I’m republishing this interview because I think it’s kind of cool. The hustle and email newsletter just sold to HubSpot. Nobody knows for how much Sam Parr, the founder says, he’s not going to talk about it, but that’s fine. What I think is exciting about Sam story, which you’re going to hear in a moment is.
He just started with a simple idea and email newsletter back when nobody thought it was cool and he built it up and he got it over $10 million in revenue. Well, over 10 million, you’ll you’ll hear a little bit about the numbers in this interview. Then he added a subscription product that quickly did.
And again, I kind of did the math with him in the interview about 2.1 million minimum in revenue. Anyway, the numbers are interesting and fun because the business started out so simply, and was just something that a lot of us who here are in the startup community like to read, but it’s just also an exciting story.
So since the sale was announced, February 3rd, 2021, and I did the interview a few months before August, 2020, I’m bringing it back here. I think you’re going to like it. Let’s tune in. 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. Joining me is Sam Parr. I’ve watched him build the hustle over the years, and it started out as this email newsletter with a few thousand subscribers doing well.
Andrew: And then it just became massively successful. Because he’s targeting an audience of entrepreneurs. In fact, just about everyone who is listening to this podcast is, is his target audience. And he keeps things really interesting in, I think that does it justice to say, keep it interesting right, Sam, it’s a great email.
Newsletter makes money from advertising. And at some point last year, he said, you know what? This thing is working, but we need to add a new element to our business. And he came out with this subscription service called trends that a lot of people in my audience had been telling me about. And what trends does is it picks up on trends that lead to new products that could lead to new businesses.
And I invited him here to find out how he came up with the idea for trends, Y trends as a product, especially since he’s got a lot of entrepreneurs. Why not create. How to, or stuff like that. He’s smiling. As I say that, I wonder why.
Sam: We can, can we promote it? trends.co so they could find it
Andrew: I feel like everything with you as.co it’s, the hustle.co and trends.co
Sam: cheaper. Yeah. Trends, trends.co the word trends, plural.co. It’s not cheaper.
Andrew: I like that you’re still very cheap. And this interview where we find out how he built up his business, how much revenue is generating from it, how big his is and how the whole thing started with a basic email newsletter, which a lot of people thought was, it’s a format that was dead, but now we’re all realizing actually it’s very profitable.
We can do it all. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first we’ll host website. Great. Including your.co website, it’s called HostGator. Second. If you’re hiring a developer, you need to know about top talent. I’ll tell you about those later. All right, All right. I can’t wait for the ad for you to talk about that.
Tell me what, how big is the email newsletter now?
Sam: let’s say close to 2 million.
And how much revenue is coming in from advertising in the newsletter,
Sam: eight figures plus a year.
Andrew: more than $10 million a year and trends. How much is coming from that?
Sam: so it costs right now, $300 a year. I think we’re going to raise prices to either 500 or a thousand. I don’t know what we’re tinkering with. We’re we’re for sure. Raising prices. I don’t know where it’s going to land, but that has many, many thousands of subscribers. I mean, that will soon be an eight figure business.
Andrew: how much is it now?
Sam: I’m not going to say, but, It’s big. I mean, I don’t know. I guess big is all relative. It’s not making $10 million a month. I think. I don’t know how big it’s going to be. I mean, I think we’ll get to a hundred thousand subscribers and that will be at this current rate, 30 or $40 million a year.
Andrew: So right now, if you’re saying you have a, if you have, for every thousand subscribers, you have $300,000,
Sam: Yeah. And if you’re in the Facebook group, I mean, there’s 7,000 people in the Facebook group, but way more people, are part of it than who are in the group. you’re trying to reverse engineer it.
Andrew: Alright. That gives me a sense. I’m just looking to get a sense of scope. So this thing could overtake advertising for you, for sure.
Sam: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It’s going to, I hear, I’ll tell you this, like, there’s a lot of companies that people don’t even know about, but like for example, a lot of people know what Motley fool is. I mean, they’re. At its core, they’re a newsletter subscription business. They probably do three or $400 million a year in sales.
And then there’s a Gora which a lot of people accuse them of being kind of unethical and scammy. They’re a multibillion dollar a year paid subscription newsletter.
Andrew: I feel like the Motley fool is a little bit shady with some of their stuff.
Sam: Motley fools are right. Like once you sign up and buy their stuff, they’re all right. But they do have some aggressive marketing that I acknowledged rubs a lot of people the wrong way.
Andrew: Are you profitable?
Sam: Yeah. we only raised angel money and looking back, we really didn’t need that. We make profit every single month. I mean, we grow off profit and cashflow.
Andrew: I love how every time I ask you these questions, you look at me like, dude, why did you just insult my mother? I remember one time. I said, so you have all these people working and they’re full time. And you said, yeah, of course there’s a real company with real time people. Why do you have a chip on your shoulder with me?
I get why you have a chip on your shoulder with everyone on Twitter, but I may.
Sam: I don’t have a chip on my shoulder with you. I just, I don’t know. It’s just my reaction.
Andrew: little angry that I didn’t invest? I obviously I made a mistake. I should have invested.
Sam: No, no, I, I w I wish no one would have invested. I wish I wish looking back. I shouldn’t have raised money. I wish I would’ve. I,
Andrew: really, how much of your company did you give up for all the investment that you took in?
Sam: well, it’s all a convertible note. None of it’s been converted, so technically zero as of today, but we raised about a million dollars at a $6 million valuation.
Andrew: And so are you able to just give them all back their money and not convert it?
Sam: Legally, yes. Ethically, I would not do that.
Andrew: And so I thought you raised money from both the people who spoke at your conference and also then from your audience, right?
Sam: Yeah. So the most of, most of our money came in small increments of influential people. So like Tim Ferris, the founders of NerdWallet, the founders of bleed tree port. the founders of general assembly, Tucker, max, who you’re friends with Neville, who you’re friends with, people like that, they all like it was Scott Belsky who I think, you know, just like entrepreneurs.
So people who I basically, I would ask them for advice and they were like, can I invest? And I was like, wait a minute. You’re going to give me $25,000 and I get to text you questions. Okay. Fine deal.
Andrew: I feel like that is one of the benefits of the biggest benefit of you raising money. I remember talking to Derek the founder of greatest. We were at dinner here on Valencia street. And you were texting him during dinner. And I said, dude, why are you responding to Sam’s texts? He goes, I don’t know why I respond to his texts, ask interesting questions and he’s always doing something.
And so he was helping you out.
Sam: Yeah, Derek. Derek’s my homie. Derek’s a trend subscriber. yeah. I, I mean, Andrew, do you realize, so you and I have known each other for eight years now, this is how you and I met,
Andrew: It was at the launch conference. you know, I talked to people who know you in preparation for this interview. And so you and I met because I said, I can’t talk to all the people who are coming to the launch conference. I’ve been asked to do interviews. I want to know why they’re here. I need somebody to help.
You said I’d help. And so you came out and you started talking to people in the audience and saying, what, what do you want out of this? And then we sat back and talked about how we can use that to create better interviews. Alright, you did a master class here at Mixergy. We talked about how you got your early investors, like some of your early, readers.
once you had an audience? At what point did you say we’re going to go beyond advertising and start to create a product that we sell to our audience.
Sam: that was the plan from day one. So I actually made a video in 2015 or 16. I forget when. And I said, so our plan is we’re going to build up this huge email list of people and we’re going to make a profit from advertising. And then I’m going to keep the team small. I’m going to use all of that profit and I’m going to build more stuff for our people.
And so I was researching like, alright, what should we build now? Like, we like step one, done step two. What do we do? And I started putting together these reports where I would deconstruct different companies and I would like study everything. I would study people in Japan, China in Germany, I would figure out like, what are they doing?
And I would put together these reports and I would share with my friends, you talked to Jack before this interview, I would share it with him and. Eventually, I was like, wait a minute. There’s like companies like Gartner and they are like $10 billion companies and they’re doing this to like, but they charge all this money for it.
What if we made that the product at first? And so that’s kind of how it kind of came about and that’s what trends is. and so I would say around, so from day one, that was the plan we went, we started doing that in earnest about a year ago.
Andrew: What type of reports did you create for people like Jack?
Sam: Yeah. So what I would do is, I would basically like I did one with Gartner. So I would, I read every single annual report since like the 1980s or 1990s, whenever they went public and I broke down how much revenue they were making per event, how many people came per. So Gardner for the listeners is a, maybe a $4 billion a year business.
They make money through consulting. They make money through research and they make money through events. And I was curious specifically about the event business. And so they were doing about half a billion dollars a year in sales, through events. Which kind of boggled my mind and I they’re in our ports, they would say how many people are coming.
they would say where the opportunity is, where they’re thinking about expanding. And I would just, I mapped it out. I go, here’s how much they’ve done. Here’s their operating margins here in, but how many people come, therefore they must charge this much money per person. The reason people come is for X, Y, and Z.
they charged sponsorships to this much money. They tell people that if they’re gonna sponsor, they’re going to get this out of it and I would break it down. And now I would say, they also said that they’re looking to explore the construction industry, cause that’s not consolidated at, or it’s incredibly fragmented and they’re going to expand there.
