Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m, you know, yada, yada, yada, founder of interview site Mixergy. Hey, I like to get really personal in my interviews and the guest that you’re about to meet is a kind of guy who gets super personal with people in private. And I had him on to do an interview a few months ago. We were supposed to talk about the company that he started, The Iron Yard, and instead, we ended up talking about alcoholism, suicide, super, super personal stuff and we never got to this phenomenal company that he founded and sold. And so . . .
John: Oh, because that was more interesting, but who knows.
Andrew: You think suicide is more interesting?
John: Oh yeah. It’s life and death. Company is a company.
Andrew: I do too. And at the same time I remember saying to you I would give up my marriage for a successful company. I would even give up my life for it. Let’s be honest. And then I walked away being embarrassed by what I said. I said, “Oh, I love my wife. Olivia and I are super tight.” And then I go and I do this jerky thing. Why did I say it? And then I realized there’s an element of truth in it and as much as I love her I want to leave a legacy that comes from the company. Anyway, I got super honest in there. You got incredibly open in it. And then we booked this interview to do the follow-up to talk about The Iron Yard and you didn’t show up, and then we booked it again and you didn’t show up, and then you booked it again and then you didn’t show up. And my people on my team are saying to me, “Andrew, this is what happens when you push people to talk too personal. Not everyone wants to do this in public.” And I said, “No.”
John: That’s so funny.
Andrew: “I think my radar . . . I think I’m good at getting how people feel. And I got how John Saddington felt. He was okay with that.” We’re going to ask him whether he was or not and what was going on when he didn’t show up. But I will say this to you guys, John Saddington is one of my favorite, favorite entrepreneurs because he is so open about what life is like here that he’s not giving you the fake story. If you have any doubt about it, please go back and listen to the previous interview which he now thinks is maybe better than this interview. And we didn’t even do this interview. Give this a chance, John. Who knows? But that’s what we talked about the really openness of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and what it’s like, frankly, to be John, not just any entrepreneur but someone with his chemistry, with his biology and what was going on in his life.
In this interview though, John Saddington is back. We’re going to talk about his company, the one that feels like ancient history to him, but I’m fascinated by, it’s called The Iron Yard. And the reason I’m fascinated by it is because there was a period there where I was noticing that lots of entrepreneurs throughout the . . . Not lots. There were handful of them throughout the country who were creating these coding schools, in-person bootcamps, really putting developers through the paces and then helping them get jobs. And they were producing lots of revenue and profits. And in John’s case, with The Iron Yard actually selling out.
And so I invited him here to talk about how he did it and what happened there to the whole industry. And we’re going to learn about that business and we are maybe even going to find out a little bit about his latest company which is called Yen.io. It’s a cryptocurrency social platform. John is a prolific entrepreneur and this is his latest company. I think this one might be the biggest of them all. And we can do it thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first is giving my office right here, it’s called Regus. Oh, I got this great story, in fact, two stories that will show you why I freaking love Regus, really, in dollars and cents. And the second one is hosting my website. It’s called HostGator. But I’ll tell you about the sponsors later. John, welcome. Good to have you here.
John: Thanks, man. We’ll see if the encore performance is up to snuff.
Andrew: Did you not show up because we were a little personal and you were a little embarrassed?
John: No. I had to bail from the other two because I was flying internationally and then the other one to be truly frank, I was just not in a good place. I may not even be in a good place right now.
Andrew: What do you mean? What’s going on mentally?
John: I mean, just building a company is really fucking hard.
Andrew: And so are you doubting yourself and thinking, “Who am I to come on Mixergy and talk about my successes?”
John: Actually, no. I just . . . I literally was in such a foul mood that I thought I would probably just lose my shit and that would look really bad.
Andrew: When you’re in a foul mood, what’s . . . This is where I get carried away with like not the story that we’re here to talk about. But when you’re in a foul mood, what goes on with you?
John: Well, I actually just . . . Actually, I’m pretty bad mood right now, but one of my professional coaches has a saying, and he says, “You can’t think your way out of going insane and . . . ” That’s what I tried to do especially as an engineer. So I literally just walked out my house, smoked some cannabis and then walked the block like three or four times and I think I feel a little bit better.
Andrew: You know what? I’m so glad that you’re saying this on the record because we’ve had guests cancel on us in the past and when I was getting started I always thought, “It’s something about me. I’m too small for them to care about. They don’t care enough about my site and so they’re going to do something that’s more important.” And what I discovered especially after talking to some people who have canceled on me over the years, it’s usually what they’re going through that’s keeping them from being on here.
John: Most likely.
Andrew: It’s usually some big issue. Like this one entrepreneur was nearly going bankrupt and how could he come and do this interview and feel good about what I was going to interview them about when that’s what’s going on with him. So I feel like Yen is doing well. Why . . . You’re doing well. What’s going on?
John: I think for anyone who has built companies before just been in that type of situation. It’s just really are 1,000 things that you’re trying to do.
Andrew: That’s not a John Saddington’s answer. You’re talking very generically and talking broadly. There’s something specific that’s you. What’s going on?
John: I had a fight with my co-founder this morning.
Andrew: Ah. Your co-founder is your brother.
John: Yeah. Co-founder is my brother and . . .
John: Oh, God. It’s always like the smallest thing, right? It’s always like the smallest thing that is more representative the much larger, like, perhaps philosophical or a fundamental issue. But we send out an investor update like we do religiously every first week of every month. And he didn’t like one particular thing that I included, but I had asked him the night before . . . I actually asked all the team, like, “Hey, take a look at the update. Let me know or forever hold your peace. It’s going to go out to in these very important people in our lives.” So everyone checked the box. Everyone gave the emoji in Slack, right, thumbs up, whatever. It looks good. And of course, but at 4:00 in the morning this morning my brother text me like, “Why did you include that one thing?” and I was like, “Goddamn it.” Like, “Fucking fuck, fuck, fuck.” And then just like, it all went downhill from there.
Andrew: Why? Why did that bother you that he asked about that one thing? It seems like there’s a deeper issue?
John: Well, obviously, but is because I had asked for everyone’s feedback and assuming that everyone read it and he had signed off on it, like, with the emoji that he had read it but clearly he had not, which, like, I totally understand. But I then I think it’s representative of a larger . . . I think it’s just communication pattern. Even with folks that you know for a long time when you’re in the crucible of building a company, it forces you to actually really examine at a very tactical level, like, who the people you’re working with are and how they behave. And despite the fact that I’ve known my brother for nearly four decades, it’s just like tripping me out that I find things that I really fucking annoy me. And that’s just the reality. So, you know, you’ll work through it and you figure things out, but 4:00 in the fucking morning, man. I was just like, “Man, this is the first and the last thing I want to encounter when I wake up.” At least want to I hit my coffee first.
Andrew: I don’t know if you’re into it. I don’t know if the audience is into it. But I feel like I would love to do a monthly interview with you from now until Yen sold or goes public just to go and . . .
