Why you don’t need a million dollar idea to leave corporate life

Today we’re talking to an entrepreneur who built a business helping bloggers get more readers.

Dino Dogan is the co-founder of Triberr, which enables content creators to get more shares.

More recently he bought MadeInNYC.com, a science lab to run business projects. It’s a virtual incubator that is soon to launch. We’ll talk about all that in this interview.

 
Dino Dogan

Dino Dogan

Triberr

Dino Dogan is the co-founder of Triberr, which enables content creators to get more shares.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. Today we’re going to talk to an entrepreneur who built a business that helped bloggers get more readers and then help influencers get some revenue.

Dino: That’s right.

Andrew: His name is Dino Dogan. He is the cofounder of Triberr, which enables content creators to get more shares. More recently, he bought–get this–MadeInNYC.com. It’s a science lab to run business experiments. It’s an upcoming project that’s soon to launch. Think of it like a virtual incubator.

This interview is sponsored by two great companies. The first will help you hire your next great developer. So, if you see something Dino has done and you want to reproduce it, you can go to Toptal and basically hire the greatest developers ever to build it. The second one is the company that will help you schedule meetings, really get people on the phone with you, whether they’re your customers or soon to be customers or mentors, whoever. It’s called Acuity Scheduling. I’ll tell you more about both those later. First, Dino, welcome, man.

Dino: Thank you, thank you, Andrew. I use Acuity. I just tested it out. I love it.

Andrew: Oh, good. When we do the ad, I’m going to ask you about that.

Dino: Sure.

Andrew: I freaking love that software.

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: Let me hit you with this. You sold the company, Triberr. How much did you sell it for?

Dino: All the juicy stuff is under an NDA.

Andrew: Can we say did you become a millionaire?

Dino: No. We did okay. I could take a year off comfortably and sort of focus on doing what I like to do or finding out what it is that I love to do because I had no idea, man. For five years, it was 100 miles an hour running Triberr.

Andrew: Yeah, I saw. You told our producer that you basically had nothing left to give, and we’re going to get into that. Revenue, though, you did tell us the revenue in private.

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: Tell the audience. At your height, how much did Triberr produce?

Dino: Last year, we were nearing–I’m not even sure I’m allowed to talk about that stuff.

Andrew: Give me ballpark.

Dino: It was in the seven figures range. Let’s say that.

Andrew: All right. Then a share of that would have to go to the influencers you were helping.

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: A big portion of that went to them.

Dino: Yeah. We were taking the revenue–that was one of our monetization strategies. We were taking funds obviously from marketing agencies, brands, whatever and organizing influencer marketing campaigns through our platform, with our community, with our influencers and of course we’d share in the profits from that.

Andrew: Okay. Before you were doing that, you told our producer, “I was a corporate drone working for Accenture.” Give me a typical day in the life. What did you do?

Dino: Oh, man. You know, Tim Ferriss talks about 4-Hour Workweek? I had a 15-minute workweek. Remember “Office Space,” the guy was like, “On a good day, I work like 45 minutes.”

Andrew: Doing what?

Dino: In my case, it was even worse. I was working maybe like 15 minutes a week. It sounds incredible. It was like everything else was meetings and planning and strategy and stuff like that. So, obviously, I’m being a little hyperbolic when I say corporate drone and 15 minutes, but it is–

Andrew: It’s a lot of time spent in meetings and very little time actually producing and the time that you were producing you were a consultant?

Dino: No, no, full-time employee at Accenture.

Andrew: No, a consultant on their behalf?

Dino: Internally, in house.

Andrew: What did that mean? Give me a typical project.

Dino: It was huge projects. So, we had a development team. I think there were about 150 to 200 people on the dev team. We had huge clients. Out of like top 50 insurance providers–Allstate, Merrill Lynch, so on, life insurance providers–we had like 48 of them and were running their software on our platforms.

Andrew: Got it.

Dino: The test [inaudible 00:04:18] for their software. So it was developed at Accenture. It was tested with us. They would access like early beta releases from us. I was in charge of the networking piece of that entire equation.

Andrew: And while you were there did you start these side businesses because you had all this extra time?

Dino: I did.

Andrew: You did.

Dino: Yeah, I did.

Andrew: Tell me about the dog training business.

Dino: Yeah. That was huge fun. I love dogs, always have, grew up with dogs, just my favorite thing ever. So I figured I’m bored. Let’s see if I can do something else and dog training, like I loved learning about dogs. I loved training dogs. I’m like, let’s try to make a run out of that. So I started a blog. That took me in one direction that eventually led to Triberr. I tried to make it a business. It didn’t work. I didn’t know how to build a business. I didn’t know how to build a dog training business.

Andrew: I thought it was interesting that you told our producer, “I thought accounting would be really difficult.”

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: Talk about that.

Dino: So one of my early businesses–in my 20s, I blew through like five different businesses just trying things out, right? I launched this business that was essentially Redbox. Do you know Redbox?

Andrew: Yeah, that’s the service–

Dino: DVD kiosk.

Andrew: It’s a box at the supermarket where you get to rent a DVD for $1.

Dino: Right. I had two of those. They weren’t Redbox. They were like off-brand or whatever. I had them in supermarkets and that was like my initial business. I remember being like really flustered and frustrated by the whole every quarter submitting your tax information and doing the accounting and bookkeeping and stuff like that. I hated learning all that stuff.

Andrew: Let me tell you something about that, by the way. I hate doing that, the quarterly taxes too. There was a Mixergy guest who said, “Screw it. I decided I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to pay the penalty.” So I went back to my accountant and I said, “Can I just pay the freaking penalty? How much is it?” My accountant told me how much it was. I think it was like a couple of hundred bucks. I said, “Screw that. I’m not going to spend a minute on this if all I have to do is pay a couple hundred bucks and then I also don’t have to pay the money up front. I get to pay it at the end of the year.”

Dino: It’s amazing.

Andrew: I’m not recommending people in the audience do it. I’m telling you, that’s what I’m learned. That’s what I’m doing now because it’s a pain in the ass.

Dino: That’s amazing. I had no idea. I love this. That makes sense.

Andrew: Okay. Interesting that that Redbox competitor didn’t work out. You bought the vending machine, you put it in places, you stocked it with DVDs, people got to go in and rent them and return them–why didn’t that work out?

Dino: I blew $50,000 and two years of my life on that particular business. It didn’t work because there wasn’t enough foot traffic.

Andrew: Got it.

Dino: If you think about it, Redbox is going to take all the prime locations.

Andrew: Right.

Dino: What’s left for guys like me?

Andrew: What did you get? Where did you put it?

