Andrew: hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. You know, one of the big hesitations that we entrepreneurs get in our heads before we start something, is it’s going to be a lot of time, a lot of work, some of our money, maybe a lot of our money and. We’re risking all of it, along with our credibility on an idea on that, um, business that I was going to say could fail, but let’s say is likely to fail and it causes hesitation. It keeps us from starting. It keeps us from building on, well, joining me as an entrepreneur who. Entrepreneurs hate it when I say failed, but I’m going to say it.
You tell me Charles, if you’re uncomfortable with me saying he created this product called tldr.io. He, his goal was to summarize the interesting content, um, on the internet and it failed. And he invested a lot of time into a neon, put a lot of himself into it and it’s still closed. Are you upset with me saying the word failed that you don’t seem to
Charles: No, no for me, because I like to sit at the theater. It helped me to start. Uh, a more winning business.
Andrew: That’s the point I was getting at exactly what Charles just said, that he, because of this business, because of this bad experience, ended up learning how to create businesses, learning what to create, when to create it, how to figure out what customers are willing to pay for how to get customers. And it’s
Charles: This, this was not, uh, this was not a bad experience. You said a bad experience for me. It’s was I would say very, very, very good experience. It’s not because you fail that. It’s a bad experience. You’re always to, to see the, uh, the good ways of things. And, uh, and see that’s, uh, uh, an experience is an experience and you have to take the most out of it.
And the thing, this is what we did with TLDR is that we look back at what we did and what we did. Great. What did you do wrong, uh, and how we could make it better for the next run.
Andrew: And you did the new company that Charles, uh, whose voice you just heard that’s Charles Micheletti. He is the founder of, to Ken. What they did they do is they help companies take the data that we’re all building up and make it easier to express to other people find the meaning of the data, make it actionable.
By making the data more visual and it’s especially helpful for CEOs and product, uh, product managers who are building his software into their own platforms, but it’s helped many other companies. Um, in addition to software creators, I invited Charles to talk about how well he’s doing with his business, and we could talk about it.
Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you’re trying to get your idea off the ground, you got to check out host Gator, and I’ll convince you later to go to hostgator.com/mixergy to do it. And the second, if you’re at the stage where you’re kicking around an idea for business, for a product, I want you to check out my friends over at launch pier, where they will build out that first version for you.
And they’re at launch pr.com/mixergy, but first Charles, the hardest and most awkward, and maybe the one that you’re most proud of is what’s your revenue.
Charles: So revenue is approaching like 10 millions of recurring revenue. A Doris. Yeah.
Andrew: It’s even more than we had in our notes. Since the last time we talked,
Charles: Yeah. Yeah. That that’s the plan for, I would say approaching. Yeah. Yeah. We are growing fast and, uh, this is where we will be, uh, uh, beginning of 2021 in the, in the few, just a few months.
Andrew: Up until recently you were bootstrapped about a year ago, you took on how much funding.
Charles: We took a 12 million, uh, funding, uh, to boost, uh, the, the growth and to help us go international,
Andrew: Meanwhile though you hit what, $4 million in revenue by then, by the time that you took on
Charles: more, more than that. We, we it’s a $6 million of
Andrew: So then why did you take on funding?
Charles: because it was the right time to do it.
Andrew: What do you mean? Because you wanted to take a little bit of your money off the table
Charles: No, no, no, no, no. It was the right time because we wanted to skate and we wanted to, uh, uh, hire more senior people because you, you know, that it’s the right time when you see that. She will hit a glass ceiling, uh, when, uh, and if you don’t have, I would say more money to invest, uh, you, you will lose an opportunity to, um, take the market and to, uh, go faster.
Andrew: Do what, what were you going to do with the money? What was the vision for it?
Charles: We, uh, the plan which still depend, uh, to, uh, was to invest the money in a few different, uh, areas of the company. First one is the product, because if you want to lay the product. Like the growth strategy, you need a very strong and differentiated product. So I would say that nearly a third of the offending, uh, will be used or ESB is being used to fund a new version of the product.
And the second thing is to have more senior people in the leadership. So until then when we went until we. He would strap. We were only, I will say for funders, for people driving like nearly 80 people, a company, and we want you to help the company scale and also provide people that worked at you can with a great leadership to help them grow.
In their, in their career and want you to hire a senior people to do so. And, and, uh, also we want you to invest in sales and marketing, which is abuse to, uh, expand the business in new locations.
Andrew: Let’s talk about how he got here. Your, your accent tells me you’re French, right? You grew up in what part of France?
Charles: I grew up in Normandy.
Andrew: Normandy. Talk to me about how, when you were a kid, you became a good salesperson because your mom watched you at a yard sale. What did she see you do at a yard sale?
Charles: Um, so I learned how to sell, uh, selfing sell goods because when I was. Seven ages. And I did it for a few years. Uh, I was on my own, uh, on the yard sale, making money, uh, selling, uh, all goods that I didn’t do that I had, uh, in my garage. Uh,
Andrew: This was your own personal yard sale. It wasn’t a family art sale. It was you. Got it. And so you got to bring your own stuff from home to sell.
Charles: Yes, exactly. And I remember very well because, uh, uh, before the, the actual date of the sale, I went to my neighbors. I went to my grandparents and I told them, what are the things that I use this to you that you don’t care anymore? And I just took everything that I could. So I could that very nice and, and reach, uh, uh, catalog of products.
