them. I think you’ll be very happy. And I want to thank the two sponsors who made this happen. The first is Hostgator, where I went and signed up and created a brand new business for my man drew from the zoo. He is furloughed from the San Diego Zoo. I think he’s doing maybe a few hours a week for them doing some remote zoom stuff for them. But for the rest of the time, he’s doing nothing and so he now has a little side business where he’s able to teach kids about insects and animals and psyched them up and give parents maybe like an hour of quiet time with them. I could just sit and take a breath in the middle of the day Hostgator allowed me to do it because I went to slash mixergy. And I urge you to go play with your new Hostgator account, set it up and then play with it. And second now that this interview is open is over, go check out Traffic Secrets podcast. I’m not gonna say anything. I want to end this with two words, the podcasts you should go and subscribe to now that it’s over. Traffic Secrets.

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