How an Amazon book flipper turned software founder

Today’s guest is a Mixergy listener who I invited to share his story.

Caleb Roth is someone who might not think of himself as an entrepreneur—in fact, he went pretty high up the corporate ladder at Johnson & Johnson.

But all along he was doing things on the side. Finally, he took the risk of going all-in on his side project and we’ll find out what happened in this interview.

Caleb Roth is the founder of eFLIP Software and ScoutIQ. eFLIP helps Amazon booksellers scale their businesses in the U.S. and abroad.

Caleb Roth

Caleb Roth

The Book Flipper

Caleb Roth is the founder of eFLIP Software and ScoutIQ. eFLIP helps Amazon booksellers scale their businesses in the U.S. and abroad.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of entrepreneurs. And what I’m seeing is also up and coming new soon to be entrepreneurs even are listening to these interviews to see how other people build their companies to draw inspiration, ideas, and sometimes even specific tactics that they can use to build their companies.

Joining me is someone who I talked to because I’m kind of on a mission to talk to as many of my premium members as possible and I’m also going to start this year to talk to as many of my listeners as I can to just get to know what they’re up to, what they’re looking for from Mixergy. And as I talked to today’s guest, Caleb Roth, I said, “Caleb, I got to have you on Mixergy. This is not at all like an ulterior motive that I set out to have on this call. But I’m just amazed by what you’re building. Would you come on Mixergy?” And he hesitated for a little bit, and then he said yes. And I’m excited to hear his story and to bring it to you.

Caleb Roth started out doing all kinds of businesses, but I feel like he didn’t think of himself as an entrepreneur. Maybe if you’re listening to me you could identify with that. He even actually went out there and took a different direction in life. But he started selling books online, buying them in person, selling them on Amazon, it became a thing. He started blogging about it on The Book Flipper, as a way of just sharing what he’s doing, getting some camaraderie. And that built up an audience for him. And then he created the software for that audience. That software is called ScoutIQ. It’s a mobile app that allows you to cheat if you’re trying to buy things and sell them online and buy cheap. I mean, it lets you see get an advantage about by understanding what you can sell those products for online before you even buy them.

So I invited him here to talk about how he built up this business. I’m surprised that he’s making so much money still flipping books. I thought that that would be over by now. But I want to find out why that’s still doing well. And I feel like what he wants to talk about is not even how he built up his business. In fact, he seems a little antsy to get into the next stage, which is what happens when you do this. Is this all there is? Yeah, I’m doing well. But is this enough? Is this what my life is going to be? We’re going to talk about that and so much more thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first if you have a Mac at your office, if your team has a Mac, you need to find out why Setapp will give your team and you superpowers. I’ll talk about that. And then I’ll talk about the company that I’ve been using to hire developers from, it’s called Toptal. Both those that come later first, Caleb, good to have you here.

Caleb: Andrew, I’m delighted to be here.

Andrew: You already know the first question I’m going to ask you is what’s your revenue? And I’ve got to tell you that the audience is thinking, “Is he making money just from blogging, or is he making money from actually building something and selling something?” So can you give us a little idea of the overall revenue and whatever you can share?

Caleb: Sure, I’ve got two primary income streams. One is actually flipping the books, which is what I started doing. And the second stream is selling software, kind of scratching my own niche, building the tools that I needed and then selling them to the audience. I don’t do a lot of training, consulting that’s not really what I do. I can’t share the software numbers, because that’s several other business partners. Last year in books, we did a little over 2 million in sales top line. And software’s not in that arena yet. But the margins in software are good.

Andrew: Software is super impressive. I’m interrupting you, because I’ve noticed that sometimes guests tell me before the interview starts, “I will not tell you my revenue for this or that,” and then they get carried away and they reveal it and they kick themselves and they feel upset at me. So I know that that’s something that you don’t want to share. But you shared it with me privately and the numbers are just impressive. What’s the profit in books? Is there a profit still in selling books online?

Caleb: There is profit in books. Amazon is I mean, we’re fortunate we get to use them. Some days, I don’t feel like it because we’re in their sandbox and they make the rules for sure. But they bring the customers you know, the goal of a business or the job of a business is to create or find a customer and Amazon’s already done that. All we have to do is go find products, put them in front of those customers. And that’s it. Our average book sells for between $20 and $25 and Amazon takes maybe 40% of that in fees. So the fees are quite stiff. But we’re buying books, you know, at liquidations, auctions, that sort of thing for a buck or two apiece. And so when you’re spending $2 and turning it into 15, or 12, the margins and the ROI does look pretty good.

Andrew: Are we looking at over a million dollars in revenue?

Caleb: Net income? No.

Andrew: [crosstalk 00:04:27] . . . Excuse me.

Caleb: Amazon’s going to take 40% give or take, plus their storage fees, plus their shipping, plus there’s travel to get the books.

Andrew: Oh, in addition to that, they take storage and shipping and all that. That doesn’t come out of their end.

Caleb: They make money every which way, yep.

Andrew: All right, so then bottom line, like can you give me a sense of it? Even if it’s like a big range, it’ll still give me a sense of how much you’re making from selling books.

Caleb: The physical book business is going to be somewhere in the half a million to a million range.

Andrew: Okay, all right. Impressive. I can see why software is so exciting because I can see software very quickly beating that number if it hasn’t already for you.

Caleb: It hasn’t yet. But the margins in software are incredible. So we’re, you know, it’s very expensive to build it. But once it’s there, the cost of acquiring a customer and bringing them on board is minimal.

Andrew: So you’re a guy who started companies a lot growing up, and that’s how you ended up selling books online. Can you walk me through some of the businesses that you had growing up, including the eBay stuff that you did?

Caleb: Yeah, absolutely. So I started like any 16-year-old, you get your first car, get your driver’s license, and you’re like, “Great, now I have to finance this.” So you go look for your first job and back then, and I’m only 32 but back then when I was 16, minimum wage in Michigan was $5 and 15 cents an hour. And so I went and got a job at a golf course across the street, you know, put on your best Polo, walk across the street and ask for the pro and ask for a job because that’s what you do. And I got that job and it was customer service. I was the cart boy. I’d get your clubs, greet you, clean the clubs at the turn, try and earn a few tips. And that was the first job and I got free golf. It was wonderful.

But at the end of the summer, I kind of sat back and said, hey, I totaled it up, I think I made just over $1,000, which as a 16-year-old with not much money, that was amazing. But I said, “My friends are off on the nights and weekends, having fun at the beach, hanging out at Steak and Shake, you know, having a good time. And I can’t join them because I’m chained to this job, and I can’t just quit and get out.”

So I didn’t really view myself as an entrepreneur, but I kind of made a deal with myself. I said, “Next year, when I’m 17. I’m not going back to the course. I’m going to go try and make the same thousand dollars at garage sales. I don’t know, we’ll figure it out. We’ll figure out how to find products, sell them on eBay.” That was kind of a hot thing at the time. And if I can make 1000 bucks working my own schedule when I want to, then that’s a success. So it was really kind of the Tim Ferriss philosophy, “Live life on your own terms.” And so . . .

Andrew: And did that work?

Caleb: It did, made well over 1000 bucks that next summer, got into Polaroid cameras, you kind of develop kind of a niche and this was before the iPhone. So this would have been like 2004, give or take. So the iPhone came out what? 2007. So the way we did it is one person would go in with a flip phone to a garage sale, call back home. We were fortunate enough, we had two internet lines because my dad had a work line at home. And we’d say, “Quick look it up on eBay. Here’s the model number, here’s whatever.” And we’d wait, look it up. “All right, yeah, it’s selling for 50 bucks, go ahead and grab it for five.” And so we kind of, you know, that’s why I say today we’re cheating because we have so much computing power in our hands.

Andrew: And your software allows people to do that on their own phones without having a buddy at home. They just look up what it sells for. What’s the difference between doing that and just going on eBay or Amazon to see what a product sells for if somebody’s standing in a garage sale?

Caleb: Yeah, so we have a downloaded database, mostly of books. That’s the main products we sell. And it doesn’t sound that impressive, but the speed is what sets it apart. So when you’re at a library sale, you’re trying to get through books faster than the next guy standing next to you. And if you can go through 1000 books in an hour and they’re doing 300 books in an hour because they have to wait for live data to come back. That’s what slows them down.

The second piece is that same brother that was helping out the garage sales is now an engineer for Google. And so he’s a super smart guy. And he was able to help and say, “Hey, let’s go back and let’s build our own database of historical data on Amazon. And we’re not only going to tell you what the current price is and what the current popularity is, we’ll tell you historical data as well.” That’s why I say it’s cheating. You know exactly if that book is selling, how often it’s selling, and if it’s likely to sell again.

Andrew: You know what, I’ve got a neighbor, who for years, his whole job is to go to buy used clothes, and then take it to some of the vintage places here in San Francisco. And his job is it’s not even a job. It’s like his own little thing that he does on a bike. He says he’s suffering because they’re people walking around with their phones, checking to see what products sell for online and he’s not a mobile phone person at all. I got him a flip phone for Christmas one year. He didn’t even use that. He’s just likes to be, you know, like the hipster chill dude. And I didn’t realize how many people were doing it and he says even the employees at some of these stores that get stuff in from people donated will go in and find it. With that competition, there’s still an opportunity to find these opportunities to sell things online for more than you buy?

Caleb: Absolutely. It’s a kind of a whole underground market. And it’s becoming more and more mainstream. There’s been articles on, I think like CNN and Fox, they’ve started showing up, CNBC, where they’re interviewing these, group of people called Flippers, and it’s essentially just arbitrage. We’re finding a product in one market in a local garage sale and making it available to the world on eBay. There’s nothing glamorous about it and you could on a bad day you go, “Hey, what value am I actually providing?” But somebody’s looking for that Polaroid camera, that, you know, that Land SX-70 is what we used to look for. That needs it. You can find in a local market, make it available, they’re happy to pay it and you’re making money on the difference.

Andrew: I see Gary Vaynerchuk do that on YouTube. He’ll just go out he calls it Trash Talk. He’ll see what things sell for and sell it online. What’s that?