Dino: It was a supermarket, but it wasn’t a huge supermarket with a ton of traffic.

Andrew: Okay.

Dino: It took two years to fail.

Andrew: Okay. So you said, “You know what? I can see there are going to be some issues.” You imagined accounting might be an issue with this dog training business. Instead, what became the issue?

Dino: Customer acquisition.

Andrew: Okay.

Dino: It became the issue. Then I started learning marketing. I’m like, “I’m a smart guy. I’ll figure out this marketing thing.” Then that led into Triberr. That’s a whole other story. But dog training was a lot of fun. Do you have a dog?

Andrew: You know what? I still think I do. I had a dog for the longest time and then he kept trying to bite my son when we had the baby and then before that, he was biting guests at my parties and I have people over a lot. It was becoming an issue between the guests and my friends. So, my friend has got him in New Jersey and it’s kind of painful that we’re not together.

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: I get it. I get the love and the bond for a dog. I get that you’d want to create a business to train dogs. Training dog was such a satisfying experience. It felt like I could communicate with the dog. It also got him to feel more comfortable in the world because he knew what he was doing right. He knew what was expected. You then start to Google around and you say, “How do I get traffic to my site?” You’re cracking up. When you Googled, what did you find?

Dino: It was really funny. I didn’t understand the hypocrisy of it at the time or self-servingness of it at the time. But if Google, “Google, how do I get traffic to my website?” Google will say the answer is Google or SEO, search engine optimization, right?

Andrew: I’m going to do it right now.

Dino: I didn’t see the self-serving nature of that answer, right? What I’ve learned through a lot of trial and error is SEO is great for transactional types of sales. You want to sell a widget, you want to sell a product, you’re not looking to build a relationship with the customer, SEO is great. But being in the dog training business, it’s not transactional. It’s very personal. That just wasn’t the right answer for me. But I only figured that out after I did SEO for a while. It took a while to figure out that wasn’t going to work.

Andrew: Were you doing dog training as an info product?

Dino: No. Just in life.

Andrew: You personally?

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: Why would a guy think so small? Dog training one on one is never going to be a huge business.

Dino: Yeah. I wasn’t trying to build a huge business.

Andrew: It was just, “I’ve got to have my own business?”

Dino: Yeah. Maybe somehow I knew that I would do some form of entrepreneurship eventually and I figured this would be kind of a nice onramp. Here’s what’s important about all of this, really, is that the idea or the impetus or whatever it is that gets you off your ass and trying something and learning something and failing and something and going throw something, that’s good enough. It’s just a learning process and as long as you engage in that and sort of plan accordingly, it’s a great process to engage in.

Andrew: I see. If you were just listening to Mixergy interviews, you’d go nowhere. But if you were starting out like a dog training service, even if it was never going to be huge, at least it got you into entrepreneurship and then you start to come across problems then you find answers, then that leads to more questions, more answers. One of the things it led you to was this community of people who are all blogging, who are commenting on each other’s blogs. We’re talking right now like 2010-2011. That put a thought in your head. What’s the idea that you got from seeing this little community?

Dino: Yeah. I noticed that in order to build this kind of a personal business, the personal relationship business, bloggers were really good at it and they understood that part and people visited each other’s blogs, commented on each other’s blogs. I share your stuff with my audience. You share my stuff with your audience.

Now, multiply that beyond us two. Multiply that by 20 or 40 or whatever, right? That’s what I had with my little dog tribe. I had a couple of few dozen faithful readers that helped me tremendously throughout. What’s funny is that then they followed me to Triberr, that dog community. They were some of the first users of Triberr.

Andrew: What kind of things did you do? You contacted them by email and you said, “Hey, we’re both in the same dog space. I’m reading your stuff. I like it.” You commented on their stuff. They came to your site and read some of the articles that you wrote for search engine optimization reasons. They commented there. You guys became friends. The business never went anywhere, but you said, “I see this thing? What did you want to do with it? That’s the part I’m, not following.

Dino: I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I knew that SEO wasn’t quite the answer and I was getting some traction just by having these personal relationships mostly in person, not so much online, but online, it gave me a kind of degree of notoriety and authority to sort of present myself to you in persona as a dog trainer. That was a pretty important bit, right? Like this guy kind of sort of I can trust him that he kind of sort of knows what he’s talking about.

Andrew: Got it. Okay.

Dino: And then those guys followed me into Triberr.

Andrew: Yeah. So, how’d you get the idea for Triberr?

Dino: Yeah. So, in order for me to see what 50 of my best friends online are doing, I have to go 50 different blogs. I have to leave 50 different comments. I have to click share 50 or if I want to share it on multiple destinations 100 times or 150 times, right? So, you add that up and it really limits how much you can do per day and how far you can scale that. So, I’m like, “I wish there was a solution that would maybe use RSS to pull in all the 50 blogs into a single feed and then from that feed I can comment and that comment goes to the blog and then from there I can like schedule it to get it shared.” I’m like, “Is there such a tool?” There wasn’t.

Andrew: I see.

Dino: I spent like three days looking for it. There wasn’t such a tool. There were similar tools, but not doing quite what we were doing, not leveraging–

Andrew: Google Reader and any RSS reader would allow you read all those blogs, but you don’t want to just do that. You want to comment so people who write those blogs would understand that you’re in their world and then care about you and nurture you as a relationship and that did not exist.

Andrew: That did not exist.

Andrew: I see. So, then you contacted Dan Cristo.

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: Who was Dan Cristo to you?

Dino: Man, you’ve done your research. That’s amazing.

Andrew: Yeah.

Dino: So, Dan is a buddy of mine. We met when we started arguing in a Social Media Examiner article that I wrote a bunch of years ago. It was a super friendly argument. I noticed he lives in Jersey, which is where I live. I noticed that he’s big into SEO. You already kind of got my spiel on SEO. I was like right in that time I was really trying to figure it out. I’m like, “Cool, bro, let’s do some podcasts.”

So, we did a bunch of podcasts. We found that we jived really well together. I knew that at the time, Dan had another platform called Fluttrs. Fluttrs was Vine five years before Vine. It was essentially video Twitter way before its time.

Andrew: It was pretty popular.

Dino: What was?

Andrew: Fluttrs. It had some attention. I’m not saying like huge traffic, but it had attention.

Dino: We may be thinking of a different Fluttrs.

Andrew: Maybe I am, right?

Dino: It was spelled weird.

Andrew: How was it spelled?

Dino: F-L. . . I think there were like two T’s and maybe there was an R-S, Fluttrs, I forget. But I knew he could code.

Andrew: Wait, so did the business fail?

Dino: Fluttrs?