And I would say. You know, we’re not going to go in the construction industry, but this is pretty cool. I just kind of, kind of spotted something and I would do that. Or I would read the report of 1-800-FLOWERS. That company has always interested me because they were one of the early internet marketers. So they, along with Omaha steaks were some of the first people to buy ads online.
And I was like, that’s kind of cool. What’s going on there? And I read all their reports and in one of their latest reports, they go, our fastest growing category is millennials who are buying succulents online. And I was like, huh? That’s interesting. And I did more research and I found out that one in four Americans by indoor plants.
And I was shocked by that. And so I would, I read more about 1-800-FLOWERS and I was like, wow, they’re paying this much to acquire a customer. The money is not in the plant, but in the upsell. So like in the selling a fancy pot or an accessory or chocolate or something like that. And I just would break down.
I’m like, here’s how these companies work. 1-800-FLOWERS along with all these other players say, this is where the opportunity is. And I would share that with people. I don’t know, not just lit
Andrew: That was just a thing that people were doing.
Sam: now just 24 year old women. This loves succulents. I don’t know.
Andrew: So, why were you doing this? Were you doing this because you wanted to find an opportunity, you wanted to find something to create something, to turn your business into, or were you just doing it because you’re a nerd for business data.
Sam: The second one in that I’m just obsessed. Like Andrew, like if you and I were to hang out and talk about stuff, we were just talking about non ALC alcoholic beer, and I’m like, I’m drinking this Heineken thing and I’ll just research. I’m like, Oh my God, the CEO of Heineken said that Heineken zero is their fastest growing beverage.
Like that’s crazy. Can you believe that? I don’t know. I’m just.
Andrew: You just are curious about it. You want to know where’s the business and in your mind, I imagine you’re imagining building a nonalcoholic beer empire. You are,
as you’re reading it. Not that you’re doing it, but in your mind, as you’re doing you go, Oh, this could be a really big business. Imagine if what you do is you create a new brand, just like there were hard kombucha brands that came out when, when people are starting to move to that.
And the old beer brands in catch up till later on, there could be a brand here. You’re thinking of doing, you’re saying, what do I need to know? How big is this market? What’s how would, what else, what else are you curious about when you’re doing this
Sam: Well, yeah, so it’s kind of like, I don’t know if you ever read this when you were a kid or if your kids do this now, if they’re, your kids are old enough to be looking at picture books, right? your boy, you must be like four.
Andrew: six and almost four?
Sam: Six and four. so like, it’s kind of like when you, like, I used to have these books when I was a kid and they would like look at like a car engine and they’re like, here’s how the car engine works or here’s how a light bulb works.
And so it’s just like, let’s do that
And so I think it’s what I learned being in Silicon Valley and hanging out with you and our group of friends was there’s a lot of. What’s the opposite of deep demystifying mythology. There’s a lot of mythology or something around like big companies and how they work.
And as someone who didn’t come from that world, I was always curious. I’m like, what the heck is enterprise cloud loud services? Like, I literally don’t know what that means. Like I’m not smart enough to know what that means. Am I missing something like what is going on here? And so I just felt like let’s just explore that and explain.
So anyone. Can understand what these complicated things mean, regardless if they work in the industry for two decades or not.
Andrew: Okay. And so you were sending this to Jack. And sending it to other people. And what was their reaction to it? What did they do with this?
Sam: so a lot of times it was like, it was almost like porn. Like they just like wanted to consume it, , there’s this a lot more people, I guess, than I thought, who were kind of addicted to this and who are just, I call them schemers. Like we just. I don’t know. It’s just weird. I don’t know what the thing is about it, but it’s just like interesting to know, like what exists.
I also think that like the analogy that I think about all the time and you’re a runner, so you can relate is before Roger Bannister ran the four minute mile, maybe that was like, man, that four minute mile, that’s really hard. I don’t know if we can do it. And then the year he did it. Roger, I think Landy and like three or four other people also broke four minutes and now happened, I think in the fifties that that happened.
And it’s like, well, so up until 1954 did it, but then all of a sudden four people did it. What’s going on. And so it’s kinda like when you learn what’s possible, it kind of expands your baseline of what’s of what, what you’re capable of doing. And I think that’s kinda like what it does for people.
Andrew: I have sometimes just read it to go. And I just like seeing how Sam’s mind works. I think you’ve tweeted out some of these things that are posted in our Facebook, in the Facebook group for people who are ambassadors to the hustle,
Sam: No, no, you’re you’re, you’re in the trends, private community.
Andrew: Right. I am, but I’m also in the hustle community for ambassadors.
And I remember at some point last year, you did this breakdown of something. I forget what industry it was, where you just looked at here, what the numbers look like. Here’s how it works. And I just liked reading it because the data was interesting also to think, look at all the fricking work that Sam put in to one Facebook post for people who are in his Facebook group.
It was Chris luck. He’s also in the, in the trans community. He’s the one who made sure that I saw that he goes, look at this and I look at what the hell is Sam doing? I’m pretty
Sam: Yeah. He’s always tagging me and stuff. Yeah.
Andrew: the, the amount of work is what was interesting. The thing is though, how did you know that there was going to be money in it that people who are well, you know what, let’s go back and understand the audience.
The hustle was building an audience. At some point, I saw that you went from. Coming up with these viral mechanisms to help you grow your list, to paying for, for a list growth, which makes total sense, right? You pay once to product hunt to get a new customer, and then that customer generates ad revenue for you on an ongoing basis.
So of course I was starting to see you out there. how would you define the people who are subscribing? Did they have businesses where they knew bees? What was it.
Sam: Or the hustle.
Andrew: For the hustle to understand what you wanted to build. I want to understand who you’re
Sam: Yeah. So for the hustle. So trans is like a higher caliber person. the hustle is for people who want to, I mean the fluffy language, but I like, I believe in it, but I can acknowledge it’s fluffy is it’s for people who want to put their dent in the world through business. So people who either work somewhere where they’re make decisions at the company, or they want to be in that position, or they want to start their own thing.
And so it’s almost like I tell my mom and dad. When I was starting because they didn’t know anything about what I was going to do. I was like, it’s kinda like wall street journal, but for 28 year olds who live in the coast. So people who work in media, tech, finance, startup world, and we give them the news.
They want to know. And then trends is definitely a higher tier people. People who mostly all have companies already, whether they own the business or they’re like really like the, the, the man or woman making the product decisions or
Andrew: well, you know what? So when I talked to Jack, Jack is Jack Smith. He’s the guy who created what’s the company that he’s most well known
Sam: Yeah. So Jack Smith is definitely he’s my best friend. He’s my partner in crime with a lot of stuff. Jack started this thing called , which he sold recently for $800 million. He also started ship Shyp, which went down in flames, but was quite innovative and interesting. And he’s started a few more things.
Jack’s one of the most interesting men in the world.
Andrew: I didn’t realize he was your best friend at this point. What do you guys do beyond talk business?
Sam: he was in my wedding. I mean, he, he, we go to dinner. I mean, we’re family, friends. I mean, he’s family to me. So,
Andrew: What do you talk about when you’re not talking business? Do you have other interests in common motorcycles,
Sam: we, yeah, yeah. Talk about his family, you know, Jack, we talk about family. We talk about the difference between living in England and America, because as America’s going through this weird thing, I’m like, Hey, so what do your parents think about?
What are they thinking from an English perspective what’s going on? we talk, Jack was recently married and he’s thinking about having children. So we talk about families, just,
Andrew: All right. I see you guys are in similar stages of your relationships. And so one of the things that he told me was he said, we were starting to notice that there were people who wanted it learn how to start a business. In fact, at the hustle conference at hustle con, he offered to teach something and that became of your tasks.
What did he do? And how did that help you understand that there was a, there was a need here.
Sam: Yeah, Jack’s really analytical. I think Jack did a thing where. So Jack has been part of many companies that have done North of a hundred million in revenue, whether he started it or he’s somehow associated. And so he put together this talk on hid the framework that he looks at ideas to get to a hundred million in revenue and him, and I would always talk about that.
And so we just kind of product product ties to it.
Andrew: Because you were thinking that. There would be people who wanted to start brand new businesses that could get to a hundred million or, or that there are people had businesses already who would be willing to pay, to learn how to get there.
Sam: Both. I think both, both for sure. I think that for us in like, well, when I think of a hundred million in revenue, a hundred million in revenue is kind of the threshold of a small company to not a small company. And even regardless of you get there, not it’s like if you get yourself in a market, that’s big enough to do that.
Life’s a lot easier. And even if you fail, you’ll fail pretty well. Like you’ll, you’ll do good. And so that was the kind of the thinking.
Andrew: Can you give me an example? Like what’s an example of a business did failed. Hundred million dollar possibility.
Sam: Well, what I mean is like, if you started something that was Bitcoin related in 2013, the likelihood that it was a success, even if it didn’t get to a hundred million is a lot higher than if you started a, a business that was related to physical mail or a business related. If
Andrew: Or I’m thinking Dwolla is a good example. Dwolla started with a business that was going to replace ACH wire transfers and things like that, that wasn’t growing. That wasn’t where the action was. Bitcoin was.