Caleb: That’s exactly it. So we’re doing a giveaway. My buddy Reezy got to interview Gary for his hundredth YouTube interview. And so we actually set up and did a giveaway with ScoutIQ to kind of get people in the door and gave a box with Reezy and Gary’s face on it. It was kind of cool. So that was like just over a month ago. It was awesome. Because so many of our audience follows Gary Vee, they want that that Flip Life, is what he calls it.

Andrew: Yeah.

Caleb: And it’s interesting because Reezy asked him like, “Why do you do this? Like you’re running a $10 million multimedia company? Why are you going through trash and garage sales?”

Andrew: More than 10 million but yeah, why?

Caleb: And Gary’s like, it’s the thrill of the hunt. He goes, “I get more excited over finding a little action figure that I can make $4 on, than trying to close this big media contract,” Because it’s just that excitement, it’s that dopamine hit.

Andrew: You know, I don’t know what it is, but I get it. If you told me, “Andrew, can we do a consultant call. I’ll pay you 500 bucks?” I go, “No, I don’t think so.” But I started selling a few things online recently that I had around the house. You know, I’ve been traveling around the world running my marathons. I had a GoPro camera that I didn’t like as much as a DJI Osmo or the Osmo Action. So I sold it. It was so exciting to see somebody come in and give me $210 for it or something like that, right? Something about seeing the cash too. It just takes me back to early entrepreneurship, the simplicity of having something people want, selling it to them, getting cash, not digital money. And it reconnects me with the passion. I know it seems silly, but the passion that I have for entrepreneurship for selling. Okay, so you got into books, why books? Why did that become the heart and soul of your business?

Caleb: Well, we got into books several times. We didn’t really realize the opportunity that was there. If we had, we may have built a software company back in high school and sold it for a lot, but we didn’t realize what we had. So as we’re going around to garage sales, you start going “Okay, like I don’t want to become an expert in clothes, I don’t know that much. I don’t care that much. Shoes weren’t my thing.” And so we just look for brand names. Electronics, they had a model number and a brand name. So it was very easy to look it up. And we started learning, “Hey, it’s really easy to find books. They all have barcodes on them. So it’s easy to find the value. They’re really easy to ship. They’re durable. You could throw it in an envelope, really, and ship it somewhere. And it’s going to be just fine.” So we started gravitating toward books, and my brother wrote just a very basic script where we would literally use the flip phones, you’d text to an e-mail address. The e-mail address had like a cron job going, it would look it up on Amazon, return the values, and then send it back to the to the flip phone.

Andrew: Yeah.

Caleb: That whole process probably took 45 seconds. And so it’s super inefficient, but it was probably one of the only things on the market at the time. And so we just built it like, “Haha, this is fun. It’s a challenge. We’re solving our own problem.” And we found a lot of books that way to flip and again, we forgot what we had. I went off to college and kind of forgot about books.

Andrew: In college, you became the book guy. What did it mean to be the book guy in college?

Caleb: So I think almost every good successful business begins with somebody having a chip on their shoulder. You talk to book people, and most of them have my story. They go to college, they go to get their first round of books for the spring semester, or the fall semester, rather freshman year, and they go, “Oh my gosh, I just blew 400 bucks, 500 bucks on four books.” And they go, “This is silly.” And they go back to sell them at the end of the semester, and they get $50 back. And so there’s just kind of that outrage, like the bookstore is making so much money. And so what I started doing is going, “Hey, I’ll just sell my own books back on Amazon. The bookstore will give me $10. I can sell it for 80.” So I started telling my friends, “Hey, you know, I have an Amazon account. I know what I’m doing. If you don’t like the numbers the bookstore is giving you, give me your book. I’ll sell it on consignment.” I didn’t have cash to buy it, right. “I’ll just sell it for you. If it sells for 80, I’ll take 10%.” I way undervalued myself.

Andrew: Way undervalued yourself 10%, okay.

Caleb: Oh, yeah, I could have done 50, 60 whatever or . . .

Andrew: It’s a lot of work too.

Caleb: It was and I make good friends with the campus post lady, but literally had shelves of books in my dorm room. And as the books would sell, I’d throw them in an envelope. It was super inefficient. But I was making money. It was that, you know, I’m providing value. It’s like going fishing. You’re like, “Will, anybody bite?” You throw a line out there and boom, “I got one.” So every time you got a sale, it was that little burst of dopamine or energy going, “Wow, this is working. Someone out there is buying this book.”

Andrew: What about this, though Caleb? The idea back then was as soon as somebody bought a book, you had to mail it like that. There was no fulfilled by Amazon service back then, right?

Caleb: Correct.

Andrew: Wasn’t that a pain that you’d have to stop everything, always be around to send it out? If you have a vacation from school or something else going on? You couldn’t even be depressed, which college kids get into, right? You get into a funk for a few days. You couldn’t get into that because you’d have to respond quickly.

Caleb: You would and yeah, for someone that wanted a lifestyle business, I was definitely not getting that. But it felt like success. We were moving forward making money and, you know, sometimes we get tricked just with busyness. We’re like, “Hey, I’m busy, therefore I must be moving forward, must be making progress.”

Andrew: Yeah. I wonder about that a lot too with myself. And so you moved on even further with this. Your professor loaned you money, how much and why?

Caleb: So I went to my professor, it was a small school, maybe 1000 students at the time, but it was primarily on campus. And so everybody knew everybody. And then I was kind of getting that reputation for being the book guy. And so I identified two classes that almost all freshmen had to take that happened in both the fall and the spring, which was rare at a small school. And I just looked at the numbers, did the business case and said, “Hey, this . . . ” I don’t remember the numbers, but a book is selling, you know, the bookstore will buy it back for $22. And they’re going to sell it for $45. And I said, “I can pay 25. I’ll, you know, cut out the bookstore. And I’ll flip it on the other end for $40.” Again, maybe undervaluing myself, but trying to just connect those books and of course, the students could have found each other, but they weren’t thing that. They were thinking, “Exams are out. Go to the bookstore, get my cash, go do whatever I do with the cash.”

So I went to my business professor with a request. I said, “Hey, here’s the opportunity. Here’s the number of students in each class because you could pull all the class lists at the time. We didn’t live in the digital age where everybody’s concerned about that. But I went to him, literally a one-page piece of paper, laid it out. “Here’s the opportunity. Here’s what I think we’ll do. Here’s the worst case, here’s the best case, and I need 1000 bucks.” And he goes, “Do you want a loan or do you want equity?” And I go, “I probably a loan.” He goes, “Yeah, as a professor, there’s probably a conflict of interest if I do equity.” And he’s still a good friend of mine. He jokes every time I see him, he goes, “I should have taken the equity.”

But he gave me $1,000 loan which was, again, that was as much as I made my first year working. And I went out, paid students cash for their books, flipped them on the other end. The books that we didn’t sell back to students, we actually sold on Amazon for more than the students were paying for them. And so we cleaned out, paid the professor back, plus like 15% interest for a 30-day loan. And that was our adventure.

Andrew: How do you get to know a professor so well as a student? What does it say about who you were back in college that you were close enough to your professor to ask for money?

Caleb: I think I’ve always just gravitated toward adults more even in college. Like I think a lot of people were off trying to just find themselves or just enjoy life. And I was more like, “Hey, there’s some really interesting people here. Like, why do these successful business people . . . Why are they in here teaching us? They should be out doing it.” And so I just I was fascinated. I wanted to know their stories, kind of the reason I listened to podcasts, but I mean, they saw something in me, I saw something in them and that kind of hit it off, I guess.

Andrew: I know that I couldn’t relate to kids in high school, largely because the big thing to do was find a way to get alcohol and then go drink at a party where I couldn’t imagine they enjoyed themselves. They were just like, patting themselves on the back for being able to get away with it. And that didn’t seem interesting enough to me. We recorded this. I started recording this yesterday. And then my mic crapped out, my computer crapped out. I brought a different mic a different computer. And through the last 24 hours or so I’ve been kind of feeling bad for the way that I asked you about the cappuccino business you were in you. Could you tell people what that was?

Caleb: Yeah. So you would ask about some of the things I’d done, and we’d done garage sales and lemonade stands and car washes like that. I mentioned I had a cappuccino machine in my dorm room. And it was one of those, like, pour over machines like you see in a gas station like commercial grade. And I said, “Yeah, I was, trying to make money there and selling cappuccino to my dorm mates.” And they were like, “What? Why would you . . . ?” Like I was kind of taken aback.

Andrew: As a friend, wouldn’t you just give them a cappuccino? Come over to my . . . it’s like coming over to my house, I give you a beer and then I give you a bill. And I’ve been feeling bad about it, because the way you looked when I asked that question, but I have this sense of you through that. That you’re the guy or were the guy who just was an entrepreneur, you loved entrepreneurship, the way that some people would just sing in the hallways and they don’t feel weird. Like they’re putting on a performance or people who are walking around who just want to listen to their AirPods or whatever it was around at the time. That’s who you were, right?

Caleb: Oh, yeah, it’s a game. It’s like fishing, you throw a line out and you see what bites and that’s what entrepreneurship does for me.

Andrew: But it’s also a sense of identity. The guy who would sell you coffee from his dorm room, is the entrepreneur, the salesperson. The reason that I’ve been thinking about it is and I’m bringing it up now is you then went out and got a job. You got an internship at Johnson & Johnson. You became an employee. Why as the guy who’s the entrepreneur, did you go on to get work?

Caleb: So I . . . back up a step. I don’t think I thought of myself as an entrepreneur. I thought of myself as just a problem solver. So if somebody had problems, I was trying to solve it. The bookstore wouldn’t pay you enough money, I can help. I’ll be your friend.

Andrew: Were you doing plumbing problems too? Like if somebody had a plumbing problem or a computer problem, were you helping them? Was it that?

Caleb: I was cutting the kids hair. I mean, I was . . .

Andrew: Really?

Caleb: I would do anything, yeah. “Hey, can you cut my hair?” “Yeah, I’ve cut hair before. Sure, five bucks. Here we go.”

Andrew: Oh, but look at the five bucks. So everything is you’re very much like the old Alex P. Keaton from those old shows that don’t hold up very much, “Family Ties.” But you are that guy. Why the job?