And I did it for a few years and then I was so happy to sell, uh, as much as I could after. That’s how I, I grew up, uh, in this sales mindsets.
Andrew: You were being kind of a pushover, right? People would come over to you and they try to low ball you and you’d say yes.
Charles: Yes. Yes, exactly.
Andrew: And she said, just hold your ground.
Charles: Yes, exactly. That was one of the lessons I learned is the older line. Like you say, and because when you are like seven, eight, and you are, uh, dealing with people that are 30, 40, 50, and they want to buy like, Uh, you will die for his apartment. I was sitting, I remember that one year I was selling my old badge and my parents told me you have to sell it for 100.
And there was a kid and, and they were like bargaining. And at the end I just sold it for 80 because, uh, I was impressed and I couldn’t say no.
Andrew: So do you, did you eventually learn to hold your ground? I’ll tell you where I learned a little bit of how to hold my ground. I’ve talked about this quite a bit. Shoveling snow on those days in New York, when school was closed and snow was piled. So high up that you couldn’t get your car out of the garage, I would go to my neighbors.
I would ask them if they would pay me to shovel their snow. And one of the big lessons I got was I heard this older boy was doing the same thing and I was excited to get $10 to shovel somebody’s, um, uh, driveway. And he was getting paid $20, $40 for the same thing. And I felt like such a sucker. That, that to me, was the impetus to try selling for more.
And once you ask for more money, you start to, in some ways, feel entitled to it, which then made me realize. There is more out there than, I think I’m thinking too small, not just about this, but about other things. What did you learn from this? Did you, did you take something away that helped you become the better salesman that you are today?
And we’re going to find out how that translate into your business.
Charles: Yes. Yes. For sure. I wouldn’t say that I, uh, uh, um, managed to apply to apply this, uh, all the ground, the role every time. And I’m still continued to learn how to do it. I would say as much as I can. Uh, but what you realize is the concept of value for me the, before that what’s the value for somebody to own something or to buy something which is represented by the price, uh, can be like a
So you don’t know what, and when you. When you do these kind of trades, you realize that some goods, some service as, uh, can have a lot of value for some people. And I’ll go, I was, as a CEO or entrepreneurs is to, I would say, build and identify what does them. High value for a specific kind of persona as built a product or service and try to sell it, uh, according to the value that it delivers.
Andrew: Ah, got it. It’s not about the thing that you’re selling at the yard sale, or now that you’re selling a two con it’s what’s the value to the buyer. So this is a good time for us to talk about the real estate company that you and I were talking about earlier, you guys were pitching them. And what did you show them?
Charles: showed them that they were losing money, that because they were not collecting the money that, uh, they were, uh, they were supposed to get, because the data was, uh, I would say hidden in some, uh, tables or, or database that well, not that they weren’t controlling and we extract all the data. We fall with them and we, we help them to build what we call a good storytelling and they did it.
The, the, we, we encourage them to deal as much as possible. Um, Actionable stories. And one of them was, we told them, did you look at the page, for example, uh, and payments. And they realized that they were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a month because people were not paying them. And they were not controlling
Andrew: people weren’t paying them rent and they didn’t realize that people weren’t paying them
Charles: Yeah, yeah, yeah,
Andrew: That seems like ABC that’s the basics of their business, but they still really.
Charles: Yeah, because what you realize is when you have like a big com even big companies that started like 5,100 years ago, uh, for many processes, they are like manual procedures. People are doing the job and not the machine is doing the job. So if you lose some person at some part, if they go to vacation, they got fired and you realize that you lose a lot of, um, I would say collective intelligence and, uh, control.
And, uh, and this is how I would say you. Forget that some of the things that we we’re done before I’m not done anymore. So this is where, for example, we we’ve two data with working on the data. We can help them to realize and to materialize to the reality of their business.
Andrew: The other thing you were telling me was somewhere in the data, there was also a set of clues about which tenants were not going to pay the rent because they have common characteristics. People can go through and see it. But if you can show the data visualized, well, then the company can start to understand who is likely and how many people are likely to not be able to pay the rent.
God, am I right about that?
Charles: Yes, exactly. And this is where you are. Um, I would say a gap or, uh, between the row data and also the visualization, because the V what w what we say, it’s not us, but it’s like, one image is like, is better than thousand words because, uh, you, uh, the brain. The way the brain is, um, is conceived. It’s a two what visual visual signals.
So, and our job, uh, our mission, which is to build that scale is to use the, the, the, the visualization, the visuals to help people. Understand a reality. And in that case, yes, we, we add them go from, I would say an Excel five where they didn’t see anything to something that’s very visual and direction, all that them to save hundreds of thousands of the a month.
Andrew: As I said before we are at the beginning of this interview, I said that this started because of business. That didn’t go so well. tldr.io was that business. You started it, um, after you graduated from school and your idea for it was what.
Charles: The idea was to summarize the well summarize, summarize the web. So we were, uh, with my two cofounders, we were heavy readers and we were also a great fans of Wiki pager. I think. Okay. And we say, why not build some kind of Wikipedia initiative to summarize the content that we are reading every day and do that we are sharing each, uh, each other, and that we were also taking some notes.
