An Operating System for Ecommerce

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I’m talking to someone whose company is still really young but his revenue is more than I would have imagined. To be honest, I was going to pass on this interview because I didn’t understand how it was possible, but I was later convinced. You’ll see why in this interview.

Maxx Blank is the founder of Triple Whale, An Operating System for Ecommerce.

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Maxx Blank

Maxx Blank

Triple Whale

Maxx Blank is the founder of Triple Whale, An Operating System for Ecommerce.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And you would think by now that I would know who the winners are, but I was, I was going to throw out today’s guest, frankly, if they hadn’t come from my friend, Devin Meadows, who is so into e-commerce, he understands what’s going on in this space.

He finds the right software. He finds like the right places to promote. The guy just knows his stuff. If he hadn’t been the one who email me and say, or text me and say, you’ve got to go check out triple whale. I think I would, I know I would have passed on it because who heard a triple whale. And then I go Google them and I’d see nothing, except they raise money.

So I thought, okay, they raised money at some point, they’re going to do well and I’ll have them on. But Devin Meadows introduced me to them. Devin Meadows understands the space. I said, let’s just say yes to them as soon as possible. And then I heard there. I thought it was just, I thought triple whale just did a dashboard that told you in beautiful way, how much money’s coming in, how your ads are performing, how your emails doing all that.

And that alone would have been. But they do so much more than that. And I have to be honest with you. I don’t fully understand the whole thing. No, it looks beautiful. I know it makes sense, like on the surface level, but there’s more depth to it. And the company is doing better financially, like revenue wise than I, than I ever could have imagined.

And they’re just getting started still an early company. I invited the founder max blank on to talk about how triple well built this pixel service and the summary dashboard that is. So well loved by e-commerce people like my friend Devin, and we could talk about his business and pry into his life.

Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you’re hiring developers, I’m going to tell you later, you should go to lemon.io/mixergy. And the second, when you’re ready to do email marketing, you should go to send in blue.com/mixergy. But first max, good to have you here,

Maxx: Thanks man.

Andrew: your partner, your co-founder said he would that you’re not going to reveal revenue, but give us some hint of how much money you guys are producing now.

So we know how big the.

Maxx: Yeah, I’ll do what I can here. We grow up. We’re growing 30% over 30% month. Over month, we have 3,200 merchants. Okay.

Andrew: Okay.

Maxx: Has been about Less than a year.

Andrew: Less than a year. Can we say in the millions in revenue or are you comfortable saying

Maxx: Yeah. Multiple,

Andrew: multiple that’s easily. Okay. Less than a year in business. How do we, how do you describe? I think the dashboard is

Maxx: January, in January we were at 1.5 and they are in January.

Andrew: Oh, you’re way beyond that. You’re multiples of that. Now.

Maxx: No, it’s, it’s more, it’s more than that. I’m just kind of giving you a taste. I’m locking this door cause they know someone’s going to walk in here and like harass me. Hold on.

Andrew: are you telling me numbers that you don’t want the people on the team to know? No. Okay. All right. I think we’ve got a good sense of how it is. Let’s talk about what the product is. The dashboard is one part of it. What’s on the dashboard.

Maxx: Yeah, the dashboard, the original idea was just the dashboard. I’ll be honest. That was like, that was going to be the cute idea. And, um, it was really built for, for me to build, to, to be able to track my business. I was in the e-commerce business for, let’s say six years beforehand. And I, one of the biggest perks about running and owning your own business, their own chocolate business is that. Well, you’re basically not making any sales unless you are spending on ads. Right? So one of the perks to owning one of these businesses as you get the rewards from the credit cards.

Andrew: Yeah.

Maxx: So that,

Andrew: All the miles.

Maxx: Yeah.

and the, you know, get the Amex card and it’s like three points to $1. You get the chase ink. They’re not paying me by the way, but you get the chase ink card and then you get the three to one on, on ad or on ad spends. Shipping. It’s just amazing, but why am I saying that is because my wife and I, we had a business together. We’d get to that a little bit later. Um, we had a great business together. Uh, we’d like to travel. So we took our kids around. We traveled like Africa, we traveled around the world, running, running these businesses and I just couldn’t stand like. Seeing where I am throughout the day on the business, I’d have to go into, go into Shopify, which I love Shopify, but it doesn’t have everything. There you go on to Shopify and then you have to go into Facebook ads, go into Google ads, go into Klayvio and see how your campaigns are performing on the email marketing side.

You got the two step authentication, which was like, uh, you know, no one likes to get hit with that, even though everyone appreciates the security there. And it was just, that’s just a piece of it, right? There’s many other tools you could check, but to get that high level, like, where am I at? So I wanted to just aggregate all of that onto my phone And have a beautiful experience.

So that was, that’s really what the dashboard, the, the summary page is. It’s, it’s a lot more now it’s super simple and it’s beautiful. and it’s, it’s got a stickiness to it and people love it. It acts as a, like a front page or mini feed front page of your business, high metrics, um, that just shows you, you know, your, your return ad, spend your sales, you put your net profit in there after you give us your cost of. And it gives you that clarity. It kinda acts like a Robin hood or like a Coinbase.

Andrew: exactly. It’s

Maxx: like, you know, you’re Yes, You sit in there and you’re like able to see, like, where am I like a trader’s workstation, but in your hand, and you can see how things are going. So It’s good for an owner operator in that regard.

Andrew: Okay. So that part makes sense. And that part I’m sitting here going, why didn’t someone come up with this 20 years ago for every business you should just have a clean, beautiful dashboard that tells you everything.

Maxx: Yeah. I agree.