Sam: Exactly. Yeah. So it’s
Andrew: And so he could be really good. Ben could, but he’s in a space that nobody cares about and people are turning their backs on actively versus being the hundredth person.
Sam: Yeah. And look, here’s my point is, is that if you look at the three or four components of what a company is, it’s the market that you’re in, it’s the team making the stuff. And it’s the idea that you’re working on in order of importance. A lot of people think it’s team idea market in reality, it’s.
Probably the other way around. It’s probably what’s for sure. Market first. And then you could argue that idea’s second and team is third, because if you take an amazing entrepreneur and you tell them to build a new taxi company, it’s like, dude, you’re, you’re, it’s really hard. If you tell them to go out and make a Bitcoin business in 2013, it’s like, man, just like, kind of like put your finger in the air and pick something in that space and it likely will be okay.
Andrew: So different from what many other people say it’s
Sam: Well, I didn’t make this up by the way. I’m, I’m stealing this from Mark Andreessen. It’s not like this. Isn’t like Sam Parr. I came up with us. This is someone who’s I think a lot smarter than me and Jack came up with this as well.
Andrew: All right. Let me talk about my first sponsor. And then I wanna come back and ask, why did you even get into media in the first place? I felt like media was dying. When I heard you say you got it. Well, let’s take a moment. Top talent. You use them to do what I’ve used them. I’ve used their
Sam: I had a website that I used for them and also some of our best employees came from them.
Andrew: Oh, really? Developers came from top down.
Sam: no, no. some other types of folks, nontechnical people,
Andrew: Why do you go to top down? What’s your, what’s the advantage that you see there considering how cheap you are? You make decisions carefully.
Sam: high quality people overseas who are not, it’s a much higher caliber than, Upwork.
Andrew: I find that to really, it’s almost like sometimes I think, what are you even doing on the network? And I’ve actually asked them that. And there are a couple of reasons developers will say I do it because, I want to signal that I’m smart enough to be in their network. You know,
Sam: they do like they do like a crazy test or something.
Andrew: Yeah. And then there’s also, they give these rewards to people who are at the top of their network, which then they use to promote themselves.
And then the MBA people who are on the finance side say they do because they want to see the insides of businesses. Kind of like why someone would start off working at McKinsey to get the details of what’s going on in a
Sam: Or why someone would sign up for trends.
Andrew: Yeah though. I feel like if you’re McKinsey or doing the work at top Cal you’re in the business, looking inside the business as an advisor, all, alright, I get it.
I’ve used them. Sam’s used them. So many other people that I’ve interviewed have used top talent. If you’re thinking about hiring a developer right now, if you’re thinking about hiring a finance person, especially today, this is a great opportunity to go to top talent. If you go to dot com slash Mixergy, they’ll give you 80 hours of developer credit when he paid for your first 80 hours, in addition to a no risk trial period of a.
Two two weeks. That’s top isn’t top of your head towels and talent. Top dot com slash M I N E R G Y. Top towel.com/mixergy. Why, why media? When you got into media, I thought Sam is making a mistake. Everybody’s got like this whole blog and everyone’s got some kind of media. It feels like media is going down and you got into media and an ad supported way.
Sam: Let me preface it, preface this by saying it’s successful. It’s going to make me, it’s made my career. but it’s definitely a hard ass. So like I probably could have gotten it software and crushed it even harder. But, my skill sets aligned with this. you know how we talked about picking a winning market.
It’s not a losing market, but it’s definitely not the market you want to be in. Probably if you’re not good at it, it, so it fit my skillset. And also I’d read the biography of Ted Turner and I was inspired by him and I wanted to do it.
Andrew: I was too, but I felt obviously he got into it with, with billboards and then he got into with cable channels and both of those were kind of dead. Actually, I shouldn’t say that, you know, I interviewed a woman who runs a revel. It’s a GT quota. It’s it’s the queer television channel that started out with an Apple app on your Apple TV and then expanded to other platforms.
And I thought this is fricking brilliant. She saw that everyone else was creating YouTube channels. She’s doing well. Yes.
Sam: Yeah, I would I’d believe it. I think that like, particularly with paid subscriptions, I remember you started doing a paid subscription or you had done it for a long time. And I was like, there is no way on earth that people want this stuff. Like no one, no way someone’s going to pay money for this. And then once I started making a little bit more money and also like, Culture changed a little bit.
I’m like, Oh yeah, subscriptions are the way to go some days. I definitely now see it as actually a far better market than I thought. So when you said why it was for those reasons of, I was good at it and, I read Ted Turner’s biography, but in general, it wasn’t, I don’t think out of intelligence.
Andrew: Got it. Were you thinking this would be a next step towards something else? A good way for you to meet people in this space? Ways to learn a lot. And then maybe you were,
Sam: Exactly. I w I did ha so this business started as an event and I was like, I’ll just meet people. And then I just kind of fell into it. I’m like, Oh, look, you see my dog coming up. There he is.
Uh, it just like, it was like, it’ll, it’ll make money. and I’ll figure it out along the way. And actually, Andrew, you have been more influential than you think you one time.
Tweeted out or did this Facebook thing have a picture of a guy digging through a mine of two guys digging through a mine and one guy quit and the other guy kept going and they’re each like an inch away from finding the diamond. And that’s kinda like how the career has been a little bit. It’s like a, if I just keep going, I think I could figure it out.
Andrew: You know what that was actually done during a, a Mixergy premium masterclass where the host was, it was hot Lou. He said, Andrew, just tweet this photo out and, or post his photo on Facebook. And we know based on the data, people are gonna like it. So you might as well. And so I did, the thing though that when I got into content, I feel like content was still early, but I get, I guess, I guess I now get why you got into it.
You were thinking, look, let’s just see where it goes. I’ll figure it out. And if it ends up being software and software, which is what I’m good at, great. If it ends up being this new virtual reality thing, and that’s where the world goes and I like it, and I’m good at it. That’s where I’ll be.
Sam: I knew that I could at least make tens of millions of dollars. I knew that for a fact,
Why 100% for a fact I knew, because
Andrew: doing anything that was new email newsletters had been around forever. The startup space was already saturated with all these people who are going into that startup space. A lot of people in the startup space, we’re losing money because startups don’t have a lot of money to spend.
Right. Why did you see that? You could make tens of millions of dollars in
Sam: cause I just wrote it on a piece of paper and I said the math adds up. I mean, it just like, it was obvious.
Andrew: In the math for you was what it was. If I spend this much to get a news email subscriber
and I can make this much
Sam: this company. I launched this company because I read interviews on your website. And I did the same reporting that I do for trends and I go, Oh, duh, the math, like I can do this. I read there was three interviews that you did Thrillist. this one company that sold to, Disney. I forget her name, something
Andrew: A daily candy.
Sam: Dale. Well, yes, Daley, Kenny was one of them, but, but you didn’t interview
Andrew: but there was another
one. You’re right. I can’t remember her name
Sam: it was called green or, something about like green, something like health, either healthy or chemical free stuff. and then you also interviewed Jason Baptists, I think. And then you interviewed one more woman who started a thing, a newsletter thing.
Andrew: did do a few and I’ve got them here. It was idea bite that
Sam: yeah. Idea by idea by, but there’s one more, it was idea about like the healthy thing. Okay. And then there was, there was one more, there was about a few of them. So I
Andrew: And so you saw they were doing it and all right, first of all, thank you for saying that. And second, I think I felt at the time that maybe it would be in a space that wasn’t quite so plowed as the startup world that it would do well, you know, that it would need to be a brand new industry.
But the startup world was especially hot at the time. Even if there were a lot of competitors, I feel like they were all doing the same thing, which was online content hoped to be monetized with advertising.
Sam: but they didn’t do it. Right. They didn’t do it. Right. And also if there’s a lot of content and something, most people are really bad with content, right. Like. The problem with writing or let’s just call it content. But most is text-based the problem with writing. And I was just talking to someone about this.
He was saying he was struggling to hire a writer and I’m like, look, here’s the deal. Most people who write are really bad. And that’s actually a good thing if you’re creating, because the. Barrier to entry is low, but all these people suck because of that. And so if you’re talented and skilled at it, you could stick out pretty easily.
If you just take something different. And the reason why most people think they’re good because everyone literally can write, but they don’t understand that the word, a good writer. It doesn’t mean someone who can use, who can use proper grammar. It means someone who can capture attention. So if you’re good at capturing attention, you’re going to stick out big time.
Andrew: All right. So what’s an example of some way that you captured attention.
Sam: What do you remember when we launched? Like when, when I started the company, like I’ve talked about this last time, we like had some pretty controversial blog posts and they went viral. So in our first month we had almost a million uniques a month.
Andrew: I felt like, I remember there was one where I said, why did you do a whole blog post on how tall Tim Ferriss was and how he wasn’t as tall as other people
Sam: I don’t know. It was just funny. I’ve just was being a
Andrew: But it was stuff like that. You’re just saying, look, we’re getting attention. And so I that’s interesting approach, you’re saying good writing. Isn’t about communicating your idea as much as it is about getting attention.
