221: Zero to $9 Million in 4 years: How Chris Peters & Rob Ward Built Quad Lock From a Kickstarter Campaign (10/2018)
Welcome to our newest podcast format, video interviews! You can expect more of this format in the coming months. Subscribe to our YouTube channel here to be notified when we publish new videos.
Today I had the pleasure of sitting down with the co-founders of Quad Lock, a mounting device to securely attach your smartphone to your bike, car, motorcycle, arm or in any situation where you need a hands-free moment. These guys are killing it with $9 million in yearly earnings in only four years!
This was a phenomenal interview, as Peters and Ward gave us 45 minutes of pure gold on how they built a strong brand reputation and high-quality product, how they manufacture their products in China, how they got started as a simple Kickstarter project, and so much more.
They also discuss brand longevity, how to become trendsetters, and how they overcame their biggest scaling challenges. If you want to learn how to build a long-lasting brand and scale your physical-products business, this is an interview you don’t want to miss!
- What you need to build a physical-products brand with a strong reputation
- Why Kickstarter is a good way to introduce your brand to the market, as long as you do it right
- How to get started and maintain manufacturing out of China
- Quad Lock's biggest challenges around scaling, and how they have overcome them
- Quad Lock’s philosophy on hiring A-players
220: Building Community as the Foundation for a Successful Content Business, With Carly Zakin & Danielle Weisberg of theSkimm (10/2018)
Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg started their business as good friends on a couch, with nothing but their laptops and a healthy dose of hustle. Today, their millennial women-focused media company theSkimm serves seven million daily subscribers, employs 70 people, and boasts more than 30,000 enthusiastic brand ambassadors.
The company also just closed a round of Series C funding led by GV (formerly Google Ventures) and a group of mainly female investors—including the likes of Shonda Rhimes, Tyra Banks, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely.
Weisberg and Zakin have maintained a close friendship and strong collaboration throughout their six years in business. This dynamic forms the backbone of their company and sets the tone for daily operations, which is largely focused on supporting and empowering women.
In this interview, learn about the early days of theSkimm, the power of community and connection, and how the brand monetizes its content to build a sustainable media business.
The company publishes news that fits into the daily routines of its members, continually nodding to its mission statement of making it easier for people to live smarter, more connected lives. But if you ask us, these powerful founders are the smart ones, effectively proving the mantra, “We are all stronger when we work together.”
- How and why they waited two and a half years to monetize their community of loyal followers
- How they monetize their content with multiple income streams to build a sustainable, well-rounded business
- Details of the Skimm’bassadors program and why it has grown so rapidly
- Zakin and Weisberg’s top tips for growing a content-based business
219: From Bankrupt to Bestseller: How Mike Michalowicz Used His Own Failures to Empower Other Entrepreneurs (10/2018)
Mike Michalowicz appeared to have everything an entrepreneur could want—big companies and lots of revenue coming in. But things aren’t always as they seem. As Michalowicz was high on fleeting indicators of success, his businesses were leaking profits. “I got caught up in the vanity metrics…how big my business was revenue-wise and how big my business was people-wise,” Michalowicz says.
After feeling the sting of and two failed investments and losing millions, Michalowicz found himself struggling with depression—along with a realization that ignorance and arrogance were a deadly combination. Thankfully, with support from friends and a rekindling of his love of writing, Michalowicz was able to pull himself out of the ashes and rebuild his career—this time with heart and soul.
Michalowicz used writing as a way to find solutions to all of the biggest challenges he faced as a founder. His books Profit First, Pumpkin Plan, and Clockwork tackle managing cash, business growth, and automating a company, respectively. His next book will focus on how entrepreneurs can serve a greater purpose and make an impact on the world.
Listen in and get inspired as Michalowicz gets brutally honest about his own struggles, and shares years of lessons learned to empower other entrepreneurs.
- The actions that led Michalowicz to lose millions and hit rock bottom
- How Michalowicz found his niche and rebuilt his career after 10 failed companies
- Why working too hard can signal a lack of efficiency
- How to manage cash and avoid spending money you don’t have
218: Slow Growth and Risk Aversion Wins the Entrepreneurial Race, With Aytekin Tank of JotForm (9/2018)
“It took me 10 years [to create my own business], because I didn’t have the courage to start. But I still had this belief that one day I would start it.”