Andrew: And there were some people that I talked to who had tried it. I think one of the things that they got hung up on was over the years, data wasn’t as available through APIs as it is today.

And then a lot of them, frankly, didn’t have, who is it on your team? Who’s doing the design. A lot of them didn’t have the design chops. So they give you a lot of data and you felt like, Ugh, I hate

Maxx: too overwhelming. Yeah. it’s too overwhelming. First of all, a lot. Excuse me, allowing the competitors on. And there’s a lot of right. You’ve got GDS, Google data studio, and this there’s tons of just different competitors, you know, Supermetrics, whatever it may be, which are great products. But what we found is that to be vertically integrated specifically with e-commerce right, give it a friendly design that they used to.

So we were still using Polaris. I think we are using Shopify as like the design UI thing that they give out, you know, um, which made it familiar to our merchants. So they already liked it. And it was just very simple where I was going with the competitors. You don’t want to use an analytics app for the average business owner.

You don’t want to have to learn something new. I don’t like analytics, you know, it’s just, I don’t want to hire somebody to operate my analytics for me. Like I just want to know I want it done for me in a very simple way to understand that’s what we really Excel and we do Excel it right

Andrew: Okay. And the first version was that.

Maxx: Yeah. That’s still what the main driver of usage today is that summary we’ve added a

Andrew: to your, I talked to your co-founder and he said that that the pixel is the exciting part of the business. That’s kind of the revolution, right? What is the pixel part?

Maxx: Okay. So I’m not going to go super technical on it because I’m not on the technical side. And I can’t like break in and go onto the hood just cause I wouldn’t do it justice. I’m going to give like the summary page style of it, you

Andrew: especially since this is the beginning we’re getting know you. And then I want to know how you got here. And I want to know about that previous business that led you here. So yeah. Give me the big overview of what the pixel is.

Maxx: Yeah, I’m sure everyone is.

familiar. I’m sure you are with the update in the iOS 14.5, you know, the, the policies, the privacy policy stuff, and the, you know, the, the party tracking and all that stuff. Having apple allow their users to opt in to be tracked by applications. Right. So that, that whole update really just threw a wrench in the online marketing and paid media.

Andrew: Because you can’t track as well as you could.

Maxx: You cannot track on the platforms as on the actual platforms, as well as you could, before a lot of the platforms now model data, they don’t have, they could still do it. Right, but they don’t do it because that’s against the policy of, of apple. So what’s happened is there’s basically a decoupling of deploying media and measuring the media from the channel itself.

So right now what you do is you deploy the media and you have to measure it from. And a software like ours, which has a first party, um, pixel it’s basically is allowing Shopify merchants to have their own way of tracking users through right from the channel to purchase

Andrew: Say from Facebook, Facebook will tell you which ads sent the person over. Now that you’ve got them, you can’t use Facebook’s tracking anymore. You have to have your own tracking. The. This ad that Facebook sent over, did they convert into a sale today and then down the road? And that’s what you’re adding to this,

Maxx: Yes, yes.

Andrew: That’s your pixel.

Maxx: exactly. It’s super high up like just high level to understand it for the majority of people that they will give it to you. You can no longer rely on the internal metrics. You have to have your own first party way essentially to measure it. Yeah.

Andrew: And that’s why it’s so exciting that it’s not available anymore from Facebook. People are now looking merchants are looking for new solutions and you could be an are that, and as I’m talking, I see your face light up and I get it. All right. Let’s go back to how you got into

Maxx: So it’s not, it’s not just, but it’s not just Facebook. Right? It’s all the platforms. So you told me to take.google Snapchat. That’s why it’s super exciting. Having a first party, cookie pixel, whatever you want to call it. Right? The ability to track multichannel right. Used to be. Uh, nice to have kind of solution, like as you’re spending tons of volume, you really want to dial in on your attribution, like to the detail of that is a high spender.

So having a solution like ours had been in the past, somebody was nice to have. Now you have to have it Right.

You cannot, you’re driving blind without something like ours. ‘

Andrew: cause you know, how much, how many people are coming from those platforms to your site, but you can’t tell whether those people are converting into customers, into email subscribers, et cetera, unless you have your own pixel. Okay. I’m with you on this. Let’s go back then and understand how you’re doing it.

This business that you and your wife. It was hair, braids,

Maxx: Yeah.

Andrew: So I asked you before we got started, what’s a guy like you short hair, yamaka, nice glasses. I dig them a lot. So you’d clearly have tastes. What are you doing in the hair? Extension business. How’d you get into it?

Maxx: That’s a great, yeah. Okay.

So let’s, let’s back it up even a little bit more. I think Like my whole entire, I didn’t have a job after college. No job. I just went, hit the ground running and just learned marketing entrepreneurship on my own. Right. I had a few other startups and a lot of really fun adventures in my, in the past, like

Andrew: Like what, give me a sense of them. I was kind of looking you up on LinkedIn and I saw campus casa.com. Um, but I didn’t get a sense of you as an entrepreneur before the wig business, before this.

Maxx: Yeah. So I studied geriatrics and long-term healthcare and college. Okay.

At Ohio university. Um, my senior year, my senior year, I got involved with a friend of mine who had a. Of a startup that was essentially a group on a group on cologne, but for college campuses. Okay.

If you remember like 2010 Groupon was like the hottest thing that can make the group buying thing. I don’t know if you remember that,

Andrew: I do remember it. Yes.

Maxx: I was a senior, a senior, I think I took a five year. Journey through college. I was on that victory lap

Andrew: Okay.

Maxx: anyways. So he had this product is ready to go in a beautiful sites called keg and fly. this was like back in my early days here, I got involved in that and help them scale it, uh, to about like 15 different college campuses.