Caleb: So at the end of college, I kind of slimmed down my last semester, didn’t have very many classes. And so it was kind of like, “All right, time to look at internships.” So I went out started interviewing just because that’s what you do again, and the town we were in was Warsaw, Indiana. And that doesn’t mean a lot to most people. But it’s the home of the orthopedic companies. At that time, three of the largest five orthopedic companies were in this small town of about 15,000 people. They had all kinds of great manufacturing jobs, marketing, jobs, management jobs, you name it.

And so I studied business, studied accounting, and it was okay, like I can go off on my own. I didn’t have like any money at the time. I didn’t have any debt, fortunately, but I didn’t have any money. And it was like, “Okay, I got to make mom and dad proud.” You know, I went and got this college education, it’s time to put it to use.

And so I had a job, I had a full-time job offer from a company in town that I liked. It was more of a small business kind of a family business. It kind of seemed to fit me a little better. And I also had this opportunity that actually paid more as an internship to go in and just try out orthopedics. And that same guy that gave me the loan, Michael, said, “Hey, this is your chance. If you turn this down, it’s really hard to get into the orthopedic industry. Take this chance. If you hate it after the internship, no harm no foul, you can move on, but you’ll regret it if you don’t.” And I said, “Okay,” jumped into the internship, eventually it turned into a job, eventually turned into five and a half years of my life.

Andrew: Wow, I didn’t realize was that long. And on the side, you were still hustling. You had what now is called the side hustle. And then that turned into this business. I’m going to come back to that in a moment. But first I need to do an ad for a company called Setapp. My guess is even though you’re a Mac guy, you don’t use Setapp or maybe never even heard of them, Caleb?

Caleb: Never heard of it.

Andrew: All right, before I even tell you about them, let me tell you the problem they solve. I was sued by somebody recently because I use the wrong photo for a guest. And the person who owns the photo thought that I was doing it in a malicious way and sued me. We had a team call afterwards and we said, maybe we need to be a little clear about where our photos are and how we get our photos. And what we should do is go to people’s LinkedIn profiles or something or ask them for photos and it came out, Andrea, my assistant said, “Oh, I do that all the time.” And everyone said, “You do? Then why are we hunting it down for every guest?”

And she said, “Well, I put it in this folder.” We said, “But we look people up in our Google folder, and we don’t see it.” So she showed me the folder and it turns out, she added a character to the file name so that she could find it more easily. The character made it harder for everyone else to do a Google search. Believe it or not, Google searches within Google Drive stink. So then the agreement within the company was from now on if you need to find the company name . . . sorry, from now on when Andrea finds a guest’s photo, she will rename it in the proper way so it’s searchable. But for all the ones that she did, even for the month of January, February and March, it’s a loss. I said, “Wait it’s not a loss. We could just change the name automatically of all the files that she did, remove that one thing and adjust it in a way that searchable.”

And while people were saying, “Well, we don’t need to do that. That sounds like too much work.” I went to Setapp, I did a search for file rename, I got an app that renames all files instantly while they were still talking about it. Instead of me telling them it’s possible, I went and I did that. And all the files were changed. I said, “Guys, can you search right now? They said, “Yeah,” they searched it. Boom, it all worked.

And the reason I was able to do it is I went to Setapp. I didn’t have to say, “Well, should I buy this app? Should I buy that app? Is this one good? Is that one good? Should I spend my money on it?” And so it’s all part of the subscription. Here’s what Setapp is. It’s a collection of Mac apps, you pay once, and then you get access to all these top apps. And we’re talking about apps like PDFpen, which lets you fill out PDFs super quickly. Bartender which will eliminate all those menu items that you have at the top of your Mac.

CloudMounter. So if you have Amazon drive for your team, they could just mount it like a regular drive on their computer. If you want a different email program, if you want them to clean . . . oh, clean up I’ll say in a moment, but here’s the big problem. Your team, Caleb, are not going to buy apps for their Mac because they don’t want to spend your money. They feel guilty. Even if you tell them, “Look, here’s a credit card, anything up to 50 bucks, don’t even ask me about. It’s a waste of my time. I trust you enough with this, go do it.”

They still will feel bad about spending even $5. Good people are like that. They have this little barrier hesitation. You buy this for them, they have all the apps they need, all the power that they need literally at their fingertips on their computer. We’re talking about an app for every category. And in my notes here it says literally any task and I think literally should really mean every single task. Like I said, I won’t use the word literally but just about any task that you need on your computer you can have and it’s there available to you.

If you want it, you can get a 60-day free trial for yourself and your team. All you have to do is go to setapp.teams/mixergy, that’s S-E-T-A-P-P When you do, you’re going to get 60 days for free for yourself and your team. Watch how it helps them, watch how it improves them.

The thing that I was going to say about CleanMyMac was I was going to throw away this one Mac. I installed CleanMyMac on it, and it got rid of all the cruft that was on there, sped it up, and I didn’t have to spend money on a new computer. Your people on your team, they need that kind of power. They’re not going to come ask you for it, set it up, watch them. If they don’t improve, cancel. If they do improve, if they get more productive, you’re going to love it and you’re going to thank me.

You were doing stuff on the side. I do like that ad read. You know what I could see why some people when they get an ad read, they just chop it up and then they place the recording forever, right? I just it feels too impersonal for me. All right, so I analyze everything. Do you analyze everything after you’re done the way that I do? I can’t read an ad. I can’t do an interview. I can’t do anything without analyzing it afterwards.

Caleb: I do it. And it’s funny you’re rethinking over the cappuccino comment from yesterday. Like I didn’t dwell on that specific piece. But in general, you think about the interview, and I love getting the second chance, actually, just with the technical glitches. I was like, “All right, I wonder how we can make this better for the audience, better for me?” You start replaying that in your head.

Andrew: It is better. It is actually. It was great yesterday, and I felt bad about losing it. And now it’s better. And yeah, this is why we do pre-interviews, you’re a guy who can talk. A lot of our guests, you won’t believe it. They’re so good at what they do. They’re so bad at talking about it. If they do a pre-interview with the producer, they talk it through a little bit, it comes out in an easy way because there’s no pressure. And then in the interview, they’re like on it there. They thank me for having a pre-interview. All right, tell me about how you got into selling books on the side and then this agreement that you had with your company that allowed you to transition into full time?

Caleb: Yes. So again, I’d still didn’t identify as an entrepreneur. I went in got the full-time job said, “This is me. I’m a marketer. I work for J&J.” I got to try travel the country. They flew me around. Not in a private jet. It wasn’t that kind of company. But I was on the road nearly 100 days a year which is a . . .

Andrew: Did you like it?

Caleb: I loved it.

Andrew: Me too.

Caleb: I love meeting people.

Andrew: What do you love about it?

Caleb: Well, we talked yesterday too, but I love airplane time, because there’s just something maybe it’s mental, but I just feel disconnected from Earth. And I feel like I can get more work done, I have more focus, more productive. No one’s expecting me to reply to calls or texts or anything. There’s just something magical about that.

Andrew: I love that. I also love talking to people for work, absolutely love it. And then I will do something that I think people who hate travel don’t do. I go out and explore the city. I explore the town. As a runner, I get to go run through a city and it’s like 4 to 6 to sometimes 12 miles of seeing the city without a dashboard or something separating me from it.

Caleb: I love a city. There’s something about the travel, getting into a different coffee shop, walking a different street.

Andrew: Yeah.

Caleb: Seeing something different, it just shakes you and I feel like what . . . It just gets me excited to go in and then just be more productive with what I’m doing.

Andrew: And you weren’t married at the time.

Caleb: No. That was wonderful.

Andrew: So there’s nobody at home say, “Where’s my husband?”

Caleb: Right, so side stuff, I didn’t do a ton of it. I went and got a house because that’s what you do. But I got a duplex. And so I lived in half. The guy across the driveway paid basically my mortgage. And so I was always kind of, you know, life hacking my way through that and started setting aside some cash. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but that’s what you do. I didn’t have really expensive tastes. I was still a college kid at heart.

In fact, my first sales call I went on, I was trying to help with a bone cement issue for orthopedics. And I got out of the plane, I was a 22-year-old kid no facial hair, no nothing. The first question out of his mouth was, “How old are you?” So you talk about like, “Hey, I feel like I’ve arrived. I’ve made it into the corporate world and the first thing somebody does is just pushes you down. And he’s like, “How old are you?” And I’m like, “I’ll tell you at the end of our conversation.” So I worked my way up the company, got a few promotions, you know, that’s what you’re supposed to do. I got to where I was making six figures, which I thought, you know, living in northern Indiana, like I’m successful, I’ve arrived, I’ve hit a big number, like I make more money than most of my friends and yay.

And then I realized, “All right, I’m not super happy.” You start flash forwarding going, all right, look at my boss, my manager, people that are older in the company. Do I want to be doing that in 10 years? 20 years?” And the answer was, “Not really.” And I liked my coworkers. There was nothing wrong with that. And then of course, I got married and so being on the road 100 days a year, while it’s healthy for me and I enjoy it, you got a wife at home going, “Hey, you’re missing out on your friends birthdays, you’re missing out hanging out with me. Maybe we should consider something else.”

And so I said, “Well, I’ve always been a book guy. I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I wonder if I can start something on the side.” Because I wasn’t even though we had a good pile of cash saved up. I was too risk averse. You know, most entrepreneurs are like, “Risk, no, problem. I eat that for breakfast.” I wasn’t just going to quit my job because her parents, her dad did a corporate job. Went for 30, 40 years retired, really young, like 55, 56-years-old, full pension, great retirement benefits, and he stayed at one company the whole time.

So that was the path to success. And so for me to say, “Hey, I’m going to take care of your baby, your daughter, and I’m going to change gears and step away.” They were very, very . . . My parents were like, “That’s fine. That’s who you are. That’s great.” So I started going, “All right, I’m going to build up something on the side. I’ll prove to everybody that this can work.” And I’m a spreadsheet guy. I’m an analytical guy. So I took my wife upstairs and said, here’s a spreadsheet. Let’s go. We’re going to find 100 books a week. We’re going to go to garage sales in the evenings, thrift stores on the weekends, library sales. We’re going to find 100 bucks a week and we’ll sell 2% a week.”