John: Wouldn’t that be cool. That would be fun.
Andrew: I’m going to put it out to the audience, guys. Give me your feedback on that. I’ve never done that but I’m so freaking fascinated by John that, like, I’m going to go on sidetracks here. All right. Your brother is your twin brother, right?
John: Yeah. He’s awesome.
Andrew: The two of you guys were adopted.
John: You’re right. From South Korea.
Andrew: Do you ever feel like you miss your parents? Does that [inaudible 00:08:26]?
John: We actually met our parents. We actually . . . My brother hired a private investigator and searched for maybe almost maybe a decade and a half, finally found them in the late 2000s or 2008/’09 or something. Anyway, we ended up doing a trip and meeting our birth mom. And so we’re technically I guess the industry the term is in reunion. And it was crazy. I mean, it was absolutely nuts and probably way too much to explain or try to share here, but that was a huge part I think of my brother’s experience and kind of filled a lot of gaps for me.
Andrew: What if . . . Oh. Screw it. Guys . . . John, [inaudible 00:09:08]. If you’re up for it, I will just go into like your birth family, your whole thing once a month even when you’re feeling foul. In fact, especially when you’re in a foul mood, we just get on and we record . . .
John: I’ll just text you like, “Andrew, I’m in such a shitty mood. We should just hit the record button.”
Andrew: Right. Or we just schedule a once a month and we let it happen however it is. I got to do that with you. All right, I’m going to continue here because I want to get into your entrepreneurial experience and get into The Iron Yard. What you told our producer a long, long time ago when we did the pre-interview was you said, “Hey, look, a defining moment for me as an entrepreneur came in the second grade with Ninja Stars.” What happened with Ninja Stars?
John: Oh, my God. So I’m sure a lot of people have a very similar story, but, so we had this like kind of class-wide, school-wide fair and the idea was to apply some of the things we were learning in class and in this particular case we were learning like macro, microeconomics and more specifically supply and demand which is fascinating because I don’t think most adults even understand supply and demand. But anyway, so they challenged each student like to create their own shop. I was like, great. And I thought, like, I was big into Origami Stars. Origami particular defense Ninja Stars were awesome, and so I was like, “That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make a Ninja Star store.”
And so I spent all week building, putting these stars together, and if you remember you buy the pack and there’s like, there’s a lot of colors but then there’s only one silver and one gold, and so I kind of realized I could price those a little higher. And this was a huge, huge defining moment in my life. So I walk in Friday morning, it’s a big-all-day event and I put on my poster that I made at home, like, “John’s Ninja Star Store,” you know, something super-creative, right? And I was told, like, if you realize that you’re selling your product faster because of the demand, then you should increase the price to manage supply.
And I was like, I just kept like telling myself, “Okay. Manage supply. Manage supply. Manage supply.” And I was just this small like second grade like Asian kid, right? And you can imagine just like carrying this box of ninja stars in a shoe box and manage the supply, manage supply, like, super weird.
So I set up, and long story short, I started selling out immediately and I forget everything that I was taught. I was just so enraptured with the idea that my peers would purchase something that I made. And I can clearly remember standing there seeing my peers throw these ninja stars at each other and I said . . . And not in these words because obviously, I was second grader, but, “Essentially, this is what I want to do for the rest of my fucking life.” Like, “I want to build stuff and see other people use it because that is so satisfying.” And I just . . . Yeah, that was it. That . . .
Andrew: And so was selling important to you or was it just how people interact with what you made?
John: I always knew that you’d asked that. That’s a really great question. And something I actually really struggle with is pricing. I think most entrepreneurs, most businesses struggle with this, but I think in particular I struggle with is because I think price sometimes can get in the way of the product and becomes like the defining factor rather than the product itself. This was partly the reason why I spent so much time in the opensource community because I love building and then giving away for free. The problem is you can’t really make a good living off of that long-term. So I had to like have a really good dose of reality. So I started building like services and products on top of opensource projects to make a little bit of living. And then that actually worked but . . . Yeah, that’s a really great question. I still struggle with that today.
Andrew: You know what? There’s a great HBO movie called “Barbarians at the Gate” about a wonderful book about the buyout of Nabisco and the fight over who gets to do it. And the CEO of Nabisco at the time said the reason he wanted to buy Nabisco is so we had something to sell. He said, “Hell, Charlie. All I am is a salesman. People buy you and they buy what you’re selling.” And I feel that too that you could like me enough by taking something that I give you, but if you buy it from me, you love me. You love the thing that I created. And there’s a sense of validation that only comes when they take the money out of their pockets and give it to me. And to me, that’s significant. It sounds like to you that wasn’t and that’s why opensource still appealed.
John: Yeah. Or maybe it’s an abstraction that I have never quite understood, right? And I might be pretty dense in a number of different areas, but I just felt like the point of building wasn’t to extract value from the person who is ultimately going to use it. The point of building was because you wanted to build it and you saw that there was a need in the world and most usually like your own, so you started with yourself. But this was the first time where I built something specifically for someone else and they loved it. And the transaction aside was almost like secondary, but just seeing it. I can just see in my mind’s eye right now. It was like . . . It was earth shattering for me. I was like, “This is the most enjoyable thing I think I’ve ever done in my life.” And I still get a kick out of that.
Andrew: You said to our producer, the story of The Iron Yard started in May 2012 when you first joined as a mentor and advisor. Was this with TechStars?
John: Actually, TechStars was definitely a part of that story. We know Brad Feld and folks at Foundry Group and we essentially borrowed the TechStars’ model to build an accelerator in the southeast and the first of its kind.
Andrew: That you helped create?
John: Well, and I became a mentor of that program which then began a relationship with the founder of the accelerator and then we decided the opportunity was The Iron Yard which was the Education Code School, so we built that together.
Andrew: How did you know that that was the opportunity of building this school for developers?
John: That was actually pretty easy to identify because once we started funding companies through the accelerator program, and to go like 12-week dash, whatever cohort model. These organizations needed software developers. And that was a big problem and especially in the Southeast, high-quality candidates, and we were all technical or these folks on the advisory team and the founding team of the accelerator, so we were like, “Well, shit. What if we were to train these people ourselves and then essentially move them right into our portfolio companies?” And we thought that was like pretty brilliant.
It turns out like that wasn’t probably as brilliant but it ended up working because the model of retail education had just come into vogue and we said, “Wow, this could be really it.” Our first prototypes worked out really well. We’re revenue generating and revenue positive from day one, and so he just thought, “Man, I think this actually scales.” So we eventually ended up putting pause on the accelerator and then going full time to the education side.
Andrew: How did you find the other three co-founders?
John: Peter Barth was really kind of the best center spoke. He was our CEO. And he knew Eric and Mason and myself. So he kind of corralled all four of us together into a workable team.