And, um, cause like my fraternity network, I remember that, uh, and then that things died after like, you know, eight months or whatever. then we started a campus marketing company and started targeting, um, startups that just raised money to then do acquisition on college campuses for them. So I did that for awhile.

Andrew: service.

Maxx: Yeah,

Andrew: You would the same network that you had through your fraternity and through your own business, you said I could turn this onto your business, pay us and we’ll get, got it. Okay. That’s a great idea.

Maxx: yeah. So it’s called college volt. Yeah. It’s go down memory lane here. This is nice. This is nice. Um, and. The friend of mine was, um, he was in Israel and he was, um, uh, more of a religious guy, Jewish, religious guy. I was not at the time and working with him. He’s not like one of my best friends, like practically like a brother.

Uh, if you’re working with him, I just started asking questions and wanting to learn more and more about my culture and heritage. Well, then I wouldn’t have to Israel and started learning more about it.

And I ended up, I went for three weeks and I stayed for like five years over there. I really dove in. Okay, Um, so that’s how I got the yamaka full-time yarmulke over here. Um, when I was in Israel, I became religious. I also started a program bringing students to visit and tour the Israeli startup culture and the startup nation. right. So I made

Andrew: It was just, it was hot. People were talking about it and you said, let me bring you in and let you let you see it. Okay.

Maxx: Yeah.

So I partnered with different organizations and that’s what we did.

And that was a lot of fun, a lot of fun. I Got a lot of very cool exposure. We met the Wix this year. We met Wix. We met, uh, ways like we had lunch with the CEO of ways I met right before the. I think the Google acquisition that happened, it. was just such a cool experience. Um, and then like, you know what, I’m gonna get somebody to get back into the college thing.

I’m going to raise some money to start a team up. And my friend from the keg flight, he and I got back together and we started another company that was called campus Casa. And that, that was a Zillow for college towns to help college students find housing around their

Andrew: Got it. Okay. All right. Now take me to the, to the hair extension business. How did you do that? And then, because that one did really well.

Maxx: which is good.

Andrew: How’d you get into

Maxx: was good. Yeah. Campus cost died. I moved back to the states with my wife and my son at the time. Okay. We’re back to Columbus and I needed to get into some cash flow. So I started an agency helping Amazon sellers, um, diversify. So not just to be on Amazon, but to have a Shopify store so that?

you know, you.

You’re not just a one trick pony, but you have multiple income streams coming into your business. Through that consulting. I learned how to build Shopify sites. I learned how to acquire customers, run Facebook ads, learn more about supply chains. I then got into I’m just going to start my own brand and run this thing on my own.

And I started doing arbitrage like just shipping Facebook

Andrew: because as a consultant, you got to see what was working for them. You had ideas of your own, you said, okay, I’m just going to do this. And how did drop shipping work for you?

Maxx: It was great at the beginning. Um, it long-term that type of structure that does not work out long-term um, just the customer experience has not, is not good long shipping times from overseas. Um, quality control is poor it’s to start a good long cool cashflow arbitrage. Let’s learn how to do this type of business.

Very low risk. Um, what happened is that I tried to take the supply chain and bring it over to the states into a warehouse. And when I did that very zero experience with finance and almost this blew the whole thing

Andrew: Meaning you went from dropshipping where you only paid for something after you got the sale. And then they shipped it to now buying everything, storing everything, and taking the risk on whether you could sell it or not, but also paying upfront before you get paid.

Maxx: Exactly. And then just not under it didn’t work.

as it, the lack of experience. And I almost, again, I almost blew that thing up and also went bankrupted this challenging. Yeah. But I, so that was a business that I was called Ivy and fig, I ended up selling that and just getting out of that trouble, that financial trouble, I call that.

Andrew: Okay.

Maxx: and then my wife comes up to, we did well with that business, relatively speaking, and we scaled it and his first year to like three and a half million dollars. Um, but then we got in a little bit of a, you know, a little trouble there and I ended up getting out of it, which was great.

Andrew: you get out of the

Maxx: point I sold it

Andrew: You sold

Maxx: the money to

Andrew: What were some of the products that you were selling back then?

Maxx: handbags, like, um, synthetic leather, handbags,

Andrew: Got it. Okay. All right. So you sold that. Got out of it. Didn’t go bankrupt, but what happened next?

Maxx: Yeah. So my wife had a cool idea. So religious Jewish, a lot of religious Jewish women, when they’re married, they’ll cover their hair either with like a wig or with like a cloth. Okay.

Andrew: it. Yeah,

Maxx: You hear it?

Andrew: yeah, yeah. Now, now I’m starting to see how it connects. Okay. Got it. So the yamaka that we talked about earlier,

Maxx: give. That’s why I had to give you the whole, the whole thing.

Andrew: Okay. And I should say for people who don’t know, the yamaka is the Jewish religious head covering for men. And so you’re saying women have their own version of this.

Okay. So connect this to what you would do next.

Maxx: So my wife had this idea, Hey, when you accessorize the wig and it’s basically a. Right. So that’s synthetic hair bright. And we saw them in the stores and they were always pretty expensive. And like, we know this could be a cool project. Let’s plug it into our supply chain connections overseas, and let’s try to see if it’ll work, you know?

Um, and then we did Madison braids. My wife had the whole concept and did a little R and D on our own. And we had our own photo shoots set up the site. I knew how to run ads. Um, the idea to go to market was let’s we found a site that does daily deals for like modest, like religious people that are looking for modest clothing or modest, you know, whatever

Andrew: there’s a group on for Jewish women who want deals on modesty clothing.

Maxx: It’s a Jill site.