Uh, we were taking some notes to provide some digests, uh, to our small group. And we say, okay, what, why not scale that? Why not? Uh, Productize that and provide an infrastructure where for every content on the web, you could, uh, you could, everybody could find a summary of that content. So it could be useful for videos.
It could be, it could have been useful for articles. You could have been useful for richer, for richer. We keep a job, uh,
Andrew: Even maybe for this interview, this interview is going to be an hour long. Right? I will have the transcript, but I can imagine that some people just want to get the gist of it and other people. Right, exactly. And other people might go through it and find it meaningful to take notes on it and just summarize the interview into five bullet points.
So they fully understand it because I found that when you take notes on something, you really have to pay attention and then you really have to understand it well enough to communicate to somebody else. So there’s a benefit to taking notes. And of course you’re saying there’s also a benefit to the next person.
Who’s reading the notes, who doesn’t have to listen to a full interview. Great. Um, Sad for them, but, okay. I understand that there are times when we still need that you decided that you were going to do this all manually because Wikipedia showed that the con cus uh, that user generated content can be credible, can be done at large-scale.
Am I right?
Charles: Yes, exactly. Exactly. It’s only, we didn’t go the, the, I would say the AI path, which wasn’t called AI at the time, but we decided to, to go, I would say, on the community side, because to scale a robust, uh, and credible content, uh, you have to use humans for that task. And, and I will say that summarizing the contents is known as one of the most challenging and, uh, and yes, most challenging tasks in literature.
Andrew: And you didn’t know, maybe you didn’t realize it going in. It seems easy, but also we’re talking about 2012. There was still this belief that I think started in, in maybe a decade earlier that. Crowdsourcing has potential that someone’s going to just put a little brick on this wall and another person, another little brick.
And before you know what, you’ve got this big wall that no one would have had the patience to build on their own. Right? I’m with you on that. You decided to make it into a Chrome, a Chrome plugin. How’s my audio coming through to you. My am I breaking up? I’m watching your face.
Charles: Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Uh, yes, there is some hiccups, but it’s okay.
Andrew: Okay. Uh, that frustrates me, but thanks for telling me, keep telling me when there’s an issue. and so you got the, um, you did it as a Chrome plugin. So when someone’s on a page, they could hit the button on their Chrome browser and start summarizing.
Charles: Yeah. Yeah. And it was even better than that. Yeah. We provided a very nice interface where, uh, you, you know, the, the link, the heap, the hyperlink, uh, on the brothers, when you can go to a next page, we’ve just plugin. We provide you the, the UX so that when you will link, you will get the summary. Without, uh, without to click on the link.
So that’s, that was a very, uh, simple way to provide access to a content.
Andrew: What happened with that? You built it. Did people actually use it?
Charles: Yeah. Yeah, sure. It was a, it was the, the product was, uh, was used. Uh, we have like, uh, uh, those, uh, a few dozens of users, but at some point I serve, uh, 20, 20 months, nearly two years. Uh, it wasn’t, I would say it wasn’t generating any money. Uh, the growth was quite slow and I would say that, uh, We were not contingent enough that we were the right people to build a community.
Which is a very, uh, specific skills that need, uh, a lot of insight knowledge. And one of the things we didn’t do right. Which is something we applied after is to have some focus because we, we started with every content in every, uh, uh, in every, uh, departments, in every areas, uh, for everything. I think if I will start it.
Today and what I would have done just after, uh, shutting it down. If I would have started, I would just focus on one specific domain safe for
just ease of use of mixing.
Andrew: right, right.
Charles: a high density of, uh,
Andrew: Yeah. That makes sense. Maybe start with students who are trying to summarize content anyway, or who are too busy to read something. I’m with you. Let me take a moment to talk about my first sponsor and then we’ll get back into what happened when you decided that you were going to shut this down. My first sponsor is a company called launch pier.
The idea behind launch pier is that they’re going to be people who are listening to us who say, I’ve got an idea. I want to launch this thing. Do I get a co-founder to launch it, or is my co-founder going to be able to launch the first version fast enough? Or maybe I need to do it myself, or maybe if they have a company and they’re trying to figure out, do we launch this new product?
They don’t have the time and space to do it. They do with launch periods, you go to launch pier. And you talk to them and they could take your idea. They could help build it for you, and they’ll do it in a way that’s predictable. They’ll tell you how long it takes. They’ll do it in these two week sprints so that you can actually see progress real progress.
Every couple of weeks. They’ll do it in a way where you can stay in touch with them via a chat or talking about Slack so that you can. You stay up to date on what’s going on and get it built the way that you need it so that you can get started. In fact, the gotcha group is a company that decided they were going to build these, um, mobility, devices and mobility options for college campuses, kind of like Uber plus scooters for college campuses.
They started working with different agencies, trying to figure out who can build it for them. It wasn’t going right. Meanwhile, that. The company was selling this product to universities. And the university said, well, where is this thing that you promised us? I thought you said that you’re going to build it.
Well, yeah, it’s coming. It’s not working. They finally decided they’re going to go to launch period. They partnered up with launch pier. They had a 12 week development timeline. I told you about the two week sprints. They had that two weeks, every two weeks, they saw real progress. They got demos at the end of each sprint.