Sam: No I’m saying good writing is about finding, having an interesting, having an interesting thing to say and communicating it. Clearly not having good grammar, not, making sure that you can write a lot of words. It’s it’s about concisely, concisely, and effectively getting my brain into your brain.
Andrew: By the way that business that I was telling you about, I had the name wrong it’s it’s reverie. And I like what you discovered, which was nobody’s creating channels for these new devices, like Apple TV, and. Alright, I see her approach. I see your approach. You then said it’s time to charge you. So what I started charging with, which is education, I thought people wanted to know how to do something.
If you take a look at one of your investors, let me say it, that he has, I will teach you to be rich. He sells how you can do this, how you can get that result. You are selling data, you are selling trends.
How did you know that that would be, that that would be valuable enough for people.
Sam: Well, I didn’t know. I just, I took a bat. it was a smart bat because like the way that I look at things I’m like, Is there a market for this, like, and I already knew there was for sure, because other people were buying this. Like I knew for a fact that like, I know for a fact that other people have done this, right, we’ve just named, I can name 20 companies that do this and make billions of dollars a year doing it.
So I knew that was possible. It was just, can I do it? And so I just created a Gumroad page and I just started doing this on the side nights and weekends and people started signing up.
Andrew: Jack told me that what you did was you created a landing page. First, you sold it first. You had nothing beyond that and you gave people their money back right away.
Sam: I had, one report. I had one report. I got thousands of people, thousands of dollars for the people I called. All of them. I’m the CEO of the company. It’s not like we’re a big company. It’s not like I’m in some executive suite. And like, I’m too good for this, but. It was literally me calling everyone. I was me making the landing pages that was like, that’s my skillset.
And that’s what I did. And then I called and I did customer discovery and we just figured out what the product to make. And then I had a landing page that said, this is coming soon. you can sign up now for a lifetime membership and we got about $50,000 in presales.
Andrew: Wow. People who are paying for lifetime, who now have a really good price.
Sam: Yeah. And like there’s companies like you, that pretty much paved the way and showed me it’s possible. There’s the information.com there’s wall street journal. There’s financial times. Like I knew people were paying for news. So it’s kinda similar.
Andrew: What’d you learn from the discovery calls.
Sam: what did I learn? I don’t remember. I think I just remember, I just think that I thought that a lot of the stuff that I was discovering was pretty obvious, and I didn’t think that that many people would want it.
And then when I realized I kinda like that this is like porn to people, like they just love learning about this stuff. And I also learned that most people aren’t good at this. And so if I just dedicate all my time to like discovering insights, it would be quite beneficial. Even if they’re not going to use it.
Andrew: So one of the things that I discovered in researching you for this interview was. Trends was also a way for people to come up with business ideas. There were people who were reading the hustle newsletter, who said, I want to start something. I don’t know what and trends was a way for them to find the next thing, like the succulent business that everybody else was ignoring, that you are going to turn them
Sam: Right. Well, that, that, that, that, that, that’s what I was using it for. Like, I have made trends for me where I was like, what’s how do we, how are we gonna expand our company? And so I did it for media companies only. And so I was like, Oh, well this, this will work for a lot of people.
Andrew: Okay. And then the next thing that happened was after you launched it, or how do you, how do you go about finding these trends?
Sam: So we have these little systems set up that we like, we can scour the web and we find all these data points and something. Well, like we’re building technology that kind of takes us off to something interesting. but a lot of it’s hand to hand combat, we talk to people it’s just reporting. we, we call people, we, we figure things out.
there’s also like a set of equations that we use to calculate value. So like, if you’re an eCommerce business, it’s contribution margin times, frequency times, total addressable market times, quantity that you’re going to have, you’re going to purchase. And like, we use these equations to figure out like, is this an interesting business or not?
And so my dream with our company is we’re going to invest. I want to create a fund and I want to invest in some of these cool things. And I basically tell our analysts, go find something for us to invest in.
Andrew: Got it.
Sam: So VC firm, a lot of firms do this. I just got off the phone with Joel. I’m not, I’m going to namedrop, but whatever. I met him on Twitter, so it’s not like I’ve met him on Twitter and I’m like a fan of his, so I’m a fan boy. but Joe Lonsdale, he has a, you know, that guy, he has this he’s like he started Palentier.
and he was one of the PayPal guys. So I’m like a fan of his. And so I was lucky enough that he gave me a minute to talk to him and he was like, yeah, we do this anyway. And I’m like, great. I’m doing the exact same thing. We’re just publishing it for everyone to read.
Andrew: Okay. So you said we’re going to do this. You know what? The other thing that I realized that it allows you to find these trends. Just being in San Francisco and I know you’re leaving, but I remember sitting down to dinner with you and Jack and I said, what are you working on? That’s interesting. And he said, this was just when the Apple watch came out.
And he said, everyone’s thinking about creating apps for the watch. I have a CarPlay like dashboard device in my house, and I’m just trying to figure out what could I add
Sam: yeah, yeah, yeah. We had a, like a. Literally a car debt. And that was years ago. I barely remember that Jack had bought this like car dashboard, like, so it was like the, the front of a car at his
Andrew: Right because he needed to have that whole thing, I think in order to get the CarPlay thing to work in order to understand it right. But when I’m asking him why he doesn’t just say, I think it’s interesting. He starts to explain how many people have cars, how dependent they are on cars about, I think he might’ve even talked about how Sirius XM, Sirius XM was doing right.
And people don’t realize how big it is. I feel like San Francisco gave you a lot
of that, that
Sam: It did. It did. And, and, and now that everything’s crazy, like, so with trends, one of the, our moat is, our community. So we, like, if you go to the community which you joined today, I approved you. I saw you join. You’ll see it over the next few weeks. There’s 50 to a hundred posts a day. And it’s just people spilling the beans on interesting stuff.
Andrew: Them saying, here’s what I see. That’s interesting
that I found is really helpful. As a, as a person who has been interviewing for years, it’s the person who’s working for a company who says, Hey, I work for Andrew Mason. You know that he left a group on, here’s why he left. Here’s what he’s doing right now.
And here’s what we’re building for him. Those conversations have been the best value of coming and living in San
Sam: and that’s what we’re trying to do for everyone. And so when people would come to hustle con so, we, we, before everything, all this craziness happened, we used to have 10,000 plus attendees a year throughout our events and people would. I’m from Iowa. And they would say, you probably get this all the time.
You’re like, I’m kind of a freak in Iowa. No one else is doing what I’m doing. And I kind of feel like I’m a little, like, kind of like an outcast. And I want to find my tribe. And I love coming here to this event because in San Francisco, I can meet all these people who are kind of weirdos like me and I love it.
And the, the ideation that happens in those crew groups is quite amazing.
Andrew: Ali, Moise Ali, right?
How do you, you, you met him at something called the dojo. Brett. Brad told me about this Brad Wolverton, right? He’s your content
Sam: Yeah. He’s from a Washington post. He’s a big deal.
Andrew: And through NerdWallet at some point, I feel like you also just identified the value of NerdWallet before a lot of other people had, and yes, I think you got to do events at their office, but you also got to realize everyone’s thinking about tech crunch being the exciting company. NerdWallet is so much more exciting than tech crunch, right?
As a business.
Sam: I don’t know if I was like, I don’t know. I wouldn’t take credit and say, I discovered them. I mean, they were probably making $30 million a year already when I’d heard about them. But,
Andrew: I feel like it was Eric who told you about them from hustle fund,
Sam: Yeah. Friends of friends told me about them and, and friends told me they bought them.
And they’re obviously huge. I don’t know how big they are if I don’t have any insider knowledge, I
Andrew: their, what’s their business model. They’re, they’re showing people through a forum and through blog posts, how to save money and they’ve got, affiliate commission
as their revenue model.
Sam: Yeah, I’ll dumb it down. So if you’re you Google, what’s the best credit card for a college student, they show up number one on Google. They tell you which one it is you click through on this Amex card and they Amex gives them $200, just so happens that. you know, 300 or 200 million people in America in America need a new credit card.
So it’s a massive market. I mean, if you told me they made $200 million a year, I wouldn’t be surprised. but, I don’t even know what we’re talking about, but this
Andrew: We’re talking about Moise Ali. So you met him at something called the dojo. What’s the
Sam: The Dodo is awesome. So if you go to YouTube, if you’re listening and you type in the real life, Erlich Bachman, I made this video on the dojo.
It was this guy named Dave gross Blatt, who is like an uncle at a lot of us. He was this guy who was weird. He’s in the best way. He’s a wonderful, great hearted man. And he had this dingy office that could sit eight. People maybe. And he would have all these rejects like me and other people and Moise. And there’s probably five, maybe $400 million companies that came out of this eight guys.
And we would just work on our companies and we got to sit there and we got to the desk for free and,
Because he had an office that he paid two grand a month for. And he was like, I’m just going to have you guys come here and work for free. And I’m going to steal ideas from you. And we were like, sounds good.
so like we, we started there, Moise Ali, my friend Moyes, who sold native. He started native in that office and he sold it for a hundred million dollars. And then my friend Roman started there, his business does about $150 million a year in sales. and maybe one other one started there.