Andrew: Why four co-founders? Why didn’t you just say, “I’ve got the site . . . ” And this is one of my problems. I have an idea, I just want to go and do it, and I don’t want other people around. I’m almost like, want to just be in a room by myself as an artist and a creator and that’s a problem. Why did you go to four, though?
John: Actually, I would challenge you when you said that’s a problem. I don’t think it’s a problem. It’s just a different way of doing it. Clearly, you’ve been successful. Clearly, there are enough examples of solo founders. Four is actually a lot, and I think one of the biggest problem was that you never had a very . . . You could get into a tie in terms of major decision-making. And so if I were to ever do . . . Well, I am continuing to build companies. But I will never have an even number of co-founders. It’s just logistically, tactically and strategically is trouble at outside of two which is kind of breaks the rule, but four was a lot for sure. No question about it.
Andrew: Okay. And so you ended up with four. Each one of you, though, is technical. I think each one of you could really teach. Am I right?
John: Yes, right.
Andrew: Okay. And you decided who was actually going to go do the teaching and who was going to do the selling?
John: Yeah. So we divided the labor that way. Actually, one of them was not as technical, so he wouldn’t have been able to teach as well, but he was more of the operation side anyway and was more naturally gravitated that way. And then one of the four created the core curriculum and built the prototypes for the teaching and the rest of us just started to scale. And so after the first two prototypes, we opened up two campuses simultaneously.
Andrew: You know what? Let’s pause for a sec. I want to make sure that I understand this. To me, the beautiful thing about this was these programs would sell for $10,000 to $20,000, right?
Andrew: How much did you guys charge?
John: I think sub-10 the beginning, start, and then we think we’ve scaled to like 12 or 14.
Andrew: Okay. And then all they needed was space and office space to teach is not hard to come by, right?
John: Nope. Not if you’re an incredible negotiator like Peter was.
Andrew: I want to find out about that. And how many students would people . . . How many students did you get in your first program?
John: The first prototypes were like eight, nine, and then . . .
Andrew: And how long were you going to teach?
John: Twelve-week period.
Andrew: Twelve-week period, eight, nine people, each paying let’s say $7,000. Is that right?
John: Well, let’s just say 10. Yeah, $10,000 to make it easy.
Andrew: Okay. So, $80,000, which is really a nice start to this. The curriculum I’m always fascinated by. How did you figure out what you’re going to teach and know that it was going to work out?
Andrew: And so you picked . . . You were going to teach one language per program? And how did you know what you were going to teach within that language?
John: Oh, God.
Andrew: Oh, sorry. What you were going to teach? What I’m trying to get at was, did you look at the other programs that were doing this and say, “Here’s how they’re teaching it. Here’s how they’re breaking things down”? Or did you look at some of the accredited universities and say, “This is how they’re doing it,” or a book? Was there some source that would tell you, “This is what works for teaching this language”?
John: Yeah. I think one of the exciting things . . . Well, we definitely did our research. I think every good company should to see how some of their competitors especially the larger “incumbents” in the space, like, the General Assemblies of the world were doing it although the space was very, very nascent and new. I think the thing that really attracted me to the project to begin with was the fact that there was this really unique opportunity to kind of recreate pedagogy and education as a whole and to really rethink how do you teach incredibly difficult technical skills to someone who may not have any technical background, which means that you need to be much more familiar with a wide array of skills and industries and technologies and liberal arts to be able to communicate effectively to these folks.
Andrew: Did you have any teaching experienced before?
John: Not like officially. No, but I did . . .
Andrew: Anyone on the team have any teaching experience?
John: Maybe one of them had done a nonprofit teaching.
Andrew: Okay. So basically what you had was an understanding of the languages and opinions about how to teach and you’re willing to go in there and teach based on what you thought was true and adjust as you learned from what was working. Am I right?
John: That would be a really good way of putting it. Another way of putting it was we don’t have any fucking idea what we were doing and we were just making it up and . . .
Andrew: Okay. All right. You know what?
John: And it worked, though. But . . .
Andrew: You said you negotiated. Talk about what you did there.
John: The thing that we . . . Just to hit another point. The thing we both all knew was that we would take a super-pragmatic approach.
Andrew: Sorry. I had somehow lost your audio a little bit. Yeah. What did you do?
John: We would take a super-pragmatic approach to it instead of a theoretical or computer science approach. And that ended up working out really well.
Andrew: Okay. Let me talk about my first sponsor and then go back in there. My first sponsor is a company called Regus. John, I told people that I get more productive when I come into a Regus office as opposed to working from home. The other day I worked from home, I ate too much. I got too distracted. I finally just got out of there. What I don’t ever talk about is all the other ways that Regus helps me. And I rent office space from Regus which means that I’ve got my office here, it’s all mine, but also we have shared reception area, shared kitchen area, couches and lounges and any Regus in the world I can go and hang out in.
But on Monday of this week, I was hanging out at another Regus office that happens to have an outdoor courtyard because I wanted to work outside. And a box came into the office with virtual reality headset because Facebook will not ship internationally if I ever need to send VR headset from Facebook to someone in Australia or even in Canada. What I’ll do is I’ll have it delivered here and then I’ll ship it out. But I can’t deal with shipping things out. I started to procrastinate over that. It doesn’t go out.
So I messaged the receptionist here and I said, “Can you please ship it? Here’s the address.” And she said yes. I said, “Find the cheapest price.” So, she priced it for me and FedEx was $100 more than the U.S. post office for shipping out this VR headset. And I said, “Great, go with the U.S. post office.” And she did and I’m going to be charged whatever the amount is. It’s going to be added to my rent. And the beautiful thing about it is she saved me $100, $100 and the work. And this is one of many, many ways that Regus helps me. This is one. Let me give you another one.
You guys might notice that my mic is in a different position today because we’re trying to improve the audio quality. We actually bought John a microphone and sent it to him, there it is, he’s going to hold it up because we want to take the audio quality more seriously here. But the thing on the mic wasn’t positioned right. Every time I tried to adjust it, it would just flop down. I needed some tools to fix it. I don’t have tools. When I went to the receptionist, I said, “Do you happen to have a pliers?” She goes, “Yeah, I got pliers. I got wrenches. I got whatever you need.”
She brought this little office kit. She gave it to me. I adjusted my mic. This thing is not dropping off anymore and now hopefully I’m going to sound a lot better for people. And the reason I’m bringing this up is, yes, Regus gives you office space at a really good price. Number two, what Regus does is they give you that reception area which will greet your guests, lounge area so you can sit, kitchen and all that so you can eat healthy instead of snacking at home. And it does get you more productive on a day-to-day basis.
But when you need something taken care of, there’s a group of people here who are here to help you. And if you’re looking for office space or frankly, if you’re looking to be more productive, if you’ve got a remote team and you’ve got someone who you want to make more productive, go check Regus. You don’t have to commit to anything. All you have to do is go to regus.com/mixergy and schedule a meeting to check out office space. And if you don’t like the first space you see, and frankly, some of their spaces I don’t love, just different vibe, different people in there, ask to see another and another until you find one that jives with you or you realize that Regus is not for you.