We had no idea. There weren’t any numbers out. I just guessed. We’ll sell two books a week to start with. Then next week we’ll find another hundred books. We’ll sell 2% total so we’ll sell four. Okay, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. So we’re not making a money. Flash forward so six months, nine months down the road. You’ve got an inventory of a couple thousands and all of a sudden you go, maybe this could work. And . . .

Andrew: Because it’s 2% of what you have that sells any at any given period or maybe 4%.

Caleb: Give or take, yeah. So if you’ve got an inventory of 5000 books, you’re selling 100 books a week, and if you’re making $10 profit on a book it starts to add up, it’s not glamorous, but it starts to add up. And so we said, “All right, here’s our plan. Let’s just try it. We’ll do it nights and weekends.” We met crazy people on Craigslist buying, you know, books out of storage units. So it led to a lot of adventures, which was fun. But more importantly, it started building up. And so we realized, “Wait a minute, this is actually working. We can pull out our plan, pull out what we are selling on Amazon and go, ‘Wow, this is working.'”

But the lifestyle still wasn’t there. We were still what’s called merchant fulfilling. So we had a room at our house full of books. And every time an order came through, whether it’s 2 or 3 or 5 or 10 orders a day, we had to go up, find the right book, put it in an envelope, send it out, send out information, and it was still a lot of work. And that’s when we kind of discovered what’s called Fulfillment by Amazon or FBA and that’s where instead of storing it, and shipping, once somebody buys it, you send everything to an Amazon warehouse, they store it. Of course, they charge you for it. And when it sells, they ship it.

So then we could be on the road, we could be traveling, we could be on vacation, and the business is still operating in the backgrounds without us being directly involved. So all we had to do now, we just had to find inventory and list it. They handled the logistics, they handled finding customers, etc. And so it was hard to give up control. Because you don’t see the books. When you see the books, when you feel it, when you walk into the post office, it feels real. When you ship it into some magical place in some random warehouse in some random state, it doesn’t feel real.

Andrew: It’s not only that, so I’ve had a few experiences trying to sell things on Amazon that way. There’s nobody to talk to if there’s a problem. I bought the Pixel phone that Google came out with. I didn’t even open it out of the box. I’d relisted it. You got it?

Caleb: I love the Pixel.

Andrew: I loved everything about and then I realized I’m too into the Mac ecosystem. I can’t get away from certain things. I got like the AirPods which I have my ears all the time, I can’t use them as well. Fine. I’ll send it back. I sent it back. Somebody bought it, they returned it. I don’t know how to get it back so that I can just play with it. Now that it’s an open box and it’s been a few years I just play with it for some dopey. I don’t know how to get it back. There’s nobody to Amazon talk to. It’s not just that you’ve sent it out and it now becomes a virtual book. It’s you’ve sent it out to like a virtual company that it’s hard to figure out.

Caleb: It is and they mix stuff up and we’ve had books returned to us. That’s all we sell is books, and we’ll get like car parts with our label on it. And I’m like, “I don’t know where that came from or how but okay.” So yeah, there’s definitely stuff that happens but it frees it up. So what I started doing is I was traveling for work and I would bribe the truck driver because we would go and do these cadaver labs. It sounds gross and it is but we would do these cadaver labs. I would fly in a half day early to go set up. I would set up. I’d have a few hours to kill before team dinner. And I’d run out to a thrift store and find a bunch of books, bring them back kind of meet like a drug deal in the parking lot, hand over the books to the truck driver, he’d bring them back to Indiana, and I’d pick them up and buy him a couple beers. And so we were able to start sourcing because our town had two thrift stores. We couldn’t really make a living there we drive around, but being able to travel and kind of work in some of that while we were traveling allowed us to find a lot more inventory.

Andrew: What does it do for your relationship that the two of you were doing this together in the early days when it made no sense?

Caleb: It was actually really good because it forced us to work together. We had a common goal. It was something fun like, “Hey, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. If this works, then we can quit.” And I guess that sounds really cool.

Andrew: Yeah.

Caleb: The problem now is that it’s almost all business all the time because when you run your own business, your business is anywhere your computer is, is anywhere your phone is and if you’re trying to pursue entrepreneurship for freedom, you end up working . . . like I work 60, 70 hours a week. It doesn’t feel like it, but I do.

Andrew: And then I want when I come home to not talk about work for a little bit to have somebody be my oasis from it, but you also want to include the family in it. By the way, when I start my interviews off by saying, “Hey there, freedom fighters.” It’s not about the person getting freedom. It’s about the person winning freedom for others. It comes from when I was in Argentina, and the government was just restricting so many people and I realized there was no hope and savior from the government. They could change administrations all day long. It’s basically going to be the same garbage, different group of people. It’s the entrepreneurs that they were all looking for who were going to let them work outside the country, let them keep their money outside the country, let them have opportunities that the government wasn’t going to give them, that the culture wasn’t going to give them.

And I saw that sense of hope that comes from that. Meanwhile, in the U.S. at the time, when I was living in Argentina, Americans had Che Guevara T-shirts like this was the freedom fighter that they were revering. In Argentina where Che was from, they weren’t thinking about Che. They were thinking about different entrepreneurs. And so that’s where it came from. But you’re right. It’s like just like Che Guevara wasn’t sitting on a beach and hoping that there’d be some freedom for his people. It was, you know, you fight until you die. And it kind of sucks that way.

And I wonder also, if I’m doing my audience a disservice by not highlighting the stuff that’s exciting before. As you were saying before, you were looking at the people who were working at the job that you had, and projecting yourself 10, 30 years in the future and saying, “Do I want to be like them?” I have to come back in my interviews and think to my audience is thinking the same thing. “Do I want to be like Caleb?” So before we continue? What’s good about being like, Caleb? Or is it even worth it for people to listen to this interview and aspire to be a little bit closer to what you and my other guests have done?

Caleb: I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Andrew: Why? What’s so good about it when you can’t even get away from your work, where your phone is you’re working, and it’s in your pocket and your wife is your work and she’s in your bed? What are you doing? What’s so good about it?

Caleb: It’s a valid question. At times, I don’t even wish. Like I thought like, “Hey, sometimes it might be nicer to go back and work 9:00 to 5:00 and come home and forget about it.” And I don’t even want that for one minute. That’s not who I am. And maybe I’ve become so enveloped in the idea that I’m an entrepreneur, that’s my new identity. And so I have to enjoy it. But I can set my schedule. If I want to go to Top Golf, right after I interview, I can do that before I’d have to like, “Hey, boss, I’ve got to go do something personal.” Like I don’t have to, like I control my time. That to me is worth a ton of money. The flexibility that it offers when we’re traveling in the middle of the week, like I live in Denver, if I want to go to the mountains on a Tuesday, it’s not that busy. If I want to go on Saturday with everybody else, it takes four hours to get up there. So that to me is that freedom and you just have to figure out what’s enough. That’s a whole different conversation, but you have to figure that out and be able to tone back and cut it back.

Andrew: You know what? I have an identity as an entrepreneur, and I thought of myself as an entrepreneur from the time I was 10. I had been thinking it would be nice to go work somewhere for a year, for a couple of years. And the reason I think of that is, I remember when I couldn’t build my business up enough as a high school kid, people weren’t taking me seriously. I remember hearing real estate is a big thing. I would go and look at real estate properties, not only with the people who I was looking at not taking me seriously. My dad didn’t take me seriously. It’s like what this putz doing right now? My family didn’t do it.

And so I said, “I can’t go any bigger selling sandwiches door to door, which is what I have. I’m feeling like depressly stuck.” And then I went and worked for a guy named Paul [Cervera 00:38:41]. He had the same ambition and motivation as I had but he was like a grown up. And he had this process and structure and I could see what he was doing, and I could learn from it. And then I also felt like I was being given specific results that I needed to get done. And I was achieving them faster than he expected and bigger than he expected. And I felt this sense of confidence in myself that you don’t get as an entrepreneur because you’re always on fricking quicksand. You know, you never know even if what you’re doing is great. It could be that like, look at the chart for BlackBerry, their best year I think was the year that the iPhone came out, right? And they could be looking at their numbers and going, “Look, people still love us despite this thing coming out.” And meanwhile they were really quicksand and they were about to drop.

Caleb: It’s an interesting development because you go as an entrepreneur from wondering, can I make this work and doubting that, to now it’s working. And now your fear is “Can I make it work? But can I make it last?”

Andrew: Right, and it’s constant.

Caleb: Is this all going to fall apart tomorrow? Oh, yeah.

Andrew: It always that noise going on in your head?

Caleb: Fear, 100%. Going back, I guess one of the guiding principles like why should you be an entrepreneur? Or should you want to be like Caleb or Andrew? I’m a big Malcolm Gladwell fan. And some of the research that he did, he kind of boiled work down like satisfying work came down to three things autonomy, complexity, and a direct connection between effort and reward. So autonomy, yeah, I can do whatever I want whenever I want it. I’m my own boss. I set my schedule. Now I have to serve a lot of customers. So I’m kind of beholden to them. But I do have some sense of autonomy.

Complexity, I can pursue any challenge I want. So I love to solve problems. There’s plenty of problems out there. And I can keep myself as busy as I want to be, probably too busy solving problems.

And then connection between effort and reward. I worked at corporate for five years, my salary went 60% increase in five years. I just plotted it out, our business has doubled every year in the last five years. So in five years working for myself, my salary has gone up 1600%.

Andrew: That’s one of the exciting things. Here’s another exciting thing about entrepreneurship. So yes, the limitless potential. Absolutely. The other part is, you just can’t help it. You are who you are like you’re a kid selling cappuccinos from your dorm room and you don’t need it to survive. You just are who you are. Just like there are kids who can’t help but build stuff. You know, just like there are people who just can’t help but sing. You are who you are, you hope the world rewards it well enough and in entrepreneurship, there’s an outside chance that you will be rewarded. Versus if you’re singing, there’s an outside chance that you will not be rewarded right?

Caleb: Yeah.