Fortunately for Aytekin Tank and 3.7 million happy users, he ultimately did start that business—JotForm, a profitable online form builder that houses 12 million forms; integrates with Paypal, Salesforce, and Dropbox; and spans two continents.
It took Tank a decade to build that business, but he couldn't care less. In an entrepreneurial climate where rapid growth and risk-taking are worn as badges of honor, Tank considers his slow growth the reason for his strong company culture and long-term success.
Concerned that your wariness or risk aversion hinders your ability to become an entrepreneur? Listen in and get inspired by Tank’s journey. Anything is possible if you just take the plunge and then keep moving forward—no matter the pace.
- How Tank has been able to grow consistently even though he started with zero management experience
- The friendly company culture Tank built and why it has become so successful
- Why Tank believes his slow and steady approach to growth has led to so much success
- Tank’s three steps to slow and sustainable growth
217: Mastering the Messy Middle and Finishing Strong, With Scott Belsky of Behance (9/2018)
Scott Belsky, Behance founder, investor, and author of the new book The Messy Middle, is a strong believer in putting in the hard work and then finishing strong. His nine-figure exit from Behance is a testament to this tenacity and determination.
Behance came with its own set of challenges, but Belsky learned over the years that when it seems like things are falling apart, it could mean victory is right around the corner. Your near-meltdown might just be your “messy middle," and sometimes being successful simply means sticking together as a team long enough to figure it out. A labor of love will often work out in the end, even if it's not how you expect.
In this thought-provoking interview, Belsky shares his own “messy middle" from his time with Behance, and some of his best wisdom on product-market fit, perseverance, and startup culture. We were thrilled to get the chance to talk to Scott. There’s a ton of gold in this interview, so don’t miss it!
- Two guiding principles on whether to stick it out or shut it down
- Why Belsky is wary of the MVP craze, and how to balance perfectionism with action
- Three tips for finding true product-market fit
- How to create a startup culture that attracts and retains the right people
- Why Belsky started Behance and what inspired his progress
216: The Art of Creating High-Converting Landing Pages, With Oli Gardner, Co-Founder of Unbounce (9/2018)
“Ninety-eight percent of landing pages suck.”
This is exactly what Unbounce founder Oli Gardner declared when he began his public speaking circuit four years ago. A bold statement, but he would know.
As co-founder of the landing page software builder, which pulls in $20 million in annual revenue, Gardner confidently claims he has seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet—nearly 100,000 to be exact. These days, he's leveraging his immense knowledge on the topic to help businesses drive more leads and revenue, through Unbounce and as a speaker.
In this interview, learn about the history of Unbounce, Gardner’s top tips for becoming a better marketer, and his golden advice on how to create a landing page that gets his seal of approval.
ATTENTION: We are excited to announce that Oli has partnered with the Foundr School of Entrepreneurship to teach a powerful course, Landing Page Formula. If you want to learn the principles of conversion-center design and get a step-by-step blueprint on how to construct a high-converting landing page (templates included), Oli reveals his proven framework in this in-depth course. We only offer open enrollment a couple of times a year, for a limited time. Get on the FREE VIP waitlist here to be one of the first we notify when we open.
- The history of Unbounce and how the company rose to prominence
- How to make a landing page that impresses Oli Gardner
- Gardner’s top three tips to becoming a better marketer
215: Navigating the Unpredictable Journey From Failure to Triumph, With Stuart McKeown, Co-Founder of Gleam (9/2018)
Stuart McKeown started his entrepreneurial career as a college dropout, had a short-lived stint as a DJ, and then lost thousands of dollars on his first startup attempt. But he's nothing if not persistent. McKeown is now a growth marketing and list-building master and the co-founder of Gleam.io, a growth-focused platform used by more than 20,000 brands a month.
The secret to Mckeown’s success? He never believed failure was something to be feared, but rather a means to gather the information he needed to grow.
In this interview, learn how McKeown overcame his setbacks to build a powerful platform and brand, how he establishes work/life balance for himself and his employees, and his top four tips for running a viral competition.
McKeown may not have become a world famous DJ, but by staying true to himself and striking out fearlessly despite unforeseen obstacles, he has built a brand to be proud of—a gleaming beacon of success.
ATTENTION: We are also excited to announce that Stuart has partnered with Foundr to teach an epic course, List-Building Mastery. If you want a step-by-step strategy on how to explode your email list from scratch, get your first 10,000+ subscribers, and scale to 60,000 and more, Stuart reveals all of his proven strategies in this in-depth, tactical course. We only open enrollment a couple of times a year for a limited time. Get on the FREE VIP waitlist here to be one of the first we notify when we open.