And throughout the state in touch using Slack, the final result mean it means that they had. Mobile apps, web admin portal, and so much more all built by launch pier and they were ready to go. And as a result, they now have, um, they rolled out to the universe, to the Washington state university, Vanderbilt university, Florida state, and so many others.
That’s the power. If you have a team that can actually get your first version built properly, that is what can happen. And I urge you to go and just sign firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re at all interested, it’s launched because they’re gonna help you launch peer because they’re going to be your peer launch, peer.com.
Start your application right there on the site and see if it’s a good fit for you. If it is great, if it’s not. Obviously, there’s no obligation. They’re not going to force you to work with them. But if it is, this could dramatically change the launch and trajectory of your business. It’s launch pier.com.
Go check them out. I was going to say, say, Andrew sent you, but they’ll take care of everybody, whether it’s for me or anyone else. Well, I was looking down for a second there because there’s a guy on their homepage that looks just like me and I had to just scrolling, just stomp. Does that mean, Launch pier.
Thank you for sponsoring. Remember when you realized you had to shut it down, that’s one of the most painful decisions to,
Charles: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. To be honest, uh, really remember, and I saw it coming. It was a, I would say. True. I would say it was quite short at the end. It was only like two weeks. Whether we realized that we had to take a decision and we said like, just two weeks to, uh, think about it and try to improve some of the metrics.
And then we decided from just one day at the end, okay, we shut you down and we can up and, uh, in just one week after we. After the two weeks we clean it up. And, uh, so I, I remember that I finished on the, uh, June, uh, June 4th, I was saying, Oh, she,
Andrew: Like, maybe you shouldn’t have done it.
Charles: No, no, no, no, it’s not it’s it was what I’m going to do right now because my, my, my wife was six months pregnant.
And so I was, uh, I had to choose between taking, I would say a well-paid job to pay for the diapers or to a staff to, to start a new business. And, uh, and I had my, my parents and my in-laws that were pressuring me. Charles you have a very high, uh, educational background. Uh, you made one of the top schools, uh, in, uh, in, in your country.
Why are you trying to do something on your own where you could just, uh, a very, I would say, well, very good CA career in any, uh, big cooperates, but that’s. Not what I wanted to do.
Andrew: Well, what was the job that you got?
Charles: I didn’t get any job I would
Andrew: Oh, you were just thinking of going and getting a job.
Charles: yeah, exactly, exactly. So, and my parents and my parents and my in-laws were urging me to apply for jobs and for, to, to get this kind of job that all my peers were having at the time.
Andrew: you think? I feel like, uh, Charles, unlike other entrepreneurs, I feel like you could have gotten a job because you did have clear marketable skills, right? Once you an R and D engineer for a short period at Apple, more, you also an engineer had with things. I never know how to pronounce their name.
I pronouncing it right with
Charles: Yes with things. Yes. Uh, yeah, with things that, so I could have, uh, had a, uh, an amazing carer at Apple, they wanted to hire me. I quit them, uh, continue to work at with things I could have gone to consulting jobs, uh, at the BCG, for example, or I could have worked at, uh, uh, more, uh, classic brands, like a LVMH or a center
Andrew: And so when, when your company TLDR, um, when it was failing, Did you, did you, at that point say, I can’t believe I didn’t take this other job. I can’t believe I made this mistake two year. No. And how did you, why not?
Charles: It was new, uh, new regrets because, uh, the experience you learn from the entrepreneurial journey, it’s much, much, much more valuable than I would say one year as an entrepreneur.
Andrew: Because you learned a lot, but dude, you just gone through school where you learned a lot, you can’t feed your wife and your new baby with learning, right.
Charles: Yeah, but, uh, the, I would say that the money or the, the value, the value you extract as, uh, for me, the value you expect as a, uh, as a non-pro year is like a five to 10 times lower than the value you could. Extract, uh, as an entrepreneur. So
Andrew: Like, what, what did you learn?
Charles: forest. So I don’t know, to start to Ken at the end to make business, to be the product out, to sell it out, to market it
Andrew: Charles a large part of it is these regrets that you look back and you said, Oh, I should have done this. Oh, I could have done that. And that became almost your mental checklist for how to start. Right. Am
Andrew: So what are some of the things that when you look back at the end of two years, what are some of the things, when you look back at the end of two years, that you said that’s a mistake I could have done better, I should have done this.
Charles: Yeah. So first thing, uh, like I said, should was the focus. So focus on one very specific and very well-defined Arianna’s where you put all your efforts. So one thing is start with, I would say a business first and the cash first saying how you get the money. What’s the business model. If you are just building a product without a B business, after all that seats scalable, that that works.
It looks good. Uh, and I would say, start with the, uh, which is like quality, always start with the demand and then build a product. And that starts with the product. And then, uh, look for some demons.
Andrew: Got it. Okay. I can see actually, as this story plays out, how you ended up using this at two cans. All right. What did the idea for two camp come from?
Charles: Uh, the idea came from, I would say it was in the same vein, uh, as what we did for TLDR, Julia was very pedagogic. Are you, um, simplify the access of a content to allow regions? Through the summary through digest the decibel content. And, uh, what I said after it’s, uh, is that, uh, I’m passionate about data and I’m very skilled at manipulating data, which was a very, uh, high demand skill.
At that time. It was the big data era. Everybody was talking about big data, big data, big data. And I said, there could be, data is good, but at the end, what I what’s. For me, it’s important. It’s how you go from big data to small data to understand it. And, uh, as we liked the data pedagogy and also design, we decided that.