Andrew: But you are who you are. And I could see through your story, whether you recognize it back then or not, you’re an entrepreneur. I feel the same thing about myself. Let’s take a moment, and talk about my second sponsor, and then I want to come back to you quit your job. Let’s talk about how you grew this thing. And then also this inner stuff that you’ve been thinking about, I want to talk to you about like, is this all there is? Is it really worth it?

My second sponsor is a company called Toptal. You know, instead of me plugging Toptal, why don’t we talk about the value of developers through your brother? If your brother wasn’t a great developer, if you just went to Adobe freelancing website and said, “I need a great price, here’s what I’m trying to get done.” What would you have gotten? Versus what is your brother who’s a Googler, who’s a smart guy who understands the problem and cares enough about solving it, what did he get? What’s the difference?

Caleb: Actually, my brother does most of our database stuff. He’s never done any of the development. So the first app we created was kind of through again, that mentor, Michael, he knew some people in town. They ran a development firm, basically a chop shop. I went to them because I didn’t have a lot of money. They gave me a quote, I think it was $21,000, which was all my money. And I went in and they started doing it. And it’s just like building a house. Everything in development takes twice as long and twice as much money. It just is what it is.

And their developer, they had actually kind of quit halfway through and they had to bring another guy in that eventually saved the project. And so we were very fortunate. There’s a lot of companies that try and build software, and it fails because an event like that happens, they take your money, they disappear, and you’re done.

Andrew: Well, I’m thinking about. Oh, sorry go ahead.

Caleb: We’ve had a lot of bad experiences. I do have a full-time developer. He’s one of our partners and he’s very, very talented, but he also runs his own main company. Like he’s a startup with venture capital. And so he’s somewhat distracted, but he’s very talented. The trick is finding more people like him.

Andrew: I’m thinking about like the intelligence of saying, everyone else, including Amazon, that is giving prices on books is pinging an internet server, coming back with the response. “Wait a minute, I could outthink this problem and this solution and come up with something that feels old fashioned, download the whole database, but it’s much better and it’s quicker.” And I feel, not feel, I’ve experienced that that’s the difference between going for an amazing engineer and somebody who’s just going to listen to what you’re doing.

If you went to a regular person and said, “Look, I’m hiring you. I need an app. What the app has to do is scan a barcode and then tell us what the price is.” Say, “No problem. I know how to do it. There are these APIs. There are ways to go and look on Amazon and other places. What is it selling for?” You need somebody who says, “Wait a minute, help me understand this problem. I know a different way. And it seems counterintuitive, and it’s about downloading everything.”

This is the difference between there are tons of freelance websites, and then there’s Toptal. Toptal is not the place you go to, to brag to your friends about here’s the great price I got. And I say that in a way that sometimes I think scares people off. And they come back to me afterwards and say, “You know, Andrew, it’s actually not as expensive as I thought after hearing you.” So we’re not talking about like getting ripped off, and then feeling that you’ve got an amazing person. We’re talking about spending a little more money, getting a lot more brains.

When you hear in Silicon Valley, people come to San Francisco to hire developers. It’s because they want that 10x developer. You’re not paying high prices to get a regular or 2x developer. You’re looking for the 10x developers. That’s what Toptal is all about. If anyone out there is looking to hire yes, you can hire great developers and you could do it super fast, but you don’t have to commit. All you have to do is go to There’s a button you press and you will get connected to someone Hiten Shah, who’s run several companies and has been here for several interviews and said is the best part for him of Toptal, the matcher, the person you talk to you say, “Here’s what I’m looking. Here’s then the type of person I’m looking for. What do you think?”

And they help you think through who you’re going to what the position is, like, who you need. And then they go into their network. And they’ll connect you with two, maybe three people who fit that need. And if you want to hire them, great, go ahead. If you don’t want to hire them, move on with your life. No loss. I’ll tell you what, if you do start out with them, and you use my URL, you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours. You’re also going to get a no risk trial period. So really, they’re going to take away all the risk. If you’re looking for developers, just get on a call with them. Talk it through with them. If it’s a good fit, you’re going to love me and thank me for doing this. It’s top as in top of your head, tal as in talent,, Another great read.

Caleb: And just a side note there, any developer will tell you they can do the project. Almost everyone says, “Oh, yeah, no problem. I can do that.” And so you can find a cheap developer on Upwork. And we’ve tried, and they’ll say, “Yeah, we can do it.” And most of the time they can’t. So the right developer. And this is like there’s tons of ideas, there’s tons of great products that could exist. Getting a good developer to actually execute on it is probably one of the biggest shortages out there right now. So if you can find . . .

Andrew: It absolutely is.

Caleb: If you can find that developer, hold onto them tightly, pay him whatever it takes, and they will make sure that you’re successful.

Andrew: That’s coming from an entrepreneurs saying, paying whatever it takes.

Caleb: And I was cheap starting off. But now . . .

Andrew: Oh, yeah, how cheap are you? Are you still cheap?

Caleb: I still am because I still have that mentality of like, well, we weren’t poor growing up. We were, you know, comfortably middle class, but we didn’t spend a lot of money. I was one of seven kids. We’d go out to McDonald’s and we get a supersize meal with one coke and we’d fill it up eight times. Like we would just get waters outside of that.

Andrew: How do you do it now? What’s an example of how cheap you are? Or are you? If you’re not cheap, and this is something that you’ve given up on?

Caleb: I’m probably still cheap. Like I’m still trying to save $1 here and there. We’re going to Phoenix next week, and we need two cars because I’m going to go play a little golf. And my wife is going to be there with our almost two-year-old kid. And so rather than try and do Ubers, we’re going to get two cars. And I realized, like I booked it too at the airport, and then realize there’s so many airport fees, and I don’t need the car till the next day. So we can save a day, not have to pick it up at the airport and pick it up close to the Airbnb, and I’ll save 80 bucks. So we did it.

Andrew: And I feel like that for the kids to see as an important thing that if they are watching you pay attention to that it’s harder for them. Maybe as they get a little bit older, they’re going to spend like mad men, but it’s harder for them later on in life to spend crazy. Here’s an example of how cheap I am. I actually, I’ll pull it over right here.

I’ve gone through different iterations but I almost always have to travel with a bag of tea or tea bags, especially when I go to airports, because I want to have tea and if you get a cup of tea, it’s going to cost you six bucks now at an airport. If I’m at a hotel room and they’ve got the nice tea bags, I take the nice tea bags, I take whatever they have, I put in my bag. And then when I get past the airport security, I take my big water bottle, I say fill it up with hot water at whatever coffee shop is available. And then put my two tea bags in there and then I feel good about it and then once I’m on the plane, I also don’t have to wait for somebody to come get me if I need it or to have the tea the way that I like it. I’m good to go.

Caleb: Oh, I take the shampoo and soap and tea and coffee from the hotel room so.

Andrew: I haven’t done that. You know what I should and so I did it recently the other day. What I do though, is toothpaste because getting the small thing of toothpaste is a pain but if you go to hotel, they’ll give you the little tiny toothpaste, fits really nicely in my bag and I’m really into minimalist traveling. And I never, by the way, not I never, I’m someone, Caleb, who for a long time just gave up on that and said, “This is a distraction. Who cares? It’s a five cent thing of tea.” And I realized this is a message to myself as much as my kids that I have a tendency sometimes to go into big timing because I could afford it. I want everything.

I literally have gone on dates where if we’re going to have, “Do you want dessert? Great.” Waitress comes over, “Give me all the desserts. I don’t even need to see the menu. Give me one of everything.” And like in my head, I feel great about it. And I have to stop that type of tendency and go the other way. The entrepreneurs who I’ve interviewed when I see them in private, they have that sense of cheapness. And then they also have a sense of generosity too where they’ll like donate in surprising ways.

Caleb: Well, great, you know, “I Will Teach You How to Be Rich,” Ramit Sethi, phenomenally talks about the money dials. So the idea that you can spend extravagantly in certain categories that are important to you, and then cut back on the other ones. You can’t be lavish everywhere, like nobody can afford that. And you shouldn’t be a miser everywhere. You got to find out where it’s important in your life.

Andrew: Yeah, that is true. So I did take the tea bags when we were away in Enchantment or enchanted resort in Sedona. It’s like a $700 a night place. I took the five cent tea.

Caleb: Absolutely.

Andrew: All right, so talk about how you got into this full time and then we’ll get into software and then I want to hear about the depression. And I guess this all there is?

Caleb: Sure.

Andrew: So the transition happened where? You ended up with, I think, a boss who said, “Will you come work with me?” And you said, “No, I’m going to do this thing.” Right?

Caleb: So I was in marketing, product support our main role. It wasn’t like putting up billboards. It was basically technical experts helping out in the operating room. So when I was traveling, we were doing learning centers, teaching doctors how to use the material, sales calls, or what most of the time was in the operating room actually kind of helping walk them through the procedures to make sure they’re using things properly. We were the experts in the products. So I had a number of sales reps, a number of distributors that said, “Hey, we like what you’re doing. If you ever need a job come work for us.” They were trying to get me to come into sales. And I was like, “I’m not really a sales guy. I don’t really want to do that. But thanks anyway.”

Once we had the book thing going, it wasn’t replacing our income. It was getting close to replacing our expenses, because we were fairly, we live fairly cheaply. And we started going, okay, my wife and I, we said, “Where can we go? Let’s go start somewhere fresh. Let’s mix it up, let’s just move. We’ll quit the job all in one step.” And that was also, kind of, I was afraid of what people would think. So if you’re saying, “Hey, we’re moving somewhere, that’s why I’m quitting my job.” It made more sense than saying, “I’m quitting my job because I’m going to strike out on my own.” So it was actually a cop-out.

Andrew: Wow.

Caleb: And, man, I wrestled with that decision so long and then finally went in and told my boss and it was like this feeling of peace. And it was like, “Why didn’t I do this earlier?” And people came up to me and said, “I’m jealous,” like people that I thought love their job said, “Take me with you.”

Andrew: Wow.

Caleb: “Like, whatever you’re doing. It sounds amazing, like rescue me from this place.” And, man, I wish I’d done it earlier. So I had a rep distributor from Denver said, “Hey, we want you to come work for us.” I said, “Great.” I said, “We’re actually looking to make a move.” He goes “Cool. Come on out, come visit, come meet our doctors. Name your price, that kind of thing, and we’ll see what happens.”