- Four tips for running a viral competition
- Why building a product that relies on someone else’s infrastructure can spell disaster
- McKeown’s low-key and casual philosophy on work/life balance
- How and why failure is necessary for success
214: Nailing Product-Market Fit and Building a Successful Startup, With Legendary VC and Wealthfront CEO Andy Rachleff (8/2018)
Andy Rachleff is not just a product expert; he literally coined the term “product-market fit.”
Wealthfront CEO, former VC backing companies such as eBay, Uber, and Twitter, and technology entrepreneurship instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Rachleff has a wealth of knowledge on creating and scaling powerful companies. I was excited to have the chance to pick his brain on everything from product-market fit, to how he started his company Wealthfront, to how he hires the best of the best to join his team.
In this interview, you will gain access to a true master, who has enjoyed a long career of investing in legendary companies and now gives back to today’s entrepreneurs and investors. Rachleff started his company Wealthfront, an automated investment service that manages $11 billion in assets, as a way to perform a social good by democratizing sophisticated financial advice. In our discussion, he was kind enough to divulge some of his wins and losses and top lessons learned in his storied entrepreneurial career. Enjoy!
- How to know when you’ve reached product-market fit
- The process Rachleff follows every time he builds a new product
- How to know when it’s the right time to launch a new product (or let go of a failing one)
- How to maintain a close-knit startup culture as the company grows
- Why perseverance does not lead to success in technology (and what does)
- What type of people he looks for and the three biggest things that make people to want to join his team
Key Resources From Our Interview With Andy Rachleff
213: Overcoming Depression and Starting Over: Behind the Scenes With Rand Fishkin, Moz Founder (8/2018)
You may know former Moz CEO Rand Fishkin from his characteristic curly mustache, Whiteboard Friday videos, or his SEO mastery. But this interview isn’t about linking, Google rankings, or gray-hat practices. Or mustaches.
In our chat with Fishkin, he opens up about his battle with depression and how it has shaped his past decisions and guided his current ventures. He sympathizes with the many entrepreneurs who have also succumbed to loneliness and wondered why their business success wasn’t enough to make them happy.
Fishkin also talks about his new book, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World. In it, he shares the conversations entrepreneurs have about their challenges and hardships, whether personal or in their businesses. Fishkin also shares details on his new software project and why he decided to venture into another startup.
If you want to be inspired, encouraged, and take away some great advice from a long-time founder, don’t miss this interview. We hope you find it as moving as we did!
- Why striving to emulate Silicon Valley startup culture can negatively affect your business growth
- How and why Moz’s customer acquisition costs went down after laying off half of his marketing team
- How to know when to sacrifice profit for growth
- The dark side of entrepreneurial leadership
212: Behind the Scenes With 3 Start & Scale Ecommerce Success Stories (8/2018)
We are always blown away by the success stories within the Foundr community, and we take every opportunity we can to shine the spotlight on them.
In today's podcast, I am thrilled to present to you three of our Start & Scale ecommerce course students who are absolutely crushing it! I got to sit down with each one and ask them how they got started with their businesses, what challenges they faced, and what successes they are now enjoying.
You will hear from:
Adam is the founder of men’s personal care product line, Ball Wash. Adam started his ecommerce journey only eight short months ago and has already made more than $1 million in revenue.
Shamanth is a busy mother who created a new leggings product, and put it to the test with a pre-sale Kickstarter campaign. In a short time, she received nearly £50,000 from more than 1,500 backers. Shamanth is in the process of fulfilling those orders and putting her shop online full time.
Monique and Chevalo Wilsondebriano
Monique and Chevalo run Charleston Gourmet Burger, which was already a $200,000-per-month business, but had yet to reach its potential in online sales. Their goal was turn their website into an online store so they could generate more sales. In two months, they earned nearly $22,000 and attracted 9,110 visits to their website.
We couldn’t be happier for these guys and are proud to be part of their journeys. Please join me in congratulating them. Way to go!
- Go behind the scenes to learn how three ecommerce stores became successful
- Discover the two primary marketing channels Ball Wash leveraged that allowed them to scale so fast
- How Shamanth conceptualized and developed her winning product idea
- The learning curve for Chevalo and Monique as they transitioned their product to sell online