Doing some visualization software. I would say some variations on that because at the beginning we, we add notes, the clear positioning, we are not the clear vision, what we want you to build as the sufferer, but we knew that the. The biggest part of it should be visualization that visualization. So that, that, that’s how we choose to work on that.
To help people understand, uh, some facts, some understand anything through the data, uh, and to make it more accessible, to make me to make it more useful for a non-technical users.
Andrew: Okay. And this time you said. If I’m going to make this new business work, I have to first get customers.
Charles: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: Did you get your first customer? What did you do to get customers?
Charles: I would say I worked hard, a lot of, uh, lot of energy. Uh, so, uh, um, I reached out to, to get that those two summers I G I would say I built something on my own. Led to that was, um, a website showcasing an employment, uh, uh, statistic and stories. Uh, and then I went to a major company to many to, I should email to multiple journalists and major companies.
And they told them look at what I did. Uh, uh, I’m very, uh, I’m very proud. This is very useful. This is the thing, that kind of thing that you should do as a journalist or as a major, uh, uh, this is a service I could, uh, Uh, are you interesting in talking and a few of them are responding and then I, uh, managed to convince one of them to, uh,
Andrew: What was that website? I’d love to see it.
Charles: it’s. Uh, it w uh, I don’t know if it’s still up, but it was lazy. Uh,
and Les E C H O S dot.
Andrew: That F R O it’s probably going to be in French, right? Oh, there it is. Okay. And so,
Charles: And we provided for them, uh, um, data around the votes, uh, like the mayor votes, uh, which is every six years. And this is one of the major election and it was a two years project, uh,
Andrew: wait, I still don’t understand that first version. Was you taking what data and making it visually appealing?
Charles: It was unemployment data. So w because unemployment data was, uh, so we, we have some open data in France and I, and they took the, the, the some open data and I, and I built a website. It’s on my own. And then I said, this is an example of what I can do. And then it’s okay. You have very good skills. This is not an employment data that we are taking, that we are caring about, but we have this big project.
He goes, it will be the election in one year and we need to be in, we want, and we need to provide, uh, something regarding the, the, the, the data,
Andrew: I said help us. We’ve got this big election coming up. There’s going to be a lot of data coming out of it. What’s going to be hard for us to make it meaningful for our audiences. Yes. We will pay you to do that. But what, the way you got them to say yes was you took data that was already available and in constructable, I think is the way to pronounce that word and you made it clear and.
And easy for them to grasp. What did you do with the data? What did, what did the data visualization look like and what did, what was the message that they got from seeing that.
Charles: Uh, I would say, uh, the, it was, um, different stories around the evolution of the unemployment rates. Oh, it’s in terms of, uh, uh, gender and, um, an age, uh, and also some, uh, how, um, you, we say that dairy, there are an implements, but there are also, um, And matching offers. So companies were offering jobs with nobody was applying to it.
And on the, in the same time, there were a very high unemployment rates. So it was kind of a, a misconception. So, so yeah, so, so we designed a few, a few stories. Uh, to highlight some very clear facts and know they, they, they realize a lot of things by navigating the website and they say, okay, there is a lot of value in visualizing the data.
There are the Goodwill. Yeah.
Andrew: Okay. I’m already seeing a problem with this. Um, journalists. Don’t have a lot of money and they’re not willing to invest in a lot, but you did get one company to say yes to you. And at that point you said, great. We have a customer they’re willing to pay. We have to build, what did you build for that first customer?
Charles: So I, we built that complete, I would say website and in Jane to, uh, retrieve past, uh, election data and, uh, and polls, uh, also to visually. Uh, display and show the, um, evolution of the, of the trends and also what was the current situation, uh, uh, in France and to try to make some predictions on. So based on the recent election and, uh, and so we, we, we, they very beautiful website where people could, um, Al take their decision on for whom they are going to vote, because we also retrieve some public data around the, uh, safety, wealth economy, uh, ecology that we displayed, uh, for every city, uh, that will help, um, citizens to, I would say, allocated the food.
Andrew: We’re basically looking at a custom job. You wanted to create software as a service where you got ongoing recurring revenue, but first customer you build exactly what they need and you learn from it. Got it.
Charles: Yeah. And we did that. We did that for the first five customers. And after, uh, we, we, uh, at the same after, but at the same time that we are building this, I would say adult can on demand for this phase. First customers, we build some. Really usable modules, the visualization library, then the
Andrew: Uh, starting to see commonalities with these five customers. You say, all right, these five customers need this. There’s a good chance that other customers like them who are going to pursue are going to need these features. Let’s build just the common features. Am I right about that?
Charles: Exactly. Exactly. And at the beginning we weren’t selling, we were saying yes to anything. And, uh, and uh, after her, the first six months we are the key Heidi. What we wanted to sell. So at the beginning we said, we can do ever, we had a very, I would say, focused approach around just data visualization. But after we have a broad approach saying, what do we want?
We will be lit. And then we said, based on the first five extremes that we want to sell you this. So this is a very limited, uh, I would say capabilities in terms of the type of visualization. Do you want that on.