So we went out and visited we were looking at Nashville or Denver. We drove out over spring break my wife and I like 1000 miles from Indiana. Got out there and started talking to him. And he goes, “All right, what’s it going to take to get you?” I said, “This sounds weird, but we’re building this, like our side hustle. We’re trying to kind of bring that more mainstream.” I said, “It’s not a number. I want you to pay me well, but I want flexibility. Is there any way I can work part time? I want to work two to three days a week and have two to three days a week to build my business.” He goes, “Actually, we’ve got a big doctor that we were going to have you cover anyway. He works two days a week. Why don’t you cover him? You can kind of work half day in the office, and we can pay you a salary instead of commission.” I said, “Great, let’s do it.”

And so we jumped into that and being on the other side, when you’re the marketing guy, the surgeons love you. When you’re the sales guy. You’re just the rep in the room. Because you don’t have any pull with corporate. You can’t call it any favors. You can’t get them known by the higher ups in the company. You’re just the guy schlepping instruments. And so it was a very rude awakening into that world. I was just a service guy at that point. I was no longer the rock star coming in and solving problems.

And so I didn’t love it. And we started the business was doing well. We were finding more contacts with the books. We started getting into the software space. So the first software I mentioned was eFLIP, we were building that and we were, you know, kind of halfway through, and we were almost ready to launch it. We knew we had a little bit of an audience because I’d built that up with the blog at The Book Flipper. And I kind of went into the boss and said, “Hey, I’m thinking about stepping away.” The other piece, we just had our best textbook season ever, which as a bookseller, like most if you’re in retail, you love Q4. Like, that’s where you make almost all your money or almost all your profit is in a six week or eight-week window.

Andrew: Yeah.

Caleb: Booksellers we get two of those. So students are buying books in January. So right now I’m loving life because our sales are off the chain. And then in August and September, students go back in the fall, and there’s another Q4. So we get two Q4s. It’s pretty cool. And so we just came through our first fall semester. I think I’d sold $20,000 of books in one month. And I’m like, “I’m a king like, this is amazing. It’s working.” Of course, I knew it was going to drop off. But we knew we had our software coming. And I just felt like, “Hey, I’m on water skis, and they’re going in different directions. And I can’t balance both of them anymore.”

And so I called up the manager, the distributor and said, “Hey, this has been great. It’s not really the best fit for me, I kind of want to, like really go off on my own. So I’ll give you three to six months.” Again I was worried what they were going to think. “So I’ll give you three to six months. I’ll help train the next guy. I’ll make sure everything’s taken care of. I don’t like you did being a solid. I don’t want to leave you up a creek without a rep.”

And he actually goes, “Well . . . ” this was like a Thursday. I just finished work for the day.” He goes, “You know what? The guy that you replaced, we brought him up into a manager. He’s not hacking it. He was not really a good fit for him. We were going to bring him back and take your spot.” And he didn’t finish that sentence. I guess they were probably going to let me go. He goes, “You know what? Don’t even bother coming in tomorrow. Thanks for all your all your work and no hard feelings.” And so, just like that, I thought we might have three to six months to kind of eventually quit just like that. It was I’m an entrepreneur. And that the . . .

Andrew: Did you get unemployment or anything to soften the blow?

Caleb: No, I probably could have. I didn’t even think to even go in and do that. Because I guess I thought it was my decision to quit. So I didn’t, maybe I missed out on that. But I went from one day of, “Yep, I have a two day a week job, three-day week job, to, all right, we’re entrepreneurs, here we go.”

Andrew: Did you work better under those stress or under that pressure?

Caleb: There wasn’t as much pressure because we kind of stair stepped down to it. And we also had some cash saved up. Now granted, we spent a lot of it on the software, because we kind of figured that was where we were going. But I knew we could make it work. I knew we could at least meet our needs. I wasn’t ever worried about not putting food on the table.

Andrew: So the software is doing well. You basically you told our producer, “Look, I started this blog because I felt lonely and as an entrepreneur, I wanted to talk to people.” And then the people who are reading ended up buying your software.

Caleb: Yep.

Andrew: What did you learn about software competition. I’m hearing that it used to be an easier thing to be in software and now it’s harder and harder prices go down. Talk about that.

Caleb: Again, because there’s not much cost to add an additional customer, you know, you can ask whatever you want. You can try and prove the value as a marketer and ask someone what it is. We’ve got two different softwares — one is 79 bucks a month, the other is either 14 or 44 bucks a month. So they don’t break the bank but there are competitors that can come in once they’ve invested and have the fixed cost down they can certainly drop the price, and so then you can choose do you want to fight that battle?

Like I talked to the guys at Proof, Dave Rogenmoser, some of those guys. That’s actually how I found your interview, your show was through Dave because he was getting interviewed and said, “Hey,” you know, dropped a bunch of people an email. “Hey, come check it out.” I had no clue what Mixergy was prior to that. But Dave and the guys at Proof had been ripped off multiple times. And it’s very interesting.

Andrew: Yeah, I interviewed him about it, and people were actually . . . they had the actual code, the design, the whole thing in their software, when they copied Proof.

Caleb: And somehow, they know that our sites on it, right? And they found us, and they email us and go, “Hey,” instead of you know, whatever, “79 bucks a month, we can give it to you for nine bucks a month.”

Andrew: Because BuiltWith and now then people copy BuiltWith, will sell the list of people, list of sites that use Proof and other software and then all you have to do is you know, write an automated email sequence and go after them and say, “Hey, you use Proof. We’ll give you the same thing for less.” So anyway, that happened to them. It happened to you. How do you deal with somebody coming in? And basically, I have the specifics. I don’t know how . . . talk to as specifically as you want to about competition and what happened with your software. And competitive [inaudible 00:57:38].

Caleb: We’ll talk about ScoutIQ, which is it’s our bigger piece of software right now. So we launched that in November of ’17. So just over two years ago, and there was another competitor on the market, they already existed. They were somewhat complacent. And again, most software companies start as, you know, there’s a chip on the shoulder. There’s an opportunity, there’s room for improvement. It wasn’t just we’re going to copy them and just people like us, so they’ll use it. It was, “Hey, we’re going to actually make the market better.”

So we came out. We kind of built a loyal following. We got a lot of people involved in a beta test. And people just loved it. We were changing the game as far as the data that was available. And we thought we had all these things that were going to be a competitive moat, and no one else could ever get the data because we had a Google engineer working for us. And we we’re super smart. And we rolled out and when we launched, we purposely picked a higher price point. Our competitor was, for their main plan was 40 bucks a month. We said, “We we’re going to go 44.” It’s a really weird number for software. But I was like, “Why, not? We’re going to ask for a 10% premium.”

One, it sets the bar higher. Like if we’re going to ask a premium, we better be better than anybody else. And also, it just kind of signals to the customer that “Hey, we’re a better product.” So we launched at a higher price point. As soon as we did, our competition started selling lifetime plans. They’ve never done that before. They were trying to get people out of the market completely and just suck up all the money so that they wouldn’t spend it with us. In addition, once we launched, they lowered their price. So we purposely didn’t want to get into a price battle. So they were 40. We came in at 44. They dropped, theirs to 35. And they have never recovered.

So now we’re asking more of a premium worth 20% premium, we thought, well, we might have to drop price someday. And we’ve held serve and we haven’t had to. But now the other thing they did, not just dropping price, is they started copying every feature we were doing. And in their minds, they’re going, “Hey, well, these guys copied us. We had the first tool out here that was doing it.” And there’s no truly original ideas out there. But literally like down to the colors, the user interface like data points, anything we would roll out, they would roll out like alarmingly quickly. It would take us three months to develop something and they would have a knockoff within a week. And that’s . . .

Andrew: Did you feel like it maybe it was a freelancer or someone who was working for you was tipping them off?

Caleb: I don’t think so. I think they were just really quick. Either they got a better tech stack, or they’ve got a couple guys working. You know, you wonder what it is. We’ve done our homework. They’re not present in the community. Nobody knows who they really are. They’ve got like some fake Facebook names and stuff. I know who the owner is and where he lives. But that’s it. There’s not a ton of information on him. But you wonder are there spies and you know, I’m sure they’re in our group. So anytime we hit at a feature, we know that they’re going to see it.

Andrew: Yeah.

Caleb: But at the end of the day, like I tend to focus on that. I’m more of a hypochondriac that way. My business partner, he’s like, “You know what? They can copy us all they want. We’re going to win because people know who we are. They like us. We taught them the game.” And the same reason we use Proof, we know the guys, we’ve broken bread with them. And if they have a great product and someone rips it off, oh well, like we asked him about that. “How does that make you feel? What do you do about it?” But at the end of the day, we’re going to support them, and we’re going to we’re going to choose to spend our money.

Andrew: It’s funny how that works. So Proof for people who don’t know you guys have it on your site. It’s Caleb’s site is and right now I’m on the site and on the lower left, there is . . . where? There is it. There it says, “471 Amazon sellers viewed this site, verified by Proof.” It’s this little widget that comes up and tells you how many people signed up, who bought and from where and stuff like that. And you’re right, I would feel really weird about having a competitive product, even if it was completely free. And I care about money to the point where I’m taking tea bags out of hotel rooms and putting in my bag for the airplane.

And still, if you said look, Proof costs, I don’t know what, 90 bucks and this other thing’s free. Do you want to switch to free? It’s kind of weird. I couldn’t do it. I feel really awful about doing it. And that’s the value of being known in the space of having people know who the founder is. You feel a little more connected to the product and to the company and you want to do right by them.

Caleb: Well, and that’s the reason when you called and asked like, why am I Mixergy Premium member? Why am I paying 49 bucks a month and actually, I got your annual plan. So thanks for cutting my bill in half. But . . .

Andrew: Thanks.

Caleb: You asked why. And I said, “Well, I don’t really even dig into the premium content a lot, but I want to put money in your pocket. I find value from what you’re doing. And I know that one subscriber adds a little, you know, .00 cents or whatever to your ad revenue, that’s great. But I’m finding value in what you’re doing. And I want to put money in your pocket as a result.