Andrew: Yeah.

Dino: That was a side project.

Andrew: But it never took off.

Dino: Never took off.

Andrew: Oh, I see. Okay. Maybe I am thinking of something different. But I remember–for some reason Fluttrs is sticking in my head. Okay.

Dino: I know there was a startup out of Florida, at least there was about two, three years ago, with the same name.

Andrew: The live feed for community buzz.

Dino: Maybe.

Andrew: All right. So, you knew this guy could actually produce something.

Dino: Right. I had this idea and we got together in Montclair, New Jersey and sat down and we sort of sketched it out and three days later, he coded it, like three days later. We were like sharing each other’s stuff across and what not. And then three weeks later, we opened it up to beta users and never looked back.

Andrew: What was in that first version?

Dino: Oh my god, it looked so terrible. The UX didn’t even exist. It was cobbled together. There are some early pictures. If you Google Triberr and limit it to like 2011, you’ll see the mess it was. It was terrible. It was very basic but it worked.

Andrew: I’ve got to tell you, I’ve looked at it recently, as recently as a few hours ago, it’s really well done now. But I can imagine that it was a rough start since you guys pulled it together in a matter of weeks, right?

Dino: We didn’t know what we were supposed to do, so we just did what felt natural, right?

Andrew: What were the features in there?

Dino: Pulling the RSS feed so it’s in the news feed, whatever, Triberr stream, we called it.

Andrew: I like it.

Dino: And you could schedule those articles to be shared to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, whatever it was at the time. You could leave a comment. Then that comment, which eventually deployed the comment system and that comment would then appear on your blog and you could leave a comment on the blog.

Andrew: From your reader, I could comment on somebody else’s site?

Dino: Yeah. That was the feature we had.

Andrew: That’s really cool. I know people were looking for that back then.

Dino: We had so many cool features, man.

Andrew: Here’s the thing I’m seeing on the first version. Guaranteed retweets–that was the big thing, right? Somebody could subscribe to a tribe, a tribe is a group of people who all share the same interests and care about each other’s work, and it automatically would tweet every post from that tribe to your feed. So, everyone would basically be automatically retweeting everyone’s stuff, right?

Dino: That was very early on. Once we loosened up the permissions to grow your tribe beyond I think initially it was seven people. So, we kind of loosened up the permissions to 30 and then of course the tribal size of 30 with the auto setting, that creates a lot of activity. Today, that activity would be like considered moderate to low.

Andrew: Sending out that many tweets?

Dino: Yeah. But back then, it was a lot. Yeah. We didn’t tweak the auto setting. Then very quickly we brought in like auto, it used to be default, then we made it like an option to enable it and manual was the option.

Andrew: Okay. So, I did do some searches limiting the search results to the early years of your company and I’ll come back in a moment and talk about what I found there. You’re smiling because you know it and you’ve handled it. We’ll talk about it. Some of it was pretty brutal, to be honest with you, right? You’re smiling which is good.

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: Let’s talk about my sponsor first and then come back and get into that.

Dino: In terms of the critics?

Andrew: Sorry.

Dino: In terms of the critics you’re referring to?

Andrew: Yes.

Dino: Yeah. Cool.

Andrew: It was a love/hate relationship with a lot of love and a lot of hate. But we’re going to get into that in a moment. First Acuity–how do you use Acuity?

Dino: So, I have a fake link in my DinoDogan.com/calendar. So, it’s one of those redirect links. It goes to Acuity. So, when I want to schedule an appointment with somebody, I just send them to DinoDogan.com/calendar. They click on that. They go to Acuity. It may have expired if you try it now.

Andrew: No, it works.

Dino: Oh, cool. Yes, it sends them to Acuity and I don’t have to worry about like, “You have an open time on Tuesday or Wednesday?”

Andrew: Yeah. Who do you want to talk to that you set this up for?

Dino: Andrew, I do this kind of thing like several times a day with people I’m working with, people I’m looking to work with.

Andrew: I see. I’m on yours right now. You’re just saying you use it for anytime someone wants to talk to you?

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: You just send them that link instead of what I do is I set one up for interviews. I set another one when I want to sell. I set another for like 15-minute conversations. You just have one. Anyone who wants to talk to you, here’s the link, go do it.

Dino: I don’t advertise it to anyone, you know what I mean?

Andrew: You just did.

Dino: I just did. Right. It’s okay. If we should be talking, then by all means. Otherwise you’re wasting your time, right? But yeah, I just have one thing and I send it to literally everyone. If it’s not in my calendar, I will forget it.

Andrew: Me too. Or worse still, it’s in my calendar and then it’s time for the call and I go, “I don’t have their freaking phone number. I forgot. Did we say we were going to do it on mine?” So, I see yours. What you did was you have one page for Dino Dogan and you ask for people’s phone number but you also optionally let them give you a Skype ID, that way as soon as it’s time to go, it’s on your calendar with their phone number. I’ve seen some people do that, where they have one universal link for anything.

If you’re out there and you’re having trouble connecting with people, just set this up. In fact, what Dino did you could do too, have it redirect to Acuity. Or Dino, here’s what I do, I’d suggest this for you. You can take this calendar that they give you from Acuity Scheduling and embed it on your site so it looks like it’s completely yours. People don’t even need to know they’re on Acuity. It just seems like Dino coded this up.

Here’s the problem this solves. Anyone out there who’s like Dino has occasional meetings, maybe several a week where people are trying to hook up with you, get the right time–it would be interesting for hook ups. Think about that. “Do you want to hook up tonight? Here’s my calendar. I’m available only on Fridays at 9:30 p.m.” Could you imagine if I was dating and we exchanged phone numbers and I’d say, “Do you want to go out?” She’d say, “Yeah, when?” “Here’s my Acuity Hook Up calendar.”

Dino: Yeah. I don’t know.

Andrew: You don’t think that would work?

Dino: I don’t know. It depends how much she/he likes you.

Andrew: I believe that I had enough charm that I would have been able to pull that off. It took me years to get to that place and a lot of coaching to get to that place.

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: Actually, it’s not even a lot of coaching, a lot of therapy, but it worked. But back to business–if you’re out there and you need to connect with people on a regular basis and it’s a pain in the ass, all you have to do is go to Acuity Scheduling, create one calendar for yourself, set how long you want it to be for and that’s it.

You get a URL. If you happen to schedule something on Monday at noon, it automatically is wiped off your available on Acuity. So, the next person you send that link to or every person you’ve sent it to in the past will not be able to connect with you or schedule an appointment with you Monday at noon. It’s that beautiful.