I remember when I went to Washington DC I asked a salesperson to just give me a tour of the whole DC area. I want to know, “Do I like Arlington? Do I like this other state? Do I like Washington DC?” And it turned out I like an office in the heart of Washington DC and that’s where they gave me office space. So you do want to investigate with them. Go to regus.com/mixergy or just email me and my team, email@example.com, we’ll introduce you to our person over there.
John, let’s talk about your negotiation for space. What did you do?
John: I’m actually not an incredible negotiator, so I leave most of that to folks who are a little bit more equipped. But Peter Barth . . .
Andrew: It sounds like you had a good deal, though.
John: Peter Barth is an incredible negotiator, and so he was able to actually finagle some incredibly low price per square foot kind of all-inclusive deals in the 12 or 13 different states that we actually ended up opening in the retail locations into. So, maybe we got some . . . I’ve got a promise I never tell you what it is. So, like, we had like a downtown Atlanta in like this old not Macy’s building, Sears Roebuck building. It was a historical building. It was fucking awesome, like, beautiful. I actually had a photographer take some pictures of my wife and I in that building. It was so amazing.
And just straight downtown right next to the like one of the Marta stations, it was like unbelievable, right next to Underground Atlanta. And so I think we negotiated something to like . . . Oh, God. Was it like $8 a square foot? They were selling on fucking real. And we had some existing relationships, but I don’t know. There’s some people who are just so good at negotiating and figuring out, like, how to leverage and apply social pressure that it just baffles me, but that’s an example of just like an incredible price per square foot that we got [inaudible 00:26:36]
Andrew: And that is the benefit of having partners. I’m trying to look at it.
John: All right.
Andrew: I do kind of see it, but it’s hard to find a lot of photos because it’s shut down and I’ll ask you later about what happened that shut it down. Boy, the inside of the space did look good. Your job in there was not to negotiate real estate. Your job was to do what?
John: I was brought in to do a number of things. I hired the first 50 or 60 folks, so I knew how to scale a company, scale organizationally and culturally and then also be an evangelist and to help expand geographically. So, essentially, my role was expansion if I were to put it into a singular word. I think what was . . . You didn’t ask this question, but I always have to mention it because it was kind of a big deal for me at the time, but it was my first co-founding role that was non-technical which was very uncomfortable for me. I’m very much more comfortable building software, writing code, spending hours in front of computer and just not getting up and sipping like sparkling water than spending all my time working with humans. And so that was uncomfortable but also incredible amount of growth for me personally and professionally and I’m grateful for it because goddamn, like, I learned so much. It was awesome.
Andrew: And so how did . . . Why did you push yourself to do something you were uncomfortable with? You told our producer about this. I was going to bring it up because it seemed like it was such a painful thing for you to decide to do. Why did you decide that you want to do it?
John: I love education. I have a Master’s in Education. My twin brother has a Master’s in Education.
Andrew: I get it. I mean, why did you want to do the human HR stuff? Why did you want to build the team instead of doing the stuff that made you feel more comfortable?
John: Because I wanted to grow because I love education. I love learning new things. And my . . . I have this fascination with leadership not because I’m necessarily great leader but I think it’s just fascinating. I think when you watch human beings commit their very lives to other people, I mean, if that doesn’t just make you pause for a moment, right, and then ask like really like difficult questions, but important questions of “Why the fuck would you follow that person or listen to that person or dedicate your life to that person?” And most people immediately think of like, political movements, religious movements. But no, I’m talking about jobs. I’m talking about, like, the fact that you’ve committed a big portion of your life to the very job that you’re sitting in right now that maybe listening to this podcast.
Andrew: And to the vision of the founder and to the person who you’re going to be working with and being influenced by on a daily basis.
John: Exactly. Like, that’s crazy, right? But I’ve always been fascinated which means I’ve always wanted to . . . I always wanted to see if I could be a good leader. I always felt like maybe I could be, but I thought an area of growth for me, in particular, was spending more time on the people operations and figuring out how to hire folks at scale, like, in a fast-growing context. And I’ve really never had done those things. I’d done all that technically, but . . . So I felt like if I was going to be . . . if I had a shot of becoming a good leader, not a great leader, but just a good leader, then I probably needed to know how to do that, and so this was a great opportunity to do that.
Andrew: What did you learn about doing that well?
John: Oh, shit. Well, that assumes that I did it well, right? Oh, man, where do you even start? I think one of the biggest takeaways was I realized I’m not naturally equipped to lead people that there are some skills that take an immense amount of time to acquire and to learn and to hone and to craft and to execute well against. And I think I’m committed to try to continue to grow in those areas. There are also some things that I learned that I absolutely hate about people. I absolutely hate about hiring and I hate about firing, all very fundamental things to build and help me . . .
Andrew: But did you have any insight into why people would follow you? Why would somebody come and work for your vision that you are using to hire, that you are using to keep people on board?
John: That’s a great question. Oftentimes, I would ask myself . . . I’d actually wonder, “Why the hell did you just say yes?” But it has been relayed to me in conversation with good colleagues and some of the folks I’ve hired because I’ve actually asked, like, yeah, you accept the role six months ago, you’ve been with me for a year or whatever. At that point, you get really comfortable with them and you feel really good about asking, like, personal question. So, I have asked like, “Why did you choose to work not just here but with me as one of the founders?” And I got a ton of different answers, but a pattern emerged where they just thought that I was earnest and that I was honest, that I had made a commitment to a vision that was bigger than myself and I was honest about it and I was transparent. I didn’t like conflate anything. I didn’t inflate anything. I didn’t try to lie about what I thought its real potential was. I was very honest and straightforward. And they said they really appreciated that, that they felt like . . .
So here’s one huge data point that kept getting routed. So when I would hire people and I hired a lot of people. I did hundreds and hundreds of interviews over the first like 18 months. So I would say, “I love . . . ” You’re talking through the [inaudible 00:32:33] and you kind of get to that point in the interview where you know this is a candidate and they really like you, you really like them. But I would be very honest and say, “Hey, the goal here is not that you would retire here. The goal here is not that you would even necessarily stay more than two or three, four years maybe max. The goal here is that you would help me achieve these outcomes both business and then within the sector and space and that you might leave with these skills.” And I just put it so plain, like, right on the table.
Andrew: And what are the skills that they would leave with?
John: A lot of them had never been in high-growth startup, so learning how to scale high-growth startup and never had . . . Many of them had never actually formally taught. A lot of them loved education. So I had these kinds of a banquet of opportunities and new experiences to offer them and exchange, I said, “You get those and then I get this. I get your time, right, your allegiance, at least, for a period of time, not forever.” But the point of that is many of them would come back and said, “I loved how you told me that it was okay for me to quit that you didn’t expect me to be here for my entire life.” And I just thought, “Wow, like, that’s so weird because no employer would ever expect you to stay anywhere permanently.” Like, that should be table stakes, right? I don’t know. It’s just for whatever reason that was very novel, and so they said, like, “We would follow you for that period of time.”