Andrew: I know, I don’t know why we feel that way. Because we’re not . . .

Caleb: It’s because were human.

Andrew: You’re creating this. I know. And that’s the part, I think that’s the best answer. Because I was going to say, “Look, you’re a spreadsheet guy. It doesn’t fit on a spreadsheet.” But you’re right, we’re human. And I always underestimate the importance of like, the human part of me. And I always look for some kind of, I don’t know, ulterior benefit.

Caleb: Sure, and at the end of the day, I don’t know how well you’re doing, but I know that you don’t need my specific 49 bucks a month, you’re going to be just fine without it. But it’s that human connection. It’s that, “Hey, I’m finding value. I’m choosing to vote with my dollars.” And that’s what it is. And we have a lot of customers, you know, our competitor, we can get into all the weeds on a different chat but they copy our features. They roll out other tools. You could argue they have more bang for the buck. I think their interface is atrocious. They don’t have the customer service that we do. But at the end of the day, they’re cheaper and if you’re a feature guy, they have some different features than we do. But we still win. And I think they’re bigger than we are. I have no way to know. I have no clue. But I still think we’re smaller than half the market. And we’re doing just fine. And we’re plugging away and we’re serving our customers and making a good living.

Andrew: So then why are you feeling like is this all there is?

Caleb: Well, I kind of asked I wanted to dig in too because you just completed a marathon on every continent. So you have this big goal that you set out to do. And for me, the goal is more about the . . . it’s cliché, but enjoying the journey. It’s enjoying the process of getting there. It’s like if you’re really big into fishing at first, you go out and you’re like, “Hey, does this work? Can I go sit on a metal boat somewhere, throw a line with a hook on it, maybe some bait or fake bait? And will anything, will it work? I’m going to go do a lemonade stand and hold the sign up by the street. Will it work? Will I catch anything?” And it does and you go, “Wow, this this is magic. I held up a sign, somebody stopped, they traded money for lemonade. I made a profit. Wow.”

And then you go from, “All right, can I meet my needs?” to, “Okay, what’s the next goal?” And I said money is a scoreboard the other day. It’s just a number. I don’t tell anybody how much I’m worth. I don’t like my family doesn’t even know how much I make. It doesn’t matter. We make enough, our needs are met, and everything over that doesn’t really matter. But it’s still a scoreboard. We’ve doubled every year, the last four years now. I want to double again next year. I don’t need it. There’s nothing I want . . .

Andrew: So are you feeling like it’s not enough of a goal, enough of a meaningful reason to live to get you fired up.

Caleb: Yeah, it’s something like that. It’s kind of you get that goal and you go, “Man, is this all there is?” Like I thought that when I set this goal, because I had a goal when I was 22 to have a certain financial net worth by the time I hit 30, and I’m a little late I’m 32 but we more than hit that number. And as a 22-year old you’re just piling this sky throwing a number out there and all the sudden you’re there. So then what do you do with it? You’re like, “Man, I thought I would feel important and just like I feel like I have it made and at peace with the world.” And you go, “No, I’m still the same dude I was before, I just have a few more dollars in the bank account. So what?” And so you have that freedom and that flexibility, like I could drop everything and go live in Australia for six months. We could run the business from there. We’re not tied to any one space. So I could do it. But I don’t want to or maybe [inaudible 01:05:19] done it. So again, it’s cliché, but more money, more problems. You just have more decisions that you could be making.

Andrew: I’m thinking a bit about this. I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that when you mentioned the marathon, I do know that I loved running it. I loved being told no when I wanted to run on Antarctica, “You can do it but you can’t do it this year. You have to understand the international laws.” And I loved I felt so alive calling companies up trying to get a yes. Asking people online, “Is there a way to do it? What if I got on a on a ship and somehow jumped off and I don’t know what. Would they rescue me and take me to Antarctica?” I don’t know. But I loved all those thoughts.

And then as soon as the marathon was done, I didn’t even realize it. I said it. You can see in the GoPro I say, “I did it. What’s next?” Like what now? And it’s not a sad feeling. I feel like a lot of people would hear that and say, “It’s a person who can’t be happy with what he has.” And maybe there’s a truth to that, but I am happy with what I have. But I also feel more alive when there’s another race. Another thing coming up.

Caleb: It’s that thrill of the hunt again. So and again, it’s not that it’s sad. I guess hollow doesn’t quite do it justice. But that’s a bit of the feeling there’s something fun when you’re going towards that goal. People rally around you. It’s fun, they’re cheering you on, and then you get it and go, “Huh, that’s it. Okay.” And then there’s that mentality of, “Do I just rest on that? I’m the guy that ran a marathon on every continent,” or do you say, “All right, I’ve done this. I have this under my belt. What can I do next?”

Andrew: Yeah.

Caleb: And there’s, I won’t go big into it. I read this story every year. I don’t know if you ever heard of it. Leo Tolstoy, wrote a very short story called “How Much Land Does A Man Need?” And we read it in high school. I went to a classical school. It’s phenomenal. Check it out. If you’re listening to this podcast, “How Much Land Does A Man Need?” written by Tolstoy, and it’s this phenomenal story of a peasant. He doesn’t own any land. And he lives a very simple, comfortable life. But you know, he has to work for the landowner and all his needs are met. He’s got food, he’s got shelter, he’s got a family. But he goes, “Man, if only I had a little bit of land, I’d be happy.” And so he goes and eventually scrapes all of his money and gets a loan and borrows money where he can and sells his kids labor, whatever it takes, and he gets like 20 acres of land and he’s like, “Yes, I’ve arrived.” And then he goes, “Wow, that land over there is a little prettier than this one.” And he just begins this whole case and it’s a very short read. You can do it in like 15 minutes.

And I guess I’ll spoil it because I’ll give away the ending. But he eventually works his way up to bigger and bigger tracts of lands. And he eventually hears that there’s this indigenous group of people that just has the best land anybody’s ever seen. And for 1000 rubles, whatever, not that much money, you can get as much land as you can walk around in a day. And so he goes out and bribe them, brings them tea, brings them gifts, and they, you know, they like him and they say, “All right, great. You can spend the thousand rubles. Tomorrow morning at sunrise we’ll go out, you can go any direction, like, literally look at this beautiful land, there’s streams in it, great trees, great vegetation, however much you can walk around in a day, we’ll put a hat down and we’ll just stand here and wait for you. You have to complete it before sunset, you have to get back to this point. Bring a shovel, mark the corners as you go, and all of that land is yours. And all you have to do is complete that circle.”

So he’s like, “Great.” He gets up. He’s all energetic and he goes out and he knows in his head, I have to go. You know, I’ve got four chunks to this. I’m going to make a square. I’ve got to go out a quarter of the day. I’ve got to turn 90 degrees, work my way around. And when he gets to the point where he’s about to turn he goes ” And there’s just a beautiful meadow up ahead. I better go just a little further.” And so he does it. And this again, this is way more land than he’s ever had. But there’s still that desire, like, this is the best land ever. I’ve got to claim this. And he does the same thing. He turns again, he’s getting tired, it’s hot, his feet are hurting. And he has to take a little break, and he gets to the second turn, and he realizes, “I’m not going to have enough time to make it. I can’t complete a square. I’ve got to do a triangle and just beeline it.”

And so he’s running back and he’s going “Why did I bite off this much land? I’m not going to make it.” He eventually makes it, like just collapses across the finish line right as the sun sets and everybody, you know, they’re clapping for him. The tribe doesn’t even care about the land. To them, it’s nothing, it’s just a commodity. And he actually dies. He overexerted himself overreached and actually passed away and his servant picks up a shovel, digs a six-foot hole and buries him. And the moral of the story is how much land does a man need? Six feet. So it’s a very existential read very well . . .

Andrew: You know what? I would die at the end of that triangle. It is worth it to have a reason to live. And don’t tell me just appreciate where you are. I do appreciate where I am. But where I am, is, I like to strive for something. So if you told me Look, Andrew, eventually, if you just keep going, you’re always going to have like another thing that’s going to push you a little bit further until you die. All right, that’s a good deal. That’s a good deal. That’s a life where, as my last breath happens, I feel like I’ve fully lived it. I didn’t sit on my ass and say, “This is enough.”

And that goes for anything. That goes for anything. That goes for my kids want my attention, and it’s like, why would you take them out one more time? Why not just let them sit around if they’re just doing? Let’s go and enjoy that. And if my wife wants to go to Sedona for three days, I’m not going to say, “I’m happy enough living here in San Francisco. Why don’t we go to a nice restaurant?” Let’s push ourselves out there. And if we’re there, and there’s a bike ride that goes down some hill on this mountain, let’s try it. And if there’s another book. I’ll take the next book too and I’m not going to stop reading, I’m not going to any of it. That’s the way I feel. What do you think about that? At some point, does it feel like it’s not enough?

Caleb: We have enough. And so that’s, and there’s a lot of studies once you’re making, I mean, I guess in the Bay Area, it’s probably a little more but once you’re making, you know, 60, 70 grand a year, your basic needs are met. And so incremental money doesn’t bring about incremental happiness. At some point like you have a car, sure a nicer car, a Tesla, or Mercedes or something is more fun to drive. But it’s only marginally so. And so part of its just saying, “Hey, I’m content with what we have.” But I’m also an achiever. I’m also driven to say, “Hey, we’ve done this already. We’ve been successful, whatever that means. And I’m going to go for the next one, just because it’s there.”

Like I live in Colorado. We do 14ers, we climb these 14,000 foot mountains, and the views are incredible. And the oxygen is not much and it’s hard to breathe, but it’s just this unreal feeling of, you know, why do you do it? Well, because it’s there. Like I don’t have to. I could sit on the couch and watch TV all day and be happy doing that, I guess. But it’s there. That’s the way I view business.

Andrew: I do too. At some point it’s not about . . . and actually where I’m at my worst is where it’s about the things that come out of it instead of the thing itself. Like, I will . . . where I’m at my worst is where I think more about where’s the money coming? What am I going to do with the money? Where it’s coming from? What if I don’t have it? That’s in many ways, it’s me not really being there. I would never think about running a marathon so I could have that gold medal and put up on my wall. I actually throw them all in the garbage.