Andrew: What does native make? It’s a directed consumer online business,
Sam: At this point, it’s a little bit beyond that they may deodorant and he would just mail people, $12 deodorant. Now, Proctor and gamble bought them. Now they’re in target. They’re in there. They’re everywhere. It’s just like a, you know, Schmidt’s natural or like Tom’s natural toothpaste. It’s just like that.
But for deodorant
Andrew: and sold direct to consumer online.
Okay, why are you, why are all these, you know what, let me take a moment to talk about my first, my second sponsor. And then I want to come back. Why, why you Sam, and then we’ll figure out how you grew trends. And then you mentioned the community. I saw something interesting happened in the community, but my second sponsor is HostGator.
And you know, Sam in past ads for HostGator. I tell people your story, how you just started out with an email newsletter and nothing, but a landing page. Enter your email address and start mailing out. Do you think that that model would still work? Can somebody go to HostGator or get us straight up a simple webpage, do it on a.co to save a little bit of money and do the email newsletter business for a different
Sam: Yeah, obviously, 100%.
Andrew: What’s a good topic that you think that they should do
Sam: Anything, anything B2B. So anything that a, a customer, any where a reader is a decision maker that will buy software. That’s a hundred thousand dollars or more. So I would go if I was, if I was trying to start over, I would go and I would read about this company called informa it’s a $10 billion publicly traded company.
They own 20 B2B brands. I would fail. I would read their annual report and find out which brand is growing fastest. And I would go to HostGator by domain name and start a newsletter about that topic. So like people who are buying parts for large Boeing airplanes or something, or people who are. people selling cars and who own car dealerships and what’s the latest and greatest.
Andrew: And then the revenue would be from selling advertising to the companies that need to reach those people,
Sam: Yeah, because you could charge $200 per 1000 cents.
Andrew: What do you guys charge per a thousand cents?
Sam: I’m not going to say, but, we, it, I went, when we started, I stole the number directly from the interviews you did. It was, 20 to $30 per 1000 cents.
Andrew: Alright, if you’re out there and you want to steal the idea that Sam just handed you or run with anything, like it, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. He’ll be saving a little bit of money. Yeah. It’s a couple of pennies. Truthfully. You’ll also get tagged as a Mixergy customer, which means we’ll always have your back and it’s a good hosting package.
It just works. And you can always, when you’re ready to keep growing scale up with them beyond what they have on their webpage, you should know they’ve got everything they see their competitors have. They do so right. WP engine comes out with managed WordPress. I was think they got managed WordPress hosting and whole scheme.
They’re just not gonna put on the landing page because you want to start off easy and inexpensive and then grow with them and they’ll grow with you. Hostgator.com/mixergy. And of course, if you hate your hosting company, you want to save a little bit of buck, a little bit of money. That’s what we did. We just moved over to HostGator, save some money.
None of you guys noticed it. Alright. I forgot what the question. Oh, why you, why you, why do people, what do you think it is? I know why people like me. Why do you think people like you.
Sam: I’m pretty honest. I think that I’m from Missouri, so I don’t have this like elite. I I’m pretty down to earth. Like, I at least I think I am, it sounds, that’s kind of an oxymoron to brag about being down to earth, but, I try to like, keep it real with people. I try to be honest. I think that. people recognize me as someone who will get shit done.
And so I don’t, I do talk a lot of shit, but I, I work hard to back it up. and so I think people kind of respect that. So, they are willing to help me because they see that I’m going somewhere.
Andrew: see that. Let me put out another thing. You are like a trends article or like a hustle article in the sense that I’ve watched you with people in conversations, very fast talker, especially from someone, for someone from not New York, let’s say very fast talker. And it’s just like, here are the ideas.
Here’s what makes us, here’s why this makes sense. Almost in short sentences or bullet points. And it gets people fired up. I remember listening to Gary Vaynerchuk, talk to Jason Calacanis on Jason’s podcast about Jason fried, how Jason free doesn’t want any, any new ideas he wants to stay focused. And Gary Vaynerchuk, I call BS on that.
We are up on Skype, chatting with each other about all these different business ideas, and he’s just continuing to entertain it. And I thought to myself, I think Jason freed wants to jump in and have all these different businesses with Gary Vaynerchuk. He likes to stay focused, but there’s some kind of energy that comes from hearing someone talk through ideas that makes you come up with your own ideas that fires you up about life.
In general, I feel like you’re a walking, talking embodiment of that. Am I right?
Sam: Yeah, I think so. I think that people misunderstand me though. I think that I’m not money really, that money motivated. I think that what I’m motivated by it, to me business. It is just a, a practical exercise of creating reality. And I think that it’s just really cool that you and me are just raised as normal people, but we somehow think that we have the ability to like make the world how we want to make it.
And I find that to be incredibly addicting and intoxicating, and I love that. And I want others to know that that’s possible.
Andrew: I talked to Brad Wolverton on your team. And I asked him about. About trends. And he just kept telling me about the community, the community I go, what are you talking about? So I got to the community on his, insistence or recommendation, and I looked around and I saw it. What I missed was something that then Jack pointed out to me and said, Andrew, go make sure you see this, which was some dude who said, I signed up for.
Trends because it was just a dollar for two weeks. Now it’s going to cost me $299 a year. I can, I can’t even pay here literally. Now I don’t even have a job and can’t pay for my groceries. And also rent is coming and apparently people are offering to
Sam: it for him. Yeah.
Andrew: So how do you get a community like that?
Sam: You got to start from the top. So like with our community, Like dude. So many of these corporate dumb idiots are like, we’ve got to create community, we got to create community. And, and they like, don’t even know what that is. And they’re in their ivory tower and they’re not doing anything.
And it’s like, When we started the community, it started with 10 people. I invited 10 friends, and I just would post in there literally 20 times a day. If you can, you can probably go and click my name and you could see all the posts I post all the time and that sets the stage. And so a lot of these people didn’t look at community.
They don’t look at community effectively and they want this academic academic answer about what’s a community it’s like. Dude, what’s it. When you have five friends and you’re going out to dinner, like, what are you gonna break down? How to have a conversation with your buddy, or you just going to ask him how he is and offer advice when he asks for questions.
and so that’s really what the community was. And it started with that. And when just like building a company, your culture, starts early on and it kind of, if you do a good job, it bleeds into everything else you do.
Andrew: I feel like there’s more to it than that.
Sam: What do you want me to say? I mean,
Andrew: I here’s who it was one of the things that I loved about the community. I remember. So I hired Tam fam who was, I guess, an intern at your company, because I just loved that he was in there all the time. He had a full responsibility. I don’t know if it was full time, but his job was, if somebody asked a question to go and find somebody who can go and answer it, if somebody asks a question to make sure that they were responded to somehow that little bit of care went a long way, and I could see that.
That he did do it because he cared not because he had some kind of target to hit.
Sam: Yeah, look like. I think that too many idiots think about this. It’s just, this fucking drives me crazy. I think too many people, particularly in media and a lot of just companies in general, they don’t forget. They don’t remember that you are here to serve as your customer. And I think that we try to have a really small.
Business Cornerstore mom and pop mentality of like, whether you’re giving us money or even more importantly, you’re giving us your attention. I am here to serve you. It is up to me to please you, to make you happy, to make sure that you are having a wonderful experience. And so if I go to Andrew’s house, him and his wife are gonna be like, Hey, are you thirsty?
I know you don’t drink alcohol. So I made sure to have non-alcoholic stuff here. I know you don’t eat meat or something. So we made sure to have this, like, it’s your, you are my host and you’re going to do it. If you care, you’re going to do a wonderful job of taking care of me. And if I’m your customer, you’re going to.
you know, you know, I don’t like this food. Oh, you know, it’s okay, I’ll go get you something else. Like you actually have to work hard to service people. And, and, and, and that’s something that we do. That’s so basic, but most people
Andrew: Like what, give me an example, what you do in your community. That’s going out and finding the vegetarian option because someone’s
vegetarian. That’s the equivalent to.
Sam: someone will post and they’ll say like I’m building, what’s one. Oh, okay. So in the trans group, we talked about this grand idea of building a new city, like, cause I did a survey on the hustle and we got like. Eight or 10,000 people to answer and tell us if they’re going to move inside the next six months and 35% of people said they’re going to move in the next six months.
And I was like, you know, this is kind of interesting, like Steubenville in Ohio, I believe is like a preplanned community. Like with all these people moving, like what would a pre planned community or our preplanned city looked like now? And how do you build that? And every, like I got 300 on this. And so I went and got.
A guy who I met through you or something like that who bought powdered mountain does series.
So I went, yeah, found a guy, his name’s Ryan, and he was one of the cofounders of that. And I go, Ryan, join this group and he joined the group and I go, Hey, everyone, Ryan’s here. He actually kind of built like a city.
So if you have any questions about building a city, just ask them right here.