Andrew: So it wasn’t, “Follow me forever,” “Follow me for that period of time.”
Andrew: You’ve also told our producer, “Look, one of the reasons why I was able to do this well is because my team gave me the confidence. They trusted me to figure this out.”
John: Yeah, they took a big risk I would say, and to that, I’m super grateful, again, because I had never really scaled an organization that fast and not use my technical skills primarily as a driver. So, I’m super grateful that . . . And they gave me the bandwidth to fuck up. And fuck up I did.
Andrew: What was the big fuck up?
John: Oh, God. Like, again, where do you even start?
Andrew: Is there one that eats you up that makes you feel like, “I’m terrible at this because of that one incident”?
John: Oh, man. So we made some really rough hires in the very beginning just like any startup does. And so as the kind of the person that was sourcing and recruiting, hiring, and then also firing, it was kind of me end to end. Not that they didn’t participate, obviously, but ultimately it was my responsibility. So everything came back down to the quality of our instructors. And I took some big bets, some big bets on some folks who were young and who had clearly technical skills and were passionate about education but had never taught formally. And you can imagine like this either ended up being really amazing or like, oh, my God, this is this was terrible. And so some of those ended up in some litigation with some of the students or at least that threatened to go to lawsuits . . .
Andrew: Because they weren’t getting the education that they wanted.
John: Yeah, and then instructors were just . . .
Andrew: Because you hired someone who wasn’t capable enough yet.
John: Yeah. It was much less about the results but more about like interpersonal skills. Like, these people were so young some of them that, like, they were just . . . They’d say some super stupid stuff, like, from the podium and just HR violations everywhere and you’re just like, “Goddamn.” Like [inaudible 00:36:12]
Andrew: Oh, wow.
John: But how do you screen for that? How do you screen for, like, maturity levels like [inaudible 00:36:18] audience. Like, you just don’t really think through that in the beginning. So, those were . . . Oh, God. Those were just cataclysmic like disastrous, but then we survived.
Andrew: What do you mean? What’s an HR violation that somebody would say?
John: Anything from like sexist remarks to getting drunk and then making a move on a married couples . . . Like, it was just like . . . Oh, my God. I shouldn’t even be saying a lot of this, but it was so . . . Yeah, it was bad.
Andrew: It’s amazing how much sexism exists that people don’t recognize and they think it’s a truism and if they feel comfortable, they finally will talk about it as if to say, “We all agree this is true, right? We’re not supposed to say it, but now that we’re friends, I can tell you.” I’ll give you an example. I hired somebody to help me find guests and I said, “We need to have more female entrepreneurs which is always an issue for us.” And he said, “Well, aren’t you afraid that people are not going to take the site seriously if you have female entrepreneurs on?”
John: Oh, ouch.
Andrew: And there’s a lot of internal belief around that . . .
John: A ton of it, yeah.
Andrew: . . . that comes through in that sense. And I try also to just let people be themselves to give them space to be open so that I could see issues like this.
John: Yeah. It was a shock.
Andrew: You kept on hiring. How did you guys get students?
John: Oh, man. So we did . . . I mean, we just marketed the hell out of it as best we could in all the different channels.
Andrew: What was your marketing? What worked?
John: Oh, God. It was so different in so many different geographies. I think that was one of the big lessons learned was what might work in one city obviously doesn’t work in another. I say that and it’s like, no fucking shit, like, that’s so obvious, but at the time I was like, “Well, this should just work.” But combination of digital and offline. And the offline is an entire black box to me. I’m a total kind of digital native type of guy, so buying billboard advertising like around metro Atlanta? Are you fucking kidding me? Like, I don’t know anything about that. But we had to figure it out. We had to figure out competitive pricing. We had to figure out how to print like this huge massively big like billboard ads. And then how do you track conversions? How do you track like 2 million people driving up 85 every day and like phone call? Like, oh, my God. I don’t even know.
Andrew: And you had to figure that out?
John: Yeah, we need to figure that out.
Andrew: Why did you even try billboards? If you guys are such digital natives, why not go to digital where you can measure it all?
John: Because the people that we were attracting came from not a lot of non-technical backgrounds. They were working in big corporate jobs downtown or around the city or manufacturing, like . . .
Andrew: And they weren’t on Facebook?
John: No. Well, not as much as we thought. But you just had this huge artery, right, within like Atlanta and literally two . . . I don’t even know. Something ridiculous. But the amount of people that end up and down that corridor and you just you find the right verbiage and people start calling. And so the one line that we tested eventually landed on kind of being our go-to which really, really fucking worked was “Life is too short for the wrong career.” And how many times have you said that to yourself, like, not even on those words but that just resonates with most people and you’re just like, “Shit, you’re right.” Like, what is that?
Andrew: How did you know that that was . . . What was your test to figure that out to find out what the right verbiage was?
John: I would just ABCZ tested.
Andrew: On billboards?
John: No. Just kind of in local surveys. But I think we just had an intuition because . . . And probably means we just got lucky but I think we just like . . . And these are the questions that we kind of asked ourselves, right? Like, why do we continue to build new companies because our career is constantly evolving and we don’t want to get bored and life is too short not to do fun, cool shit? So, I think that will resonate and ended up really working well.
Andrew: You had a phone number up on a billboard?
John: And what was crazy is we know it worked so well because a lot of our competitors would use the same verbiage.
Andrew: Online, what worked for you guys?
John: Oh, man. Our go-to was blogging, actually. We were really the model educational company that blogged religiously every single day using our students as content generators for stories. We did some video. But we’re just ruthless about blogging and that really came from my background because I’ve been blogging so often.
Andrew: Yeah. You know what? I looked. Yesterday you blogged. The day before you blogged on your personal website which is [inaudible 00:41:11]
John: I have been blogging every single day for 17 years.
Andrew: Seventeen years, never missed a single day.
Andrew: All on your site. Why do you do that?
John: I started before like CMS has existed so I was uploading HTML files, like, and it was just developer notes, you know, really shitty . . . It was extremely immature, like, stuff around like the software that I was building. Eventually snowballed of course, to the obvious next thing which was my girlfriend at the time said I needed to sign up for Zynga back in like 2002 because she was like, “You need to stop uploading via FTP or whatever that is,” like, “Just use this because I’m on it.” I’m like, “Okay, fine.” So she signed me up and I wrote my first, like, blog post blog post on Zynga in like May of 2002. And then I was just like, I was hooked. I was like, I really enjoy disseminating information.