Andrew: Okay. All right.

Maxx: Yeah. Something for everyone. You know what I mean?

Andrew: Yeah.

Maxx: It was, we bought, we bought at its commitment to see us. I don’t know how to spell it. So we bought some ads on there. Right. And the idea there was, it was a deal site that says you traffic directly, right. So you’re not paying a marketplace.

You’re not paying right. You’re getting the traffic direct. And so we had the pixel, the Facebook pixel on our site, we bought traffic from this daily, this deal site. They sent us it, we pitched it, we retargeted them. And it was great. It was working, you know, and then my wife’s like, you know, this thing could probably work, not just for the small little niche of religious Jewish women.

This is a cool product. Let’s try it out. So what we did is that we changed some of the imagery to the marketing. We made a little bit more appealing to the masses and I had the pixel customer data for my daily deals. We went onto Facebook with lookalikes. Lookalikes are still amazing. It looked like audiences.

We made a lookalike audience off that data, went on the Facebook. Our audience went from like, you know, a couple thousand to like a couple of million, right.

Cause that’s that powerful look alike. And we took that business for like 50 K in the first year. Second year we did like $700,000. And then the third year we did 3 million and then the fourth year we did almost seven and a half million dollars. That experience was wild.

Andrew: Wow. And the ads that we’re

Maxx: Like I frequently saw, I think we sold like 600,000 of those braids all over. Maybe even

Andrew: Is this, it is this the website, by the way, um, I’m looking at an old version of the site. Is this you

Maxx: That’s an old version. That’s like the first version of what’d you

get that?

Andrew: internet archive? That is like, that woman is beautiful. There’s nothing modest about what she’s like, what she looks like. But

Maxx: That’s a long time ago.

Andrew: so that is after you started shift. Oh, and I see some more of the modest, uh, photos in there. That’s a beautiful looking site, but the magic, it seems like was your ability to advertise and your understanding of how to retarget using Facebook’s pixel.

Am I right about that?

Maxx: Yeah. And then make it look like off that, that

Andrew: And then make a look alike off of that. And so what else did you do to get the original audience that then you would pixel and then look like? Were you buying other ads in other places that were interesting? No.

Maxx: Nope. Nope,

Andrew: Where did you buy ads? Was it all Facebook ads at some point?

Maxx: Well, at the beginning it was just from that Montas website.

Andrew: That was it, so,

Maxx: Yeah. so,

I’m saying from that, that was like the seed, right? The seed of the, of the retard that created the retargeting audience. Right. Once we had the retargeting audience in Facebook, we can then take that audience and make it look alike, which then took an audience and look at, say 10,000 people, right.

10,000, or let’s say a couple of things, let’s say 10,000 purchasers, something like that. It then takes them in five people that look like. And if Facebook then finds you like 2 million people up to 20 million that could write. That’s how it. look, likes work. They use the data

Andrew: Uh, and it was just ongoing lookalikes auto audiences built off of who bought, built off of who looked and then retargeting.

Maxx: once you, once you have that initial seed audience, once you have the initial seed audience, right? And you make that? look alike, you no longer, I no longer need to buy ads anywhere else, Facebook just stared at all saying it was all there. And then you have your email marketing SMS, mark. And, you know, be able to just build a business around that.

Andrew: How did you know how to create the right creatives? How’d you know, how to adjust and what to create, what to sell? You know

Maxx: Yeah. That’s, that’s a good, that’s a good question.

Andrew: You know, let me take a moment to talk about my sponsor and then we’ll get into that. I should tell you, my sponsor is send in blue it’s email marketing software.

That does basically what all the other email marketing software does, the best of them, which is like, You want to target people. You want to be able to slice up your audience. You want to be able to tag people based on what they’ve done before, so that you can come back to them. The problem with a lot of email marketing software is it’s cheap in the beginning.

Maybe even free in the beginning. And then they start to ratchet up the price once they got you, because they know, yes, you own the email addresses, but it’s going to be a pain in the neck to move them over to a different provider. So they might as well raise the prices on you, send them blue, says, you know what?

We’ll give you all that stuff. Everything that the best of the, of the email marketing software packages. And we also do SMS and other marketing too. We’ll charge low price at the beginning, low price as you continue. That’s their, that’s their value prop. Anyone out there who does not have an email list, you should go and get one right now and send in blue is a great company to work with.

Send in blue.com/mixergy is my URL where frankly, you give me credit for sending you over, but also you’ll get a discount on their already low price. If you use it right now, that is send in blue.com/mixergy grateful, grateful to them for sponsors. Yeah. So you were starting to say, how’d you come up with the creative how’d you know what to put up on your site and had, you know, what to create like product wise.

Maxx: Yeah, creative for advertising. I mean, I was already in the advertising game on Facebook for a few years. So you sort of have a feel of what’s going on and you know, you know, what’s kind of relevant, you know, what, what should work? Um, I would say one of the most difficult challenges of running a business that’s heavily reliant on just CPA arbitrage essentially, right?

Is you do need that creative all the time. And what will happen is it to have creative? So your creatives will work for a bit, and then all of sudden they’re not working anymore. So to be able to preempt that with a flow of creative, um, is, is like the secret sauce to keep that spin wheel going. Right? So we wrote a very active on Instagram.

My wife was with Madison brains and we had people just coming to us and they would just start tagging us cause they bought the product and they posted on Instagram. And then we just saw. we asked them if we could use it in advertising, we worked out a deal or whatever it may have been. And that’s how we saw that like, oh, these, these like micro influencers that have smaller audiences, well, that’s a great way to get great creative for our business.

So we’re always, you know, preempting creative burnout.