Andrew: all right. Let me take a moment. I’m going to talk about my, my sponsor. And then I’m going to come back and ask you about, um, what you told our producer was the hardest part, the hardest time about building to count. But first I liked your idea. About you built a website just to recruit customers. I wonder if there’s someone who’s listening to us right now and says, you know what, it actually doesn’t cost that much to buy a domain.
It doesn’t cost that much to build a website. Why don’t I go to hostgator.com/mixergy, Andrew sponsor. And when I want a new customer. I can build a website just for that customer. Imagine Charles, if they wanted to recruit you as a customer and they built Charles work with us.com as its own website, customized to you with a few things that refer to what you said in this interview about how you believe in getting customers before you build a product you believe in customizing for first customers, they want you as a customer, so they will customize anything for you, right?
Whatever it is, and then showcase their work and what they would do for you on a page. That’s not a Google doc. It’s not a proposal page, but your own domain with your name that’s customed to you. And that type of thing is super easy to create. So, Charles, I’m going to say to you and anyone who’s listening, whether it’s that idea or any other idea, when you want to put it.
A website up on the internet. There is no better way to do it than hostgator.com/mixer too. Because when you do that, you have one click install of WordPress. WordPress is the most popular platform for building websites. WordPress is also a site. When you build a site on WordPress, you can take it somewhere else.
If you decide, I don’t like HostGator, I don’t like Andrew. Whatever it is, you take your domain. You take your site, you move to a different hosting company. And when you use hostgator.com/mixergy, they’ll give you unmetered, uh, disc space, unlimited email addresses, all the stuff that you’re looking for.
Along with the money back guarantee. And finally using that slash mixer. GDS gives me a lot of credit because my sponsor will know that you use them because you heard them on Mixergy and I appreciate you for doing it, but it’ll also get you the lowest price that HostGator has available.
hostgator.com/mixer. You get a big discount and remember if you pick that middle option on that page, you’ll get unlimited domain hosting. All you have to do, of course is buy the domain name, but they will host it for you. So think about all the different things you could do when you have this creation engine, hostgator.com/mixergy.
Thank you for sponsoring me for so many years, Charles, you said to our producer, our, you said the hardest time, in fact, you said you started your answer to her question. She said, Hey, what was your lowest point here? You said in the past six years, I hadn’t had a low point, but at the beginning, The first year was the hardest getting to first 10 customers getting them to say yes was brutally hard.
What did you do? And why was it so tough?
Charles: Uh, what did you do is, uh, I walked out and watch it stuff because, uh, you are nobody, uh, you have no credential. Uh, you are, I would say the, the right skills, I would say, because. You need to be skilled and trained to be a good seller is not just a, you wake up as a seller or you are born as a sinner.
Seller is like any other job. It’s something that you learn that, that you practice something that you, that has process methodology. This is like a, like a cuff cuff shipped, uh, work.
Andrew: It is, uh, you know, what I’ve had to take on. Advertising for Mixergy. Uh Sachit Guta who sold the ad, said that he wants to start something new or he needs a break. I don’t know exactly. I have seen that he’s making a move over to Hawaii and I’ve been watching him, uh, moved there and I’ve enjoyed it. I like talking to customers.
I like selling, but there are basics that I forgot. For example, Charles, after you have a sales call with a customer, They have no incentive to get back to you if they’re thinking about if they’re excited about it, there’s no. And so I realized of course, within the call, when they have to go back now that they’ve got their notes and they’re going to compare me to other podcasts, I have to say, how about we schedule a call for a week from today to see if there’s anything else that I missed stupid move like that.
If I forget to do that, It’s hard. Now I have to go. Now I have to go in and win them over again to get another call. And they’re a bunch of, a bunch of other things like that. Launch pier I should have scheduled after selling to them. I should have said, thanks for buying. I want to go over the results. How about we schedule a call a week from now to go over the results for you?
Right? So this little thing is so basic, but I forget it. Now I’ve got a checklist. Tell me some of the things that you’ve discovered.
Charles: Yay. Exactly. That’s a, so how you prepare? Uh, so first thing is how you hunt for the leads. So how you get new leads after is how you prep are you craft the right message that resonates to the people that you are targeting so that they accept. A meeting. And then it’s how you prepare the meeting. Just like busy things, too.
data about their situation, about their, the, the news, uh, just to have some icebreaker, uh, after the meeting is how you make the good follow up. Uh, like you said, if we were to schedule a new call, but also to provide a good content to justify it. That you are the, uh, that, uh, they will, they will, uh, enjoy spending 30 minutes with you and, uh, and after it and so on.
And so on every step of the sales funnel, uh, how you create, I would say pretty sure to close it because you can have people that say, okay, I’m very interested, uh, uh, what’s your price. Okay. You agree? And then you should not have any compelling events. The. Can just go dark on you. Uh, it could be also on how you negotiate the price and how you all the ground, like you say, this is what you, what you need to learn.
And then to say, no, that’s the price, that’s my price. Or if you are not okay with that price, it’s not a big deal. Go, go, go somewhere else. Uh, so it takes a lot of time to build that confidence that, uh, to build that knowledge and to apply it after.
Andrew: So you’re telling me that you would even think through things like the icebreaker,
Charles: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: like what, what would you come up with as an icebreaker? It’s interesting because you’re a guy who was not selling at all. Definitely not enterprise selling to suddenly having to do this for your new company or else the company dies.