If there’s something you need–I know there are some companies that work with people internationally and they need a Skype ID, so they ask for a Skype ID. If there’s another way you’d rather connect with someone–for me, I’d rather use this meeting software, I intentionally add my meeting software link to their calendar invitations so they know that’s how we’re going to meet, but I also want their phone number as a backup.

Dino: Right.

Andrew: The other thing that it’s useful for, if you have new customers you want to welcome properly, you can send them a link. They can schedule a call with you or someone on your team so that you can understand why they signed up for your software, make sure you onboard them properly, maybe even do a demo for them.

If there are people who come to your site and they’re not yet bought in, instead of just having a buy button or go away option, you say buy or schedule a call with us and let them schedule a call with you where you can explain to them why they should be signing up and understand what their needs are.

Once you do that, one of the problems you might have is you know, you’ve got someone in your calendar. Maybe you want them in your email software. Well, Acuity will plug in to your email software. Maybe you want them in your address book. Acuity will connect with your address book. Maybe you want to add them to a spreadsheet. I have no idea what you want to do with them, but Acuity will hook up with all those things.

Go to this special URL where you can sign up for Acuity and start using them for free, whether you’re using them for business or using them for hookups, go to AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy. They’re a fantastic company.

Dino: That’s interesting. Sorry to interrupt you. I had no idea of all the extra features of Acuity. That’s cool.

Andrew: Yeah. I’m telling you, man, it’s so cool. Here’s what I do with it. If you schedule a call with me, I automatically have you added to–I have this–I’ll mention the company–I use Pipedrive because I want to keep track of where someone is in my flow.

Dino: Oh yeah.

Andrew: So, as soon as you go in Acuity, you’re in column one of Pipedrive and then I get to keep making sure that we don’t just have this phone call, but that I follow up on the phone call and then I either get you to buy or I mark you as a lost sale.

Dino: That’s super smart.

Andrew: Once you get in Acuity, it’s kind of fun to play around with it.

Dino: Yeah. That’s super smart. I’m learning to processize and systemize everything and sort of setup a Pipedrive in that way. That’s really clever, yeah. You need it.

Andrew: Yeah. You know what? Ever since I had a kid, I cannot waste a minute. There is no single wasted second in my life. It just does not exist, really to the point where if I am walking from the kitchen to the bedroom, my mind is going, “Is there something I need to pick up along the way and get to my nightstand? Do I take the Kindle, put it by my nightstand so I can read?”

Dino: Yeah. I understand.

Andrew: I’ve been reading “Hillbilly Elegy” because every liberal on the planet seems to be reading it to try to understand the other side. Do you know this book?

Dino: No. Tell me about it.

Andrew: JD Vance. He talks about his life growing up as a hillbilly and how he became an investment banker later in life. I thought it was going to be this homework assignment to try to understand what was going on in Appalachia. It’s a fan-freaking-tastic read because he gets so personal about his life, about his mom hitting him to the point where he had to run to a stranger’s backyard.

He talks about the love and affection he got from his grandparents, but also what it was like for his grandparents to move from like hillbilly country to a place where they got blue collar work, steady blue collar work and how do you deal with that? It seems like a step up. You should be happy. But their personalities weren’t necessarily ready to go into a store where someone might tell him you can’t do something. They take it as an affront.

They walked in–when he was a kid, he walked into the story, he started playing with a toy. The manager at the store said, “I’m sorry, you can’t play with the toy while you’re in the store. You either buy it or put it away.” The kid stands outside the store. His hillbilly grandparents–I think it was the grandparents–find out about this.

They walk in the store and they say, “Did you tell my son this?” And the guy says, “Yeah, we’re not supposed to let people play with our toys unless they buy it.” So, the grandparents take the toy. They smash it on the floor and then they start smashing other toys because you will not put down their family.

Dino: Wow.

Andrew: Right? This is where they come from, they come from this past where you’re supposed to protect the family, move to this world where you’re supposed to behave differently and they haven’t yet acclimated and there are challenges involved in that. As a result, we still have this hillbillyishness in us. Such a good read.

Dino: That is insane, but I get it. I saw this documentary a bunch of years ago about a situation in Albania. At least there was a situation maybe a decade or few ago. There were these blood feuds. You had heads of the family–it’s Albania, so in terms of economic opportunities, there’s not a lot there. The economic opportunities that exist, they exist for men of a certain adult age.

But these men of adult age would get into these blood feuds, kill another person and now that person’s entire family is after you and you have to confine yourself just on to your property. You can’t leave that property because the second you do, someone’s going to jump you. This has become so ubiquitous that it just stilted the economic growth of the entire country.

Andrew: Let me ask you this. You’re from Bosnia.

Dino: I am. That’s close by.

Andrew: Did you have any adjustments coming to the US from Bosnia? What was a big one?

Dino: You know what was a big one? I love telling this one because it’s so–it seems insignificant, but I think it’s instructive. I was in New York eating a falafel. My girlfriend at the time was sitting next to me and there were two other people across from us. Growing up in Bosnia and eating in Bosnia, it’s considered rude to speak while you eat.

Andrew: Like in between bites or while you’re. . .?

Dino: In between bites.

Andrew: I take a bite. I fully swallowed. I had a little bit of water. I can’t talk to you, true?

Dino: Yes.

Andrew: Okay.

Dino: So, it’s hard for you to even imagine that, right? But no, it’s a proper thing, etiquette thing to do to sit down, you eat your meal and you are silent while you do this. Sometimes adults will speak. But it’s very sort of out of necessity rather than a conversational type of speaking to one another.

Andrew: Okay.

Dino: Sure, once you’re done with the dinner, then you sort of open up and what not. But I was eating and I was really into my food and being a nice little boy and eating my food and not speaking. Phaedra, that was my girlfriend at the time, she’s like, “Are you okay?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m fine.” She’s like, “You’re not saying anything.” I’m like, “Oh. . . That’s how you guys do this in America, huh? I can adjust.”

Andrew: I had a weird issue like that too with a girlfriend where we don’t have or growing up we didn’t, we weren’t supposed to have girlfriends over to the house. You’re not supposed to date. You’re not supposed to kiss anyone. There were real restrictions on it.

Dino: My parents were fine with that.

Andrew: They were?

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: In Bosnia can you do that?

Dino: Yeah. Europe is a very secular place in general.

Andrew: But Bosnia is a little bit different. I don’t see too many people walking around with tesbihs out of Bosnia and maybe Turkey, for example.

Dino: I don’t even know what a tesbih is.

Andrew: You don’t? Are you really Bosnian? Isn’t that that bead thing you guys have?

Dino: I don’t know.

Andrew: Okay.