Andrew: got

Maxx: we solved that. So once we saw that the vision really was, how can we. Uh, heavy flow, like a heavy flow of these creatives coming in from diverse, diverse, different, different people, different backgrounds, different looks, and consistently, and have them in the ads testing. I hired AIJ who was helping with the ads and we can talk about aging is my co-founder in triple whale. He came on to help me run the ads. That’s why I hired his wife and she’s fantastic. And she helped build out the influencer program at scale, where we were able to leverage virtual assistants to help us reach out to micro influencers.

And I think we got about not exaggerating about 8,000 micro influencers to provide us video content and. Images in exchange for fruit product. And a lot of times he’d rev shares with them, but we had this flow of just great creative.

Andrew: you are sending them products, they would take pictures and videos, make sure that you had the ability to do it. And you would also keep track of how you are and whether you were paying them. So maybe it was just giving them a product to talk about, or maybe it was then you need. Um, so that you can give them affiliate commissions.

That whole operation was up and

Maxx: Yeah. And that’s, that’s a whole. And that’s an amazing way to scale up your ads and to have that content is a ton of power there, even from a top of the funnel acquisition stream. Yeah. It’s a lot to manage. It’s a lot to track. So there’s, there’s a lot of companies right now doing that, you know, to just helping with that whole process. But that’s that, then that that’s something that we have also in triple well right now, which we’ll get into later, but you’ll see how, like this story, I’m trying to paint the picture as to how I got to triple whale. And this is part of that as well.

Andrew: It feels like this whole influencer CRM and outreach is a whole business unto its own. I mean, there are businesses in there that could have been the business that you created as a follow-up, but you didn’t because.

Maxx: Well, let’s fast forward. AIJ came and worked with me two and a half years ago. Yvonne who’s our CTO. And they had those two together, had a startup for many years in Israel. When that was slowing down, I hired both of them to build out the first version of triple whale. And, um, we worked on that for about, let’s say a couple months and it was great, I’m like edger com.

Let me just train you how to run ads and run the business. Hey, Jay got some side gigs for. To get some income from him to keep him around because.

he is super talented and a pleasure to work with AJ. And I started scan, I trained him and started to scaling up the ads and taking a lot of my plate. And at some point he’s like, okay, I’m going to move to Columbus.

He brought us back, his wife, his kids moved to Columbus, like literally down the street. He was living where you go to the same synagogue. Right.

Um, and we just through like, COVID, there’s a COVID bump when everybody. Is it closed down And online became like the way to, you know, consume, but it was the CPAs and CPMs came down.

And so there was arbitrage period where you can just scale your ads and those pretty wild. He and I wrote that.

Andrew: braids that you were doing that. Okay. So you are able to continue to grow more online sales, uh, coming in all the time and your cost of acquisition was going down. So the businesses growing he’s now here in the U S with his family, Yvonne is getting what worked with you also at this at the same time.

Maxx: A little bit of work with me here and there. But mostly we aged eight minutes to get them some projects, some projects from just different people that are building things. Right. So like a development house, you know, part-time stuff and it was great. Um, and then when that, when, when the COVID Bob kind of right, like got more regular and it wasn’t so much of a bump there, right.

Things opened up, got back. So now you have a ton of businesses that are on Facebook advertising. So the saturation is massive, right? Costs are off in general. You have to diversify in order to make it right. Margins get squeezed on Madison braids. Big time. Asia decided to focus in Yvonne on triple well, we got up to like a beautiful product.

We, then this is about a year and a half ago. We then went to market via. because it’s a great community on Twitter and more people started using it and using it and they loved it. And I think it was that whole COVID post COVID reality with higher cost to advertise online, the need to diversify people just loved it.

They wanted real time. Great, simple design in your pocket. Boom. And we got a lot of people to start to use this thing. And then a few months later, Yeah, the iOS update and then our customers were, or our users, I wouldn’t call the customers yet cause we weren’t really charging much for it. Can we get a pixel?

Can you help us with not, not a pixel, but can you help us with the iOS 14.5 update in the state of advertising? I know. So that’s what we discovered that we should go all in on this attribute.

Andrew: How did you know that triple whale, the dashboard product would be worth pursuing as a standalone product, a standalone business? Why wouldn’t you say. You know what we got Madison braids, the whole company is called Madison brand. So there’s a sense that you’re going to create other brands. Why not just create, I don’t know, nail extensions or something else.

How did you know software and this specific one was the one to go in on.

Maxx: Yeah.

that’s a good question. did not think triple whale would catch on as, as much that it like it did as Jay had a vision because he and I were working very closely together and I would bother him all day. Like what’s, you know, what’s going on here? Um, a lot of repetitive tasks and that’s, that’s really what made him go all in and was like, you know what?

I’m going to automate a lot of things I’m doing. And that was like a real big business to him. And I agreed, but I was running Madison. He was running triple whale, essentially. I was not full-time on triple at the beginning, I was running my business. He was really full-time on triple people. Started. got a ton of traction Madison like just started to get less, less interesting to me because software is a SAS is a great business.

You know what I mean? The multiples are higher, right? The retention is amazing. It’s a good product. You’re not playing the CPA arbitrage game with such tight margins that you are on a business like Madison, where extensions and hair is like super competitive. And as I think grew, I started putting more time into it and it started to grow and grow.

Yvonne edge. And I, we made an amazing team and we ended up raising a pre-seed round from our customers, from our early customers and agencies and different partners that we had that we had gotten over the years, raised a million dollars, you know, back in, I want to say July last year and we built a bit more and then October. half million dollars with some great growth. And then just six months ago or not six months ago, sorry, six weeks ago, eight weeks ago, we closed our series a and in that time period, we, in the time period, we raised about $27 million total in about nine months. And now we have 76 people working for us.