Caleb: You really do?

Andrew: The only ones that I haven’t. Oh, yeah, literally those numbers. They give you the T shirts, the whole thing. The only reason that I didn’t throw this last one in the garbage was it’s a little tchotchke to give my kids and so I gave it to them and then they got bored with it and from now on, I’m going to throw it away. And so it’s about the experience for me, but I get the feeling of is that all there is? Is there more. And you know, what I found that helps me with that is, if you could have like a private conversation with an entrepreneur who’s doing something bigger and who opens your eyes to not just bigger but different. Then you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t even know this existed. I didn’t even know this.”

You know, I won’t reveal too much of my private conversation with him. But with the founder of Help Scout. We happened to be in Bali for this thing, and we were sitting down. I was sitting down for breakfast, he sat next to me and we started talking and he said that he was going through depression. He talked pretty openly about it. And one of the things that he does to open himself up, he’s got these exercises that he goes through that helped them a lot. But one interesting thing that stuck with me is he’ll go and like shadow a friend. When I talked earlier about having a job, there’s something that you get from watching how other people do it, how other people live, how other people work.

He goes and I think it’s even trade jobs with another CEO to see how they operate to shadow them. Something about having a new possibility open up that just excites you. Again, going back to I wish I had a more business like, I do have a business-like thing. I was doing email marketing years ago. And then I thought this is phenomenal. This is great. And then this guy showed me how you can do co-registration. I never thought . . . I don’t even know what the hell co-registration was. And then he showed me how well he was doing with it and how it got him better customers. I said, “This is amazing. I want in on that.” And then that opened up a whole new world for me. That’s the way that I am looking for new things.

Caleb: Well, that’s, I guess, as a business person, that’s what you realize is that you’re never going to arrive. There’s always someone and I love this in the book space because there’s people coming in all the time that are brand new, and there’s people that are really, really big. And no matter what, you can always find someone doing better than you. And you can always find someone doing worse.

So that’s another reason we don’t really share a lot of our numbers. They don’t really matter. Our needs are met, our goals are met. We’re hitting our goals. And I guess maybe it’s inspirational. Maybe I need to get past that. But my parents didn’t talk about money. So it’s weird for me to talk about it. But you can always compare yourself and to somebody else and say, “Hey, you can get angry if someone’s bigger than you are. Or you can say, “Wow, that’s there’s potential, I want to go after that.” Or you can look at people that earlier in the journey and not doing as well as you and go, “Huh, I’m better than them.” Or you can change that and say, “Hey, I was there once and now look where I am. I wonder if I can pull them up. And I wonder if I can keep going up that that value ladder as well.”

Andrew: I want it all. I want all of that. I actually do even want at times to feel sense of superiority to people who are just getting started. I find that helps tremendously. I find that if you see somebody who’s not doing well at all, and you feel a sense of like, I guess it feels weird, some sense of superiority over doing better than they are. It pumps you up a little bit and it keeps you from feeling like you’re a failure and maybe there’s a psychologist who will come on Mixergy at some point in the future and say you don’t need those extra internal motivators. You can find it within you. Maybe I’m weak, but it helps. All right. I love the way you told that story. I was just making sure to not interrupt the story. Even with like an aha, yeah, I see it. It’s called “How . . .

Caleb: Go read it I actually thought of it yesterday after our first failed call. I went and read it this morning again, and it’s really well written but it’s just a great story. And I love how you had it completely.

Andrew: It’s called “How Much Land Does A Man Need?”

Caleb: Yeah, “How Much Land Does A Man Need?” Tolstoy.

Andrew: I had it completely what?

Caleb: You’d a completely different way to view it? I look at it is like so what. It doesn’t matter. He got the land. He was never happy with what he had. Poor sap, should have just taken something. And you’re going, “No, the guy lived a full life. He kept stretching for more and more and more. And that’s the way I want to go out.

Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. If I’m running and I die from running, then they should be . . . No one should say, “Oh, you shouldn’t have run.” If I’m having sex and I’m dying from that, nobody should say, “How much sex does a guy need? Could he have been done like at 18?” No, I want more, by the way speaking of. Thank you for sending me this. Why did you send? I’m going to close it out with this. What is this? And why did you send this over to me in the mail?

Caleb: Well, so this is a Rocketbook. It’s a notebook that was actually a Kickstarter campaign and I’m not affiliated with it, I have no idea who runs it. I know the military actually loved it so much, they kind of paused the Kickstarter campaign and forced them to kind of go make it for them. But it’s a notebook you use, like a gel, like a friction pen. And so it can just melt. And the idea is that it’s one notebook. Their first iteration you had to put in the microwave to get the writing to go away . . .

Andrew: I remember that video. You would write on it and then put it in the microwave, and then the words would disappear.

Caleb: It looks cooler in the micro . . . in the video. It was poorly executed in real life. The newer versions are so much better. But the idea is it’s one notebook. You don’t have to like when you finish the notebook, you’re like, “Oh, I feel bad because it’s done.” You literally they’ve got an app. Every page has a QR code, which my developer hates those but they serve a purpose. You can put all your notes in the cloud, it does OCR on them so you can search them later. It’s really powerful from that standpoint. And then you wipe the pages clean and you have a notebook again, so you never have to go buy another notebook. Everything you know, we were talking yesterday it becomes, when I write something down, it sticks in my brain better. And I’m on the computer and my phone and the tablet way too much anyway. And so if I can go to pen and paper, it feels old school, but it helps me focus. And so it’s . . .

Andrew: And it still digitizes it so that you’ve got it all forever. The other thing I wonder is why give it to me? Why give me anything? Why go through the trouble? You obviously, you box it yourself, apparently, and you sent it over here. Why do that? Why not just him coming on to see Andrew and I’ll see him whenever I see him?

Caleb: Well, it’s one way to stand out. But also I started looking over last year, we kind of looked at our numbers. My wife and I and I looked at Google Photos kind of tracks everything. And I don’t take a ton of photos. I’m not the guy that Instagrams every minute of my life. But a lot of the photos I take are when I travel and when I meet people and I went back through the last year and I think we hit 26 states and met just incredible people. I imagine it’s very similar to what you’re doing traveling all over the world. And those are the moments that stuck out with me. And I loved it.

And I said, “You know what, I don’t do a really good job of telling people I appreciate that they’re in my life. I tend to be very driven and how, you know, on a bad day, how can I use them?” And I said, “This year, I want to be way more grateful. And I want to find a way to give gifts.” I’m not a great gift giver, but actually bought a stack of those because I like them. And I figure other people that are driven or motivated would. And so I’ve got a stack of Rocketbooks in my house. And throughout the year, I’m going to try and you know, send out two or three a month just to different people that I come across.

Andrew: I saw it with a personal note, which said, I felt like I’m keeping this. I don’t keep a lot of things. I throw away the gold medal . . .

Caleb: Are you throw it away just like you do your medals? I get it.

Andrew: I do have a drawer with cards and notes that people have given me and it’s right here and it’s always right by my arm even though I throw away a lot of other stuff. And this I saw it was written by you. You could have had it sent by Amazon, you could have had it sent from somewhere else. It was sent by you. I could see the box was boxed by an individual not some kind of machine. You know, for one I thought did somebody just return back an Amazon box I said? It’s like so . . .

Caleb: Like cheap. I re-purposed the box.

Andrew: Yeah, I like that. All right. Caleb Roth, the website for anyone who wants to go check you out is what? Which of your sites should we be telling them about?

Caleb: And again, because I’m lonely and that’s why I built the site, if you listened to this interview and want to reach out, you can find me on to, drop me a line. I’d love to hear your story. If you’re in the Denver area, let’s connect.

Andrew: Oh, really in the Denver area, you’ll connect with them in person. The thing that I really like about what you’re doing on the site right now is I’m really big on challenges. You’ve got this 90 day to $10,000 on Amazon business challenge. You are trying to get people to sell is it 100 books in 90 days?

Caleb: That’s this challenge that we started with is find 100 books a week, list them and if you do your job, right, you’ll sell top line 10 grand within three months.

Andrew: All right. There it is. And that is on and the software that we talked about earlier is, right?

Caleb: That’s correct. Yep.

Andrew: Cool. And of course, I want to thank my two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first if you’re looking for developer really go check out The second, if you got a Mac, if your people have Macs, give them the software that will make those Macs that will make them more productive. And you can see that at I didn’t even know there was a .team top level domain name

Caleb: I feel like there’s a new domain name every single day.

Andrew: I know one of my favorites is the Google domain .new will open up a new Google Doc. Do you know that?

Caleb: No, I didn’t.

Andrew: That’s helpful. All right. Oh, and finally, if you’re curious about what this whole Mixergy Premium thing is that Caleb signed up for that he mentioned several times, we’ve got some videos that will show you what’s in it and we’ll give you really good clips from people who taught at Mixergy Premium. That’s where I bring on entrepreneurs to teach and you could see Wonder if anyone actually even checks out links. And you know what I don’t know if they do. My bet is people don’t check out links at the end of podcasts. I think probably . . .

Caleb: Just remember that it’s there. And one thing I think I stumbled across it, I don’t know how front and center it is, you have your own app, you could download all of the content, the video series, everything there for offline viewing. So if you’re on an airplane, that’s phenomenal.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s something I didn’t realize people valued until I started talking to my customers. I want to not only do I want to, I’m looking at calendars for the next few weeks, where I don’t know how I’m going to take a breath. But I’ve got calls with Abhishek, I’ve got Albert, I’ve got who is this? Brendan, just call after call after call. And I’m really looking forward to and one of the big things that I learned is, people want the app. I didn’t realize that they need another app in their lives. I thought people were done with it, but they’re using it and they want more features from it than I realized. And so that’s been very helpful for me to hear. Okay, all right, I got couples therapy coming up, believe it or not in a couple of minutes in three minutes. So I’m going to say goodbye now. Thank you so much, Caleb, for being here. Thank you all for listening. I’m going to go learn how to be a better husband.

Caleb: Attaboy. Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew: Yeah, man. Thanks, Caleb. Bye.

Caleb: Bye.

Andrew: Bye, everyone.

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