Dino: I’m going to have to look that up. We can come back to that. Tell me your story with the girlfriend.

Andrew: I remember going to a girl’s house and I’m not supposed to hide from her parents. We’re just sitting on the couch having a conversation like we’re adults and the whole thing felt with like wrong, like I just committed a murder, like, “How am I getting away with sitting here? Do you understand we’re dating? Very weird.”

All right. Back to you. Here’s what I found when I did a search. Here’s one from Solo PR. “Every time you publish a new post, everyone in their tribe will tweet to their followers and you do the same for everyone in your tribe. But if you can’t take the time to read the post that you’re tweeting because you authentic-tweet, why should your readers take that time?”

That was a big one, right? You autoposted for everybody. That’s what allowed you guys to grow. You’re nodding your head. Tell me. What do you think about that? Wasn’t that a big issue, that you guys were a little aggressive with the retweets.

Dino: Oh yeah. We were definitely aggressive. But also this is very early on. Eventually we had to sort of turn it down. Twitter, that was–in the pre-interview, that was one of the questions, like, “What was one of the early milestones?” I’m like, “When Twitter sent us an email to tell us cut this thing out.”

Andrew: Because they didn’t like that people were auto-tweeting everyone else’s stuff.

Dino: Yes and no. Auto-tweeting is fine. Hootsuite does it. There were all these tools that existed, still do, a lot of them.

Andrew: Yeah, Buffer.

Dino: They do the exact same thing, right? What they were concerned about was first the volume. All of a sudden this company out of nowhere started bubbling up in their developer ecosystem. They couldn’t figure out what was going on. They couldn’t figure out why I would share your stuff automatically. They didn’t see the other side where you share my stuff automatically as well or manually, whatever.

In any case, we got on their radar, that was cool. They were really nice. They were like, “Guys, we don’t really understand what it is you’re doing. Can you explain?” We did. They were like, “Okay, could you like back off a little bit?” I’m like, “Yeah, sure.”

Andrew: Okay, back off meant what?

Dino: Back off meant if we went from automatic to manual, right?

Andrew: So, then it became I as a user log in to the site, I have my tribe. Other people who also have startup blogs like I have a startup blog, I see all of their posts, I get to read them if I want to or share them if I choose to do that or just scrolling to the next one and the next one.

Dino: Or just keep scrolling. Exactly.

Andrew: Got it. And when I tweet, it’s a tweet with a comment if I want to, at least that’s what works today.

Dino: Yeah. That was an early feature, actually.

Andrew: All right. So, I understand how this solves a problem for bloggers. They always were trying to get exposure. They always were trying to get more tweets. They always were trying to get more readers. What about you? Where was the revenue going to come from?

Dino: Yeah. So, we had some fun monetizing Triberr. We actually monetized Triberr three weeks into its existence.

Andrew: Wait, three weeks into it?

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. All right. Because you’re boostrapped?

Dino: Yeah. We boostrapped and also we saw no need to wait, maybe if we were smarter and more experienced, we would have seen the need to wait.

Andrew: No, I think it makes sense.

Dino: But we just went with it and we monetized through virtual currency we called Bones. Virtual currency was particularly big, go back like 2010-1011.

Andrew: What did you call the virtual currency?

Dino: Bones.

Andrew: That makes sense.

Dino: It’s Triberr, tribe, bones, it’s the whole thing.

Andrew: Yeah.

Dino: Farmville on Facebook was big at the time as well. They had virtual currency. Gamification was big at the time. Everyone was talking about it. So we gamified the platform and it worked really well. We were converting at 12 percent, whereas in virtual currency space, the average is closer to 7 percent-ish if you’re lucky, like Farmville was doing 7 percent conversion on their virtual currency, at least at the point that’s in my memory. I’m sure it went like that.

It was really good. We were converting at about 12%, and we did that for about two years and then we switched to a different model. It was essentially freemium. That was monetization pillar or channel, if you will. In 2014 we rolled out influencer marketing. That was another monetization play for us.

Andrew: What would I get if I paid you and got virtual currency, in the beginning, what would I get or what could I spend it on?

Dino: So, one of the things was to put your tribemates on auto. Talk about–

Andrew: I could pay to get others to auto-tweet. Got it.

Dino: No, for you to auto-tweet others.

Andrew: So, people would pay to be able to tweet more?

Dino: Yeah, more often and sort of a hands off kind of way.

Andrew: What else would I be able to pay for?

Dino: Larger tribes. There was some–we call them higher level functions. I forget everything that was in there. But it was like more of you had–for free you reach a certain limit. It was really generous, like three tribes, 30 people per tribe. It’s 90 people sharing your stuff. That’s a lot. Just keep it relevant and you’re fine, right? But then for people who wanted to go beyond that and sort of automate certain tasks, they could pay extra.

Andrew: Okay. How long before you were making enough money to actually make a living at this?

Dino: No one got paid for like the first two years, not because we necessarily couldn’t. We just wanted to like just put all the money back into the business. Then eventually we grew to about six people, a few freelancers and contractors that helped us along.

Andrew: So, how did you live before you took money out?

Dino: Well, me personally, yeah, so I’ve always had little side-gigs that I do. I did pretty well for myself in the corporate world. The location that I worked at closed down in 2010. So, I had a choice to either move to Chicago or take a severance package. I took a severance package. I was set for a while. By the time that ran out, Triberr kicked in, so it was all good.

Andrew: So, I see how this thing is starting to grow. I see how you’re starting to get customers. At some point, you had an opportunity to take funding to supercharge this growth and you turned it down. Talk about that. What happened?

Dino: Andrew, what happened is that 30-year olds are dumb. Maybe not all 30-year olds, but I was. I don’t mean that intellectually. Man, I am smart when I comes to intellectual stuff, put anything in front of me, I’ll learn it, I’ll do it. I’m an engineer. I’ll figure it out. In that way, I don’t feel inadequate in any way.

Emotionally being able to look at a situation with a certain detachment and distance and from all angles, I just didn’t have that when I was in my 20s and even most of my 30s. That’s only now starting to bubble up. I turned 40 last year. I feel 50. I’m looking at 30-year olds, like I’ve aged 20 years in one year. I used to feel like I was in my 20s and now I feel like I’m in my 50s.

Andrew: Okay.

Dino: So, it’s just emotional maturity. We had these opportunities. They came to us.

Andrew: They just found you online.

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay.

Dino: We were making a lot of noise. There was a lot of Triberr activity out there.

Andrew: How? Because people were tweeting out your short link every time they would share.

Dino: That was part of it.

Andrew: Investors would sudden see the short link show up in their Twitter feeds a lot. What else did you do?