Andrew: why, why did you raise money? It seems like your background would lead into some kind of bootstrap business that just

Maxx: It was

Andrew: to crank out.

Maxx: awhile. Yeah.

it was bootstrapped, you know, it’s, it’s tough to like put All your money into something and like, you have a huge vision, which my vision in Asia division is very big. right. It’s if you take the whole vertical being a merchant, right. A Shopify merchant, there’s a lot going on there.

There’s a lot of pain points. The biggest pain point for sure is advertising. Inventory management, creative management, right. To create a game we were talking about before. Right? Given the influencers, you have finance, understanding your cashflow. I didn’t understand cashflow. That’s why almost went bankrupt, right?

With the IBM thing though. First e-commerce business. There’s a lot here And we wanted to. Have the ability to scale up a team and they bring on great people that are way better than we are in terms of performance and whatever. Just get great people to get in and do their thing. And that’s, that’s the way to raise money.

Andrew: All right. And so the first version totally free. Anyone on Twitter wander tried can try hook in, get the data. Eventually I see now the lowest price is a hundred dollars, right? A hundred a month. How was, uh, starting to charge? How was the transition from free to paid? And then what did you have to add to justify it?

Maxx: So, let me, let me just correct you. The, maybe the first 10 people had that for free. Um, we did charge like 50 bucks. You call it?

free, but we did charge like 50 bucks in the beginning and a lot of big brands. know, like brands doing 50 to a hundred million dollars a year, we’re paying us $50 a month to use the dashboard.

It was costing us more money per month to be able to provide it. And we saw the usage was like unbelievable. They were coming in like, you know, six to eight times a day. Checking the application, there’s gotta be more here. What can we do here? Right.

So then I started to just get on the phones and call people and make deals with agencies.

And I never, I got one of the agencies from Madison braids, which I’ll give them a shout out quickly. If you don’t mind apple group. They’re great. They were our first agency. Um, and I got them to leave one of our competitors to roll out. Are there, like if you just can add business insights, like cohorting and analysis, so we’ll bring everybody over and boom, we did it and they came over and it was great.

Like we went from 50 bucks to like 200 bucks a month per store, and I got a few more agencies and that’s kind of how gradually just went up, just being on the phones with people, talking to your customer, understanding we’re selling to two customers inside the agency. What we’re selling to the owner operator of the store, it’s understanding the relationships and how that would work on our application and sort of building an app for two different audiences was definitely challenging, but we managed to do that.

And then when the pixel came out and we already had 1 7600 customers paying us, let’s say 50 bucks a month, we knew they needed the pixel. And we just saw there were competitors in our space with the pixel, like a pixel type service. We saw what they were charging us a little bit less and we preceded. And like overnight our revenue, like quadrupled, uh, with that presale. And then we had like two months basically to deliver. And that’s how we started off selling.

Andrew: when you were talking to customers soon after you launched, what did you find out that was surprising or non-intuitive that you wouldn’t have been able to do on your own? Because as you were talking to them, you were already a merchant you’re already in this space already working with agencies. What did they tell you that you didn’t

Maxx: Yeah. Yeah. The owner operators that I was speaking. Before I didn’t before I would tell them that I actually wasn’t merchant, they actually would ask me if I was a merchant, because we made the product. So like, I made it for myself. Right, And they’re like, whoa, so amazing. right.

People wanted mobile first.

They wanted to clean, they wanted it done for them. And so that was a great conversation. I don’t want to say, I didn’t learn anything there because you’re always learning something. But the real learning curve from me was to understand how agencies would use it. Just cause I didn’t understand that world so much a little bit, but they have their teams because they have pods, they have clients and they have reporting.

And so that was a different, that was a learning experience to understand how to build a product for them.

Andrew: Got it because they need things. For example, like, I guess, white labeling to show their clients. Here’s your dashboard, not your triple whale dashboard. Is that the type of

Maxx: No, we didn’t white label. No.

it’s my understanding. What’s their current tooling that they’re using. What are the problems around that? Um, there’s a lot of overlap with your owner operator brand, like the version of the app. It’s not very much different, right? If you just add a few more things, what people are really wanted was a.

A better reporting. So we create a better reporting for their clients. They want it to be able to roll up all of the metrics of all their clients across different niches that they’re managing. So we created the, um, a portfolio view so they can roll up how the agency is doing. You can see like what’s their average row at.

So that was huge. That’s, that’s a great, and it also works for, um, roll-ups right, So, you know, a lot of roll-ups right now in our space, in the DTC space buying up right,

Andrew: right. I see

Maxx: So we talked to a lot of guys like that.

as well. And they could utilize a lot of the same things that an agency would utilize.

Andrew: Do you still own Madison brand’s Madison braids.

Maxx: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s definitely like, uh, I should say it’s not as interesting as it used to

Andrew: Why not sell it?

Maxx: I’m working on it Right.

now, but first of all, we use it a lot to Ted test new things. And I think like all of our developers are in there every day and I just, whatever, I have a friend who’s running it, a lot of the stuff for me, but it’s very much like a side thing.

And I like to, I like to still have it because it keeps me plugged in that initial, you know, source of the problem. But it’s nothing that I’m pursuing to grow necessarily, but yeah.

Andrew: 20%, uh, profit at the end of the day? Do you get more? No, not even that. I saw you

Maxx: No

Andrew: now this is such a tight space. It really is.

Maxx: be tight. Yeah. Especially now with ad costs going up and I mean, obviously not just ads, but more importantly, the attribution is, is broken, you know?