And a little bit later I realized that this was actually a deep form of therapy for me. I’ve like ADHD. I’m on the autistic spectrum. And so it’s, like, my mind is racing about thousand miles a minute. And if you, Andrew, if you had met me, like, two decades ago, like, we would not been able to hold a conversation because I would be, like, unintelligible. But writing has forced me to slow down and has forced me to actually craft the words in a linear way into a coherent way and it’s been incredible form of therapy. And so I still do it today every single day because I’m trying to understand my world. I’m trying to understand who I am, how I fit, play in it, like, what role I have, how to be a dad, how to be a parent, how to be a husband, how to be an entrepreneur, how to be a CEO. And when I write on that canvas, things actually start making sense.
Andrew: And because you were able to write for yourself on your blog, you’re saying that you’re also able to blog for the company?
John: Well, it’s just the mechanics of writing was easy, so obviously, content different, but it was so easy at that point that I said, “We can build a content machine around who we are as a company and then we can use that as marketing material, obviously, in variety of different forms.” This ended up being like one of the largest pieces of data for the Fortune 500 that ultimately acquired us. They actually took me aside in our acquisition talks and said, “When we were looking for to buy one of these like more progressive educational and tech companies, we could not go anywhere and not interface or like bump into one of your blog posts and that’s how we knew that you were a competitive force within the space.” So . . .
Andrew: That makes sense. Versus seeing the ads everywhere . . . Actually, people don’t see ads everywhere anymore because it’s going to be so targeted that they may not come across it but there’s something about content creation that is ubiquitous. You know what? This is actually a good time for me to say. Anyone out there who wants to blog on their own site, and what John does is he puts it on his own site. It’s john.do, but also on Medium. I like that you . . . Why do you put it on your own site instead of just moving over to Medium? Medium has become really popular or Facebook. Why do you do that, John?
John: Why do I do my own?
John: Because Medium as much I love Ev Williams, like, he has history of ditching his projects. And that’s not a hit against him. That’s more of a head against just hosted like stuff that you don’t own is just not a good idea, but using systems like HostGator or other like hosted platforms where you can own your own content like on a WordPress blog, like, that’s your fucking eternal, so you should use it.
Andrew: Yeah. Medium just changed the rules about how they handle domain mapping.
John: Exactly. They got rid of it which is like that spells the end of like . . . These Fortune 500 companies have dedicated their entire publications to Medium and they killed the . . . That’s weird. Anyway, go ahead.
Andrew: And that’s one of the challenges about publishing on other platforms. If you’re like John or want to be like John and just experiment with publishing on a regular basis as a way of thinking things through, as a way of building your audience, as a way of building your reputation, as a way of practicing to create content without the pressure of having to sell anything, blogging is still a thing. Here’s what you do. Just go to hostgator.com/mixergy. You’re going to get a super low price. And I would actually urge you to get that medium package that they have on hostgator.com/mixergy because that’s going to give you unlimited domains. And I could see . . . Where was that? Look at all the different domains you’ve had. Ctoblog.com still points over now to john.do, right? Humanerror.com, another one of your sites. Johnsaddington.com.
John: And where the hell are you getting these like . . . You shouldn’t be snooping. That’s bad.
Andrew: I do a hell of a lot of research. You see, the thing is, a lot of people who are great creators have experimented with either different shades of the same idea or different ideas completely before settling on the one that works. And if you go with HostGator’s what they call the medium plan, it’s called the Baby Plan there, they’re going to give you unlimited domains which means you’re going to get to experiment with a bunch of different ideas. And if they don’t work out, you can always kill them and start with something new.
I love the idea of endless creation on the path of finding the thing that makes the most sense. I love the idea of endless publishing. I’ve been doing this here on Mixergy through interviews. I think you need to find your outlet, and if it’s going to be HostGator, go to hostgator.com/mixergy where you’ll give me some credit and I appreciate you for doing it. You’re supporting independent media as my friend . . . What’s the name? I forget. As my friend says. And you’re also going to be getting yourself a really good deal on that URL. HostGator.com/mixergy. Jason Calacanis. I like how I talked him about that in my interview with him. Why do you say support independent media? Who gives a rip? I don’t know that my audience does. He said, “People do.” All right.
All right. Let’s get into the sale. I see what you’ve built up. I see how you got your customers. I see how you were figuring out the team and the curriculum. The sale, how did it come about?
John: So I think one of the catalysts was General Assembly had just hired a fairly well-known CFO which is a clear signal generally that you’re looking to IPO. Also, Kaplan, another Fortune 1,000 company had just purchased Dev Bootcamp, I hope I got that right, out of Chicago. And so clearly, there is a land grab for these upstart education bootcamps. And so the larger corporate M&As; obviously we’re going fishing and, as I mentioned, they found us. And so you begin the long incredibly arduous sequence of corporate M&A which ends up like taking longer than you fucking have patience for. And so I think the process end to end, God, almost took almost a year which is so fucking ridiculous how long it took. And so yeah, we ended up selling to Apollo Global and that’s the public company and they hold a number of different investments. One that people would most recognized is University of Phoenix.
Andrew: They own University of Phoenix now. I didn’t realize that.
Andrew: Okay. And so they were seeing that these coding schools were becoming big. They thought, “Let’s get into it.” And it took a year. Why a year?
John: Because corporate M&A blows and there’s so many decision makers within that larger decision that just takes a fuck ton of time to get everyone in the fucking room, like, I swear to God. But yeah, so we walked through it and continue to scale the company.
Andrew: Why did you want to sell?
John: So I’ve answered this question a number of different times. I think I’ve found it in a way which is respectful to my co-founders. And there’s nothing like actually negative, but I want to be fair and accurate. So I think this is the first time I’ve actually done in record, though, or like on a podcast. So if you’re listening, Eric Mason, Peter, forgive me for getting this wrong. So, like anything, it’s all situational, right? And everyone’s motivated by different things and life kind of gets in the way. I think there were a number of issues for each co-founder but one in particular, his wife had just received a very fair, super amazing offer, I believe, to go teach in a very, very, very small sub-sector of an industry at Oxford College. So, like, life-changing opportunity, like, once in a lifetime opportunity. So I think that was a major catalyst for him saying, “I just need liquidity.”
Another one had just had his first child and his wife wanted to quit her job, and totally makes sense, totally empathetic of that as a father, so he needs liquidity. And one of them also I believe his wife also wanted to stop working and they have like . . . God, they have a huge brood, like, five or six kids, right? And they need liquidity. So that kind of left me at a point where I was like, “Well, I don’t really need liquidity. I actually really, really like this company.” But I wasn’t getting along with a number of the decisions that I made around this time, and so it made sense to sell. I think I did that as fair as possible without giving names.
Andrew: I get that. Okay. That makes sense.
John: So everyone had very legitimate reasons. I think there have been times where . . . Just to be honest, there were times where I felt like I was voted off the island, and that just happens.
Andrew: What do you mean? Why do you think you were voted off the island? What was it about you?