Dino: I was everywhere. If there was a conference with five people in it, I was speaking at it.

Andrew: I saw. You spoke at New Media Expo, Rick Calvert. I’ve got emails from him from 2013 announcing that you and Pat Flynn are speaking at events. I see that.

Dino: That’s hilarious. Yeah. NMX used to be called BlogWorld. It was the largest blogging conference. Think about it. That’s’ all of my people, right? So, in any case, somehow we had a couple of investors from California hear about us, I’m not even sure how. But they approached us and we just didn’t want to like have a serious discussion with them because I didn’t want to lose control over Triberr. I’m the only one that knows what needs to happen. I need to maintain control. It’s completely stupid. If you have an opportunity to take money, take money.

Andrew: How much were you offered? Did you even get to that point?

Dino: We didn’t get to that point, but the discussion was around $600k to $800k. That was the initial discussion and that’s the amount of money we needed and they accepted the premise, but we never got far enough to actually make it happen.

Andrew: And then there was a period there where you were thinking of raising money and things got a lot harder and it wasn’t available. Let’s get to that in a moment, but first, I’ve got to tell you about my friend Shane Mack here in a spot for Toptal.

You don’t know Shane. But when you want to understand the difference between Silicon Valley thinking and the rest of the world, funding is what most people pay attention to. What they don’t pay attention to is this thing–I won’t even turn my phone around–that he tweeted to me a couple of nights ago. He said, “Andrew, let’s go out for a drink.” I said, “Go out for a drink. Why?”

Someone that he’s been looking to hire and he’s getting close–I’m trying to think of what I can say and what I can’t–he basically said–I congratulate him and he goes, “Yeah, six months of work.” Six months he’s spending to hire the right person for the right job. Six months of meetings, of talking to people, of figuring out who the right person is and meeting those people and so on. If you want to understand the difference between Silicon Valley and the rest of the world, yeah, funding is a clear element, but another element that’s completely underappreciated is the obsession with hiring the right person.

The funding often is there to make sure you can pay for the brilliant minds who are going to build things because if you hire the right person, they’re going to grow your business way bigger. They’re going to open your eyes to new ideas. How does the rest of the world think? A lot of times I see people think, “I’ve got to hire. I got a great deal on this guy from this country that I don’t even know how to pronounce. It’s okay because their whole country is going through some financial crisis so I can hire him right now cheap.”

Dino: Is the country America? Sorry.

Andrew: Right. Exactly.

Dino: I get this problem.

Andrew: That’s the difference. So, the people over at Toptal, these are really smart guys. They said, “We actually can make this better. Let’s disrupt this whole system. Hiring is a bitch, hiring is touch, especially when it comes to developers. So, we are going to go out there and create a process for the best developers who want to work with us.

That process for Toptal involves creating the most insanely difficult engineering challenges possible to make sure that they’re hiring the best of the best and putting them in their network, that they’re only finding the best of the best in their network, excuse me, not hiring them, but they want the best of the best. So 97% of people who take these tests don’t even make it past–don’t even get accepted. The top 3% end up in Toptal’s network.

When a company needs to hire the best of the best developer, they get paired up not with a developer, but with someone inside Toptal’s matching team and that matcher will understand what the company’s needs are, what projects they’re working on, what languages. Do they need someone for one project? Is it a part-time gig that’s ongoing? Is it a full-time thing? Whatever it is.

Then they go into their network and they find the right person and they match you up with them and if it’s a good fit, you can start within days. Now, Shane, unfortunately did not need a developer. He needed other things. But you can bet that he and others get insanely driven when it comes to finding the right developers and that’s what makes their companies grow.

If you’re out there and you’re ready to find someone or many people who are the best of the best, there is one place that you can go. Frankly, don’t just take my word for it, ask other companies. You’ll see. The reputation is spectacular. That is why Andreessen Horowitz, the bluest of blue chip venture firms, has put in so much money into Toptal because they believe in this model.

Lucky for us, it’s started by a Mixergy fan. So, if you are listening to me–actually, two different Mixergy fans cofounded this company. They have offered us something they’re not offering anyone else–80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours and that’s in addition to a no risk trial period of up to two weeks. If you want that, go grab it right now–Toptal.com/Mixergy. Top as in the best of the best, tal as in talent. You really want people who have got that talent in their bones–Toptal.com/Mixergy.

All right. Let’s continue with this story. You now at this point in the story are starting to go after bigger company. It’s you personally. I’m amazed. You got Sears as a customer?

Dino: Sears. . .

Andrew: TOMS Shoes.

Dino: Yeah, Almay, which I didn’t even know what it was until we ran a campaign for them.

Andrew: What were they paying you for?

Dino: So, we built a project management platform inside Triberr for brands to run theses campaigns. So, it’s kind of like a project management tool. So, they were paying us for that and they were paying us for access to the influencers and we did most of the heavy lifting when it comes to influencers, what they need to do, how to build a campaign page and stuff like that, so there was a service component as well, which I really abhorred, but we did it for a while. That’s what they were paying us for.

Andrew: Is it that you basically were letting them buy blog posts written by these people? That’s what it was?

Dino: No. So, I’ll give you an example. When we ran a TOMS Shoes campaign, we went out and we hired I don’t know, maybe 35-40 people to do the campaign and then I had to go back to TOMS Shoes’ people and say, “These are the people that are available. They’ve raised their hand. They want to do this. It makes sense. Now it’s up to them to review it.”

Andrew: They want to do what? They want to write about TOMS?

Dino: So, at this stage, they haven’t been hired yet. They’re just being pre-vetted by us and then vetted by TOMS.

Andrew: To do what? That’s the part I’m not following.

Dino: Right. Let’s skip forward to the hired part. If you get hired for a month-long campaign, it would usually involve three to four major pieces of content. So, that’s like either an article or a Hangout where you interview TOMS Shoes’ founder or whatever it was. Then you have 30 or 40 people creating three to four major pieces of content that month and then each of those 30 or 40 people is sharing all of those pieces of content, 30 people in this feverish activity of just pushing out a lot of–

Andrew: Which is influencer, essentially, right? They’re paying for these influencers to be creative and come up with content that they will then share about the companies who are paying them.

Dino: Precisely.

Andrew: You take a percentage for making that introduction. At the time, this was pretty controversial, I guess is the right word.

Dino: I guess.

Andrew: I remember Jason Calacanis going after, who was it, Ted–there was another guy who did this and Jason Calacanis used to go and attack him, “You should not be paying for content.”

Dino: IZEA, right?

Andrew: Right. I’ll find his name.

Dino: I know the guy.