Andrew: All right. I want to talk about my second sponsor. And then I’m curious, like, what did we take away from all this like this right now is good for you. Good. Also for anyone who’s listening, who has an e-commerce store, who wants to sign up, but what does someone who’s listening get to take away from this that helps them?

Here’s how, what I could learn from max about how to build a business. All right. The second sponsor though, I should say it’s lemon.io. Dude. I talked to Alex, the founder of lemon. I thought he was doing poorly. I just talked to him earlier today because he’s in the Ukraine. Ukraine, not there. You can excuse me in Ukraine.

He comes back from Germany, from vacation. Suddenly there are tanks in his country. He gets out of there. He actually ended up going to Israel. He goes to Israel. His people are, are under attack, trying to figure out how to work. I thought his company was, was down and that he wouldn’t want to buy any more ads for me.

He says, actually, Andrew, where we’re growing, how is this guy growing? I look into it. And this is the thing that just drives my energy. He’s grown because he’s not shutting up. He’s up on Twitter all the time. He’s checking in with his developers. His developers still can move out of the country. And many of them haven’t continued to work if they want to.

Um, his team is still getting paid, whether they can work or not. Cause he committed that he’s going to keep paying them, even if they can’t work. And because there’s all this attention brought on Ukraine. People are paying attention to his loud mouth and he’s realizing, wait, I’ve been, I’ve been only getting developers from Ukraine.

There’s this whole Eastern Europe and all European countries that I can hire developers from or bring them on. He brought them on his network. Entrepreneurs are talking to him, getting matched up with developers in countries where they’re smart people, but frankly, where the wages are lower, he’s matching them up and his team are matching them up.

His businesses growing. He’s doing better this year than last year. He’s still committed to giving his money away. So he’s not going to be profitable. He’s going to continue to use it, to support the people who work for him, who work for him and others. Um, And the reason I’m saying all this is because if you’ve been listening to me and you heard of lemon.io is the place to go and hire developers because they have smart developers and they also have a lower prices.

You should know. They’re also run by an amazing man who he’s got to be exhausted. I could see it in his eyes, max, but he’s building this company. And it’s because he’s helping entrepreneurs, like the ones who are listening to me. If you are looking to hire developers, he will find you a developer that is just right.

Do a quickly for you. Won’t flood you with resumes and allow you to work with them. You just do need to work with someone remotely. But, uh, these days, most people are go check them out. If you use my URL, I’ll get credit. And I always appreciate you for doing it. You’ll also get a, um, a discount on their already low prices and they’ll match you up with phenomenal developer.

Go check them out by going to lemmon.io/mixergy maximum. So excited about what he’s been doing. You’ll love them. You’ll love Alex himself. Great guy.

Maxx: I think I want to meet Alex.

Andrew: Actually, no doubt. I’m going to connect you with it. Let me do. This is what I always do in 25 minutes. Remind me to follow up with Alex and max. That’s all my Siri.

I’m Siri all the time. Are you on Siri all the time?

Maxx: I do a lot of that. Yeah. I, but I do. I have all my like top people that help me run, help us on the, business. Just on WhatsApp, just do voice notes all day. I took all I’m doing, but I do do reminders with Siri.

Andrew: What else do you use as like your personal tips for being more productive, max?

Maxx: This is constantly a struggle on the sentence. Like I just, there’s so many tools out there. I try to commit to using Assata our company’s using a song on they’re doing a good job there, but I honestly just use like a notebook and just write down to this.

Andrew: I do talk to a bunch of entrepreneurs who are not big on using whatever project management tools that their company uses there, they operate under something else. What is it for you then if it’s not going through a task list that you set up for yourself or other people have, how do you manage your day?

Maxx: Yeah, I very much, I started being very much, um, obsessed with my calendar. Like just making sure that only relevant things are on there and that things don’t get scattered. So if I have one-on-ones with heads of departments, I used to sort of have them like Willy nilly throughout the week, but one day?

a week, I’m just going through like today is that day, but it’s towards the end.

It’s just like back to back with all the people I need to meet with. And Mondays I do the same thing and then I. No pad to my, to do’s Blong projects. Like I guess, you know, like big project we’re working on that I have to collaborate with. I have an Assata, I mean, the, to the company, we’re just starting to implement OKR.

Right. So, and that’s, that’s been a challenge, right? So more of an operating system, but it’s, it’s powerful. And so it just keeps us focused. And that’s my way of doing things right now. I can definitely be better, but it’s working.

Andrew: What about the big ideas that will help? Like where did the ideas come from? That helped grow your business? I help you know what to get into.

Maxx: Yeah. Um, they very active on trying to be more active. I wouldn’t say I’m very active, but pretty active on Twitter and talking to people in that community, speaking to other either SAS, founders who do to see founders understanding what’s out there, just keeping my ears and eyes, you know,

Andrew: I mean, when you’re looking for ideas, are you seeing what’s working for you? Are you going out and saying, what are your problems? We need to figure out a way to add the solution to them, to triple whale.

Maxx: Yeah. Um, I’m trying to get out of, what’s not working for me, what’s working from me because I’m becoming more and more removed from being a merchant every day. Right. And so I don’t, I would also move away from this anecdotal, like I think this might work to like actually speaking to customers, speaking to potential customers, understanding their problems and building solutions around that, and then empowering our product managers and our, you know, our leaders to do the same thing, to really get feedback from people. That’s, that’s how I’m doing.

Andrew: Alright, I’m trying to figure out what do I take away from the triple whale story max? Here’s what I got. Number one, obviously it’s, if you find a thing that you need, and there’s no software as an entrepreneur that who’s plugged into the software world, there’s no software that does it for you. Create it for yourself and see if it could become a product that you can sell to other people.