Andrew: And what’s your hope, your hope is that somebody would build a city based on
Sam: Yeah. And selfishly, when eventually what’s going to happen is when someone does build a city, we’re going to be the first investors and we’re going to get, we’re going to make a lot of money off of it.
Andrew: That makes so much sense to notice that there are a lot of people who are leaving all at once and to see that this is an opportunity to create something that’s ideal, instead of helping them find something that’s just okay. In the existing world.
Sam: idea. Okay. You’re you’re an outdoors person. So you know how people put car racks? Do you have a car rack?
Andrew: I don’t, but I know what you mean. I see it.
Sam: There’s car racks. So there’s like the rack. That’s like the bars. And then above that, it’s like the cargo. When I’ve read about this the other day, and it flipped me out car racks on top of a car, reduced your gas mileage by about 20%, some cases it’s 10, some cases.
It could be
Andrew: That’s why I don’t want to have that. I what’s. And then you also have to worry about it flopping out. I looked at one on Amazon, cause I thought we’re going to go for long distances. Now, maybe I get one on there. They say after I think it’s like 50 miles. Make sure to get out of the car and ensure that it’s still there.
I’m not doing
Sam: nuts. So this research report, I went and looked into this. I’m like, wait 25%. How big, how I feel like everyone has a car wreck. And so this guy in Berkeley, the scientist in Berkeley did the math and they like did a big study and they discovered. That car racks reduced gasoline by so much. And so many people do it that roughly we, we use an additional 300 million gallons of a year, a year in gasoline, and, it’s going to end their growing so fast that it’s, estimated that we will eat in 40 well we’ll eat in about 40%.
To the gains made by electric cars in terms of fuel used. Is that crazy? And so I, we, I got interested in that and we just posted that. And so, I’m getting someone who’s like an expert in aerodynamics and car racks and to explain the economics of that and how that works. And they’re going to talk about it in the group.
Andrew: And then what do you hope to do with that? To have somebody come up with a better solution for it?
Sam: Maybe. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. In car X, a big business. The biggest one, which everyone made fun of me. I got, I was such a redneck. I called it stool. Apparently it’s pronounced Tooley.
Andrew: I thought it was still too.
Sam: like stool. Ryan’s that mule, everyone. Everyone was like, Oh, Hey, it’s pronounced Tooley. I was like, Oh, come on. It’s spelled like mule.
that’s a multibillion dollar company. That’s publicly traded.
Andrew: And that’s where your head goes. Now, let’s see how valuable is this. If I could come up with something that saves you gas, then maybe I’d come up with the first net first step. But maybe there’s something even better than that. Like maybe it mounts to the back of the car or something.
Sam: Yeah. Or there’s a million ways that you can approach us. But like, it’s a pretty like, interesting thing that I did not realize was a big deal. And anyone out there who’s a fascinated in this. I’m like, you guys look like they’re, this appears to the all signals, lead me to believe that this is a big opportunity.
Andrew: And so when do you do this? What’s your what’s the time of day? The place I know this is getting a little bit anal, but at what point do you get to withdraw enough from work to sit back and come up with these ideas and then go deep into, so when do you do it, do you sit at your desk and you say, okay, today, I’m going to be curious about something.
Let’s go down a rabbit hole.
Sam: I’m not joking. I think about this 24 hours a day.
Andrew: And when it’s time for you to go and do research, will you interrupt a meal with your wow, you’re married now with Sarah and say, I got to go and look this up.
Sam: Yeah. So for example, I was driving by, we were driving somewhere there today and it was a, what, what did we see? Oh, I forget what we saw. It was like either it was a massive warehouse. I’m like, what is this warehouse? And I, I saw what sign it was and it was for, it was like for a bread company and I’m like, Oh, what’s this about?
And so I just Googled it. And then I like figured out the name of it. And I have like 20 different resources that I can turn to. And it would tell me all about this bread company. And I’m like, Holy crap. Did you know that Sarah Lee is this big? Did you know that people buy this many Cinnabons is that nuts?
That’s pretty crazy. And so it just
Andrew: And then what do you do with this? You put it into a notebook into like a notion doc or something.
Sam: yeah, I have doc. So, I have, I have lots of spreadsheets and so I have a spreadsheet that’s just called research that has a hundred tabs. And so if I read a biography, like for example, I’m reading, Henry Ford’s biography and they said that in 19, 19, I think it was the second year of business Ford paid out.
$300,000 in dividends. And so if they put out $300,000 in dividends, that meant the profit was probably six or $700,000. And back then I have an inflation calculator that I have on my phone. That’s like $6 million. And I was like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. You’re telling me that a new startup that made hardware cars was able to did six or $10 million in profit in year two.
That is nuts. And so I’ll like, I’ll like learn all about the economics of cars and how they’re built and things like that.
Andrew: And now they got to that without, without trying to make it go anywhere. Just. Let it go. And then you put the numbers into a spreadsheet and now suddenly you have like a set of twins, any different numbers.
That’s the way your mind
Sam: Yeah. Or I will. And, and by the way, I taught a class on this and I list all my resources and I use you, I use Mixergy. And so what I’ll do is, like for example, I was curious about, does this thing have screen sharing.
Andrew: Yeah, but don’t do it. I I’m, this is my first time with Riverside for recording
I want to make sure that I don’t screw it up.
Sam: I was curious about agencies. So you had Gary Vaynerchuk on and I was like, you know, it kind of looks cool.
Like w what he’s saying, I think that like, having clients, like, so he’s like, alright, I’m gonna create this ad agency and I’m gonna use the profit. I’m gonna buy companies. I’m gonna put them through that ad agency. And I’m like, that’s pretty
Andrew: I remember he kept saying, I’m going to deploy it against every idea that I have now that I have this
Sam: Yeah, and he hasn’t done it yet, but I’m like, that sounds kind of cool. Like as, Oh, has he? Okay, well, great.
Andrew: yeah. But he hasn’t bought them. He’s he’s co-created them with people and then use this to promote it.
Sam: So in my head, I’m like, that is freaking awesome because I love business and that’s like my playground, that’s a playground he’s living. Cause that’s really cool. So then I used your interviews and then I use web archive and then I use LinkedIn and then I used this, that, this and that. And I mapped it out to where, how many employees he had each year, how much revenue he had each year for about 10 years.
And I’m like, Oh my God, you have to hire 600 employees. And you only get an average revenue of $150,000 per employee. That’s a nightmare. I do not. I’m not willing to pay that price in order to have what he has. I’m not, I do not want to do that. And so I’ll like map all these, these spread in the spreadsheet.
I’ll map them out.
Andrew: And so what you were going to show me was a spreadsheet showing his numbers as he grew.
Sam: Yeah, and I have all the sources for what those are. And then I have like, I Mark it out where, where I’m making assumptions and where I’m judging off what he has said.
Andrew: How do you not get sucked into the day to day where you give yourself space to go and research this?
Sam: I hired pretty good. but, I would say that, I hire, okay. I, I do a good job of hiring leaders and I let everyone know that it’s my job to come up with interesting stuff and not my job necessarily to run the business each day.
Andrew: And so what’s your responsibility day to day. And what sucks you
Sam: So I have a president of the company and I work with him quarterly to set our profit and revenue targets and where we’re going to invest in what products we’re going to do. And I spend most of my time coming up with products or working on our product roadmap and, and coming up with ideas. So for example, today, Steph emailed me and she goes, I need help coming up with ideas on how to integrate trends into the hustle.
Some old people know about it. And so I’ll literally get a doc and I’ll write out all the. Possibilities that she can do. And I’ll say here is here’s 10 ideas, pick a couple of them and do them.
Andrew: Just a couple of see how they work and then expand on what works. I did hear that you were coming up with a new idea. Do you have another thing that you’re going to launch? What is a new product?
Sam: Yeah. So the way our business is going to work, and this is what I said from the beginning, it was, we’re gonna build up this huge audience. It’s going to look like a funnel, and then we’re going to have like a free thing and then a trends, which is a little bit cheaper. And then we’re going to have a far more expensive thing.
And so I would like, I want to do this research for companies. and so, I think that there’s a world where companies will pay us tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in annual fees in order to do some of this research with them. I’m also incredibly fascinated with news and how we get it.
And so we’re working on this thing called hustle plus where we have a, a network of experts. So, let’s say that we’re writing a story on, On Buzzfeed and how they’re laying people off, perhaps we’ll get like the CEO of the information or the CEO of all these other companies to say their opinion of the news story.
And we’ll put that in our email. And I think that there’s a world where people would be willing to pay money in order to, in order to see those insights from experts. If it it’s almost like a private
Twitter, like a private Twitter, kind of.
Andrew: What’s this thing that I heard about when you’ve got some opinion about fake news, you think that fake news is fake.
Sam: No. Well, it’s easy fake news, Israel. Okay. So like I know people. So what are you referring to like a tweet? I
Andrew: I don’t know you tell me. No, actually I asked Brad about what is it that gets you so fired up that we might get you to say something wrong or something controversial. That’s
Sam: Let’s get into this. So, do you remember the other day, how, do you’re a Twitter guy or no.