Andrew: Ted Murphy.

Dino: Ted Murphy. That’s it. Yeah. Listen, it’s fine. As long as it’s all transparent, the way we–

Andrew: Today it’s accepted completely, right? I’m about to interview a company’s founder who’s now doing, I think, $10 million just selling teeth whitening, and the way he promotes it is by paying Kardashians and other people to hold up his tooth whitening thing on their Instagrams. That’s his marketing.

Dino: How is that different from Michael Jordan advertising and being a spokesperson for Hanes or for Nike or anything like that, right?

Andrew: Well, the way they were saying is it’s kind of like a New York Times article talking about TOMS, which frankly happens too, not about TOMS specifically, but even The New York Times is doing it. But at the time they said, “This actually takes the reputation of all bloggers. People are going to think anything they read in a blog is not real. It’s artificial. It’s paid.” I get the controversy. It sounds like that wasn’t a big issue for you. By the time you were doing this, it was accepted, right?

Dino: No. How naïve those times were, right? That was three years ago. The way we got around all of that because it’s just all about transparency and honesty, so one of the first pieces of contents that we would ask our influencers to write is the announcement that they are now a spokesperson with TOMS Shoes or whoever it was and that they’re going to be joining this campaign and sort of announce it to this community, right? Then the next piece of content, we ask them to not only be transparent, but brag about the fact that you are now a spokesperson for Almay or whatever, right?

Andrew: Yes.

Dino: Then we really focused on creative kind of content. So, when we ran a Mother’s Day campaign for Almay, that was our first campaign. That was like 2013 or something like that. Then we did it again in 2014. We were still in the experimental stage. We hired I don’t know, maybe 15 influencers to write about–exclusively moms to write about how they learned about makeup. That was the theme of the campaign, to write about the experience of being, I don’t know, 12, 13 years old and learning how to put on makeup with your mom, right?

So, this one person didn’t have that experience. Instead–not everybody grows up to have a mom, not everyone is lucky like that–so, instead, she wrote about how she did it with her daughter, like recently, so she flipped it around. It was just the most amazing piece of content. It was all transparent and just you put it all out there. People didn’t find that odd or disturbing or disagreeable, by in large.

Andrew: You told our producer, “Look, I’ll be honest with you. Our user experience was pretty crappy the whole way through but we did well in spite of our UX.” Why? What was the thing that got people to like you so much that despite your user experience, they still stuck with it?

Dino: It produced results for them. In 2011, 2012, shares were huge, like in 2013, companies started to really understand social media and started to use it. In 2013, 2014, if you are without a Facebook page and you’re a company or a brand, you’re crazy. But 2011, that was still kind of like, “What’s this thing?” At that time for a relatively new blogger–that was our thing. We went in at the bottom of the market. Big bloggers don’t need us. They already have an audience. We went to the bottom of the market, people who needed us. You give them a way to amplify their content effectively, easily, quickly, they’ll knock the door down to get it. That’s what it was.

Andrew: I remember when I was starting especially, I was so hungry to get more views–I’m still hungry to get more views.

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m coming in tomorrow to record more interviews because it’s going to be with Alex Blumberg I’m recording tomorrow. He’s the founder of Gimlet. I feel like that’s going to elevate us and get us more traffic, the founder of Warby Parker on Friday, the day that I was going to not record and let myself grow a little bit of a beard and work. I’m doing all that to just get people to come and view. I get it. I get the pain and I get the determination and willingness to do anything to get more people to view and frankly also to do good work.

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: I get all that. You then decided you wanted to sell. It’s partially because you are stuck. You are working very hard and you couldn’t raise any money. Why couldn’t you raise money? You guys had a business that was real?

Dino: Yeah. There were a few things about raising money that I didn’t know at the time. There’s no four-year old startup. There’s not even a three or two-year old startup. You have kind of a four-year failure, at least that’s how investors view it, right? If you’re four years in and you haven’t reached scale, what are you doing?

Meanwhile, we had a fairly healthy business that was doing pretty well. So, we were old and we were not in the right space either, largely because you couldn’t even nail down our spaces. Is it social media? Is it influencer marketing? Is it publishing? We were kind of out there. Then when I went to raise money, it was in the fall of 2014, I think. That was just terrible, maybe 2015, I forget now. But it was like September/November timeframe. Don’t try to raise money in September/November timeframe. No one told me this. Investors are gone, man. It’s Thanksgiving. Holidays are coming up. December, everybody just checks out.

There’s a season for everything and spring time, like now, we’re in February, right? So, starting to have conversations with investors and sort of getting a term sheet come spring time, that’s a realistic timeframe and that’s a realistic season to do it in. Summer time, everyone’s gone on vacation. End of summer time, before you really get into like deep fall, you may have another window. In our case, our timing was completely off.

Andrew: I see. That was it. You guys were old as a company, four years old.

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: You also thought that it’s the wrong time of the year to do it. And you were not in a sexy space anymore.

Dino: That’s fair. Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. So, instead, you said, “I don’t have it right now. I’ve got to sell.” So, you came up with this interesting plan, this marketing/PR campaign to get yourself sold. Talk about that. What was that?

Dino: Yeah. So, Dan and I decided to sell. Obviously we have and you could go out and say, “Hey, Andrew, you want to buy Triberr?” You could do that.

Andrew: Which is very pathetic and would not work.

Dino: It’s very pathetic and doesn’t really put you in a good position, right? A much better position would be for you to come to me and say, “Hey, Dino, you want to sell Triberr?” You know what I mean? So, we tried it the wrong way. That didn’t work. We’re like, “How do you do this the right way? How do I get you to come to me and talk to me about potentially buying a company?”

So, what we did is we looked at the people that we were targeting, probably like a strategic business person, probably in a mature company that’s looking to enter a new space into this little bubble that’s growing and what now. And then if you understand who your target audience is, you have to ask yourself a question, “Where are they?” For us, the answer was, “Well, these guys are reading Business Insider, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, these types of publications.” All right. If they’re reading that, how do we get ourselves in front of them, right?

And then you look at TechCrunch, VentureBeat all these guys and you see what they’re writing about. There are basically like three categories–someone got acquired, someone raised money and then miscellaneous. There’s like everything else. So, we knew that if we were to raise money, we’d probably be able to get a write up, that would be fairly easy.

We knew if we would get acquired, that might get a mention. We were like, “What if we were to acquire somebody?” We’re like, “No way. We can’t acquire. We’re not that far ahead to go and acquire somebody.” It’s a crazy enough idea that it might work. I did some sleuthing. I found a bunch of let’s call them targets.

Andrew: Media targets or company acquisition targets.