John: I just didn’t . . . I had worked for some of the largest companies in the world like Dell, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Fox News Corp, right? Big, big Fortune 50, Dow 30 companies, right? And I fucking hated it. I hated it so much. And that’s why I left. That’s why I started building companies for myself. So, I vowed like to never take another corporate job. And so selling to a Fortune 500 company, I think they were like, number 320 in the Fortune 500 list or at the time like huge company, right? I was like, “That’s the last one thing I want to ever do in my life and go work for the man.” Like, you can’t pay me enough to do that. It’s just so . . .
Andrew: In fact, you left soon after.
Andrew: You gave up money for that, right?
John: I left actually almost immediately. There was no retention. I was like, “Fuck it.”
Andrew: Oh, I see. Look at this. According to my notes, you left so fast, you didn’t even get the retention bonus that they were offering you and the three co-founders got.
John: There was a lot of money on the table, for sure. All three . . . Well, all three. The other three stuck around until the closure. But yeah, I left immediately.
Andrew: How much money did you get from the sale?
John: Twenty-three million. Twenty-three million.
Andrew: For the whole sale and then your share of that?
John: Yeah. I can’t remember exactly it was broken down. Yeah.
Andrew: Your share was what?
John: I don’t feel comfortable sharing that.
Andrew: Okay. But over 2 million, we can say.
John: That’s probably a good guess. But I would say for like for the amount of time spent which we had gone from zero . . . We had gone from prototype to sale within like, essentially, 18, 20 months. It was a decent payday, I would say. There was a lot of heartaches, though. So . . .
Andrew: Wait. Over 2 . . . You can say over 2 million, right?
John: Yeah, fine.
Andrew: Okay. So over 2 million. I’m not going to just keep plowing along with that and go over three, over four or whatever, but that’s significant for a couple of years of your life for a person who was so out of money that you were worried about your wife divorcing you at one point, right?
John: I still worry about her divorcing me, let’s be honest. No, just kidding.
Andrew: But not about money issues, right? Wasn’t that . . . Why didn’t that feel so good to you? Why didn’t that feel like, “You know what? I can finally catch my breath”? Last time we talked, we talked about all the different companies you started. They were phenomenal ideas, phenomenal execution, and still you weren’t financially well-off. Why didn’t this feel good to you financially?
John: Because I think for a number of different reasons. I think the first was, I really, really liked that company and we had really done some incredible work and we had changed a lot of people’s lives. And I played all my chips. And when I say that, I meant that I cashed in pretty much the most important things in my life which were my relationships to make that happen. Two very obvious examples. One, I hired my maid of honor in my wedding to be an executive and leader at one of my campuses. I’ve known that gal for now 17 years. She’s one of my best friends. Like, that was risky, right?
I hired my wife’s longest term friend from Augusta, Georgia as one of my leaders within one of my other campuses in Atlanta. That is risky to hire these long-standing relationships on top of this endeavor, but I cash all these chips. One of those relationships survived. The other has not. And that tears me up and that makes me desperately sad. And that was the cost.
Andrew: Why didn’t that [survive 00:55:20]?
John: In general, like, at a higher high level, I think a gross misunderstanding and that’s all I want to say about that and I’m just really sad that it hasn’t recovered.
Andrew: Do you think . . . Have you ever tried to reach out to her?
John: Nope, because I think I’m right.
Andrew: You think she would be open to it?
John: I don’t think so. I don’t think she’s the type of person to do that, but at the time, like, that she made some decisions that she felt was right and I made some decisions that I felt was right, and we can’t both be right.
Andrew: On our upcoming monthly interview series, would you be willing to let her come on if she was open to doing it?
John: Oh, my God. Damn. I’ve actually have to ask my wife about that because that would be important to her.
Andrew: Okay. Okay. Why did the company close? There’s a New York Times article from 2017 about it. It’s . . . Look at this headline.
John: Oh, jeez.
Andrew: Look at the headline.
John: Is it inflammatory?
Andrew: “As coding bootcamps close, the field faces a reality check.” And so I went into a coma, let’s see what the reality check is. I actually don’t see a clear understanding from this article about what the reality check is at all. The closest I can come to is the price is really high. The bootcamps were growing so fast that they couldn’t build relationships with local businesses who are going to hire their graduates enough, and as a result, the thing collapsed. It was a solvable problems. Why do you think these businesses closed?
John: Because a business is really hard to manage. I think you can oftentimes . . . I think there are a lot of false positives, like, all what you just enumerate were categorically untrue for our company, clearly, but . . .
Andrew: The price was not too high, the relationships with business.
John: Price not too high. Nope. Like all that was actually amazing. Now, we may be an anomaly and we were one of the few companies to get acquired in the space, but that was not true. Like, we knew a lot of people in the space. So as being one of the largest code school in the world at the time, like, we knew every player and we had relationships with all of the senior leaders. So, there was a lot of things going really well, but building a company, Andrew, as you know, like, that’s a very different skill set. And running a company operationally well is really hard.
Andrew: But you know who could do it well, is a company like Apollo. They’re great at this stuff. There are businesses that do this, right?
John: You would think, right? You would think, but . . .
Andrew: So what parts . . . We don’t have to talk specifically about Iron Yard and you don’t have any deep insights into what happened at the company because you left. So your understanding of the industry that I’m looking for.
Andrew: Why do you think these businesses failed? What’s the one part that was especially painful or what are the multiple parts that weren’t easy to manage and as a result, Dev Bootcamp started to close?
John: Yeah. So I think it ties into what I mentioned, like, running a company is difficult. It’s not actually about the education space, it’s just running in a company, any company for that matter operationally well, managing P&L, managing hires, hiring, firing, like the whole kit and caboodle, it’s really fucking hard. It’s really fucking hard to spend like super happy time where customers are like knocking at your doorstep and you still like struggle to build them a functional company.
And so a lot of the people I would say in the space although perhaps had an education background which many of them did, which is why they were in the space, did not have a clue how to run a company and because of their lack of experience building company or even raising capital or debt like whatever, how are they trying to finance, like, that’s a very rare skill set and to jump into a new type of industry, a new type of business model without having experienced building a business beforehand, like, most of these companies the founders were vastly to mature.
Andrew: But they were acquired by companies that could . . . Like, I’m thinking about . . . Which was it? Dev . . . The one that Kaplan bought out.
John: Dev Bootcamp.
Andrew: Was it Dev Bootcamp or something?
John: Yeah, Dev Boot Camp. I think Kaplan, yeah.
Andrew: Devbootcamp.com is now a dead site. Kaplan knows that run schools across the world, right?
John: You would think.
Andrew: But you’re saying this is just an especially tough group of students and teachers to manage?
John: Well, so, I think it’s important. And I think a lot of your listeners are probably business savvy and they would already know this, but most M&As; ultimately fail. I think it’s something like paltry, right? Like 9 out of 10 corporate M&As; ultimately fail. And so statistically, you have a very low margin of success. But then I think you also add this very, very, like, challenging philosophical difference between the Kaplans of the world, the Apollo Globals of the world, the University of Phoenix of the world, whatever, which are commercially oriented right around profit motive, and most of the companies within the space, at least in the beginning, were founded on much different, like, auspices, right?