Do you remember the other day about, okay. So for everyone listening, there’s this VC guy, I don’t know what he is. Maybe B VC. He’s just an influential business person named Bo what’s his name?
Biology is his name biology.
Bellagio Balaji, really smart guy. He’s just like, kind of, he’s kind of a genius. I think he kind of called in December that Corona was going to be a big thing in America and everyone kind of laughed at him and he was right. And so, there was this thing the other day where he called out the New York times a reporter on the New York times.
And she was like, you’re harassing me. You’re being an asshole. Yada, yada, yada. And I tweeted out, he accused her of, being anti-tech and, creating clickbait in order to get more subscribers and more eyeballs. And I, and I tweeted out basically my opinion, which is, I don’t care what either you guys are saying, you’re both kind of right.
And you’re both kind of wrong. Like he was kinda being an asshole about it. And she was also a little bit of an asshole. But, anyway, the point that I made was that clickbait is real. And fake news is real. Like there’s a lot of companies out there who make hundreds of millions or billions of dollars a year, and they could say stuff that just is not true and make money off of that. Well, I won’t necessarily say if they’re with them. I don’t, I don’t, I think their intention is good, but I will say that they can, she, her point was that. Click bait, which is basically optimizing for outrage. Doesn’t actually make you money. And the New York times 100% will make more money. I mean, it’s called the Trump bump.
Okay. When Trump got in business, there was more controversy in New York times got way more subscribers. Okay. When Corona happened, our business crushed it. We killed it because people were freaking out over
what’s going on.
Andrew: business? Why, what was it? What part of it grew
Sam: if you sold subscriptions in the news industry, when Krone was going on or when it is going on, you are crushing it.
Right. Most likely because people are desperate for it.
Andrew: even for business trends? I didn’t realize it was so because people are so hungry to understand what’s coming up, what’s going to happen to my life. What’s going to happen in
Sam: Yeah, because there’s uncertainty. And so if you’re the New York times, or let’s say you’re the information, that company, B information.com, if you ha put some juicy thing in there, like this guy got caught stealing, here’s how it works. That’s outrage. Not, I’m not saying that that’s wrong. I’m not saying that’s right.
I’m just saying that, that is it. It’s objectively outrage and that will drive way more subscribers. And so if you embellish stuff, it’s like, is it fake? Maybe, maybe not, but you definitely, sometimes it’s not honest and that totally can make you more money.
Andrew: So then what does that mean for you? Why aren’t you doing that? Why aren’t you firing up our age? Do you want to grow?
Sam: Well, I think that sometimes I probably should, sometimes I think I am a little too straightforward, but you could have outrage. I do think that sometimes like outrageous. Good. So for example, the New York times published an article by Colonel Tom cotton. Do you remember that? Where he was saying how it’s okay to military militarized the police.
That was very odd that it caused a lot of outrage.
Andrew: The op ed piece that I think then they regretted.
Sam: Yeah. And like, who cares if we disagree or agree with him that was outrage. And it probably, it, I think that actually could have lost them money because people quit, but it got them attention and they’re in the game of attention. It more likely will be an net positive than a net negative for them. And so I do think that we do want to insert myself and create a little bit more outrage.
Andrew: do, how can you do that?
Sam: Well, I did it when we started where we like, we play, I purposely plagiarized a bestselling book and, made it popular in the romance category in order to become a bestseller and show that it’s really easy to plagiarize on Kindle and they know about it and they don’t care. And so we did, we did do that.
I think the reason why a lot of people do that don’t do that is because they don’t have the courage to do it. And, we definitely should do it more.
Andrew: Give an idea that you hadn’t had the courage to do. If you’re honest with yourself over the last couple of years,
Sam: Yeah, this whole like black lives matter and, harassment in the workplace. I, I definitely try to stay away from that shit. I don’t want to touch that with it, because I don’t, it’s just like, it doesn’t seem like it’s entirely worth it to have that debate because even if you have good intentions and have a wonderful argument that is about supporting people and equality, it’s so easy to misunderstand that and to be taken down and I’m like, you got like, It’s a shame that I can’t just have an honest conversation, even if my intentions are the same as yours of we want to help out.
Andrew: What would your point of view be? That was so different. Different. I was struggling with that too.
Sam: So, like for example, like I had an issue, almost Alma. Are you in, were you born in America? Are you an immigrant? so all, almost all my friends are immigrants and most of them are not white people a lot are, but not all now. And I’m married to someone who isn’t white. And so, the issue I had when people were saying how America was fucked up and there’s all races and I’m like, I’m like you guys, America’s still awesome.
Like we, you can see it’s just like any family, you could say you have issues, but like, I don’t think that it’s as horrible all as you’re making. I’m like, I think it’s like probably one of the, if you look at our size and you look at our diversity, it’s probably the least racist place or at least one of it’s pretty good.
Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t have issues, but can we please be honest and, and you’re not saying America sucks and you could say like, We need to improve. And so things like that, I’m like, and I was like, I’m not even going to address this
Andrew: I get that. I get that. And you know what? That’s a good point. Allie Moises. He’s not born in the U
Sam: he’s Pakistan Moise, Ali he’s Pakistani.
Andrew: And Jack is not. Jack is from London, right?
Sam: Jack’s from England. so my closest friends are a Soviet union immigrant, a British immigrant, a Dutch immigrant. My wife is Haitian.
yeah, she’s from Haiti.
Andrew: for her parents were born there in Haiti or
Sam: Haiti. who else? I mean, a lot of, most of our, most of our buddies, like I’m friends with Sanchia, w he’s Indian, I think.
You’re not from America. Where, where are you
Andrew: Did you want me to, do you, when you and your wife are together, when you were together in the beginning, because your complexions are so different, did you ever, did you ever get in your head about it? Like people are noticing or anything like that?
Andrew: No, not
Sam: not once. I mean, we’d go to restaurants. People would be like, Hey, where’s your wife or where’s your girlfriend. I’m like, she’s right here. We can wait. They’re like, I can’t see you yet until
Andrew: Ah, because they just assumed that you have to look alike if you’re, if you’re dating. Ah, that’s
Sam: Yeah. I’m like, ah,
Andrew: I wouldn’t have thought that, Hey, she is hungry for businesses. You are. I feel like she. I’m trying to get a sense. I have a sense of what she’s like. She’s a good hostess. Is she, is she? Cause I think I’ve only seen her at events be really smooth with people who are kind of awkward.
Sam: no, she’s got the immigrant hustle. She’s type a,
Andrew: How does it express itself
Sam: she wants to win and she, if,
if, whatever she does and if, and if
Andrew: Like what, what, give me an example. My, my wife is like that. Olivia is she can’t just enjoy your run. For example, she’s got to outrun me. She’s got to outrun everything.
Sam: she’ll work so
Andrew: spreadsheets for schools to get the kids into fricking preschool.
Sam: like that exact same. Or if we go to a restaurant and it’s not perfect, she’ll yell. I don’t want to disrespect her. She doesn’t yell, but I joke and I’ll call it yelling. She’ll be
Andrew: I hear it. If, if it’s not perfect, I’ll hear from
Sam: yeah. I feel like, excuse me, a waitress. I asked for this. This is not that, whereas my personality, maybe yours as well.
I’m like, dude, I don’t care if I would have pizza or steak, I’ll eat. Whatever you give
Andrew: Right. And also you made the experience. I’ll now know next time. I don’t like your experience, but I’m here for your experience. I’m not looking for my perfection in your experience. And it’s so unexpected because Olivia is a fricking hippie. All she is is like, let’s do good in the world. I literally have a photo of her.
She probably doesn’t want me to say hugging and kissing a tree with our kids. So it’s like maybe it’s hard teaching the kids to respect nature, but she’s a tree hugger. And she can’t handle because she’s still type a, she can’t handle the imperfection and the, this load is, and all that stuff.
Sam: Yeah. So we’re, we’re we have similar wives where she’s very type a, but, yeah, I, I, this whole stuff going on, it was like crazy to have these discussions and definitely eye opening. And, it is funny that the greatest thing about San Francisco, I think is that there’s so many different people here.
And in one sense, it’s, everyone’s kind of similar, but another sense, it’s a, it’s it, it was pretty amazing to build up a, a crew of, and family of people who are from all over the world. And that’s like, That’s like changes your life
Andrew: All right. Final question. Where are you putting your money? Right now? You’ve taken some money out of the, out of the business, right? Cash. Well, you just leaving into cash.
Sam: as of today. Yes, I was
Andrew: When you say cash, what does that mean? I’m about to talk to a finance advisor tomorrow to rethink things. What does that for
Sam: in a ally bank account.
Andrew: That’s it.
Aren’t you worried about the bank going out of business? I don’t feel comfortable putting more than 200,000 in a
Sam: I’m losing sleep over it. I’m losing sleep. I lose sleep over. I’m I’m very, very, very afraid of the financial world. I see. I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the stock market, which sounds like a lot. And it is a lot, but I’m like, eh, whatever. Like I can make that
Andrew: How, how did you lose hundreds of thousands of
Sam: I got out of the stock market and it started going back up and which has
Andrew: Oh, that’s lost opportunity costs. Not like you lost money.