How would you come up with icebreakers?
Charles: Yeah. If I looked at the LinkedIn page of my, uh, um, my targets. So for example, if I saw that they were, they had, uh, some interest in some group, for example, in some spots, Uh, I would say I was seeing, I remember that sometimes at one point I’ve seen that they were supporting one of the major, uh, a team of secure in France.
And, uh, it was, uh, we met just a few days after a game where they, they win a very, very beautiful game. And I just tell them, Oh, have you seen that game? It was amazing. Did you think what, what’s your, what’s your feedback about, uh, his playing, et cetera. And so it’s up to us to, to build the relationship.
Andrew: With my guests, wherever possible, too. I just realized I didn’t do it with you. But what I do is as I’m going past to find old tweets of theirs to find old websites, that they were a part of. I look for these little personal touches that I can use at the start of the conversation. And that’s what you doing too.
What about, um, you’re saying you also collected data, you are looking to see how you could help them ahead of time. Right?
Charles: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: All right. That, that I get the, sorry. We’ll you can add something to that.
Okay, then the next thing then that you said is this is smart, compelling reason for them to want to do the followup.
It’s not enough to say you just took a call with me. Let’s talk a week from today. It’s let’s talk a week from today and I will give you something that will make it worthwhile for you to talk a week from today. What would you to make that
Charles: so yeah, I would say two things. The things that come from you are the things that come from them. So first thing is that you have to identify what could be like a reason for them to act quickly. And it could be internal pressure. It could be external because you have the, uh, uh, champion city, the final of the champion needs, and they have to release something by D by the end of months.
So they need to move fast or, uh, on your side, you, you can, uh, Uh, create the compelling reason based on the specific feature arrangement that you can do, uh, in terms of proposal in terms of proposal, but also, uh, the things saying that you are very limited resource. Uh, and you can’t accept, uh, oral, uh, offers and saying, okay, if you want me to work for you, you have to decide right now, because if not somebody else will book me and I won’t be available for the
Andrew: Right. Okay. So I can imagine if I’m selling advertising to a podcast, a sponsor, it might be. They asked me a few questions. I can say, let me go research this for you so that you understand podcast advertising in general. And I can, and there are places where I can go and see who’s advertised, especially if it’s some of their competitors where their competitors have advertised.
As I come back, I say on a follow-up phone call, I’ll show you where your competitors have been advertising, but when it’s time for me to make the compelling, uh, give them the compelling reason to close. Now, the pressure to close, as you mentioned, it could be. We’ve closed up three months into the future.
We have this one spot
Charles: Next week it’s next week. It’s next week. It’s, uh, the prices that, and, but it just next week
Andrew: Do you want it before it goes to HostGator? Got it. All right. And you had to figure all this out by yourself. You were sending out messages on LinkedIn to get customers, right?
Andrew: How did you teach yourself all this sales?
Charles: Reading some blogs.
Andrew: And then endless trial and error on it, what you’d learned and then just try LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn, from what I
Charles: LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn emails, uh, conference, uh, trade shows. Uh, yes, all the neat personal network, um, meeting with, to, to, to do so. The, the, the, one of my mentor at that time was to do business with people.
Andrew: Meaning get to know the people so that they
Charles: meet people may meet people. It was just a me.
Andrew: Meet people as much as possible.
Charles: yes, because it’s a, at some point it’s a matter of volume
Andrew: It is. Yeah, no, it is. I get it. All right. Now, when we started out this conversation, I kept asking you, give me more examples of, um, of journalists who are using to con and you said, what actually, you’re not picking up on how CEOs product managers are using us to integrate our software with their software, to integrate our visualizations with the software that they’re using, uh, interact with some point you realized.
This was a market you should pursue. How did you realize that’s who to go after?
Charles: Because we, without looking for that. We add one to customer that, that went to us because of that, because they wanted to integrate you again for new offer. They want you to, they add the pressure to Hailey’s quickly. It’s like a launch pager launch periods. Uh, people want to do something quick and they don’t have the resources to do it in January.
And same thing for us is that we, we, uh, we’re here realized that there were very high value in providing product that will help product managers and CEOs to, uh, I would say, um, bed. Integrates a ready to use visualization and dashboarding capabilities and storytelling capabilities so that they will be able to build a new offers when, uh, when they’re strategic customers, because he poaching on analytics was very, uh, in high demand.
Or that could help them to also keep the existing customers. We have a one, one client now, which is a, um, a provider of a software provider in financial services. One of their biggest customer, which is a large bank, uh, kept asking for more and more and more in terms of data reporting. And the team was very small.
Uh, our customer was very small and they couldn’t end up all the requirements that these big customers, uh, customer had. So they had two choices either. They will lose a, like a 200 heads, uh, kgs that they will like partner with somebody like us to add them, deliver what the customers was expecting.
Andrew: Got it, their need, there may be almost desperation to get this problem solved meant they were reaching out to you. They convinced you to work with them. Once you work with them, you said there are other customers like them. And my imagination is you realized these other businesses have more money to spend.
And are growing at a faster rate than the journalist that we’d been pitching to in the beginning.
Charles: Yeah, the, the, the genetics was just at the very beginning of the journey of all Johnny and we, we, we want you to start with the genetics to help us also build, um, a brand. But I like to say that this is not the, where I would say the money is. Uh, and, uh, and that’s why we decided to, to switch the targets.