That’s one thing. Now that the next thing I’m getting from you is there’s just more, more potential growth, more potential revenue from building a product that’s close to your customer’s revenue, that the closer you get to it, like if you would have built another tool that would have made people’s sites look better, that’s nice.

But if you’re helping them with their profit, with making sure that their spending is good, that’s valuable.

Maxx: Yep.

Andrew: What else? Oh, dashboards. Here’s another thing I’ve noticed, actually, that dashboards are big in every industry. If you could build a dashboard for something that that’s helpful and it gets your foot in the door and allows you to grow beyond that, what am I, am I taking the right messages away from your story?

Maxx: sure.

Andrew: What else? I feel like I’m missing something because I see your eyes when I hit on something. Right. And I, and I’m looking at them now and I haven’t seen that.

Maxx: Entrepreneurship has been. An amazing journey. And to have the context of life, life is a journey. And that really, when you think there’s a mistake you made you realize that it’s really just a connection to the next big thing. And you’re constantly like, I guess you can say failing if you’re failing, but you’re picking up something like give a failure, right?

You’re you’re linking it into the overall. And for me, I’ve just always been thinking outside of like the norms, um, and, and, and talking with people and figuring out how I can solve problems. I think another big, another big thing is that whenever you have a spreadsheet, it’s really just a SAS company that.

needs to be made. If you’re using, if you’re using a spreadsheet for something, it’s another SAS company, like ready-to-go.

Andrew: Um,

Maxx: Well, let me, let me, here’s another thing and maybe very helpful. It’s been a realization in the past week for me, let’s say I think some of our biggest attributes to success, not having a great product, honestly, it’s an amazing product. The team has created something unbelievable need distribution.

You have a good problem. You could have a good product, horrible marketing, nobody hears about it. Right? Marketing in buying ads and paid media like. Be there. It’s going to change the way you do it will change. But really what I think is going to the winners are going to be are the people that learn how to create a real authentic, and it might sound cliche.

People say a little timid, a community around what you’re doing. It’s powerful. It’s huge. And we have done that. Our marketing has been more about education and content and focused on education in, in the right places where there are pockets of. And people trust us. We’re very transparent. And, uh,

Andrew: Like, like where, where do you do that? I think that Devin told me that he’s.

Maxx: Twitter is super active, just type into blue on the Twitter. You’ll see it. We have

Andrew: going to go into Twitter right now. There’s a link on the bottom of your site,

Maxx: Yeah.

Andrew: by the way, I love that you got the full domain. It used to be tri triple whale.com. Now it’s just triple whale.com.

Maxx: I think we just couldn’t get tailored cigarettes. We just switched that today.

Andrew: Oh, is that right? Because I’m still like in my browser, it’s still going into try triple. Well, it’s not because the view it’s because I’ve typed it in before. And so when I tried tip triple whale goes to the history, um, congratulations on getting that. So it’s Twitter that you’re active.

Maxx: Twitter and Tik TOK. We actually just, we brought somebody on,

Andrew: Okay.

Maxx: shout out to John. He just finally got some tick talks to take off. And it’s been interesting to see how a business B to B can utilize tech doc, but we’ve done some really cool stuff there. Instagram has been great Instagram reels, a really engaging on, on Twitter.

We’ve brought, we built like four podcasts, different channels, like different subjects. Like there’s one about founders is one about running a paid media. Um, different

Andrew: realize you guys have a podcast.

Maxx: that multiple, yeah.

Andrew: Oh, here, it’s on the bottom of your site.

Maxx: You are not your real ass is one of them. That’s a fun one. Um, and then taking this podcast, I’m sure, You know, but like splitting up into mini content bikes and getting them all over the place, YouTube

Andrew: that in house? And that’s worked for you.

Maxx: and to work better than, than anything so far. Like our, our growth has been through the content organic viral

Andrew: And then apparently you’re also, is it discord that you use for your community of, uh, of e-commerce company slack? So you’ve got a slack and then they all get to talk to each other. Talk to you.

Maxx: it’s called the more Walden nation, normal

Andrew: What’s Norwell.

Maxx: This is a whale.

Andrew: Oh, got it. Where do I see

Maxx: is very, you have to be a customer to see that?

one.

Andrew: Got it. All right. I’m so glad that I got to meet you. I never would have known from the outside. Truthfully. I feel like as good as you are at social and, and getting the word out there, I’d love to, I don’t think you have the time for it. I’d love to see you max, more like pontificating. How many idiots with nothing going on are pontificating on Twitter.

I’d like for you to say here’s the way it really is.

Maxx: I’m always trying to figure out, like, to be honest, that just like getting like that confidence to just write stuff, you know, he’s always been a blocker of mine, so I’m trying to get more into. So it sounds like you’re pretty good with that. If you have any tips for me, you know, how can I

Andrew: Truthfully, I don’t, I, I I’m much better at extracting other people’s ideas. And I, and I love that instead of saying, Hey, look at me and what I know, and I know everything to say, Hey, look at this person, who’s done an amazing thing. And to that way, where you guys are showing off, what other clients, what other people are doing online.

I feel like that’s a much better long-term growth, but I would like to see a little bit more of Max’s like vision and wisdom. And what’s worked for you, especially in a world where there are a lot of idiots who are, like I said, just pontificating with nothing. All right, max. Thank you so much for being here.

The website is triple whale.com. You don’t even need to hit the tri triple whale.com anymore. Straight up. Congratulations. Thanks. Thanks everyone. Bye. Cool, man. Thanks for doing this.

Maxx: That’s fun.

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