Dino: Company acquisition targets, yeah. We found one that was sort of in our sweet spot. We didn’t pay a lot of money for it. It was in our space, came with a good list. It was around for a while. They had a good tech that was being neglected and we felt we could probably save it and we worked out a really nice deal with Scoutle, Godfried out of Amsterdam.

Andrew: How’d you find them?

Dino: You name it. I looked everywhere. I think Godfried I found him somehow on LinkedIn. I looked everywhere.

Andrew: You’re just looking to see where are the companies that are small enough and under-capitalized that we can maybe takeover.

Dino: Yeah. Listen, I’m in a nice position because I get to talk to a lot of people. So, I know a lot of people. You can talk to someone and say this is what we’re trying to do and they can advise you and send you the right path and what not. I was doing everything I could think of. We found the company to acquire. We acquired it. And then I went to VentureBeat and TechCrunch and all these guys and I’m like, “Hey, guys, this is happening. We’re going to announce it. I can give you an exclusive if you’d like.” VentureBeat jumped on that.

Andrew: I’ve got the article here from VentureBeat. I’ve read it in researching you. Okay.

Dino: Yeah. VentureBeat wrote about it. Then we blew it up on Triberr.

Andrew: I see.

Dino: It’s a sharing platform. All we needed was like a credible place for us to sort of be featured in. Once that happened, we blew it up on Triberr. In the first week, there were over 5,000 shares on that article. It was a hugely shared article. Then VentureBeat, I think they switched their sharing plugin, so that zeroized all the shares.

Andrew: Yes.

Dino: So, that happened. Too bad, but whatever.

Andrew: You mean the numbers on their website that shows show many times an article was shared. I think that might have been a Twitter thing that caused them to do that. I forget.

Dino: Could be. Yeah.

Andrew: A Twitter issue where Twitter forced to zero. But when I read this in prepping for you, I said, “Huh, he was trying to grow the company at that point.” I imagine other people who were reading it would say, “This guy bought a company. He’s growing his business.” They wouldn’t think that you were an acquisition target. It would seem to put you in a different light, am I right?

Dino: I think so. I think you’re right. If somebody was to give it a deeper thought, I think that might be a conclusion they would reach.

Andrew: Doesn’t that undo your goal, which is to raise your profile so people come to you and say, “Can we buy you?”

Dino: It could have gone either way and I’m sure 50% of people went that way, the other 50% went the other way. But I’ll tell you what happened. We actually from that article and from blowing it up and putting it front of people who could read it–so, there’s like a Facebook ad you could target. Back then you could import custom emails. It was doing a lot of creative stuff to make the right person aware that a) we exist and b) we are somebody you should be talking to.

So, one of the companies that we ended up partnering as a result of that was TapInfluence, which was one of our competitors, actually. But it was like the best–Andrew, if you can partner with your competition, you’re onto something. That’s one thing I’ve learned about business. If you can partner with competition, you’re on to something. That was a great partnership. We were sniffing around each other for a potential acquisition, didn’t work out. There was a Canadian PR company. I shouldn’t mention them.

Andrew: Okay.

Dino: But they were talking to us as a potential partnership that came out of the article that would have led to an acquisition if it went anywhere, but it didn’t. The article was working. That was the indicator. Then we got an offer from another company. We couldn’t close in two months. When it comes to acquisitions and any of these partnership deals or whatever, there are like a million things that can go wrong, right?

Andrew: Okay.

Dino: So, that didn’t work out, but then 99 Robots came in and we managed to close in like 30 days.

Andrew: Why did 99 Robots come to you? It’s a dev shop, isn’t it?

Dino: They’re I think the perfect people to take on Triberr and grow it.

Andrew: Why did they want it?

Dino: Because they are a dev shop, they’re not afraid of the technology that went into Triberr. They got that covered. But then their product is WordPress plugins.

Andrew: And services too, don’t they?

Dino: And services, yeah.

Andrew: So, they’ll do web development for you, like WordPress, Shopify development. I’m looking at their website. But they also have a collection of plugins you can buy from them.

Dino: That’s right. Who needs plugins? Triberr users.

Andrew: I see, your Triberr bloggers. So, they came to you and did they say, “Can we partner?” or did they, “We read this article. We want to buy it?”

Dino: Straight up acquisition.

Andrew: Straight up acquisition?

Dino: Yeah.

Andrew: They just said, “We’re looking to acquire companies.” You got on their radar. Do you think it was the VentureBeat article that got you on their radar?

Dino: No. Charlie, who’s the CEO of 99 Robots, is actually someone I’ve known for years. So, he was somebody that was sort of close to the company, knew what was going on. We’re personal friends. He sees what was going on. He knew we were selling I think. He knew it didn’t work out. He was like, “Great.”

Andrew: I see. How did he know you guys were selling it?

Dino: We’re personal friends.

Andrew: You’re just being open to him and saying, “I think we’re selling it.” Got it. That actually is a good way to sell it, to say, “I’ve got some offers from people.” It’s not, “Hey, Andrew, do you want to buy?” but, “Hey, Andrew, there are a bunch of people making offers.”

Dino: That’s right.

Andrew: “Do you have some advice? Can you give me some guidance?” I see. By the way, what a clever idea to get PR from the tech crowd to just go and acquire a company just for the PR, a small acquisition too.

Dino: People must be doing that more often. I can’t be the guy that invented that. It’s got to be a common thing, right?

Andrew: It’s clever.

Dino: I hope. I think.

Andrew: All right. If anyone wants to follow up with you directly, what they can do is go to Dino Dogan.com, right? Now they actually know how they can book themselves with you because you accidentally mentioned it. Are you going to be upset that now that’s out there?

Dino: No, I don’t care.

Andrew: I’m glad.

Dino: I’ve had my phone number and email online for ten years. No one is emailing me. No one’s calling me. No one cares.

Andrew: Good point. There it is, DinoDogan.com. We had two different sponsors in this interview. The first one is the company that will help you hire your next great developer. They also do designers, MBAs, etc. It’s called Toptal, Toptal.com/Mixergy. I keep talking about them because you guys keep signing up for them because they do good service. Go check out Toptal.com/Mixergy.

And whenever I want to talk to my customers or want to make it easy for my customers to talk to me or any conversation–except for hook ups, I don’t do that–I use Acuity Scheduling. We have a special offer for anyone who’s listening, a lot of free time on Acuity Scheduling. Check them out at AcuityScheduling.com. That is AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy.

Thanks everyone for being a part of Mixergy. Bye, everyone.


  • Ashington Waweru

    I can give a 30% interest rate return on any deposit amount, can we talk?

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