Andrew: I did look at a press release that you guys put out. When you raise money. And I saw two things that stood out for me, the first is you and I have been calling the company to Ken, but even in the press release and on your website, it’s to Ken Toko right.
Charles: Yeah, because, um, we, we want it to be good. I would say to Ken, but you can.com was not available, uh, so that we really liked it to Canberra as a mascots. Uh, so we want you to get it at, at the Brown. So we went through the week, keep a journal, a page two again, and we saw that, uh, was the most known species of two cam.
And it sounds it’s on the welts on the, it sounds like, uh, yeah. And so dot com was available. So that’s why we went for two again Toko and people like that because it’s the, the, the, the, the sound of the repetition of the T and the C works very well. But when. If we want to, I would say go fast and make sure that nobody’s misspelling.
We say we are can,
Andrew: All right. And then the other thing that I saw was you have like, uh, let me see how many cuts, uh, co-founders Kilian is one Charles. Yeah. You are another one that, uh, Baptist is a third. And David, what had you connect with these other three guys and formed the company together?
Charles: so, uh, we started at the beginning with only Kellyanne and me, and we know each other since nearly 20 years. So we were in high school together. We were playing sport together at that time. And we, and we did all our studies together and, uh, after knowing each other for nearly 15 years, we decided to start the business together.
And then we met David and then jeez, thanks to, uh, I would say c’mon a common friend.
Andrew: And you just, they were added on later on. I see you’ve done it now. You own. I’m guessing the two of you early co-founders own the majority of the company together. Okay. All right. And now you’re finally successful. You’ve been able to raise money. Did you take any money off the table with that last, with that round of
Charles: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yes, because for us it was very important because that’s how you continue and key and you continue to take a risk is issue, uh, Jerry situation. Uh, so you are more comfortable to take the, to the, uh, to continue to take the risky decision that will help you grow.
Andrew: I can imagine that. So having struggled, having made it, what did you get to do that you couldn’t do before buy for yourself? Close me out on a high note, something amazing. That’s exciting for you or your family that you’re able to do because you were able to make two councils successful.
Charles: So you mean, uh, what changed my life?
Andrew: Yeah. Did your life change in any way? Did you get to buy anything to get to do anything?
Andrew: Not a damn thing.
Charles: I’m not a math person. So what I like I would say being successful is the peace of mind, uh, is the peace of mind and a good balance between my personal life and my professional life. So that’s one of
Andrew: You get to take a vacation in a place that you couldn’t before. I see people who are materialistic, at least go a nice vacation spots. No, not even do that.
Charles: My my vacation. They’re very simple. And my weekends also, I go camping on the weekends and that’s going to, uh, expensive hotels. So, uh, I’m sorry.
Andrew: I’ve just discovered camping too last year. I discovered a love for it and over COVID I would even go camping in the backyard a few days ago. I decided I wanted to try bike camping. Have you ever done that? Where you bike? I said I watched a few videos of people doing it. They take their camping gear on a bicycle.
So they have to have it as, as small and as little as possible, which I love. And then they ride somewhere and they camp. And so the campground that I was going to go to is about what 50 miles away. And I thought I’ll put the stuff on my bike. And I’m a last minute type of person the night of the night before I started to find a way to get all this stuff on my bike and the bike rack that I bought didn’t fit my bike and the rest of it just wasn’t working.
And then the campground Olivia said to me, did you check with the campground to make sure they have space? I wrote, no, I didn’t. So I called them up the morning of they have no campground space. My bike stuff will not fit. And I only have two days because I’ve committed to do other stuff. So, how do I do this?
I was about to give up. And then I said, my friend Anton told me I could sleep in his backyard. So I checked in and says, yeah, enjoy the backyard. So he was considerably further away. He was 81 miles away from our house instead of what I was planning. And then since the stuff wouldn’t fit on my bike, I Ubered it.
I said, Olivia, I’m going to ride. I’ll tell you where I end up, put my backpack with the camping gear in the Uber. And that’s basically what ended up happening, but Dan was so good to sleep outside. It was so good. So good to ride for hours.
Charles: Exactly. So that’s what I would say a basic things. So no, no, no fancy. Uh, so yes, no fancy thing. So
Andrew: Yeah, I’m with you. I feel like maybe the fancy stuff is for later in life, when you finally just have patience to deal with it, or maybe you’re just so exhausted that somebody tells you go enjoy what you’ve done. What do you think?
Charles: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I agree.
Andrew: Charles I’ll hit you up in 10 years. I’ll say, dude, get out of the office, get out of the house and go buy yourself something fun.
We’ll talk then till then anyone who wants to go check out your website to Ken Toko T T O U C a N T O C o.com. And I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. If you’ve got an idea, you can’t get it off the ground. You need to hire a team that will actually build it for you. If you’re considering it.
In fact, just go to launch pier. Dot com there’s no URL that you need no special link because they talk to every single person who applies. And if it’s a good fit, they’ll know you came from me. They’ll figure it out. And number two, if you’re finally ready to build a website, if you want to build a site for fun for business, for anything, go to hostgator.com/mixergy, Charles.
Thanks for being here.
Charles: Thank you very much, Andrew.
have a good day.
Andrew: You too. Bye everyone.