So they were founded on more of like a dream of a better future outside of commercial exploitation. And so when you combine these two very different philosophical worlds, like, no one agrees, and that was a big problem with The Iron Yard and even our acquisition and conversation is like, “Will you treat our staff right? Will you treat our customers right? Will you not try to fucking upsell them on to the next course right after they graduate?” Right? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies. And so that’s just . . . They’re driven by something entirely different.
Andrew: Didn’t your co-founders go on to create Triangle Code School?
John: I believe the three are still . . . I believe the three are working together. I actually have a phone call with Peter Barth tomorrow.
Andrew: Is it weird that they didn’t include you or you just went on ready to move on?
John: No, no. I wouldn’t work with . . . Yeah. Yeah.
John: It’s very rare . . . I’ve never worked with the previous cofounder except for . . . I’ve worked with previous investors though. That’s really good.
Andrew: But once you’re done with the relationship, you’re ready to move on.
John: True. Yeah, I think for a number of different reasons, but I think it . . . Yeah. I’m still . . . I don’t know. Like, that’s a really great question. I don’t know. I’ve never really asked myself why because there are some really great people I’ve worked with in the past that I’m like, “Goddamn. I would work with you again.” But I think timing is a huge part of building a company and you just don’t serendipitously like at the same timing.
Andrew: You also seem to have like an ADD around business. Like, where was that site? There it is. John.do/vc is the most interesting page to me on your site because it’s like a history of you.
John: Oh, God. What is that?
John: Oh, yeah. My . . . Oh, yes. My . . .
Andrew: That’s like your lineup of all these businesses that you’ve stated that you’ve been a part of and . . .
John: Oh, my God. That’s my curriculum vitae. Yeah.
Andrew: Yeah. John.do/vc.
John: I’m pretty honest because don’t I go all the way back to like my time at like working at Panera Bread. Yeah, I do.
Andrew: Let me see if you got . . .
John: I go all the way back to like being a pizza cashier, a Publix bag boy. I worked at FedEx Kinkos for a while. FedEx no longer exists.
John: Yeah. I try to be as transparent as I possibly can be.
Andrew: Panera Bread. PakMail, you worked as a cashier and you learn the people who try to ship anything and everything and they will ask you to do it for free. You worked at Boar’s Head Deli in the meat department. “I prepped, cut, and served deli meat to customers. There was a keg with free beer available to customers. Our job was to memorize faces and make sure that repeat customers would not come in, drink the beer, and then leave only to come back a few hours later. I made $8 an hour which was amazing.” All right. Thanks so much for doing this. The website where people should go is what?
John: I guess yen.io is what I’m currently working on.
Andrew: Yen, Yen.io. Actually, what’s it called? The Patreon. I think people should go check out your Patreon page. It’s patreon.com/pub. And the reason that I’d recommend that is in addition to Yen.io which is the new thing and you just will have one button you can press to get caught up on what he’s doing with cryptocurrency . . .
John: We’re onboarding alpha customers this weekend, though.
Andrew: You what? You’re onboarding the alpha customers?
John: I’m doing with real customers, real users Saturday. We’re so fucking pumped.
Andrew: I just really like the thought process behind the Patreon, how the Patreon explains what you guys are doing and . . . Anyway, wow.
John: That’s probably why I’m so stressed.
Andrew: You were saying you’re onboarding new people.
John: Yeah. That’s probably why I’m so stressed.
Andrew: Are you up for doing this is as like an ongoing thing? Every month we’ll schedule something out. We’ll just do it.
John: I think as long as people are somewhat entertained, then yeah. This is kind of fun.
Andrew: All right. Let’s have people ask for it. If you’re interested, guys, you know my email address. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. The whole team will get to see it, so they’ll know why . . .
John: Be honest because you shouldn’t waste his time or mine.
Andrew: Yeah, it’s got to be . . . Yeah, be honest really. If it’s just like, “Hey Andrew, you should do it.” The reason I want to do it is I like to get deep with entrepreneurs. My big disappointment with Mixergy is that not enough entrepreneurs will get deep with me, not enough entrepreneurs will talk about . . .
John: Why? There’s very few things to hide.
Andrew: You know what, though? The founder of drips.com was just on with me. He’s a guy who talked about how in the early days what inspired him was seeing someone’s spam operation was just a bunch of computers. He’s someone who talked about how he was in the lead gen business, all the type of stuff that people are wishy-washy about and are afraid to talk about and he talked about it. I think it makes him a more interesting entrepreneur. It shows his hustle and it makes me care more about his story.
What I didn’t get enough with him was like about his personal life. I don’t think enough entrepreneurs are willing to go there. You are. I’d love to do more with you. Let’s let people let me know. And I also want to tell everyone if you’re interested in getting office space. John went for one of the competing office space companies. One of the things that draws people in is it got free beer, free outdoor.
You know what happens? The free beer means that people are sitting around drinking freaking beer all day, becoming a little bit alcoholic, and as a result they don’t get work done. It really demos well. “Hey, check this out. Really cool looking environment.” Guess what? The cool looking environment is not going to get you to do work. “Hey, get this. We have free beer on tap.” Guess what? Beer doesn’t fucking get you to work. Coffee does. I love that they have free coffee here, free tea here, and then I don’t have to pay for it all day and my guests get it.
If they offered free beer, would I be excited about it? No freaking way. It’s a distraction. I have whiskey over here if I need it. You could bring it in. You could put in the fridge if you need it. I don’t want it to be too readily available. I want us to be office space that gets you to work. That’s why I freaking love Regus. I don’t think they’re going to sponsor me again. I think that I’m not their kind of person. They want more of a . . . They don’t want . . . Some of the things that I’ve said, I don’t think they’re really happy about. They’ve actually asked Ari to give them an edited copy of all of my ads for them. I have a feeling that they’re not even going to want me to be in their office.
No, they’re going to want me to be in their office, let’s be honest. They want my money as a renter. I don’t think that they like that I talk about their competitors with beer. I don’t think they like that I just use the word “fuck” in relationship to them. I fucking love you Regus, sorry to see you go. They already sponsored once before and they said wash our . . .
John: Strange. Strange limitation.
Andrew: . . . hands of Andrew.
John: Regus, come on now.
Andrew: You know what? [inaudible 01:07:11] ads from him. And then they came back. So who knows? Maybe there’s a chance. Regus.com/mixergy, really even if they stop sponsoring me, guys, go check out Regus, have them give you a tour of at least three offices by them and try it out, you’re going to see how much more productive you can be. And I want to thank my hosting company that will actually put up with a lot of my bullshit and smile about it, it’s called hostgator.com/mixergy and I’m grateful to them for doing this. John, you were saying something. I’ll give you the last word.
John: No. Just, Regus, what the fuck, man?
Andrew: Thanks for doing this. Bye.
John: Bye, man.
Andrew: Bye, everyone.