Sam: Well was down saw that was an idiot. So that’s not smart to do. Like, I actually just got off the phone with a friend of ours who you’re friends with too. And I was like, dude, I just fucking lost this, but it doesn’t make sense to me what the markets are doing. And I’m like, I’m just either, I’m just a sissy.
This to build a
Mike I’m like you guys, like, I know so many people who are out of work right now. This does not make sense to me. And so I said to Sarah, I’m go look, we got to liquidate. We’re just going to put all this in a bank account and like, we’ll get it. We’ll go by real estate or something. But right now I have a lot of money in cash.
Andrew: with you. I think, I think it’s a mistake though, to keep it in a bank, because first of all, they have a limit on how much their,
Sam: But Andrew think about this. You’re not, no, I get it. So that’s why you gotta have a bunch of different bank accounts. I have $250,000 in it.
Andrew: here’s the thing. You don’t actually have to take your money and create different accounts. Brokers can set up accounts for UCDS at different banks,
and then you could liquidate it whenever you
Sam: I’m working on that, but it’s scary,
but like, listen, let’s think about this. What’s the point of having money? Okay. The point I have the money for a lot of people. I guess it’s different for everyone, for me. It’s just so I can do whatever the fuck I want to do. So why you just said, what’s the point of having it in the bank account?
And I’m like, yeah, but if I feel better that way, who cares? That’s the point it’s serving its purpose.
Andrew: No, no. I’m, I’m worried about it being in the bank because I’m worried about banks going out of business. 2008, I took pictures of, of banks that had lines of people waiting to get their money out. Cause they didn’t, they didn’t think they could get their cash out. And I think there are people who didn’t, I’m worried about that happening.
I don’t know, ally bank, are they going to survive or not?
Sam: I don’t know. It’s scary.
Andrew: And you know what?
No, one’s going to have
any pity. If, if you have more than $200,000 in a bank, I see I’m making you uncomfortable. But I don’t mean to over talk over you. If you have more than $200,000 in the bank, there’s no one who’s going to feel sorry for you.
If your bank goes out of business and you only get $200,000, the rest of the world’s going to go shut up and take it. You have 200,000. Why aren’t you happy about it? Didn’t the New York times just have an article about these people who are making more than the 200,000 feel bad.
Sam: Yeah, it’s crazy. I think that this market is nuts. I’m not a stock guy. I’m not smart enough to know that I typically, I own Facebook stock and SP S and P 500. And, I’m like, I only own one individual stock and it’s Facebook. And I have a lot of that and I have a shit ton of Airbnb cause my wife works there.
but besides that it’s S and P 500, and this doesn’t make sense to me. All these people, aren’t gonna be able to, unemployment ends on July on July 30th. And we surveyed a million people in our audience and 10% of them are 11%, 10 or 12, something like that said, they’re going to default on their mortgage.
Andrew: On mortgage. Wow. It’s got to happen. And if they, if they don’t right away, they’re not going to be able to pay the rent, which means that the person who’s owning the, who owns the property is going to, is going to have a risk of default. It just makes no sense. And obviously we’re, I think we’re going to pump a little bit more money into people’s
Sam: We’re going to pay for that. We’re going to pay for
Andrew: but yeah.
And at some point that’s going to go away. Here’s the worst part. You just keep printing money, which obviously we know we’re not printing money literally, but still the value of the dollar goes down and that’s an easy way to wipe out a lot of
Sam: I know it’s, it’s tragic because as a hardcore capitalist who who’s kind of rich right now, I’m like, Oh, great. Let them die. Like crush them. I want to hit, I want my dollar to go further. And then as a, as a. Shoot man. I’m like, Oh, I don’t want to see my peers be hurt. So it’s like a cha you know, you care for people.
You don’t want your face. I’m going to be hurt. It’s a challenging situation. And it’s so confusing. I don’t know what to do with this whole Corona thing. I’m like, man, this guy needs, he needs to go provide for his family. So if I’m going to provide for my family, if it was, you know, not who I was and I needed, like, I actually had to go get that paycheck.
I would be like, fuck this mass thing, you guys, I got to go get paid. I got to provide for my family. And so, but then the other half of it, it’s like, You gotta just sit on it because you’re going to hurt other people eventually. So, you know, by spreading an illness, it’s very challenging. It’s a very challenging situation.
And I don’t want my money into the stock market when this is going on. Cause I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Andrew: Right. I’m okay with losing out on some of the, in some of the windfall that some people are getting. It just doesn’t make sense to me. And I’m not looking to go in Robin hood style and just hope that I can outsmart the market
Sam: No, it’s crazy. Like it’s crazy. And I’m not I’m personally, I’m not smart enough to do it. I’ve got a lot of friends that claim to be, but we’ll see what happens in the end. It’s scary, dude. It’s scary. This sucks right now. I’m thankful that, you know, let’s just be thankful that we’re healthy and everything’s going okay.
It would not be good to be in the situation that 20% of Americans are in right now.
Andrew: Right. And you’re right. And I also worry about not touching it and not catching, not getting COVID.
Sam: I almost want to get it. I’m like, just, just give it to me. Like, let’s get it out the way.
Andrew: I thought that too. And then I started to see the longterm effects of people who had it. And I realized I don’t want that.
Sam: I think, I think we’re going to get it.
Andrew: on on an up note, the hustle is doing well.
You’re not buying yourself mentions and stuff. What’s one thing you got to do for yourself that younger, you would have been proud that you, that you’re doing.
Sam: for my wedding, I bought myself up, the Rolex that I’ve wanted since I was 10.
Andrew: I wouldn’t have thought of you as a Rolex person. Does it make you feel good to wear it?
Sam: No, I don’t wear it. I’m going to give it to my kids.
Sam: I don’t wear it. So, I bought a, a nice watch and, I bought a car recently that, not a fancy car, but I’ve never bought a car before, but besides that, I don’t, I’ve not ever bought anything fancy
Andrew: Yeah, there’s nothing that really compels me. If I think about what would I want to own longterm,
I’d like to
Sam: Do you own or rent?
Andrew: we rent. We’re not, we’re not like it’s not stable people. We don’t think of ourselves as stable people. Now that we have kids we’ve been stuck at this place for years before that we were moving around all the time.
Sam: I’ll buy a home.
Sam: I might buy a home. I don’t know.
Andrew: I know we’re thinking about maybe leaving San Francisco and going to buy a place. And the one thing I would like, the thing that I had as a kid is my vision was one of these like treadmill, like pools, where it’s a smaller pool. You just get to swim endlessly and the water just comes at you.
some reason, I got
Sam: Do you ever look at Zillow? You could go and buy that place in like, Tennessee in Nashville, Tennessee for $500,000.
Andrew: I bet I could put it in. If I owned my current place, I could put in my backyard. Cause all I need is a, like a small enough spot that I could just create this treadmill pool and the water just keeps coming at me. And they said that basically is a, is it. Thing that I want. That’s the only thing that I want.
What I like is peace of mind. And I didn’t have that growing up. I didn’t have that in my twenties. It was always like, what if I make this one mistake and I lose it all. And then I can’t afford to just take some space. Now I can. And I like that this year is going to be a take some. It is, it takes space here.
Last year, I did seven marathons on seven continents, interviewed people all over the world, hustling crazy this year. I feel like I want to take some space. I can do it. Who cares?
Sam: It’s just, you’re just going to have to pony up two and a half million dollars for that nice snowy Valley pad.
Andrew: I would, I believe me, I would buy it from him for more than that. I like our place. Alright. Have you been to our place?
Sam: I have. It’s lovely.
Andrew: Right. It’s a nice place. I’ve got a nice big backyard. The kids have been in the backyard for a long time, right? Near all the
Sam: It’s a lovely place. It’s just, even if I
Andrew: now can’t you.
Sam: place is so expensive.
Andrew: All right. The website is. The hustle.co and trends.co. And once you get into Sam’s world, you’re just gonna want to echo around in it for a long time. I’ve been following you on Twitter and for some, I love your tweets. And for some reason I don’t see it. And I think it’s because I’m not Harding enough of them.
So I’m going to heart a bunch because you’ve been fire on Twitter this year.
Sam: I made the decision to tweet this year. I think I crossed 20,000 followers today.
Andrew: No, you didn’t. You’re a 19.9. I saw because I said, why the hell does not up higher? And then I realized you didn’t do any of the growth hacky things that I did in the beginning. And then I just said, I don’t like it. I don’t like the people were following me when I do all these growth, tasky things 30 or so I think, Okay. You know what? It’s interesting. The focus on your business keep growing that that fricking thing is lightening. All right. It’s the hustle. And I think the two sponsors made this interview happen. We are both customers of top tile. If you need to hire developers, do what we’ve done. Go to top talent.com/mixergy.
And if you haven’t started your business, Go to hostgator.com/mixergy and get started with a nice, inexpensive, really strong hosting package. And I appreciate them for sponsoring mixer. Jane, let me say whatever I want. Thank you so much. And thanks all for listening. Bye everyone.